Archive for June, 2012

“Seriously, can’t you hold onto your own chew?” I say as I look into the child-like brown eyes of Buster, my 90-pound grand-puppy. For several minutes now, I’ve sat next to him holding on to one end of his chew stick and watching him gnaw and tug on the other end. “Grandma’s got to get back to work now,” I say. He lets out a low bark, because I momentarily put his chew back down on the ground. “Such a spoiled boy,” I say to him as I gently pat his head. “Some of my friends get to babysit their grandchildren, but I get to watch you,” I say to him sarcastically. Buster cocks his head as if he is trying to understand what I’m saying. He then takes his chew and holds it between his giant paws and a few gnaws later, he looks up at me, as if to say, “See, Grandma, I can do it all by myself!”

#1 – Reusables!

Organic Cotton Rounds

I won’t be able to reuse my dinner napkin, because Buster ate it. Besides buying cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Buy Reusable.”

#2 – Free Travel Ebooks

Traveling is so much easier these days, thanks to ebooks. No more lugging around heavy guide books from city to city! Here are some sites that offer free travel guides. Just download a book to your electronic device (laptop, iPad, etc.) and GO!

Bookboon.com – Textbooks and business books, too
Hostelworld.com – Pocket guides
ebook3000.com – Great variety of books
Tripadvisor.com – Free guides to members

#3 – New Art Amongst Old Art

Takashi Murakami

In this series of photographs, the Palace of Versailles provides an interesting backdrop to “manga-inspired sculptures” by Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami. It’s an unusual juxtaposition of old and new that allows spectators to see the contrast in styles and to appreciate each style for what it offers.

#4 – Folding a Suit

This tip will come in handy next week when I mail my oldest son the suit he’s going to wear at his brother’s wedding. Watch the video to see how Jacky Tam of British Tailors in Hong Kong folds a suit and a dress shirt, so that they arrive in wearable condition. This a good tip for traveling, as well!

#5 – Happiness
A man once told the Buddha, “I want happiness.” The Buddha replied, “First remove the ‘I’ – that’s ego. Then remove the ‘want’ – that’s desire. And now all you are left with is, Happiness.”

Have a great weekend!

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The famous Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto recently lost 40 pounds in three months. How did Morimoto manage to lose so much weight? In a Food Network Magazine interview he said that he cut calories, took walks, sweat as much as he could, limited his alcohol intake, and had his wife do the cooking at home. High-protein tofu was a big part of his new diet. His wife Keiko’s easy recipe for Mashed Tofu and Spinach Salad combines great-for-you tofu with good-for-you spinach. It’s a winning recipe that would make Popeye proud!

Mashed Tofu and Spinach Salad (Shira-Ae)
Recipe by Masaharu Morimoto

One 14-ounce package firm tofu
Kosher salt
8 cups spinach leaves
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 teaspoon salt

1. Drain the tofu and wrap in paper towels to absorb excess water. Puree in a food processor until smooth, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cook the spinach in the boiling water until wilted, about 2 minutes, then drain and plunge it into the ice water. Drain and squeeze out the excess water.

3. Toast the sesame seeds in a skillet over medium-low heat, tossing, until golden, about 3 minutes. Cool, then grind in a spice grinder. Stir the ground seeds, sugar, mirin, soy sauce and spinach into the tofu. Season with salt.

Serves 2.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Please note that this recipe only serves 2 people. 8 cups of spinach leaves cooks down to nothing, especially since you squeeze it out after cooking it. I cooked 9 cups of spinach leaves, but after looking at the tofu-spinach ratio, I probably should have cooked 10 cups.

2. One cup of cooked unsalted spinach already has 126 mg of salt in it, so I did not add the full teaspoon of salt at the end. I only added a pinch of salt.

3. I make life easier by purchasing containers of pre-roasted sesame seeds at Asian markets. I keep these seeds in my freezer until they are needed.

4. Adding a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes would give this recipe a little kick.


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A mass of red Lady Bird poppies moves with the breeze and resembles lady bugs in flight. Bees buzz from flower to flower. In the background, water trickles over rectangular-shaped stones. The wonder that is the Central Garden of the Getty Museum surrounds me. Robert Irwin, artist and planner of this garden, wrote these words to describe this living work of art:











Robert Irwin 1997

But as I stand in this garden, his thoughtful words make me think about how they relate to moments, minutes, and my life.

#1 – Carrying a Torch

The Olympic flame arrived in the United Kingdom on May 18th. Since then it has traveled “through villages and cities, across lakes and mountain ranges, on foot, by train, on horseback, and through the air, from Cornwall to the Shetland Islands.” Follow it’s journey in this series of photographs from The Atlantic. 8,000 torchbearers will have had the privilege of carrying the Olympic flame by the time it reaches London for the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics – only 35 days away.

#2 – Breaking Point

A podiatrist once told me to buy “P-shaped or clown shoes.” Ha! Ha! Except he was serious. Did he realize how hard it is to find stylish clown shoes? For days, I have been walking around the house in a new pair of high heels that I bought for my son’s wedding. The idea of breaking them in before the big day is a good one, however, my splayed toes ultimately are not meant to be forced into pointy shoes! After some research I found a great post The Secrets My High Heels Are Hiding on the style blog Alterations Needed. The article suggests several shoe aids that ease foot pain as a result of wearing high heels and ill-fitting shoes. The author’s suggestions are good ones, particularly the slingback foot liners, as are some of the suggestions from her readers. For instance, taping toes 3 and 4 together makes wearing pointy-toed shoes more bearable. Even though my toes look funny while taped together, I think the technique helps!

#3 – Intolerable Beauty

Oil filters, Seattle 2003, by photographer Chris Jordan

Photographer Chris Jordan’s series Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption is both a sobering reminder of the wasteful, throw-away-world we live in and an example of art existing everywhere and in everything, even in the least expected places. Linger on his website a while and view the powerful photos of In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster.

#4 – Re-purpose It!

Chris Jordan’s photos speak to us about our wasteful ways, so let’s find more ways to re-purpose things. I’ve saved Altoid tins and other metal candy containers for years and was excited to stumble upon these clever 15 Cool Crafts Made With Altoid Tins!

#5 – Peace
Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Have a peaceful weekend!

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Quinoa is a super food all year round, but it shines especially in summer salads. Take an average spinach and mushroom salad and make it more nutritious and more substantial by adding quinoa to it. And by adding omega-3-rich walnuts, this salad goes from healthy to heart healthy!

Quinoa, Spinach and Mushroom Salad
Recipe by Martha Rose Schulman, author of “The Very Best Recipes for Health”

Salad Ingredients:
3/4 cup quinoa
1¼ cups water
Salt to taste
1 bag baby spinach, rinsed and dried, or 1/2 bunch spinach, stemmed, washed and dried
6 white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled (1/4 cup, optional)

Dressing Ingredients:
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, puréed
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
Freshly ground pepper

1. Place quinoa in a strainer and rinse several times with cold water. Place in a medium saucepan with 1¼ cups water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 15 minutes, until the grains display a threadlike spiral and the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, remove the lid and place a dishtowel over the pan, then return the lid to the pan and let sit for 10 minutes or longer undisturbed. Transfer to a salad bowl and fluff with forks. Allow to cool.

2. Add the spinach, mushrooms, walnuts, parsley and optional cheese to the bowl.

3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss with the salad just before serving.

Yields: 6 servings

Advance Preparation: You can assemble the salad up to a day ahead, but don’t toss with the dressing until shortly before serving.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. I could not find sherry vinegar in the grocery store, so I used champagne vinegar that I already had at home.

2. I used 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of Meyer lemon olive oil in the salad dressing.

3. For added flavor, I simmered the quinoa in chicken broth instead of water. Because the broth contains salt, I added no additional salt to the cooking water.

4. Strict vegetarians can choose to omit the feta cheese.


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Standing in front of the card rack, I search for the perfect Father’s Day card for my dad. One after another, I pick them up, read them, and put them back. None will do – too schmaltzy, too formal, or too silly. Why must cards rhyme? My expectations are too high. How can a card, a mere piece of paper, possibly convey all that my my dad means to me? He’s taught me many things, like how to: ride a bike, pick out the best produce and meat in a grocery store, cook, buy a car, select wines, and manage money. More importantly, by example, he’s taught me how to treat people with respect, how to be a responsible citizen, and how to age gracefully. But most of all, he’s taught me how to love. Thanks for all the lessons, Dad. I love you with all my heart!

#1 – Searching For the Right Words
Opa, pater, and padre are just some of the names that children from around the world call their fathers. In this Father’s Day Word Search, find 13 names for “Dad” either horizontally, vertically or diagonally in the puzzle. Oh, and did I mentioned that you’re being timed?

#2 – He Did, He Did Knot
The ache in my hip reminds me of slipping on black ice and tying a necktie. Tying a tie is one of the those things my dad never taught me. Back in the day, females had little use for that sort of knowledge. But I could have used it one morning several decades ago. My husband had left for work before tying my son’s tie – something he needed to wear for a school program. I quickly rushed my son over to a neighbor’s house for help. In my haste, I didn’t see the black ice that my husband made earlier in the morning when hosing off his windshield. I slipped and fell and have forever associated my aching hip with tying ties. Avoid my fate and learn how to tie a necktie by following the illustrations in Things My Father Didn’t Teach Me.

#3 – A Father’s Love
Many examples of a mother’s love can be found, but here’s a video from the ’92 Barcelona Olympics that gives testament to a father’s love and devotion.

#4 – The Gift
What am I giving to my husband for Father’s Day? Well, I have a gift that keeps on giving. Many posts ago, I wrote about my daughter being born on Father’s Day and how I will never be able to give my husband anything better than his only daughter, who looks a lot like him. That doesn’t mean I don’t treat him like the superman that he is on his day. If you want a man in your life to know he’s special, check out this list of 67 Ways to Make Him Feel Super Respected.

#5 – The Best Role Model
He didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
~Clarence Budington Kelland

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there! Enjoy your weekend!

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The introduction had me after the first four words, “Not your average meatball.” But then it went on to say, “This modern version is an instant hit for any gathering. Great for finger food or served on a sandwich.” A vision of a juicy, meatball sandwich tantalized me and forced me to run around my kitchen to check if I had the ingredients for this recipe. The ingredients are an interesting combination: pickled jalapeño peppers add kick and lime juice adds tang, but these meatballs also contain good-for-you quinoa, which adds moisture to the meatballs, and not-so-good-for-you bacon, which adds great flavor. Like life, these meatballs are all about balance!

Santa Fe Meatballs
From the cookbook Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood 365

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup quinoa
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
6 slices bacon, finely chopped and cooked
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, Italian parsley or curly parsley
2 large eggs
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
2 tsp minced pickled jalapeños
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 lime

1. Bring water and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Combine the ground meat, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, bacon, onion, cilantro, eggs, garlic, jalapeños, cumin and salt in a medium bowl. Blend well and form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

4. Place meatballs on a large nonstick baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 7-8 minutes, then turn the meatballs and cook for another 7-8 minutes, until they are no longer pink inside.

5. Juice the lime and drizzle over the meatballs. Serve immediately.

Makes about 50.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. I used ground turkey with good results. The turkey meat remained moist.

2. I know it runs contrary to the reason for putting bacon in a recipe, but I did trim a lot of the fat away while cutting up the bacon. It just didn’t make sense to use ground turkey and then add fat back into the recipe.

3. Because I have friends who are not fond of cilantro, I used a mixture of fresh cilantro and fresh parsley. That way, a little bit of cilantro flavor comes through, but it’s not a dominant flavor in the meatballs.

4. I used three limes. Two for their juice and one for garnish.

5. You will have leftover quinoa. Refrigerate it for future use or make a small quinoa salad to eat with the meatballs.

6. I used a 1-inch, spring-loaded, ice cream scoop to create even-sized meatballs. If you don’t have a scoop like this, pinching off equal-sized portions of meat and rolling them between your palms works well, too.

7. I poured the lime juice into a large bowl and gently tossed the hot meatballs in the juice before plating them.

8. The recipe states, “To keep this gluten-free, make sure you use gluten-free bacon.”


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Friends. They make our world infinitely better. Like a favorite pair of jeans, they are comfortable and without pretense. They are the twin sails of support as we steer through rough seas. They blanket us with gentle security, like the warm fuzzy blankets of our childhood. They listen, but need no answers. They bring laughter to our hearts and add sparkle to our eyes. They embellish our souls. Friends need no rewards or thanks and without them we are not whole.

#1 – Size Is Relative
A friend sent me this link to a wondrous lesson on perspective, The Scale of the Universe 2. Whether this perspective is 100% accurate or not, is not as important as the contemplation of the big picture of life.

#2 – It’s In The Jar

Source: Good Housekeeping

Ask your friends to start saving jars for you! There are so many ways to re-purpose glass jars. Serving drinks and food in them are very popular trends, but there are also many ways jars can be used to decorate your home and garden. Check out these links for creative ways to use glass jars:

DIY 101 Ways to Upcycle Glass Jars and Bottles
50 Ways to Re-Purpose and Reuse Glass Jars
20 Brilliant Things To Make In A Jar
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Repeat – Mason Jars
10 great Ways to Use Empty Glass Jars and Bottles

#3 – Easy Shopping

Most of the time I’m dressed in old jeans, a tee-shirt, and depending on the time of the year, either a pair of flip flops or Uggs. When I need to dress up, I always look to my friends for advice. Knowing that I’m frantically struggling to pull together a mother-of-the-groom outfit, one of my friends shared this shopping link with me. ShopStyle is like a personal shopper shopping the grandest and largest store in the world for you. It’s been said, “ShopStyle combines fashion, social networking, and shopping, providing readers with the tools to interpret style trends so they can create, share, and shop personalized looks.” Prices for items run from “Not too bad” to “Oh my!”

#4 – Friendly Photos

This series of photos about The True Meaning of Friendship was too cute and poignant to pass up! Enjoy!

#5 – Four For Friends
“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
Jon Katz

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.”
Shel Silverstein

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
Anaïs Nin

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.”
Robert Brault

Have a great weekend!

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A dose of caffeine sent my heart into a five-hour roller coaster ride that ultimately landed me in an urgent care center. While being examined, I described the rhythms of my heart to the emergency room doctor as “CLUNK-clunk” and Beedeebeedeebeedeebeedeebeedeebee . . . .”  He explained that one of the “wires” in my heart is “frayed” and he ordered an EKG. While waiting with me to have the EKG, my husband flipped through the pages of a magazine. “You should make these,” he said. “Make what?” I replied distractedly. “These bars,” he said showing me a photograph in a magazine. “They look so good! Go ask the receptionist if she can make a photocopy of it for us,” I urged. A few minutes later he returned, sat down and said, “She said we could take the whole magazine. And, on second thought,” he continued, “maybe you shouldn’t make these.” “Why not?” I asked. Sheepishly he replied, “I read over the recipe and . . . it has caffeine in it.”  Caffeine or not, I still made these buttery, coffee-flavored bars that are topped off with the perfect complement – a whiskey-flavored glaze. Maybe these blondies will make your heart race, too!

Chewy Irish Coffee Blondies
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients for the Blondies:
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
3 tablespoons freshly ground coffee
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds, skin on

Ingredients for the Glaze:
1 tablespoon melted butter, warm
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Make the blondies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and line with parchment so that it overhangs on all sides. Butter parchment. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

2. Melt butter, and pour into a mixing bowl with brown sugar, ground coffee, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Pour batter into pan, and sprinkle with almonds. Bake 27-30 minutes, depending on how chewy you like your blondies (a shorter baking time results in a chewier blondie). Let cool completely.

3. Make the glaze: Whisk together butter and whiskey. Gradually whisk in confectioners’ sugar until glaze is thick but pourable (you may not need all the sugar). Using a spoon or a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip, drizzle glaze over blondies in a rough crosshatch pattern. Let glaze dry 1 hour. Cut blondie into 2-inch squares. (Blondies can be stored at room temperature up to 2 days.)

Makes 24.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. The batter is very thick. Spread it out in the pan with the back of a spoon or a spatula before baking.
2. I like my blondies chewy, so I baked them for only 27 minutes.
3. I cut about a half-inch off the corner of a disposable, plastic, sandwich bag and inserted a round pastry tip. Next, I put the glaze in the bag and squeezed the glaze over the uncut blondie.


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Words failed me when the dressmaker said, “You didn’t tell me you wanted to move your arms!” Had I been wrong to assume that a store designing mother-of-the groom dresses would know that dancing and hugging were an integral part of any wedding? Defensively, she went on to say that models and movie stars can’t move in their dresses either. Her ludicrous words still ring in my ears and with only two months to go until the wedding and no dress to wear, words fail me again.

#1 – Word Portraits
While a reading volunteer at an inner-city elementary school, artist Judy Gelles found that children’s real-life stories were more captivating than the stories she was helping them to read. After interviewing 4th graders from around the world, she created word portraits – the combination of an image of a child with their answers to specific questions. The accumulation of these word portraits yields an insightful social commentary aptly titled, “4th Grade.”

#2 – Pillow Talk
Surround yourself with your favorite words or sayings by stenciling them on pillows. Follow the easy steps for this DIY project. These pillows would also make great gifts – think graduation!

#3 – Word Ruffle
Word Ruffle is a game that that challenges your vocabulary and spelling. You are given a set of letters and must make as many words as possible. In order to qualify for the next level you must create increasingly longer words until you run out of time. For help, hit the “ruffle” button to rearrange the letters.

#4 – Watch the Words
Watch the movie. Find the words.

Were you able to find the different meanings and uses of words in this 3 minute video?

#5 – Meanings Behind Words

There’s always . . .
A little truth behind every “Just kidding.”
A little knowledge behind every “I don’t know.”
A little emotion behind every “I don’t care.”
A little pain behind every “It’s okay.”
A little fear behind every “Leave me alone.”
A little hope behind every “Goodbye.”
There’s always “something” behind every “nothing.”

Enjoy your weekend!

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