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How to Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Perhaps I am attempting the impossible…but maybe it will make more sense if I first tell you about my day.

I started this morning feeling happy and filled with plans. My son is coming home from university for Thanksgiving break tomorrow afternoon and I was determined to run errands today so I’d be free tomorrow to take my daughter to her music lesson and then straighten the house and prepare a nice homecoming supper for my boy. I dropped off a package to be mailed and exchanged an item at the hardware store. Things were going really smoothly until I got to the bank and discovered that my bank card and ID were missing.

The bank manager was helpful and we were able to determine where I’d last used my card. It’s a good thing his computer knew because my brain had temporarily ceased to function. There was a worried call to my husband. A call to the last place I’d used the card. A decision to cancel the bank card and have a new one issued. A call back from the last place I’d used the card and a series of calls and texts with my husband.

Then I drove home, checked the pocket of something I’d worn two days ago, and found the bank card and the ID.

Yes, I felt like an idiot. (Or maybe a turkey?) I never put my ID in my pocket like that but had decided to make a quick stop someplace that I didn’t want to carry my wallet. Obviously routines are important to my daily function and anyone wanting to destroy my life need only force me out of my routine to reduce my brain to mashed potatoes.

But even though I felt like an idiot, I was one thankful idiot! Most days I take for granted that I’ll have what I need to get through the day. Funny how an hour or so of not having some mundane thing makes a body thankful for having it! And by the way, despite being thrown out of my routine and slightly freaked out over thinking my ID had disappeared, I ended up rocking the rest of my to-do list and having a great day. Whew!

Now, I’m not suggesting you lose your bank card in order to be happier this Thanksgiving. Perhaps you can just be thankful you’re not as absent-minded as I am. I will, however, suggest that being a little more mindful of the reasons we have to be thankful can make for a better Thanksgiving celebration.

I’ll also suggest that all of the running around and cooking and cleaning, however lovingly intended, does not make or break Thanksgiving. What makes the day special and happy, far and away, is the people with whom you celebrate. I’ll be with my family. Some of my friends choose to celebrate their friendship on Thanksgiving. People who might otherwise be alone choose to express their gratitude by serving those less fortunate and helping them celebrate. Military, public safety, and medical personnel often spend the day protecting and serving strangers.

When I’m discouraged with life, fearing that I’m a turkey and I don’t measure up, or feeling that things just aren’t fair, I find that serving and caring for others lifts my spirits. I’m reminded that I have gifts to offer to the world. I’m reminded of how much I have received. I’m reminded that it truly is more blessed to give. I’m reminded to be grateful.

So if you want to have a happy Thanksgiving, choose gratitude and service. Choose to give to others and to be grateful for what you’ve received. Focus on your blessings, especially the small ones, rather than comparing them to what you think somebody else has. Don’t worry as much about your table setting, the condition of your home, how everyone is dressed, or if your menu is Pinterest-worthy. Those things are just gravy. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) What is important isn’t “what” at all.

I hope you spend your Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by very important people: family, old friends and new ones, colleagues, or those who may need you to serve them. I hope you are aware of how valuable you are and how much you have to give as well as how much you have received. May God bless you richly! And may He extend a special blessing to the military, public safety, and medical personnel who must spend their holiday away from their loved ones in order to care for, serve, and protect the community. I am thankful for all of you!

Who are you loving, caring for, or serving this Thanksgiving? Why are you giving thanks?

How I Ordered 45 Free Books in the Middle of the Night

I am over forty, which means that there are many nights when sleep is just a dream. (Yes, I did that on purpose.) My reality is that I wake up and stay awake for a couple of hours during the wee hours. My friends tell me I’m not alone in this.

Last night…actually this morning, I started flipping through Amazon’s free Kindle listings. Let me tell you, there are a lot of free books that appear to be overpriced! There are also some that have cover “art” that makes me glad my kids weren’t looking over my shoulder. But after sifting through the trash, I found 45 books that I was willing to add to my library.

What did I find? Several cookbooks, of course. An ESV Bible to download for the times when my Bible app doesn’t want to play nicely with the church wifi. Some titles about blogging and business (my university degree is in business). A couple just for fun. But none with questionable “art” on the cover, thank you very much!

If you already have a Kindle reader or app then you may want to scroll down to the free book links. If you need an app, please keep reading!

If you’d like to read free Kindle books you’ll first need a Kindle reader app. If you don’t have a Kindle device but do have a smart phone you should be able to find a Kindle reader app in your App Store or through Google Play. If you want to read Kindle books on your PC or Mac, you’ll need Kindle for PC, which is available free here. The reader is supposed to be free all of the time, but please double-check the price before you download!

There are generally tons of free books offered at Amazon but it’s not the same titles all of the time, so you should always check the price of a “free” book before you click the “Buy” button. Many of the free books on my app have a “Buy for Free” button that makes it easier to make the choice at 3 AM.

Free Kindle Books (or at least they were free when I wrote this)

If you like classic literature then you are in luck. In my experience there are almost always free classic books available. Check here for classic literature.

Free classics for children are available here.

The following are some of the titles that I downloaded for free last night/this morning. Please double check the prices because prices can change at any time! And since I just got these books a few hours ago I haven’t read them yet (except the Bible, of course), so I can’t tell you if they are good. (The Bible is always good!)

Chess for Beginners:

The Ultimate Chess Guide: Learn How to Play Chess and Win at Chess. Learn Chess Rules and Master Chess Tactics, Chess Openings and Chess Strategies!

Dutch Oven and Cast Iron Box Set (4 in 1):

Diet-Approved Recipes, Paleo, Flat Belly Meals to Try in Your Dutch Oven and Cast Iron (Weight Loss & Low-Carb)

Slow Cooker Recipes:

Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes With 5 INGREDIENTS OR LESS!: Easy Slow Cooker Recipes – Crock Pot Cookbook

Heirloom Seeds:

An Introduction to Organic Heirloom Seeds, Growing Them, and Their Benefits (Heirloom Seeds, Heirloom Plantation, Heirloom Organic Gardening, Heirloom Planting for Beginners Book 1)

Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Cookbook:

50+ High-Quality Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes for everyone! (Delicious Recipes, maximize your use of the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker)

Amazon did not ask me to write this post although I did use my affiliate links. I have had a Kindle reader on my phone for years and I love free books, so this seemed like it might be something others would appreciate. If it’s helpful to have a curated list of free Kindle books provided here then I’ll do it more often. Please let me know what you think!

An Easy Recipe for Taco Meat to Feed a Crowd (a perfect example of why I keep a well-stocked pantry)

When my teenage daughter told me the church youth group was going to meet at 11:00 in the morning in a couple of days to work in the church garden, I immediately realized two things…
• They were going to be very hungry when they were done, because they were going to be working through the lunch hour.
• They were going to be very hot when they were done, because they were going to be working in the heat of the day rather than the cooler morning or evening hours.

My reaction was to text the youth ministry intern who was in charge of the project and offer to bring lunch. He accepted and suggested it would be about ten people. I planned to fix food for a dozen and a half. (My husband was a youth minister before he became a head pastor, so I know kids can show up out of the woodwork!)

Among our students we have serious gluten, dairy, and nut allergies in addition to one person who is allergic to basically all grains except rice and one who is allergic to artificial food dye. The allergies meant I couldn’t use wheat, soy, barley, or corn (meal or syrup or starch) in a one-size-fits-all meal, which meant that inexpensive-but-filling pasta meals were out, along with baked goods, cream-based sauces, and casseroles that contain pasta or bread.

Please let me pause right here and give a huge hug to all of the parents of allergic kids. You moms & dads carry a heavy burden (and I don’t just mean the EpiPen) keeping your children safe. I know from talking to my friends who have kids with serious food allergies that you learn to cope and it gets a little easier, but it’s still not easy. Hang in there, allergy moms & dads!

To get back on our original topic, when I cook for the kids at church, I try very hard to keep the allergy-safe options as identical as possible to the “regular” meal because I don’t want the kids with allergies to feel singled out or left out. And in this instance I really didn’t have time for a complicated meal or a grocery store run. Here comes the well-stocked pantry for the win!

I decided to make burrito bowls and to serve them in the build-your-own style of a popular burrito chain restaurant. I offered white rice, “taco meat” that I made with ground venison and lentils, sautéed peppers & onions, black beans seasoned with Bean Zing, red chili beans, corn, shredded cheese, salsa, flour tortillas, and tortilla chips. The serving area was set up with each ingredient in a separate container with a separate serving spoon and my pastor-husband and I served, which meant the teens could choose what they wanted (and was safe for them) but we didn’t have to worry about one of the kids accidentally cross-contaminating the taco meat by dropping the corn spoon in the pot.

What to Do:
• Use the oil to cover the bottom of a very large skillet or small stock pot and brown the venison.
• While the venison is browning, use a separate pot to cook the lentils in water until the lentils are soft. Drain the lentils and set them aside.
• When the meat is fully cooked, turn the heat to low, add the lentils, and stir thoroughly to break up the lentils a little bit and evenly mix them with the meat.
• Add the seasonings and mix thoroughly. Allow the taco meat to simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.
• Serve in tacos or over rice in burrito bowls.

In case you’re not familiar with cooking with venison, it is VERY lean, which is why you’ll need cooking oil in the pot so the meat won’t stick during browning. If you substitute beef for the venison, you’ll need to drain the fat before you add the lentils and seasonings to the pot.

Lentils are a marvelous, inexpensive way to lower the fat content and stretch meat, either beef or venison, to feed more people. Lentils can be added to ground meat in taco and burrito fillings, meat sauces, and chili. The color and shape of brown lentils blends in with cooked ground meat and the lentils also absorb the flavor of the meat, so unless you draw attention to the lentils, most people won’t notice they’re there.

For dessert I could have made a couple of different items using ingredients from the pantry and covered all of the allergy bases, but given the time of day, the heat, and the allergies, I knew popsicles would be ideal. I do not have molds to make a dozen and a half popsicles and I didn’t have time to do multiple batches in the molds I do have, so I punted and asked my son to stop by Aldi on the way to the garden work day to pick up some of their gluten free, dairy free, artificial dye free, hooray-they’re-safe-for-all-of-our-kids popsicles.

The net result is that I fed a crowd of teenagers with multiple food allergies for four dollars and change out of pocket. I call that a pantry WIN! Want more incentive to keep a well-stocked pantry? Check here.

How do you feed a crowd on a budget while accommodating allergies? Suggestions are encouraged, welcome, and needed!

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Perfect Waste Management For Your Requirement Now

In here they do not know how to make money on garbage. Although, judging by the tightness of this topic in the press, the processing of solid domestic waste is almost a separate national project. There are three main ways of recycling household waste: burial, incineration and processing.

The First Version

The most technically simple first version says a lot. The traditional way of disposal of solid domestic waste in here is the burial in landfills, in simple words, dumps. Load of polygons in Russia today is at the level of 70-90%. This is a disaster not only from an environmental point of view, but also from an economic point of view. The premise of this approach is simple: there is a lot of land in the country, why build expensive plants for processing or incineration, it is much easier and cheaper to take garbage to a landfill.

The Proper Recycling

Recycling of garbage is not quite suitable for the domestic mentality method, because you need to sort the garbage even at the stage of its arrival at the landfill. The right options for the proper waste management services are important now.

Since the end of the zero years, separate collection of garbage has been practiced. Experience was recognized as negative. Now there is no legislative base and practice of application of such laws in order to stimulate the population to separate collection of garbage. The European practice is known when for the utilization of mixed garbage the homeowner is billed an order of magnitude greater than for a separate one.

By the way, the “vaccination” of the propensity to separate collection of garbage, without which the profitability of processing becomes negative, passed on the fertile German, Swiss and Scandinavian soil for 20-25 years. And in more temperamental countries (France, Italyand the countries of Eastern Europe) has not taken root completely and still.

According to the current domestic standards, the presence of organic waste in organic waste (food, bio waste, etc.) automatically makes the whole lot of garbage “inseminated biological material”, which entails control during processing, total disinfection, increased levels of protection for workers and so Further.

The Most Appropriate Option

The most appropriate technological and economic direction of processing is the incineration of solid waste. However, around the topic of burning garbage there are so many myths that it is absolutely impossible to understand where reality is, and where fiction is.

What To Do After A Car Accident

After a collision, you’re likely to be in shock. Not many people are fully prepared or know what to do after a car accident. If your condition permits, there are important actions to take at the accident scene.

What To Do After A Car Accident

Immediately after an accident, it’s very helpful to stay calm and assess the situation. First of all, stop. Make sure not to block traffic if possible, and turn on emergency flashers.

Check on people who may be injured, providing basic emergency first aid if you know how. Call 911 and describe the situation so that medical responders have some idea what to expect. Follow the instructions of the emergency operator.

Make sure everyone is in a safe place. It is very dangerous to stand or lie in the roadway or right in front of a vehicle that is stopped along the road. Oncoming vehicles could run into anything or anybody on the road.

While you wait for police and medical help, try to warn passing traffic by setting out cones or flares up the road if you have any.

Make A Record

Write down notes to help you remember what happened. Record the location, date, time and weather conditions. Note the license plate numbers, make, model and color of all involved vehicles. Take pictures of the accident scene and damage to vehicles. Don’t move any vehicles or accident debris until police give the okay to do so.

Talk with other drivers to collect names, phone numbers and insurance information. Write down names and contact information of witnesses. It is important to note which law enforcement department responds to the accident scene; identify if it is the Texas Highway Patrol, the Austin City Police or both. Try to record names and badge numbers of the officers.

Dealing With Authorities

Listen carefully to police officers’ questions and provide honest answers without volunteering additional commentary, unless you have reason to believe another driver may be intoxicated and want to draw attention to that driver.

Avoid stating that the accident was your fault. You have incomplete information, and a legal conclusion about responsibility for an accident isn’t possible without an investigation.

Remember to report your accident to the Texas Department of Public Safety, as required if anyone is hurt or killed or if there is more than $250 of property damage.

Get The Help You Need

Obviously, if you have serious injuries you can’t do much at all at the accident scene and will be taken by ambulance to a hospital. If you don’t feel you need immediate medical attention, you still should be seen right away. Some injuries, including dangerous head and brain injuries, might not immediately exhibit symptoms.

For the best results, you’ll need a lawyer to help you reclaim the cost of medical care for your injuries. If you have to miss work, you may be able to recover lost wages. Try to keep a daily journal to record how you are feeling and what treatment you are given as you heal from your injuries.

Plan Ahead, Before An Accident

Anticipate car accidents and be prepared by keeping supplies in your car. It’s a good idea to carry supplies, such as a notebook and pencil in the car. In the trunk, place an emergency flashlight, road flares, bottled water, a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit.