Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bookcases Aren't Just For Books Anymore

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In our last house, we had built-in bookcases on each side of the fireplace in the family room. One of my favorite projects was dressing those shelves. That's right, dressing them. It's fun and easy to make shelves interesting by adding a variety of elements other than books.

Okay, here are some tips.

1. Empty the shelves of their contents. Now is the time to clean or paint before beginning.

2. Search your attic or other rooms for interesting objects that you may want to use. A bookcase is not only for books. You'll want to add a little sparkle with brass or glass. You can introduce form and color by using interesting objects.

3. Sort books by subject and/or size. Place them on the shelves, leaving some blank spaces for your objects. Stack some on their sides, and place some vertically.

4. Now begin to place your objects in the spaces you've left. Attractive baskets or boxes can offer convenient hiding places for extra storage.

5. Then add the sparkle with ceramics, brass, silver, family photos, etc. This will personalize your bookcase.

6. Hanging framed art on the front of the bookcase adds the unexpected.

There you have it - a beautiful focal point for your room. Give it a try. You'll be surprised by what you already have in you home that will add warmth and individuality to your shelves.
photo credit: Annie Schlechter
Photo Source: House Beautiful

Friday, January 30, 2009

How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

Produced by Azon Juan
Food editor Ian Knauer demonstrates how to cut perfect chicken pieces every time.

Source: Gourmet Magazine

Cashew Cheese

I have a delectable recommendation for you. Chocolate & Zucchini is a food blog that showcases delicious recipes and beautiful photographs - all prepared, photographed and written by a delightful Parisian woman.

Her bio states: Chocolate & Zucchini is a blog written by Clotilde Dusoulier, a 24 25 26 27 28 29-year-old Parisian woman who lives in Montmartre and shares her passion for all things food-related -- thoughts, recipes, musings, cookbook acquisitions, quirky ingredients, nifty tools, restaurant experiences, ideas, and inspirations.

Clotilde warns that Cashew Cheese does not offer instant gratification, since the recipe requires soaking the cashews for a couple of hours and allowing the "cheese" to set for a day, but she says, "Delayed gratification is fine by me, especially when it takes such a flavorsome form."

Cashew Cheese

- 190 grams (1 1/2 cups) plain cashew nuts (not roasted or salted)
- 60 to 80 ml (1/4 to 1/3 cup) water
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or good vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- freshly ground pepper

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Place the nuts in a salad bowl, cover with fresh water, and let stand for 2 hours.

Drain the nuts and place them in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) water and the rest of the ingredients, and mix until thoroughly puréed, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl every once in a while. Add a little more water and blend again to adjust the consistency, if necessary; the cheese will get a little more solid as it sets.

Transfer to a bowl, cover, and let stand somewhere cool for 24 hours before placing in the fridge, where it will keep for another 5 days.

Get the story behind the recipe here.

Adapted from Real Food Daily.

Turn Stress into Strength

Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress, says many women don't realize they are addicted to stress because they are not paying attention to their own needs. "Instead of helicoptering over everyone else and their happiness, it's time to helicopter over yourself and identify that pattern of [being an] overdoer at home and at work," she says. Debbie shares ways to combat stress and turn it into useful energy.
Photo:© 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation

Reclaim Your Identity

Find the hidden girl within! Who were you before you became a wife, mother or colleague? What makes your heart sing? What do you enjoy doing? "You need to go back to the basics of your identity," Debbie says. Think about what you like to do and ask others what you are good at doing and write these things down. Debbie says you should ask yourself, "What is it I want to accomplish for myself instead of other people?"

Learn to Become a Healthy Narcissist
You don't need to be self-obsessed to be a healthy narcissist, Debbie says. Instead, engage in good self-care, she says. "Dress to please yourself and for success," Debbie says. "Your accessories, anything about you, even the jewelry you wear—whether it is costume or it is real or it is fun—it expresses who you are, your identity to others."

Build a Healthy Body
Lift weights to lift your spirit or take an aerobics class to sweat away the stress of the day, Debbie says. "Because I am exercising and feeling fit and energetic and ridding myself of stress, I will [also] eat healthy, because my body is my temple," she says.

Cultivate Your Sense of Fun and Humor
Reduce problems and stress to absurdity by looking at life with a sense of humor, Debbie says. Then, learn some jokes, read funny books and watch funny TV shows. "If you keep looking at 'funny,' it will become a part of you," Debbie says. "Pretend you are a detective and you've got this eye for humor. I think if you find someone who makes you laugh or smile, conjure that up [during a stressful moment], and it just breaks the perspective immediately."

Jump-Start Your Libido
Women get depleted from their constant to-do list, and sex is often the last thing on their minds, Debbie says. "A woman has to relax, she has to be in a good zone, and if she is stressed, [sex] is just not going to happen," she says. "There has to be a point where you say, '[Intimacy] is special for me, and I am scheduling it and I am making time,' and then everything will be better for you because you will be happier. This is a way to harness your power."

Reframe Your Thoughts
When people get upset, they create a negative stories. Why not make your stories positive instead? "Come up with a way to create a positive story where you are the heroine, and this way you build up immunity to all this negativity," Debbie says.

Bring In The Light

My brother just finished a family room addition on his house. Large windows on three of the walls are a defining characteristic of the room. As in the following rooms, he has chosen to minimize window treatments, allowing nature to become a part of the space.
Photographer: Bruce Buck

Logan designed wide, low windows for the living-dining room to capture expansive views of the prairie and foothills. Deep profiles created by the house's 32-inch-thick exterior adobe walls allow for window seats throughout the space.

All the furnishings were selected with purpose. The heavily corded natural-fiber rug from the Philippines refers to the texture of bark; the light and dark themes invoke the play of sunlight on the ancient tree limbs.
Photographer: Grey Crawford
Source: pointclickhome

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Easy Party Dips

At game day parties or casual potlucks, these creamy dips are sure to dazzle the crowd. Each of oue is delicious, travels beautifully, and whips up in minutes.

Creamy Blue Cheese and Onion Dip
Makes: 1 3/4 cups

* 1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
* 2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix
* 1/4 to 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (1 to 2 ounces)
* 1 tablespoon milk (optional)
* Vegetable dippers: carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower florets, green pepper strips


1. Stir together sour cream and soup mix in a mixing bowl. Stir in blue cheese. Chill till ready to serve. If mixture is too stiff after chilling, stir in milk. Serve with vegetable dippers. Makes 1-3/4 cups.

Hot Artichoke and Asiago Cheese Dip
Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 45 minutes
  • Baked Pita Chips
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces Asiago or Parmesan cheese, finely shredded (1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup bottled roasted red sweet peppers, drained
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • Bottled roasted red sweet pepper strips (optional)
  • Fresh parsley leaves (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare and bake the Baked Pita Chips. Set aside.

2. In a food processor*, combine cream cheese, Asiago cheese, and garlic. Cover and process until mixture is combined. Add artichoke hearts, 1 cup roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and green onion. Cover and process with on/off turns until finely chopped. Transfer mixture to a 1-1/2-quart shallow baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate, spreading mixture evenly in dish.

3. Cover and bake dip about 25 minutes or until heated through. (Or microwave, uncovered, on 70% power [medium-high] for 6 to 8 minutes or until heated through, stirring the dip and turning the dish halfway through cooking time.)

4. Serve the warm dip with Baked Pita Chips. If desired, garnish with roasted red pepper strips and parsley leaves. Makes 12 servings.

5. Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare and bake the Baked Pita Chips as directed; transfer chips to wire racks to cool. Place in an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the chips, covered, at room temperature.

6. Mixer Directions: In a medium mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and Asiago cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until combined. Finely chop garlic, artichoke hearts, 1 cup roasted red peppers, mushrooms, and green onion. Stir into cheese mixture. Transfer to baking dish and bake as directed.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 126,
  • Total Fat (g) 10,
  • Saturated Fat (g) 7,
  • Cholesterol (mg) 31,
  • Sodium (mg) 271,
  • Carbohydrate (g) 4,
  • Fiber (g) 2,
  • Protein (g) 5,
  • Vitamin C (DV%) 59,
  • Calcium (DV%) 11,
  • Iron (DV%) 7,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
One-Step Artichoke Bean Dip with Roasted Red Peppers
This creamy dip of cannelloni beans and artichokes is ready to go in just 20 minutes. Garlic and cayenne pepper punch up the flavor. Fresh basil and roasted red pepper make a quick (and beautiful) topper.
Prep: 20 minutes


  • 1 19-oz. can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup roasted red sweet pepper strips
  • 1 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil
  • Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • Assorted crackers, toasted baguette slices, or toasted pita chips


1. In a food processor combine beans, artichokes, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. Cover and process until almost smooth, scraping sides of bowl as necessary. Transfer to serving bowl. Cover; let stand at room temperature until ready to serve (up to 2 hours). Or cover and chill up to 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature about 1 hour before serving. To serve, sprinkle lightly with additional salt. Top with roasted red sweet pepper strips and basil. Serve with crackers, baguette slices, or pita chips. Makes 12 to 14 (3-tablespoon servings).

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 76,
  • Total Fat (g) 5,
  • Saturated Fat (g) 1,
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g) 3,
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g) 0,
  • Cholesterol (mg) 0,
  • Sodium (mg) 207,
  • Carbohydrate (g) 8,
  • Total Sugar (g) 0,
  • Fiber (g) 3,
  • Protein (g) 3,
  • Vitamin C (DV%) 18,
  • Calcium (DV%) 2,
  • Iron (DV%) 7,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

I know this next one has been around for awhile, but sometimes you just want something you can depend on. This is one of my go-to recipes. It serves a large group and they always love it.

Mexican Seven-Layer Dip
Prep: 15 minutes
Chill: 4 to 24 hours


  • 1 9-ounce can bean dip
  • 1/4 cup picante or taco sauce
  • 1 8-ounce container refrigerated guacamole
  • 1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or taco cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion (2)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced pitted ripe olives
  • 2/3 cup chopped, seeded tomato (1 medium)
  • 8 cups tortilla chips or crackers


1. Combine bean dip and picante sauce; spread into a rectangle about 9-by 5-inches on a serving platter making a layer about 1/4 inch thick. Next carefully layer avocado dip and sour cream. Top with cheese, green onion, and olives. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.

2. Before serving, sprinkle with chopped tomato. Serve with tortilla chips.

3. Makes 16 appetizer servings (1/4 cup dip and 1/2 cup chips)

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 174,
  • Total Fat (g) 11,
  • Saturated Fat (g) 4,
  • Cholesterol (mg) 14,
  • Sodium (mg) 265,
  • Carbohydrate (g) 14,
  • Fiber (g) 2,
  • Protein (g) 5,
  • Vitamin C (DV%) 4,
  • Calcium (DV%) 10,
  • Iron (DV%) 5,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
For more party dips: BHG

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Photos of White House Interiors

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Influenced by history, the times in which she lives, and her own personal style, each First Lady leaves her mark on the White House. Jacqueline Kennedy convinced Congress to pass legislation that designated the White House a museum, but it is still a home , and the First Family lives, works and plays there.

I'm happy with the recent deluge of "insider" photos and information regarding the interiors of the White House. I hope you enjoy the following photos taken during the years of former First Families.
Following Photos: The White House Master Bedroom

Eisenhower 1953-1961

Kennedy 1961-1963

Ford 1974-1977
Reagan 1981-1989

Following Photos: The White House West Sitting Hall.

Eisenhower 1953-1961

Kennedy 1961-1963

Carter 1977-1981
Reagan 1981-1989

George H.W. Bush 1989-1 993

Of Interest
Editor-in-chief Deborah Needleman has written an article that makes observations about Jacqueline Kennedy's design legacy. You can find it in The New York Times. Decorative arts historian R. Louis Bofferding gives away the secrets about how Jackie got her way.

Source: domino

Superbowl Snack Recipes

Superbowl Sunday is coming up this weekend. No matter who you will be cheering for, you'll want some good eats. Here are a few recipes for the big day. Enjoy!

Buffalo Wings
Prep: 20 minutes
Marinate: 30 minutes

  • 12 chicken wings (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  • 3 tablespoons bottled hot pepper sauce
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 recipe Blue Cheese Dip or Low-Fat Blue Cheese Dip
  • Celery sticks (optional)


1. Cut off and discard tips of chicken wings. Cut wings at joints to form 24 pieces. Place chicken wing pieces in a resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish.

2. For marinade, stir together melted butter, hot pepper sauce, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper. Pour over chicken wings; seal bag. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain; discard marinade.

3. Place the chicken wing pieces on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn chicken wings. Broil for 10 to 15 minutes more or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Serve with Blue Cheese Dip and, if desired, celery sticks.

4. Makes 12 appetizer servings

5. Blue Cheese Dip: In a blender or food processor combine 1/2 cup dairy sour cream,1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing, 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese,1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or white vinegar, and 1 clove garlic, minced. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Cover and chill for up to 1 week. If desired, top with additional crumbled blue cheese before serving. Makes 1-1/4 cups.

6. Low-Fat Blue Cheese Dip: Prepare as above, except substitute fat-free dairy sour cream and fat-free mayonnaise dressing or salad dressing for the regular sour cream and mayonnaise.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 149 cal., 10 g total fat (4 g sat. fat), 38 mg chol., 283 mg sodium, 3 g carbo., 0 g fiber, 11 g pro.
Daily Values: 11% vit. A, 1% vit. C, 5% calcium, 3% iron
Exchanges: 1 1/2 Lean Meat, 1 1/2 Fat

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 221,
  • Total Fat (g) 19,
  • Saturated Fat (g) 6,
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g) 6,
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g) 6,
  • Cholesterol (mg) 47,
  • Sodium (mg) 258,
  • Carbohydrate (g) 1,
  • Total Sugar (g) 0,
  • Fiber (g) 0,
  • Protein (g) 11,
  • Vitamin A (DV%) 0,
  • Vitamin C (DV%) 1,
  • Calcium (DV%) 5,
  • Iron (DV%) 4,
  • Lean Meat (d.e.) 1.5,
  • Fat (d.e.) 3,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Veggie-Stuffed Quesadillas
Makes: 10 servings
Prep: 20 minutes
Bake: 5 minutes


  • 2 small green and/or red sweet peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small red onion, cut into thin 1-inch-long strips
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or cooking oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese (tub style)
  • 5 6- to 7-inch flour tortillas
  • Salsa (optional)


1. In a large nonstick skillet cook sweet peppers and onion in 1 teaspoon of the oil for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in cumin and chili powder. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in parsley. Set aside.

2. Spread cream cheese over half of 1 side of each tortilla. Top with pepper mixture. Fold tortilla in half over peppers, pressing gently.

3. Place tortillas on an ungreased large baking sheet. Brush tortillas with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Bake in a 425 degree F oven for 5 minutes. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges. Serve warm. If desired, pass the salsa. Makes 10 servings.

Nutrition Facts

  • Servings Per Recipe 10 servings
  • Calories 85,
  • Total Fat (g) 3,
  • Saturated Fat (g) 1,
  • Cholesterol (mg) 4,
  • Sodium (mg) 118,
  • Carbohydrate (g) 11,
  • Fiber (g) 1,
  • Protein (g) 2,
  • Vitamin C (DV%) 21,
  • Calcium (DV%) 4,
  • Iron (DV%) 4,
  • Starch (d.e.) .5,
  • Vegetables (d.e.) .5,
  • Fat (d.e.) .5,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
Nacho Potato Skins
Makes: 24 servings
Start to Finish: 1 hour

  • 6 medium potatoes, such as russet (2 pounds)
  • Cooking oil, shortening, butter, or margarine
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • Ground red pepper
  • 4 ounces co-jack cheese, cheddar cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese with peppers, shredded (1 cup)
  • Toppers, such as dairy sour cream, salsa, guacamole, chopped tomato, chopped sweet pepper, sliced green onion, sliced pitted ripe olives, or snipped fresh cilantro


1. Heat oven to 425 degree F. Thoroughly scrub potatoes; pat dry. Rub with cooking oil, shortening, butter, or margarine; prick potatoes with a fork. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes or till tender. (Or, microwave on high for 15 to 20 minutes or till tender.) Cut potatoes lengthwise into quarters. Scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/4-inch-thick shells. Reserve the pulp for mashed potatoes or another use.

2. Brush both sides of the potato pieces with the 1/4 cup butter or margarine. Sprinkle the insides with seasoned salt and ground red pepper. Place potato pieces, skin sides up, on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat for 3 minutes.

3. Turn potato pieces skin sides down. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Broil 2 minutes more. Arrange the potato pieces on a heated serving platter. Serve with desired toppers. Makes 24 servings.

To Make Ahead: Bake, scoop, and season the potatoes. Place in a covered container and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Herb and Cheese Mini Quiches
Prep: 1 hour
Bake: 25 min.


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese (1 ounce)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, light cream, or milk
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Gouda or Havarti cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh tarragon or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  • 1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • Roasted red pepper, finely chopped
  • Snipped fresh chives


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. For pastry, in a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in the flour and Asiago cheese until a soft dough forms. Press 1 rounded teaspoon of the pastry evenly into the bottom and up the side of each of 48 ungreased 1-3/4-inch muffin cups.

2. For filling, in a medium bowl, stir together eggs; half-and-half, light cream, or milk; Gouda or Havarti cheese; pine nuts; tarragon; the 1 tablespoon chives; and the black pepper.

3. Spoon about 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling into each pastry-lined muffin cup. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool slightly in muffin cups. Carefully remove from muffin cups; place on a wire rack or serving platter. Top with chopped roasted red pepper and additional snipped chives. Serve warm.

4. Makes 48 mini quiches

5. To Make Ahead: Prepare, bake, and cool quiches. Place in freezer container, seal and label. Freeze for up to 3 months. To use, thaw in refrigerator overnight. Arrange quiches on baking sheet. Heat in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until warm.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 77,
  • Total Fat (g) 6,
  • Saturated Fat (g) 4,
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g) 2,
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g) 0,
  • Cholesterol (mg) 25,
  • Sodium (mg) 53,
  • Carbohydrate (g) 4,
  • Total Sugar (g) 0,
  • Fiber (g) 0,
  • Protein (g) 1,
  • Vitamin C (DV%) 0,
  • Calcium (DV%) 2,
  • Iron (DV%) 2,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

More Big Game Snacks can be found at Better Homes and Gardens.

Perciatelli With Shrimp and Garlic Breadcrumbs

I tried a new recipe last night, Perciatelli With Shrimp and Garlic Breadcrumbs . My husband and I love pasta in all it forms. In fact, we've never met a pasta we didn't like.

I found this recipe over at Sidewalk Shoes. Pam found the recipe in The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh and she posted it here with a much prettier photo.

We love shrimp at our house, and we're fortunate to have access to some of the best seafood in the world. My brother has a seafood wholesale business, and what he doesn't sell, he has access to through other sources. We always know it's fresh and has been handled properly.

We made this last night while sipping a glass of wine. It was fun until I found that my itty bitty (professional culinary term) food processor was broken when I tried to make the bread crumbs. Never fear. I brought the big daddy of them all out and processed away. The garlicky bread crumbs were great.

Please have mercy on my photo. I didn't even plate it. I just snapped away and we dug in. If you enjoy pasta, shrimp and garlic, I would give this recipe a whirl.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Health Benefits of Black, Green, White, and Oolong Tea

The following post is my contribution to The Inspired Room's Beautiful Life series. I believe that a healthy body contributes to a happy life. Thanks, Melissa.

As I placed a new calendar on the bulletin board at the beginning of this month, I decided to take at least one healthy step into the new year. I wanted to build a new habit that would be beneficial to my health.

My time is not my own, and there can be demands that are immediate at any given time of the day. My new habit had to be something easy, something I actually thought I could still be doing on December 31, 2009.

I wanted my goal to be small, specific, and so simple that failure would be an impossibility. Most importantly, I wanted it to be something that would have the potential to offer health benefits if I stuck with it.

I decided that drinking green tea would be my new habit. What could be easier? I would - at the very least - take a few minutes every afternoon to sip a cup of green tea with lemon. Who knew it would turn into a few minutes of solitude, a time when I stop and take a deep breath to unwind? It helps me get in touch with what's going on inside. I can feel my body and mind as it relaxes and gives in to the slowness of the moment.

The best part is the added health benefit of drinking green tea. Studies are indicating some interesting results as you'll read in the following article. I always add a slice of lemon to the cup because I've read that it significantly contributes to the increase of the antioxidant effect. Drinking tea - an easy way to add a healthy habit to your day.

I hope you find the following article interesting and helpful.
Topping the list of surprising superfoods is tea—any type that comes from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, including black, green, white, and oolong.
Many studies have looked at the health benefits of tea. While the jury is still out on some of these potential benefits, there appears to be compelling evidence for tea's ability to reduce the risk of heart disease.

"There are some intriguing studies that tea may prevent cancer, reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, and impact halitosis [bad breath], and while these studies are more speculative, the strongest evidence is on the reduction of coronary heart disease risk," says Tufts University researcher Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD.

Tea's secret ingredient is catechins, a type of flavonoid from the family of disease-fighting antioxidant phytochemicals that is also found in fruits, vegetables, and red wine.

Not just any cup of tea will provide you with a healthy dose of flavonoids. Strong, steeped tea is richest in these phytochemicals. And the longer you steep your tea, the more of these healthy extracts your beverage will contain.

Because iced tea is typically diluted, it's not as good a source as hot tea. Bottled teas start off with low levels of flavonoids, and tend to lose potency over time. Decaffeinated tea is a good option, though it has about 10 percent fewer phytochemicals than tea with caffeine.

So how much tea should you drink? Some studies have suggested that drinking three cups each day can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Blumberg suggests choosing tea whenever you can. He points out that it can contribute as much antioxidants as a serving of fruit or vegetable without the calories, and is far preferable to soft drinks.

If you add sugar or full-fat milk to your tea, do so sparingly. These additions can turn naturally noncaloric tea into a high-calorie beverage.

For more surprisingly healthy foods continue...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

50 Ways to Eat Green

The Bon Appétit Guide to Cooking Up a Greener World
January 2009
If only eating green were as simple as going to a farmers' market, buying organic, and reusing that shopping tote at the grocery store. That's a darn good start, but there are so many other ways to shop, cook, dine out, and even clean that can have a more meaningful impact on our environment. The 50 tips and recipes here will help cut down on landfill, pesticide use, overfishing, and the consumption of fossil fuels. They will also slow down the depletion of the ozone layer, encourage the humane treatment of livestock, improve the welfare of workers, reduce toxic chemicals in your home, and likely make you healthier along the way. Plus, you'll be making and eating some amazing food. (Like an environmentally friendly Bison Burger, pictured right.) Read on to learn how to cook up a greener, more delicious future.
1. Eat More Chocolate
2. Boil Once, Cook Twice
3. Fill up Your Freezer
4. Don't Read the Omnivore's Dilemma
5. Make a Bison Burger (pictured)
6. Ask Your Farmer These Questions
7. Don't Open That Door
8. Buy a Side of Beef
9. Cook More Often
10. Roast a Whole Chicken
11. Become a Human Food Processor
12. Eat Alaskan Wild Salmon
13. Savor Sardines
14. Get the Scoop
15. Plant an Heirloom Vegetable Garden
16. Learn How to Read a Carrot...
17. Buy Barramundi
18. Be Your Own Barista
19. Treasure Your Trash
20. Make Stocks
21. Make Your Own Cereal
22. Join a CSA
23. Eat American Cheese
24. Text Fishphone
25. Veg Out
26. Turn Off the Lights
27. Clean Green
28. Start Composting Tonight
29. Eat Grass-Fed Beef
30. Become an Urban Forager
31. Eat Sustainable Shrimp
32. Eat Free Food
33. Get Blasted
34. Eat Sustainable Sushi
35. Become a Locavore
36. Bike to the Market
37. Support Your Local Green Restaurant
38. Go Bento
39. Eat More Tofu
40. Stop Whistling
41. Use Your Dishwasher
42. Bag It
43. Mix Your Drinks
44. Take the Leftovers
45. Pack Your Own Lunch
46. Support Your Local Winemaker
47. Read Fritz Haeg's Edible Estates
48. Keep the Greens
49. Plan Your Paper Use
50. Recycle Bon Appétit

Source: Bon Appétit

Renovating This Old House

An 1884 House in Chicago gets a Second Lease on LifeI found this house renovation in Architectural Digest. We've had old houses, and made many improvements to them over the years, but never have we embarked upon the extensive renovation that a couple in Chicago did to this old house. Renovating a house from by gone days used to be a dream of mine, but at some point the reality became, well, too real. Circumstances stepped in, and eventually the moment passed us by. Still, I love to read about and look at the photos of a well done renovation.

The idea of taking something that was once beautif
ul and useful and bringing it back to life is very alluring. The difference is that I only look at great renovations from afar, but I always walk away with ideas that I can apply to my own house. Take a look at this beauty in Chicago.
Click on photos to enlarge.

A mixed-media work by Linda Mieko Allen is in the living area.

Besides being unstable, the stair adjacent to the living area “didn’t allow the layout the clients wanted,” recalls the architect. “So we moved it toward the center.” More windows were installed to brighten the room. Glant sofa fabric. Chair fabric, Brunschwig & Fils.

“The furnishings were chosen for their interesting profiles and eclectic style—and to suit a family that enjoys entertaining,” says Gomez. Part of the first floor was reconfigured to create the dining and living areas. Baker dining chairs. Drapery sheer, Rogers & Goffigon.

The kitchen was transformed into a room for serious cooks, complete with a center island and a pizza oven. BDDW stools. Pendant lights, Urban Archaeology. Kallista faucet.

In the library, the team preserved an original stained-glass window. Its hues complement those of the carpet and stand out against the room’s new chestnut paneling. The painting is by Hung Liu. Wool drapery sheer, Rogers & Goffigon. Lamps from Yale R. Burge.

Renovation Architecture by William Massey, AIA/Interior Design by Mariette Himes Gomez, ASID
Text by Amanda Vaill/After Photography by Tony Soluri
Published February 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Morning Ritual

The following is a contribution to The Inspired Room's Beautiful Life series.

One of my solitary pleasures occurs in the morning - most often in the very early hours of the morning. Before my day begins in earnest, I sit at the computer, check out a few blogs, research something that I may be thinking of writing about, or check my email. It's always dark when I begin. If I'm left undisturbed, I can be found still sitting there an hour later as daylight comes creeping around the edges of the blinds, but before I even glance at the computer, I do something else first.

It's a quiet time for me. Everyone else is sleeping because of my early morning habit. I pad my way through the living room to the kitchen, start the coffee, and return to the computer. As the minutes tick by, the aroma slowly makes its way down the hall and finds me. Is there a richer or more comforting aroma anywhere than coffee as it brews? I think that's why I originally started drinking it - just to hold that warm cup in my hands, close my eyes, and breathe deeply. Notice I didn't mention the added benefit of the caffeine injection - a definite plus.

I found my favorite coffee mug at a wonderful thrift shop that's only a few miles from my house. I can not tell you how many hours of entertainment I've derived from walking the isles of this quirky, little shop. I love the idea of recycling the castoffs of someone I've never met. Not sure what that's all about, but finding a treasure among the rubble is fun.

That's where I found my favorite mug. It was sitting there among the all too predictable debris. Scrawled on the bottom was .55 cents, a price with which even the most exacting miser could not argue. I claimed it and took it home.

It isn't fancy, but it meets all of my peculiar requirements for the perfect mug. It's large enough for a bowl of steaming beef stew, and holds plenty of coffee when it's only two thirds full so it doesn't threaten to spill as I walk through the house. The handle is generous enough to allow for a comfortable grip. And it's beautiful. It's creamy, biscuit color is adorned only by an intricate frieze of leaves and berries which encircles the top. I enjoy drinking from it.

It's such a pleasurable ritual, drinking coffee, shared by most of us every morning. I kind of like the idea of that. No matter how threatening the world becomes, no matter what the news may tell us happened while we slept, the continuity of our coffee ritual is reassuring.

So whether it's a Snoopy mug, a Starbucks cup, a thrift shop find, or fine china, that first cup of coffee - before the outside world comes rushing in - is a moment to savor!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Longing For Spring - Force Those Blooms!

I know I'm a little early on this post, but that's what longing is all about. Soon the first signs of spring will emerge in the South. Be ready to force a bit of springtime into your life.

Bring home the delicate blossoms and branches of flowering trees. Place them in vases or create your own pretty keepsakes.

Get a jump on spring and bring flowering shrubs indoors. Forcing blooms is easy with a few simple steps:

  • In late February or early March, look for shrubs with long branches and lots of swollen, plump buds. Cut branches in the afternoon when flowers have the most moisture.
  • Using sharp pruners, cut branches at least 12 inches long and at a 45-degree angle. To draw water to the blooms, smash the bottom 2 inches of the cut end using a hammer or mallet.
  • Place branches in room-temperature water and put in a cool spot away from sunlight. Change water often for longer bloom time. Keep branches moist by covering with a plastic bag or by misting daily.
  • Depending on the shrub (forsythia and pussy willows are quick to open), buds will start flowering in 1 to 4 weeks. Once they start to bloom, move branches to a sunnier spot and enjoy! They'll last up to a week.

Best shrubs for forcing: Azalea, beauty bush, crab apple, flowering quince, forsythia, magnolia, pussy willow, redbud, rhododendron, serviceberry, spirea, witch hazel, and fruit trees (such as cherries, pears, and apples).

Source : Country Home

Top Five Kitchen Trends

Last month's Kitchen and Bath Industry show, where over 1,000 companies exhibited new products, gave insight into the latest trends. This year's kitchen features products that are: earth-friendly; high-tech; colorful; designed for fresh, healthy food preparation; and all about convenience-meets-multifunctionality. Here's a peek at products that embody these top five trends in kitchens...

1. Earth-Friendly
Green is in all over the house—perhaps most of all in the kitchen. Renewable and recycled, environmentally safe, and energy-efficient products abound.

Sustainable Tabletop
Teragren's formaldehyde-free, food-safe bamboo parquet butcher block, available in natural or caramelized colors, is perfect for kitchen counters and tabletops. Also shown is the company's Studio wide-plank floating floor, which is available in vertical or flat grain; it features TeraLoc, a self-locking system that requires no adhesive. Made with environmentally safe materials from rapidly renewable Optimum 5.5™ Moso bamboo, Teragren products are as green as they are stylish.

Safe Surface
The EQcountertop from VT Industries uses a low-emitting particleboard core, water-based adhesives, and Greenguard indoor air quality-certified laminates (from laminate manufacturing partners) to offer a green, healthy surfacing option. Shown is VT's Nova profile with Wilsonart's mesa gold laminate.

2. High-Tech
The kitchen of the future is here now, chock full of techie elements that meld functionality with fun.

Now You See It, Now You Don't

If you think cleaning your gas stovetop is a drag, you will love Fisher & Paykel's Project Luna stovetop. A frameless piece of 36-by-16-inch black glass supports three individual glass burners that, when not in use, retract flush into the surface. A button prompts them into place for cooking. The Aero burners offer a sparkless ignition and an instantaneous flame, ideal for precision cooking. Due out in the U.S. market next year. Fisher & Paykel

3. Colorful

Stainless steel might never go out of style, but it's sure losing some steam against this year's bright appliance hues.

Dishwasher with Personality
As part of its Preference collection, Dacor recently introduced 24-inch dishwashers in an array of colors. A floating glass front panel is available in six colors: anthracite gray, sterling gray, titanium silver, blue water, slate green (shown), and black.

4. Fresh and Healthy
Companies are catering to nutrition-conscious consumers with products that help keep cooking healthy.

Faucet Filter

Enjoy the freshness of filtered water at your own sink with Kohler's Carafe kitchen, which integrates a water filtration system. A single-lever operation and 360-degree swivel spout keep it all together in one stylish fixture.

Clean Copper
Copper's natural antibacterial properties make Native Trail's offerings especially alluring. The Farmhouse Duet recycled copper sink with a double basin and exposed apron front is available in an antique copper finish (shown) or a new brushed nickel finish.

5. Convenient and Multifunctional
This year's products pack it in for multitasking, time-challenged consumers.

Super Sink

A sink is no longer just a sink with Franke's new Active Kitchen collection. The Mythos sink system (shown) offers an array of accessories including a flexible, tempered satin glass preparation board, a colander, and drain tray. It is available with Franke's rail system for handle mounted components, a pull-out sprayhead faucet, and a matching Mythos vent hood.

Easy Switch
Satisfy your craving for change with Broan's new ready-to-hang decorative backsplashes. These tumbled-marble, pre-assembled fields of tile hang with all the permanence of a picture frame. It's available in four designs, each in a brushed aluminum frame.

Source: This Old House
See more kitchen trends

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Small Space Solutions

You don’t need a lot of room to live large. Whether you have a tiny kitchen, cozy living room, or tight bedroom ... how to make the most of the space you have with decorating solutions that make every inch count.

(Remember to click photos to enlarge.

cozy living room

Turn a tiny room into a multitasking haven. An apartment-size sofa and a pair of slipper chairs anchor this seating area. Built-in bookcases wrap a sunny bank of windows and give the room floor-to-ceiling storage.

small space palette

Choose a simple color scheme for a small space. Here, pickled floors and whitewashed walls and ceilings add texture and keep small rooms light and bright.

sunny dining room
A round table with a pedestal leg functions best in a small dining room because it allows more legroom. An inexpensive Colonial chandelier from Ikea gets a modern touch with unexpected round bulbs.

living room nook

Vaulted ceilings make this cozy sitting room feel spacious. White walls make the colorful furnishings pop.

bright, white kitchen
Remove upper cabinets in a tiny kitchen to open up the space. A small island does double duty as a work surface and a casual eating area. White walls, floors, and counters keep the room light and airy.

For more small space solutions go to Country Home.