- ~ happy Chinese New Year to all ~
Thursday, January 30, 2014
the Vole Wars have officially ended – they waved their white flag, packed their little vole bags and headed off to find another “more accommodating” residence.
even though this is nearly February, our southern california weather is beginning to warm into beautiful spring-like days. Groundhog Day is this Sunday, and we’ll see what the furry little harbinger of weather forecasts has to say about what’s to come.
what my Garden Fairies are saying... “it’s time to get busy and let the blooms come forth.”
here are some photos of flowers that are beginning to appear throughout “Hollow Oak Garden.”
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
We have been trying to have less beef on our menus; very hard for me...I am a hard core meaty carnivore. Fish and seafood are always favorites, and of course my all time favorite meat: Duck- defiantly not on the healthy side of my choices. Chicken is not on my best of the best list, so I am always happy to find a recipe that uses chicken and sounds tasty. Also, it is still cold enough for simple, easy casseroles.
Smoked Chicken Strata
A variety of veggies boosts the color, flavor, and serving size of this carb-conscious take on classic chicken strata.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped red or yellow sweet pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
3 whole grain English muffins, torn into bite-size pieces (4 cups)
2 cups shredded smoked chicken or cooked chicken breast (10 ounces)
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese (3 ounces)
1 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fat-free milk
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add asparagus, mushrooms, and sweet pepper; cook about 3 minutes or just until vegetables are crisp-tender.
Lightly coat six 12-ounce individual casserole dishes with cooking spray. Divide half of the English muffin pieces among the dishes. Top with the chicken, asparagus mixture, and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Top with the remaining English muffin pieces.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and black pepper. Pour egg mixture evenly over the layers in dishes. Using the back of a large spoon, press muffin pieces down. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Cover; chill for 2 to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in centers comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Servings: 6: 243 cal., 8 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 35 mg chol., 777 mg sodium, 22 g carb. (4 g fiber, 8 g sugars), 23 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges: Starch (d.e): 1; Vegetables (d.e): 0.5; Fat (d.e): 1; Lean Meat (d.e): 2.5
Chicken Taco Casserole
Make a healthy Mexican dinner for the whole family. This easy chicken casserole is layered with veggies, cheese, salsa, and crunchy tortillas—all while staying under 200 calories per serving.
Nonstick cooking spray
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 medium red or green sweet pepper, seeded and chopped
1 10 - ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups purchased salsa
4 6 - inches corn tortillas, coarsely torn
3 ounces reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped (optional)
1/2 of an avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped (optional)
Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, toss together chicken, garlic, and chili powder. Add to hot skillet. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from skillet; set aside.
Pour oil into hot skillet. Add onion and sweet pepper. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach.
Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about 1/2 cup of the salsa into the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half of the tortilla pieces, half of the chicken mixture, and half of the vegetable mixture. Pour half of the remaining salsa over the vegetables and top with half of the cheese. Repeat layers once, except do not top with the remaining cheese.
Bake, covered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. If desired, garnish with cherry tomatoes, chopped avocado, and/or fresh cilantro.
Servings 6: 196 cal., 6 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 43 mg chol., 544 mg sodium, 15 g carb. (4 g fiber, 4 g sugars), 20 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges: Fat (d.e): 1; Vegetables (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 0.5; Lean Meat (d.e): 2.5
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Several times over the last month people have been commenting on how shiny and fresh my hair looks. If you know me, you’ll know that my coloring is natural, kind of a dark blond-silver mix that resembles light champagne. As most of you know, I had been battling hair loss and extreme dryness due to the medications I have been taking.
“So, what’s new in your arsenal?” a friend asked. When I told her she chastised me for not putting it on the blog- I explained I wanted to see if this worked, made a difference, was something worthy sharing- “It’s working” she grinned “now, what’s the secret.”
okay, here it is; and the best part- you've got all the ingredients.
This mask relieved my dull, dry hair and also will solve dry scalp problems, such as itchiness and flakes. You can also use two or three medium sized apples, depending on your hair length. Choose only fresh apples without any dents or flaws.
Apple Hair Shine Restoring Mask
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon corn flour
1. Peel, core, and grate the apples. Combine the pulp with the remaining ingredients and stir well.
2. Spread the mixture over dry unwashed hair and leave on for 20 to 30 minutes. You can cover your hair with a shower cap and then wrap it with a towel.
3. Rinse the mask off with tepid water and follow with a mild/gentle shampoo, if desired.
This mask cannot be stored and must be used on the day of preparation.
Here is another recipe that I put together and have my neighbor trying for her dandruff- so far she loves it.
Banana Cookie Anti-Dandruff Treatment (which my neighbor has named)
Bananas feed the hair and scalp with vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6, while the oats are highly absorbing and calming. In fact, colloidal oatmeal is clinically proven to soothe dry, itching skin and scalp. The nutmeg I added because it is antiseptic and also helps relieve itchiness.
1 cup water
1-2 very ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Finely grind oats in a coffee grinder or blender. Boil the water and pour over the oats. Let it stand for half an hour. Meanwhile, peel and mash bananas with a fork. Combine the puree with oatmeal and stir. Add more warm water if needed. Add the nutmeg and stir well.
Shampoo your hair and squeeze out excess moisture. Apply the mask generously over your hair, massaging it deeply into the roots. Cover your hair with a shower cap and wrap your head with a towel. Relax for 15 to 20 minutes, then thoroughly rinse off the mask.
This mask cannot be stored and must be used on the day of preparation.
Monday, January 27, 2014
You have a plan; you know exactly where you are going and what you are going to do when you get there. Then... pebbles, stones, and even boulders suddenly loom on that path and the weather becomes bleak, you see the trail's end moving, once again, further away, perhaps even a gate blocks your path. You stop, wonder how a trail so well planned can turn so problematic, your gut tightens, you feel alone, tired... then, a little voice inside says “come on, keep going, be positive.” ~yeah, right~
And all of us in this “pessimistic” situation need to remember...this period of time in history is full of difficulty for a lot of people, know you are not being singled out. Every time I let my “oh woe is me" emotions appear, I hear or see of someone else who has things far worse than myself. There are extreme energy changes pulsing through the universe at every level and, of course, we are all part of the growing process and the growing pains. It helps if we remember that life is one phase after another and that this difficult time will inevitably give way to something new and different. When I feel overwhelmed I try and remind myself with the wise saying: This too shall pass.
At the same time, if you truly feel that nothing is going right for you, it’s never a bad idea to examine your life and see if there are some changes you can make to alleviate some of the difficulty. Gently and compassionately exploring the areas giving you the most trouble may reveal things you are holding onto and need to release: unprocessed emotions, unresolved transitions, or negative ways of looking at yourself or reality. As you take responsibility for the things you can change, you can more easily surrender to the things you can’t, remembering all the while that this phase will, without doubt, give way to another.
|you cannot change what’s over... only where you go|
Friday, January 24, 2014
Thursday, January 23, 2014
“Vole” wars begin:
I had to deal with this little critter(s) who decided to take up residence... VOLES. they’re like field mice and do quite a bit of damage to grass, plants and roots ~so I have found out. My biggest conundrum was- they were living in the “wildlife sanctuary corner” of my garden. SO, how do I handle that one? I justified that as soon as he stepped onto my grass...he was no longer protected by the “sanctuary”.... –she grins deviously-
first I thought I had just one- read up on voles and find out how fast one becomes 10 or more- Steve, my researching, gotta know, kinda guy, reminded me “you should never-ever be nice to a rodent” and recapped my adventures with Rodney the Rat. (those who followed jesse’s blog will remember our horrors of Rodney and his 5.2 pounds of stolen peanuts along with anything else stole from the neighborhood and could fit in his three story bush abode in my garden.) That ended my quandary and the VOLE WARS began.
the last thing I wanted to do was put out poison that might harm any other than the objective. so I laid out a snap trap (leftover from Rodney’s days and still thinking it was only one) within a few moments GOTTCHA- next day however, saw another zipping out of the bush, nabbing some lawn, and scooting back- but...oh no! before he was back inside, out came another... I knew I had a problem. It was suggested that Steve, in his “aspen willow caterpillar hunting garb” sit out on the porch with his 27cal rifle and nab them when they popped out for lunch...they were much too fast even for him. (the “pillars” in colorado-have felt the terror of this pest-hunter)
with that glitch, I went down and stood in the isle at OSH hardware looking at all the resources for Vole Hunting (the choices were almost overwhelming) and bought several more snap traps, eight in all actually, loaded them with peanut butter on some gauze. Finally after what seemed like an eternity and filling my garbage with snap-trap-vole-baggies daily, the assault may just be over- keeping fingers crossed. I have put out a bait box- enclosed to keep anything not a rodent the size of a vole/mouse- out just in case another decided to visit a lost relative. (still fighting the idea if this is appropriate) I do have an electrical zapper- but it is way too big for these guys, Rodney size, and cannot be where the sprinklers water.
the reason I haven’t just left traps all around...
I did have one causality of war... a little White Throated Sparrow, who nested in the corner bush and would hunt for bugs underneath... she came a little close to one of the traps- I buried her under her bush. I use to watch her in the mornings, she will be missed.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Nothing is sweeter than the old-fashioned goodness of a fruit cobbler. Featuring berries, apples, you can enjoy these dessert recipes guilt-free! And why are these delicious treats name Cobblers? The fruit cobbler gets its name from the crispy, buttery crust that is formed when baking which then resembles the cobble-stone streets common to old villages in Europe. Makes sense to me. In addition to the fruit cobbler, the UK commonly makes a savory cobbler dish made with lamb.
Love slow cooker desserts? This easy cobbler simmers for hours and then bakes an easy muffin mix to perfection. Using frozen berries makes this deliciously sweet dessert a year-round staple. Makes: 12 servings Carb Grams Per Serving: 31
1 14 - ounce package frozen loose-pack mixed berries
1 21 - ounce can blueberry pie filling
2 tablespoons sugar
1 6 1/2 - package blueberry or triple-berry muffin mix
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Lightly coat a 3-1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
In a bowl combine frozen mixed berries, pie filling, and sugar. Place berry mixture in the bottom of the prepared cooker.
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 3 hours. Turn cooker to high-heat setting. In a medium bowl combine muffin mix, water, and oil; stir just until combined. Spoon muffin mixture over berry mixture. Cover and cook for 1 hour more or until a wooden toothpick inserted into center of muffin mixture comes out clean. Remove liner from cooker, if possible, or turn off cooker. Let stand, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes to cool slightly before serving.
To serve, spoon warm cobbler into dessert dishes.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 162 cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 116 mg sodium, 31 g carb. (3 g fiber, 14 g sugars), 1 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Fat (d.e): 1; Other Carb (d.e): 1; Fruit (d.e): 1;
Cooking for two? This is a delicious portion-controlled dessert that's loaded with flavor. Antioxidant-rich cranberries and apples give your body a boost, plus they're bursting with vitamin C. Makes: 2 servings Carb Grams Per Serving: 33
2 small apples cored, quartered, and thinly sliced (1-1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons low-fat granola without raisins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat two 6-ounce custard cups or other 6-ounce oven-going dishes with nonstick spray; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together apple slices, cranberries, honey, the water, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Divide mixture between prepared custard cups. Cover cups with foil.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until apples are tender. Top with granola. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until granola is lightly browned. Makes 2 servings.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 133 cal., 1 g total fat 17 mg sodium, 33 g carb. (3 g fiber, 24 g sugars), 1 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Fruit (d.e): 1; Other Carb (d.e): 1;
Very Cherry Peach Cobbler
A tender, biscuit-like topper sets off the ripe peaches and dark cherries in this winning dessert. Enjoy a 3/4-cup serving for just 142 calories and 25 grams of carb.
1 pound peaches, halved, pitted, and sliced, or one 16-ounce package frozen unsweetened peach slices, thawed*
1 pound dark sweet cherries, pitted, or one 16-ounce package frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed*
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons fat-free milk
1 teaspoon sugar or sugar substitute
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Frozen fat-free whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange sliced peaches and cherries in a 10-inch quiche dish. In a small bowl, combine the water and the 4 teaspoons flour; pour over fruit.
For cobbler dough: In a medium bowl, combine the 3/4 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and the baking powder. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; add egg and milk all at once. Stir just until moistened.
Drop dough by spoonfuls into 8 to 10 mounds on top of the fruit. In a small bowl, stir together 1 teaspoon sugar and the cinnamon; sprinkle over the dough.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean and fruit mixture is bubbly on edges. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm. If desired, serve with dessert topping.
*Kitchen Tip: If using frozen fruit, thaw it completely but do not drain the fruit before adding to the dish.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 142 cal., 4 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 34 mg chol., 77 mg sodium, 25 g carb. (2 g fiber), 3 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Fat (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 0.5; Fruit (d.e): 1
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Living healthy is easier said than done, this I know for a fact. In the past, ah, yes the past, how thinking about the past comes around when you feel you are nearing an end. Never thought much about the past other than an occasional glimpse to see what wisdom I may have acquired but forgotten. However, recently the past has spent a good deal of time in my thoughts. As today’s post shows...I dug into the archives and found a worthy subject to post. Well, I am planning on making both these and decided to share them once again with you since they are very good products to have around at this time of the year.
Back to the healthy living~ Last week I was the proud recipient of three new stents (totaling now 5 and two new angioplasties.) The cardiologist has assured me that he has absolutely fixed everything possible in my little heart that he can and ... now ... I should be getting better. What happened? Last week while at Cardiac Rehab and on the treadmill I had chest pains again and the whole blooming thing started over without the severity of November; I do feel better than I have in a couple of months. Now, how is this related to the post today, you ask? (besides needing to ramble loquaciously at the moment)
~Every time I become ill, or get a new “disease” I.e- diabetes, hypertension, thyroiditis, coronary artery disease, and desperately trying to maintain a healthy weight through it all ~
~every time one of these blasted things pop up... my grocery list gets shorter, my pantry stays emptier. I came to that realization with laughter of amusement yesterday as I was planning the week’s menu. And I realized that even though Steve and I felt as if we were eating healthy, living healthy~ we weren’t, not really.
The single thing that has caused a huge question... salt ... the elimination of said crystals of taste bud euphoria. I have eliminated salt out of my diet for some time; well, any that would be placed post cooking, nonetheless, when you start looking at the salt context of packaged foods... holy salted cow.
Over the next months I hope to explore with you the various ways to get those nasty little buggers~ salt and sugar~ out of your diet,
for now enjoy today’s “Healthy Living” recipes you can make~ they are worth the time.
This is a nourishing blend that is high in essential fatty acids. Since my heart attack and all the skin-drying medication added to my daily life, I find this a wonderful remedy for super dry skin. It doubles as a healing oil to massage into cuticles on a nightly basis, especially if the cuticles are dry and ragged. It helps promote nail growth and a natural sheen on the nail surface.
3 T sesame seed base oil
1 T. each of the following base oils: almond, extra-virgin olive, avocado, macadamia nut, and apricot kernel.
2 large vitamin E oil capsules
Combine all ingredients is a storage bottle. Tightly cap the bottle and shake the mixture vigorously.
No refrigeration is required if oil is to be used within 6 months; store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
APPLICATION TIPS: For bath oil, add 2 teaspoons to running water. For body oil following shower or for massage, use as needed. Recommended for all skin types. - yields: approx. ½ cup store in: glass bottle (best) or plastic squeeze. Mark contents and date made on bottle.
Cold and Flu Congestion Relief Express Steam
Relieve sinus and lung congestion and sinus headaches due to allergy, flu, or cold symptoms that happen this time of year. I swear by this steam; it really helps drain away the misery of a cold and seems to open up everything. A bonus: This stimulating aroma also leaves your house smelling cool and clean.
3 cups distilled water
2 drops each of the following essential oils;
Monday, January 20, 2014
I ask all who read this page take a moment of silence to send their love to a family who recently had a great loss. This past weekend, Carol, my soul-sister’s best friend, Tammie, lost her husband, Richard, to a sudden illness.
Richard, I know you will always be watching over your family,
you were genuine, you were loved, and you will be missed~
thank you for sharing your soul and wisdom while walking the path of this life.
Carol and Tammie, my love and heart's wishes to you both-
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Have you ever wonder where the time went, what did you do with that time you didn’t notice pass you by?
Well, I do, a lot, actually I use to wonder. Several years ago, I got an idea from my childhood days of my parents putting stickers or marks on a calendar of all my accomplishments and goals.
Thus, began my sticker book.
In a calendar, either a small wall, mini wall, or pocket planner, I have a series of daily, weekly, monthly, projects and goals in mind and have a sticker for each one. I keep a legend of what each sticker stands for; every time I complete or accomplish one of these I get a sticker on my calendar. At the end of the week, month, or year you can look back and see what you have done with your time. I even have stickers for “pajama” days, special days and events. I think this is a great idea for everyone. Little stickers are getting harder to find; so, I have a series of miniature ink stamps that I may have to use one day. However, for now I love those colorful fun stickers.
There have been many times I have done something that I would have procrastinated…except for wanting to see that sticker on the page.
You can even have a secret prize for yourself for keeping the calendar going all year.
If you hang your sticker calendar on the wall at your computer, desk, or anywhere you will see it daily, you’ll be more likely to keep it going… plus, it also shows everyone just how busy you really are.
Perhaps you can start a “sticker” chart for the New Year for goals and things you want to accomplish. Have fun with this and if you have any questions, comments, or ideas of your own I would love to hear them and even share with others if you allow.
** this is a re-post of an article i wrote a couple of years ago; someone asked about it trying to remember exactly what i did to keep track of all my plans. So, here it is, may this year be exciting and fun.**
Monday, January 13, 2014
Saturday, January 11, 2014
before the Solstice and Yule celebrations were past I found two new bristle ornaments hidden in a pile of discards at a little shop called Tuesday Morning. They are adorable, especially the nest, which I plan to use this upcoming Ostra. I have also (best time of the year to get them on sale) ordered several new "bristle critters” for my collection that will also be used in my Ostra setting.
have a fantastic weekend