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Posted on Jan 12, 2014 in Menus and Recipes

Thai Chicken Soup Remedy


I don’t like being sick. It’s difficult to take time off from work, so there is nothing really in it for me, anyway.

When I’m not feeling well and it’s cold outside, chicken soup helps me feel better. This Thai chicken soup recipe is nice for those days, because the spiciness will open your sinuses, and it has plenty of flavor even when you are stuffed up. It’s easy to make, and most of the ingredients can be kept in your freezer and pantry for a long time, so you can be ready for when the flu or cold strikes.

Thai Chicken Soup


  • 6 c chicken stock
  • 1 c roasted chicken
  • 1 c peeled, cleaned shrimp (optional)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, smashed flat with a frying pan*
  • 5 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 kaffir limes leaves** or grated zest from 1 lime
  • 1 inch slice of ginger, grated
  • 2 dried chilies, crushed
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 3 green onions, sliced (green parts only)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 T lime juice

* I buy lemon grass at the farmers market once per year, then slice each stalk into 2 parts and freeze.  Take out of the freezer a few minutes to thaw before using. Take your anger about being sick out on the stalk by smashing it to release its flavor.

** You can find these fresh in many grocery stores that carry Asian vegetables, or in the frozen section of the supermarket.  The packages are small, so you might need help finding them!


Pour boiling water over mushrooms to cover, and let stand 15 minutes.  Remove mushrooms and slice into thin strips.  Set mushrooms aside.  Strain water from mushrooms into pot with chicken stock, and heat to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium. Add chicken, shrimp (if using), mushrooms and lemongrass, and cook for 2-5 minutes until chicken is heated.

Add kaffir lime leaves, ginger, coconut milk, chilis, and fish sauce.  Cook an additional 2 minutes.

Add green onions and bell pepper, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until vegetables are hot.

Stir in lime juice and serve.

You can add sliced basil or cilantro as a garnish if you want.


Photo credit: snowpea&bokchoi

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Posted on Jan 10, 2014 in How to simplify, My Journey

Things I am Throwing Away This Month


As usual, when I re-read what I wrote in this blog, I have to laugh at myself.

Recently, I wrote a post 2014 Things to do in 2014.

The last thing on the list was

“Let one person per day make a mistake on the road for free (you might try two per day next week!)” -Myself

Today, as I was driving to work, a woman wandered into my lane.  Yes, she was driving very slowly down the middle of the white line with giant mittens on both hands. Somehow, she was talking on the phone at the same time. While I have to admire the challenge she made for herself on her morning commute, I was equally surprised at how several blocks later I was thinking about all the things she was doing that she should not do.

You know, for traffic safety.  Not for my personal benefit.

I wondered how I could remove this problem from my day, when my brain sent me a message.

You could just stop worrying about other people’s responsibilities!

So, I will take that challenge.  Here is what I can give up responsibility for:

  • People who are rude because they are not paying attention
  • People who are rude for any other reason
  • People who have hurt me in the past
  • People who don’t do their job, and make mine harder
  • People who are chronically late or unprepared

This should simplify my life and give me more time and energy to focus on my own responsibilities.  I’m sure that woman in the car this morning will be sorry not to have my list of errors available for review, but she will just have to take care of them herself.


Photo credits:  Donald Lee PardueShawn DeWolfe

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Posted on Jan 8, 2014 in How to simplify

Routine Check-up


During the fun, indulgent, craziness of the holidays, and the recent ridiculous weather, it’s easy to get off the routine and just respond to things as they come.  Now that the holidays are over and the temperatures are moving back into the normal range, maybe it’s a good time to check in on the routines that keep us healthy and happy.

1. Get a good night’s sleep.

I am kind of sleep crusader, but going to bed at a regular time and making sure to get enough sleep has made amazing changes in my life.  Getting up early and having time in the morning to do things for myself without having to rush off to work is enough reason for me to get some rest.

2. Put away the decorations.

Putting up Christmas decorations is so much fun.  Taking them down and putting them away seems like work.  I guess it’s sad to see the holidays finally over, but putting them away gives a concrete sense of a new beginning .  Letting go of the ones you don’t actually use before putting the rest in the containers will give you more space and a real sense of achievement.  Think of how nice it will be decorating next year if the lights are not tangled with strings that don’t work.

3. Move around.

This past week of crazy-cold weather has given me (and my poor greyhound) a severe case of cabin fever.  I have never been much for workout equipment and mall walking, and prefer to be outdoors, but I can see the benefits of alternative exercises now.  If only I could bring my dog to the mall…

4. Pack lunch.

The number of parties and food-adjacent events during the holidays made my eating habits revert back to the whatever-is-in-front-of-me diet.  Packing a healthy lunch each day reduces expenses, and helps ease us back into better eating habits.  Now, once I get through the last two holiday parties this week, things should settle back into a more healthy routine.

What healthy routines are you working on this week?

Photo credit:  Sarah_Ackerman

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Posted on Jan 3, 2014 in Inspiration

Following the Rules is Not Enough


I believe that choosing a simpler life is the path to a happier life.  And, I understand that it is important to follow rules.

Rules bring fairness and order to the world.  They make the highways safer.

But, simply spending your life following the rules is not enough to be happy.

It is not enough to reach your best dreams. It is not enough to expand your mind or create something beautiful and new.

So, even if you choose never to break or even bend a rule, let’s promise to do a little more than that.

Photo credit:  _Tony_B
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Posted on Jan 1, 2014 in How to simplify, Resources

2014 Things to do in 2014


OK, so I didn’t count exactly, but this is a long list of things that will contribute to a simpler, happier life.


Things to do for yourself every day 

(This is more than 3000 things right here)


Get a good night’s sleep

Get up early

Start the day with an intention

Make a (short!) to-do list

Eat some fruits and veggies

Move around more than necessary

Tell someone you love them

Give a (sincere) compliment that is not expected

Write down 3 things you are grateful for

Think of 3 good things that happened that day before you go to sleep

Spend time with someone you like


Things to donate


Old phones, GPS, cameras, TVs, watches, computers,

Clothes that don’t fit, you don’t like, you don’t wear regularly

Clothes you bought for others that they do not like or wear

Kid’s old toys and clothes, no matter how cute

Gifts that you keep out of duty or guilt (take a picture of you wearing it or using it and send to the giver, or post it on Facebook)

Books that you have already read

Books you have owned for more than 6 months that you haven’t read


Old magazines (declare amnesty on anything before the January issue, and drop them by your doctor’s or dentist’s office)

DVDs that you have watched only once

Out-of-date media (video tapes, audio tapes, albums-Hipsters excepted)


Things to let go of


Cancel subscriptions for anything you don’t look forward to every month

Cable TV (here are some alternatives Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and more )

Land line

Recipes for things your family dislikes and things you feel you SHOULD eat

Copies of bills already paid

Paper bills.  Sign up for auto bill pay or electronic bill paying though your bank

Food past its expiration date (maybe)

Medications past their expiration date (dispose of them safely)

Prescription medications past their purpose (don’t save them to give away!)

Food containers that have no lid

Lids that have no food containers

Tins, plastic containers and jars from food (if you haven’t used them this week)

Single socks (even if you think you will find the mate the next day)

Wire hangers from the cleaners (try recycling or giving them back!)

Buttons and thread for clothes you no longer have

Broken stuff that you have been meaning to fix

People that you have been meaning to fix

People that are a source of pain in your life

Expectation that people will change


Take care of these and feel the glow of accomplishment


Send one delayed email per day

Keep a box of notecards with a pen and stamps, and send a thinking-of-you or thank-you note as soon as you think of it.

Pay bills every week on the same day

Put a load of laundry in the washer whenever you turn on a movie, the TV or computer.  The load of laundry will help you keep track of the time, and you will be productive while you relax.  Fold the laundry while you watch and it will be (almost) painless

Catch people doing the right thing (loading or unloading the dishwasher, picking up their stuff, walking the dog) and give them a big smooch

Let one person per day make a mistake on the road for free (you might try two per day next week!)


Photo credits:  brad_holt,  matsuyuki,  Yukiko MatsuokaWickerfurniture,  Sharandra








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