Monday, August 31, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 35

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways to Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-More than 50% of adults do NOT get enought physical activity and 24% are not physically active at all.
1. Set a goal for yourself. Think about what types of benefits you want to achieve. Weight loss? Increased muscle mass? Improved general health?
2. Figure out what type of exercise you like most and best suits your desired goal.
3. Create a plan. Start with 3 days a week, 30 minutes a day. Try to build up to 4 or 5 days a week, 45 minutes per day.
4. Drink plenty of water before, during, and afgter exercising.
5. Don't buy into excuses like "I don't have enough time" and "I can't afford a gym membership".
6. Incorporate exercise into your workday by taking the stairs, walking during your lunch break, and stretching while at your desk.
7. Always consult your physician or exercise specialist for safety and guidance.
A few months ago I went to have a "Heart to Heart" screening that our hospital women's center offered. It did lab tests as well as had interview/questionaires to check my lifestyle. I knew going in that I could definately stand to lose a few pounds, but wasn't expecting to hear that my bad cholesterol is a little high and my good cholesterol is a little low. So, I have been trying to add more fruit and vegetables to my diet and have continued my walk routine. My friend, Mary and I walk nearly every day for 2 miles around town. We hold eachother accountable and enjoy our walks so much, they just fly by. I think another important part of exercise is having someone hold you accountable. Whether it is a friend, a spouse, your kids or the cost of a gym membership held over your head, knowing that someone else is counting on you to exercise makes sure that you get it done! I am hoping when I go back in October for my recheck that my numbers are more inline!
Exercise helps prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, lung disease,diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, depression, arthritis, and unwanted pounds. Start slowly and incorporate exercise gradually into your daily routine today!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review: Latitude 12" Torpedo Level

Thanks to the people at MomSelect, I received a boxful of goodies. So, watch futures posts for reviews of great products!

I was super excited to see this 12" Torpedo Level with keyhole indicators inside the box. I had just purchase a sign I wanted to hang in my kitchen and it had keyhole slots to hang it rather than a hanger on the back side. It was meant to be!

This Torpedo Level is made by Latitude Tools and it states" Our tool line has the right fit, feel, and function for You. Our tools were developed with women in mind - Your success is our goal!

This was a tool made for me. It was super simple. The keyholes extend so I could line them up perfectly with the holes on my sign. Once I found the center on the wall, I was ready to go. I hung this sign in less than 5 minutes. My husband will be so proud! Thanks to Latitude Tools and Mom Select for sending this handy tool my way. It will get a lot of use around here and just maybe I will let my husband use it too!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she's a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life - and her relationship with her family and the world - forever.

I have been wanting to read this book and luckily it was our book club choice for this month. Wow! This was such a heartbreaking, truthful, and lovely novel. I could NOT put it down. It was gripping from page one all the way to the end. I loved that the author wrote this story from the perspective of Alice, the person with Alzheimer's and not from the caregivers or families perspective. The author chose each of her characters and personalities so carefully and everyone was able to have a piece in the story all the way to the end. Throughout the story, I got so frustrated and angry with the husband, John. I am sure this will bring up great discussion in our book club about his role in caring for Alice during her disease progression. I was deeply proud of Alice's children in how they stood by and stood up for Alice and showed their deep love for her. I laughed and cried through this story and was sad to see it end. Anyone who has been touched by Alzheimer's needs to read this book! I am eagerly waiting for Genova's next novel "Left Neglected" to hit bookstores! I gave this 5 out of 5 stars!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mmmmmm Fresh Salsa

As you can see from a previous post, I have been in the mode of using fresh fruit and vegetables in recipes. A few nights ago I made fresh salsa from the tomatoes and jalepenos given to us from friends and neighbors. So, I thought I would share with you how I make fresh salsa.


4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced with seeds removed

4 jalepenos, diced with seeds removed

1/2 onion, diced

cilantro, to taste

kosher salt

Juice from one lime

Let sit overnight. I would say it should be eaten within the week. It never lasts that long for us anyway.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 34

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways to Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza.
-Common litter includes cigarette butts, plastic bags, paper, candy wrappers, fast-food packages, bottle caps, 6-pack can holders, glass bottles and plastic straws: equal to about 180 million tons of trash per year.
-People under age 15 are least likely to litter; people under the age of 25 are most likely to litter when in a group; people over age 25 are most likely to litter when alone.
People litter because they:
-Don't think of the item as litter (ex. cigarette butts).
-View litter removal as someone else's responsibility.
-Lack knowledge about the environmental effects of their littering.
1. Spend 1 hour today picking up litter. Or decide that every time you see a piece of litter today, you'll pick it up and throw it away.
2. If you see someone litter, politely ask them to pick it up. Or pick it up yourself and maybe the person who dropped it will see you and get the hint.
3. Organize a team of neighbors, friends, co-workers, or fellow church members to pick up litter in a specific neighborhood for an hour. Bring rubber gloves and garbage bags and make it more fun by turning the cleanup effort into a game/contest.
4. Enjoy making a difference, getting exercise, geting to know people better, and having cleaner surroundings.
If every person picked up just one piece of litter today, there would be over 300 million fewer pieces of litter, pick up 10 pieces there would be 3 billion fewer pieces damaging our environment. Make an impact on your community and pick up litter. Frequently when I am walking around town, I take a sack with me and pick up litter during my walk. Too often I can fill up a grocery sack just during my walk. So, grab a sack, your kids, your neighbor's kids and take a walk around your area and pick up litter!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mmmmm Blueberry Muffins

I purchased a batch of fresh blueberries on Friday and was so excited to eat them this weekend. Yesterday I added fresh blueberries to the pancakes I was making. Then all day, I would grab a handful as I walked through the kitchen and snacked on them all day. Today I made homemade blueberry muffins. They were delicious. Even my picky 9 year old ate them! I thought I would share the recipe with you. It is taken from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Desserts 2. I love Sandra Lee and her Food Network show "Semi-Homemade". She also has a new magazine out with the same title that I also subscribe to.


Nonstick spray for baking, Pam

2 3/4 cups of flour

3/4 cup of sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 pinch salt

1 cup buttermilk (see note)

2 eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1 cup fresh blueberries

1. Move oven rack to lowest position in oven and preheat to 400 degreesF. Spray 12 muffin cups with spray and set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and oil. Pour into flour mixture and stir together just until combined. Gently stir in blueberries. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full., Bake in preheated oven for 26-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from muffin cups; cool completely on wire rack.

Note: If you do not have buttermilk, take 1 cup of milk and add 1 T of vinegar. Let sit for 3-5 minutes, then pour into recipe.

Friday, August 21, 2009


As a child, riding in the car with my parents, I would watch for landmarks when we were traveling to gauge when we got close to our destination. When traveling to my cousins, I knew once we crossed a certain bridge we were just minutes away. When traveling far north to some other cousins, I would watch for the trees to change and know we were getting closer. Now our children do the same thing. Reagan watches for water towers to know if we are close to home or close to another town. One of my favorites travel destinations is Colorado. I love, love, love driving along and then watching the mountains appear in front of us as we are driving along the highway.
Recently, our family took a long weekend trip and traveled to Northern Minnesota to my cousins. Just like when I was a kid, I watched for the changing trees along the road and the numerous lakes to appear. I waited in anxious anticipation just like I did as a child....and then listened to our kids repeatedly ask, "How much farther?" So, I showed them the trees and said, "not much farther now". I watched as the kids jumped out of the car and ran to greet their cousins just like I did as a child. I cried when they cried when it was time to leave. These relationships are so important to me and to share these family connections with our children means so much.
Aside from the landmarks along the road, we have landmarks to gauge us in life. Every 3 months in our house, we have a birthday. Once we get through one, I know another is coming up soon. Once summer starts I know we have a certain number of days before school starts again. Now the first day of school has arrived and I know that too soon, Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us. Since I am a planner, I have a weekly calendar in my bathroom and a monthly calendar in the kitchen. My days are guided by the items listed on those calendars. As I check off each one, I can see the accomplishments. Those are the landmarks that I look for to guide my day and lead me to whereever I happen to be going. The days will continue to fill up, the activities will get busier, the kids are going to grow up, we will grow older, but this time I am not saying "How much longer? Are we there yet?" instead, I am saying, "Can we stop and look at the scenery?"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review: Remedies by Kate Ledger

Simon and Emily Bear look like a couple who have it all. Simon is a respected physician, one of Baltimore's "Top Docs" with a burgeoning private practice. His wife, Emily, shines professionally as a partner in a premier public relations firm. They have a beautiful house and a healthy daughter. But their marriage is scarred by old, hidden wounds. Even as Simon tends his patients' ills, and Emily spins away her client's mistakes, they can't seem to do the same for themselves or their relationship.
Simon becomes convinced he's discovered a cure for chronic pain, a finding that could become a major medical breakthrough. With reckless zeal and obsessive focus, he recruits patients to test the therapy. As he yearns to prove he's a good doctor - and to make amends for a missed diagnosis years ago - he is oblivious of the pain he's causing at home. Emily, still struggling to move beyond the devastating loss she and Simon suffered fifteen years ago, comes to realize she hasn't felt anything for a very long time - that is until a lover from her past surfaces and forces her to examine her marriage.
I received this book as an ARC from Penguin Books. This is Kate Ledger's first novel and the book hits stores today, August 20, 2009.
Although this was a little slow in the beginning, it did become hard to put down towards the end of the book. Rather than chapters, the author used 5 Parts to divide the story, jumping between Simon and Emily's character as the story was told. As a reader, I like to have little breaks in the story, where if I need to put it down, I know I can finish a chapter in a few pages. With the parts in this story that became hard to do. It also made it difficult to stay with the story when it was 50-100 pages before going back to the other character.
The story dealt with marriage, infidelity, parenting, medical issues, death, rejection, and love. All through the story, I kept telling myself that the character, Simon, just needed to feel loved. After the death of their infant, the relationship between Simon and Emily fell apart and neither one of them ever dealt with their child's death. Instead they threw themselves into their careers and eventually ignored their other child. No wonder they were all a mess in the story. It was quite heart-breaking to read, but also frustrating. I just wanted to shake the two of them and say "Grow up and talk to each other!". The story ended leaving you hopeful, but I still would have liked it to be a little more tidied up.
The author's descriptions of feelings in the story were right on and made the reader feel them right along with the story. I liked her description of Emily's face....noticing that her eyes had lost their stars, a wrinkle of consternation etched on her forehead, her lips turned downward...Emily wondering when that had happened. I also understood her part of the story where they got lost driving and the daughter says "we are off the map!" and how Emily realized it described them quite well. Their family was "off the map" and who can't admit at times to being "off the map" accurate description. I was saddened by Simon visiting his parents and practically begging for love from them. I imagined the scene and just ached for Simon (one of the few parts of the story where I felt sorry for him). He was begging for acknowledgment and love from them so badly and he just couldn't get it. How that played out in the rest of his life was remarkable.
I learned about "life's goodies" from this story and will try to look for those in my life and not waste them. I also learned about relationships and "like nerves...they can get injured, but can regrow". How true.
I welcome Ledger to the literary world and look for further good reads from her in the future. I give this 3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

This is how wars are fought now: by children traumatized, hopped-up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. Children have become the soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty violent conflicts going on worldwice, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. At the age of 12, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land renderred unrecognizable by violence. By 13, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, with the heart of a gentle boy, found out he was capable of truly terrible acts. At 16, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabiliatation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and finally, to heal.
I first heard of this book when Starbucks highlighted it as its featured book in their shops. I have been wanting to read it since then. This was our book club read this month. I enjoyed the book, but it was difficult to read about all the violent and tragic events that took place. Beah is an amazing storyteller and has remembered many details about his life running from the war and then participating in it. His details were so good that I could visualize the the destruction that was taking place around him and imagine the horrific images he described. Even though you knew Beah turned out ok and made it through, you were still encouraged to read through each of the many circumstances, knowing that he was able to come out alive, but surprised each time he did. The story was gripping the whole way through although I was disappointed in the ending. I would have like to hear about how he actually made it to NYC and how he began to live his life there. I appreciated the map in the front of the book and the explanations at the bottom of the pages for words I wouldn't know the meaning to. I have a much better understanding of the turmoil, violence and fear that goes on daily in other parts of the world and ever grateful to be an American. I thank Beah for sharing his story and I wish the best to him in his new life as an American. This is a quick read, but at times I had to put it down and take a break from the story. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 33

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-Only 1 in 6 people read 12 or more books a year.
-Leisure reading has declined 7% over the last 10 years.
-55% 0f women compared to 37% of men read for leisure.
-The more books people read, the more active and involved they are in their communities.
-Book buying constitutes less than 6% of total recreational spending while spending on music, videos, computers, and software constitutes roughly 25%.
1. Read a book you've never read before. If you don't have one on your shelf, go to the library or local bookstore or order one online.
2. Join a book club or start one with your friends or co-workers.
3. Give books to people as gifts.
This one is a no brainer for me. I love to read, as you know, if you regularly read my blog. I am in a book club that meets once a month, so I am definately in the 1 in 6 who read 12 books a year. I read many more than that. I love to read and want to show a good example and share my love of reading with our children. I made reading a requirement for this summer and was pleased that each of the boys read 5 chapter books this summer. I know other kids who have read much more, but for my boys who like to be outside and with our busy schedule I was very proud. Reading is exercising the brain and the benefits include improved language skills, vocabulary, and spelling as well as opening your mind to new ideas, perspectives, and information. Take time out to read today, read to your children, read to a person in the nursing home, read a fiction novel, read a non-fiction doesn't matter. Read what you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Good Books

In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but how many can get through to you.

Mortimer J. Adler

I had a friend send me a questionnaire that asked about the 15 books that I have read that have stuck with me. Over my lifetime, it is hard to think of the those 15 books that really had an impact on me. But, this is my list...I am sure I will think of another to add, but for now, these are the books that jumped out at me....books that left me pondering....books that made me want to start over and read again as soon as I was done.....books that I didn't forget about after reading them....books that taught me something.....books that I refer back to now and again.

The Bible

The Shack, William P. Young

90 Minutes in Heaven, Don Piper

For One More Day, Mitch Albom

Three Cups of Tea, Dr. Greg Mortenson

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen

The Kite Runner, Kaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Kaled Hosseini

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch

The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, Judy Blume

Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Charlotte's Web, E.B. White

Now I had a friend say that the Bible doesn't count....but I think it does....not everyone (unfortunately) has read the Bible, and for those of us that is momentus and definately sticks with you needs to be mentioned.....but for my friend I will list one more book....

The What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff ....What to Expect When You're Expecting, What to Expect the Toddler Years, etc. These saved my life as I mom and couldn't have made it through without them!

What are your 15 books?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 32

Taken from the book, Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-The #1 killer of people ages 4 - 37 is car accidents.
-1 in 5 drivers under the age of 30 is stopped for speeding every year.
-75% of drivers admit to driving over the speed limit, and 50% determine their speed based on the chance of being stopped by police.
-30% of all traffic fatalities have speed as a factor, second only to alcohol (39%) as a cause of fatal crashes.
1. Obey speed limit signs. Doing so shows respect for the law, your life, and the lives of others.
2. Slow down to give yourself time to avoid hitting debris, animals, and potholes. (Potholes cause millions of dollars of damage to cars each year.)
3. Stay at least one car length behind the vehicle in front of you for every 10 mph you're driving.
4. Leave early. Allow enough time to get where you're going.
5. Use caution and take appropriate safety measures when driving in extreme weather conditions.
I think #1 says it all. Over the years, I have learned speeding just isn't worth it. In the area I live, our county sheriff makes frequent drives to our town and on the highway we travel. I just don't need to throw away a hundred bucks just for driving a little faster to Target. I have also learned in my Bible Studies that obeying the law is important to God and speeding fits into that. Now, of course, I can't say I NEVER speed, but as a general rule, I do NOT speed. I set my cruise and just go along. I have noticed my kids pay attention and let me know if I am speeding. I need to set an example for them. You can't get a speeding ticket if you don't speed. You can even save money on gas by slowing down. So, set your cruise, obey the speed limit and leave eariler if needed. Don't speed!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CD Review: Live by Shawn Colvin

I recently won this CD from An Iowa Mom, a fellow blogger. You can find a link to her blog down the right side of my blog. So, thanks much to Wendy for sending this CD my way!
On ITunes, Colvin is listed in the pop category, but I wouldn't classify her in the same pop category as Jordin Sparks, Gwen Stefani, or Lady Gaga but more of a folksie pop, like ADELE or Brooke White. Shawn Colvin is a three-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter. This Live CD was released in June of this summer.
This is a CD for when I am feeling mellow. It would also be a great CD to listen to when I need to destress. Of course, the most popular song on the CD is "Sunny Came Home", but I also liked "Tennessee", and "Fill Me Up". I know this is a CD that my friends Tammy and Emily would love. This is more of an occasional CD for me...have to be in the right mood. But, a timeless CD, that can be enjoyed and pulled out for those situations that could use a little Shawn Colvin.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mondays Matter: Week 31

Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
-2.5 and 3.5 million people are homeless at some point each year.
-750,000 people sleep on the streets every night.
-30% of the homeless are families with children, and 71% are single-parent families
-44% of the homeless has part- or full-time employment.
1. Don't judge people based on their outward appearances or life circumstances.
2. Better understand who the homeless are by talking to them on the street or by volunteering to serve food at a mission, shelter, or soup kitchen. You'll be surprised by what you learn.
3. Look a homeless person in the eye, show consideration, be polite, and smile.
4. Instead of money, offer bottled water, ready-to-eat food, or toiletries.
5. If a homeless person asks for help and you are not able to, rather than treating them with indifference or ignoring them, simply state, "I'm sorry. I'm not able to help today."
Before I became a mom, I was the supervisor of a homeless shelter for women and children. When I started that position, my eyes were certainly opened to the struggles of families right in my own community. As the supervisor, my job was to keep the shelter running (budget, stats, grant writing, maintenance, staffing, speaking engagements, etc) and I lost touch with the human side of homelessness. Admittedly, I became a little cynical and frustrated and eventually left this position. I have recently been exposed to this issue again through my sister-in-law who is on the board and volunteers at a place called Mission of Hope, check out their website here... Anyone who walks in the door can be fed a meal, have a cup of coffee and a pastry, get some food from the food pantry, or sit and talk with a volunteer. This has been an amazing organization to the community and it has reached out to so many in need. I know that they have been serving as many as 120+ for lunch on a regular basis. Maybe once my schedule opens up, I can start getting back into volunteering in this area.
People don't want to be homeless. Yet millions of people may only be one missed paycheck, one health crisis, or one unpaid bill away from becoming homeless. How many paychecks could you miss and still afford to pay your rent or mortgage? Call your local homeless shelter and see what is on their wish list...toiletries, canned food items, diapers, socks, or your time...and give what you can.