Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Can't We Be Civil To Each Other, Part 2

Since I wrote my last blog on the downfall of treating people decently, we have had a run of rude, boorish and downright hateful behavior that has landed on the evening news in the past month or so.

Kanye West. What in the world was that? Is anyone besides me completely flabbergasted that he would actually think that this was ok? Going onstage at a national awards show, snatching the mike from a young singer's hand and humiliating her onstage because his favorite didn't win...How far have we fallen?

At least he was roundly booed, banned from the show and has been skewered by the press and public since, but the fact that he thought it was fine to do this in the first place says something.

The "You Lie!" Guy. Now here's a clown for you. While the President of the United States was addressing the nation and Congress, an obscure Republican congressman from South Carolina named Joe Wilson heckled the president and screamed out "you lie" and other things during the president's speech.

While I understand that this may be the clown's 15 minutes of fame (infamy), this gutter act is another indication of what we have become. Something in this poor soul told him that it's ok to scream at the president while he's giving a national speech. The clown was roundly booed and later censored by the House, but has refused to apologize and seems to be quite proud of his embarrassing behavior. Is he living on another planet, or is it really ok now in our country?

The Texting Guy. Another silly clown at the president's speech to Congress sat texting during the entire speech. I don't know his name, but I assume that he's another obscure congressman looking for a little attention. The attention that he received has been all negative, thank goodness. This behavior was downright rude and disgusting, and I have to assume that the parents of these people were somehow lacking in their teaching and upbringing of their children, but that's no excuse for grown men to behave this way. Everyone can learn.

Serena Williams' racket-breaking, profanity-laced tirade. The least offensive of all this, and here's why: Her reaction came at the height of competition, adreneline was pumping, nerves were on edge. She apologized almost immediately and seemed truly contrite and ashamed of the entire incident.

While this should never have happened, I'm not sure that she deserved the onslaught of criticism that she received. One national sportscaster even said that he had never seen anything like this in tennis. Really? There once were a couple of guys named McEnroe and Connors that made a habit of breaking rackets and cursing out line judges. It wasn't a one-time slip, it was something that the public expected every time that either of these two walked onto a court.

So, Serena Williams was rude, profane and out of line. But please don't try and tell me that we haven't seen this before on a tennis court.

The field of play of one thing. It's the one place where a lack of civility is usually tolerated, to an extent. Football is bad and bloody, as is a lot of sports, and some latitude is given for high levels of excitement, competition and adeneline.

Sitting in Congress listening to the President of the United States or onstage at a national music awards show is quite another thing. Simply put, there is no excuse for the behavior of the two congressmen and Kanye West. I feel sorry for them, I think they have some real deficiencies in their lives and their families are probably terribly embarrassed and humiliated, but they need to make some changes if they are going to stay in the public eye.

The voters should throw the clowns out of office, and people should simply not put any more money in West's pockets. This country should pull itself up, stand straight and tall again, and no longer tolerate rude and hurtful behavior.

What do you think? Feel free to post and let us know.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Monday Recipe Blog

We're getting through Monday and headed toward Tuesday. Time for another Okie recipe.

Fried Apricot Pies

2 c. dried apricots

1/2 c. sugar

2 T. butter or butter substitute

1/2 t. ground cinnamon

Cook the dried apricots according to package, then season with sugar, butter and cinnamon. Mix up your favorite pastry/pie recipe and roll 1/8 in. thick. Cut in circles.

Place teaspoons of apricots on one-half of each circle, then fold in half-moons and seal with a fork. Fry in deep, hot oil, drain and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve quickly.

You can also bake these, at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until brown.

Fried pies are another traditional Okie dish. Apricot fried pies and Okie strawberry shortcake are my mother's favorite desserts. She could eat fried pies all day long and still want more. Her fried pies are the best! This one's for you, Mom!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Have A Rockin' Time At The State Fair!

When the State Fair rolls around, you have the opportunity to experience a great day without spending a load of money. You should visit a State Fair at least once, and you may find yourself going back year after year.
If you don't watch out, you could wind up with some items that you realize that you don't really need when you get home, but here are a few tips to ensure that your trip to the State Fair is a wonderful experience...

Check the newspapers and internet to see if there are discount tickets to the Fair. Sometimes soda cans will have a coupon or certain retailers will be providing entrance tickets at a couple of bucks less that what you will pay at the Fair ticket counters.

Go to all of the buildings. You will see a myriad of wondrous items that will mop a floor, clean your eyeglasses, give you a massage and entertain you in ways that you didn't know existed.Watch out - Here is where you might get carried away and wind up purchasing some terrific doo-dad that will later have you wondering if your brain went on vacation during the sales pitch.In my latest trip to the Fair, I came home with a thing that folds dough to make fried pies. Never mind that I never make fried pies.... Last year I became the proud owner of a set of Sham-Wows at the Fair, so I know what I'm talking about here.

Be sure and stop by the exhibits of ribbon-winners in the various Fair competitions. You will see the largest pumpkin, the best zucchini, tomato, sweet potato, chili pepper and countless other extraordinary vegetables.Also take note of the other exhibits, you will see quilts, aprons, beautiful canned foods, numerous eclectic collections and may pick up some good ideas.

What's a State Fair without animals and shows? I generally see pigs, goats, Clydesdale horses, cows, chickens, rabbits and sheep in the barns. There are other shows and exhibits that feature performing animals - be sure and check these out.At the Oklahoma State Fair, I have seen racing pigs, performing dogs, wild west shows featuring trick riding, lumberjacks in competitions, tiger shows, hypnotists and high-wire motorcycle riders.

If you have kids, they will head to the Midway, which is where all the rides and games are located. Do your research to see if buying an all-day armband for each kid is more cost-effective than paying as they go.

Food is one of the big attractions at the State Fair. The smell itself as you walk around will make you hungry. You will see things at the Fair that you will not see any other time, and this is probably a good thing, since the Fair and healthy eating do NOT go hand-in-hand.

In my latest foray to the Fair, I had Tater Twirls, Fried Veggies, Fresh Lemonade, a Corn Dog and Roasted Corn. (I shared the Taters and Veggies with a friend, so it's not quite as bad as it looks.)

I brought home fudge, cream cheese strudel and salt water taffy.Some of the things I passed up were fried Twinkies, roasted turkey legs, Fried Oreos, Fried Butter, Fried Snickers, huge cinnamon rolls and about a million other things.
Be sure and keep a tight hold on your belongings. I have never had a problem at the Fair, but there are usually some suspicious looking characters around.I usually wear a backpack that contains my camera, essentials and a couple of light rain ponchos if there is a threat of bad weather. This frees up my hands to hold all of the fried food I am eating.

The State Fair only rolls around once a year, so plan to have a one-day guilt-free experience. Take in all of the sights, sounds and smells - you'll be exhausted by the time you get home, but you'll love it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Friday Dog Blog

Must be Friday again......It's Happy Schnauzer!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Please Check Out Our New Book!

Just in time for flu season, All Trails Lead Home has a new book out - How To Wage War Against A Flu Pandemic. Here is a description:

Are You Prepared??? A highly-lethal flu pandemic will strike, possibly soon. It may be a mutated form of the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic. It could be the Bird Flu. It might be a new flu. Influenza can mutate, turn deadly in a moment’s notice and throw the world into chaos and panic—are you ready?

It has happened before, in the worst disaster in modern history—the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. This H1N1 virus was normal for months before mutating into the greatest killer the modern world has ever known. An estimated 50-100 million people were dead before the flu ran its course.

How To Wage War Against A Flu Pandemic will be your instructor as you learn how to survive a deadly pandemic. After reading this manual, you will be prepared to keep yourself and your family as safe as possible while the community around you panics.

The 11 forms & checklists in this manual will be invaluable as you prepare and plan.
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You will learn:
Pre-flu actions to do first
How the flu virus is spread
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How to make a dehydration-fighting drink using only water, sugar and salt
Caring for babies & children with the flu
How to stock up on food, medical supplies and other essentials
Much, much more

Are you a senior citizen? Read the special considerations for seniors section in this manual.

College students away from home during a deadly pandemic pose a special problem. Find out what to do in this guide.

Learn the steps to ensure that your church is prepared for a serious flu outbreak.

How To Wage War Against A Flu Pandemic is a how-to manual for preparation & planning, as well as caring for someone with the flu. It is a comprehensive instruction book that will guide you from start to finish.

The manual has 112 pages and is a larger, 8x10 size for easier reference.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

The Monday Recipe Blog

Another Monday, another recipe....Went to the Oklahoma State Fair today, so this is a little late...

Okie Salsa

1 can tomatoes

1 small can tomato sauce

1 can Jalapeno relish

1/2 can chopped green chili peppers

1 large onion, chopped

1 T. garlic salt

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix in blender and store in fridge. When cool, pull out the Doritos and turn on the game!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Kick Nausea To The Curb With These Tricks

As flu season approaches, the odds are rising that you may be spending more time than usual in the bathroom.

If you are armed with the knowledge of what to do, nausea and vomiting will make a quick exit and you can get back to normal sooner rather than later.

There are several things you can try, and they are listed here. Use what works for you.

Ginger. The oldest and most reliable of nausea remedies, you can use any form of ginger.

If you have crystallized ginger in your kitchen, nibble on a piece of this.

Eat as many gingersnap cookies as you can.

If you have raw ginger, sip a cup of ginger tea. Grate the white part of the ginger root until you have a teaspoon. Put this in a mug of boiling water and let it steep for 10 minutes or so.

Cola or ginger ale:

Let a bottle of cola go flat by opening it and shaking it from time to time. When the fizz is gone, sip the cola at room temperature.

You can also sip flat ginger ale or 7-Up.

Sip an Oral Rehydration Solution. This can be made by mixing 3 tablespoons of white sugar with 1 teaspoon of salt and adding 1 liter of water. Most people are able to keep this down, and it replaces the necessary electrolytes that you lose with fever, diarrhea or fever.

Home-Made Syrup.
Make an anti-nausea syrup by heating 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup water on medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture clears, then take 2 Tablespoons as needed.

Peppermint tea soothes the inner lining of your stomach. It's a good idea to have some bags of peppermint tea in your cupboard in case it's needed.

Try acupressure. Place your thumb on the inside of the opposite forearm, about 4 inches up from your wrist. Press firmly for about a minute, then move your thumb closer to your wrist and press for another minute. Then do the same thing with the other forearm.

Begin the Clear Liquid Diet, starting with popsicles, ginger ale, tea, bouillon, water, Jello-O or fruit juice.

Nausea is miserable, but can be controlled and stopped with these remedies. Not every one will work for you, but keep trying until you're successful.

Don't forget to drink your Oral Rehydration Solution, since you are losing precious minerals and electrolytes when you are nauseated or have a fever.

If you have a fever of 104 or 105, please seek medical assistance immediately as this is a serious danger zone.

Please never give aspirin to someone under the age of 19, as this could lead to bad complications.
For more flu guidance, please take a look at the new book How To Wage War Against A Flu Pandemic.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Friday Dog Blog

This Great Dane's name is Astro. Who doesn't love The Jetsons???

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oh No, I Have To Go To A Football Game!!

Football games can be daunting for a non-pigskin fan. Because they are held outdoors, the weather is always a lurking problem. Not to mention the fact that people are yelling when it seems like they shouldn't be, and not yelling when it seems like they should. What gives?

Football games are not rocket science - just take a look at some of the fans! (Just kidding, I'm a fan) Here are a few tips to help you survive if you find yourself being dragged to a game....

(I'm going to assume that you know the very basics of football. If you don't, it's going to take a lot more than this to give you even a semblance of enjoyment.)

Watch the weather. This means pay attention to your local tv weathercast beginning a couple days before the big game. Weatherpeople are pretty accurate, and they will usually give the "football forecast".

Prepare ahead of time. If the game in is November or December, or even October in some states, you may be in for a blustery, cold, rainy or snowy day. If this is the case, find yourself a hoodie and a very warm coat. Several pairs of socks. Layers. Boots. Prepare like you always do when you have to spend four hours or more outside in terrible weather.

Forget about the umbrella. Lots of stadiums ban them, and the ones that don't, should. They block the people behind you from seeing the game and will get you some rude comments at the very least, and possibly an umbrella broken into more pieces than you can imagine. If you have a rainsuit, roll it up and store it in your bag.

Don't have much in your bag, though. At many games, you will have your bag searched at the gate for safety. Don't bring food or drinks, most stadiums ban them from being brought in from the outside. This is so you will buy their $8.00 sodas and $10.00 hot dogs.

Go early. I would recommend getting to the gate at least 45 minutes before opening kickoff. If the team is a big college or pro, you will not zip through the gates and to your seat quickly. You will be able to pass the time until kickoff enjoying the team's marching band, if college or high school, or other entertainment if pro. Don't expect to get to know your neighbor really well. Football fans tend toward the fanatical side, and aren't usually there to be chatty.

Finally, the kick-off. Now, particularly at large college games, there may be some rather unusual traditions that you aren't aware of. Some have fans that stand (yes, they don't sit down) until their team scores. Some have fans that stand the entire game. You read this correctly. It's the fanatical thing again. I hope for your sake that you don't get stuck behind fans carrying out this tradition. If you do, you have a choice: Either keep sitting, wonder what's going on in the game, and stare for four hours at a bunch of behinds in your face, or join the fun and stand up, too.

If everyone sits down and everything is calm, all you have to worry about is when to cheer. When your team has the ball, always cheer after your team makes a good play, such as when your offense makes a first down or gains long yardage or a touchdown. But quiet down afterward when your team huddles up, and keep quiet until the next play is in action. This is because you want the team to be able to hear the signals that the quarterback is calling.

When your team is on defense, the time to yell is when the opposing offense goes to the line to get set for their next play. This is when you cheer on your defense. Loudly. Keep yelling until the play is in action, then quiet down and only cheer if your defense makes a good play.

If you follow these instructions, people will actually think that you know what you're doing and that you're enjoying the game. But seriously, football is a great spectator sport with some of the grandest traditions in the world (The dotting of the i at Ohio State, for example). If you are lucky enough to be able to take in a professional game or a large college game, you will be overwhelmed at the excitement, enthusiasm and joy of game day, and you'll be caught up in it before you know it!

A couple of tips & warnings:

Limiting your alcohol intake at games is a good thing. Tempers can be short as it is, and the addition of too much alcohol can land you somewhere you'd rather not be. Coca-Cola is good, even at 8 bucks....

If you are at a pro or large college game, don't expect to buzz out of there immediately after the game ends. Take in some of the local scene around the stadium, stop by a local restaurant for a meal, take your time. 80,000 people in cars don't leave an area quickly.

Take in the experience and make some memories!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Monday Recipe Blog

You survived another weekend. Here's your reward, an Okie recipe!!

Camper's Breakfast

6 medium potatoes, diced and pre-cooked

1 small onion

3 eggs

2 c. diced ham

5-6 slices cheddar cheese

Fry the potatoes and onions in a frying pan. Mix the eggs and fold into the cooked potatoes and onions, then add the diced ham. Cook until the eggs appear set up and the ham has had a chance to get warm.

Lay the cheese slices on top of the whole thing, cover and lower the flame.

As soon as the cheese has melted into the mixture, eat up!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Friday Dog Blog

The Friday silly doggy picture. It's.....Stick 'em up Schnauzer!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Using Food To Lower Your Blood Pressure

Although high blood pressure is often inherited, you can often control it by changing your diet and eating more "blood pressure friendly" foods. Knowing what these foods are is the trick. We all eat too much salt, and cutting back on salt would help everyone, young and old.

This is a very important step, and can be a little more difficult than you think. You may need to substitute other spices for the salt that you love. Mrs. Dash has a group of spices that make really good and flavorful substitutes and after you have lived awhile with less salt, you will get more and more accustomed to it.

Try adding these fruits and melons to your diet - they will work to keep your pressure low: Cantaloupe (especially good), apples, bananas, nectarines (especially good), oranges, honeydew melon (especially good), apricots, fruit juice, watermelon, raisins (especially good), avocado (especially good).

Take a bite out of these veggies to fight high blood pressure: Corn on the cob, potatoes (especially good), brussels sprouts, broccoli, eggplant, squash.

Chomp on these foods to lower that pressure: Rice, unsaturated oils and pasta.

Remember.....Cut out that salt - you already get plenty from processed foods. More and more you can find foods that advertise lower salt content - these are always the better choice! Most of the time the added salt is simply for flavor and is not needed.

A good place to start cutting back is in the canned veggie aisle. You will see a large variety of vegetables that are marked "low salt" - take advantage of these and you probably won't even notice the difference.

So, take a bite out of these tasty foods and your body will thank you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Monday Recipe Blog

Happy Labor Day, y'all. Here is a true Okie dessert - pecan pie!

Okie Pecan Pie

1/4 c. butter substitute
1 c. sugar
3/4 c. light corn syrup
3 lightly beaten eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 3/4 c. chopped pecans
1 (9 in.) unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter substitute over low heat, remove. Add sugar and corn syrup, then blend in eggs and vanilla. Add the pecans and pour into the pie shell. Bake 35-40 minutes or until done.

Oklahoma has bunches of pecan trees. Growing up on a ranch, our pecan trees provided a good income for me around November every year. I always had Christmas money, because our trees had enough pecans for the family to use and freeze, and for me to sell at the local farm store, usually for about 40 cents a pound. You could always find my mom and I after school and on the weekends under the trees, picking up pecans until dark. Loved it!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Food That Raise Your Blood Pressure

Cutting out foods that may raise your blood pressure is just as important as adding the "blood pressure friendly" foods to your diet. Of course, many are tasty diet staples that have been our comfort foods for many years, so cutting them out of our lives is easier said than done.

It's a matter of habit more than anything, and habits can be difficult to break. But you can do it, your body will thank you for it and you might just lose a little weight in the process!

Cut the salt. We get enough through the processed foods that we can't seem to avoid. If you are a salt-a-holic, try substitutes such as Mrs.Dash. You can also try lemon juice in some recipes, and sprinkle chives on baked potatoes to fight the no-salt blandness. If you are a person who liberally salts your watermelon and cantaloupe (I used to), then it will be a challenge to stop this damaging habit, but please take those necessary steps.

Dump the following:Ice cream, hot dogs, diet sodas, cheeses, pickles, anything that is marinated, canned soup, canned vegetables (unless you choose low or no-salt added veggies), catsup.

As if that wasn't hard enough, boot these out of your life: Bacon, eggs, soy sauce, fast food, salted potato chips (but there ARE unsalted versions), salted pretzels, duck, fatty meats.

And say goodbye to the following old friends: Ham, salted nuts (look for unsalted varieties), seasoning salt, smoked meats, sausage.

And enjoy a healthier life!

How To Live Okie In A Mad, Mad World

Okie is a state of mind that runs counter to the rushing society that we're all caught up in these days.

Ever been to Oklahoma? You will find that as soon as you cross the line to the Sooner State, things seem to slow down. No kidding. People talk slower, they smile a lot, cowboys are everywhere in their hats and boots, and pick-up trucks are the ride of choice. You hear "yes ma'am" and "yes sir" a lot. Visitors think they've arrived in a new world.

Now, the old song Okie From Muskogee might have been a little off the mark, because I'm pretty sure that a few people DO smoke a little in Muskogee, but the song got things right in that life is different. And not in a bad way.

Living Okie is not necessarily better for everyone. Living NYC or living LA has its perks, too. Life at a fast speed gets you more, quicker. And that's not bad, either. But if you have a desire to slow down and experience a little more of what's flying by, read on.

You can live Okie wherever in the world you happen to call home. And you don't even have to wear boots and a hat!

Slow down. WAAAYYY down. Cut some unnecessary things out of your life. Do your kids really need those piano AND dance lessons right now? Do you really have to work those extra hours at the office?

Smile more. Listen more. Talk less. This is harder for some than others, but you learn a lot more and people naturally gravitate to listeners. You will start to collect a lot more friends.

Go fishing. Yes, fishing. And I don't mean rent a big party boat and glance at your line between flirting and digging into the avocado dip. Find a pond somewhere, sit on the bank with your kids, put a worm on the line and watch a red and white bobber while shooing off curious cows. It's called making memories.

Make home-made ice cream. There are really simple, no-cook recipes, and you can pick up an ice cream freezer at any discount store. Put it on the front porch while it freezes and invite whatever neighbors are walking by to join the party.

Ride a horse. You can find a place (usually near a state park) that rents out horses to ride a trail around the scenic areas. Now, these aren't exactly spirited broncs, they're generally a little long in the tooth and extremely slow and gentle, but if you aren't skilled in riding, it's probably just what you need. You'll get a taste of what riding a horse is like, and you'll experience a lot of natural scenic beauty and peace as well.

Start a backyard vegetable garden and visit the local farmers' market. Learn some basic canning - there's nothing more therapeutic than growing and preserving your own food. It's hard to explain, but I think it appeals to our basic instincts.

Learn to piece together a quilt. The actual quilting is a little more difficult, but if you piece the top of the quilt, you can find someone at your local fabric or hobby store that will quilt it for a modest fee. Sewing a quilt that will keep your family members warm will make you feel so good.

Then there are a few optional steps, like saying "y'all" a lot, eating chicken fried steak, drinking iced tea and pulling for the Oklahoma Sooners during football season.But seriously, slowing down and experiencing what's around you could be just what the doctor ordered. It definitely can't hurt, and it's kinda fun.

What do you think? Agree or not?

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Friday Dog Blog

Time for the silly dog picture. It's......Motorcycle Schnauzer!!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Let's Banish Stress in the Workplace

Ok, I know we can’t do that, but we can take steps to minimize and overcome it. The workplace is a major detriment to our happiness, but most of us can’t just quit our jobs. Those pesky bills, you know….So, what are some steps that we can take to minimize workplace stress? Well, here are a few of my ideas – hopefully you will pitch in with some of your own…

Monitor the way that you react to a stressful situation. Do you become angry and loud? Do you want to leave the room? Do tears well up? If you don’t have a coping technique that will allow you to weather stress without harming your body, then you should work on this first.

If you feel the need to raise your voice level when another person raises his in a disagreement, try this: As the person raises his voice level, lower your’s. Now, this takes some concentration on your part, but that’s what is good about it – you are concentrating on your voice rather than on more stressful reactions. The more he yells, the softer you make your voice. It’s difficult to hear someone speaking softly, so the aggressor will (1) look silly for screaming and (2) have to lower his voice in order to hear what you are saying.

Another coping technique is to stop and breathe or count to 20 when you feel the stress coming on. Positive self-talk helps. “This, too, shall pass” is a great phrase. Also, consider the importance of the stress-maker when compared to what really matters in your life.

If you can take a break and walk around the block, by all means do it! This exercise, combined with a stress cool-down period, will work wonders.

When you sense that stress is approaching, prepare for it and have a game-plan for dealing with it. Work is difficult enough – don’t make it more important than it is by allowing it to raise your stress levels to unreasonable heights.

Do you have your own secrets to coping with workplace stress? Please add a comment and let us know.