A place to inspire, motivate and encourage by providing posts on self improvement, health, family, women (and men), life, prayer, poems, quotes of wisdom and share ideas about life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Candy Recall

With Halloween just a couple days away, here is a recall you should be aware of.

Sherwood brand Pirate's Gold Milk Chocolate coins are being recalled due to the fact that they contain Melamine, the ingredient in milk product that has caused many infant deaths in china. These candies are sold at Costco, as well as many bulk and dollar stores. Please make sure to spread the word and DO NOT EAT THE PIRATE COINS (you know the ones wrapped in the shiny gold foil) and please let other parents know about this!

This recall is mainly affecting Canada, but they are not sure if this candy crossed the border into the US.
Read the Snopes article HERE

Thinking about all the trick or treating I did as a child and those of my son, I don't remember having to worry about evil acts by candy givers or candy recalls etc...My parents only concern was that I didn't eat ALL the candy before returning home.

I do remember how when the times had changed and parents had to worry about when the razor blade in apple scare surfaced and tainted candy was being handed out. WHY? Why do people do this?

Now you not only have to worry about what your children might eat that will make them ill, but you can't let children go trick or treating alone for fear of something bad happening to them.

Today's constant recalls and awful acts happening all around us, worry me. Are you worried about letting your child go trick or treating? Has all your trust diminished?

I do hope all have a safe and fun Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Stretching Our Budget

I mentioned in my previous post how I am learning new ways to stretch my budget from watching talk shows.

Oprah had Cristina Ferrare on her show. She showed how by cooking 2 chickens, you can make three or more dinners, which means more meals for less money. These dinners could even be frozen after cooking, so it turns into not only a budget savings, but a time saver as well.

My son hates leftovers, but with these recipes, he won't realize I am using leftovers. These recipes looked so easy and delicious and I know I will be trying them myself. These are worth sharing.

So... you start by making 2 roasted chickens and use the leftovers for other dishes.

Roasted Chicken:
2 chickens , 4 1/2 to 5 pounds each
6 lemons
A poultry mix of fresh herbs: Rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley and oregano work well
Marinade for one chicken:
1 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup juice from fresh lemon (don't discard lemon rinds)
To make marinade: Place all ingredients in a nonreactive bowl. Whisk with a wire whisk until ingredients are incorporated well—the marinade should have a smooth and creamy consistency.

To make roasted chicken: Preheat oven to 425°.Clean chickens well and pat dry. Place each chicken in its own baking dish.Stuff cavities with lemon rinds and fresh herbs. A poultry mix is fine, usually consisting of rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley and oregano.Pour marinade over chicken. Add cracked pepper and remaining herbs to the top of each chicken.

Place an oven thermometer in each chicken and cover with aluminum foil. Place on the lower rack of the oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, then remove the aluminum foil. Baste with a basting bulb. Keep basting often, ever 15 minutes until the thermometer reads 180°.

Chicken Enchiladas

16 ounce bottle or can enchilada sauce
6 low-fat or fat-free tortillas
1 jar salsa
2 cans refried beans
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded sharp Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup kalamata olives , pitted
1 jalapeño , chopped and seeded
Roasted Chicken
Heat oven to 400°.

Pour the can of enchilada sauce into a pie dish. Dip tortillas in the sauce to soften them. On a cutting board, gently spread refried beans on one side of each tortilla. Add enough diced Roasted Chicken to cover the beans. Sprinkle with cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Add olives, chopped jalapeño and salsa (optional).

Roll up the tortillas and place seam-side down in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Blend the sour cream into the remaining enchilada sauce in the pie dish. Pour over enchiladas and sprinkle remaining cheese.

Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Chicken Pot Pie with Cornbread Crust
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium Onion , chopped
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups chopped Roasted Chicken
1/2 cup frozen sweet petite peas
1 potato , diced and boiled
1 1/2 cup chopped, cooked carrots
1/2 tsp. salt
Cracked pepper
Dash of Tabasco® sauce

3/4 cup white or yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. canola oil

To make filling: Preheat the oven to 400°. Spray a 2-quart casserole with cooking spray. In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and unsalted butter together. Add onion and sauté until tender, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add in flour until blended. Slowly stir in 2 cups of heated chicken stock, whisking well. Cook mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 4 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas, potato, carrots, salt, pepper and Tabasco. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray and cook until heated and thickened. Spread evently into an ovenproof dish.

To make crust: In a bowl, stir cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir milk, egg and canola oil until well combined. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Spoon the batter evenly on the filling. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.

Pesto with Farfalle Pasta with Roasted Chicken

4 cups fresh basil leaves
4 cups Italian parsley springs
4 large cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt

Roasted Chicken Salad:
1 cup diced Roasted Chicken
1 cucumber , peeled, seeded and diced
2 cups mixed greens
1/4 cup roasted pine nuts
1/2 lemon , juiced
Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/2 pound farfalle pasta
Handful pomegranate seeds

To prepare the pesto: Chop basil, parsley and garlic in a food processor. Slowly add olive oil and keep chopping. Add salt.

To prepare the chicken mixture and final dish: Place Roasted Chicken, cucumber, pine nuts, 1 Tbsp. of pesto and olives in a bowl and mix together. Cook pasta until al dente. Add 2 tablespoons of pesto to the pasta and mix well. Top off with 2 cups of mixed greens and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Add the chicken mixture to pasta and toss. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and pomegranate seeds

ENJOY! and let me know if you try these recipes.

If you have other budget saving tips, please do share.

Source: oprah.com

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Do You Shop at the Dollar Store?

While at home recovering from my back surgery, I have been watching ALOT of TV. I'm getting hooked on all the talk shows. I do believe they have gotten better... offering valuable advice, tips and information we can use in our day to day lives for everyday people like you and I.

While watching Rachel Ray, one of her guests was author, Christine Jory, who's new book: The 99 cent store cookbook shows you how to cook Gourmet Recipes at Discount Prices.
I thought this was a great idea, especially with the current economic situation we are all facing. If you think visiting the 99 cent store is beneath you, think again. Stretching our budget is probably on the minds of many people lately and you can save a lot of money by shopping at these stores.

Here in Jersey we have dollar stores and I visit them for party goods or cleaning supplies, but now more and more dollar stores are expanding to include food items. After seeing the Rachel Ray show, I've learned that the food and food items are of the same quality sold at the food stores. Spices, canned foods, meat, cleaning supplies and in some cases, wine.. Maybe the product has a misprint on the label, an expiration date of weeks or months...why should I spend $3, $4 or even more for an item that will cost only a dollar at the dollar store? I could see how the savings will add up.

My next visit to the dollar store will include more items on my food shopping list and I want to see if I can really save using these dollar stores verses my usually food store.

Do you shop at these 99 cent or dollar stores in your area? If you are, do you feel you ARE saving a lot of money?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What is a 'Cougar'?

Have I been living under a rock? I have been hearing the term 'cougar' a lot lately and at first, had no idea what it even meant. Except of course if one was referring to the animal. haha

I hear this term being used on TV, in blog posts and it's all over the Internet.

The term "cougar" is relatively new I think and is sparking a lot of debate recently as to the exact meaning. It is generally applied to an older woman who dresses seductively in hopes of attracting the attention of a younger man.

I don't think this term is flattering to women, but if the term was being used to describe women as being vital, strong, independent, intelligent, successful... then that's another story.

Anyway, I think if a woman is dressing seductively, it's not only for the attention of younger men. I think it's to attract the attention of the opposite sex regardless of their age. And, maybe it makes her feel good to know she looks good.

Um, Cougar...pouncing on younger men? Does that mean my 84 year old Aunt, married my Uncle over 50 years ago, who is 7 years younger considered a cougar? My Grandmother who after being widowed at age 43, married a man younger than she, a cougar? I just have to chuckle at the thought.

I seem to attract younger men. It certainly is not because I dress seductively. I think it's because I just look younger than I am. Me? a cougar? in those terms associated with the older women / younger man? HA...now I am vital, strong, independent, intelligent, successful...

You can't predict who you fall in love with. If the quality of the relationship is great, you get along well, have friendship, respect, committment and so on, does it really matter the ages of the couple? I know there's a double standard of the older man/younger woman...those men get the thumbs up, but really...Aren't we passed the time of judging couples, passed the negative remarks when seeing older women with a younger men and vice versa?

What are your thoughts about this? I'm just curious...

Sunday, October 19, 2008


To be honest, I didn't realize the history behind women and voting. This surely opened my eyes. Were any of you aware of what women went through to give us the freedom to vote?
My cousin sent me this in an email to remind me. I did need this reminder and maybe some of you do too.


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking
for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing
went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.'

They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping
for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate,
Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging,
beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his
guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right
to vote. For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because---why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work?
Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle
these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote.
Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk
about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said.
'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just
younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in
their curriculum and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so
hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Dress To Impress

Women always want to look their best when it comes to dressing for work, going to that important meeting or when going on interviews. Men are no different. The men I work with at the engineering firm usually dress in suits. They have meetings with mayors, builders, assemblymen etc...and by the way, what man doesn't look great in a suit?

In conversation with one of my co-workers, he mentioned that he gets his suitsMade to Measureat an unbelievable price at a New York store that delivers fine craftsmanship and quality. He goes to their website, where he makes an appointment to be measured at their store. He picks his own fabric and style and within 2 weeks, he receives his custom made suit.

He has his exact body measurements taken, picks the style of his jacket and pant, then has many choices for fabric depending on the occasion he will wear his suit and the season. You can personalize your suit further, right down to the lining fabric and buttons.

I know the costs for suits off the rack can be expensive and you have to settle on fit in most cases. Why settle when a custom suit is just as affordable? The quality and expert help received from MySuit simply cannot compare to off the rack or going to department stores.

I honestly think my co-worker enjoys the attention he receives through out his buying experience. He feels special and knows he looks great in his suit, which gives him confidence.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Pain Control

I have always had issues with my back. As a young teenager, I had scoliosis which required surgery. In my later years, I developed more back issues which required medical assistance.

I was in the mindset that pain is something I just needed to put up with. I had surgery 7 years ago and again just this past Wednesday. Unfortunately, surgery was my only option to correct my current problem. I had a bone spur in the canal at the base of my spine. The doctor told me that this spur was very close to my spinal cord, but he was able to peel away the nerve and get the spur out. Sounds kinda scary, doesn't it? The doctor also decompressed a few areas, so I am now pain free, with the exception of where I was cut of course. My surgery was a success and I am very grateful. I was able to come home yesterday and am now on the road to recovery.

Due to all the back issues I have faced throughout my life, I learned that I can help my pain if and when it resurfaces.

Pain is personal. The amount of pain you experience may not be the same as what others feel, even if they have the same disease or condition as you.

Ask your doctor what you might expect if you going for a test or surgery. Prepare yourself and you will feel more in control. Write down any questions you may have. You can discuss with your doctor your choices regarding pain control.

Non Drug Pain Relief

I chose not to medicate myself with drugs whenever possible. I am not a 'pill' person. I found these methods are helpful for mild to moderate pain.

> Learn about your disease, surgery or procedure to better understand how it will affect you.
Educating yourself can reduce the amount of anxiety you may feel.

> Relaxation: Simple techniques as abdominal breathing and jaw relaxations can help you cope better.

> Cold packs, moist heat, massage therapy, rest and TENS therapy are some ways to help reduce the pain you feel. *TENS therapy stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.

I am lucky to have my brother who is a massage therapist. He has helped me so very much in controlling my pain. Yes, the treatments are not comfortable, but I would be pain free for weeks at a time.

> Exercise: I have discovered that stretching and pilates have helped me. I not only feel more relaxed, but could also feel and see a difference in my body.

Slow Rhythmic Breathing for Relaxation

1. Breathe in slowly and deeply
2. As you breath out slowly, feel your body beginning to relax, feel the tension leave your body
3. Breathe in and out slowly and regularly. Whatever is comfortable for you.
4. To help focus on your breathing, you may say to yourself...IN, two, three... OUT, two, three or replace those words with peace or relax.
5. Imagine that you are doing this in a place that is very calming and relaxing to you...such as lying in the sun at the beach
6. Do these steps once or repeat up to 20 minutes.
7. End each step with a slow breath. As yuo breathe out say to yourself,,,,I feel alert and relaxed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What is Self-Help or Self-Improvement?

This refers to self guided improvement: economically, intellectually or emotionally. People seek self improvement on a variety of areas. Success, love & relationships, health & fitness, money & careers, mental health, spirituality and lifestyle.

Some people think the idea of self improvement means they are unhappy with their life or not satisfied with themselves. That is not necessarily true. We can be happy with ourselves and our life, but want to improve in an area within our lives. We should never give up on improving our self and reaching our full potential.

Have you reached your potential?

We often can be very hard on our self. I know at times, I am my own worst critic and judge myself harshly.
When I dwell on what I think are my faults, I sometimes feel I need self improvement. But, When I focus on my good qualities and expand on those, my faults seem to diminish.

I love to read, so reading information and tips on all areas of self improvement and what I want to develop is a favorite thing to do of mine. To be a better person, to expand and achieve personal growth. What's wrong with that? A few of my friends will notice the books I have and I hear a low "huh" or chuckle. Just because I am reading up on a particular subject doesn't mean I am not satisfied or think of myself as a failure. It just means I believe I can improve. There are always lessons to learn in life.

Has anyone made a little fun of you because you want to do a little self improving?

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Improve Your Self Image With Affirmations

I believe in Affirmations.You can turn negative self-talk into something more positive when repeating positive affirmations to yourself on a daily basis. Ok, so you might not see an instant change within yourself, but if you stay committed, you will.

You have the power to achieve what you want in life. Using affirmations is one of life's powerful strategies.

Here are some Affirmations I wanted to share with you. These were posted by Positive Affirmations. Visit her site for you will read other enlightening posts to help improve the quality of your life and promote positive self image.

I owe no explanations for my behavior, that is legally, morally, and ethically right.

I am different and I embrace it.

I dare to be different.

I accept my differences with pleasure.

I am trustworthy.

I can be trusted.

I am fit, healthy and attractive.

I am confident and unaffected by negative attitudes around me

My possibilities are endless.

I radiate love and happiness.

I am happiest when I accept people for who they are.

I am happiest when I forgive others.

My happiness is found in life’s little surprises.

I find happiness in forgiveness.

I choose to live happy.

I find happiness in never quitting.

I find happiness in the little things in life.

I find happiness in being myself.

I am happiest when I am in a positive place.

I find happiness with positive affirmations.

I find eternal happiness with my family.

I am happy when I spend quality time with good friends.

Do you have a favorite affirmation that has helped within your life?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Humorous Quote for Wednesday

Quote for the day:

Whatever you give a woman, she's going to multiply. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby.

If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal.

If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.

So - if you give her any crap, you will receive a ton of sh*t.

Love and appreciate all the women in your life

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Unexpected Kindness

Even though the weekend isn't over, I experienced acts of kindness that was not expected. And, it made my faith in people stronger. I have to admit, sometimes people can disappoint... some just don't do what you think is the right thing or how many times have you seen others not treat other people kindly. I also believe people aren't as giving to one another as they can be at times .

It started yesterday...I know many who read this blog knew I had been very sick from Feb to May. I am now fully recovered from that ordeal, but a new problem arose a couple months ago. I have always had problems with my back and now it seems I have a bone spur in the canal at the base of my spine. It must be removed to stop any nerve damage and of course eliminate the pain I am in. My surgery is scheduled for Oct 15th.

Yesterday I had to go to the hospital for my pre-admission testing. One test listed turned out not to be covered under my insurance, but for whatever reason, my doctor ordered it. The nurse explained the cost and that I would have to pay prior to getting the test. Since it was unexpected to me, I told her to leave that test out and I would discuss it with my doctor. She agreed and I proceeded to get all the tests done, but then I realized the test not covered was completed. I looked at her and she knew what I was about to ask and just smiled...she said not to worry, it was done in such a way that I wouldn't be charged. um, are you sure? She said I'm sure. Wow...I actually got something I wasn't expecting for no cost. She was kind and understanding of my situation. I left the hospital with a smile...

My day continued...I had a lot of errands to run and one thing on my 'to do list' was to get my brake light fixed on my car. I had intended to take it to one place, drove past it without thinking and just decided I'd take the car to my local gas station repair shop. I explained what I needed and the man said he'd fix the light right then. Ok...so I stood there as he fixed my light. I asked what the charge would be and he said with a smile...no charge. What? Again, someone did something at no cost?! What's going on I thought...since when do you get something for free? I realize that man was a smart business man for now I will bring my car back to his station for my oil changes etc, but he really didn't have to give me a free repair. I left the gas station with a smile.

Last night I went to meet some friends. Well, one friend I've known for about 45 yrs and the others were people I had recently met. As we mingled and enjoyed listening to the band, I guess word got out about my upcoming surgery. I had people sincerely offer their help if I needed any. I heard offers that one would go to the food store, one offered their time as in keeping me company and one person even took my cell phone number,so they could check up on me and make sure I wouldn't need anything. I was blown away by the kindness these new friends expressed. It was very heart warming. I was told that no one should be or feel alone, so they are there if I ever need them. That was such a nice thing to hear.The kisses and hugs and well wishes were so uplifting. I must have been glowing...

Yesterday was a good day indeed...I gained much...encouragement, confidence, faith, felt kindness and love and the inspiration to continue to pay it forward...

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