"Blessings of Relaxation, Reflection, & Renewal"

Balance for Your Life & Rhythm for Your Days ~ Self-Improvement, Inspiration, & Coping with Challenges

Super Simple CrockPot Potato Soup

Posted by on May 24, 2014 in Good Food | 1 comment

Super Simple CrockPot Potato Soup: A Meal in Itself

Creamy Potato Soup

A Meal in Itself–Super Simple CrockPot Potato Soup

On those days when the thought of cooking makes you weary, this soup can be an answered prayer because it’s ready in a snap. And, just as important,

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How to Bake Easy Mouthwatering Coconut Pie

Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Family, Friends, & Fun, Good Food | 3 comments

Mouthwatering Coconut Pie

Coconut Pie–makes it own crust!

Need a quick, delicious dessert in a hurry? Then this mouthwatering coconut pie is just your ticket to pleasing your hungry eaters.

8 Reasons Why Impossible Coconut Pie* Will Become a Favorite in Your Household:

1. You’ll likely always have all of the ingredients on hand.

2. You’ll need only these 3 kitchen tools to have this baby ready to pop into the oven:

  •     your food processor
  •     a measuring cup
  •     a spatula.

3. That equals little to clean-up. Yeah!

4. You do not need pie crust! That’s right–no crust to make from scratch, not even a purchased crust to snag out of your freezer. This pie makes its own crust! That’s like a kid who cleans up after himself!

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What I Learned in April

Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in Family, Friends, & Fun, Nature, Random thoughts, What I Learned This Month | 4 comments

It’s that time of the month again (no, not “that one”!)–It’s time for sharing What I Learned in April. Sometimes I include things I’ve re-learned because

  • a) I forgot I’d learned it or
  • b) it’s really cool and I wanted to spread the good news.

Things shared in this link-up with chattingatthesky.com range from the random to the ridiculous to the really important.

So join in the fun: Read what I’ve learned, head over to the link-up, and add your own post. Or use this gentle nudge as a reason to start your own blog and join a wonderfully supportive community.

Randomly ordered, here is What I Learned in April:

1. Probably the most important thing I learned in April is that people are amazingly supportive! I’ve been reluctant to share my blog with anyone outside of family and the online community. But this month I took the plunge and shared this link on Facebook for Mother’s Lemon Pound Cake, so much a part of my daily life as a kid that it’s almost a family member.

Homemade Pound Cake

Mouthwatering Goodness

I was really touched when one of my former students told me she was making the cake for Easter. I re-learned that through being willing to take a risk and be vulnerable I connected with old and new friends. And a piece of Mother lives on…

2. Still in the cooking vein, I learned how to make Easy Monkey Cupcakes for the artistically challenged. A few of the monkeys appear to have had a difficult “birth,” but let’s just focus on their individuality. These little monkeys delighted my grand-darlings for Little Dude’s birthday. Now that I look at the picture, some of these guys could pass for cows. Hey, I’m all about flexibility! Maybe he’ll want to have a western-themed party next year. :)

simple monkey cupcakes

Easy Monkey Cupcakes!

3. My grandson, who just turned 5, is concerned that people who don’t know his name will think he’s John the Baptist! Go figure . . .  He makes me laugh so hard all the time, but I have to control myself because sometimes he is dead serious, as he was with this proclamation.

4. AppsGoneFree is a very nifty free app to download! Every day I receive an alert to check out 5-6 apps for FREE that are normally available only for purchase. I can read reviews and download as many as I want–or none. Check out AppsGoneFree in iTunes.

AppsGoneFree picture

Screenshot of AppsGoneFree from iTunes

5. Speaking of apps, a free one I discovered is the Merlin Bird app from Cornell University Labs. Birds are one of my real fascinations, and this app not only helps me identify birds I spot but also send that info. to Cornell to help them track bird migrations. And Merlin provides recordings of birds’ songs and calls. Pretty cool!

Screenshot of Merlin Bird ID

MerlinBirdIDApp

6. Every app you’ve used remains open on your iPhone unless you “double-click” the “Home” button (the round button at the bottom of the screen). Who knew?  I’ve shared this little tidbit with lots of folks, and the only one who knew that had just found out recently. I had 99 screens open on my phone!! YIKES!

7. Discovery Park of America teaches young and old alike about topics ranging from the Arc of the Covenant to reptiles to outer space. It’s worth the trip! (Visit my earlier blog post about this amazing new spot by clicking here: Discovery Park of America.)

What did you learn in April? Share it here in the Comments below, and link up at chattingatthesky.com.

Blessings,

Vivi

 

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How to Attract Hummingbirds

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Family, Friends, & Fun, Hobbies, Nature, Random thoughts | 1 comment

First hummingbird of the season

Chow time!

 

Learning how to attract hummingbirds is really easy, and it’s already that time again.

Perhaps because it feels like winter will never end, the appearance of my first Ruby-Throated Hummingbird on April 10 surprised me.

Last week, as I enjoyed my morning coffee on the patio, a dark blur jetted past my head.

At first I thought it was one of the many carpenter bees who’ve recently appeared. But just in case it was a hummer, I scrubbed up the feeder and mixed up a batch of food.

Sure enough, the next morning, our first little visitor appeared for breakfast, shortly after dawn. He’s been back every day since then. And I’ve also spotted 2 Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds at our cabin at the river.

Though the return of these little darlings seemed early, I checked a couple of bird migration sites and found that the hummers are right on time. Experts advise hanging your feeders out a couple of weeks before the scheduled arrival date in your area. I guess I was asleep at the helm this year. I knew it was important to get that feeder out, and I thought you might like to know a few tips for attracting your own hummingbirds.

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11 Great Activities at Discovery Park of America

Posted by on Apr 14, 2014 in Family, Friends, & Fun, Reading, Road Trips, & Other Adventures | 4 comments

Discovery Center at Discovery Park of America

Unique design of Discovery Park hints at amazing offerings.

These 11 great activities at Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee, are just a sampling of the educational fun in store for you. Opened in November of 2013, the 50-acre park appeals to all ages with a tremendous variety of fascinating exhibits, many of them interactive.

Inside Discovery Park’s Main Building

Discovery Center’s distinctive appearance hints at the wonders inside this uniquely shaped, 100,000- square foot complex. Exhibits include natural history, science and technology, Native Americans, energy, military, regional history, transportation, and more.

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Five Minute Friday: Writer

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in Five Minute Friday, Writing for Healing and Happiness | 4 comments

Each Friday folks gather online to share their freewriting on a topic chosen by Lisa Jo Baker. This ongoing series, known as Five Minute Friday, encourages us to put ourselves out there in the blogosphere without worrying about proofreading and editing. We simply write for 5 minutes, non-stop and then link up with other participants.

The instructions for linking are very simple and can be found if you click here: Five Minute Friday. Join us!  (The first time is always the scariest! But we are nice people, and this is a caring community!)  Today’s prompt is WRITER.

Okay–so “writing” involves all sorts of weirdness. (Believe me, I KNOW: I taught English for almost 40 years!) Anyway, aside from some student writing that can be mighty weird, folks, just plain writing is weird, if you think about it. Not only is it surprising, amazing, phenomenal that people can make marks on a page (or a cave wall or their bodies or most anything else), and those cryptic characters actually elicit sounds in our minds. But those sounds–the individual ones, the combinations (diphthongs and all that other stuff), and of course the actual emerging words–transfer actual meanings–concepts, objects, emotions, images, and more! It’s pretty incredible stuff!

But writing is also weird in the sense that words can mean so many different things. Before I started this 5-minute freewrite, as I wrote the introduction above, the word “freewriting” was underlined as a misspelling (there it is again!). So I checked my built-in dictionary here. No such word! What came up–after 2 retries?  Ferret! Yes, ferret! That furry, smelly animal some have as pets. Go figure…

But writing is also weird in the sense that it can engender such fear in our hearts–mine included! It seems nonsensical that I could feel fear and intimidation from that one word–especially since I taught writing for decades! But in actuality, that’s part of the problem. That writing was primarily academic. Writing a blog is different. And, what’s more, it exposes a more personal side, even exposing that not only to random readers out there but also to former students (potentially, should they find me in my little corner of the writing universe). Granted, I wrote countless hand-outs, exercises, and more, and even did freewriting in classes and shared that. Still, writing can spark fear in anyone.

Step over that line and face your fear! Join us in our writing community!

Time’s up!

In the Comments below, let me know what the word writing sparks in you.

Blessings,

Vivi

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How to Make Yummy Oatmeal-Pecan-Coconut Cake from Scratch

Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Good Food | Comments Off

Memories of Yummy Oatmeal-Pecan-Coconut Cake

homemade oatmeal-pecan-coconut cake

Made-from-Scratch Deliciousness!

When I was a kid, the 85-year-old woman, “Sam,” who lived across the street made a yummy oatmeal-pecan-coconut cake. Somehow in our various moves, that recipe vanished. Then when I was in college, our head librarian made virtually the same delectable dessert.

This latest snow storm made me yearn for such comfort foods. And I love recipes that have been handed down from special people, like Judy, the librarian.

Granted, sugar and butter don’t top Dr. Oz’s list of healthy food choices, but, hey, this has oatmeal in it and pecans. Pecans are nuts, and the good doc is always telling us to eat some nuts every day. Sounds like health food to me. :)

Plus, because this cake is made from scratch, it lacks all of those unpronounceable chemicals. I’m sure it’s also lacking that horrific ingredient recently in the news, the one that’s used in making yoga mats and rubber shoe soles! Ugh!

I remember that Sam’s cake had a broiled topping, so I tweaked (NOT “twerked”!) Judy’s icing recipe and broiled it. Here’s my combo version.

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