Showing posts from October, 2013

Thursday—Halloween Special

More pix to come...

We won the costume contest at our dance studio!  Good grief!

Happy Halloween 2013!

Tuesday's Cupboard—Roasted Fresh Pumpkin Seeds

My favorite spice combination and real butter!

This recipe is just right for 3 or 4 large pumpkins with lots of seeds.

Roasted Fresh Pumpkin Seeds
•  2 to 3 cups of fresh, clean pumpkin seeds
•  1 tablespoon of melted real butter to every cup of seeds
•  kosher salt
•  garlic powder
•  seasoning salt
•  chili powder &/or paprika
•  a couple of shakes from your favorite hot sauce (I use Cholula chipotle sauce, not too hot)
•  ground black pepper

Make It!
1.  Preheat oven to 300°F
2.  To separate the seeds from the pulp, I clean out the pumpkins and throw everything into a large bowl.  Then, I squeeze the seeds away from the pulp (without rinsing) & toss them into a medium-sized bowl filled with cold water.  Don't rinse them under the tap while you're trying to separate out the seeds.  This will make everything a lot slimier and harder to handle.  The seeds will float in the water, so I whip them around with my fingers to further loosen any remaining pulp.  
3.  Strain thro…

Sunday—Have A Pessimistic Week!

Are you a strategic optimist or a defensive pessimist?

"By imagining the worst-case scenario, defensive pessimists motivate themselves to prepare more and try harder."   -- Psychologist, Julie Norem—The Positive Power of Negative Thinking

Check out this great article by Wharton professor and organizational psychologist, Adam Grant.   

Click HERE to read the entire article

The Power of Negative Thinking  
1.  Don't whistle while you work!
Positive mood impairs the performance of defensive pessimists.  Pessimists work best when their expectations are so low that they are compelled to take action.  It's the opposite of looking through rose-colored glasses.  

2.  Encouragement discourages.
Too much praise squashes the natural motivation of a defensive pessimist.  Identifying what's wrong is exactly the kind of feedback that a defensive pessimist wants and needs in order to deconstruct the problem.  Break it down, don't build it up.  

3.  Don't worry, be hapless

Thursday Mini-Post: Wind In My Ears

Simply joyful.  

Odin and his doggie friends go for a ride...

Good For You, Good for The Home: Speedy Shirt Folding!

This really works, but you'll have to watch the video to learn how!

Thanx to DaveHax for this easy-to-follow video on how to fold shirts the speedy way!  I tried it, and shirts come out a little off-center when they are folded, but this can be easily corrected when you make the final fold; just fold the arm in a little more toward the center.

Try it!  You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday's Cupboard—Sauerkraut & Canadian Bacon

This simple & tasty traditional German dish is fantastic in the slow cooker!

Use fresh sauerkraut in plastic bags (in the deli & refrigerated vegetable cases in the grocery store).  If you can't find fresh, go for the large jarred variety.  Canned sauerkraut loses its freshness and is a little stale.

Find Canadian bacon at the grocery store alongside regular bacon or look for it near the lunch meat & cheese section.

From Weight Watcher Slow Good Super Slow-Cooker Cookbook, ©2005 

Makes 8 servings

Sauerkraut & Canadian Bacon Crock Pot
2½ pounds fresh sauerkraut
1½ pounds baby Yukon Gold or small red potatoes, chopped in half
1 pound Canadian bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1 pkg sliced Granny Smith apples (or 3 medium, cleaned & chopped)
2 tablespoons classic French Dijon mustard
1½ tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. dried & crumbled sage or 2 sprigs of fresh sage
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Make It!
I bulked up this recipe for my 7 qt. oval crock pot.  I used...

Monday—The Email Corner

5 great tips for getting your emails noticed!

From AsianEfficiency by Thanh Pham

In the era of email overload, here's how to get your emails read!

Rule #1:  Avoid One-Word Subject Lines
Because a lot of people use key words to search for email that is most important or most interesting to them, use key-word rich subject lines.

Subject:  Meeting (critical info is missing)

Subject:  Mandatory Planning Meeting (this says what kind of meeting it is & who should be there)

Which one is more likely to get read first?

Rule #2:  Be Specific
Give immediate specific information.  This is especially important when people are checking email from mobile devices.  Subject lines should convey the most important info in a bullet format.

Subject:  Mandatory Meeting (critical info is missing_who/what/when/where/why?)

Subject:  Mandatory Mtg_Oct25_2pm_Bob's Office (all of the basic info is there)


Subject:  Hi there!  (The real reason for the email is missing.)

Subject: Overdue Wells Farg…

Have a Collaborative Week!

How cognitive science defines creativity

The Creative Process
Preparation:  How do I do this? the first step in the creative process.  A willingness to chase down ideas.  Learning.

Incubation:  Mind-wandering away from the current task, then returning to the task.  Exploring.  Let go of standard notions.

Illumination:  Recognition of new connections.

Verification:  Critical thinking.  Craft the message to the intended audience.

Creative Collaboration
The sum of all ideas.  Your ideas are not you.  A criticism of your ideas is not a criticism of you.  The creation of something that is grander than anything you could ever produce on your own.

Letting Go of Singularity
Transforming:  Take an idea and create variations.  Innovating on top of a platform that already exists.  Giving people the freedom to combine and transform; making something that did not exist before.

Keep Pushing
Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just get to work.  --Chuck Close, Photorealistic Artist

Get insp…

Thursday Mini-Post: CARPARK

A funny vid from Bird Box Studio


Directed by Ant Blades_audio by Tom Drew

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for Your Fireplace

Sharing this fantastic DIY idea from Pepper Design Blog!


I've been looking for a way to give my brick fireplace a facelift before it's time to start writing Christmas cards on November 1st...I think this is it!

Two years ago, I overhauled our outdated wallpapered living room and painted the walls, ceilings, and center beam in basic white.  I brought the entire room into this century by replacing dingy shutters with white textured curtains from West Elm.  The carpet came back to life after a thorough cleaning with environmentally-safe rug shampoo, and we replaced the 1980's beveled-glass chandelier over the dining room table with a fantastic white flower petal pendant lamp from Amazon.

The only thing left was the original brick fireplace!  Okay, white paint it is, and I'll finish it off with this neat DIY fireplace screen.  I really like the aspen disks against the black matte chalkboard painted background.  Very cool!  It looks like it stands uprigh…

Tuesday's Cupboard—Slow Cooker White Bean & Sausage Stew

More healthy food for dancing!

I've been making a lot of crock pot recipes lately for our busy dance lesson nights when I don't have time to cook.  I doubled this recipe and served it over hot brown Basmati rice.  Yum!!

Adapted from the original Weight Watchers recipe, Slow Good Super Slow-Cooker Cookbook, ©2005

Makes 6 servings (double it for 12 servings)  

Italian White Bean & Sausage Stew
Single Recipe Ingredients — I double this

•  1 large sweet onion, chopped
•  2 (15 oz.) cans of cannellini beans (white kidney or any white bean), rinsed & drained
•  1 large fresh fennel bulb, rinsed & chopped, including fronds
•  3 garlic cloves, chopped (or 3 tsp. jarred chopped garlic in water)
•  1 large green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
•  1.25 lbs. uncooked mild Italian turkey sausage (1 package), casings removed
•  1 (14 oz.) can Italian-style diced tomatoes
•  1/2 cup dry red wine or chicken broth
•  1/4 cup of fresh crisp basil, chopped
•  Grated Parmesan cheese for sprinklin…

Monday—The Texting Corner

Modern Day Snail Mail by Christina Vanko

I saw this on the wonderful blog that I follow called, Laughing Squid...

When designer, Christina Vanko, inherited her father's calligraphy pen, she decided to exchange handwritten calligraphy messages in place of standard text messages for a week.

By doing so, she improved her grammar, thoughtfulness, and spelling.  Her friends seemed to appreciate the extra effort and the beauty of a handwritten note.  Each message was handwritten, then converted into a photo to be sent as a text.

What a neat way to remember her dad.   :)

Pretty cool idea, huh?  It may be faster than poking around a teensie little iPhone keyboard in a vain and fruitless effort to defeat autochecker.  I seriously hate the autospellchecker monkey who lives in my iPhone.

Sunday—Have A Heroic Week

The bravest people on Earth —First in a series

"I helped them out, and I fell in love with it."   ---Capt. Mack Greene, Campobello Island Whale Rescue Team

In 1995 a guy named Mac Greene started a whale watching business in the Bay of Fundy, which in case you don't know, is located off of the northeastern coast of Maine just over the US/Canada border between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

It has the highest tides in the world, and because of its nutrient rich waters, the bay also provides the hunting and breeding grounds for 12 different species of whale, including the North Atlantic Right Whale, one of the rarest whales in the world.  There are only 350 of them left worldwide.

Captain Greene began working with a team of marine scientists who were studying the whales, and when a fin whale became tangled in a mass of fishing gear, he helped to cut it loose.  Fin whales are the second longest animal in existence (next to the Blue Whale) reaching 80 fe…

Friday—The Creative Cloud Corner: Pumpkins!

First pix done with Photoshop Creative Cloud & Lightroom5

Texture by Kim Klassen

Lightroom preset by Kim Klassen_autumncopperII

Custom orange gradient by dsmp

Texture by Kim Klassen_BeyondBeyond

Bokeh by Jerry Jones_Shadowhouse Creations

Thursday Mini-Post: Convos: Make The Bed

So, so good...A new episode of Convos with My 2-Year Old (Epi 2, Season 2) — Make The Bed

David Milchard as the grown man Coco, Coco as herself, and Matthew Clarke as Coco's real-life dad

Wednesday—Good for You, Good for The Bathroom: Wall Mounted Towel Holder

I've always loved these in hotels!

Check out this neat wall rack for storing towels in your bathroom.  Shower-ready and within reach whenever you need a hand towel, bath towel or washcloth.  I like things where I can see them!

Click HERE for a link to Crate & Barrel — $55.96 on sale — $69.95 regular price

Tuesday's Cupboard—Slow Cooker Caribbean Chicken

Another delicious supper for your crock pot!

Caribbean Jerk Chicken
•  2 bunches green onions, cleaned & chopped •  2 — 7 oz. cans of diced mild chiles •  4 T. cider vinegar •  4 T. honey •  2 T. olive oil •  2 T. Caribbean jerk seasoning •  2 tsp. kosher salt •  2.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed & patted dry, then cut into 2" chunks
Make It!
1.  Place cut-up chicken & chopped green onions in the crockpot
2.  In a large glass measuring cup, mix together chiles, cider vinegar, honey, olive oil, jerk seasoning & salt.  Pour the mixture over the chicken & green onions.  Stir to coat chicken & onions with the sauce.
3.    Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 5 to 6 hours until the chicken is fork-tender.
4.  Serve over hot, long-grain Basmati or jasmine rice.  I cook mine in a rice steamer, then add 2 to 3 T. of real butter; season with kosher salt & freshly ground gourmet mix pepper.  

Monday—The Free Media Corner

Look at all of this cool stuff!  

If you like free online resources, you're going to love this website.  From free ebooks to free online courses, really is the best free cultural & educational media resource on the Interwebs.

Get smarter!  Take advantage of all 750 free online courses.  Watch 575 free movies, from Oscar winners to the mysterious Film Noir.  Learn to speak a new language.  Find intelligent video sites like Bad Astronomy and Big Think.  

And, free books!  All 51 volumes in the Harvard classics, a list of audio books as long as your arm (550 titles), and K-12 ed resources, including CK-12, the open textbooks forum for K-12 students all over the world.

This really is a great website!

Check it out & have fun exploring!

Sunday—Have a Fresh Week

Take charge of your food

On January 4, 2011, the president signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law enabling the FDA to strengthen the minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of food products on farms.  Let's take a look at the effectiveness of these changes...

Multistate foodborne outbreaks as reported by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Outbreak Response Team 
(Last updated 23 July 2013)

2006Taco Bell - Escherichia coli O157:H7Tomatoes - Salmonella TyphimuriumFresh Spinach - Escherichia coli O157:H7

Totino's/Jeno's Pizza - Escherichia coli O157:H7Banquet Pot Pies - Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-Topp's Ground Beef Patties - Escherichia coli O157:H7Dry Pet Food - Salmonella SchwarzengrundVeggie Booty - Salmonella WandsworthPeanut Butter - Salmonella Tennessee