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ENCORE of an Unexpected Gift – A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

Turkey Deep Fryer for an Unexpected Gift

 

ENCORE of an UNEXPECTED GIFT – A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

When one of our possessions is not used, over time it distracts us and creates a feeling of clutter. When curiosity got the better of me and I just had to try a deep fried turkey, Eric let me use it and four families gathered to ENJOY a FUN ADVENTURE.

This unexpected gift inspired Eric and I to write the following poem:

It’s on clearance, what a deal!
A turkey deep fryer to cook our Thanksgiving meal.

Just season to taste with spices and such
A pinch here and there, not too much.
But it says some assembly required
How to do it? I’m too tired.
Years go by and it sits on the shelf
Taunting me like an underutilized elf
Waiting to be used for the big holiday feast
Bothering my wife not in the least.
We should use it when the family’s in town
But it’s still not assembled, I feel so down.

Brenda asks how a deep fried turkey might cook
I’m eager to try it, let’s have a look.
She says, “I have a smoker to offer in trade
For your turkey deep fryer unused for a decade
“No, the fryer is mine.”
“But if you wanna use it, I guess that’s fine.”
Plans are made to break it in right
With special oil and a bird that won’t fight.
The big day draws near, how will it go?
Without some experience, there is no way to know.

Family and friends arrive to see
How a Thanksgiving bird is cooked for free.
The oil is hot, ready at last
Keep the temperature steady to cook it fast.
Anticipation and laughter fill the air
As we wait anxiously for our Thanksgiving fare.
The turkey is cooked and ready to eat.
The glorious meal is crispy and neat.
Making for a mouth-watering display
A great way to spend Thanksgiving Day!

We invite you to view the one-minute YouTube video clips of HOW TO Safely Prepare and ENJOY A Deep Fried Turkey from START to FINISH.

 

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Cut Through the Clutter

What unexpected gifts will unveil themselves to you when you cut through the clutter?

In STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, we discuss the five categories of clutter, which we call cluttergories. They are physical, mental, digital, temporal and sensual. Clutter has an ebb and flow to it, just like life. How we define our clutter may change.

Recently my Dad has been making improvements to his home, discovering areas of clutter in the process. One hall closet in particular had several shoe boxes full of old pictures (remember the print kind?) that were stored at random. My daughter Maggie volunteered to sort them out and organize them for my Dad so the whole family could enjoy them.

We took all the boxes home for easier sorting, and to help cut through the clutter at my Dad’s house! My first unexpected gift came shortly thereafter. As Maggie went through each box of pictures she would stop to ask who or what was in a given photo. It is amazing what memories (my unexpected gift) came into focus as I answered her questions. Of course there were questions that neither I nor my wife could answer about certain photos. That’s not a problem because a sticky note to mark that photo will do the trick short term. Maybe my Dad can provide the answers.  Unexpected-Gifts_Cut-Through-the-Clutter_05272015 - Copy

His pictures are now neatly organized in new photo boxes. As he looks through them in the future he will enjoy a pleasant stroll down memory lane, an unexpected gift worth giving.

Maggie was inspired to review and sort the family photos at our house as a result of this project. Fortunately my wife keeps them in pretty good order already. This is when I received my second unexpected gift. The photos triggered pleasant memories for sure, but also motivated me to take action.

Looking at my skinnier self from years ago, coupled with some good-natured teasing from my daughter, motivated me to lose weight. Getting back in shape is something I have been working at half-heartedly for most of this year, with limited success. Pictures tell a tale that is difficult to ignore.

The physical clutter of printed pictures has motivated me to get in better physical shape. What cluttergories are impacting your life?  Cut through that clutter to unveil an unexpected gift that is unique to you.

Clutter free Kitchen table - Avadian - Web

Nature abhors a vacuum and other clutter postulates

About a decade ago, I came upon “Nature abhors a vacuum” in a book on feng shui. It left a lasting impression upon me. If we resist this force of nature, we may gain control over the cycle of clutter in order to enjoy the unexpected gifts in life.

At this time, I needed to get rid of a number of classic-tailored suits. I no longer wore them because after years of living in a dry climate — the High Desert of Southern California — the finely woven wool fibers had shrunk significantly; yet, I couldn’t let them go.

Isn’t it funny how when we don’t even need something, we insist on holding on?

That changed when a fellow caregiver and friend needed donations for the Children’s Hospital fundraiser. Knowing these clothes were to be purchased by women who would recognize the finer quality details, I donated a half-dozen suits and other clothes.

The void in my closet provided relief. I no longer had the toxic reminders of what was not in my future — a body to fit in those clothes.

And while the force of nature pressured me to fill that void, I resisted. I bought two new outfits. I needed something to wear at speaking engagements!

Today, I consciously resist the urge to replace something I give away or discard. I try to live without it a while to see if I really need to replace it.

This past weekend, one of our living room tabletop lamps stopped working. My husband took it apart to try to fix it. We agreed it wasn’t worth his time and tossed it. We considered buying a new one. Then, to fill the void with light, we experimented by moving two floor lamps. Amazingly, the new arrangement resulted in a much better effect with one less lamp!

What is it that compels us to give into nature’s force and fill a newly created void? And why?

It turns out that Aristotle made this statement. Ahh, now that explains why we accumulate clutter! It’s a physics postulate! And who can resist nature’s law?

We can, if we try hard enough.

After all, with enough power, we defy the laws of gravity and enjoy air travel around the world.

We CAN defy the laws of physics.

When we resist the urge to fill a void whether it’s physical, mental, or even temporal, we free ourselves to receive the unexpected gifts in life.

Unexpected gifts

Clutter free Kitchen table - AvadianYou may recall reading the part in STUFFology 101 about my husband’s and my commitment to keep our kitchen table clear after we grew tired of having to clear a space to eat. Instead, we put our food on trays and ate while watching TV.

This is a photo taken on May 4, 2015 of our clutter-free table. And we took advantage of two unexpected gifts. First, we focus on what we’re eating, which means we eat less. Instead of permitting TV to be a distraction, we take our time to enjoy meals we prepare together from scratch. Second, we’re talking more, just as we did when we became a couple almost 38 years ago.

You may also recall the article that we cancelled our television subscription earlier this year, in order to have more time.

This means less temporal clutter. We have more time to catch up with the things that piled up while our attention was diverted to the TV. And there’s no more mindless blur of daily entertainment that overloaded us with mental clutter.

As we consciously strive to defy Aristotle’s (clutter) postulate, we’ll have more time and energy to enjoy life’s unexpected gifts. One such gift presented itself a couple months ago after I took steps to reduce the hours and days I worked each week.U.S. News & World Report - Brenda Avadian

For almost twenty years, I worked 14-16 hours a day for 6-7 days a week. Last year, I began to take stock of my time and energy and reduced my schedule to 12-14-hour days. After facing some difficult decisions, I let go of several volunteer activities and reduced my work schedule even more.

This year, I’m working 10-12 hour days 6 days a week. This reduction left me with enough time and energy to accept an unexpected gift–an invitation to write for U.S. News & World Report.

This opportunity helps me to reach a wider audience with my message for caregivers. I would not have been able to accept this gift had I not cleared the temporal clutter in my life. Plus, I’m getting out more often to hike in nature.

What unexpected gifts will you invite into your life after resisting the urge to fill a void with stuff?

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Unload That Trailer

I would rather have and not need it than need it and not have it. My philosophy for garage items was not serving me well when it came to my utility trailer. As discussed in STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter , I rarely used it. Worse than not using it was the fact it had turned into a not so mobile storage area for stuff!

On the rare occasion I needed to use the trailer, I first had to follow a multiple step process to get it out of the garage. This entailed moving the items in and around the trailer out onto the driveway so I could maneuver the trailer out of the garage. Then all that stuff in the driveway went back into the garage temporarily while I used the trailer. Finally, I reversed the process to park the trailer in the garage again. Not a very efficient use of time or space. Talk about temporal and physical clutter!

A solution to my clutter conundrum eventually appeared in the form of my nephew, who asked if I’d be interested in selling the trailer. Ultimately I said YES, but not before agonizing over the answer for at least 30 seconds. I was not home when he came to pick up the trailer, so he and my daughter followed my multiple step process to get the trailer out of the garage.2015_Trailer-1

While it was nice not having to do that work, I also received some unexpected gifts. Letting go of the trailer inspired the family to finally sort through the many trailer items to keep, toss, or donate. Clearing out the garage clutter enabled us to find a few family treasures to display in the house. Those items we chose to donate were put to much better use by our favorite charity. What a wonderful feeling!

In addition, my nephew did not need the panels I had made for the trailer, so I turned that material into storage shelving for my garage. Much of my jumbled Christmas decorations now had an easily accessible home. Aaahhh, relief from Christmas clutter constipation.

Unloading the trailer provided me with another unexpected gift, family time. My nephew stayed for dinner the day he picked up the trailer and we had a nice visit. Sorting through the garage items from the trailer as a family provided a nice block of time to catch up with one another on a variety of things that might otherwise have been missed.

Clear the clutter from an area in your life and discover what unexpected gifts are waiting for you.

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Letting GO to Welcome In

Giving up Television_Avadian photoLast week, I cancelled my satellite TV subscription.

Two years ago, I suspended service for two to three months. Since then, I wanted to let go of subscription TV but hit a roadblock—my husband.

When he suggested giving up TV completely, recently, I jumped and cancelled our service.

The following day, I received an unexpected gift.

When my neighbor and I walked the 0.7 mile down to our mailboxes, she received a postcard. An announcement about a play– Great Expectations. I got EXCITED, because Charles Dickens’ story of Pip and Miss Havisham was one of those childhood stories that left an impression on me. Time to see the play after reading the book several times and seeing the movie.

When ONE door closes, ANTHER DOOR opens.

Or, to using another cliché:

You can’t get to second base with your foot still on first.

In order to take a leap of faith, you must be willing to let go.

We don’t realize it: We watch more TV than we think we do.

Couch-Potatoes_AvadianI would have guessed that I watched only one to two hours, some nights, but the truth was,  I could watch three or more. After a hard day of work, I enjoyed being a couch potato. With all that TV watching though, this spud was going no where.

All those hours lost… watching TV

All those hours watching actors, actresses, news broadcasters, documentaries, and even some reality TV.

All those hours of distraction taking never-to-be returned hours from finishing the tasks that would give me peace of mind and reduced mental clutter.

Things I look forward to doing as I get used to this new schedule without TV—

  • Reading an hour
  • Walking an hour
  • Telephoning a friend
  • Catching up with emails
  • Catching up with some online reading
  • Making progress on the stacks of paperwork accumulating on my worktable, mail shelf, and desk

Saturday afternoon, while shopping, we bought a DVD and watched a movie that evening. Two hours of TV in five days. WONDERFUL!

Sunday night, instead of watching the line-up of shows, I took two-and-a-half hours to review the past minutes and Bylaws for one of the associations for which I serve as a board member.

Exciting, huh? Not really.

What’s worse is seeing the folder on my L-shaped desk over the past seven months. I realized if I review the papers again, after having served on the board for seven months, I‘d have a clearer context for our work going forward. I’ll need to devote at least an hour more before I can file the folder for future reference.

We have a choice.

We can spend our time in front of the TV or spend it catching up with the things that pile up in our lives.

If we take at least ONE hour each evening to catch up with reading, imagine what we will gain, in one month–thirty hours of knowledge and progress reading books and/or magazines.

I don’t suggest marathon reading.

Our brains won’t be able to use everything our eyes gloss over. Marathon reading produces similar results as overeating at an all-you-can-eat buffet. You’ll feel upset and won’t be able to use all the information/nutrition at one sitting unless you take time to reflect or digest.

Taking time away from TV to to sit and talk with your spouse during dinner, talking a walk, and reading an hour each day, will have a cumulative effect on your life. I’ve also noticed, I’m less distracted. It’s like my brain isn’t buzzing with thoughts. I can focus and see more clearly. Who would have guessed this as on outcome of giving up TV? Again, after only five days!

If you give up something similar, let us know how it goes.

We can all learn from one another.

It’s not easy to give up something we’re used to in our lives—but as the saying goes (cliché alert): If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten. Most often, getting what you’ve always gotten,  isn’t good enough.

For a related perspective, read, WISDOM of the AGES.

Affixing coconut flakes Rose Bowl Parade Float

Rose Bowl Parade Float Decorating – No Clutter

Affixing coconut flakes Rose Bowl Parade FloatAfter 126 years, the Rose Bowl float decorators know how to prevent clutter.

My husband and I visited the first day of decorating (December 27) and watched with awe as teams of volunteers carefully trimmed just the right colored petals from dried flowers, while others added glue to affix aromatic coconut flakes onto gigantic flowers.

Everywhere we looked appeared like organized chaos. Is there such a thing? Many people doing different tasks in order to make something beautiful that nearly a hundred million people in over 120 countries will watch on New Year’s Day.

Coordinating potential clutter at Rose Bowl

How do they coordinate all these floats?

With about 40 floats to decorate in three massive warehouses, how can each team keep organized?

Experienced volunteers return year after year to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Each float either had its own room for supplies, including glue and plant matter or an adjacent space with neatly stacked materials.

Keeping clutter at bay - Rose Bowl Float Supply Room

Each item is clearly labeled so that the coordinators can easily get supplies to the volunteers who trim and then apply dried flowers, petals, stems, leaves, and bark. They add fresh flowers, last. Discarded plant matter is removed immediately to prevent clutter from accumulating into a disorganized mess.

On New Year’s Day those along the parade route, witness fragrant beauty of the floats. With the colder temperatures, this time, the flowers will stay fresher right through the two days scheduled for viewing, following the Rose Parade.

First Armenian Float in Rose Bowl Parade

Finally, and on a personal note, I am happy to see the first float by the Armenian community debuting in this parade. See the photo to the left.

Armenia, the birthplace of my ancestors, was the first country to adopt Christianity (301AD). You can learn a little about Armenia’s history and our language and symbols by clicking and reading this article: First American-Armenian Rose Float. (A larger version of the photo of the Armenian float appears in this article.)

April 24, 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide; fortunately, my parents survived.

I plan to enjoy the 126th Annual Rose Bowl Parade on television Thursday morning, New Year’s Day.

On the following day, my husband and I will drive down to Pasadena to enjoy the floats and to inhale the fragrant aromas of diverse flora that will gift us up close with unexpected gifts, indeed.

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A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

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A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

After Eric’s turkey deep fryer lay dormant for many years, he let Brenda use it. This unexpected gift inspired them to write the following:

It’s on clearance, what a deal!
A turkey deep fryer to cook our Thanksgiving meal.

Just season to taste with spices and such
A pinch here and there, not too much.
But it says some assembly required
How to do it? I’m too tired.
Years go by and it sits on the shelf
Taunting me like an underutilized elf
Waiting to be used for the big holiday feast
Bothering my wife not in the least.
We should use it when the family’s in town
But it’s still not assembled, I feel so down.

Brenda asks how a deep fried turkey might cook
I’m eager to try it, let’s have a look.
She says, “I have a smoker to offer in trade
For your turkey deep fryer unused for a decade
“No, the fryer is mine.”
“But if you wanna use it, I guess that’s fine.”
Plans are made to break it in right
With special oil and a bird that won’t fight.
The big day draws near, how will it go?
Without some experience, there is no way to know.

Family and friends arrive to see
How a Thanksgiving bird is cooked for free.
The oil is hot, ready at last
Keep the temperature steady to cook it fast.
Anticipation and laughter fill the air
As we wait anxiously for our Thanksgiving fare.
The turkey is cooked and ready to eat.
The glorious meal is crispy and neat.
Making for a mouth-watering display
A great way to spend Thanksgiving Day!

You can view the one-minute YouTube video clips of how we prepared this turkey before it passed our lips. These fourteen video shorts show A to Z how fun cooking a turkey can be … maybe not for the turkey.

Deep Fried Thanksgiving with friends and family at
https://www.youtube.com/user/BrendaAvadian/videos.

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It’s a Girl!

STUFFology-101-held-by-giraffe-in-high-chair-20140412_launchOur baby is born! The official launch of STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter book took place on Saturday, April 12th in Palmdale, CA. Family and friends were there to support my book spouse and co-author, Brenda Avadian and me. It resulted in a wonderful day for me especially, a first time author.

To be honest, it all felt like a dream. The process of writing the book and getting it published was a long one, and of course there were bumps along the way. So when the day finally arrived and I held the little book baby for the first time, I still was not completely convinced that it was for real.

Many of us have a dream of writing a book, but are not necessarily prepared for what it takes to get there.

Life goes on while you write. You work at a regular job to pay the mortgage and keep the car running. You have to cook dinner, cut the grass, and do other household chores. You have to take the kids to school and soccer practice. You have to visit your parents out of town on the weekend and go to the weddings of family and friends. All these things take time. You don’t magically get more time just because you decided to write a book.

In reality, these were my experiences. I thought I understood how time works, but I really didn’t. And that’s okay. We often don’t truly understand something until going through it ourselves. Keep at it and persist until you are done. Do not quit.

Your best laid plans for completing the book will be interrupted. You might have a family emergency or a hose will burst and your laundry room will flood. Something will happen that will take you away from the book. React, adjust, and continue writing IF you want your book to see the light of day.

You will need to work with other people as you write. Depending on the publishing path you choose—you will work directly or indirectly with a cover designer, editor, interior designer, printer, and more. Be courteous and professional with each of them. Here too, something will happen to slow you down. Be patient. Persist. Finish.

I am lucky; I have a co-author to push me along when needed. I have a supportive wife who understood that I needed time to write, which would limit my time with her and our daughters. Make sure you have a support network in place when you embark on your book project.

I learned many things through this writing project and am grateful for the experience. I am the proud dad of STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter. Our book baby is ready to be held in your arms.