Monday, January 28, 2013

Social media losing it's appeal

I love social media. I guess you can call me an outright Facebook junkie. I love keeping up with all my friends. I love posting thoughts, ideas and articles and get feedback from my friends. After all, we do see things from all different angles. HOWEVER..... Facebook is slowly losing it's charm. One of the biggest reasons, if not the ONLY reason, is that I suddenly find myself having to preface everything I write to MAKE SURE I do not offend someone or accidentally "spill the beans." I ask myself, "what is the point of having a Facebook account if I can't post my thoughts without having to preface them all the time?" I am not a vindictive person, nor do I purposefully seek to offend. And just because I POST some thought or idea does not make it gospel for EVERYONE! Facebook is great, but I think it has given everyone the idea that all their thoughts and ideas are something bigger than what they are. Yes, they are important (especially to you), but just because someone DOES post something, does not make it truth (for you), gospel for the world, and it certainly does not mean YOU HAVE TO RESPOND! Whatever happened to being able to disagree without giving your two cents or taking it personal? Honestly...Facebook is getting WAY TOO STRESSFUL!!!!!! I am tired of this type "political correctness." I am tired of having to run through a list of all my friends thinking about if what I post is going to offend one of them. One thing I have learned is that no matter how you say something, if it is the truth, it is going OFFEND...SOMEONE! AND...there is a truth that is ABSOLUTE TRUTH that IS truth for ALL. Perhaps, the problem is that Facebook is just TOO BIG! How many friends on there do we all have that we don't even talk to on a regular basis and then all of the sudden, THERE THEY ARE giving their two cents of why they are offended by what you wrote. Or maybe all of Facebook just needs to be lighthearted and jovial and never have anything posted that is "controversial." However, we all have things that press on us. Facebook is also a great way to get truth out to the masses. And what is controversial to one is not to another. about leaving the drama of Facebook and picking up the phone to call or getting together of are just too busy.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Musical Monday!!!

I love history, which means, I love OLD things. I came across this song last week and I loved it instantly! We DO need to preserve the old way of doing things!!! If you don't know where you came from, you'll never know where you are or where you are going!

Enjoy! It's the "Village Green Preservation Society."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What does eating heathy look like

When it comes to eating healthy, the definition is as extensive and different as shades of blue in a paint store. One person's definition of healthy is not another person's definition of healthy. A vegan will advocate eating no food from an animal while a vegetarian may eat eggs but not dairy or dairy but not eggs, or heck, they a may eat both. And then there are the carnivores who part take of flesh from animals.

But to add more dimensions into the definition of healthy, lets not forget ALL food is categorized in some way, shape or form. There is organic, fair-trade, GMO and non GMO, grass fed, grain fed, free-range, etc. And, how that food was made also is catergorized to the tenth degree so each person can choose, in their definition, what food they believe is healthy.

How in the world is one supposed to figure it out what "healthy" really is?

First, and foremost, I believe it starts with educating yourself on food. All food is not created equal and some food, as we ALL know, is better for you than other food.

Secondly, once you have educated yourself, convictions start to form.

And thirdly, once you have educated yourself and formed your convictions, you begin to implement your convictions, which involves even more learning and experimentation in the kitchen.

Is it worth it? You decide. I believe it is and if for nothing else, it keeps variety in the kitchen and color on the plate.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What to do?

Many of our friends know that we searched ALL of last year for a piece of land in which to build a house. We FINALLY found .7 of an acre last fall and by the end of the year, it was ALL ours.

We are still very excited about building our own house (one day), but we are faced with a horrible dilemma right now and being too emotionally involved, we are finding it hard to make a clear-cut decision. Which is where YOU come in. I'll lay out the conundrum and you can give us your opinion as to what we should do.

We LOVE our current location. It does not get any better (for us) where are house is situated and what is around us. We are in a cul-de-sac and in the cul-de-sac is a park that our son LOVES! There also is a creek that separates our neighborhood from another neighborhood and our son has taken a recent fascination with the creek. He LOVES throwing rocks, leaves, sticks etc into it. We also have THE best neighbors that anyone could ask for and they love our little Espresso as if he were their own grandchild. After having HORRIBLE neighbors in Virginia, these neighbors are priceless, and we have learned, you cannot put a price on GOOD neighbors.

That's what we LOVE about where our house is situated - RIGHT NOW.

What we don't like is how my husband and I have to walk on egg shells after we put our Espresso down because any LOUD noise COULD wake him up. We love to have people over, but we have no place where we and our company can go and feel free to use normal inside voices. If my husband and I have ever have to discuss something, we head to our bedroom and close the door, simply so we do not have to whisper and as it is, I have difficulty understanding whispers due to my ear issues. Our house is also not heated and cooled efficiently. We've really noticed that the past two winters that have been FREEZING cold! My personal dislike with the house is the kitchen. It's not very functional for me and how I like work in the kitchen.

We have come up with two solutions to fix the two main issues above. We have a covered patio on the back of the house which could easily be turned into a non heated & cooled "gathering room." It would mainly be walls and windows and we could tie into the gas line to put a gas fire place to heat it during the winter. We also could change the downstairs unit and tie into the natural gas line and put in a duel fuel system. Both of these fixes would cost money, but it could keep us in an area that our entire family loves. This would make living in this house more livable for us (in how we want to live) but it certainly would not fix ALL of issues with this house, JUST the main ones.

To be fair, these are our goals for building a new house.
- lower ALL of our expenses which would enable us to be completely debt free sooner
- have a house that is designed around how we want to live
- we also would own more land than we currently do

We are mainly torn about taking our little Espresso away from the three things he loves about living in this house: the park, the creek, the neighbors. Should we? Or shouldn't we? If it is was just my husband and I, the decision would be easy. It's been hard for us to keep a clear perspective on what is the most important. Writing out a pros/cons list really wouldn't do it because there are certain pros/cons that DO NOT cancel each other out. They stand on their own with great importance.

We could always build later, but then should we put money into this house to live how we want to live until we build? Should we just build and make our son deal with all the changes and make him wonder where his park & creek went? (I sometimes thinks he owns both of those since we are over there ALL THE TIME).

What to do? What to do? HELP!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Do you know?

Do you know what's in your lotion bottles? Your face wash? Your soap? Check on the back. see a list of ingredients, but do you know what those ingredients are? Can you give me a definition in common English?

Did you know the FDA does not REALLY regulate the cosmetic industry? The FDA states, "A cosmetic company manufacturer may essentially use any raw material in a product and market it w/out prior FDA approval."

And what are some of these "raw materials?"


Yes...some of us are putting THAT on our faces every morning/night.

However, it does go SO much deeper than that. If you take a look at the ingredients in your cleanser, moisturizer, anti-wrinkle cream and body lotion, how many of you can even pronounce what it listed under the ingredients? Most of us can't, not without stammering over our own tongues. And why can't we? Because what we are putting on our faces and our bodies is nothing short but a bunch of chemicals, that by themselves do not cause harm, but when we start adding up EVERYTHING we use on a daily basis, that is where the danger comes in. We are putting way too many chemicals and unregulated "raw materials" on our faces/bodies.

According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, some of the chemicals we use daily have been linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility, chronic fatigue and hypothyroidism.

Here is ONE biggie to avoid:

PARABENS - found in most beauty products have been linked with breast cancer

So...what is one to use if you can't know for SURE what is in your cosmetic bottles or if you want to avoid a TON of chemicals?

I came across a book called, "Beauty Secrets of the Bible." Women, of all times, have always wanted to look their best. And, I think God knew women would have a desire to have radiant skin, wish those wrinkles away and look ten years younger. I also believe that God created everything for EVERYTHING! All natural is best - we all know that.

The author, Ginger Garrett, has done extensive research on what women, in Bible times, did to look beautiful. And yes...they wanted to look beautiful, even though looking beautiful back then was probably a bit tougher for them amidst all the dirt. Queen Esther went through an entire year of beauty treatments before she was presented to the king. Wouldn't that be nice! What woman wouldn't want that!

Ginger Garrett has created an" exclusive line of beauty products" that are all natural. They exfoliate, plump, nourish, moisturize and protect AND are cheap!!!!

Step One: Wash & Exfoliate
1 cup powdered goats milk (Meyenberg)
1 cup quick-cooking oats
Process together in a blender until the mixture is very fine.

Yes...I did say goats milk. According to Ginger Garrett, the "lactic acid in the milk are a natural source of alpha hydroxy that help fight the signs of aging, and the oats soothe and manually exfoliate the skin."

I know goats milk sounds really weird, and to some of you, gross, BUT...would you rather have goats milk on your face or something that you really don't know what it is.

Step Two: Nourish & Plump
Apply 1-2 drops of honey to wet finger tips and massage onto wet face. Do not rinse. Pat dry.

Every time I tell someone I put honey on my face, they ask, "Isn't that sticky?" Wet honey is NOT sticky.

Honey is an amazing substance. It gives the skin a glow and helps plump up those fine lines. It also helps the skin maintain moisture.

Step Three: Moisturize & Protect
Place 2-3 drops of extra-virgin olive oil onto your palm. Rub hands together and pat your face gently.

Extra-virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants!!

You're probably thinking the olive oil will make your skin greasy, oily and leave the smell of Olive Garden on your face. It does not! You're not attempting to saute yourself. You are simply adding moisture to your skin.

I have been using this three step process for several months. My skin has never been healthier! I had always had issue with commercial cleaners drying out my face. It was really an issue during the winter months. Since using Ginger Garrett's three step cleansing ritual, I have been able to say good-bye to dry skin!

Give it a try. You may never go back to commercial cleaners again.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Homemade fig bars

My little Espresso is a "bawr-aholic." A bawr being, a fig newton. I have been purchasing Newman's Fig Newtons to avoid the high fructose corn syrup found in Nabisco's Fig Newtons. And...that is getting VERY expensive. At almost $4.00 a package, for 18 little "bawrs," it's been adding up.

I searched the web for a fig bar recipe and found one that I hope would be very similar to those Newman's.

This past Monday, I tackled the recipe, and while they are tasty, they are not quite the same, and unfortunately, my Espresso knows the difference and is not all that keen on them. He'll eat them, but he knows we still have the Newman "bawrs" in the house and is very specific that he wants one of those, NOT mommy's.

Before I share the recipe, I always make a recipe the first time exactly to the instructions. That way, I have a good idea of how it is supposed to come out and from there, I tweak the recipe to my taste/texture preferences. I will also tell you how I plan to change the recipe to perhaps make them more likable to my son.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
4 eggs, divided

2 cups figs, chopped (can use dried)
1 cup orange juice
1 cup apple juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp orange peel, or zest of 1 orange

Directions for dough:
Combine the dry ingredients in a lg. bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter pieces until the dough is sandy looking.
Whisk 3 eggs together and add to the dough. Mix to combine. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a saucepan or skillet and cook over medium heat until all the liquid is absorbed by the figs and the mixture is thick. Stir during cooking. (Side note: this took about 2 hours, the time needed to chill the dough)

Let the filling cool slightly, then puree in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
Note*: for an easier version, sub the filling with 2 cups of fig preserves.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375F.
Make an egg wash by whisking the remaining egg with 2 tsp. of water.

Divide the dough into 3 equal parts. On a lightly floured surface roll out each portion of dough into a rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Work with 1 portion of dough at a time. Cut the dough lengthwise into strips, at least 2 1/2 inches wide.
Paint around the edges of each strip with egg wash. Spoon the fig filling down the center of the strip and then fold the dough over to enclose the filling.

Place the tubes, seam side down, on the greased (or lined with parchment paper) cookie sheet. Press down lightly to flatten. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Brush the newtons with the egg wash and bake until light golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Let cool, then cut with a sharp knife into 1-inch pieces.

Comments on this version of the recipe:
1. The dough was VERY difficult to roll out. It was so stiff and sticky (even with constant flouring of my rolling pin and counter top). Because it was so difficult, I probably did not get the dough as thin as I should have.

2. The orange taste (from juice & zest) is very strong.

What I plan to change next go around:
1. Substitute honey for sugar. I think this will also help in the overall texture of the dough.

2. I will omit the orange peel and/or zest and also substitute the orange juice with either pear or apple juice.

I am looking forward to making things again, with my changes. And I'm hoping my Espresso will one day yell out in joy, "Mommy's BAWR!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Yummy energy bars

I love granola bars, breakfast bars, energy bars...just about anything and everything that comes in bar form. More or less, it is a weakness of mine. However, while I love them, most leave me still feeling hungry and or incredibly thirsty.

I found a recipe in my low sodium cookbook for energy bars. I made some the other day (very easy) and they are delicious. Of course, it helps that the recipe also calls for a little chocolate on top!

The recipe calls for pine nuts which are very expensive. I'm sure substituting walnuts or almonds would be just as effective. To roast the pine nuts, place nuts on a cookie sheet, and roast for 5 minutes or so at 350 degrees. Also, the only dates I could fine were packed, no COATED, in sugar. I rinsed the sugar off before using.

Try them for yourselves - it'll be hard to just have one, especially when they are guilt free!!!

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup chopped dried dates
1/2 cup chopped dried figs
1/2 cup dried apples or pears
1/2 cup roasted unsalted pine nuts (pignolia)
1/2 cup unsalted oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 large egg
1/4 cup apple juice fortified with calcium
1 ounce semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line jelly-roll pan with cooking parchment. In a food processor, combine the dried fruits until finely chopped. Stir in pine nuts, oats, flour and mix well. Stir in egg and apple juice. Turn the batter on to the pan and bake in the preheated over for 25-30 minutes. Let it cool in the pan. When cooked, set the rectangle on the cutting board and slice into bars (cut it lengthwise into 3 strips an each strip into 8 pieces). Melt the semisweet chocolate (use a double boiler if you have one) and brush the mixture on the bars. When cooled and the chocolate is set, serve. Store extras in the freezer in zipper-lock bags for future use.

Nutritional info (per serving):
Calories: 81
Sodium: 4.33 mg
Carbs: 14.9 g
Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 1.998 g
Cholesterol: 8.85 mg
Calcium: 16 g
Iron: .879 g
Potassium: 172.6 mg
Total Fat: 2.2 g

Recipe from: The No-Salt, Lowest Sodium Cookbook by Donald Gazzaniga