Thursday, January 31, 2008

Parisian-like Sanctuary


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Just thought I'd share. Domino Magazine's decorating contest winner.

Catherine from Mill Valley, CA!
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As a single mother she waited 17 years to convert two small bedrooms into a large master bedroom. She did all the demo and hired handymen to install the closets, doorways and white floor. Then painted, stenciled, embossed, and/or glazed every inch of wall space and built the gas fireplace surround herself. She reinvented a 1960s Hollywood vanity, nightstands, small chandeliers and French chair with paint, decoupage and silver leaf and made and painted silk organza curtains. Her goal was to create a Parisian-like sanctuary to enjoy after a long working day.
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When can I move in??!!
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Where are you going?

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" she asked. "Where do you want to go?" was his response. "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
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- Lewis Carroll
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I could talk philosophy and literature all day and my husband could talk history and politics. Kind of a strange mix at times but 20 years ago we both chose to take the same road together. I wasn't one of those girls who was thrilled at the idea of marriage and was not the easiest person to figure out but my husband bravely stepped up and took me on. I loved the idea of children and home but dreaded the idea of compromise and the intertwining of two families and daily lives. I was wrong. Being married and "intertwined" has made me a much better person. I did have to compromise and I'm all the wiser for it. While it hasn't always been easy - I am truly blessed by those hard times and have been humbled by the power of what is most important in this world. _
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Happy Anniversary Mark!! XOXO

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Desk Supplies



I love these desk supplies from See Jane Work! I dream of my own private writing desk with fresh flowers waiting for me each day. My desk/computer is in the kitchen, facing two windows (my command post) next to the cat bowls, jammed in amongst files and bills and Girl Scout things I need to attend to (heavy sigh). This is where I do all my writing among the hustle and bustle of things swirling around and the distant sound of the clothes dryer buzzer calling me to come fold the clothes. One of my resolutions this year to is re-organize my desk and make it more efficient with a bit more style.
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Monday, January 28, 2008

7 Things


(Artwork by the talented Jen Corace)

I was tagged by another blogger and so here are "7 Things About Me". If you are reading this consider yourself tagged as well.
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7 Things About Me
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1. I love room service!!! It's one of the first things I start thinking about the minute I check in to a hotel. It's like having your own personal chef - which I've always dreamed of.
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2. I can fly a plane - well sort of - even though I've had no formal lessons I know the basics. I learned from a family friend.
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3. I was in the Army Reserves for 3 years and can shoot various weapons - drive a deuce in a half - and throw a grenade with a pretty good measure of skill.
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4. I love being a stay at home mom and have never for one minute felt belittled by it or less of a contributor in our families lives.
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5. When I was 12 years old I caught a baby rattle snake and put it in a mayonnaise jar - much to parents horror.
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6. My childhood nickname is "Beanie". There are a few variations - my mom calls me Sabeanie, my two nieces call me Auntie Beanie and my dad sometimes just calls me Bean.
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7. Gestures of kindness mean the world to me!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Breakfast Cookies

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My daughter and I whipped these up Wednesday evening - in no time flat - for breakfast the next morning. I found the recipe on the show Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger on the Food Network . The next morning my kids were thrilled to get cookies for breakfast - wink, wink. They did not know they were eating so many good ingredients all rolled into one tasty treat._
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Healthy Breakfast Cookies
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3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup (1 small jar) strained carrot baby food
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup bran cereal flakes
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnut pieces, lightly toasted in a dry skillet for 2 minutes, until fragrant and chopped
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Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
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Whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
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Combine butter, oil and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on high speed, scraping down sides if necessary, until sugars have dissolved and mixture is light in color, about 1 minute.
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Add egg, carrot puree and vanilla and beat an additional 30 seconds.
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Add flour mixture and beat an additional 30 seconds.
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Add oats, flakes, raisins and walnuts and mix over low speed just until incorporated. Dough will be slightly sticky and less cohesive than traditional cookie dough.
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Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
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Using between 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter (an ice cream scoop full), form a ball and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining batter, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Wet hands and use palm of hand to flatten cookies until about 1/4-inch thick.
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Bake for 12 minutes, until cookies are fragrant but still soft. Let cookies cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Nutritional Analysis per Serving

Calories 190
Total fat 9g

Saturated fat 2g
Monounsaturated fat 3.5g
Polyunsaturated fat 3g
Protein 3g
Carbohydrates 23g
Fiber 2g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 120mg

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mikhail Baryshnikov & Alice Waters


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"It explores the intersection where two great talents meet and where creativity comes alive."
____Robert Redford ~
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The Sundance Channel has this wonderful show called Iconoclasts .
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Even though this show has apparently been around for three seasons - I just found it. The episode I watched was the pairing of Mikhail Baryshnikov - be still my heart -and Alice Waters - author of The Art of Simple Cooking and owner of Chez Panisse. I have always admired Alice Waters. She is credited with single-handedly creating a culinary revolution in the U.S. with her fresh and sustainable style of cooking. And what women hasn't enjoyed the many talents of Mikhail Baryshinikov. The Soviet-born Russian American dancer, choreographer, and actor. He was even under the tutelage of the legendary George Balanchine for a time. Two completely different artists merging in conversation creating an opportunity for a unique and interesting dialogue. I am looking forward to more of these shows!
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* Note - if you don't have the Sundance Channel you can buy entire seasons via iTunes for $9.99 or single episodes for $1.99.
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Click on links below to see segments of the Alice-Mikhail episode .
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Video #2 _

Video # 3
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Video # 4

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Favorite Yoga Pose

Each morning I have a small yoga routine (just a few poses) I do right after I wake up. Nothing too involved it's just a great way to start the day and stretch a bit. This is my favorite pose is Viparita Karani. Afterwards, I do a small silent meditation. It makes me feel awake, centered and ready for the day.
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Restorative Yoga focuses on relaxing the body in restful postures. Note that 'rest' is different than sleep. Rest provides the body an opportunity to renew and heal. Countless studies have proven the physical and emotional benefits of this.
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(Photo courtesy of Ann Pizer)
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Legs Up the Wall - Viparita Karani
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Benefits: This is a restorative pose and achieves many of the benefits of inversions in a supported, gentle pose.
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Instructions: _
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1. Come to sit next to a wall with the side of your body on the wall and your knees bent into the chest.
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2. Bring the lower back onto the floor while bringing the legs up the wall. Keep the upper body supported with the elbows on the floor.
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3. Slowly release the elbows and lower the whole back down to the floor.
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4. Stay here several minutes if you are comfortable.
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5. To come out, bring the knees into your chest and roll to your side.
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You may wish to support the low back with a bolster or several folded blankets placed right at the wall and parallel to the wall. This also increases the angle of inversion.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Top Five Omega - 3 Rich Foods


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I have been trying to studying up on Omega - 3 foods and it's benefits in my quest to eat healthier and help my family eat better. I just bought a book by Susan Allport called "The Queen of Fats" -Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them.
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Below is an excerpt from an article I recently read online. I found this information particularly helpful as a quick reference.
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What are Omega-3 Fats?
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Omega-3 fats are polyunsaturated fats that have been shown to provide enormous health benefits including protection against heart disease, anti-inflammatory properties and attention and behavioural improvements in children. Unfortunately, most North Americans are chronically deficient in these “good” fats. While the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is approximately 1:1, most of us have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 20:1 or 30:1. Omega-3 fats are called essential fats because they cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from the diet.
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The top five food sources rich in omega-3 fats include:
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Cold-Water Fish – Cold-water fish sources such as salmon and tuna are a wonderful source of omega-3, protein, selenium and vitamin D. In order to reap the omega-3 benefits from eating cold-water fish and to keep toxicity levels low, choose lower mercury canned tuna instead of higher mercury white tuna and purchase Wild Atlantic salmon instead of farmed salmon. Other “safer” fish also include pollock, halibut, tilapia and shrimp. Eat a maximum of 12 ounces of fish sources per week (two meals). Stay away from shark, swordfish, ling mackerel or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
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Ground Flaxseeds or Flaxseed Oil - Ground flaxseeds stay fresh and safe to eat for 90 days. Flaxseed oil can be used in salad dressings and stays fresh in the fridge for three months.
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Omega-3 Eggs - Omega-3 eggs are similar in look, taste, storage qualities and cooking versatility as normal eggs. The only difference between omega-3 eggs and normal eggs is that omega-3 eggs are produced by chickens that have been fed with alfalfa, corn, soybean and flaxseeds. As mentioned above, flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 essential fats which has been shown to be beneficial to human health. In fact, an average-sized omega-3 egg contains approximately 320 mg of omega-3 while a regular egg contains approximately 63 mg of omega-3.
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Nuts – Almonds, walnuts, cashews and pecans are wonderful crunchy additions to salads, yogurts, stir-fry or are delicious and nutritious on their own. Walnuts are especially high in precious omega-3 fats. In fact, ¼ cup of walnuts contains 2.3 grams of omega-3 fats, approximately 91% of the daily value needed for omega-3 essential fats. Walnuts are also a rich source of monounsaturated fat, an important fat necessary in improving cardiovascular health.
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Fish Oils – Although not technically a food, fish oil is one of the best ways to ensure you are getting a sufficient amount of omega-3 into your daily diet. Fish oils are especially beneficial as supplements considering dietary restrictions and recommendations of 12 ounces of fish per week. Even by including all the above omega-3 rich foods into the diet, it is still difficult to reach the necessary two to three grams of omega-3 daily requirements. When purchasing fish oils, make sure they are distilled and enteric-coated for maximum absorption and low-level toxicity.
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(This article was written by - Dr. Joey Shulman)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Jane Austen - Masterpiece Theater

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I am so excited that PBS is doing a series on Masterpiece Theater called The Complete Jane Austen. Last Sunday was the first in the series - Persuasion. Then on Jan. 20th Northanger Abbey - Jan. 27th Mansfield Park - Feb 3rd Miss Austen Regrets (The biopic Miss Austen Regrets is based on Jane Austen's own letters and other contemporary sources) - Feb 10th, 17th and 24th Pride and Prejudice - March 23rd Emma - March 30th and April 6th Sense and Sensibility.
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I recorded and watched Persuasion last Sunday and it was wonderful. Except for the fact that my husband kept pausing the show and asking questions - about Jane Austen - her life - about the story - her other writings - etc. OK, I'll admit it was a lot of fun sharing all of this with him since he knows almost nothing about Jane Austen - even though I'm sure I have gone on about Pride and Prejudice about a million times. Our conversation reminded me of one of our favorite movies to watch together "You've Got Mail" (which is Pride and Prejudice-esque). Meg Ryan's character is explaining all about the intricacies of Mr. Darcy, and Elizabeth Bennett, etc. and Tom Hank's character is completely lost. --- Maybe it's just a girl thing!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

10 Old Resolutions - 10 New Resolutions

I read this article in Body & Soul and thought it was quite good and a more practical way to begin to "accomplish" some of those pesky resolutions.
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Old Resolution: Eat More Vegetables
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New resolution: Eat more dark, leafy greens.
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If the standard nutrition advice to "eat a rainbow" eludes you, set your sights on greens for now. Packed with nutrients and high in fiber, chard, spinach, and the like are true wonders of the vegetable world. All leafy greens are rich in vitamin K, essential for bone health, and folic acid, that may mitigate depression and cardiovascular disease. What's more, greens are inexpensive and cook up quickly and easily.
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Old Resolution: Eat Less Fat
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New resolution: Enjoy omega-3-rich food twice a week.
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Aiming for low-fat everything isn't merely unrealistic, it's nutritionally unsound. Among the best of the "good fats," omega-3 fatty acids help your brain function optimally and are vital to hormonal processes. Omega-3s also influence mood and metabolism, helping to prevent weight gain and heart disease. Aim for a combination of plant and fatty, cold-water fish sources, like this salmon. By substituting omega-3s for the unhealthy saturated and trans fats (found in meats, hard cheeses, and processed foods), you'll further improve your health.
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Old Resolution: Get in Shape
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New resolution: Walk for half an hour a day.
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Rather than aspire to washboard abs and chiseled biceps, hard-earned from spending hours on end at the gym, put one foot in front of the other -- every day. Unlike other forms of exercise, walking is appropriate for just about everyone, including those who are getting back into fitness. It's "portable," making it perfect for people who can't get to the gym, and the only required gear is a decent pair of shoes. Even a half hour a day can improve sleep and energy, support weight loss, and reduce the risk of diabetes and cancer.
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Old Resolution: Stop Stressing
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New resolution: Breathe deeply for five minutes a day.
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Since our body's stress response is a physiological chain reaction, simply willing yourself to relax often doesn't work. But a daily practice of slow, measured breathing can break the cycle, countering the negative effects that stress has on our physical and emotional health. To do it, stand or sit in a comfortable, quiet spot, close your eyes, and simply notice your breath, without attempting to modify it. Then try a beginner's practice: Breathing through the nose, take five deep breaths, as low into the belly as you can, exhaling fully after each breath. Make each inhale and exhale last for five counts. Eventually, work up to 10, 20, or 30 breaths.
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Old Resolution: Cut Back on Carbs
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New resolution: Eat more quinoa.
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What is quinoa? Check out this link at the Whole Foods Website for more info and a quick and easy recipe.
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These days you're probably trying to go easy on refined grains like white rice and white flour. But rather than obsess over refined carbs, focus on "good" carbs -- those that break down slowly and deliver healthy levels of fiber and nutrients. If you're looking for something beyond brown rice, consider quinoa. With a balanced set of amino acids, it's a high-quality protein -- not to mention gluten-free and easy to digest. And unlike many other whole grains, it cooks in about 20 minutes.
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Old Resolution: Reduce Salt Intake
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New resolution: Use more spices.
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Excessive salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure and stomach cancer. But if you eat with a salt shaker at the ready, abstaining may feel like deprivation. For a painless transition, up your intake of herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, basil, and turmeric, which carry antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. "Herbs and spices not only make your food taste delicious, they add healing qualities to it.
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Old Resolution: Stop Procrastinating
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New resolution: Create deadlines.
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A plague for many creative, otherwise productive people, procrastination often resolves itself when you're down to the wire. So moving the "wire" closer will prove more effective than vague aspirations of "stop procrastinating." There's no need to feel embarrassed about it; many of us simply work best under pressure. People who procrastinate often require a 'pressure prompt' -- an external deadline. For many people, deadlines need to feel real and immutable. So find or create pressure prompts that can't be negotiated.
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Old Resolution: Stop Unhealthy Snacking
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New resolution: Eat a better breakfast and lunch.
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Mid morning and late-afternoon energy drops send many of us running for some combination of sugar, salt, chocolate, and caffeine. The solution? Pump up the nutrition quotient of your breakfast and lunch, and you'll reduce the urge to reach into the cookie jar later on. For breakfast, try eggs and whole-grain toast or slow-cooking oatmeal with nuts and fruit. Just a salad for lunch is not enough. Legumes are particularly filling and break down slowly, so there's no energy dip a few hours later. Try lentil soup with a side of whole-grain bread or brown rice; add hummus to a salad to give it protein and fiber, which will fuel you for a long time.
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Old Resolution: Get More Sleep
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New resolution: Go to bed 30 minutes earlier.
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The ambitious goal of more sleep can evaporate in the face of a packed schedule. Better to break it down: Shifting your bedtime to 30 minutes earlier will put you on track for more shut-eye, which, if you're like most Americans, you desperately need. Create a segue to sleep, as it's nearly impossible to race around all day and night, then suddenly slow down. Try a hot bath; add 2 cups of detoxifying Epsom salts and 10 drops of relaxing lavender oil to hot water. Alcohol and stimulants such as chocolate, sugar, caffeine, and nicotine don't make good bridges to sleep; similarly, watching television and checking email can be stimulating rather than calming, so make sure you "unplug" soon after dinner.
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Old Resolution: Keep in Touch with Old Friends
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New resolution: Choose one person to connect with.
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Although old friends in far-flung cities (or your own) may tug at your heartstrings and your conscience, it's simply impossible to keep up with everyone. Still, making the effort to keep our social networks strong -- starting with one friend at a time and expanding from there -- will pay off, say experts. Whether you're making a new friend, creating an out-of-office bond with a colleague, or reconnecting with an old pal, take friendships to a deeper level by talking -- and asking -- about passions, fears, and joys. Research shows that appropriate levels of personal disclosure can help people bond. Don't let guilt about how much time has passed stop you from reconnecting; you may be surprised by the rewards.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Emily Bear

Six year old pianist Emily Bear's accomplishments are inspiring and amazing. She has only been playing the piano for a little over a year and studies classical music with Emilio del Rosario at The Music Institute of Chicago (MIC) and jazz improvisation. Take a listen to a couple of her original compositions - one she performed on the The Ellen DeGeneres Show - and another below practicing at the Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL. By the way, she told Ellen she wrote the first song in "5 minutes".

Ellen's Song - Emily Bear

Monday, January 14, 2008

Perfect Blanket or Throw


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This year one of the many Christmas gifts I received from my very generous husband was the perfect blanket (Microloft by Berkshire). I made him tell me where he got it and the cost because I went straight down and bought everyone one immediately. It is the softest, coziest, snuggliest blanket ever and it turns out very reasonably priced at $29.99 for the queen size and comes from Bed Bath and Beyond (somewhere I usually wouldn't even shop). My mom loves hers and so does my sister and my dad even wants me to pick one up for him. A few other people will be receiving one as well - but they shall remain nameless and should look away immediately. I just can't say enough about how luxuriously soft and wonderful this blanket is!

Friday, January 11, 2008

14 More Years


(Photo Courtesy of Jupiter Images)


I just read an article about how we can all live 14 more years.
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Drink moderately
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Exercise
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No Smoking
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Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables each day.
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Good to know!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Little Princess Picnic Party






I just had to share these pictures of a special party we had for my youngest daughter on her 6th birthday. She wanted a Little Princess (the movie) inspired theme but also wanted a picnic - in Dec. no less. We combined both ideas and the result was fun and memorable.
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