Matcha Green Tea Latte Desk View

We’ve all seen and heard of the Matcha Green Tea craze all over the news and social media lately, thanks largely to Starbucks’ popular Latte of the same name.  But it’s so much more than that.

What is it?

Traditionally, when you order a cup or buy a box of green tea, it comes in dried crushed tea leaves which you then steep and discard the tea bag.  With Matcha, those tea leaves have been ground into a fine powder and is not just steeped into hot water, it is whisked into your drink and no part of it is discarded; giving you more nutrients in each cup.

The process from growth to harvest to production is different as well.  Growing the shade, allows for better flavor and texture.  And once it’s hand-picked, it’s dried and aged which helps enrich the flavor, before it’s ground into a fine powder.

Why so popular?

Once you try it, you’ll find that this trend is here to stay; it’s definitely not a fad.  Because not only is it delicious, it’s healthy too!  This java lover has switched sides and is loving finding new ways to implement Matcha into all kinds of tasty dishes. 

You’ll see below, I linked my preferred Matcha which is made by Live Well Compass.  Some Matcha distributors add sugar or other ingredients, this one has none of that, no additional additives and/or preservatives.  Which is exactly what you want when looking for high quality tea.  Live Well Compass provides a 100% organic Matcha Green Tea product that has the caffeine that my body is so accustomed to, without any of the coffee jitters, it gives you tons of energy and there is no crash at the end of the day! How can you not love that!?!

Additional Health benefits are that it revs up your metabolism, is a weight loss booster, and is jam-packed with all kinds of nutrients that would take all day to eat one by one.  For example, did you know that drinking Matcha before  working out can burn up to 25% more fat and can increase the rate of burning calories from 8-10% to 35-43%?  I don’t know about you, but this gets me excited to hit the yoga mat!

So, after researching all the health benefits, tasting just how delicious Matcha is, and happily giving up my coffee addition, the first recipe I decided to try to make is the ever popular Matcha Green Tea Latte.  Because of course, if it’s harder to make than a cup of coffee, it wasn’t for me.  This did not disappoint!

Matcha Green Tea Latte

Ingredients for Matcha Green Tea Latte:

1 tsp Matcha Green Tea powder

8 oz. Almond Milk

2 tsp sweetened condensed creamer

splash of vanilla extract

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender on high until powder is dissolved and serve over ice.

The next thing I tried making with Matcha was gluten-free bread to give me a bit of a pick me up for breakfast.

Matcha Green Tea Swirl Cake

Ingredients for Gluten-Free Marble Cake:

3 tbsp Matcha Green Tea powder

2 large eggs

3/4 cup almond milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups gluten-free flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

a dash salt

1 tsp baking powder

Directions:

-Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter bread loaf pan.
Mix all liquid ingredients on low in mixer.
Slowly add in dry ingredients, except the Matcha.
When all ingredients are mixed, increase the speed for 1 minute.
Pour 2/3 of batter into loaf pan.
On low, mix Matcha into remaining 1/3 batter. Then increase speed for 1 minute.
Pour over the batter in the loaf pan and with a skewer stick swirl both batters.
Place in oven and bake 30-40 minutes until done.

This was a hit with the family!  Gluten-free, delicious AND healthy!  So staying with the breakfast theme, my family loves the overnight oats which I previously put up a recipe for, so I decided to make a Matcha Green Tea Chia Pudding.

Matcha Green Tea Chia Pudding

Ingredients for Matcha Green Tea Chia Pudding:

1 tsp  Matcha Green Tea powder

2 tbsp Chia Seeds

2 tbsp sweetened condensed creamer

6 oz Almond Milk

Directions:

In a blender, mix milk, sweetened condensed creamer and Matcha until dissolved well.  Pour into container and add chia seeds.  Cover, shake well, and refrigerate overnight.

My little one has texture issues, so I was a bit worried, but she loved this as much as we all did!!!  This recipe is a single serving size because I wasn’t sure if everyone would love as much as I do, but all you have to do is double, triple or increase to whatever your needs are. 

Lastly, how could I not make Matcha Green Tea gummies!?!

Matcha Green Tea Gummies

Ingredients for Match Green Tea Gummies:

2 tsp Matcha Green Tea powder

2½ tablespoons gelatin2 cups coconut water, divided

1 tbsp sweetened condensed creamer (adjust the amount according to taste)

¼ cup coconut cream (the hardened stuff that floats to the top of a can of coconut milk)

Directions:

-First, pour 1 cup of coconut water in a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top, let it sit for 5 minutes to allow it to soften. 
Over medium heat, combine the remaining coconut water and sweetened condensed creamer.
Stir until it steams, not boils.
Pour over gelatined coconut water, stir well.
Then transfer into blender cup and add coconut cream and Matcha.
Blend on high for 1 minute.
Pour into silicone molds or 8-inch baking dish.
Last, refrigerate for approximately 2 hours or until hardened.
Can be stored in a sealed container for up to 4 days.

If you love coconut and green tea, you’ll love this combo!  Keep in mind to taste before you pour into molds.  I made mine super sweet by adding some more sweetener because for whatever reason, when you refrigeration these, they lose some sweetness.

Matcha Green Tea Panna Cotta

As you can see in the picture (forgive my crumbling gummies, I was too anxious to properly take them out), I made this two ways.  In individual gummies and a “Panna cotta-style” serving size as well.  I covered that with a drizzle of sweetened condensed creamer for an after dinner treat. YUM!

There you have it. 

I’m still experimenting with Matcha Green Tea recipes, so I’ll have more recipes in a future posts.  You can click any of the links above or go here → https://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Culinary-Servings-Smoothies-Metabolism/dp/B01M0A10XA to get some of your own Live Well Compass Matcha Green Tea. 

Feel free to use any of my recipes above to fall in love with Matcha, or if you want to do some experimenting of your own, the bag has a link to the top 100 video recipes to try out as well.  Either way, I’d love to hear about some of your favorite Matcha favorites and give those a try too!  Leave me a link below↓.

-Sandra

**Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the company, and/or its affiliates in any way.

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**Disclaimer: I was not paid to promote products of Farm Fresh To You or their services.  It is a service that I tried on my own, for myself and family and would genuinely like to share it.

Farm Fresh To You

I just have to share with you all how I got my first Farm Fresh Delivery in less than a week and how you can too!

While researching Fibromyalgia, one of the best things I can do to help with pain management and inflammation is eating healthier and exercising more.  So while on my mission to do just that, we we’re walking around our local Farmer’s Market this past Friday night, trying to beat the heat while stretching and getting some exercise in. 

Among the many things we saw, from local eateries sharing their goodies to local artisans sharing crafts and local musicians dropping their beats, we stopped at the local farmer’s stand.  However, this one was different, there were no goods in front of him.  Just a very nice gentleman sharing some information and their services.

The Basics:

I’m going to run down the basics of the Farm Fresh To You services, however, I’m also going to give you all a link to check it out for yourself and get a discount on your first order!

After you go to the website to create your log in, it’ll prompt you to set up your order.  You’ll have a choice of boxes: fruits, veggies, non-cooking box, etc.  After that, you get to choose your box size (prices vary).  Once you have your box choice, you then pick and choose the produce in your box, it’s as easy as clicking and dragging.  Add your payment method, shipping address and delivery date, and you’re done! 

It’s that simple.

Best thing about this service is that not only is the produce organic and locally grown, but you can control just what you get, when you get it, access to your own website to decide all that, products such as homemade butters, jams, syrups etc., plus access to recipes and events Farm Fresh To You hosts as well.

We started with one of the smaller boxes at a promotional half off price to begin with and we’ll see how it goes.  So far, my kids are devouring it all, we just received our first box today and I had to pry it away to take a quick picture before they ate it all!  As you can see from the picture above, I picked all fruit, and I have to say, I’ve never tasted strawberries so sweet.  What a difference non-pesticide treated fruit tastes like! YUM!

So, I hope you all sign up, enjoy it and let me know what you think!  Here’s that link I promised you, which I’ve also added to my page for easy access:

-Sandra

 

I’ve been making Cheater Wraps long before I fell in love with PF Chang’s Chicken Wraps.  Of course, my version was without the lettuce, but it wasn’t difficult to add that to my recipe.  It’s one of the easier (lazier) gluten-free meals that I make and the kids love them!  Please note, this is NOT an exact replica of those famous wraps, but if you love cheap, easy, super quick and delicious, you have to try these…

Ingredients for Cheater Wraps:

1 pkg – lean taco seasoned ground turkey

1 can – 15.25 oz whole kernel corn

1 – 1lb pkg white rice

Directions for Cheater Wraps:

Turkey mixture:

-Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat and then add ground turkey.  Cook about 3-5 minutes, or until browned.  Use spatula to make sure to turkey is crumbled into the smallest pieces as it cooks.

-Stir in a drained can of corn and continue to sauté until thoroughly cooked.

Rice:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat then add white rice.  Sauté while stirring until just right before the rice browns.  The rice should go from slightly translucent to solid white.  Add water to rice, cover pan, lower heat and simmer until done.

To Serve:

Spoon one or two tablespoons of both the turkey mixture and rice into the center of a lettuce leaf, sprinkle some queso fresco on top, roll taco-style and enjoy!

Usually with ground meat, I drain the excess fat, but with lean ground turkey, there is no excess fat left over.  So not only are you eating healthy, this meal was cheap too! 

Here’s the breakdown:

Turkey – $3.88
Corn – $0.68
Rice – $1.16
Lettuce – $0.99


Grand Total – $6.71

How can you beat that?  Turkey Wraps a la PF Chang’s for under $7 for a family of four in under 20 minutes!?!  YUP! You read it right!  Try it, enjoy it, and let me know what you think!

-Sandra

It’s been 5 days and I don’t know how many hours since I found out I have Fibromyalgia.  What started out as a routine doctor’s visit for flu-like symptoms that went on for way too long, became a couple of weeks of multiple blood tests, referrals to the rheumatology department, follow ups, and now a diagnosis.

Yep, buckle in for one of those therapeutic posts that I so desperately need so I can get it all out.

Not knowing what Fibromyalgia is, the doctor might as well have said Cancer.  For every question she answered, I had ten more.  I’m grateful that I was assigned to an extremely patient Rheumatologist and that my husband had a day off to go with me.  I don’t think I would’ve had the strength to drive home that day.

The word fibromyalgia comes from the New Latin and Greek meanings:
fibro meaning “fibrous tissue”
myos meaning “muscle”
algos meaning “pain”

I, of course, did what I always do.  I researched it.  I read everything I could possibly get my grubby little hands on.  I wanted answers.  I wanted explanations why this happened to me.  I wanted a cure.  I want it to go away.

What I’ve learned about Fibromyalgia since that day:

-nobody really knows what causes it
-it’s incurable
-women are 10 times more likely to develop it than men
-there is medication to treat specific symptoms, but not the disease itself
-stress triggers flare ups
-my history of medical problems all lead back to Fibromyalgia
-it wasn’t all in my head

…and so much more, these are just the ones that stand out.

One symptom isn’t Fibromyalgia, it’s a combination

Since last Thursday, I’ve had several panic attacks, breakdowns, bouts of anger, moments of clarity and of course, moments of determination.

What now? 

As is my nature, I allow myself 2 minutes a day to be overwhelmed, cry and get it all out, before I suck it up and put on my big girl panties.  Those that know me, know that I’m not a crier.  I don’t like crying.  I don’t like chick flicks.  I don’t get emotional over babies.  The way I see it is that I’ve had a lifetime of crying in my last marriage, that I’ve made a conscience effort to not let things into my life that make me sad. 

Now that I know what I have, my health history is making a ton of sense.

Pelvic Problems

For as long as I can remember I’ve had girl problems.  Heavy periods, occasionally painful sex, several miscarriages, two extremely difficult pregnancies, bleeding fibroids and ultimately a hysterectomy.  I haven’t had any issues in this area since the hysterectomy, until about a few months ago, I found out I have ovarian cysts again.

Digestion Problems

Self-explanatory.  I’ve never been huge on food.  I eat to live, not live to eat.  Now I know it’s because everything I put into my mouth, makes me feel sick.

Weak joints

I can’t count the amount of times I sprained an ankle, kinked my neck, or had joint pain.  What I do know, is that massage therapists need a frequent flyer discount card.

Fibro Fog

I don’t think I’ve had full fibro fog, as described by the doctor, but I have always had memory problems.  Simple things.  I think it’s the reason I refused to study the night before a test because nothing stayed in my brain.  5 minutes before a test was the only thing I ever need to ace a test.

Sleep Disturbance

I’m one of those that if you wake me, that’s it, I’m up.  No going back to bed, no matter how tired I am.  I never thought anything of it.  However, between that, restless legs, morning aches and tingling limbs, I now know it isn’t a normal thing.

Anxiety/Depression

This is a fairly new thing for me.  I’ve always been a planner, but I attributed that to OCD.  Little did I know, it was a coping mechanism to prevent anxiety.  I never considered myself an anxious or depressed person, I still don’t.  However, the doctors did 7 years ago.  I have to say, I was extremely ashamed.  I was put on meds that were horrible and turned me into a zombie.  I hated them and refused to take them, they made me feel worse. 

Also, I was going through an extremely tough time in my life, my marriage of 15 years was over and as we all know, divorces aren’t an easy thing to go through.  I’ve since, made it out on of the other side of that and other than an occasional co-parenting issue, I’m good.  If I would’ve known then about my Fibromyalgia…well, let’s not finish such sentences.

Pain & Fatigue

I’m putting these two together, because for me, they go hand in hand.  I’ve never not had either one in my life.  I honestly can’t say when the last time it was that I was NOT in pain.  Pain has been a constant for me.

Most of the time time it takes a history of symptoms for a diagnosis, which is why it usually isn’t diagnosed until mid-life

Why have I put all these out?  Why this post?

Mostly for me.  It helps to see how it’s been there all along.  It’s been an invisible constant.  It wasn’t all in my head.  I feel slightly vindicated for all those times I just couldn’t move, for all those sick days I took, for all those missed dates, events and parties.  I’m grateful I listened to my body enough to know that it needed rest. 

But I also put this out because people just don’t know how invisible this is.  I don’t have any physical deformities and I never will.  I look healthy, but I never have been.  I have smiled through the pain because I don’t have the strength to do anything else about it. Lastly, I put this out there because I hope that when I look back at this day, I’ll be able to see how far I’ve gone.  What has worked for me, what hasn’t and I hope it helps others along the way.

What now? 

Considering there is NO treatment and it will never go away, I figure I have two choices, lay down and die or get up and work through it.  I’m here, so you all know what I chose.

Currently I’m a human pin cushion.  I’ve chosen acupuncture for pain management, which is huge for me, because needles make me faint.   I don’t want drugs, because it’s a lifetime commitment at this point and nothing will cure this for me.  So I’m addressing the symptoms and that’s about as much as I can do, other than to have a voice.  I’m looking into CBD oil as an option for pain management, but only as a last resort.

What do I know for sure?

My life is going to change drastically.  It has to if I want any kind of relief.  I have a wonderful life, a great husband and two incredibly amazing daughters to live for.  Nothing has changed with this diagnosis, but it’s going to. I’ll keep learning along the way.  Do what works for me.   I’m still me.  I live with pain.  It won’t defeat me, it hasn’t yet and I’m determined to keep it that way.  I have Fibromyalgia, it doesn’t have me.

-Sandra

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How To Forgo Summer Camp & Save MoneyWhy send your kids to summer camp this year?  You can save so much more money by creating your own summer camp and spend that much needed time with your kiddos this summer!

By doing a bit of research, you can keep your summer spending to a minimum and still be able to enjoy all that your city has to offer.  I usually make a list of my kids favorite places and start there. 

Free Movies Days

Well, when my kids we’re much smaller, summer camp movies were free.  Now, depending on the theater you go to, it can be anywhere from $1-$4.  Either way, it’s still much cheaper than a full price ticket.

Living in sunny Southern California, I usually opt for Regal Cinemas or AMC Theatres.  Both offer summer camp movies 2 days a week and if you click on the links above, you can find theaters near you with a list of movies playing all summer.  Granted, these movies are NOT new movies, but escaping the heat, soaking in the air conditioning, and letting the big screen entertain your kids for a while, more than makes up for it.

Free Museum Days

If you’re like me and like to add a little culture and some learning to your outings, free museum days are a great deal.  Whether it’s checking out dinosaur bones or gazing at the stars, you’re sure to find something that will keep them entertained for hours and tire them out just enough to let you enjoy the day as well.  Some of the museums on this link are always free, some have certain days of the month available, and some are just by donations.  Rest assured, that if museums are on your list, you’ll find one right up your alley and with just a little bit of planning, it’ll make the kids happy as well.

Free Park Days

I know I already mentioned movies.  However, for a much more fun outing, pack a snack, bring your camping chairs, and catch a movie under the stars.  Most communities have local parks that plan both movies in the park or if you feel like dancing under the stars, music in the park.  Both of these fun outings beat the heat by being night time events and tons of family fun.  Best part about these, they’re free!

However, if you want some fun Adult time of the same variety, check out the Rooftop Cinema Club.  This specific one is local to L.A., but I’m sure most big cities have something similar.  How fun is watching movies outdoors, under the stars, surrounded by the glowing lights of the city!?!

Or maybe you’d like something a little more adventurous and want to watch movies surrounded by dead people.  For those thrill seekers, Cinespa shows movies in two locations, the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery or historic movie palaces around L.A..

Whether you choose the rooftop, cemetery, or palace, expect to pay for much more than just the movie, but with an experience like that, why not?

Free Beach Days

Most beaches in southern California have some type of parking fee, but usually it’s minimal.  However, a couple bucks to soak in some rays, getting wet, and tiring out the kids is more that worth it.  Don’t let parking fees keep you away, there are so many beaches in California, it’s not hard to find free parking either. 

Don’t want to melt in the sun?  How about the beach at night?  That’s right, it’s the time of year that the grunion run.   Don’t worry, you don’t have to run after fish on the beach, they come to you.  If you’re not interested in getting fishy, let the kids do it, or just let it be a learning experience.  Trust me, the kids will love it and you’ll love doing something free, under the stars, spending time with the kids, while they run around ‘til their little hearts are content.

Catch a local Ball Game

I’m lucky enough to live in an area with two Baseball teams, so I have my choice to choose from.  To get the best bang for my buck, I go with companies like seatgeek.com or cheaptickets.com.  I can get Dodger or Angels tickets starting at $5 each!  Which means, for my family of 4, I can catch a local ball game for $20, plus parking.  Granted, you’re not allowed to take your own snacks in, but you can have a large dinner before the game, tailgate, or spurge at any one of the food booths they have to offer.  Usually, this is the only family outing we spend a little bit more on during the summer.  But considering I’m saving so much money on everything else, it’s worth catching a game or two this summer.

So there you go, with a little bit of planning, a packed lunch, and some sunscreen, your kids will love the summer camp you have custom built for them, much more than those other ones.  Have fun!

-Sandra

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Tomato & goat cheese soup
Goat cheese in my soup? How did I get here?

A couple of years ago, my Chicago native husband convinced me to take a trip and traipse around the city with him.  Never having been and knowing my love for travel, I jumped at the chance to get to know the city he so deeply loved.  Of course, being the conscientious adventurer, I delved into all things Chicago, especially the food and had a list for my must stop and dine places in the city before we even left L.A.

One of the places we stopped at after our improptu photo shoot at Wrigley Field, was the Standard Market Grill.  Being a mom of a child with Celiac Disease, I make it my mission to research places that have gluten-free menus in place for our next visit with the kids.  I wish I could say I sampled everything on the menu, but no, sadly.  Having had a hearty breakfast, I opted for something light and refreshing to hold me over until dinner, and went with the gf tomato & goat cheese soup.

I have to say, I was a bit apprehensive about goat cheese in my soup.  Although I love all things cheesy, goat cheese is not high on that list.  However, I was reassured it was an amazing dish and it did not disappoint.

So how does this bring me to this recipe? Did I steal it? Nope! I didn’t take enough money for bail, so I scoured the web until I found something similar and just as tasty.

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp-olive oil
1-medium yellow onion
2-garlic cloves
1/4 tsp-red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp-dried thyme
1 – 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes
1-cup vegetable broth
2 oz goat cheese
2 oz queso fresco
black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Over medium low heat sauté with olive oil, onion diced finely, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and dried thyme, for 5 minutes or so or until onions are soft. Stir occasionally until slightly brown.

Next, put whole can of tomatoes and vegetable stock in a blender (including the juice from the tomatoes). Add the sautéed mix to blender. Blend on pureed setting. 

Then, pour into soup pot and bring to a boil. Add water if desired for a thinner soup. Pepper to taste. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Sprinkle on goat cheese and let melt before stirring.

Last, serve and top with queso fresco.

Side Note: if you’re not a soup person, use 1/4 cup less broth and use it over pasta for an alternate dish. Enjoy!

-Sandra

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Uber Rider 101As an Uber driver, I have read countless articles on how to be a better Uber driver, ways to give outstanding service, how to get 5 stars and such. However, I have yet to read a single article on how to be a better rider.  Maybe it’s the whole “the customer is always right” bit.  Having been on the giving and receiving side of the service industry, this is not always true. I’ll not bore anyone with 101 ways to be a better Uber rider, but I will let you in on the top 5 ways to improve your riding experience regardless of who your driver is.

  1. Be considerate

This should be a given and you may think, you don’t have to be because you’re paying for a service. But here’s the thing, you are getting into someone’s PERSONAL car. Uber “the company” does not pay our car payment, they don’t wash our cars, they don’t pay our insurance, heck, they don’t even put gas in our cars.  These are OUR vehicles. We use these vehicles in our everyday life. To take our kids to school. To go to church on Sunday. To go to our other jobs. So in this instance “do to others as you would have others do unto you”. 

I have been lucky and have not had a problem in this area, but I’ve heard some horror stories.  Uber riders I’ve had have been extremely respectful and even ask if eating in the vehicle is permitted. I personally do not mind, as long as what you bring into my car is taken with you. Common courtesy goes a long way.

  1. Be understanding

You may have taken a particular route a million times, but chances are your Uber driver has not. We have our GPS to guide us, but if you prefer an alternate route, say so. Most of us don’t mind, especially if you can maneuver us around construction or traffic. But understand that there are some drivers out there that prefer to stick to the map. If they do, don’t get offended, just sit back and enjoy the ride and be confident in the fact that Uber has provided us with the means to get you to where you are going.

  1. Have a conversation

If you feel awkward getting into a strangers car, realize that we are human too and probably feel a bit awkward about it as well.  I tend to break the ice by confirming the destination and usually ask if they are headed to work and what time they start. I can’t control the traffic, or if Uber was called too late to get to work on time, but at least I know I can do whatever I possibly can to get there on time.

I’m not breaking any laws or getting a ticket for my Uber rider, but I’ll usually let them know what the map ETA states, so they are aware of the length of time in the car.  Usually, that bit of conversation is enough to naturally ease into further conversation. But in the event that it doesn’t, at least it subdued the awkwardness for both of us.

  1. You’re an Uber Rider, Enjoy the Ride

The whole point of Uber is to get from point A to point B without driving yourself. I drive in Southern California in an area notorious for its traffic. If you’re taking an Uber, there may be traffic to contend with, but you can relax and let your driver maneuver around it. The best thing about Uber is the stress free ride; letting someone else take the wheel. Knowing we’ve been vetted and given the green light to do so.

Nothing stresses out a driver more, than a back seat driver. I don’t mean the location of your seat, but the manner in which you give us directions and stress us out about driving you. If you wanted to be a back seat driver, you should’ve driven yourself. So enjoy it, converse with us, catch up on some zzz’s, tune us out and tune into some music, it’s your time. Do whatever you’d like to enjoy not having to drive yourself.

  1. Rate us

I’m not asking for 5 stars, and I’m definitely not asking to be 1-starred. Just be honest. I’d rather know I need to improve, than to NOT know I’m doing something wrong, if that’s the case. If you like the service, let us know. If you didn’t, let us know why. It’s that simple. All I ask is to be honest. Don’t be spiteful. If you give a low star, just explain why so we can improve ourselves. We’re human, not robots. We need feedback.

What most Uber riders don’t know is that we rate you as well. It works both ways. Uber wants to know if a rider needs to have their riding privileges revoked or if a driver does. So being honest with your feedback is the best thing you can do for everyone using Uber. Because you can rest assure that since we are required to rate every passenger, we wouldn’t want to pass on a nightmare passenger to the next driver, if it could’ve been prevented.

At the end of the day

You want a more pleasant experience and you want to know if there was something you could’ve done to have one.  Well, here you go. I’ve given you a list of things that are within your control for a more pleasant Uber ride. If doing 1-4 doesn’t make it more enjoyable, then you have #5 to make it more enjoyable for the next person that gets in that car.  Consider it your social obligation to keep great Uber drivers on the road and bad ones off the streets.

-Sandra

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We spend so much time chasing happiness, we resolve that it’s something tangible.  The horrible truth is that you can’t hold it, can’t wish for it, can’t buy it, because it’s a state of mind.  It’s a choice.

Happy when” is a killer to “happy now

How many times have you said:
“I’ll be happy when…I meet the right person to marry...I finish school...I get that promotion. 

How silly does it sound reading that?  I’m sure you’re thinking that if it was that easy, everyone would make that choice. Well, not everyone knows that it’s choice to make. For some, even though they do know it, they’re skeptical. But it is that easy.

How has this been kept a secret? It hasn’t.  Happiness is a state of mind. It’s your perception of what makes you happy. Which is exactly why my idea of happy is different from yours.

Too often we focus on getting to the finish line of being happy that we don’t focus on making our “now” happy. Choose to be happy in the moment. Be happy with the progress you’ve made, be happy with the person you’re with, be happy where you are.

We grow what we water.

Don’t water the negatives in your life that are keeping you from being happy. Focus on all those little things that make you happy. For instance, it can be as simple as being happy that your spouse loves you, works hard for you, loves to have conversations with you and rushes home at the end of the day to be with you. How can that not make someone happy? But if your focus is on those long hours they put in at work away from you, that conversations are mostly about the topics they’re interested in, that they took the long way home to avoid traffic, aren’t you just looking at things that steal your happiness.

What you focus on is what you attract.

I know, it’s so cliché to ask you to look on the bright side. But the reality of it is, that if we train ourselves to do just that, have we not just added to our happiness? Didn’t you just say you’d do anything to make your “now” happy. It’s that easy, finding the happiness in everything. Once you change your view, you no longer chase happiness, you just are happy.

Happiness Disney QuoteEver wonder why Disneyland is the happiest place on earth?

It could be Walt Disney’s perception due to the amount of money Disneyland makes. Maybe it’s because kids are so entertained by the simplest of things. Possibly it’s because parents can take a break and not have to entertain their kids themselves. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because you’ve now shifted your view from being in the real world with real problems, into a world of fun and fantasy where your problems don’t exist.

I’m not saying live in a fantasy world, but by all means, shift your perception. Change how you view happiness.  It doesn’t have to be elusive or far away. It can be right now.

I’ll leave you with a prayer we say every night with our kids to teach them gratitude and how to be happy in the moment.

Dear God,
Thank you for another wonderful day.
Thank you for everything you’ve done and everything you continue to do.
Such as putting a roof over our heads.
Food in our bellies.
And love in our hearts.
-Amen

It may not have been a wonderful day, it may have been a long tough day, but being grateful that we had one more day alive, is enough to make us happy about it, whether good or bad. By the same token, we may not live in a mansion, but we have a home to come to, a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and a family that we love and love us back.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that we forget about, that make us happy. Like a light switch, just switch your perspective and you’ll find, you’ve been happy all along.

-Sandra

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Divorce and the 5 Things I didn't ExpectPeople don’t understand the ups and downs of divorce unless they’ve gone through it. Everyone learns at their own pace and have their own “ah-ha” moments, these are just a few of mine.

1. The person you married isn’t the person you’re divorcing. 

I married the boy next door (actually, across the street). I had known him my whole life and would’ve bet everything that our divorce would be civil. Boy, was I wrong. He became a person I no longer recognized. If I would’ve met this version of him from the get-go, I would’ve ran, fast!

2. You lose so much more than expected. 

It’s not the division of assets that throws you off, that’s an expected part of divorce. It’s the division of friends and family. Those people that you welcomed into your home, that were there for huge milestones, that had your back. You don’t just lose them to your ex, you sometimes lose them because they just don’t agree with your decision to divorce.

3. You’ll be treated like a failure.

No matter what you believe. Especially if you believe you’ve done the right thing. There will always be those that treat you as if you’re a failure. You’ll get the “oh, you’re divorced?” with the head-tilt-of-pity. As divorcees, we beat ourselves up enough about this one, but to have to face everyone else’s judgement of your decision is just horrible.

4. It’s not over once you sign on the dotted line.

I wish I could have had a mulligan. Hindsight is 20/20 as everyone knows. If we knew then, what we know now, we could’ve saved ourselves a whole lot of heartache. However, that’s not how life works. Divorce is a process, especially if you have children and have to co-parent, it’ll take a very long time for some sense of normalcy to roll around.

5. Divorce leaves you jaded in a way you don’t anticipate it to.

It might not necessarily be a bad thing. I’ve learned what I’m just not willing to put up with within a relationship. You get real, real quick, with the people around you and all that additional BS that comes with the relationship dance, goes out the window. Those boundaries might have been there before, but you don’t have that misguided notion that things will eventually change into what you really want. My second time around, I approached dating like a business meeting. Weeded out what I couldn’t live with, accepted (wholeheartedly) what I could live with, and enjoyed the ride and truly fell in love.

Here’s the thing: to each their own. 

It took me a long time to even pull the trigger on my divorce, so much longer than I would’ve done, had I not been listening to everyone around me. No one lived my life. No one cried my tears. No one even held my hand through it. But I survived.

Why am I not miserable you ask? How did I survive?

I made things easy for myself. I gave myself a break. I allowed myself to feel every single emotion. It was a 15 year marriage. You don’t get over it overnight. Most of all, I reminded myself of what my grandmother taught me, “he who gets mad, has 2 jobs, to get mad and to get over it”. I decided to go straight to getting over it. I exhausted my energy on that, rather on being mad and jaded and miserable and resentful. I was worth more than that.

It’s unfortunate that ‘divorce’ still has the stigma that it has. However, pulling myself out of a situation that was unhealthy for myself and my children is the best decision I’ve ever made. Stigma or not, that’s everyone’s else’s issues and I don’t subscribe to those. I subscribe to being surrounded by the strength of those that have been there for me and those that have gone through a divorce and understand what coming out on the other side means. Divorce equals being strong enough to value yourself enough to leave an unhealthy situation, it’s not failure. Failure is staying and being miserable in a marriage long after it’s over.

-Sandra

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