Healthy Lifestyle Ideas

Monday, December 19, 2011

And here's the Christmas ATC I made for my partner...

The theme of this ATC trade was: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. When I first thought about the theme, the ghost of Christmas Present came to mind - the one with the little starved children hiding behind his robe. Here's what I came up with for my swap partner, Donna.  I used card stock, faux fur, fabric roping and glitter to give it a lot of texture. It was great fun to make. ATC Trade

Wonderful surprise in my mailbox!

 I was thrilled to open the ATC from my December partner, Donna Reinhar in the ATC Trade at  Thanks so much Donna, it is amazing! The theme of the swap was A Christmas Carol by Dickens and Donna chose to highlight Tiny Tim. She wrapped the ATC in a clever way, using a Simplicity pattern. And she included a postcard from 1913 in the envelope! It was a true delight to receive this in the mail.  And thanks also to Wendy for hosting this swap.
1913 Christmas Postcard to: Miss Mabel Whittenberger of Greenville, PA

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Ornaments I received!

I was thrilled to open a package from Ginger  Hollner, who sent two really sweet ornaments. The color preference I'd mentioned was for blue, and she did a great job, making both ornaments.  I think they look great on my tree.

The Christmas Ornament Swap was Fun!

Here's a photo of the ornament I bought on the left, and the one I made on the right for my swap partner Ginger for the Bloggerette Christmas Ornament Swap. It was a lot of fun! The homemade ornament is ATC size.

Friday, December 9, 2011

An Encaustic ATC

I was thrilled to receive this beautiful encaustic (hot wax) ATC from artist Sally Arnold. It is absolutely stunning. I've never seen anything like it. The hot wax is such an interesting medium. Thanks so much Sally!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Christmas Ornament Giveaway!

It's a Christmas Ornament Giveaway!    I'll be giving away two gorgeous Christmas ornaments.

The first one is this Lenox Crystal Ornament made in Germany, circa 1990. It's a gorgeous full lead crystal beauty.

The second one in the giveaway is this beautiful set, a crocheted Teapot and Teacup. They are beautifully shaped and starched well enough to be hung from your tree. And they are absolutely precious!
So here's how to enter this giveaway:
1. Be a follower of
2. Leave a comment on this post and let me know     which gift you'd prefer to receive.
3. Re-post this Giveaway on your blog.
Good Luck! I'll make a random draw of the two winners on Friday, December 16, 2011.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Here's a collage ATC I made for my November swap partner, Donna at using all handmade paper for the turkey. It was a lot of fun to make and I hope Donna enjoys it. And thanks to for hosting the swap!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Take the Starch & Sugar Eaters Anonymous Club Pledge

O.K., so the acronym will be SSEA. It's easy to remember. Just say "Sorry, I can't have that (fill in the blank food item) because I've taken the SSEA pledge". And here's the pledge:

"I will think about my meals ahead of time and limit the amount of starches and sugars I consume by being smart about my choices." And also say: "I pledge not to mindlessly eat chips or bread brought to the table at restaurants. I will resist it or better yet ask the waitstaff to not bring it to the table". Also, "If I'm at a party and feel tempted to indulge in a dessert or snack food, I will limit myself to 3 tiny bites and throw the rest away." Remember, better in the trash than on your hips. And then say "I pledge to not buy snack foods that will tempt me. And I pledge not to buy or make delicious looking bread, biscuits, rolls or pasta dishes because I won't be able to resist them and my family won't even miss them if I leave them off the menu. And I pledge not to bake holiday cookies and desserts (because I can't resist eating them when they're hot out of the oven). If my children want a holiday cookie, I will take them to the bakery and let them pick out a cookie. I don't need a dozen of them on my kitchen counter. And I pledge to not make my own favorite starch and/or sugar laden desserts or side dishes this year, but will think of alternatives and be smart about what I put on the table.  And I will keep reminding myself that 'it's just a meal' and it doesn't have to have those dishes that put on weight like macaroni & cheese and sweet  potatoes with marshmallow topping. I can come up with alternatives that are tasty and healthier for everyone in my family".

So that's the pledge.  Let me know if you lose any weight by cutting out starches and sugars during the holiday season. My goal is to lose 5 lbs. by the 1st of December and another 5 by Christmas. Good luck!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kid ATC Swap Sign Up Deadline is Coming Up

Tomorrow is the deadline to enter the November Kid ATC Swap. The theme is Thanksgiving and it's going to be a lot of fun for the kids. I'll be assigning the partners Tuesday morning so be sure to forward this on to any parents who have kids that want to trade ATC's. More info is on the new blog
 Here's a couple of cute kid ATCs from Halloween.

Pepper Plants are Still Producing

I can't believe how resilient the banana, bell and cherry pepper plants are in my garden. They're the only plants leftover from summer and they're still producing, even though the temperatures are in the upper 30's to low 40's at night.

I wanted to use them for dinner tonight so I put them in a delicious tuna casserole

Quick & Easy Tuna Casserole
*I've been making this recipe for years. It's a comfort food for us. I sometimes add other veggies- like tonight I added sliced carrots along with the other peppers  from the garden. I usually leave the onions and bell pepper raw, but since I was adding sliced carrots, I sauteed all the veggies for 5 min. before adding them in.
2 cans tuna (in water) drained
1 can of condensed Cream of Celery Soup
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 medium bell pepper, chopped
dash of pepper
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar (or favorite) cheese
2 - 3 cups of Egg noodles, cooked al dente' & drained (I cut back on the amt. of noodles when I'm dieting)
Mix soup and mayo well and combine with other ingredients in a casserole dish, adding cheese last. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 15-20 minutes (or until cheese has melted and casserole is bubbly).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Favorite Stuffed Olives

I thought I'd take a picture of the stuffed olives I like to use in my Mexican Martinis for Tee.  Thanks for the question, Tee. I really like the jalapeno ones, but also have tried the garlic and almond stuffed ones. Then I saw the blue cheese and dried tomato stuffed olives and had to have them too. Yum!!
I'm able to find them in my local stores (Ingles, Kroger and Publix).

Have you ever heard of a Tussie Mussie?

I recently learned how to make Tussie Mussies which are tight, compact bouquets of flowers that you can make straight from the garden and they are wonderful to give as a gift because you can carry them in your hand and they stay fresh for a long time. I'd heard of nosegays but never the term Tussie Mussie. There's quite a history behind the idea of the little bouquets - and not just Victorian. The idea of the tussie mussie goes  back to the medieval times, but they were especially popular during Queen Victoria's time.

I made three different looking tussie mussies and put them into small containers filled with water. Depending on the flowers used, they can stay fresh looking a long time out of water and that's why they make such a great little gift to give out. I also love the look of them on a dining room table because they're low and they look beautiful all lined up.

You use floral tape and wrap each stem as it's added to the bouquet. The greenery is added last and then all is wrapped one final time so that its easy to hold. I wrapped the one on the left a little too loose. The one on the right was wrapped better.

The rose one to the right was the most delicate. It was out of water for 2 hrs and started to look a little wilty by the second end.

The tussie mussie below is larger than the other two, but the bouquets can be quite big (as big as a bridal bouquet).

If it still fits in your hand and is tight and compact, it's a tussie mussie. They can also be made out of just greenery, using herbs and fragrant leaves which I think would be gorgeous, especially for the holidays.  Special thanks to Master Gardener Becky and thanks to her sister, Sally, who I learned later is an amazing mixed media artist who has artwork featured in many galleries.   I've placed the link to her blogsite on her name.  I'm sure I'll be making lots of Tussie Mussies in the future.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Children's ATC Swap for Thanksgiving and Christmas (Please Re-Post)

I am hosting an ATC swap for kids, ages 4 - 15 (ages are not set in stone) for Thanksgiving and Christmas. *Please re-post this on your blog if you know of any artistic children who might enjoy an ATC swap.  Thanks!!
Also my new blog for the kid ATC swap is:

The Thanksgiving Swap is open for sign-up now through  November 7 and the deadline for mailing out the ATC is November 15.
The Christmas ATC Swap sign-up is open now through December 7 with a  mail out deadline of December 15.

Send me an email if you have a child interested in this swap and I'll send you the details. My email address is

Special Halloween Gifts Received

My middle daughter is reading the Harry Potter series and was thrilled to receive this wonderful spell book and quill made by my friend Wendy.  Wendy also gave me a tiny folding book that's amazing. Thanks Wendy!

How to Lose Weight During the Holidays

I hope you all had a nice Halloween. It was a lot of fun for us - the weather was wonderful and we didn't have much candy left over (thank goodness). I've been thinking recently about  how to make it through the holidays this year and not gain extra weight, so I came up with  this little dessert using fresh fruit.  Orange and chocolate flavors are such a classic combination, so I melted one small mini Hershey bar (left over Halloween candy) and drizzled it over the orange.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mexican Martini Recipe

On a recent trip to Texas to visit my sister Sandy, she shared this wonderful recipe for a Mexican Martinis. The fresh orange, lemon and lime juice along with the heat of the jalapeno stuffed olives make for fantastic combination. It actually tastes healthy (except for the liquor part). Thanks sis for this recipe. It's now a favorite of mine. 

Mexican Martini
1 (small) shot of good quality Tequila - 100% Agave
Splash of Orange Liqueur (such as Triple Sec or La Belle Orange)
Juice of 1 small Lemon
Juice of 1/2 small Lime
1/4 cup Fresh Orange Juice
1 -2 Olives stuffed with Jalapenos or Almonds (the Jalapenos are the best)
Splash of  Olive Juice

Shake or stir with ice, and strain into martini glass (rim-salted if desired) and enjoy! Serves 1 so double as needed.

Tomato Lutece Recipe

I know garden ripe tomato season is over for this year, at least where I live, but I received a recipe from a neighbor this past summer and wanted to share it. It is an amazing way to serve tomatoes on a platter as a side dish and it is absolutely delicious. If you get 'vine ripe' tomatoes at the grocery store, the taste will be almost as good as using tomatoes out of the garden.  This is a recipe to memorize for sure.

Tomato Lutece
6-8 Vine Ripe Tomatoes, sliced 1/2" thick
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf Parsley, chopped
1 clove Garlic, crushed
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Cider Vinegar
2 tsp. prepared Mustard

Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick and arrange on a platter. Combine remaining ingredients in small jar and shake well. Pour over sliced tomatoes and let marinate at room temperature for  20 min. before serving. Enjoy!

ATC That I Made For My Swap Partner Amy Jo

I made this ATC for Amy Jo, my swap partner in the Autumn/Fall ATC swap hosted by Tee at Thanks Tee for hosting the swap. It was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween ATC I Made for Celia

Here's a 'Bride of Frankenstein' ATC that I made for Celia, my swap partner, with a theme of "Movie Monsters". Thanks to for hosting the swap!

Wonderfully Spooky Halloween ATC

I received this wonderful Halloween ATC from Celia with the theme from Wendy's ATC swap: "Movie Monsters". Celia cleverly worked in the book/movie: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" on this ATC. The tiny owl has a real feather and the text from a page in the book is the background. And in the upper corner, the stamp and the inspiration for her theme. Great job Celia, I love it!!  She also sent some really cute and much appreciated goodies.
Artist: Celia

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Kid Halloween ATC

Here's one that my 9 year old daughter made for her younger sister. She really likes a collage look on her ATC's.
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Children's Artist Trading Cards

My daughter received these 2 amazing Halloween ATC's from Lindsay, age 10. Thanks Lindsay! They are beautiful and very sophisticated!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bucket Load of Fall Flowers

Here's a 5 gallon bucket full of flowers I picked today. It represents about 1/20th of the crimson colored mums in my backyard! The yellow mums are still blooming, but it's now time for the dark crimson colored mums to do their thing, along with the purple daisies and  yellow goldenrod.

These purple daises looked best in a more casual container.

Here's the total number of arrangements I was able to make out of the bucket of flowers. Enough to spread throughout the house.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Watermelon Rind Preserves

Well, I spent the better part of a day following the recipe for Watermelon Rind Preserves from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and here's a picture of the final product. Looks more like pickles don't you think? I chose not to add red food coloring to make it look like watermelon flesh because it's not made of the flesh - it's made of the rind, after-all.  And the final word on how it tastes..... 'I  don't like it.' was all I heard and I agree - and I'm a fruit preserve lover (I even love pepper jelly and cactus jams). But I don't care for this at all. Now, what am I going to do with 6 jars of this stuff?  They have a pickle like texture and there's just not enough of a watermelon flavor.  Actually I can't taste any watermelon flavor in it, just sugar syrup with flavorings from the lemon and ginger. Any ideas on how to use up these preserves?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Nutrition at the Schools

I'm very passionate about keeping tuned in to what's being served to kids at the schools these days. A healthy diet is right up there in importance with a good education. They go hand in hand. Neglect either and your child or grandchild will suffer. Please sign the petition at Jamie Oliver's website to help make changes to what the school systems are serving our kids. I've been on this band wagon even before the first Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution show aired.  I spoke to the local school board and have been in contact with the board's nutritionist to voice my concerns. We can't stop caring about this issue. There's been several improvements that I'm happy about, but if we stop caring, they'll revert back to serving more processed foods. I'm still battling the nutritionist over the flavored milk issue. Thanks!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Kid's Artwork

My two youngest kids went to art camp this summer and I was so impressed with 2 paintings/drawings that I framed them. The theme of the camp was Pop Art.
My youngest artist is 6 years old. I think she did a great job and I love the button border.

This piece was done by my middle child who's 9 years old. The black contrast made it very dramatic!

Pumpkin and Watermelon Havested the Same Week

It was really strange to be gathering up watermelon and pumpkin from my garden the same week. I must have planted the pumpkin too early and the watermelon too late!  Today  I'm  making watermelon rind preserves so I can make this final watermelon of the season last into the fall. The first step to making the preserves took a while because I had to peel and cut the rind up small 1" pieces and now those pieces are soaking in salt water (a 5 hr soak). I can't wait to taste the final product. I've never tried watermelon rind preserves before. Hope it's good.

I had on a few small sugar pumpkins to harvest. I haven't had much luck growing them organically. It was a big disappointment.  But I took my small harvest & immediately cooked the pumpkins, made a couple of pies and froze the rest.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Passion Flower Fruit

There's a wild passion flower vine on the side of my house that's been blooming like crazy this year and I was thrilled to see fruit on the vine. The first day I picked the fruit I left them out on the counter, not knowing how delicate they are and they wrinkled up quickly. This time I've refrigerated them and will  juice them in the a.m. I hope they're ripe, but if I leave them on the vine any longer they'll get eaten by all the critters around my yard so it's now or never.