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Posts Tagged ‘Health’

Twisted Oaks

It’s the golden dappled sunlight that dances on trees.
It’s the gnarly twisting branches that beg to please.
It’s the patches of lichens that soften the hard.
It’s the music of leaves scattering in yards.
It’s the warmth of friendship and much happy talk.
It’s the many pleasures of a lovely autumn walk.

Linnell Chang

#1 – Self-Improvement
The Only Way to Improve Your Situation Is to Improve Yourself In the article The Only Way to Improve Your Situation Is to Improve Yourself, the author offers easy and helpful suggestions of ways to improve your mind, body and soul. In my opinion, a long walk works on all three areas, but it must be done briskly, with frequent acknowledgements of the miracles around, and all the while living in the moment.

#2 – There’s No Substitution for Good Health
Healthy Recipe Substitutions It can be daunting to wade through the whys and hows of healthy eating. Thanks to this list of 83 Healthy Recipe Substitutions, all of that has become a little easier. Yes, the list is long, but that’s good. That means we have options. The list is broken down into these categories: baking, stovetop, meals, snacks, seasoning, alcohol, and cooking methods. Why not try green avocado puree in lieu of butter?

#3 – Kermit the Wise
Kermit the Frog Quote Speaking of green . . . Motivation and inspiration can be found in all sorts of places and from all sorts of people. In this case, it’s coming from the Muppet’s character Kermit the Frog. Check out these 12 Kermit the Frog Quotes for Your Bad Days. It will make you smile!

#4 – Never Too Old to Finger Paint
Painting by Iris Scott If you’re not too old to learn something from Kermit the Frog, then you’re definitely not too old to finger paint. Artist Iris Scott accidentally stumbled upon her technique of painting with her fingers. Wearing surgical gloves, she applies oil paints to her fingers and paints in a post-impressionistic style. I love what she says about her method, My fingers dance rapidly across the canvas – some say it reminds them of a piano player in action. The colors collide and meld into my composition, raw oils are squeezed straight from the tubes, the texture is thick and juicy. This chaotic scene goes on well into the evening. To stay focused I dance, I sing, I stretch. Her art is incredibly rich in colors and textures.

#5 – What Life Is About
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.”
~Gilda Radner

Go and spread joy!

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Tails of Love: Dogs with Cancer

Photos by Linnell Chang

Cancer does not discriminate. It strikes the young and the old, the tall and the short, males and females, and even Cockapoos. When my dog Romeo developed chondrosarcoma, I became an involuntary member of a group of owners whose pets have cancer. Within that group, I joined a subgroup, whose members have opted to try to save their pets. We are the ones who stubbornly maintain hope, who cannot bear the thought of euthanizing our beloved “family member,” and who are willing to sacrifice much in order to save our pets.

By the end of this week, I will have driven Romeo, for 19 days straight, to a veterinary hospital half-an-hour away from home, waited one to two hours each day during his treatment, and then returned home. While sitting and waiting for Romeo, I often chat with the parents of some of the other cancer “regulars.” There’s a certain camaraderie in this group, because we relate to the tough decisions we each had to make — the kinds of decisions that make us look crazy to other people. Look at the faces of these dogs. Look into their soulful eyes and then put yourself in the shoes of their owners. What would you do?

Shadow is a bright-eyed 12-year-old Rat Terrier. Looking at him you would never guess that he has an inoperable brain tumor. Unlike my Romeo, who has a good prognosis, Shadow has no prognosis. With or without treatment he may only have 6-8 weeks to live. Shadow sits on his dad’s lap in the waiting room. As Laurie, the radiation therapist, walks up to Shadow, he turns around and licks his dad’s face as if to say goodbye. Laurie takes Shadow away, but not before his dad can give her a plastic bag filled with Shadow’s favorite treats. One morning Shadow’s dad and I were discussing the high cost of cancer treatment and he told me how guilty he would feel, if he spent the money that could save his dog on on anything else. “I couldn’t sit on a beach somewhere, knowing that the money could have been spent trying to save my best friend.”

Joey, a rambunctious 4-year-old Black Lab, walks happily into the waiting room. Oozing charm, he’s a popular guy as he greets everyone he passes along the way. Joey wears a double barrier, a large cushioned “donut” and a flexible “cone of shame” around his neck, to prevent him from reaching a shaved and sutured area on his hip. Joey had an aggressive soft tissue sarcoma removed from that area and is undergoing radiation treatment. Chemotherapy may loom in his future, as well. Without any treatment, Joey was given a prognosis of 3 to 6 months. Whenever Laurie comes to take him back, Joey stands on his hind legs and puts his front paws squarely on her shoulders, so they can “dance.”

Rocky, an 8½-year-old Bullmastiff lies on the floor panting. He’s clearly not enjoying the hot day and his demeanor shows it. He knows what’s important, though, because sometimes in the middle of a pant, he stops to lick the floor. This big cuddly guy has insulinoma, a malignant neoplasm that grows on the pancreas. Ever since the surgery to remove a tumor-infested portion of Rocky’s pancreas, his dad has struggled with the serious issues of Rocky’s fluctuating insulin levels.

Everyone who sees Molly’s sweet grey and white face, wants to approach and pet her. This 15-year-old poodle mix had surgery to remove a cancerous mammary tumor and is now undergoing chemotherapy. Even though Molly’s mom has a brand new grandbaby and a 92-year-old father in need of surgery, Molly is still getting the best care possible.

Sophie, a 9½-year-old flat-coated retriever mix, hobbles into the waiting room. After having her right front leg amputated, Sophie is learning to walk again. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma, one of the deadliest bone cancers, Sophie is undergoing chemotherapy and will have additional diagnostic tests to see if the cancer has spread. Sophie’s mom rescued her once before and is now trying to rescue her again.

Wearing a pink harness and a scarf adorned with pink cancer ribbons, little Lillie snuggles in her mom’s arms. This shy 10-year-old Miniature Dachsund is here for a post-treatment check-up. Her parents live far away, so during her three-week radiation treatment for thyroid cancer, she stayed at the hospital. Her parents missed her so much that they drove for hours to pick her up every weekend. Everyone had big smiles on their faces today as Lillie left the hospital, 1-year cancer free.

As sad as it’s been to see these dogs fight cancer, I feel a sense of hope. The amount of hope, love, and trust in the waiting room is palpable. Here, I know I am not alone. There are other pet parents sacrificing more than me to give their pets the necessary treatment. No matter what happens to Romeo and the other dogs, I know that all who are involved  — the devoted owners and the hospital’s caring and highly-trained staff  — have done all that we could do.

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month. To learn more about cancer in pets and to learn how you can help, check out these sites:
Morris Animal Foundation
Veterinary Cancer Society
Pet Cancer Awareness

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Young Hummingbird Feeding

Photo by Linnell Chang

There’s quite a buzz around the water cooler these days, except in this case the water cooler is a hummingbird feeder. With their fuzzy-looking baby feathers and miniscule stature, young hummingbirds buzz around the feeder competing for food. Some of them are so small that they cannot stand on the perch to feed. If they did, they would be unable to reach the nectar. Most of the adult hummingbirds tolerate the young birds and some even feed simultaneously with the little ones. But like the human species, greed also exists in the bird world and some of the older birds bully and chase away the young ones. Watching the hummingbirds interact reminds me of all the times I told my children, “Please set a good example and share.”

#1 – Mosaic Marvels

Mosaic art by Laura Rendlen

Winters Beauty by artist Laura Rendlen

After viewing the incredible art at the Vatican several years ago, I left with a greater appreciation for the pain-staking art of mosaics. Mosaics may be an ancient art form, but they’re just as beautiful now in modern art installations. I’d like to share with you these 10 stunning examples of modern-day mosaic art.

#2 – Frisée or Mâche?
In my last post, I wrote about growing my own lettuce and serving a very fresh salad for dinner. Also growing in my yard are arugula, kale, and chard. Not bad for a container gardener with a brown thumb! With a variety of salad greens available for us to grow in our yards, buy at markets, or eat in restaurants, it can be difficult to tell them apart. Here’s a Visual Guide to Salad Greens, courtesy of Epicurious, to help you identify them, learn about their characteristics, and link to recipes using them.

#3 – More Great Ideas
Storing wrapping paper Some of the ideas in Even More Simple Ideas that Are Borderline Genius have been around the block a couple of times. However, there are a several of them that had me thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I particularly like the idea of using wired shelving to hold rolls of wrapping paper vertically. Check out these ideas, because maybe there’s one that will make your life easier.

#4 – Furoshiki
Furoshiki are Japanese wrapping cloths. They serve to transport, protect, and/or decorate. Since Furoshiki are reusable, they prevent product waste, especially in the case of wrapping paper and bags. There are different ways to tie Furoshiki, depending on an item’s shape and size. Click here to learn about Furoshiki wrapping techniques.

#5 – Shared Words, Shared Worlds
I share this poem, written by Arab-American poet, songwriter, and novelist Naomi Shihab Nye, with the hope that you will share it with others. Its message is clear: that there’s so much good in a little kindness and that living in a “shared world” is a much better world.

Shared Words, Shared Worlds
–by Naomi Shihab Nye

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,

I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
Questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

Have a great weekend!

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photo of cockapoo

Romeo by Linnell Chang

“Romeo may be old, but he still has a big dog mentality,” I mused as I watched my 14-year-old cockapoo struggle up the stairs with a large rawhide chew in his mouth. At the top of the stairs, a pile of small chews reflects his dissatisfaction with treats meant for his size. Yesterday, on a whim, I gave Romeo a large chew left behind by my son’s black lab puppy. From the look in Romeo’s eyes, I could tell he was thinking, “Now this is more like it, Mom!” As he drags the large chew from room to room, he’s living proof that size is all in our heads.

#1 – Rules for Being Human
photo of person lean against tree Many misconceptions or beliefs fill our heads and convince us of what we are or what we are not. We are often guilty of perpetuating inaccurate self-perceptions; it’s incumbent on us to combat this form of negative mind control. Since my teen years, I’ve kept a collection of philosophical thoughts, motivational writings, and inspirational quotes to help me channel my thoughts and to empower me. Some passages from Marc and Angel Hack Life have earned their way into my collection. Here’s an example of some of their introspective reflections, “12 Rules for Being a Human Being.”

#2 – Help For Hands
foam sleeve on glass for arthritic hands Watching my father-in-law try to grip his glass of juice with his gnarly arthritic fingers, I thought to myself, “There’s got to be something out there that can help him.” While driving home from my visit with him, an idea popped into my head: why not slip one of those foam fruit protector sleeves over the glass? It will provide him with a softer and more malleable surface to grip onto and will help prevent the glass from slipping through his not-so-dexterous fingers. If you try this idea, make sure you use a glass with the proper diameter, so that the foam sleeve is snug and cannot slip off.

#3 – Bubble Therapy
In need of a little child-like oooing and aaahing to lift your spirits? Take a minute and enjoy the wonder of giant bubbles being blown on the beach and carried away by the wind.

#4 – Calcium Supplements Bad for Men?
graphic of pill bottle I wrote a post a while back about the push-pull of advice I was getting from my doctors. One doctor was adamant about my taking calcium supplements for my bones and another doctor advised me not to take calcium supplements because they irritate the heart. Obviously the heart trumps the bones, so I don’t take calcium supplements anymore, but I try to eat a diet that is high in calcium. Knowing that, I wasn’t surprised to read about the controversy over calcium supplements in USA TODAY’s article, “Calcium Supplements May Be Bad for a Man’s Heart.” The article also includes the recommended calcium amounts by age. Please consult with your doctor if you have questions regarding calcium supplements.

#5 – Cherish The Good Times
“Life rolls by in fits and starts, weeks, days, years and months, moments good and bad. You can’t help noticing bad times; they have ways of getting your attention. It’s the good times that are easy to miss, hard to recognize until they are gone. You have to slow down and watch closely for them. And when you see one coming your way, reach out and grab it. Clutch it to your heart. Stand in awe of your good fortune, and be thankful. And before you let it go, lift it up for your children, point it out like a shooting star and let it shine. Make sure they see it. Remind them, lest they forget, that they are loved and life is good.”
Sharon Randall

Enjoy your weekend and Happy Chinese New Year!

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Goldfinch molting

Photos by Linnell Chang

“Whatcha lookin’ at, lady?” the bird seemed to say crossly as it stared back at me. A rather rotund, but scraggly-looking bird sat on the ground, hardly moving, not even as I approached it. “It must be sick,” I said to myself as my brain tried to recall information on local bird rescue groups and as I considered the possibility of West Nile Virus. I sat there watching it for several minutes, willing the little bird to move, “Come on little one . . . get going . . . fly away.” And it finally did, but not very far. Sitting on a weeping cherry tree branch, five feet away from its original spot, the bird posed for my camera and dared me to observe it more closely. I noticed its feathers were dingy and bedraggled-looking. Some stuck out at odd angles on his head and neck.  Since some Goldfinches molt twice a year, I thought, “Maybe it’s molting.” I am hoping this is the case – that this little bird was merely changing into the fall version of its beautiful self.

#1 – Begging For Change
Holding a sign scrawled with the word “Change” and a small tin can, a homeless man sits on the pavement in front of a store. Is he asking for change, as in money, or for change, as in changing the world? Watch this 10 minute movie, written and directed by Sharon Wright, and think about her message.

#2 – Sugar High
How apropos that I came across this infograph the day after Halloween. With my own sweet tooth trying to sway the decision as to what to do with the leftover candy, this graph helped me change my mind. The candy is going to my husband’s office!

SugarGram

 #3 – Be the Change

Hurricane Sandy rescueMohatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We’ve seen the images and read the stories of the brutality of Hurricane Sandy. Now is our chance to “be the change” – to help change someone’s life. Check out How You Can Help After Hurricane Sandy and consider making a donation.

Hurricane Sandy dog rescue Sadly many evacuees left their homes quickly and either could not take their pets with them or became separated from them. For many people who have lost everything, they anxiously want to find and be reunited with beloved pets. To read about and to find ways to help with animal rescue as a result of Hurricane Sandy, check out these links:
Red Rover
North Shore Animal League
Hurricane Sandy Lost and Found Pets
Petfinder

#4 – Light Graffiti

TCB Light Graffiti

Light Graffiti by TCB, Twin Cities Brightest

In art, light is a key element. In light graffiti art, light is THE most important element, for in a mere second light can change the entire piece of artwork. Squiggles, curves, and lines of light create focal points, movement, and color that are captured in photographic compositions. Much imagination and skill goes into creating light graffiti. You can see spectacular examples in Light Graffiti: 10 Masters of Light Photography. Pablo Picasso is one of them.

#5 – Change
Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.
William Somerset Maugham

This weekend, change something for the better!

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 OctoberOctober brings magnificent fall colors, birthday cheer for Libras and Scorpios, sausage and beer, pink ribbons, scary-looking pumpkins and sweet-tasting treats. L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, once said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Don’t you agree?

#1 – Thank a Teacher
World Teacher's Day Every October 5th UNESCO celebrates World Teacher’s Day. There are very few of us who cannot give credit to a teacher for helping to shape our lives in some way. I had many wonderful teachers who I didn’t appreciate until I was older. When I thought to thank them, they were gone. So don’t wait, today’s a good day to thank a teacher who’s made a difference in your life!

#2 – Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Who’s Got the Pumpkin?
50+-Pumpkin-RecipesOctober means it’s pumpkin time! Thanks to Lil’ Luna, who’s scoured the internet for us, we have a source for many delicious pumpkin recipes. If Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread, Glazed Pumpkin Buttermilk Donuts, Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, or Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream sound good to you, you’d better go check out her list of links to 50+ Pumpkin Recipes.

#3 – Cyber Security
October is also National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Watch this 5 minute video from SANS on “how to spot and protect yourself from one of the most common attacks, email and phishing.” It could be 5 minutes that saves you from days, weeks, or months of future headaches.

#4 – Squish Your Pink
1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancerAlthough the color orange, as in jack-o-lanterns, comes to mind when we think about October, there is another color that dominates the month – the color pink. Pink ribbons are everywhere in support of breast cancer awareness. But this month just don’t wear pink or buy pink, please “squish your pink!” It’s a good month to remember to have a mammogram done and to encourage other women to have theirs done, too.

If cost is an issue for you or someone you know, many facilities have breast-screening specials this month. Here are links to sites with more information for free or low cost mammograms:

Planned Parenthood

YWCA

CDC National Breast and Cancer Early Detection Program

How to Find Where to Get a Free Mammogram During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

LIV

Find Free or Low-Cost Mammograms

And here are sites to check out if you want to help fund mammograms for women in need:

The Breast Cancer Site
“In just a few seconds each day, visitors can click on the pink “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button on the home page and, at no cost to them, help fund a free mammogram for a woman in need. The mammograms are paid for by The Breast Cancer Site’s sponsors and distributed by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.”

National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Susan G Komen

#5 – Think About This
“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” Dale Carnegie

Enjoy the treats of October!

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As the doctor looked at my eye through a scope and leaned in with a pair of tweezers to remove one of the filaments that had grown on my cornea, I chastised myself for taking my eyesight for granted. I try to lead a grateful life and consider myself fortunate that I have so many things for which I am grateful, but sometimes it is easy to become aloof towards the most fundamental. My eye is fine now, but that does not mean more filaments won’t form in the future. This past week “opened my eyes” on how my world might change if I could not see.

#1 – Bottled Water
Many of us who live in the United States take clean water for granted. We should be grateful that potable water comes to us with a flick of the wrist. Even though we have safe drinking water, many people prefer to drink bottled water.  But what are the realities behind bottled water? Here are some facts about bottled water presented by Online Education:
The Facts About Bottled Water

#2 – Workout Food

I show respect and gratitude towards my body by eating healthy foods and exercising it. Because I tend to ignore my alarm clock and wake up late, I usually grab a banana before I workout at the gym. But after reading this article, Foods for Workouts: Cardio from Food Network’s Healthy Eats, I realized that if I woke up earlier I could justify eating a lot more food!

#3 – Forty Photos
The world we live in is amazing and these forty photos prove it. They are among the thousands of photos entered into the 24th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012. Spectacular images were submitted from around the world and the lucky winners will be announced in August. Want to see all of the contest entries? Click here.

#4 – Life According to Einstein

You can learn more than just physics when reading about Albert Einstein. Here’s an article from the site Dumb Little Man called 10 Amazing Life Lessons You Can Learn From Albert Einstein.

#5 – Just Be Grateful
You cannot be grateful and bitter.
You cannot be grateful and unhappy.
You cannot be grateful and without hope.
You cannot be grateful and unloving.
So just be grateful.

Author Unknown

Fill your weekend with gratitude. On Saturday, think about all the people in your life that you are grateful for and then on Sunday tell them how you feel! 

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My husband will wonder if I’m throwing an impromptu party when he finds a container of freshly stuffed mushrooms and cherry tomatoes in our refrigerator. Yes, I’m having a party, but just a party for one! With only two months left before my son’s wedding, I would still like to lose some weight. Since my son became engaged, my husband has managed to lose over twenty pounds. What about me? Well, despite the fact, that I eat a small-portioned, healthy diet and work in a mix of cardio and strength training on a regular basis, I’ve not lost a single pound! My trainer tells me not to fret, since I have lost inches and body fat. So what about the appetizers in my refrigerator? Other than at the gym, I hate repetition. Bored with the usual snacks of apples, celery, and carrots, I decided to reward my progress with some healthy gourmet snacks!

Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes Italiano
Recipe as found in Deborah Anderson’s cookbook Easy Gourmet-Style Cooking With 5 Ingredients

Ingredients:
36 cherry tomatoes
1 – 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained
1 bunch of fresh basil, plus 24 leaves
2 tablespoons garlic-flavored olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:
1. Rinse the tomatoes and set aside.
2. Also wash and set aside 24 small basil leaves and chop remaining basil.
3. Cut 12 tomatoes in half, squeeze out all the seeds and juice, dice and set aside.
4. In a food processor or blender, puree the beans, basil, garlic oil and lemon juice until it reaches a finely chopped consistency.
5. Place pureed bean mixture in a medium bowl. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and chopped basil.
6. Remove top 1/4 portion from remaining 24 tomatoes and discard.
7. Slightly squeeze out the seeds, liquid and pulp using a small spoon, so you can create a cavity within the tomatoes.

8. Fill tomatoes with the bean mixture.
9. Garnish each tomato at the top with 1 basil leaf.

Makes 2 dozen.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Having large ripe tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter, I decided to dice those instead of the cherry tomatoes.
2. I used a little bit more lemon juice than called for, just to give it a fresher flavor.
3. I added half a shallot, a little salt and freshly ground pepper to the food processor before adding the beans.
4. You don’t want to over process this bean filling. It should still have small chunks of bean in it.
5. The recipe confusingly adds the basil twice – once to the food processor and then again to the pureed bean mixture. I ended up adding some to the food processor, and added in a bit more with the tomatoes. Although I love basil, I would probably not add as much the next time I make this recipe.
6. I did not discard the tomato tops as instructed in step 6. Instead, I diced them and added them to the bean mixture. I hate to waste food!
7. I used the small side of the melon baller to scoop out the tomatoes and then inverted the tomatoes on a paper towel to drain. A small demitasse spoon was used to fill the tomatoes and the mushrooms with bean filling.
8. Garnishing the tomatoes and the mushrooms in the photo are tiny Globe Basil branches from my garden.
9. The bean mixture is also delicious in baby bella mushrooms.

Enjoy!

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Running with unbridled joy, Buster, my “grand puppy,” leaps into the air and performs his signature belly-flop into the water. Quickly, he locates his float-toy, snatches it with his mouth, dog paddles back, drops the float on the ground, sprays water over everyone as he shakes it off, and then barks a resounding “Let’s do that again!” Sitting in the cool shade of a tree, I watch Buster repeat this series of actions for almost an hour. During this time, my thoughts shift from “dog hair clogging the pool filter” to “what a joy it is to live in the moment.” This is just another life lesson I’ve learned from a dog!

#1 – Gelato or Ice Cream?

My family would leap in the air for a bowl of good gelato. It started several years ago, when my husband made it his job to find us the best gelato in each city that we visited in Italy. Thanks to him, we tasted some of the freshest-flavored and creamiest gelato we’ve ever had. Finding good gelato back here in the states is more challenging, so we soothe our demanding taste buds with ice cream. Both gelato and ice cream are delicious, but have you ever wondered what the primary differences between the two are? Here’s what I learned from TravelDudes:

1. Gelato is made with mostly milk, whereas ice cream is made with mostly cream. Therefore, ice cream has 2-3 times the fat content.

2. Gelato is made using a slow churning process, whereas ice cream is whipped. This means gelato has a lower air content making it denser and richer.

3. Gelato is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream, and freezes at a lower temperature, so it is soft from the first spoonful.

#2 – Don’t Just Sit There
During an NPR interview, Gretchen Reynolds, the New York Times PhysEd columnist, discusses the importance of standing up every two minutes of sitting. If you sit at a desk for the better part of the day, you might want to read or listen to her interview as she details “simple ways you can combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle” and other health and fitness issues.

#3 – Take the Mystery Out Recycling Plastic
If recycling were made simpler, more people would do it. Storing recyclable items at home until enough accumulates to warrant a trip to a recycling center is a minor inconvenience compared to the problem of figuring out what is accepted and what is not accepted at recycling centers. The Daily Green’s helpful article, “What Do Recycling Symbols on Plastics Mean?” takes some of the mystery out of recycling plastic.

#4 – The Net Worth of Imagination


Artist Janet Echelman took a leap of faith fourteen years ago when her paints went missing and she was forced to create an art piece using an unfamiliar medium – fishing nets. Years later, hers is a story of pursuing and adapting her vision and creating building-sized, billowy, volumetric sculptures. The nine minute TED video is inspiring, but what I found most inspiring were the TED conversations regarding “Creative vision – how do you develop and hold onto it, especially when obstacles appear in your path?” Look for these conversations under “Comment On This Talk.”

#5 – Make the Leap
“Leap and the net will appear” ~ Zen Saying

Enjoy your weekend and Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms!

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Bending to the wind and rain, the rosebuds looked as if they were praying. The first bloom of the season is usually the best, but this year the roses in my garden tempted fate by making their first appearance during a storm. Days later, with the sun on my back, I walked through my garden and inspected the blooms. Several had irregularly-shaped petals and showed signs of water damage. Reflecting on these imperfections, I thought about the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, where there’s perfection in the imperfect. With that in mind, these stalwart roses had to be some of the loveliest ones I have ever seen.

#1 – Held Up

Thousands of tiny figures support the weight of a man in a thought-provoking art installation titled Floor. Korean artist Do Ho Suh positioned the tiny figures, with their arms held upward, under plates of glass. Check out the rest of the photos first and then consider the artist’s message. Are you a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty type of person? Do you think this piece represents support or oppression?

#2 – Hold On To That Hose!

From This Old House comes this article 10 Uses For A Garden Hose. Here’s another 10 reasons why you should not throw out anything, at least if it can be reused!

#3 – Spice Up Your Life!

Herbs and spices bring flavor into our diets, but many spices do more than that. According to an article in Eating Well, the spices listed below are considered eight of the world’s healthiest spices. Read the complete article to learn about the benefits of each spice.

Chile Peppers
Ginger
Cinnamon
Tumeric
Saffron
Parsley
Sage
Rosemary

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme . . . wait thyme’s not on the list?

#4 – Morning Rituals
Some of my most creative thoughts, whether related to problem-solving or just ideas for projects and recipes, come to me when I am blow drying my hair. Having short hair, I’ve wondered if my creative productivity would increase if I grew my hair out. You know –  the longer the hair, the longer it takes to dry. A wise friend advised me to write down everything I am grateful for every night before I go to bed. It keeps life in perspective. And in the morning, upon her advice again, I write down everything that’s in my head before I even get out of bed. She calls it the “Morning Dump,” where you dump out all the thoughts floating around in your head and you start your day fresh. Along the same lines, of being grateful and starting your day in the proper frame of mind, comes an article called How To Wake Up Every Morning On Top Of The World from the website Tiny Buddha.

#5 – What Would Dorothy Say?
There is no need to reach high for the stars. They are already within you. Just reach deep into yourself!
-Unknown

Have a great weekend!

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