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Every day when I get home from work, I rush to my mailbox to see what is waiting inside for me. It is one of the most treasured parts of my day; what am I going to find today? Usually it is an assortment of junk mail or a few bills. Today, I opened the door and found one of my treasured magazines waiting patiently for my eager eyes to read. There is something about a magazine that brings a gleam to my eye and a smile to my face. They may actually be part of the very reason I exist. I live to read magazines, lots of magazines, I get so many different subscriptions my husband thinks I should open a kiosk at the local airport.

The first thing I do is run inside and lodge myself into a corner of the couch. It may sound selfish, but as soon as that magazine is in my hand, I forget about almost everything and everyone around me. I have been known to become so absorbed that I have ignored burning food and smoke detectors. My mission is to sit down and read; do not stop reading until the entire magazine has been read. It is a complete trance that I fall into as soon as I flip open the first page. My eyes dash madly about as I scan the glossy paper, turning quickly through the ads until I get to the editorial section. No word goes unturned. I want to read every tidbit of every article regardless if I agree, disagree, like, dislike what I’m reading. I feel I am getting my money’s worth if I devour the entire publication. There is just so much information out there, I want it to fill my brain and make me a more well-rounded, up-to-date individual. I figure these magazines will give me some good conversation starters or at least tell me how to finally get my hair styled so I can jump out of bed and look as if I spent the day at the salon.

When the magazine comes to the last page, my reading slows, and I wistfully let it fall closed. The mindless entertainment is over, and I must face the real world once again. Until tomorrow when maybe, just maybe, another magazine will be awaiting me at the end of my day.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) Magazines can be a great be a great way to decompress at the end of a long day.

2.) Recycle your magazines. Bring them to work, trade them with friends. Share the happiness and information with others; it will not only save money but it will save the environment.

A list of my favorite magazines:

US Weekly

Shape

Women’s Health & Fitness

Oxygen

Cooking Light

Every Day with Rachel Ray

Real Simple

Health

Muscle and Fitness Hers

Glamour

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I tricked my husband. Yup, sure did. He came home from work the other night thinking he was going to have spaghetti with meat sauce waiting for him for dinner, and I tricked him. Before I get to how I tricked him, you must first know that my husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. When I first started dating him he would eat steak, potatoes, french fries, and sub sandwiches filled with meat. Ok, he’s probably not THAT picky, but he often shuns the sides of veggies or fruit I make in favor of extra potatoes or french fries to go along with his chicken or beef.

I; however, could easily be happy living my life as a vegetarian or close to it. I usually choose fish when I go out to eat, since I don’t cook it very well and my husband won’t eat it. I haven’t met a tofu dish I didn’t like, and I happily pile my plate high with fruits and veggies. Yes, we are completely opposite when it comes to food preferences. I do like a good chicken breast, especially with BBQ sauce, or an occasional turkey sub though. But sitting down to a big steak just doesn’t do it for me.

The night I tricked my husband, I came home from work and realized I had forgotten to thaw out the ground beef. He does let me get away with using ground chicken and turkey when it’s mixed into a dish, so this helps me limit his cow consumption somewhat. Looking into my freezer, I realized I had purchased a bag of Morningstar Farms crumbled soy “beef.” I had tucked it deep into the bowels of my freezer, so my husband wouldn’t see it and become suspicious of me using it on him. Without hesitation, I threw the package into my pan along with some tomato sauce, garlic, and mini Portabella mushrooms. When he walked in the door, I had just drained the pasta and made the last stir to the “meat sauce.”

I really had planned to tell him that the “meat sauce” was really “soy meat.” We sat down to eat, and I lost my nerve. Instead, I innocently began eating my plate of pasta and occasionally glanced his way to see if he was making strange faces, spitting it out, or choking. Nope, he was shoveling it in. No hesitation whatsoever. Remarkably, he ate his entire bowl without a word. I couldn’t believe what I had just done! I got my husband, the carnivore, to eat an entire tofu dish. This is the same man who has refused on every occasion, for the past 4 years, to try a bite of anything that remotely resembles a soy product. Better yet, after he finished he plate the said, “Thanks for making dinner. That was really good.”

It is a few days later now, and I didn’t tell him. I actually do not feel bad about the little white lie I am carrying around. He’s had elevated cholesterol levels before at the doctor’s office that haven’t deterred him from gobbling down the meat whenever he can. I figure I can get away at least once a week adding some ground “beef” to a meal without him noticing and maybe it will help improve his health, too. For now, the secret is safe, and I will keep my fingers crossed he doesn’t come across the empty Morningstar Farms bag in the garbage can.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) Dare to try (and enjoy!) a new food; you never know, it may become one of your favorites.

2.) Lying is not recommended but sometimes ignorance IS bliss!

3.) Embrace tofu! Tofu is such a great alternative to daily meat consumption. It tastes great when combined with many different dishes and flavors, and your arteries won’t miss the saturated fat.

Anyone else out there ever tricked a friend or loved one into trying a vegetarian dish or new, exotic food?

My first job out of grad school was at The Dungeon. The Dungeon was actually an Emergency Room, but it certainly would fool most innocent visitors. Once you passed through the pneumatic sliding glass doors, that hissed as you walked through, you entered a completely different world. A world where time stood still. Walking through The Dungeon, you were suddenly aware of a strange glow. Don’t worry, those were just the overhead flourescent lights that gave us all a yellow hue. Patients were kept behind closed, sliding glass doors, kind of like caged animals. The clock on the wall could read 9:00am, but you would never know exactly what time it was or the weather conditions outside based on your surroundings. There were absolutely no windows in The Dungeon. It was as if the construction engineers deemed the people who worked and visited The Dungeon too sick or too busy to deserve the privilege of viewing the outdoors. I always felt it was nighttime there, because I walked around in scrubs (or my pajamas as I fondly called them) all day in this darkened unit. Without the windows, and the visual of the changes in the day, my 12 hour shifts often seemed to stretch on for hours longer. I longed to escape into the “real world” by the end of my day; the real world that I was restricted from seeing.

Fast forward 3 years later. I sit at a desktop computer against a sprawling wall of windows. Yes; glorious, beautiful windows. I can see every subtle change in the weather conditions from my chair. The view is so good that during one stormy day, I nearly called the local weather channel as I could swear I saw the formation of an early tornado in the spinning clouds above us. There is a grassy hillside and trees outside my windows. I often see cute bunny rabbits, fat squirrels, and even some unknown breeds of rodents running and chasing each other around. I’ve had a squirrel jump onto the outdoor window ledge and stand there peering in directly into my eyes. I think he was hoping I’d share some of my peanut butter sandwich with him. Other times, I’ve seen a few random people with their pets enjoying a walk outside my windows.

It depends on the day; the view often changes. I love having my windows though. They make me feel like I have a flow to my day. No longer am I trapped where the only light I see is the flourescent ones above me. I see the full spectrum of daylight hours from where I sit. Looking out those windows during my work day gives me a sense of peace and hope. Hope that in a mere 9 hours, I too will be rejoining that world where people aren’t sick and the weather changes in a blink of the eye.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) Windows make the workday so much nicer.

2.) When at work, stop and enjoy your visual surroundings whenever you can. Remember that there is an end to the work day, and soon, you too will be enjoying part of what is outside that window.

“Hello. My name is Sharon, and I am addicted to peanut butter.” Yes, it is true. I cannot hide behind the empty peanut butter jar any longer. It is one of my strongest weaknesses. Some people love their steak, some love their potatoes, and I love my peanut butter. If I had to choose what to take with me on a deserted island, I would choose peanut butter. Ok, I’m sorry, I would choose to take my husband. If he found out I’d choose peanut butter over him, he might never forgive me. That, or he’d never let me buy another jar of peanut butter ever again, and that is one risk I am just not willing to take.

I have loved peanut butter for as long as I can remember. My babysitter fed it to me as often as possible when I was a child. I had been born prematurely, so I think she felt obliged to my parents to try and get me to grow and fatten up a little. She alternated lunches of peanut butter and butter sandwiches with macaraoni and cheese, buttered noodles, and hot dogs. Not the healthiest fare; especially when you think of the number of fat grams in a peanut butter AND butter sandwich! I have never been overweight in my life though, so I guess all my running around outdoors as a child burned off all those tasty calories. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to start choosing peanut butter sandwiches over any other meal when asked what I wanted for lunch.

My mom made my lunches when I went to grade school. She tried to sneak in an occasional turkey sandwich, but I think she gave up on that pretty quickly when I told her I was trading them for peanut butter and jelly with my friends at lunchtime. I would do whatever it took to get my hands on one of those sweet, creamy sandwiches. One time, I even traded Halloween candy for a friend’s sandwich. What can I say? I was desperate and in need of a fix!

As a professional adult, I have diversified my palate, but I still need my regular peanut butter injections to keep me happy. Today, I savored a more sophistocated version of my childhood sandwich; peanut butter and honey. On the side, I did what any responsible adult would do, ate a salad to make me feel less guilty for eating such a sweet treat for lunch. If it’s not on a sandwich, I find other ways to sneak in some peanut butter each day. An occasional peanut butter english muffin with breakfast. Some peanut butter smeared on my apple for a healthy snack. My personal favorite is just an open-the-lid-and-dip-a-finger-in-the-jar for a quick taste. I can get away with this any day, since my husband despises peanut butter. He says, he ate so much pb&j growing up as a child, that he is totally turned off from the sight or smell of it. “Good!” I tell him. “More for me!”

Today’s simplest pleasures with peanut butter:

*peanut butter and jelly (or banana, or raisin, or honey) sandwiches

*peanut butter ice cream or fro-yo

*peanut butter cookies or no bake cookies

*peanut butter on apples (or carrots-thanks em!, or celery, or bananas)

*peanut butter mixed into smoothies

*peanut butter smeared on wraps, english muffins, hamburger buns, or bagels

*peanut butter fudge

*peanut butter and chocolate brownies

*peanut butter mixed into oatmeal

*peanut butter as a dip for crackers, pretzels, or crunchy breadsticks

Feel free to share your guiltiest pleasures with peanut butter, or recipes under the comments section!

The Dark Knight lived up to every word of hype I’ve encountered over the past two weeks since opening day. I had the opportunity to actually land tickets without too much of a headache. I had anticipated shows sold out for at least a week in advance with over an hour wait in line to jockey for the best seat in the theater. It only took me going online and booking the tickets two days in advance and having to pay the extra $1.65 surcharge per ticket. Then, we had to arrive at the theater 40 minutes early to find a good spot in line and wait. We waited until the gates opened at 6:00 for the 6:30 showing. I really am not complaining; it was well worth the wait in line. We had seats directly in the middle of the upper bowl in the theater; perfect in my opinion. Especially since this was no ordinary screen, this was IMAX. A five story screen that is so large I swore I was going to fall off the building with the bandits as they jumped off of it at the start of the movie!

I’ve been to two other IMAX movies, and I must say, I am a total convert. Yes, the tickets are pricier, but the extra few dollars per ticket are worth the viewing difference from the regular screen. I sat on the edge of my seat the entire movie. I was drawn even deeper into the story, because I felt like I was right there along side Batman as he fought the villians. Every turn he made at high speeds on his motorcycle, I felt I was holding on for dear life. I could almost feel the pain of any bad guy who dared to step in his way. The entire story seemed so alive, I swore I had been in Gotham City myself as I walked out of the theater.

I am not saying it’s right to charge $15 per ticket; I agree it’s a bit steep for the numbers who go to see the movies. Sure, two tickets along with the $8.99 spent on just one large soda and popcorn is enough to feed my husband and I for lunch and dinner for almost an entire week. Sure, it would fill the tank of my ancient Eddie Bauer Explorer long enough to get me around town for a week. But, the prices are still reasonable enough that the average person can afford an occasional evening at the movies; escaping reality with one of the best forms of entertainment I have come across in a long time.

Today’s simplest pleasure:

1.) IMAX movies are a guilty pleasure and a wonderful escape from reality.

*I would love to hear other’s opinions on their IMAX experience, favorite movies, and reviews of any of the new movies that are out there. Has anyone seen the new XFiles movie yet; was it good?

It’s been said that baseball is America’s pastime. I did not always understand this phrase, because I didn’t grow up watching it even though I did play little league softball for a number of years. Then my husband stepped into the picture a few years ago and changed all of that. He is a HUGE baseball fan and especially loves watching the Detroit Tigers. My world was turned upside down. I found myself in love with a man who loved a sport like it was his own brother. Of course I knew the basic rules, but I just didn’t get it. What is the infatuation with this sport? WHY is it America’s pastime? I soon learned the answer to these questions.

On our first date, we attended a minor league baseball game. We mostly talked during the game, and I was so interested in this man, I remember very little of the game or my surroundings. A year later, the Tigers were making a comeback out of the basement of their division, and my husband (still boyfriend at that time) proposed we get tickets and head to Detroit for a game. We made the journey across state, and the day turned into one I shall not soon forget.

After parking our car, we had to walk roughly a mile to the ballpark. We were surrounded by opposing fans; some wearing Tigers hats and jerseys, and some wearing Red Sox attire. We rounded a corner and I had my first glimpses of the stadium. It was huge! Two concrete carved Tigers greeted us at the entrance. Once through the gates, there were people streaming in various directions. I could vaguely hear an announcer overhead on the PA system. We walked the concourse and passed a variety of vendors selling souvenirs, cold beverages, peanuts, popcorn, and the famous ballpark hotdogs. I don’t even LIKE hotdogs, and these dogs smelled unbelievable!

We found our seats just before the game began, and I couldn’t help but take in my surroundings. There were people filling the stands as far as the eye could see. The sun was shining overhead making the green grass in the outfield shimmer in the heat. The infield dirt was finely raked; the chalk lines perfect. Watching these athletes up close and personal was completely different than anything I had ever seen on TV. You could hear them talking, calling for the ball before they caught it. You could see their sweat and pain. Most importantly; you could feel the excitement in the air being surrounded by this crowd of fans. Every play caused a reaction. A good pitch lead to clapping. A quick double play meant more clapping plus whistling. A home-run brought the crowd to its feet. It was truly an awe-inspiring sight, and I loved being a part of it all.

Being at the park that day, I realized why baseball is the American pastime. It brings people together to cheer for their team. Baseball is more than just a sport; it is a tradition that has brought friends and families together for years. Ever since I stepped into the stadium of my first Major League Baseball game, I feel changed. I can never look at it as I once did, just a sport. To me, it’s a beautiful display of sights, sounds, tastes; and feelings that touch all the senses. I can remember different images from every game I’ve been to, and they will flood my mind every time I sit down to watch a game with the ones I love.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) There is so much more to baseball than just the game.

2.) Baseball (or any sport) can be a good opportunity to share time with loved ones.

My internet service is going down on Friday, because I am changing internet providers, so I am posting Friday’s blog message Thursday night…

My boss brought two huge vats of freshly picked blueberries into the office the other day. Her husband is a blueberry horticulturist; he tries to develop and grow the biggest blueberries for a living. Needless to say, these were not your every day grocery store variety. Plus, they were free! My co-workers and I scrambled for every tuperware container and ziploc bag we could find.

As I was filling my containers with these juicy, blue jewels, I couldn’t help but remember the summer days of youth when I was out in the blueberry fields picking berries with my mom and brother. We always visited a farm that was outside of town, not far from Lake Michigan. My brother and I were always competitive with each other growing up, but when it came to blueberry picking we each had different goals. I aimed to pick the most blueberries possible; he tried to eat the most. The sweltering heat never deterred us, we hardly seemed to notice as we stuffed as many luscious berries into our mouth as we did our buckets. Within an hour, I usually had 2 full buckets; my brother would have one full stomach. He always creeped up behind me and quietly grabbed berries out of my buckets by the hand full in order to make his bucket appear like he’d done some actual work. My mom and I would catch on to his tricks, and we would all start laughing and make fun of his blueberry stained lips and tongue.

When we got the berries home it was like breaking open a treasure chest. Everyone wanted a share of the wares! My dad would gobble down blueberries by the bowl for a snack. My mom would make hot blueberry muffins. My favorite though were the juicy fruit salads we’d often eat with dinner filled with the berries along with thick cubes of watermelon, tart strawberries, and sweet cantaloupe. I could have eaten the fruit for three square meals a day if my parents had let me.

Now, as I sit eating blueberries picked by another hand, it makes me appreciate how much hard work and sweat went into grooming these especially plump berries. I hope to get back out the fields someday and pick my own. The berries I pick just always seem to taste years better than anything I can just buy off a shelf.

Friday’s Simplest Pleasures:

1.) One of the greatest pleasures of summer is enjoying the bountiful harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables.

2.) Picking fresh fruit is a wonderful tradition that can lead to nostalgic memories for a lifetime.

3.) Harvesting your own blueberries is as good for the soul as it is for the stomach.

Whatever you may choose to do this weekend, be sure to enjoy it…

The alarm went off at 6:00am. There were two choices of course; sleep in for another hour since it was going to be a long 12 hour day of work and computer training or get up and go for a run. I knew if I slept in, I’d be full throttle all day taking care of others with no time for myself, so I decided to go pound the pavement and spend the only 1/2 hour of my day alone with myself.

I live in a city, so all of my runs consist of sidewalks, crosswalks, and dodging traffic. I did manage to find a nearby park only a mile from home and it has become one of my most favorite escapes from the city noise. As soon as I enter the gate to the park, the sounds disappear, and I am surrounded by nothing but trees and wildlife.

I wasn’t even a half-mile into my first loop of the mile course when I spotted a breathtaking site. Standing on the trail mere yards ahead of me were two baby fawn, not any bigger than Golden Retrievers. They quickly bounded, white tails flashing, into the woods off to my right. I hadn’t stopped running, and my gaze followed them. There standing in the brush just barely hidden by the tree-line was their mom, a big beautiful Doe. I couldn’t help but smile; here I am in the city yet I felt so far away at that very moment.

I finished up my run and went home to stretch. It wasn’t my fastest run by any means; I didn’t set any records or keep track of my pace. But the serenity and sense of accomplishment I felt lasted with me through my day. Seeing the deer wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but the sights and sounds I encounter every time I enter that park make it worth lacing up my shoes on a regular basis.

Today’s simplest pleasures:

1.) There is nothing else like the endorphin rush and sense of accomplishment you feel after completing a run or hard workout.

2.) Get away from the city; visit a local park or nature preserve whenever you can. It will make you appreciate nature and this world we live in so much more.

These are the simple pleasures that came to mind today that I am grateful for and that make me a happier person:

1) The very first run in a brand-new pair of running shoes is so light and cushion-y, it makes me feel as if I’m running on clouds.

2) The last bite of semi-melted ice cream at the bottom of an ice cream cone is a little taste of heaven.

3) Spotting a rainbow in the sky after a storm makes all of the clouds, rain, and thunder so worth the wait.

4) The sound of a child’s laugh is enough to make even the most serious person smile.

So I finally caved into all of the peer pressure out there and decided to start my own blog. I wanted my blog to be different than all of the other “typical” blog topics that are out there, so I have decided to start a blog about all of the positive things that I find in my every day life; hence the title, Smell The Roses.  My goal is to be introspective each day and post those things that make my day a happy one or reflect on past events that continue to have a positive impact in my life.

Why would anyone want to think about positive ideas and write them down each day you may ask? I had found myself dwelling on the negative lately, and even those around me noticed I was complaining about various things a lot.  I have so many great things to feel blessed for in this world, but the small things that irritate me quickly added up and easily made me lose my focus on the good life that I have.  I want to embrace all the good things around me that help make my life, well, good!  I hope the simple pleasures that I share will spread the happiness and positive energy to others who read the blog.  My goal is that the viewers of Smell The Roses will continue this cycle and pass the good feelings onto those they come in contact with.   I know I sound like corny optimist, but with all of the negativity in this world, there has to be a few positive people out there to keep the moral up! Enjoy and thank you for blogging with me…

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