! from hearts to hands: January 2010
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~ Leo Buscaglia

January 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday ~ Herbed Potato Soup

  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  1. Place potatoes and water in a large saucepan; cook over medium heat until tender.
  2. In another saucepan, saute onion, celery in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, thyme, rosemary, and pepper. Gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and carrots with cooking liquid; heat through.

January 14, 2010

Preparing for Natural Disasters

photo: 1906 San Francisco earthquake - public domain
My heart is heavy as I witness the devastation and despair being experienced by those who have survived Haiti’s horrific earthquake this week. While we can never been fully prepared for a natural disaster, there are things that we can do to be more prepared while awaiting for assistance from others.
Bare Essentials  
  • Water: We can survive long periods of time without food, but we can’t survive without water. Properly store a minimum of 6 gallons of water for each family member. Don’t forget your pets, too.
  • Food: Being the only nourishment that your family may receive, store away a supply of non-perishable canned and packed items that won’t require cooking. It’s wise to select a wide variety of items. Also remember to store away a manual can opener.
  • Survival Kit: Fill a waterproof tote with important items like flashlights, batteries, radios, clothing, bedding, and various tools. Inside keep an on-the-go bag that holds basics like clothes, cash, and important papers. It’s good to have on hand should you need to leave your home quickly.
  • First Aid Kit: Keep an up-to-date first aid kit in your home at all times. One that contains bandages, gauze, aspirin, and antibiotic cream.
  • Medications: Have an 3-5 day emergency supply of your important medications, and check the expiration dates on them regularly. If you have complicated medical issues, discuss an emergency plan with your doctor.
While the odds of a disaster striking are fairly low, it’s always wise to be prepared … just in case.


January 13, 2010

Letter Writing ~ A Lost Art

illustration: Letter Writing by 19th century Swedish artist Carl Larsson

When is the last time you either wrote or received a handwritten letter? For me it was a note written on the inside of a Christmas card from a dear friend who’s recently purchased a farm in Virginia. As I read, I could hear him speaking aloud, and I realized just how much I miss hearing his laughter, seeing his contagious smile all as he’d simultaneously dance a little jig for something that brightened his day that day.

It wasn’t until I received that note, that I realized just how long it’s been since I’ve handwritten a letter to either family or friends. Sure there are the random emails, or the infrequent text messages, but they are brief and quickly forgotten as I rush about my day. Reading a typed message somehow lacks the personality of a handwritten letter.

Earlier this week, I connected with Kathleen, a childhood friend, who moved to Utah twenty or so years ago to start her adult life full of jobs, volunteering, a husband and his children. As the years passed, we seemed to lose touch. Through the magic of Facebook, I discovered that she’s still very alive and well and already we’ve exchanged several emails as I still remember the letters we once exchanged. Hers always written in the smallest and neatest handwriting, fitting so much into such tiny little note card, while my larger, more flamboyant handwriting filled pages and pages in response.

It’s as I remember those letters, that I recall my anticipation as I checked my mailbox for ‘fun’ mail. When one arrived, I loved finding a quiet place where I could sit and leisurely catch up on what’s been happening, delighting over a new picture, a small doodle, or even a recipe, and afterward thinking about what I wanted to share in return. Tucked away I have a small box of treasured letters I’ve received since I was a little girl. When I find myself missing someone, like my Dad or Grandma who have both passed away, it brings me great comfort to still have that connection.

Writing letters is a way to connect with the loved ones around us, and it feels like that connection has been lost in this modern world we live in. I, for one, am not going to let the letter writing become a lost art. If anyone out there would like to write a letter and doesn’t have anyone to send one to, please let me extend an invitation. I would be thrilled to receive a letter from you.

Join me?

Wordless Wednesday - Devastating Earthquake in Haiti

photo:  Reuters

photo:  AFP/Lisandro Suero

photo:  Reuters TV

January 12, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Cheese Lover's Chicken

  • 2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 medium garlic clove, chopped
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Lightly grease a baking dish that is deep enough to allow at least one inch between the chicken and the top of the dish.
  • In a large pot over medium heat, stir together tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, parsley, basil, oregano, and garlic.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss chicken with bread crumbs until completely covered. Arrange chicken in baking dish and sprinkle to taste with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Top chicken with half of shredded Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Pour tomato sauce evenly over chicken. Reserve half of the remaining Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and sprinkle the rest over the chicken and sauce.
  • Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 50 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Remove foil, and top with remaining Cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Return dish to oven and cook, uncovered, until the cheese on top melts. Remove and let sit five minutes before serving.

January 10, 2010

A Life Purpose

Photo by Jerry McCrea

"One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested." ~ E.M. Forster

I Believe … each and every single one of us has a purpose in this life.

Many of us commit to endeavors and professions that we never consciously planned on pursuing and attribute our lives to being shaped based on circumstance. Others drift through their lives feeling directionless. Finding your purpose can help you realize your true potential and live a more authentic and fulfilling life.

How would you define your life purpose? I believe that it’s something that you focus on and move toward with intent and passion. It allows you to express your creativity and intelligence, to live in accordance with your values, and to find the joy of simply being yourself.

Discovering one's life purpose requires taking a close look at the interests that you have both explored and unexplored. During your search take stock of your beliefs, values, strengths, and passions. One’s love for a pursuit gives it meaning. I’ve been told that when you wake up eager to face each day, feeling both good about what you do AND also about who you are, then you’ll know that you have discovered your life’s purpose and work.

For me? Well, I have a persistent little inner voice who's becoming more and more outspoken.  The 'how' has always been left solely up to me; though at times my same inner voice whispers like a little birdie in my ear. 

Would you like to join me on this journey of discovery?
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