Archive for July, 2010

Call it taking a risk, call it following my heart, or call it just plain stupid for quitting my job. I recently quit my job at the clothing store where I worked for almost two years. I enjoyed my work there and I learned a lot about the world of retail and much about myself. As hard as it was for me to leave my friends at work, it was harder for me to stay. My soul kept crying out like Oliver Twist for “more.”

I’ve quit jobs before and, as a matter of fact, I’ve quit a profession before. For more than a decade I toiled as a dental hygienist before I chose an even more difficult job – that of a full time stay-at-home mom. But this time it’s different – I quit because I need to focus on myself. Selfish? Maybe. Necessary? Absolutely. With the support of a loving husband, I’m continuing on my journey of finding out more about myself and learning what more I can offer the world. I know what I am – a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and friend. But the question remains, who am I?

I’ve never been a risk-taker. Maybe it’s because I’m a middle child and I like everything all neat and tidy. Probably the riskiest thing I’ve ever done in my life was to go for a walk at night with a man I’d met minutes before at a college street dance. What was I thinking? I was following my gut instinct – the guy seemed nice and he seemed harmless. As it turns out, I married that nice man who offered to take me on a tour of the campus. Taking risks can sometimes pay off.

I’m following that gut instinct of mine again and it’s telling me there’s more out there for me. It’s already led me in new directions. Creating What About This? involved taking another risk for me. In creating a platform for my creative endeavors and the desire to spread joy, I knew that writing a blog about my ideas and thoughts would be putting myself out there for the world to see and judge. I always encouraged creative writing in my children, but I was never an active writer myself. However, in the process of writing my blog, I’ve realized that maybe I can write and maybe my writing can help people.

Combining my love of making things and helping people has also led me to crafting pieces of jewelry with selected words hammered into metal. I’ve been told more than once by well meaning people that there are other companies out there making this kind of jewelry. That may be true, but to me the value in my jewelry is really the process I take with my clients to reveal or uncover their specific words of affirmation. Often times affirmations are not self-evident. In my creative mind, I see many positive applications for my jewelry and it brings me joy.

As Alexander Graham Bell once said, “When one door closes, another opens . . . .” The journey I’ve chosen to take feels so right, at least for now. There will be twists and turns and maybe even u-turns in the road ahead of me, but at least I can say I tried and took a chance on myself.

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A bag of limes sits in my refrigerator waiting for me to decide whether to whip up some limey confection or to drink a couple of Corona beers. Since it’s only 9:30 in the morning, I opt for the first choice. Here’s a recipe I tested from an ancient newspaper clipping I found in one of the stacks referred to in my “Attack the Stack!” post.

This recipe makes a light, refreshing, creamy cheesecake. It’s easy to make – especially if you use a store bought graham cracker crust and aerosol whipped cream! Sometimes practicality and time constraints need to push aside food snobbery and perfectionism! If you use a store bought crust instead of a springform pan, you will have a little extra filling leftover. No worries, just put it into a little ramekin, chill, garnish, and you have a little lime dessert for one!

(Original source unknown – adapted by Linnell)

1-1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/3 C butter or margarine, melted
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 T grated lime peel
3/4 C fresh lime juice (about 6 limes)
1 package (1 T) unflavored gelatin
1/4 C water
1 C whipping cream, whipped (for filling)
Additional whipped cream for garnish
Lime slices for garnish

Whip 1 cup of whipping cream and set aside in the refrigerator. Combine graham crackers crumbs and butter. Press into 8-1/2-inch springform pan building up sides; chill. In mixing bowl beat cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth. Stir in lime peel and juice. Soften gelatin in water; warm over low heat to dissolve. Gradually stir into cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into crust. Chill to set. Garnish with additional whipped cream and lime slices.

Makes 8-10 servings.

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Hearts and flowers and joy and excitement fill the air at bridal showers. Generations of women gather to shower the bride with wisdom, laughter, and gifts. Thoughts of times passed for some mingle with hopes of the future for others. Women coming together to support one another is always a good thing!

#1 – Champagne Punch
2-12 ounce cans of frozen lemonade or limeade
1-46 ounce can of pineapple juice, chilled
2 bottles of champagne, chilled
1 quart orange juice, chilled
Fruit for ice mold

Dilute one can of the frozen lemonade/limeade with 1 can of water. Pour into tube pan or any mold of choice and add fruit slices, berries or mint leaves for decoration. Freeze until solid.

Mix the remaining frozen lemonade/limeade, pineapple juice, orange juice, and champagne. Place extracted frozen mold from mold pan and put into a punch bowl. Pour mixed beverages into bowl.

#2 – Explore the Sistine Chapel From Home
If you’ve ever visited the Sistine Chapel, you were probably awestruck by the it – you and the other couple hundred visitors crammed into the Chapel with you. It’s difficult to appreciate the magnificence of the art there because of the wall-to-wall bodies. Here’s an interactive site that lets you take a leisurely virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel. On your computer screen the Chapel is completely devoid of people and is available for your complete exploration. Using your computer mouse, you can navigate to any area – the walls, the mosaic floors, and of course the glorious painted ceilings. You can even zoom in on any particular area of your choosing to see details. I wish I had taken this virtual tour, before I visited the real thing!

#3 – Chilling Drinks Quickly
Chill beverages quickly for a party by placing beverage containers in a ice bucket/ice chest and adding layers of ice alternating with layers of salt until almost to the top. Fill your ice bucket/ice chest with cold water just below the top of the ice.

#4 – Instructables
Instructables is a site where do-it-your-selfers can search for step-by-step instructions for a myriad of projects. I came across this interesting project the other day – How To Hide Your Stuff In A Tissue Box. Although it seems easy enough, I’ve not tried making the project, yet. I like the idea, but my biggest problem would be preventing my hubby from using up the tissues and throwing the box away! Maybe one of you could benefit from this idea, though!

#5 – From Within Your Heart
“Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.”
~ Shigenori Kameoka

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Summertime brings with it scorching hot days, cooling delta breezes, and some of the best fruit of the year. Peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, berries, cherries, and melons are at produce stands now. My sister-in-law was kind enough to share her bounty of pluots with the rest of the family, so I thought I would thank her by sharing a pluot recipe. Although a pluot is a delicious cross between a plum and an apricot, it more closely resembles a plum in appearance. There are many varieties of pluots available, but the type I received are golden-green on the outside and yellow on the inside. No matter what they look like on the outside, they all contain healthy amounts of fiber and vitamins A and C.

Here’s a recipe for a Pluot and Strawberry Salsa that’s great on grilled seafood or meat:

About 1 pound or 5-6 pluots, diced
1/2 lime, juiced
Big handful of strawberries, washed, hulled, and diced
1/4 cup green onions, both white and green parts sliced
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper – depending on preferred heat, finely diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/8 tsp cumin, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Wash and dry pluots. Cut vertical segments off around the pit and dice. Place in bowl. Note: Some recipes call for removing the skin first, but I leave it on for more nutritional fiber.

2. Juice the lime and pour over the diced pluots.

3. Add strawberries, green onions, jalapeno, cilantro, and cumin (if desired) to the bowl of pluots.

4. Carefully combine ingredients, being careful not to smash the fruit.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 2 -3 cups.

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Fourth of July weekend usually means patriotism, fireworks, barbecues, picnics, and cooling down in some form of water. No matter what you do for your holiday weekend, please take necessary precautions and be safe! Wear sunscreen and hats, store picnic food at safe temperatures, and if you are going to a lake, river, or beach don’t forget to pack life vests! My little dog wears his life vest when he swims in my pool. He’s had two surgeries to repair torn ACLs, so he begrudgingly dog paddles to rehabilitate his knees and stave off arthritis.

#1 -Independence Day Trivia
Here’s a sampling of Fourth of July trivia questions from Starpress.com and a few I threw in to keep you are on your toes:

Q: July 4 celebrates the passage of what important document?
A: Declaration of Independence

Q: What is the name of the group that passed the Declaration of Independence and when?
A: Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

Q: Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?
A: Thomas Jefferson was the primary writer. Roger Sherman, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingstone and John Adams also were members of the committee charged with writing the Declaration of Independence and revisions.

Q: By what title did the Continental Congress call the Declaration of Independence?
A: The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America.

Q: How many people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776?
A: Two

Q: How many signatures are on the Declaration of Independence?
A: 56

Q: The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution are familiarly known as?
A: The Bill of Rights

Q: What do the colors on the flag stand for?
A: There is no record stating why red, white, and blue where chosen for the flag.

Q: The dollar amount of all U.S. fireworks imported?
A: $211 million

Q: Estimated number of Fourth of July cookouts?
A: 150 million

#2 – Picnic Safety Tips
If you’re planning a picnic this Fourth of July, take care that you’re following these safety tips as provided in an article by whatscookinginamerica.net. Click on the link to read the entire article, otherwise here’s a synopsis:

A. As always, wash hands and work areas before preparing food.

B. Cook foods in plenty of time to thoroughly chill them in shallow containers in the refrigerator.

C. Have enough coolers with ice or frozen gel packs and pack foods right from the refrigerator into the coolers.

D. Don’t put the cooler in the car trunk; Carry it inside an air-conditioned car. At picnics, keep the cooler in the shade and keep the lid closed. Replenish the ice if it melts.

E. Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing the food won’t constantly be opened and closed.

F. Find out if there’s a source of safe drinking water at your destination. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning; or pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces. Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling, and serving food is a prime cause of food borne illness.

G. Pack raw meats, poultry, or seafood on the bottom of the cooler.

H. If you plan on getting takeout foods such as fried chicken, eat them within an hour of pick up.

I. Do not partially grill extra meat or poultry to use later.

J. Don’t put the cooked items on the same platter which held the raw meat.

K. Two Hour Rule. Don’t leave perishable food un-refrigerated for more than two hours.

L. Discard leftovers.

#3 – Patriotic Flower Pots
Buy red, white, or blue flower pots and plant them with red geraniums, blue salvia, and white petunias or any other combination of red, white, and blue summer annuals. Purchase some patriotic-colored, wide, wired ribbon at your local crafts store. Plant the flowers, tie the ribbon in a bow at the front of the pot, and place pots wherever you need a pop of patriotic color that will last all summer long.

#4 – Patriotic Drink
The secret to creating a red, white, and blue multilayered drink is finding beverages with different sugar contents, so says an article in Disney Family Fun. Beverages with more sugar, like fruit juices, are denser and are poured first. The second layer the article suggests would be something like an athletic beverage and the top layer, which would have the least amount of sugar, would be a diet drink. The following recipe from the article is for a children’s patriotic drink, but think of all the possibilities for adult drinks!

Ice cubes
Cranberry juice
Wild Berry flavor Gatorade Fierce
Diet 7-Up

1. Fill a clear glass with ice cubes. Pour the drink with the most sugar (check the nutrition label) into the glass. For our red, white, and blue recipe, start with the cranberry juice.
2. Very slowly add a beverage that contains less sugar — in this case, Wild Berry flavor Gatorade Fierce. Be careful to pour it onto an ice cube — not directly into the other drink — to keep them from mixing.
3. Use the same technique to add a layer of Diet 7-Up.

#5 – Freedom
Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July weekend!

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