Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Whose Life Sucks More Olympics

I hope I'm never the type of person who has to "win" the "Whose-life's-harder/sucks-worse-right-now Olympics." Everyone knows or has known someone like that before. No matter the issue you have, they'll be ready as soon as they have the chance to tell you why you're lucky because their problem is worse. It doesn't matter what it is, they'll use something current or draw from a passed experience to attempt to one-up your issue. It's rarely done out of actually trying to help the person they're one-upping.

I understand needing to vent at times. I understand needing to complain about a pesky problem or a tough situation you're going through. Doing that usually opens the doors for the person lending that ear to share a similar story or at least one to relate to you. I'm fine with that because finding out someone you know has gone through a similar problem as you can, at times, be helpful. It can make you feel a bit better just knowing they got through it. You can discuss situational similarities and it may open your eyes to paths and solutions you hadn't yet thought of. A different perspective rarely hurts things when you're trying to work through something.

Just don't be that person who constantly tries to make all of their issues worse than anyone else's. That person whom has to make everything about them. All you're doing is saying, "that sucks for you but here's my problem that I deem bigger and more important than yours. Aren't you glad you don't have my problems? How lucky for you and your less significant problems!"

Doing  that doesn't make the other person feel better and it makes you look like a self-centered jackass who doesn't care about what other people are going through. You don't need to prove your issues are bigger and more difficult or that things you overcame were tougher so boohoo.

We all go through struggles and hard times. It's a part of life and everyone processes and handles situations differently. You can't say that your struggle is harder than the struggle of a loved one because you don't know. And even if it is/was, they're not coming to you for you to tell them how lucky they are. So next time, try shutting it down, listening and offering up something useful instead of disregarding what they're saying so you can tell them how you have it worse. Life is hard enough on it's own but things are easier to get through with support and encouragement from the people around you. If you're unsupportive and more interested in everything being about you all of the time, eventually (some sooner, others later) the people you care about are going to get tired of it. It's exhausting and frustrating dealing with someone that acts that way, especially when it's someone you care for or even someone you love. You're not going  to like what you start getting back so step out if your little "it's all about me" bubble and try on a little empathy on occasion. I promise, it doesn't hurt to occasionally just put your own issues aside and show the same kindness and support that you'd like from those around you.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Toys for Tots Fundraiser Year 5!

***NOTE: THIS POST WILL REMAIN AT THE TOP OF THE BLOG UNTIL I'M DONE WITH THE FUNDRAISER. Scroll down for new posts. :D ****


 
It's Toys for Tots time! For the FIFTH YEAR in a row!  :) I almost wasn't going to do it this year because I've had so much going on that I haven't had the time to dedicate myself to this fully. And believe it or not, doing this entirely by myself takes a lot of time and effort. I've had a lot of health related issues taking up a lot of my time the last few months (as well as work issues, family stuff & a few other boring variables sucking up my free time) which is why I didn't get to post this sooner. Though, I'd rather spend a couple weeks collecting whatever donations I can get as opposed to not doing this and just donating the toys I buy personally. Even if I only get $50 out of this, it's still $50 more than I would've been able to put into this by myself and that makes me happy.

Every year I donate some toys to Toys for Tots. I pick and choose other things to donate to as well through out the year. I don't think I can make a big dent of change in the world but I can do little things to make things a little better for other people. Be it with toys during the holidays, money for food, donating clothing, etc. I bitch about things that I wish I could fix but really, all that bitching does nothing if you're not willing to step up and do something to help make it better. So, I do what I can when I can to help out. It makes me feel good to know I've done something good and I help out with a lot of different things.

In 2009, I got an idea to do a Blogger Toys for Tots Fundraiser. I got the idea damn late it the year though so there wasn't much time to work with for Toys for Tots. I did it again in 2010 , in 2011 and again last year in 2012 as well. And now I'm doing it again this year. Don't know what that is? Let me inform you before I get on with the rest of the post.

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity is the fund raising, funding and support organization for the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation was created at the behest of the U. S. Marine Corps and provides support in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commander, Marine Forces Reserve, who directs the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. The Foundation has supported Toys for Tots since 1991.

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Like I said, I donate something every year. Sometimes in toys and sometimes in money. Sometimes more and sometimes less. Sometimes I don't have much money to spare but I do a little bit anyway because I know even if I'm hurting a little, some little kid and their family is hurting more. I prefer doing toys, though. I like going in to a store and picking out toys that I know will make some little kids happy. I never see the kids who get these but I always wonder if they liked what they got or if they were just happy for something, anything.

In 2009, 2010, 2011 and last year as well, I did a Fundraiser for Toys for Tots on my blog. The results were far better than I had expected in 2009 and they were amazing in 2010 and surprised me yet again in 2011 & 2012. I was beyond touched at all of the help and support I got. I got so many people who donated little amounts and it all added up to so many toys that I went and purchased. I take plenty of pictures and get it well documented on the blog because it's important to me (and lots of you!) to get pictures to show that I was doing as I said I would. I had so much fun going to get the toys in 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012. This year, I'm doing it again. :)


The final results from 2009: Here
The final results from 2010: Here

The final results from 2011: Here 
The final results from 2012: Here

If you want to see more posts with more details and pictures, then just click here or go to the Toys for Tots tab at the top of the blog on the tabs section.


On the right side of this blog on the side section under my profile, you will find that there is a PayPal donation button there.
If you want to donate money to help buy toys for Toys for Tots, just use that or CLICK HERE.

I will take all the money that gets donated and go buy toys. For proof that I'm doing what I say I'll be doing with the donations, there will yet again be pictures of the toys as I buy them and pictures of all those said toys being loaded into the car and more upon being delivered to a Toys for Tots location once I'm done with the fundraiser.

I know with the economy being what it is, things are rough for a lot of people (myself and my boyfriend included) BUT if you can spare $5 that would be enough. With $5 I can buy an action figure, toy cars, Legos, a stuffed animal, various kinds of dolls, PlayDoh sets and various other things. $5 will buy a toy and in some cases more than one toy. I can get 8 or 9 Hot Wheels cars on $10 so no amount would be too small. If 15 people donate 5 dollars, I have $75 and that will buy quite a few toys to brighten a child's day. You can do something to help and leave all the work up to me.

Like I said, I know life financially sucks for a lot of people right now. If you can give just a little bit though, you'll be making someone happy and doing something good. It's not that big of a deal to let go of $3 or $5 to a great and very worthy cause.

And yes, I know Christmas isn't about the toys and other presents but imagine being 7 and not looking forward to waking up Christmas morning because Santa couldn't bring you anything this year. It's a bummer.

If you want, please feel free to post about this on your blog with links and send people over. I would appreciate that quite a bit. If you do pimp this post out on your blog, email me after you do so with the post link so I can include you in a post that's to come later on. Also feel free to tweet about it or post it on Facebook. A few dollars from a lot of different people goes a long way. :)

This post will stay at the top of the blog for quite a while. Actually, it will be up at the top until the time I'm done with the fundraiser. The cut off date to take donations via paypal will be December 14th. I'll go shopping and deliver the toys by the 17th. I know that there isn't a lot of time for this (as I touched on previously) this year but any amount is better than nothing at all in my opinion.

There's also a tab Toys for Tots at the top of the blog if you want to go check out all the previous posts and pictures from the previous two years.



The tab just has pretty much what this post has plus links to the posts I did last year including all of the pictures as well as a donation link.



Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cold weather rantings

Something I'll never understand is why people tend to feel superior to others about the weather. You see/hear it all the time. If you live down South and complain about the cold, you'll no doubt have a Northerner make some comment about "cold? that's not cold! That's a light jacket day around here hahaha." And when a Northerner sees a 90 degree day in the Summer time, you'll see someone down South mock the notion that a 90 degree day is a miserable day.

I live in Dallas. We don't see a huge amount of snow, ice and below freezing temperatures. We've been hit with a winter storm where it's been just ice covering everything and several days of below freezing temps. Today is supposed to hit above freezing temps for the first time in several days.







I posted these pictures after going out for an Ice Adventure Walk because I was tired of being holed up in my apartment. And of course, I had people who are used to dealing with these types of conditions call me names and poke fun at me. The mocking and name calling doesn't upset me or make me angry, honestly. I find the whole concept to just be incredibly stupid and a little bit perplexing. I don't see weather like this on a regular basis so obviously it's a big deal to me and obviously people aren't going to be as adept at dealing with it as people who are used to this type of weather every time December rolls around.

I just don't get the notion of making fun of people because of the weather and how they react to it. I don't mock people who think 90 is hot in July when I'd kill to see a July day not hit triple digits. I know it's not what they're acclimated to dealing with and sometimes feel bad for them if their area gets particularly hotter than what they're used to. One of my oldest and closest friends moved here from Philadelphia and lived here a few years before moving back to PA. He thought Summer here was absolutely miserable in comparison to his Summer weather back home. To some people, 90 is a hot day for the area they're in. Just like to some people 21 and a couple inches of ice on the ground in December is not the normal for them.

People as a general mass tend to confuse me in this regard. There seems to be a general need to feel superior to others and they use whatever means is convenient to do so. What do you get out of feeling superior about the weather? And I mean this in the sense of people who continually poke fun of others. Not the occasional jab in good nature or what have you. I get that to some degree. Sometimes I roll my eyes or laugh to myself when I hear someone complain about 85 being "too hot" to them because I can't imagine ever feeling that way in the same situation because of what I'm used to dealing with. I imagine the same goes for people used to snow, ice and very cold temps. They probably feel that same type of bewildered amusement toward us for not being able to handle a few inches of ice being on the roads for days. I just don't get the continual need of so many to make fun and talk down to people over something so trivial. Then again, I don't understand anyone who needs to talk down to and make fun of others for any reason. If that makes you feel better about yourself or attempting to make other people feel bad makes you feel good, that's more than a little sad.

Moving on to something slightly different but a little on the same subject. I think the thing that bothers me the most about the weather getting colder here is the amount of people I don't even know that I have to deal with asking me why I'm dressed a certain way or why I'm wearing a jacket or if I know it's not that cold outside or blah blah stupid question goes here blah blah blah.

I have an autoimmune disorder than effects my health in a lot of ways. One way it messes with me is I get cold rather easily. So when it's 50 outside and I have on a hoodie and a knit cap, having someone ask me if I "really need to be wearing all of that" because it's "not that cold outside" tends to irritate me. It also tends to happen quite often which confuses me because I'd never question a random person about why they're wearing what they're wearing. Obviously,  I wouldn't be wearing a hoodie if I didn't need to. If a lighter sweater or jacket would do, then that's what I'd have on but I digress. Every one's body is different and you don't know what a person has going on yet a ridiculous amount of people feel like they need to comment on things like this. I usually just respond to such comments with a simple "I get cold easily" and leave it at that. Unless the person keeps talking about how I don't need to be wearing something heavy because it's not cold enough for it, then I lose my temper and tell them what makes my body have trouble keeping warm. Which I hate doing because it's no one's business and I don't want people to feel bad for me because of it but if you're going to make fun of me for something I can't control, I feel less bad about making you feel like an ass. Mostly because you're an ass and it's hard to feel bad for someone who's acting like a jerk.

Anyway, one last thing before I wrap this up. It doesn't pertain to this post but it's a quick little side note. Of course if you guessed I'm about to talk about Toys for Tots, you're correct and obviously know me well. ;)

My Toys for Tots holiday fundraiser is up and running for the 5th consecutive year with only 6 days left for making a donation. See this post for details on how you can help donate to Toys for Tots with a few easy clicks and to check out the posts and pictures from years passed. It's a great cause and a donation of as little as $5 will help make this Christmas a little better for a family who could really use the help. Thanks!

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Great Online Cookie Extravaganza!

For the fourth year in a row, Jz is doing her Great Online Cookie Exchange Extravaganza! Simple, you share a recipe or two or three for holiday baking. It can be cookies, cakes, brownie bars or whatever goodness you feel like sharing.  I've gathered a few really awesome recipes from participating in passed years so I look forward to seeing what kind of treats people put up each year. Thanks Jz for doing this!

And as a quick side note, my Toys for Tots holiday fundraiser is up and running for the 5th consecutive year with about 9 days left for making a donation. See this post for details on how you can help donate to Toys for Tots with a few easy clicks and to check out the posts and pictures from years passed. It's a great cause and a donation of as little as $5 will help make this Christmas a little better for a family who could really use the help.

Now on to the goodies!

Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes
 
Ingredients:
 

Cupcakes:

1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (candied/crystallized ginger should be on the spice aisle)

1/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree 


Cream Cheese Frosting:

16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 - 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


DIRECTIONS:
 

Cupcakes:

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Place crystallized ginger and water in Pyrex measuring cup or microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger and allspice. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Add in vanilla, milk and pumpkin puree beating until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the flour mixture, mixing until just combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.

5. Use a mesh strainer to strain the ginger from the measuring cup you microwaved the crystallized ginger with the water. Keep syrup for cream cheese frosting. Mince the ginger and use a rubber spatula to gently fold it into the batter.

6. Using a large cookie scoop divide the batter between the prepared muffin wells.

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
 

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1. In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter until well combined.

2. With the mixer of low, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla and ginger syrup and mix to combine.

 Now pipe or spread the frosting onto the completely cooled cupcakes and enjoy! :)


Make sure you check out the other Extravaganza participants this year!

2013 Bakers


Happy Thursday!