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Archive for March, 2014

Poppies and Oaks Take a walk through this photo with me. What do you see? Trees? Yes, what kind of trees? Flowers? How many different colored flowers are there? Looking at the shadows, from what direction is the sun shining? How observant are you when you are out and about? When you go for a walk, do you take in the sights, the sounds, and the smells that bombard your senses or do you push the sensory inputs away? Although it’s nice to chat with friends or listen to a book or music while walking, every now and then try being fully present during a walk and be grateful for the wondrous world around you.

#1 – The Gift of the Present
20 Calming or Invigorating Mini Meditations You Can Practice Every Day Do you feel as if you operate on autopilot most of the time? The hustle and bustle of our days can carry us million of miles away from the present moment and distract us from reveling in the only moment we have for sure. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. wrote an article called, 20 Calming or Invigorating Mini Meditations You Can Practice Every Day. Whether you practice meditation or not, read through her list and select one of the entries to try today. You might find that, as a result, you are a kinder, more patient, and more focused person. I appreciated the entire list, but these five entries resonated with me:

Think of your mind as a swinging door. “Thoughts and feelings come in and out, like people. Be the door, not the doorman.”

When you turn on the faucet, focus on the bigger picture. “See the water flowing down from the glaciers and mountains, running deep into the earth, sustaining you and all life.”

Visualize a mountain lake with a smooth, glassy surface. A breeze sends ripples across the water. As the breeze quiets down, so do the ripples, and the water returns to being smooth. When something ruffles you, return to this visualization. “Feel the ripples and then let them settle.”

When you get home from work, every day, stand in front of your door and appreciate the moment. Rejoice in it. “Breathe in and out three times.”

As you’re trying to fall asleep, “imagine that with each breath you are melting into an ocean of light and space.”

#2 – The Bottom of the Jar
Whole Foods Condiments Do you throw away bottles or jars of ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise when just a little bit remains in the container? The next time you’re in that situation, don’t throw it away. Try creating something new by using one of these recipes from Whole Foods. For example, did you know that you could make Caesar Dressing or Honey Mustard Marinade with just the tablespoon or two that’s normally left at the bottom?

# 3 – Discard Art
Hey, how many times do I have to tell you not to throw stuff away? Instead, use your imagination and let your inner artist come out. You could create:

Giant Fish Sculptures from Discarded Plastic Bottles
Fish Sculpture From Discarded Bottles

Dresses From Recycled Materials Money Dress: Dress ,made from recycled materials


Stacked Book Sculptures
Used Book Sculptures


Watch Part Sculptures
Watch Part Sculptures

Junk Part Portraits Junk Parts Portraits

#4 – A Letter From Dad
A Letter From a Father to His Daughter Dr. Kelly Flanigan, a therapist, wrote a inspirational and thought-provoking letter to his young daughter about relationships. Every person, not just women, should read it. Relationships are two-way streets and both parties must know their worth and must recognize the value in themselves.

#5 – Just A Moment
“Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.”
― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Be in the present. Now go and spread joy!

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DIY Fabric Tags Late-night cravings and weight gain are taking their toll on my body. Tell me again, when is the baby due? With months to go, my daughter-in-law’s pregnancy seems to be progressing far too slowly for this excited Chinese grandma or Yin Yin, as I will be called. In an effort to curb my sympathetic pregnancy symptoms (did I already mention late-night cravings and weight gain?) and to use some of my anticipatory energy, I’ve started making things for my upcoming grandbaby. Not wanting to appear self-obsessed, but still wanting to convey the love that went into each handmade piece, I decided to create my own fabric labels. After a little online search, I came across a helpful article on the wonderful site lil blue boo. I don’t know and I don’t care whether the baby is a boy or a girl, but I do know that he or she has already captured my heart!

SUPPLIES
SuperSoft Inkjet Transfer Paper
Ink jet printer
Iron
Ironing board
Pillowcase
Scissors
Assorted ribbon, optional

DIRECTIONS
1. Design your tag, logo, etc. on a computer.

2. Fill a page with different sized fonts of your design to suit your purposes. My font sizes ranged from 16 to 36. DIY Fabric Tags: Positive image

3. Flip your page of designs on the computer, because you will need a reverse image to print on the transfer paper. DIY Fabric Tags: Reverse image

4. Print a test sample using plain paper.

5. Stick a sheet of transfer paper into your printer and print according to the manufacturer’s suggestions. The light blue side is the back side of the paper. Do not print on this side. SuperSoft Inkjet Transfer Paper

6. Using scissors or a paper cutter, cut into tag-sized pieces.
DIY Fabric Tags: Cut into pieces

7. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to transfer image to fabric.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used Pages to reverse the image, because I didn’t know how to do it using Word.

2. I recommend printing a sample of your design page on plain paper first, before printing on the transfer paper. Doing this, you will be able to see any mistakes, any need for color adjustment, spacing issues, etc.

3. Make sure to use an old pillowcase to iron on and to protect your ironing board, because scorching from the iron may occur and excess adhesive may stick to the pillowcase.

4. I purchased the SuperSoft Inkjet Transfer Paper through the Dharma Trading Company.

5. This particular transfer paper is soft enough to be used as a “tagless” tag. Transfer image directly onto fabric, instead of ribbon.

Add a nice finishing touch to your handmade gifts by creating your own fabric tags!

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California Poppies A morning stroll leads me past a bend of wildflowers. Small spikes of purple lupines contrast beautifully with rounded mounds of orange poppies. One by one,  the tightly-wound poppy buds gradually unfurl as the morning sun warms them. Larger petals catch the breeze and flutter about like dancers with capes. They dance to the sweet melodies of birds, adding perfection to the moment. The day is young, but this day holds promise. How can it not, with such a beautiful beginning?

#1 – Making Napkin Roses
Making Napkin Roses Beautify your home by bringing fresh flowers indoors and make these napkin roses to add a lovely touch to your spring table. Written instructions here.

#2 – Fruit Hacks
Fruit Hacks I can vouch for some of these hacks and am curious to try some of the other 21 Fruit Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier. I’m game for anything that makes life easier, aren’t you?

#3 – The House on the Hill

Behind a Little House

Manuel Cosentino

Italian artist Manuel Cosentino visited a little house on a hill, over a two-year period, to photograph it against dramatic natural elements. Although the little house stands small in stature compared to the vastness of its backdrop, it acts as an anchor to the perpetual motion of time and weather. To see more of Cosentino’s Behind a Little House project, click here.

#4 – Would You Stay Here?
Giraffe Manor in Kenya If eating breakfast with giraffes sounds like an interesting way to start the day, then you need to plan a visit to the Giraffe Manor in Kenya. I’m not keen on any type of “before you die” wording and I can’t figure out why people don’t just say “while you enjoy life.” That being said, after viewing 48 Epic Dream Hotels to Visit Before You Die, I added a few more places to visit while I’m enjoying my life!

#5 – No Matter What, Wildflowers Still Bloom
“No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.”
Sheryl Crow

Have a lovely weekend. Now go and spread joy!

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Crispy Roasted Chickpeas Crunch a munch or is it munch a crunch? Either way, roasted chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, make for a crunchy and healthy snack when you have the munchies. Chickpeas roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper become a simple and satisfying treat – or kick up the flavors by using your own favorite combination of spices or by adding one of the spice mixtures included below. According SELF Nutrition Data: This food is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6 and Folate, and a very good source of Manganese.

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
Adapted from a Rachael Ray Recipe

BASIC INGREDIENTS
1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 T to 1 T olive oil
Salt to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
Pepper to taste, optional
Spice or spice mixture of your choice, to taste (approximately 1/2 to 1 tsp)

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Open can of garbanzo beans and pour into a colander, wire-mesh sieve, or salad spinner.

3. Drain, rinse well with cold water, and drain again for about 10 minutes.

4. Pour onto towels (paper or kitchen) on a flat surface and cover with another towel. Roll the chickpeas between the towels to dry. This also helps to remove any loose skin from the chickpeas. Discard skin.

5. Combine the chickpeas with oil in a large bowl. Add selected spices or spice mixture. Stir to evenly distribute spice mixture.

6. Pour the seasoned chickpeas out onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray and bake until crunchy, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Moroccan-Style Spice Mix:
Fine Cooking Magazine
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cloves

In a small bowl, mix all of the spices. Store in an airtight container.

Cajun Spice
Whole Foods Cookbook
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon paprika
1/8 cup dried thyme
1/8 cup dried oregano
1 T cumin powder
1 T onion powder
1/8 cup garlic powder
1/8 cup dried sweet basil
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T freshly ground white pepper
1 T cayenne pepper
1/8 cup salt

Combine all ingredients. Keep stored in a covered jar in a cool dark place for up to 6 months. Makes 1¼ cups.

Mexican Spice Mixture
Whole Foods Cookbook
1 T chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients. Keep stored in a covered jar in a cool dark place for up to 6 months.

Homemade Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix
$5 Dinners
2 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp pepper

Add each of the dried spices to a bowl and gently stir. Store in a resealable plastic baggie or small ball canning jar with tight fitting lid in your spice cabinet.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Canned chickpeas have a fair amount of sodium. To control sodium levels and to have more flavorful chickpeas, it is best to soak and cook chickpeas yourself. Check out this link on How to Soak and Cook Chickpeas. At the very least, to keep this a healthy snack, use low sodium canned chickpeas.

2. Keep in mind that the chickpeas dehydrate while roasting, so one can does not yield a lot of the finished product. You’ll probably want to double the recipe.

3. Bake the chickpeas until they are Corn-Nut-crunchy, unless you prefer them chewy in the center.

4.  About halfway through the baking time, I took the tray out of the oven, stirred the chickpeas around, and then put the tray back into the oven to finish baking.

5. I roasted chickpeas with the Moroccan-Style Spice Mix for the photo.

Enjoy!

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Phalaenopsis Orchid Image A miracle happened. A magnificent flower blossomed under the care of a person who has two brown thumbs. Yes, that person is me. Several years ago a friend gave me an orchid for my birthday. Acknowledging my inability to keep plants alive, she said something to the effect, “It’s pretty to look at now.” I believe in miracles, because not believing in them would mean I have no hope. Despite witnessing the orchid’s flowerless years, I always hoped it would bloom again. Knowing what little care I give to it, it’s a miracle to me that this plant has flowers at all and that, in itself, gives me hope that it will bloom again. Hope and miracles perpetuate each other.

#1 – 21 Questions About Yourself
Marcel Proust When I want to get to know a person better, I ask him questions. Following that logic, why not ask questions of myself to, perhaps, learn something from my answers? French writer Marcel Proust answered a questionnaire in a friend’s confession book, a type of autograph book popular in the late nineteenth century. The questions and subsequent answers were meant to reveal one’s innermost thoughts. Selecting questions from a Proust Questionnaire on Wikipedia and from Marta Randall’s Proust’s Character Questionnaire, I present you with 21 questions to answer about yourself. By answering honestly, you might learn something new.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
2. When and where were you the most happiest?
3. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
4. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
5. Where would you like to live?
6. What is your favorite journey?
7. What is your most treasured possession?
8. What is your greatest extravagance?
9. What is your most marked characteristic?
10. Which talent would you most like to have?
11. What is it that you most dislike?
12. What is your greatest fear?
13. If not yourself, who would you be?
14. What is your greatest regret?
15. On what occasions do you lie?
16. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
17. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
18. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
19. What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
20. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
21. What is your motto?

#2 – Light Up Your World
Easy Mason Jar Luminaries Here’s a project that will have you saying, “Why didn’t I think of that!” Buy new mason jars or, even better, repurpose glass jars you already have sitting in a kitchen cabinet and cover them with glass “pebbles.” The easy instructions are here.

#3 – Keeping Avocados Green
Keeping avocados fresh and green This isn’t a miracle, but if it works, it’s a great kitchen tip. According to The Kitchn, the best way to keep avocados fresh and green is to store the cut avocado in an airtight container with a chunk of onion. Put the lid on the container and place it in the refrigerator. I plan on testing this tip out this weekend. Have any of you had success with this method?

#4 – Avoid The Lines
Lines at the Eifel tower Wouldn’t it be a miracle if you could just walk up to the Eiffel Tower and get to the top of it immediately without having to wait in line? For those of you who are planning vacations right now to a major tourist destination, this article How to Beat The Queues At The World’s Busiest Attractions may be of help.

#5 – Miracles Happen Everyday
Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you’ll see them all around you.
Jon Bon Jovi

Now go and spread joy!

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Corned Beef Potato Salad Take the usual St. Patrick’s Day fare and serve it up with a new twist. Toss corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes together with a few other ingredients and a homemade dressing and you have a potato salad good enough to catch a leprechaun. Every now and then, while searching for a recipe, I come across two similar recipes and can’t decide which one to try. This recently happened with two corned beef potato salad recipes, so I decided to do a head-to-head taste test. The recipes are much the same, but with a few interesting differences. One recipe uses horseradish and mustard for kick and the other recipe gets additional flavor boosts from celery and mustard seeds. One recipe uses sauerkraut and the other uses freshly shredded cabbage. Subtle, but distinct differences. I liked them both. I say po-tay-to and you say po-tah-to. You choose.

Dublin Potato Salad (Top Photo)
Taste of Home

INGREDIENTS
3 large white potatoes (about 1½ pounds)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided use
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
12 ounces cooked or canned corned beef, cubed
1/4 chopped dill pickle
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk

DIRECTIONS
1. Cover potatoes in lightly salted water and boil until tender. Drain, peel and cube.
2. Combine vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard seed, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; drizzle over still-warm potatoes. Cover and chill.
3. Just before serving, gently fold in cabbage, corned beef, pickle and onion.
4. Combine mayonnaise, milk and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; pour over salad. Gently toss. Serve in cabbage-lined bowl.

Serves 8

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. The evening before, I placed a five-pound piece of corned beef into a crock pot, so that it would be cooked and ready to use by morning.
2. I used shredded cabbage purchased in bags at my local grocery store.
3. This recipe seemed slightly easier to make than the next recipe, because it had fewer ingredients and required less preparation.
4. Of the two recipes, this one yielded a slightly sweeter and creamier potato salad.
5. For my taste buds, this salad required no additional salt. The corned beef brings plenty of sodium to it.
6. This salad tastes better the next day.

Corned Beef Potato Salad (Bottom Photo)
Razzle Dazzle Recipes

INGREDIENTS
Salad Ingredients:
1 can corned beef (the kind you have to open with the attached key) chilled, fat scraped off, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 large potatoes, any kind, about 1½ lbs
4 green onions, minced
1 can (about 1½ C) sauerkraut, drained, rinsed and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped/diced
1/3 C minced dill pickles
1 small jar diced pimentos (optional, for color)

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 C low-fat mayo or salad dressing
1 C low-fat sour cream
2 to 4 T spicy brown prepared mustard
1 to 2 T horseradish
1/4 C milk, broth or pickle juice
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Combine dressing ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Boil whole potatoes in skins until barely tender.
3. Peel and cut into large pieces (2-inches by 2-inches), and place in dressing mixture while still warm. Toss to coat thoroughly.
4. Stir in other ingredients.
5. Refrigerate. Taste and adjust for salt several hours later.
6. Serve cold lettuce. Garnish with cherry tomatoes, sliced

Serves 4 to 6 servings as a main dish

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I used the same five-pound piece of corned beef that I placed into a crock pot the evening before. I don’t know how the recipe would have tasted with canned corned beef.
2. The 2-inch by 2-inch chunks of potatoes seemed too large, so I cut them smaller.
3. Tasting the salad after adding the minimum amounts of horseradish and mustard, I decided to put in the full amounts.
4. I used the pickle juice from the dill pickle jar.
5. Again, for my taste buds, this salad required no additional salt. The corned beef adds plenty of sodium to it.
6. This salad has a little more crunch, kick, and flavor than the other one. The horseradish and mustard bring out the flavor of the corned beef. It is a less creamy potato salad, though.
7. This salad also tastes better the next day.
8. Finally, did you know that sauerkraut is considered a “belly blaster?” According to Dr. Oz’s website: Why it’s a superfood: Directly translated from German as “sour cabbage,” this traditional fermented food delivers gut-friendly flora that boost digestion and can reduce belly inflammation. Sauerkraut’s signature sour taste comes as the added bacteria ferment the naturally occurring sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid; it should keep for months.

Dr. Oz’s Prescription: Check the label carefully and buy only traditional fermented sauerkraut and not one of the more commercially heat-treated brands (which many are), as that will destroy the beneficial bacteria.

Enjoy!

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Goldfinch acrobatics “And for my next trick, I will perform a double rotation with a half-twist . . . ” That’s what I imagine a Goldfinch hanging on a nearby wire is saying. As other birds wait patiently for spots on the bird feeder, this particular bird preens and performs acrobatics. He (I believe it is a male, because of its brilliant color) sports a showmanship flair and a touch of attitude. My creative juices recharge and I feel inspired as I stroll through my yard. My garden hums with vibrant energy as baby squirrels scamper from branch to branch, as blossoms flutter in the breeze, and as birds fly about and fill the air with song. Where do you go to recharge and gain inspiration? (Click on the photo if you want to see this little bird up close).

#1 – Random Acts of Kindness
Random Acts of Kindness Kindness lives in all of us. For some of us it’s always on the surface of our hearts. For others, it may require a direct tug of a heart string. Acts of kindness rarely make the news, unless they are on a grand scale. But in my opinion, every act of kindness is significant, because small ripples of kindness create big waves of good. Check out Moments of Human Kindness and you’ll instantly feel better.

#2 – A World of Hope
A World of Hope March 8th is International Women’s Day. CNN asked women to complete this sentence: “Build a world where I can . . . ” Click here to read answers from men and women around the world and see what kind of world they want to build.

#3 – Repurpose! Repurpose! Repurpose!
28 Creative Ideas for Repurposing Old Items My husband will confirm that one of the most frequent phrases he hears me utter is, “You’re not going to throw that away are you?” Being big on repurposing and upcycling, I always like to share any repurposing inspiration that I come across. Here are 28 Creative Ideas for Repurposing Old Items that just might save a few things from being discarded.

#4 – Inspirational Quotes
Miles Davis Quote If a walk outdoors doesn’t inspire creativity in you, maybe reading 10 Quotes To Inspire Your Inner Creative will help.

#5 – What Do You See?
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity . . . and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.“
William Blake

Now go and spread joy!

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