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High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator).

22 Sep https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/my-frigidaire.jpg

Good health encompasses stress; some of it good, some of it not so good. You can lessen stressful situations with good planning. A little luck doesn’t hurt either. Exercise can help control stress in most situations, but maybe not this one!

 

Stress denial: On Tuesday, I noticed that the packaging of my store-bought pastry in my freezer seemed a bit soggy. I ignored it. While dozing off to sleep that night, I noticed my refrigerator often making a clicking sound. Uh-oh I thought, and fell asleep. On Wednesday morning I tried vacuuming the refrigerator coils since I neglected them for several months. No change in the clicking noise. I pulled the plug and then plugged the fridge back in one minute later. No change. I turned off the fridge and pulled the plug. No change. The refrigerator kept clicking. By Thursday morning, I realized that all my frozen food was defrosting in my freezer.

 

Full blown stress: I decided to buy several bags of ice to help save my food. I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night because I couldn’t make up my mind if I should buy a new refrigerator or call a repairman. The last time I called a repairman for a refrigerator I learned that he would charge $100 just to come out to look at it! I called the Whirlpool number to get a repairman for my Whirlpool. The gal I spoke with asked me how old my refrigerator was and I told her, eleven years. “Oh!” she said. “If it was me, I would buy a new one.” I asked her how long they usually lasted. She said between 10-13 years. I didn’t have time to do research online to find out if what she said was true and I didn’t have time to research refrigerators to see what would be the best deal for me unless I wanted to let all the food in my fridge go to waste while I did my research. So, I went to H.H. Gregg and asked the saleswoman if the sale coming up included the week before because they were advertising 30% off! Frankly, I didn’t understand her answer but I think I got a good deal anyway!

 

Stress ebbing away: I wasn’t charged a delivery fee or one to cart away my old fridge. I was able to open up an H.H. Gregg charge account for 5% off the cost. The best news was that they could deliver my new fridge the next day!

 

After I left H.H. Gregg’s, I went straight to Meijer to buy ice. One 7 lb package was $1.67. They also had 20 lb packages of ice but that would be too unwieldy. So I bought two of the 7 lb packages and put one in my freezer and one in the refrigerated section.

 

On Thursday evening, I got a call from H.H. Gregg’s telling me the refrigerator would be delivered between 3 – 6 pm on Friday and they would call me 40 minutes before arriving. That was perfect because I would use those 40 minutes to remove everything from the fridge.

 

I had my Rubbermaid container ready for the refrigerated food, and a clean, cardboard box which I lined with heavy plastic for my freezer food. In hindsight, I needed a bigger box. I also learned from this experience to not put foods in plastic bags. They become sloppy wet. All my cheeses which were wrapped in plastic wrap got wet. All my frozen vegetables and frozen cherries in their original plastic bags were soggy, defrosted and I didn’t feel safe using them. I had to throw them away since the bags were opened. Although I previously thought wrapping a rubber band around the plastic bags after I had opened and used them was fine, it was only good like that if your refrigerator doesn’t die! I will be on the lookout for tightly sealed plastic containers.

 

Stress comes in all shapes. If you handle it calmly, you can get through it easily enough. I won’t recommend exercising to get rid of refrigerator stress because just moving food from the refrigerator to other containers is a workout in itself! Not to mention that I had to wash the floor three times due to items dripping and the fact that a piece of thawed fish leaked all over everything due to a small hole in the plastic packaging. Hence, the need for plastic containers!

 

I am enjoying my new refrigerator, a Frigidaire, even though when it runs it sounds like a cross between the boiler room of the Andrea Doria and LaGuardia airport. I don’t care. Sometimes denial is a beautiful thing!

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10 Cheeses You Have Never Tasted or Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

19 Sep Cheese-Eating Mouse

This New Food Friday Flash I am writing about cheeses that you most likely have never tasted or even heard of. As demand for new and interesting foods is growing in America, we have seen many new cheeses in the dairy case of our favorite supermarkets. As a cheese lover, and a person who watches her calcium intake daily, I am always on the lookout for a new cheese. The cheeses I mention below however, are not at my grocer yet…maybe in the future. Some have strange names as you will see! Some have interesting pairings. All are popular in their native countries. More cheese please!

 

Smetana

Made by Russian dairy workers, this cheese is more of a sour cream and essential as a topping for soups, an accompaniment to blinis and caviar, and mixed hors d’oeuvres called zakuski that are eaten with shots of vodka. (We drink wine with our cheeses, they drink vodka.) Some Smetana are sweeter, some are more sour. Some have a butterfat content of 20%; some 40%. Not surprisingly, the best smetana is artisanal smetana. Skoal!

 

Skyr

We never hear much about Icelandic cooking if ever, but this cheese was introduced to Iceland by the Vikings. Icelanders consider skyr a national specialty. Skyr is similar to yogurt but it is not a yogurt. Skyr is a low-fat cheese made from milk that has been curdled using rennet then drained. It has added bacteria to it similar to what is found in yogurt. It is digested more quickly and easily than milk and considered to be a healthy food as it doesn’t contain stabilizers nor skim milk powder often used in the manufacture of yogurts. Icelanders traditionally eat skyr at breakfast or with dessert. Flavored versions are also made in Iceland. Try some on your next trip to Iceland, the country with no army.

 

Sakura Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I love award-winning cheeses and wines. Sakura is a handmade cheese created by a farmer from a country not known for its cheesemaking: Japan. It is made in Hokkaido, Japan from Swiss Brown cows’ milk and has been winning prizes since 1998, including a gold medal at the Mountain Cheese Olympics. (There’s an Olympics for cheeses? Who knew?) One of the methods of creating this cheese is that it is placed on salted leaves of the Sakura cherry tree and left for eight days to ferment so that the cheese absorbs the fragrance of the leaves. A salted pink cherry blossom flower is placed on top of each cheese before they are packed into boxes. I’ve experimented making my own yogurts but this farmer makes me want to try my hand at making my own cheese!

 

Stinking Bishop

The story behind the name of this cheese is far more interesting than the cheese itself! Apparently, there was a farmer called Bishop with a bad temper who once shot a kettle containing hot water because it didn’t boil! This cheese was developed in the 1990s. The creator, a conservationist, hails from Gloucestershire and is a collector of the Worcestershire pear trees and the main force behind saving the heritage breed of Gloucester cattle. (At least he put his anger to good use.) As you might imagine, the aroma of the cheese lives up to its name. Closepins anyone?

 

Serra da Estrela

This cheese is a sheep’s milk cheese from sheep that may well be on the endangered species list. If it wasn’t for making this cheese, they might have already become extinct! The sheep and the cheese come from the highest region of Portugal called Serra da Estrela. The sheep are predominantly black coated and are known as Bordeleira sheep. How sad if they were to become extinct because this cheese is known as the “king of Portuguese cheeses.”  The milk is curdled with rennet from the cardoon thistle. The Portuguese spoon it onto their traditional cornmeal bread called broa. It has a sweet taste with undertones of burnt toffee. Because these sheep are so rare, milk from other species is increasingly used.

 

Taleggio

Wasn’t there a character named Taleggio in the Godfather? But I digress. This is a cheese from Lombardy, Italy and until 1918 had been known as stracchino (not to be confused with the word stacchino which means toothpick) a dialect word (the last I heard, Italy had 42 dialects) that relates to milk from cattle that were tired after their  seasonal droves from the alpine pastures into the valleys. Taleggio is a full-fat cheese with a powerful aroma for which it is famous. Its ripening process lasts more than a month and its surface is smeared with a brine solution and inoculated with a mold and bacteria. Taleggios from Valtellina, Valsassina, and Valtaleggio (Val meaning valley) have a distinctive taste that can be meaty, beefy, mushroomy, fruity, nutty, and salty, all at once. No wonder it is protected by a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin). Call me biased, but the Italians sure know how to eat!

 

Ardrahan

Foods from Ireland are beginning to make a mark in America, witness by the cooking shows from Ireland and their native popular chefs. Andrahan cheese belongs to the family of modern Irish cheeses pioneered during the 1980s. This cheese appeared in a farmhouse in County Cork from the family’s herd of pedigree Friesians. It is a pasteurized, semisoft, washed-rind cheese using vegetarian rennet (as opposed to animal rennet). Bacteria is inoculated into the brine with which they are wiped during early ripening. Low in fat and cholesterol, it is a popular cooking cheese in its native Eire. It is regularly served at the White House on St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Olomoucke Tvaruzky

If you can pronounce it, you can eat it! OT is one of the Czech Republic’s best-known traditional cheeses. It was first documented in the late fifteenth century, when it was reputed to be a favorite of Czech king Rudolf II and was awarded a prize at the first Austrian Dairy Exhibition held in Vienna in 1872. It even has a museum dedicated to it in the town of Lotice. This cheese is either one of the best tasting cheeses ever or it has one heck of a public relations agent behind it because it was also included in a Czech-Chinese banquet when Olomouc cheese dumplings in ginger sauce were served as a dessert. It is commonly eaten with bread and is a staple ingredient of Czech cuisine. As you might have guessed, it found its way to the bar scene and is a popular bar snack that can also be fried in batter.

 

Churpi

Churpi comes from the shaggy-haired yak found in Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan. However, farmers also have made churpi from buffalo or cow’s milk. It is also unusual in the sense that like most cheeses which are cut with a knife, churpi is broken into pieces using a hammer. (Make an appointment with your dentist now!) It is then sucked on or chewed over a long period of time from 10 minutes up to an hour to get the distinctive flavor. For this reason, it is a portable, nutritious, and energy-giving cheese. It is very popular in Nepal where it is chewed like chewing gum. Tibetans fry churpi with young tendrils of a local fiddlehead fern called ningro. You may find this cheese in your dairy case eventually thanks to the Chinese government putting its weight behind yak dairy initiatives.

 

And last but not least…

 

Moose Cheese

That’s Moose Cheese, not Mouse Cheese. Two Swedes in the sleepy community of Bjurholm adopted a couple of abandoned moose. Long story short, they now own more than a dozen moose on their dairy farm. Would you believe it is the only moose dairy farm in Europe. I believe it. Maybe somebody should tell Amy Poehler’s brother (Greg) who stars in the new sit-com “Welcome to Sweden.” Funny show. Greg (Bruce Evans) is unemployed and looking for a job. Working on a moose farm would fit just perfectly into that show. But maybe they’ve already thought of it. Stay tuned! Anyway, this story just gets stranger….People travel to the Algens hus (Moose House) to pat the domesticated moose and to try the unique moose cheese. I have seen a moose up close and personal at a drive through zoo many years ago. The one I saw was a male that was ugly, big, and mean looking! The females, on the other hand, while still no beauty contestant winners, produce about a gallon of milk a day which is similar to cow’s milk but higher in protein and fat. The cheese is extremely expensive and is sold in upscale restaurants and a few exclusive outlets in Sweden. There are three different types of moose cheese, one of which is best described as a feta type and stored in rape oil. How do you get people to eat cheese from a moose? You raise the price to an outrageous level.

 

I don’t know how I’m going to top this in next month’s New Food Friday Flash. I may have to retire while I’m at the top of my game!

 

Happy traveling and if you get the opportunity to travel to the countries mentioned above and try any of these cheeses, please drop me a line in the comment section! Variety is the spice of life. It keeps life interesting and your mind alert. It’s good for your health!

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New Food Friday Flash – Dandelion

16 May dandelion-sxc-hu-theartistg

Wait! Wait, you exclaim! dandelion is a food? You want us to try a new food called dandelion? Yes, fellow foodies. As I have been known to say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”  Or, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Or, “Variety is the spice of life!”

While I wouldn’t want to see you grazing on your lawn masticating the stuff, you could try the supermarket version of dandelion. It’s nutritious and delicious. Why else would I post it here if it wasn’t?

Naysayers halt your protests because this New Food Friday Flash is about the controversial weed called dandelion.

It’s controversial because we hate seeing it in our lawns but we (some of us anyway) love seeing it on our dinner plates.

Did you know that dandelion is a relative of endive? That doesn’t sound so bad does it? It’s low in calories, high in potassium, vitamin C, and calcium. If you want to know more about the dandelion, how it got its name, who gave their child the name, and other amusing and interesting facts about dandelion, click here.

Otherwise, I’ll let the thought about eating dandelion percolate in your brain for a while and when you’re ready, you can click on the above link. Far be it from me to force you to eat something that you perceive as negative. 

More for me I always say!

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Book Review – Gone Tomorrow

21 Apr Audiobook Review (sxc.hu -169419 Rene Cerney Vyolett)

This will be my first post on my blog for a book review. This particular book is an audio book. I have become addicted to them. Depending on the author and the performer, an audio book can be as good as watching a movie! The difference is that you are seeing the “movie” in your mind instead of on your computer screen or TV. It saves fatigue on your eyes!

 You can do other things while listening to an audio book like ironing, sewing hole-y socks, (or hole-y anything) knit, paint a picture, cook dinner, eat a meal, or just about anything that doesn’t involve heavy thinking while you are listening! Some people listen while they are driving. I don’t recommend that. You’ll either miss a turn or worse, or you’ll miss parts of the story and have to go back. Sometimes I miss parts of the story and I’m not doing anything! If you are a passenger in a car and you have a personal CD player, that would be fine. I’ve even thought about bringing it with me when I’m in a doctor or dentist’s waiting room.

Now that summer is just around the corner, you can bring an audio book with you to the beach, or the pool, or the lake. You get the picture! I find that an audio book helps me fall asleep. It’s like listening to a bedtime story. That is my introduction to this new recurring post on my blog for book reviews. I will only publish posts on books and audio-books that I have enjoyed and can recommend. I hope you enjoy these posts and I hope they encourage you to read or listen to my audio book and/or book selections.

Today’s review discusses Gone Tomorrow authored by Lee Child and performed by Dick Hill which is on 12 audio discs (14 hr., 30 min.)

I will also rate these books and audio books on a 1 – 5 star rating. Gone Tomorrow rates 5 Stars

Continue reading here.

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End of Support for XP so I’m Canceling my ISP on April 8

24 Mar System Failure (sxc.hu DGBurns)

Sometimes it’s good to get things off your chest and to assert yourself. It’s good for your health and as we all know, my blog is about good health. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Here’s the story.

Those of you with Windows XP know that Microsoft is ending its support on April 8.  As I have mulled over this event since their announcement, I decided that I did not want to upgrade my desktop computer to Windows 7 or 8 in order to avoid malware and viruses and other clouds of doom. And I resent the fact that it is expected of me.

So, in my way of protest, I have scheduled to cancel my Internet Service as of April 8, the same day Microsoft is ending XP support. What gives? I am so glad you asked.

1. I resent being led around by the nose by the Microsoft conglomerate needing to line their pockets by forcing consumers to buy new software when XP has been doing a good job for us. Better than Vista, better than Windows 8. Nobody liked either one.

2. I scoff at their cavalier throw-away attitude and lack of concern for the environment because rather than upgrade, many people will decide to buy new computers with Windows 8 loaded on it and not load software on their old computer all day long.

3. I’m mad at programmers and software developers for not creating better products that could last longer. Yes, I want computer products to last longer so that we don’t have landfills overflowing with discarded computers that take years and years to break down and then pollute the land and the air while doing so. Read more about computer pollution here.

4. I’m ticked off at AT&T my ISP (Internet Service Provider). I try to avoid calling them because I know that every time I do, it means a long conversation where they try to get you to buy something or add something and you can’t get done what you need to get done until they let out all the stops and wear you down! Other people must have complained about this issue because this time I was asked if I would allow the representative to explain other product options. I told her no. I asked if I decided to get DSL again in the future would I be able to. She said no.  She said she would explain why but since I already told her I did not want her to explain, that she would not be able to tell me. Oh boo-hoo my heart is broken! Then she said, to cover her *ss, you’ve probably gotten notices in the mail about these new products or options or whatever she called them. Yeah, like every week! They never stop coming. And the funny thing is that it is about $15 more than what I’m paying now so why would I want it? But I didn’t say that. I was nice. Speak softly and carry a big stick is my motto.

Then she tried to get me to agree to call waiting and some other service because it would be a package deal. Oh boy, a package deal! Would it save me money this special package deal? Heck no, it costs more than what I’m paying now. Thanks but no thanks.

Then at the end of the conversation she said if I change my mind, they could re-instate my DSL service. Huh? Didn’t she just tell me I couldn’t have DSL anymore if I cancelled it?

So what does this mean for us? For you, me,  my blog and my posts?

I went to my local library branch today and inquired about using their computers. Since I have a library card, I am allowed 1 hour at a time. If I need more time, I can sign up on their computer for another hour. My library is about 2-3 minutes from my house. At 2:30 pm today, all their computers were in use. I’ll have to get there earlier.

At this point I don’t know if using the library computers will work for me. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. As of now, I’m not canceling my New Food Friday posts. If worse comes to worse, I’ll just do them as time permits instead of the 3rd Friday of the month.

The last time I checked, there were still over 400 million XP users out there who hadn’t upgraded to Windows 7 or 8.  For a different point of view about the XP issue, read this.

When I had Window’s ’95 on my old laptop computer, I ended up having to upgrade to Window’s ’98. When I did so, my $200 audio system did not function correctly with it anymore. To this day, I’m still tinkering with it, trying to “fix” it. If I upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, on my desktop computer, my Italian language software programs will not work, nor will my printer and who knows what else. I can probably get an upgraded driver for my printer but it will be difficult if not impossible to do anything about my language CDs. I use them around Christmas time to send letters written in Italian to my relatives in Italy. I refuse to buy new language CDs when I’m happy with what I’ve got.

Upgrading XP boils down to spending a lot of time correcting computer issues, searching for solutions and being chained to my desk a little longer. I’ve already written a post about how sitting at your desk is not good for your health. If you haven’t read it, check it out here.

After all the record snow we had here in Indy this winter, 55″ (and counting) when we usually have between 19″-23″ depending on which news program you follow, I am itching to get out in the sunshine! I don’t want to spend more time on my computer, I want to spend less time!

Well, some of my prayers have been answered. A website, epinions.com,  that I had written reviews for the last six years, has shut down. Kaput, The End, No More. I typically spent 3 hours writing each review. I’ve written over 400 reviews. To read them, click REVIEWS at the top of the page. While this turn of events frees up my time, it also lightens my pocketbook because I was paid for these reviews. Some of these reviews were of books.

I’ve recently gotten in the habit of listening to audiobooks. I love them! But now I have no outlet to write about them. Unless I do it here.  The way I see it, listening to audiobooks or reading printed books is good for your health because they are entertaining, often educational, can increase your vocabulary, and darn it, I say they’re good for your health! So, while I haven’t decided completely, I’m leaning towards adding book reviews to this blog.

Final words. A few people got rich crying out, “A computer on every desk!” We followed these commands like lambs to the slaughter. Have they (computers) really saved us time? How many times has someone misread your email so that you had to write another email explaining your original email? How many times have you hit the delete key for the Spam you got and then had to go into your Trash folder because you (or  software) accidentally deleted an email that you wanted to keep? How much time have you spent online trying to find a free anti-virus program that didn’t eat up all your resources and slow down your computer to a crawl? How many times have you gotten the “Unresponsive script” warning and it hung up your computer? How many times has malware or a virus screwed up your computer because your anti-virus software didn’t catch it? How many times….fill in the blank with your own time-consuming computer issue. Enough already!

I know. Normally I’m a quiet girl but when I get a bee in my bonnet, look out! The wheels are in motion, my mind is made up. Upgrade be damned! AT&T call yourself and hang up. Power to the people!

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Sleep is Important to Your Good Health

20 Jan sxc.hu LotusHead Bedroom Basics

Have you noticed how many news reports there are lately about getting enough sleep? As a nation, we are deprived of sleep. One of the benefits to getting enough sleep, the experts tell us, is that it can help prevent weight gain.

sxc.hu 963360 Gorilla Sleeping

Lack of Sleep can Result in Weight Gain (sxc.hu PaulMT)

Lack of sleep interferes with our ability to concentrate. Sleeplessness also causes memory lapses. When we do sleep, we should avoid cat naps longer than 30 minutes.

sxc.hu 640611 Cat Nap

Don’t Take Long Cat Naps (sxc.hu EweSaidIt)

And perhaps the most important, sleepiness is the reason for many traffic accidents.

 

But if we have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, what can we do? The experts tell us to be sure our bedroom is cool: 65 degrees. The room should be dark and not contain a television or computer.

sxc.hu 709419  Sleeping at the Computer

Sleeping at the Computer (sxc.hu gozdeo)

If you have a digital clock, you should prevent the glowing clock numbers from facing you. I block the numbers and their light with a box of tissues. When I want to see the time, I lift the tissue box.  Experts also tell us to wake up the same time every morning.

sxc.hu 1146531 Alarm Clock

Set Your Alarm Clock for the Same Time Everyday (sxc.hu zvon)

When I have a poor night’s sleep, I find getting up the same time the most difficult instruction to follow.

Make sure you have a comfortable pillow and that your mattress isn’t lumpy.

sxc.hu 515207 Racoon

Poor Conditions for Sleep (sxc.hu – deste)

We are told if we can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes, to get up and do something quiet until we are sleepy. What would that be? Read a book? Take up knitting? Listen to the radio? Who can find anything decent on the radio at 3:00 am? Don’t you need to turn on a light to read a book or knit – and isn’t light something we want to avoid? It’s a conundrum.

While I was thinking about this sleep problem, I began thinking about the times when I had problems staying awake!

  1. During pregnancy. When I was pregnant, I would come home from classes at 3:00 pm, go to bed and sleep until 6:00 pm, get up and eat dinner, and then go back to bed around 10:00 pm and wake up the next day around 7:00 am! I could sleep at the drop of a hat! This is common for pregnant women and typically lasts only for the first trimester.
  2. When I had the flu. There is something about being sick that allows you or maybe forces you, to slow down. Sleep seems to come naturally and often. I could sleep during the day and then sleep at night too. If I had a cough, I would take Robitussin DM (at night) and that would always make me even more sleepy.
  3. Riding the subway. The constant rocking back and forth was reminiscent of being rocked in a cradle or a parent’s arms. Often, someone sitting next to me on the train would be leaning heavily against me as they snoozed. While I could appreciate their giving in to the delicious dozing, I didn’t appreciate their weight which was sometimes substantial! However, I could hardly cast any stones because I’ve fallen victim to the sleep fairy on the NY Flushing line more than once.
  4. Flying on a commercial airline. This was hit and miss. There were times I would fall asleep and times I wouldn’t. It depended on how excited I was about my trip, who the person was sitting beside me, and when food was going to be served!
  5. Storytelling. I doubt any of us remember falling asleep when we were infants as someone read us a story, but we all know that has happened. Many of us with children watched our kids, or our grand kids fall asleep as we read to them. There’s something about storytelling that seems to put children to sleep.

 

Aside from these ways to fall asleep, I recently found a unique way to fall asleep or to get back to sleep if I wake up. Read about it here then try it, and tell me if it works for you. Do you have a sleep story?

Happy Sleeping!

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Inner Peace Award

23 Aug Inner Peace Award

I’ve been awarded the Inner Peace Award by Samina and I’m finally getting around to posting it!

Inner Peace Award

Inner Peace Award

Samina and I have had some interesting conversations about law enforcement. I know, not what you’d expect from me, is it. I had an incident to tell her about a few months ago when I accidentally locked myself out of my car with the keys on the front seat! I was helping a Lowes employee put my brand new lawnmower in my car which is how the keys ended up on the seat.

I went back into Lowes and told the customer service people what happened. They gave me their phone and dialed the Avon, Indiana police department. I really wasn’t exactly sure what was happening here because I was in a tizzy and stressing out about my car keys! I told the woman at the police station what had happened and she dispatched a police car to the store. I waited in the parking lot and within 10 minutes, the car arrived with a nice young police officer who had several gadgets to “break into my car!”

The first didn’t work. My heart sank. The second gadget elicited a “click” from my car door and voila! the door opened. I thanked him so profusely until he practically started laughing. I couldn’t help myself, what can I say. I left him there with all his gadgets, my car keys in my pocket, and ran back into the store because I had more shopping to do! LOL!

Needless to say, I didn’t have any inner peace that day so it’s ironic that I received this Inner Peace Award following my initial conversation with Samina! Once I got home, I had a heck of a time getting the gigantic box with my new lawnmower inside it, out of the back seat of my car! Then I dragged it through my garage and into my house to figure out how to put the thing together.  I bet I burned more than a few calories that day!

Fortunately, most of my days aren’t as exciting as that day. Most days I do have inner peace.  I get inner peace from exercising, writing, gardening, cooking, baking, working on my house, and helping others.

Thank you Samina for this award. My favorite thing about this award is that it has no rules. That’s my kind of award! And again, I find it ironic that this award has no rules – in effect we are breaking the rules (similar to breaking the law!) Maybe it’s just me and the way I look at things!

Peace out!

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New Food Friday – Gnudi

16 Aug sxc.hu 536766 stylesr1

In order to make this dish, you have to remove all your clothes. Just kidding! The dish being discussed today is called gnudi. They are a form of dumpling and it’s pronounced just like a sunbather who basks in the nude: a nudi! (Or a nudist?) I watched with interest as Martha Stewart made these on her cooking show. See here. She says they are a naked ravioli; a filling without the pasta casing. I am a big fan of ravioli but these were new to me and when I saw her boiling then basting them in browned butter with sage leaves, I knew I had to post them for a New Food Friday.

sxc.hu Gnu Barbara Schneider

This is a Gnu (sxc.hu Barbara Schneider)

First, go to your butcher shop and ask for a fillet of Gnu. Just kidding! There is no meat in this recipe!

Assemble your ingredients as it shows in the Martha Stewart video. I like to use paper plates when I want to roll foods in flour.

Knudi rolled in flour

Knudi rolled in flour

Using paper plates makes cleanup a breeze. I just throw the paper plate in the trash when I’m done.

I filled another paper plate with semolina flour and let the gnudi rest until I finished making all of them.

Knudi sitting on semolina

Knudi sitting on semolina

Then they went into the fridge for 1 hour.

Variations:

I had some leftover crab meat so I included it in my recipe. In my second batch, I added some boiled russet potato.

These gnudi were fun to make and easy! Your children might like to get involved. Since these are boiled, it’s a lot like boiling pasta and it’s the closest I’ve ever come to making pasta.

Knudi ready to be boiled

Knudi ready to be boiled

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve never made pasta but I know one of these days I will because it’s on my mental to do list! Here are the sage leaves straight from my garden.

Sage drying on a paper towel

Sage drying on a paper towel

Here are the chiffonaded sage leaves in browned butter.

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

Browned butter with chiffonade sage

These were delicious! I will definitely be making them again. I hope you try them!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

Knudi ready to be devoured!

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The Liebster Award

5 May Liebster Award

I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by EarthMermaid. Thank you for nominating me. I love the message your blog sends!

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

This award is for blogs with less than 200 followers. It’s a great way for bloggers to give a shout out to blogs they like and expand their network, while helping other bloggers gain a broader audience too.  It’s also a fun way for bloggers to get to know more about their followers and share some fun facts about themselves!

The Rules for Accepting the Award:

1. Post 11 facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions posed by your nominator.
2. Pass the award on to 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers and post 11 questions for them to answer.
3. Display the Liebster Blog Award in your post.

4. These rules are not written in stone.  If you break the rules, I will not call the  Liebster law.

My 11 Facts about Myself:

1. I love artichokes. I’m cooking 4 stuffed artichokes as we speak. You have to get good ones. All artichokes are not created equal and it is not easy to know good ones from tough ones.

2. I love broccoli rabe or some call it Rapini. I like to make a sandwich out of it on crusty bread or a sesame seeded Kaiser roll! I’m trying my hand at growing it in my garden this year and the seeds have already sprouted! Yipee!

3. Lamb chops are my favorite meat. Thank God they are too expensive for me to buy often!

4. My favorite type of movie is a psychological thriller.

5. I can’t have chocolate hazelnut spread in the house because I will eat half the jar (or more).

6. I like to fix things: toilets, jewelry, thread-bare gloves, broken shovels, wheels on lawn mowers, you name it. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle and I like to study the thing, whatever it is, and figure out how to fix it!

7. I save odds and ends parts so that I might have them for when I need to fix something (see #6).

8. I love chewy foods. Have I told you lately how much I love bulgur?

9. I love art and I love to visit art museums. I get lost in the paintings of some artists.

10. I have a crush on Jeremy Sisto. (But I also still love Charles Bronson.)

11. I vacuum spiders.

My answers to Earthmermaid’s questions:
1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Italy. I’ve got cousins there and I’ve visited them. I love the food and the artistic beauty there.

2. What do you like for breakfast?

Good question! I don’t like breakfast and I have trouble coming up with ideas for a breakfast that can get me excited! I usually force myself to eat breakfast I’m sorry to say. (However, I’m crazy about dinner!)

3. What about yourself do you like most?

My sense of humor. I crack myself up.

4. Which is more meaningful to you – strong mind or strong body?

Tough one! I am very into exercise so I’ll say exercise knowing that a good, strong mind automatically follows a healthy, well-exercised body!

5. What is your most efficient way of handling stress?

Exercise!

6. Are you a morning or night person?

I love the morning air so I’ll say morning but you’d never know it by the hours I keep.

7. What is your favorite form of exercise?

Kickboxing and boxing. I’ve got dvd’s for both. You don’t know how much fun it is (even if you do it alone) until you try it!

8. If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?

I’d make every person, especially those in countries that are always at war like Syria, or provoking war, like North Korea,  spend several years in therapy.

9. What books have you read that inspired you?

Seize the Day, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, The Swan Thieves, all my psych text books and all my Italian language books.

10. Guilty pleasure?

I’ve known a few pleasures but I don’t have the guilt!

11. Why did you start your blog?

I started my blog as a way to attract people to my freelance writing articles. My blog has taken on a life of its own and so I’m in the process of re-grouping so that I can go back to writing articles but also keep up with my blog. However, at this moment, house and health check-ups are interfering with those plans. I am encouraged because I am getting a lot done around here! Maybe I should take pictures and do a post about these accomplishments. Although it’s unfortunate that the trash men have picked up all my evidence this morning of all the bushes/trees/vines I hacked down/pruned/sawed! 

My Blog Nominations:

1. Gerard Villanueva

2. http://tylerbballen.wordpress.com/

3. griggwk

4. BlondeHealth

5. The Good Villager

6. Laura Dickey

7. http://mittsandmeasures.com/

Here are my questions for the winners:
1. What is your favorite book and why?
2. Who is your most admired person and why would you like to spend a day with him/her?
3. What is your favorite dish?
4. What is your favorite form of exercise?
5. What is your best skill at work?
6. What is your favorite or most used expression?
7. What makes you madder than a wet hen?
8. What was the nicest thing you’ve ever done for a stranger?
9. If you  could be a famous artist, who would you be?
10. What is your best dance step? (e.g. Cha-cha, tango, funky chicken, etc.)
11. What was the longest hike/walk you’ve ever taken and how long did it take you to recover?
Congratulations to the winners!
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A Followup to my Talk on Blogtalkradio

7 Apr sxc.hu/Cieleke - Juggling

Although we had some technical issues connecting, I was able to give my talk today about humor and health on The Wellness Coaches show on blogtalkradio. 

Any thoughts I had about having lost my New York accent years ago were dashed after I listened to the broadcast later on.  It’s like I never left! How can that be possible? You can take the girl out of Queens, but you can’t take Queens out of the girl!

Because I got started on the show a little late, I was unable to finish my last anecdote about humor and its relation to stress so I’d like to finish it here.

When I worked at IUPUI (Indiana University, Purdue University at Indianapolis) they often offered free workshops during the lunch hour that included special guest speakers. One guest speaker was Dr. Steve Allen, Jr. who specialized in Family Practice medicine and to me, he was a very special guest.

As it turned out Dr. Allen is the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen who was the first host of the Tonight Show. Many comedians have copied his shtick! Leno copied Allen’s Man On The Street routine. Carson’s Carnack the Magnificent routine, was also copied. But you know what they say: Imitation is the greatest form of flattery! Comedians revere Steve Allen.

For those who are unfamiliar with Steve Allen’s work, Allen was not only a comedian, he was also a composer, lyricist, conductor, singer, and pianist. He wrote over 50 books. He also wrote over 8,500 songs, at least two of which you will be familiar: “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big” and “Impossible” recorded by Perry Como. There was just no end to his talent, he was brilliant. My family would tune into his show weekly and join him and his audience in hysterical laughter.

So, here was his son before me talking about humor and stress. I wondered how a son of such a famous father (and mother too, Jayne Meadows)

Steve Allen and wife Jayne Meadows at the 39th...

Steve Allen and wife Jayne Meadows at the 39th Emmy Awards – Sept. 1987 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

could manage under such a big shadow! It turns out he manages very well! He asked his audience, which included a fairly large group of well-dressed, well-mannered, educated, and reserved employees to take the three scarves that he passed out to each of us, and juggle them up in the air.

We all stood up and tried to juggle these wisps of fabric. They were so thin and fragile, there was no way we could keep them up in the air. Soon, most of us were bending over picking them up or retrieving them from the seat in front of us. Lots of laughter ensued. Dr. Allen managed to turn this group into a bunch of rowdy pre-schoolers! He says that juggling brings the creative use of silliness and that he gets the same result when giving his talk to Nobel Prize winners or janitors!! Laughter = release of tension.

sxc.hu/Cieleke - Juggling

Juggling with Dr. Allen, Jr.      sxc.hu/Cieleke -

Now, just because we were being silly, doesn’t mean that something positive wasn’t happening or that he wasn’t being serious in his talk! This was a fun way for employees to spend their lunch time and I was happy to be a participant, especially because I have always been a big fan of Steve Allen, the comedian.

Dr. Allen won several professional awards for his work in stress management. By the way, I still have the scarves.

Since I consider myself more of a student of humor and laughter rather than an expert, I searched for information online about humor from a more technical point of view that was from the experts. One site was from Harvard that discusses how the brain processes humor: http://www.hms.harvard.edu/hmni/On_The_Brain/Volume16/HMS_OTB_Spring10_Vol16_No2.pdf

Another site was from howstuffworks.com http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/laughter1.htm

Both these sites are educational and funny! I encourage you to take a look!

So how does humor fit in when developing healthy living habits is such a struggle sometimes?

One example  of how it fits in is that if you are at work and you’re under a lot of stress and can’t exercise to relieve or reduce your stress, you can use humor in the form of reading a funny book on your break (I recommend a Far Side book) or watch something silly on YouTube.

Less planning is involved with using humor for good health. You don’t need to change clothes or hire a personal trainer or go to a class. You don’t need to follow a certain recipe or prepare a meal as you do when you are following the Mediterranean diet. You can just turn on the TV or computer and look for a comedy!

So, the bottom line is: humor is more accessible in the arsenal of healthy habits.

Laughing relaxes us. It relaxes our muscles. It puts us in a positive frame of mind. It stimulates our brain and makes us happy. It lowers our blood pressure. It increases creativity. It reinforces group cohesiveness, improves problem-solving ability, and increases endorphins and dopamine.

Last but not least, laughter is contagious like a cold and can spread!

I would love to hear your comments about what you thought of the show and/or your thoughts about humor and laughing. Any funny stories would be welcome too!

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