Thursday, February 5, 2015

Trader Joe's Banana Bread -- is it Buzz Worthy?

My hip, 80 year old neighbor Helen told me I needed to try Trader Joe's boxed banana bread mix.  Her tip was to add one ripe banana to the ingredients which calls for the basics -- two eggs, oil and water.  As I type this I wonder if next time instead of water I tried orange juice.

Anyway, I made a box of it last night before bed so it would be ready for Miss Bee's breakfast this morning.  I always add my own touch of sprinkling the top with cinnamon sugar so it makes a nice crust.

I had a slice this morning with my coffee and it was really, really good.  It wasn't dry and had lots of flavor.  This would make a great staple to keep on hand in the pantry.  I think it was $2.99 for a box.  You could make a fun gift basket with a box of this and include a bag of coffee or box of tea, a few bananas, a tea towel and a magazine.  It is definitely buzz worthy!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Best of Earnie -- Her Brunswick Stew

Enjoy Memory Monday with a re-post of a "Best of Earnie" post from November 13, 2012...

We like to come up with all sorts of engaging activites for our residents at Windwood Trail Haus. Earnie's homework, and activity in the Day Room on Monday, was making her famous Brunswick Stew.

When I was growing up she made this all the time. It never occurred to me that when I be-bopped into her room Sunday night to give Earnie her little last call cookie that she would look at me blankly when I suggested she make it for Monday's dinner. She said it had been so long since she made it she wasn't sure what the ingredients were. Actually, I don't recall her making it since she and Ray moved in back in 2007.

Earnie has a stock pile of recipes in a box. All kinds, mostly ones she has cut out from the paper over the years. I suggested she take a look see in her box of recipes and maybe that might trigger it for her. Good brain work going on here, I was thinking. She found the recipe, although I am not sure it's the actual one she used to prepare. But, it's pretty close.

Apparently, Earnie stayed up until 2 a.m. looking for the damn recipe. Meanwhile, she was doing something to her computer. It was about that time that I was woken up from a sound sleep hearing the musical stylings of Susan Boyle down in Earnie's room. I had all four cats on top of me and even they were jolted from sleep. They flew off the bed, while I sat straight up thinking maybe I had died in the night and this was the introductory song they sing as you enter the gates of heaven. I'm sure my hair looked a fright, too. I didn't see Jesus anywhere, so I figured I was still alive. After about 3 minutes of this musical snack, I got out of bed thinking, "I know Earnie has hearing loss, but geesh, this is loud." I started to make my way out of the room and she must have figured out how to turn it off. When I left for work, I left her this note:

Back to the stew...We had hot, steaming bowls of this last night for dinner with Miss Bee's cornbread. The cool front had blown in so it was a perfect night for Earnie's stew. Susan Boyle didn't make an encore performance last night so it was a good night's sleep for everyone.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday School -- Lavender Oil

Saturday School:  Oils 101
Today's Topic -- Lavender

I've shared that one of my personal goals in the new year is to learn more about essential oils and how they can help me achieve physical and mental wellness.  So I thought on Saturdays I would share some interesting tips on the various oils through Young Living.

Today's report will be on Lavender -- known as the "Swiss Arm Knife" of all the essential oils.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has a fresh, sweet, floral, herbaceous aroma that is soothing and refreshing. Because it is the most versatile of all essential oils, no home should be without it. Lavender is an adaptogen, and therefore can assist the body when adapting to stress or imbalances. It is a great aid for relaxing and winding down before bedtime, yet has balancing properties that can also boost stamina and energy. Therapeutic-grade lavender is highly regarded for skin and beauty. It may be used to soothe and cleanse common cuts, bruises, and skin irritations. The French scientist René Gattefossé was among the first to discover these properties when he was severely burned in a laboratory explosion. Lavender may also be used to enhance the flavor of foods.  It takes 27 square feet of lavender plants to make one 15 ml. bottle of oil!

An easy way to use the oil is to put a few drops into your palms, rub your hands together and inhale the oil through your nose.  Then rub the oil on the back of your neck and on your ear lobes.  It's also a great oil to take with you to massage appointments.  Ask the masseuse to mix the oil with their non-scented carrier oil and you will have a spa like experience.

But there are many more ways to use this mighty oil...

  • It eases dry, irritated skin (so basically right now in the dead of winter)
  • Calms nerves
  • It's a mood balancer
  • Helps with allergy relief -- this is a big one.  I have really been having trouble with my allergies lately.  I've been putting a small drop of oil just underneath my nose and it helps me to breath easier and not feel so stopped up.
  • Aids in burn healing
  • Nosebleed relief (a common problem during a dry winter)
  • Eases sunburn pain -- this would make a great oil to put in your beach bag
  • Soothes common cuts and bruises -- I've been putting it on my dry cuticles and cracked thumbs at night before bed.
Recently, Miss Bee was complaining of menstrual cramps and just feeling blah.  I rubbed her abdomen with a few drops of the oil, mixed it with some non-scented lotion and massaged her feet, and put a heating pad on the low setting on her abdomen.  I looked over at her about 10 minutes later and she was sound asleep.  That's a great testimony to me that it helped her achieve relaxation.

You can purchase Lavender oil directly here through Young Living.  You can either purchase it at the retail price or become a wholesaler and save 24% on your purchase.  My wholesaler ID (2373462) is below to help you with processing your order.  Next week, I'll be back to show you some gorgeous pics of the Young Living farm.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Food Friday -- Cinnamon Bun Cake

Miss Bee had a study sleepover last night with a friend and asked me if I would make muffins or coffee cake for them for breakfast.  I found a recipe on Pinterest recently so I decided it was easy enough to make on a work day morning.  In case you want the recipe for later it's pinned to my bread and muffins board.  BTW...I rarely crack open any of my cookbooks lately.  I wonder if searching the web and resources like Pinterest have affected cookbook sales...

So you don't have to go straight to the site (source: I'll just give you the recipe below:


3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 TBL flour
1 TBL cinnamon


2 cups powdered sugar
5 TBL milk or half and half
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9x13 baking pan.

Mix all the base ingredients together, with the exception of the butter.  Add the butter last to the base and then pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

Mix all of the topping ingredients together in a separate bowl, you may have to use two knives to break up the softened butter so the mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly on top of the base.  Bake for 28-30 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze and set aside.

Remove the cake from the oven and pour on the glaze.

Kick the kids out of the house and give your spouse a list of errands to run.  Take pan to your bedroom, and whilst still in your pjs, eat the entire pan with a good cup of coffee.  Yes, it's that good.

What will you be making this weekend?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My journey to One Thousand Gifts


I have been reading Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts.  We were asked to read it for small group book study at church.  I have become intrigued by her message of expressing gratitude for even the smallest of daily gifts.  She challenged herself to record her daily gifts -- 1,000 total -- over a course of a year.  Intertwined with scripture, Ann shares that the gifts need to be spreading jam on a hot piece of toast, or the greeting of a red bird sitting on the fence.  That to focus on the smallest of gifts makes us slow down and appreciate all of God's gifts -- even the painful ones.  She encourages us to consider the list as a "love letter" to God.

Ann's website A Holy Experience is a beautiful free resource for inspiration.  She even has a section of down loadable artwork, bookmarks and lots of ideas of how to journal your gifts.

My boss gave me the prettiest journal with a note that said, "A new year is like a blank book.  I hope you write an amazing story this year."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Being Oily in 2015

My 2015 resolution is to learn more about incorporating essential oils in my life.  Oils have been around for thousands of years, but recently have become a popular subject especially for people who want to replace traditional over-the-counter medicine for essential oils.

I did a little research and decided to try the line of oils from Young Living Essential Oils.  I purchased their starter kit as a wholesaler so I can buy products at a discount when I want to.  I started pinning things to my Pinterest board on essential oils so I can learn how to use the oils and blends to put into my nifty new diffuser that came in my kit.

It's like a tiny humidifier so it's good for your skin.  An added bonus is that you can add drops of essential oils in the water reservoir and it diffuses the scent of the oils. There are recipes on Pinterest for creating a blend of scents.  I have been enjoying lavender at night while I am sleeping, and this morning while I was getting ready I used the Release blend which is a mixture of Ylang ylang, lavandin, geranium, sandalwood and blue tansy.  It was so calming, yet refreshing.

Yesterday, I noticed muscle stiffness in my neck and out of habit went straight for the medicine cabinet to take an ibuprofen and stopped myself.  Why not try the Pan Away oil I have instead?  I applied it and just the smell of the wintergreen was so therapeutic.  I was able to use the oil instead of seeking relief from medication.

This is my disclaimer to my last statement:  I am a registered nurse.  I do not support nor advocate you discontinue your medication prescribed by your physician to replace them with essential oils.  If you are considering doing this, I strongly urge you to work in partnership with your physician to discuss your interest in using oils and how they may interact with your currently prescribed medication.

I'll try to give you a new tip each week as I start my oily journey toward a healthier 2015.  If you want information on how to become a distributor let me know and I'll pass along the information.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Orange Slice Candy Cake

Over the holiday I tried a new recipe for cake using those sugared, orange slice candies that have been in stores for a hundred years (probably the same exact bags have been hanging there for hundred years on the display).  I don't know why, but I am strangely attracted to them and like to eat them.  Not a lot at one time, but a few here and there.  My mother had a friend that made a fruit-cake consistency orange slice candy for Christmas every year.  Then, I spied a bowl of orange slice candy next to my man neighbors chair.  He said it was his favorite candy and that his aunt used to make a cake with them.  So, I was inspired to help him out by finding a recipe.

I found one on Pinterest via the Happy Cooker Blog.  It was really good.  I chose to make smaller bundt cake servings instead of one big cake so I could share them with neighbors.

Mr. Bee's review was that the cakes were good, but I needed to chop the candy pieces a little smaller.  Even though the recipe included mixing the candies with flour to prevent settling, they still did sink to the bottom.  I think the cakes were also better slightly warm. But, nonetheless, it was a good cake and I'm glad I tried the recipe.  There are other similar ones on my cake Pinterest board I may try for comparison.

Why don't you try out a new recipe this weekend?