Microwaves & Cancer?

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Your microwave can be your best friend or your worst enemy, really?

Nothing makes life easier at dinner time than when you can just zap your leftovers from the night before…Bon Appétit in 3 minutes!

and when you have a baby, toddler, child, the microwave is such a time saver….those cubes of frozen baby food, that frozen applesauce, the cold soup in the fridge, all ready to serve in minutes thanks to that miracle worker.

But wait!

Auchtung! Attention! Caution!

Don’t microwave anything in plastic or on plastic or with plastic wrap over it. Use a damp paper towel. And don’t microwave anything in styrofoam….

why?

Well, there have been quite a few panic emails circulated over the past years about microwaves, plastic and a multitude of health problems: cancer, infertility, impotence, birth defects, etc

And though I don’t normally buy into the culture of fear, I’ve found there are certain aspects of these proclamations that make you say, “Duh, yeah!  Of course!”

For instance, it makes sense that during the heating process, chemicals/substances possibly found in plastics, or styrofoam  can leak into your food.

And OK, it’s pretty clear that these chemicals are unhealthy to ingest.  So putting hot food or microwaving food in plastic or styrofoam containers is not good for you.

That’s it.  Basic logic.

Nothing’s ever been proven, as far as links from microwaved plastics to cancer, but let’s be real.  The possibility is out there.

So, since we know that too much sun exposure isn’t good, we use sunblock.  Right?

And now, the next time we go to pop something into the microwave, we’ll make sure it’s on a plate (made of some sort of pottery) or in a glass dish!

 

Honey Banana Bread Muffins

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Look at the these!  Aren’t they beautiful?  So perfectly formed and glistening with moisture…

and they’re delicious…

and super easy to make…

and healthy (shhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone, they’ll never know)…

and your kids will love them…

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Important to start this recipe with bananas that look like this…yellow, definitely yellow, with brown spots all over them…

You’ll only need 2 from the bunch…

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1st healthy ingredient: whole wheat flour.  So tasty with bananas!  Add 1 3/4 cups to a medium bowl.

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then 1 teaspoon baking soda…

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1/2 teaspoon salt…

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stir together…

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add 3 shakes of nutmeg…

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and stir again.

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In separate large bowl, add 1/2 cup vegetable oil…

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Add 1/2 cup honey… (look at those cut, chubby hands & arms!  Not mine…chubby might apply, but definitely not cute…)

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Notice how there isn’t a drop of honey left in the measuring cup, because I measured the honey in the same cup after I’d measured the oil in it.  Such a cool trick…

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whisk oil and honey together.

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Add 2 eggs.  Beat well.

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Add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

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Get your 2 bananas ready. Peel them and break them into pieces on a plate or cutting board.

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Using a fork, mash them into large smushed chunks… (can you handle the little fingers?!)

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This is a perfect consistency!  Remember, you’re not making baby food.  You don’t want a mushy, soggy, runny mess.  You want some larger pieces and some mashed bits.

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Add to wet ingredients and beat to combine.

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Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to wet, stir gently to barely combine.

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You’ll need 1/4 cup of HOT water.  This is so hot that when I got my camera near it the lens fogged up!

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Add 1/2 of the hot water into the large bowl, mixing gently.  Repeat with another 1/3 of dry ingredients, then mix, add the last half of the hot water and finally the remaining flour mixture.

Spoon batter into 12 greased muffin cups and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degree for 21 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown.

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Remove from cups and cool on rack.

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

 

Knife Wounds…

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If you had to choose, would you rather have a good clean whack from a sharp knife take your fingertip off or to have it sawn through like a piece of wood?

Nice, huh?

But, no-brainer right?  The quicker version, please.

Of course, we’d rather have neither…

but, it’s much safer and cleaner and less painful to cut yourself with a very sharp knife, than a dull one.

How could that be?  You’d think that a sharp knife would be able to give a deeper, more painful wound while the dull one would have a hard time even penetrating the skin.

Well, a sharp knife works like a razor’s edge.  A sharp razor’s edge, that is.  It cuts straight through the tissue.

Whereas a dull knife tears a hole in the flesh, essentially ripping it out, increasing the gaps between parts of flesh.

Ok..enough gross pictures for our minds.  What is wrong with me today?!

Oh yeah, I knicked myself with a sharp knife the other day and have been thinking about it all waaaaaay too much!

But, since we’re talkin’…let’s compare the safety of the sharp knife vs the dull knife in the kitchen.

SHARP:   The sharper your knife the less cuts you’ll be making.  Also, a sharp knife will cut more cleanly and precisely with much less chance of slipping.

v.

DULL:  It’s more likely that because the knife is not as sharp as it should be and isn’t cutting those vegetables properly, you will apply more pressure to get the job done.  Alas, more pressure equals potential loss of control of the knife.  Thus, increasing the likelihood that you impale yourself.

Fewer cuts,  fewer chances of cutting yourself, more cuts more chances…

Be careful cutting!  And have those knives sharpened!

Do it yourself

or send it out to be done by the pros

 

Steer clear of razor burn!

Those unsightly bumps in your bikini area…the itching under your arms…  the burning on your legs…

Yup.  You’ve got razor burn.  Ouch!  And it lasts a couple of days.  No fair.  Not fun at all.

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How did you get it? Well, its causes are numerous.  Here’s a little more info on how it may have happened…

I will focus on the how NOT to get it!

#1. Change out your razor blades every 2-3 weeks.  Dull razors are the biggest culprits of razor burn.  Most likely, if you feel that discomfort and see the red bumps after shaving, your razor’s old. Plus, funky things tend to start to grow on it after a time, which will definitely irritate your skin, plus make you cringe.  So, toss that bacteria-laden, dull blade already!

#2. Wash out your razor after you shave.  Speaking of bacteria-laden…that pile-up of hair and dead skin in your razor will make it dull and will cause a science experiment to erupt on your Venus blade.  Just run it under the water after you shave with it, or if you’re a bit more ambitious, soak it in a bath of rubbing alcohol for a few…

#3. Shave with the grain, the direction your hair grows.  Shaving it against the grain will cause the skin to inflame and…owwww!

#4. Don’t push down hard as you shave.  This can cause irritation so be gentle when you shave.  What are you thinking using a lot of pressure with a blade against your skin anyhow?!

 #5. Shave in the shower. If you attempt to shave dry skin, you are just begging for razor burning.  I  mean, begging.  Please, oh please, come and light my skin on fire for days?  You need enough time to dampen and heat up your hair to soften it and make it easier to remove.

#6. Apply a moisturizer on your skin after you shave.  Maintaining moisture on your skin is important regardless of whether you’ve just shaved or not.  Now there’s an added incentive to liberally applying cream to your whole body after you shower…avoiding that nasty razor burn!

Bet you didn’t think there was so much to think about before, during and after you shaved, did ya?

Well, now you can save yourself the aloe application…

 

X-mas shopping in your panties?

or your jammies, or your birthday suit…whatever suits your fancy…

Sound good?  Let me share how!

I’m probably behind the times in admitting this, but I just discovered the answer to how to have a stress-free Christmas shopping season.  http://www.whatever!

That’s right…Christmas online…

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You know, it’s not as though I haven’t done a little purchasing through online catalogs in the past.  It’s just that I’ve never been on the ball enough to get most of my shopping done this way, and early and at good prices!

Here are a few tricks I learned this year.

#1. Create a gift list on Jan 1st of the year.  (or anytime before the end of November of that year will work just fine!)  Keep it on your phone, in your diary, on a post-it near your bed.  Have everyone you purchase X-mas gifts for on it and as the year progresses, write down things that pop into your head as you’re thinking of them, if you’re in their company & they mention something they like or need, etc.

#2. Get a Christmas Club account with your bank.  This is brilliant.  Brilliant, I tell ya.  Every bank probably has one.  Every bank should have one.  It’s a FREE savings account, usually called the ‘Christmas Club’ or the ‘Santa Fund’, or something cute like that.  You determine an amount of money that you’re comfortable having pulled, from your checking account every week, and directly deposited into this Club.  And they send you a big fat check, of your own money (boo, hiss!), at the end of October for your Christmas shopping.

#3.  Start an online cart.  I started an online cart with a few items on Amazon in October.  Then, after briefly looking around at prices in stores (not physically going to the store, mind you.  Still shopping in undies here, so checking out their websites for prices), I started adding to my cart.  Since it takes $35 worth of “prime” merchandise to receive free shipping from Amazon, I waited until I had this amount before hitting ‘Order’.  You can do this with any major online company.  Create a cart, add to it as your gift list grows and wait to purchase till they offer a great sale online (hint, hint, Cyber Monday!)

#4.  Keep an eye out for sales or coming sales in flyers & catalogs.  Your mailbox is inundated with them this time of year.  The sales flyers and catalogs from every store in the world.  Don’t throw them out!  Check for special codes for savings, sale dates, free gift card offers, guarantees on delivery, free shipping, etc.  Plan your online shopping around these promotions.  Save money, instead of spending too much.

This is the first year that about 80% of my shopping was done in front of my computer, in the comfort of my home, in whatever I felt like wearing those days…

try this next year…you’ll love the freedom from traffic, long lines, irritable patrons and stress…just make sure to draw your shades if you plan to do some online shopping in the buff…

Merry, merry!

 

You Don’t Have to Brush Your Teeth…

just the ones you want to keep!

Ah, teeth.  Half of my life has revolved around my teeth and the work I’ve had to get done to them.  So when I hear the word, ‘teeth’, I cringe and feel a strange affinity towards it at the same time.

I was 7 years old, ice skating for the first time in my life, on a pond in my backyard with the family when I fell face first into the ice.  I broke my front tooth, in half.  Oh the countless visits for root canals & repair work for this mishap…poor kid…

Then came the tween years where I became the lucky recipient of braces, twice!  And the dreaded headgear…poor kid…

Since my teenage years I have visited the dentist numerous times for cleanings, cavities and additional repair work to my broken tooth.

Needless to say, I am quite familiar with the “just a quick pinch” phrase muttered by the dentist as he wields his mile long, novocaine filled needle.  Nowadays, I’m happy to try to avoid this visit any way I can.

And I consider myself an expert at doling out advice as to how best to escape that needle.  Of course, the only sure way to avoid the stroke-victim look, where half your face is drooping from temporary facial palsy, is to not get cavities.

You’ve got to brush, brush, brush, brush those teeth!

2x a day, at least.  After you eat anything, if you can…just carry a toothbrush with you into your next business luncheon, or at the next cocktail party you attend…

What’s important to know here, which you may not think about often, is that it is critical that you change out your toothbrushes every 3 months.  Out with the old, in with the new!

The bristles wear down and are not effective after this amount of time,  thus you are not getting a good scrub of your teeth when you brush them.  You are basically ‘brushing’ your teeth with a washcloth at this point.  Probably not going to get at those tough-to-reach crevices with that!

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Time to go bye-bye…

So, to wrap this up…dodging dentists requires proper teeth maintenance which demands firm, stiff bristles of your toothbrush which can only happen if you replace your old one every 3 months…phew!  A mouthful!

For more info on the proper care of your toothbrush, click here.

 

 

Everyone’s got a book in them…

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When was the last time you picked up a pen and a notebook and just started writing?

No, no, no….not a grocery list, a to-do-list or a honey-do list…

About what?

About anything…your thoughts at the moment, a story you just heard, a lesson you learned, the words of a song and why they mean something to you, a letter you’ll never send, your opinion on a movie, the nation’s state of affairs, painted brick v. natural brick, the comb over v. shaving the remainder of one’s hair v. the toupee, etc…

Write.  A diary.  A journal.  Random thoughts, feelings, events, quotes, people’s stories, your stories, anything.

Use writing to record major events in your life, or minor ones.  Sort through your thoughts and feelings through your pen.  Strike out in anger or grief on paper instead of in person. When your cup overfloweth, capture that love and burst of emotion as best you can through words.

There’s a saying, “Everyone has a book in them…”

Doesn’t mean you’d want to read everyone’s book, if everyone in the world wrote a book, because not all stories are worth telling and not all stories are well told! (Can you just imagine some of the awesome untold stories out there, though?  And some of the ones that would be better off left untold!?)

Now, I’m not even suggesting that you write a book.  You can.  You could.  If you wanted to.  That will always completely be up to you.

But, even if your writing never becomes a book that others will enjoy, you will always enjoy going back to it.

I’ve kept a few diaries and journals in my life…

I had a Hello Kitty diary that I kept when I was in the 4th grade.  It is filled with smiley faces and chunky writing and hearts dotting my i’s.  It’s hilarious to read about what was on my mind then; Meegan being mean to  me, Suzy’s nice dress, tickling Zach at recess, and Mom making me pick up my room, so unfair!

Since I forget so much of the day to day living as a 9-10 year old, it may help me relate better (or maybe that’s a pipe dream!) to my little Beach Rose when she comes of age.

Even if that never ends up being the purpose of that little diary or any of the others, they will always serve as a window to my past and I think that this, my story, is worth me re-visiting.

“Everyone has a book in them, what’s your story?” – Dorothy Dubel

French-Fried Potato Cubes

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Ohhhhhhh so good and ohhhhh so easy and noooooo greasy splatters and oily mess!

In a lot of homes throughout France, you’ll find this version of the french fry.  It’s homemade, it’s simple to make, you don’t need to fry anything so no messy clean-up and since it’s not ‘fried’ it’s healthier.  By a little bit.  Tiny bit. Ok, a smidge.

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Start with about 6 medium white potatoes…

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peel and chop them into uniform (as close as humanly possible without getting stressed out about it!) 1/2 inch cubes.

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Place in large cookie sheet and drizzle, generously, with olive oil.

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Move them all around in the oil to coat those lovely little cubes…

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salt them…then, salt them again…

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And believe you me, you will be salting them again before you serve them…so much more tasty that way and tastes exactly like a french fry!

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Place them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, checking them every 10 minutes (or whenever you think of it!) and tossing them with a spatula to prevent sticking and to get even color on all sides.

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Yum!  You’ll be making them every night….they are a crowd pleaser and you’ll be pleased that your kitchen isn’t destroyed and that your house doesn’t smell like cooked oil for a week!

Serves 4.

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

 

Super Sautéed Spinach!

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We all know that spinach is so incredibly good for you; a nutritional powerhouse, packed with nutrients and antioxidants and considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. Right?

So why don’t we all consume it every day?

The issue lies with sneaking it past your children, your husband, your father-in-law at dinnertime so that they eat it without a coup d’état in your kitchen!

Well, believe it or not, in its simplest form, spinach can be enjoyed by all.  There are just a few secrets to making it a “mmmmmmmm” side on the plate, rather than a “ugggggghhhhh” one!

#1 tip is to try using baby spinach rather than regular.  These leaves are sweeter than its more mature counterpart and have higher concentration of some nutrients.

#2 is to impart a little flavor… mince 1 garlic clove to a 5 oz bag of baby spinach…

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and #3 is to sauté it, rather than steam or boil it.  Nobody likes a sopping wet bundle of slimy spinach on their plates!

Heat a sauté pan on medium heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp butter and remove the pan.  Add garlic when the pan is off heat.  Stir for 30 seconds to emit fragrance.  Add spinach leaves and place back on stovetop.  Stir constantly with wooden spoon until leaves just start to wilt.

Add salt and pepper.

Bon Appétit, Ma Chérie!

 

Houseplants with a side of mayo?

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Look at this sorry-looking Christmas cactus…all dull, drab and dusty…

I find that after a few years, all of my houseplants start to look like they’ve given up trying.  No more effort put forth in gussying themselves up and looking their best…

Maybe they get SADD, the winter blues, all cooped up for 6 months, no windows open, barely any sunshine, dry air, etc…poor things…

Well, I have just the secret to revitalizing your once-beautiful houseplants.

A side of mayo!

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Yup.  All you need is a jar of mayo, any kind works, a spoon to scoop out a bit and a paper towel.

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Apply mayo-soaked paper towel to leaves of plant…

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Rub in and oooo la la!

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look how pretty!

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Now apply it to the stalk or ‘trunk’ or branch…

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You’ll end up with a glossy, healthy-looking, completely rejuvenated plant.  You’ll be happy.  The plant will think it just spent the day at the spa, so it’ll be happy. And you’ll find yourself saying, for yet another winter, what ‘SADD’?!