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Showing posts from March, 2017

Lettuce Wraps with Tuna and Avocado

I have embraced a new sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free diet for the past 8 weeks. I have enjoyed a sixteen pound weight loss which is fabulous but the main thing is that I am feeling so good!  I can feel my mood brighten, my mental clarity is back and overall feel a sense of wellness. I have a long road ahead but I can sense that this eating style will be with me for the rest of my life. One of the things I have missed is bread. Bread and I were best buddies. I decided to not look for a replacement but instead look for another way of eating. For me lettuce wraps were a wonderful way to eat sandwich style ingredients in a healthy way.  I love butter lettuce and for me it makes a perfect wrap because the leaves are pliable. I also love the mild taste of butter lettuce after all, the word butter must be a good thing! Lettuce wraps with Tuna and Avocado 1 can Tuna 1 avocado 6 large butter lettuce leaves 2 slices onion  Lime Garlic powder Pink Himalayan sa
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A Stolen Heart #ourgoodlifebooklist

The first in a series, this historical fiction novel, A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot,  takes place in fictional Cimarron Creek, Texas.  Lydia Crawford, a "Yankee" from New York, has the audacity to move to Texas years after the end of the Civil War, while tensions are still tight from the carpetbaggers who swept through town and stole from the residents.  She does get a warm welcome from the Sheriff, Travis Whitfield, who is expecting his father to come home.  His father is the worst of the residents for hating the Yankees, as he lost his leg in the war. Lydia comes to Cimarron Creek to find her fiance and to marry, but learns quickly that he has married someone else and has disappeared mysteriously.  Thus begins our journey through a windy road of crime that has come to town.  Edgar's disappearance, the rape of a woman, the poisoning of farm animals, all since Travis has become sheriff.  At a loss of what to do, Lydia is saved by Travis' delightful aunt Bertha,
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Truman and Wilson February #ChewyInfluencer

Truman and Wilson love their morning walk with their dad, regardless of the weather.  They are the first ones up in the house, usually pulling on the covers to get Bob out of bed.  Wilson is the most eager to go, jumping up in big leaps or running circles around Bob's feet.  I sleep blissfully through it all, unless Bob happens to be out of town. After their walk, it is time for breakfast.  Both dogs have special needs diets, which requires them to be patient while Bob prepares their food.  In order to gain a little peace, he often gives them one of these Fromm's cookies.  We call them cookies, and at only 12 calories a treat, it doesn't upset their appetites.  Truman and Wilson prefer savory treats over sweet ones, and these come in a parmesan cookie that they really love. Since it is National Puppy Day, we are blessed to call these dogs our family.  Their stories are unique and heartwarming, especially Wilson's, who has had many lovely people looking after
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Color My World~Green #PBColorMyWorld

What a perfect color to highlight in the month of March:   GREEN !  St. Patrick's Day, the color of the new grass in spring, all great reasons for us to share with you all the good that is going on green-wise in March! I love that the word "green" comes from the words grass and grow.  Isn't that perfect?  Green is mostly associated with life and birth, but there are some that see it as a color of mourning.  Green also indicates safety, like in the green light in our traffic signals.  In the Middle Ages green was worn by the middle class, as evidenced in the Mona Lisa by da Vinci, and the benches in the House of Commoners are green. Our Project Beautiful bloggers have been busy with their gardens this month and have brought to you a variety of wonderful green things to share with you.  First, let's start up in the northeast part of the country with Lee at Landscape Design by Lee.    Lee is going to tell you how green is used in Japanese gardens.  It is a beauti
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The Martian #foodnflix

I was so excited when Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm chose The Martian as our March movie for #FoodnFlix.  I read the book a few years back and was so anxious for the movie to come out. Our book club went together to see the movie and we all agreed that the movie did the book justice. Food 'n' Flix is a monthly group that uses the chosen film as inspiration in the kitchen.  You can check out the hashtage #FoodnFlix to find more of what we have done on Facebook and Instagram. This movie is one of my top movies ever.  The science of it, Matt Damon, the intrigue, the humor, all made to make this movie a movie lovers delight.  Some of my favorite quotes are, "I'm going to need to science the shit out of this," and " I am definitely going to die up here ... if I have to listen to any more god-awful disco music," made me giggle out loud.   So how to be inspired?  Mark Watney gets left on Mars with 300 astronaut meals and four potatoes. He
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Ruby Red Mimosa #SundaySupper

We are celebrating all things citrus at #SundaySupper this week.  I love all citrus, especially lemon and grapefruit.  I am not a fan of the fruit part of grapefruit, but I love the juice and things that are flavored with grapefruit.  So when my husband's friend told me about this particular vodka, I knew I had to give it a try. The freshness of the citrus with the sparkling Prosecco was a perfect combination.  It is dry and a little sweet and sparkling.  The fruit soaks up the citrusy-goodness and it is delicious, too.  Eat it last! I can see this being my go-to summer drink.  It is so easy to make and it is refreshing.  I keep my vodka in the freezer anyway, so that means the drink will be cold and ready to serve! Ruby Mimosa Prosecco (enough to fill your glass, approx 5 oz) 1 oz Grapefruit Vodka (I prefer Deep Eddy Ruby Red) Strawberry or Raspberry for garnish Make sure your Prosecco and Vodka are cold.  In a polished champagne glass, pour in the
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It's Purple Martin Time!

I can never think of this slogan without thinking about my sister, Tammi.  When she was in third grade, she wore a button in her school picture that said, "It's Purple Martin Time" that she must have received from a guest speaker at school.  She certainly didn't leave our house with it on!  It makes me chuckle every time this time of year comes around. In our area, the scout birds of the purple martins are out looking for suitable housing for their families.  Purple martins only use the housing while they are raising families.  It is important to get the houses cleaned and ready to go for when the scouts are out and about.   Migration Map There is a lot of thought that goes into purple martin housing.  We have always been lucky enough to have the housing already on location for us.  We don't have a housing unit now, but there is one across the street from us.  I like to make sure that the housing is clean and in good order by this time of the year. Why my
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Make Ahead Egg Muffins

I love having eggs for my breakfast, but sometimes I just don't have the time to cook them fresh. This is when my Make Ahead Egg Muffins are so perfect.  Plus, using leftover roasted veggies makes this a thrifty choice and a healthy one for breakfast. Notes:  I like to use the oversized muffin pans for these egg muffins.  I like to make sure that the cups are loaded with veggies but still enough room to hold the egg mixture.  I always coat my muffin tins with butter or coconut oil, so that the eggs come out easily.  I don't like to use cooking spray, as it tends to make clean up hard on my pan. Make Ahead Egg Muffins 6 eggs 1/2 c almond milk (any milk will do, even water!) salt and pepper to taste leftover vegetables, about 2 cups 1/2 c shredded cheese, if desired Preheat oven to 350.  Grease muffin tins with butter, Crisco, or coconut oil.  Set aside.  Crack eggs in a medium sized bowl, add milk (or water) and salt and pepper.  Whisk briskly for a minute.  Se
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Sandpiper Cove #ourgoodlifebooklist

A charming Oregon seaside village, an ex-con gone good, a beautiful police chief with a sad history, all come together in this lovely romantic story about Lexie and Adam, neither who were looking for romance, but somehow it found them.  The story of restored hope and second chances entices you to keep reading and will have you wanting the next book to come quickly! The third in a series of Hope Harbor series, this book brings back the wonderful characters in the first two books, especially Charlie, the town's local sage and taco man, who always knows what to say and when to say it.  Every time Charlie comes into the story, I get hungry for fish tacos. Irene Hannon is a master at character development.  Each of her novels' characters are unique individuals.  I always know that I have read a masterful piece when I miss the characters at the end of the book.  I definitely will miss Lexie and Adam, and hope to read more about them in the future. This is your perfect summe
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Sopa de calabaza mexicana #soupswappers

Our Saturday Soup Swappers are headed south of the border with Mexican soups, perfect for your Cinco de Mayo party in May!  You will have time to try these out and choose the perfect one for your gathering.  We are hosted by Karen at Karen's Kitchen Stories this month.  Karen has a wonderful food blog with all kinds of goodies, but if you like bread, well, you are going to be so inspired over there! This pumpkin soup has a nice heat and sweetness to it.  It is made to accommodate my lifestyle, but I have put the equivalent in "normal" ingredients beside the ones that I use!  This soup is thick and perfect with a sandwich of your choosing. Don't you love the sweet pot holder? It was made by my mother in law, Irene, who suffers from Alzheimer's. Sopa de Calabaza Mexicana ½ cup pistachios (pumpkin seeds) 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 small onion – chopped 2 cloves garlic – minced 1 small can mild green chilies – rinsed and chopped 2 teaspoons powder
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Time to Plant the Salad Bowl!

One of my favorite spring activities is to plant the Salad Bowl.  The Salad Bowl is a huge planter that I sow several kinds of lettuce, spinach, kale and swiss chard.  It is time to plant it and I am looking forward to eating fresh greens in a few weeks! Tip #1  To speed up the process, I plant a few plants as well as seeds.  That way my crop is spread out and I get a longer run of greens.  Last year's crop was wonderful, as you can see in the picture below. Tip # 2  Use good seeds!  This year we are planting using heirloom seeds that we purchased from the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  They have a wonderful seed selection and I am eager to see if we can tell the difference between the seeds we get at the Dollar Store and the seeds were purchased from MoBot. Our selection includes: Viroflay (spinach variety) Mesclun (a mix of Buttercrunch, Black Seeded Simpson, Green Salad Bowl, Lolla Rossa, Red Oak Leaf and Rouge d'Hiver) Wheatgreass Salad Bowl Blend (says we
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Degas and the Paris Millinery Trade

The St. Louis Art Museum has an exhibit on the works of Edgar Degas and his fascination with hats, the women who made them and the women who wore them.  The paintings and hats in the displays were from 1875 to 1914.   Sixty paintings are featured including works by Degas that have never been seen in the United States.  There was an amazing display of vintage hats. I KNOW I would have begged for this hat! Other impressionists work is displayed:  Edward Manet, Pierre Renoir, Mary Cassatt, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.  These works also show the women in the millinery making hats, with shops full of fabrics and ribbons.  The paintings were of all medium, including pastels. During this time in Paris, over 1000 millinery shops were in business.  Today there are only 40 such shops in business.   Degas loved the millinery.  It was said that he liked to create hats as well as paint the women wearing them. My daughter, a professor of fashion, came down to see this special even
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Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, a genre I head toward when I want a good meaty story, with enough information to make me feel the story is real.  I love history and learning so this is a match made in heaven for me. Treasured Grace by Tracie Peterson is a story based off the Whitman Mission massacre, which I was unfamiliar with.  After reading this book, I did a little research on this event and found that the author did a nice job of using the facts of the event and creating a story that wove in the details as they could have happened to this family.  To me, that shows a historical fiction author's ability to write.  She also created a fictional character and wove a story around the real event in such a way that made you believe the whole story was true.  THAT's what good historical fiction does. The main character, Grace Martindale and her two sisters set off with her husband to go and be missionaries to the far West.  Grace's husband, from their l
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National Napping Day!

Lately I have been thinking about stress and how to reduce it in my life.  I wrote about journaling here and how writing helps me relieve stress.   I also know that there are many ways, including exercise and sleep, that help reduce the stress in daily living.  I'm not a huge fan of exercise but I do love my sleep.  You have all heard of the power nap, right?  Dr. James Maas, a professor at Cornell who coined the term, has lots to say about napping. I tried the power nap and found that I was more cranky and listless than before I napped.  That is not a good way to convince me to use a nap as a way to deal with stress.  However, what I learned was that I was doing it wrong.  Yes, there is a right way to nap, and this is how. The ideal power nap should be 30 minutes or less.  Too long and you wake up like I did and too short doesn't get the job done.  For a nap to produce memory and creativity benefit, it should be 90 minutes long.  (That's no longer a power nap, tho
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Copycat Campbell's Tomato Soup #UltimateRecipeChallenge

I love tomatoes.  They are probably my favorite fruit/vegetables.  I just learned that I have an acidic stomach and tomatoes are on the no-no list.  It breaks my heart. This month's Ultimate Recipe Challenge hosted by Kim Six Fix, was a bit bittersweet, knowing that I couldn't try any of the recipes, but I still wanted to be a part.  You will see my Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce recipe on the links below, along with lots of other mouthwatering recipes. Just when I was becoming really depressed about the whole thing, I discovered tomato powder. Tomato powder is dehydrated tomatoes that are pulverized into powder and then used in making wonderful things like this Copycat Campbell's Tomato Soup . You can reconstitute the tomatoes to make tomato paste and tomato sauce.  There are instructions on nearly every package of tomato powder on the market.  I found this tomato soup recipe and modified it to make it gluten, dairy and sugar free.  I hope you give it a try.  
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How to Journal to Ease Stress

We all experience everyday stressors from busy schedules to managing a household. We may work outside the house and can’t seem to juggle our demands or perhaps we stay at home and take care of our family. If you are having a hard time handling your day to day routine, it may be time to think about an outlet for stress relief. Journaling has long been regarded as a good way to track your mental well-being including stress. Here are a few tips to get started to use a journal to help with your stress. Create a Gratitude Journal . A simple way to dive into journaling is to make a gratitude journal. It is not a diary or a journal where you write down everything that you do everyday. Instead, it is a place for you to focus on all the good in your life right now. Whether you buy a dedicated gratitude journal or use a spiral notebook to write down a few things you are grateful for everyday, you should write in it daily. Even on your absolute worst day, there is always something to be
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Fried Cabbage #TasteCreations

Top of the morning to all you lads and lassies! This is the month of all things Irish, and now I can include myself in that group!  I did the Ancestry.com DNA test and found out that I am 1/3 Irish.  I am going to embrace my heritage in full force and celebrate St. Patrick's day the best way I can, with food! Our Taste Creation bloggers, Rosemary from An Italian in My Kitchen and Lauren from Mom Home Guide have cooked up some wonderful recipes for you as well.  If you like cabbage, you are in for a treat! This cabbage dish is so easy that it is a perfect weekday meal.  If you buy the packaged shredded cabbage, the cook time is reduced by half and the prep is nearly nonexistent! Fried Cabbage and Bacon 6 slices of your favorite bacon, chopped 1 medium onion, chopped 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 small head of cabbage, chopped 1 T salt 1/2 t pepper 1 t onion powder 1 t garlic powder Cook bacon, add onion and garlic and saute vegetables until translucent.  S
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A Sentence A Day~ February

It is hard for me to fathom that February is gone and that we are close to finishing up the first quarter of 2017.  The time isn't just flying, it is jetting faster and faster.  I barely have a handle on my days. Still, I like to spend a bit of time each day reflecting over what happened and my response to it. That's when A Sentence A Day comes in, a journal where you only write one sentence for each day! For past editions of the A Sentence A Day journaling, check out these links:  May ,  June ,  July ,   August ,  September ,   October ,   November ,  December  and January 2017 .   February 1.  It was a wonderful time with friends, eating lunch in a new spot across the river, delighting in one another's company and companionship. February 2.  Sometimes I do better when it is just me and my sacred space, filling the time with thoughts of the past. February 3.  Driving to Chicago and spending time with my husband on heavy things like, do we want to become exp
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