Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Happy Birthday, George Washington

February 14th, 2009 by Amy

Happy Birthday, George Washington.

7 Crushes

January 28th, 2009 by Jane

Crushes are usually thought to be bittersweet, angst-ridden parts of our personal history we gladly left behind in adolescence. Or a fizzy, neon-colored drink. Or a really great song. The word has had a resurgence of sorts in the last few years, that I find fascinating. Men freely admit to having a “man crush” on a man they admire. It seems most are directed toward athletes. My husband has a man crush on football player Vince Young. He is unashamed by it and seeks out others with whom to gush. I find this adorable and amusing, which he finds annoying. So, I decided to stand proud and reveal my grown-up crushes.

1. Seriously, if you have to ask why…
The crush I have had on Bruce Springsteen has only grown stronger in over two decades. I think he is a modern-day poet and storyteller whose music displays a depth and resonance that few others have achieved. The fact that the man just gets better and better is a testament to his talent and my good taste! I could go on, but go buy his new album and listen for yourself.

2. Married Men
I have a little collection of crushes on men who are more attractive because they are obviously smitten and devoted to their wives. I always liked Bono, Andy Garcia, Jon Bon Jovi and Denis Leary just fine, but when I heard each of them has been in a committed and seemingly-happy marriage for decades, their stock went up with me. Edgy comedian, Denis Leary,  practically turns into a besotted adolescent when speaking of his wife, writer Ann Leary. And that just makes him more adorable.

3. Where Are They Now?
I recently looked up the adolescent/young adult crush that stills holds any interest after I caught the last 45 minutes of Sixteen Candles on TV recently. You know you love Michael Schoeffling who played Jake Ryan, the object of Molly Ringwald’s crush. Evidently he is happily married and a father of two living in the Northeast. The fact that he is now a furniture maker who shuns public attention, just makes him cuter. 

4. Nobel Laureates
Jimmy Carter has spent his life since his presidency building homes for the poor, working diligently to bring peace to our planet and writing books that can be used as blueprints for how to craft a better world. A fellow traveler on this road is Desmond Tutu, who has founded a peace organization and continues to influence leaders around the world to be positive forces for change. You cannot get more crush-worthy than that!

5. Television Characters
In elementary school, I was convinced that I would grow up to marry Speed Racer and I would solve mysteries with him  while riding around in the Mach 5, a scarf tied jauntily around my hair. Our love was not something he was drawn for and I eventually moved on to more three-dimensional crushes. Lately, I have developed a crush on the bad-boy-with-a-wounded-heart character of Don Draper on Mad Men. Irresistible fantasy!

6. Fleur de Sel Caramel
Have you had chocolates with salted caramel?  Well, go get you some! Or try the new ice cream by Haagen-Dazs. Your chocolate crush is all grown-up!

7. Femi-Crush
Gloria Steinem and Anne Lamott are two women I would love to have over for dinner. Both are brilliant writers and public speakers, so I would expect we would have stimulating, informative and hilarious dinner conversation. My copies of their books are dog-eared and riddled with notes. I reread Bird by Bird at least once a year. Read Revolution from Within to rethink what you know about self-esteem. 

7 Soups for National Soup Month

January 26th, 2009 by Jane

It is no wonder that the ultimate comfort food has a month dedicated in it’s honor.  Soup exists in all cultures and is the essence of what humans need to survive: water, vegetables, and protein.  It can be a humble dish of broth and leftovers to the most sophisticated layering of ingredients. The Japanese even eat soup for breakfast. I must be in perpetual need of comfort, because soup is one of my favorite foods. Some of the most memorable soups are those I ate while we lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If you are visiting any time soon, try the Hangover Stew at Carlos’ Gospel Café, the Santa Fe Trails soup at Gabriel’s in Pojoaque and everything at Back Street Bistro. I swear, the Hungarian Cream of Mushroom soup that is served there is the best thing that you have ever put in your mouth. So, try a few of these recipes or visit the websites that use soup to help others and you will feel sated and restored.

1. Year-Round Tomato Soup
Try this recipe from television chef Michael Chiarello for a twist on the childhood classic. It uses canned tomatoes so you can make this anytime. Add a grilled cheese sandwich and you’ve got a meal any one of any age will love. Don’t forget the pickle on the side.

2. Chicken Noodle Soup
Driven by my parents’ refusal to stop adding onions to every main dish, my middle sister survived on Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup for approximately two years during her adolescence. If you want to make it from scratch, you can never go wrong with any recipe from Tyler Florence. We like it with Saltine crackers!

3. Bean Soup
Black bean soup is one of my favorites. Add some grated cheddar, a dollop of plain yogurt, chopped tomatoes and loads of cilantro on top and you will have a filling, healthy meal that stretches easily for a crowd.

4. Need Your Sinuses Cleared?
In Texas, when you are feeling poorly, someone who loves you might bring you Tortilla Soup from your favorite restaurant.  If not, try this recipe from Rachel Ray and keep some in the freezer! It will cure what ails you.

5. Vegetable Soup
I can throw together a pot of homemade vegetable soup in twenty minutes.  Just keep some good-quality broth on hand and use what you have.  Here is a recipe to use as a guideline. Throw in some alphabet noodles and trick your kids into studying their spelling words.

6. From Soup to Jobs
The Soup Peddler in Austin, Texas has one of the best jobs in the world. David Ansel started selling homemade soups to his neighbors, delivering the yummy goodness on his bike. Years later, he is a food business phenom! Check out his site and buy his cookbook for an entertaining read. The Women’s Bean Project teaches job and life skills to women when they are hired to work in this gourmet food company. Sales of soup mixes help fund the Denver, Colorado non-profit dedicated to stopping the poverty cycle.

7. Book Soup
Soup has even been the inspiration for many books including the children’s classic Stone Soup. This heartfelt tale about a village of stingy people illustrates a wonderful lesson on sharing. The charming book of poetry for children, Soup for Breakfast, would make a lovely gift for a child or teacher.

Happy Inauguration Day 2009

January 20th, 2009 by Jane

No matter your politics, Inauguration Day is a day of collective pride. Tonight, I plan to lift a glass with friends to celebrate and reflect on my gratitude for our peaceful election process.

7 Items for an Emergency Gift Stash

January 12th, 2009 by Jane

Were you caught unprepared this past holiday season when your neighbor stopped by with a gift? Has your kid told you about a last minute birthday for a friend or teacher? Need something to take to a sick friend? No need to hyperventilate, just keep a few things on hand to get you through these situations with grace. After the holidays, you can stock your gift stash when a lot of things are on sale.  Clear out a little-used drawer or pack these things into a box and put them with your gift-wrapping supplies. You can breathe easy knowing you are prepared for random gifting!

1. A Vase, Just in Case
Keep a few assorted small vases on hand.  Pick up inexpensive vases at discount stores, antique stores or thrift shops.  Use for a single stem or fill it with that person’s favorite candy.

2. People will be Drawn to You  
A lovely journal or sketchbook is the perfect gift for a creative person.  Pair it with a set of high-quality pens or markers and make it really special.

3. Handmade and Local  
Scarves are easy to store and make a nice gift for man, woman or child! Search the online store, Etsy, for handmade mufflers, scarves and cowls.  You can even do a search for artists in your area and save some points on your carbon footprint!

4. Large Parties
Large 3-D puzzles make a great family gift.

5. Books!
Keep copies on hand of your favorite novel, cookbook, children’s books or inspirational books. I love to share my favorite books with friends because we get to talk about what we read. One of my favorite novels is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Delicious recipes and lovely photographs make Café Pasqual’s Cookbook: Spirited Recipes from Santa Fe one of the best for giving. Any of the Olivia books by Ian Falconer would be a treat for children and their parents.

6. Games for the Family
We love Apples to Apples at our house, but try this great board game site for more suggestions for games for every age. Maybe they will invite you over to play!

7. Let Them Choose
And finally, gift cards!  Yes, a gift card for Starbuck’s, iTunes, Amazon or your favorite local store makes a great gift for anyone of any age and they are easy for you to store!. Just remember these usually have an expiration date.

January 1st, 2009 by Amy

7 Steps to a Party

December 29th, 2008 by Jane

In the mood for a party, but feeling daunted by the work involved in planning it? The simple ideas below will allow you to throw a party in seven steps start to finish with one trip to the grocery store.   Recipe suggestions feed 4-6 people but are easily multiplied for a crowd. Now you can be the host with the most and still have enough pep to enjoy your own party!

1. Appetizer
Purchase a package of cream cheese and jarred pesto (basil, sun-dried tomato, artichoke-any flavor will do.) Allow cream cheese to soften, stir in a few tablespoons of pesto, arrange on a platter with high quality crackers and olives.

2. Entrée
Purchase a rotisserie chicken, some fresh fettuccini, a can of cannellini beans, a few lemons, a wedge of Parmesan cheese, a bunch of parsley or arugula and some garlic. Cook and drain the pasta. Stir in the chopped chicken, the rinsed beans, a little minced garlic, and two generous handfuls of arugula.  Add some grated cheese and a few squeezes of lemon and give it one more stir. Salt and pepper to taste.  Voila!

3. Side Dish
Purchase bagged baby salad greens, a ripe pear, toasted or candied nuts, a log of goat cheese, and some bottled balsamic dressing.  Peel and slice the pear, crumble the goat cheese and toss all together.

4. Dessert
Purchase high quality vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate fudge sauce.  Mix a tablespoon of Khalua or brewed espresso into the fudge sauce. Top with leftover chopped nuts. Put on a pot of coffee.

5. Wine
For perfect wine pairings for this or any meal visit this great site. You’ll look like a wine expert!

6. Centerpiece
Purchase extra lemons and pile in bowls.  Place a few Gerbera daisies in floral tubes and tuck in between the lemons.  Or mix the daisies with roses for a lovely and fragrant display. Light some candles.

7. Music
Download some music for ambience. 

You’re done! Wasn’t that easy? Enjoy.

7 Thoughts on Peace (and Pie)

December 24th, 2008 by Jane

No matter which winter holiday you and your family celebrate this season, may you have peace.  And a piece of pie.  Here are a few thoughts on the subject:

1. A smile is the beginning of peace.
Mother Teresa

2. Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by
which we arrive at that goal.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

3. Peace begins when the hungry are fed.

4. When you’re finally up on the moon, looking back at the earth, all these differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend and you’re going to get a concept that maybe this is really one world and why the hell can’t we learn to live together like decent people?
Frank Borman, astronaut

5. Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.

6. We shall find peace. We shall hear angels. We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.
Anton Chekov

7. And finally, to put it all into perspective: a little wisdom from Stephen Colbert, Willie Nelson, Feist and Elvis Costello. 

Happy holidays everyone!  We will see you back here on Monday.

7 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

December 19th, 2008 by Jane

Do you feel overwhelmed around holiday time? Do you have obligations that leave you feeling tense and grouchy? Try these tips for letting go and see if your mood improves!

1) Breathe!

In with the good air, out with the bad. Repeat, at least ten times.

2) Daydream Believer

Visualize the end of the season when everyone has returned to where they came and life is back to normal for you and your family.  Plan a reward for yourself in January.  A massage, an afternoon at your favorite bookstore or a long hike will give you some thing fun to look forward to and help you get through the stressful season.

3) Scale back

Really. Do what you can and do not worry about what is left. Swish the toilet, wipe the toothpaste out of the sink and clean the rest after the guests are gone. Read Christmas Sucks for funny and practical tips on how to deal with the stress of the season.

4) Question tradition

How can you make your holidays more fun? Not frantic. Fun.

5) Outsource

Order all of your side dishes from a restaurant or gourmet grocery store. Then all you have to do is pop the turkey, ham or tofurky into the oven and you’re done! Your guests will forgive you. If not, then they will volunteer to make the food next year.

6) Situation Comedy

Do you have a few difficult family members? Who doesn’t! Imagine them as characters in a movie and feel irritation turn to comic relief! Or plug in this audio book and have a laugh. NPR Holiday Favorites will become your favorite, too!

7) Seek Help

Still not feeling better? Try these tips from the experts at the Mayo Clinic and make your season brighter.

7 Fruits, Vegetables, And More…

December 9th, 2008 by Jane

Do you want to eat more seasonally? Locally? Not sure where to start? The folks at National Resources Defense Council have an interactive online tool to help. Here are few ideas for foods which are currently in season in most of the country.

1.  Apples
Did you know that there are over 7500 varieties of apples grown worldwide? Or, of the 2500 varieties that are grown in the United States, only 100 are grown commercially? Raw, baked, or in a crisp, apples are a perennial favorite.

2.  Beets
Beets are an under-appreciated vegetable, but they are delicious roasted. For a simple dish: clean and pare 3 or 4 medium sized beets. Place them top-down in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes until soft when pricked with a fork. Peel the skin and enjoy. Yum!

3.  Carrots
The lowly carrot seems to be permanently paired with ranch-style dressing, but if you are looking for a way to jazz them up try Rachel Ray’s recipe for Root Beer Carrots. Sounds strange, but kids love ‘em!

4.  Herbs
Herbs highlight the flavor of many dishes this time of year. The Herbal Garden is a great online source for information and recipes.

5.  Pecans
We are lucky enough to live in a pecan-producing state and to say that we love pecans is an understatement. My family will put chopped pecans on anything; in salads, pestos, ALL baked goods, and even on peanut butter sandwiches. We have not put pecans on top of eggs. Yet.  Recipes are included in the charming book, In Praise of Pecans: Recipes & Recollections.

6.  Oranges
Oranges seem like a taste of summer, when in fact they are a fall and winter fruit. I am going to try this recipe for Orange Peel Fried Rice from Martin Yan this week.

7.  Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great way to get more beta-carotene into your diet. These sweet potato fries bake up quickly for a weeknight dinner side dish.

© 2008 7of