Saturday, July 28, 2018

Musings - July 2018

Books: I am still making my way through a very dense book on local economics. (Although I did kill of that book on Queen Elizabeth!) And so, to distract myself, I raided both the local Little Free Library (Empire Falls by Richard Russo which was enjoyable but pointless - and I guess that's the point of a beach read) and the beach Little Free Library (And The Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass which was extremely pointless and not enjoyable) plus I hit the bookstore for another from JR Ward's series, Blood Fury. It was fine - just like the rest of the series but they have achieved a boring, formulaic sameness.

Gratitude: Books. Fireworks. Fireflies. Good vets. Kittens. 

Listening: In the car, driving, podcasts are my jam. I probably have 10+ I listen to at least occasionally. But sometimes I binge: Chalene Johnson. Dave Ramsey - this month. At the office there is usually a lot of Pandora happening.

Perfume: I slacked off a bit. There have been so many mosquitoes I did not want to do ANYTHING to draw them!

Recipes: My ex-mother-in-law made the best broccoli-mango salad (from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe). I had occasion to make it for 4th of July as the broccoli in our garden has been very prolific. And it was very well received by adult kidlets, but even 11 said it was "pretty good".

The garden was overflowing with peas and mint and basil. So I did what any sensible person would do. I made pesto!

Garden Pesto:
- Equal parts mint, basil and peas (I used 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup cashews (I had left-over  purchased for the broccoli-mango salad)
- 1/2 cup good Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
And blend....

Jericho (18) doesn't eat peas. but this pesto she ate on crackers until we finished it all.

I also found the easiest Southern Living recipe for quick cobbler ever. Which I modified to be even easier by using frozen berries.

Quick Cobbler:
- 1 stick of butter (melted)
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp of almond or vanilla 
- 1 egg
Mix. It will be thick. You will end up using a spoon to cover the fruit. 

You can use individual cups or you can use a shallow pan. I use a bread pan. And I put in 3 cups of Triple Berry frozen fruit (I almost always have that in my freezer - store brand, nothing fancy). Then I top the fruit with the cobbler topping. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until golden on top.

This might keep for a few days but I wouldn't know because it doesn't last in my house! We serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. And we served it about 3 times this month.

Self-Care: I have been all about skin care. Cleansers. Serums. Oils. Creams. I've hit the age where I don't mind eye crinkles or laugh lines but hate those wrinkles on my forehead. Instead of searching for a magic cure, I should just probably wear my Frownies more often!

But this month I added a Juice Beauty serum and oil to the morning routine. Perhaps that will help.

Things 11 told me:  As she was playing in the beach donut I got her, after I said it was for her, but she wanted me to use it, she said -  "Too bad. Sometimes you have to share."
- "Is this garden fresh?" is now her standard query to any vegetable because obviously the ones from our garden taste best!
- "The secret ingredient is venom." is now her standard answer to any recipe inquiry. That one, I may have started.

Watching: Preacher (Season 2). Cloak and Dagger.

Take-away - Time slithers. In summer it seems endless like you have forever. But there are only so many days in summer and so many summers. Take the time to make the most of them. (Preferably with wine and people you like!)




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Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Texas Weekend

Austin is GORGEOUS. (As a friend said - the vibe is just indescribable.) I think of Texas as flat and dry - I've visited Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Laredo, Waco and other dry Texas places in the past. I'd forgotten that Austin is in hill country and has rivers. No lakes - although Lady Bird Lake is a piece of the Colorado River. We went in mid-June for a weekend get-away/meeting a few of Guy's friends for a birthday event - Mike's 50th as seen below with Guy and Mike, the birthday boy! (He still looks 47, right?)


And I remembered Austin was hill country after we accidentally walked 9 miles the first day! We are such Midwesterners - it's only 1/2 mile, of course we can walk that! Do that a few times and BOOM! 9 miles just happens. (As do ginormous blisters but that is another story.)

There is art literally everywhere in Austin! They make art of nearly everything - witness the Hope Outdoor Gallery which was once a burgeoning condo development. You can't walk down a sidewalk without seeing art! Improvised spray paint art or gorgeous planned mosaics. There is no end to the creativity you see in Austin!



The food in Austin is out of this world. I did not have a single bad meal! The food was good for me (vegetarian, lactose intolerant, and gluten sensitive freak) and him (just loves good food). The funny thing was - we did no research and picked nothing in advance. We just stumbled upon places as we explored. A few times we used my Happy Cow app to find a place near us, due to ALL the walking blisters. Because I'm a serial sharer... here is my rank ordered list of AMAZING Austin food:
- The Peached Tortilla (Asian/Mexican fusion)
Blue Dahlia (fresh, seasonal- and the menu is the most beautiful blue which they make the dye for in their own kitchen!)
The Clay Pot (date night Indian and very large cocktails)
Koriente (fresh, reasonably priced Asian)
Frank's (gourmet hotdogs and amazing brunch - pictured is my plate of veggie Eggs Benedict)
The Goodall Kitchen (a touch pretentious with a limited menu but the art is absolutely museum worthy)
There were likely a dozen other places we could've easily tried - and might next time!


We stayed at The Pearl Vintage Inn Hotel which is wonderful location. A touch off the beaten path but close to downtown. Magically lit up at night  - like when we arrived - with tiny fairy lights on the trees. Private entrances for many of the rooms. In some ways it felt like a bed and breakfast. It's amazing - comfortable and quiet. We stayed in the Far East room which was Asian elegant and had wonderful furniture, plus included its own outdoor balcony where Guy took his morning coffee. (I sooooo wanted to have a reason to use the lovely outdoor bar on the 1st level.Would've been fun to host something there!) My only complaint was that the owners were obviously not foodie people. The "breakfast" offering was cut-up, store-bought pastries, sad granola, and overripe bananas + grocery store tea. No. But the room was beyond amazing - so win! (I got the fancy $20 bill chocolate at the airport store for a joke.)

During our wandering tour on Saturday, we stumbled into a African-American Writers event at the George Washington Carver Museum, which had the most lovely bathroom I've ever seen in a museum. And got a real sense of Texas history at the Bollock Museum. We also wandered around the capital building being totally tourists and taking pictures of various statues. Hats off the the Austin Parks Department - we found the Old Bakery Emporium which was so cool! Tiny shop (all things made by local artists over 50), a mini art museum, and a small history museum in one location near the capitol building.


I also happened upon the ModCloth Fit Shop in Austin! I'd literally seen a ModCloth dress on Instagram that week which I loved - and while at Sunday brunch at Franks, we spotted the shop on our phone maps within walking distance. Sadly, the dress was not what I expected (way more formal fabric and 3 skirt layers!) but I did find an adorable skirt - with pockets! While you can't walk out of the store with what you love, they will ship it to you for free and because you can try it on - you get the right size every time.

And since it was me traveling, what travel story could I tell that wouldn't include the gorgeous flowers? And a mystery. 

This pink flower was a tree that grew to our balcony and flowered.


This orange and yellow flowering bush was on our walk. I'm not sure what it is but I recognized it. Last year when i was in Tucson on business, there was one of these outside my hotel room which attracted various butterflies.

We passed several of these profusions of orange flowers on our walks. 

This blue flower looks like Phlox - but not quite - to my eye.
















Last, but not least is this weird tangle of twig or vines is my mystery flora. I saw them in a number of trees - clustered like flowers. (This one had fallen - that's how I got the close-up.) When I first spotted them, I thought birds nests! But in looking at the fallen one, nope. Something else. Still not sure what as I wasn't sure what to search to find them and my flower identifying app has fritzed out. (If you know a good app for flower identification - please let me know!)

And that, my friends, is a 4 day weekend to remember. Time together, time to explore, time with friends, time to relax/recharge. What else could you ask for?


Take-away - Take time. Make memories. They are what lasts in relationships.





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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Musings - June 2018


Books: There was a pleasure trip, so I got to read a good bit - after what may be my prerequisite airport book binge. The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne which is a very good book set in Michigan - is one of those airport buys. It's not a mystery but more of a survival guide with a point of view. It was a very enjoyable plane read! Lab Girl by Hope Jahren was boring on the "human" parts and utterly amazing in the pieces about plants. Powered through the my Kindle Unlimited edition of Pamela by Shannon Meyer while waiting at the DMV. Brotherhood in Death by JD Robb. (Not quite sure how we are up to like 20 in this series but they are all a good read.) Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz which is a good beach read -  and cults seem to be a persistent theme....


And if you got to this blog from a note you picked up at a Little Free Library - hi! I tend to share!



Gratitude: Steam cleaners. Book kittens. Evening mist across the fields. Beach. Family hula hoop contests. Tiny harvests. Pretty to-do lists.


Listening: Susan Hyatt. Christy Wright's Business Boutique. Sting. And so much Pandora.



Perfume: I'm all about wearing out my upstairs perfume (Paper Flower by Love and Toast). And when I forget it - which happens several times a week - then Hardcore Happy by Pacifica. 


Recipes:  I have been absolutely gorging on Southern Living magazine. I have about 3 years of backlog going. Kind of ridiculous as it used to be my favorite source for recipes and design inspiration! This month in a summer issue, I spotted a Strawberry Rhubarb Pretzel Pie. And the season is right for all these ingredients! Several of the kidlets liked it, and we decided it could easily be made with other fruits. (Spoiler alert - the crust smells AMAZING as you cook it.)  

I also made up a quick salad based on what was in the pantry and the garden. I have a returning fennel bulb that's just kicking up stalks like crazy - and it may have split to 2 bulbs - we'll find out. Plus I had lentils just hanging out in my pantry and some diced tomatoes.....

Lentil Fennel Salad

- 6 cups of water
- 2 cups of dry lentils 
- 3 long stalks of fennel, sliced thin
- 1 small yellow onion, slice thin 
- 1 can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar or coconut vinegar

Cook lentils with water according to package directions. (I used brown, green would probably taste even better.) Broil fennel and onions for 12 - 15 minutes (a little olive oil, salt, pepper on them.) When everything is done. Mix in a large bowl with the can of diced tomatoes. 

Juice the lemon, mix with oil and vinegar to taste + salt and pepper. Dress the salad with the mixture.

This takes about 25 minutes to make - and not all of it hands on. Plus while this is good right off, it's better if it sits overnight.

Accompaniments: A touch of feta cheese. A bit of fresh mint.



And life tip... keep a bag of mixed, triple berries in your freezer. Quick pie! Saved Father's Day dessert since the place we selected did not have dessert. (What?!? But really, no dessert at Silver Beach Pizza. Just awesome pizza.)



Self-Care: I'm continuing to love the 100% Pure line. In addition to the Blood Orange Cleansing Balm (which as mentioned last month is the bomb), 100% Pure offers a night lotion that has CoQ10. This is the thing my skin loves to help fight off wrinkles.  I used Avalon Organics Wrinkle Therapy for a good number of years. (I've abandoned it due continuing issues with the pump across multiple purchases. Ease of use is a thing. If I can't use it easily, I'm done.)

Sunscreen. An absolute must in southern climates. My favorite is from Alba. (pictured.)


Things 11 told me:

- She was doing a project with her sister and when I told her she was covered in glitter, she replied, "And now I glitter like the stars!" - and when I said she'd made the kittens glittery, she replied, "I made them fancy for the vet."
- She was in a splash fight with her brother at the lake. As he was losing, he claimed handicap. (She was also fighting one armed as he has an arm in a cast.) Her answer to him quitting? "No quitting! You chose this war."


Watching: I finished out Devious Maids and that is a super fun show! Total mind candy. Frivolous. A mystery. And fun. Also rocked out Season 2 of Wynona Earp; it has the best soundtrack ever. Now I'm currently watching Empire.


Random: Austin, Texas is GORGEOUS. There is art literally everywhere! You can't walk down a sidewalk without seeing art! The food was fantastic, too. We took a long weekend and went to see friends. It was so nice to take a break from all the things.


And... 18 graduated! She also won several scholarships for college. We did the required pix with dad and with siblings. I was touched when I asked if she needed any other shots and she replied, "Yes, one of you and Dad with me." (I had on the wrong make-up for photos but whatever! )


Take-away - Take time off. Go somewhere new to you. Have an adventure. It will change your perspective.



PS - FYI, I do invest in the parent company (Hain Celestial) of the Alba sunscreen pictured. Because I believe if you love and use it, so might other people! That's literally my 401k investing philosophy. And I'm sharing with you that the sunscreen is awesome because I love to share.




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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Musings - May 2018



I'm starting to think I should post these the first week of the next month - as I'm not keeping up with the last of the month! This month's hold up was the addition of these hooligans to the household.  The black boy is Jake and the tortoiseshell girl is Kali June.  And they are trouble! But of the very best kind. They are what happens when you  tell 11:  "Aunt Lorraine will probably let you play with the barn kitties." and she talks her dad into 2 of them. (And you don't object because they are adorable.)


So, we're getting the dog and "big kitties" used to the new kittens (we call them purritos because we wrap them up like burritos to give them meds and they purr.) She was 1.12 lbs when we got them and he was just 1.07 lbs - they are tiny and into EVERYTHING. Also very fast and make the dog a bit nervous.
  • Week 1 - the dog had to be in his kennel with a sheet over it to tolerate them. 
  • Week 2  - the dog had to be in his kennel to deal with them. But does not growl at all when he looks at them in their kennel to check on them when they cry.
  • Week 3 - the  dog sleeps in his kennel with the door open as kittens frolic.
The big cats have very limited interest in the kittens. (Lulu is terrified of them.) So adjustments ahead....

Books: Nope. Didn't happen. And this is the month the Kindle Unlimited made their money back on last month when I read a zillion books. Actually didn't read any whole books in May. (See "Stress" below.) I've got a couple in partial progress - using the 10 pages a day procedure although that's still iffy as my preferred method -  on a  couple of books but not very far in. (The Elizabethan history and a book called "Lab Girl", if you need to know.) 



Gratitude: Kittens. Lilacs. Friends who drink wine during bad garage sales. Gardens - I've always said, no one plants hope like a gardener. It's different every year as we learn and start over. (This year,  I added curry, beets,  strawberries, and broccoli. We couldn't find decent seed potatoes so those are a no-go for this year.) I found the most adorable farmers market and an upstart. It was good to explore. And, always, Guy. He lets me have wings and keeps me rooted.


Listening: The Art of Manufacturing podcast. Side Hustle podcast. Business Boutique podcast. More of Halsey's album Castle. 


Perfumes: We are in "Danger Will Robinson" territory! I'm super bored of my perfumes and I have waaaaaayyyyy too many. Ugh. #FirstWorldProblems. So I went ahead and bought an inexpensive one to see me through; I added Hardcore Happy by Pacifica to the line-up. It's a great quick workday perfume. 


Recipes: I didn't make up anything new but I did bake a bit. And I made Onion Tartlets using a version of this recipe. (I added cheese to half the batch.) Plus my semi-famous Avocado and Black Bean Salad (image right). 


Self-Care: Well I tried several new masks, and I now understand why Alba's Hawaiian detox sheet mask was on clearance - it should definitely cover the nose! That's important in a clay mask.
And, I've been obsessed with oils lately. Not just my usual Extra Virgin Olive Oil from DHC. I've been using a selection of others and have a new favorite thing! 100% Pure's Blood Orange Cleansing Balm is the THE BOMB. If you ever loved the idea of an old-fashioned cold cream (which are petroleum-based) but wanted something more natural - this is the solution. It's dissolves off even stubborn mascara and lipstick with a very thin coating and a warm cloth. (I will also note I'm having an problem getting the mascara stains out of my wash cloths but I suspect this may be an issue with my detergent.) Your skin is cleansed of  both make-up and oil + super soft. I do like to double cleanse or toner after, but it's lovely. When I cleanse with something else, I've been trying different moisturizing oils as my last step. The Physician's Formula Bright Booster has a surprisingly robust ingredient list and is still light on the skin. I like it most around the eyes. Little Barn Apothecary has a lovely Helichrysum + Violet Fortifying oil which is nice to use, but based on the 22 year old on their website video, I'm not sure it meant for more mature skin. (It's made out of the herb - helichrysum - that curry is made from.) What I really need is an oil that makes forehead "crinkles" disappear.


Stress: The non-profit I'm president of has required so much blood, sweat and tears over the last 10 months. I'm just a month away from stepping back to a lesser role and I'm obsessively finishing up items - it's eating away at all of my time. And in the free time I do have, we've got senior things happening - Awards night, graduation, and more. It's amazing. It's awesome. I'm super proud, and I have only the tiniest bit of a stake in this. 

Things 11 Said To Me: I explained to her that Dad had made me zucchini lasagne. Her answer was, "Why would anyone eat that????" in a tone of absolute disgust. (Gluten sensitive, vegetarian  on aisle 5......)

Watching: Devious Maids. It's not just Susan Lucci's presence that makes this a soap opera. It's fun,  and Hulu is my new favorite thing! (I'm in Season 3. Total binge). 

Random: I hosted the world's worst Yard Sale. According to the Goodwill guy (where the stuff went after the hard fail), I had great things! But it rained. And I live in the country. And the balloons I had up disappeared during a quick inside trip - for the next 4 hours not one person stopped by..... The lesson there is location, location, location - next year I'll just rent a table at the church in town! But, on the upside I did manage to finally open and clear through those last 7 boxes I'd not opened in three moves!

Take-away - Adjust. Life is a constant series of changes. Keep your center strong and be ready to adjust. (Applies to yoga and life.) 


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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Musings - April 2018

It was a double travel month book-ended at the front and back of the month - which always seems to mean I run out of time - so I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date! (April!)

Books: Well, I didn't read everything in the picture but I did read more books than that! I finally managed to finish off The Way of the Witch - I do not recommend it, a mis-mash of mythologies and too wordy, to boot! (Off it went to my little free library!) On the subject of mythology, I finished Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology which was a grand retelling of the myths. I finished Finding Your Dream Network by J. Kelly Huey on the way home; and Career Kred by Ryan Rhoten on the way to Fort Worth. (And then spent quality time with the author at a Barnes & Noble later in the month!) I also discovered the Rylee Adamson series which is completely binge-worthy! The first 2 I picked up in paperback, and then I discovered Kindle Unlimited... $9.99 a month, and you can check out 10 books at a time! I powered through the whole 10 book series over the month + the first two books of the follow up series. Kindle Unlimited is very dangerous...

Gratitude: Lilac blooms. Unexpected parties. Kittens.

Listening to new podcasts. Bouquets of tulips. Clip-on earrings. Business insights by smart women. Quiet time while traveling. Good travel companions. Crazy laughter from "double chicken" and bi-pedal beavers.

Listening: Land of podcasts -->Marketing over Coffee. Susan Hyatt. Business Boutique. Chalene Johnson. Plus a whole lot of music by Halsey. (Castle is my new ringtone. Just saying...)


Perfumes: I continue to try to kill off the  Paper Flowers from Love and Toast - which I found out is by the same nose as my beloved Library of Flowers! I love that she created budget friendly and more exclusive options! My go-to alternative for the month was Pacifica's Jasmine Lime. This is a wonderful time to love natural products - there are more every day! The options are never-ending. Temptation is here, too, as I've found new perfume to try which I am on count down to buy!


Recipes: Something new month continues! I made Applesauce Bread. Similar to standard zucchini bread in recipe, but spiced out like Jericho's Apple Pie.



3 beaten eggs
3/4 cup of oil (EVOO)
2 cusp sugar 
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp clove
2 cups applesauce

Mix the beaten eggs and oil together, then add sugar and vanilla. Slowly hand blend all of the dry ingredients into the liquid/sugar mix. (I mix up all the dry ingredients, except the sugar, in a separate bowl.) When everything else is mixed, add the applesauce. Pour into 1 large flat pan or 2 loaf pans.

Bake at 325 for 1 hour.  When a fork comes out clean, the bread is done.
  

Self-Care: From last month's fun surprise box from Kismet, I pulled out the Kismet bronzer to try while I was in Fort Worth (pale legs aren't a Texas thing.) It's fantastic! Easy to apply, non-streaky. You couldn't ask for more. And, while attending 2 marketing conferences, I managed to meet two separate people who specialize in natural beauty! Now I have two new lines I want to try!
- Au Naturale Cosmetics (colors look gorgeous!)
- Wild West Skincare (organic at the next level)

Stress: Being forced to listen - for hours - to the others' inanity at a volume usually reserved for stadium concerts. Oyi. Headsets only go so far.

Things 11 Told Me: 
- See the pile of pink glitter on the beach? It's a dead mermaid.
- Everyone knows that if you have a yellow dot on the inside white part of your left eye, you're a clone.

Watching: So much HGTV and Chopped. Crazy amounts at every hotel. I recognize a watermelon radish on sight now!


Random: 1) So, 18 (the artistic one) won an art award! And 2) if you are going to Fort Worth, I recommend the restaurant Reata. Oh my! The food is amazing - there's also a great rooftop bar and a cigar bar! 

Take-away - Sometimes you only improve by inches. And that's okay. Give yourself the grace of time.


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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Musings - March 2018

New things are good, right? (That is, after all, what spring is about, new beginnings and trying new things.) This was one of those months when I tried a bunch of new things. Some of them were awesome (Kismet Cosmetics) and some were "interesting*. This may be because next month is my birthday. And it may be because I'm trying to make some positive changes.

Books: I'm still doing the thing where I read 10 pages per book a night of 3 books - one history, one fiction, and one business. (Except the JR Ward book which I just read straight through because mind-candy!) Which means, I'm making slow going on some of the longer books - especially if I have to miss a night due to exhaustion. As noted, I finished out J.R. Ward's The Beast (which, if you haven't been reading her whole series is just too involved to jump in.) It was on sale at the store - and sometimes a girl needs a treat. I also, finished out Amber Hurdle's The Bombshell Business Woman. (I would have edited it differently to be a lot less personal upfront, but after about chapter 3 - it's filled with solid business advice and a ton of resources. This one should be a must buy for entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially those in the service sector. It now sits squarely on my business book shelf.) The Way of the Witch is actually 3 novels in one. And I'm through the first 2. And here's my thought - the author is in love with long and unusual words that get in the way of the story. Also, so far, the  first and third are the better books. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn by Retha Warnicke is a very dense history book filled with superfluous names; this is one of the books that is benefiting from the 10 pages a day per book as it makes the information chunk very manageable. Local Dollars, Local Sense by Michael Shuman is an interesting premise of investing local that I started apres the Hurdle book.


Gratitude: So, I decided that I needed to re-align with a more pervasive spirit of gratitude. Which is why I re-connected with a gratitude journal a business friend wrote a few years ago. A nice nightly reminder to take 5 minutes and think about gratitude. And right now, I'm grateful for lilac buds, sunrises, beautiful skies, gracious friends, and the annual JC Penny dress sale.

Listening: The Bombshell Business Woman (podcast), Chalene Johnson (podcast), Susan Hyatt (podcast), Marketing Over Coffee (podcast) and tons of jazz. (Pandora is the best.)

Perfumes: This is the apex of my scented life. I've reached the point where I have upstairs perfume, downstairs perfume, purse perfume, and emergency office perfume. And that means I am certainly not sticking with any one scent! The emergency office perfume is a variety of DSH Perfume samples which I bought for that purpose. The current purse perfume is Pacifica's Tunisian Jasmine Lime roll-on. Upstairs is Paper Flowers. And, downstairs, I finished off the Magazine Street. Which was both sad, as I don't see a re-purchase in my near future due to pricepoint, and fun because now I get to try more stuff!

Recipes: One word for our recent late spring cold spell - casserole! I made the superfood, super nutritious quinoa casserole again. And folks, there is a secret to making quinoa. Rinse it first.  Here's the quinoa casserole recipe:
- Make quinoa according to package instructions. (I like red quinoa - which I rinse - and then make in the ratio of 1.5 cups quinoa to 3 cups of boiling water.)
- Cut and saute 1 sweet onion in a bit of olive oil (5-7 minutes)
- Cut the crowns off 2 heads of broccoli, rinse and separate the florets. Then throw them in the onion pan. After 2 minutes, add 1/4 cup of water and cover. Take off heat after 5 minutes.
- Add pre-cooked, butternut squash cut into squares to the onion/broccoli pan.
- In a large bowl - combine everything. Add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
- Transfer everything to a very lightly greased (EVOO) casserole pan. Top with 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
- Bake it for 20 minutes or so at 350 degrees (until cheese is bubbly and melty)

This is nutritious, surprisingly delicious and stores well for about a week in the fridge. In total it takes about 1 hour to make this but it's an easy hour.



Self-care: A couple of my brands had sales for various holidays. My favorite was from Kismet Cosmetics. I've bought a few lipsticks from them and I really want to like them as a start up US brand. (Since last time I shopped them, they now have this really cool new service were you send your picture and they help you pick your best lipstick color.) They had this nifty idea about a surprise box. You set your $ of purchase and the box, depending on your amount, had between 2 and 5 new products to try. I ended up with Country Roads lipstick, which is not a color I would have tried but works for summer/fall. I'm trying out the new bronzer next week in Texas, too. (Midwest pale legs versus a warm weather climate!) We will see how that goes.

The other thing I tried is a new (to me) fashion line called Cabi. A business friend, Elisabeth, introduced me to the idea of personal styling for those of us who are regular working people. I got a few new (and awesome) cardigans and jackets. (See top picture for a bit of one of the pretty color cardigans.) The price point is higher than I usually go, but not by much, and with Elisabeth's help I've chosen things coordinate with what I currently have - extending my wardrobe and making my style more current with these flattering wardrobe additions.

Stress: Do you ever think about how much of your stress is from your own thoughts? Sometimes I do! And a recent article I read about negative thoughts has given me a good bit of food for thought on that line plus a few new tools for dealing with stress you make yourself. 

Things 11 Told Me: 
- Anything is travel sized (1 - she's not wrong; 2 - I guess the idea of travel sized is lost on 11 year olds as they grab the full-sized version for a sleep-over and forget to bring the item home)

Watching: Designated Survivor, Queen Sugar, Nikita. (Apparently I'm trying to channel Maggie Q. Maybe it will make me want to exercise more!)

Random: Adventure ahead. You just have to choose it.



*Take-away - Chinese fortune cookie definition - "May you live in interesting times". You get to decide how if it is meant well or as a mild curse.


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