Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Best Loaded Veggie Soup Ever

I love veggies. 
My husband loves meat. 
We compromise with this soup, and we both come out winners. 

I say this is the easiest soup ever because you load it with what you love and what you have on hand. You can buy ingredients, and that's fine, or you can go with what you have. 
Here's what's in this mix. 

Best Loaded Veggie Soup Ever

1 pound of lean ground beef
4 cloves of garlic, sliced or minced
2 medium onions, diced
1 green pepper, diced
3 cans of fire roasted tomatoes, in their juice
1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of black beans
1 can of baby peas
1 box of mushrooms, diced
1 head of cabbage, julienned
1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
2 small summer squash, diced
2 boxes of beef stock
Salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to taste

Brown the beef with the garlic, onion, and pepper. Add the tomatoes, beans, and stock. Add other veggies and allow to cook well. 

Serve with grated cheese, a dollop of sour cream, or croutons. 

You can throw in sausage, pasta, rice, potatoes, and whatever you want to make it yours. Using prepared beef stock gives it the taste of an all-day simmer. This is doable after work and it will freeze well for meal prep days. 


Monday, March 23, 2015

The Compound Effect

For personal development, I read The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, publisher of Success magazine. The cornerstone of this book lies in the belief that it is the choices you make every day over time that yield the greatest results. 

You can read the first chapter here

Hardy begins the book with a fun scenario. Imagine that you are offered the choice of $3 million immediately, or one single penny that would double in value every day for 31 days. What is your gut reaction? Who wouldn't want $3 million? But in choosing the multi-million dollar payout, you lose out on nearly four times that amount, as the penny compounds daily to nearly $11 million by day 31. 

Small changes yield huge returns.

When you start a new venture, whether it is a project, a new business, or even a diet, you want the end result now. But it's easy to forget that overnight success does not happen overnight, even though you want it to, and on some level, you expect it to. You may start out strong, making changes to give your project your full attention and energy. And you may see some immediate success. 

But then, life may get in the way. The initial attention and energy you put into your venture may wane, and your success may slow down or even stop. 

Plateaus are hard, but be patient. Don't give up. Keep at it. Those small changes you made will pay out huge dividends, if you keep going. 

The Compound Effect explains that success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. That's important, and comforting, to remember.  Hardy says, "You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success if found in your daily routine."

Small, start choices plus consistency plus time equals radical difference, he argues. And I believe that to be true. 

When you decide to lose weight, hit a fitness milestone, or build a business, you want that overnight success, especially when you see other successful people around you doing amazing things. But it's easy to forget that everyone started as a beginner themselves and had to start with small changes of their own. 

Hardy believes in tracking every action related to your goal. It is the only way, he believes, to be fully aware of the choices you make. If this action bringing you closer to your goal or taking you farther from it? Knowledge is power to make smarter choices. 

If you're inspired by the success of others, do what she or he does and follow her or his advice. If he or she suggests a change, try it. If it doesn't work for you over time, modify, but keep moving and keep evolving. These mentors are sharing their expertise and experience with you, as you, yourself, may, one day, share your journey with others. 

Most importantly, trust the process. The small changes you are making in your own life take time. Allow the compounding benefit to take effect.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mr. Rogers

Today would have been Fred Rogers' 87th birthday. His gentle spirit touched millions of lives; mine included. 

The greatest gift you can ever give, he said, is your honest self. And he did. 
Children saw that. Parents saw that. Educators saw that. 

Mr. Rogers didn't need fancy animation. He didn't talk down to children. He was honest, kind, playful, and informative. He wanted children to love themselves and others. What more could we ask of children, or ourselves?

So, happy birthday, Mr. Rogers. You were loved. You are missed. 

Did you love Mr. Rogers as well? If you have children in your life, have you shared him with them?

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Alchemist: 5 Resonating Lessons

With more than 65 million copies sold worldwide in more than 50 languages, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, is a keeper. Because of my interest in lifestyle design, it seemed like a natural fit, and it did not disappoint. 

The lessons were clear. All of us have the potential of Santiago, the simple shepherd, to follow our dreams. 

You are not a victim of circumstance. You can decide how you live this one amazing life. Do not surrender your power to fate. You may not control everything that happens to you, but you can control your reaction. 

Don't give up. Ever. 

Love...pass it on. 

Never stop dreaming. Dream big. You're worth it. 

And look around...this life is pretty amazing. Count your blessings. 

Have you read The Alchemist? Share your favorite lesson or quote. 

What was the most motivational book you ever read? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tio's Garden: Pining for Spring

My uncle, in Spain, has the best garden. He can grow anything. My uncle, like many Galicians, grows food, not lawn.

After this long New England winter, I have been pining for Spring and warmer, sunny days and thinking about Tio's garden. 

If it's not spring where you are, and even if it is, enjoy the simple beauty of his well-cared-for garden. 

This is Luna. That face...

Some of his bees. 

I love the grapevines. 

Many varieties of apples Spain


And limes. 

Figs...not ready yet, but oh so good when they are. 


And so many pretty flowers. 


Do you have a garden at your home? If so, what is your favorite part? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ahora 10: March

It's March, Daylight Savings Time began this past weekend, and Spring is about two weeks away. Here in New England, it's been a LONG winter. People are ready to see grass again, begin planning for spring and summer gardens, and get outside in air that doesn't hurt their face. 

Here's what's trending in my world these days. 

  • Coaching with Beachbody. I never would have thought I would love coaching as much as I do. I feel like I am making a real difference in people's lives. There is mutual support and accountability. I love sharing my experience with others and watching them make incredible progress. It's the Starfish story in action...making a difference, one starfish at a time. 

  • Want to join me as a participant or as a coach yourself? Message me at for more information or join one of my free accountability challenges here. Right now, there are two. I have a water challenge and a 5k/10k accountability group, as well as the Shakeology-based challenge packs. Make a difference in your own life, or in someone else's. 

  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho This has been on my list for a while now and it does not disappoint. 

  • Water. I am participating in my own water challenge group and trying to get in all of my ounces. 
  • Shakeology. I love my morning shake. I have developed some great recipes and I feel great. It's my own version of spring cleaning. 

  • French Pressed coffee. Thanks to Steph at Life According to Steph and a lingering what-if in my own head, I finally gave in and bought this Bodum French Press coffee maker. I'm hoping that it's fabulous and it's something I can bring to Spain. 
  • In the meantime, thanks to Epicurious (and some tips from Steph) I can make the perfect cup. 

  • Dexter. I finally made it past season four and have about a season and a half left. It's dark, it's twisted, and I love it. 
  • Scandal. I think they jumped the shark a bit with this season's opener, but I will stick it out for the rest of this season.   
  • Food Network. Like most, I have my favorites. Some people watch sports or the news or reality television; I watch cooking shows, like The Barefoot Contessa, Chopped, and The Kitchen. 

Pining for...
  • The first pedicure of spring and a new pair of flip flops. 
  • New spring recipes to try. 
  • Tulips.
  • My first in-person yoga class. 
  • Outside walks.

Well, that's about it. 

What's happening ahora in your world?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

NCA All-Star Nationals: A Weekend Surprise

My niece is an all-star cheerleader. She's been doing it for six years and competes on a Junior Level 4 team. She is a base. She throws people in the air. She spends hours at the gym working with her stunt group, perfecting her jumps, her tumbles, and all that is involved in these high-stakes competitions. 

National Cheerleading Association, or NCA, has their annual all-star competition in Dallas, where thousands of all-star cheerleaders from around the country bring their best to win the coveted black jackets and first place trophy. 

It's intense...partially because teens (and their moms) can be overly sensitive, but mostly because it's intense, and fractions of points make all the difference. 

I had the wonderful opportunity to surprise my niece in Dallas last weekend before she and her team took the stage at NCA. And a wonderful surprise it was. 

Our weekend began with a team meeting at the convention center, where teams would be told their check-in time, as well as any last minute details needed before show time. 

After a good night's sleep, it was time to report for makeup, a bit of warm-up and stretching, and then they were off. We spectators began our quest for prime viewing, videoing and photo opps. 

After the first day of competition, tensions were high, as my niece's team placed third in their division. The silver lining was that day one's scores counted for only 25% of the total score. The second day, and 75% of the point share, would be earned the next day. 

The team needed to rally. My niece, often serving in a role of ambassador, pulled her team together. Bonding over ice cream and watching their senior level 5 team compete, they pledged to "bring it" to the next day's performance. They needed to make up ground and take it up a notch in order to make up of for the first day's deficit. 

They nailed it. And not only did they nail it, they won their division, edging out the second place team by one one hundredth of a point...a nail biter, for sure. 

The black jackets were theirs. They were national champions. 

And the photo opps were ours. 

The rest of the day was spent at a team celebration and then, later gathering back at the Convention Center to cheer on the remaining teams, most of them Level 5 and elite teams. 

All good things eventually end, but we didn't go down without a fight, powered by giggles, Tex-Mex, and selfie-stick fun. 

Although it was a weekend that moved at a seemingly accelerated pace, my weekend surprise with my favorite girl was filled with moments with laughter, love, and pride that will replay in slow motion and, no doubt, last a lifetime.