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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Ski Safety Tips

As the annual ski trip nears I thought I would share some safety tips with both them and you. So here goes




  • Exercise in advance. It may be a bit late to be in good shape but if you are planning on going skiing in the future you can start to exercise a bit. 
  • Proper ski equipment should be used. Ski resorts often rent out equipment and this is much cheaper than buying and safer than borrowing. Ski boots should fit properly and all bindings should be properly adjusted. 
  • wear a helmet to protect the head. There is no other choice to wear a helmet for your own safety.
  • Layer clothing and wear a helmet liner, a hat or headband. Gloves should be worn as well. Tip: bring an extra pair of gloves in case the first gets wet
  • Take a break when tired. When resting be sure to eat and drink enough Quit while you are ahead and save your energy skiing is hard work
  • Ski with a partner and pre-arrange a meeting place in case you get separated 
  • Know your ability and limit and stay within it.  Stay on trail 

Don't let this happen to you



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Bringing Awareness to Birth Defects

In the United States one out of every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. The sad part is that many of these birth defects can be prevented. Perhaps that is the good part that if you are pregnant or think you may become pregnant in the future you can do something about it.



Yes, you can have a healthier pregnancy and baby if you

  • take a multivitamin with folic acid every day before and during pregnancy
  • See a health personnel as soon as you think  you may be pregnant
  • eat well and stay active
  • avoid alcohol, smoking and other drugs
  • avoid taking medications that are not good for your unborn child


Birth defects can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Every 4 1/2 minutes a baby is born with a birth defect. Birth defects are common, costly and critical. If a baby does survive and live with a birth defect they are at an increased risk for lifelong physical, cognitive and social challenges. This is why it is so important to do all one can to prevent birth defects. 

It is also important to raise awareness of birth defects. More people who are aware empowers the action to prevent birth defects. Get involved in this worthy cause by volunteering time and spreading the message to as many as possible. 


Find out more here
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). “National Birth Defects Prevention Month”. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/prevention-month.html .
National Birth Defects Prevention Network. (2018). “National Birth Defects Prevention Month”. Retrieved from: https://www.nbdpn.org/bdpm.php .

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Memory of Spaghetti and a Million Dollar Recipe

As I grew up I participated in many activities. Sports was one of the largest. I played softball, basketball, and ran cross country. One memory I hold is my mother making spaghetti for me each night before the big game. She had heard spaghetti had lots of good carbs for energy and good for the bones as well. I am sure that most of you know that spaghetti is a long, thin solid cylindrical pasta. However, were you aware that there are two forms of spaghetti??



Spaghetti is a staple of the Italian cuisine. Spaghettoni is a thicker form of spaghetti. Capellini is a very thin type of spaghetti. Authentic Italian spaghetti is made from durum wheat semolina. Other variations of spaghetti may be made with other kinds of flour and at times enriched with vitamins and minerals. Perhaps another bit of trivia you did not know about Spaghetti is that the pasta was longer than it is normally now. Shorter lengths of spaghetti grew in popularity during the second half of the 20th century. Most commonly being sold in lengths of 10 to 12 inches.

To prepare spaghetti whether fresh or dry is to cook it in a large pot of salted, boiling water and then drained in a colander. Italian's cook spaghetti to texture of "to the tooth" which is fully cooked but still firm to bite. However, if one chooses they can cook it to a softer consistency. Spaghettoni will take longer time to cook due to its thickness. Spaghettini will take less time to cook again due to its thickness. Capellini which is a.k.a angel hair pasta cooks super quick.



1 lb. of Ground Beef
1 can of Spaghetti Sauce
8 oz of Cream Cheese                                 
1/4 cup of Sour Cream
1/2 lb. of Cottage Cheese
Whole Stick of Butter
8 oz. of Noodles
Bag of Sharp Cheddar Cheese 

Heat oven to 350 Boil noodles While noodles are boiling go ahead and mix up cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese Mix well
Brown and drain meat. Top meat with sauce
In casserole dish place few slices butter Layer 1/2 of the noodles in bottom of dish Pour the creamy mix over top of noodles Top with meat sauce.
Heat 30 minutes
top with cheese and cook another 15 minutes

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Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup #recipe

Roasted winter vegetable soup



3 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, thickly sliced
1 parsnip, thickly sliced
1 large stalk celery, thickly sliced
½ small butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
½ small fennel bulb, trimmed and cubed
10 whole fresh sage leaves
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5-7 cups vegetable broth (use gluten-free broth if you are gluten-sensitive)
Chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish
Toasted pine nuts, for garnish
Aged balsamic vinegar, for garnish



Place the garlic, vegetables, sage and olive oil in a large roasting pan and stir to mix.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, turning once.  Puree with stock in a food processor or blender. (The amount of stock you need depends on the amount of vegetables you end up with, so start with 5 cups and add more until you get the thickness you want.)  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Reheat and serve, garnishing with pine nuts, parsley and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Note: Feel free to vary the vegetables here – for instance, you could use celery root, turnips and cauliflower in place of the celery, fennel and sweet potato. If you want to spice things up, sauté 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger in 2 tsp. olive oil over low heat for two minutes, adding 1 tsp. each of ground cumin and coriander, plus a pinch of cayenne during the last minute. Add this mixture to the food processor when you are pureeing the soup.

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Read If You Plan TO Lose Weight in 2019

Many may have made the decision to make 2019 the year to commit to losing weight. The top of many resolution list will be found diet plans and fitness goals. These plans often get started off with a rush and last around a month. The main reason is because of making too many changes at once either giving up or doing more. Perhaps, it can be said that many set their selves up to fail on their New Year resolutions.



The sad thing is that many times diet's do not work. They may start out great but they are not set up to be sustained long term. Many believe that a pill, diet program or healthy cleanses have magic in them and offer what we naturally do not have. Our bodies naturally fight back against many of these as they will when faced with fewer calories than our bodies need to function. Sadly this is the reason that 95% of people will lose weight through dieting will gain it all back. Perhaps a better way to shape up is through what is known as body goals.



Body goals focus on self acceptance and nourishment while diets often focus on aesthetic standards and deprivation. While losing weight is the goal of a diet it may not support our health. The act of yo-yo dieting is worst than the fat that you carry. The actions of the on / off diet leads to increase chronic inflammation can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Eating nutritiously and moving about is best for physical health and mental wellbeing.

When we restrict calories from our body to lose weight our body does not understand what is going on. All your body knows is that your body is receiving less fuel than it needs to survive and starts to fight back. The body desires to stay alive and believing that you can not add calories on your own the body begins to hold onto its own calories. However, there is a way to fight back from this slowing down the metabolism while pleasing your body
























In the world of dieting society has a different idea other than the reality of the body. It is not just the fact that one can not stick to a diet it is a fact that our body was not made to go on a diet. Weight loss will not happen because it does not support the well fare of our body In order to help your goal of getting in shape become more real this year talk to someone who can help you rather than simply going on that next fad diet.

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Banana Whipped Cream #Recipe



1 whole Ripe Banana (peeled)
1-¼ cup Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Super Fine Icing Sugar
2 Tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract

In a small bowl, mash the banana very, very well, until there are no chunks left, or at least only very small chunks. I used my hand mixer on the lowest setting to help with this process. I mashed my banana until it was almost a thick liquid consistency. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add the mashed bananas into the whipped cream and mix together by hand, or on the lowest setting of the hand mixer for a very short time (so as to not over whip the cream). Spoon or pipe over anything!

To make the strawberry and biscuit jars in the picture, break 3 crispy sponge fingers into each jar and top with a generous handful of strawberry pieces. Pipe the banana whipped cream over it using a large piping star.

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Southern Illinois WInter Bird === Blue Jay

Backyard bird watching has been something that my mother did when I was a child. Having several bird feeders in her yard she was able to watch to her delight. The sport has become one of the most popular past times in the U.S. In addition, bird feeders, bird houses, water and wildlife friendly landscapes are often provided by those that love to watch the birds.



Birds benefit from trees, shrubs and flowers native to Illinois. My mother as well as other bird watchers often plant plants and flowers that provide food and a safe nesting place for the birds. Some of the many birds that can be seen in the state of Illinois in the winter time include:


















Blue Jays use the flora and fauna found in their ecosystem. The large crested songbird has bright blue coloration and is native to North America.  have been known to carry acorns and helping to spread the oak forest across North America. Blue jays are very intelligent as well as a highly aggressive breed of bird.

These large size songbirds weigh around 2.5 to 3.5 ozs. and are between 9 to 12 inches in length. Blue jays also have a promoted blue crest on their heads that lowers or raises depending on mood and bristles out when the bird becomes aggressive or frightened. The blue jays face is white in color and also has an off white underbelly. The color black covers the birds neck and goes down th sides of their heads. The birds bill, legs and eyes are all black. The birds wings and tail are black, sky blue in color with white bars. No matter the sex of the bird they are both nearly identical.



Blue jays live in small flocks and are very protective of their nesting space. Predators such as hawks, eagles and raptors hunt on blue jays. Groups of blue jays will attack larger birds in order of protection. Another role of protection is to mimic the call of larger birds to see if any are in the area. The mimic calls are also used to scare other birds from a food source. In addition, blue jays have been known to attack humans when they come to near.

Did you know

  • if the feather of a blue jay is crushed it will not stay blue 
  • Blue jays breed from mid March to July
  • Nests of blue jays are often found in evergreen trees and shrubs that are 10 to 35 feet off the ground.
  • Blue jays pair up and stay together for life
  • The flight speed of Blue Jay is between 20 to 25 miles per hour
  • Blue Jays eat nuts, acorns, corn, berries, seeds, insects an peanuts
  • Blue jays can bully smaller birds at the feeder but wait their turn with birds their own size. 
Want to Feed Blue Jays?? 


    Blue jays will eat feed from a bird feeder or off the ground. You will have to watch them eat from a far as they often do not approach if a human is near. Blue Jays also enjoy eating from suet feeders.


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National Keto Day ++++ Delicious Bacon Recipe

January 5th is National Keto day. Most likely you have heard about this new style of dieting known as Keto. It seems to be transforming health of individuals with a high fat, low carb diet. In addition there are a number of benefits to this diet.



Weight loss and a healthy blood sugar are two major benefits of the keto diet. Those with type 2 diabetes following the keto diet have been able to improve their glycemic control. The keto diet can also improve an individuals cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Perhaps it would be beneficial for those with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

The keto diet eliminates carbohydrates and forces the body to use up glycogen that has been stored. By doing this the body begins to burn fat. Healthy fats such as eggs, avocado, olive oil and sustainably raised meats are primarily what the Keto diet is built on. Other foods such as seeds, nuts, dairy and low carb veggies are included in the diet as well. There are other foods that can be part of the Keto diet as well. However, there are foods that should be eliminated to correctly follow the Keto diet, these foods include:

  • sweets, sugar, sodas, baked goods
  • grains, whole grains, and starches
  • fruits, starchy vegetables
  • hydrogenated oils, vegetable oil
  • diet foods, including low sugar, sugar-free, low-fat foods

One food that is accepted on the Keto diet is bacon. Bacon contains omega 3 fatty acids just like fish. These fatty acids can help protect the heart and keep it functioning. Choline is another nutrient found in bacon. Choline is important for memory and intelligence as well as to fight off mental impairments such as Alzheimer's disease 




6 Large Eggs
6 slices Bacon
3oz of your favourite, grated. Cheese 
pinch Salt 
pinch Black Pepper 


This recipe could not be simpler, and will have you in bacon and egg heaven before you know it! First up, grab a muffin tray and grease with a little oil to stop the bacon and eggs from sticking. 
Put one slice of bacon into each muffin slot, making sure that the bacon is wrapped around the sides and not on the bottom of the tin.
Crack an egg into each slot with the bacon. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on top, and top it off with a sprinkling of your favourite grated cheese (we used sharp cheddar). 
Get these bad boys in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F (180 C). When they emerge the will be bubbling with keto goodness. I love to eat these hot or cold, and often take cold ones to work for a snack in my lunchbox. A truly great little snack for boosting your fat intake! Let us know what you think in the comments.
**TOP TIP** If you prefer your eggs a bit more runny, cook the bacon in the muffin tin for 10 minutes first, and then crack in the eggs before cooking for another 10.

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

vegetarian chili #recipe





2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-3 tablespoons chili powder (more will be spicier)
2 tablespoons of cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 – 2 teaspoons of chili flakes (the more chili flakes the spicier it will be)
2 bell peppers, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 – 28oz cans of whole tomatoes and their juice (use your hands to roughly crush the tomatoes)
2 – 15-ounce cans of beans, drained and rinsed (I like kidney and white beans)
2 cup of frozen corn (you could use fresh but frozen is easy and works great)
Salt, to taste (I like about 2 teaspoons)
Non-veg option: 1/4 cup prawn stock (you won't taste it specifically but it will add richness to the dish)
Optional toppings: sour cream, cheddar cheese, cilantro, diced avocados or green onion

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, and chili flakes and stir for about 30 seconds.
Add the peppers, carrots, and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they just start to soften. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to a simmer. Once the chili begins to simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low. You want the chili to be at a low simmer with the lid off.
Continue to cook the chili, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add beans and corn and let the chili return to a simmer. Cook for 5 more minutes or until the corn and beans have heated through.
Generously salt to taste.
Serve on its own or topped with one (or all!) of the delicious toppings.

Enjoy!

recipe resource from this great website 

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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Dry January


In the United Kingdom a movement known as Dry January is currently not only going on but growing as well. The movement has millions of individuals who are giving up alcohol for the month of January. The movement is ran by the charity Alcohol Change UK.

Starting on the first of January New Years Day until the first of February participants can have no alcohol. There is no good time or golden ticket for a day off If you start late or decide to have a drink along the way your body will still thank you for a drier January However, if you do make it through the entire month you will get an even larger benefit



One of the largest benefits is seeing that you don't have to have alcohol. It is not something needed to have fun, go out with friends, stay in, relax or do anything that you nearly always had alcohol with. Learning that lesson will help you gain a bit of control over your drinking

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Improve Your Liver Health With Morning Cup of Coffee

The liver is in an important part of the body that is in charge of performing a variety of essential tasks. Responsible for producing proteins, cholesterol and bile to storing vitamins, minerals and even carbohydrates The liver also breaks down toxins like alcohol, medication and natural byproducts of metabolism. Therefore it is important for maintaining health.



Your morning cup of coffee is one thing that can help promote your liver health. Drinking coffee can help protect liver from disease and aide those who are all ready suffering with problems of the liver. Studies have shown that coffee can help lower the risk of cirrhosis in those with chronic liver disease. In addition coffee may also help reduce risk of common type of liver cancer.



Those drinking 3 cups of coffee or more a day are often those that see the largest benefit. The consumption of coffee helps prevent the buildup of fat and collagen which are the two main components of liver disease. Levels of antioxidant can also be decreased by drinking coffee. The antioxidants neutralize harmful free radicals that are produced naturally in the body and causes damage to cells.

Enjoy a cup of morning coffee your liver will thank you.

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Take the Polar Bear Plunge

A polar bear plunge is defined as an event held during the winter where  participants enter a body of water despite the low temp in the United States. Normally held to raise money for charitable organizations they can also be hosted on New Year's Day as part of a celebration.



Each and every year there are those with warm hearts that head out into the cold water for a good reason. Individuals, organizations and businesses all join in to support Special Olympics Illinois. The funds raised thru this campaign will go to provide programing and events for more than 23,000 traditional athletes and 20,000 young adults. Thus allowing these men and women to show what they can do to the world



Those participating in the polar plunge will each raise a minimum of $100. Friends, family members and co-workers will help sponsor these participants who plan to jump into icy waters in the middle of the winter. Age is not the issue as those above the age of 18 or those under 18 with a parent signed waiver can participate.




Under 18, no problem! Individuals under the age of 18 are able to participate but must have a parent or guardian sign a waiver form.  No one of any age is allowed to be carried into the water.

Attire: Anything goes, except a wetsuit.  Shoes recommended; costumes are encouraged.  Remember to bring a towel to dry off!

Each plunger receives an exclusive 2019 Polar Plunge sweatshirt and entrance into a Post-Plunge party (when applicable), plus the chance to win additional prizes for raising more money.

Polar Plunges will take place from Feb. 15 to March 24 in 23 different locations around the state!



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Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Take Care of Those Choppers

Gum tissue is simply a layer of skin over bone tissue of the upper (maxilla) jaw and the lower (mandible) jaw. As long as the underlying jaw bone is intact the gum tissue will stay strong and high on the teeth. Gum recession occurs when the bone that supports the gum tissue withdraws. There are a few different reasons that this may take place



  • periodontal disease (advanced gum disease)
  • bruxism (clenching and grinding the teeth)
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • trauma
  • genetics



Gum disease has become more common in modern times. Nearly half of all adult around 30 and under 65 have gum disease and those over the age of 65 have more than 70% chance of having a periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a gum disease that has advanced to the point where the jaw bone is compromised The disease can not only destroy bone tissue but also cause chronic inflammation which endangers the jaw bone.

Bruxism which is clenching and grinding the teeth at night may be related to stress as long thought but a new thought is that it may be associated with mild sleep apnea. If you are a teeth grinder you should check with the doctor to ensure it is not something more serious. Habitually clenching and grinding teeth will lead to the breakdown of the strength and structure of the jaws.

Trauma caused by accidently smacking our face hard into something can make a large difference in not only our teeth but our lives. Gums and teeth are not keen on being smashed around. A normal bone will grow back stronger than before but the jaw bone does not necessarily do this.

So while there are many ways to damage our teeth we only have one set of teeth. We all need to be careful to take care of them.

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The Black Diamond

Most individuals that are attracted to the diamond say it is the sparkle that delights them. The bright white flashes that come off the diamond jewelry. But now there is a new attraction going on. What is it??
The black diamond does not sparkle in the same manner as a white diamond but it still is attracting jewelry lovers. Black diamonds are extremely rare and do not reflect light like a white diamond. Black diamonds are harder to cut and polish. Because of the difficulty there are blemishes and nicks in the surface. This lowers their quality and price as well.



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Bath Safety Awareness

While the bathroom is often the smallest room in the home it may be the room with the biggest safety issues. The Center for Disease Control estimates around 235,000 individuals over the age of 15 have been seen at the hospital E.R. due to injuries occurred in the bathroom. Most of these injuries occur in the shower or tub. In addition it is the elderly that have the highest occurrence of injuries in the bathroom.



One safety tip is to always check the water temp. Not only when it is us but when it is our child that is getting in the water as well. When giving  a child a bath be sure to make a plan. First part of that plan should be never leave a young child in the tub alone for any length of time. Before the bath begins get it all together from the towels and washcloths to the toys and bath supplies. Put your cell phone up and plan a time with limited distractions. Most importantly make it fun


Falls are another significant reasons that cause injuries and visits to the E.R. Falls are also the main reason for accidental deaths in those over the age of 65. Using a slip resistant plastic mat that will suction to the bottom of your tub as well as a rug that will not move on the outside of the tub may help protect against falls. A grab bar that offers more support when stepping in and out of the bath is also  a good safety measure to use. In addition for those late night trips to the bathroom install a night light to prevent accidental falls.

Towels, soaps and shampoos should all be in easy reach of those taking showers. Reaching and stretching for items can cause falls to occur. Keeping the bathroom floor clean with no objects on floor will help stop falls as well.


Using the above mentioned safety measures in your bathroom will help increase safety awareness.

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Bloody Mary Casserole



4 whole tomatoes, (cored, halved and quartered)
-½ lb. green beans
-1 t. oil
-¼ t chili powder
-1 t. celery salt
-4 pieces, pickled okra (quarter inch slices)
-½ lb. bacon, (minced)
-1 t. Worcestershire sauce
-¼ t. Tabasco
-1 t. lemon juice
-1 carrot, (sliced on a bias)
-2 c. Rigatoni


In a medium sauce pot, boil 3 cups of salted water
Add two cups pasta. Cook half way, strain and cool with cold running water.
In a skillet, toast chili powder
Add bacon and render down. Remove once crisp. Set aside
Remove half the bacon fat and discard. With remaining fat, saute green beans until lightly charred. Set aside.
In bowl, combine all ingredients. Toss to combine.
Transfer to a casserole or baking dish. Add ½ cup of water.
Cover with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then, for an additional 5 minutes uncovered.
Serve.

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Help for a Hangover

The effects of alcohol will often result in a hangover. No matter what anyone claims there is no magic solution to a hangover. The feelings of nausea, weakness and headaches are common with a hangover. One of the most important things to do after waking up with a hangover is to take it easy and rest. Your body needs to recover, rehydrate and replenish the vitamins that were lost on a night of partying. Perhaps you should have taken a few precautionary steps the night before but now it is to late and you want to feel better fast. So what do you do now??




  • Get some sleep. Planning for a day off after a party would be the ideal thing 
  •  You are most likely dehydrated after a night of drinking so its time to rehydrate start with water and then you can add juice if you wish Go slow but keep drinking The water will rehydrate and the juice will help replenish Add ginger to the water to help with nausea
  • Avoid caffeine if possible. A hot tea is the only exception as it may help offer a boost and help hydrate as well. 
  • Taking a multi vitamin will help to replenish vitamins that were lost. If you have a glass of O.J this will help as vitamin C will help offer the body vitamins as well
  • eat something I know you may not feel like it but it will help you feel better. A simple piece of bread, a few crackers or pretzels or a piece of fruit would be good to start with. If you are able to keep that down then you can try something with a bit more substance. 
  • Getting up and moving will help your blood get pumping and increase your metabolism ridding your body of the toxins from the alcohol faster. This is not a magic cure but it can help restore your body and mind. Simply take a short walk in fresh air or sitting outside for a bit will help to restore the body.
  • Avoid aspirin, tylenol and ibuprofen with a hangover. Both aspirin and alcohol are blood thinners  Taking any of the 3 can lead to other health issues. 
  • Once you awake from that long nap take a cool shower. The shower will help to wake you up. 
  • Alka Seltzer or other brand of effervescent tablet can help to remove nausea. A homemade version of 1/4 tsp of baking soda stirred into 4 oz of water with a splash of lemon juice. A glass of ginger ale may help as well. Believe it or not in Poland they drink pickle juice to help relieve hangover. 
Hopefully if you suffer from a hangover that it will leave as quickly as it seemed to come on.

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Happy New Year


Happy New Year!!!! Looking forward to 2019. The year 2018 was a rough one and so glad to say so long. Hope you have a great 2019 as well

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Monday, December 31, 2018

Universal Hour of Peace

Would it not be great to hear of no more war or strife in this world ?? One individual by the name of Dr. Barbara Condron planned the first Universal Hour of Peace on October 24, 1995. The day was the 50th anniversary of the United Nations and autumnal equinox. The following year and there after the day was moved.



Universal hour of peace is a day that was created as a simple step towards a war free world. This hour of peace is planned to occur between 11:30 p.m. December 31st to 12:30 a.m. January 1st.


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Slow Cooker Hoppin John

One tradition here in the United States is to have black eyed peas for New Years day. To me it is more than a tradition it is a must have. The legend behind having black eyed peas on New Years is that they welcome in good luck in the new year.



1 lb smoked sausage, sliced
4 (15-oz) cans black-eyed peas, undrained
2 (10-oz) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained
3 cups beef broth
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tsp Cajun/Creole seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 family-size package boil-in-bag rice, uncooked (about 1-1/2 cups uncooked)

Cook sausage in a large skillet until browned, about 5 minutes. (You can skip this step and the dish will be fine.)
Place sausage in slow cooker. Add black eyed peas, diced tomatoes and green chiles, beef broth, onion, bell pepper, cajun seasoning, garlic, and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
Pour uncooked rice into slow cooker. Stir. Cover and cook on HIGH for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender.
*You may need to add water if the mixture is too thick.*

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Baking Soda Not Only For Baking

Most of us know at least one use for baking soda. Many of us may have heard of bicarbonate of soda. Some of us may know that they are one in the same. Yes, baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are simply two names applied to the same item. Americans often refer to it as baking soda and in the UK and Australia it is often known as bicarbonate of soda.



There are many uses in the home that baking soda can be useful in. We all know that it is very useful in baking but here are a few more:

  • Use baking soda to clean your kitchen
  • Stop smelly trainers with bicarb
  • Soothe a sore throat naturally with baking soda
  • Use bicarb to kill weeds in your garden
  • Bicarb can help keep your carpets clean
  • Defrost your driveway in seconds with bicarb
  • Use baking soda to cure heartburn
  • Find relief from insect bites with bicarbonate of soda
  • Get your white laundry even whiter using baking soda
  • Make a natural mouthwash with bicarb

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Balsamic Vinegar +++ Recipe

Balsamic vinegar is made from a reduction of pressed Trebbiano and Lambrusco grapes. The grapes pressed together results in a thick syrup like vinegar. The mixture is stored for an average of 12 years in several barrels as it reduces to smaller sizes. 




One way balsamic vinegar is used is in what is known as a Balsamic Reduction. It is rather easy to make a simple one that requires bringing 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to a boil then lowering heat to a simmer until the vinegar is reduced by 1/4 cup. This reduction can be drizzled over just about anything from simple salads to cheese appetizers. Balsamic vinegar is also used as a dip for antipasto skewers and to accompany chicken breast whether grilled or baked. 




Other ways that Balsamic Vinegar reduction is used are:

  • Squirted over roast green beans and onions or other roasted veggie 
  • many fancy restaurants use the reduction to dress up  a plate by adding a design of sorts
  •  over caprese salad of sliced tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves
  • top sweet strawberries for a healthy dessert

Like most things Balsamic vinegar comes in a range of prices. The cheap imitation stuff as well as highly prized aged bottles can be found. The best reduction often is made from the lower end price of vinegar but make sure it is a decent quality that has no added ingredients. 





2 cups decent quality organic Balsamic vinegar 500ml
1 tablespoon organic brown sugar
1 dry pint strawberries washed and quartered


  1. In a small saucepan, place vinegar and bring to a boil. Turn it down to a strong simmer, add sugar, and reduce by half to one cup. Watch so it does not burn or reduce too far. Stir or whisk occasionally. Allow to cool. It will thicken further upon cooling. Place in a squeeze bottle or small jar with a tight fitting lid.
  2. If using the syrup to top strawberries, place washed and sliced berries in a bowl or wine glass and drizzle with syrup. Serve immediately.
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Champagne Salad



8 oz. Cream cheese softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 lg. can crushed pineapple drained
10 oz. pkg. frozen strawberries thawed
2 bananas sliced
1 lg. carton whipped topping


Mix cream cheese and sugar.
In another bowl, mix other ingredients.
Combine the two and spoon into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap and freeze until solid.
Slice to serve.


recipe source 
Illinois Country Living

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Swedish Tea Ring

A tradition in our family is to enjoy a breakfast pastry on Christmas morn. When I was little this pastry was in the  form of a Swedish tea ring that my grandmother made. She made several of them each year to be delivered on Christmas eve to the homes of her friends and family in time for Christmas morn. Enjoy


3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups very warm milk 120 degrees F
1 egg beaten
3 tablespoons butter softened
Filling
5 tablespoons butter softened
1/2 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
candied red and green cherries optional

In the bowl of your stand mixer using the paddle attachment combine 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Add warm milk, egg and butter until well combined. Slowly add in remaining flour until the dough starts to come together. Change to your dough hook and knead for 5 minutes. Cover and allow to rise until double in a warm place. (About 25 minutes)
Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon for the filling of the tea ring, set aside. Lightly grease a large baking pan and set aside.
Punch dough down and roll out to a 20"x12" rectangle. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. With the long side facing you begin to roll up the dough into a long log. Seal the seam by pinching the dough together. Bring the ends together and pinch the dough together to seal. Place on prepared baking sheet seam side down.
Using a pair of kitchen scissors cut the dough in 1 to 1 1/2" sections around the ring be careful not to cut the whole way through. Gently pull up each section and give it a small twist and lay back on the pan. Cover and let rise until double.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Decorate with optional candied cherries. Also may drizzle with a powdered sugar glaze.

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