First Friday Find: Free Rice

How quickly the first Friday of the month sneaks up on me.  I was at a blank as to what to share when I remembered this website that is super fun that I came across years ago.  So, it’s more of an old find.  First Friday Find: Free Rice helps those in need.  Free Rice has two goals:  provide education to everyone for free and help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.  Free Rice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme.

Free Rice

It’s a simple and fun concept.  You go to Free Rice, you answer questions, and every correct answer donates 10 grains of rice to feed the hungry.  There are different levels of ease and different subjects to choose from.  So, you could sit your little kid down and get them working on saving the world one grain of rice at a time.  WARNING: the site can be rather addicting; as you see your bowl of rice fill up and realize that every answer feeds more, you can’t help but keep playing.

It’s really that simple.  Enjoy, and you’re welcome.

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First Friday Find: Roasted Marshmallow Strawberries

Our Summer is flying by, and it’s hard to imagine that we’re already celebrating the Fourth of July tomorrow.  Being that it’s the first Friday of the month and such a fun time to be outdoors with friends, I thought I would share a yummy campfire dessert.  I’ve known about it for a while, but it wasn’t until we were camping over Memorial Weekend that I realized many had not heard of this treat.  So, I feel it’s my civic duty to share this First Friday Find: Roasted Marshmallow Strawberries dessert with you all.

One of our wonderful babysitters falling prey to this delightful dessert.
One of our wonderful babysitters falling prey to this delightful dessert.

It’s a simple dessert.  You only need four things: strawberries, Jet Puffed Marshmallow Creme Spread, a holder, and a fire source.  I prefer a campfire for the latter, but you could easily roast these delectable desserts over a stove.  Also, it might be easier to have a spoon or knife to help with the application of the marshmallow creme.  First, grab the best strawberry in the bunch.  Second, apply marshmallow creme.  Third, place concoction on the end of your preferred holder device.  Next, roast the awesomeness over a fire.  If you like your ‘mallow burnt, that’s all you!  When it comes to S’mores, I do enjoy my ‘mallow burnt.  However, with this dessert, I enjoy it best when it’s lightly roasted.  Lastly, partake of the deliciousness that is this month’s First Friday Find: Roasted Marshmallow Strawberries.  You’re welcome.

In closing, I would be amiss if I did not express the deep gratitude I have to live in this great nation.  It truly is the home of the free, because of the brave.  Happy Independence Day weekend to you all!  May you enjoy the blessings of celebrating it with your community and recognizing that we are all in this together!

First Friday Find: Relative Finder

It probably does not come as any surprise to my readers that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more commonly known as Mormon or LDS).  Genealogy work is an important aspect of our religion, as we take seriously the words spoken in Malachi 4:6, “And [Elijah the prophet] shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”  As a result, Brigham Young University (BYU) recently launched a program that links up with FamilySearch that’s called Relative Finder.  Through this month’s First Friday Find: Relative Finder, you can find your relationship to many different groups of people already built-in the program.

On the left is my Great Grandmother, who we called Bobo, in her basketball uniform.
On the left is my Great Grandmother, who we called Bobo, in her basketball uniform.

Since the creators of the program are LDS, many of the groups are LDS related, such as finding out if you’re related to prophets, current apostles, and/or early LDS members.  However, you can also find out if you’re related to famous writers, prominent figures in U.S. history, famous Americans or Europeans, classical composers, Catholic Saints or Popes, Mayflower voyagers, those involved in the Salem Witch Trials, and more.  It turns out that my genealogy links me heavily to the Salem Witch Trials.  Me and hysteria?  Sounds about right.  I kid.  Have no fear, I am also related to John Hancock, who is my third cousin, seven times removed.  He redeems me, right?  Or Susan B. Anthony?  Amelia Earhart?  Thomas Edison?  I’m related to them all.  Granted, Edison and I go back nine cousins, three times removed, but I can still call him “cuz.”  And so can my Dad, since Relative Finder tells me which of my parents connects me to the prominent figure.  I think my most fun relatives though are probably Elvis Aaron Presley (he’s my 11th cousin) and Harry Lillis (Bing) Crosby (my tenth cousin, three times removed).

So, how do you find out the prominent people who you’re related to?  Follow these steps:

  • Go to the Relative Finder website.
  • Click on Login.
  • Enter your Username and Password for FamilySearch.  Anyone can sign up for one of these accounts and start linking up with ancestors.
  • Once you are logged into Relative Finder, it will ask you to verify your email address and then have you mark that you give permission for others to see your information, but only if you sign in to specific groups that have permission to see it.
  • Click on Download my tree!  You will then see a list of ancestors who are famous in some way, either in the world or in Church history.
  • Click on Relatives along the top.  You can then click on various groups of people and see who your ancestors are in those groups.

It’s that simple.  Of course, it’s not that simple, if you don’t have much of your genealogy work done.  But, what you might not realize is that others may have done your work up to a certain point.  So, if you can create an account in Family Search and link yourself back to somebody that has done the work from, let’s say, your great great grandfather and back, then you get all that information added to you without having to have done a thing except create a Username and Password.

So, this month’s First Friday Find: Relative Finder is a find within a find!  This leaves me with a question for all of you, “Who are your relatives?”

Second Anniversary Giveaway

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.  Ours was certainly a beautiful one!  It started off rainy, but quickly turned to blue skies and sunshine.  It was a lovely weekend to be outdoors.  And that’s what I want to share today for First You Must Begin’s Second Anniversary Giveaway: the outdoors.  Particularly, an 11×14 matte print of a picture that my brother, _stevenwilson, captured off the Southern California Coast.  This one is called “Blue Barrel,” and it’s one of my favorites!

2nd Year Anniversary Giveaway

You may recall, that I did a post about _stevenwilson and his amazing ocean photography for a First Friday Find earlier this month.  His work is so breathtaking, that I thought it would be the perfect thing to give away for my Second Anniversary of First You Must Begin.  Especially since my brother’s artwork is a perfect example about beginning something new.  Two years ago, when I started this blog, my brother wasn’t even posting pictures of ocean photography.  Now, due to his desire to embark into the world of ocean photography despite his lack of knowledge, he has grown and developed in the field.  He took his love for the ocean and found a way to share it in such a beautiful way.  I admire the hard work and dedication that he has put into improving upon his talent.  He makes it look easy.

Each of us can begin something new.  We can find something within ourselves that we want to improve, we can dedicate ourselves to a new passion, we can work to face our fears, we can strive to live healthier, or we can simply get up and try a little harder than the day before.  But, first we must begin.  So, here’s a Second Anniversary Giveaway to celebrate all the beginnings in our lives and all the beginnings that continue to blossom into something magnificent.

**Check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway below where you can enter to win an 11×14 matte print of _stevenwilson’s “Blue Barrel.”  All you have to do is tell me how you heard about my website, First You Must Begin.  The winner will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter a week from today.  Good luck!**

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First Friday Find: _stevenwilson

It just so happens that _stevenwilson is my brother.  Well, technically speaking, it is my brother’s Instagram account.  Perhaps you’re wondering why my brother qualifies as a First Friday Find?  I didn’t just find my brother nor did I recently stubble upon his Instagram account.  He and I go back to my birth and I’ve been following his Instagram account since it’s inception a little over six months ago.  However, what I found recently, in regards to _stevenwilson, is that his work is moving beyond a hobby and becoming a true talent that has the potential to make a difference.  Nepotism aside, I would be doing my readers an injustice if I didn’t share his talent here.  And, if you’re not on Instagram, have no fear!  You can access his wave art on-line through Enjoygram.

_stevenwilson

His Instagram account is centered almost entirely around the shots he grabs of waves in the Pacific Ocean using his GoPro HERO4 BLACK.  It’s been incredible to watch the progression of his work become something truly spectacular.  As a result, he’s had requests for copies of his prints and various people asking to feature his work.  Recently, he partnered up with Coastal Playground.  Coastal Playground has a 50/50 program where 50% of the proceeds from products sold are given to organizations that work to keep beaches clean and educate the public on related issues.  So, now, if you want to have one of _stevenwilson’s stellar wave shots in your home, you can order a poster or canvas and 50% of the proceeds will go to a worthy cause.  I personally think it’s such a beautiful thing when people utilize their talents to better the world around them, so you can imagine how proud I am of my brother.

_stevenwilson2

Another thing that’s evolved, since _stevenwilson began this new venture, is an Instagram account that embraces all the imperfections.  As we know, not all artwork is a slam dunk.  Movies have outtakes, literature has drafts, and music has cuts.  Photography is no different.  A few wave photography buddies, including _stevenwilson, have started an account called bottombarrelcrew.  Bottom Barrel Crew gives you a glimpse of the behind the scenes world of wave photography.  Plus, you get to learn a little bit more about the players in the local scene for Southern California.

I’m so happy that my brother has found his passion.  He always enjoyed being out in the ocean, but turning it into something more than a personal experience has been awesome to witness.  It reminds me of the quote by William Shakespeare, “The meaning of life is to find your gift.  The purpose of life is to give it away.”  Thanks for sharing your gift with the rest of us, _stevenwilson.  I’m sure our Mom is so proud, as we all are, of you.

Who Do I Want to Be?

Recently, I listened to a talk given by a religious leader, Dale G. Renlund, which spoke about our ability to try to be something more than what we are now, persevering in our efforts to do so, and being patient with others who are striving to do the same.  The essence of the talk was that our focus should be more about who we are now and what we are becoming rather than what we once were.  In his talk, Renlund quoted a line from As You Like It by William Shakespeare.  In the scene, the eldest brother, Oliver, is being questioned as to whether or not he plotted to kill his younger brother, Orlando.  He responds to the inquiry with, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I.  I do not shame to tell you what I was, since my conversion so sweetly tasted, being the thing I am.”  In modern terms, Oliver is expressing that he did plot to kill Orlando and he has no shame in confessing it, as he knows he has since been converted from his evil ways.  As I listened to the line from Shakespeare, I kept repeating the words in my mind, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I,” and then I asked myself, “who am I now and who am I no longer?”  I’m thinking now, though, that the best question to ask would be, “who do I want to be?”

So many different thoughts race to my mind when I ask myself, “who do I want to be?”  The overwhelming thought being that I would like to be healthy.  My greatest desire for myself is to be physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially healthy.  When I put it that way, though, I see the list, get overwhelmed, and prevent myself from trying at anything at all.  Then, I get the idea that maybe if I just pick one thing that is of the utmost importance it will have an affect on the other categories?  Or better yet, maybe I need to pick just one thing to improve upon from each category?  The physically healthy category should be the easiest, as right now I’m at Level Zero, despite the fact that Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda claims, “There is no such thing as Level Zero.”  The other categories may be a little more challenging.

Fitness

Physically Healthy

I recently posted the image above on my Facebook timeline because, while this is not actually a picture of me, it is me to a T.  Would you like some proof?  Go ahead and type ‘burger’ in the Search field on the top right side of my website and see how many posts reference my love for burgers.  While the image perfectly captures my current stance on fitness and burger intake, I am embarrassed that I make light of the topic so much.  Contrary to my actions, I really do believe in the importance of being physically healthy.  My road to being physically healthy will look different than your road, as cheeseburgers may not be your weak spot.  So, if you are seeking a healthier lifestyle, then ask yourself what steps need to be taken to make that a reality.  I have plenty of things I can improve upon in the realm of diet and exercise.  If I’m only picking one, I think I’ll go with only allowing myself one burger a week.  Yes, this is a challenge for me.  Remember, Level Zero.

I’m picking this one over an exercise related one, as my cholesterol numbers are less than favorable.  After the Stroke of Luck, they did some customary blood work.  In the past, my numbers were of borderline concern, but these new numbers were embarrassing.  I did learn that postpartum cholesterol numbers are skewed, but to avoid added risk post-stroke, they placed me on cholesterol medicine.  Apparently, cholesterol numbers do not level out to an accurate reading until one year out from delivery.  This means that in July I have the chance to get off of cholesterol medication.  While I am a big supporter of medicine, I think it’s silly to be on medicine for something that can be controlled with proper diet and exercise.  So, long story short, I’m starting with my cutback on cheeseburgers.  I’m going to imagine that in five years from now somebody will confront me with, “Did you once eat so many cheeseburgers that you were on cholesterol medicine?”  Then I can respond, “‘Twas I, but ’tis not I.”

Who Do I Want to Be

Emotionally Healthy

I often wonder what “level” I would be at in the emotionally healthy realm if I did not suffer from Bi-polar II?  Mental illness is a tricky beast because sometimes you fall for the old-fashioned beliefs that if you just do XY&Z, then you can be cured from such an illness without medication ever being needed.  I don’t doubt that doing XY&Z can lessen the blow of a low in the depression cycle, but I’ve yet to witness a natural solution in my nine years with the illness.  So, what other options do I have in this category?  I would like to stop yelling at my kids.

I am not a frequent yeller, but the fact that I yell at all upsets me.  I may be the worst type of yeller, because I don’t yell at all people.  I imagine a person that yells at everyone in their life just doesn’t know any better.  But if I do not yell at strangers, nor my husband, nor my friends or extended family, then I must know better.  My children are the only ones that seem to get my wrath.  I hate it.  It’s such an ugly trait.  It’s definitely less than it once was, but I have yet to eradicate yelling from our home.  I’m not even going to excuse it, per my previous post No Excuses, No Explanations.  No excuses; just solutions here today.  How about a “Yell Jar” instead of a “Swear Jar”?  Heck, this could end up helping me with being financially healthy.  I may have enough money to buy myself something nice.

Spiritually Healthy

If I had to pick a category that I was the healthiest in, it would probably be this one.  However, I am still lacking plenty.  I’ve always been good about bedtime and mealtime prayers, but morning prayer tends to be a hard one for me.  Mainly because I am not a morning person.  I stay in my bed as long as humanly possible, thus not allowing for a couple extra minutes for morning prayer before having to tend to children.  However, studying the scriptures can be just as crucial as morning prayer in becoming spiritually healthy.  Ugh!  It’s a toss up.  Perhaps I will cheat in this category and do two?  Morning prayer and scripture study combined are likely to have the greatest impact on improving my health in all categories.  For the non-Christians out there, a good alternative may be to add time for meditation to your daily routine.

Financially Healthy

Remember my love for cheeseburgers?  Well, I don’t eat them at home.  I eat them at my favorite restaurants.  It turns out that eating out adds up when you have five other companions joining you.  Meals out are pricey with our family size.  Eating out is a huge weakness of mine.  I would much rather spend money on eating a meal out with my family than buying myself a new outfit.  I don’t even have the courage to admit to the amount of money spent from our budget on eating out.  Let’s just say that I will cut down on our restaurant budget and frequency by at least 20%.  Whew.  That feels like a lot to swallow.  I suppose with my burger cutback, this may happen naturally.

It’s as I suspected, improving something in one category has an affect on other categories.  As mentioned in It’s a Habit!, the average length it takes for something to become a habit is 66 days.  To help me with my goal, I just went and installed the app HabitBull on my smartphone.  Only three of the five changes mentioned are really habit forming.  I added the following habits to HabitBull: daily scripture study, daily morning prayer, and a one burger a week tracker.  The yelling will be managed by the “Yell Jar” and the 20% cut in restaurant budget will be tracked through You Need A Budget (YNAB).

Wish me luck in helping me become who I want to be.  Thankfully, like Oliver in As You Like It, I do believe that I can be converted, as I have seen changes already in my life from what I once was.  What a remarkable thing it is to be able to grow and develop into something more than we are today.  Think of all the opportunities that lay before you, if you just ask yourself, “Who do I want to be?,” and then strive to become that person.

First Friday Find: eShakti

Once upon a time, I tried to wear my clothing in a way that would accentuate the fact that I was large busted.  I did this mainly to keep people, mostly guys, from noticing that I also happened to have a large waist.  Through the years, I’ve matured enough to understand that immodest clothing captures the wrong type of attention.  I believe that modest clothing is actually more attractive than being scantily clad.  I echo Emma Watson’s belief that, “the less you reveal the more people can wonder.”  The problem is that cute modest clothing is hard to come by.  There are a few companies out there that cater to a modest audience, but eShakti has been the most appealing in options and pricing in my search thus far.

eShakti is an online clothing website that offers hundreds of clothing options, mostly dresses, that you can customize.  At the encouragement of a friend, I signed up on their website and started my search for the perfect dress.  Before I even had a chance to narrow my search down, a coupon for $40 OFF and free customization (a customarily $7.50 fee if you want it to fit your exact measurements) arrived in my e-mail Inbox.  I was stoked as most dresses were already fairly priced.  My problem was nailing it down to one dress.

Floral Embellished A line Poplin Dress

I decided on the dress shown above, though the color I purchased it in is no longer available.  The dress shown is already modest.  However, I am self-conscious of my arms, so I wanted something with sleeves.  No problem.  There are multiple sleeve lengths to choose from.  You can also choose dress length, necklines, and the option of pockets (who doesn’t love pockets?) depending on certain dresses.  Most of their clothing can be customized, but not all.  Since the specific customization fee was being waived, I went ahead and had my friend do my measurements.  That’s always a humbling experience.  However, I made the mistake of doing my measurements with my clothes on and I feel like I may have overestimated my size.  The dress arrived today and it seems less flattering in the waist than I had hoped for.  Of course, there is the reality to face that my body is less flattering than it used to be in my eyes.

eShakti Poplin Dress

I do like the dress, but I will admit that I don’t LOVE it.  So, why am I still pumped enough about eShakti to share it here for my First Friday Find?  Well, for one thing, the price is right.  I paid $26.31 total, including shipping from India.  The shipping alone cost $11.95.  The dress was originally $79.95, but it was on sale for $55.95.  My friend tells me there is always a sale of some sort available on the site.  Then, I had the $40 OFF coupon just for signing up on the website.  Then, my friend informed me that you get an additional 10% OFF if you order from their website on your smartphone.  So, I loaded up my order, put in all my measurements, and then went on my phone to submit my order and received an additional $1.59 off.  Huzzah!

Another reason that I am sharing the site even though I’m not completely in love, is because I feel like some of it is my fault.  As I mentioned before, I am not confident my measurements were accurate having done them with several layers on.  Lucky me; they included a measuring ribbon in my package.  I plan to recheck all of my measurements.  My husband is more than willing to assist.  Lastly, I know that I am evaluating the dress through my self-conscious eyes.  I generally feel uncomfortable in light and bright colors.  I was determined, however, not to go the usual slimming black route.

Lastly, the quality seems legit.  I haven’t been able to give it the usual wear and tear test yet, but it seems it will hold up nicely.  I didn’t find any snags in the embellishments nor were there any loose threads.  And the surprisingly fun perk of this dress?  Having the tag show no size number, only the word “custom.”

Overall, I am pleased with my purchase, especially for the price, but not thrilled!  However, I’m looking forward to making another purchase with the hopes of thrilling results!  If you happen to sign up on their website and snag yourself a beautiful deal, please share it here!  I would love to hear about the experiences of others!  Happy shopping!