> Bless Their Hearts Mom: December 2009
Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon..............

Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own....


Book Review: Day is Done by Peter Yarrow

Peter Yarrow follows the blockbuster success of Puff, the Magic Dragon (one of my daughter’s FAVORITE books- we even had to buy her the matching stuffed dragon!) with a picture book version of his beautiful song, “Day Is Done.”

We were lucky to have Sterling Press send us a copy of Day is Done to review. My daughter was thrilled!

The story follows the song: As night falls, animal and human parents everywhere tenderly tuck their children into bed. In the darkness, each child—raccoon, doe, rabbit, field mouse, and a little boy—wonders: Will I be safe? Will you be there for me? And every mommy and daddy responds with the comforting words of Yarrow’s refrain: “I am here.”To a toddler, nothing is more reassuring that hearing their parent is there comforting them as they fall asleep.

You’ll find yourself humming as you say the words and if you’re like me, on the 2nd re-reading (you know toddlers, once is NOT enough), you’ll be singing the words! I was enchanted when my daughter started singing along by the 3rd page! but, I’ve sung Puff to her since she was practically newborn, so it probably shouldn’t really be a surprise.

As a bonus, there is also an included 3 song cd- Day is Done, I Know Where I'm Going and Dona, Dona, Dona. Joining Peter is his daughter Bethany. I like to play it before we read the book- it helops my daughter get more into the story (now that we've read it 20 times! ).

I wish I had a photo of my daughter enjoying the book, but she only likes reading it before bed (“it’s a bed time book” Momma, she said), and she hates having her photo taken then- she just wants to cuddle, read and relax! No paparazzi time! Oh well………….

Melissa Sweet’s gorgeous artwork images  celebrate the loving bond between parent and child, as well as the connection between all creatures of the earth.  You’ll find yourself looking at the artwork again and again, as it is so VIVID and enchanting!

This is one of those books you buy and you know you will be passing in on for generations! I can’t recommend it enough. Actually I can;t recommend ALL of Peter Yarrow’s books enough! His sing-along series is also enchanting, but then they’re the songs I remember him singing from his Peter, Paul and Mary concerts (which were frequent fare in our household)! Sometimes the older songs are just Better- no questionable lyrics and easy tunes to sing with!
So go check it out all his books, especially Day is Done today!
Peter Yarrow is a member of the iconic ’60’s folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary. Along with Lenny Lipton, he is the author of the beloved song and now hit book Puff, the Magic Dragon. In addition to extensive touring and performing, Peter is active in Operation Respect, an organization that promotes anti-bullying awareness in schools across the country.

Melissa Sweet has illustrated more than 40 children’s books, including the 2008 Caldecott Honor winner A River of Words, which was also listed as a New York Times Top Ten Children’s Book of the Year. The New York Times Book Review listed Carmine: A Little More Red (Houghton Mifflin, 2005)—which she both wrote and illustrated—among its Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year, and The Boy Who Drew Birds (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) was a New York Public Library Best Book for 2004.

Disclosure: I received a review copy from  Sterling Press, free of charge, for me to review. I was NOT told how to review the products.

New Year, New Chores?

My daughter is almost 3 (eek, WHERE did the time GO?) and I am thinking it's time for a chore chart.

But I was looking for something simple that I could alter as needed.

And wouldn't you know, Disney sends me the PERFECT one today in an email!

The chart is in a pdf file and after you download it, you could add your own clip art, OR allow your child to
decorate it via coloring/stickers.

Check it out and see what you think!

Thanks Disney Family Fun Weekender for the chart and graphic!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednessday: Christmas Memories


Shhhhh. I want a horsee! Don't tell MOM !
AKA- the REAL reason she could NOT go to sleep-
she kept hearing the 'deer' on the roof!

Not bad for a 2 1/2 yr old! 

Penguin or gingerbread person? You decide, we couldn't!!!

 Daughter left Santa an Angel cookie, so he left her a Cinderella snow globe- like in
the Santa Clause movie with Tim Allen....ahhhhhhh


(and yes, fashion police, that IS a matching hat to the decor on the horse! HA)

"No, her name is NOT Emma- It's ZIVA. The other one is Abby, Like with Mark...."
Ok dokey then, somebody needs to cut DOWN on their Mark Harmon/NCIS TV time,
no matter HOW much she loves him!

All good days start by strapping on the helmet and jacket,
and going for a ride on "the bike",
really cool since those big tires make GRRRRR GRRRRR sounds!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mail Box Tuesday/ GIVEAWAY/CLOSED: General Mills Cereal- Now Better for You!

I LOVE getting FREE stuff in the mail- it's like hitting a lottery when you open the envelope/box isn't it?

Well, this past week General Mills provided me with a gift pack of 4 free cereals through MyBlogSpark, to showcase, and introduce me to, their new commitment to reduce sugar in their cereals.

General Mills wants to help your family come together at the breakfast table every morning in a more healthy way, so they have further reduced the amount of sugar in cereals, that are advertised to kids under 12, to single digit grams of sugar per serving. These cereals include Trix, Apple-Cinammon Cheerios, Lucky Charms (regular and chocolate), FrankenBerry, BooBerry, Cocoa Puffs, Reese Puffs, Cookie Crisp, and Frosted Cheerios. The company has already been reducing sugar in cereals while increasing key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, and providing whole grain.
Did you know that ready-to-eat cereal eaters consume less fat, less cholesterol and more fiber than non-cereal eaters? Cereals also deliver important vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, making cereal a top source of key nutrients in children´s diets.

Other cereal benefits:
  • Ready-to-eat cereals, including pre-sweetened cereals, account for only 5% of sugar in children´s diets.

  • Ready-to-eat cereal is the No. 1 source of whole grains in a child´s diet today.
  • More frequent cereal eaters tend to have healthier body weights and lower Body Mass Index measures.

    (Sorta makes you rethink YOUR breakfast choices, doesn't it!)

    A 1998 study showed that children who eat breakfast tend to perform better at school. Compared to children who skip breakfast, children who eat breakfast score higher on tests, are less likely to miss class or be tardy, have fewer reported discipline problems, and make fewer trips to the office.

    For more information about kids and cereals, please visit Cereal Health and Wellness.

    We are fans of Honey Nut Cheerios and Chex in our house, and one of the reasons my daughter hasn't been allowed any of the 'kids' cereals, is because of the sugar content, so I was curious as to how the reduced sugar cereals would taste! I can happily report that the reduced sugar has only made them taste BETTER- I always thought they were too sweet, and now you have more apple flavor to them!

    Right now, if you visit here you will find a $1 off coupon for one of four General Mills cereals.
    And as we're floating in cereal, I am going to give two of my followers, one each of the coupons I received, for a free box of cereal! That's right you win, you get free cereal!

    In order to win, you have to help spread the word!


    Open to anyone in US

    1. Blog About this Giveaway (3 entries)
    2. Tweet daily about this contest and General Mills Commitment (2 entries per day)
    3. If you are ALREADY a follower, note so (2 entries)
    4. If you are ALREADY a subscriber, note so (2 entries)
    5. If you are already a follower on Twitter, leave me your Twitter name you follow me under
        (2 entries)
    6. If you ALREADY follow on RSS reader, note so (2 entries)
    7. Want to be a new subscriber or follower? Sign up! (1 entry for EACH)
    8. Want to follow on RSS reader? Leave me the title of the Cookbook I am currently giving away
         (1 entry)

    See, easy easy easy! So get typing and entering!

    Contest ends January 6th at midnight. Winners will be picked on January 7th via random.org, and emailed. TWO days to let me know your address, or new winner(s) WILL be picked! Coupon will be sent as soon as address info is received!

    Coupons and information, including graphics, were supplied to me, FREE of charge, by MyBlogspark and General Mills, in the hopes that I would spread the word about their new program. I did not receive any other compensation, nor was I told how to review the cereal!
    Monday, December 28, 2009

    Super Stress Solutions for the New Year

    I haven't received my review book yet from FSB but they sent me this great article for dealing with the New Year stress that I thought you would all enjoy and like me, learn something from! Enjoy!

    Reduce SuperStress in the New Year! by Roberta Lee M.D.,
    Author of The SuperStress Solution

    Each New Year, we doctors hear our patients' wistful declarations of resolve to change their health. As I listen I silently hope that this year those promises will come to pass! I know that 60% of Americans die from illnesses connected to poor choices in lifestyle, such as overeating, lack of exercise and smoking. Whatever your specific goals, my vested interest is to see my patients aspirations take hold and succeed. But I also might have different priorities than you do for yourself. Here are my top health wishes for all my patients . . . see if you think that adopting some or all of these might help you reach your own resolutions, too:

    Make health goals practical. Everybody loves to make lofty goals but such high-flying targets make it harder to achieve success.

    Make a simple plan to achieve your goals. There is nothing worse than steering towards a goal without a strategy to achieve a successful outcome.

    Maintain an exercise routine. Be creative in designing "reward surprises" as incentives to keep yourself going. For example, when I use the treadmill for aerobic exercise I need more entertainment than just watching what's on TV or listening to music as I huff and puff towards a healthy heart rate. Instead, I buy or rent DVD's of TV shows that I had always wanted to see (and never had time to watch) and only watch them when I work out. Now, I want to get to the next program and see what happens -- but I'll only let myself watch if I am on the treadmill.

    Increase physical activity and benchmark your progress. One of the easiest ways to begin moving more is to buy a pedometer and measure how much you are already walking. People who use pedometers walk an average of one mile more than those who do not measure their steps! Aim for 10,000 steps a day, or the equivalent of 5 miles. This might seem like a lot of walking, but you might be surprised to learn how many steps you take in a given day when you start keeping track. One way to increase your overall number of steps is to add mileage by 500 steps each week.

    Get more sleep. Sleep deprivation affects mental health. It also decreases a hormone that signals fullness known as leptin. The less leptin, the more you overeat which, in turn, depresses the release of growth hormone during our sleep. The less growth hormone, the harder it will be for your body to build muscle mass, rejuvenate skin and strengthen bones.

    See your doctor or primary healthcare advocate. Annual physicals and preventive gynecological exams are an essential part of staying healthy, yet only 21% of adults get a preventive physical exam! Don't be part of that statistic -- commit to making and keeping this one important appointment this year.

    Do routine screening tests. Mammograms, Pap tests, prostate and prostate specific antigen (psa) tests and colonoscopies detect breast, cervical, prostate and colon cancer. Early intervention in these cancers improves the statistics for successful outcomes, so talk to your doctor about your need for these tests. Your doctor should also regularly check your cholesterol, vitamin D levels, blood count and routine blood chemistries.

    Love something, someone or experience the feeling of being grateful for 5 minutes every day! Dr. Robert Emmons, research expert on gratitude and Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology, wrote "[First] the practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25%. Second, this is not hard to achieve -- a few hours writing a gratitude journal over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months if not more. Third, that cultivating gratitude brings other health effects, such as longer and better quality sleep time."

    To reduce stress, and avoid SuperStress, try this today:

    Simple as it sounds; focused breathing -- during which you think about your breath as you inhale and exhale -- is a very effective stress-management technique. A slow, full breath triggers physical and cognitive changes that promote relaxation. Deep breathing helps release tension and anxiety and is a great energizer because the deeper the breath, the more your body is flooded with life-fueling oxygen. A full breath begins with the diaphragm pushing downward so that the stomach extends out. As your lungs fill with air, your chest expands. When you exhale, the reverse occurs -- your chest settles first and then your stomach.

    When anxiety strikes or you find yourself focusing on negative thoughts, immediately exhale through your mouth.

    Now, open your lungs, and breathe in through your nose, drawing in a fresh, cleansing air to the count of four.

    Exhale again slowly to the count of five.

    Repeat four times.

    Copyright © 2009 Roberta Lee M.D., author of The SuperStress Solution

    Author Bio

    Roberta Lee, M.D., author of The SuperStress Solution, is vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine, director of Continuing Medical Education, and co-director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel's Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Lee attended George Washington University Medical School and is one of the four graduates in the first class from the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona conducted by Andrew Weil, M.D.

    For more information please visit www.superstresssolution.com
    Sunday, December 27, 2009

    Recipe Weekend/ Book Review/Giveaway/CLOSED: Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen by Mary Ann Esposito

    FSB Associates always gets some interesting cookbooks for me to repview and this one (Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen by Mary Ann Esposito) is no exception!

    In Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites, Esposito shows home cooks how to turn just five ingredients into an easy, delicious, and economical Italian dish for the family dinner table. She shows how the genius behind great Italian cooking, is the simple philosophy of using just a few quality ingredients, to create something delicious. In Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites she shows home cooks how to make that philosophy work for them, so that they can save time, and money, without sacrificing flavor. With seventy-five authentic Italian recipes -- from antipasti to pastas, main courses to desserts -- Esposito draws on the Italian culinary tradition of simplicity in the kitchen to create such effortless and tasty dishes as:
    • Prosciutto di Parma, Fontina, and Fig Wraps
    • Spicy Soppressata Tartlets
    • Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs
    • Pistachio-Dusted Pork Chops
    • Oven-Poached Halibut with Shallot and Fennel
    • Escarole Salad with Mustard Dressing
    • Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Banana Tartlets
    • Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Vanilla
    The recipes are simple as stated and intriquing in their own way. As an Italian cookbook I only had three complaints.
    • I really felt like more recipes could have been added, as the book seems VERY small at only 75 recipes. But it would be a great STARTER book.
    • While there are some color pictures, they are placed in 2 sections of the book, and some of the pictures are repeated! I'm a purist, either put the picture WITH the recipe, or DON:T bother with picture in the back of the book- too much having to go back and forth.
    • While her ingredient listed IS simple and her thoughts on a well stocked pantry are co-existant to my pantry, I know that it can be hard to find some of the ingredients she uses at local stores, if you aren't in a major metropolitan area. Some of the ingredients, yes you can order on online, others need to be fresh. So I wish she mentioned more substitutes and understood that not all cooks live in NYC or LA and have great ingredients so readily at hand.
    Here's a sample recipe from the book!

    Spaghetti alla Carbonara (pictured on cover of the book and on pix at top of post)

    * 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    * 4 ounce chunk pancetta, diced
    Fine sea salt
    * ½ pound spaghetti
    * 3 large eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
    * ¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    1. Coarsely ground black pepper
    2. Heat the olive oil in a small sauté pan, stir in the pancetta, and cook until crispy. Set aside the pancetta, still in the pan, and keep it warm.
    3. Cook the spaghetti in 4 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water. Al dente means still firm to the bite but no uncooked flour is visible in the center when a strand of the spaghetti is broken in half.
    4. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 2 tablespoons of the water. Immediately return the spaghetti to the pot and, keeping the heat very low, rapidly stir in the eggs, reserved water, and half the cheese. Toss to combine. Add the reserved pancetta and any pan drippings. Stir well. Add a generous grinding of coarse black pepper. Transfer the pasta to a platter and sprinkle it with the remaining cheese. Serve immediately.
    5. Serves 4

    Now, don't you want to win a copy of the book?????

    Here's how!

    One review copy of  Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites: Quick and Delicious Recipes from an Italian Kitchen by Mary Ann Esposito


    Make sure I have an e-mail address, with your comment, so I can contact you, if you win!

    If I don't have a way to contact you, you will forfeit your win!

    Requirements: must be over 18, resident of US

    4 day winner's rule : for win verification. You either need to verify your address (happens when you've recently won a different giveaway), or provide me with your mailing address within 4 days of my sending you the first email notification. I will send a 2nd notification the next day. You have 2 days after that one to acknowledge the win or forfeit the prize. Sorry guys, I am too busy to chase winners down!

    Please post each entry separately, i.e. 2 posts for subscribing:
    1.  Subscribe to the blog (1 entry)

    2.  Follow this blog (1 entry)
    3. Put the "Bless Their Hearts Mom" Button on your blog or website (2 entries)
    4. Follow me on Twitter AND tweet about this contest (2 entries)- this can be done DAILY for 2 entries PER day!!!

    5.  Blog about this giveaway (3 entries)

    Contest will end on January 11th, at midnight. Winner will be picked by Random Number (random.org) on January 12th, and emailed. As soon as winner's info is received from winner, the book will be mailed to the winner by me!

    Disclosure: FSB Assoc sent me this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes. I was NOT compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product!

    Saturday, December 26, 2009

    How DO You KNOW Your REALLY a MOM????


    1. Work 12 hr shift Christmas Eve Eve night, get up and wrap last of YOU KNOW WHO's packages, work on cleaning house, get maybe 6 hours worth of sleep before

    2. Working 12 hr shift on Christmas Eve, come home and have to put out those YOU KNOW WHO packages, finish cleaning house and straightening up as family will be there in less than 3 hours. Then assist Grandma in finishing Gingerbread House that has "issues" the night before (THANKS so much Create a Treat Company, we WILL be having a discussion this next week on quality control issues you have). Then after downing another cup of java, say oh well and skip the 1 hr nap to enjoy the sunrise with mom=quality time 101. Then get child up before 9am as she could NOT go to sleep as she was WAAAY to wound up. Have child attached like an octopus to me as she is so excited with all her 'loot' she can't decide what to do next and is having a mini nerve attack. Finally pry her loose to squeals of delight that SANTA remembered her horsee (though hobby horse apparently seems 5 times too big than when 'similar' horse was in the store-then she was all over it). Once presents are done, and front room looks like Toys R Us exploded there, then it's time to make breakfast for all. Waffles, bacon, scrambled ham, cheese n eggs and coffee. YUMMY. Then clean up, help daughter with putting together toys/installing needed missing batteries. More squeals. Then on to starting Christmas dinner. 4 hours of making, cooking, setting table and bringing it all there, without great prep and direction from Mom. WHEW I AM NOW TIRED! Dad, bless him, takes kitchen duty after dinner. Kiddo is STILL wound to the gills. Screaming fit when grandma and grandpa leave. Then onto bath (thanks dad, I was seeing double and triple about then and java had WORN OFF). Off to bed, darling daughter wants to cuddle and I fell asleep before she did! Well, it has been over 26 hrs since I'd had sleep....

    Yeah you all KNOW the look..................................................Welcome to Motherhood 101!

    I'm not sure....

    which is better:
    1. Opening my blog account and seeing I have new followers (woohoo! it has surpassed the ooo, I've got mail feeling I'd say)


    2, Finding myself published with a link back to this blog................

    I really can NOT decide- it's like hitting the best after-Christmas sale ever or something!
    (apparently ALOT of you did that today- we only hit 2 stores to use gift card, but OH MY was the mall lot beyond traffic jam nightmare!!!!)

    So WELCOME to all the new friends who have joined us for this ride and 'I Love You Guys' hugs to all of you who've been with many these past 6 months (well almost, not counting that week and a half-ha ha ha)!


    Check The Cajun Book Lady's blog- she has some great stuff over there for a new blogger and I am proud to be part of her new feature- Louisiana Bloggers and Authors. OOOO I love free press! Check it out for yourselves!

    Book Review: Rediscovering God in America by New Gingrich

    Ok, the people who REALLY know me well, you can now stop fanning yourself, I don't care if you feel faint, because I am reviewing a book by HIM-MR. Gingrich! The book was up on the list of books available to me for review by Thomas Harrison publishing and I knew my Dad would love the book, and I thought it might be interesting based on a review I had read elsewhere.

    Seriously though, Rediscovering God in America by Newt Gringrich (with photos by his wife, Callista Gingrich) is interesting in that it provides an eye-opening walking tour of our Nation's capitol and the foundations of our Deomcratic government. Yes, Gingrich attacks the liberal left (like he wouldn't in a book? right...) but if you read the book for the HISTORICAL content and the superb pictures, then you will find yourself with a valuable addendum to the history books we are taught from.

    In this age when our children's history books have been seriously rewritten with a profound PC correctness, there are alot of things that now get left out,  and our children are no longer taught. Teachers no longer have the time to add side info or interesting lessons from books off the 'approved' school district list. They have to teach what will be on the standardized tests. There is no time for enriching and filling out the spectrum of what is being taught. So in THAT light, books like this one from Gingrich serve as valuable tools to us as parents to supplement our children's education. Don't believe me? Go read Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen, then go look at your kid's history textbook, then come back and we'll talk...

    ANYHOO..before I go off on too much of a rant (HA), here's some items from the book that you might NOT have known:
    • There was no court building in DC until 1935 when the Supreme Court Building was built. Before that from 1800-1860, various rooms at the Capitol Building were uses, then from 1860-1935, the old Senate Chamber at the Capitol Building served as the Supreme Court room!
    • It wasn't til 1934 that it was decided to follow the ORIGINAL city plan from Pierre L'Enfant, laying out FIVE memorials in a cross like manor in the center of Washington DC and that the first of these enacted upon was the Jefferson Memorial.
    • While Thomas Jefferson was firm in his belief of separation of Church and State, he was not an Athiest and had a profound faith in God, which is why at his memorial there are THREE plaques of his writings with God prominent in all of them
    • The Greek doric columns at the Lincoln memorial are homage to his fight to preserve DEMOCRACY during the Civil War (or the War Between the States as we Southerns like to call it)
    • One of Lincoln's hands is open to represent his compassion, the other closed to represent his determination and strength
    • There is a chapel at the Capitol Building, but it is off limits to the public- only members of Congress and their families can use it. In fact, the Capitol Building itself served as the location for church services in DC for the Members of Congress until the chapel was built in the 1950s!
    • The 4 'rooms' in the FDR memorial represent each of his terms in office. The last plaque echoes his 1941 State of the Union speech and what most of believe are the TRUE caveats of our Democratic nation: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear
    • Over 50,000 objects/mementos have been left at the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial since it was open tot he public. 58,159 U.S. soldiers died during the conflict. Those numbers stager the mind, and they should.
    • 10,000 NEW items, A DAY, are received by the Library of Congress a DAY, mostly due to the daily submissions to the US Copyright Office - are we a country of inventors or WHAT?
    Intriqued? SEE, I KNEW you would be!  The pictures are stunning and really add depth to the book. The book is not very big (only 118 pages) but I think it would be a great book for parents and children to share. AND if you ever to to DC, I would definitely read or take it with you to give you an excellent guided tour of the city's national monuments!You can go to the Gingrich's website and download a map of the spots in the books as well- how great would that be for those that home school?

    I think this would be a superb book to give as a gift to yourself and your family, or to friends who love history or like to spout off about the founding of America. Everybody can learn something from it!

    Disclosure:  Thomas Harrison Publishing sent me this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes.I was NOT compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product!

    After Christmas let down????

    Anybody have an after-Christmas let down feeling????

    Run over to My Four Monkeys starting on Monday, December 28, 2009 and you can win toys and games that you didn't buy or Santa didn't bring you!

    My Four Monkeys

    Spin Master and Thinkfun are sponsoring and providing the cool stuff. Think early and if you win you can save the item for upcoming Birthdays!

    Go check it out- if you load their button on your site or post about the contest, you get 5 extra entries for each contest. How cool is that? Go check it  out!

    Small talk Six-6 Things Looking Forward to in 2010

    Want to join in? Go here to learn how and to view the weekly list Small Talk Six topics for 2009

    Today’s topic is "6 thing you are looking forward to in 2010"

    1. HOPEFULLY a better economy on the whole

    2. WISHING for less stress

    3. Finally getting the storage closets organized!

    4. Getting rest of items out of storage and either gone or stored in the now organized storage closets! LOL

    5. Being better off financially

    6. Watching my daughter grow and starting SCHOOL in September- wait that's bad, no good, no bad, waaaaaaaa, three is TOO old...............

    Now go post your own list on your blog (don’t forget to grab a button) and then leave the direct link to your post on Mr. Linky. Then go check out everyone else’s Small Talk Six lists and leave them a comment so they know you stopped by. If for some reason Mr. Linky isn’t there, just leave your links within a comment.
    Friday, December 25, 2009

    Happy Holidays from Audubon...

    I HAD to pass this on- it is just TOO cute!

              And YES Virginia, that is an albino, aka WHITE, alligator!  It is NOT made of white
                    chocolate (though we had one (chocolate one silly, not the real one- though that
    woulda really livened up the party, huh?- on our bachelor's cake at our wedding,
    so if you want a  pix of that let me know!)

    Merry Christmas !

    Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    SIMPLIFY My Life Please, and maybe yours too!

    Momblogger.com is offering the GREATEST of contests: Simplify My Life Sweepstakes!

    The three MOST creative blogger entries will win one of the new HP Mini 110-1100 by Studio Tord Boontje PC netbooks AND (drumroll please....) THREE readers who post a COMMENT on any of the blogger entry posts will win one as well! HOW sweet is that? 

    I Post, you comment, and one, or up to four of us, could win one of these neat little netbooks!

    I know why I need one- we are a webbed household- 2 desktops and 2 laptops. BUT the laptops are either too big or too heavy, to truly be portable outside, so they frequently stay on the desks where they are. BUT we have the most Southern of things- a lovely screened in front porch, where my daughter's play kitchen and house is set up. I would LOVE to be able to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while blogging, while she's playing and enjoying the fresh air (can you hear the TWENTY NINE wrens that have set up home in the azaleas? No, how about the 6 morning doves that are irate they haven't been fed yet? No, then it must be the gorgeous sounds of the red tailed hawk, that lives in the backyard going after one of the neighbor's squirrels, who deemed to venture into our yard! Having gone through the vast colony of squirrels in our yard (yeah, nobody eating the birds' food anymore!), he catches any opportunity he can!).

    Want to pull up a chair?  I wish you would, I'd love to meet you!

    But wait- oh no- it's time to run over and visit with family, let's do a raincheck, shall we?. I'd love to show my family the slideshow of all the great pictures I took on our recent trip to one of the great festivals we have down here, but dragging the 17" laptop and it's battery and mouse and bag, along with everything a toddler could POSSIBLY need (I thought we were supposed to have to cart LESS the older they got, what happened to one small bag would do it??????), is not for the faint of heart. Maybe another day....

    After that I need to run down to the consignment store and show them some photos of some clothes I was looking at selling. UGH, again carrying the heavy laptop or making the clerk struggle to look at the photos on my cell phone. So much easier to look at photos than to schlep a ton of clothes down only to be told, they'll only accept 3 pieces! Gee do I WISH Santa had brought me a netbook for Christmas (I already heard thru the Polar Express grapevine, that I was getting something else...waaaaaaa)!

    What else do I have for today on my to-do list??? Oh yeah, need to run by the school and pick up the materials packet for when darling daughter starts in the fall. I need to load up the calendar and alert grandmas and grandpas to events they need to be at. better to start now, so nobody can use the excuse it wasn't on their calendar! We could go down to park and let daughter play on the equipment while I load everything up on the laptop, but my screen has that stupid light saver on it and it is SO hard to read in sunlight......I heard that the LCD backlite screen on the HP Mini 311 doesn't have that problem....oh well.....

    Oh no, it's time to get ready for work already. Nightshift....5 hours of busy and 7 hours of waiting to be busy..... At least I can type into my Livewriter and work on my blog posts, when I have no more work to do. Oh wait, I forgot my thumb drive again. ARGHH. I love it, but it's so small, it can easily fall out of my bag. I'd bring my laptop but it is SO bulky- not like the HP Mini which is only 10x6 yet has a 92% real size keyboard. Doesn;t that just sound heavenly???

    Or maybe I could work on my scrapbook digital downloads on it (if I had it with me). I could edit my scrapbook pages, and then upload them into my laptop when I get home and at least save SOME time. Did you know that the HP Mini 311 can sync (don't you just LOVE that word, it's like the "word of the moment" isn't it?) automatically with your home NETWORK system, so you load any projects on any of the computers, or update your calendars? Talk about saving time- no need to download to my computer, then send to hubby's who has the color printer on it....Gee, I'm ONLY 5 1/2 months behind on her scrapbook (can ANYONE really stay ahead/on top of that when they work a full time job?????) and wouldn't it be great for everybody's calendar to have the same events on it, without having to go computer to computer and update them!

    Life is gonna get SO SO crazy once daughter starts school, plus I want to go back to school and work on that Master's Degree. But sending homework real quickly is a chore with my laptop. I have to sign on, then pull up operating system, let it load and then log into site and then send. Did you know that the HP Mini 311 starts up in mail mode in mere seconds? NOT minutes. Talk about a time saver! 

    I didn't even think about the dance lessons for daughter! Thanks for reminding me! Ballet twice a week to start. Lot's of down time there, wish my laptop wasn't so heavy, or my cell phone keyboard so small- there will be some many projects I could be working on, while applauding and waiting! But seeing that smiling face in bun and tutu is SO worth it!

    Another reason I'd love to win one of these HP Mini 311s is that the netbook has the new HP Imprint 3D design by Studio Tord Boontje, that features 3D flower and lace designs with endangered animals overlayed. The loading bar, screen saver, wallpaper, and even the interior areas have the imprinted designs- talk about saying I AM UNIQUE! 

    SIGH.........maybe Momblogger will play Santa and help me get better organized and meet my personal goals of getting on top of things before kiddo starts school????  And if YOU post a reply here on this post- you might be a lucky winner too! Then we'll get together for that cup of coffee, i promise!

    PS- I had alot of speculation and wanting to sit on the front porch, so I thought I'd add a pix of what it's about to look like when the sleet/slush/snow hits this weekend (jan 9th)- picturesque no?

     and here's your cup of coffee..........

     Happy New Year to You All!

    Happy National Candy Cane Day!

    Like we didn't think it was?????

    Have a very Merry and Safe Christmas Eve,

    and a fun time waiting for Santa to arrive!

    Christmas Music Thursday; MUST HAVES

    There are 2 cds in my moms Christmas cd collection that ALWAYS get played Christmas Eve and Christmas Day- they're a tradition!

    1. Celene Dion- These are Special Times

    This album released in 1998 combines traditional Christmas songs with new ones and with traditional hymns, making it a more religious album. her dues with Andrea Bocelli on The Prayer is just stunning. the strength of her singing rivals that of Striesand and her Canadian French moments lend it an otherness that is intriguing.

    1.O'Holy Night
    2.Don't Save It All For Christmas Day
    3.Blue Christmas
    4.Another Year Has Gone By
    5.The Magic Of Christmas Day (God Bless Us Everyone)
    6. Ave Maria
    7. O Come All Ye Faithful
    8. The Christmas Song
    9. The Prayer
    10. Brahms'Lullaby
    11. Christmas Eve
    12. These Are The Special Times
    13. Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
    14. I'm your Angel
    15. Feliz Navidad
    16. Les Cloches Du Hameau

    2. Christmas Memories by Barbara Striesand

    Yes, before you go THERE, I am aware of the irony. BUT until you hear Babs sing Ave Maria, you don't know CLASSIC in the essence of the term! The original album came out in 1967 (!!), but it was re-released in 1999.  The album is SO well loved, that they had to remake it on cd! It really is a PERFECT Christmas album!

    1 Jingle Bells
    2 Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
    3 The Christmas Song
    4 White Christmas
    5 My Favorite Things
    6 The Best Gift
    7 Sleep in Heavenly in Peace (Silent Night)
    8 Gounod's Ave Maria
    9 Little Town of Bethlehem
    10 I Wonder as I Wander
    11 The Lord's Prayer

    Hopefully ya'll have your own family traditional music, if not, go get some! Make a tradition- songs stay attached to memories forever in our minds, so make the season special for your kids and gradnkids!

    Disclosure: I was NOT compensated in any way, by any company, or artist, for this reviews. I bought this cd myself, and they are part of my personal collection!
    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Book Review: The Sleep Lady, Good Night, Sleep Tight by Kim West

    Caitlyn over at FSB just KNOWS what I need before I need it- don't you just LOVE it when you get a great connection like that with a PR person? I do- it makes it SO easy to say "YES YES YES I'll review the book", and there are very very few "No, I don't think sos"...this ....

    The book tackles the following problems:
    • Is your baby or toddler not sleeping through the night?
    • Is your baby or toddler not napping well?
    • Do you feel uncomfortable letting your child “cry it out” alone? Yet know you need to do something to improve your family’s sleep habits?
    • Are you exhausted and feel like you have tried everything to no avail
    We've been going thru this as our daughter no longer wants to take a nap and is starting th e"stalling' of bedtime, so any suggestions are quite welcome!
      Kim's gentle technique is called The Sleep Lady Shuffle, and it helps parents teach their children how to put themselves to sleep and back to sleep for nights and naps. The Shuffle involves staying with the child while they learn to sleep, gradually moving away from the crib or bed, and out of the room.This method is said to cure sleep challenges and helped parents successfully navigate through:
      • gently eliminating sleep crutches
      • sleeping through the night
      • taking restorative naps
      • helping a toddler stay in their bed and room
      • early rising
      • ending co-sleeping or successfully room sharing
      • transitioning from crib to bed
      • bottle weaning
      • sleep coaching multiples (from twins to quadruplets) and siblings

      There were a few things I partially disagreed with the author-our daughter like to read in bed at night before she goes to sleep, she's not one to be read to and then slip into bed. She likes the cuddling while we read. My mother did it with me, so I think that is more base don your child's personality. She also doesn't believe in kids having security attachments to stuffed toys or blankets, especially at night. Again, I think it depends on the child.Our daughter doesn't carry them around during the day, but when she goes to bed, she has certain stuffed animals that go to bed with her. And these change depending on what new stuffed animals she has (ie right now it's the black bear from vacation and her Build a Bear Snowflake Bear).  She is a very outgoing child, so I don't have a problem with her being tucked in at night with the animals. Once we get her a dog (real), I'm sure the dog will be up their with her as well, as mine were with me growing up. I can understand how for some kids that may be an issue, but again, I think it's personality based.

      Her ideas of set time for bed told to the child in advance has been helpful for us. She understands FIVE MINUTES really well for her age, so that has been working well for us. She's also doing better with having to pick up toys after her bath in order to clean up before bed. Keeping to the same routine has been a big help there as well.

      This is a helpful book and would probably be a great book for new parents to have on hand, to help cure problems BEFORE they start, as she also deals with if you WANT to co-sleep or room-share with your infant, how to do so successfully. So you might want to consider it as a Baby Shower gift for friends and family!

        Disclosure:  FSB Associates Publishing sent me this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes.I was NOT compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product!

        Random Thoughts...........

        Why is it the HOLIDAY season always seems to make us all edgy ? What happened to peace, joy and happiness? Oh right- it went out the window when we realized how much it was gonna cost this year......

        Why do we have double sided Christmas wrap paper? I mean REALLY, you picked it out because you liked THAT pattern, so are you REALLY going to use the other pattern? If you're matching your wrap for under the tree it's doubtful....

        Why do we only REALLY go all out on cooking from November to January? Why can't we do that for our families EVERY month. You know, a once a month all the family get together? Why do we wait to get together til 1 or 2 days a year???

        Why does it seem to be worth the 2 month hunt to find the gifts, but then it seems to take FOREVER to wrap them all, and only 10 seconds to remove every inch of wrapping paper from said gifts?

        As I heard on the radio today- why is it the SAME stupid appliance we would never buy for someone's birthday, but come Christmas when we can't find them a gift, it looks superb???

        If Christmas is such a peace, love and joy holiday WHY do we have Thanksgiving ahead of it, which makes it less than a month long? Shouldn't we MOVE Thanksgiving to like August, so we can start celebrating it, then go into Halloween, then swap out all the decorations and celebrate the Christmas season for 2 whole MONTHS. Doesn't that sound nice and lovely?????

        AND we'd get to sing Christmas songs for TWO months too! SEE it's a good thought!

        AND  MAYBE then everybody would be less edgy! See, you knew I'd come back around to the first sentence :)

        Need a Quick Dessert/Candy for the Holiday?

        I decided to try a box of Betty Crocker Truffle mix that I bought at the store a few months ago for the work Christmas party (don;t worry- they're guys, they LIKE being guinea pigs when it comes to chocolate!). I figured it looked easier than making them from scratch, so it was worth a short.

        Ingredients: box mix, water, and butter
        Needed: mixing bowl, mixing spoon, spatula, baking sheet and containers for finished truffles
        Also: any extras you want to coat truffles in!

        So you microwave all the ingredients and then mix. Smooth out all the bumps and pour onto cooking sheet. Make rectangle. Then let cool for 30 min. Truffles will resemble fudge in taste ND texture. NOW comes the fun part!

        The mix comes with a bag of cocoa to roll the truffles in, but it is SO easy to raid the cabinets for other items. I chose crushed pecans and crushed candy canes (MUCH to my daughter's chagrin: "Momma WHAT are you doing (as I'm running rolling pin over 6 of the small ones and crushing them to smithereens) ?" "Using them for the candy" "NOOOOO, you;re supposed to eat them like they ARE"....followed by sniffles which were stopped when she realized there were 'too big' of shards that SHE got to eat...)

        Anyhoo- you cut the truffle rectangle into 6 x 4 lines, giving you 24 truffles. These are good size truffles(I actually got another 3 out of the mix by making mine a little smaller). If you have everything laid, it goes pretty quick. HINT: when you use the spatula to pull up the cut square to roll into a ball, roll it with underside (that was on the cookie sheet) OUT. This side isn't as 'set' and items will adhere to it better!

        You roll them up, coat them with which ever coating you choose, put in the little wrapper (24 in the box!) and waala. Instant party food!

        The final result: easy truffles that taste pretty good!

        I really liked the look fo the candy cane truffles- very festive and
        pretty. AND they didn't taste half bad!

        Wordless Wednesday: WE BELIEVE

        Cooking: Quick TIP

        My mom was watching a show on one of the home channels and the host was making cookies and he said this tip:

        Don't roll sugar cookies dough out on flour to get ready for using cooking cutters. USE confectioners sugar instead- just use a small sifter and spread some out on your rolling surface and roll away!

        So she told me, and darling daughter begged for more cookie making this morning (it's getting hard to get thru a day without a dozen cookies being made- she is OBSESSED with cookie cutters!). We cheated this am and used Betty Crocker again -quick and easy for her to make up a dozen and half (1 time in oven) good size cookies!

        Anyhoo- I tried it and GUESS WHAT?

        I will NEVER go back to using flour on my board! Yes, it was THAT much better. The dough didn't stick as much, it seemed like I used a whole lot less sugar than I normally would of flour, AND most importantly they gave the cookies themselves a little extra sweet zing on the outside.

        Everybody agreed, this batch was the best sugar cookies so far this year!

        So go try it out for yourself!

        Toddler Tales......Baby or Big Girl?

        Am cudding with my daughter and I ask her is she's my baby.

        She goes " NOOO, I'm a big girl" (new phrase/phase we're going thru- trying to get her ready for pre-school in NINE months--EEEKKKKKKK)

        But, I say, "You'll always be my baby, just like I'm Meme and Papa's baby still"

        She looks at me like I've totally lost my mind (possibility, but no) and says "Uh-uh- you're MOMMA, not a BABY"..........and gives me THE LOOK......

        ok, to keep from having a toddler mind set, non-comprehension moment,, I just start laughing and tickling her....

        it's easier.............. HA HA HA
        Tuesday, December 22, 2009

        Mailbox Tuesday: Wen Haircare Cleansing Conditioner

        Ok, so by now you guys all know that I am on a search for the perfect haircare shampoo/conditioner/after product, because I have WEIRD hair that HATES the South and stays frizzy except when the humidity cranks down to about 20% or less.

        So of course in my pursuit, I am bringing you along for the ride-if you hadn't figured that out already! HA HA.

        This weeks entry into the revolving contest is Wen Cleansing Conditioner (which was recently awarded the coveted Shecky’s “Beauty at Its Best Award” for Best Shampoo and Conditioner- making it worth a purview in my opinion)..

        Wen was developed by celebrity hairstylist Chaz Dean, after years of seeing the damage caused by ordinary shampoos on his clients’ hair. Wen takes an unique approach to cleaning and conditioning hair in a single-step process (something ELSE that caught my eye and made me want to try it!).  It’s made with natural ingredients and avoids damaging detergents usually found in shampoos (no alcohol laurel sulfates here!)  — so it won’t strip your hair and scalp of their natural oils, which means its proven to retain color longer (aha-ANOTHER reason to try it) .Your hair should be left with sheen, moisture and better manageability. Oh and the name? “WEN” is “NEW” spelled backwards.  Reluctant clients become dedicated and loyal fans after trying it – including celebrities like Jennie Garth, Finola Hughes and Melissa Gilbert. Now we all know they seem to have GREAT looking hair, and no I know better than to believe all the hype, but it did sound interesting right????

        I received a 12 oz bottle of the Wen Cleansing Conditioner from Health Star PR for Wen Products to try and review. Yippee- a LARGE bottle to review- how cool is that?  The WEN website advised that it takes at least 15 days to see a difference in your hair. So I decided to give it the full 15 days (actually went 18, but who's counting? ).

        Wen cleanses hair thoroughly with astringent and antibacterial properties but without lathering and all the harsh ingredients that may be found in ordinary shampoos. You should use anywear between 16 and 24 pumps of conditioner PER shampoo. The idea is to have 8 for your front, 8 for the back, and if you have longer hair, 8 for the ends. My hair is not much past my shoulders, so I decided to opt for 16 total on the first go-round. You should leave on hair for 3-5 minutes. I usually wash my hair first, so the timing worked out well for me. First, I ADORE the smell- it's like minty almond and boy does it smell CLEAN. Unfortunately, the smell fades very quickly- I couldn't smell it much about 4 hours later. Second, the no lather takes some getting used to, but you CAN feel that it is cleaner, so you know it's doing it's job.

        Wen recommends using the same cleaning conditioner as an after-product by applying a few pumps on your wet hair in the shower, before you get out.  So in the spirit of testing, I went ahead and tried that the first time I used the product.  I found that my hair was drying QUICKER than usual (always a plus- mine takes FOREVER to completely dry). I had to work that night, so I ended up laying down 2 hours later for a quick catnap and found when I woke up that the humidity in the room had not helped (had been cold, then got warm, so hubby turned off heater, but no air flow...). It was extremely bad, just poofy and eding toward frizzy, with more volume than I like. Wen claims it will give you NATURAL and normal volume, so I figured this was gonna be a downside somewhat. No on their website they claim after 2 weeks that problem will go away, so I was still game. Plus, my hair was really soft.

        Three days later I washed my hair again with Wen, BUT this time I used the 24 pumps, and skipped the after-product use. I went straight to work, so there was not much humidity attacking my hair. I found that my hair stayed softer and felt more babyish- you know like a 2 or 3 year olds hair? It also was better under control and the volume was acceptible, as it curled somewhat. Ok, so far, not so bad, onward we go!

        By this point I really couldn't tell that it was keeping my hair color better, as I had used an in-between root only color, and it never lasts long anyways.

        On the next shampoo I tried the 24 pumps again, and used only 1 pump of the cleanser for the after-product. Results were better. My hair was definitely clean and free of ANY buildup, still soft and silky (though it was abvious I needed a trim already!) and due to it being about 32 degrees outside, it was manageable. There was the extra volume, but it was more than acceptble.

        I then colored my hair with the regular dye and on my next shampoo used 20 pumps and none for after-product (see how great I was about tetsing all variables for you? HA).  I had the same results- clean, soft, and as a I began calling it - fluffy. It felt like cat's hair- fine, soft and raised up a bit?  And even after a quick trim of the ends, you could see where I needed more cut!

        On my last shampoo before writing this review I used 22 pumps and 1 for after conditioner. I did take another catnap before work, so it got laid on.Same results as last time, though the "fluffiness" seemed to be coming down some, even though it was humid out again.My color did appear to be lasting better, so that was a huge plus!

        I should point out here that Wen claims on its website to have before/after pictures that show the fluffiness I was talking about, and it going away in 2-3 weeks. So it's possible I just need to keep using it to see if it will go down some more to where I would be happy with it.

        I did find that the Wen saved me alot of time when washing my hair, and for the price was comparable to the Loreal Ever Pure shampoo/conditioner system in smell and cleaning, without stripping hair of essential oils. I would probably go with the Wen over the Loreal, only because of the time saved and the bottle seems to be lasting much longer than Loreal's products, mkaing it more cost-effective.

        Wen also has a Styling Crème (2oz) that is supposed to help promote moisture, shine and body-manage split ends and provide texture improvement and frizz control. I'm not sure if this would help or not with my situation because humidity and hair are always an unique and lethal combo to begin with....

        Wen also has a Re-Moist Intensive Hair Repair Mask (2oz) that is designed for use before and after any chemical treatment, or when hair has been stressed. It is designed to add ultimate moisture, body, and shine to restore your hair and it’s strengthening action to extremely damaged hair. Again, I'm not sure if this would help or not.

        I'm sure if I was in a salon they would have me use all 3 products, but at home that is pricey and as I;m not sure if it would resolve my issue, I probably won;t buy them for now.

        Wen also has a Texture Balm (10g) which is a finishing touch for creating looks with definition, separation and texture, providing hold and shape for either long or short hairstyles. Again, probably would help, but not sure.

        Wen DOES have something going for it that not many products do: Shine to the Last Pump 60-Day Money-Back Guarantee- they're so sure theWEN products will work for you, they're offering a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you're not delighted with the results, simply return the products within 60 days of delivery and we'll refund the purchase price (less S&H) - even if the containers are empty. When was the last time you heard that? Makes it worthwhile to try!

        In closing I would say Wen is definitely in the Top3 choices for haircare for me. I love hoe much time it saves, the wonderful smell, and the softness it gives my hair. You may not have the 'fluffiness' that I had because of the severe humidity we have.

        So go check it out today- it's ONLY available online and at Chaz' Hollywood salon. They're running a $29.95 special online that includes: 12oz. WEN Cleansing Conditioner,  2oz. WEN Styling Crème, 2oz. WEN Re-Moist Intensive Hair Repair Mask and FREE Bonuses: 0g. WEN Texture Balm and WEN Wide Tooth Shower Comb. Not too bad to try out all the products since the 60 day money back guarantee is in effect!

        Disclosure: I did NOT receive the cleansing conditioner from WEN/ Health Star in the hopes of a positive review, I received it free to try and review, no matter what my opinion. While it worked great for me, your results may be different, because we're all HUMAN and DIFFERENT, so PLEASE keep that in mind when making up YOUR mind whether to try it out or not!

        Lucky Winners this week...

        Winners before Christmas are:

        1. Cheap Cookie Cutters Set- #7  Misskallie2000

        2. Prehistin Pack: #2 LindaKish

        3. Top Shelf Book Pick Winners: #15 Kris
        and #38 DG09

        CONGRATS to all!
        Monday, December 21, 2009

        Healthy Cooking during the Holiday Season

        During the holiday season we ALL know we eat too much, cook too much and allow for rich and decadent foods. Here's some ideas from the Mayo Clinic to try and reduce your holiday recipes some to get a start on those New Year Resolutions!
        Obviously some holiday recipes just don't adapt well, so use these tips when you can and at least you won't feel SO guilty for over indulging !

        Healthy Cooking
        By the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic and Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H.
        Authors of The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight.
        Healthy cooking doesn't mean you have to become a gourmet chef or invest in special cookware. Simply use standard cooking methods to prepare foods in healthy ways. You can also adapt familiar recipes by substituting other ingredients for fat, sugar and salt. 
        Use these methods 

        These methods best capture the flavor and retain the nutrients in your food without adding too much fat or salt. 

         Baking. Besides breads and desserts, you can bake seafood, poultry, lean meat, and vegetable and fruit pieces of the same size. Place food in a pan or dish (covered or uncovered) and bake. You may need to baste the food with broth, low-fat marinade or juice to keep the food from drying out. 

        • Braising. Braising involves browning the meat or poultry first in a pan on top of the stove, and then slowly cooking it covered with a small amount of liquid, such as water or broth. In some recipes, the cooking liquid is used afterward to form a flavorful, nutrient-rich sauce. 

        • Grilling and broiling. Both grilling and broiling expose fairly thin pieces of food to direct heat and allow fat to drip away from the food. If you're grilling outdoors, place smaller items, such as chopped vegetables, in a long-handled grill basket or on foil to prevent pieces from slipping through the rack. To broil indoors place food on a broiler rack below a heat element. 

        • Poaching. To poach foods, in a covered pan gently simmer ingredients in water or a flavorful liquid, such as broth, vinegar or juice, until cooked through and tender. For stove-top poaching, choose an appropriate-sized covered pan and use a minimum amount of liquid. 

        • Roasting. Roasting uses an oven's dry heat at high temperatures to cook the food on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. For poultry, seafood and meat, place a rack inside the roasting pan so that the fat can drip away during cooking. 

        • Sautéing. Sautéing quickly cooks small or thin pieces of food. If you choose a good-quality nonstick pan, you can cook food without using fat. Depending on the recipe, use low-sodium broth, cooking spray, water or wine in place of oil or butter. 

        • Steaming. One of the simplest cooking techniques to master is steaming food in a perforated basket suspended above simmering liquid. If you use a flavorful liquid or add herbs to the water, you'll flavor the food as it cooks. 

        • Stir-frying. Stir-frying quickly cooks small, uniform-sized pieces of food while they're rapidly stirred in a wok or large nonstick frying pan. You need only a small amount of oil or cooking spray for this cooking method. 

        Find new ways to add flavor 

        Instead of salt or butter, you can enhance foods with a variety of herbs, spices and low-fat condiments. Be creative. 

        Poach fish in low-fat broth or wine and fresh herbs. Top a broiled chicken breast with fresh salsa. Make meats more flavorful with low-fat marinades or spices -- bay leaf, chili powder, dry mustard, garlic, ginger, green pepper, sage, marjoram, onion, oregano, pepper or thyme. 

        To bring out the sweetness in baked goods, use a bit more vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg. 

        Adapting recipes

        If the recipe calls for
        Try substituting
        • For sandwiches, substitute tomato slices, catsup or mustard.
        • For stove-top cooking, sauté food in broth or small amounts of healthy oil like olive, canola or peanut or use non-stick spray.
        • In marinades, substitute diluted fruit juice, wine, or balsamic vinegar.
        • In cakes or bars, replace half the fat or oil with the same amount of applesauce, prune puree or commercial fat substitute.
        • To avoid dense, soggy or flat baked goods, don't substitute oil for butter or shortening, or substitute diet, whipped or tub-style margarine for regular margarine.
        Keep it lean. In soup, chili or stir-fry, replace most of the meat with beans or vegetables. As an entrée, keep it to no more than the size of a deck of cards -- load up on vegetables.
        Whole milk (regular or evaporated
        Fat free or 1% milk, or evaporated skim milk.
        Whole egg
        (yolk and white)
        1/4 cup egg substitute or 2 egg whites for breakfast or in baked goods.
        Sour cream
        Cream cheese
        Fat-free, low-fat or light varieties in dips, spreads, salad dressings and toppings. Fat-free, low-fat and light varieties do not work well for baking.
        In most baked goods, you can reduce the amount of sugar by one-half without affecting texture or taste, but use no less than 1/4 cup of sugar for every cup of flour to keep items moist.
        White flour
        Replace half or more of white flour with whole grain pastry or regular flour.
        • Use herbs (1 tbsp. fresh = 1 tsp. dried = 1/4 tsp. powder). Add towards the end of cooking and use sparingly -- you can always add more.
        • Salt is required when baking yest-leavened items. Otherwise you may reduce salt by half in cookies and bars. Not needed when boiling pasta.

        The above is an excerpt from the book The Mayo Clinic Diet: Eat well. Enjoy life. Lose weight., by the weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic and Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
        Reprinted from The Mayo Clinic Diet, © 2010 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Good Books (www.GoodBooks.com). Used by permission. All rights reserved.
        About Donald Hensrud, M.D.
        Donald Hensrud, M.D., M.P.H., is chair of the Division of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine and a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. He is also an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic. A specialist in nutrition and weight management, Dr. Hensrud advises individuals on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. He conducts research in weight management, and he writes and lectures widely on nutrition-related topics. He helped publish two award-winning Mayo Clinic cookbooks. 

        About Mayo Clinic
        Mayo Clinic is the first and largest integrated, not-for-profit group practice in the world. Doctors from every medical specialty work together to care for patients, joined by common systems and a philosophy that the needs of the patient come first. Over 3,600 physicians and scientists and 50,000 allied staff work at Mayo, which has sites in Rochester, Minn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. Collectively, Mayo Clinic treats more than 500,000 patients a year.

        For more than 100 years, millions of people from all walks of life have found answers at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic works with many insurance companies, does not require a physician referral in most cases and is an in-network provider for millions of people.
        For more information, please visit www.goodbooks.com/mayoclinicdiet and www.mayoclinic.com/diet.

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