10 perfect gifts ideas for the special man in your life

It has always been very difficult to gift my husband, first because it really seems that he has everything he wants and deeds, and second because “I don’t want any gift” is his favorite phrase. So every Christmas, every anniversary, every birthday and every St Valentin represents a puzzle that I have to solve. Over the years I have scored as many goals as I have failed. But every time that special date approaches, I always start looking … hoping to narrow my search for something that “he will like even though he doesn’t need”, or that “he will use even though he doesn’t want”.

I would like to share the 10 gifts that after a long search is in my list to give to my husband, or (or my dad) and hopefully, they can serve as inspiration for that special gift for that even more special person and all thanks to Amazon.

YETI Rambler 14 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug with Lid$ 24.99

TRUNKCRATEPRO Collapsible Portable Multi Compartments Heavy Duty Non-Slip Cargo Trunk Organizer Storage, Blue – $39.98

Thoughtfully Gifts, The Good Hurt Fire: A Hot Sauce Gift Set for Hot Sauce Lover’s, Sampler Pack of 7 Different Hot Sauces Inspired by Exotic Flavors and Peppers from Around the World$ 34.99

Double Old Fashioned Whiskey Glass (Set of 4) with Granite Chilling Stones – 10 oz Heavy Base Rocks Barware Glasses for Scotch, Bourbon and Cocktail Drinks$ 23.86

Large Sphere Ice Mold Tray – Whiskey Ice Sphere Maker – Makes 2.5 Inch Ice Balls (Gray)$ 13.99

Linkvisions Sisal/Bristle Dartboard with Staple-Free Bullseye, 18g Steel Tip Darts Set, Mounting Kits Included$39.99

Kettle Gryp – Kettlebell Adjustable Portable Weight Grip Travel Workout Equipment Gear for Gym Bag, Crossfit WOD, Weightlifting, Bodybuilding, Lose Weight | Clamps to Dumbells | Made in U.S.A.$34.95

Storm Glass Weather Stations Water Drop Weather Predictor Creative Forecast Nordic style Decorative Weather Glass

Storm Glass Weather Stations Water Drop Weather Predictor Creative Forecast Nordic style Decorative Weather Glass – 28.99

SEALIGHT 9005/HB3 High Beam 9006/HB4 Low Beam LED Headlight Bulbs Combo Package CSP Chips 6000K

HOJ Co. CARRYALL Mens Leather Money Clip Wallet-Strong Magnetic Front Pocket Wallet-Exterior ID Window$35.00

All these products are found in Amazon and are budget-friendly and hope can provide you with more ideas on what you can get to that significant man in your life.

Romanticism when your Partner is not a romantic!

I am of the opinion that we all have something romantic inside us, romanticism may manifest itself in different ways from the most romantic (dinners with candles and rose petals in bed ), to the most subtle romantics (coffee made in the morning), we are all romantic, but we all are to different degrees.

When I met my husband right away I realized that he was one of those “most subtle romantics”, he grew up without really knowing what romanticism is, and over the years we have learned to, by my side lower expectations and by his, put a little more effort.

After 18 years together we know more or less how romantic days like Valentine’s Day, Anniversaries, and Birthdays will unfold, usually by me planning something romantic and he trying to support me. I know that waiting for him to plan it all is not a fair expectation, but it is only fair that he be enthusiastic if I am the one who is planning the occasion.

When our partners are less romantic than we are, we have to have patience and understand how their minds and emotions work and work with communication so that they can understand what that special planned moment means for us (the more romantic kind).

For example, I may receive flowers once a year (if any), but he writes and calls me during the day, every day. He makes coffee early on Sundays and take care of the children or household chores so that I have my free time and enjoy them as I please. Those are the details that I have learned to appreciate because they come from a genuine loving place in his heart, and all the little candles in the world melt when compared to his daily attention to me.

My advice to you in the event that your partner is not so romantic is not to press for romanticism, but learn to see romance on a day-to-day basis and if you want your movie night, or fancy dinner, or bathtub filled with rose petals, then plan it yourself together with your partner and enjoy every minute of it.

When a simple Thank You will do

Last Friday night we went to bed a bit late since we had friends over for dinner.  I cooked the appetizers, side dishes, and dessert, while our friends did the most tastefully, tender, and juicy Brisket ever.  We laughed, and talked, and laughed some more. As I and my husband went to bed, although we were tired, we both acknowledged how lucky and thankful we feel for having great friends in our lives.

Sunday was the Super Bowl and my family has been anticipated the big game and I knew it was a special moment for them, so although I had a gazillion things to cook and prep for the week, I made the effort to cook them Chicken Wings and Nachos which they devoured while watching the game. After we put the kids to bed and as I am in the kitchen finishing cleaning up, my younger son calls me in to tell me that he really appreciates all I do for them and that the wings were amazing and the Nachos were the best he ever had and that he is so thankful for having me as a mom… I smiled, kissed him and told him the lucky one was me.

When we give the best to our families, and to our loved ones, and to ourselves, we do reach a level of satisfaction in our lives. At the end of the day, comes the amazing feeling that you are doing your best to stir your family in a happy direction, and when that gets recognized, and you are thanked for it… well, we are closer to the destination.

Beef Stew (Instant Pot) version

recipe follows….

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Yesterday was one of those days in which we walk through the door we want to keep walking until we hit the cough (or bed). Yes, we all know those days in which last-minute errands, last-minute emergencies, school functions, and late work meetings can take a toll on us and yes, we do have a family to feed.  So what we do? We dust off the Instant Pot!. I am very particular towards what to cook in the Instant Pot and I stick to stews and soups most of the time (with very happy results). Below is our last-minute-thank-God-we-own-a-Instant-Pot beef stew.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs of stew meat (cut in equal cubes)
  • 2 tbsp of flour (to coat the meet)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of green beans
  • 1 1/2 cup of carrots
  • 1/4 cup of parsley and cilantro
  • 4 basil leaves (fresh)
  • 1 1.2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of red wine
  • 5 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp of rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp of thyme
  • salt and pepper

Put the Instant Pot in the sautee setting and add the olive oil.  Coat the meat with the flour and once the pot is hot add the meat and brown it on all sides.  Once it is browned (5 minutes), remove the meat and add ¼ cup of wine and about 1 tbsp of water in order to get the flavor of the drippings of the meat.  Add the onions and let them cook for 3 minutes, add the garlic and let it cook for 1 minute, add the carrots and let it cook for 3 minutes.

We now assemble the pot by adding the meat back into the pot, with the green beans, and all the spices and the herbs (parsley, basil, and cilantro).  Close the vent and let it cook in the stew/meat setting or pressure cooking setting for 25 minutes. After it is done, let the pressure self-relieve for 10 minutes and complete the process manually.

Serve over rice and enjoy.  The turmeric gives it that beautiful bright color and it is delicious! You are very much welcome.

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Lessons Learned from my Mother

My mother has been a constant inspiration in my life.  She is kind, compassionate, realistic, assertive, composed and self-assured.  She is, by all I believe in, the wiser person I know. The use of “common sense” has always been her go-to-solution to all and every problem or situation and it is my goal to pass the “common sense” approach to my kids.

She has gone through the loss of her son, which is a pain that as I have learned, never goes away.   She has worked hard “38 consecutive years” as she says it, climbing up the professional ladder without holding back, always with loyalty, professionalism, honesty, and integrity. She has been, is and will be my idol. My go-to-person when self-doubt, fear, pessimism, and doubt snicks in my heart.

Through the years, I have seen her suffer, adapt, change, dream, conquering happiness and peace, learning over and over to enjoy life, be loving and caring (and patient) to my dad, and be 100% available to my needs and wants.  

After going through my own self-improvement program and in my pursuit to understand my life purpose, I have come to realize that she is not perfect, however, that realization just made me love her more since although she has her own challenging shortcomings, she has managed to be stronger than anyone I know.  She has taught me life lessons that today I am sharing with you:

  1. Balance it out.  My mother would always tell me to balance it out.  Put the positive on one side and the negative on the other and make decisions based on the outcome.  From professional decisions, to love, to friendship, to education, it can all be put in the balance and decisions are made knowing the positives and negatives of each possibility.
  2. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: Before judging try your best to put yourself in their shoes.  We don’t know what that person has gone through, we don’t know the whole story. Kindness and compassion should be your first impressions instead of baseless judgment.
  3. Be strong.  My mother is a stoic person. She is the embodiment of what a strong mind and a generous heart and profound faith can do together.  Even when I have gone through my good share of very low moments she has been compassionate but very clear… you are strong, you are mighty, you are a force, you are what you need to be to overcome anything.
  4. Got to be humble.  We are no better than the person next to us.  What we own and what we do for a living says nothing about who we are.  Be humble and treat everyone with kindness and compassion. Always smile, always shake hands, always exchange kind words, treat everyone (including those that are clearly making the statement that they have more than you) with respect and kindness.  
  5. Honesty goes a long way.  She always believes she was sufficiently smart to get to where she was professionally when she retired, however, she was always very honest when she would say that along the way she met people far more qualified than her, but that it was her honesty and integrity that made her a solid candidate for every promotion she accomplished while working.  If you don’t have integrity in the workplace, people will see through it. You can always be trained in the job, but integrity is what you bring with you.

At any time of my day, during a good moment or a low moment, I remember my mom and imagine how she would react, or what would she chose, or how she would handle the situation I am in, and by following her example, I have been able to move forward and in the positive direction.  I am grateful to her. I am grateful for her heart and her soul. I am grateful for her love. I am grateful for her lessons.

Mom and me

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Tips for your Morning Routine that works!

via Tips for your Morning Routine that works!

Mornings can be tough… The eternal juggling of managing people, pets, and oneself so early in the morning can be quite overwhelming. I remember getting out of the house and sitting in my car thinking… I’m ready to call it a day, and I still have to go to work!! With time, I started to pay more attention to our routine , and with practice my family and I were able to make it work. Of course it is still hectic, but not as chaotic as before. It has a flow that we have gotten used to as a family, and when I get into my car to go to work I can catch myself smiling, choosing a new podcast for the drive with a sense of accomplishment.

So what are my tips? I’ll share them with you and hopefully it will give you focus during those early hours of the morning.

  1. Get Up Early: IT IS IMPORTANT! Waking up thinking that you are already late is THE MAIN INGREDIENT for a recipe for disaster. Waking up early helps with my sanity. There are several ways I use this “extra” time; for example I do exercise (yoga, HIIT workout, or a treadmill walk/run), meditation, check calendars (mine and my family’s), check my social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook), or read a self-help book. You can use this extra time for anything that is personal, or use it to do stuff that you don’t have enough time to do during the day.
  2. Pick your clothes (and your kid’s clothes) the night before: I pick my clothes the night before, including shoes and jewelry. I even make the decision on how my hair and make-up will be. I make it to where there’s NO decision to make in the morning. My kids have to pick their clothes too. Their shirt, pants, socks and underwear are ALL picked up the night before.
  3. Pre-prep the lunches: I prepare three lunches( for my two kids and my husbands). I make all the sandwiches and put them in the fridge the night before. In the morning I just put all the items together in their lunch boxes. I doubled the time I have in the mornings just by doing this simple night-before prep.
  4. Decide what you will eat for breakfast the night before: Just like the lunches, we know exactly what the breakfast will be. We usually choose either oatmeal, veggie/fruit smoothies, or energy bars. Just something simple we can prep the night before.
  5. Make the beds: It sounds like something that would be at the bottom of your to-do list, but it adds a sense of accomplishment once it is done. Not to mention that when you get back to your house after a long day and you see your bed done, it’s inviting and relaxing.
  6. Go to bed early: Studies show that the average person should be sleeping 6.5 to 7 hours every night. So if I wake up at 4:30 am I would go to bed at 10:00 pm. I do put the kids to bed by 8:00 to get time to reorganize the house, prep lunches and breakfasts, take long showers and do some reading or blogging.

Not every morning will be perfect , and we know it. A spilled glass of water, a grumpy/sick kid in the morning, even we can wake up on the wrong side of the bed sometimes, but when we put the organization into it, even the bad mornings become manageable, and most importantly LESS STRESSED!

Sometimes I do think that one day when my kids have gone to college, I will look back and see all those morning with gratitude. Each one of your mornings are a segment of your life timeline and should be enjoyed to the max. Maybe one day it’ll be just me and my husband waking up to a cup of coffee and those moments will surely be cherished and remembered.

The Power of Daily Goals

A few months ago I completed a self-improvement challenge and one of the new habits that I decided to adapt to my daily routine was having 1 to 3 daily goals.  I would write down the goals in the morning and kept them on my mind as my day unfolded and reflect on them at bedtime.

The goals are to be simple and attainable.  From working out to drinking more water, to listening to a new podcast, to limit time spent watching youtube, to have a conversation with my husband after we put the kids to sleep.  The idea is to feel in control of your actions, of your decisions and to make things happen.

I invited my husband to join me for the daily goals and he happily accepted, so we both, while getting ready or making breakfast will take the time to out loud say our goals of the day.  Then we invited the kiddos… and it has been a wonderful decision.

We all as individuals see and perceive things differently. I work as a marine engineer for the maritime industry and have been doing so for about 14 years, my husband has a contract to do home health so his industry is wellness and performance.  Then we have our 12 and 9-year-old whos live is mainly school, soccer (younger one) and running (oldest one), and home. So, the 3 daily goals are as different as they are surprising.

For me, my daily goals can look like: 

  • Taking a walk during lunch break
  • Drinking 6 glasses or more of water during working hours
  • Acknowledge a coworker (ask them how they are doing and do small talk)
  • Listen to a podcast while driving
  • Limit sugar intake / do fasting in the morning
  • Take a moment to write on my journal or working on my blog
  • Workout (in the morning or afternoon)
  • Have a smile when coming home after work

For my husband, they usually look like:

  • Try to rest when I come back from work
  • Have a healthy snack when I come back from work
  • Finish my water bottle during working hours
  • Have at least 1-hour work out (on gym days) which means less chatting more sweating
  • Call my wife mid-morning
  • Listen to a new podcast while driving
  • Be nice and offer any additional help to my patients
  • Stop by my mom house to say hi on my way home
  • Cheer for my son while at soccer practice
  • Have a 15-minute chat with my oldest son right before he goes to bed

For my two kiddos, the goals are usually:

  • Eat all my lunch in the lunch hour
  • Say thank you at least 10 times during the day
  • Be helpful with the teacher
  • Sit in lunchtime next to someone I don’t know that much
  • Do my homework as soon as I come from school
  • Tell my dad and mom a joke after school
  • Read 10 pages of the book I am reading
  • Give my brother three hugs during the day

We always try to discuss how we did with the daily goals, what we accomplished and we did not.  With the time I noted that we are all more open to trying new things, to set the bar higher as we accomplish these goals and also to be accountable when we don’t reach them. We are more self-assured and more confident and most importantly we are doing our best, personally and collectively to improve ourselves, to be better with ourselves and those around us.