Quick Crisp Saturday, Feb 11 2017 

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Family cooks have brought about many of our favorite and comfort foods as the result of limited ingredients on hand, rethinking the use of ingredients, and errors in baking. You may know that the original chocolate chip cookie baker intended to make chocolate cookies but the chocolate never melted. The chocolate chip, instead of chocolate, cookie soon topped the list of all-time favorite treats.

I recently purchased a mega box of packaged serving size instant oatmeal forgetting how much I dislike it. Instant oatmeal makes a softer textured dish rather than the chewier old-fashioned version which I prefer.

So what to do with all this oatmeal? Today I turned some of it into a very quick Blueberry Crisp. I didn’t measure but can give you a general guide to follow.

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The simple recipe begins by spraying ramekins or a baking pan with non-stick spray. Toss blueberries or sliced peaches or apples (I used frozen organic blueberries), in a sprinkle of sugar. Fill dishes about 3/4 full. Blend a couple of tablespoons of softened butter and/or coconut oil with each package of instant, flavored oatmeal. (I used maple brown sugar.) If using unsweetened oatmeal, you will need to add sugar. You also may want to sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 until the topping browns.

Depending on the amount of butter and sugar added, this is a relatively healthy snack or breakfast that literally takes minutes to prepare. You can bake ahead and have them ready whenever you want. Just top with plain yogurt and serve.

(Check out my posts on Mary K Doyle Books or like me on Facebook to see all my posts.)

Socks, Please Santa Thursday, Dec 15 2016 

 

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The snow glitters in the blowing wind. Trees and decks and shrubs and ground are dusted in sparkling white snow. So pure, clean—and deceivingly inviting. The temperatures are frigid today, and so are we the moment we step outside.

It looks like we will have a cold winter this year in the U.S. Midwest and North, so we might think about adding socks to our list for Santa and purchasing a pair or two for someone in a homeless shelter. We’ll all endure the winter so much better if we do.

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Women’s fashions aren’t always thoughtful of what we ladies must endure. Live through a number of seasons and we encounter countless summers and winters when we are dressed for looks but not comfort. I know I’ve had too many summers when I was dressed too warm and too many winters when I could have had a few more yards of fabric on me!

A positive trend this winter season are knee and above socks. They’ve been out of fashion, and difficult to find, for many years. We have them back in full swing right now.

Neutral to an array of fun designs are available. We also have leg warmers again. I tried a pair yesterday, and I was amazed at how much warmer I was without the cold air penetrating my jeans. They were only $7 at Marshall’s, but the cute socks are more in the $15-$20 range.

(Why not check out my website or author Facebook page?)

 

Stop! Reflect! Give Thanks! Wednesday, Nov 23 2016 

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I’m not one to long for the past. My life’s been a mix of extremes—excellent and dreadful times. I look back on the good ones with gratitude and prefer not to relive those that were difficult.

However, I do miss the Thanksgivings of my childhood. Thanksgiving weekend was relaxing. We laid around through the weekend, savored the leftovers, watched tv, and visited friends and family. We were happy doing nothing! The Christmas chaos didn’t begin for weeks.

There’s no down time anymore. We clear the lavish Thanksgiving table without digesting that last piece of pumpkin pie, and are off and running through the New Year. There’s so much to do: shopping, wrapping, card writing, baking, cooking, and partying.

Please don’t let this very important holiday pass without a moment of pause. Reflect on our abundance and give thanks. Acknowledge our many blessings and appreciate the food and friendship around us. These are the riches of life.

Passionate! Tuesday, Sep 27 2016 

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Our passions are the frosting on the cake of life. Mine are evident from my blog posts. The majority are in regards to my family, faith, and writing. I also am passionate about healthy living and Alzheimer’s research and support.A day without at least one of these, is a sad day indeed.

My relationship with God is primary. My family is my greatest joy. And writing allows me to utilize my creativity in a ministry of offering readers credible information, guidance, and hope.

Living and breathing these passions is the fuel that keeps me going. I’ve faced, and am facing, a tremendous amount of challenges in several areas of my life, and I’m keeping afloat because of the blessings of my passions. They give purpose and value to my pain and growth.

Studies repeatedly find that people who have a purpose live longer and healthier. Our passions make us happy, and when we are happy, blood pressure and stress lowers, both of which positively impacts our health tremendously.They give reasons to drag ourselves out of bed. They offer an outlet to express ourselves and make us feel like our lives matter, what we do matters, we matter.

We typically have several passions. But if you are contemplating what yours might be, think about how something makes you feel.Most often, passions are ways in which we share the best of ourselves with others. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who or what means most to you?
  • Do you use your talents and gifts? How so?
  • How do you express your creativity?
  • What do you do for your closest circle of family and friends?
  • What types of goals do you set for yourself?
  • How do you help other people, animals, or our planet?

Making time to be aware of and delving into our passions every day brings joy. However, maintaining balance is essential. Anything we take to an extreme, can develop into an addiction.We are more than one thought or activity.I enjoy a piece of chocolate in the afternoon. But it wouldn’t be a treat if it was the only food I ate.

(Take a look at my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books, and author Facebook page.)

 

Essential Oil Pendants Wednesday, Sep 7 2016 

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As you’ve read in previous posts, I’m a fan of high quality essential oils. They have so many uses to support health and happiness. I use them for everything from cleaning and air freshening to flavoring water.

One way to benefit from essential oils is by diffusing. Most often this is done with a small appliance that spreads drops of the oil into the air with or without water.

Diffusing is also done by placing a couple of drops of essential oils on cotton balls or a pendant and allowing the oil to penetrate into the air. Pendants made of clay look attractive and work particularly well. They can be made simply or intricately depending on your creativity.

I had fun making some of these pendents for gifts and myself. I kept the rejects-which were many-and hung them in closets, my car, lingerie drawers, the laundry room, and placed them in my handbag and luggage. They also can be worn as a necklace which offers a way to enjoy the fragrance of your choice all day long.

To make them, purchase clay that air dries, string, leather, or ribbon, and beads or stones of your choice. You also might want to look for stampers, but check around your home first for buttons, leaves, jewelry, or other items that can make a deep enough impression into the clay.

Begin by taking a small amount of clay and knead it until soft and pliable. Roll out to the desired thickness. Thinner pendants are easier to wear. Thicker ones are best for larger spaces like closets. Cut into desired shapes. Gently press stampers or objects into clay being careful not to spread the clay. Take a straw, chopstick, small doll rod, or other round object to push through the top of the pendant for a hole for the string.

Loop the string through the hole and then slide the desired beads onto the string. Another option is to glue a magnet on the back and use the pendant for an air freshener on the refrigerator door.

Allow the clay to dry about three days. Then slowly drop essential oils onto the pendant. Be careful not to let the oil run to the back which can mark your clothes or object you place it on.

(See my newly updated website, Mary K Doyle, my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin and my Facebook author page.)

 

 

America’s Poor Thursday, Aug 11 2016 

My sister, Patti, a stock broker and financial adviser, often says, “It’s personal. The daily numbers are mostly irrelevant to investors. If they’re making money, then they feel the market is good. On the other hand, if their losing—not so good.”

Statistics typically tell such a story. Everything depends on how those numbers affect us personally.

The federal poverty level is a measure of income issued every year by the Department of Health and Human services. This level determines eligibility for certain programs and benefits, such as Medicaid and CHIP. The 2016 levels are $11,880 for an individual, $16,020 for a household of two, and $24,300 for a household of 4. In Alaska it is $14,840, $20,020, and $30,380 respectively. And in Hawaii, those numbers sit at $13,670, $18,430, and $27,950. No doubt, millions significantly above those numbers feel the poverty pinch.

The top 1% of the US population owns 43% of the country’s wealth. That leaves 99% with vastly lower income levels.In 2014, 14.8% of Americans were considered living in poverty. (However, the Supplemental Poverty Measure stated it was 15.3%.) That comes out to 1 in 3 Native Americans (two of the US’s poorest counties are located on Native American reservations), more than 1 in 4 African Americans and Hispanic Latinos, and 1 in 10 Asians and non-Hispanics living below the federal poverty line.

Women and children face the brunt of these numbers. If things continue as they are, more than half of all children below the poverty line will live in families headed by women, as two-thirds of the minimum wage earners are women, and one in seven women lives below the poverty line.

Three fourths of the poor are unemployed. The causes and cycle of poverty and unemployment are complex and many. Job shortages (there is only one job available for every 4 unemployed people) and job outsourcing, automation, limited education, illness and disabilities, elderly and children caregiving needs, inadequate transportation, over-spending/credit debt, and lack of mentoring lead the list.

I don’t know about you, but I believe it’s challenging to live at two to three times the federal poverty levels. Rent, utilities, food, insurances, medical, phone, and auto or travel expenses are basic needs yet take a substantial amount to keep afloat.

Food is the one area we can cut when short on funds. That results in a good number of Americans going to bed hungry. This is especially so for those who make more than the level to receive assistance but too low to purchase nutritional foods.

Children comprised 21.1% of this group and seniors 10%. Every county in the US note levels of food insecurities. The states of Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky are the hungriest. And households with children reported the highest rates overall.

If we have an extra buck, feeding and caring for the poor can be the best karma. Four out of 5 (79%) Americans live in danger of poverty at some point in their life. According to the government website, most Americans will spend at least one year below the poverty line between the ages 25 and 75.

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page? I also have a Facebook page for each of my books with information specific to that title.)

 

Know GMO Monday, Jul 18 2016 

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The more options science offers us, the more concerns we have in regards to ethics, health, and safety. Those concerns often create emotionally charged camps with opposing viewpoints. Such is the way with GMO products.

GMO, the acronym for Genetically Modified Organisms, and GE, the acronym for Genetically Engineered, refer to living organisms whose genetic material has been manipulated through biotechnology. Genes are isolated and added to cells in a laboratory to produce desired traits in new cells, altering the DNA.

Most developed nations, including Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union, either significantly restrict or ban the production and sale of GMOs. They consider them to be unsafe.

But, according to the FDA, GMO/GE foods are as safe as non-GMO since all must meet the same food safety requirements. The FDA also states that the practices of selective breeding and cross-breeding have been in existence for thousands of years with the same intent of creating more flavorful crops with higher yield and resistance to insects and diseases.

Foods from GMO plants were first introduced into the U.S. food supply in the 1990s. Today, cotton, corn, and soybeans are the most common GMO crops. In fact, 93% of all soybeans, and 88% of all corn planted, are from GMO seeds. Other major GMO crops include potatoes, squash, apples, and papayas.

Anti-GMO activists, who refer to these crops as “Frankenfoods,” argue that GMOs may cause environmental damage and health concerns. The non-profit organization, The Non-GMO Project, describes GMOs as living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated through genetic engineering creating “unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial, and viral genes that do not occur in nature.” In addition, they say that contrary to public belief, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Instead, The Non-GMO Project claims that there is evidence that GMOs do result in health problems, environmental damage, and violation of farmer’s and consumers’ rights. And there is great concern that  GMOs are engineered for herbicide tolerance. This results in increased use of toxic herbicides like Roundup, and the emergence of super weeds and bugs which require even more toxic poisons to extinguish them.

Since as much as 80% of conventionally processed foods contain GMOs, The Non-GMO project advises reading labels carefully. They offer the example of raisins that may be packed with a small quantity of oil which could present a high-GMO risk.

However, the ability for consumers to clearly identify products containing GMO ingredients is another dimension of the argument as companies are not required to disclose this information on labels (except in Vermont). A bill that recently passed will allow consumers access to this knowledge through some type of hidden labeling such as a “QR-code,” but this won’t happen for several years.

(The FDA states that GE/Genetically Engineered is the more accurate term. I use GMO in this post because it is more commonly used.)

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books and Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin or my Facebook author page? I also have a Facebook page for each of my books with information specific to that title.)

Everything Counts Saturday, Jun 25 2016 

Back in the 1980s I wrote a newspaper feature article on a cancer wellness center. One of the survivors said something that made so much sense, it stuck with me. She said that there wasn’t one reason why she developed cancer and so there wasn’t one practice needed to cure her. In addition to traditional surgery and chemotherapy, she also improved her diet, reduced stress, prayed more, and increased exercise, among other things.

After recently viewing the nine episodes of The Truth About Cancer, I was reminded of this interview. I believe the words of wisdom I was told 30 years ago still holds true and can be applied to most situations.

Whether we look at our financial state, level of crime in a city, world hunger, political unrest, obesity, or just about any health condition, most likely several issues contributed toward it, and therefore, more than one remedy is needed for a complete solution. One dollar won’t get us out of debt. But every dollar earned and saved eventually does. From the afternoon drive-through coffee to vacations beyond our budget, we can cut back and/or work an extra part-time job.

There’s always something we can do to participate in solving even the most dire situation. If we break it down, and honestly consider how we contributed toward the decline, as well as how we can bring about improvement, things do change.

(Like my author Facebook page to see more posts like this)

The Essence of Nature Saturday, May 14 2016 

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Lavender for sleep. Peppermint to keep alert while driving. Tea Tree Oil to disinfect. I’ve used essential oils since the early 70s, but now they are my go-to-source for nearly every need.

Young Living’s Purification eliminates odors in the trash can. Thieves cleans and disinfects counter tops. Lavender soothes burns. Peppermint keeps ants away. And the lovely fragrance of diffusing jasmine makes me happy.

Pure essential oils are concentrated compounds that have been pressed or distilled from plants. They do not have a fatty or oily component. They are called “essential” because they carry the essence of the plant or plant part they are made from.

Essential oils can be diffused, and some used directly on the skin or even ingested, if they are of high quality.

I was drawn to essential oils more recently because I sought a more natural pain remedy. I’m allergic to most prescription and over-the-counter ones. I also am trying to eliminate as many chemicals as possible. Essential oils have offered me many options for all of this.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books or my author Facebook page?)

Want Some Bugs with That Cake? Saturday, Apr 23 2016 

The concept of red velvet cake escapes me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of the flavors. But what’s wrong with chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting without dying the cake red?

Red velvet cake requires 2-4 tablespoons of red food coloring to transform the brown chocolate to red. And do you know what that red food coloring is made from? Bugs.

Red food colorants are typically made from chocineal, carmine, or carminic acid, all of which are made from crushed carcasses of a South and Central American insect known as the female dactylopious coccus. It takes about 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal.

The Aztecs and Mayans produced the red dye for coloring fabrics as far back as the 15th century. It became popularly used in foods in recent times as a safer alternative to those found to be carcinogenic. Today FD&C Red Dye #40 is also used. This dye is not made from insects but rather coal.

Red food coloring is used in most red drinks and candies as well as red velvet cakes. Check the labels to know for sure.And enjoy those tasty treats.

(Follow my posts on Mary K Doye Books and my Facebook author and book pages)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

 

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