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!”

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

meal ideas ~ not your "sameo" eggs

Tired of the sameo-sameo eggs for breakfast? I love eggs but I do get tired of having them prepared the same all the time. I decided to try and add some extra "pzazz" to the meal. Packed with protein, eggs are a great way to start your day. Try one of these diabetes-friendly egg recipes that are carb-smart and delicious. You can use egg substitute for any of these as well.

Ranch Eggs
Your taste buds will get a wake-up call with this Mexican-style casserole. If hot and spicy doesn't suit you in the morning, serve this meatless main dish for supper.

 Nonstick cooking spray 
 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
 1 14 1/2 - ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
 1 fresh jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and chopped*
 1 clove garlic, minced
 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
 6 eggs
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
 1/3 cup reduced-fat shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
 1 tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
 6 small corn tortillas, warmed (optional)

 Coat an unheated large ovenproof skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to hot skillet. Cook about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

 Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together drained tomatoes, chile pepper, garlic, and chili powder. Pour tomato mixture over onion in skillet; spread evenly. Break one of the eggs into a measuring cup or custard cup. Carefully slide egg onto tomato mixture. Repeat with remaining eggs, spacing eggs as evenly as possible. Sprinkle eggs with salt and black pepper.

 Bake, uncovered, in a 400 degree oven about 20 minutes or until eggs are set. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with cheese; let stand for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro. If desired, serve with warmed tortillas.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 121 cal., 7 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 217 mg chol., 367 mg sodium, 7 g carb. (2 g fiber), 9 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Medium-Fat Meat (d.e): 1; Fat (d.e): 0.5; Vegetables (d.e): 1

Breakfast Italian Egg Sandwich
This egg and chicken breakfast slider boasts a whopping 22 grams of protein per serving. Leave the sandwiches open-face and use basil pesto instead of a fatty spread to cut back on carbs and fat.
 Nonstick cooking spray
 4 eggs, lightly beaten
 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed
 1/8 teaspoon salt
 4 whole grain English muffins, split and toasted
 2 tablespoons refrigerated reduced-fat or regular basil pesto
 4 ounces cooked chicken breast, shredded
 1/4 cup roasted red sweet pepper, cut in bite-sized strips

 Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. In a small bowl combine egg product, Italian seasoning and salt. Heat skillet over medium heat; pour in egg mixture. Cook without stirring, until mixture begins to set on the bottom and around edges. With a spatula or a large spoon, lift and fold the partially cooked egg mixture so that the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through, but is still glossy and moist. Immediately remove from heat.

 Spread cut sides of English muffins with pesto. Top bottom halves of muffins with egg mixture, chicken, roasted red pepper, and muffin tops. Serve warm.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 243 cal., 5 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 26 mg chol., 588 mg sodium, 29 g carb. (5 g fiber, 6 g sugars), 22 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Lean Meat (d.e): 2.5; Starch (d.e): 2

Poached Eggs on Soft Polenta
Fluffy, cheesy polenta gets a quick breakfast makeover when you add tender poached eggs, cherry tomatoes, and fresh arugula. At just 23 grams of carb per serving, you can splurge without sabotaging your eating plan.

 1 cup water
 1 cup fat-free milk
 1/2 cup cornmeal
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 cup finely shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese
 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or dried
 4 eggs
 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
 1 teaspoon canola oil
 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
 1/4 cup arugula leaves (optional)

 In a small saucepan bring water to boiling. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine cornmeal, milk, and salt. Slowly add cornmeal mixture to boiling water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until mixture returns to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture is thick, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese and dried basil, if using. Place in a serving bowl; keep warm.

 Lightly grease a large skillet. Half fill skillet with water. Bring the water to boiling; reduce heat to simmering (bubbles should begin to break the surface of the water). Break one of the eggs into a measuring cup. Holding the lip of the cup as close to the water as possible, carefully slide egg into simmering water. Repeat with remaining eggs, allowing each egg an equal amount of space. Simmer eggs, uncovered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon.

 In a large skillet, cook onion in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes and cook, stirring 2 minutes more or until they begin to soften. Sprinkle with pepper.
 Serve polenta topped with poached eggs and tomato mixture. Garnish with fresh basil and/or arugula, if using.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 218 cal., 9 g total fat (3 g sat. fat), 220 mg chol., 319 mg sodium, 23 g carb. (2 g fiber, 7 g sugars), 12 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Starch (d.e): 1.5; Medium-Fat Meat (d.e): 1; Fat (d.e): 0.5; Vegetables (d.e): 0.5

DiabeticLivingOnline~ great resource for healthy meals

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

healthy living~ elbows and knees

  as requested, here is a re-posting of my article on taking care of your elbows and knees. 

 I have always been plagued with dry, cracking elbows- perhaps because I lean on them. I actually got a horrid infection in an elbow a few years back; a more common occurrence than most would realize.

Yep, rough, dark knees and elbows are a very common problem in both men and women, and can be a result of many reasons. They are usually caused by constant rubbing or friction with clothes you wear, excessive pressure from leaning on them, too much sun exposure, and overly dry skin.

In some cases, dark elbows can be a sign of an underlying medical problem such as diabetes, hyperpigmentation, Addison's disease, or an adverse reaction to a medication you're currently taking. Therefore, you should speak with a doctor or dermatologist right away if you suddenly have a problem or if these skin whitening home remedies don't help.

Dark rough skin on elbows and knees can be softened and whitened as long as you're patient and diligent about it – exfoliate, bleach, and moisturize.
And again… putting commercial stuff loaded with chemicals and preservatives can worsen the condition- use something natural as much as possible.

 Natural Home Treatments for Dark, Dry, & Rough Elbows and Knees

1. The first thing you have to do is exfoliate your elbows and knees once or twice a week to rejuvenate them. Scrubbing speeds up cell renewal by removing the top layer of dead skin cells that gives your skin a dry and dull appearance while softening rough skin on your elbows and knees.

There are many ways to slough off dead dry skin on your joints. You can use an over-the-counter exfoliating scrub, a loofah sponge, bath gloves, or make your own homemade scrubs for pennies.

Try mixing up a bit of olive oil and brown sugar (or white), or coffee grounds and grapeseed oil. For very dry skin, I'd suggest you use flax seeds and sunflower oil. Flaxseeds are a rich source of Vitamin E, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are beneficial in helping cells repair and prevent damage.

 2. Once you've finished exfoliating your knees and elbows, rub a cut lemon or lime onto your joints to naturally bleach the dark patches. Leave the juice on your skin for at least 30 minutes and then rinse off with warm water. If possible, leave it overnight for a more potent bleaching action.

Another home remedy to whiten dark elbows and knees is to combine 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil (or almond oil) with ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or lime juice). Apply mixture to discolored knees and elbows, and wait for 30 minutes before washing.

Like lemon juice, gram flour can be extremely effective in fading dark skin blemishes. Make a paste of gram flour (also known as chickpea flour, or besan) and a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Gently massage the paste on darkened elbows and knees in circular motions. Wash off using warm water when it dries.

If you don't have lemons in your kitchen, then look for yogurt or milk. Both ingredients work well as natural skin lightener and also add moisture to dry rough skin. Mix a small amount of yogurt with a pinch of turmeric powder, and apply on skin areas that have become dark to lighten them.

You can also whiten dark elbows and knees with a mixture made with equal parts of almond powder and yogurt.

This natural skin whitening remedy is also worth a try. Place 1 teaspoon each of Vitamin E, lemon juice, and glycerin in a small bowl. Add 4 tablespoons milk and mix all ingredients together until well combined. Lightly massage the paste on dark skin patches on your knees and elbows. Leave on for 20 minutes before washing off.

3.  Applying moisturizer every day is a must to heal darkened elbows and knees, and keep them hydrated, soft and smooth. You want to use moisturizers that contain ingredients, such as aloe vera, Vitamin E, jojoba oil, AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) or shea butter, to help reduce dark skin on your knees and elbows.

If you're looking for a not-so-expensive moisturizing cream or have sensitive skin, I'd recommend Eucerin and Cetaphil. You can also use olive oil, which is proven to have skin lightening properties due to the presence of linoleic acid.

Here's my suggestion – find 2 pairs of old socks, cut off the ends and position them over your elbows and knees after moisturizing before you go to bed. This locks in moisture and prevents it from being rubbed off while you sleep. Or, cover with a plastic wrap for 20 minutes and then remove.

 In addition to the above home treatments to whiten dark knees and elbows, it's also important to apply a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher when going outdoors. Excessive sun exposure not only accelerates skin aging but can actually worsen the appearance of dark skin patches on your elbows and knees.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

happy Earth Day

happy Earth Day everyone

here are a couple of fun sites for cookies, crafts,
 & more to help celebrate this wonderful day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

healthy living ~no gym or fancy equipment needed

Revising old Work Out Ideas without the need for a gym

Although our goal for those "lose belly fat" challengers is to lose our tummies, we need to think of the rest of us as well. "Oh, no now I have to add time to my already filled exercise schedule?" you sigh. Nope, not true. You can get in that extra time throughout your normal day. Here are some simple activities, okay let's call them exercises that you already know. If not, here are some ideas to start getting more physical activity while doing the things you already do! Getting started is easy--and requires no gym or fancy equipment. Using your body weight and a few simple household objects as exercise equipment, you can seamlessly slot short bursts of physical activity into your routine as you clean, put away those canned goods you just purchased, getting ready to cook, etc.

Here are 5 of my favorites-

Heel Raises While Brushing Your Teeth
While brushing your teeth (or washing your hands, or rinsing dishes, or doing any other sink or counter activity), raise your heels. Rest one hand on the sink or counter for balance, if necessary. This exercise increases lower-leg and ankle strength. Do 10-15 repetitions.
Tip: This exercise will strengthen your calves and exercise your feet and ankle joints. This is an important movement pattern, especially for people with lower-body edema (swelling) and weak ankle joints. The muscles act as pumps to increase circulation, which can help decrease swelling.

you can do these next movements with just about anything you have available, books, small boxes, cans,  it's simple to find something to make these work. At work I use patient's charts and...shhhh, IV bags work get...LOL!

Bending Squats picking up items
You likely bend dozens of times a day reaching for things on the ground. Turn those bends into squats, which strengthen leg muscles and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis. When you squat down, keep your upper body straight with the majority of your weight on your heels. When returning to standing position, flex from the knees. Repeat the squat five times; squat several times daily.

Tricep Kick-Backs with Cans
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your torso forward slightly, flexing your knees. Hold the cans, palms facing inward, and extend your arms. Raise your arms behind you as far as is comfortable; keep your elbows soft, but do not bend them. Do 15-20 repetitions.
Tip: After doing a few arm movements with cans, make sure you gently rotate your wrists to keep them loose and comfortable.

Overhead Press with Cans
A: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Holding the cans DiabeticLivingonline.comwith palms facing forward, bend arms at the elbows until the cans are in line with your shoulders about ear-level.
B: Push the cans above your head, then return your arms to starting position. Do 15-20 repetitions.
Tip: Doing a few arm-and-shoulder exercises in quick progression can improve your arm tone in a matter of days.

Shoulder Raises with Cans
Canned foods can be used as inexpensive hand weights.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a can in each hand with arms at your sides. Raise arms to shoulder height with palms facing forward. Lower arms back to starting position at your sides. Do 15-20 repetitions.

Monday, April 20, 2015

miracle of water from the sky

Last evening at work someone mentioned, with a grim tone, that rain was predicted for most of next week. I immediately got excited and my friends gave me that “the strangest things excite you” look. Besides the desperate need for water of any kind in California, I explained I was planning to reseed my patch of grass next week and rain would be perfect to give it that jump start.  Didn’t sway them; so, I pondered the matter of water falling from the sky and came up with these thoughts...     

The simple miracle of water falling from the sky has been interpreted in many ways by many cultures. In various areas of the world, rain was viewed as a nourishing gift, given by well-pleased deities. Rain also served as a symbol of emotional cleansing and represented the unending union between earth and sky. Today, rain is often seen as an annoyance-something to be borne doggedly while attending to one's usual duties. But the arrival of one or more rainy days can also be interpreted as a signal to slow down and contemplate life. When Mother Nature darkens the sky and causes drizzle to fall, freshly opened buds close and many animals settle into their nests for a period of repose. We can honor rainy days by following the example put forth by the flora and fauna around us. Even if we must venture out into a shower, we can still slow down and appreciate our connection to nature. 

A rainy day spent indoors can be wonderfully uplifting. As the rain pours down, fill your home with light, sound, and comfort so that you can fully appreciate the loveliness of being snug and dry during a downpour. Storms literally change the energy in the air, and you may feel driven to follow suit by burning incense or sage, lighting candles, or singing. You may even feel compelled to express your gratitude for the protection your home gives you. If, however, you feel claustrophobic rather than calm because you cannot venture outdoors, you can clear away negative energy by getting rid of clutter, sweeping away dust, and freshening up your spaces. The happier you are in your home, the more beautiful and wondrous a simple rain shower will seem. 

A sheltered spot like a covered porch, sunroom, or bay window can provide you with a wonderful vantage point from which to meditatively observe raindrops as they make their descent to earth. And the pitter-patter of rain on a rooftop or car window can even be a therapeutic and soothing sound-one that reminds us that while the unforeseen will always be a part of our lives, we should never forget that nearly every cloud that comes into our lives will have a silver lining. And...

 Wednesday is Earth Day, 
celebrate with a dance in the rain 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

thursdays garden ~ awesome raised garden idea

just doing a quick pop-in this week. yesterday, set aside for playing in my garden, was so windy, that I actually had to stay inside and attend to some not so fun chores. 

I did run across this photo of a planting area/raised garden that I just fell in love with- what a cool idea. This kit is from a really cool site. It cost about $1000. but I bet pretty much anyone could build it yourself, there are some diagrams of the plans, link to product is under the picture. they also have other really fun stuff, poke around... who knows what you will find.

Cedar Complete Raised Garden Bed Kit - 8' x 8' x 20" link

also... gotta share this fun news from the garden- with the new fruit and nectar feeders I am beginning to acquire new guests. 

A female "black hooded grosbeak." I first noticed her in the bird bath chit-chatting with the female oriole- sorry for the rough picture, did not have time to get the big camera.  it took me a while to figure out just who she was. Mrs O is on the left and the grosbeak, Miss P (piggy)- she likes to eat- on the right, is fluffed up and very wet. below is a better picture of her markings. she has a little cap much like my favorite white chested sparrows. however, she is yellow, grey and white and is a large bird- six to eight inches beak to tail tip, and as you can see, has a thick and short beak.

I am fast becoming addicted to looking for new birds in our garden and can relate to those addicted to bird watching. lol 

have a great week- 
and always help nature heal the earth

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

meal ideas ~ favorite mocktails

Last week I had some infused water ideas for a tasty and refreshing beverage. But have you heard of “mocktails?” festive drinks when you want to quench your thirst without relying on high-calorie, alcoholic cocktails. Here are four of my favorites without compromising on the taste.

Mulled Cranberry Punch
Ditch the traditional mulled apple cider in favor of a surprising low-calorie punch featuring cranberry and raspberry juices. Using a slow cooker, you’ll steep spices to perfection for a nonalcoholic drink recipe everyone will love! Makes: 12 servings Serving Size: 3/4cup Carb Grams Per Serving: 17

1 orange
8 inches stick cinnamon, broken
8 whole cloves
4 whole allspice
1 32 - ounce bottle low-calorie cranberry juice
1 11 1/2 - ounce can frozen white grape-raspberry juice concentrate
4 cups water
Thin lemon slices (optional)

 Use a vegetable peeler to remove several 2- to 3-inch-long sections of orange peel from the orange, avoiding the white pith underneath. Juice the orange.

 For a spice bag, cut a 6-inch square from a double thickness of 100%-cotton cheesecloth. Place orange peel, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in the center of the square. Bring the corners together and tie closed with 100%-cotton kitchen string.

 In a 3-1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker, combine cranberry juice, juice concentrate, the water, orange juice, and spice bag.

 Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Remove spice bag and discard. Serve immediately or keep warm on low-heat setting for up to 2 hours. If desired, garnish drinks with lemon slices.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 67 cal., 29 mg sodium, 17 g carb. (16 g sugars),
Diabetic Exchanges Fruit (d.e): 1;

Strawberry Iced Tea
Strawberries put a simple spin on the traditional iced tea. Enjoy the refreshing party drink for only 7 grams of carb per serving. Makes: 7 servings Serving Size: 8 ounces each Carb Grams Per Serving: 7

1 pound fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced, or 16 ounces frozen unsweetened
whole strawberries, thawed
3 tablespoons loose black tea
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
7 cups boiling water
Ice cubes
Fresh whole strawberries (optional)

Place strawberries in a large heatproof pitcher or glass measure. Crush berries. Add loose tea, sugar, and lemon peel. Add boiling water. Let mixture steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth; discard strawberry pulp, lemon peel, and tea leaves. Cool tea mixture at room temperature about 2 hours. Store tea in the refrigerator.

 To serve, fill tall glasses with ice. Pour tea into glasses. If desired, add a fresh whole strawberry to each glass.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 27 cal., 8 mg sodium, 7 g carb. (1 g fiber, 5 g sugars),
Diabetic Exchanges Other Carb (d.e): 0.5; Mark as Free Exchange (d.e): 0

Sangria-Style Cooler
This nonalcoholic sangria recipe features grape juice, ginger ale, and fresh fruit for a refreshing and low-calorie party drink. Makes: 10 servings Serving Size: 8 ounce Carb Grams Per Serving: 29

1 quart (4 cups) orange juice, chilled
1 1/2 cups white or purple unsweetened grape juice, chilled
1 1 - liter bottle ginger ale, chilled
2 cups cut-up fruit (such as oranges, lemons, limes, pineapple, seedless grapes, peaches, and/or strawberries)
2 cups ice cubes
Fresh mint sprigs
 In a large bowl or pitcher stir together the orange juice and grape juice. Slowly pour in ginger ale; stir gently. Add the fruit and ice cubes.

 Ladle the juice mixture with the fruit into tall glasses. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 121 cal., 12 mg sodium, 29 g carb. (1 g fiber, 28 g sugars), 1 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Fruit (d.e): 2

Spiced Fruit Tea
Get creative with iced tea! This unique punch recipe combines brewed black tea, juice, and spices in a slow cooker. The result is an easy-to-make low-calorie beverage any tea-drinker will love.  Makes: 10 servings Serving Size: 5 ounce Carb Grams Per Serving: 11

6 inches stick cinnamon, broken*
1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
4 cups brewed black tea
4 cups orange-peach-mango juice or orange juice
Cinnamon sticks (optional)

 For spice bag, cut a 6- or 8-inch square from a double thickness of 100%-cotton cheesecloth. Place the 6 inches broken stick cinnamon and the ginger in center of cheesecloth square. Bring corners of cheesecloth together and tie with clean cotton string.

 In a 3-1/2- to 4-1/2-quart slow cooker, combine tea and juice. Add spice bag to tea mixture in slow cooker.

 Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 3 hours. Discard spice bag. Ladle tea into cups. If desired, garnish with additional cinnamon sticks.

* To break cinnamon sticks, place in a heavy plastic bag and gently pound sticks with the flat side of a meat mallet.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:  45 cal., 11 mg sodium, 11 g carb. (10 g sugars), Diabetic Exchanges Fruit (d.e): 1

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Fever ~ yep, it's real

You spend the entire winter dodging colds and the flu only to get hit with.... Spring Fever .... Yes, it is real; so real that I think we should be allowed a "medical off work" note from your doctor's office. ha! 

It comes with telling signs: restlessness, intense nervous excitement, high-energy spurts, loss of appetite, insomnia, a yearning to break away or a desire, as one friend puts it,” to run away with mad love.” Spring fever has appeared in love poems, stories and medical literature.

Statistically, at least half of the people who live in the northern latitudes of USA and Canada experience more intensely the symptoms of Spring fever. Longer sunny days seem to have a direct impact on people’s psychological and physiological responses to the passage of the seasons.

 Spring fever is not just in the head. I always have been curious about the physiological and psychological changes that occur during the springtime and think an article I found might be of interest to you, my faithful blog readers, as well.

Why the spring makes us feverish 
                                                       by Elena Conis- march 31, 2008 Los Angeles Times

     Ah, sunshine. Longer days. Shifting hormones may underlie the giddiness that bubbles up as winter fades.

     Spring fever, that reputed and seemingly infectious malady that strikes when the days lengthen and temperatures begin to climb, has been blamed for feverish bouts of house-cleaning, restless behavior in the classroom, distraction in meetings and love struck dazes.

     Some scientists think spring fever is more than just a colloquialism -- they think it's a constellation of symptoms brought about by hormonal changes in the body.

     In winter, the body secretes high levels of melatonin, a hormone that governs sleep-wake cycles. Come spring, the increasing amount of daylight is registered by light-sensitive tissue in the eye, which signals the brain to stop secreting so much melatonin. As the hormone's levels drop off, greater wakefulness results.

     On the other hand, levels of another chemical, serotonin, rise in spring. This mood-elevating neurotransmitter may be at the root of the giddiness, energy boost and enthusiasm that characterize spring fever.

     Anthropologists have suggested that spring fever may have developed over the course of human evolution. They point out that early humans often spent winter in a state of near-hibernation. Then, when spring arrived, they would enter an active period of intense hunting, gathering and procreating.

     Attractive though that theory may be, it doesn't quite explain the state of the early American colonists come spring. Historians think the colonists coined the term spring fever to refer to the weakness, fatigue and irritability many felt after a long winter without fresh fruits or vegetables. (Technically, the colonists' symptoms were that of scurvy.) Such etymology suggests that the term spring fever is a remnant of times past that's been co-opted to mean something different today.

     But there's no doubt that the body's internal chemistry and susceptibility to illness changes with the seasons. Just as scurvy outbreaks once peaked in spring, so did measles and rubella before wide-scale vaccinations became available. Attacks of the painful joint inflammation known as gout peak in April.

     Dermatologists notice more cases of dermatitis and rosacea, and allergists, not surprisingly, field surges of complaints about hay fever in spring. Also, obstetricians have reported spring to be a season of exceptionally high rates of unplanned pregnancies. (Scientists are uncertain as to what's behind this last effect, though unusually high springtime sperm counts in men offer some clue.)

     Spring also is marked by higher rates of suicide, a trend psychologists have struggled to explain.

     On the plus side, spring is also the season in which people bid a temporary farewell to flu, seasonal affective disorder, and heart attacks, all of which peak in winter. People also experience a springtime drop-off in catching sexually transmitted diseases, which goes hand in hand with the rather paradoxical fact that people tend to have less sex in spring.

     In fact, many of spring's effects on the human mind and body are seemingly contradictory. Hormones do a partial job of explaining the seasonal epidemic of impulsive, giddy and amorous behaviors observed as the memory of winter fades, but much about the season's influences remains mysterious.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

thursday's garden ~ Mr and Mrs Oriole

this past couple of weeks I have had some time to work out in the garden. If you remember I got rid of our “mow ‘n blow” guys, bought a reel mower, electric hedge trimmer and weed whacker. 

it is all working out fantastic, I spend a couple of hours a week and whalla my garden and yard are doing better than ever. and I am using the extra cash (that use to go to the MnB guys) for things for the critters that are coming by all the time.

I recently notice a couple of Hooded Orioles trying to get at the nectar in the hummingbird feeders and found out they live off nectar from flowers, eat bugs, but do not eat seeds. Wow, didn’t know that, so I went out and bought an Oriole feeder; looks just like a hummingbird feeder, except the holes are bigger, the side rails stronger to hold their weight, and the top has little wells to put jelly- blueberry is their favorite and blackberry has gone over rather well too. It is orange, which is the color that attracts them, they love oranges. Actually I have tried several fruits- favorites: watermelon, strawberries, and cantaloupe.

although it has taken me a week to get some photographs...they are very-very shy, I finally got a couple shots of Mr O and Mrs O as they have been named.

Mrs O - and yes she is more yellow, grey and much softer
coloring than we find on the males. for a while I tought she
was a totally different bird. she always waits on the
fence while he eats- being the lookout then they switch.
This is Mr O - looking rather proud for my camera.
His love for the blueberry jelly is almost an
addiction. they use the exact same nectar that I put
in the hummingbird's feeder. I don't use coloring.


-here is my favorite "in the garden" picture for this week- 
I was outside working in the yard and hadn't filled the seed plates and feeders yet; I was waiting until I finished my chores. I heard some chattering noises and when I looked up, there were two doves glaring at me-looking rather miffed that there was no seed. even a little sparrow was waiting, but a bit more patiently. for once, I had my camera nearby. and yes they got their seeds pronto.

may your gardens always be filled with nature's music

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

menu ideas ~ not so boring salads

Although main dish salads is my food passion for the summertime, I have been getting that “wanna eat salads” craving. When I mentioned it to a friend she said she didn’t like salads because they were so boring. Not True. Salads simply take imagination and just about anything you can find in your refrigerator or pantry. Be inventive and risky, try different things together and try different meat. I often make sure I save some meat from a previous menu and build from there. And the best they can be full meal for lunch or dinner. So, Sicily, here are three of my favorites as promised for you to try. I hope everyone gives them a taste too.

Mediterranean Beef Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
This low-carb, high-protein salad with refreshing lemon vinaigrette has less than 200 calories.

 1 pound boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
 4 cups torn romaine leaves
 1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (2 ounces)
 1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette

 Trim fat from steak. Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Place steak on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 4 inches from the heat until desired doneness, turning once halfway through broiling time. Allow 15 to 17 minutes for medium-rare doneness (145 degrees F) or 20 to 22 minutes for medium doneness (160 degrees F). Thinly slice steak.
 Divide romaine among 4 dinner plates. Top with sliced meat, red onion, tomatoes, and feta cheese. Drizzle with Lemon Vinaigrette.

Lemon Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 cloves garlic, minced
 Salt and black pepper

 In a screw-top jar combine olive oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, oregano and garlic. Cover and shake well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Superfoods Salad
Spinach, strawberries, blueberries, and walnuts sometimes are called superfoods because they are loaded with antioxidants, which are often touted as contributing to good health.

 1/3 cup raspberry vinegar
 2 tablespoons snipped fresh mint
 2 tablespoons honey
 1 tablespoon canola oil
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 4 cups packaged fresh baby spinach leaves
 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast
 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
 1 ounce semisoft goat cheese, crumbled
 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 For vinaigrette: In a screw-top jar, combine vinegar, mint, honey, oil, and salt. Cover and shake well. In a large bowl, toss together spinach, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, and goat cheese. Transfer to salad plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with pepper.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:303 cal., 13 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 63 mg chol., 249 mg sodium, 22 g carb. (3 g fiber, 14 g sugars), 26 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Other Carb (d.e): 0.5; Fat (d.e): 2; Fruit (d.e): 0.5; Vegetables (d.e): 1; Lean Meat (d.e): 3.5

Asian Pork and Cabbage Salad
A homemade orange-sesame dressing adds an enticing flavor to the stir-fried pork in this low-carb salad. It's fast, fresh, and easy to toss together for a cozy night in.

1/4 cup low-sugar orange marmalade or apricot preserves
 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
 1 clove garlic, minced
 Nonstick cooking spray
 12 ounces boneless pork loin chops, cut into bite-size pieces
 1 medium red or yellow sweet pepper, cut into thin bite-size strips
 6 cups napa cabbage, shredded
 1 cup chopped cucumber
 4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

 For dressing, in a small bowl stir together orange marmalade, soy sauce, vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and garlic. Set aside.

Lightly coat an unheated wok or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add pork and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add sweet pepper to the pan and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until pork is no longer pink and sweet pepper is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add one-fourth of the dressing to pan; stir until well coated. Remove pan from heat.

In a large bowl coat cabbage with remaining dressing. On a serving platter layer cabbage, pork mixture, and cucumber. Sprinkle with green onions and almonds. Serve immediately. Makes 4 (2 cups each) servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 242 cal., 10 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 59 mg chol., 352 mg sodium, 16 g carb. (3 g fiber, 10 g sugars), 23 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Other Carb (d.e): 0.5; Fat (d.e): 1; Lean Meat (d.e): 3; Vegetables (d.e): 2;