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!”

Friday, February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

thursday’s garden ~ seeding begins

It is getting close to March and in our neck of the woods it is a good time to think about sowing some seedlings. I had been thinking about it when I ran into my friend, Suzanne R, who is also loves starting plants with seeds- and with a surprise we found out that the both of us were planning on getting ready for our seeds this week. I was glad to hear that because she really is the Master at this art and if she is ready then the world is ready. LOL

I still need to dig out my pots, wash them, get them ready for the new little plants, but I have time while the seedlings grow.  Now, for my seeds? Last year I bought-but didn’t use- one of those seed kits. I am curious how they work compared to my usual practice of starting seeds in egg cartons. I also, have been saving these plastic containers that grape tomatoes come in; I think they will make a great seed starting greenhouse.

I will spend the next couple of weeks getting everything ready. Here are the seeds I am going to start with- I had bought these for Colorado, but since I am here and not there, let’s give it a go. I did purchase some giant sunflower seeds and not sure I can use those here, I don’t know of the best place to plant them in my small backyard. I do have an excellent Colorado location; I was planning these for my friends the crows and jays.  I know BJ and Bertha, my two CA Scrub Jays, would love them if I get a plant growing.

Also, I would like to share a photo I took with my Nikon D3100- It was getting late in the day and the area was becoming shadowed. I refused to let my camera flash and set the focus to micro- I was so surprised at not only the beauty of this shot, but the little friends having treats inside. This is a raw photo- direct from the camera.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

meal ideas ~ delicious whole grains

Eating whole grains can be a delicious treat. Replacing refined grains with whole grains may help improve insulin sensitivity, blood glucose control, and your weight. Plus, whole grains may reduce your risk of health issues that often accompany diabetes, such as heart disease and hypertension.

Buffet Wild Rice
This savory, crunchy-chewy side dish is overflowing with whole grains, pea pods, and golden raisins.

 2 14 - ounce can chicken or vegetable broth
 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed and drained
 1/3 cup regular barley
 1 cup fresh snow pea pods, cut into thirds
 1 cup golden raisins
 6 green onions, sliced (3/4 cup)
 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel
 1/2 cup orange juice
 1/4 cup snipped fresh mint
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 1/2 teaspoon curry powder

      In a large saucepan bring broth to boiling; stir in wild rice and barley. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 40 minutes or until rice and barley are tender. Drain off liquid. Return rice and barley to the saucepan.

    Stir in pea pods, golden raisins, green onions, orange peel, orange juice, mint, olive oil, and curry powder. Cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition Facts: 6 SERVINGs: 271 cal., 6 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 562 mg sodium, 50 g carb. (6 g fiber, 2 g sugars), 7 g pro.

Tabbouleh with Edamame and Feta 
This zesty Mediterranean salad makes a great vegetarian main dish; or serve 1/2-cup portions as a side dish with broiled or grilled chicken, beef, or pork.

2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups bulgur
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons purchased basil pesto
2 cups fresh shelled sweet soybeans (edamame)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut up
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

      In a medium saucepan, bring the water to boiling; add uncooked bulgur. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Transfer to a large bowl.
      In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice and pesto. Add to bulgur along with soybeans, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, green onions, the snipped parsley, and pepper. Toss gently to combine. If desired, garnish with parsley sprigs.

Prepare as directed. Cover and chill for up to 4 hours.

Nutrition Facts: Servings: 6  (1/2 cup): 320 cal., 13 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 8 mg chol., 175 mg sodium, 37 g carb. (10 g fiber), 18 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges: Lean Meat (d.e): 1.5; Fat (d.e): 2; Starch (d.e): 2; Vegetables (d.e): 0.5

_____________and for a little whole grain treat_____________

Pick-Me-Up Bars
Whole wheat flour and dates provide a combination of fast carb energy and slower carb energy to help pick you up and keep you going.

Nonstick cooking spray 
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
18 - ounce package pitted whole dates, snipped
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon canola or cooking oil

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil. Lightly coat foil with cooking spray; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the honey, orange juice and lemon juice. Stir in the dates; set aside.
     Combine the flour, soda, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. In a second mixing bowl, combine applesauce, syrup, egg whites, and oil. Add applesauce mixture to the flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer until just combined (mixture will be crumbly). Stir in date mixture. Spoon batter in the prepared baking pan; press evenly into pan with fingers or the back of the spoon.
     Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool bars on a wire rack. Remove bars from pan by lifting the edges of the foil. Cut into 24 bars.

To store, wrap and freeze individual bars. Thaw before eating.

Nutrition Facts: 24 servings: 89 cal., 1 g total fat 36 mg sodium, 20 g carb. (2 g fiber, 9 g sugars), 2 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges: Fruit (d.e): 1; Starch (d.e): 0.5
a wonderful Protein Bar from my friend at
here is the link to her recipe ~
Yummie Protein Bars
whether you are a "baby boomer" like me, or not, you'll love this tasty bar and her blog!!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

healthy living ~ fruity skin care

Someone mentioned that I use a lot of fruit in my home-made natural skin care recipes. Why? Some fruits contain alpha-hydroxy acids [AHA] or beta-hydroxy agents [BHA] and are wonderfully healthy for the skin when applied externally. AHA dissolves the bond that holds dead skin cells together and increases hydration while BHA naturally dissolves dry, flaky surface skin and stimulates cell renewal. All skin types from oily to very dry can benefit from these remarkably effective and inexpensive fruit acids.

I suggest you begin seeing the value of these wonders of nature beyond just their culinary delights. Try to find organically grown fruit- or just make sure you clean any possible chemicals off standard commercially gown. Also, for maximum skin rejuvenation, all fruits should be used in their raw state.

Apples (AHA)
Part used: pulp, freshly pressed juice
Uses: contains malic acid. acts as a mild astringent. soothing for  sensitive and acneic skin. when mixed with white cosmetic clay makes a gentle exfoliating mask.

Banana (AHA)
Part used: pulp
Uses: nourishing and moisturizing. extremely gentle. recommended for normal and dry skin. can be used straight as a mask, or blended with white cosmetic clay for added exfoliation and tightening.

Blackberry & Raspberry (AHA)
Part used: freshly pressed, strained juice
Uses: contains lactic acid. can be applied with a cotton ball directly to all but most sensitive or sunburned skin as an exfoliating tonic and then rinsed off. moderately astringent.

Citrus fruits – grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine (AHA)
Part used: freshly pressed juice, rind zest
Uses: contains citric acid. astringent and fragrant. good for oily and normal skin. juice and zest can be added to toners, spritzers, masks, and lotions. **not recommended for sensitive or inflamed skin**

Grape (AHA)                
Part used: freshly pressed juice
Uses: contains tartic acid. apply juice to face with cotton ball to helps improve skin texture, rinse, safe for all skin types.

Papaya (BHA)
Part used: pulp
Uses: contains the enzyme papin. applied as a wet mask will help to even out skin tone and soften. especially useful for a fading tan or dry flaky, rough skin. **may be irritating to sensitive, sunburned, or inflamed skin**

Pineapple (BHA)
Part used: freshly pressed juice
Uses: contains the enzyme bromelain. will dissolve dead, dry skin cells resulting in smoother skin. **may be irritating to sensitive, sunburned, or inflamed skin.**

Strawberry (AHA)
Part used: pulp
Uses: acts as a gentle astringent. safe for all skin types. pulp may be thickened with white cosmetic clay and applied as an exfoliating mask.

Now you are familiar with these fruits as cosmetic ingredients and in my upcoming natural-homemade recipes you can understand the reason behind their addition. Nest week i'll talk about grains, nuts, and seeds.
also, an important note:
One reason I do not use commercially, chemically contaminated, prepared beauty products is for my health. The other and probably most important reason is the “testing and torment” of animals. I know that PETA and the World Society for Cruelty to Animals has done a lot of work in this area despite the FDA and Lobbyists road blocks. In a recent post I mentioned I did use a Mary Kay mascara. I had thought- due to their insisting they do not do “animal testing” that they were a "cruelty-free" company. NOT SO!

I have found out, and verified, that they can say that because THEY do not test their products....they have China test them- In China, any cosmetic sold on their market has to be “tested on animals” it’s the law. Then our US companies use that data to inform the FDA of their product's safety. I no longer will buy any Mary Kay Products. As well as five other companies who profess the same claim, all the while China is still torturing animals on behalf of "beauty and glamour"...

I’ll remain ugly, thank you very much. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

awareness of destiny

Been thinking a lot about destiny and one’s purpose in life, the soul’s purpose in life~ so I decided once again to share my reflections and thoughts.         :)

Destiny, the greatest mystery in every individual’s life, it is a grand puzzle waiting to be solved. It is not uncommon to ask, “why am I here?” or to wish for a more dynamic or creative approach to living while still following the expected path or bowing to the status quo.

All individuals have been blessed with talents and strengths that flow from the depths of the soul, allowing them to make a unique and special contribution to the world. I feel this is the root of the soul’s purpose, which is much more than a simple occupation. It is the longing of the heart, a gift we ache to express, and a life’s mission. Many people never discover their individual soul’s purpose because they believe themselves unqualified or ill equipped for it. However, finding it is not a road of trial and error, but an exciting journey.

The world needs the fruits of your soul’s purpose, but to follow the path of the heart demands patience and courage. Until that mission is found, material successes can feel empty and unfulfilling. Many books have been written about “finding your purpose,” telling you how to step this quest. I must have at least six books on the subject stashed away in my library, most partially read, because I believe that finding your soul’s purpose is an individual quest of introspection requiring inner counsel strong enough to disregard naysayers. The answer is within you...not a book!

I began by asking myself “which pursuits give me, or have given me, the most joy. Which draw upon my natural talents and cause me to feel that I have put forth deep roots in the universe?”

If you can think of no such activity, it is time to try something new, perhaps in the form of a hobby or volunteering. When answers do come through meditation or participation, it will be necessary to accept that large-scale changes may be in order to align your path with your soul’s purpose. Although doubt may arise, fulfilling your life’s mission will give your strength.

There are, then again, no absolutes. Achieving the soul’s purpose requires not only awareness, but participation as well. The soul exists to evolve, and when you become aware of its desires, it is up to you to take the first step, however difficult they may be. Having fulfilled one purpose, you may find that another may arise, leading you to other paths you never anticipated. Once you have discovered your soul’s purpose and embarked upon the journey, though, you will have taken the most important step in creating a truly joyful life.

On the other hand, many people fulfill their soul’s purpose without even being aware of it, or necessarily being on a particularly ‘spiritual’ or ‘soul searching’ path. Maybe this is what we experience as destiny, when our soul’s journey appears to be beyond the reach of our individual awareness.

With all that...I leave you with a quest to ponder this week~

“If we can be fulfilling our Soul’s Purpose without being aware, is there any point in learning about our Soul’s Purpose and developing a stronger awareness?”

Friday, February 21, 2014

fun friday photo ~ BJ's peanut

this is my peanut
there are many like it but this one is mine
it is my life
i must master it as i master my life

Thursday, February 20, 2014

thursday's ramblings ~ OCDD help needed

omg- i did it again....
I know this day is usually set aside for my gardening or crafting news, however, your friend and resident blogger did it again... YES, I hide in shame and am presently looking for a therapist for my “OCDD.” What’s that you ask? “Obsessive Compulsive Deleting Disorder.” I had some wonderful photos on my baby Nikon from the garden, Henry the Lizard~who is awake. A beautiful grasshopper, flowers, a hummingbird bathing in the front fountain, the full moon with a cloudy sky from this weekend (which were outstanding photos)... and it all got.... yes..... deleted. There was one little photo, not so good that I decided needed to be off the SD card and as I was selecting it, I hit the delete all”  button and whammo they were all gone, whoosh. She sighs, will she ever learn?  You would think after the blog photo fiasco this would not have happened. And Steve reminds me of the time, not so long ago, I deleted some of his emails, because I didn’t want them on MY iPad, so I took them off....which also removed them from HIS and AOL ... Yes, I need help.

But Wait!!! there is some good news this bright day:

The Decorah Eagles are back!!!!  Those readers of old will remember the Eagle Webcam that allowed us to watch two Iowa eagles nest and raise their young. Last year, they moved their long time nest to a new area at the last minute and the wildlife guys were unable to get a webcam up and running before they settled in and started making chicks, the eagles not the wildlife guys. The new nest is located about 500ft east of the old one. Located right next to a creek, the nest is about 70ft up in the fork of a cottonwood tree; it is about 4ft long/wide and about 3ft deep.

This year the cam is up and running, mom and dad are busy filling the nest with soft “nesting” materials and look like they are ready to fill it with eggs.

I highly recommend to all to visit this site, I’ll keep you updated when events get really interesting, but if you have young ones yourself, this is fun for them and a great learning experience. Also visit the webcam page on the blog for beautiful pictures of their 2012 nest and raising of the chicks.

if you’re a Facebook kind of person: 
Decorah Eagle Facebook

Journey's Wildlife webcam page for pictures of past wildlife cameras

I am so sorry that there are no webcams of the bears, Minnesota or Colorado, as the Federal Department of Natural Resources has put a block on letting these be viewed on the internet. This was especially a hard blow for Dr. Lynn Rodgers, (my mentor) of the North American Bear Center in MN. He has been battling the DNR trying to shut down his research and public viewing of his bears since the shooting of the young research (and famous) bear named “Hope.” Lily the Black Bear’s first cub that made internet history when for the first time we saw a cub in the wild born. The public outcry against hunters was more than our government wanted to handle, so now we cannot webcam any wild bears. But.... cubs everywhere are born and should be leaving their dens in a month or so; I will post pictures when I have any.

the last ramble of the day:

here are a couple of photos I shot while watering yesterday, not as beautiful or outstanding as the deleted ones, but nice all the same.

my garden is awakening 
i love spring and its colors

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

meals ideas ~ with heart health zesto

The American Heart Association recommends eating salmon or other fatty fish such as mackerel or tuna twice each week for the heart-protective benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids found in their fish oils. These seafood recipes offers a variety of preparation and cooking options to optimize your fish and shellfish based meals. BEFORE... I begin I would like to say that all salt in these recipes is purely optional. I mean this sincerely, until you eliminate all added salt (any which is not naturally in the food) you will never experience what the food “really, naturally” tastes like. Give “going salt free” a try; your heart will love you for it.

Herb-Crusted Salmon with Mixed Greens Salad
Chopped fresh herbs dress up salmon fillets, which are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The homemade vinaigrette brightens salad greens while keeping calories and fat in check. Serve salmon with lemon wedges.

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick), skinned
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups mixed salad greens

1. To prepare salmon, combine the first 7 ingredients in a shallow dish or pie plate. Lightly coat both sides of fillets with cooking spray, and sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Dredge both sides of fillets in breadcrumb mixture.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fillets to pan; cook 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; carefully turn fillets over. Cook 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.
3. To prepare salad, combine juice, oil, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add mixed greens; toss gently to coat. Place 2/3 cup salad on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 fillet.

Amount per serving~ 4 servings. Calories: 256 Calories from fat: 33% Fat: 9.5g Saturated fat: 2g Monounsaturated fat: 4.6g Protein: 32.1g Carbohydrate: 9g Fiber: 1.8g Cholesterol: 70mg
Sodium: 399mg

Grilled Tuna with Chipotle Ponzu and Avocado Salsa
Here is a great example of how bold Asian and Latin flavors work well together. Orange and lime juice substitute for rice vinegar, the acidic ingredient typically used in a Japanese ponzu dipping sauce. It gets a kick from the hot, smoky chipotle chiles.

1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup grated onion
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

3/4 cup diced English cucumber
1/2 cup diced plum tomato
1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Remaining ingredients:
4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
Cooking spray
2 cups hot cooked medium-grain rice

To prepare ponzu, place 1/2 cup orange juice and the next 5 ingredients (through 1 1/2 chipotle chiles) in a blender, and process until smooth.

To prepare salsa, combine diced cucumber, tomato, avocado, and cilantro in a small bowl.

Sprinkle fish with salt if desired. Heat a large nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Cut each tuna steak diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Arrange sliced tuna over rice; top with salsa, and drizzle with ponzu.

Amount per serving~ 4 servings (serving size: 1 tuna steak, 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup salsa, and about 1/3 cup ponzu) Calories: 447 Calories from fat: 26% Fat: 12.6g Saturated fat: 2.8g Monounsaturated fat: 5.2g Protein: 44g Carbohydrate: 37.8g Fiber: 2.5g Cholesterol: 64mg Sodium: 606mg 

****** I know, with this next meal you are going to say “Heart Healthy, huh?” The American Heart Association recommends you limit your dietary cholesterol consumption to 300 milligrams or less per day for healthy individuals and 200 milligrams or less per day if you have high cholesterol or heart disease. Scallops contain 30 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3-ounce serving, which is 10 percent of the recommended intake. Because of the low levels of fat and cholesterol in scallops and the beneficial effects of the omega-3s and non-cholesterol sterols, the effect on your blood cholesterol levels of eating scallops in moderation is minimal. *****

Seared Scallops with Warm Fruit Salsa
A hot skillet is key to a deep golden sear on the scallops. Prepare the Warm Fruit Salsa in the same skillet as the scallops for an easy one-pan cleanup. Basmati or brown rice rounds out the meal.

12 large sea scallops (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
Warm Fruit Salsa
4 teaspoons sliced green onions

Warm Fruit Salsa
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups diced pineapple
1 1/4 cups chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup green tea with mango (such as Snapple)
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

1. Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle scallops evenly with pepper and salt. Add scallops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove scallops from pan; keep warm. Discard any accumulated juices from scallops.
2. Prepare Warm Fruit Salsa. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in pineapple and next 3 ingredients, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 3 minutes. Stir in mint.
3. top scallops evenly with Warm Fruit Salsa and onions  Serve immediately.

Amount per serving~4 servings (serving size: 3 scallops and about 2/3 cup salsa)
Calories: 202 Calories from fat: 16% Fat: 4g. Saturated fat: 0.5g Monounsaturated fat: 1.7g Protein: 24.9g Carbohydrate: 17.7g Fiber: 2.2g Cholesterol: 47mg Sodium: 394m
-----recipe sources Cooking Light online----

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

healthy living ~ " the raw"

what I regard as "raw"
With the new changes in my nutritional dietary needs – (low sodium, low fat, low cholesterol, high potassium, high fiber, and diabetic ~ whew) I have been researching an entirely new medley of meal ideas. I one thing I keep coming across is the word “raw,” “In the Raw,” and “Raw & Natural”

If a packaged food is labeled as “raw”, what exactly does that mean?

To me as a consumer, it means that the food is completely unadulterated and has not in any way changed from its original natural form.  Nothing has been added, removed, or heated to a temperature that would change any of the inherent nutritional characteristics.

Unfortunately, to food manufacturers, the definition of “raw” can be quite different.
A fake raw food I found at the store that is fooling a whole lot of people is the “Sugar in the Raw” a product also known as turbinado sugar or natural cane sugar.

But wait!  There’s a “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval in the upper right corner of the box! Doesn’t that mean that the product has been checked out and is legitimate in its labeling claims?

Apparently not.  Here’s what the manufacturer of Sugar in the Raw has to say about its product:

Enjoy sweet moments naturally with Sugar In The Raw®, our all-natural Turbinado sugar grown in the tropics. The hearty, golden crystals are never bleached, so they keep the rich flavor and color of their natural molasses. So go on, stir it in or sprinkle it on. Bake and cook with it too. Whatever you do, just do it naturally with Sugar In The Raw®.

It seems that just because the sugar is unbleached makes it raw...

Perhaps that is what the USDA allows when it comes to labeling sugar products, but to me, a sugar that is truly raw means much more than just unbleached.  It means that nothing has been removed or added as well.

The wording above is so sneaky because it leads the consumer to believe that the natural molasses is intact.  And, for Sugar in the Raw, a small amount of the molasses is indeed intact because it is a darker color than white sugar.

But, the truth is that most of the molasses has been stripped away and Sugar in The Raw can claim it is raw all day long, but I for one, know it’s not.
Check out the picture to the right which shows a bowl of Sugar in the Raw next to a bowl of Sucanat which is a truly unprocessed, all nutrients and molasses intact sweetener.

The Sucanat is much darker showing that Sugar in the Raw is a fake and is not an unadulterated product that is in its original, natural form contrary to the sneaky claims by the manufacturer.
So, if you are looking for something more natural than processed sugar, buy Sucanat as “Your Healthiest White or Brown Sugar Substitute.” Sucanat is the best substitute for white or brown sugar in your recipes for cookies and cakes – NOT Sugar in the Raw or other turbinado sugars.  Florida Crystals is another processed sugar attempting to masquerade as natural so beware.

Sucanat is simply dehydrated cane sugar juice and has been used for thousands of years by the people of India.  While sucanat is your best choice when trying to find a truly natural and unprocessed substitute for processed cane sugar, be careful not to overdo on the sucanat as eating too much can upset blood chemistry very much like white sugar or a fake raw sweetener like Sugar in the Raw.

A little on Stevia: which is my preferred sweetener when I absolutely need one, nevertheless, it too has its concerns.

Long considered “the holy grail of sweeteners,” this calorie-free sugar substitute is derived from a plant — which means food companies can market it with the word “natural” and appeal to dieters, diabetics and health-minded folks around the globe.

this is Stevia
 "in the raw"
Stevia-derived products like Truvia might be a better choice than Splenda and Equal, such experts say, but they are still highly processed additives that, gram for gram, can be 300 times sweeter than table sugar. Some health experts are worried that consumers dazzled by green-leaf marketing hype have wrongly concluded that commercially processed stevia products are far more natural than they really are. Thusly... is “Stevia in the Raw” really raw? Don’t think so. There’s also a growing concern that stevia’s intense sweetness could alter our food preferences.

So while stevia is widely available and generally considered safe, there’s still more for cautious consumers to learn about this sweetener and its impact on our bodies, brains — and taste buds.

Monday, February 17, 2014

do you explore your horoscope?

Last week when I was researching about the full moon and realized it was in the position of my birth sign, “Leo,” I found a beautiful picture and knew I wanted to share it with you. Then, of course, that lead me to peeking in at the local astrological website to see what my horoscope was for that day. Subsequently, when it really didn’t fit with how my day was going, it got me to thinking about horoscopes...and....

Is Reading Your Horoscope Good for You?

Whenever I read a paper or magazine, I’m drawn to the horoscopes page. I know there’s no real truth in it, but I still want to know the prediction for my star sign. It feels like a little ritual, and I enjoy it. Yes, I know millions of people were born on the same day, at the same time, but, irrationally, I think I’m going to read something unique about myself.

Who doesn't love reading their horoscope? It doesn't matter if the "big financial decision" you were supposed to make that day involved deciding whether or not you should splurge on organic apples.

Though most people take astrology with a grain of salt, a recent study conducted by iVillage found some interesting results. They discovered that roughly the same amount of women check their horoscopes and research personal health information online each month. That's right, 37 percent of women read up on their sign, especially before big decisions, while 45 percent Google their ailments.

But does the day you were born really affect your personality? There isn't an abundance of data on astrological signs, but the research that exists isn't exactly confidence boosting.

In 1990, researchers hired six astrologers and one non-astrologer to match astrological birth charts to the case files (containing life histories, photos, and personality assessments) of 23 individuals. None of the astrologers were able to match the files better than the non-astrologer. And, among the horoscope-astrologers, there was little agreement as to which case file belonged to which birth chart. My friend Rebecca, a psychology blogger, remains skeptical, too.

Whether they're accurate or not, reading your horoscope is still fun; and if your horoscope says that you’ll nail an upcoming interview and that makes you more confident, then more power to you!  Check out an astrology guide. Does the description fit you? I have to admit that my Leo strengths of “creativity, idealism and leadership" aren't too far off the least according to me! LOL

Here are three sites that I use when I am rummaging around the internet and feel like peeking in to see what “should be” going on in my life- ha!

Huffington Post (of course I love anything Huffington)

The Free Dictionary- a really fun site that has “oodles and oodles” of information and fun stuff!

and another lesser know site is the horoscope section of Yahoo Shine

Do you like reading your horoscope?
and does your zodiac sign fit you?
side note: sometimes words look so bazaar to me- like "horoscope" who thought of this one? LOL


Friday, February 14, 2014

Full Moon ~ Valentine's Day ~ Lantern Festival

wow, what a day this is, we have three celebrations going on today

First it is a Full Moon tonight, everyone knows how much I love full moons because it is a time when you can be out in nature and get to watch wildlife without technological assisted illumination; really see nocturnal life in its natural state.

This full moon is called the “Snow Moon” – February Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, native tribes of the north and east most often called February’s full Moon the Full Snow Moon. Some tribes also referred to this Moon as the Full Hunger Moon, since harsh weather conditions in their areas made hunting very difficult. The Moon also happens to be in the position of Leo- my astrological birth sign. nice!

Now add Valentine’s Day to that and what do you get.... A Lover's Moon. This is a lover’s moon that will set the scene for many romantic moments tonight. When thinking about this I was reminded of the fun Italian song, That's Amore. Remember this?                            

That’s Amore, by Dean Martin.

email readers, you may need to go to my blog to see and hear this video-

Last but not least: celebrating the last day of the Chinese New Year- tonight all over the world the “Lantern Festival” is celebrated. The Lantern Festival has been part of Chinese New Year celebrations since the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 221 AD). Usually held on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, it marks the end of New Year festivities.

Lantern depicting dragon boat racing, which originated in China more than 2,000 years ago. It is said that the holiday evolved from an ancient Chinese belief that celestial spirits could be seen flying about in the light of the first full moon of the lunar calendar. To aid them in their search for the spirits they used torches. These torches gave way to lanterns of every shape, size and color.

The Lantern Festival is also popularly referred to as the Chinese Valentine’s Day because in days of
old it gave girls and boys a rare chance to go out in the evening and mingle. Today, lantern festivals are held each year in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan to mark the end of Chinese New Year celebrations. Competitions are held to select the best lanterns.

so, everyone grab a friend, loved one, or stranger and take a stroll, have an adventure, celebrate one or all of this wonderful day!
Happy Full Moon
Happy Valentine’s Day
Happy Lantern Festival

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

healthy living ~ for the baby's bum

In the last year a couple of nurses I work with have had new blessings enter into their lives. Both asked me if I had any “green” or “homeopathic” recipes they might be interested in. Well, did my research and came up with two that both moms and babies really like. So, with the testing phase done, it is time to share them with you.

Baby Bum Balm 
This is very emollient yet a thin balm that contains no added emulsifies, such as beeswax. It glides effortlessly over a baby’s skin which is important if you have to deal with rashes and irritations. (found out Eczema sufferers of all ages love this cooling, lightweight balm too.)

1/2 cup shea butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
12 drops calendula extract
10 drops chamomile extract
1 teaspoon zinc oxid-powder
1 teaspoon vitamin E

Heat the shea butter and coconut oil in a shallow pan. Do not boil! Remove from heat and stir well; gradually add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until the mixture starts to cool down. Transfer to a glass jar. (plastic will work-glass is better)

Use as often as necessary. Store up to six months in a tightly closed glass jar. 8oz mason jar works perfectly.
“baby friendly” Baby Powder 
Sometimes it’s unclear whether your baby has a diaper rash or a yeast infection. Cornstarch, a popular ingredient in baby powders, can worsen a yeast rash by forming yeast-feeding wet clumps in skin folds. Plus, it is no longer recommended using over-the-counter baby products high in aluminum content. You can occasionally use these, but to make baby-friendly skincare product at home, consider using aluminum-free clays. It makes no sense to expose children to neurotoxins at a young age.

1/2 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons montmorillonite clay
1 tablespoon zinc oxide - powder
1/4 teaspoon green tea extract***(from capsules)
5 drops rose essential oil
5 drops chamomile essential oil
1 sheet of paper

combine dry ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Add oils one drop at a time while stirring to make sure that oils disperse completely in the powder. Stir well to avoid clumps. Make a paper funnel and pour mixture into a shaker bottle- (you can use a plastic bottle with holes punched into the lid- or as my friend did, she bought a catsup/mustard container for picnics and just puff squeezes the mixture onto her little ones bottom, ha!)

Use often as necessary- Store up to a year, tightly closed and away from moisture and humidity.

*** this can be left out and the mix will still work wonderfully. I am VERY careful when and where I use Tea Tree Oil or Extract, many are allergic or sensitive to it—and many really dislike the aroma/smell of the oil itself. So, if you are one of the above...please leave this ingredient out. My friend happens to be a fan of Green Tree oils/extracts and uses it in her mixture, testing a small area on her baby beforehand to check for sensitivity.

With both of these, please test your baby before applying liberally and causing a worse issue. I also recommend you test it on yourself beforehand. Sometimes if mom has a sensitivity so does baby; small dab on the inside of your or the baby’s wrist, wait for a couple of days to see if redness or irritation occurs.

Monday, February 10, 2014

~ oneness ~

Several times over the past few months, when contemplating my health and its issues, I have had a little inner voice saying the only thing I regret in all this is calling 911. First time I reacted with a loud “whatthe ?” in my mind, totally surprised that thought would float past my consciousness, then I would respond- “I can’t go anywhere, I haven’t achieved oneness yet.” Holy cow, where did that come from? (okay, call me psycho- I do talk to myself quite often- remember my post about that subject?**) Nevertheless, that got me wondering about “just what the heck is oneness?” After thinking on this for several days, I decide to post it here for fun, in case someone has an interest in the subject as well. This is what “oneness” means to me. If anyone has any ideas of their own I would love to hear them and post- all insights into something this philosophical should have many views for one to consider and find what feels right to them.
The Paradigm
Oneness is the concept that One is all and all is One: from One comes All, and All is but the same One.

The world is filled with individuals. Not simply individual people, but unique things, experiences, and thoughts. Thus, the idea of achieving oneness, or connectedness with all things, can seem improbable or even impossible. We are surrounded by an astounding diversity of perception that might be called distractions on the path to oneness. But oneness does not mean same-ness, nor does it seek to homogenize the universe. Instead, oneness is an opportunity to see diversity as the palette of colors from which the universe is painted. It is also a powerful method of dispelling loneliness, despair, isolation, and the feeling that you are all alone because, when you are one, you are not only in the universe, but also the universe is within you.

The cause of so much loneliness and so many feelings of separation is simply that too often we fail to understand the interrelationship of all living things. Each of us is an indispensable part of the universe and all life has emerged from the same vital energy and material elements. We breathe the same air, eat the same food, drink the same water, and traverse the same emotional paths. What blocks our ascendancy into oneness with creation, what acts as the barrier, is self-importance, the desire to accumulate, egocentricity, and consciousness of the body. Yet common factors unite us all. We thrive in security, in peace, in times of abundance, and when we accept that all living things are dependent on other living things. Oneness is an expression of an ever-lasting relationship that can awaken and fulfill because comprehending your part of

universal unity can free you from the limitations of isolation.

Existence grows upward and outward like a tree, with each of us representing individual blossoms on humanity's branch, and nature represented by innumerable branches. We diverge as we grow, but remain parts of a united whole. Achieving oneness means stretching out your consciousness with humility to accept and be lovingly accepted by the great stock of diversity which makes up that whole.