Archive for April, 2012

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

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!

Have a great weekend!

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Just mention the word chia and everyone instantly thinks of “hairy” green chia pets. But did you know that chia seeds are considered to be a superfood? According to Lindsey Duncan, ND, CN, of the Dr. Oz Show, “Contributing to its super-seed status, ounce for ounce, chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon! Chia is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 in any food. It also contains high amounts of omega-6 . . . Chia also contains calcium; in fact, it delivers 18% of your daily value per ounce, which is three times more than skim milk.” Ms. Duncan also states, “With nearly 11 grams of fiber per ounce, chia delivers 42% of your recommended daily value of fiber in a single serving. Fiber is vital for all aspects of health, and is especially key for weight loss and digestion . . . Chia absorbs up to 12 times its own weight and expands to curb your appetite, so adding just an ounce or so of chia seeds to your diet can reduce caloric intake and help lower the energy density (or calories) of foods, plus double the amount of fiber you receive.”

I keep a little jar of chia seeds on my kitchen table to remind me to sprinkle the seeds on my food at mealtime, but I’m always looking for additional ways to incorporate it into my diet. This recipe for Cinnamon Chia Seed Granola couldn’t be easier and it is packed with good things – cinnamon, chia seeds, rolled oats, and honey. It’s great for breakfast or for a snack! Need more super ways to eat this superfood? Here’s a link to 40 Ways to Use Chia Seeds.

Cinnamon Chia Seed Granola
Recipe provided by Peanut Butter Fingers

1 cup old fashioned oats
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. canola oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl and stir. Slowly stir honey and canola oil into oat mixture until oats are adequately coated. Spread granola onto prepared cookie sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let cool until oats become crunchy and enjoy.

Makes four 1/4 cup servings

Linnell’s Notes:
1. I quadrupled the recipe because I wanted extra for snacking!
2. Because I quadrupled the recipe, I baked it longer. It took about 15-20 minutes of additional baking time to get my batch of granola golden and crunchy.
3. If you measure out the oil before the honey, the honey will slide right off of the oiled tablespoon!


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This tree. This beautiful weeping cedar, a graceful perch for so many birds, is dying. It’s just a tree, I tell myself. But nonetheless, for over sixteen years, without any special wants or needs, this tree’s long, downward-growing branches covered with silvery, grey-green bursts of needles created an elegant archway into my garden. Now, it stands almost completely denuded. The arborist came last week, dug around, and shook his head while he uttered, “Probably some type of fungus. It’s a wait and see game, now.” Everyday, I go outside and look at this tree. I examine it for new growth – there is none. I touch the branches – needles fall slowly to the ground. I scratch lightly at the bark to see if there is any green underneath it – there is. There is still hope for this tree.

#1 – “Staying” Green

Planet earth is counting on creative people to save it. Smart concepts such as this “Urban Hotel” illustrate my point. Although you would expect solar-power and rain water recycling systems in these hotels, a unique feature of this concept are the bicycles in the rooms. The bicycles can be used for exploring surrounding urban areas or used for exercising inside the rooms. While exercising, the bikes convert “the bike’s pedaling into kinetic energy to power the room and any extra energy is used to deduct rooming costs.” Make sure to click on the link to view all the features of this earth-friendly concept!

#2 – The Green Gift

My neighbor came to visit the other day and she brought with her two gift bags. One contained my birthday gift and the other one contained another kind of gift. The bag was filled with empty toilet paper tubes. She remembered a comment I made about how I compost toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes. After collecting several tubes, I cut them open, flatten them out and then feed them into my paper shredder. They add much needed “brown” organic material to my compost bin. There are many other items around the house that can be added to compost piles. TLC’s article on 75 Things You Can Compost, But Thought You Couldn’t is a good refresher course for those of us who compost. If you haven’t started composting, please consider it. It’s an easy way of redirecting some of your garbage away from landfills and back to the land.

#3 – When Chefs Get Bored

What do chefs do when they are bored? I don’t know the answer to that, but I would imagine they play with their food! Check out this series of food art photos and see that creativity knows no bounds in the kitchen!

#4 – To Market, To Market

What could be better than going shopping? What about shopping outdoors in the fresh air and sun? Most farmers’ markets carry more than just produce. I love walking up and down the rows of stalls looking at and sampling the fresh seasonal produce. I also enjoy visiting the stands that sell olive oil, soap, honey, hand-crafted and fresh baked goods, plants and flowers. I always make sure to bring my own bags/baskets, cash, and, of course, my camera. For more tips, visit Recyclebank’s 10 tips to Shop Smart at Farmers Markets.

#5 – The Tao of Pooh

“Say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I said.
“Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
“But you could be doing something Important,” I said.
“I am,” said Pooh.
“Oh? Doing what?”
“Listening,” he said.
“Listening to what?”
“To the birds. And that squirrel over there.”
“What are they saying?” I asked.
“That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.
“But you know that already,” I said.
“Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too,” he said.

Benjamin Hoff, author of The Tao of Pooh

Happy Earth Day! What about this? Do one thing every single day that is good for the earth!

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The children’s counting rhyme “One potato, two potato, three potato, four . . . .” ran through my head as I wondered what to do with a five pound bag of tri-colored potatoes that my husband brought home after a quick run out to Costco. Small red, cream, and blue potatoes tumbled out of the bag as I prepared them for roasting. But before tossing out the bag, I looked at it and discovered a simple and seemingly low-calorie recipe, full of fresh flavors and a little bit of kick. Knowing that this potato salad would be a huge hit with my family, I changed course and turned off the oven!

Tri-Color Potato Medley with Green Chile-Cilantro Salsa
Recipe from RPE/Naturally Nutritious

5 lbs. medley of potatoes
7.5 tbsp. cider vinegar, divided
5 fresh jalapeños, seeds and ribs removed
Juice from 1¼ fresh lime
2.5 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2.5 shallots, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water and add salt. Bring to a boil and simmer potatoes until just tender, about 15-18 minutes. Potatoes will continue to cook after draining; do not overcook or they will break apart.

2. Drain potatoes and rinse under cold water until slightly cooled. Cut into bite-sized pieces while still warm and gently toss with 2.5 tablespoons vinegar. Continue to cool potatoes to room temperature.

3. While potatoes cook, coarsely chop jalapeños and pulse in a food processor with lime juice, cilantro, shallots, garlic, oil, and remaining vinegar until finely chopped.

4. When potatoes are cool, toss with pepper mixture and serve.

Makes 8 to 12 servings

Linnell’s Notes:
1. While searching for the exact recipe source, I found the potato distributor’s website and on it was the same recipe, but scaled back to serve 4 to 6 people. Here’s the link to that recipe.

2. Because the jalapeños I purchased were large and because I don’t enjoy the heat from peppers as much as the rest of my family does, I only added 2-3 jalapenos.

3. To make this recipe gluten-free, make sure to use an olive oil that has been manufactured without contamination from any wheat products. Bariani and Bertolli have been mentioned on a Celiac.com online thread as safe brands. In addition, cider vinegar is considered safe, but know that not all vinegars are gluten-free.


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Cradled in the arms of trees, the moon rested. Stars and planets hovered subserviently nearby, knowing that the bright light emanating from the full moon dimmed their own magnificence. But, if the truth be told, the moon didn’t want to stand out – he longed to be in the night sky clustered together with the others. He was lonely, but not alone. As the night evolved and the moon rose, he dimmed his light a bit and the stars twinkled with appreciation. The moon’s lesson: it’s not as important to be on center stage as it is to share the stage with others. And, with a little help, others can have their moments to shine.

#1 – Earth Day

Imagine what it’s like to view the earth from the moon. How majestic and pristine our planet must appear from afar. Celebrate our planet on Earth Day, April 22nd. The Nature Conservancy plans on celebrating by organizing a record-setting picnic. If you’d like to be part of the Conservancy’s attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the most people picnicking in 24 hours or if you want to learn different ways in which you can help our planet, click here.

#2 – Photograph or Painting?

I would be over the moon if I had the talent and patience to paint like Pedro Campos! Using oil paints, the Spanish artist creates amazingly realistic still life paintings that are often mistaken for photographs! Check out his website to view more of his incredible artwork!

#3 – Moonlight in a Jar

Stars twinkle and the moon glows in this DIY project. Mason jars are painted or “dotted” on the inside with glow-in-the-dark paint. They are allowed to dry and then are charged with sunlight or lamplight. I fell in love with these jars when I first saw them and they are definitely on my “to do” list!

#4 – Brain or Moon?

From mental_floss comes this quiz that tests your familiarity of moon and brain nomenclature. For example, is the Dorsum Scilla a part of the brain or a part of the moon?

#5 – Sailing to the Moon
“What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”
Thomas Merton

Look at the moon this weekend and have fun making up your own story about it!

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My husband seemed very pleased with himself as he carried the groceries into the house. “What’s up?” I queried while poking my nose into one of the bags. “I bought you something,” he proudly replied. Pondering what he could have bought for me at the grocery store, I said, “Oh, really?” While waiting in line at the check stand, my darling husband succumbed to the store’s clever merchandising ploy of surrounding the area with tempting, impulsive, and last-minute-purchase items. As he described the food magazine he purchased for me and why he thought it was a good one, I thought to myself, “How lucky am I? I have a husband who doesn’t mind running out to the grocery store and who thinks of me while he’s there!”

From my new magazine comes this appetizer version of a classic banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich. Banh mi sandwiches usually require a light crispy baguette, some type of meat, cucumber strips, jalapeño slices, cilantro sprigs, and pickled daikon and carrots. This simplified version is an easy and delicious way to use up some of your leftover Easter ham!

Banh Mi Bruschetta
Better Homes and Gardens, Best-Loved Reader Recipes, submitted by Amanda Humann

24 ½-inch slices baguette-style French bread
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons soy sauce
6 ounces thinly sliced cooked ham
1 English cucumber, sliced or shredded
1 cup shredded carrots (2 medium)
1/2 cup coarsely snipped fresh cilantro
Thin fresh jalapeño chile pepper slices, optional
Lime wedges, optional

1. Preheat broiler. Spread one side of each bread slice with mayonnaise. Place bread slices, spread sides up, on a baking sheet. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat about 1 minute or just until starting to brown. Brush lightly with soy sauce. Broil for 1 minute more.

2. Top bread slices with ham, cucumber, carrots, and cilantro. If desired, garnish with jalapeño slices and serve with lime wedges.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. To make this appetizer more like an authentic banh mi, make up a batch of pickled daikon and carrots and use it to top the mini banh mi stacks.

2. There’s no need to measure out the mayonnaise. Using a spatula, just spread it directly from the jar onto the bread. You’ll find that you’ll use less than the 1/3 cup called for.

3. Carrots should be coarsely grated or julienned.

4. If whole slices of jalapeño seem too spicy for you, cut the peppers into strips or coarse chop them. I wear rubber gloves (designated for food prep only) when I cut peppers. Hot chile peppers have oils that can burn your skin and eyes, so make sure you wash your hands with soap and water after working with them!


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Ever have one of those days? Years ago I snapped this photo of a colorful art installation at the Biennale in Venice, Italy. When I accidentally came across the photo today, I thought to myself, “It’s an illustration of how I feel at this moment.” All my jumbled thoughts are somehow perfectly tied together!

#1 – What Can You Do With Adhesive Tape?
Numen/For Use is an artist collective that designs art installations using common everyday objects that are uncommonly used for art media. Using an untold number of rolls of tape, the collective created a huge spider-web-like art installation that spans buildings in Melbourne. Check out these incredible photos and a brief video of Tape Melbourne.

#2 – Grilling Asparagus
If you’re grilling asparagus this weekend, here’s a little tip for you. Soak some long bamboo skewers in water for about 30 minutes. Using 2 skewers at a time, skewer asparagus spears through top and bottom for easier handling on the grill. Now they’re a breeze to flip over! The photo below shows them before they were grilled. I washed and blotted dry the spears and then tossed them with olive oil, a little balsamic vinegar, garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper. Delish!

#3 – Dress A Girl
I have a new appreciation for pillowcases. This week I read an article in a newspaper about two local teenaged girls who “collect ‘gently used’ pillow cases and cut, sew and transform them into colorful dresses for girls in Zambia.” They are part of a project called Dress a Girl Around the World. Hope 4 Women International has distributed over 45,000 dresses in 53 countries around the world. To see some of the dresses made and the smiles they brought, watch this short video:

#4 – Things to Do for Yourself
At first glance, 30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself may seem like a long read, but, in actuality, the themes are familiar to most of us already. The list is a great refresher course on how to get the most from our lives. I enjoyed reading all 30 entries, but number one really spoke to me: Start spending time with the right people. – These are the people you enjoy, who love and appreciate you, and who encourage you to improve in healthy and exciting ways. They are the ones who make you feel more alive, and not only embrace who you are now, but also embrace and embody who you want to be, unconditionally.

#5 – Enjoy the Climb
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”
– Andy Rooney

Enjoy your weekend!

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It’s that time of the year – almost every shopping cart in the grocery store has a carton of eggs in it! Here are a few egg-ceedingly good tips and egg-cerpts about eggs that you might want to eggs-plore:

#1 – Eggs-cruciating
I’ve seen women at grocery stores go to excruciating lengths to get the perfect dozen eggs. They’ll move eggs from one carton to another until they have the desired combination. When you purchase a carton of eggs, always open the carton to visually inspect the condition of the eggs. But take your inspection one step further – while the lid is open, wiggle each egg in its spot. If an egg does not move, chances are it’s cracked underneath and the leaked egg has glued the shell to the carton. I don’t remember where I learned this tip, but I’ve used it for many years and have never come home with any “bad” eggs!

#2 – Eggs-cellent
If you are unsure about the freshness of the eggs in your refrigerator, put them in some water and see how they behave. What’s Cooking America has this to say about egg freshness:  Generally fresh eggs will lie on the bottom of the bowl of water. Eggs that tilt so that the large end is up are older, and eggs that float are rotten. The tilting is caused by air pockets in the eggs that increase in size over time as fluid evaporates through the porous shell and oxygen and gases filter in. The older an egg gets the more the gas builds up inside it. More gas = more floating!

#3 – Eggs-actly
To cook eggs exactly the way you like them, you need to take into account not just the length of cooking time, but also the size of the eggs you’re using. What’s Cooking America comes to the rescue again with this article and cooking guide, so that your eggs are perfectly cooked every time.

#4 – Eggs-tricate
Peeling hard boiled eggs is sometimes easy and sometimes frustrating. Often times it requires extricating bits of shell or membrane stuck to the egg. According to an article on Chef 2 Chef, The fresher the egg, the harder it is to peel – no matter how you cook it. A two week old refrigerated egg will peel beautifully for you once cooked, while an egg fresh from the chicken could be your worst nightmare.

#5 – Eggs-samples
Getting bored with hard boiled eggs? Go to Endless Simmer and check out 100 Ways to Cook an Egg.

#6 – Eggs-asperating
It can be exasperating when a recipe calls for separating an egg and you’ve managed to crack the egg shell into little pieces, or worst, you’ve broken the yolk sac. Here’s a handy little tip that makes the whole process easier: Carefully break an egg into a funnel. The egg whites will slide through the funnel, but the egg yolk will be left behind. Larger pieces of egg shell will be unable to get through the funnel, too!

Hope you enjoyed my “eggs-citing” tips!

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