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Archive for August, 2012

One penny, one lottery ticket, and one ounce of luck . . . that’s all it takes. Who doesn’t like the thrill of potentially winning something? That’s what I thought when I made these fish-lottery favors. Wanting to combine a fun activity with a fish-themed party favor, I created these “Lucky in Love” fish for all the guests at my son’s wedding rehearsal dinner. Since I never throw anything “useful” away, I was elated to find a use for a stack of paper fish frames that remained after cutting out 300 paper fish for the wedding. After carefully cutting the fish silhouettes apart, I glued colored paper behind them. Then with repositionable adhesive, I attached a lottery ticket to the paper and added a “fish eye” or penny for scratching. One fun idea, one way to repurpose, and more than one winner!

#1 – One Body, One Site
Thanks to the wedding, for the first time in my life, I’ve been exercising seriously on a regular basis. I’ve learned that I can get a thorough workout with very little equipment – so basically there is no excuse for not exercising! Whatever exercise equipment you have at your disposal, you’ll want to check out excercise.com for its list of exercises and videos. Whether you have no equipment at home or only a set of dumbbells or only an elliptical trainer, this site has exercises for you to do!

#2 – One Day

Photograph by Lee Jeffries

One day a man with a camera sees a homeless woman and takes her photo. The result of that experience is a collection of black and white images taken by photographer Lee Jeffries. He has journeyed across the world and into his heart to capture faces of the homeless. Through his powerful portraits, Mr. Jeffries emotionally affirms the saying that “the eyes are the windows to the soul.”

#3 – Cooking for One or Two
The kids are all gone. No more cooking for my army of hungry children. It’s been a difficult adjustment for me to scale back on the amount of food I buy and prepare, but I’m slowly adapting. If, like me, you find you are now cooking for one or two, you may want to check out these recipes that are formulated to serve only one or two people.

#4 – Create One Meaningful Life
You’ve got only one life, so make it meaningful. From GPS for the Soul comes this article Tools for Creating a Meaningful Life. Ira Israel, the author gives us 10 things to be mindful of as we go about our lives.

#5 – One Thing

This weekend – do one thing that you’ve always wanted to do, but never have!

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Despite an effort to cut back on our consumption of meat, my husband surprised me this weekend by buying two whole tri-tip roasts. The bargain package of meat he grilled will certainly last us a while. More simply put, with only two of us at home, we each have one roast to eat up! The plus side of having so much cooked meat is I get a temporary reprieve from cooking dinner. The negative side of it is you can bet the dog is going to find beef mixed in with his low cholesterol kibble and I’m going to need to prevent sliced-tri-tip-boredom by being creative. Off the top of my head, I’m planning French Dip sandwiches and sliced beef salads. I’m also thinking of a few sauces that pair nicely with grilled beef. One obvious example is barbecue sauce. Here’s an easy recipe that uses ingredients that most of us have at home. You’ll notice that there is no sugar listed – don’t need any, thanks to the ketchup and the Coca-Cola!

Georgia Coke Barbecue Sauce
Recipe from Nathalie Dupree’s New Southern Cooking cookbook

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 cups ketchup
6 ounces Coca-Cola
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion; cook 5 minutes. Do not brown. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce the heat. Simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.

Makes 1½ cups

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Do not use diet cola! The recipe needs the original Coca-Cola for it’s flavor and sugar.
2. This barbecue sauce is good and simple to make, but if you’re wanting one with a great depth of flavor, this may not be the one for you.
3. My hubby thinks this would be great on chicken, too!

Enjoy!

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The outside temperature says it’s another hot summer day, but the heat doesn’t stop me from going outside with my camera. I know I will never get this day back again, so I seek to capture bits and pieces of it to enjoy and to record in my memory. Looking through my camera lens, I see things differently. Something mundane or ordinary becomes extraordinary when focused on intently. If you always look at things from the same distance and in the same way, they will never change. However, if you zoom in on them, you might see them in new and exciting ways.

#1 – Creativity in the Kitchen
Creativity reigns in the kitchen if you think outside the box. Here’s a series of ideas from Easy Food that are so interestingly-good, they need to be shared!

#2 – Reuse It!
While cleaning out my craft closet this week, I came up with a way to keep my many spools of ribbon from becoming a tangled mess in their tray. After cutting tubular accordian-foam sleeves, that protect fruit packed in boxes, into narrow bands, I placed a band around each spool of ribbon. Each band gently prevents the ribbon from unrolling. These bands work so much better than rubber bands, which can crush the ribbon, or tape, which can leave a sticky residue on ribbon. I’ve also used these foam sleeves to keep my rolls of wrapping paper from unrolling and for protecting fragile Christmas ornaments while they are in storage. Three ways to reuse something that’s normally tossed away!

#3 – Dimensions in Art

Sculptural Painting by Shintaro Ohata

Born in Hiroshima, Japan, artist Shintaro Ohata creates work of art that depict the “little things in everyday life.” His charactersistic style tells his stories by combining 2-D and 3-D elements – by placing sculptures in front of paintings. Additional dramatic effect is created in his artwork by his extraordinary ability to paint light and by his use of a young girl as his subject and representation of youth.

#4 – Cases for Cheer
Here’s an example of someone who looks at and thinks about pillowcases differently. When her Great Aunt Willie passed away from ovarian cancer a few years ago, 10-year-old Madison Zenker, founded Cases for Cheer, a nonprofit that makes and donates colorful pillowcases to cancer patients. Now thirteen-years-old, Madison continues to bring cheer to those going through cancer treatment and is a wonderful example of how someone so young, with a simple idea and the desire to help others, gives hope for the future of our world. If interested in donating funds, fabric, or time to Madison’s cause, check out Cases for Cheer.

#5 – Fountain of Youth
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
Sophia Loren

Tap into your “fountain of youth” this weekend by doing something you love!

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He steps warily over boxes and scraps of paper as he navigates around the room. His eyes track from the sink full of dirty dishes to the pot on the stove filled with some kind of white crystalline concoction and then over to the oven door covered with red sticky stuff. Paint brushes, bottles of paint, and scraps of bunched-up dirty paper towels litter the dark granite countertop. He hears a sound and immediately turns towards it. Suspiciously, he eyes a bedraggled stranger sitting on the family room sofa. “What have you done with my wife?” he demands of the stranger. With hair jutting out at awkward angles and a face covered with smudges, the stranger casts a stern look at him and shouts back, “What?!! Bloggers have bad days, too!”

Needless to say, some of my projects did not go very smoothly today. I won’t bore you with the whole story, but let me just say that my completed craft project looked like a kindergarten student made it and I made more than one mistake when making the coffee cake! After getting back on track with the recipe, all was well again until the coffee cake rose over the top of the pan and heaved big globs of sticky fruit sauce imbedded with streusel chunks all over my oven racks. But despite all that happened today, this Strawberry-Rhubarb Coffee Cake AKA Bad Day Coffee Cake turned out perfectly delicious!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Recipe developed by Emily Donahue for Rosey’s Coffee and Tea in Hanover, New Hampshire, and featured in Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine.

Ingredients:
1¼ cups chilled unsalted butter, plus more, softened, for pan
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/3 cup cornstarch
2¾ cups sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
1½ pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1½ cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9-by-12-by-3-inch baking pan with butter, and set aside. Make fruit sauce: Combine lemon juice, cornstarch, and 1 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Add strawberries and rhubarb; cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until rhubarb is soft and liquid has thickened, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; let cool.

2. Make the crumb topping: Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup flour in a medium bowl. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Drizzle butter over flour mixture; using your hands, mix until crumbly. Set aside.

3. Make cake batter: Whisk together remaining 3 cups flour and 1 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife or two forks, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Pour into flour mixture; stir to combine.

4. Spread half the cake batter evenly into the prepared pan. Top with half the fruit sauce. Carefully spread the remaining batter over the fruit, and top with the remaining fruit sauce. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.

5. Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched in the center, about one hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares.

Serves 15

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Please note that there is divided use of the sugar, flour, and butter!
2. The fruit sauce thickens quickly. Keep stirring, but continue to cook it long enough to allow the strawberries and rhubarb to soften and release juices.
3. I melted the butter in a glass measuring cup in the microwave.
4. The next time I make this, I will place a parchment paper-lined pan under the baking dish to catch the globs of fruit and streusel that spill over!

Enjoy!

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Hand-carried from Paris, France, by my son and new daughter-in-law, these brightly-colored macarons deserve to be eaten while at their peak of perfection. The smooth meringue domes break ever so delicately to reveal a soft and chewy layer hidden beneath the surface. The fillings of cream or jam excite the palate with their complementary, yet surprising flavors. Ah, such is my dilemma . . . should I eat them all in one day? Should I risk their loss of perfection and savor them over the next couple of days? More importantly, should I share them with my husband? Bien sûr, mon cheri!

#1 – Deskercise

Illustration by Tanya Burr

After eating all those macarons, I’m going to need some exercise! With a deadline looming ahead, there’s no time for me to go to the gym right now, so I’m “deskercising” instead. Read Deskercise! 33 Ways to Exercise at Work and come to the realization that you can exercise anywhere and any place!

#2 – Makers
What do journalist Christiane Amanpour, non-profit healthcare advocate Jane Chen, groundbreaker Marian Wright Edelman, architect Maya Lin, and boxer Marlen Esparza have in common? They are among the hundreds of Makers. Makers.com is an initiative by PBS and AOL that “celebrates women who make America.” Watch interviews of these incredible women and their inspiring achievements.

#3 – Dish of the Month
While going through a stack of old Nutrition Action Health Letters, I came across a recipe that sounds quick, tasty and healthy:

60 Second Salad Dressing
Whisk 2 Tbs. regular mayonnaise with 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbs. orange juice, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Toss with 8 cups of salad greens and top with 2 cups of chopped vegetables – try bell pepper, carrot, celery, cucumber, tomato, and avocado.

#4 – What To Wear?
With a high school reunion coming up quickly, a fluttering of emails arrived on my computer. “What are you wearing to the reunion?” was the most frequently asked question. Even though I already knew what I was going to wear, it was ironic that I stumbled across a site which provided a helpful video on reunion attire. So if you need help deciding What to Wear, Where, watch one of these videos!

#5 – Perspective

Work for a cause, not for applause.
Live life to express, not to impress.
Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.
Unknown

Have a fabulous weekend!

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Cool and refreshing  – what more could you want from a recipe using ripe summer melons? How about something unexpected? The first few bites of this sweet melon mélange reveal subtle hints of orange and ginger, but the next few bites pique your interest. A splash of Cointreau elevates the flavors from sophisticated to sublime. Should you serve this dish as a salad or as a dessert? Your choice – it’s great for both!

Melon With Orange-Ginger Syrup
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
1 cup freshly squeezed and strained orange juice (about 4 oranges), plus zest of 2 oranges
1 cup sugar
1/2 ounce ginger, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Cointreau
1 small honeydew melon, cut in half, seeded
1 small canary melon, cut in half, seeded
1 cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch wedges
Mint sprigs, for garnish

Directions:
1. Fill a large bowl with ice and water; set aside. Place the orange juice, sugar, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and syrup has thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat; strain syrup into a clean bowl; add the Cointreau; stir to combine. Set bowl in ice bath, or chill in refrigerator, until syrup is cold.

2. Using different sizes of melon ballers, cut balls from the honeydew and canary melons. Place balls in a medium bowl; add 1/2 cup cold syrup and orange zest. Toss to combine.

3. To serve, arrange cantaloupe on a platter. Spoon melon balls on top. Serve extra melon balls on the side. Drizzle melons with syrup; garnish with mint. Serve with remaining syrup on the side.

Serves 8.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. With all the wonderful melons available, don’t feel restricted to only using the types of melons called for in the recipe. Do, however, try to select a variety of melons that will give you a colorful array of melon flesh.

2. The recipe suggests creating different size melon balls. I’m sure the presentation would have been more attractive if the melon balls were different sizes, but I only have one melon baller. That’s life!

ENJOY!

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Walking down the “white” carpet with a smile on my face and a handsome young man on my arm, I spied a dozen cameras pointed at me. For a fleeting moment, in my pretty dress and sparkling shoes, I felt like a celebrity. I wasn’t a celebrity, but I was something better – a very happy mother-of-the-groom being escorted down the aisle by the best man, my charming oldest son!

#1 – Taking Better Videos on your Smartphone
If someone was taking a video of the wedding processional using their smartphone, I hope they read “How Can I Shoot Better Video On My Smartphone?” first. Whether you’re a paparazzi or a parent or a grandparent trying to record special moments, you’ll benefit from these helpful tips provided in this Lifehacker article.

#2 – Those Deceiving Snacks!

It’s easy to be confused about which snacks are healthy and which ones are not. Most snacks start out with a healthy ingredient, but become unhealthy as other ingredients are added and processing takes over. Here’s a list of 50 Seemingly Healthy Foods That Are Bad for You from Shape Magazine. To whet your interest, I offer you the first dozen offenders on the list:

1. Microwave Popcorn
2. Light Salad Dressing
3. Trail Mix
4. Granola
5. Artichoke Spinach Dip
6. Flavored Fat-Free Yogurt
7. Dried Fruit
8. Flavored Soy Milk
9. Energy Drinks
10. Smoothies
11. Turkey Sandwich
12. Parfait

#3 – Creative Billboards

Creativity knows no bounds, as is illustrated in these billboards from around the world.

#4 – Food to Go or Go to Food?

Every month, somewhere in this world, there’s a food show, food competition, or food festival being held. If you like to travel and if you like to eat good food, you may want to arrange your travels around food festivals. Here are just a few on my food “bucket” list:

January – Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie (World Pastry Cup), Lyon, France

February – Salon du Chocolat (in French), Marseille, France

March – Paris Cookbook Fair, Paris, France

April – The Great American Pie Festival, Celebration, Florida

May – International Biscuit Festival, Knoxville, Tennessee

June – Arcata Bay Oyster Festival, Arcata, California

July – Garlic Festival, Gilroy, California

August – Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, Maine

September – Ludlow Food Festival, England

October – Truffle Festival, Alba, Italy

November – Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Kona, Hawaii

December – Baker’s Market, Vancouver, BC

For a more comprehensive list of food festivals all year long, go to foodreference.com

#5 – I Believe
“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”
― Audrey Hepburn

Have an unbelievably great weekend!

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