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Archive for September, 2013

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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T-Shirt Scarves

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

Edward Everett Hale

This quote resonates in my heart and propels me to find ways to help others. A few weeks ago, I hit upon an idea that not only helps others, but helps planet Earth as well. I am but one person, but I am one person who can make scarves for the homeless out of clean and gently-worn t-shirts. To some people scarves are fashion accessories that lend a splash of color to stylish outfits, but for the homeless scarves are necessities to help them survive the bitter cold. My goal is to make 100 scarves from donated t-shirts that otherwise would be discarded and distribute them to the homeless via a local homeless shelter. I will continue to make scarves for the homeless as long as I keep receiving t-shirt donations.

You are but one person, but you, too, can help. Follow the easy directions below to make scarves and call your local homeless shelters to find out the best way to distribute your scarves.

HOW TO MAKE T-SHIRT SCARVES

YOU WILL NEED
T-shirts, the larger the shirt, the longer the scarf loops will be
Sharp scissors or rotary cutter
Cutting mat, if using a rotary cutter
Yardstick

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Lay the t-shirt down on a flat surface. Smooth fabric and make sure bottom and sleeve hems are even.

2. Cut the bottom hem off. T-Shirt Scarf Instructions

3. Starting at the bottom of the shirt (on the right side of the photo), cut 3/4-inch strips from side to side on the shirt (bottom to top in this photo). Do not cut through the last inch. Stop cutting rows when you get to the sleeves. T-Shirt Scarf Instructions

4. When you reach the sleeves, cut shirt completely from side to side. T-Shirt Scarf Instructions

5. At this point you should have a series of loops attached by a “spine.”T-shirt Scarf Instructions

6. Thread the spine through your arm and pull each loop to make the fabric curl. T-Shirt Scarf Instructions

7. With the remaining shirt, cut a strip out of it and pull it to make it curl. Tie a knot at each end. T-Shirt Scarf Instructions

8. Gather the spine in one hand. T-Shirt Scarf Instructions

9. Using the small knotted strip, tie a knot around the gathered spine.
T-Shirt Scarf Instructions

10. Et voilà, you have a t-shirt scarf! DIY T-Shirt Scarf

Now go and spread joy!

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Potato Flowers Purple flowers with yellow centers pose against a golden summer backdrop. These two colors sit on opposite sides of a color wheel making them complementary colors. In the world of color theory, they are a dynamic duo. Perhaps, a hopeful lesson for the world can be extrapolated from this theory: that despite being far apart (in color, beliefs, origins, etc.), entities can come together, work together, and bring out the best in each other.

#1 – Color Palettes
Color Palette Search Whether painting a piece of art, decorating your home, coordinating your wardrobe, or planning a wedding, choosing the perfect color palette can be difficult. There are many online sites that offer help. One such site is Design Seeds where you can “find the palettes you love.” Searches can be done by color value or by theme.

#2 – Make Music
Op Art Sound Matrix Click on a square on the Op Art Sound Matrix grid and you have the first note of your song. It is an entertaining and hypnotic little diversion. As far as I can tell, to create another song, you have to leave the page and come back.

#3 – Get Ready to Eat Fall Desserts
Fall Desserts Am I rushing things by sharing 35+ Fall Desserts with you? Not really. The autumnal equinox is only two days away! Stop drooling and click on the link, so that you can get to the mouth-watering recipes ASAP!

#4 – Life = Risk
If you can spare a minute, watch this motivational video. It may change your outlook on life and the way you view people.

#5 – Spread Your Wings
“I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Have a lovely weekend!

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Grilled Fish Tacos If you raise children to have adventurous taste buds and you give them an appreciation for well-prepared food, most likely they will grow up to be good cooks. This little bit of parental advice may not hold true for everyone, but I’ve been rewarded in spades. All my children enjoy cooking good food as much as they enjoy eating good food. Not only do my children enjoy good food, they also share it. I’ve been the lucky recipient of some really wonderful meals prepared by them. A couple of weeks ago, my middle child and his wife treated me to delicious homemade fish tacos. Because they were so good, I had big-time cravings for them and had to make them for myself. These fish tacos are easy to prepare, moist, flavorful, and healthy. No batter or deep-frying involved. Fish Taco Fridays may become a regular occurrence in this household!

Grilled Fish Tacos
Adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe

INGREDIENTS
Tacos:
1 pound white fish, such as mahi mahi, orata, tilapia, basa, etc.
1/4 cup canola oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 flour tortillas*

Garnish:
Shredded white cabbage
Hot sauce, tomato salsa, or pico de gallo
Crema or sour cream
Thinly sliced red onion
Thinly sliced green onion
Chopped cilantro leaves
Queso Fresco, crumbled

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Place fish in a medium size dish. Whisk together the oil, lime juice, ancho, jalapeño, and cilantro and pour over the fish. Let marinade for 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Remove the fish from the marinade and place onto a hot grill. Grill the fish for 4 minutes on the first side and then flip for 30 seconds and remove. Let rest for 5 minutes.

4. Place the tortillas on the grill for 20 seconds.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. *I use corn tortillas instead of flour tortillas. I think they are a better choice for tacos and they are slightly healthier to eat.

2. If you don’t want to grill the tortillas, you can warm them up in a frying pan on your cooktop.

3. The Kachumbari Salad I prepared last week goes wonderfully with these fish tacos.

Enjoy!

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Acorns and Potato Flowers Acorns dangle from oak trees to kiss summer flowers goodbye. With the weather still summery warm, it’s hard to believe that in nine days, fall officially begins. My backyard reflects the coming change. Summer vegetable plants look forlorn and have slowed down their production. Bird feeders require almost daily refills. Squirrels scamper back and forth on the branches of my Japanese maple tree, looking for food and breaking branches as they go. The seasons of my life seem to pass by faster and faster. I’m reluctant to let another season in my life go by, but fall approaches and it deserves to be fully appreciated.

#1 – Foiling Squirrels
Snack Bag Squirrel Deterrent If you look closely at this picture you’ll notice two shiny decorations. As mentioned above, the squirrels have been wreaking havoc in my Japanese maple tree. One night while watching television and eating Skinny Pop with my husband, I came up with an idea. Many snacks, like potato chips and popcorn, come in Mylar bags. Instead of throwing the empty bags away, I rinsed them out and cut them open along the sides. Using clothes pins, I fastened the bags in strategic places to my tree. Every couple of days, I try to outwit the squirrels and move the bags around. So far, so good – no new piles of broken branches on the ground. The only downside to this is trying to explain the “decorations” to visitors.

#2 – Ten on One Page
Infographics Infographics make complex or large amounts of information more understandable. Lifehacker’s Top 10 Infographics and Cheat Sheets That Make Life Easier provides information ranging from how to remove stains to what to do when you get pulled over!

#3 – Print Ads
Clever Ads Maybe I like these 24 Clever Print Ads because I know people in the advertising business or maybe it’s because I’m intrigued with the idea of communicating messages via images. Using the power of a single image, see if these ads grab your attention.

#4 – Do You Eat Store-Bought Cereal Every Morning?
enhanced-buzz-16162-1375889707-9 Well, if you do, you may want to think twice before you discard empty cereal boxes. As seen in this BuzzFeed article 31 Things You Can Make Out of Cereal Boxes, a little bit of cardboard goes a long way!

#5 – Take Charge
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”
Jim Rohn

Enjoy these last days of summer!

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Kachumbari Salad: A Kenyan Tomato Salad Sweet vine-ripened tomatoes, the gems of summer, make the perfect base for salads. From Kenya comes this recipe that pairs tomatoes with red onions, cilantro, chile, and lime juice. Visually attractive and packed with flavor, this salad is the perfect side dish for summer entertaining. Tonight, those incredible flavors will marry beautifully with the fish tacos I’m serving!

Kachumbari Salad
Share: The Cookbook that Celebrates Our Common Humanity

INGREDIENTS
1 lb firm and ripe tomatoes, sliced or diced
1-1½ red onions, very thinly sliced
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 chile, sliced (optional)
1-2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the tomatoes into a medium salad bowl with the onions. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

2. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir in the chile, if using. Season and gradually add the lemon or lime juice to taste.

Serves 4

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. One pound of tomatoes is approximately 2.5 large tomatoes. For this recipe I used about two pounds of assorted tomatoes (cherry, heirloom, and beefsteak).

2. I cut the cherry tomatoes in half from top to bottom, but the larger tomatoes, I sliced crosswise into rounds.

3. Because I sliced them into rounds, I gently mixed the salad in a large pan instead of a bowl. This salad is attractive when arranged on a platter.

4. I used half of a red onion instead of a whole one and I’m glad I did. Even with this reduced amount, there were a lot of onions in this salad.

5. Here are some tips from Craig Kielburger, the contributor of this recipe to the cookbook: If you prefer a milder onion flavor, rinse the onion slices in hot salty water before putting them in the salad. This will ensure the onion is less harsh on the palate. Squeeze the lemon or lime juice into the salad just before serving to avoid sogginess. If the tomato and onion are chopped more finely, this recipe also works well as a homemade salsa.

6. The chile is optional, but its heat adds a nice flavor dimension to the salad.

ENJOY!

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Garden Spider Image Helen, named after the main character in a children’s book, makes picking cherry tomatoes and cucumbers in my garden a challenging experience. People with arachnophobia would avoid this task, since Helen, a large garden spider, has woven a three-foot by six-foot web around the plants. As I look at her work, I recall reading Be Nice To Spiders to my children several decades ago. The storyline revolves around Helen, a spider, who provides many useful services to a zoo. My quandary is what I should do with my new pest-guest and her giant web? Should I destroy it and relocate her or should I just leave her alone and let her do her job?

#1 – Time to Move On
Left undisturbed, Helen, the spider, moved on within two days of my discovering her. Perhaps it was the constant clicking of my camera shutter that annoyed her? How do most of us know when it’s time to move on in our lives? Marc and Angel Hack Life wrote an article titled 9 Reasons It’s Time to Move On that’s filled with insightful and motivating thoughts.

#2 – Chalk It Up!
DIY Chalkboard Projects Chalkboard paint projects are popping up everywhere, from walls to furniture to wine glasses. There’s no reason not to have fun with this product. Here are a few articles to rev up your creativity:

8 Easy Chalkboard Paint DIYs to Try
20 Ways to Use Chalkboard Paint
22 DIY Chalkboard Projects

#3 -Something to Smile About
Mona Lisa image Here’s a short and fun art history lesson by art historian Kathy Galitz. Watch this 3-minute video from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she examines the meaning of smiles during different time periods. We can never learn enough about the world of art, can we?

#4 – Mom’s Recipes
Hand-Written Dutch Apple Cake Recipe I felt like I had discovered lost treasure, when I stumbled upon this flickr site. Someone named Phil scanned and shared all the recipes in his mother’s extensive recipe collection. When I look at the images of handwritten recipes on worn index cards and yellowed newspaper clippings, I appreciate the slice (pun intended) of history and nostalgia that they represent. Plus, I’ve found a few more recipes to try!

#5 – Catching Love
“The means to gain happiness is to throw out from oneself like a spider in all directions an adhesive web of love, and to catch in it all that comes.”
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Enjoy your weekend!

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