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Saturday, January 19, 2019

How much light do houseplants need?

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Pizza Soup #Recipe

1/2 pound Italian pork sausage, casings removed if present
1 pkg (8 oz each) sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cans (8 oz each) Hunt's® Tomato Sauce with Basil, Garlic and Oregano
1-1/2 cups frozen cheese tortellini
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage, mushrooms, bell pepper and onion; cook 7 minutes or until sausage is crumbled and no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Drain.
Add tomato sauce, tortellini and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until tortellini and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Top each serving evenly with cheese.

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Crispy Baked Sweet Tea Porkchop #Recipe

5 thin boneless pork chops
Cooking spray
4 cups water, divided
3 tea bags
1 pinch baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh cracked black pepper (or lemon pepper)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
For the dredge:
3 whole eggs
1 ½ cups skim milk

Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into to the bottom of a large, heat-proof bowl. Boil 1 cup of the water and pour into the bowl, and then add in the tea bags. Cover the bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
Remove the tea bags and stir in the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, add in the remaining 3 cups of cold water and stir to combine. Then stir in the salt and let sit until the mixture cools to room temperature.
Once the sweet tea brine reaches room temperature, add in the pork chops and cover. Refrigerate at least 5 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine all of the breading ingredients in a large bowl and mix until all of the ingredients have blended. In another bowl, beat the eggs and add in the milk. Whisk to combine.
Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. You want to make sure you get them as dry as possible, or else your breadcrumbs will be mushy!
Take each pork chop and dip it in the egg and milk mixture, turning if necessary to ensure an even dip.
Take the chops and press them into the breading, and use your hands to push breading on the top half of the pork chop and press down. Let the pork chop sit in the breading for a few minutes and then remove to a rack. Repeat with each chop.
Transfer the pork chops to a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Then, spray the pork chops generously with the cooking spray. You don’t want to soak the breadcrumbs, but you do want to make sure they get a good enough coating of spray to help them crisp up in the oven.
Bake the pork for about 25 minutes, or until the breading is golden brown and the pork is cooked through. If you like your breadcrumbs extra crispy, feel free to put the pork under the broiler for the 2-3 minutes. Serve.

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Friday, January 18, 2019

Peking Duck Soup #Recipe

4 (1/2) oz lean duck breast meat
8 oz Chinese leaves (cabbage)
1(1/2) pints/ --3(3/4) cups chicken or duck stock
1 tbsp dry sherry or rice  wine
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 garlic cloves , crushed pinch of ground star anise
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1) Remove the skin from the duck breast and finely dice the flesh .
2) Using a sharp knife, shred the Chinese leaves (cabbage).
3) Put the stock in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
4) Add the sherry or rice wine, soy sauce ,diced duck meat and shredded Chinese leaves and stir to mix thoroughly. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes
5) Stir in the garlic and star anise and cook over a low heat for 10 to15 minutes, or until- a duck- is tender
6)Dry-fry the-sesame-seeds_in a preheated, heave-based frying pan (Skillet) or wok , stirring.
7) Remove the sesame seeds from the pan and stir them into the soup, together with the sesame oil and Parsley
8)Spoon the soup into warm bowls and serve.
-----Cook's Tips----
If Chinese leaves (cabbage) are unavailable ,need to use **leafy green cabbage (instead) or replace. you may wish to adjust the quantity to- taste , as Western cabbage has a stronger flavor and odor than Chinese leaves(cabbage)

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A Bear Named Winnie

If you all are not aware (as I am not sure that I have shared it here on the blog or not ) I work midnocs at a shelter home for the elderly. So as I sat there last night completing a crossword puzzle, yes playing a game as the residents were primarily asleep and the quietness can become a bit boring. But .... back to the message I was trying to share.... as I sat doing my crossword puzzle book the clue was who was Winnie the Pooh's creator. So then my mind started to rumble again.....

Pooh Bear .. short for Winnie the Pooh is the creation of the English author A. A. Milne The famous bear is fictional of course with a storyline of friends and events of his life. As a child of the '70s I recall Winnie the Pooh stuffed creatures being nearly everywhere. However, the character of Winnie the Pooh had showed up nearly 50 years before.

Winnie the Pooh was first introduced to the world by the author Milne in 1926. Soon after another book The House at Pooh Corner helped share more of the story in 1928. The illustrations by E.H. Shepard helped share the story of Winnie the Pooh and build the readers imagination. More books would follow in later years. In addition The story of Winnie The Pooh was translated into many languages so other children could ready about this wondrous bear as well.

Who is Winnie The Pooh:

The author A. A. Milne created the story of Winnie the Pooh with inspiration from his son Christopher Robin Milne and a great imagination. The main character Winnie the Pooh was created based on Milne's son teddy bear.So there is the story to be in the book Christopher Robin is the boy with the bear Winnie the Pooh and the remaining characters were all created and named after toys that Milne's son had as well. So through Milne's son Christopher Robin the characters of Pooh bear, piglet, eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger had all been invented. The characters of Owl an Rabbit came from the imagination of Milne

Did you know in 2006 Winnie the Pooh received a star on Hollywood walk of Fame

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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Happy Birthday Betty White

Happy Birthday Betty White.

Born on January 17, 1922 Betty Marion White Ludden was born into this world. Little did she know that from the early days she was deemed to become a popular t.v. and movie personality, One of the first women to not only be in front of  the camera but behind it as well. Become popular in many T.V. sitcoms most likely helped her be honored as the title Mayor of Hollywood in 1955.

T.V shows like

  • Mary Tyler Moore (1973-77) as Sue Ann Nivens
  • The Golden Girls (1985-92) as Rose Nylund
  • Hot in Cleveland (2010-15) as Elka Ostrovsky
Betty also made appearances on Boston Legal, Mama's Family and Saturday Night Live. 

Betty White also appeared in many American game shows. Popular games of the day such as Password, Match Game, and the $25,000 Pyramid earned Betty the title of 'First Lady of Game Shows' White also was awarded an emmy for Outstanding Game Show host in 1983 for the game show Just Men.

Betty White spent 2/3 of her life in front of the camera. During those years she received eight Emmy Awards in various categories, three American Comedy Awards, three Screen Actors Guild awards and a Grammy award. White has also been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Betty White is also a member of the Television Hall of Fame class of 1995 as well as  Disney Legend class of 2009.

Betty White has left an impression on many. Generations have grown to know Betty White and her acting power. Her personality and beauty has been stealing hearts for over 3/4 of a century. With a sarcastic sense of humor and a take on life itself that is personally her own the years of entertainment she has provided has been amazing. For existence she was once asked by Parade what her secret to long life was her answer was Vodka and hotdogs ,,, always being the Betty WHite we have always loved.

Did You Know ::: 
Betty White was offered the role as Blanche but accepted the role as Rose can you imagine what it would have been around if the Golden Girls was any different than it was before??

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Celebrate Cable Car Day --- A Bit of Southern Illinois History

“The coming of the “hard” roads to Southern Illinois in the 1920’s, some called it “coming out of the mud” — was a mixed blessing. It provided a more reliable surface for those who could afford Essex, Oakland, Hupmobile and other motor cars. And it helped the budding bus lines of the day. But it killed off another serviceable economical means of public transportation, the electric railroad.

You may be familiar with what a cable car is. After all they are still in existence in places like 

  • Toronto
  • New Orleans
  • Philadelphia
  • Dallas
  • New Orleans 
Possibly the most known spot for cable cars is San Francisco. The cable cars there started running in 1892. A heritage streetcar line still runs with a variety of antique streetcars.

Cable cars ran on steel rails with a slot between the tracks where an underground cable runs at a continuous nine miles per hour. The cable itself runs from a central powerhouse from huge winding wheels. Cable cars are completely mechanical and have no means of independent locomotion with no need of a motor. The underground cable is gripped like a pair of pliers. Running originally on steam power electricity would later become the main power source. 

History of Cable Cars:
Cable Cars were invented in 1873 by Andrew Hallidie. First meant to scale the many hills of San Francisco other cities would borrow the concept as well. Cable cars are not 'trolleys' as trolleys use a trolley pole to get power from an overhead wire Cable cars are also easily id'd by the open end sections of running boards where riders can stand outside the car.

Southern Illinois History:

Here in Southern Illinois a electrical railway was one that fit the time and needs of the area. Known as the Coal Belt Electric Railway it was also known as "the trolley line" "the street car line" The line served the towns of Marion, Carterville, Herrin and places in between. Coal miners would ride the line back and forth, shoppers, visitors, sports fans and anyone who just needed a ride would ride the line.

In existence starting in May 28, 1901 the streetcar line was established by the Peabody Coal co. The establishment of the street car line would lead to  a small town known as Energy to be established as well. Stops on the route included the coal company, electric park, and the little towns that were connected. The popularity of the trolley line grew during the First World War. In fact, there were times that so many passengers depending on the line that there were no seats and standing only riders took place. Every day the line would run between 7 am and 11 pm. The last run of the day was known as the "Owl Run" After the war things would change and eventually the line would become obsolete.

The last run of the Coal Belt line was November 15, 1926. In some places even today, if you look close enough you can still see remnants of that street car system that was oh so popularly needed.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Vegan + Gluten Free Copycat Fig Newton recipe

It may surprise you but there is a cookie that is good for the body. Fig Newtons, are cookies that are fairly healthy. Originally only in fig flavor but now days available in many other fruit choices as well. The newton cookie is filled with figs that are well known to have fiber that aids the digestion process. Figs also contain protein and several vitamins and minerals. In addition a serving of 2 fig newtons will supply the body with calcium, iron,os  potassium, fiber and protein. However, fig newtons do have a high sugar content. 

The sugar content of fig newtons is 12 mg of sugar. That does seem like a high amount for 2 cookies. The American Heart Association suggest no more than 6 teaspoons or 24 milligrams of added sugar for women and no more than 9 teaspoons or 32 mg for men. Thus suggesting eating a serving of fig newtons will take up 1/2 daily amount of sugar for women and a 1/3 for a man.

You may choose to try an alternative here are a few

  • Compared to Chips Ahoy!, fig Newtons have more sugar — but this is only by a gram per serving. There are 11 grams of sugar in each serving of Chips Ahoy! cookies.
  • Compared to Oreos, fig Newtons have less sugar. There are 14 grams of sugar in each serving of Oreos, and no fiber.
  • Compared to Nutter Butter, Nutter Butter is the clear winner. There are only 8 grams of sugar in Nutter Butter cookies compared to fig Newtons' 12 grams. Nutter Butter cookies also have twice as much protein per serving and the same amount of fiber.
  • Compared to Teddy Grahams, fig Newtons once again have more sugar. There are only 8 grams of sugar in a serving of Teddy Grahams, the same as Nutter Butter cookies. These cookies also have twice the amount of protein and twice the amount of fiber as fig Newtons

Fig Filling:
1½ Cups Dried Black Mission Figs (soaked in water overnight)
¼ Tsp Cinnamon
¼ Tsp Pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Cookie Dough:
1 Cup Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
¾ Cup Teff Flour
½ Tsp Baking Powder
¼ Cup Erythritol
½ Tsp Cinnamon
½ Tsp Pure Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract
¼ Tsp Nutmeg
¼ Tsp Orange Extract
½ Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 TB Milled Flax Seed + 2 TB Water (mix together to gel)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
For the fig filling, combine the soaked figs, cinnamon, and vanilla in a food processor and blend until you don't have big pieces of figs anymore.
For the dough, in a large bowl combine all ingredients, adding the applesauce and gelled flax egg last.
Knead together and let sit for 5 minutes before rolling the dough out between two Silpats or parchment paper. (Rolled to about the size of the mats)
Cut the dough in half and spread the fig mixture, about 1 inch wide, on one of the cut halves of dough.
Fold the dough over to cover the fig filling, shape and flatten the top of the log smooth and pinch the dough seam of the log closed.
Repeat this process for the other half of the dough so you have 2 fig newton logs.
Now cut the logs into 1-2 inch bars and place them on a lined baking sheet.
Bake the bars for 15 minutes, let cool before enjoying.

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Celebrate Right to Religious Freedom

January 16th is the date of the anniversary that Virginia claimed religious freedom breaking ties with the Church of England. Since that time the president of the United States has formally recognized the date of January 16th as Religious Freedom day. Perhaps this is the time that the world as we knows it should stop and celebrate our commitment to the religion of our choice

The great author Thomas Jefferson drafted a measure that would be passed into law in 1786. The measure took the state church out of establishment, abolished the parish taxes and protected the civil rights of citizens to express their religious beliefs without fear of censure or reprisal. Early on one of the goals of those arriving in the new country wanted to have religious freedom with the ability to be free to live out their faith without the government trying to control their personal faith.

This movement by Jefferson and the other settlers was bold and radical at the time. Today, many simply take our religious freedom for granted. Nearly 250 years ago the connection between church and state was very much alive. Jefferson's argument was that religion should be a matter between an individual and God and that state should not force faith or interfere with the relationship between God and man.

Personally I am thankful that I can choose how to praise my Lord. I do not have to go through anyone in the government to be able to talk to my Jesus. No matter your religion you have the right to celebrate your belief

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Taco Soup #Recipe

1 pound hamburger
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 can corn (undrained)
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can hominy (white)
1 can diced tomatoes

Brown meat and drain.
In crockpot or large kettle, add meat and sprinkle seasoning packets on top.
Add entire contents of the canned ingredients - do not drain the juice!
Stir until mixed and and cook on low for 2 -4 hours in crockpot or on stovetop until hot.

Feel free to add shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Apple Crazy Cake

Dry Ingredients: 
  • 1 1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. flour  (all purpose or gluten-free flour blend)
  • 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda (use 1 1/2 tsp. is using gluten-free flour blend)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Wet Ingredients:
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil (we use sunflower)
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar (use apple cider vinegar for gluten-free version)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded apples

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8 by 8 inch square baking pan.

Measure out and mix all the dry ingredients together in your prepared baking pan. Make three wells in the baking pan (making sure one is large enough to contain the oil). Pour the oil into the largest well and the vinegar and vanilla separately into the other impressions. Pour water over all the contents, add the shredded apples and carefully mix your ingredients until combined and smooth. 

Bake for 35 - 40 minutes (it is finished when a toothpick inserted inside the center comes out clean). Cool on wire rack. Once it is completely cooled, you may frost it. Recipe can be doubled – just use a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.

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Black Bean Burrito Bowl for 2 #recipe

Black Bean Burrito Bowls (for two)

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 tbsp olive oil
1 diced bell pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp dried cilantro (2 Tbsp fresh)
1/4 tsp chili powder (mild)
Pinch of cayenne pepper (spicy)
Juice from 1 fresh lime
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 diced tomato
Shredded cheese
Sour Cream
1/2 Avocado
Squeeze 1/2 the lime and 1/2 cilantro into fluffed quinoa and mix.

Cook pepper and onion in olive oil until soft, then add garlic. Cook 1 minute longer.

Add drained black beans, remaining cilantro, chili powder, cayenne pepper and 1/4 cup water, cook until most of the water is evaporated. Remove from heat and squeeze juice from 1/2 lime and stir.

Assemble bowls with  1/2 cup quinoa in bottom, 1/2 the bean mixture, lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, avocado and top with sour cream.

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The Many Hats Moms Wear

Have you ever taken  a note of how many hats a mom has to wear. There is never a day that goes by that does not require mom to play more than one role. Boredom is not something that often if at all sets in for a mom. The role of being a mom has one constantly busy and performing acts at times they may never have thought they would. We were all built with two hands but at times I have heard myself wish to have many more. However, while the changes keep coming and routine never seems to slow we are all still only human but must wear a variety of hats.

While it is often mothers who must juggle their lives it is also dads and grandparents that participate in these roles right aside or by their selves.
Some of the hats (roles) that mothers and others take part in and wear are:

  • The nurse that cares for them when they are sick or hurt. The adult in this role is one that cares for the foundation of the family. Nurturing our children spirit, soul, and body is the job of mom, dad and grandparent. The role is to nurture their emotions, body and spiritual growth. 
  • The role of a protector starts early for a mom. With the baby still in the womb it is the moms job to protect and carry that baby for 9 full months It is the job of caring adults to protect the children from the world and all those in it. 
  • The role of the enforcer has not always been easy for me. While I want my children to learn to live life the right way it has always been hard for me to punish them. It has gotten better since the early days of being a mom but at times I still feel a bit guilty when I ground them or take away that favorite item for safe keeping for a short period of time. Adults in the lives of children should be able to enforce manner, meal times, routines, good behavior, proper choices and family values
  • The role of an empowerer is one that moms, dads and grandparents should all wear. It is how we help our child to grow up strong and confident. They need to learn how to do it  on their own, make good decisions and build up self confidence. 
  • Adult in a child life also wear the hat of a taskmaster often. It is the role that is often required moms to ensure kids are doing what they are supposed to be doing. The task master holds expectations for kids to learn and complete skills in life. It is then their job to carry out tasks that help them reach the goals. While it may seem that the adult is being strict the truth is that it is preparing them for their future. 
  • It the role of the respected mom, dad or other adult to stand up and do what is right as well. It is all worth it when you get those hugs and the "I Love You" 

How Many Hats Have You Wore Today?? 

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Meal Plan Tips

So this year you are thinking of having a more organized life For some one of the most hectic times of the day is meal time. One way to tame the stress of meal time is by planning ahead. By committing to a routine the stress will be organized and the hectic chore may be tamed. However, to begin this or any change takes a bit of commitment.

A change in routine takes a bit of commitment and planning. What day of the week will you plan and shop?? What works best for you?? It all begins on this day and getting it all together and then having stick-with-itis to follow through with the plan and not cheat.

You know your schedule the best …

Planning on making meals a week ahead of time will take some work. One of the most important is to match it to your schedule. If you have hectic days then don't plan big meals on those days. Rather, take time on days that are less chore driven to prepare a family meal that is pleasing for the family. On hectic days make up those quick meals and more elaborate meals on other days. In addition keep tract of what meals your family loves and what ones they could pass on.

One last idea is to get the entire family involved. For meal planning to be a success everyone must be on the same page. So get everyone involved in both planning and prep. Crank up the music and cook dinner together. Perhaps , the best part is that having a plan means you know exactly what you will serve leaving more time to be with the family.

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Brown Sugar Bacon Caramel Sundae

To make this scrumptious brown sugar bacon caramel sundae the first thing you will need to do will be to make the bacon. To do so bake the bacon in the oven on a baking sheet lined with foil at 400 degrees. As they bake and shrink they will also get crispy. Before they get to the crispy state though you will want to sprinkle them with a spoonful of brown sugar. Return to oven 5 more minutes til crispy, fully cooked and sugar is caramelized.

Crumble the bacon up to sprinkle over the ice cream. For each small sundae a slice of bacon will do but for a larger sundae count on 2 to do the job.

Dish up a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. Add a little dollop of whipped cream and drizzle of caramel syrup. Break a slice of brown sugar bacon in half and put the two halves in the sundae to be crumbled over top.

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Monday, January 14, 2019

Food Banks Need Your Help Even After The Holidays

With the federal government on what is known in our house as the "big close-down" the American people that rely on government help such as SNAP will find it hard to get by. Many of them all ready depend on some help from the local food banks will be depending on those areas that help even more. So how can we help??

Food banks depend on the generosity of individuals like you and me. Manufacturers, wholesalers, growers, packers, distributors, supermarkets, and others often donate excess as well.

Every donation of unexpired food is greatly appreciated. There are some items that food pantries and banks need more than others. There are often items that are needed that may never get donated.

Most needed items include:

  • Canned Fruits, Vegetables, Meat, and Soup 
  • Whole Grain Pasta, Brown Rice, Dried Beans, and Cereal
  • Peanut Butter
  • For Infants: Pedialyte, Infant Cereal, Diapers, and Wipes
  • For Kids: Fruit Cups, Juice Boxes, Granola Bars, Crackers, Popcorn and Sugar-Free Pudding Cups
  • Non-Food Essentials: Hygiene Items, Household Items, and Paper Products
Thank you for reading and Thank you for giving if you can. I am sure that there are many others that will thank you as well.

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Adopt a Rescued Bird Month

It may seem unusual to you but truly birds often find their way into a shelter or rescue group for pets. Birds ranging from exotic to barnyard birds may at times have to be given up by their owners. For reasons such as not enough time for the animal or the special care that is required leads owners to volunteering giving up the animals. To bring awareness to the birds that are in the shelters as well January has been designated as Adopt a Rescued Bird Month

Some things you will want to know before adopting a bird:

  • Birds are not domesticated animals Birds commonly are no different than their wild relatives. 
  • Diseases such as Chlamydiosis and avian tuberculosis can be transmitted through the air from birds to humans These diseases can cause illness in people especially with compromised immune systems. The "feather dust" may aggravate asthma as well. 
  • Some birds including lovebirds, parakeets and cockatiels are noisy and messy and can be destructive as well. From squawking, chirping, and talking are all ways that birds communicate 
  • Birds can be quite messy eating continually through the day. They often drop and discard bits of food everywhere. Birds will also chew and shred wood as well as electrical cords, paper and curtains. 
  • Caring for a bird is a life long responsibility. Birds have long life spans often living 20 to 50 years or more. 
  • Parrots are extremely social animals and have been compared to human toddlers. Their need for emotional and social lives is great. The thing with this bird is that they never change with age. 
  • Cats, dogs, ceiling fans and open windows must all be absent from the bird zone. Birds need room to fly if their wings are clipped they still need room to exercise by climbing, swinging and flapping and need an area with space, toys and climbing structures. 
  • Birds diet not only consist of seed or pellets as well as grains, beans, fruits and veggies as well
  • Light exposure and sleep are important to birds. Birds need at least 4 hours exposure to sun The sun helps to provide them with vitamin D and A as well as is critical for upper respiratory health. 
  • Birds need 10 hours of sleep each night 

My Story:
My mother in law kept a bird for many years. It was a parket named Petey. She loved that little bird and allowed it to travel the entire home. Visiting my mother in law was a bit tricky as you knocked to see where the bird was and that it was o.k. to go in the house. Many believe that little bird had feelings as well. It seemed if you raised your voice the bird would spit seed at you. He lived there with mom for many year 15+ they seemed to keep each other comfortable

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Tea Eggs from China

A favorite tea recipe in China has a lot to do with eggs. Tea eggs are pleasing to the eye and taste good as well. They are easy to make as well. The only issue is that it takes a bit of waiting time while the eggs absorb the flavor while being stewed.

chinese tea eggs

6-8 eggs
4 table spoons of loose black tea leaves
2 table spoons soy sauce
2 table spoons salt
1 tea spoon Chinese five spice powder (adjust according to taste)

Boil eggs for 12 minutes until they are thoroughly cooked. Afterwards set eggs aside in cold water to let them cool down.
Once eggs are cooled, crack the shells of the eggs, but make sure not to let the shell come off the eggs. Make sure to make cracks all around for a prettier cracked egg shell look as a result. This is tricky, what you want are cracks that are deep enough for the taste to get into the eggs, but not to much to the eggs shells won't fall of the egg itself during cooking.
Lay the eggs in a cooking pot and fill water to about one inch or 2.5 cm above eggs. Add more water later on if needed.
Bring to boil the water with black tea leaves, salt, soy sauce and Chinese spices. The latter you can usually find in any grocery store. If not, check out your local Asian supermarket. If you can't find this at your local Asian grocery store.
Cook the tea eggs for two hours (this is really the minimum) with all the ingredients on a low simmer. Keep lid on, this will avoid the liquid mixture from evaporating.
Afterwards let the pot cool down and let the boiled tea eggs sit overnight for about 8 hours) in the fridge to fully absorb the flavors.
The next day, you have to boil, and cook at a low boil for an additional 1-2 hours.

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When Was Your Eye Exam

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness You and many others may not have been aware of that fact. During the month of January there are folks that will be trying to change that fact and make more individuals aware of what glaucoma is.

Glaucoma is the term that refers to a group of disorders that damage the ocular nerve. The damage often leads to vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma is most commonly caused by ocular hypertension or high pressure inside of the eye. In most cases there are no early warning signs.

Glaucoma is a frightening condition that often becomes a sudden problem with no warning signs or symptoms. Regular eye exams are often the first noticeable issue when the pressure of your eyes are monitored.

Those most at risk for Glaucoma are:

  • middle age and elderly are most affected but all ages can be affected
  • African Americans makes the risk go up
  • Individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are at higher risk
  • family history of glaucoma increases risk
There is no cure for glaucoma. Caught early steps can be taken to slow or halt vision loss. Treatments such as eye drops reduces the pressure build up inside of your eye can make difference Everyone over the age 40 should get eye exams and those with any of the higher risk individuals should be checked more often. 

When was the last time you had an eye exam?? It's a great time during Glaucoma Awareness Month to get your eyes checked

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Oatmeal Helps Bind The Meatballs

Did you know that January is National Oatmeal Month?? Oatmeal provides many essential vitamins and nutrients that the body needs. Oatmeal is a great weapon in the battle against heart disease, lower cholesterol and help maintain blood sugar because of the Vitamin B and E, calcium, magnesium, Zinc, fiber and phosphorus it contains.

Many times health items are marketed to the public in exchange for hard earned money. That is another area that oatmeal has going for it. The great health benefits of oatmeal are extremely affordable and versatile Oatmeal is a great hot breakfast, provides a good afternoon snack in oatmeal and raisin cookies. Oatmeal is commonly found on the pantry shelf and is found and used in many recipes. Oatmeal can be exchanged for bread crumbs in meatloaf, hamburgers, and meatballs or to "bread" chicken, beef or pork. Oatmeal is the perfect item to help you eat healthy and stay on budget.

Meatballs made with oatmeal

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
½ cup rolled oats
1 egg
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 (26 ounce) jar marinara sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 cup mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl combine ground beef, oats, egg, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and 1/3 cup marinara sauce.
Heat olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and let cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Let onions/garlic mixture cool slightly and add to ground beef mixture and mix together.
Shape meat mixture into 12 to 14 large golf ball sized balls. Place meatballs in a 9×13 pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove meatballs from oven. Top each meatball with 1 to 2 tablespoons marinara sauce. Place meatballs back in oven and cook for 8 minutes more. Remove meatballs from oven. Top each meatball with 1/2 tablespoon mozzarella cheese. Place meatballs back in oven for 1 to 2 minutes to melt cheese.

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Having a Clean Office

CNN suggest the above model for working desks. I only wish mine would stay like that all the time If you are like me and desire a neater desktop here are some tips to do so:

It is common at times you get so much into your work that you get lost in what you are working on While our work keeps us so super busy the world does continue with housework, kids, and whatever is currently hollering "mom" "honey" or our name.

  • Dump the trash as you go, take dishes out when done with them, and clean up as you go. It only takes a bit to clear the desk as you go along rather than waiting for it to pile up before cleaning. 
  • While many items are saved on the laptop there are still papers that need to be retained as well. Paperwork includes files, folders and notebooks that are used in the office. Unorganized paperwork can make an office not only look messy but it is also easy to lose important items. Clutter can be cut down by keeping paperwork in files, folders and binders. 
A cluttered office may lead to an inefficient work life. Every day after you complete your work take a few minutes to clean and organize. Put paperwork where it needs to go, organize computer files, and spot clean. Having a clean work space should help you feel more positive. 

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Pictures of Cute Pets Dressed Up

January 14th, today is national Dress Up Your Pet Day. So I want to know what you think. Is dressing up your pet fun for both you and your pet and thus sociably acceptable or is it mean to have your pet wear costumes?? 

Before you answer take a look at a few of the animals from Southern Illinois area that were dressed up by their owners

So what do you think?? Would love to hear your reply in the comments

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Hot Pastrami Sandwich

Before refrigeration was invented a way to preserve meat had to be created. Pastrami was one of those ways. Raw meat was brined, dried , seasoned with herbs then smoked or steamed. Pastrami was made of corned beef that was smoked. I for one am glad that our ancestors invented Pastrami as it is one of my favorites on the meat chart. 

1 package (150 g) Shaved Pastrami
Chris Brothers Gourmet Dijon Mustard or Original Yellow Mustard
Rye bread
Swiss cheese, slices or shredded

Place pastrami in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and warm in a microwave oven.
Toast rye bread. Place bread slices on a flat surface, spread with your favourite Chris Brothers mustard.
Pile a generous helping of Chris Brothers Shaved Pastrami onto one slice of bread. Top with a slice of Swiss cheese or shredded cheese, coleslaw, and the second slice of bread.
Cut sandwiches in half. Enjoy!

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Vegetable Soup with Dumplings

For the soup 
-Soup bone {If you can't find just soup bones at the store, try beef shanks or even beef ribs. Really any cut of meat that has the bone in it and minimal meat. The bone is what gives the soup that hearty, beefy flavor. Our grocery store will usually put a little sticker on the package saying "Great for soups". Note: Don't use ox-tail. It tastes a}
-8 oz. can of tomato sauce
-15 oz. can of diced tomatoes
-an onion
-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 teaspoon Season All
-1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
-1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash
-3-4 cans of assorted vegetables {I like to use corn, peas, and green beans but feel free to customize the soup to your own preference.We also save any leftover vegetables from our dinners and freeze them, then add them to the soup. I usually have a special container in the freezer for such a purpose and if there is a small helping remaining at the end of dinner, I just put it in. This was my grandmother's secret to making a great soup. Waste not, want not.}
-2-3 potatoes
-1 cup of sliced carrots

For the dumplings
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 egg
- splash of milk

Place the soup bones in the crock pot. Cut your onion into large chunks and put in with the meat.
Open the can of tomato sauce and the can of diced tomatoes and add both in the crock pot. Fill the empty can of diced tomatoes with water and pour it in.
Next, add your spices: Worcestershire, pepper, Season All, and Mrs. Dash. Turn your crock pot on low.
Since you have the cutting board out from cutting up the onions, go ahead and dice up your potatoes and carrots into bite-size pieces. You can store them in a bowl of water in the refrigerator until you need to add them to the soup.
Let the meat cook for about 5 hours before adding your veggies. It is better to wait to add the vegetables so they don't get overly mushy. Nobody likes soggy vegetables. Add the canned vegetables along with the liquid they come in. If you have any frozen, saved veggies, add those too. Drain your carrots and potatoes and throw them in too (don't actually throw them...unless you have better aim than I do).
Let the soup cook (crock?) for another 3-4 hours.
Right before you are ready to serve the soup, make the dumplings. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and egg.
Add the milk until the mixture holds together and is slightly sticky. If you add too much milk, just sprinkle in some flour until the consistency is right.
Remove enough liquid from the soup to fill a pot. This is where you will cook your dumplings. Put on the stove and heat.
Once the soup in the pot is boiling, start making your dumplings! Get a metal spoon and dip it in the hot soup first. This helps the dumplings from sticking to the spoon.Take small spoonfuls of dumplings and dunk them in the boiling soup.
Allow the dumplings to cook. The dumplings are done when they float to the top.
Pour the dumplings and soup juice back into the crock pot.

I hope this soup makes your frigid winter days a little bit warmer!

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Make Your Own Pizza Crust

One cup of all purpose flour, one cup of whole wheat flour, yeast and water combined with a bit of oil and water makes up two medium pizza crust. Crust that you and your family and friends can top with whatever your favorite topping is. The crust recipe bakes up very thin and tasty and is easy to prepare either with a food processor or by hand. It's a great way to cut cost and have a pizza night at home.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water
2¼ tsp. instant dry yeast
1 tsp. salt + ¼ tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil

Stir together the water, yeast and add a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In the bowl of your food processor, place the dough blade and add flours, salt, pepper and the yeast mixture.
Add 1 tbsp. olive oil at a time and continue processing until the dough forms a ball, then process for 1 more minute.
Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil and place in the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the quality of the yeast you’re using.
Meanwhile, prepare your favourite topping.
Preheat the oven to 500F (250C) and place a baking tray in the oven.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll each piece very thin to about 9” size. Remove the tray from the oven and sprinkle with cornmeal or semolina. Place the 9” rolled crust on the baking tray and add your favourite sauce and topping.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the pizza is golden color.

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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Crockpot Loaded Baked Potato Soup #Recipe

30oz bag frozen hash browns (I used shredded)
28oz chicken broth
10.75oz can cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoons dried, minced onion
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
8oz cream cheese, softened
4-6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Mix frozen hash browns (no need to thaw), chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, dried minced onion, and pepper in Crockpot and cook on low for 5 hours.
Remove lid and stir in cream cheese. Cook another 30 minutes. Serve with bacon and cheddar on top. 

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Sunday Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders

start with frozen boneless skinless chicken tenderloins, wrap each one with two strips of thin bacon (some of the smaller pieces only wrapped with one strip of bacon).  top them with some fresh ground black pepper, then pop them in the oven at 400 F.  After about half an hour flip them over to brown the bottom, when the bottom was browned flip them back upright to make sure the tops are crisp and brown.

When you are sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the bacon is crisp and fully cooked, remove them from the oven.  serve them along side boiled potatoes with butter and sour cream, and a big serving of steamed broccoli spears.

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Meatloaf with Sweet and Sour Glaze #recipe

Classic Meatloaf with Sweet and Sour Glaze

Preheat oven to 375 F.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1-2 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 -1 teaspoon Italian herb blend
salt and pepper (not much, I add in a few twists of each using my sea salt and pepper grinders)
1 sleeve Ritz crackers ( I used to always use saltines, but one day I substituted Ritz and have used them ever since, they are smoother and easier to incorporate, and I think the buttery flavor adds something yummy to the meatloaf)
1 cup rolled oats
2 eggs

Yellow Mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar

In a large bowl combine hamburger, spices, eggs, oats, and an entire sleeve of Ritz crackers crushed (they are easy to crunch with your hands as you add them in), and about 1/2 a cup of ketchup to begin.  Using a fork mix the ingredients together until everything is well incorporated, add more ketchup as needed to create a mixture that will hold together well, and is moist but not overly moist.  Add more herbs and minced onion if needed, since you can't taste raw beef I give it a good smell to see if it smells seasoned to my liking.  Mix until incorporated.

Then spray the bottom of a roasting pan with cooking oil, and mound the meatloaf mixture in the center of the pan. Using a fork, shape into an oblong loaf, like shown below. I like to use a fork because it leaves grooves in the meatloaf which will hold the glaze better later in the cooking process.

Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes to an hour at 375 F., meatloaf should be browned but not crispy or dark, check it occasionally so it doesn't over cook on the outside, then it will be time to add the glaze. 

To make the sweet and sour glaze, combine 1/2 cup of ketchup, 1/2 a cup of brown sugar, and a couple tablespoons of yellow mustard into a bowl, and stir until mixed and sugar is incorporated.  Then give it a taste, it may need more mustard, or ketchup, or even a bit more sugar, I like it to be sweet with a definite sour element from the mustard and ketchup, but I don't want to taste any one ingredient too much.  Add what it needs and mix thoroughly.  Then top the mostly cooked meatloaf with this glaze, I like to cover the whole surface and sides, if the meatloaf is large, I may make a bit more glaze because I really like the whole loaf to be coated.

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