Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Monday, July 28, 2014

colorado here we come~

 I am going to deviate from my regularly planned posts over the next few weeks; we are heading out to the ranch in Colorado. I decided to try and share bits and pieces of our trip and fun times on the ranch and wildlife preserve. 

Using a program I have on my iPad called Blogsy, we'll try and post any adventures, photos, and whatevers. :) I have used it in the past in posting Jesse’s Colorado adventures on his blog, it is a bit tricky. This is also the prime time for Colorado's awesome thunderstorms; perhaps we can even get some video footage of one of those. We’ll see how technically efficient I can be, we will be using the iPad's cellular for our internet... and even that is only available in a small corner of our kitchen...ha! 

So, hope you enjoy the next few weeks, as I know I will.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

thursday's garden ~ watering tips for the heat

the weather here in southern california is starting to really heat up-just remember,  that your gardens are in need of care from the heat; however... we need to take care of water conservation too.

     We're not the only ones suffering from the oppressive heat, so are our gardens.  I thought I'd share a few watering tips with you to use this summer.
       Besides the watering restrictions of most US cities—using your sprinkler on odd or even days (depending on your address)—there are a few other guidelines to follow to help conserve water and provide the best watering opportunity for your plants.

* Water your garden before 10 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. to avoid the hottest part of the day.

* If you can avoid a sprinkler system, hand- or hose-watering your plants will help keep your water bill under control and prevent wasting water.  A soaker hose can provide an even deeper watering for your garden and is very useful for herbs and vegetables.

* Avoid watering the leaves of your plants; water the soil at the base of the plant.  Water on the leaves can be heated by the sun and cause scorch or burn and fungal diseases thrive when the temperature is between 70 and 90 degrees. By watering the soil, you can protect your plants from this disease and damage.

* Keep water from pooling at the stem for too long. If the stem of your plant stays in water too long, it can be susceptible to fungus or disease.

* Deep water your plants every week or two. Newer plants will require watering more often until they get established.
* Adding mulch will help keep the soil and roots cool and conserve water, as well as foil weeds.  Water before you mulch and add 2- to 6-inches of mulch; if you are using grass clippings as mulch, let the grass clippings dry before spreading them around your plant. Also, don’t use a mulch or garden soil that has fertilizers, especially time released, mixed in it as this may burn those already struggling roots, save that for spring or fall’s cooler weather.

a quick end note: I hate the heat- we are leaving for the ranch in Colorado in a few days.... yeah! the weather there will be a whole lot cooler, 35° at night and maybe 75° days.  It is the month for the wonderful thunderstorms we get and friends are telling us there has already been a lot of rain so everything is lush and green... which means a ton of beautiful mountain wildflowers to photograph and post. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

meal ideas ~ don't shun rice

Most everyone I know is trying to cut back on their carbohydrates for either existing diabetic reasons or to prevent the onset. And, almost all of them with great sadness choose to leave rice off their menus. Just because you choose to cut carbs, doesn’t mean you need to totally cut rice out of your diet. Instead of starchy white rice, opt for whole grain rice such as brown rice, which is rich in vitamin B and antioxidants. These low-carb and diabetic-friendly rice recipes can help you maintain a healthy eating plan.

Tandoori Chicken and Rice
Filled with a little bit of everything—dairy, vegetables, grain, and protein—this well-balanced chicken casserole is the perfect pick for a busy week. Plus, our homemade spice mix can’t be beat.

Nonstick cooking spray
 1 tablespoon butter
 1/2 cup coarsely chopped sweet onion
 1/2 cup coarsely shredded carrot
 1/2 cup chopped red sweet pepper
 1/2 fresh Anaheim chile pepper, seeded and chopped
 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
 14 1/2  oz can reduced-sodium chicken broth
 2/3 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
 1/2 cup water
 1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
 1 recipe Tandoori Spice Mixture
 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
 4  skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs
 Snipped fresh cilantro
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

 In a large skillet melt the 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, sweet pepper, and chile pepper; cook and stir for 6 minutes. Stir in zucchini and garlic. Cook and stir for 3 minutes more.

 Stir in broth, rice, the water, tomato paste, and 1 tablespoon of the Tandoori Spice Mixture. Bring to boiling; boil for 1 minute. Carefully pour rice and vegetable mixture into prepared baking dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 45 minutes.

 Meanwhile, sprinkle the remaining Tandoori Spice Mixture evenly over all sides of the chicken. Using your fingers, rub spices into the meat. In a large skillet melt the 1 1/2 teaspoons butter over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in hot butter about 4 minutes or just until browned, turning once halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to plate; chill in refrigerator until needed.

 Remove rice mixture from oven and uncover it. Arrange chicken pieces on rice mixture. Replace foil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes more or until chicken is done (165 degrees F) and rice is tender.  To serve, sprinkle with cilantro.

   Tandoori Spice Mixture    
1 teaspoon mild yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 In a small bowl combine curry powder, garam masala, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. OR-- if you choose you can purchase Tandoori Spice in the spice section of the grocery.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 344 cal., 9 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 84 mg chol., 575 mg sodium, 35 g carb. (4 g fiber, 6 g sugars), 30 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Mark as Free Exchange (d.e): 0; Lean Meat (d.e): 3.5; Vegetables (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 2

Brown Rice Risotto with Lamb
Thanks to the help of a slow cooker, this no-stir risotto is not only low-carb and high-protein—it’s an effortless gourmet meal.
 2  to 2 1/2 pound boneless lamb shoulder roast
 Nonstick cooking spray
 2 1/2 cups hot-style vegetable juice
 1 cup brown rice
 1 teaspoon curry powder
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 2 carrots, chopped
 3/4 cup chopped red sweet pepper

Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium heat.

Cook meat in hot skillet until browned, turning to brown evenly. Drain off fat. In the slow cooker, combine vegetable juice, uncooked brown rice, curry powder, and salt. Top with carrots. Place meat on carrots.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 9 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 4-1/2 hours.

 Add the sweet pepper to slow cooker. Cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until sweet pepper is tender. Makes 8 (3 ounces cooked meat and 2/3 cup risotto mixture) servings.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: PER SERVING: 257 cal., 6 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 72 mg chol., 375 mg sodium, 23 g carb. (2 g fiber), 25 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Starch (d.e): 1; Vegetables (d.e): 1; Lean Meat (d.e): 3; Fat (d.e): 1

Rice Pudding with Apricots and a Cherry Swirl
Rice doesn’t need to be a savory dish; it’s just as yummy mixed with sweets. Try it in this fruity pudding for an afternoon snack or guilt-free dessert.

 Nonstick cooking spray
 6 1/2 cups water
 1 1/3 cups uncooked converted rice (not long grain rice)
 1/2 cup sugar*
 1 cup snipped dried apricots and/or dried cherries
 2 tablespoons butter, softened
 1 tablespoon vanilla
 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
 1 6 - ounce carton vanilla Greek yogurt
 1/2 cup sugar-free cherry preserves

Coat an unheated 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; set aside. In a large bowl combine the water, uncooked rice, and sugar. Add apricots, butter, vanilla, and cardamom. Stir well to combine. Transfer to prepared slow cooker. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 1/2 hours (do not stir). Turn off heat; stir in yogurt.

 Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat cherry preserves until melted (or place in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 100 percent power [high] for 30 seconds).

 Stir warm rice pudding and spoon into bowls. Top each serving with 1 to 2 teaspoons cherry preserves. If desired, use a knife to gently swirl in the preserves. Serve warm

*Sugar Substitute?  I do not recommended using a sugar substitute for this recipe. the flavor is not good!~ just eat a smaller portion if needed.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 129 cal., 1 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 4 mg chol., 22 mg sodium, 28 g carb. (1 g fiber, 12 g sugars), 2 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Other Carb (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 1


I have been asked where I get the recipes I feature. Well, 90% of them come from my Diabetic Living Magazine, Diabetic Living Online and All Recipes website. The other 5% come from various older cookbooks which we have converted the recipes to fit into our heath/medical needs. And... 5% are created by our household chef extraordinaire, Steve. He is actually very creative- thanks to The Galloping Gourmet and Emeril, which first inspired this culinary artist.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

healthy living ~ homemade bath delights

I love baths, I have stated that fact many times, and I have also mentioned that many of my friends do not (which I can’t fathom) like baths, so I don’t post many of my bath concoctions. However, with my readership expanding I decided it was time to add a few of my favorites.  Of course bath are at their best in the winter, especially when there is a chill in the air, but they can also be fun in the summertime, I just make my water a touch cooler. Actually sometimes when it is really hot, a bath is just the ticket for cooling down. I have a summer bath post that I will link at the bottom of this page. So, with that, here are a few super simple and wonderful bath ideas.

Scented Gentle Bubble Bath
Get out your rubber duckies, you will get lots and lots of bubbles with this formula, and the glycerin will also help smooth your skin.

1-  4 oz gentle, unscented glycerin soap bar.
1/2  cup water
1 teaspoon glycerin
1 teaspoon gentle baby shampoo (unscented preferred @ health food stores)
3-5 drops of any essential oil – my favorites: lemon or heliotrope, depending on my mood.

Mix the glycerin soap slowly in a double boiler on the stove. When melted, remove from heat and add the other ingredients stir for about a minute. Put in a pretty bottle and shake before using. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons per bath. Shelf life about 2 to 3 months.

Herbal Bath Salts
Sea salt braces skin and helps “float” away impurities, while the baking soda soothes it and herbal oils add either herbal values or aromatherapy to your bath experience.

1/4 cup baking soda
1/2 sea salt
3-4 drops of your favorite herbal essential oils 
     – my favorites: Rosemary or Eucalyptus

Mix the essential oils. Stir until mixed. Place in a glass jar with tight lid to keep out any moisture.  Add 4 to 5 tablespoons in running bath water; relax and detox. Shelf life: 6 to 8 months.

Just an Old Fashioned Rose-Glycerin Bath
Together, rose water and glycerin were used in Victorian times as a skin softener and conditioner.  Glycerin pulls moisture to the skin , and rose softens it. Here are all of the benefits that skin softening preparation while you soak. glycerin is water-soluble and does not leave a bathtub ring- one reason I use glycerin soaps. You can also add 4 to 5 drops of lavender essential oil to make it a super relaxing Rose Lavender Bath.
I cup glycerin
4 to 5 drops of rose oil
and if available, rose petals for fun

Mix together in a glass bottle, shake well before use, pour a smidgen into running bath water. Shelf life is up to 8 months.

Note: all of these bath products are great gift ideas for that special someone. Be creative in the packaging.

Monday, July 21, 2014

dream it ~ believe it ~ live it

I have said many times that life is filled with synchronicity when it is most needed. I was out in my garden photographing my very tenacious bumblebees gathering pollen when my neighbor, a young girl, came by walking her dog. I noticed that she was crying, not loudly, but tears streamed down her cheeks. I stopped her, seeing she needed a shoulder and offered her mine.  Bottom line was she wanted to learn Irish Line Dancing, everyone was telling her that she was too awkward, would look stupid, it was too hard, would be impossible to learn...on and on...she relayed between her soft sobs.

Now, the synchronicity!!!
I had just received in the mail, at that moment sitting on my front step, was a flyer for a local Dance & Music studio advertising Irish Harp, Dulcimer, & Piping lessons and..... new for their establishment...Irish Line Dancing Instruction. 
(remember, I play a Celtic Harp)

...and on the back of the flyer was this poem by Robert Hewett Sr. The Humble Bumblebee

What had caused me to be out front at the very time when this young girl needed not only my shoulder, but information? - hum – the bumblebees.

Rhonda and Chase, the pooch, took me to her house to show the flyer to her parents. I knew this studio and knew the owners quite well. After much discussion with Rhonda’s parents I finally convinced them to let their daughter try the classes. I called my friends at the studio and booked Rhonda a trial month- 4 classes.  I also pointed out the poem to her mother while telling her my events of the morning and how I felt this was destined for her daughter; I am sure she thought me a little eccentric, but what the heck. When I left Rhonda gave me a tight hug and thank you. I reminded her that anything was possible if you believe in yourself and work hard for your dreams. (p.s. I also made Rhonda promise me to come over and teach me what she was learning--her mother snickered and said maybe the two of us, ah-ha!)


Watch closely the odd shaped Bumblebee dart,
with a body too fat and wings too short .

Scientists all say it is easily seen,
this creature is not a flying machine.
Oh yeah, watch it now hovering so still,
a helicopter cannot match this Bee's skill.

Watch it dart about like a streak of light,
this Bee surely knows how to fly all right.

Look now, wow; it makes flying look easy,
Its wings are so fast they make it breezy.

This Bee is living proof for you and me,
science can’t top Natures' agile Bumblebee.

If you are told that something can’t be done,
that if you try it you will look real dumb,
just say,

 “watch the small humble Bumblebee,
God’s proof that the impossible can be.”

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. 
- henry david thoreau

Thursday, July 17, 2014

thursday's garden ~ ants, a garden friend

This is the time of the year when I become obsessed with ants invading my home. I will say that since we don’t have our four legged friends, their food and water dishes, the ants really don’t have much incentive. I have been seeing a few scouts wandering around wondering where is that good stuff they remember from the past; when I see them, I am sorry but I smash them.... but out in my garden they are a welcome guest.

When you wander through your lawn or garden and stumble across an anthill, a small mound of soil molded into tiny pellets, it’s often a gardener’s first instinct to destroy it. You stomp and kick until the small hill disappears and the tiny ants scurry off. But by doing so, you’re actually doing a disservice to your garden. Though most gardeners find these anthills a nuisance, they are our first clue to the important, helpful roles ants play in gardens and lawns—they’re tiny rototillers. Tunneling ants turn over as much soil as earthworms do, aerating the soil and redistributing nutrients. Ants are also part of the world recycling crew: acting as scavengers, collecting dead insects and turning them into fertilizer for your soil.

 Rather than being seen as pests, ants can be understood as our partners in gardening. One of the most easily observed and important roles that ants play is as seed dispersers. In temperate forests, ants disperse woodland spring wildflowers, such as bleeding heart and most violets. They conduct this same role with flowering plants across the country. This enterprise is so beneficial that plants appear to have adjusted the timing of flowering and fruiting to take advantage of high ant activity early in the year.

Another advantage of having ants in your garden is protection from herbivores. Ants are attracted to the nectar found on the plant stem or sepals (not the nectar found in flowers that is used by pollinators). The ants patrol these plants and disturb herbivores and seed-eating insects by attacking them, by causing them to fall off the plants, or by interrupting feeding, egg laying, courtship, or molting. The ants crawling all over sticky peony buds in early summer, for example, protect them from enemies, and the ants are rewarded with a rich food source. Some plants also reward this protective role by housing ants in special structures, in addition to providing them with food rich in proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates.

Ant protection from predation is also beneficial for some of our most common insects. The caterpillars of some butterfly groups produce a sweet substance known as honeydew to attract ant protectors. The ants “farm” the caterpillars, sometimes even carrying them into the ant nests to complete development. This interaction can add more butterflies and birds to your garden as they become attracted to the greater insect activity.

 A few garden ants are nuisance species. Native fire ants in the south sting and bite, making them unpleasant visitors to the garden; nonnative red imported fire ants are a more serious problem. They are overabundant because they have escaped their natural competitors and predators in South America. They damage crops, cause a decline in native-ant populations, and even incapacitate machinery. Carpenter ants live in rotting wood but do little damage to live garden plants. Most ants, however, have no negative impact at all. 

 If you don’t happen to have a pet anteater in your yard, you can control unwanted ants by pouring hot water into their nests, spraying peppermint oil, or sprinkling diatomaceous earth in your vegetable gardens. This will control ants without hurting your plants but I discourage it because of all of the important, positive roles that ants play in your garden. The ants, in fact, are eaten by other insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, birds, fish, and some mammals, forming an important part of food webs all over the world. Another interesting bit of information, a colony of ants is called a "state."

 We are continually learning new ways that ants contribute to the ecosystem. Home gardeners can do worse than follow the biblical advice to observe the ant and be wise.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

meal ideas ~ cooling desserts

When it comes to light summer desserts I usually want something frozen or cold. Recipes featuring fruits are a healthy and delicious choice. Try one of these favorite desserts of mine for a refreshing summer treat that is sure to impress the taste buds and add a cooling chill to your tummy.

Neapolitan Frozen Mousse
Can’t choose between chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla? Wow friends and family with this light, creamy frozen mousse that packs all three flavors in one using just six simple ingredients.

 1/4 cup powdered sugar*
 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
 1 16 - oz container frozen light whipped dessert              topping, thawed
 1 teaspoon vanilla
 1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen strawberries
 1 tablespoon sugar or sugar substitute

 Line an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan with a double layer of plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

 In a large chilled bowl whisk together powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Add 1 cup of the whipped topping, whisking until well mixed. Add another 1 cup of the whipped topping; fold together until no white streaks remain. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing surface. Freeze about 15 minutes or just until the layer begins to set up.

 In a clean bowl fold the vanilla into another 2 cups of the whipped topping. Spread this mixture over the slightly frozen chocolate layer, smoothing the top. Freeze 15 minutes more.

 In a blender or food processor combine strawberries and granulated sugar. Cover and blend or process until well mixed. Fold the strawberry mixture into the remaining whipped topping; spread over the vanilla layer. Loosely cover with the overhanging plastic wrap. Freeze at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours or until firm.

To serve, use the edges of the plastic wrap to lift the mousse out of the pan; place on a cutting board. Remove plastic wrap. Using a thin sharp knife that's been dipped in hot water, slice mousse into 10 slices, each about 3/4 inch thick. Wipe knife dry after each cut.

*I do not recommend using a sugar substitute for the powdered sugar.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 128 cal., 5 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 1 mg sodium, 22 g carb. (1 g fiber, 10 g sugars), Diabetic Exchanges Fat (d.e): 1; Other Carb (d.e): 1.5
Panna Cotta with Mango Gelee
Prepare this cold layered dessert ahead of time for the hot, hot days of summer. Make it low-carb by swapping out sugar for a sugar substitute.
4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
 2 1/4 cups low-fat (1%) milk
 6 tablespoons sugar* or  sugar substitute
 1 6 - oz plain fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt
 1 teaspoon vanilla
 1 cup cubed fresh or jarred mango (8 oz)
 1 teaspoon lime juice
 Small lemon wedges (optional)

 In a small bowl sprinkle 3 teaspoons of the gelatin over 3 tablespoons cold water. Let stand about 5 minutes or until water is absorbed and gelatin is soft.

In a medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup of the milk and 4 tablespoons of the sugar. Cook and
stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and steam begins to rise. Remove from the heat.

Add the softened gelatin; whisk until melted. Cool slightly. Whisk in the remaining 1 3/4 cups milk, the yogurt, and vanilla. Pour 1/4 cup of the yogurt-gelatin mixture into each of six 6-ounce dessert glasses. Set the remaining yogurt-gelatin mixture aside; let stand at room temperature.

Chill the mixture in glasses about 45 minutes or just until set.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon gelatin over 1 tablespoon cold water. Let stand about 5 minutes or until water is absorbed and gelatin is soft.

In a blender or food processor combine mango cubes, lime juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add the softened gelatin; whisk until melted.

Divide mango-gelatin mixture among chilled dessert glasses, spooning about 2 tablespoons of the mango-gelatin mixture on top of chilled mixture in each glass. Chill about 45 minutes or until mango mixture is set. Vigorously whisk the reserved yogurt-gelatin mixture until smooth. Divide among chilled glasses, pouring evenly on top of the mango mixture. Chill about 45 minutes or until final layer is set. (You can chill up to 8 hours before serving.) If desired, garnish with lemon wedges.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 127 cal., 1 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 5 mg chol., 63 mg sodium, 24 g carb. (23 g sugars), 7 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges: Milk (d.e): 1; Other Carb (d.e): 1
Chocolate-Strawberry Parfaits
Four simple ingredients are all you need to whip up these fun, diabetes-friendly parfaits. The low-fat berry-yogurt-biscuit trio packs a dessert pick-me-up you need. This can be made with any fruit of your choice, as well, I've used graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or ginger snaps in place of the BelVita biscuits. 

1 4 - ounce carton organic chocolate Greek fat-free yogurt, such as Oikos brand
 1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
 2 chocolate-flavored BelVita brand bisquits, crushed
 1 6 - ounce carton strawberry Greek fat-free yogurt

 Divide chocolate yogurt between two parfait glasses. Spoon 2 tablespoons sliced strawberries over yogurt in each glass. Sprinkle one-fourth of the crushed biscuits over each parfait. Spoon half of the strawberry yogurt into each glass. Spoon the remaining strawberries over; sprinkle with the remaining crushed biscuits.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: Servings Per Recipe: 2 PER SERVING: 189 cal., 2 g total fat 98 mg sodium, 30 g carb. (2 g fiber, 22 g sugars), 13 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Other Carb (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 0.5; Milk (d.e): 0.5; Lean Meat (d.e): 1;

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

healthy living ~ after the sun

I believe in the healing powers of sunshine, but know all too well the sun can become dangerous when used recklessly and in excess. Here are a couple of “after the sun” summer skin care ideas that are easy to make and lets you control what goes on your skin and hair. I use these in Colorado which is high in altitude making skin care even more challenging.

After-Sun Skin and Hair Repair 
Alexander the Great learned to use the juice of aloe to help heal the wounds in his soldiers during his conquering of Egypt. This cooling, healing gel feels good on your sun-drenched skin, like a glass of water when you are thirsty. sunflower oil helps prevent skin dehydration, while aloe vera and peppermint to cool and soothe.

1 cup water
3 tablespoons aloe vera juice
1/4 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 tablespoon sunflower oil
15 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil.

Combine water and aloe vera juice. Sprinkle xanthan gum over the liquid and stir briskly to prevent lumps from forming. You can also use a stick blender for one or two minutes or until the lumps are gone. Carefully add sunflower oil and blend more. Do not blend for too long, or the gel becomes runny. Add essential oil and stir well.

Apply generously to the areas of concern. Great for sun damaged hair but avoid the eye area. Leave on for several minutes, rinse with cool water.

Stores up to one month in a refrigerator.

** note on Xanthan gum- I purchase mine from the grocery store- it can be pricey but I use it in a lot of my home-beauty recipes, which I plan on doing a special post on just products you can make that require xanthan gum.

Skin Protecting After-Sun Mask 
This exfoliating mask helps even out a blotchy complexion resulting from erratic sun behavior. It also helps to lighten your skin if you did not plan to tan. Do not use this mask on sunburned skin or you risk aggravating your skin’s condition. I recommend freshly squeezed orange juice to deliver maximum goodness to your skin.
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 tables spoon orange juice
2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
1 teaspoon milk
1 teaspoon rice flour

Combine orange juice and aloe vera gel with milk. Add salt and rice flour. Stir will

Apply using gentle, circular motion. Leave on for two minutes, and then rinse with lukewarm water.

You can store this blend for up to two days in a refrigerator.

Antioxidant Sun Saver Serum 
This serum alone will not protect you from possible premature aging caused by UV radiation, but it will surely strengthen your skin’s defenses against free-radical aggression that is thought to be one of the causes of skin cancer. Most of the ingredients in the serum are easily available from a health food store or online.

1 oz grape seed oil
1 oz linseed (flax seed) oil
5 drops beta-carotene (3 capsules)
5 drops pine bark extract (pycnogenol)
10 drops vitamin E oil

Combine oils in bottle. Add the vitamin E oil and shake well to make a uniform blend.

Monday, July 14, 2014

silence ~ you can hear it!

      “You can listen to silence, Reuven. I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own. It talks to me sometimes. I feel myself alive in it. It talks. And I can hear it.
       You have to want to listen to it, and then you can hear it. It has a strange, beautiful texture. It doesn't always talk. Sometimes - sometimes it cries, and you can hear the pain of the world in it. It hurts to listen to it then. But you have to.”   ~excerpt from The Chosen- Chaim Potok

I was going through our library looking for books I want to take out to Colorado this trip. The plan is with every trip to take some things to the ranch that I can live without for a while here. I happened upon an old book, the Chosen by Chaim Potok. I read this years, and I mean years (1969?), ago for a high school literature class and had forgotten much. I opened the book to a dog-eared page with a passage highlighted talking about silence. I’ll not take time with details of the story, but the quote struck a chord as it had those many years ago. Once again I began to ponder this quote and realized my impression was a lot different from what I had thought back in my teens. I did not appreciate ‘silence’ back then as I do now. Now, I understand what the young man was saying.

All sounds, from a whisper to a classical symphony, arise out of silence and disappear into silence. But silence is always there beneath sound and is the space where sound can exist. We tend to think of silence as the absence of sound, but silence has its own weight and quality. When you listen to silence, you can perceive its intense depth and power. Taking the time to experience silence calms the mind and rejuvenates the body. Silence is the void where we can hear the many sounds that we often ignore - the voice of our intuition telling us the truth, the sound of the breeze blowing, the hum of the radiator, and the noises we make just because we are alive.
One way to experience silence is to wake up before the rest of the world. Lie quietly, leave off the lights, your Iphone, & TV. Be  still and simply listen. You may hear your heartbeat or your breath, but keep your attention tuned to the silence that surrounds you. Stay this way for as long as you can, and allow the “sound of silence” to penetrate your body until it moves into your core. Feel the gentle, pulsing waves of silence and allow it to cleanse you. Five minutes of communing with silence can leave you feeling vibrant and connected to the universe.

At night, choose a moment after everyone around you has retired and tune in to silence. You can also experience silence throughout the day. Even in the midst of activity, moments of silence are always present. Usually we ignore or feel nervous around silence and try to fill these moments with sound. Yet silence is always there - vast, potent, and available for us to step into any time we choose.

My favorite time to hear silence? Is when I get home from work around midnight; as the rest of the human world is sleeping, the “silence” of life is chanting softly, you just need to listen.

This week, if you do not already do this, plan on taking some time to "simply listen to silence."  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

thursday's not so gardening post ~ ha!

I was out in my garden working on a non-gardening project when one of my rare monarchs stopped by to visit. He was beautiful, had a nibble on some orange I had in its feeder, took a little drink from the muddling pool, and of course feasted one of their lantana bushes. It was special to say the least. Then, he flutter by my table taking a long look at what I was doing. I thought, hum, maybe I should post about this tomorrow, it has been a long time since I first told anyone about this terrific household-family item.

and just what was I doing...I was updating my copy of 12 Critical Things booklet. And... if you are one of those who have this, it is a reminder it's probably time to look through and update any information.  I posted about this a couple of years ago and everyone who has used it raves about it's usefulness. 

In this day and age think about all the information and possessions that one gathers over their lifetime. Does anyone other than you know what you have, where you have it, and what your wishes are? You can either invest a few hours of time getting your affairs together now, or your loved ones can spend thirty, forty or even hundreds hours trying to figure it all out later. And don’t forget the $5,000 to $75,000 in legal, accounting and probate fees they’ll have to pay.
I found a workbook that is wonderful, it has absolutely everything in it you will need to gather that information and then place it all together in a safe place until the need arises.The purpose of the book is to help you document your personal wishes and all the essential pieces of information your family would likely need in a crisis. 

"12 Critical Things…” (ISBN 978-0-9800056-2-2) is for people who aren’t inclined to cover much detail. It’s quick, covering the most essential information about your personal & financial affairs. A downloadable/writeable PDF is-$13.00 or a spiral-bound fill-in the pages book @ $15.00. The price is the same regardless ordering from the author's website or Amazon. The website has a money back guarantee if it is not what you were looking for; but trust me this book is every bit worth the money.   

The book’s title refers to the twelve major areas of critical decisions and information the book guides you to provide for your family: 

Personal & Family Information
Family Medical History
Advance Health Care Directives
Organ+ Donation Choices
Final Arrangements
Wills, Trusts & Estate Plans
Investments, Bank Accounts & Other Financial Assets
Retirement Plans & Annuities
Real Estate: Your Primary Residence
Debts & Liabilities
Other important information is mixed into these pages that doesn't fit neatly into these categories.

Here are a few examples of information the book prompts for that your family might really need to know in a crisis:

Where is the safe/safe deposit box/storage unit? What’s in there and how can it be accessed?
Should you be cremated? (this assumes you are dead, otherwise cremation can be quite uncomfortable)
What is your blood type?
What is your passport number?
How can the alarm system or water supply be shut-off in your home?
Where are your financial assets (firms, account numbers, contacts, etc)?
Do you have any allergies?
Are there any old life insurance policies or retirement plans from the military or jobs you left long ago?
Who should get your stuff when you die? (Or would you prefer your family fight it out at your funeral?)
And on and on.  The book organizes these and hundreds of other important & useful pieces of information.

I suggest you check out the website and see what I am talking about; you will not regret this decision.

 link to site: