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!”

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

health living ~ let's talk Coconut Oil

Over the next few weeks we are going to look into Coconut oil, its good and bad, things we can make with coconut oil. You’ve likely heard a lot about coconut oil and its various health uses.  Coconut oil is the edible oil retrieved from matured coconuts. It’s used for food and medicine as well as for industrial purposes. However, a lot of controversy focuses on coconut oil as a food, even though many folks swear by it for promoting weight loss, treating Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
Let’s examine the good and bad of coconut oil in a 'coconut' shell to help you determine if it’s worth buying…
Miracle Weight Loss Food? ~ Let’s start with coconut oil as food. Perform a simple Internet search and you’ll find that while many sources dub coconut oil a miracle food—others condemn it for all sorts of reasons—from debunking studies that reveal it’s high saturated fat content.
Is coconut oil the next super food that will solve all of your problems? Unfortunately, despite what you’ve heard, no, it’s not. Don’t get me wrong—while coconut oil has been touted for aiding weight loss efforts—there is zero scientific evidence to back up that claim.
Treatment of Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease ~ The same lack of scientific evidence exists when it comes to claims that coconut oil is effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease—mainly due to the medium chain triglycerides within. Again, there have been no human studies to suggest this claim is true.
Other publications have suggested that coconut oil helps prevent and treat diabetes. The reasoning behind this claim is that the fats within help lower blood glucose levels. In the end, the verdict is still out on these claims too.
Saturated Fat Content ~ All right; so we’ve done the debunking. Let’s talk about the saturated fats in coconut oil. It should be no surprise that the oil was originally condemned by many health gurus, for containing a large amount of saturated fats—and we’re told that saturated fats are bad for us, right?
While it’s true that saturated fats increase bad (LDL) cholesterol—challenging studies, particularly one out of University of California, Berkley, claim that the saturated fats in coconut oil aren’t as bad as saturated fats found elsewhere. This is because the fatty acid in coconut oil comes from lauric acid, which has been linked to raising good cholesterol (HDL) as well as bad cholesterol.
Coconut Oil vs. Cholesterol ~ When it comes to coconut oil and its affects on both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol, a 2009 Brazilian study, which was published in the journal, Lipids, stands out among the rest.
For the study, researchers monitored the diets of young obese women who ate an ounce of coconut oil daily over a period of 12-weeks.  All participants showed increases in both LDL and HDL cholesterol. However, their good (HDL) cholesterol improved significantly more. With this in mind, we suggest that consuming coconut oil is healthy—as long as it’s in moderation.
Coconut Oil Uses ~ So when it comes to food, coconut oil is best used to replace other oils as an alternative. For instance, those with dairy allergies or intolerance, may find coconut oil a friendly baking and cooking alternative compared to butter or dairy-based margarine.
As for other tasty uses—coconut oil can be blended into smoothies, baked into granola, and used as an oil for frying—as opposed to butter or lard.

Non-Food Uses ~ So maybe coconut oil isn’t the healthiest food choice, and perhaps you should mindfully consume this oil in moderation, as with other healthy type fats (i.e., olive oil, nut butter, etc.). However, coconut oil’s uses go far beyond food alone. This oil actually has some useful functions as a multipurpose medicinal substance.
For instance, coconut oil is often used a moisturizer to soothe and prevent dry skin. In fact, many infuse this oil into soap, in chap sticks to help to moisturize lips, or use it as a massage oils, or sleek and shiny hair aid to help prevent protein loss and provide moisture retention.
Renowned for its emollient abilities, coconut oil is often celebrated as a remedy for just about every natural beautifying trick. From smoothing it from head to toe (and don’t forget those rough knees and elbows), coconut oil is both naturally anti-fungal and antibacterial in its uses.
next week we’ll talk about some non-food uses and recipes for Coconut Oil 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Wintering in Aspen Willow ~ Lady MacB

As mentioned last week, one of two of my recent new brain stimulator, aka: "nbs" was switching from a Windows environment to a MAC operating system. 

Sunday I fired up that little silver genius in a box- as some have called it- and started down the road of the MacWorld.  It was a good event, need to poke around a while before I can tell you if I like it or not. I'll let you know :)

 in the meantime:
Lady MacB

just a note: Those who know me also know that I name things- ??? Those who don't know me well, I know you’re scratching your things? I do, and that could be a great subject for a post in the future. For now, just know that I believe in Gremlinology- understand that and you will understand my why.
have a great week everyone.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

thursdsay's crafting ~ my dvd stand!

I have no TV but I do have a DVD player to watch movies and some TV series, shows that I love. Reign, Merlin, Legend of the Seeker, and of course the recent favorite, Once.  One episode a night is enough entertainment and then movies on the weekend.

After finding the best of portable DVD Players I needed somewhere to put it and something to put it on. I had been using my drafting stool. It worked but just wasn’t something I wanted long term. Syktk, the name of my player, didn’t belong with the stool, end of argument. The hard part was that I just could not find the “right one” it just wasn’t out there in my world.

Okay, got out the tools, the thinking cap, and supplies needed. That part took a while because of choosing what kind of wood. Then, I decided to make a prototype, working out the ideas and kinks with a cheaper not to perfect wood choice and then build another out of a nicer hardwood.

For my prototype, I chose to use "crafting" plywood- the two outside pieces are ready to paint, finish, leave natural; where as regular plywood is rough and needs a lot of finishing.
Had a tough time removing the labels. so stupid to put a hard to remove sticky labels on products!  took me as long to take off the labels as did make the blasted thing! it should be illegal!!!!

now for my DVD Cabinet:

Came up with an idea, measured it out, cut the wood & re-cut the wood, and kept fingers crossed.

three thing I wanted,
 * a sturdy stand that would hold the dvd player safely
 * a top that lifted off and would fit on a couch arm to rest player for viewing
 * and a foot rest for those times when the player is set before my chair or couch.

by a stroke of luck, help from my gremlin friends, and some skill :) I got it done finally and decided that it looked so OK that this was it, this was the finished stand. I sanded, put on handles, and covered the foam I bought for the foot rest, and wallah, the Project was done!

top lifts off to become a table that slips over the arm rest of my couch so I can stretch out and lay back to watch my shows, it works fantastic! sometimes you just have to take the time and make it yourself to get exactly what you want. 

~yea! that to-do is done~

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

meal ideas ~ a healthy sweet morning

Sometimes you crave a sweet breakfast muffin or biscuit, and that’s okay. But running down to Cinnabun and blitzing your sugar and carb intake is not so okay. Nevertheless, there is a healthy way to get that “something different for breakfast” taste. Try these two, I think you will be very pleased, and so will your diet and blood sugar.

Sugar and Spice Biscuits
When you want to impress your guests and stay on track with your diet, give these biscuits a try. There's enough cinnamon-sugar to satisfy any sweet tooth, yet each serving has just 18 grams of carb.

2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 Grease twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups; set aside. In a large bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center; add milk. Stir just until dough clings together.

 Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead by folding and gently pressing dough for 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Divide dough in half. Roll one portion into a 12x10-inch rectangle. In a small bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle some of the sugar mixture over the rectangle.

 Cut rectangle into five 12x2-inch strips. Stack the strips on top of each other. Cut into six 2-inch-square stacks. Place each stack, cut side down, in a prepared muffin cup. Repeat with remaining dough and sugar mixture.

 Bake in a 450 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. Makes 12 biscuits.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 121 cal., 4 g total fat (1 g sat. fat), 190 mg sodium, 18 g carb. (1 g fiber, 1 g sugars), 3 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges starch (d.e): 1; Fat (d.e): 1

Apple-Pumpkin Softies
On-the-go breakfasts can be delicious and nutritious when you have a stash of these treats in your freezer. A cross between a breakfast cookie and a muffin, each softie has just 13 grams of carb.

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup regular rolled oats
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup coarsely shredded apple
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar or substitute**
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

 In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. In a medium bowl, combine egg, shredded apple, pumpkin, brown sugar, and oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir just until combined. Fold in pecans.

 Drop batter by a measuring tablespoon onto the prepared cookie sheet. Sprinkle tops with dried cranberries. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until firm to the touch and lightly browned on top. Transfer to a wire rack; cool.

 Prepare as directed. Store cookies in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 78 cal., 3 g total fat 9 mg chol., 65 mg sodium, 13 g carb. (1 g fiber, 6 g sugars), 2 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Fat (d.e): 0.5; Other Carb (d.e): 1;

**Want to use a Sugar Substitute: Choose Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. Follow package directions to use product amount equivalent to 1/2 cup brown sugar. Reduce all-purpose flour to 1/2 cup when using the sugar substitute.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

healthy living ~ now for our hands

We have been looking at keeping our facial skin soft and moisturized, now let's move on to looking at care for our hands. This is one of my simplest recipes for hand care. 

Hand cream recipe - this comes from one of my all-time favorite books, Organic Body Care Recipes. It is easy to make and leaves your skin soft without feeling greasy.  Since finding this recipe, I don’t buy commercial lotions. It's simply that wonderful. 

This hand cream recipe also makes an excellent gift. You can order containers that are perfect for these lotions and give them as gifts. They are luxurious gifts that are easy on the budget.

I apply this hand cream on my hands after doing chores, especially after dishes, and it keeps them from cracking and getting those awful peelies. The combination of cocoa butter and essential oils give it a slight spicy scent.

1 tablespoon cocoa butter
2 tablespoons beeswax
1/4 cup organic coconut oil
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon almond or apricot kernel oil

I also add:
20 drops (any combination of) peppermint, geranium, lemon, or grapefruit essential oil
Using a double boiler, warm the cocoa butter, beeswax, coconut oil and almond or apricot kernel oil until melted. The beeswax will be the last to melt.

Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for five minutes, and then add the essential oils. Continue stirring until the mixture becomes opaque but can still be poured. Pour it into a container and allow it to cool overnight, cocoa butter takes a while to set-up, at least 12 hours. This recipe makes about one cup of hand cream. No refrigeration required, for maximum freshness use within one year.

For those dry calloused hands… try combining

½ c. olive oil
1 c. kosher salt or sugar

Stir well and rub into hands and cuticles for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Rinse with warm water. The granules gently yet effectively slough away dull, flaky skin to reveal a fresh, hydrated layer of skin.  Smooth on your favorite lotion… like the one above. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Wintering in Aspen Willow ~ brain-stimuli nbs#218

I believe that Steve thinks I am bored, lonely, my brain needs stimulation; not sure exactly, but he keeps coming up with things for me to occupy my day. It’s okay, these are things we have discussed having or doing and now is a good time to get them started...I suppose. 

Well, got a new “brain” stimulator- aka: nbs#.  We talked about changing from the Windows Systems to a Mac. That day has come and it is I who will learn first, and then, if needed, help Steve with the transition. 

And since I am waiting for a replacement for the last project, nbs117, aka: “Oscar,” Steve, slipped in, NoNameYet, a new MacBook Pro 2015. No, it isn’t the best, biggest, brightest and all that other stuff; but, it has everything I need to do a test drive, "kick the tires" thoroughly. And was economically justifiable that if we decided Mac was not for what, not a high price to pay for learning that.

so, OK, let’s give it a try. I do have some other things, yes brain things, to finish and then, perhaps I will dig this new item out and begin.

When, you ask?

February23rd- new moon, best time for starting “new things” and this will be a “new thing.”

It will be some while, I am sure, before NNY, (NoNameYet) appears here in the world of my words.

I “popped” ” into the Springs to Best Buy’s sale and adopted NNY.  Just a note: going to Colorado Springs from the Ranch takes about an hour, one-way, which is why I question if you can actually jump into your vehicle and “pop” down to the Springs.  

 However, this trip worked out perfectly, there was a fabric store I wanted to check out but it was out of the way of my normal quarterly shopping trip. This trip, it was right on the way to Best Buy. Perfect! The other thing that I usually need when learning something new, is a book. Unbelievably, right next to Best Buy was a Barnes&Nobel bookstore and they had a MacBookPro book, only one mind you; I knew it was exactly what I wanted when I skimmed the pages. 

Yesterday I had a major deviation from my previous plans, but it worked out perfect!

*** I adopted NNY
**   found a great book resource
*     and got to go to the Mill Outlet Fabric Shop- awesome stock, beautiful fabrics, staff wonderful, kind of pricey

It’s the pricey that will most likely keep me from returning often. Did I get anything, yes, bought more than I should have, and do have fabric need plans...once I get done with all the nbs#'s. LOL

be sure to check this Thursday’s Crafting... 
    I made another wood project. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

thursday's crafting ~ food bowl stand

This may not be a ‘crafting’ project as we think of...crafts... but it is a project that that is handmade and involves a crafting skill. 

I feel that Gypsy’s dishes need to be a little higher than floor height. I tried to find one, but they were just not right, either too low or too high or the bowls were too small. And to be honest I really like the bowls that I have for her.  I saw several on the internet, homemade ones, that I could specify my dimensions; but, they were outrageously expensive.  OK, that means then we need to ‘make’ one of our own. 

First I used and old box, cut holes in it, then I tried to cut holes into some woods with a jigsaw... well, that didn’t turn out. Even sanding would not have fixed the mess. So, then, I ordered a special circular blade just the right size that I could put on my drill and cut. 

 It was expensive, but now I was determined to finish this. All I can say is that it was NOT as easy as you would think- twice while cutting, the drill, and blade, decided to shoot out of my hands and off in the yonder like a bat out of hell. There is a skill to this- (now I know why those others were so expensive) luckily, I came out of the experience unscathed and with beautifully neat holes in the wood. 

After the holes it was just a matter of cutting the other pieces, securing them together, sanding, and painting.

I used some plastic hose for around the inside of the holes to keep the bows steady and help with any moisture that may accumulate.  Little rubber feet to prevent slipping, and wallah.... Gypsy has her elevated bowl holder.

She loves it!   U..U

and yes, Samantha has an elevated dish too. ^..^

in case you were wondering where I purchased my saw. 6" is the largest you'll find t hardware stores; so, if you need something larger, this company was awesome; great customer service and sales. 
click to visit website

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

meals ideas ~ healthy pasts soups...oh my

This weekend we had some more snow and I thought it would be fun to post some "healthy pasta soups." These two recipes will satisfy your cravings for the hearty comfort foods without weighing you down.

Vegetable Pasta Soup
Here’s an easy pasta recipe you can whip up in minutes. Brimming with carrots, onion, and ditalini noodles, a type of pasta that is shaped like small tubes. This speedy homemade soup contains only 14 grams of carb per serving.

2 teaspoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups coarsely shredded carrot
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 32 - ounce box reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups dried ditalini pasta
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley

 In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook for 15 seconds. Add carrot, onion, and celery; cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth and the water; bring to boiling. Add uncooked pasta; cook for 7 to 8 minutes or until pasta is tender.

To serve, top individual servings with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Makes 12 (3/4-cup) appetizer servings.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:  86 cal., 2 g total fat 1 mg chol., 227 mg sodium, 14 g carb. (1 g fiber), 4 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Vegetables (d.e): 0.5; Starch (d.e): 0.5; Fat (d.e): 0.5

Green Garden Minestrone
A mélange of green produce, including asparagus, leeks, green beans, and basil, gives our minestrone its emerald hue. Low in calories, carbs, and fat but packed with nutrients, this pasta soup is delicious and diabetes-friendly!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced celery
2/3 cup finely chopped leeks
6 green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or stock
2 cups water
1 1/2 sliced fresh green beans and/or fresh or frozen green peas
1/2 cup dried tiny shell pasta
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed and thinly sliced and/or 8 ounces baby zucchini, sliced
6 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped, or 1 1/2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1/4 cup snipped fresh basil
2 ounces thinly shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)

 In a 4-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add celery, leeks, green onions, and garlic; cook until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

 Add broth, the water, green beans and/or peas, pasta, and pepper. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and/or zucchini and spinach; simmer 2 to 3 minutes more or until pasta and vegetables are tender. Stir in basil.

 To serve, if desired, top individual servings with Parmesan cheese. Makes 8 (1-cup) servings

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 85 cal., 2 g total fat 321 mg sodium, 13 g carb. (3 g fiber), 5 g pro. Diabetic Exchanges Vegetables (d.e): 1.5; Starch (d.e): 0.5

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

healthy living ~ simple masks for your face

Last week we discussed how Face Serums can help your complexion, especially in wintertime. This week I thought we needed now to mention Facial Masks- they too can be amazing for you at the this time of the year; actually any time of the year. 

The application of masks is one of the most ancient forms of beauty treatment all around the world. In old times, women of nobility used to apply many exotic substances on their face skin in order to keep it smooth, silky and beautiful and protect from aging and elements. In the North, traditional societies used animal and fish fats to shield their skin from cold and dry winter air. We need not go to that extent... :)

I love facial masks, they leave my skin refreshed and nourished. However, some of the products on the market are filled with chemicals that undo all the good you are trying to accomplish. Natural, from Mother Nature, face masks are gaining popularity among many women, especially those who avoid using toxic commercial products and prefer to nourish, cleanse, heal, and protect their skin with unadulterated, home-made remedies.

Here are a few on my favorite winter masks for busy modern women! These are simple, easy to make, and luscious; your skin will love it!

An avocado mask is perfect for dry skin that may become very irritated in the winter.

It is easy to make: mash the flesh of avocado with a fork, add a touch of extra-virgin olive oil, and apply this smooth, fragrant mixture onto your face.

This nourishing mask will supply your skin with a whole range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and softening agents to fight winter dryness.

A cultured milk mask is a simple and effective cure for tired skin.

Just apply a bit of natural yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, or kefir on your face avoiding areas around the eyes. Relax for 10-15 minutes and rinse your face with cool water.

This mask softens, rejuvenates, and restores a natural pH balance of your skin, thus, protecting it from negative influences of winter air.

An egg white mask is good for oily skin with large pores.

Smooth a beaten egg white all over your face, let rest for half-an-hour, and rinse with water.

This mask will refresh and tighten your oily skin and will make it look much healthier than before. In the winter, it will create a natural barrier to protect your skin from harsh winds and frost.

An oatmeal mask is a great remedy for skin beaten by a cold wind. To make it, mix together in equal proportions raw oatmeal flakes, egg yolk, and honey. Keep the mask on your face for about 20 minutes, wash with lukewarm water, and pat dry. After the application, your facial skin should feel very soft, refreshed, and healed.

If you have combination skin suffering from winter elements, try a softening banana mask. Mix mashed banana with fresh sweet cream and apply this wonderful mask all over your face for 30 minutes. It will smooth, soften, moisturize and nourish your skin whenever necessary and will make you forget about the cold, harsh, and nasty winter outside!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Wintering in Aspen Willow ~ nature's balance

Last week was beautiful, warm, sunny, and totally free of snow.

Last Monday,  if your recall, I was in the middle of a battle with the Ice Drive Daemon.

I won! End of story.

Well, ok, did have some help – Marvin with Gunny’s Plowing; and Nature, with it feeling a bit summery, melting most.

The not so best part of last week was a small problem (for those not connected to my Facebook,) Steve bought a Phantom Drone for me- but it had some issues so I sent it back and will await another. It’s just a bummer to have to wait for a new one. Nevertheless, this IS going to be something fun. I will need to take the time and learn it then I can buzz all over this ranch and peek at the wildlife. We’ll see.

The best part of last week was Friday. Friday showed me that I was beginning to “get my groove” on the patterns of Aspen Willow’s Nature.

 It promised to be warm, sunny, and beautiful day.

However, to achieve those three things at one time, Nature charges a price- wind.

There is a Balance- I hear the phrase, but never really put much attention on it until I arrived here and had to learn about keeping Nature in Balance. And, I have learned that Nature rewards you as well, for making sure the Balance is kept.

And how did I earn such a reward? First some background info.

Remember the first rule of living with Nature, the Daytime is for humans, and a few Critters. The Nighttime is for the Animals. Very important for me to keep that in mind when going outside with Gypsy at night: are there any animals out and about that we may interrupt or disturb their lives?

Thursday night the does were in the meadow, munching on some grass that had been covered with snow. They were out and it was their time, so Gypsy and I headed back inside. I love the way when they first spot us begin to leave- I holler a “sorry” and as soon as they see me contain G and head to the house...they go back to their treats. They know they are safe here and that makes me feel good.

Now, back to Nature’s  reward = a Thank You.

Since Gypsy didn’t get outside Thursday night, and it was a full moon and warm when we got up, I let Gypsy play a little in the morning moonlight. However, it was very windy. The plan for the day was to get some outside chores done; I wondered if it was too windy. Well, said chores needed to be done before next snow which was predicted for Saturday. No matter how windy... they needed to be done. No sooner did I finish with everything; the wind suddenly stopped dead, not even a tiny breeze.

I grabbed Gypsy, my hiking gear, and dashed out the door. Didn’t know how long this lull was going to last, but I was going to make sure Gypsy got as long of a hike as possible, in case we are cabin bound this weekend. Having too much fun, we were gone for almost two hours. We weren’t back ten minutes and the wind came back in full force! No lie!

The same thing happened on Saturday when we took a long walkies with Samantha.

It was at that moment I realized that Nature sent me a Thank You for keeping the balance and loving her creatures.

Your welcome Nature

   And I thank Life, I could not have wished for a more charmed path or destination.