Monday, November 30, 2009

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello from the Sooner State....Here's another Okie recipe. Try this at your holiday office party!

Ham Cheese Ball

2 (4 oz) pkgs thinly-sliced cooked ham

1 bunch of green onions

2 (8 oz) pkgs of softened cream cheese

Finely chop the ham and green onions, including the onion tops. Mix with the cream cheese and put the mixture on wax paper. With hands, shape into a ball. Refrigerate and serve with crackers.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Are We In For A Bad Winter? Ask The Insects!

How many times have we heard that the woolly-worm can predict a bad winter? Well, there’s something to this. Back in the old days, the farmers had to use something other than television weathermen to tell them what kind of weather was on the horizon.Over hundreds of years they learned, and passed down to new generations, how to predict a bad winter by using animals, plants, insects and other natural things. This article will tell you how the farmers used insects to predict how bad the approaching winter would be.

Here are some signs:

Butterflies migrate early. If they do, winter will come in early.When butterflies bunch up together in the sky, winter is coming soon.Three months after the first katydid begins singing, the first killing frost will come.

It will be a bad winter if….There are crickets in your chimney.

The ants build their hills higher than normal.

Hornets and yellow jackets build their nests lower to the ground than normal.

Miller moths keep hitting the screen door to get in.

There are lots of spiders in the fall.

You see worms in your house or outbuildings in October.

And now, the trusty woolly-worm, who is a great predictor of weather. Here’s how to watch the signs of the wooly-worm and what they mean….

If there are more than usual crawling around, and they have heavy coats, a bad winter is coming.If the black band on his back in wide, the winter will be bad. The more black a worm is, the worse the bad winter will be. If the worm if mostly brown with very little black, the winter will be gentle.If his front has a lot of black, the bad weather is coming. If his rear end is black, the worst is over.If he’s brown on both ends and orange in the middle, the winter will be gentle.If you see a woolly-worm before the first frost, the winter will be bad.

So, there you have it. Who needs the slick weathermen on the television when you have the woolly-worm, spider and Miller moth to tell you how bad the winter is going to be?

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Friday Dog Blog

Happy Black Friday!! How's the shopping today? Here's your Black Friday Dog Blog.... This expression says "yeah, I snatched the last Elmo off the shelf and there's not a darn thing you can do about it."

It's......Devil Dog Schnauzer!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Everybody!

We all have lots of things to celebrate and be thankful for today. Even if you're down, start counting all of the good things in your life, big and small. You'll be surprised to see how many people, places and things that you have to be thankful for.

If you're venturing out on Black Friday, be careful of the crazies out there. And don't be one of them. No sale is worth acting like a fool. If you don't get an Elmo, a Wii or one of those strange fuzzy hamsters Friday, your world will not stop spinning.

So, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving wherever you are.

All Trails Lead Home.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rake Your Leaves And Lose Some Weight!

With the popularity of leaf blowers and snow blowers, many people are losing their traditional holiday weight-loss programs. Raking leaves and shoveling snow can burn pounds quickly if done correctly. It can also cause muscle strains, back and shoulder problems and even heart attacks if done incorrectly.
The following are some tips on how to rake leaves and lose some weight in the process. Put your leaf blower away and get moving!

Do some exercises first. Yes, I know, it’s only leaf-raking, but muscles that are not used to manual labor take some time to wake up and figure out that you are wanting them to do serious work. If not allowed that wake-up time, your muscles may stage a painful rebellion.

Bend one leg behind you and grab the ankle. Gently pull it toward your back until you feel the stretch in your front upper leg muscles. Keep pulling a little more, but stop before it gets painful. You don’t want your leg muscle to pop like a rubber band….

Hug yourself with one arm by putting it across your chest as far as you can. Repeat with the other arm.

Bend at the waist and touch your toes several time. (Don’t bend your knees, that’s cheating!)

Get yourself the right rake!

There is a head-spinning selection of leaf rakes out there – so which is the correct one for you? Don’t go for the mega-monster rake that will tire you out too quickly. Try for something in the medium size range – as Goldilocks says, not too big, not too small…

Should you get a rake with metal or plastic tines? Plastic is lighter, but metal is more durable and makes it easier to rake larger things such as twigs.

How about the handle? Fiberglass is strong and lasts a long time, but it is heavier than wood. Eventually wood rots or breaks. Then there is metal, which is also durable and not as heavy as fiberglass. I prefer fiberglass, but choose the strongest handle that you can easily use. You don’t want something too heavy.

Now get raking!

But wait – there is actually a technique to leaf-raking. You have warmed up and stretch, using the instructions above, right? The colder it is, the longer you need to warm up and stretch.

Ok, now put on your gloves. This will keep you from getting blisters, and if you chose a wood handle, will ensure that you don’t get splinters in your hands.

Rake while standing up straight. Bending is not good, and bending at the waist while you rake is the worst. If you have to bend, give that job to your knees.

Twisting is a no-no when raking leaves. It’s cold, your muscles are tired, and twisting will only make them madder, so do not twist to throw the leaves away. Pick up the leaves (bend at the knees, remember), turn your entire body and throw the leaves away.

Switch your rake to the other side sometimes to spread the love and avoid overly-stressing one side of your body.

Lose weight.

You don't have to do much more than rake the leaves to burn those calories. Walking, raking and bagging will strengthen your muscles and burn calories at the same time. If you're tempted to build up a big leaf fire and make some s'mores to reward yourself, you might want to think twice about that....

If you follow these instructions and rake leaves whenever the wind blows, you should be well on your way to skinny by Christmas. Then you can switch to shoveling snow and be slim and trim by Spring!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Monday Recipe Blog

Well, another Monday in the history books. With Thanksgiving coming up, how about an Okie recipe that would be perfect to serve at the holiday dinner?

Okie Blackberry Wine Cake

1 box of white cake mix
1 (3 oz.) pkg blackberry gelatin
4 eggs
1/2 c. cooking oil
1 c. blackberry wine

Preheat over to 325.

In large bowl, stir together gelatin and cake mix.

Add eggs, oil and wine, and beat on medium speed about 2 minutes.

Pour into a heavily greased 10 inch tube pan and bake 50 minutes.

Let cool and glaze with the following:

1 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. blackberry wine

Mix sugar and wine in saucepan, bring to boil and pour over the cooled cake.

This is an old, much-loved recipe that has appeared many times in The Daily Oklahoman. You might have a slight problem finding the blackberry gelatin, but the Internet has made it pretty easy. Even if you don't like to cook, sampling that blackberry wine will probably make the process go a little faster!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Are We In For A Bad Winter? Ask the Animals!

Brace yourself, winter is approaching quickly. How bad will it be? Will we suffer through multiple ice and snow storms, or will we see a mild, pleasant winter?

You can ask the animals to predict the winter season – well, at least according to old-timers. In olden times, people had to use something besides a local television weatherman to tell them how much food to put away for winter, and how much wood to cut. They came to depend upon the actions and appearances of animals. Handed down over generations, these signs of a bad winter were fairly dependable.

You will have a bad winter in your area if…..

The squirrel tails are bushier than normal.

The squirrels build nests low in the trees, rather than near the tops.

The squirrels gather nuts early – in mid to late September.

Birds finish up all the berries on the bushes early.

Animals grow a short, fuzzy coat under their regular coat.

The fur on horses and mules is thicker than normal.

The fur on the bottom of a rabbit’s foot is thicker than usual.

Crows group together and stay together.

Wild hogs gather up corn shucks, straw and sticks to make a warm bed.

The north side of a beaver dam has many more sticks than the south side.

The beaver homes have a lot more sticks and logs than normal.

Owls hoot late into the fall.

Screech owls sound like they are crying.

Birds huddle up on the ground.

Now, I don't see many wild hogs in Oklahoma City, so if they are making their beds I don't know about it.

And who would pick up a rabbit's foot while it was still attached to examine how thick the hair is? How would you know whether it was thicker than last year - ask the bunny?

However, you can observe what's around you, which, for me, is a bunch of wily squirrels and some huddled-up birds. Since the squirrel tails seem a little fuzzier this year, I think we're going to have a baaaaad winter season.

How do you predict the severity of the winter? Please comment and let us know!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Friday Dog Blog

What a great Friday!! Here's your Friday Dog....

Pearl's baby pit bull has found a nice bed to settle down in. He's getting ready for the long, cold winter!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Make Your Own Flexible Ice Packs

With the bumps and bruises of real life, particularly if you have kids, ice packs are a necessity. You can buy a commercial ice pack or you can make one of your own to keep in the freezer.

This one is flexible and kind of slushy, and will work really well to conform to the injury. Here is how you do it:

Take a zip lock bag - freezer zip lock bags are a little sturdier and better. Use the size that you want your ice pack to be.

Pour two cups of water into the bag.

Add 1/3 cup of rubbing alcohol to the water.

Zip up the bag and put it in the freezer. By morning it will be a nice ice pack. You can keep it stored in the freezer until you need it.

The alcohol keeps the mixture slushy and flexible. Use the pack to diminish bruises and calm down other bumps, bruises and everyday hurts that we all get into.

Warning: Only keep the ice pack on the injury for 10 minutes at a time. Then leave it off the injury for at least 20 minutes before reapplying.

So, that's how you do it. Hope you never need it!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Monday Recipe Blog

Pumpkin Pie Made With Splenda (Or Generic)

Pumpkin is a superfood that shouldn't only be on our tables during the holiday season. It is incredibly inexpensive and available year-round in canned form.
Pumpkin contains carotenoids, which are antioxidents that have the power to ward off serious diseases such as heart disease, some cancers and many other illnesses. The more carotenoids that we can incorporate into our diets, the healthier we will be.
We can use pumpkin in desserts, soups and in various other ways. The most popular use for pumpkin is in the traditional pumpkin pie. With turkey, pumpkin pie is the face of the family Thanksgiving dinner. However, we should be mindful that pumpkin pie, like most traditional pies, is high in white sugar.
Sugar is a major culprit in many diseases such as diabetes, and should be avoided whenever possible.So, what's the answer? One option is to use Splenda Granular or a generic brand. Splenda Granular is an alternative sweetener (sucralose) that has only 96 calories per cup (compared to sugar's 770 calories per cup). Its safety has been proven in numerous studies over a 20 year period.
The body does not recognize sucralose as sugar or a carbohydrate, so it is not used by the body for energy, making a serving virtually calorie-free. Best of all, it does NOT affect blood glucose levels and has no effect on insulin secretion, so it is safe for diabetics.
Some recipes are more easily converted from sugar to Splenda than others. Pumpkin Pie is wonderful when baked with this sugar alternative. The following is a recipe for traditional pumpkin pie baked with Splenda or generic....

9 inch unbaked pie crust
1 can pumpkin - 15 oz.
3/4 c. Splenda Granulated or generic brand
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup half-and-half
3 large, slightly beaten eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, add the pumpkin and all other ingredients except the eggs and vanilla. Stir with a spoon until well-blended.

Now add the eggs and vanilla and stir until blended well. Pour this filling into your unbaked piecrust.

Bake at 375 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until the pie is set in the center. Cool completely before serving.

Pumpkin pie is a great way to add a superfood to your diet. Using Splenda Granulated or generic brand will make this dessert guilt-free for all members of your family. While some people are wary of using sugar substitutes, the consequences of consuming white sugar must be considered. There is a reason for the obesity and bad health of our people (even our children), and the signs point to the over-consumption of sugar.
Do you have a favorite Splenda recipe? Please comment and let us know!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Are We In For A Bad Winter? Look At The Plants!

Our farming ancestors became experts at predicting whether a bad winter was on its way. However, they could not even imagine the sophisticated means of weather forecasting that we have today. Instead, they used such things as plants, animals and insects to forecast the winter.

These methods were surprisingly accurate, and still are today. This article will tell you how the farmers used plants to predict how bad the approaching winter would be.

A bad winter is on its way if….

Trees still have lots of green leaves late into the fall.

The trees have thicker bark than normal.

The tree bark on the north side of the tree is heavier than the other bark.

There is a heavy crop of dogwood and holly berries.

There is a heavy crop of pinecones and acorns.

The sweet potatoes have a tougher skin than normal.

There are more layers on the onions.

Apples mature earlier than normal.

The carrots grow deeper than normal.

The blackberry crop is especially good.

The grapes mature earlier than normal.

Cockleburs appear earlier than normal.

Pine cones open up early.

Tree leaves shed before they turn color.

Tree moss is heavier than normal.

The grass is darker than normal during summer.

This is a good time to test this method of predicting the weather. You might just be surprised to find that the plants are more correct than your local weatherperson in forecasting.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Friday Dog Blog

Happy Friday, everyone! It's Dog Blog time again, and here's one from Stefanie......
This smily red Doberman Pinscher named Flash is an Oklahoma Sooners fan. Isn't everyone?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Thanks, Dad!

Mondays usually feature the Recipe Blog. However, with Veterans' Day approaching, this week is reserved for my dad and the other American heroes, past and present.

I don't know enough about my dad's heroism in World War II. I know that he must have suffered some damage from those years in Hell, since he was never able to enjoy fireworks displays and didn't watch war movies because they reminded him of that time. He didn't like to talk about his service, but would if I asked him. I regret not asking him often enough. Here is what I do know....

My dad was in the Army Air Corps, 308th Bomb Group, 374th Bomb Squad, stationed in China for most of his service. Officially, he was an AP Armorer Gunner.

He was a Ball Turret Gunner, probably the scariest and one of the most dangerous things he could have done. He served in a B-24, a monster of a bomber, which featured, among other things, a man-sized metal ball equipped with machine guns. The ball, with the gunner in it, would drop from the belly of the plane when the enemy approached and would twirl this way and that while the gunner defended the plane from the enemy. The gunner would pretty much lay on his back with the guns between his legs, and his legs propped up on the pedals, turning the ball to face the approaching planes.

As if bombing missions were not enough, he also flew with his crew "over the hump" of the Himalayas to India for supply runs. Numerous planes crashed into the mountains and flying these missions were extremely dangerous. My dad always spoke of his pilot reverently, and said that the pilot saved the lives of his crew several times with his expertise.

Here's the thing....If you knew my dad, you would never suspect that he was a war hero, with bronze stars, numerous medals and accolades. He was just a quiet farm boy, a shy cowboy that smiled a lot and only talked when he had something to say. He grew up in a tiny town, worked the farm, went to college, then went to war and came home. Never complained about anything. Never said anything bad about anyone (although he quietly refused to buy automobiles made in Japan - only General Motors for him).

I can't imagine the horrors he faced in this war. How he felt the night before each bombing run, his terror when that pilot was flying blind over the hump to India. Twirling in the ball to aim at an enemy that was aiming and firing at him, shivering in the freezing altitude. The aching pain of missing another Thanksgiving, another Christmas, the birth of his first child. For a boy that only wanted to stay on the farm, this must have been unbearable. And yet, he and his friends bore it.

Thousands died, but my dad lived to come home. Home. Sweet home. The farm. He said it felt as if the trip home on the ship took years. His nice leather fleece-lined flight jacket was stolen on the cruise home. He didn't care. He was coming home. When he finally arrived, he pulled on his boots and cowboy hat, bought a ranch and he and my mother went to work. He was offered a teaching job in a high school eight miles away and turned it down flat. He couldn't imagine spending so much time away from home again. Eight miles was just too far.

By all accounts, the quiet and shy farm boy was crazily popular with his war buddies. He was always getting letters, cards and phone calls from his buddies all over the United States. A couple of years ago, out of the blue, I received a call from a man in Arizona who said he had gone to college with my dad. A couple of years out of school, the man went to war and saw my dad in uniform waiting to cross a street in Perth, Australia. Sixty years later he was thinking of my dad and decided to see if he could find him or at least a relative, and he found me. There were some things he wanted me to know. I really appreciated the call and the wonderful things the man said about my dad. Funny how a quiet cowboy could make such an impression....

My dad never stopped being a hero. To my big brother and I, there was no one that could top him. He was simply perfect. No one, at least to my knowledge, did not like him. He was a warm friend, the kind that was always there to feed a family's cattle or plow their field or haul in their hay if they were suffering an illness or misfortune. Always dug deep into his pocket at the church offering. Never missed his kids' school performances or ball games. Was good to his parents, my mom's parents, my mom and everyone else he came into contact with. Perfect.

In his last years, I bought him a jacket that said "World War II Veteran". Everywhere we would go, people would ask about his service and would often thank him. He was so proud to wear that jacket. After a lifetime of avoiding "war talk", he seemed to warm to it more as he got older.

My mom was a good match for him. Tough and smart, she was with him step by step, raising their two children, working her fingers to the bone and supporting him in every way.

My dad had a good life, by his measure. He never lived more than a couple miles from his own parents and my mom's parents, his sister and his brother. His entire family was within two miles of his doorstep. Our little town was filled with family and close friends, and that, to my dad, was heaven. He stepped out of his house every morning to a big, wide country with kids and family and horses and cattle and dogs and cats and trees and streams and blue sky and it was all his.

My dad has been gone for some time now and I'm sure he's building fences up in Heaven right now.

Whenever Veterans' Day rolls around, I think a lot about my own personal war hero, and how lucky I was to have him in my life. I still miss him terribly.

Thanks, Dad!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Taking A Parent To The Doctor? Prepare In Advance.

As our parents age, we may find ourselves accompanying one of them to a doctor visit, or checking one in to a hospital.

Many times the parent will not feel like filling out the long medical forms that are required before the patient can get medical attention, so that duty will fall to you. If you prepare before the need arises, this process will be much easier and quicker.

If the doctor or hospital visits increase, you will always have the information at hand to quickly get through the paperwork and get your parent on the road to recovery a little faster.

You should carry a Medical Facts and History sheet with you at all times for each loved one that you may be assisting. Carrying one for yourself is a good idea as well, since it may be difficult to remember what year you had chicken pox. The information on the Medical Facts and History sheet is taken from the book How To Wage War Against A Flu Pandemic by Debra West -

The Medical Facts and History sheet should include information that may be asked on the medical questionnaires that you will be completing for your parent.

If you have a computer, making this form is relatively easy. Use Microsoft Word or another program to type in the information, then save it for quick updating as the need arises.

The following is information that should be included on the Medical Facts and Information Sheet. You should complete this sheet as if you were the parent (or whoever you are making the sheet for). You will have to get most of the information from your parent, so it should be completed with the parent present.

Full Name (of parent)
Date of Birth
Social Security Number
Current Medical Insurer
Medical Insurance Number
Medicare Membership Number
Name of Family Doctor

List of Medications and doses being taken currently
Current Medical Conditions
List of Procedures and Surgeries, starting with the oldest
List of Illnesses and Diseases, starting with the oldest
Family History (what conditions did parents or siblings have)
Emergency Contacts - Two names and phone numbers

When completed, print a copy of the Medical Facts and Information Sheet and carry it in your wallet or purse. You never know when an emergency might arise and it may be needed.

You could also give a copy to your parent and any trusted family members who may need to take your parents for medical attention.

As insurances or membership numbers changes, be sure and update the sheet. Also you will need to update the sheet as your parent changes medications, undergoes medical treatments or surgeries, or suffers illnesses.

Carrying this information at all times will reduce stress and tension in the waiting room, you and your parent will have one less thing to worry about and your loved one will have a quick and efficient trip to the doctor's office.

Guard this Medical Facts and History sheet as closely as you protect your credit cards, as it contains information that should only be shared with trusted family members.

Photo Credit
Petr Kratochvil

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Friday Dog Blog

It's Friday and it's a dog blog. This cute little nipper hails from Michigan, and just loves fall leaves. His name is Jesse, and he sends a big Friday hello to everybody!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is Rush Limbaugh A Narcissist?

We are hearing a lot these days about narcissism and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. Opinions differ about whether Rush Limbaugh is narcissistic - Before you form your own opinion it's important to understand narcissism.

Everyone has some degree of narcissism within them, and some of this is healthy and known as self-esteem or self-confidence. But when the narcissism level becomes too high, it can indicate a self-hatred and develop into very serious problems.

The term “narcissism” comes from Greek mythology. Narcissus was a beautiful young man that hacked off the wrong person and was sentenced to fall in love with his own reflection in the water. He could never receive love back from himself, of course, so he pined away for his reflection until he turned into a flower, the Narcissus.

Once self-esteem becomes more than self-esteem, it can become Narcissistic Personality Disorder, where the person is, well, insufferable, hard to live with and miserable. The following are some clues to indicate if Rush Limbaugh (or someone you know) may be a narcissist…

“I am perfect”. A narcissist sees himself as above the fray, looking down on the rest of the world. He believes that he possesses the knowledge to solve the problems of the world, and if people would just wake up and see things his way life would be so much better.

Arrogance. A narcissist is often terribly disappointed when life does not deliver perfection. Because his narcissism is based on a deep-seated (and often unrecognized) hatred of himself, he will plunge into despair at the slightest of problems. Often he will pump himself back up by finding someone to degrade and humiliate. A narcissist can be extremely cruel to the one closest to him, as that person often becomes a verbal battering ram that a narcissist requires to get him back where he needs to be – above the world, looking down.

No boundaries between himself and others. A narcissist cannot see the individualism in others and expects all to conform to his expectations. He becomes very angry at those with opposing views. He sees others only as extensions of himself and expects perfections from them.

Pathological lying and manipulation.

Superficial charm and fake friendliness that hide a seething anger under the surface.

Blustery blow-hard or quiet and angry. These are two general types of narcissists. The blustery blow-hard seems to have little sense of self and rages through life loudly. The quiet and angry narcissist has a terrible self-perception and is painfully aware that he is totally empty inside. Both exhibit most or all of the above qualities and both probably failed to develop an appropriate self-worth as a child.

Please be aware that these are only possible indicators of an unhealthy narcissism. A therapist should be consulted for a diagnosis and assistance if a person possesses several of these traits. Left unchecked, Narcissistic Personality Disorder can literally ruin a person’s life, not to mention those that are close to him.

Oh, and since I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh I have absolutely no opinion on whether he is a narcissist. I will leave that to the pundits.

Note: I used male pronouns throughout the article for convenience and consistency, but Narcissistic Personality Disorder can occur in either gender.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Monday Recipe Blog

How about a healthy Native American Fry bread?

We are proud of our Native American heritage in Oklahoma. We have the largest Native American population in the country, and Native American Fry Bread is something that many of us enjoy often.
However, using the traditional recipe too often can be dangerous to your health. Fry Bread contains lots of fat and things that are really bad for your heart.

Now a healthier Native American Fry Bread recipe has been created, and this makes it easier to enjoy this delicacy.The following is the recipe for Native American Fry Bread after its healthy makeover....

Healthy Native American Fry Bread

1 c. self-rising flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. fat-free milk
1 t. baking powder
1 T. Splenda
Canola oil
In a large mixing bowl, mix flours, baking powder, Splenda and milk.

Place dough on wax paper sprinkled with self-rising flour. Knead the dough, and add more self-rising flour to make a good dough. Allow the dough to sit for at least an hour. Can be more if you need more time.
When you are ready to begin the frying process, pour about 1 inch of canola oil into a frying pan, and heat it. You will know it's ready if, when you sprinkle a little flour on the oil, it sizzles.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape into round forms that look like dessert plates. Fry in the oil until golden brown, then remove immediately from the oil and place on paper towels to drain. Makes 8 servings.
The best-known way to use Native American Fry bread is for the base of an Indian Taco. This is made by layering cooked pinto beans or chili with beans, onions, lettuce, tomato, grated cheddar cheese and sour cream on the fry bread.
Another, more traditional way to eat it is with a meal as bread. You can also serve it as a dessert with honey or ice cream.
Each fry bread using this recipe is 148 calories, 4 grams fat (less than 1 gram of saturated fat), 24 grams carbs, 2 grams fiber, less than 1 mg. cholesterol and 5 grams protein.