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You can also follow us on Facebook–thisisyourbestyear, Twitter–@mariciajohns and of course our website–www.thisisyourbestyear.com.

          Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.

As I Look Back And Celebrate My Birthday

Today, October 2, 2017 I have officially done something neither of my parents was able to do.  I was able to celebrate my 65th birthday.  Daddy passed at 49 and mama left us at just a month shy of 65.  So on this birthday in particular I am thinking of them, and that little girl who loved to play in the dirt in East Texas. The little girl who could not wait for the birthday parties held on the front porch with all the friends from Fox Hill.

When I tell friends that I worked on my birthday, they are a little confused since it is a day that I should be celebrating.  My children inform me that they don’t, and will not work on their birthdays. At one time that was my position, but as life would have it circumstances change. Working on my birthday does not upset me since I have decided to celebrate my birthday everyday.  There may not be an official celebration with cake, gifts and such, but nontheless there will be a celebration–a celebration of life for myself and those that did not make it to celebrate their 65th.

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Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Happy Birthday–celebrate everyday.

Enjoy A Great Meal and Make A Difference

I would usually put this post in the What “I” Like section because the food is amazing, but this is more than what I like. It’s about an idea that is not only changing the food scene in Dallas, but it is teaching future chefs and others life skills. It is not a culinary school, it’s not your typical classroom, and these are not your typical educators or your typical students.

Cafe Momentum is a non-profit restaurant and professional training facility that is located in downtown Dallas. Cafe Momentum is in the restaurant business, but more importantly it is in the business of transforming the lives of young people who have been inside juvenile facilities. The restaurant, culinary school, life skills university is the brain child of Chef Chad Houser. Working in collaboration with the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department, Cafe Momentum strives to teach young men and women that it is possible to break the cycle–the cycle of crime, violence and poverty.

The students rotate through a 12 month paid internship program where they do work in every position from dishwasher to server to working along side world class chefs. In addition to culinary skills, they are taught anger management, money management and other life skills. Upon successfully completing the intense program the interns are placed with partners of Cafe Momentum for employment.

The food was scrumptious to the eye and to the palette. Making the night even more enjoyable was the knowledgeably, friendly, professional and courteous staff. We tried and shared several items, but one of my favorites was King Oyster Mushroom Scallops. I love scallops, but I hardly order them because if they are not done correctly they are not very appealing to eat. The mushrooms reminded me of the best scallops that I have ever tasted. They had the same buttery texture–they were wonderful. If I had not been told they were mushrooms, I would have thought I was eating scallops. It is usually hard to fool me when it comes to taste. You know how they say “it taste like” and it doesn’t–this did.

We started with a pickle plate that contained bourbon pickled green tomatoes, sweet cucumbers, hot, very hot jalapenos, Italian cauliflower and more. it was a great taste mixture of sweet, tangy and hot. Everyone at the table seemed to have their favorite. The next item that we shared was the magnificent Charcuteri Plate–it was magnificent. It featured torchon, duck ham, homemade sausage, two types of goat cheese which they lovingly called Lucy and Ethel, and so much more. To see more about this amazing plate (video) go to our Facebook Page–thisisyourbestyear.

Another amazing dish that everyone wanted to have a bite of was Ninny’s (fried) Okra Salad. I am one person who likes okra almost anyway it can be prepared, and this dish was one of the best ways that I have eaten it.

At this point I was a bit full so I order the Ninny Okra Salad for my entree, and nibbled off of everyone’s plate. Someone ordered the Smoked Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, collard greens, biscuits and gravy. I tasted it–OMG. The Pork Chop with brown butter, green tomato salad and a 4 bean salad was ordered by a couple of people. I didn’t taste this one, but there wasn’t much left on their plates so I think that makes the point.

The fish of the day was an Opah, yes Opah, not Oprah. Having never heard of it, I was interested in it, but too scared to order. This Opah fish was tasty, not a fishing fish, but a flaky light fish.

At the conclusion we ordered the Olive Oil Cake and the Chai Ice Cream with a chocolate brownie. Everyone at the table got a bite of the Olive Oil Cake while one person hoarded the Chai Ice Cream and chocolate brownie.

Dining at Cafe Momentum is not only an amazing culinary experience, but it is chance to give back to the community of Dallas and beyond. Take some time to learn more about Cafe Momentum and see how you can assist this great endeavor.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Eat, drink, be merry and assist a worthy cause.

Help For The Victims Of Hurricane Harvey

For those wanting to donate financially to help the people of Houston and the other affected areas, you can donate to these sites:

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (Houston)

YouCaring J J Watts (Houston)

American Red Cross (All areas)

  • Call 1-800-RED-CR0SS
  • Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a donation

Salvation Army (All areas)

  • Call 1-800-SAL-ARMY
  • Text the word STORM to 51555

Covenant House Texas (All areas)

Here are some things that we can start to collect to donate to the people in the devastated areas that will assist those in shelters:

  • disposable diapers
  • baby formula
  • water
  • toothbrushes
  • socks
  • soap
  • toothpaste
  • feminine products
  • deodorant
  • shampoo
  • hand sanitizer
  • towels
  • children’s clothing
  • toys (children need some sense of normality)

If you are a member of a Greek organization, check your national website–they will have information as to how you can assist.

Please remember that home insurance does not cover flooding, and most of these people will have lost everything.

If you know of other legitimate organizations offering assistance, please post in the comment section.

 

Can You Do This?

My mother was very good at teaching my sister and I about being an independent woman. She was quick to tell us that we might never marry so we needed to know how to do things for ourselves. At the age of 44 her words rang true for her when our father suddenly died. I can honestly say that my mother never missed a beat.

In time I saw her prepare her will so that my sister would be looked after if something happened to her.  I observed her negotiate to buy my first car, and believe me she was negotiating. As time went on I saw her begin to travel and let go of the fact that she was not willing to stay home and look at an empty house. I saw her sit in the window with her coffee and yes, her cigarette and just pray in all of her kindness.

I was privy to her calls to the city of Longview seeking solutions to potholes, streetlights and much more. Her determination to vote was passed on to her children. She made sure we could do just about anything, and if not at least we knew how locate the people who could.

These and other thing should be passed on to out daughters and granddaughters. I know there will be others, but here are a few things that we need to teach and possibly learn for ourselves.

  • How to check the oil and put air in your car tires–some of our sons need this too. If all else fails how enroll in roadside assistance; and in Texas be able to locate the roadside assistance number on the back of the driver’s license.
  • Take a gun class. Yes, I am serious. If for no other reason than to get over the fear of them.
  • Know your worth. Diamonds shine their brightest when they are buffed so learn to pat yourself on the back sometimes. Just remember only the best can tell real from fake.
  • Learn how to invest. Some of us need to quickly learn this. Social security and employment pensions are becoming a thing of the past. Never leave this to someone else.
  • Stand for something. Wrong is wrong and right is right. Enough said.
  • Know what to say when asked “tell me about yourself”.  You are so much more than a job title.
  • Learn how to read a roadmap. I need to do this better. What happens if there is no cell service or the phone dies. In addition learn how to get out of the garage if the power is off. You still have to go to work.
  • Learn to swim or at least wear a life vest when you are on the water for pleasure.
  • Learn to go it alone. Want to go to movies, out to eat, but no one to go with you?Don’t miss out. It is much easier to add someone, and it makes for a nice surprise.
  • Learn how to put a hem in a garment, sew on a button, use a safety-pin so nobody knows it is there.

There are so many things that we should teach our daughters and granddaughters that it is impossible to list them all. Even with all of our wisdom there are some things that we don’t know how to do. What are some things that you have taught your daughters and granddaughters?  What’s something you need to learn to do? Let’s share the knowledge.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”. Knowledge is power, and you are never too old to learn.

Interview The Interviewer

I haven’t gone on a professional job interview in eight years, but I do keep my resume recent since it will determine if I get to the next step, the interview. During an interview we all know the answers to most of the standard questions that are asked, but do we know what questions we should ask?

If you have been out of the job search market for a while you will need to brush up on your interviewing skills.  It’s not the interviewing you learned BC (before computers). You can have a face-to-face interview, a phone interview, a video interview and/or a combination interview.

 

The days of the interviewer asking if we have any questions, and we smile and say “no” are gone.  Don’t fret that is a good thing, because we all have unanswered questions after an interview.

First of all you should ask a couple of questions that you have prepared beforehand.   This will show the interviewer that you are interested in the position, and you will get answers to questions that are not on the company website or in their handbook.  It’s a win, win situation.

 

There have been a lot of articles written about this subject. Here are some questions that I think a person should ask when interviewing for a job.

  • What is a typical day for a person in this position? This question is important because you will be able to gain some insight into the structure of the work day for this position.  You will also learn what specific skills that are needed for this job.
  • What is the culture of the company?  This helps you know the company’s values, their beliefs and their working environment. You would be surprised that this question does not get asked.  You must be able to fit into the company to have a great working relationship.  We have all gone places, and thought that this is not for us. We have all felt like a fish out of water.
  • What are the expectations for this position in the next 30 days, 6 months–a year and beyond? This will tell you what the company is expecting from you if you get this position.
  • What’s did the previous holders of this position consider to be the hardest part of it, or what do you consider to be the most challenging part of the position? Even great positions have something that is somewhat challenging.
  • What is the average employment stay with the company?  This will show you if they promote from within.
  • Can you see where the position is housed?  This will enable you to see where you will perform the job duties.  You will also be able to talk with people who will be your coworkers.

If your interview consist of interviewing with multiple persons at different times, you can ask them some of the same questions, and you can also ask others that you jotted down while doing your research of the company.  Asking questions shows the interviewers that you are serious about the position.

Remember to send a thank you note–handwritten. You can also email a thank you letter, but not in place of the handwritten thank you note. Be sure to thank the receptionist/secretary when you leave–they have the ear of the boss, and their opinion counts.

If you really want the position, you will have questions about it?  Remember thisisyourbestyear“.  Interview the interviewer.

 

There Will Be No Paper or Plastic…

I’ve decided that there will be no paper plates or plastic ware in my house.  Yep, you heard me right.  The only thing used for eating and drinking that will be paper will be napkins, and that’s because I hate to iron.

A couple of years ago I decided to give my daughters part of their inheritance so that I could see them use it.  To my youngest, she would get my mother’s beautiful china which I can still remember the day my father gave it to her.  This was something that she had wanted forever, she was beyond excited, she was ecstatic that she could now serve special occasion meals in beautiful dishes.  I was ecstatic too because I wouldn’t be allowed to wash the china–too clumsy.  On those special days we would polish the flatware that was never used, iron the napkins, wash the china and crystal and place them on the dinning room table that only saw food on special occasions.

To my oldest, I wanted to give my china that was given to me by my father.  I remember when he started buying it. I was only a sophomore in college living with my sorority sisters, but I was excited. Visions of special dinners popped into my head.  I would set this beautiful table, and my mother and grandmother would iron the napkins. My father passed away before all the pieces were purchased, and I could never find the sugar bowl and creamer at any replacement site.  On one of my many trips to San Antonio to one of my favorite antique shops I ran across both pieces.  I was ecstatic.

Neither of the girls took me up on my offer.  The oldest one informed me that she already had a set of china which she does use some of the time (mine looks better).  If it didn’t go in the micro wave the youngest one didn’t want it. I tried the sympathy plea– “You will always have something to remember Granny Ruby by”.  It didn’t work.  I was informed they would always remember her.

What was I going to do with two sets of beautiful china, delicate crystal wine, champagne and water glasses?  The champagne classes are not fluted, they are the kind you see in the movies and they stack them. I had flatware and napkins that had nevfer seen the light of day. My husband solved the problem because he had a problem.

One day after a weekend of family as the dishwasher was humming along, he didn’t have a clean plate, and there were no paper plates.  What was he going to do? Stop the dishwasher and remove a half cleaned plate?  Go to the store and buy paper plates? No, just reach up there and get one of those china plates. From that moment on I decided there would be no paper plates or plastic ware used in my house.

That moment made me realize that I was going to use each and everything in my house.  So when you come to dinner you just might have your takeout/delivery on fancy china with paper napkins.

Remember “thisisyourbestyear”.  Everyday is special.

Information On Well Woman Exams

Thank you Ms. Ruth Ann Hornbeck-Hatch for sharing this valuable information on free well woman exams.  If you are in need of or know a woman in need of a well woman exam, and insurance coverage is a problem, please have them call or google 211.  It will give outlets to places that do the well woman exams for free.

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Let’s spread the word to our family, friends, church members and others.  There is a way to help save the lives of women.  Remember “thisisyourbestyear”, let’s help others help themselves.

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The Exam That Can Save Your Life

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Believe it or not there are some women who never have this routine exam. It is recommended that all women over the age of 18 have an annual well woman exam. This exam should be taken so that it can possibly identify early health problems.  Usually upon completion of the yearly exam, the doctor will have you schedule the next appointment. I am screaming to the top of my lungs–Get Your Well Woman Exam!

Some women do this well woman exam around their birthday or some other significant day.  I do mine in the summer in June.

This exam will be given by your gynecologist.  The exams always include a breast exam, pap smear and pelvic exam.

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The importance of this exam lies in identifying potential early health problems. The most important tests included in an examination are the tests listed above. Some doctors consider other tests in the examination, including measurement of blood pressure, HIV testing, and other laboratory tests such as urinalysis, and testing for other sexually transmitted diseases. The procedure is important also to detect certain cancers, especially breast and cervical cancer.

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The breast exam is usually two parts.  The first part is visual.  This checks such things as color, symmetry, lean body mass and more.  It also looks for abnormalities such as shrinkage and bulges.  The breast exam then goes to palpation, which means while thepatient is lying down the doctor will use two or three fingers to go around the gland (breast) and under the arms to feel for abnormalities.  This does not take the place of the mammogram which should also be done yearly.

Another part of the well woman exam is the pelvic exam which exams the pelvic area.  It is done in three parts.

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  • The inspection of the external genitalia looks for color changes, lesions, warts and other abnormalities.
  • The bimanual exam which palpates (touches) organs that can’t be seen. With the index and middle finger the doctor checks the inside of the vagina checking the length and width–the cervix is also checked.  With the other hand, the doctor will press the stomach and check the uterus and ovaries.
  • Speculum examination is where a device called a speculum will be inserted into the vagina. The speculum is opened to widen the vagina so that the vagina and cervix can be seen.

A pap smear will be done while the speculum is in place.  The doctor will take cells from the cervix.

A breast mammogram should also be done yearly.  I do mine the same day as the well woman exam.

 

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You can also opt for the 3D mammogram which my doctor suggest that I do.  Some doctors will suggest that you also take a breast ultrasound because of family history and/or age. I have taken the ultrasound, and there was something discovered, but thankfully it turned out not to be serious.

Your well woman exam helps to keep you a well woman. Remember “thisisyourbestyear” taking this exam can save your life.

**The well woman exam and mammogram are usually covered by your health insurance.  There are several agencies that will do both for those that are uninsued.  In the North Texas area please check those listed below and others.  Please check your local areas–this exam can save your life.