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Boomers: How Is Your Ship Surviving Our Current Sea of Economic Stress? Are You Looking for a New Job, Moving In With Family, Planning an Expat Lifestyle? Or Sailing Ahead?

Has Economic Stress Beached Your Plans?

“Ahoy There,” “Hola,” “Aloha” and “Permission to Come Aboard,” Fellow Baby Boomers!

All apologies for the fact that this blog has been “beached” for a couple of months now. The good news is, we’re about to set sail again!

Hopefully You Didn’t Think We’d Gone “Off the Radar.” Or Fallen Off the Face of the Earth…

Actually, the state of the “Boomer Lifestyle” blog ship is sound and all aboard are well! Fact is, we have been off exploring, seeking ways to better serve you.

The good news is that despite months of news stories telling you of the world’s challenges related to huge global economic stress,  there’s been lots of great stuff floating through the blogosphere, as well as the world at large, and we’ve been busy checking it out on your behalf…

Here’s how you can help assure that we’re providing you with EXACTLY what you need to continue to succeed in these turbulent economic times:

Take the Boomer Lifestyle Poll: It’s Both Quick and Painless

Historically, Boomers have had it good financially for quite awhile now. So we’d love to know how you feel you’ve been handling our country’s current levels of economic stress.  We thought we’d ask you — which is why we’ve developed our poll.

It’s just one quick question with multiple choice answers, so it will take you mere seconds to answer. The simple question is:

“As a Baby Boomer nearing retirement age, how has our recent global economic downturn affected your future life and plans?”

The potential responses ranging from the most positive  to the most stressed.

Specifically, you can vote for any one of the options noted below.

(NOTE: The parenthetical comments aren’t part of the official poll responses, they’re just here to focus and augment your thinking as to whether that point is your preferred response) :

  • No change, life is great, thank you very much. (Everything is on target for retirement as planned, and we’re looking forward to years of smooth sailing and great adventures.)
  • I can’t afford to retire, will have to keep working for the foreseeable future. (And you’re saying, “Damn, working until I die sure wasn’t what I had planned as the capstone of my career.”)
  • I’m currently looking for a second job. (If you’re selecting this answer perhaps you’ve heard that there’s a growing market for Baby Boomers as temporary hires, due to the experience Boomers can bring to the table…)
  • I am giving serious thought to retiring abroad. (If you’re thinking of living the expat lifestyle, you’re probably aware that the cost of living is often less, and those who’re doing it tell you that in certain countries it’s possible for you to live well on just your social security check. But you need to know WHERE those places are…)
  • I’m starting a new online business, to recoup our lost funds. (Perhaps your plan is develop your own economic stimulus package by writing a book based on your life knowledge, and market it online. If so, you’ll want to read the great post we have coming up on that topic!)
  • I’m starting a new offline business to recoup our lost funds. (Self-employment is a solid option, but you’ll want to invest in a business coach or other support system. After all, there’s no time left for mistakes…)
  • I’m moving in with my kids to help save money all around. (You’re thinking that this is what your parents and grandparents  did during the Great Depression, and it worked for them.)
  • I’m paralyzed with fear, don’t know where to turn. (You may not realize that you’re having trouble handling the stress. But if you’re eating poorly, napping excessively, drinking or smoking more than usual, or having trouble sleeping, these are warning signs you need to address. In order to get your ship afloat again, you might want to get some help with learning relaxation techniques, adopting a healthy mindset and developing stress management skills.)

Don’t Wait! You Only Have Until June 12th 2009 to Cast Your Vote.

All you need to do is click on the link below, to quickly send your answer to this single question survey.

This is not a test, it’s  a survey. Which means there is no one right answer. It’s simply an attempt to (albeit unscientifically) take the pulse of Boomer Lifestyle readers, to find out how you’re handling the financial challenges the current economy brings us.

The options you’ll find for your response are based on solutions we’re hearing about by watching the media, and reading your stories online. We know that each of the responses represents a percentage of you – we just don’t know — YET — how many of you have opted for each of these solutions. But after June 12th, we’ll tally up the responses and write a blog post analyzing your responses.

Should be quite interesting…

Of Course, We’d Love to Hear From You, Personally.

It’d Be Fantastic If You’d Share Your Story With Our Readers

If you’re game, feel free to post a comment here on the blog, telling your story… We’d especially love to hear any personal stories you’d like to share.

But Don’t Forget to Vote! Now!!

Here’s where to click to participate in the poll’s single question:

Please click to vote

What’s Next?

Once your vote and the others we receive are tallied, we’ll  post our findings.

Early poll returns show 60% of you selecting the “paralyzed with fear” option, which is distressing. But perhaps not surprising. It’s early yet in this recession, and people are still finding their way out of it…

We Have Posts in the Works on Solutions to Assure You Continue to Enjoy a Vibrant Boomer Lifestyle.

They include topics like:

  • How to write a book based on your life experience and knowledge  – and better yet – how to market it successfully
  • What to look for in selecting a foreign country as your future residence – full or part time
  • How to market yourself so that you can find a job without being penalized for your age
  • How why and when to start and operate a (profitable) online business
  • How to make money from a hobby business
  • And loads more of the lifestyle posts you love, on topics like healthy living despite health challenges, vacationing with your grandchildren, helping a parent coping with Alzheimers, dating, recipes and Boomer fun. Even a fun and entertaining post on creative trends in Boomer funeral planning. (Really!)

You know, this is all great stuff you’ll want to read as soon as it’s posted. Why not subscribe to our RSS feed, or go to the top of this page to sign up for our email list, to assure that you don’t miss a single post!

Stay cool! The tide’s rising to meet you!

Boomers, Seniors, Retirees: Need to Replace Income Lost In Recession? Have You Discovered How to Get “Linked In” to the Social Networking Sites to Assist In Your Job Search?

March 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Employment, Work, Money & Retirement

 Job Search Ahead? LinkedIn Is a New Must Do

Does the Recession Find You with a Decimated 401(K), Your Savings Tanked and – Worse – Forced to Look for Work?

If so, you’re not alone. That’s what happened to one of my daughter’s co-workers, a guy we’ll call “Ron.”  Perhaps you’ve known someone like Ron, or had a “Ron” at your office, too. If so, he’d be the guy who’s famous for taking penny-pinching to the “nth degree.”

According to my daughter, Ron scrimped and saved his whole life, building up a huge stock portfolio – with the intent of leaving his former college and several charities major endowments on his death.

She tells me Ron was the epitome of financial prudence. While she’s no slouch when it comes to being economical, she says this guy could one-up anyone when it came to scrimping and saving.

For example, he:

  • Rode a bicycle to work
  • Always ate lunch at his desk – PB&J’s and an apple – every day
  • Never went out for after work drinks with co-workers or ate dinner at nice restaurants

Beyond that, Ron:

  • Lived in a tiny house he inherited from his grandmother
  • Spent his vacations doing home improvement projects
  • Mowed his own lawn, and used a push mower to boot. (“Good exercise and saves the environment,” Ron said.)
  • Never bought clothes unless he had to — and only then on sale
  • Didn’t have a TV, so no pricey cable bill, either
  • Read a lot of books, but never bought them. He was a great patron of his local library
  • Excelled at coupon-clipping…

Yes, Ron was well-paid, and he was a saver. He had big plans for his nest egg, too.  But there’s a sad ending to his story:

  • In order to get the most return for his money, it seems Ron invested all of his personal savings into the stock market
  • And lost it all this past year
  • The mental distress these losses caused him was so great Ron began verbally abusing his co-workers
  • And eventually became so disruptive his supervisors dismissed him
  • To add insult to injury, the firm’s 401(K) hasn’t performed well recently. So Ron doesn’t have much to show there either, due to the timing of his separation from the company. He’s pretty much left to rely on his Social Security and whatever severance pay he might have received.
  • The only ray of hope I see is that knowing how scrappy Ron is, I am hopeful he can get back on his feet again soon…

Wow! What a tale of woe. Hopefully, your personal losses aren’t as huge as Ron’s.

But regardless, you know that because of this economic downturn, many Boomers, seniors and retirees suddenly find themselves  faced with an unanticipated need for funds. Unless you feel up to starting your own business, this means you need to figure out how to return to the workforce…

It’s time for a job search. And though that may be daunting, especially given your concerns over ageism, the good news is that we’ll end this post by discussing some new social networking tools that are guaranteed to help you succeed. Which is a really good thing. After all, you’re concerned that:

  • You’re searching for work during a time when global unemployment is on the rise
  • You’re up against gigantic odds – especially if you’re factoring in any potential for age discrimination and technological shortcomings
  • Not to mention your concerns over generational conflict in the workplace. (You know, hostility you may face because younger workers believe that older workers who refuse to retire are grabbing jobs that should have gone to them – or even to new college grads…)

Don’t Despair. There Is Some Good News. First Off, Boomers and Seniors Actually Have Some Support in the Human Resources Department

Based on experience, HR people – whose job is to make the best hiring decisions possible – know that workers in the plus-50 age range are:

  • Generally more conscientious and harder working than younger workers
  • Less likely to take sick leave; even more unlikely to require maternity leave
  • Usually more perceptive, emotionally stable and motivated
  • Just as capable of learning (which means that a bit of training will negate any concerns related to technological challenges)
  • More capable of evaluating decisions, due to experience
  • Much less prone to making rash/”off-the-cuff” decisions which have to be overturned later
  • Often willing to sacrifice earnings in favor of a pleasant work environment and/or the gratification that comes from making the world a better/safer/kinder place
  • Steady workers, not overly interested in climbing the career ladder at this point in their lives

Secondly, There Are Some Bright Spots On the Job Search Horizon

Steve Pogorzelsko, former president of Monster North America, the company which runs the employment site Monster.com, says the country is already experiencing a shortage of workers in some areas. Particularly:

  • Health-care workers
  • Car mechanics
  • Accountants
  • Auditors

So if your talents fall into those areas, you’re much more likely to find organizations anxiously looking to hire you.

Beyond that, if you’re reading this in the United States, President Obama’s Stimulus Plan is also about to start generating jobs. Monster.com has just published a useful job search list for those positions. Apparently, in addition to jobs in construction and the trades, there will be jobs created in dozens of other fields, including:

  • Finance
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • And even in “softer” areas, like travel, tourism and hospitality…

Third, You Can’t Ignore the Generational Tension Created By the Tug-of-War Over Who Gets Today’s Jobs – But You Might Be Able to Use It to Your Advantage

Ellen Goodman, columnist for The Boston Globe just wrote a very interesting piece on generational conflict and how the recession is sending mixed messages to older Americans seeking employment. Her piece begins:

“Let me see if I have this right:

Older Americans ought to keep working in order to lighten the burden of Social Security and assorted benefits on younger generations.

Older Americans ought to retire in order to make room for younger generations with their noses pressed to the closed window of the job market...”

A few paragraphs later she says:

“… But if the downturn comes with the seeds of generational conflict over jobs, it also carries packets of social change. There is a chance for the boomer generation to make a virtue – or a revolution – out of the necessity of working longer.

We already know that a growing corps of people in their 50s and 60s are more interested in renewal than retirement. Marc Freedman of Civic Ventures talks about “encore careers” for those who want to leave their midlife jobs and move into work with social value.

Now, he says hopefully, “The one benefit of this economic crisis is to drive home the reality that longer working lives are going to be necessary and desirable. If we can give people a sense that contributing longer is not another set of years at the grindstone but an opportunity to do something they can feel proud of, we’ll have accomplished something significant…”

Speaking of Social Change, Renewal – And Working Toward Significant Accomplishment: Why Not Start Using Some of the New Social Networking Tools to Enhance Your Reach, Increase the Opportunity for Job Search Success?

Of course you already know to use traditional social networking.

It’s as natural to you as breathing, right? As soon as you decided it was time to pull out your resume and start updating it, you no doubt started your networking campaign, letting your contacts know that you’re looking for work, so that they can assist you with your search.  That network includes your:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Former employers
  • Former co-workers
  • Former classmates

But Did You Know That You Can Reach a Lot More of Your Resources – Faster – Using the Outreach Techniques Offered By Some of the New Social Network Websites?

Currently, the three best job search-related resources are Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn. Additionally, you can create a blog, and blog about your expertise and things you feel passionate about. This will also lead you to previously unanticipated income opportunities.

So let’s talk a bit about those three sites:  If you haven’t previously used them, don’t hesitate to jump online and take a look. As you get to know and understand  them, you’ll see that while they’re similar in some ways, each has each has a unique role to play in your job search efforts.

Though they are all focused on social networking, it might help you to think of them in terms of your more traditional social networking experiences. You know, sort of like this:

  • Twitter = A connection you make at a cocktail party.
  • FaceBook = A conversation you have in the hallway at work. Potentially a casual connection, but still potent…
  • LinkedIn = A traditional business meeting. When you’re using LinkedIn, you’ll want to (figuratively) wear your best suit, carry your business cards – and shine your shoes.

Got it? Then let’s talk some more about how you can use LinkedIn:

You Need to Use LinkedIn As Your Professional Networking Site, Where You’ll Post Your Work Experience, and Start Connecting with People Professionally.

Currently LinkedIn.com boasts over 35 million professional users and focuses on a business demographic. It operates with three levels of separation. You can connect to people you know directly, as well as people you might be able to connect with on a secondary and tertiary level.

You can also connect your blog to it, once you’ve got one set up, and send your tweets there, too. (Tweets are the comments you make from your Twitter account.)

Once You set up your LinkedIn connections you’ll suddenly find yourself connected to millions of people. As for current users of LinkedIn, here’s the demographics:

  • Average Age – 41
  • Average Years of Experience – 15
  • Average Household Income – $109,000
  • 46% of its users are Decision Makers
  • Includes profiles of executives from all of the Fortune 500 firms

After you’ve  joined and set up your profile, dig into the LinkedIn platform to find and join “groups” of people with common interests or backgrounds.

It’s easy to find existing groups. Here’s how:

  • First, log in to your LinkedIn account
  • Next look for and click on “Groups” in the left hand navigation bar
  • When you do that, you’ll see a new screen, where  “Groups Directory” and “Create a Group” options show up in a box in the upper right hand corner.

If you click on “Groups Directory, ” you can do a comprehensive search for existing LinkedIn groups related your current affiliations, including:

  • Your Alma Mater –  For example, mine – the University of Wisconsin-Madison – has an alumni group which I joined. So do Cornell, U of Michigan, Northwestern, CalTech, UCLA, UC-Berkeley, etc. Likely your school does too, as there are thousands of college alumni groups listed. If you school is not there, you can start one by clicking on the “Create a Group” tab.
  • National or Local Civic Groups –  I joined a group of Chi Omega Alumni, my national collegiate social fraternity.
  • Non-profits or Charity groups There are literally hundreds of groups here, including Christian Professionals, World Wildlife Fund, Ubuntu Users, American Heart Association, YMCA. No doubt one you’re affiliated with already exists and is happy to network with you…
  • Professional Organizations – There are over 62,000 professional organizations represented in LinkedIn. Everything from Automotive Aftermarket to Republican Professionals, to the World Tourism Network. As a marketing and PR professional , I joined the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Counselor’s Academy group.
  • “Employer Alumni” Groups – These are active groups of former employees interested in networking, and there are thousnds of them listed. I found HP Alumni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel IT Dept alums, and something like 64 different flavors of AT&T/Bell Labs alums. Not to mention GE, IBM, Oracle. It’s a long list…
  • Special Interest Groups – I joined Baby Boomer Marketing Group, Marketing & PR Innovators, ProMarketers, and Relationship Marketing 101. What are your special interests?
  • Groups for Your Ideal Target Market – I found Encore Entrepreneurs, Boomer Nation…
  • Conference Groups – If you ever attended a major conference, like TED, Black Hat Briefings, Dallas TechFest or Defcon, you’ll be delighted to know there are over 4,000 LinkedIn groups related to conference attendees.

Being a group member allows you to see other group members and to reach out and build relationships. It’s sort of like your local Rotary Club on steroids…

No doubt you’ll want to search for groups for your areas of professional expertise, as well as within the areas where your best referral sources participate. Not to mention groups related to the sources of your best clients.

There’s More to Successfully Marketing Your Skills Via LinkedIn, Of Course:

For example, you can do some advanced searching in the “People” tab at the top of every LinkedIn. It allows you to find like-minded people and see where they are affiliated – both online and offline.  This means that you can discover what groups your connections belong to and “Join” them as well.  Which is a great way to position yourself as an expert in the appropriate communities. Something you want to do when your in job hunting mode. It allows you to showcase your expertise, becoming the  “Go To” professional in those groups.

If your curiosity is piqued and you want to know even more about how to leverage LinkedIn here are a handful of recommended books, all handily available at Amazon.com, which will help you better use LinkedIn to succeed in your job search:

In closing, if you’d like to take a look at my LinkedIn account as an example of how to set yours up, go to Anne’s LinkedIn page.

And if you’d like to connect there, just send me an invitation, noting that “BoomerLifestyle” is how we know each other.

Finally, if you’re still feeling mystified by social networking, but would like some coaching on how to use it, drop me an email, giving your name, email address, phone number, particular challenge, and best time to call. I promise to get right back to you so we can discuss how I can best help you.

You Can’t Do Much About the Economy, But That’s No Cause For a Midlife Crisis. Quick! What Would It Take To Make You Truly Blissful Right Now? As in “Happy From the Inside Out?”

It's Truly Your Choice: Midlife Crisis or Boomer Bliss?

As you were growing up, how did you envision your adult life?

Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, your childhood vision for your adult life doesn’t at all match up to the life you’re currently experiencing – quite possibly due to the recession.

After benefiting from all the high-flying financial success Boomers enjoyed during  the 80s and 90s, who would have ever dreamed you might find yourself today, 50+ and facing a midlife crisis because you suddenly – and unexpectedly –  find yourself:

  • Financially challenged – OK, let’s really lay it out there: too broke to be able to contemplate near-term retirement
  • Fighting foreclosure and on the verge of homelessness
  • Scrambling to have a reliable job and affordable health insurance
  • Worried that no one loves you – and getting by without a sex life, too
  • Dogged by chronic illnesses including arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, depression, sleep disorders, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • Feeling totally alone in the world

That’s certainly not the dream life you were counting on!

After all, when you dreamed of your future back in the day, you undoubtedly pictured yourself enjoying a delightful, robust and well-to-do standard of living; your vision perhaps fueled by the happy lifestyles portrayed in just about every laugh-track laden sit-com we watched on TV as we grew up.

Certainly that’s how Marcy Shimoff, once a self-described angst-filled  “unhappy camper,” envisioned her future life back as a young teen in the early 1970s…

She says she always imagined that as an adult she would undoubtedly:

  • Live in a beautiful house
  • Have a wonderful husband
  • Enjoy a great career
  • Be proud of her perfect body
  • Delight in a social life that was fun and exciting
  • Luxuriate in the fact that she was totally HAPPY!

To be sure, Marci adds, she was realistic enough to know that she:

  • Would have to work hard to get all her ducks in a row
  • Didn’t have any idea how she was going to achieve this fantastic life
  • Was currently filled with existential angst, and not a naturally happy person
  • Had a personal goal to become a professional speaker, striding the stages of the world, inspiring people to change their lives for the better

Now Let’s Digress For a Moment:

Think about it: If Marci’s fantasies are similar to yours, and given the current state of the economy, it’s no wonder that Rhea Becker, the Boston-based author of The Boomer Chronicles has recently been writing post after post dealing with that ubiquitous rite of passage known as “midlife crisis.”

Just in case you may have been wondering whether or not you have or are experiencing one, she offers a handy crisis checklist. According to Rhea:

You Might Be Having a Midlife Crisis if You Are:

  • No longer content with a life and/or lifestyle that may have provided you happiness for many years
  • Bored with things/people that have previously held great interest
  • Feeling adventurous  –  experiencing a desire to do something completely different
  • Frustrated and questioning the meaning of life, and the validity of decisions you made clearly and easily in past years
  • Confused about who you are or where your life is going

Hold On! Are Those Challenged Feelings You’re Currently Experiencing Truly Caused by a Crisis of Midlife?

Perhaps You Just Need to Turn Off the News and Give Yourself the Opportunity to Be Happy?

Realistically, everyone who reads or watches today’s news programs – with their incessant stories of crisis, war and economic meltdown – is living under a cloud of doom, trying to figure out how to deal with the current economy and its negative impact on your personal finances.

Which is why it is so fantastic that Marci Shimoff – yes the same Marci who was once an angst-filled and brooding teen – has just released the paperback version of her fantastic and transformational book, Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out, which was originally published in hard cover format a year ago.

Thankfully for Boomers Everywhere, Marci Got Her Act Together. She’s a Happy Camper These Days – And She Knows You Can Be As Well.

Buy Happy For No ReasonBetter yet, Marci’s written a book to  share with you what she’s learned: You ALREADY HAVE  everything that you need to allow you to be happy –  right here, right now.

You don’t need to hold out for:

  • A fulfilling career
  • A big bank account
  • Your perfect mate

Marci’s book, Happy for No Reason, brings you a breakthrough approach to being happy, one that doesn’t depend on achievements, goals, money, relationships, or anything else “out there.” No, she proves that true happiness must come from inside you…

  • Most books on happiness tell you to find the things that make you happy and do them more often. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’ve tried it, you’ve probably figured that this can lead to addictive behaviors, and worse — it won’t give you the deep and lasting happiness you’re undoubtedly longing for — the kind you’ll never lose, no matter what happens in your life.
  • Marci’s book includes interviews with 100 people she calls her “Happy 100” – people she’s identified as people who are truly happy.
  • But beyond that, she’s interviewed a handful of leading experts in the fields of positive psychology and neurophysiology, giving the book a great blend of science AND personal stories.
  • The result is a powerful, proven  and life-changing 7-step program that incorporates all areas of your life.
    • Personal power
    • Mind
    • Heart
    • Body
    • Soul
    • Purpose
    • Relationships

Follow Marci’s 7 Step Program and you’ll become happier immediately — no matter where you are now, even if you’re unexpectedly finding yourself at the personal nadir. You know, you suddenly and unexpectedly find yourself feeling  “50, broke and single.”

The book begins by pointing out that each of us has a “happiness set-point” — a fixed range of happiness we tend to return to throughout our life — that’s approximately 50 percent genetic and 50 percent learned. Which is good news: it means that in the same way you’d crank up the thermostat to get comfortable on a chilly day, you can actually raise your happiness set-point! It goes on to give you specific steps to finding your own personal happiness.

Intrigued? Here’s Even Better News:

Now You Can Own a Paperback Copy of Happy for No Reason For a Mere $8.25, Instead of the $24.95 I Paid For MY Hard Cover Version! What Could Be More Fair and Fiscally Responsible Than That?!

Oh! Maybe You’d Like the Offer Sweetened with Presents? (You Know, Gifts with Purchase…)

That’s right, once you take action and order the book, there’s an extra reward: you can snag a boatload – as in more than $3,000 worth – of fantastic free gifts as a thank you for your highly intelligent purchase of this fantastic book.

Marci starts with a free audio course you can download, including these recordings and study guides:

“Happiness: From the Blues to Bliss” recording with Marci and award-winning actress, Mariel Hemingway.

“2009 Happy for No Reason Coaching Manual” plus free live group coaching session with Marci over the telephone.

“Eliminate the #1 Belief that Blocks Your Happiness” online session by Morty Lefkoe.

“The Passion Test” online session with personalized results to help you discover and live your passions.

“HeartMath De-Stress Kit” — a 15-page guide with helpful practices to manage stress during challenging times.

“Turn Happiness into Money” recording by Marci and CNBC wealth expert Phil Town

“Feng Shui for Happiness & Prosperity” recording by Feng Shui Master Marie Diamond

“Happiness Meditation” with Spring Forest Qigong Master Chunyi Lin

Not only that, but the link allows you to download more than $3000 worth of valuable additional gifts and bonus recordings from almost 200 top authors and thought leaders, who have come together to give you a wonderful, happiness-filled life of abundance and peace.

These authors include:

  • Jack Canfield
  • John Gray
  • Marianne Williamson
  • Deepak Chopra
  • Dr. Joe Vitale
  • Bob Proctor
  • Bill Bartman
  • Maria Carter
  • Dr. Joe Rubino
  • even celebs like Shirley MacLaine, Yakov Smirnoff and Richard Simmons!

Now That You Can Save Money While Learning to Be Happy, Don’t Just Take My Word That This Fabulous Book Can Change Your Life

Here are some quotes from other people whose names you may recognize:

  • “With Happy for No Reason, Marci Shimoff has hit a home run. This book presents a definitive, broad-based approach to becoming truly happy that combines great spiritual depth, top-notch research, and psychological practicality. I’m certain that if you follow the practices in her dazzling new book, you too will manifest a lifetime of happiness.” — from the Foreword by Jack Canfield, author of The Success Principles and co-creator of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series
  • “You can’t depend on external circumstances for lasting happiness. It has to come from inside you. Based on scientific research and the experiences of truly happy people, Happy for No Reason shows you step-by-step how to raise your happiness set-point.” — Mehmet C. Oz, MD, coauthor of You: On a Diet and You: Staying Young
  • “Marci Shimoff is one of the most compelling people I’ve ever known. I’m happy she’s shared her wisdom with all of us in Happy for No Reason.” — Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Return to Love
  • Happy for No Reason offers seven clear, powerful, and effective steps you can practice to be happier right now!” — John Gray, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus
  • “This book is a wonderful collection of techniques and examples, shared by people who have had one of the most important realizations I think we can have — that we already have within us the ability to live in a state of Happy for No Reason.” — Lindsay Wagner, Emmy Award-winning actress, The Bionic Woman
  • “Tremendous! Marci Shimoff has produced a book that is practical, inspiring, and accessible. Happy for No Reason gives readers powerful ways to become happier in all dimensions of life: body, mind, heart, soul, personal power, purpose, and relationships. It’s seven books holistically rolled into one.” — Stephen M. R. Covey, bestselling author of The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

Still here? What are you waiting for? Your chance to achieve true Boomer Bliss awaits, don’t miss the boat! Click the link to order Happy for No Reason now, and comment to this post that you’ve ordered the book. I’ll reply with the link to where you can register for all the free goodies!

Bucket List Game Reminds Us That THIS Is the Year You Can Achieve Anything You Want: You Haven’t Let The Recession Keep You From Writing Up Your New Goals List, Have You?

Recession-Proof Your Bucket List Now

Bucket lists are big news these days and we’ve talked about them before, of course. But here’s one that begs to be shared with you. This time, instead of you coming up with your own personal list, you get to share your experiences with  others.  Think of  this as an opportunity to get to know your friends better.

Here’s how it works: Review all 100 items on the bucket list below and bold the ones you’ve already achieved – though undoubtedly you’ll feel that some of them are more like experiences than they are true lifetime achievements. Still, it’s fun to see how many you can check off!

Below — with brief annotations — is my bucket list. Thanks, to Rhea at “The Boomer Chronicles,” for sharing and getting us started. Feel free to share your results via a comment to the blog. I promise to comment back to each and every one!

Once you get done reading the list and contemplating how you would answer each point, it’s time for the real work to begin. That’s right – it’s time to develop your plan for what you want to personally achieve this year! After all, if you’re going to leave a legacy, it’s time to start! Here’s the bucket list:

I Have…

1. Started my own blog

2. Slept under the stars – while on a horseback pack trip. It was phenomenal

3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii – no, but I’ve been to Alaska!

5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than I can afford to charity – how could that be possible? The more you give, the more blessed you become…

7. Been to Disneyland/Disneyworld

8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis

10. Sung a solo

11. Bungee jumped

12. Visited Paris

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

14. Taught myself an art from scratch – first there was macrame, then crochet and tie-dye. Hey, it was the 60s!

15. Adopted a child

16. Had food poisoning – no but I have experienced being seasick during a storm at sea. They might be analogous, not sure…

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty – no but I’ve walked DOWN from the top of the Washington Monument and the Gateway Arch…

18. Grown my own vegetables – that was during my “Earth Mother” days, but I am seriously looking into doing it again this year…

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France

20. Slept on an overnight train

21. Had a pillow fight

22. Hitchhiked – my mother told me not to, but I did. Thankfully I’ve never revealed this to her… Guess she’ll know now

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill – what parent hasn’t been forced to take a sick day to care for a child?

24. Built a snow fort – oh and it was a dandy!

25. Held a lamb – no but my grandma took a shot of me as a toddler, holding a squirrel as I sat in my sandbox. My mother was petrified when she saw it

26. Gone skinny dipping – in Lake Mendota, at midnight, on a sultry June 21 – the longest day – after drinking a bottle of Boone’s Farm apple wine. Ahh, those UW college days…

27. Run a marathon

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

29. Seen a total eclipse – well, you can’t watch it DIRECTLY…

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset – both are worth waiting for…

31. Hit a home run – I’m a leftie batter and THAT experience was amazing!

32. Been on a cruise

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors

35. Seen an Amish community

36. Taught myself a new language

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied – for one brief shining moment…and then it was gone in a flash!

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

39. Gone rock climbing

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David

41. Sung karaoke – but not as a solo performance…

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

44. Visited Africa – no but it’s on my wish list, along with Antarctica

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight

46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had my portrait painted

48. Gone deep sea fishing

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling – I was there with others who did, but I couldn’t get over the concept of spitting into my mask…

52. Kissed in the rain

53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie – no, but I’ve performed live onstage in front of an audience who paid to be in attendance…

56. Visited the Great Wall of China

57. Started a business

58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia

60. Served at a soup kitchen

61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies – actually my cookie sales experience is what got me kicked out of Girl Scouts…

62. Gone whale watching

63. Got flowers for no reason

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving – no, but I want to

66. Visited a Nazi concentration camp

67. Bounced a check

68. Flown in a helicopter – over Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska, while the the ethereal music of “Enya” reverberated into my headphones, courtesy of the pilot. It was a  transcendent experience – a day I will never forget!

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy – well, I saved “Sheepie,”one of my kid’s favorite stuffed animals, but only books remain from my childhood…

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

71. Eaten caviar

72. Pieced a quilt – not yet, but I have a sister-in-law who’s promised to teach me

73. Stood in Times Square – way back in the 60s, before they cleaned it up!

74. Toured the Everglades- sadly, I don’t think touring Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs counts.  But I did go on a Cajun Swamp Tour in New Orleans that was pretty spectacular…

75. Been fired from a job – twice, though the second time was termed “closing your department,” but I wonder…

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

77. Broken a bone – technically I did bruise my tailbone in a skiing accident, but there’s nothing they can do for that. The subsequent ride in the Ski Patrol basket was pure embarrassment, however

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle – so far, only in my dreams

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

80. Published a book – lots of stuff I have written has been published, but my book’s not done yet…

81. Visited the Vatican – the most memorable thing for me, besides the Vatican Guards’ uniforms, was the catacombs…

82. Bought a brand new car- thankfully I’ve enjoyed this pleasure many times

83. Walked in Jerusalem – no but I have a sister-in-law who has…

84. Had my picture in the newspaper

85. Read the entire Bible

86. Visited the White House

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating – no, but I helped my Dad clean ducks he’d shot. That was close enough for me…

88. Had chickenpox – even gave it to my brother, who was just a few weeks old. Sorry, Eric!

89. Saved someone’s life – well I had to give my daughter Syrup of Ipecac once, so I think that counts…

90. Sat on a jury – called twice, but never chosen…

91. Met someone famous – Most notably,  “The Guess Who” came to our house and showed my son how to play American Woman on his guitar. Each played it a bit differently. We have pictures

92. Joined a book club – many times

93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby – Did that twice – a long time ago

95. Seen the Alamo in person

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake

97. Been involved in a law suit – oh yeah. Thankfully I’ve always won, even when I was the defendant

98. Owned a cell phone

99. Been stung by a bee

100. Ridden an elephant – not yet, but I have a friend who arranges this in Africa, so I’ll do it eventually

Back to You: What’s in Store For You Goals-wise, in 2009?

Your answer, you understand,  is deeply rooted in your ability to set and achieve goals. The fact is, recession or not, you have the ability to achieve WHATEVER you desire. Perhaps you seek …

  • Robust health
  • Financial freedom
  • Enduring relationships
  • Wonderful friendships
  • Fulfilling family activities
  • True happiness

Whatever your desires, any and all of them are possible once you take the first step by setting goals for achieving these experiences.

Of course, to do it right, you really need to have a variety of goals:

  • Short term goals (goals you can easily accomplish in one day to one year)
  • Mid-range goals (goals which you can attain in one to three years)
  • Long term goals (goals that will take you three to five years to realize)
  • Finally, of course, you still want to maintain your “bucket list” goals  (those big picture things you want to experience before you die)

When you set goals strategically, you start by planning the long term goals.  You then carefully break down each goal into specific steps  to develop your mid-range goals.

Then, for each mid-range goal, you  ask yourself what you need to do to accomplish each one.

Use those answers to create your short term goal list.  These become your “To-Do List” each day for the next year.

Your goals list should not be about only those things you want personally …

Of course, there’s no need to limit your goal-setting to things you’d like to accomplish for yourself…You can also work out what sort of legacy you’d like to leave:

  • For the world
  • For your business
  • For your family

You can create goals related to anything that you can affect as well as anything that you want to participate in. It’s all fair game.

For example, do you long for world peace? Don’t let the dream die because you think it’s more than you can accomplish. Instead:

  • Put world peace on your long term goals list
  • Then figure out a way to make a peaceful difference in the world via your mid-range goals
  • Start building toward peace immediately via your short term goals – for example, you could start by participating in other people’s peace-generating activities

Regardless of what decide to you do, remember this:  Albert Schweitzer once said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

In short, if you want to achieve all of your goals in 2009 and beyond, your first step is to  make sure that you include everything that will make you happy on your goals list AND make sure that you are focused on doing something you love!

That’s why it is so important to follow your passion in building a business.  Unless you have a true passion for what you are doing, you will find it all but impossible to succeed.

When you follow your passion, you’ll not only experience  success — but happiness will be its twin.

What Sort of Success Will You Create in 2009 and Beyond?

The answer depends on the goals you set for yourself and the action you take to achieve them.

If you’ve never before used goal setting to help you achieve success and happiness, here’s a program created by the fabulous Gina Gaudio-Graves that is guaranteed to help you realize your goals.

Don’t let yourself down or your goals die. The legacy you want to leave is too important to the world.

Download this highly recommended goal-setting package from Gina Gaudio-Graves today at:

—> Miracle Motivational Package

Are You Worried, Fearful the Recession Will Bust You? Don’t Just Wait for Obama. Why Not Motivate Yourself to Start a Business That Creates Your Own Economic Stimulus Plan?

Got Your Own Recession Busting Stimulus Plan?

My friend Kathy has been a motivated and highly successful Realtor in beautiful and historic Galena, Illinois – a community whose lifeblood is tourism –  a for about 30 years. Regularly one of the top selling agents in her MLS, she loves her work and has lived through boom times and bad with the knowledge that everyone needs to have a home. Hers has always been a business marked by sales awards and steady growth.

  • But, along with almost 100% of the Realtors in the country, she found 2008 to be a real financial challenge. With little or nothing she could personally do to turn things around.
  • Which is probably why she sent out Christmas cards this year featuring a photo her husband took of her with Barack Obama back in 2004, when he was in town, campaigning for the Illinois senate. (She’s what you’d call a long-term Obama fan.)
  • For the past year, her hopes have been that he’d win the presidency and turn the economy around – and that he could take action quickly enough to get people confidently buying real estate again.
  • Naturally, she’s delighted Obama’s presidency is off to the fast start the whole world has been praying for…

Financially, We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet, Of Course. This Recession is Just Too Deep to Turn Around in Less Than a Month.

Obama may be a man with a plan and a compelling vision of hope. But even Kathy knows he doesn’t have super-powers. Nor did he come equipped with a fairy godmother and a magic wand… And we still live in the real world. There’s still a lot of hard work – and painful decisions – ahead:

No Doubt That’s Why You’ve Heard President Obama’s Cautionary Soundbites On the News This Past Week:

  • “We are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression”
  • “2009 will be tough”
  • “Things may get worse before they get better”
  • “We must take dramatic action now, with regard to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, the economic stimulus package, tax cuts…”

Meanwhile…

  • Back at the ranch
  • Over in your neck of the woods
  • Or wherever in the world you like to hang out

January – with its excitement of the new year and the inauguration – has segued into the chill of February. And the hot dragon breath of recession and economic crisis no doubt continues to flick at your ears, as:

  • More Americans filed for unemployment in January than at any time in the last 26 years
  • A recent New York Times editorial opined that there’s “no guarantee that today’s battered 401(k)’s will rebound powerfully. People close to retirement don’t have time for a do-over. Even for those still far from retirement, there’s no telling how stocks will perform in the future. “
  • Big companies around the globe continued to announce plans to lay off tens of thousands of workers. A quick analysis of world headlines finds the following major firms announcing personnel cutbacks:
    • Caterpillar (20,000)
    • Sprint Nextel (8,000)
    • Home Depot (7,000)
    • Boeing (10,000)
    • Macy’s (7,000 workers cut, plus they cut their quarterly divided, and said they’re integrating all divisions into a single unit, as they expect 2009 to remain very tough for retail)
    • Starbucks (announced plans to close 300 under-performing stores worldwide and lay off 6,700 workers, mostly in the US )
    • The anticipated Pfizer Wyeth merger (which will result in a net loss of 8,000 jobs)

As Ann Landers Used to Say, “It’s Time to “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee:”

The question you must now ask yourself is “What have YOU planned to do in 2009 to keep yourself financially solvent??”

In case you were too busy to take action earlier due to:

  • The year-end holidays
  • The election or
  • Your own personal financial implosions

You need to know this: It’s not TOO LATE for you to RESOLVE to spend 2009 focused on generating income via consistent activity related to your skill sets and your big ideas!

Especially if You’ve Recognized That 2009 is Not Just the Chinese “Year of the Ox,” But Probably Also the “Year You Must Become Self-employed.”

And why wouldn’t you be starting to realize this? Obama may be quickly putting solid plans in play, but you’ve been around the block a few times. You’ve heard all the cautionary talk, and you know you don’t have time on your side:

Most people agree that it’s going to take at least two years – possibly longer – to get our economy straightened out again.

And, as a Boomer, someone who might have had plans to retire in as few as two years, you know you’ve got to take action. You can’t just wait for the “man from the government, who’s here to help”  – even when he brings with him as much hope as Obama does…

With so much to do, and so little time, your first step has to be to resolve to get motivated to take some action – after you chart your own personal recovery and reinvestment plan!

>Not Sure If Now Really Is the Time to Start Your Dream Business?

The truth is, 2009 is the perfect year to start. Done right, the economy can actually help you break all kinds of records for a start-up business generating sales, revenue and profits. Which is why there has not been a better time in the last 70 years to go out and build a business. You know why?
Because everyone else is pulling back! That means, for instance, that ad rates are cheaper now, so it costs you less to find buyers – provided you have pinpointed the messaging that is going to resonate with your ideal prospects…. and you’re absolutely clear about where you’re going with your business, and how you’re going to get there.

What? You’re Panicked and Not Buying This Concept?

Well relax. Fear and panic won’t get you anywhere. But strategic planning accompanied by proper motivation will.

As proof, take a look at the front page of Advertising Age for January 26, 2009.  Hone in on the article that says, Marketing’s New Red-Hot Seller: Humble Snuggie”

  • You know what product they’re talking about: those slightly silly-looking  blankets with arms that have been advertised all over TV these last few months… You can probably recite the commercial from memory, so you know they come in 3 colors and you can get two of them –  plus two book lights – for $19.95 plus shipping and handling…
  • Turns out the manufacturer has sold 4 million of these quirky little blankets with sleeves in just over four months which represents just under $40 million in retail sales.
  • And the products are not only back-ordered, they’re flying out the door as fast as the company behind the idea can get their Chinese suppliers to crank them out…
  • Here’s how popular this item is:

    • Not only has Ellen DeGeneres jokingly worn one
    • Fox News actually honed in on a woman wearing one at Obama’s inauguration
    • And the product has inspired more than 200 parody videos on YouTube – as sure a sign of success as anything

    Now Think About It: Haven’t YOU – At Least Once or Twice – Had an Idea for a Product As Simple – and On Target – As This One?

    Thought so. Most people have. Problem is, too few take action to turn these personal flashes of genius into income-generating products.

    Now’s the time to review those great ideas you’ve shelved somewhere in the back of your head and dust off any that might fit a similar mold. That is, products that are easy to produce and fill a need.

    Especially if – like the Snuggie – they are product ideas that can help people in at least one of these four crucial ways:

    • Save money
    • Make money
    • Relieve pain, or
    • Do something they have to dono matter what the economy (except, of course, that you can show them how to do it better, faster, easier, with less trouble)

    Add to That the Concept of: Do What You Love And the Money Will Follow

    Whether you’ve been laid off, are anticipating that a layoff might happen to you later this year, or are simply trying to figure out how you’re going to be able to retire in a few years, now’s the time to take a clue from experts like Loral Langemeier and figure out how to make some additional money doing what you already know how to do. Especially if it’s something you love to do AND it fits the criteria listed above.

    • Just getting a new job isn’t going to do it for you right now.
    • Nor will panic and fear get you anywhere.
    • Your best option today,  no matter whether you’re “still employed but worried,” or just lost your job, is to start figuring out how you can generate some new money. Money that will allow you to recession-proof your income.

    But What If You Can’t Afford to Spend Money on a Great Business Coach to Help You Get Started?

    No doubt there’s a lot of work you’ll have to do to get your business off the ground. The fastest and quickest way to do this is to work with a counselor or coach.

    • But that takes money, which is something you’re no doubt short on right about now…
    • Your next best option, instead of hiring someone to coach you one-on-one,  is to find a reliable online coaching program that’s readily available and free.
    • Gina Gaudio-Graves has a great one: Take a look at her 30-Day IM Challenge. Luckily for you, the latest challenge is just about to start. You’d be smart to take a look at what she’s offering.

    The 30-Day IM Challenge is Packed With Hundreds of Pages of Solid Information – All Free – And Since It’s a Contest, There Are Even Prizes to Further Motivate You!

    According to Gina, the biggest problem people have with completing the challenge is staying motivated to keep up with all of the training. Of course, you can work your way through it slowly. But since your goal is to get yourself into a position where you are generating some new money as fast as possible, taking it slow isn’t the best option. Especially if you want to with the prize, which is a free one-year coaching program with Gina, worth over $5,000.

    Here’s something guaranteed to help you focus and stay motivated, so you can keep up with the 30-Day IM Challenge and win:

    It’s Gina’s fantastic Miracle Motivational Package.

    You owe it to yourself and your future to find out what’s included in this program. Especially since just reading Gina’s story will motivate you!

    Can you imagine:

    • A car accident ended her legal career
    • Doctors gave her 12 months to live
    • When doctors said there was no hope – she used motivational techniques – which she shares with you – to save her life. She not only overcame her paralysis, learn to walk again, and figure out how to pay for $9 million in medical bills –
    • She also dedicated her life to helping one million people learn how to live the life of their dreams

    Discover How Gina Turned Her Life Around – And How You Can, Too!

    • Learn to motivate yourself to overcome everything that’s dragging you down right now, including this recession and your current financial frustrations!
    • Grab her Miracle Motivational Package today.
    • And don’t forget to sign up for the upcoming 30-Day IM Challenge!

    One month from now – when everyone else is moaning about how the recession has only gotten worse – you’ll be so glad you did!!

    ‘Personal Validation’ Alone Is a Powerful Concept: But What If You Factored in the Power of the ‘Law of Attraction’ When Leaving Everyone You Meet With a Smile Or Blessing? Wow!

    January 19, 2009 by  
    Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Relationships & Family

     Can You Harness Power of Validation?

    About six weeks ago, as we moved into the year-end holiday season, I told you about my intent to personally take note of everyone I encountered, on a daily basis for at least 30 days. My plan was to make sure that I recognized everyone, but more powerfully, I wanted find some way to compliment each and every person in a unique and personal way.

    In personal development terms, this act I was taking on is called, “Validation,” which is defined by the self improvement gurus as “an observable act and human behavior that espouses both appreciation and gratitude.”

    However you want to define it, my decision was largely inspired by watching the short movie, “Validation,” which is freely available on YouTube, and, with over 426,000 views since it was uploaded, has acquired a bit of a following…

    Here Are My Personal – Albeit Unscientific – Results:

    During this time period, I had a lot of fun, and exercised my creativity:

    • I didn’t just offer individualized (or personalized) recognition and validation to friends and family members
    • I also offered validation to total strangers I met on my daily journey
    • I didn’t just make eye contact with everyone I encountered, while greeting them with a generic “Good morning,” or “Hello”
    • I actually made a point to personally engage each person I met in conversation, offering some sort of individualized and personal feedback; with the goal to leaving them smiling and in a more positive mood than when I’d met them.
    • Sort of like Clint Eastwood, in the movie “Dirty Harry,” I actually tried to “make their day” – (but In a very uplifting way!)

    The particular attempt at validation varied, depending on the person and the situation.

    • It might have been as simple as a genuine compliment about something they had done, the impact they were having on the people around them, or the attractiveness of something they were wearing
    • On other occasions, it was a personal inquiry that showed I remembered something about them from a conversation we’d had the last time we’d met
    • And in the case of total strangers, it was a personalized comment based on my appreciation of the situation at that moment. You know, something a lot more personal than, “So do you think it’s going to snow today?”

    Doubtless I will never see some of those people again. But it was still empowering to take note of their presence, and leave them with a warm feeling in their hearts.

    To review a few of the dozens of people I had the opportunity to positively interact with, so you understand the scope of my actions:

    • A couple who held the door for me as I entered a store
    • Checkers and cashiers at gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies and shops
    • Waiters, and restaurant owners, with whom I might previously have exchanged general chit-chat
    • A handful of postal workers, who I see at the window and make idle conversation with on a regular basis, as well as fellow USPS customers, none of whom I’d met before
    • Of particular note were a couple of fellow customers at a gas station: one,  who saw me attempting to open my car’s hood, so I could add windshield wiper fluid to my car. One came over to offer to assistance with the latch; another stepped in to offer to pour in the fluid… Both were total strangers who doubtless didn’t know each other, and who may never be in the same place at the same time again…

    They All Felt Appreciated – And I Felt Great, Too!

    That’s one of the key “take aways” about validation – which you would probably best define as “a specific acknowledgment of appreciation for a task well done:” It is even more powerful for the fact that it feels just as good to the person who does the validating as it does to the person who gets validated.

    But the unintended outcome was that I was amazed at how many people reciprocated my greeting by going out of their way to help me, even though I am a fully capable adult, and wasn’t seeking or soliciting any sort of assistance!

    This was a total surprise which I didn’t fully comprehend until I happened to pick up and read a quick little book called Using the Law of Attraction to Get Anything You Want,” by Shawn Casey and Antonio Thornton.

    You See, By My Actions, I’d Unwittingly Called The Law of Attraction Into Play…

    You’re probably familiar with the concept of the Law of Attraction. Most people who’ve learned about it define it as a Universal Principal – like the Law of Gravity – that  works every time, whether you choose to use it for your benefit or not. In other words:

    • Like attracts like
    • Thoughts become things
    • In life, you will always get what you are expecting to get, because that’s what you call into action

    If you haven’t seen the Validation movie yet, you should. It’s both powerful and uplifting, though a number of people also report that it makes them cry, so be warned. At a bit over 16 minutes, making the decision to watch may daunt you, of course.  But you’ll find it is thought-provoking and well worth your time…

    And if you’d like to learn more about how you can use both Validation and the Law of Attraction in your day-to-day life, grab the book, too. It’s a very worthwhile, quick read.

    Among many other points made in the book, Shawn Casey tells of an organized personal greeting effort – similar to mine – which has been growing, worldwide. Started in Florida, this movement is called “Hello From My Heart Day.”

    Seems that by invoking the Law of Attraction, and consciously choosing to validate, or genuinely greet people, you can actually participate in a growing movement that has reduced violent crime by as much as 33% according to statistics cited in the book.

    Who Knew There Was That Much Value to Personal Validation?

    • Grab the book, “Using the Law of Attraction to Get Anything You Want,” learn how you can use the Law of Attraction to get anything you want – and discover how you can help reduce violent crime in our world.
    • What a deal! Especially since the book is only a measly seven bucks!
    • What’s that equate to? For the price of a fast food meal, you can get on the road to improving your life, and help make the world a better, safer place for all of us!
    • That’s gotta be what they call a “no brainer,” right?

    Read the Book and Prepare to Have Your Life Changed.

    And after you’ve digested it, feel free to send me a note telling me how it impacted You!

    Now That You’ve Rounded Up Your Waffle Iron and Whetted Your Appetite, Weren’t You Wishing You Could Serve Those Yummy Restaurant-style Sourdough Waffles at Home?

    January 10, 2009 by  
    Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Food & Recipes

    Ready for Sourdough Waffles?

    Yesterday, when writing about waffles and those cool “flip style” waffle makers so many motels now feature in their breakfast rooms — the ones that produce those really crispy, thick Belgian waffles — I also started thinking about the waffle batter they provide for those ubiquitous free continental breakfasts…

    If you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy those hotel waffles, you know the batter is generally provided in Styrofoam cups, which conveniently measure out the appropriate amount of batter for one waffle. And the batter is a thick, bubbly, yeasty concoction, redolent of sourdough

    I Used to Suspect it Wasn’t Really Truly Sourdough Batter

    But I’ve changed my mind, now that I’ve just read that sourdough starter can actually be frozen.  That makes sense, as it’d make daily setup pretty easy for the motel management…)

    Meanwhile, as I was thinking about how I might be able to bring you a recipe for THOSE exact waffles, I searched the deep recesses of my brain, and came up with a memory that’s an “oldie but goodie” from my “earth mother days of yore”… Maybe you remember it too?

    It’s “Herman!”

    Yep. Herman was that sourdough starter everyone shared with their friends, back in the 70s. If you’re a true Baby Boomer, you’ve either nurtured your very own batch of Herman – possibly for years – or you’ve dined on “friendship bread,” bread, pizza, coffeecake or pancakes made with a Herman sourdough starter.

    Because the thing is, once you accepted a Herman starter, you were pretty much committed to feeding your Herman, and keeping it going.

    Good thing I’ve lost track of Chris B., the dear friend who gave me my Herman starter eons ago, when we were both young women recently transplanted to Iowa. I’d hate to have to tell her I lost track of it over twenty years ago! (Then again, she probably doesn’t have hers anymore, either!!)

    Think About That “Sourdough Starter” Process For a Moment… If You Recall, It Required Regular Attention:

    • Most sourdough (and Herman) recipes required one cup of “fed” sourdough starter.
    • Which meant you had to plan ahead, to get the starter “fed” and keep it growing.
    • So, up to twelve hours before beginning a recipe – essentially the night before – you’d stir the starter and remove your cup of bubbly goodness.
    • The cup you removed was what you would use to make your product.
    • Then you added more flour and water to the remaining starter, to replace what you’d removed.
    • And the starter required maintenance, so if you weren’t going to bake something with the starter, your alternative was to give it to a friend, or throw it away…
    • However you did it, your goal was to get rid of one cup of starter on a regular basis — at least once a month — so you could feed the rest and keep it lively without ending up with a house full of yeasty-smelling starter.
    • Remember?

    The Whole Sourdough Tending Process Sort of Reminds Me of Child-rearing…

    But, like raising kids, it’s all worth it if you have a good starter. And the amazing thing is, there are actually people who are fortunate enough to have access to 150 year old sourdough starter. Which takes us back to the heyday of sourdough, the Gold Rush days!

    If you’d like to make sourdough waffles and you don’t have access to any historic sourdough starter, here’s a recipe for making your own. This isn’t “Herman,” which is a sweeter and more “tempermental” starter that includes milk and a fair amount of sugar… But this is a good basic sourdough starter:

    Sourdough Starter

    INGREDIENTS

    2 cups warm water, separated (water you’ve used to boil potatoes is traditional, but tap water works fine)
    1 tablespoon fresh active dry yeast
    1 tablespoon sugar
    2 cups unbleached flour (separated)

    Pour 1 cup warm water (105°-115°, no more) into a non-metal or glass bowl or jar,  sprinkle yeast over it, mix, and let stand a few minutes until yeast dissolves. Add the sugar and 1 cup of flour. Mix. Let the starter sit on the counter (room temperature of 70-80° F) for 5 days (uncovered, or draped with cheesecloth, if you can’t stand to leave it completely uncovered). Your goal with leaving this out is to allow the natural yeasts that exist in the air get into the yeast sponge. Stir this mixture daily. When ready, the mixture will be bubbly and a little frothy, and smell nicely sour. If bubbles have not started forming after 24 hours, though, start again. Your water may have been too hot, or your yeast not fresh and active. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

    On the 5th day feed the starter with the remaining cup of flour and water.

    Stir and loosely cover the starter again.

    Your starter will be ready to use on the 6th day.

    Maintaining Your Sourdough Starter:

    • Once you have successfully prepared the sourdough bread starter recipe, store it in the refrigerator, loosely covered, in your jar or other non-metal container. (They make crocks just for sourdough starter.)
    • Replace the amount of starter you use. Most recipes call for 1 cup of starter; replenish it by adding 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup warm water to the remaining starter. Return it to the refrigerator. Should you need more starter, add the flour and water first, and let it ferment for 24 hours, (or at least for 12 hours).
    • Sooner or later a dark liquid will collect atop your starter. This is called the hooch. Just stir it in. It’s a good thing.

    Sourdough starter can be refrigerated indefinitely, but works best if you get it out and use some of it periodically, while you feed the rest.

    And why not? That’s what you made if for, right?

    Parting Thoughts:

    • Now that you have a recipe for sourdough starter, here’s a link to a sourdough waffle recipe, which comes from King Arthur Flour.
    • Be sure to check out this post, as it has loads of great photos, to make the whole sourdough waffle-making process really easy for you!
    • If you’re a Food Network fan, here’s a link to  video with Alton Brown talking about his method for making waffles
    • And a final link, to Alton’s preferred machine for making waffles. (Gotta love that Alton Brown!) 

    Coming Up in My Next Recipe Post: Loads of Ways to Showcase Your New Sourdough Skills

    Time to Heat Things Up, Make a Stand for Pure Goodness: “Waffling” May Be Poor Politics, But Who Can’t Love the Chef Who Serves Up Waffles for Breakfast, Brunch – or Dinner?

    January 6, 2009 by  
    Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Food & Recipes

    Crispy Homemade waffles: What's not to love?

    I don’t know about you, but I love serving making and serving waffles at our weekend brunches – about as much as my husband and guests love devouring them! Don’t get me wrong, pancakes are good, french toast can be absolutely divine, and quiche never fails to impress. But waffles are my absolute favorite brunch meal.

    One Reason Waffles Are Brunch Winners Is Their Versatility: You Can Serve Them Sweet or Savory – With Toppings to Match!

    Everyone thinks first of sweet waffles. That’s why the standard image of a waffle generally comes with butter and syrup. But many of you are just as comfortable with healthier versions, topped with fresh fruit, or perhaps peanut butter or nutella.  

    However, those crispy rectangles or circles with the delicious dimples – made for soaking up the toppings – are just as wonderful served with heartier toppings:

    • For example, you could make Cheddar-cheese enhanced waffles, and serve them alongside nice juicy slices of ham. With a crisp green salad on the side?
    • Or how about offering your guests a plate on which you’ve artistically ladled heavenly home-made chicken a la king atop a nice, crisp sourdough waffle?
    • Then again, there are several restaurants around the country who claim to have originated the concept of serving fried chicken and waffles – on the same plate. Not sure what you think of that. For me, this combo fails to appeal… Either it sounds too heavy or it’s too much brown! I like more color contrast on my plates.

    I’m Not Alone in My Love of Freshly Baked Waffles, As You Surely Know.

    It’s no coincidence that a lot of motels now feature “make your own” waffle bars as a part of their complimentary continental breakfast offerings: 

    • A lot of people, including my sister, actually select their lodging based on whether or not the dining room includes one of those ultra cool “Belgian waffle” gizmos that rotate the waffle 180-degrees.
    • And who could blame her?
    • After all, those babies turn out a delicious, light, crispy product with nice deep pockets for holding your favorite toppings in under three minutes!

    Perhaps I ought to tell her I’ve just discovered you can buy a home version of these wonderful Belgian waffle makers on Amazon.com – for much less than a commercial machine would cost.

    • The online reviews are glowing, so I expect it’s a great buy…  
    • But then again, maybe I won’t share this info.
    • She might quit visiting me, as my well-used waffle baker isn’t quite so fancy!!

    Now, call me an elitist, if you will, but when I talk about serving  waffles at home,  I’m not talking about those poor excuses for waffles that you can buy in the freezer case at your grocery store. No matter how much the TV commercials tout those things, you’re certain to “let go” of the idea that those are edible treats once you’ve baked – and enjoyed – waffles from scratch.

    Waffles aren’t any harder to make than pancakes, though you do need a waffle iron. If cost’s a concern,  go check out your local or resale shop, check out what’s available on eBay.com – or just borrow one from a friend.  (Though once you start making waffles, you won’t want to give it back!)

    Slightly used waffle makers are generally pretty easy to find, so not having one is no excuse for not making homemade waffles. Lots of people receive waffle irons as gifts, and never get around to using them.

    • So if you go the thrift shop route, you might even be able to pick one up for under ten bucks.
    • Given a choice, go for a vintage waffle baker if you can, the cast iron grill plates make nice crispy waffles. And the housing will probably be more sturdy.
    • On the other hand, as mentioned above, there are some pretty fantastic new waffle makers available – there’s even one from Kitchenaid that allows you make two Belgian waffles at the same time! (No waiting!)
    • And the newer George Foreman grills include removable waffle plates.

    I have to admit though, I can’t make waffles without recalling Donkey, in the Shrek movies.

    Specifically, what comes to mind is that scene in the first movie, after Shrek tells Donkey he can spend the night. Donkey is excited, prancing around, and he tells Shrek: “This is gonna be fun! We can stay up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning, I’m making waffles!

    Don’t know what kind of waffles Donkey serves up in Shrek’s swamp. But true to my “creative foodie” cooking style, I can’t make my waffles the same way twice. No matter how good they are, I know my creative muse will demand something new  next time… Hey, maybe that’s how Racheal Ray comes up with all those delicious new variations on her culinary themes!

    Regardless, the waffles I just finished serving were pretty darn memorable – and fairly healthy too. Which means they were good enough that I thought I’d jot down the recipe and share it with you.

    • Today we had ginger, oatmeal and applesauce-enhanced waffles topped with butter and maple syrup. And a side of maple-flavored sausage patties.
    • A topping of grilled apple slices would have made a great alternative to the syrup.  And been a fantastic accompaniment to the pork sausage. Yum! Maybe next time!!!
    • As always with all cooking, feel free to exercise your own creativity: I made today’s waffles with oatmeal, applesauce and spices, but if you don’t have applesauce or oatmeal on hand, you could substitute a cup of shredded apples and/or a cup of granola…

    Here you go…

    Splendid Apple Ginger Waffles with Pecans

    Ingredients

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    ½ cup old fashioned (not instant) oatmeal, swirled in blender
    ½ cup pecans, swirled in blender
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground cloves
    tablespoon fresh ginger, grated (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
    ½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
    3 large eggs, separated
    1 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1 cup 1% or skim milk
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Nonstick cooking spray

    Instructions

    Preheat a waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Also preheat your oven to 250°F so you can keep the finished waffles warm while you complete the baking process.

    Into a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt. Add the oatmeal, pecans and spices and stir to mix evenly.

    In a large bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the eggs are a pale yellow color. Add the milk, melted butter, applesauce and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.

    Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and whisk just until blended. Do not over-mix.

    In a third bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter, being careful not to over-mix.

    Coat the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray as required and pour enough batter in the iron to just cover waffle grid. (For my George Foreman G5 grill, I use a half cup of batter on each half of the grill.)

    Bake according to your grill manufacturer’s instructions until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes, depending upon grill size. Check the waffles for doneness about a minute before you estimate they will be done, and continue cooking if needed, to a golden brown. (In checking for doneness, open the waffle iron carefully and watch out for steam. Do not open the waffle iron for at least 1 minute. If you do, the waffle will split, leaving half the batter on each grid, and you’ll have a mess to clean up!)

    That’s all for this post on waffles. Next up: Sourdough waffles!

    Need to Generate Income? What if You Could Enter the Growing Home Health Care Field to Financially Benefit From the “Uptick in World Aging and Chronic Disease?”

    Is Home Health Care Biz For You?

    There’s no two ways about it: The fact that we humans are all getting older every day is as sure as the inevitability of death and taxes.  

    Your challenge is to figure out how to use this to your advantage… And do it in a way that will make you money. One big idea is to develop a home health care oriented business related to helping people deal with chronic health conditions.  And do it now:

    • Don’t be like, Vivian, one of my former coaching clients, a 60+ physical therapist, who had an idea for a product to be used by Alzheimer’s patients.
    • It was a great idea: Simple, elegant, effective, dignity-enhancing, and inexpensive to manufacture.
    • A product that, if developed, would have sold like hotcakes, and made her a wealthy woman.
    • Sadly, she was so bound by fear that her idea would be laughed at that she waited a decade to seek help in bringing her idea to fruition.
    • In the end, just as I was aiding her to explore the manufacture of her “baby,” she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, and didn’t survive her treatment.  Talk about a tragedy.

    So as you’re sitting there, wondering what sort of business you can get into that will help you successfully ride out this current recession, think about the obvious:

    • What is it that people will always need, no matter what the economy is doing?
    • What resources can you personally access to serve these needs?
    • How might you be able to set things up to provide yourself with an ongoing, recurring monthly income? One that can be grown, but that won’t likely be discontinued, once you acquire a customer?

    Your answers to these questions are crucial: They could help you develop a recession-proof business that will fund your retirement.

    Actually, these are the very same question the “big boys” of industry are currently asking. Based on their answers, they’re taking action – they’re shedding old businesses that don’t support the answers they’ve arrived at, and acquiring new ones which do.

    Need proof? Check out this recent article from the New York Times, “Royal Philips Sheds Old Businesses for New Directions,” which notes that execs at the Dutch industrial giant have become convinced of two things:

    • The population is getting older and
    • It is becoming more interested in becoming “greener”

    The article notes that these two trends  – aging and greening – are guiding Philips as it transforms itself, reorganizing its divisions and jettisoning (non-compliant) product lines while picking up others. (For the purposes of this article, we’ll stick to the aging aspect and save going green for another day…)

    Of course this is worth our attention. After all, Royal Philips is a well-known a manufacturer. By the way, we’re not talking about the folks who bring you Milk of Magnesia or the petroleum company. We’re discussing the firm previously known for its manufacture of home electronics products, including: 

    • Magnavox televisions
    • DVD, Blu-ray and home theater surround-sound devices
    • MP3 players, home appliances and portable music accessories
    • Philips incandescent light bulbs
    • Norelco shavers 
    • Sonicare power toothbrushes

    “Uptick in World Aging”

    These days, Royal Philips is selling off its home electronics businesses and instead delving into the business of selling hospital and at-home scanning and monitoring equipment and high-tech light bulbs made with light-emitting diodes.

    • “We were a technology-driven company,”said Gerard J. Kleisterlee, the chief executive of Philips. “But that is only one element. Now we are focusing on care cycles. ‘Health and well-being’ is a common theme that everyone works on.”
    • Or, as the company’s chief financial officer, Pierre-Jean Sivignon, puts it: “An uptick in world aging and chronic diseases will drive our business.”

    To support this new business direction, Philips has acquired a number of existing firms: First, they bought Lifeline, a home health care monitoring system, perhaps best known to millions of Americans for an old television commercial whose tagline was, “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

    Dozen of comedians had with that line, but despite the fun, the fact is, almost 40% of all seniors fall each year, and protecting them when they do, is big business. Look at these facts related to falls and medical helplessness at home:

    • Falls are one of the most serious health risks among seniors over the age of 65, affecting more people than stroke and heart attacks combined.
    • Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury in those people 65 and over.
    • 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. 40% of those hospitalized for hip fracture do not return to independent living and 20% will die within a year.
    • More than half (55%) of all falls by seniors take place in the home. An additional 23% occur outside but near the house. Lifeline can intervene in close to 80% of all falls.
    • Most falls go unreported, but it is expected that 35-40% of people over the age of 65 fall each year.
    • Those who fall are 2-3 times more likely to fall again.
    • Additionally, many other chronic medical conditions place millions more seniors at risk.Cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, diminished hearing and eyesight, and Parkinson’s all leave seniors vulnerable to helplessness at home.

    No wonder Lifeline currently keeps track of 720,000 elderly or infirm at-home customers in the United States and Canada. Doubtless the number of people who subscribe to this service will continue to grow as our world population continues to age.

    The Importance of Developing Recurring Income 

    • Most noteworthy is that Lifeline uses an intriguing business model, which you might do well to consider: they give away their products and charge a monthly fee for their use.
    • Explains Ronald Feinstein, Philips Lifeline president, “I don’t want to sell blood pressure cuffs and defibrillators,  I want to give them away and charge a monthly fee.”
    • Currently, customers pay $35 to $45 a month, for use of a pendant or a TV set-top box that connects to Lifeline. If they experience a medical problem, they push a button on the device to summon help.

    Not surprisingly, considering that their target market is people who are aged or infirm, the company does lose about 35 percent of its subscribers to death each year. But you might wonder whether they even notice:  After all, since the world continues to age, they have been able to grow their subscriber base about 10 percent a year.

    • At this point, the company estimates it owns 60 percent of the home-monitoring market in the United States.
    • The final addition to their home-healthcare monitoring revenue stream: the 250 installers who show the subscribers how to use the devices also sell them other products, like fall detectors and automatic pill dispensers.
    • But to round out their presence in the medical monitoring field, Philips also sells cardiac home monitors that transmit data to a doctor’s office, home defibrillators and a variety of out-patient monitoring systems for assisted living operations.

    Chronic Health Conditions Require Regular Treatment

    Next up, Philips bought Respironics, the home health care firm which is best known for their positive airway pressure (PAP) machines and accessories used to treat sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

    • As with Lifeline, Philip’s Respironics business uses a business model which charges a monthly fee for use of their equipment.
    • And finally, Philips entry into the Home Medical Equipment field means that they can roll out ancillary products, such as oxygen therapy, light therapy and respiratory drug therapies. You can also develop ancillary products, once you get your business started…

    Home Health Care Future Is Bright 

    Philips Healthcare anticipates great successes ahead with their home health care businesses: Says John L. Miclot, CEO of Philips Home Healthcare Solutions:

    • “By leveraging our strengths as Philips Home Healthcare Solutions, we will improve quality of life for at-risk individuals through better awareness, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and management of their conditions – in the home.”
    • We are looking to a bright future as part of Philips Healthcare. We’re expanding our efforts to simplify healthcare by providing innovative solutions for the home that connect patients to their providers and support independent living for at-risk individuals.”

    Should You Try For a Slice of the Home Health Care Pie?

     If you’ve got appropriate credentials, this is a “no-brainer.” Of course you should!
     
    But what if you’re not a doctor, licensed nurse, social worker or LPN?
     
    Even if you aren’t trained in the medical field, you may still find opportunities in this marketplace if you give it some thought. Assess your skills and talents and copnsider whether or not you might be able to build a business related to assisting health-challenged individuals to co ntinue to live independently in their homes.
     
    For example, what about:
    • A Dog-Walking Service for the Homebound? – Pets are great companions, of course. But those who are physically challenged may have difficulty exercising their pets, washing them, trimming their nails or getting them to the vet.  This business is similar to the pet care services provided for people on vacation, but would give you the benefit of regular repeat business.
    • A Personal Shopper/Delivery Service? – “Have car, will shop or run your errands.” Many physically challenged people would appreciate having access to a service that runs errands and even does grocery shopping.  Alternately, offer a service where you pick up and deliver meals from restaurants which don’t normally offer delivery. Anyone who has difficulty getting into and out of a car would be a prospect. Also, home-based business people who are busy would likely appreciate this sort of personal assistance.
    • An On Call Barber/Beautician/Massage Therapist Service – Again, the concept is that you take your service to the client, and do the work at their home, saving them from the physical challenges of having to leave their home.

    Not interested in providing an in-the-home service?
    There are still thousands of other options. How about:

    • A service where your clients call in daily, to confirm that they are OK, and receive some message or benefit in the process. Similar to the Lifeline service, this concept requires that your clients call you daily – at a pre-arranged time – to confirm that all is well. Of course, you can augment and personalize the service Lifeline offers in many ways. This would be a service many Baby Boomers who live far from their parents but have concerns over them would find beneficial.
    • Or you might offer a subscriber service where prepare you deliver a daily blog post or podcast on a topic of interest – possibly even something as simple as reading aloud a chapter of a book each day. 
    • Another concept could be running a group call or teleconference on a daily or weekly basis.
      • A “virtual book club,” for example.
      • Or a specialized virtual support group – could be for people with a specific disability, like fibromyalgia, for example.
      • Or possibly a support group for Alzheimer’s caregivers.
      • These virtual groups have the benefit of not being limited by geography. You could actually have people calling in from all over the country – your only limitation to a world group being time zones.
    • Videos are great too!
      • Could you create a series of exercise videos specifically designed for people with physical limitations of one type or another?
      • What about a book, workbook, video and journaling program to assist people recovering from stroke or other life-altering illness to relearn skills they’ve lost? Possibly how to survive hip replacement surgery, for example. Or maybe how to learn to love your C-PAP machine – for those newly diagnosed with sleep apnea?
    • Finally, my favorite: An Ombudsman Service for people who are challenged by working the American healthcare system. If you’re good at details and cutting through red tape, there’s a huge need for this service. And in some situations – such as arguing with insurance companies – you can do the work from home!

    What Makes a Great Concept for This Type of Business?

    • Ideally, your new home health care business will not be labor intensive: You are able to do it once, and get paid repeatedly. A subscription service, for example. Or a book you write once and sell many times. Possibly a combination of both…
    • A service you provide that insurance companies will cover is also ideal, because it limits your customers’ out of pocket expense and means your payments can be automated.  
    • Look at your skillsets and figure out whether you can offer a product or service that is unique, solves a problem, and does not require you to “trade hours for dollars.”
    • A product or service that is based on your own experiences and your concern for helping others overcome a challenge you have faced. The personal aspect really shines through! This then might be something you market through doctors or clinics which work with people experiencing the same medical challenge.
    • And don’t forget the lesson Royal Philips teaches us: Strongly consider a product you can give away, which then allows you to charge a monthly fee for service or maintenance!

    Now it’s your turn!

    Put on your thinking cap, assess your life experience, and come up with some business concepts and ideas. Then develop a business plan that will put you in the game!

    What are you waiting for? Go! Do! Now! The world is aging, and it needs your help!

    Hop to It! There’s Still Time to Bake Homemade Christmas Cookies: Why Not Start a Family Tradition?

    December 23, 2008 by  
    Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Food & Recipes

    Homemade Chrismas Cookies: Now That's Tradition!

    Gosh, suddenly it’s really looking like Christmas around here! How about at your place?

    Here in Northwestern Illinois, we got at least seven inches of snow on Thursday, and then a few more on Saturday. Today, it is sunny and probably four degrees below zero – Fahrenheit – even before you take into account the blowing and drifting snow.

    As far as I’m concerned, a day like today is just perfect. It’s the kind of day where you want to stay home, enjoy a fire in the fireplace if you’ve got one, crank up the Christmas carols on your stereo or iPod, and bake up some fabulous homemade Christmas cookies! You know, it’s a day to say: “Let it snow, I’m baking cookies!”

    • If you’ve got kids or grandkids handy, be sure to get them involved in this cookie-baking action.
    • Family cookie-baking is the stuff memories are made of. In fact, my late brother-in-law once declared that Christmas wasn’t worth coming home for unless there were homemade Christmas cookies! He personally preferred the cut out kind…
    • To this day, my adult kids still try to get to their grandma’s house a few days before Christmas, just so they can participate in making the traditional holiday cookies!

    Holiday cookie making is a great opportunity for family bonding and  – sort of like giving kids a big box to play with – it won’t cost you much to make these wonderful memories, so it’s a perfect holiday-based family activity.

    Here Are a Few Family-Friendly Holiday Cookie Favorites:

    These quick and easy favorites are also guaranteed to make your holiday cookie tray a star!

    • The Pepperkaker cut-out cookies are a recipe from my Norwegian step-mother. They’re light and spicy – and just scream “Christmas!” to me
    • The Mint Meltaways are another one of my childhood favorites: a cookie my mother used to make, which I’ve never seen anywhere else. They’re a bit like Mexican Wedding Cakes, except that they’re drop cookies, not formed – and of course, they’re green and mint flavored! My sister and I have also taken this recipe and modified it over the years, trying different flavors. The recipe is pretty easy, so doubtless you can make modifications to the flavors, too!
    • The Chocolate Chewies are something my kids learned how to make with their grandfather, many years ago. These days, just making themhelps keep his memory alive

    Pepperkaker

    These spicy Norwegian Christmas cookies don’t need icing. Thin and crisp, they’re a great project for kids – even younger ones – if you make the dough in advance. Let them have fun cutting them out, placing them on the cookie sheet, and watching the timer ’til they’re done!

    INGREDIENTS:

    4 cups all-purpose flour
    1 1/3 cups sugar
    1/4 cup corn syrup
    1/3 cup water
    7/8 cup butter
    1 tablespoon orange zest — grated
    1 tablespoon cinnamon
    1/2 tablespoon ginger
    1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
    2 teaspoons ground cardamom
    2 teaspoons baking soda

    METHOD:

    Boil sugar, syrup, and water in a small saucepan. Put the butter and spices in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the hot sugar mixture. Stir until butter has melted. Cool.

    Stir together baking soda and flour.

    Mix all ingredients toether to make a smooth dough. Cover and let stand overnight.

    Roll out one portion of the dough at a time, with a light touch. Cut out shapes from the dough with cookie cutters.

    Place the cookies on cold, greased cookie sheets. Bake the cookies at 400F for 5-8 minutes in the center of the oven. Check often, as they burn easily.


    Mint Meltaways

    Yes, that’s almost a tablespoon of peppermint extract in these cookies. You can cut it down if that seems excessive. Use the cake flour and butter. I’ve tried “cheaping out” with margarine and regular flour, but the cookies just aren’t the same… Hey, it’s Christmas!

    INGREDIENTS:

    2-1/2 C. butter
    1-1/4 C. sifted confectioners’ sugar
    2-1/2 t. pure peppermint extract
    4-6 drops green food coloring
    1/4 t. salt
    5-1/2 – 5-3/4 C. cake flour

    Additional confectioners’ sugar to roll finished the cookies in.

    METHOD:

    Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit.

    Bring the butter to room temperature and cream it in your mixer.  Beat in the powdered sugar, peppermint extract and green food coloring and salt.

    Slowly and carefully beat in the cake flour, mix until completely blended.

    Drop teaspoons of the cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, keeping about 2-inches between cookies.

    Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in your preheated oven, until the cookies are set and just slightly brown.

    Remove from pan to cool on wire racks. When cookies are cool, roll in confectioners’ sugar. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.


    Chocolate Chewies

    Are these cookies or candy? I’m not sure, but you’re guaranteed that they’re easy to make and irresistable! Don’t let the sugar and corn syrup continue to boil once they start, or the cookies will turn into rocks, instead of chewy treats…

    INGREDIENTS:

    6 C. corn flake cereal
    1 C. granulated sugar
    1/4 t. salt
    1 C. Karo syrup
    1-1/2 C. smooth peanut butter
    6 oz. chocolate chips

    butter to grease the pan and your hands

    13 x 9 pan

    METHOD:

    Measure the corn flakes into a large bowl and set aside. Grease your pan with butter.

    Put the sugar, salt and corn syrup into a saucepan and bring it just to a boil, stirring constantly. Make sure all sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, and add in the peanut butter. Stir well to incorporate.

    Pour the hot syrup over the corn flakes and stir quickly, to incorporate all the flakes before the syrup cools too much.  Pour the flake mixture into the pan and use your buttered hands to spread it around evenly to the edges.

    Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and pour over the top of the cereal mixture. Spread completely over the top, with a spatula.

    Allow the chewies to cool and cut into small squares.


    More Christmas Cookies

    Well there you have it: a trio of fairly easy Christmas cookie recipes you can make with your children or grandchildren. If you’re looking for more fun, more challenge and more adventure, you might try setting aside a while day for Christmas cookie baking, as my Norwegian step-mother does.

    Rosette CookiesAccording to her, it’s a Norwegian tradition for housewives to bake seven kinds of Christmas cookies. For years we’ve gotten a group of bakers together for a day in early December, where we continue this tradition. Among the Norwegian cookies we bake and share, are:

    • Goro
    • Sandbakkels
    • Fattigmann
    • Krumkake
    • Pepperkaker
    • Rosettes
    • The seventh cookie is called Drumar, though I suspect that’s not the right spelling. Anyway, they’re little bites of shortbread heaven. I haven’t been able to find a recipe for those, but they are very like these Danish shortbread cookies, called Pebber Nodder.

    So there you have it! A list of fabulous Scandianvian Christmas cookies for your cookie making pleasure!


    If you’d like to become more familiar with the traditional Christmas Cookies of other countries, one of your best bets is to start collecting Christmas cookie cookbooks, such as Rose Levy Beranbaum’s fantastic book, Rose’s Christmas Cookies.

    Beranbaum provides a comprehensive selection of 60 cookie recipes for eating and decoration, for keeping and giving, that is probably the last word on the subject. The author of the award-winning The Cake Bible, Beranbaum has applied her passion for precise, foolproof recipes to the delectable business of cookie making.

    Especially useful is the fact that she includes:

    • Full-page color photos of every cookie, and more than 50 line drawings of techniques and templates, making the book both easy to use and a delight to the eye.
    • Chapters devoted to tree and mantelpiece cookies; cookies to make for and/or with kids; cookies for sending, for open house, and holiday dinner parties, among others.

    Among the Recipes Covered Are Classics Like:

    • Scottish Shortbread
    • Chocolate-Dipped Melting Moments
    • Mexican Wedding Cakes
    • Spritz Butter Cookies
    • Springerle
    • Pfeffernüsse

    Also offered are Beranbaum’s own creations, such as Maple Walnut Sablé Sandwiches, and those of her friends, like Lora Brody’s Christmas Phantoms and Mrs. King’s Irresistibles.

    Where applicable, recipes offer optional mixing methods for food processor or electric mixer (or by hand). Beranbaum’s “Smart Cookie” accompanies each recipe and provides hints on ingredients and techniques.

    Better yet, the book is packed with information for decoration, storage, and cookie-sending.  And there’s a color-photo-illustrated glossary of ingredients and equipment, the book is encyclopedic on its subject and virtually guarantees Christmas (or any time) cookie-making success.

    You’ll enjoy baking from Rose’s Christmas Cookies, no matter whether you’re a novice baker or an old hand at cookie baking.

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