Geranium seeds

Seeds of wellness for body, mind and spirit

Cookies and Milk – a winning team

Milk and Cookies aren't just for Santa.

Milk and Cookies aren’t just for Santa.

Just thought I’d share a little tip for the day…

Everyone loves cookies and milk. Actually, this isn’t a tradition I grew up with. In Brazil we dipped our cookies (and bread) in coffee, not milk. I still do this and think it is the most delicious thing… sometimes my American friends will stare at me while I’m dunking my donuts in coffee — and I’m like, there’s a reason for a store named Dunkin’ Donuts! Right? I can’t be the only one doing this!

But anyway… since moving to America I have come to appreciate the cookies dipped in milk movement. This week I baked a batch of cookies and have been enjoying a nightly ritual of Santa-inspired snacks. So, here’s my little tip: add a little cinnamon to your milk. It tastes delicious with the milk alone, and I will often drink it that way. When you dunk the cookies in the cinnamon-ey milk, the cinnamon coats the cookies making them extra tasty! Try it and let me know what you think!

cinnamon-milk

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My working playlist for a friend in need

This is what I feel like sometimes when I am singing in my car.

I’m not going to pretend that I’m up on the music trends of the day, or that I have a heightened talent for finding great obscure music out there. Truth is I am often the last one to know about a great new band or sound, but I sure do enjoy many different kinds of music.

Sometimes when I am listening to the radio or to my ipod I do a lot of daydreaming or pretending (OK, pretty much all of the time). At times, and especially if I’m driving, I pretend that I am performing whatever song I’m singing — sometimes at small venues like a coffee house, sometimes in big concert halls. In my head, I have sung duets with Josh Groban, John Mayer, and Jason Mraz. Each time I think we complement each other really well.

If I am not performing the song in my head, sometimes I am making playlists and wondering to whom I would send that song and in what circumstance. I have a working playlist that I have envisioned sending to a friend who might be in need of encouragement or an affirmation of support (or to my husband, or child, in a similar circumstance). I am often adding songs to the playlist, but sometimes I forget to write them down.

Sadly, I have never actually acted on my fantasy of sending a CD to a friend with all of my picked songs. Maybe someday. Meanwhile I am sharing these with you so all of my daydreaming will not go completely to waste. Be advised, most if not all of the songs on this playlist are kind of mellow… I guess that is my mood when I am daydreaming about a friend in need… If you scroll all the way down to the end you will get the nice treat of checking out my number one song.

1) When you’ve got trouble, by Liz Longley (this one I mostly envision sharing with my husband or child, but could be shared with a friend too I guess).

2) Don’t forget, by Brett Dennen

3) Let it be me, by Ray LaMontagne

4) Can’t go back now, by The Weepies

5) It will be me, by Kristin Chenoweth

6) Lucky, by Kat Edmonson

7) Hold on (Change is Coming), by James Grear & Company

8) Stand by me, by Tracy Chapman

And now for the treat I promised… enjoy!
* Image from http://howtowinakaraokecontest.anythingkaraoke.com/

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Flower Therapy

I am sooo not Martha Stewart. So, if you are naturally crafty or very good with flowers, you will not get much from this post. If, like me, you enjoy beautiful things but need little tips on the craft/make-it-yourself/and-make-it-look-good department, read on, friends!

I have always enjoyed fresh flowers, but would only have them around for special occasions. Since I was never a good flower arranger, I would just buy a pre-arranged bouquet, trim it a little, and place it in a vase, exactly like it was when I purchased it. That was fine, but a couple of months ago I started a practice at my house that makes me supremely happy 🙂

Here, it is, in three easy steps:

1) Get a cheap bouquet from the local grocery. Yes, pre-arranged, but we are not going to use it as is. For the pictures on this post, I got a bouquet from Kroger for $5.99!

2) Use small vases or vase-like things you have around the house. I have been using old glass bottles (even a Frappuccino bottle). I filled the bottom of the bottles with pebbles just for a nice look. Other craftier people might tie ribbons around them and the like. I went the easy way.

3) Distribute the flowers among the vases/bottles as you like, and then place them in strategic places around your house. Here is where I like to place mine:

In the kitchen…

In the bedroom…

And in the bathroom…

It does me a world of good to look at my flowers all the time now. Today I was having a blue kind of day, and the flowers fixed me right up 🙂 I’ve also gotten some compliments from friends and family when they come over. Such a small thing but it can really make a big difference to how you feel at home.

By the way, I thought really hard about a witty way to say “flower power” in this post. But I couldn’t come up with any and it’s late and I’m tired, so… flower power!!

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A round up of (a few of) this week’s health news, and a restaurant review

I enjoy looking at health magazines and books, but mostly I get my health news through radio programs and through email updates by Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine. You can subscribe to receive notification of health news in a variety of topics, such as  diets or child nutrition, women’s health, chronic disease, and many many others. I recommend it! This week there have been a few interesting pieces, so I thought I’d share them here. I’d love to hear about where you get your health news – do tell!

1) Another point-in-favor for coffee in the never-ending fight about whether coffee is good for you (and good news for coffee lovers like me!): coffee intake may reduce one’s risk for type 2 diabetes. Chinese researchers found 3 compounds in coffee which seem to help reduce abnormal protein levels which are associated with type 2 diabetes. The study indicates that, for each cup of coffee consumed daily, the risk for type 2 diabetes drops by 7 percent (and the benefit is even greater with decaffeinated coffee). Alas, the study was conducted on cell cultures rather than people and increased coffee consumption is not yet warranted. But, it’s encouraging. Read about it here, courtesy of Medline Plus. I thought it was funny that the researchers felt it necessary to point out that the study does not imply that cream and sugar usually added to coffee are beneficial for preventing diabetes, haha.

2) Another number from Medline Plus, and another piece of good news: frying foods with olive or sunflower oil is not associated with heart disease or premature death. Researchers from Spain investigated the association between fried foods and heart disease and found that the type of oil used really does make all the difference. Read about it here.

3) This one I actually picked up from a radio show…  The US News & World Report Magazine has ranked 25 diets in their “Best Diets of 2012” special. They elected the DASH Diet as the best diet overall for good health! I have to say, I wasn’t familiar with this diet until I heard this piece of news. “Dash” stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and it is based on eating foods that are low in sodium, added sugars and fat. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute helped develop the diet, which idenitifes how many servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc, you should have based on your weight and activity level. Click here to see the full report about this diet from the US News & World Report Mag. By the way… Weight Watchers won the prize for best diet for weight loss. See the “Best Diets” report here.

And speaking of food…  we’re now on to the best part of this post — my restaurant review!

Lobster Ravioli at Hanger's

Todd and I are somewhat of a foodie couple. We really enjoy savoring good food, and make a sport out of finding exceptionally good places to eat, especially when travelling. It’s even better to find a good spot in our own backyard (or almost). For Todd’s birthday this week, we tried out Hanger’s restaurant in Richmond, KY. It was terrific! Good atmosphere, and delicious food you can feel good about — a note on Hanger’s menu says they support local farmers and use organic ingredients when available. Love that!

I was happy with the amount of variety on the menu, and had a difficult time making my selections. We started with their “cheese cigars”, which were delicious. What can be wrong with mozzarella cheese wrapped in wonton, fried, and served with mango chutney? Nothing at all, I say!

Todd chose the seabass with roasted dates and bacon, with a side salad, for his entree. I had a hard time passing on the seared duck breast with sweet potato gratin or even the sea scallops pappardelle pasta. In the end, I settled for the lobster ravioli with white truffle oil. Good choice! The ravioli was home made and the truffle oil made the dish. Todd’s sea bass was perhaps even better – love the sweet dates with the fish! For my side dish, I chose the tomato bisque, which was divine.

Sea Bass

We both decided our entrees weren’t the healthiest on the menu, but they sure were tasty! Todd thought the sea bass would have been pretty healthy, but he suspected a lot of butter went into his dish. The healthiest thing they had was probably their grilled salmon over quinoa, and I bet that’s yummy, too. By the way, the entrees were priced at about $25. They also had several very reasonably priced dinner specials at $12 each.

Of course, we had to order dessert, especially after we found out that Todd got a free dessert for his birthday. He chose the creme brullee, one of his favorite sweet things. I was surprised and intrigued to find they have a “Brazilian Chocolate” coffee drink on their dessert menu, and promptly ordered that. I was expecting a rich and warm drink, but got a cold drink instead. I’m confused; iced coffee really isn’t that popular in Brazil. Maybe I’m out of the loop?

Creme brullee for the birthday boy

Now for the verdict: the creme brullee was very good, even if it was not made in house.

The chocolate drink looked nice and tasted OK, but it probably wasn’t worth the $7 I paid for it.

All in all, we had a wonderful meal at Hanger’s and will definitely return. Stop by if you are in the area and you won’t regret it. And let me know of other great restaurants to try!

Brazilian Chocolate Drink

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