Thursday, August 30, 2012

Do What You Can

Getting fit and staying healthy should be a goal for everyone. However, with all the crazy busy lives we lead, it’s hard to make fitness a priority. All I can say is do what you can and don’t beat yourself up. If you have time for an hour-long walk, go for it. But if all you have is 15 minutes, that’s much better than not doing anything. You may even find another 15 minutes to walk later in the day.

A pair of free weights on the coffee table will remind you that you can do a little strength training while you watch your favorite TV shows, and it will keep you from mindlessly stuffing your face. Don’t forget to stretch all your major muscle groups after you finish.

Photo courtesy of Earl53 at

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Old Fashioned - Current Etiquette

I've been thinking about different etiquette articles to write at, and my head started spinning with all the areas of life where good manners are important. In fact, everything you do in a civilized society involves etiquette.

This is nothing new. I have dozens of reference books on this subject, and many of the etiquette rules date back to long before I was born. What's amazing is that most of the rules still hold true, with perhaps a few tweaks that allow for more current inventions such as the cell phone. Today I have a blog on that speaks to this: Is Etiquette Old Fashioned?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Not-So-Simple Fitness

For the past year, I’ve been working hard at losing some of this middle-age weight, and I’ve been somewhat successful. It hasn’t been easy, though. I’ve always enjoyed working out, so I thought my 2-mile-per-day walk would be enough. Apparently, that wasn’t the case because I put 30 pounds on over a couple of years. That should have been enough motivation to do something about it, but it wasn’t until my cholesterol followed in the same direction that fear kicked in.

I joined a health club and cut way back on some of the foods I suspected might be a problem. It has taken me a full year, some denial of things I enjoy, and a lot of hard work to get my cholesterol down to a healthy level, but I managed to do it without drugs. The side benefit is that I’ve taken off most of that 30 pounds I’ve gained, and I’m back to the size I wore several years ago. I've gone back to my daily walk, but instead of 2 miles, I walk 4 miles, and I've added more strength training and stretches to my program.

People often ask me how I did it, and I’m not sure I have a good answer that will work for anyone else. I also hesitate to recommend anyone go to the extreme measures I have because it’s hard to sustain, which is why I take it one day at a time.

Photo courtesy of A1bargain at

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Etiquette Guide at

I’m very excited to announce that I have recently become the Etiquette Guide at Over the past four years, I’ve written more than a thousand articles for e-zines and informational websites, so when I saw that this position was available, I jumped on it.

Since I’ve only recently begun with, I don’t have many articles on the site. The ones currently up include the ones I wrote for my audition and a few more that I wrote for good measure.

As my article list grows, I’ll post them here. In the meantime, if there are any etiquette issues you’d like for me to address, please leave a comment here or email me through the link on my website:

Photo courtesy of Octaviolopez at

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bartering Services

I recently watched a documentary on bartering and thought about how this is a fabulous solution to so many people’s situations in a struggling economy. No money ever has to change hands, yet everyone involved in the transaction can get something they need while giving back.

Most people know about trading things from when they were very young. Kids trade baseball cards, toys they’ve played with and grown tired of, and even lunches their mothers packed. This is a form of bartering that makes sense because it fills a need and saves money.

Bartering services can bring the same rewards. As a writer, I have a skill that can help some struggling business that needs ad copy, slogan, or a week’s worth of blog posts. In turn, that business might be able to offer something I need.

If you need something but find yourself strapped for cash, consider bartering. Take stock of your skills before you set out looking for a taker. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are writing, editing, art, photography, automobile repair, cleaning services, meal preparation, event planning, house painting, lawn care, web design, blogging, and computer repair. Before digging into your savings account, consider bartering for services.

Photo courtesy of Anitapatterson at

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Art of Friendship

Whether you live in the charming town of Bloomfield or a city as big as New York or Chicago, you probably have a small circle of close friends and a wider circle of acquaintances who can turn into close friends as you get to know them better. This can be challenging if you haven't learned some basic friendship skills, so head on over to Cherie Burbach's pages and read her articles on on

Monday, August 13, 2012

Naomi’s Oatmeal-Raisin-Carrot Cookies

And for dessert, she serves cookies so delicious no one will guess they’re good for you!

• 1-1/4 C butter or margarine
• 1 C brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 tsp. vanilla
• 1 C white flour
• 1/2 C whole wheat flour
• 2-1/2 C uncooked oatmeal
• 1 C raisins
• 1/2 C shredded carrots from the garden
• 1 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Mix butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until blended and smooth.
3. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well.
4. Add white flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oatmeal. Stir until blended.
5. Fold in the raisins and carrots.
6. Drop heaping tablespoon-size portions onto a cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes until chewy in the center and crisp on the edges.
8. Cool before removing from the cookie sheet.

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Naomi's Lumpy Smashed Taters

Once again, Naomi wows us with her kid-pleasing mashed potato recipe.
Take note of the secret ingredient.
• 4 large peeled and diced potatoes
• 2 C chopped cauliflower from the garden
• 2 T butter or margarine
• 1 C milk
• Salt to taste

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt and potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender.
2. In a separate pot, steam the cauliflower until tender.
3. Drain the potatoes and mash them.
4. Add the butter and mix well.
5. Slowly blend the milk into the potatoes, mashing as you go.
6. Drain the steamed cauliflower and mash it as much as you can. It’s hard to get all the lumps out with the potato masher, so if you want it smooth, you’ll need to run them through the food processor or blender with 1/4 C of milk.
7. Add salt to taste.

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Welcome to Bloomfield!

The authors of the Bloomfield series - Debby Mayne, Gail Sattler, Kathi Macias, Martha Rogers, Trish Perry, Miralee Ferrell, Jenness Walker, and Tracy Bowen - invite you to visit our delightful town of Bloomfield. Here's a peek at what you'll see in our beautiful little town:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tips for Beginning Herb Gardeners

One of the most satisfying ways for a new gardener to get started is to grow herbs. Not only are they easy to maintain, you will wow your family and friends with the rich flavors from fresh herbs.

• Start out with herbs you use the most frequently, such as basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley.
• Most herbs need at least five hours of sunlight, so choose a sunny window or patio location that gets full sun.
• Make sure your containers have holes in the bottom for drainage.
• Potting mix is ideal for container-grown herbs.
• Water frequently. Once the soil is dry below the surface, it’s time to add more water.
• Most potting mixes have some fertilizer, so read the label. Fertilize with about half the strength recommended for houseplant fertilizer. Since the flavor of herbs comes from their leaves, don’t use a fertilizer designed to promote the growth of flowers.
• If you add more than one type of herb to a pot, make sure they all require the same growing conditions.

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Naomi's Delicious but Nutritious Meatloaf

Naomi is known for cooking delicious meals and hiding extra vegetables that can’t easily be detected. Her motto: No one has to know they’re eatin’ healthy food as long as they enjoy it.

Here is one of her favorites:

Naomi’s Company-Favorite Lasagna

• 1 lb. ground beef
• 1 16-oz. can tomato sauce
• 1 16-oz. can diced tomatoes
• 2 T. fresh oregano
• 2 T. fresh basil
• 2 cups ricotta cheese
• 2 steamed zucchinis from the garden
• 15 dry lasagna noodles
• 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Spray baking dish with cooking spray or coat with oil to prevent sticking.
3. Reserve ½ cup of the tomato sauce and set it aside.
4. Pour the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes into a medium bowl.
5. Brown the ground beef. Add it to the tomato sauce.
6. Slice and steam the zucchini until tender. Pulverize it in the food processor so it can’t be detected. Add it to the tomato sauce.
7. Chop the fresh oregano and basil finely. Add it to the tomato sauce. Mix well.
8. Cover the bottom of the dish with the reserved tomato sauce and place the first layer of 3 noodles over that.
9. Cover the noodles with 1/2 cup of the tomato-beef-zucchini mixture.
10. Layer with 3 noodles.
11. Spread 1/2 of the ricotta cheese over the noodles.
12. Layer with 3 noodles.
13. Cover the noodles with 1/2 the remainder of the tomato-beef-zucchini mixture.
14. Layer with 3 noodles.
15. Spread the remaining half of the ricotta cheese over the noodles.
16. Layer with 3 noodles.
17. Pour the remainder of the tomato-beef-zucchini mixture on top.
18. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
19. Remove foil and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top.
20. Place the dish back in the oven for approximately 2 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.
21. Allow it to stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Photo courtesy of Seeman at