Archive for author: Steffy

Making a Great Smoothie for a Green Smoothie Diet

Have you ever tried to make your own green smoothie hoping to go on a green smoothie diet so that you can gain the benefits that these smoothies can offer you. Have your smoothies turned out just the opposite of what you expected them to turn out like? Did your green smoothie end up tasting a little bit bitter? That actually can be quite common if you’ve never made them before.

If you are serious about your green smoothie diet and want the smoothies to taste great also, here are a few simple rules that you can follow that will help you make great green smoothies and help your green smoothie diet be a success.

Choosing Your Greens

There are plenty of greens that you can pick from when it comes to making a good smoothie for your green smoothie diet. Two of the best ones that you can pick would be Swiss chard and kale. However, another one that many tend to skip over would be dandelion greens, something people have been using in recipes for centuries. If you are afraid of making your smoothie too bitter here is a short list of greens that are not bitter:

•    Bok choy
•    Napa cabbage
•    Beet greens
•    Broccoli
•    Butter lettuce
•    Mustard greens
•    Watercress
•    Spinach

Petroleum Jelly… On My Face?

Petroleum Jelly… On My Face?

I am an extremely fair skinned person. It could even be argued that somewhere buried deeply in my DNA is the genetic code for albinism. I am so fair skinned that to get my face as red as a strawberry, I simply have to lean over to tie my shoes.

When I was a little girl I had an incident with a flaming marshmallow on a camping trip with my grandparents. I caught my face on fire. I remember as an adult once again meeting a man who had been dating my oldest sister that summer. He hadn’t seen me since I was a little girl. He laughed and told me his strongest memory of me was seeing me running around town on my bicycle with Vaseline and zinc oxide slathered all over my face.

As an adult I am now not only dealing with skin issues because I am fair and left with sensitive skin after being burned. I am also entering menopause and having all sorts of dry skin unhappiness.

I have tried cheap creams and expensive creams. I have tried organic remedies and homemade ones. I could usually get plenty of moisturizing out of everything I tried. My real problem was that everything left my T-Zone burn aftermath red as a tomato. Also, my eyelids were always scaly no matter how faithful I was to moisturize.

What to do? Talk to a dermatologist. And what did the doctor advice? Did I walk away with half a dozen expensive prescriptions? Did I have a list a mile long detailing my new skin care regimen? No. I walked out with two words of advice. Petroleum jelly. Me mum was right all those years ago!

Halloween By Any Other Name

Halloween By Any Other Name

I was raised in a very religious household. The celebration of Halloween was forbidden. As a child, although I trusted my parents, I really could not see the harm in dressing up as some kind of fantasy character and traipsing door to door in my neighborhood asking for candy handouts. That seemed the perfect way for a precocious, imaginative child to spend an evening. But, that fun was not for me. Now that I am an adult with my own children, I feel the need to understand the history of the fall season celebrations so that I can set a good example for my own kids.

First of all, why the costumes? It seems about 2000 years ago, the Celts had a traditional celebration on November 1 that recognized the official end of summer. This was done by bringing in the harvest. The night before, October 31, they would build great bonfires and celebrate. They believed the season of the cold, dark winter that was beginning was associated with death because the days were shorter and nights longer. They feared the spirits of the dead tha would be running amok throughout the upcoming season would awaken that night so they dressed in costumes to scare them away.

And the traditional game of bobbing for apples? Why that? The Romans also had a festival held in late October in honor of Pomona who was the goddess of fruit trees. The apples was her traditional symbol. Eventually the Romans would conquer the land of the Celts. These two traditions blended together when they combined holiday customs. This, perhaps, is the how the popular Halloween party-game began.

The Noble Broom

The Noble Broom

Every morning while my coffee brews I sweep the birdseed from my patio. I have a bird feeder that sees a lot of action throughout the day and it is usually quite a mess. As I look at my metal handled, plastic bristled broom, I think of how utilitarian it appears. I am reminded of a beautiful handcrafted broom that is prominently displayed in my sister’s kitchen as a work of art. The polished wood handle has interesting twists at just the right places where hands would grip it. The straw bristles are a rich, deep maroon color, hand dyed. I love that broom and look disapprovingly at my own. What has this world come to? What exactly is the story of the broom? How has it fallen so low from a work of art to a household tool, forgotten and tucked away out of sight as an eyesore?

In ancient European homes the broom was an important tool. It was made of wood and straw and designed for the noble purpose of keeping the home and hearth clean. It was built to stand the test of time. Besom brooms were simple affairs. A bundle of twigs was tied together and then tied to a large tree branch. Because of these origins, the broom eventually became a symbol of the Tree of Life.

Early superstitions surrounding the broom resulted in the habit of hanging brooms bristle up. This was believed to create protection from evil spirits and negative energy, such as curses. I wonder if I hang my broom bristle up by the refrigerator it  will ward off my getting fatter and fatter? I consider getting fatter pretty negative and evil.

Creating A Family Disaster Kit

Creating A Family Disaster Kit

When I was a child, I grew up in an area that experienced seasonal tornadoes and flash floods. As an adult I have moved to a coastal region that experiences hurricanes and flash floods. Once, on vacation, I was right smack in the middle of an earthquake and didn’t have a clue as to what I should do.

All of this has taught me that disaster preparedness is very important. With climate change causing freak weather patterns all over the world, now, more than ever, every family should have a plan, be informed and be prepared. My feeling of fear and helplessness halfway across the country all by myself in an earthquake and clueless is something I don’t want to repeat or have my children go through.

When we hunkered down and survived one of the worst hurricanes in Texas history, we emerged from our home the next day to absolute devastation all around us. In the middle of a hot Texas summer there was no electricity and no gasoline to get the heck out of town to a place that had hotel vacancies and hot, running water.

My Son And The Great Debate

My son is taking a debate class this year in high school. I think he will probably ace the class because he is definitely an A-plus arguer at home. His dream is to become an attorney and participating on a debate team will help him develop strong skills for his future career in the courtroom.

However, learning to win arguments is not just what debate is about. This is just the sort of thing that helps children develop the skill of critical thinking. In order to bring forth an effective argument, one must use effective reasoning and logic to first come to a conclusion.

Of course, logic can be learned as students study science and mathematics. But, they do not learn to apply these skills in arguments of reason. That is a different skill altogether. To fully understand and master a particular subject, debate takes it to a whole other level. Whereas science and mathematics only require the problem to be solved, debate requires the problem to be explained to another person in order to persuade that person that your position is correct. This creates great clarity of mind.

As a person prepares to present their argument on a topic, they usually write down their thoughts, opinions and facts regarding the matter. As the argument begins to form, they often discover flaws in their logic or gaps of information that require explanation. This is how critical thinking begins to be developed as they construct sound arguments.

A Healthy, Happy, Giving Fall

A Healthy, Happy, Giving Fall

After the oppressive heat of the last month of summer, I am so happy when that first chill of fall is felt in the air early in the morning. It is so refreshing. I begin to think of colorful leaves, apples and pumpkins. By this time I have usually been slacking a bit where my workouts are concerned because of the intense summer heat where I live. I rarely poke my head outside. As I fantasize about caramel apples and sweet potato pie, my nostalgia gets a rude awakening when I spy the scale in the corner of the bathroom. Time for a reality check.

This is also the time of year when it seems to be one holiday celebration right after another. It’s not just the season for colorful leaves. It’s also the season for over indulgence. Charlie Brown may have his Great Pumpkin, but, come December, if I’m not careful, I could very well be dubbed the Great Plumpkin.

Is there a way to indulge in traditional holiday eating and do it in a healthy way?  Well, pumpkins are full of vitamins A and C. The seeds are packed with phytosterols which help lower cholesterol levels. Roasted pumpkin seeds can then be an official healthy holiday snack. They can also be used to garnish dishes like soups and salads.

The Geometry Of The Woman’s Body

The Geometry Of The Woman’s Body

Very soon it will be that time of year that this stay-at-home mom goes forth into the workplace for a temporary infusion of income that pays for our family’s holiday expenses and, any extra left over goes toward the vacation fund. The season of Prom is where this mom makes the bank. This will be the eighth year I will show up at a certain boutique within walking distance of my front door and get hired on the spot by a lovely couple who need extra help about three months every year.

I love this job. I especially love the gorgeous dresses and getting to play dress up with the lovely teenage girls that come in to shop. Being a mother of only boys I suppose it fills a void in my life in addition to filling my holiday cash stash. Over the years this stay-at-home mom who dresses for comfort has learned to be an expert at dressing each body shape beautifully.

One of my most beautiful memories was of a mother and her two adult daughters who were shopping for ball gowns. They were all extremely short and the only significant thing about their body shape is that they were all round. They entered the store uninterested and unexcited. They did not believe they would be able to find any dresses that would make them feel beautiful. I soon had them tightly cinched into corset style gowns that created the perfect hourglass for any figure. By the time they left they were all smiles and laughter. That’s why I love this job.

So, for all you ladies out there of all the various shapes and sizes, this information is all about you. Stand in front of a mirror and appraise your general shape. Think geometry. Perhaps you are a triangle (or pear), larger at the bottom. You may be a wedge, or apple, if you are broad shouldered and narrow hipped. If you are curvy and proportioned evenly, you are an hourglass. If you are like me, straight up and down, you would be a rectangle. After you determine your body classification you can then find the “silhouette” that you should shop for when buying a new dress:

How To Travel Successfully With Kids

How To Travel Successfully With Kids

Have you ever traveled with kids? I have. But the real question is, “Have you ever successfully traveled with kids?” I can honestly say I do successfully travel with kids.

Traveling internationally to see extended family, my biggest fear is always of getting separated from one of my children in an airport. My second biggest fear is that one of my children will start screaming mid-flight and refuse to be comforted.  I never want to be “that” parent. Here are some of my best travel tips:

Nap Time:  When I travel with my toddlers, I try to manage itinerary schedules so that whenever it’s nap time, we are settled in whatever vehicle we are traveling in, whether plane, train, bus, ship or automobile.

Pack For Distraction: Good diversions to pack: books, dolls with only a few accessories (NO tiny accessories), ear buds to use for technology, suckers to alleviate flight take-off ear pressure, coloring books with crayons (NO markers or colored pencils).

Security: I opt for the old fashioned metal detector putting everything through the X-ray machine conveyor belt if I have a stroller. The full body scanner never seems to work out well with the stroller issue. If I’m traveling with the older kids, we love the full body scanner. It’s a great way for the kids to poke fun at my soft, round body. It’s also a time and task saver.

Chanel No. 5

Chanel No. 5

For years it has been tradition in our household for the family to give me Chanel No. 5 perfume as a gift on my birthday. I look forward to that day every year. I love that fabulous scent that makes me feel so glamourous when I wear it. My birthday is coming up soon and I have been thinking not of that pretty little bottle I will soon be receiving, but, rather, the woman of inspiration behind the bottle. She was quite a firebrand for her time. When I consider how she lost her mother at such a young age and was then abandoned by her father, yet pushed forward and created not only a life but an incredible legacy, I am amazed and humbled. Not only will I feel glamorous the next time I wear a few precious drops of scent, I will feel empowered, inspired and invincible.

Coco Chanel was born in 1883, another century! She blazed a path as a woman in an industry that was dominated by men. She was famous for wearing suits in a time when women only wore dresses. When she did wear a dress, it was almost always a sophisticated little black dress. That may seem to be no big deal today, but, during her time, it was very controversial.

An orphan who grew up in France, she was taught to sew by the nuns in the orphanage. It’s no wonder she was strong, independent and knew everything about fashion. When she was a young woman in her twenties, she opened her first clothing store in 1910. At first, she only sold hats. She was so successful; she opened two more stores and began designing and making clothes. Her famous quote “luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury” sums up her fashion design ideology.

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