Panera Strawberry Poppyseed Salad…

I have never been a fan of fruit in salad.  In fact, even though I have an incredible sweet tooth, I have always subscribed to the thought that sweet things belonged together and should not be mixed up with savory things in salads, stuffing, meat dishes or anything else.  A cheddar cheese slice on apple pie gets a definite “no”, while ice cream on apple pie is “more please” (especially if the apple pie is warmed- yum!).  For this reason I had always turned up my nose at this social media favorite.

I finally took the leap this week, as I was intrigued by its low calorie count and wanted to satisfy my curiosity.  I chose to pair it with half a Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich and a bag of chips, which I knew would tide me over if I brought it back to my office and decided I didn’t like it.  I unpacked it from the bag and opened it, sniffing it suspiciously, looking for any weird odors that would push me to discard it without even tasting it.  I opened the little cup of dressing, in the same fashion, and took a really tiny taste. I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but…I wasn’t repelled.  I dumped the dressing into the salad, mixed it up really well, and took my first bite…it really wasn’t bad!  I ended up eating the whole serving (of half a salad) and really enjoyed it! The fruit was cool and juicy and the seasoning on the chicken wasn’t overpowering.  I especially liked the burst of freshness that filled my mouth when I managed to capture a piece of pineapple in the bite.  It tasted like summer to me.

I was a little disappointed to learn the next day that it was missing the promised pecans  (the location by my work is not really reliable about these things). However, I see more of these in my future and next time I will definitely be searching my bag before I leave the store to make sure I am not cheated out of them again.  Definitely two thumbs up!!



Here comes summer…

I live in the southeast suburbs of Houston and summer arrives early here and lingers with hot, humid days until long after school has started, and some years, even until  trick-or-treaters are roaming the neighborhood.  I have always been an avid fan of autumn and not so fond these sticky, miserable days.  For many years, while many of my northern neighbors and relatives were basking in the glory of June, July and August, I used to become depressed and resentful.  However, as I age and learn more about myself, I have discovered that I can often change my thoughts and feelings around a negative event, by changing the narrative and perception of I have of it.

Last year, I actually applied this way of thinking to summertime in Houston.  Instead of feeling the normal dread and girding myself for its misery, I looked for things that I actually enjoyed about this time of year.  I focused my energy there, rather than in a negative place.

It was hard, at first.  I am not a beach or pool person and generally, don’t like to sweat.  I found, as I worked at it, that I really could find things to appreciate.  The produce, such as cherries and watermelon (two of my favorites) is abundant.  The days are longer, which makes me feel more energized and productive.  The season is book ended with holidays (usually extra time off) and even has a bonus one in the middle.  The traffic on my commute is not nearly as congested and it seems the community as a whole slips into a more relaxed vibe as people vacation and rest.  I am highly anticipatory, and find one of my favorite things about summer is that fall is coming up close behind.  It was freeing to be able to let go of my horrible dislike of this season and embrace its positives instead.

As the heat index hovers close to 100 today, in early May, I am keeping my eyes peeled for the first cherries of the season and dreaming of pumpkins to come.



gift-made-package-loop-42231.jpegThe world seems like such a negative place sometimes.  I turn on the news or browse the internet and I feel overwhelmed with all the hurt and sadness I see.  It’s easy to carry it around with me and let it drag down my mood and dwell on it.  I want to create a place, even if it is just for me alone, where I can find positive things, a celebration of the best things in my life and in the world, things like love, light, hope, color and joy.

One of my favorite places in the world is a Hallmark store.  I worked in these types of stores for many years when I was younger.  There is always something to celebrate there- birthdays, new babies, weddings and of course, holidays. Even the most obscure holidays, it seems, have cards to honor them, if not the matching gift wrap and bows as well.  I love all the beautiful cards with the brightly colored envelopes and joyful artwork and embellishments.  I can spend hours ferreting out all the cute what-nots they sell as gifts.  But most of all, I love the smell, somehow the blend of candles, potpourri, soap and fresh paper create an amazing blend of aromas that instantly calms me.

If I could put my zen space in my living room, it would be the seasonal card and gift aisles of a Hallmark store.