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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Romantic Salad

Ever since my oldest child can remember, there were certain "set" salads in our home.  Caesar salad, "sweet salad", (as she calls a regular green salad with Craisins and French dressing), "regular" (green) salad, chicken salad, (or turkey after Thanksgiving), "Fruit Salad", (made primarily from Ruby Red grapefruit in season, oranges, pineapple chunks, and cherries, and.... "Romantic Salad".   

Years ago, before I got married, I watched the movie, "Drop Dead Fred".  The main character in the movie, Lizzie, was making dinner for her unfaithful husband, and ruined it.   Since she ruined it, she decided to make a big salad instead.  "A salad?" he asked her in disdain.  "Yes!" she said hopefully.  "It will be a Romantic Salad!"   This cracked me up, and for some inane reason, it stuck in my head.  

Once I was married, and cooking every day for a family, of course, things became routine.  Hubby would dutifully eat whatever I made, but of course children are a little more picky.  Many times when I was making a regular "ho-hum" dinner, with a salad, I'd have that mental bit of film run through my head, "Romantic salad!", and I'd plunder through the pantry and fridge to find and chop up whatever interesting items I could find to add a little pizazz to our salad.  This was well received at our dinner table... hubby liked the "little extra" that felt "special", and our daughter was the same way.  Salad she normally turned her nose up at until I begged a few bites into her, was now interesting and worth eating.  :)  

A few months ago, we were having "Romantic Salad" with dinner, and my younger daughter asked me "why" we call it that.  


A Romantic Salad is made with one key ingredient.  Love.  Anything else you add... chopped dried fruit, nuts, a bit of grated apple, cheese, meat, is just "extra".   Tonight I made Romantic Salad for dinner.  Organic field greens, Craisins, grated cheese, chopped leftover meat, and some fresh chopped veggies from my parents garden.  And a lot of love.   If that's not "romantic", then I don't know what is. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's Pesky Business!!

Summer comes early for us Floridians.  Matter of fact, the running joke is that we don't have four seasons like other regions.  We have two.  Summer, and January.   

I hate bugs.  I know everyone hates them, (except for those rare individuals who find them fascinating).  At any rate.  We seem to be having trouble with flies.   And here in Florida, we don't have normal houseflies.  We have these huge, pre-historic looking "blow flies" that are huge and have attitudes.  Vile, disgusting creatures.  Flying mutant germs.  Flying filth.  I HATE them. 

So I've been thinking what can I do to get rid of them without spraying poison.  I have children, and pets, and poison is just not a consideration.  At. All.   So after much googling and reading, I have come to the following ideas on how to combat this vermin.  

A spray bottle of half Pine Sol and half water.  Okay, okay yeah it's a chemical.  But here's the deal... I found a bottle in the back of my cupboard and I will not hesitate to use it if it works but no I don't plan to buy any more of it.  Stupid to waste what I already have on hand.  

Since we have piggies, (Guinea pigs), evidently from what I've read I can toss a few handfuls of their cedar bedding (cedar wood shavings) around my porch/flower bed area and that will make our home less attractive.  Flies don't like the cedar oil.  

Other essential oils that deter the disgusting things are eucalyptus, peppermint, (which I won't use since hubby is allergic to peppermint), and lavender.   Oh.. and citronella.   Put the oil in your oil burner and supposedly the flies will pack their little fly suitcases and leave.   Sounds good to me.  :)

Lets see it it really works. ;)   Anyone else have any good "natural" ideas that arent too gross?   The swatting is seriously gross and after killing ten in row, I tend to start spazzing.  Hoping to cut down on that.  LOL  Hmmm.  Think I'll go for the lavender.  No flies and calmness for me.  LOL  Sounds like just what the doctor ordered! :)   

Heading to "the hippie store" tomorrow for essential oils... we'll hit that right after the Farmers Market.  New "hippie store" for me. :)  Grassroots Natural Market.  I'm looking forward to checking it out!! :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Squirrels are Coming!!!

Last spring, Mark bought me a Celestial Fig tree.   It made about 7 figs it's first summer... all of which were eaten by the squirrels living in our pine trees.  

I want the fig tree to be organic, so poisons/pesticides are out of the question.  I also don't want to do anything to harm the squirrels.. I just want to discourage them from eating our figs.  Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do?

Also, something last year was munching the leaves on the fig tree.  Does anyone know what I can do to prevent that from happening again, or how I can stop it if it does?   Anyone?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Eco Shopping

So I went to do some grocery shopping, and I have been wanting to get more organic foods into our home...  and so today was the day to begin!!   I have been reading a lot, and it rather freaks me out how much hormones and genetically altered food there is out there!  

Going to Sams Club was an easy one.. I got the Ecos "organic lavender" detergent for my washer.  A lady I didn't know asked me if I liked that brand, and I admitted I'd never bought it before.  She said she used it herself and liked it, and it was only for "high capacity" washers that used less water.  *blink*   Umm, okay.  Mine was the "energy saver" "flavor of the month" put out by Kenmore in 1997.  I guess I'll just use a little less and see how it goes.  

Organic baby carrots, and organic spring mix salad greens.  Oh yeah.  And Horizon milk.  The box had three half gallons in it for just under $10.   My kids will have that gulped down in a week.  :)   We did get a few other things, but truth be told, Sams does NOT have a whole lot of organic choices.   Renewal time is coming up soon with our membership.  Will we renew?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  The jury is still out.  

Voluntarily, I decided to pop in and check out Big Lots.  Bear in mind, I always swore I hated Big Lots.  Used to, it was filthy and messy.  Navigating a shopping buggy down any isle in the store was annoying at best.  Between having to "pay" to get a buggy to begin with, (I refused), then if you did procure a buggy, only two wheels worked, one wouldn't roll at all, and one (obviously the leader of all four wheels) would always point the buggy directly into the shelving of their tacky merchandise.  All it took was a slight bump... or an absentminded nudge of the buggy, and the darn thing would propel itself right into the remaining shelved items that weren't yet knocked into the floor.  I hated the store so much, I'd rather be horse whipped than to go in there.   But amazingly enough, the store has changed.  They cleaned it up, and wow... it's actually not too bad now.  Not great, mind you, but mega-tons better.  Neat and tidy, with nice new buggies.  And you don't have to actually pay to use them either.  Polite employees, and a tidy store that doesn't have an unidentifiable strange odor.  LOL  Unbelievable.

I'm looking around, marveling at the transformation.  To add to my joy, I found a few canned (and well within date) organic items, and even found 4 boxes of Tom's of Maine toothpaste and a couple of bottles of Simple Green cleaner.
I bought 4 bags of a whole wheat pasta, unsure if it was organic or not, but.. I figured that it was a step in the right direction.  The pasta brand is Tomasello and it's durum whole wheat pasta.  It's pretty darn brown... I gotta say.. it sure *looks* healthy! LOL  I googled it, and yep, it's made in Italy.. in Casteldaccia  to be exact, and this company makes over 100 kinds of pasta for other countries, worldwide..  Including the Trader Joe's brand.  (not that we have a Trader Joe's here or anything, though Lord knows I wish we did!!)  But I thought that was super cool. :)  However, (just throwing it out there)  You can go to and go to "contact us" and ask (beg) for them to open a store here.  I did.  I'd prefer not to be the lone beggar.  LOL  But I feel in my heart we are Trader Joe deprived.  I digress.

At any rate, looking at this pasta, I don't think it's organic, but at least its not that anemic looking stuff we used to buy.  Hope it tastes okay.  LOL  I guess we'll see.  ☺

Newsflash on the sugar front.  We have officially made the switch from sugar to stevia.  Thats a biggie for me. I'm a big fan of sugar... and it was hard to give up.  Stevia is pretty good stuff.  I have found that if I make (for example) a big cup of True Blueberry tea, (Celestial Seasonings), and let it seep for about 5 minutes then pour it over ice in my huge "sippie" cup, and add 2 packs of NuStevia, it's pretty darn tasty and very, VERY blueberry. :)  Caffeine free too, so I can chug it all I want in the evenings. :)  (which is a good thing in Florida heat)  Hubby isn't much of a blueberry fan, but even he admits it's "pretty decent".  :)  He is a cranberry-apple fan, and I just discovered they (Celestial Seasonings) also make a Cranberry Apple Zinger tea I'm betting he'll love.  I plan to pick him up a box my next store run. Score a point for mom! ☺ LOL!  

Kitchen Garden~ Ginger

I'd read somewhere online that you can basically make a garden out of just kitchen scraps.  Neat idea!!   I buy fresh ginger to use in cooking, and to slice for ginger tea.   So the last time I bought ginger, I bought a piece to root.   I carefully read how several people had done theirs, and chose the method that sounds the best (easiest) to do.  :)  

I took my piece of ginger, and wrapped it in a wet paper towel and put it inside a plastic "clamshell" container that had held gourmet doggie biscuits.   I set the container in my dark pantry, and waited.  I think it took about 3 weeks or so.. maybe longer... I'm not sure to be honest but it darn sure took a while.  I'd take it out once a week or so and re-wet the paper towel and check to see if I saw any rot spots or anything, and wearing a clean wet paper towel, the ginger went back into his "house", and back into the dark pantry.   After patiently waiting a few weeks, I finally saw some action.  My ginger sprouted!!

I put the ginger (as directed via the directions I'd found) in a flower pot full of good rich soil, lying on *top* of the soil, with a little soil on top but not covering.  The site where I'd found the directions say that ginger loves humidity.  Well, since I think Florida is the humidity capitol, then no problemo.  LOL   I am anxious to see how my ginger does. :)

Since I was "playing in the dirt" anyway, I planted a pot of aloe for my kitchen..  Now if I can stop being lazy and clean the pepper seeds I have, I can plant those too. :)

I am excited.  Hubby has a co-worker who has a farm here, and he grows and sells organic veggies, free ranged eggs, and (I think) grass fed beef.     Hoping this will be what I hope it is, and will work out to be some good wholesome organic foods we can buy.    Nicer still, that he is someone my husband knows.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mothers Day & Musings....

Mothers Day was quiet this year... just me, hubby, and my girls.  I talked to my mom for a long time on the phone, and I pretty well just spent the day enjoying my family.

Last week was interesting.  On Saturday my younger daughter, Robyn, passed her first karate test, and earned her yellow stripe.   Yellow belt will come next.   We are proud of her.  Not bad for a child who wasn't supposed to be able to "do" things that a "normal" kid can do. :)   Haha... my Robyn fooled them all.  She is the best example I know of, that doctors don't know everything!

Uncle Lonnie died this past week.  He died Monday, and the viewing was Wednesday and the funeral was Thursday.  He lived to be 87.   It was great to see my cousins, but wish it had been under better circumstances.  Of course, we all wept... Uncle Lonnie was a sweetheart and we all loved him.  As I told my cousins... I'm not sad for Uncle Lonnie.. I'm sad for all of us!  He went HOME!!  And what a homecoming!!   Waiting for him was the love of his live, Aunt Val who passed away five years ago, and their little baby boy Randy they lost years ago as a newborn.  And my wonderful Grandpop, who was his brother in law, but more like a BROTHER.  Uncle Lonnie had missed my Grandpop and his Valerie for so long..  and of course it goes without saying, he got to be home in Heaven.  Uncle Lonnie loved Jesus.  :)  It makes me smile to think of how happy he was to come home to Jesus and his family he'd been missing, and now they're reunited and happy together in Heaven!  God is Merciful!  It's good to know we'll see him again one day. :)

Also, this past week, on our dietary changes.. we discovered a new kind of evil.  Castoreum .  The FDA approved this disgusting stuff as a food additive, and is usually  referenced simply as a "natural flavoring" in the product's list of ingredients. It is commonly used in both food and beverages, especially as vanilla and raspberry flavoring.   So what's so bad about castoreum?   It's Beaver Anal Gland.  No, I'm not kidding.  How DISGUSTING is THAT?!?!?   Yesterday, for Mothers Day, Mark went to Publix to get us something special for dessert.  We all love ice cream.  He looked over at Blue Bunny, which we've eaten for years.  He looked at the ingredients, and Jesus help us, it said "castoreum" listed as an ingredient.   He could not throw that back into the freezer fast enough.   He ended up getting us Gelato.  Which, I may say, was absolutely divine!! :)   He didn't get organic, but at least there was no beaver anal gland in it!  YUCK!!  The gelato had exactly five ingredients.. and I felt a lot better knowing we were having a dessert that was anal free.  LOL

So now, it's Monday.  Getting back on track.  Time to get out the Math-U-See and the Seton workbooks and get Robyn back on her lessons.  She is reading a lot, and we've been hitting the library weekly.  She is currently reading anything by Ben Baglio that she can get her hands on.  With titles such as "Colt in a Cave" and "Mustang in the Mist", and "Pony in a Package", it's a little girl with a horse-loving heart's dream come true.  LOL     She's reading.  So I'm happy. :)

Saturday, (while Robyn was at karate, testing), Amy, (who is a black belt and is usually at the karate school way more than Robyn is), was at an anime "con".  It was at the Embassy Suites, and apparently about 200 anime fans attended.  Not bad for a "small" "con".  :)   She went with five other teens from the anime club she is in, and the kids all had a really good time.  For the most part it was clean fun, and Amy and her friends stayed away from the "raunchy" folks.  As Amy told me, "we have better sense than that!"  :)    I have to say that though I don't "get" anime, I do "get" getting "into" things, and since she avoids the raunchy anime and mostly it's parents and kids together, I can surely think of worse things for her to get into.  

I remember a while back, someone was giving me a little grief about her being "into" anime.  Said it was "bad".   But "Twilight" is "okay".  Oh What.Ev.Er!!  What the Sam Hill is the difference?  None!  Amy, (and I too), think that the Twilight movies are reeeeeaally stupid.  I admit I LOVED the books, but the first two movies I saw were ultra-cheesy.  Though, admittedly I looove Jasper's hair.  Lovely.  :)  Plus, it was worth the $8.50 to watch Jacob run around shirtless.  Hoo-boy!  LOL   Later, I found out the actor who plays Jacob was only 17.  What the heck?!   I can assure you, that boys did NOT look like that when I was in high school (in the late 14th century).    At any rate.. I digress...  I fail to see why teen aged vampires are somehow less "weird" than some cartoons.  Silliness.   To each their own I guess.  We don't "do" Harry Potter, and I know some very devout Catholic families who "do".  I guess that's why we're all different.  :)   The world would be pretty darn boring if we were all the same. :)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sugar = Evil

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Numbers on a scale do not define who I am.  Fat or thin, or somewhere in between, does not make one more, or less, lovable, and does not change who they are inside.  

I wanted to be thin.  For years, I've wanted to be thin.  I've been on every diet out there.  I've had weight loss surgery.  I've starved myself, had shots, ate diet pills, laxatives, made myself vomit, you name it, and I've done it.  In the last few years, I've lost 60 lbs and regained back 30 of those pounds.   And when those pounds came back, they came back in different areas.   Thirty. Pounds.  :(    Though I did know in my heart I'd gained.. I didn't really realize it was that much. :(    Not good!! 

This has GOT to stop.  As it is, I now have a plastic "band" around my stomach, and a port.  If you think that helps, you're wrong.  Anything healthy I have trouble swallowing unless I chew the daylights out of it.  What goes down easiest when you have have been banded?  The unhealthy stuff.   Like ice cream.  (haha)  Hindsight is 20/20.  I wish I'd NEVER gotten this stupid lap band.  I am still fat.  After my beautiful friend Stephanie died as a result of her gastric bypass surgery, I swore to myself and to my family I would never have that particular surgery.  So I got the lap band.  I have no regrets about not getting the gastric bypass.  That surgery is a killer, and no one can convince me otherwise.  The lap band though, is kind of a waste unless you have no problem living on solid protein and nothing else.  That is the only thing that will fill that little pouch up and stay there for hours.  If you're not a big meat eater, like me, then you just threw that money away and went through the surgery.. for nothing.

I digress...

Hormones are in everything we consume, it seems.  Little girls are starting their periods earlier, and kids in general are getting bigger, faster, and developing Waaaay too young...  I worry about my children.  I don't want them to have the weight problems and health issues that I have experienced, and that are basically sweeping this country.   I have started slowly buying more organic foods, more "natural" foods.   And it has become painfully clear to me that sugar is indeed my enemy.  It is responsible for the vast majority of my weight, and I am tired of it.  I had some liquid stevia, but it had a funky aftertaste.  So I didn't like using it.  I just bought myself a brand new box of Nu-Stevia, and I am going to give that a try.  Sugar = Evil.

Everyone seems to be on the Carb Craze.  I am sorry but I just cannot believe that plain, baked sweet potatoes, brown rice, peas, and things like that make us "fat".   Whatever.   Hmmm maybe its that sugar and preservative laden garbage we've all been eating that is the real reason.   And not to mention all the hormones in all the food... even the milk we give our children.    I am trying to learn, and trying to find the best way for us... for our family.  For our health.  

So yesterday after the funeral, we stopped up at Lowe's and then went to the "Hippie Store" (Whole Foods, my favorite store), and got our favorite steel cut oat groats and my nice new box of Nu Stevia and some locally grown, organic, unfiltered honey.  (great for our seasonal allergies!)

 And lastly, I got a box of Nettle Leaf tea.

  I have read that Nettle tea is good for allergies, for kidney stone sufferers, helps you if you are anemic, that its good for kidneys, bladder, menopause, and other great benefits I can't think of.  Wonder Tea, obviously. :)   Most of the reviewers liked it.. the taste and the benefits of it.. a lot.  One person stated that it was not very tasty so they used a little peppermint in theirs. (I have some peppermint tea) and some liked it sweetened with honey and added lemon.  So I guess later today I will give it a try with my Stevia (possibly some lemon too) and see.   Last night I was DYING for something "yummy" to drink, and made myself some Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry tea.  Poured it over ice, and enjoyed it while I watched The Vampire Diaries.   The tea was lovely. :)   If you like tea, and like blueberries, I cannot recommend it enough.  It's absolutely Dee-Lish!! :)

Somewhere in this house, (haha) I have a copy of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing".  And it's currently hiding from me.  

I need to find that sucker.  I need a plan of attack.  Weight.. is a war.  Health... is a war.   A war I'm tired of losing.  I'm over 40.  I want to have quality of life to enjoy grandchildren one day.   God help me.  I've got to find my way amongst the labels, the calories, the caffeine, the hormones, the preservatives, and WHEN I have learned it to the point I can live it and be healthier and happier and be able to GO and to DO.    Jesus have Mercy on me. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Season...


This evening when I have too much on my mind..  looking around I see/hear too much illness, death, sadness.. family and friends who are hurting... it feels crazy to me too, since yesterday was Divine Mercy Sunday.  The beatification of JPII, declaring him as holy, (which we all knew anyway), and I was in the happiest mood.. I have a friend who was in Rome yesterday for it too, lucky gal! :)  Then.. in mass, praying that God in His mercy make that mass REAL for me.. not just something I 'did'.. then just hours later we all find out about Bin Laden.  Wow.  The bogey man is dead... except it isn't bringing back all the people who died on 9/11.   Well, this song popped into my head.  "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds.  Taken from scripture, of course.  I am thinking of dear family and friends who are going through sufferings and hardships. I love you guys so much, and please know I am praying for you all. Yes, we all have problems.  We all have things we worry about, struggle with, and I know in my heart it's a sin of pride to worry so we must offer it all up to Jesus. May I also say that there are people who have touched me.. my life.. family, friends, and even a few I never had the pleasure of meeting, and I am the poorer for not having met them, but am blessed by knowing about them, and how they loved and lived.  At any rate, with this song playing in my head.. and even if none of this makes sense to anyone.. these are my musings (for whatever its' worth, which is probably nothing), for this Monday evening. 

To everything there is a season ..and a time for every purpose under Heaven.

In His will.  In His time.  Lord, have mercy on us.

A time to be born, a time to die

Even when death seems to come unfairly, too soon, too cruelly.  

A time to plant, a time to reap  

When I was a child I heard this and thought they meant as in gardens.  But yes, we reap what we sow in everything... even when it's difficult... Jesus, strengthen us...

A time to kill,  

God help me to 'kill' any seeds of doubt in You, and put all my trust in You my Lord!

a time to heal  ...

even when it's not exactly the kind of healing that we in our sinful, frail, human nature are seeking.  

A time to laugh, a time to weep

Suffering compels us to compassion. We mourn death, and give compassion to those who are dealing with death.  Praying for the souls of the living and the dead.  But when you are the one dealing with the death of someone... faith is all I have to hold onto.  Knowing that God is in control.  And that He is merciful, and uses suffering for His glory...

A time to build up, a time to break down

In friendships, there are times we have to prune away dead branches to allow new branches//new fruit to grow.  Pruning isn't always easy, but the Holy Spirit guides us.  His Holy Will be done!

A time to dance, a time to mourn

We all mourn.  At some time in our lives, we all do.  Not just for lives lost, but dreams, hopes, and times. But I believe we are also called to look back too with fondness.  Memories.  And look forward with hope.

A time to cast away stones

Hmm I think this is more of that "branch pruning".  If a millstone is around your neck spiritually, and dragging you down, and keeping you from lifting your face up to God, than fling it away.  Pray it off if you have to.  Seek help if you need to.  But rid yourself of it.  That stone can be anything.. every millstone is different.

A time to gather stones together

Sometimes I think we have to gather up everything, EVERYTHING... and offer it all up to Him.  Why not?  It's all His anyway!!

To everything there is a season.  And a time for every purpose under Heaven.  A time of war, a time of peace.  A time of love, a time of hate.

We are under attack.  This is spiritual warfare, and so many don't (or won't) see it.  What can we say about a world where a woman is allowed by law to murder her own baby in her womb? The devil is alive and well in the world. We are 'in' the world, but not 'of' it.  And attacked from all sides.  Brother against brother.  Jesus have Mercy on us!

A time you may embrace

Embrace fellow Christians.. stand strong together.  Like with Moses, Aaron and Hur, we have to stand together and help hold each others arms up.  Lord, have mercy!

A time to refrain from embracing

I refuse to embrace the devil and his lies.. so I pray, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen..

A time to gain, a time to lose

I detest all my sins.  Lord, have mercy on me, and hear my poor prayers.

A time to rend, a time to sew

Whenever we suffer without love it is wasted pain.  Yesterday on Divine Mercy Sunday, I looked up at that picture of Jesus with His arms stretched out... and after having prayed for this mass to be "real" for me, I was suddenly overwhelmed by His Mercy... and all I wanted to do was to lie prostrate in front of Him and never leave... God have mercy! 

A time to love, a time to hate

Violence and hate are always defeat

A time of peace, I swear it's not too late!

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope.  To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! 

 "A mother is the most important person on earth. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any Cathedral -- a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body." -- Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty