Assume the good, doubt the bad…

Today at church I had the opportunity to listen to a wonderful lesson that one of the young women leaders was teaching to our girls. The topic was how we can support and serve our family members, and why it is so important. As she was teaching, I felt very pensive. I have reflected on my my relationship with my family each and every day for the last few years. I realize that I probably was not the most amazing teenager to raise, and that I have so many shortcomings that it is a miracle that my parents even allowed me to live through my teenage and young adult years. Sometimes I argue with my husband over silly little things that neither of us remember the next day, and on occasion I have realized that I am just plain rude to my extended family.

I am not perfect. I have made many mistakes, hurt a lot of feelings, burned a few bridges, tried to mend wounds, learned, tried to grow, re-built relationships, cherished the little things, become best friends, and have really realized why family is so very important. Through it all, I think the biggest thing I have learned is that I could have done better. I think we all come to a point in our lives when we realize this. It’s part of growing up, really. This is something that I know now, and that helps make me a better person each and every day. I think before I act. I choose my words carefully. I make the decision to not be offended. I cling to the opportunities I have to see or talk to family. Sometimes, I fall short. I realize I have slipped back into being distant, or moody, or that I have started to take for granted these people who I love dearly. So I start again, trying each day to be better than I was the day before.

This lesson at church really impacted me today. As I was sitting and listening to the lesson, I was reminded of a quote I recently saw on facebook. It is by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and it was a reminder that I needed to hear.

How often do we not do this? Why does it become so easy sometimes to assume that someone–especially someone we love–intended the worst possible thing and meant to hurt us? Why do we not give people the benefit of the doubt? Why do we let these feelings grow and fester, rather than assuming the good and letting the bad go?

Just like I am not perfect, my loved ones aren’t perfect either. The thing is, I don’t expect them to be perfect. They don’t expect me to be perfect. It’s okay to slip up. It’s okay to have a bad day. What it isn’t okay to do is push family away. It isn’t okay to look for reasons why our loved one is wrong. It isn’t okay to have to always be right. And, it isn’t okay to be offended by the little things, or to look for reasons to be upset.

Choosing to not be offended is actually much easier than you might think. Instead of assuming the worst and feeling hurt, try taking a brief moment to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Brush it off, and move on. You will be astounded how much better you feel. Just try it. If you don’t see your relationships improving, you can always go back to being upset and offended. But I promise you, the more you try to “assume the good and doubt the bad,” the more you will feel the burden of contention lifted from your shoulders and your relationships.

Try it this week. This is my formal challenge to you, my 15 readers that have somehow stumbled across my blog. I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m expecting it to be quite challenging. But I am also expecting it to be very, very worth it. Extend the practice outside of your families too. Put it into play with everyone you come in contact with this week. Your co-workers. A friend. The person on the bus who takes the last seat. That car in traffic that cut you off. Choose not to be offended.

Assume the good, doubt the bad.

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Teriyaki Glazed Pork Chops

These pork chops are delicious! I completely made this recipe up, and again, I didn’t really measure much of anything. Sorry! I’ll have to get better at that. I came home from work starving hoping that these pork chops would be quick and easy, and they really were. I don’t have pictures for everything, but I’ll just give a quick step-by-step:

First, marinate the pork chops. It’s really best to do this for several hours or overnight because that will allow the pork to really soak up the flavor of the marinade, but I only let it sit for about 30 minutes. I poured probably about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of Yoshida’s marinade in a bag over the pork chops, and poured in about half as much orange juice. You may need to use more depending on how many pork chops you are making. I let that sit for about 30 minutes, and then put the two pork chops in a small pyrex. I personally found that lightly drizzling olive oil helped the teriyaki not to bake into a sticky, horrible to clean-up mess. It looked like this:

I popped this in the oven at about 375° to 400° (our oven is pretty tempermental) for 17-20 minutes. These pork chops were reasonably thick…yours may need more or less time depending on their thickness and size. We served them with a side of creamed potatoes. Yum!

Simple, easy, delicious.

How to Get Organized

My husband and I recently moved into a new apartment. I was so excited at the opportunity to re-organize our life and revamp the way we operate in our home. We were living in a very, very tiny studio and moving to a somewhat larger, but still tiny one bedroom apartment, so I knew that even though I would have more space, I didn’t want that to mean that suddenly our stuff was going to be everywhere. I wanted things to be streamlined, and pretty, and I really wanted everything to have a place. It took longer than I wanted it to, but this weekend I finally got everything squared away. After everything was done, I sat down with a nice cold glass of lemonade (it’s always summer here in Hawaii!) and reflected upon my accomplishment.

Here are my 5 motivators/tips to getting organized:

1. Just Do It

Yes, I did just grab my inspiration from Nike. Sometimes when it comes to organizing, all it takes is just getting up and doing it. The longer I would sit there thinking about all of the things I had to organize, the less was happening, and the more I was feeling overwhelmed. When I finally just got up and started sorting through things, I realized it wasn’t as overwhelming as I was making it out to be in my head. I also realized I was actually enjoying everything finally getting put away. Step one: just stand up!

2. It really doesn’t take that long

When it comes down to it, I had my whole apartment organized in just a few hours (that includes being cleaned!). Now, that may sound like a long time, but think about how long it takes to clean up when everything piles up everywhere and things get out of control. You may even have to break it up into small organization projects room by room and tackle everything a little bit at a time, and that is perfectly fine! You’ll find that once you start, time flies by.

3. Don’t let yourself get distracted

This one is hard for me. I started my organization project in our bedroom. As I began sorting through everything and putting things in their “new homes,” I would take something into another room. Then, seeing something that needed to be put away in that room, I would start organizing that pile. I had to stop myself a few times (out loud, even) and go back to the one room I was supposed to be working on. It took a little bit of diligence, but once I was able to solely focus on the task at hand, it wasn’t long before I was completely finished organizing our bedroom. It was satisfying (and motivating!) to see one room 100% finished instead of three rooms partly finished. It helped to feel that I had really accomplished something, and it made moving on to the last two tasks/rooms much easier.

4. If it doesn’t have a home now, it’s never going to have a home

This is a sad but simple truth. If you put something in a non-specific area “to be dealt with later,” chances are it is just going to become a pile of clutter. I used to have a bad habit of making these kinds of piles around my house, and every designated cleaning day I would re-sort the pile…make it not so cluttered looking…maybe move it to another area…but I would never actually do anything with it. If something can’t be placed in a designated area now, it probably needs to go. Of course there are exceptions and situations where this wont apply, but overall, I feel like it is a good rule. It also leads to my last tip:

5. Some stuff just has to go

If you are undecided on where to put something ask yourself the following questions: Do I use this? Do I really like this? Can it go with other things that I’m having trouble finding a home for? If I get rid of this, will I even notice? Chances are, it is something that you can live without.  If you are really having trouble getting rid of it, I have heard other bloggers recommend making a “donation box” in your home. Put the item in question in the box and leave it for two weeks to a month. At the end of the month, donate the box. If throughout that month you either didn’t go back for anything in the box or didn’t even remember what was in there, it didn’t need to be taking up valuable space in your home. Parting with things is hard, but the clean organized feeling is SO worth it.

Well, there you have it. Cleaning and organizing can be challenging, but when it comes down to it, the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when everything is in its place is awesome. I have felt so much less stressed over the last few days as I look around at an organized apartment instead of seeing a big cluttery mess of things to do. I’m so glad I finally got it all done, and I hope these 5 things help some of you to get motivated to do it too!

Next time…how to keep things organized. Haha, that is the second half of the challenge!

Golden Pan-fried Tilapia

Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? You’re right, it is! The best part about this dinner is that it is super easy to make, and it cooks fairly quickly. I love making this meal almost as much as I love eating it. Ready for a step-by-step? Let’s go!

It’s only me and my husband I have to cook for right now, so we only usually cook two tilapia fillets at a time, but this recipe (if you can even call it that) is very forgiving. Like I said, it’s barely a recipe at all. Take as many fillets as you need and make sure that they are defrosted, if previously frozen, or that they have been rinsed if they are fresh. For us, it is all about easy, so I usually buy the frozen individual fillets.

These fillets are going to be breaded with a delicious seasoned flour mixture. Now, I’m one of those cooks who most of the time won’t necessarily measure (sorry!) but will go by how something tastes, or how something looks. This is one of those times. Pour flour onto a paper towel. Season it with sea salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, paprika, cumin, and garlic powder, until it looks like this:

Mix it all up, and start breading. Press it onto the tilapia so it is well coated.

Melt about two tablespoons of butter in a pan until golden brown over medium heat. Start to pan fry the fish until it too is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your fillets are.

Once cooked through and this delicious looking golden color, they are ready to go! Serve with some fresh veggies and your favorite grain. Seriously, it’s so good. We stir-fried some veggies and whipped up some Rice-a-Roni (not super healthy, but I have a weak spot for it!) and man-oh-man was it amazing. Go ahead and drool.

So, what are you waiting for? Get cooking!

“It is not a waste of time for man to be creative”

Earlier this week I was casually skimming through a few of my favorite blogs (links down below!), and I stumbled across this fabulously written post written by Kate over at The Small Things Blog. What first caught my eye was the title of her post, “It’s not a waste.”  Naturally, I wanted to find out what she was talking about, so I clicked the link and began to read.

For a long time I have been going back and forth about what I want to do with my life. To an extent, I have the big picture mostly in place. I am already a wife to an amazing, loving husband, and I know eventually my role as wife will transform into a role as wife/mom. I feel confident in that future, but as far as what I want to do professionally…I am still searching for that.

In college, instead of pursuing theatre as a career, I decided to, “pursue something more practical.” In the past year, I have put off blogging about a bajillion times because I felt like I had nothing “new” to offer to the blog world. Maybe it’s true…maybe I don’t, but that doesn’t make my voice any less important. I have always had a love for all things creative, especially theatre, music, cooking, and crafting. More recently I have found that I absolutely love organizing, homemaking, creating nail designs, and experimenting with make-up and beauty products. Reading Kate’s blogpost helped me to realize that there is nothing wrong or shallow about any of these things. Just because my desires aren’t to get an MBA, or become a scientific researcher, or do anything else often praised as worthwhile by society doesn’t mean that my endeavor to create is any less valuable. What is important is to understand that there is value in the things I am passionate about, simply because I love them. My creative talents should not be hidden, but embraced, nurtured, and shared! God didn’t bless me with these gifts for me to bury them, but cultivate them and help them grow.

With that revelation and refreshed outlook toward the things that I enjoy most comes the birth of this new blog. And maybe, just maybe, it will be the start of something more.