Sunday, August 29, 2010

Whole grain muffins

I just put a batch of whole grain muffins in the oven. The recipe is on the package of Bob's Red Mill 8 grain hot cereal. If you aren't familiar with Bob's Red Mill products, look them up.

Ever since I discovered I had heart disease (or rather my doctor says I do, I have cause to dispute that. . . but anyway. . .)I stopped eating bacon/sausage and eggs for breakfast every morning and looked for other alternatives. . . but it had to be good. Bob's Red Mill is now owned by the employees since Bob retired. They have a multitude of really good - and highly nutritious - whole grain products. I make their hot cereals for breakfast most mornings and use them in recipes.

I freeze the muffins and take one or two out at a time. I use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Love 'em!

Friday, August 27, 2010

My window at work

I am fortunate to have a large window right by my cubicle. Here is what the sky looked liked at different times during the day today.

And here is where I spend 8 hours (and sometimes more) of every weekday. My cubicle area is bigger than it looks here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Making a big pot of my kale and sweet potato soup

My freezer in the basement is rather empty at the moment. Three seasons of the year I make a lot of soups, chowders, spaghetti sauce, and casseroles and freeze portions of them. It is nice to come home when you are tired and don't have a lot of desire to mess up the kitchen with a nice meal and just go to the freezer and pick whatever you want, warm it up and eat it without a lot of fuss.

So today I am beginning the process of replenishing my supply of "good food in a hurry"! I'm making one of my favorites, kale and sweet potato soup. It makes a big pot with plenty of leftovers for this week and lots more to freeze in individual servings.

Now, don't ask for the recipe! There is none. Here is what I always put in it and what I sometimes put in it!

First, the "always" list:

Two big cans of Swanson's Chicken Broth
One bunch of fresh kale, chopped
One or two sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Onions and garlic, chopped
One big can of whole tomatoes, chopped and include the juice from the can
One can of chick peas, drained and rinsed (if you use dried and cook them first, that's even better)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Now for the "sometimes" or "most of the time" list:

A whole chicken cooked and chopped
2 cups (plus or minus) of cooked pasta
A splash of wine
Chopped leeks

I let it simmer on the stove for several hours (all except the pasta - that's added the last 10 minutes of cooking). It's really good and a very nutritional meal with muffins or a slice of toasted garlic bread.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What happened to plain old toothbrushes?

A toothbrush should be something you give little thought to. You know, you brush your teeth at least twice a day, change to a new toothbrush ever 2 or 3 months. . . what more is there than that??? A few times a year I buy one or two new ones so that I always have at least a couple of new ones on hand.

Imagine my shock when I was in BJs recently looking at toothbrushes. What have they done to the lowly toothbrush? What was labeled as toothbrushes looked more like something out of a bad dream. A grotesque, twisted, multi-colored handle with U-shaped layers of bristles. Or even worse, I saw some that were actually thick plastic bristles.

Thinking maybe BJs buys in bulk for what doesn't sell in mainstream stores, I then went to Wegmans. . . for those of you outside the Wegmans market area, Wegmans is the ONLY place to shop for groceries - maybe I'll do a post on them sometime! Same products there.

Now I am starting to get irritated. All I want is a plain FLAT TOP bristle toothbrush with a handle that doesn't look like it was bent out of shape in the parking lot.

I checked my supply of new toothbrushes. I have three that are "proper toothbrushes" so I have time to scour the marketplace.

Meantime, if any of you know which stores sell my kind of toothbrushes, please let me know!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wagging tails can mend bodies, hearts, and minds

Below are excerpts from an article in the online newsletter from the Medical Center where I work. It really touched my heart. From time to time, I have seen these dogs "in action" at the hospital.

Taylor Lacey turns heads when she walks through the corridors of Strong Memorial Hospital on Wednesdays sporting a cute, maroon Friends of Strong bandanna and hospital I.D. Even though she's only 3, Taylor knows her way around the Hospital and is there to get down to business – providing unconditional acceptance and friendship to those most in need.

Taylor is one of 12 therapy dogs in the Strong P.E.T.S. (Pets Engaged in Therapeutic Socialization) pet therapy program. She and eleven canine colleagues – Billy, Kendall, Eile, Sam, Riley, Mandy, Yankee, Trella, Dar, Ransom and Ranger – take turns visiting select units guided by their handlers, offering a distraction from the stress of hospitalization and actively participating in rehabilitation.

Volunteer supervisor for Strong P.E.T.S. and Taylor’s owner, Ann Lacey, said, “People tell us we’ve the best job in the world, and I agree. We have all had so many wonderful experiences – I recently visited a patient with Alzheimer’s who was generally unresponsive, but when she saw Ransom and Kendall, she spent the morning stroking and petting them and talking about the dogs she had when she was younger. Her daughter said, ‘you brought my mother back to life.’”

Data on the health benefits of dogs abound: one Japanese study found pet owners made 30 percent fewer visits to doctors. An Australian study of 6,000 people showed that owners of dogs and other pets had lower cholesterol, blood pressure and heart attack risk compared with people who didn’t have pets.

Animal-assisted therapy began at Strong in the early 90s, when senior recreation therapist Anita Burton heard about the healing benefits of having dogs visit patients. She later approached Friends of Strong director Louise Criticos, who made the volunteer program happen. Lacey and her Sheltie, Rickey, were drafted to start the program. Rickey soon became known as “Dr. Rickey” because of his near-magical ability to make hurting people feel better. He spent the next 12 years of his life working at Strong up until the week before he died.

Wondering whether your dog could be a therapy dog? Perhaps, but not without training and testing. Animals and their handlers must conform to N.Y.S. Department of Health Guidelines for Animals in Hospitals and pass a vet screening exam and further training that tests their ability under a variety of situations – they must remain calm around loud noises, occasional jostling and crowds, and must also tolerate enthusiastic hugging, laughter, and often, tears. Dogs at Strong also work with stroke and paralyzed patients – reaching out to pet a dog is a great way to get a patient to move stiff fingers.

Lacey continued, “Dogs can help patients cope by taking their mind off of the pain. I remember visiting one little girl who had just asked for pain medication. After meeting Taylor, she said, ‘I don’t hurt anymore.’”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tuesday Night Defensive Pistol Shoot

I never thought I'd have a reason to look forward to Tuesday nights! That was before I joined the Tuesday Night Defensive Pistol Shoot at the Genesee Conservation League.

I am well aware that firearms are a major point of debate in this country. Some of my friends think all guns should be taken away from us and that "all guns are bad". The purpose of this post is not to debate that point, other than to tell you that I am a very strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.

The fact of the matter is, I grew up around guns. I was taught at a very early age just how lethal a gun can be if not handled properly. Some of my fondest memories from my growing up years are of going to the clay pits in my hometown of Pensacola, Florida, stacking up a pile of tin cans and shooting at them with an old .32 caliber revolver that my father owned.

When I married, my husband was an avid gun enthusiast and had an impressive collection of handguns. I got my New York State pistol permit way back in the early 1980's. . . in fact, now when I have to show my pistol permit, I often have to explain, "That picture is really me!"

My interest in guns went dormant for a lot of years. I was busy raising children and involved in their activities. While I was married, I just depended on my husband to protect me if, God forbid, the need ever came for the use of a gun for personal protection.

I have been on my own for quite a few years now and the world is a different place than it was even ten or twelve years ago. I used to think nothing of going anywhere downtown in Rochester, even by myself, or with my children when they were small. Folks, those days are gone forever.

I kind of gradually moved into carrying a concealed weapon. . . first, "some of the time" and then "most of the time." I was generally aware of the legalities of when you can defend yourself with a firearm and when you can't.

More and more I would hear on the news of a law abiding citizen using a firearm to protect themself. Oh, but this is something that would never happen to me.

One thing I really missed was having a place to just go shoot for fun at targets, whether it be a pile of tin cans or a bulls-eye paper target. I own property in rural Alabama but I can't just hop in the car on a Saturday and go down there, shoot a box of ammo and turn around and drive back!

So I joined Genesee Conservation League here in Rochester and I have truly enjoyed being a member there. First, I was a bit shy about joining in any of the group activities there. I'd just go to the range by myself and enjoyed target shooting.

Then I took a couple of classes and WOW! It was then that I realized just how much I DIDN'T know and how much I needed to learn!

Dave Jenkins, who owns Rochester Personal Defense, and who belongs to GCL, has an exceptional crew of instructors. In a weak moment, I let him talk me into coming to the Tuesday Night Defensive Shoot. MAN! What had I been missing all this time? I first went because it was fun. I had a safe place to shoot and the people there were very supportive and helpful. Then I realized just how much I was learning and how much my skills were improving by going each week.

The Tuesday night group is all about defensive shooting. There are different scenarios each week. Basically, you are to shoot the bad guy and avoid shooting the good guy. Now, the bad guys and good guys are nothing more than posters of people and also cardboard covered in T-shirts. If you see a picture of a gun on the target, that's a bad guy. If not, it's a good guy. A Range Safety Officer stands behind you as you are shooting and believe me, these people watch every move you make. When you are finished they tell you everything you did wrong and things you need to improve on. It has been a goldmine of knowledge for me.

Everyone that owns a gun for personal protection hopes the day never comes when they have to use that weapon to defend their life or that of someone else. But I can tell you with all honesty, if that day ever comes in my life, I have had excellent training and guidance and I am confident I will prevail.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Working in a major medical center, I see the value everyday of research. Now there is a website where you can volunteer to be a research subject. No, I'm not talking about the kind of research that is dangerous to your health or well being!

Without going into a lot of detail, research today is carefully regulated to protect the volunteer.

On, you can learn all the information you need to know to decide if you want to volunteer for research. You can narrow your choices of being a volunteer to location and other parameters. I chose only to volunteer at the University of Rochester Medical Center where I work.

You are never under any obligation and can opt out of volunteering at any time, even after you are part of a study. And it is completely confidential.

I signed up a few months ago and was recently contacted by a researcher via e-mail for a study. I agreed to talk to the individual by phone. It is a study on platelets. When I met their initial criteria, I was invited to come in for my first visit. The only hardship I endured was having to go without breakfast and my beloved coffee on the morning of my visit! Once I sat down and began talking with the researcher, he asked if I had any questions. I said, "Yeah, how soon before I can have my cup of coffee?" As it turned out, because I had recently had blood drawn for my routine visit to my primary care doctor, I didn't even have to have blood drawn that morning. They went into the computer and got the information on me they needed. . . meaning I gave up my coffee that morning for nothing!!! I will be called in one more time and at the end of my commitment, I will be paid a nominal sum of money.

Please take a moment to visit to learn more and decide if you want to be a part of this very worthwhile opportunity.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A surprise letter in today's mail

One of my elderly second cousins sent me a letter today. She had been going through some old boxes and found a handwritten note from my dad when he was in World War II. I recognized his handwriting as soon as I opened the envelope. She wrote that all the cousins were close when they were growing up.

Now let me tell you about this cousin!!! She and her brother, geez, they must both be well into their 90's, never married and they've lived together all these years. This past March when my cousins and I (the younger generation!) met on our family land down in Alabama, these two came to visit. He still drives. I wonder why his car has so many scrapes and dings? The rest of us were dressed in our jeans and T-shirts and sneakers. After all, we were out in the middle of the rural Alabama woods with just family! But here this pair came dressed like they were going to church! Very old school Southern mindset!!!

God bless them! Who knows how folks will talk about us when we are that old!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Feel good places on the web

I found this list today on the web. . . I would say I found it on, but some of my friends would have a fit if they thought I followed cnn, right Jackie? (I also follow!)

Anyway, here is a list of sites that will put a smile on your face and just plain make you feel good, in spite of all the doom and gloom in the news today. Check them out and I'd be interested to know what you think of them.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Flowers in my yard

Here are pictures of flowers blooming in my yard this summer.

Across the back fence in the backyard I planted these shrubs about 4 years ago when they were no more than 3 feet high. They are a type of hydrangea. In late June, early July they have large white blooms on them which gradually turn pink. I am pleased with the way they have grown and given me a beautiful privacy barrier. Along the east side of my backyard, I have six lilac bushes, all different varieties, which really grew fast. In May, they are covered with big beautiful blooms. They were planted the year after these hydrangeas.

Under the big tree in the front yard, I always plant red and white impatiens. These haven't grown as well this year as in previous years. But they are still pretty.

These are my black-eyed susans out front. The coneflowers are a little past peak.