Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's Hot, I'm Thirsty, What Can I Drink?

The weather has been quite nice here in MN the past two days. Great for getting outside and being active. So what should I drink to quench my thirst after a run, a bike ride or working in my gardens?

The most recent national nutrition survey found that sugar-sweetened sodas are the single largest source of calories in the American diet: 7.1 percent. OK, I'm not a big soda drinker. What else?

Flavored bottled waters may seem healthy. But the calories of sugar, when consumed in place of plain water, can increase your weight by 15 pounds in a year,(YIKES). Better to get your antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, which come packaged with valuable nutrients. I do eats lots of fruits and veggies but I'm still thirsty.

How about Green tea? I've heard that's good for you. Scientific evidence certainly suggests that, with antioxidants and about 40 milligrams of caffeine in each cup, it can boost metabolism, among other health benefits. But those research findings were based on plain green tea, with perhaps a teaspoon (16 calories) of sugar. Lots of the teas you find in the super-market are loaded with calories and sugar. Read the labels.

How about bottled water? We are now paying a lot of money for a drink we used to get free.(nearly 30 gallons per capita a year). By drinking plain, old water from the tap you can reduce our dependence on oil (plastic water bottles are petroleum-based) and the pressure on landfills. No calories, no sugar. You can always filter your water if you need to.

I guess I'll stick to filling my BPA free water bottle with water from my tap. Add a few ice cubes, and maybe some fruit and it is still the best thirst quencher. I've added lemon to my water but I've seen others add grapes, peaches and orange slices. All sound good.

For more information check out this article "In Summer's Heat, Watch What You Drink" (New York Times) http://ow.ly/24VDV
Remember it's important to stay hydrated!
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Have You Heard of FHP?

I am just amazed at how fast children pick up on technology. My little three-year-old grandson can handle my itouch almost better than I can! He loves to play it whenever I give him the chance. (I think kids should be using their imagination for playing at that age so I’m not keen on having him spend a lot of time with it.)

Looking around I see that people are constantly "connected" to their hand-held devices, whether it’s their cell phones, video games like Nintendo DS, Amazon Kindle, or they are using apps on an iPhone or itouch. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that young people 8-18 years old spend in excess of seven-and-a-half hours a day using some form of mobile media.(I recently went on a vacation with my sister and my teen-age niece. Her phone never left her hand—texting!) The amount of time spent in a forward head tilt while texting or gaming, surfing or browsing the Web may result in people developing a condition known as forward head posture (FHP).

I had never really heard about that until I read a To Your Health online newsletter. (www.toyourhealth.com/newsletter). Their latest issue had an article about FHP. So I did a little more research.

Would you be surprised that your neck and shoulders hurt if you had a 20 pound watermelon hanging around your neck? That's precisely what forward head posture is doing. FHP can cause neck and back pain. muscle pain and more. So what can be done about this? (I know my niece won’t give up texting!)

* Most kids/adults use poor posture when playing video games and watching TV. Repetitively sitting in one position for long periods of time causes the body to adapt to this bad posture. Every 20-30 minutes, sit up straight and pull the neck and head back over the shoulders.

*Take frequent breaks. If you sit for long periods, especially at your computer,take frequent breaks, even if only for 30 seconds to get up or do some neck exercises. Pull your head over your shoulders and squeeze the blades of your shoulders together in the back.

*Choosing a supportive neck pillow is very important since we spend about a third of our time sleeping. This time can be used to help your neck posture rather than hurt it with the proper neck pillow support.

*A great way to re-program yourself to get rid of forward head posture is to perform 10 chin retractions every hour on the hour throughout the day. (That would be a lot of good exercise!)

*Children are now using backpacks to carry school books weighing up to an alarming 30-40 lbs! This forces the head forward to counter balance the weight resulting in abnormal stress to the discs, joints and nerves of the neck, shoulders and lower back. Backpacks - maximum backpack weight should be 15% of the child’s weight. Never wear backpacks over one shoulder.

*If you are having pain, seek the advice of a chiropractor. They can give specific exercises to combat FHP.

Since I spend a fair amount of time on the computer, I’m going to try to do the chin retractions. Had you heard of FHP before? Do you have any experience with pain from FHP?

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Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Time again to share some fabulous blogs with you!

http://smell-like-home.com/ She's the gal that has the recipe for Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream--YUM!

http://www.alittletipsy.com/ She's got an awesome tutorial to make washer necklaces using nail polish!

http://www.u.create.com/ Her blog is chock full of tutorials for great crafts.

www.beckyhiggins.com/blog Lots of fun photography tips.

http://www.kookiekrums.typepad.com/ She makes the sweetest cookie bouquets!

http://www.penandpaperflowers.blogspot.com/ Digital designs and party planning fun.

http://www.swankytableblog.com/ Sweet and stylish affairs and random creative projects.

http://www.sarahsfabday.blogspot.com/ She finds the fabulous in day to day things.

http://www.themakeupdivas.com/ I love the post on testing your salon etiquette.

http://www.paperchick.blogspot.com/ Paper good and fab finds for you.

Prepare to spend some time getting lost in all of these great places! (I really should set a timer--having the sun set doesn't really help...)

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Do You Wanna Know A Secret?

There's something about secrets that make everything amazing. It doesn't matter what the secret is, just the fact that it's a secret. Secrets are exciting, fun, and daring.

Secrets are cool. They have special powers, at least with six and five year olds. There's nothing like the feeling of a child trying to tell you a secret, but they're super excited, and usually giggling, and they end up getting your ear kind of wet when they tell you. It's so gross, but so fun at the same time. Few things hold that kind of power.

In this picture, Railey's telling Karalyn a secret. They were on great-grandpa’s pontoon, waiting for him to find a good fishing spot and something was worthy of a secret. I have no idea what it was, but the picture is drawing me in the same. I really want to know what she was telling her!

The looks on their faces are beyond precious, and remind me it's the little things that bring pure happiness.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Celebrate Summer

Today is officially the first day of summer. Here's a treat that uses some of summer's finest courtesy of Annie from http://www.annies-eats.com
Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream
For the tart dough:
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

For the pastry cream:
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the topping:
2 large kiwis, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
6-9 oz. raspberries
1/2-1 cup blueberries
Apple jelly, for glazing

To make the tart shell, whisk together the egg yolk, cream and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Process briefly to combine. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; process to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1-second pulses. With the machine running, add the egg mixture and process until the dough just comes together, about 12 seconds. Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a 6-inch dish. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 48 hours.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. (If refrigerated for more than an hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable.) Unwrap and roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a 13-inch round. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch tart pan. Mold the dough to the sides of the tart pan and remove the excess off the top. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a large plate and freeze for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to middle position. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Set the dough-lined tart pan on a baking sheet, press a 12-inch square of foil into the frozen shell and over the edge, and fill with pie weights. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5-8 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the pastry cream, heat the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, and the salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

When the half-and-half mixture has reached a simmer, slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture to temper, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

To assemble the tart, spread the cold pastry cream evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the fruit on top of the pastry cream as desired. Heat the jelly in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, just until slightly melted and easy to stir. Using a pastry brush, paint a light layer of jelly over the fresh fruit. Serve.

Source: adapted from Baking Illustrated

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Remembering My Dad on Father's Day

My dad, my hubby and my grandkids.

My first memory of my Dad is just the two of us sitting on the outside steps by our frontdoor. I think I was about four years old. He may have just gotten home from work at his gas station and he was taking a little break.

My Dad never went to high school or college, but he is one smart guy. He always pushed for his children to get educated. I think not being more formally educated is one of his big regrets.

Dad grew up in rural America during the Great Depression . Things were pretty tough for his family, as it was for most families during that time. He came from a family of 12 children, raised on a farm. It's been said that we're either a product of our raising or a reaction to our raising. My Dad chose to be a product of his raising, which made him the person who is loved by so many.

I don’t think Dad ever thought of himself as really brave, but when the world needed him during World War II, he answered that call, as millions of his generation did. Serving in the army along with others of his generation, my Dad helped save the world.

Dad worked hard all his life. I watched him work in a foundry/factory. I saw him work all week at the foundry then drive to his new farm on weekends to work the land. In the early years on the farm I helped him bale hay. I'm not sure he actually knew how important it was for me to see him work hard and perservere even when the weather and the market didn’t cooperate.

Dad made sure we got the medical treatment we needed, even when he didn't know where the money would come from.

Dad took us to church. He taught us that there was someone always watching over us and that it is important to have a strong faith.

There were times when my Dad said, "We can't afford it." It must have hurt to say those words out loud but they were important words for us children to hear. I was never cold or hungry or deprived. I may have thought I was, but I never was. Love for family and friends, respect for others and self-respect cost nothing, but they are more enduring than all the material things in the world. I learned that from my Dad.

My Dad let me know when I was young, sometimes without saying it, that he loved me . Now that we are both older, we can exchange “I love you’s” more frequently.

If someone asked me to describe my Dad in one short sentence, I would say, "My Dad is a man who worked hard all his life for his wife and children and never complained.

Happy Father's Day, dads. More than you may know, you make a difference.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Last Minute Father's Day Ideas

If you are really crafty/baking check out this tutorial on a spectacular Father's Day Cake. http://www.birthdaygirlblog.com/ (you'll have to scroll down)

Fun, fun way to fold napkins. Check out http://www.howaboutorange.blogspot.com/

Get the tutorial for this really cute Father's Day Gift Bag at http://www.craftysisters-nc.blogspot.com/

Free Father's Day Gift Tags and Cupcake Toppers at http://www.birdcrafts.blogspot.com/
And of course, Martha's got some great gift,dessert and recipes for Father's Day. http://www.marthastewart.com/

There's still time...do you have any last minute ideas to share with us?

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15...Another Holiday?

Today is “Power of a Smile Day”. I haven’t seen any Hallmark cards for this occasion but it seems like a good one to celebrate. Smiling is a proven mood-booster. Last week we drove through some road construction. There was a fellow on the side of the road directing traffic with the biggest smile. It was contagious! Everyone in our car smiled back.

Here are some ways to be healthy and be happy:

*Take a walk. Walking for 30-40 minutes can lower your levels of tension and stress. Brisk walking will help you lose some weight. Whether you walk with a friend or alone, walking is a great way to take an appreciative look at the world around youl.

*Take a nap. A nap can improve your mood and your mental sharpness. Wouldn’t it be nice if your boss would institute a “siesta” policy for everyone!

*Jump in a puddle. It has rained 13 of the 15 days of June so it’s easy for me to find a puddle! The hopping motion is good for your leg muscles and the laughing motion is great for your facial muscles. Why should kids have all the fun?

*Skip. We had a girls’ day shopping last weekend. My niece Kendra (16)walked ahead of us and then started skipping. I haven’t done that in a long time! Skipping elevates your heart rate, gets your blood pumping and it gets you to your destination faster. If walking lowers your stress, think what skipping does for you!

*Whistle. This is also a tension reliever. A little music can lighten your mood, help lower your blood pressure and reduce your stress. A familiar tune can take your mind off your troubles.

*Write a letter. (texting doesn’t count) Writing can be inspiring and uplifting and helps you connect with someone you care about. Boost your spirits and those of the one finding something fun in their mailbox. Go check out Gina’s (also known as letter girl) for some examples of fun ways to address mail. http://www.etsy.com/shop/lettergirl

*My favorite—Plant something. Plant something and you can experience a connection with the earth. A seed represents the miracle of birth, brings flowers to please the eye and food to please your palate. You are sustaining life with a little help from sun and water. This is a wonderful simple gift to give yourself!

Instead of always counting calories or sit-ups, or miles you ran why not add up how many times you smiled! Can you think of other easy ways to boost our moods?

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

When Time is Short,What Really Matters?

I just got a call from my mom that my godfather is dying. He has been ill for quite awhile so it's not unexpected. Still, it is very sad and I know my dad will take it very hard.

It got me thinking. If time for me was short, what would I want to do with my last months,days,hours? Eat as much ice cream as I could? Travel more? Spend time with my family?

Well, yes, I do like to eat ice cream and now I wouldn't have to worry about calories. I think I would decide to eat dessert instead of breakfast and it wouldn't just be ice cream! Lots and lots of dark chocolate. I'd want to eat at my favorite Italian Restaurant a few more times too.

Should I travel constantly or spend the time at home? That would be a hard one! My hubby and I love to travel and there are so many places I haven't yet seen. But home is where the heart is. At this time of year my backyard flower beds are awfully pretty. It gives me a lot of pleasure to work with my flowers.

Spend time with my family. I'd want those grandkids here with me all the time! Would my out-of-state children come to stay with me? Would my out-of-state siblings? Would that be asking too much of them? I'd want to spend more time with my close-by siblings, parents, extended family and good friends too. I'd want them all to know how much I love them. I'd tell my husband how lucky I am to have him in my life. He truly is my better half!

I know I would try to be more happy, more grateful for still being able to see, hear, move. I'd try to appreciate all the blessings that I've been given. I'd try to be more generous with what I have.

Maybe just for fun I'd be a blond for a day. Maybe just for fun I'd be adventurous and take a ride in a hot air balloon. Maybe just for fun I'd buy art supplies and paint a big canvas. Maybe just for fun I'd sit in Oprah's audience. Maybe just for fun I'd throw a huge going away party (but I wouldn't tell my guests that I was going away!)

I read in a magazine that we should really be asking ourselves what is it that we aren't doing now that we'd do on our last day. Really why are we waiting? I don't know about the blond but I could paint a picture or convince Jerry to go on a hot air balloon ride with me. A party with all of my good friends and relatives would be really fun. So I need to get busy!

"On the last day of my life, I would want to plant a tree," the poet W.S. Merwin said. You know, that sounds good too!

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Monday, June 7, 2010

How many tubes of lipstick do you have in your makeup drawer? If you are like me, you probably have lots!! I never really paid much attention to what kind of lipstick I was buying—mostly impulse buying because I liked the color. Here is some information on what those “lipstick words” mean…

Matte - These lipsticks provide full coverage color and tend to stay on longer than any other type of lipstick. They are a good choice if you are trying to make a bold statement with your lip color. They are best in dark colors, but might make your lips feel and appear dry because they contain zero shine ingredients. To remedy this, slick on some gloss. (Now I know why I use these tubes the least…)

Crème - This type of lipstick contains more emollients than the matte ones, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they will shine more. You may still need that lip-gloss. Cream formulations are more opaque, so you need to be more selective about choosing a color. You'll find that the majority of lipsticks are "crème" because they are the most versatile and they wear very easily.

Frost - Mature women should steer clear of this type of lipstick. (Do you agree?)Frost lipstick tends to be pale and metallic in appearance, which makes lips appear dry and older than they are. If you have a "frost" in your lipstick collection that you love, try pairing it with a lip-gloss that has no metallic tint to it. The gloss will tone down the harshness of the metallic pigment. (I don’t have any of these so I think that is very “mature” of me!)

Satin or Sheer - This type of lipstick is perfect for the "natural" look. It is light, like gloss, but has a deeper and longer lasting color than gloss. It is full of moisture, but requires lots of reapplication. It usually has a high oil content and looks much darker in the tube than it will on your mouth. It goes on easily and doesn't smear or get transferred onto the teeth.

Lip gloss not only makes lips look plump and shimmering, but is favored especially during cold weather because it also moisturizes the lips

Moisturizing means the lipstick should be smooth and shiny and usually contains the moisturizing ingredients like Vitamin E and aloe...however, it won't last as long as some other formulas.

Long-wearing means it should stay put for four-six hours but will also probably feel dry. To balance the dryness, look for long-wearing formulas that also containing moisturizers like Vitamin E and aloe.

Lipstick has a shelf life of about 2 years so it's a good idea to go through your tubes and toss the old ones. I'm going to go do that right now!

What's your favorite lipstick?

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Keep The Spark Hot!

I just had to let you know this post from the "How Does She" blog about a very special couple. These two have a special relationship that is noticed by everyone. They give their "Top Ten" ways to stay in love. Good fun advice I'm glad they shared.
(Chris and Ali have been married for 18 years but still think like newlyweds!) Check it out here: http://www.ow.ly/1SJCL

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