Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

A huge peanut butter chocolate chip cookie! All you need is a skillet, an oven and a wooden spoon. You don’t need a stand mixer or anything.

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This might be a lazy girls guide to making cookies. But I don’t care. Some days I just don’t want to scoop out all the little cookies and bake them pan by pan. Just one and done! And peanut butter + chocolate = success and happiness.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • Scant ½ cup of creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 bag chocolate chips (or 1 ½ – 2 cups)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter and peanut butter in an 11 inch cast iron skillet. You can do this on the stove top over medium heat or in the oven. Allow butter and peanut butter to melt. Remove from heat and stir in sugars and vanilla with a fork or wooden spoon. Let rest for a couple of minutes so when you add the eggs they don’t cook.
2. Crack eggs onto the butter and sugar mixture, and use a fork or wooden spoon to whisk it into the mixture. Place flour, baking soda, and salt on top, and very carefully stir into the mixture until smooth and well-mixed with your fork/wooden spoon. Stir in most of the chocolate chips. Pat everything in place so it is mostly even. Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips on top of the cookie. Place in the oven for 25 minutes, or until starting to turn golden on the top and around the edges, but still soft in the center. Serve with vanilla ice cream for a special treat or let cool to room temperature and cut into wedges for serving.

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Here I am mixing in the sugars. Also, you can kind of see to the left, I used these mini Hershey chocolate chip kisses which worked great in this dish.

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Before on the left. It is a bit crumby, like peanut butter cookie dough can be, but on the right you can see it all bakes together beautifully.

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If you had a group of people, I would seriously bake this for them for dessert. It comes together in minutes. Take it out of the oven, scoop some vanilla ice cream on there, drizzle with some caramel and you will have friends for life. Enjoy!

Posted in Baking, Cookies, Dessert | 2 Comments

Chili-Pasta One Dish Skillet

I have to admit that I’m not personally a huge fan of skillet dishes or casseroles. Sure, they can be comforting and especially warm on cold nights. But I don’t always like all the canned ingredients they call for. However, I am a fan of the ease of cooking these dishes and my husband really enjoys them as well. I thought this recipe was pretty solid looking and the ingredient list was ok. I’m happy to say it turned out great!

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This has the flavor of chili, a bit of pasta for staying power and consistency of a very thick stew. You could certainly adapt it to your taste preferences by adding other veggies, spices, etc.

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Chili-Pasta One Dish Skillet, ever so slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can red beans, rinsed and drained (could sub kidney, black or white beans)
  • 1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup dried macaroni, any shape
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Garnish: shredded cheddar cheese, scallions, sour cream

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, cook meat, onion and jalapeno until meat is brown and veggies are tender. Drain off fat.
  2. Stir in beans, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, uncooked macaroni, chili powder, black pepper and garlic salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or until macaroni is tender, stirring often. Remove skillet from heat; top with your choice of garnishes and serve.
  3. Makes 4-6 servings.

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I used fire roasted tomatoes as that is what I had on hand, any would do. If you prefer your skillet dish to be more of a soup consistency, just add some water to your skillet.

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After everything cooks and mixes together, this is what it looks like.

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I topped mine with a bit of cheese and green onions. Enjoy!

Posted in Main Dish, Soup | 2 Comments

Oktoberfest in Hazen

On Thursday, October 9, the Mr. and I headed over to the Hazen Golf Course for the city’s inaugural Oktoberfest Beer for Boobs event. In the past Hazen has had a harvest celebration or a summer event. Due to timing of other things going on in Hazen and the surrounding area, this year the Chamber put on a long weekend of Oktoberfest events. The kickoff (well, at least for me being a beer lover) was Beer for Boobs. Some of the proceeds of this event was going to help with mammogram costs, hence the fun name. We arrived at 4:30 to help with whatever was needed. We lucked out with stunning October weather and the golf course was decorated so nicely for the event.

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I love fall!

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In addition to the beer tasting, there was also fun games to be held like the stein holsting competition and hammerschlagen. Hammerschlagen is a game played by having a large tree stump about waist high with the flat sides facing the floor and ceiling. Each person gets a nail and one swing of a cross-peen hammer using your non-dominant hand. The person who gets their nail flush to the stump wins the pot. We played $1 per person. More on the stein holding contest below.

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The event was $20 to attend and that included samples of beer (provided by Jerome’s Distributing) and keg beer prior to the tasting. Krause’s Market was on hand and provided some excellent Oktoberfest food including sausages, kraut, spicy pretzels and more. You could purchase Das Boot for $10 to fill up with beer that evening and throughout the weekend at the other events, like the Tigirlily / Kat Perkins concert that would be held Saturday at the hockey arena.

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The tables were set with peanuts for munching / palate cleansing.

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Setting up the beer pouring station.

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Oh, and we aren’t ones to skip a reason to party and dress up so we played the part! We got these get-ups from Amazon for a reasonable price and they were a hit. Our friends also dressed up and it was a blast. I must also note that the beer mug I am holding is actually a purse!!

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The kegs we had were Coors Light and Sam Adams Oktoberfest. Excellent.

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On the left is the hammerschlagen game. On the right is a price list of some Oktoberfest beers for sale at Hazen Bottle that week. Also noted is the Hazen Bottle Annual Wine Tasting to be held on Nov. 20. I have the date reserved on my calendar. That is always a fun time with tons of food, wines and people!

Before the beer tasting and education we played the stein holding contest. The girls went first. We had to hold a full glass beer mug with our non dominate hand straight out for as long as possible. This is so much harder than it looks. Thanks to my husband for videoing this. I tried to embed the video but was having difficulty. I thought my arm was going to fall off. All the participants received a Sam Adams t-shirt, the beer in the mug and the glass beer mug. The winner received a very nice Sam’s Adams Oktoberfest stein. I won! Barely though. Yikes!!

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And here are the guys. Mark on the left ended up winning. He looks like he isn’t even flinching! It was no problem for him. The women went about 2 and a half minutes and I think the men went like 5 or 6? You can tell my husband is in a bit of pain at this point!!

After that, we helped hand out the beer samples and I watched my girlfriend dominate the hammerschlagen game! This was such a fun event. There were various other events throughout the weekend including a fleischkukle feed, German food at the restaurants in town, a pheasant tail feather contest, craft show and the big concert on Saturday among other things. Prior to the concert we had a party at our house in the garage. What a fun time!

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We had tons of food and two kegs brought over by a friend – another Oktoberfest and a Pumpkin Porter. Yum! We even had a DJ playing German music for us and set up our own hammerschlagen in the back yard. I dressed in my outfit again and was joined by my Mom in her Beerfest mug costume. Fun, fun, fun!

I was glad to see something like this in Hazen. All of the Oktoberfest weekend events were great. I think some lessons were learned and with some tweaking, this could be a successful annual event in our small town. Prost!

Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | 1 Comment

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

‘Tis the season for pumpkin! I’m not CRAZY about pumpkin like some people, but I certainly do enjoy some pumpkin baked goods, especially those with cinnamon in them. I mean, that is almost a must, right?

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This soft, spongy cake is topped with a sweet crumble so you get some nice texture in each bite.

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Ingredients, slightly adapted from Cookies and Cups

    Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 cup half n half (or milk)

    Crumb

  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

How to Make

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. In large bowl beat sugar and butter together until combined. Add in eggs, vanilla and pumpkin mixing until smooth.
  5. Add dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with milk, starting and ending with dry mixture. Beat for 1 more minute until smooth, scraping sides as necessary.
  6. Spread batter into pan evenly.
  7. To make crumb mixture, cut together all ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork. I like to get in with my hands and combine the ingredients once they are all mixed, and form larger clumps of crumb. (Don’t skip this step – your hands work best to mix this!)
  8. Crumble and spread this mixture on top of cake batter.
  9. Bake for 45-55 minutes until center is set and toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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This is the cake batter – it should be nice and light. Sometimes when baking with pumpkin, the cake will look a bit curdled or separated. Don’t let that worry you if it happens. Just keep going and it comes together.

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Here’s the cake on the left and then topped with the crumble. There is plenty of crumble to cover the cake and like I said, just use your fingers/hand to incorporate it. Your hand is your best tool in this case.

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And here it is before going in the oven and after. Oh, with a few pieces removed. Whoops! I had to taste it warm to make sure it was OK to post the recipe. It most certainly is!

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Enjoy this sweet treat!

Posted in Baking, Dessert | Leave a comment

Women’s Health Conference, Bismarck

On Monday, Sept. 29 I attended the Women’s Health Conference (WHC) held at the Ramkota hotel in Bismarck. I was really excited because where I work allowed us to go the whole day and also paid our entry fee of $40. At my previous job, I had the opportunity to travel on occasion and attend conferences. Currently, I don’t have those options and I do kind of miss it. I was thankful to attend this conference to network, learn more about my health and to be honest, have a day away from work – PAID! The conference looks to give women one day in activity and conversation focused on wellness, nutrition and fitness so we can continue in confidence with tools for a stronger, healthier, happier life. The focus is on education, self-focus and networking. There were nearly 600 women in attendance!!

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I started off my day super early at the YMCA in Bismarck with a sweaty spin class. I love visiting other gyms and classes and they Y was a great facility. I thought with the theme of the day, starting out healthy was a wise move. The conference began at 7:30 a.m. where you could go into the large room and eat a healthy breakfast of yogurt with honey, fruit and a Kashi bar. You could also visit the exhibitors who were set up in an adjacent room. At about 8, the emcee, Marcie Narum (formerly with KX News) welcomed us and gave us a bit of background on the conference. If I remember and understand correctly, this was started by former First Lady Mikey Hoeven 13 (I think?) years ago and is held twice a year in Bismarck (fall) and Fargo (spring). Both Mrs. Hoeven and Mary Ann Foss (Chair of the Advisory Board) spoke and welcomed us to the event. We were encouraged to Tweet or Instagram our thoughts throughout the day using a hashtag and they would share those on the big screen. I loved this since I am a social media geek. Also, kudos to the group for blocking off a lot of the men’s restrooms and letting the women use them. 600 women on a break? Yeah, that is a lot of bathroom use!

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Marci Narum (all photos from the WHC website)

The first keynote of the day was by Melanie Carvell, a Physical Therapist at Sanford in Bismarck and also a recent author of “Running with Antelope: Life, Fitness, and Grit on the Northern Plains”. Melanie shared with us very scary statistics of the modern day workforce. The biggest thing to me that she talked about was how as a workforce we are largely sedentary since we sit all day behind a desk. In fact, she said sitting is the new smoking and sitting all day is just as detrimental to your health as smoking 2 packs of cigarettes. The statistics she shared on obesity and diabetes this nation faces is shocking and frankly, scary. She took us through a series of exercises we could easily do behind our desk throughout the day.

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Next, we were welcome to attend a 45-minute session of our choice from 5 topics. My first session I went to was by Beth Schatz Kaylor (you might remember her as the chef from Dinner at Riverbound Farm). Her topic was “Getting Real on Our Approach to Eating Well”. Her time flew by and it was great to hear her tips. The main focus of her presentation was to Drop The CRAP: carbonated drinks, refined sugar, artificial sweetener and processed foods. Beth provided us with plenty of resources (via a handout and PowerPoint) about why you should eat real food. She also offered a selection of cookbooks and food sources in the Bismarck area where you can find real food. I thought her time absolutely flew by so that is a good sign. I could have listened longer and I bet more people would have had questions if there was time.

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After a break, we sat down to a healthy lunch and were welcomed back by First Lady Betsy Dalyrmple. Lunch was BBQ chicken with roasted potatoes, mixed veggies, a dinner roll, house salad and some Lindt chocolate truffles for dessert. I truly appreciate the effort to serve us something healthy. This is not an easy task when working with hotel catering. Generally, options are filled with cheese, cream, fattier cuts of meat, lots of carbs and more. I only wish the chef could have prepared the veggies in a more palatable manner. When feeding 600 women, it might not have worked but I would have seen something sautéed (in LIGHT oil) or roasted as it really brings out the flavor and helps the veggies shine.

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I snapped these 2 photos. This was probably the first time I have ever been served avocado on a starter salad at a hotel in North Dakota. Yum.

The second keynote speaker was Kat Perkins, native North Dakota who went on to the Top 5 on NBC’s The Voice. Kat talked a bit about becoming fearless and making an impact, especially in children’s lives. She also sang two songs. I have to say I was not a Kat Perkins fan prior to this. Her passion and attitude turned that around. Oh, and her voice is insane. I imagine the acoustics in a hotel room aren’t that great but she sounded phenomenal.

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The next 45-minute session I choose to attend was “GMO, Non-GMO, Gluten-Free or Natural? Clarity In Your Food Choices”. I have to say I went to this seminar as it was moderated by Katie Pinke who I follow on Social Media and got to meet that day. It was a joy to meet her and she is just as she seems online. I went into the seminar with no pre-conceptions – I eat gluten and GMO and don’t have issues with either. I was interested to hear more though. I wasn’t raised by a farmer (coal miner’s daughter here) and I don’t know a lot of farming terminology even though I live in a mostly agriculture state. There was a panel of speakers representing their farming or ranching practices and food choices. All were women and I’s say each had their own point of view from growing GMO’s to choosing not to eat GMO products. It was so refreshing to hear women talk about their different points of view in a calm matter. I think anytime you bring up GMO or organic or gluten-free you will get a heated debate. People are passionate on these subjects. I was there for information and felt I received a lot of great points. Again, I felt it could have gone longer. I personally think there is so much unknown and so many preconceived notions on this topics it makes it difficult to debate one or another. The point that really struck me is that they were there not to food shame. There shouldn’t be food shaming going on. We each have a right to pick what we want to eat and feed our family and that should be respected.

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Finally, at 3pm we reconvened for snacks (veggies and hummus, yum!) and the final keynote of the day presented by Anne Malum. Anne was a fantastic speaker. She went long and I didn’t even care. She has a fascinating story; she was raised in Bismarck and eventually founded Back on My Feet (a running program to help homeless people get back on their feet) and is now working on opening fitness boutiques on the east coast where she resides full time. Her story of growing up, finding out part of her home life was a lie, attending school and competing in sports was just captivating to listen to. She is strikingly beautiful and spoke like a true professional. The takeaway was you can manage and create change in your life.

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I always try to include a critique or something to improve on and I have a few ideas for this event, other than the food. The exhibit showcase was lovely. There was an area where vendors set up to showcase their items. It was plenty spread out, but when all of us women tried to make our way through, it was just too crowded. Next, since the group was very technologically focused, it would be nice to share presentations or PowerPoints after the event of the breakout groups.

I hope I can attend this event next year. I felt I learned a lot and was happy to meet/listen to such inspiring and healthy women. I would recommend this conference for any woman!

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Informational, Misc | 1 Comment

Buffalo Turkey Chili

Chili is definitely a warm fall dinner I look forward to. This wasn’t always the case though. I am NOT a fan of kidney beans and most of the chili recipes I see, have kidney beans in them. Not this one. This one is also healthy – of course, I served mine with chips and cheese, but it can be healthy if you keep those to a minimum.

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Only slightly adapted from Skinny Taste.

  • 2 20 oz. packaged lean ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • pepper to taste
  • 12 pickled jalapeno rings (or to taste), chopped
  • 2 (15 oz.) can white chili beans
  • 1 (13.6 oz.) container fat-free refried pinto beans 
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup buffalo sauce (to taste)

Optional toppings:

  • shredded cheddar
  • chopped scallions
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • tortilla chips

Directions:
Heat a large deep nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the ground turkey in the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks, about 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through, set aside, drain if needed.

Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, a pinch pepper, and cook stirring until the vegetables soften, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add pickled jalapenos, white beans, refried beans, water and chicken broth, bring to a boil and simmer covered on medium-low about 10 minutes.

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Stir in the hot sauce and add the chicken, cover and simmer until thickened, 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the flavors blend. Makes a boat load.

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You could easily halve this recipe. When I am making soups or stews I prefer to make a big batch and freeze half for use another week or when I am busy. I found this got a bit spicier when I warmed it up the next day which was fine with me! Enjoy!

Posted in Main Dish, Soup | Leave a comment

Thirty Five

Today is my 35th birthday! I was born on a sunny Saturday, October 13, 1979 via C-section to my Mom and Dad; joining my year and a half older brother. The Pittsburgh Pirates were playing for (and eventually won) the World Series. Well, my Mom told me these things, I don’t really remember. But I know it was certainly the best day for me!

I feel like 35 is kind of a big number. Sure, it isn’t exciting like 21 or “over the hill” like 40 or 50, but it seems significant. I am a real adult now. I mean I certainly have been for a while – I am married, I have a vehicle, a mortgage, I go to work every day, I have 2 pets depending on me to stay alive, I cook, I clean, etc. But 35 really makes it seem official. I certainly still feel like a kid most days though.

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But, 35 isn’t too old for sequins. I know that!

In the past year or two, I have been more aware of my mortality. I hope I am not yet half way through life and that I will live a long, happy, prosperous and fulfilling life. Sadly, I am more aware of my mortality because as I have gotten older, I have seen friends or acquaintances that have passed from accidents, diseases and just plain unfair circumstances. I see changes in myself as I get older and changes in my friends and family. I see more gray hairs, more laugh lines (OK, fine, they are wrinkles), more saggy skin and a few sunspots I shouldn’t have gotten had I used that sunscreen like my Mom told me to. But at the same time, each year I feel more “me” and more confident, happy and secure in my life. I guess that is the trade off, huh? I am sure anyone reading this over the age of 35 must have more answers that I do right now. I am more aware of life and what it holds and offers than I used to be a decade ago. I try to live a better and more fulfilling life than I used to and I hope to improve on that as my days go by. By incorporating fitness into my life, I hope it prolongs my longevity. I really love my life and the people in it! But I guess you never know when your number will be called.

I enjoy reading articles and trying to gain insight on how to lead a good/better/happy life, whatever you might say. I came across an article on Thought Catalogue by someone sharing life lessons. I hope if I look back and read this list when I am 40 and again, 45 I have different thoughts and opinions. But I wanted to take some of her tips she shared and expand with my own thoughts and lessons I’ve learned in my life thus far. I must preface this by saying these are all a work in progress and things I am striving to be better at. And I have plenty of work to do!

1. You don’t need a life plan. It isn’t going to happen how you think it will any way. You don’t need a college degree to succeed and no piece of paper is going to automatically ensure you a good paying job and a nice house. Find something you are passionate about and go from there.

2. Respect your body and mind. Appreciate what they can do for you. It is truly mind boggling to know what your body is capable of – from walking and running, to pushing yourself to do things you didn’t think were possible, to learning things you didn’t even know existed.

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3. Be grateful and mindful every day. Do we really know how lucky we are in our life? That it is as simple for us to go turn on the tap water and have as much water as we want? We can open the fridge and have nearly any food we want? Most of us in North Dakota are truly blessed to have all of our general, basic needs met. We are free every day to choose what we want to do, eat, see, read, etc. and what god (if any) we want to worship. As women we can vote, own businesses, live independently, etc. I’m so grateful for my family, my friends, my choices on how I spend my time – whether it be volunteering, working out, or even just watching TV!

4. Say “yes” to more things in life; especially if it makes you step out of your comfort zone. I’ve read countless articles where we need to learn to say no so we can do what is important to us as individuals. I certainly believe in that. But we should also say yes to things that scare us? Go parasailing for the first time? Go to the local park with your kid even when you are super busy?Go snorkeling off the shore of Mexico while on vacation?Say yes!

5. Money does not equal success or happiness. Having a fancy job title that pays a lot doesn’t mean you are successful. Does that job suck the life out of you? Are you constantly on call, checking your emails and not living in the present with your family? It is not worth it. Lead a simple life and have time to enjoy your hobbies and family.

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6. Live in the present. Living in the past can lead to depression (a lot of what ifs) and living in the future creates anxiety.

7. The only person who will save yourself is you. Quit blaming others, making excuses or waiting for something to happen. You have the power to save yourself.

8. Love yourself. Flaws and all. You only have this one body and mind – accept and love it.

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9. Save money.

10. Travel – both for fun and to learn. (Also, see#9.)

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11. Be positive, smile. There is more than enough negativity in this world. Sure, I get down and depressed and negative but I try to keep it to myself and look on the bright side.

12. Comparison is the thief of all joy.

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13. Relentless forward progress. Try to keep building yourself and being a better person every day – in life, relationships, work, etc.

14. Things that make you unhappy are in your control. Keep them around and be miserable or change, get out, do what needs to be done and be happy. It is that simple.

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15. Forgive yourself. Good Lord have I done some stupid shit and hurt people I love very much. In general, people are forgiving, especially if you are truly sorry. Don’t dwell on the past. Forgive, try to be better and move on.

16. Have fun!

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Cheers! Here’s to many more birthdays and life lessons along the way. Thanks for reading.

Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Misc | 4 Comments