#170 Roast Marshmallows

Some people like their marshmallows lightly roasted – the color of toasted bread and soft, almost completely melted on the inside.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#170

Roast Marshmallows

Yesterday, I wrote about Camping (or Glamping) and anyone who’s had that experience knows the pleasure of sitting around a ‘camp’ fire. Tradition, for our family at least, has been to include marshmallows so that we can roast or toast them as an evening treat. There have been many a conversation about how to do just that.

Perfection

Some people like their marshmallows lightly roasted – the color of toasted bread (perhaps where the term “toasted” originates) – and soft, almost completely melted on the inside. It’s accomplished by finding a part of the fire that is mostly molten coals with a low blue flame,  if any. A slight roterisse action will assure coverage across the entire circumference. It will bubble just slightly and color slowly. If your marshmallow meets matches this description and you wait just a few minutes after pulling it back from the fire – it will be slightly crispy on the outside as the sugar begins to crystalize again – making it absolute perfection – IMHO.

Variations

Others seem to find enjoyment by placing their marshmallow directly into the flame until it, in itself, becomes a torch. Quickly, it turns black and will consume the sugar entirely if it is not blown out. The underbelly of these are still firm and can often be toasted again if only the blistered ‘skin’ was removed. It’s a great way to extend the life of your marshmallow if – you can tolerate the ‘burned’ flavor. There are a few who are fearful of burning and lack patience to thoroughly roast so they ‘warm’ their mallow to the point of being soft enough to quickly dissolve.

Alternatives

A campfire is perhaps, the most favorited location to pass a bag of fresh marshmallows but it’s absolutely not the only way to experience the joy of the sugary treat. In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of homeowners with backyard fire pits or chimineas on patios and decks – offering year round alternatives to traditional campfires. In the absence of those options, there’s always the convenience of a gas grill or the flame of your own gas stove. In a pinch, there’s the heat produced by the electric burner on your kitchen range. Pop a marshmallow on a large meat fork, turn the burner on high and rotate. (I may have resorted to that method a time or two during my apartment living years.) As a novelty, a few companies now manufacture ‘roasting kits’ using a small sterno can as flame fuel. Hey, whatever works!

Savor the memories

No matter how you do it, the simple act of popping a perfectly roasted marshmallow into your mouth or smashing it between graham crackers with a block of chocolate (s’more) will instantly remind you of one of the most fun aspects of childhood. Take yourself back and enjoy a few minutes of pleasant memories by savoring the flavor and all that it brings with the satisfactory act of…

Roasting marshmallows.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#173 Refresh the Photos in Your Frames

Additionally, your brain has become accustomed to the photos currently in place – after awhile they become almost invisible to your senses.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#173

Refresh the photos in your frames

We frame favorite photographs of people we love or of great memories so that we can keep the moment alive and in front of us. While the snapshots of the kids in preschool are adorable, there’s a good chance that they have had a number of memorable moments since.

Digital Age

I am personally guilty of and have heard consensus that since the onset of the digital age, fewer and fewer photographs actually get printed. This may be one of the reasons that we aren’t updating the photos in our household frames even though many photo printing services make it exceptionally easy.

Get Organized

Grab a piece of paper and make a list of the frame sizes around your home. Many of them are typically 4×6 (the standard print size) or 5×7. Some of us may have special occasion photos that are the larger 8×10. Once you have a list, spend some time going through your phone or your online photo storage app (Google photos, Facebook, Shutterfly, etc…) and pick out a few to print. Most of the time, all you have to do is copy the photo so that they are all on the device you intend to transfer from.

Print

Once you know which photos you want, use a printing service such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. Of course, most box stores (Target, Walmart) and drug store chains also offer printing services. Simply download the photo to their online app, select the size and finish, and then pick them up when you are ready! It’s that easy.

Memory

Changing photographs is another activity that can help keep your memory strong. By stimulating our recall abilities, we engage memory in a way that keeps it moving… kinda like greasing a cog. Additionally, your brain has become accustomed to the photos currently in place – after awhile they become almost invisible to your senses. Changing the pictures will stimulate your brain as it notices something new as you move from room to room.

New Look

Replacing the photos in existing frames also protects against excess clutter as the years go by. Obviously, the longer we live, the more moments we capture and want to remember. Yet, continuing to add frames and photos can become overwhelming as time passes. As you go about this project, you may wish to update your frames as well but it’s not necessary to replace them. A fresh coat of paint, some embellishments or simply moving them into a different room may be all you need for the overall look to be updated.

Add this task to your master to-do list to keep it on your mind and the next time you need a ‘rainy day’ activity – consider the novelty and pleasure you’ll experience by taking an afternoon and …

Refreshing the photos in your frames.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#180 Organize Your Manuals

I know in my house I have historically stuffed booklets in there as I obtain items and then only pay attention when the drawer is too full to take any more.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#180

Organize your Manuals

Do you have a drawer of instruction or operating manuals? Is it overflowing? Outdated? I know in my house I have historically stuffed booklets in there as I obtain items and then only pay attention when the drawer is too full to take any more. I am often amazed at how many coffee pots I’ve purchased since the last time the drawer was cleaned! (I go through them faster than tires on my car!)

Why Bother?

My dad taught me the importance of keeping manuals and while it’s a little less imperative now that everything and anything is on the internet – one of the habits I have is stapling a receipt or at least noting the date of acquisition on the instruction/operation manual. Recording the date of purchase is important for warranty information. Having the original manual is also a nicety for the person who buys the item secondhand from you. It demonstrates that you ‘take care’ of our belongings and that you are responsible (that’s what Dad said).  

Memory Lane

Looking through a collection of appliance/apparatus manuals can be entertaining as well… the last time I made this effort we found information for a Karaoke machine I had bought the children more than ten years ago… it offered an opportunity to walk down memory lane for awhile and giggle at the memories of bellowing teenage voices – the Britney Spear ‘wanna-be’s’.

Quick & Easy

It’s a simple chore that really only takes a few minutes… a much shorter time than we imagine. While you certainly can take it seriously and create a binder with sections and labels – it’s probably just as productive to weed out the drawer. Whether its a tool sitting in the garage, an appliance that you use every day, or a toy that’s been forgotten the manual may be lying dormant in that drawer. Right now while it’s fresh on your mind, either tackle the task or scribble on your to-do list…

Organize your manuals.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

 

#187 Swing on a Swing

A mental break is often just the thing we need to interrupt a stress response and/or regroup our energy.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#187

Swing on a swing

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a poem called “Up in a Swing” and published it in A Child’s Garden of Versus in 1885. It was one of the first poems I recall memorizing and I cannot hop on a swing – even today – without thinking of that poem.

Remember

Most playground swings will fit adult behinds and there is a certain charm to partaking in the childhood delight of moving through the air. Close your eyes and imagine for a moment the sensation you remember from the last time you played on a swing. Do you remember how you learned to ‘push’ your legs to gain height? Do you recall jumping off the swing? Seeing who could jump further or from the highest point?

Flying

Swings may be one of the first opportunities that humans had to experience movement off the ground. The freedom we feel as the swing moves through the air, pushing it against our face and lifting us up and across the ground may have been the inspiration for bigger and more industrious flight.

Auto Mode

In those few moments that you allow yourself the childish delight of swinging, you allow your mind to take a break. It will automatically settle into auto mode and recall the body movements you learned in childhood to lift and push the swing across the ground. It will automatically flashback to youthful memories of play and simplicity; perhaps offering you a much needed mental break.

Mental Break

A mental break is often just the thing we need to interrupt a stress response and/or regroup our energy. This is another suggestion that will get you outdoors in the fresh air – good for your body and spirit. It will induce pleasant memories and perhaps laughter – increasing serotonin levels. The soothing movement will help reduce cortisol levels – good for your mind and body.

If you find yourself passing a playground, remind yourself to take a few minutes to give yourself a short mental break and …

Swing on a swing.

 

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#222 Let Something Go

Visualizing this process of elimination, destruction, and emptying of the things we ‘hold onto’ is a powerful way to let go of unwanted thoughts, memories, and pains.

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#222 Let something Go

What kind of excess baggage are you holding on to? What are you trying to manage and/or control that isn’t within your realm of change? What do you continue to think about that has been over and done for a while now?

One Story

Pick one of the things you thought about as you read the above questions and write it down. Write down as many details of this thing you want to let go of as you can think of. The goal here is to imagine or remember it clearly – but from a distance; with limited emotion as if it is a story that belongs to someone else.

Destroy the story

Once the story is complete, take the paper in your hands and crumble it up, tear it into pieces, or burn it (safely of course). Embed the action of destroying this story into your mind – taking time to be very present and mindful of the paper’s destruction. Imagine that the story is evaporating, fading into fog, and becoming blurred.

Open Hands

As you dispose of the paper (or ash) – do so with great intention and acknowledgement that the story is now gone. As you move the paper into a trash receptacle and drop it… see your open – empty – hand. Fingers open, holding nothing.

Visualization

Visualizing this process of elimination, destruction, and emptying of the things we ‘hold onto’ is a powerful way to let go of unwanted thoughts, memories, and pains. Once the activity is completed, you can replace the unwanted memory with the memory of eliminating it. Your mind will ‘remember’ that you’ve destroyed this undesirable thought. It may be necessary to remind yourself that you’ve gone through this process and make the connection by observing your open hands.

This technique can be very powerful for those times when you make the decision that it is time to…

Let something go.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#261 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

We all have countless recollections of mishaps and momentary errors in judgment that are retrospectively funny or immensely satisfying. Sometimes…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#261

Remember when…

This recommendation might sound a bit like the idea of savoring that I presented earlier but it’s a bit different in its goal. The idea here is to recall random shared memories of minor debacles when you are with another person with whom you have some history. Ideally, you’re thinking of a time that you can laugh about now. A time when you had solved a problem, survived a hazard, or preserved through a challenge.

The goal is laughter or at the very least, an appreciation for the lesson learned. It’s an opportunity to review a moment in time from another perspective and share a sense of satisfaction of a previous experience.

‘Remember when we got that flat tire and…’

‘Remember when I left the cake in the oven for an hour…’

‘Remember when we took the wrong bus…’

We all have countless recollections of mishaps and momentary errors in judgment that are retrospectively funny or immensely satisfying. Sometimes, just recalling the collection of awkward moments we shared with another strengthens our appreciation of their role in our life. It’s another type of walk down memory lane that can have you rolling on the floor laughing or being grateful that it is over now.

Pick up the phone today and share a blast from the past with an old friend or randomly bring it up at the dinner table tonight… “Hey honey…”

Remember when…

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#273 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

My children are always intrigued about my childhood and how I spent time before video games and electronics. They find it interesting to imagine…

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#273

Write down a favorite childhood memory.

Close your eyes for a minute and allow yourself to go back in time – back to when you were a child. Allow yourself to remember a moment of laughter, of comfort, or fun. What was happening then? Who was there? What were you thinking and feeling? What about that particular memory stands out?

Go ahead and write down the details – the answer to the above questions – for this memory and then do it again, and again.

Take the time to cherish, even savor, each of those memories as you write them. The act of writing will refresh your memory even more (perhaps stimulating additional details). Remembering pleasant times stimulates those pleasure areas in our brain and while they don’t spur the same level of chemicals that the actual even does, there is some dopamine production with the remembering.

Writing down the fun times helps to honor the experiences so that they balance our perspectives more evenly. Our brains are still wired to be noticing everything that is wrong (survival instinct) and so when we take time to reflect on the positives, we appreciate the true balance that typically exists in our overall existence.

If nothing else, writing down these memories captures them for our later reflection or maybe even more importantly, for the people who love us. My children are always intrigued about my childhood and how I spent time before video games and electronics. They find it interesting to imagine how we lived in a time that they’ve only read about or seen represented on television. The world is continuing to change, so capturing this little slice of history may be impactful to all of our future generations. How fun for all when we sit around and remember that time when Granny…

Write down a favorite childhood memory (or two).

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash