Friday, February 24, 2012

Another year older.....and wiser.

     Every day, American women and girls are besieged by images and messages that suggest their beauty is inadequate—inflicting immeasurable harm upon their confidence and sense of wellbeing. In "Beautiful You", author Rosie Molinary—in no uncertain terms—encourages women, whatever their size, shape, and color, to work toward feeling wonderful about themselves despite today’s media-saturated culture. Drawing on self-awareness, creativity, and mind-body connections, "Beautiful You" incorporates practical techniques into a 365-day action plan that empowers women to regain a healthy self-image, shore up self-confidence, reframe and break undermining habits of self-criticism, and champion their own emotional and physical wellbeing. Through accessible, doable daily actions, women and girls are encouraged to manifest a healthy outlook on life—teaching them to live large, and starting them on the path to learning to love themselves and others. Molinary steers clear of the florid affirmations and daily meditations often utilized by books geared toward personal growth, and instead delivers a hip, modern guide of inspirational thought that keeps pace with the times. "Beautiful You" is a practical, candid, and accessible handbook that will strike a chord with every woman who has ever faltered in her self-confidence or lost her personal brilliance—and it will make sure she never lets it happen again.

     I saw this book on Pinterest and thought I'd share as it's definitely going on MY must-read list;  as stated above, so many of us women struggle with self-esteem issues at some point in our lives.

     I have low self-esteem and my husband, bless his heart, really dislikes it whenever he hears me speaking negatively about myself.  One of the things I love most about him is how he builds me up and makes me feel I can do anything I set my mind to.  I have shared with him how I grew up without hearing ANY positive affirmations of my self worth, and how at age 54 that continues to affect me. 

     As time ticks on and those voices in my head are still there decades later, I'm starting to understand how nobody else's words can ever replace those unspoken by the ones who gave you life.  Intellectually I KNOW I am a beautiful soul and that I deserve love but if my own mother (my biological father wasn't in my life) couldn't verbalize OR show me love then that ultimately "speaks" volumes. Despite counseling and reading enough self-improvement books to understand that my poor role models don't reflect MY worth,  it seems that nagging question will forevermore remain:  if I'm so wonderful, why doesn't my own mother love me?

     Most days I don't dwell on my past; there has been far too much hurt to go into here but I am happy now and have chosen to focus on my blessings and the positive aspects of my life. My mothers birthday is days away and I've been reflecting on the past year and the fact that I haven't heard from her in almost 365 days.  She phoned me LAST January, on my birthday, and claimed she was "going to do better this year" at communicating with me.  Throughout all the ups and mostly downs of our relationship, we've never stopped talking for this length of time.  Now, for the first time, I really don't have anything to say.  More importantly, there is NOTHING she could possibly say to me to explain why she's ignored me for an entire year.  I got engaged, married and moved in those 365 days but she didn't acknowledge those life events.

      I've done a lot of soul-searching lately and I'm grateful that I'm here to celebrate my own milestones and achievements because of the woman who's turning 71 next week.  This is a turning point for me to look at what's been such a bitter journey in a new light and I trust that the book "Beautiful You" will present even more opportunities for me to continue on this path. 



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chai Tea Mix....made with love from home

I'm getting ready to send out a little care package to my sons who live and attend college clear across the nation from me.  Thought I'd share what I'm packaging up just in case anyone else is interested.  This would be a wonderful gift for a neighbor or friend or just make some up for yourself!

Chai Tea Mix

2 C sugar
2 C unsweetened instant tea
1 1/2 C powdered French Vanilla nondairy creamer
1 1/4 C powdered nondairy creamer
1 1/4 C packed brown sugar
3/4 C nonfat dry milk powder
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
1 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. white pepper

*Additional ingredient (for each serving)
1 C hot 2% (or your desire) milk

In a large bowl, combine the first 12 ingredients.  In a blender, cover and process tea mixture in batches until powdery.  Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.
To prepare one serving of chai tea:  Place 1/4 C mix in a mug.  Add hot milk; stir until combined.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Because I love my readers! Taco Bean Soup


Because I love you ALL, here's yet another recipe.  I made this earlier today, for tomorrow's dinner.  Tonight hubby's taking me out for Valentine's Day.  We'll be at The Outback, one of our favorite places to eat. 

Tomorrow is our day to hit all the thrift shops for reselling on Ebay, so this soup will be nice to come home to. Oh, and this recipe is as easy as it comes!!

Taco Bean Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 C chopped onion
1 1/2 C water
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans
1 C mild to medium-spicy thick and chunky salsa
1/4 tsp. EACH chili powder (I use the extra dark) and cumin
Taco shells for garnish
1/2 C shreded cheddar cheese for garnish
dollop of sour cream, if you wish, for garnish

Cook ground beef and onion until meat is browned.  Drain off any grease.  Add the water, salsa, refried beans, chili powder and cumin.  Bring to a boil; stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Ladle soup into bowls, serve with crumbled (heated) taco shells, cheese and sour cream if desired.
Makes 4 servings

Monday, February 13, 2012

Zesty Chicken Tortellini Soup

Yes, I'm still on tortellini.  What can I say, I just love 'em.  Here's another great recipe using my favorite pasta.  Don't hesitate to toss in whatever veggies you have on hand--it's a great way to use up leftovers!

Zesty Chicken Tortellini Soup

4 C reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 C reduced-sodium beef broth
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs OR breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 envelope reduced-sodium onion soup mix
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 1/2 C frozen cheese tortellini

In a dutch oven, bring chicken broth and beef broth to a boil; reduce heat.  Add chicken and poach, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.  Remove chicken; cool slightly.

Add carrots, celery, onion, soup mix, parsley and seasonings to broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Cool soup.  Meanwhile, remove chicken from bones; coarsely chop chicken; discard bones.  Add cheese tortellini and chicken to soup.  Transfer to freezer containers if desired; freeze for up to 3 months.

To use frozen soup"  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  Place in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until heated through and tortellini is tender.

Serves 6

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage & Tortellini Stew

.......and as promised, here's the second hearty stew recipe. 

Slow Cooker Sausage & Tortellini Stew

4 sweet Italian  sausage links, casings removed
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes with basil, garlic and  oregano
1 pkg. (9 oz.) frozen cut green beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 pkg. (9 oz.) refrigerated cheese tortellini (such as Buitoni)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

Crumble sausages into a bowl and stir together with tomatoes, green beans, onion and Italian seasoning; place mixture in slow cooker.  Cover slow cooker bowl and cook 3 hrs. on HIGH or 6 hrs. on LOW.

When there is 20 minutes remaining, stir in tortellini, oregano and 1 cup water; continue cooking. 
Makes 6 servings.

Tomato Minestrone Soup w/Garlic Bread Croutons

It's COLD here today, so I thought I'd share a couple of recipes for warm comforting soups.

Tomato Minestrone Soup w/Garlic Bread Croutons

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. pancetta or thick-cut prosciutto, finely chopped (optional)
1 lb. zucchini, cut into strips lengthwise (discarding the seedy centers), then cut into small pieces
2 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
One 32 oz. container (4 C) chicken or vegetable stock
One 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
One 15 oz. can tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
1/4 lb. whole wheat or other short-cut pasta
A handful of basil, torn into pieces
2 Tbsp. butter
4 thick slices Italian bread
About 1/2 C freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Finely chopped parsley, for garnish

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the panceta or prosciutto, if using, and cook until browned, a couple of minutes.  Add the zucchini, celery, carrot, onion, bay leaf and 2 cloves garlic; season with salt and pepper.  Cook until the vegetables are tender, 7 to 8 minutes. 

Preheat the broiler and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Stir the chicken stock, beans and tomatoes into the soup and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  Stir in the basil and lower the heat to low.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.  Add in the remaining 1 clove garlic and swirl for a minute or so; remove from the heat. 

Broil the bread on both sides until lightly toasted.  Brush the bread with the garlic butter and sprinkle with the cheese and parsley.  Broil to melt the cheese.  Serve the soup in shallow bowls, each topped with a crouton.

Makes 4 servings

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Will you be mine? Valentine, that is.

     Valentine's Day is right around the corner, especially if you have youngsters of elementary school age.  I have no idea if teachers still allow sharing of Valentine's cards and treats but if they do,  perhaps this post will inspire you and your child(ren) to do something a little different this year. 

     Don't even buy those boxed Valentine cards.  Dare to be different AND spend some quality time with your children by getting out the construction paper and embellish store purchased candy with some cute word play!  I found a few of these in the Feb. issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and then I hit the lottery on Pinterest.  You can find the candy word plays that I posted and so many more here:

     Here are just a few I pulled from the above blog to spark your creativity ~  they are all age and gender neutral.  I've listed the candy first, to make it easier for you to prepare in advance. 

York Peppermint Patties......"We're just mint to be"
Sweet & sour straws, pixie sticks (whatever they're called)........"You're sweet"
Fresh Pear (yeah, I know.......maybe a better idea for your spouse than kid)...."We're quite the Pear!"
Starburst............"I'm bursting with Happiness that you're my friend"
Peanuts or other small pkg. nuts........"I'm nuts about you"
Reese's Pieces..........."I love you to pieces"
Pop rocks, Rock candy..............."You rock!" OR "Valentine, you're a rock star"
Tootsie Rolls........"You are sweet and fun, all rolled into one"
Oreos..."It's as plain as black & white, I'd love to be your Valentine"
Extra Gum...."Valentine, you're extra special to me"
Goldfish crackers..."You're a great catch" OR " will you  o fish ally be mine"?
Two of anything...."Valentine, we're two of a kind"
Gum....."I chews you as my Valentine"
Koolaid........."Valentine, you are kool"
Snickers............."You make me snicker"

Here are a couple more great ideas for Valentine greetings to HAND over to mom and/or dad. 

Happy Valentine's Day to all my readers!



Friday, February 3, 2012

Robert Redford Dessert

     I'm sharing this recipe which I'll be making this weekend.  Hubby mentioned it a while back & I'd never heard of it so had to do some research.  I'll be doing it with the chocolate and also vanilla pudding, but as I state below, you can change it up to suit your own taste! ~ Enjoy and as always, do come back & post to let me know if you tried any of my recipes and how you liked them!

Robert Redford Dessert

First layer:

1/2 C melted buter
1 C flour, all purpose
1 C nuts (your favorite; I like pecans)
1 Tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients for the first layer and then press into a 9 x 13" pan.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool.

Second Layer

1 C powdered sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
1 C whipped cream (your favorite recipe OR ready-made)

Mix all the ingredients for the second layer.  Spread evenly on top of the first layer.

Third Layer

1 1/2 C chocolate pudding (your favorite recipe OR instant)
1 1/2 C vanilla pudding (your favorite recipe OR instant)

Layer each pudding evenly on top of the second layer.

Fourth Layer

1 1/2 C whipped cream (again, your favorite recipe OR ready-made)
1 Chocolate bar, frozen (1 1/2 oz. bar, your favorite---I'm using Hershey's)
1/2 C chopped nuts (your favorite, pecans over here)

Spread the whipped cream on top of the third layer creating a wavy finish.  Remove the chocolate bar from the freezer and do NOT eat it instead of shaving it on top of the dessert!  ***You shoulda bought two candy bars ~ next time you'll know.  If you are finishing with nuts, sprinkle those on top of the dessert.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm here, there, I'm everywhere ~ I'm on Ebay!!

For those who peruse Ebay & may be interested, here's my user name and listings.

A girl's gotta make the bills somehow, right??  So I bit the bullet and set up an Ebay STORE.

New finds will be added to my inventory on a regular (weekly) basis.

**Also, just to see if you're really reading, I DO have a couple more giveaways planned for upcoming months so be sure and keep it here, otherwise you'll miss out.

I haven't been online much because I've been trying to recover from a back issue.  I hope to be back soon with some new recipes!

Blessings ~