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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Protect Your Child's Teeth

Our children's health is at the top of mine and I am sure yours as well. I am always looking out for them and striving to make sure they are in good health. Both oral, dental and mental health are at the top of my mind as it should be yours. However, did you know that tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has shared that early childhood cavities are even more common than asthma, early childhood obesity or diabetes. That is not to say that dental cavities can not be prevented. Following a few tips will help ensure your child has a future smile as bright as you wish it to be. These tips include:

  • brushing twice a day to reduce the bacteria in the mouth and keep the gums clean. Even before our children are born wiping off their gums will help prevent dental issues. 
  • While many fear fluoride it is one of the most effective methods for strengthening teeth and preventing cavities. Fluoride occurs naturally in the world and is in our water. 
  • Floss daily for children 4 years and up. 
  • Limit eating to 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. Frequent snacking and eating is a major contributor to tooth decay. Sugary foods and starchy foods contain sugar that can increase tooth decay. Likewise, limiting juice to 4 oz a day is recommended. 
  • Regular dental check-ups are important Do not wait til a problem exist. 

You can truly help you child get on the right foot for good dental health. These tips can get you started out right and keep you going Cavities can be prevented and stopped if all ready started

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Bird Seed Bars for our WInter Birds

2 cups Birdseed Mix
2 cups Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
1 cup Raisins
2 cups Cornmeal or Flour (I did one cup of each)
3 cups Lard

In a large bowl combine the birdseed mix, the sunflower seeds, the raisins, and the cornmeal and/or flour.  Stir until everything is well mixed together.
Place the lard in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat in the microwave until melted.  This took 2 minutes and 30 seconds for me.  There were just a few chunks still not melted, but I just stirred them around and they quickly dissolved.
Pour the melted lard over the birdseed mixture.  Stir until everything is well moistened with the melted lard.
Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.  Pour the mixture into the lined pan and spread it around evenly, making sure to get it spread out well to the edges too.  You may want to add a few pencil size holes for hanging later
Put the pan in the refrigerator for several hours to cool and harden.
After several hours the birdseed cakes should be hard enough to cut.  Lift the parchment paper out of the pan and cut the block into 6 cakes that should be the perfect size to fit in most birdseed cake “cages” on bird feeders.

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Slow Cook Recipe ::: Poor Man's Chili

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
1 (24-ounce) jar prepared pasta sauce
1 cup baby tomatoes (optional, they pop after slow cooking!)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric (not really a "poor" spice, it's a substitute for saffron, but I had it in the cupboard. If you don't have any, you can try a mixture of curry and cardamom, or just omit it all together)
1 cinnamon stick

used a 6 quart slow cooker. Drain the beans and corn, and put the can contents into your crock. Top with tomatoes, if using, and the pasta sauce. Stir in spices, and add cinnamon stick. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for about 4. If the tomatoes haven't popped on their own, gently poke them with a wooden spoon to pop before serving.

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Black History Month ::: Frederick Douglass

February 16, 1874 – Frederick Douglass elected president of Freedman’s Bank and Trust.

Frederick Douglass an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman. Douglass was also an escaped slave from Maryland as well as a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York. His writings and speeches gave fear to slaveholders argument that slaves lacked intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens.

As a requirement in my college History class we read The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave Douglass would battle against slavery as well as women's suffrage. He believed that all people were equal to one another and it not matter upon color of skin, male or female, Native American or immigrant.

Who was Frederick Douglas::

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born into slavery. He resided on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay in Talbot County , Maryland on a large plantation. No one is quite sure of his birthdate or of his father. While, we know Frederick Douglass was of mixed race which may have been Native American and African. In addition, Frederick would choose his surname Douglass after he escaped to freedom.

Did you know these facts about Frederick Douglass

  • The wife of a slave owner taught him his alphabet around the age of 12. After this time he was clever in learning at one time trading pieces of bread to kids that would help him
  • Douglas would teach other slaves to read. He would use the bibles new testament to do such learning
  • Fredericks first wife was a free woman when they met and helped Douglas to escape. 
  • He would often have his picture taken thinking of it as a "democratic" tool of sorts
  • he gained acceptance from President Lincoln to allow black men to join the Union army
  • Later in life, Douglass became more of a statesman, serving in highly appointed federal positions, including U.S. Marshal for D.C., Recorder of Deeds for D.C., and Minister Resident and Consul General to Haiti. Rutherford B. Hayes was the first to appoint Douglass to a position in 1877, and Presidents Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison each sought his counsel in various positions as well.
  • Remarried after his first wife passed away. Not only was his first wife white but also 20 years younger than him
  • The book that Frederick Douglas wrote can be found for free online here

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Almonds are found in Russian Tea Cakes

Almonds are an ancient food that became domesticated around 3000 BC. Almonds have been found in king Tut's tomb as well as noted in Greek mythology.
  • According to Greek mythology, the lovely princess Phyllis was dumped at the altar on her wedding day by Demophon, her fiance As she waited for him to return to her she died of a broken heart. The gods took pity and transformed her into an almond tree. Demophon would finally wise up and return to find Phyllis turned into a flowerless tree. He embraced her and the tree burst into blooms. Thus, proving his love was greater than death. 

Spanish missionaries were the group responsible for bringing almonds to California. Today, 100 % of all almonds grown in the United States comes from  California as well as 80% of the entire world supply. 

Almonds are high in antioxidants as well as vitamin E. They may also help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) 

The uses of almonds in the culinary world are limitless. From sprinkling on salads and other dishes to cooking them into recipes.

Russian Tea Cakes 
(recipe Resource here)
Makes about 4 dozen

1 cup (8 ounces or 225 grams) butter, room temperature
2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour
1 cup (about 110 grams) pecans, hazelnuts or other nuts, toasted and finely ground (if using hazelnuts, wrap in a dishtowel while still warm and roll about until most of the brown skins come off)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then nuts. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon, if using, in pie dish to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.
Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar.)
Sift remaining cinnamon sugar over cookies and serve.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

State of Wisconsin and a Slow Cooker Soup Recipe

February 15th of every year recognizes the state of WIsconsin. Other wise known as the Badger state the state of Wisconsin became the 30th state. It all stated with a French explorer Jean Nicolet reached Wisconsin while looking for a passage to China. However, it would be a mining boom not fur trading that would lead to the nickname of the state.

MInes in Wisconsin would see miners burrowed into the hillsides much like badgers in search of shelter. Settlers to this area would destroy the homelands of the Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Chippewa and other indigenous people. The state of Wisconsin would gain much from dairy production. In addition breweries became a fixture in the state as well.

During the 1850s immigrants saw many Brewers across Wisconsin the 18th amendment of 1919 prohibited alcohol and many of the self brewers would die out during this time period. In 1933 when the amendment was repealed there was only a few brewers that remained.

The waterways in Wisconsin offer the citizens and visitors of the state many forms of water recreation and sport. Trails around the state help offer perfect places for hiking during warm weather as well Don't forget all the great fun that can be had in the snow in this area as well.

1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 large head of cauliflower (2.5 lbs of
3 cups water
2 tsp chicken bouillon (or 1 tsp Shirley J
chicken bouillon)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2/3 cup warmed heavy cream
1/2 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
Toppings:  crumbled bacon, croutons, green onions, grated cheddar

1.  Heat a pan over medium high heat on the stove top.  Melt the butter in the pan.  When butter is melted, add the diced onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until they are translucent and soft.  Add onions and butter to slow cooker.
2.  Cut the cauliflower into florets.  (They don’t have to be super small since you’ll be pureeing it later).  Add the cauliflower to the slow cooker.
3.  Add water, bouillon, salt and pepper to the slow cooker.
4.  Cover and cook on LOW for about 6-8 hours or on HIGH for about 3-4 hours, or until cauliflower is very soft.
5.  Carefully pour or ladle contents of slow cooker into a large blender (you may have to do this part in batches).  Puree until creamy and smooth.  Add back into the slow cooker.
6.  Add the warmed cream into the slow cooker.  Stir in the Dijon mustard and cheeses until they are melted.
7.  Ladle the soup into serving bowls and top with desired toppings.

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Who WIll Take Care of Our Loved Ones

Every day we all make decisions in our lives. Some of these decisions are not as important as others. What will we watch on T.V., what will we wear to school or work, or what supper will be are all decisions that are daily questions that will not change or harm our lives. However, questions such as choosing a care giver for an older loved one can seemingly change the world as we know it.

Choosing the right care giver can offer help for you and your loved one. They can responsibly improve the quality of love of your loved one. The right caregiver will be able to care for your loved one as well as foster a friendship allowing you to be able to rest knowing that you have made the right decision. However, not all caregivers are the same and there will be some that may just not be the right choice for your loved one.

Caregivers may have the right heart and be willing to do what it takes to care for your loved one and still not be the right one. Sadly, there are some caretakers that turn out to be not what they appear. Abuse no matter what form it comes in is not welcome. These reasons makes the decision of who to care for your loved one is a bit scary. However, there are things that you can do to make you feel better about making the choice.

Keeping a thoughtful open mind and being serious about the decision to choose the right caregiver is the place to start Keep in mind that a caregiver is an employee that works for you and your loved one. If for any reason issues arise and it does not seem to work out you can find a replacement. Here are some tips that may help you find the right caregiver to start with:

  • What are your home care needs?? Does your loved one require help with daily functions?? Someone to ensure their safety?? Someone to take them to appointments and activities?? Someone to cook, clean, handle medicinal regimes?? Part of finding the best caregiver for your loved ones is to start with knowing what type of care they need
  • What are your finances like?? How much can you afford to pay for a caregiver?? Taking care of an older loved one can be stressful without adding to it an overwhelming cost for care.  Are there relatives that re willing to help?? A family meeting of the minds may be needed to discuss options and to consider all opinions of what to do. Some available options may include            ** agency or private care ** are there any activity centers, social clubs or anywhere that adults hang out??  ** consider online reviews and others opinions when deciding upon care. 
  • Interview the individual(s) you are considering to take care of your loved one. Find out past history experiences of similar work. Find out a bit about their personality, who they are, where they are from etc...Tell them your expectations and be firm not rude or overbearing when describing what you will expect them to do in their role of caregiver. 
  • Conduct Background checks are a must in these days and times. Check credentials to ensure they are who they say they are whether that be a CNA or a nurse, Criminal background checks are a good idea as well. 

In the end after you have performed your research, interview and the rest the decision may still be hard. The best thing to do is to go with your gut feeling Go with what you think is right, take a leap of faith and remember it is not the final decision. If things do not work out you can make adjustments and changes .

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Eat the Food on Your Own Plate


Is it okay for someone to reach over and take a nibble from the food you are eating??

Sharing food is often left for those with close relationships. The entire animal kingdom including man considers food a resource. Food can be considered such a treasure that we choose not to share. So what happens when someone simply reaches over and takes??

When someone decides to share your food when you are unwilling it may be bad for a relationships. The power display of the individual who takes the food without being invited is very dominant. Thus leading to possible hurt feelings and a bit of irritation.

When we choose to share our food with a good friend or romantic partner the bond we have together may be strengthened. When we choose to share our food the action shows emotions and helps to build a bond.

What do you Think??

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Happy BIrthday Susan B. Anthony lets celebrate with Cake

Celebrating the birthday of Susan B. Anthony today,  February 15th. Susan B. Anthony was born on this day in 1820 and struggled during her life time for women's rights. Imagine a young girl growing up near Adams, Massachusetts and being raised in a Quaker family growing up to stand up for women's rights.

That is exactly what happened. Susan B. Anthony was a well educated individual who became active in abolitionism, the temperance movement along with the women's rights. Susan would find her place during her 30s when she was part of the strong groups. However, she was not alone as she had a dear friend with her

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked together to form the National Woman Suffrage Association. Anthony was a strong writer and lectured often on the subject. She went as far as voting illegally in 1872 and being arrested and tried for violating the law. She fought back stating that "It was we, the people, not we the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the union.”

 Sadly, Susan B. Anthony would never see women achieve the right to vote in 1920. She would pass just 14 years earlier in 1906.

Susan B. Anthony Sponge Cake

5 eggs at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup flour
raspberry jam or sauce for garnish (optional)
whipped cream for garnish (optional)

 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut a piece of wax paper to fit the bottom of a 9-inch tube pan.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks and extract until they lighten. Gradually beat in half of the sugar.
Wash your beaters thoroughly. Beat the egg whites and salt until they form soft peaks. Gently and gradually beat in the remaining sugar. When the peaks are glossy and beginning to stiffen, remove the beaters from the bowl.
Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Pour the remaining egg whites on top, and sift the flour on top of them. Gently fold the flour and egg whites into the batter.
Delicately pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake until it is a golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Invert the cake over a cooling rack and let it cool completely before coaxing the cake out of the pan. This will probably involve running a knife delicately around the sides of the pan and the tube. Peel off the wax paper.
Gingerly break off pieces of the cake. Serve with or without jam and whipped cream. (With is better!) Serves 10.

recipe resource here

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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Show the Love Salad #Recipe

Valentine's "Show the Love" Salad

1 pkg Earthbound Farms Spring Mix
1 large cucumber, sliced
2 red peppers, seeded (tops and bottoms removed)
1 bunch radishes, sliced
1 small brick of partly skim mozzarella cheese
10 - 15 small plum tomatoes, halved
1/4 to 1/2 pkg Grab & Go Simply Sesame Trail Mix
1 bottle Kraft Roasted Red Pepper with Parmesan salad dressing

Place the Spring Mix in a large bowl. (If you can't find the Earthbound Farms Spring Mix just use a similar mixed greens blend, about 6 cups or more.)
Using a small, heart shaped cookie cutter (about 1 inch) cut out heart shapes from the cucumber, red peppers, and mozza cheese.
Sprinkle the veggies and cheese over the salad.
Sprinkle with a generous amount of the Simply Sesame Trail Mix. (If you can't find this you can leave it off or substitute with another crunchy salad topper.)
Just before serving, drizzle with your desired amount of Roasted Red Pepper Dressing and toss until equally distributed

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Can Goods Make Taco Soup Fast and Easy

This taco soup is helped out a bit by using can goods. February is National Can Food month. Can foods offer nutrition and are perfect for quick meals. In addition, if you are able to donate a few can goods look what can be made. 

1 lb. Ground Beef, browned and drained
14.5 oz. Beef Broth {1 can}
16 oz. Kidney Beans {1 can}, drained
15 oz. Black Beans {1 can}, rinsed and drained
14.5 oz. Petite Diced Tomatoes + liquid from can {1 can}
15 oz. Corn + liquid from can {1 can}
10 oz. Original Rotel – Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies {1 can}
1 oz. Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix packet or 3 tbsp. Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Mix
1 oz. Taco Seasoning Mix packet or 3 tbsp. Homemade Taco Seasoning
1.5 tsp. Onion Powder
½ tsp. Salt

Add all ingredients {except garnish ingredients} to Crockpot and stir well.
Cook on HIGH for 2 hours, or LOW for 4 hours.
Top with a dollop of Sour Cream, Shredded Cheddar, Chopped Green Onions, and some Fritos for a delicious added punch of flavor! ENJOY!!

For Garnish: Fritos, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheddar and chopped Green Onions!

recipe resource here

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From Slavery To Soul Food

One of the most recognized and popular types of cooking from the United States is known as soul food. Black Americans have passed secrets, tips and recipes to one another for centuries. I was introduced to soul food when I went home with a highschool friend. Boy oh boy could her mama cook, yummy is all I can say. Where and when did the conception of soul food happen??

The states of Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama are often referred to as the "Deep South" These were the states where African individuals were made slaves. The enslaved individuals were offered meager food rations that were low in quality and nutrition value. African food traditions were used to prepare these rations. Thus the beginning of Soul Food.

Soul food is often found under comfort and decadence food genre. The cooking genre requires 4 key ingredients. These ingredients links Americas dark period of time when slavery took place and the African cultures that they came from. Those 4 ingredients are pork, greens, okra and rice.

The slave trade brought many new foods into availability in the states. Slave traders would take several crops that were native to Africa These crops would help keep the enslaved alive. In America the enslaved Africans would grow these crops on the plantation Rice being a staple in many African dishes remains thru today. For example jambalaya is a dish often served in West African countries. Likewise, dishes like Hoppin' John resembles dishes that are served in other African nations

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken broth
  • 4 cups sliced okra
  • 3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Instructions

  • Cook bacon in a cast iron Dutch oven. Remove bacon and set aside.
  • Add onion and celery to the bacon grease and cook until soft, about 7-8 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, water, okra, and seasonings. Cook 20-25 minutes, maintaining a simmer and stirring occasionally.
  • Crumble bacon and stir in just before serving.

Okra is a vegetable rich in history and wildly popular in southern American cooking. Originally from Ethiopia the vegetable has made its way through the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Okra made it to Americas aboard the slave ships. The many uses of okra may surprise you. The slimy green veggie continues to be made in soups, stews and rice dishes. In the deep south you will often find okra fried or as an ingredient in gumbo.

The southern part of the United States is known for it barbeques. Whether casual backyard gatherings or large cook offs they are a time to honor time gone by and a form of art that started out very humbly. The choice meat in the south is often pork that was often salted and smoked. The Atlantic slave trade brought another manner so that the meat allotment would not go bad. However, it was not just striving to keep the meat good but to cook with the meat that was allotted to them.

  • 4 to 5 pigs' feet, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup kecap manis
  • 1/4 cup sriacha
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • For the sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons kecap manis
  • 2 teaspoons sriacha
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind sauce
Rinse all of the trotters and place them into a shallow hotel pan or dutch oven. Loosely pour the kecap manis and the sriracha over the trotters. Add the salt and the water to the pan and cover with foil or a lid. 
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Braise the trotters for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the trotters are very tender but not falling off the bone. Let cool briefly.
Meanwhile, start your grill. Arrange your briquets on one side of the grill or in a pile in the middle, so that there's plenty of room on the grill to indirectly cook the trotters. When the briquets have ashed over and are glowing red, arrange the braised trotters on the grate, skin side down. 
Grill for 25 to 35 minutes, turning the trotters occasionally to check that the skins aren't burning. Serve immediately with the sauce on the side.

Often pieces of pork including head, ribs, feet or internal organs were offered to slaves in their weekly food rations. These cuts of meat are not the best but the trick was to make them taste good. Traditional African cooking tricks were used with a combination of seasonings to make the meat taste great. Commonly hot red peppers and vinegar were used to flavor the meat. Thus leading to a base of many different barbecue sauces that are still popular in the south.

 One cultural dish that I know my brother - in - love appreciates is the leafy greens. The continent of Africa has many dishes that are similar to the collard green dish from the West. A link between the African method of eating is clearly related to the technique of boiling greens. Greens are boiled in -pork fat, seasoned and then other veggies that were in season were added. Nothing went to waste as even the juices after the greens were cooked were saved to dip cornbread in during the meal.

Through out history food has always had a role to play. February is Black history month and as you can see food has an important play through the years here a well.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Save Some Money Make Your own Kitchen mixes

Ranch Mix

2 tbsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. salt (we used sea salt)
2/3 c. dried chives
2/3 c. dried parsley
1/3 c. dried dill
1/3 c. garlic powder
1/3 c. onion powder

{Notes: This mix should be shaken well before measuring each time to evenly distribute the herbs and spices.}

To make a ranch style dip, add one or more tbsp. of mix to one cup of sour cream until you reach desired flavor.
To make a ranch style dressing (we love to dip our pizza crust into this), mix together 1 1/2 tbsp. ranch mix with one cup of mayonnaise and either one cup of kefir, buttermilk or homemade plain yogurt (I mention homemade because it is runnier).

Seasoned Salt {Lawrey's Copycat Recipe}
2/3 c. salt {we used sea salt}
3 tbsp. sugar {we used organic}
2 ½ tsp. paprika
1 ¼ tsp. turmeric
1 ¼ tsp. onion powder
1 ¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 ¼ tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

{Note: The good part about making your own seasoning salt is that you can replace the generic salt with a healthier alternative like sea salt or himalayan pink salt.  You could also eliminate the sugar altogether though it may change the potential "Lawrey's" taste.  Adapted from this recipe.}

 Use like you would any seasoning salt. We especially love this on our meats, fried potatoes and baked french fries.

Homemade Taco Season mix
2 tsp arrowroot starch, or tapioca flour
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Herbamare or seasoning salt
1/2 tsp crushed red chili pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sugar (optional)

Place all seasoning mix ingredients in a bowl and thoroughly mix until very well combined. If preferred, you can use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to grind and mix the spices.
Each single batch makes about 2 tablespoons of Chili Seasoning Mix. Use one batch of seasoning mix per pound of ground meat. We prefer ground beef but ground turkey, or ground chicken also make really good Chili. *** For Vegan, or Vegetarian, use extra beans in place of meat in your Chili
Using The Seasoning Mix To Make Chili
In a large saucepan, add one batch of Gluten Free Chili Seasoning Mix (about 2 Tbsp) to one pound of cooked meat (see Vegan/Vegetarian option above), one can tomato sauce (14 oz), one can chopped tomatoes (28 oz) and about 3 cans of beans (19 oz, drained and rinsed), add chopped onions and garlic (if desired).
Simmer uncovered for 15 to 30 minutes, or until mixture has thickened. Stir occasionally.
Serve warm, topped with a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions and extra crushed red chili pepper flakes, if desired.

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Creole Potato Salad

3 pounds baby potatoes (you may use red if you don’t have purple and gold)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Creole mustard (Zatarain’s makes this, of course!)
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning (again from Zatarain’s; I used a bit more because I love this seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 cups diced tomatoes
1/2 cup crumbled bacon (optional but delicious)
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (scallions)

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until they are fork tender but not soggy. Drain and quarter them.
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream, Creole seasoning, and sugar. Add the warm potatoes, and toss to coat them with the dressing. Add the tomatoes, bacon (if desired), and scallions, and toss lightly.
Cover the salad, and refrigerate it for at least to hours to let the flavors blend. Serves 12.

recipe resource here

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Inventors Day

If it were not for inventors and their great inventions where would we be?? Inventors have made it possible to ride safely in an elevator, have a well lit room at the flip of a switch or speak to someone on the other side of the world. Some inventors may go their entire life without recognition for their creation while others are household names. While many wild stories have been told about the wild labs of inventors the truth is that there have been a number of ways inventors have been discovered and in fact some have been on accident as well.
Some accidental inventions that have become part of daily life include the microwave oven, penicillin, sticky notes and bubble wrap.

Inventors look at life as they live life looking to fix the issues that come in their way. Progressive, forward thinking inventors have helped to create life saving inventions like pacemakers, traffic signals, rubber bands or coffee filters. However, there are some inventions that were thought up then later thought that we may have been better off. While the DVD rewinder may have been nice there is no real need for it.

Inventors of inventions no matter how small they seem should never give up. Always take a bow when given credit. One day the inventors of today may find a cure, fix and life improvements.

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Visit the Shut In

When we think of shut-ins we often think about the elderly. While they are often elderly but the truth is that shut-ins can be any age. Anyone who is recovering from an accident or surgery, individuals with small children and no transportation and / or the crippled are all top categories of shut ins. Sadly, I have been a member of two of these three and realize that it can be lonely when you are all alone or feel alone. However, many shut ins are not at home and can be found in hospitals, nursing homes, senior care facilities and in your own neighborhood.

For someone who was once independent and free to come and go as they wish to have to give up freedom and be stuck at home and depend on others is often hard to do. With only a few minutes of your time you can help brighten and individual by spreading a little joy and happiness to someone.

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Did You Get Your Hug Today

We all have more than likely offered a hug to someone or recieved one in our life time. But do we really know what a hug really is??

  • Did you know that hugs are chemically equipped to make someone happy?? The reason is because of the chemical oxytocin "the bonding hormone"
  • Did you know that hugs are proven to relieve stress and help individuals relax?? 
  • Getting hugs from those I love are my favorites. Whether it be from my child, grandchild, husband or another family member knowing I am loved feels great 
  • A recent survey showed the top 3 huggable animals included dogs, cats and rabbits.

Offering a friend or family member who may be going through a difficult period of time in their lives a hug can help reduce their stress and offer them a bit of support. Hugs can help us stay close and connected to people you care about. Hugs can also offer the health benefits to our bodies and minds. 

  • "Hugging protects people who are under stress from the increased risk for colds [that's] usually associated with stress," notes study lead author Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. Hugging "is a marker of intimacy and helps generate the feeling that others are there to help in the face of adversity."

Research shows that deep hugs benefits both the giver and receiver in these ways 

  • touch of a hug helps to build trust and a sense of safety. When trust is built open and honest communication can take place 
  • Hugs can help lift serotonin levels that can help elevate mood and happiness
  • The immune system can be made stronger by hugs. 
  • Self esteem is built through hugs. From the time we are born touch of hugs shows us that we are loved and special. As adults we have stored those memories of how hugs made us feel.
  • Tension in the body muscles can be released through hugging. 
  • Hugs help teach us to give and receive and teaches us that love flows both ways. It encourages empathy and understanding in a relationship. 

Do yourself a favor and give someone a Hug Today

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a little bit of everything

Task: To Make New Friends

When we were kids more than likely we had at least a couple of friends. Some of us may have been more popular than others. Me myself I had my up moments where I had lots of great friends and then I had my lows where I chose and picked friends and they seemed to be limited. However, as we get older it may seem to be a lonely life and making friends may be something we want to do but are not sure how.

We may be busy with work or perhaps your friends are busy with work and have no real time to hang out. Relationships build and sometimes they do not include us, families are built and pretty soon you may go from several text messages a day to few and in between. Don't worry you are not alone

There are many that feel alone that truly want to be around others. It seems as we we get older we may also get stuck in our own grooves. Our schedules may keep us busy or we may be afraid to make friends or more reserved with who we hang out with. However, all humans were created to be with others and not to be alone.

If your personal choice is to be alone without friends then go ahead don't let me tell you that you must have friends. If you are like most of us and love to make friends but perhaps you need a bit of help then I would love to share a few tips with you.

  • First of all stop feeling as if you are being judged. I have worked for the past 20+ years in group homes, nursing homes and other shelter homes and realize that these individuals (1) feel as if they are judged and (2) judge others. So rather than feeling judged put a smile on your face, make all feel welcome and simply try to be more positive. 
  • Don't be a wall flower and expect others to reach out to you. Don't wait on others go out and start the conversation yourself. 
  • Sometimes it is our look that helps others decide if we are approachable or not. Those that stand there looking bored or angry are the ones that often get avoided. Remember to smile and be an all around happy person.
  • While you may have a lot to share about yourself take time to pay attention to others as well. It's a fine balance between asking to much and telling to much
  • We all have our troubles but when we are striving to make new friends we do not want to be the ninny in the group. Unloading your drama on those that you are meeting on the first meeting is for sure a turn down. This does not mean to act like you do not have a care in the world just tune it down a bit. 
  • To go along with the step above remember not to be too judgemental. We are all different and that is what makes the world go round. There are small disagreements then there are those times we have a gut feeling that we are simply to different. Those gut feelings may be worth listening to but the disagreements may be able to be avoided. 

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