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Showing posts from December, 2014

Happy 2015

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A New Year...One Day At A Time!

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We all have the standard New Year resolutions; lose weight, start exercising, work less and play more, yeah…we’ve got those written down in every New Year’s Eve napkin or journal, and will most likely break them by day one or week one of the new year. So, how about making a resolution to take little steps instead of trying to make such huge leaps at once? Perfect example, last year I started a new workout routine that I decided I would stick with for the entire year, and after a sprained ankle, shin splits and a few minor setbacks, I’m still exercising at least 5 days a week!
I’m using Tracy Andersons’ Metamorphosis DVD series, and it has kicked my butt and has made me regret starting the program in the first place, but shockingly enough, I’m committed to sticking with it! I’ve never used a workout program for more than a few weeks, so as you can tell, this has taken tons of willpower and courage to keep at it. The workout changes every 10 days so I don’t get bored, and it has only wor…

Party Like It's...

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Recipe adapted from the Signature Lounge (Chicago) for Food Network Magazine
Yield: 1 serving Level: Easy
Ingredients 1 1/2 ounces vodka 3/4 ounce peach schnapps 3/4 ounce cranberry juice cocktail Lime wedge, for garnish (optional)
Directions Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the vodka, peach schnapps and cranberry juice cocktail. Shake well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lime, if desired.
Photograph by Jonathan Kantor
Recipe adapted from the Signature Lounge (Chicago) for Food Network Magazine 
For more Retro Cocktail recipes visit foodnetwork.com

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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7 Surprising Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

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Article courtesy of doctoroz.com
That bottle of apple cider vinegar in your kitchen cabinet is capable of so much more than adding flavor to a salad. In fact, it may be time to move it to the medicine cabinet. Organic apple cider vinegar is antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, so it can soothe your sore throat, heal your heartburn, remove that persistent wart and so much more. Plus, it’s all natural and inexpensive. Read on for 10 surprising home remedies that incorporate your new favorite secret weapon.
Sooth a sore throat If you suffer from chronic sore throats, but don’t want to overdose on cough syrup, turn to apple cider vinegar. Mix one teaspoon apple cider vinegar, one teaspoon cayenne pepper and three teaspoons clover honey in a glass of warm water for an easy elixir. All three ingredients will work together to help you heal: Apple cider vinegar and honey have antibacterial properties, and the capsaicin in hot peppers helps alleviate pain. If that sore throat is due to allerg…

Merry Christmas

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BestieGram: Christmas

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Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

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Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchen Total Time: 7 hr 45 min Prep: 15 min Inactive: 6 hr 15 min Cook: 1 hr 15 min Yield: 8 to 10 servings Level: Easy
This hearty meatless breakfast casserole is a great way to use up stale bread. The cubes on top bake into a delicious crunchy crust that just might be the best part! The whole thing can be assembled the night before and popped into the oven in the morning.
Ingredients 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the dish 8 cups rustic Italian bread, crust removed, cut into 1-inch cubes Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (about 4 cups) 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped 5 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 5 cups) 4 ounces Gruyere, shredded on the large holes of a box grater (about 1 1/2 cups) 1/3 cup grated Parmesan 8 large eggs 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
Directions Grease a 9-by-13-inch (3-quart) casserole dish with oil.
Toss the bread cubes with 2 tablespoons of …

Mercy...Come Back!!

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I was reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s morning post on Facebook about MERCY. So I looked up the meaning - mer·cyˈmərsē/noun: mercy; plural noun: mercies 1. 
compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. synonyms: leniency, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, charity, forgiveness, forbearance, quarter, humanity;
I went to visit my friend Allie yesterday. She just got home from the hospital after having reconstructive surgery on her breast, this after her double mastectomy a few months ago. Allie had two major panic attacks at the hospital and she was in a lot of pain, so I was nervous, anxious, and feeling unsure on how I would handle seeing her in pain again. I also worried about what was causing all the anxiety that caused her panic attacks. Allie and I have become sisters after her breast cancer ordeal this past year. I’ve been there during chemo appointments, wig fittings/head shaving, surgeries, and have appointed myself as her “offici…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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The Holiday Show Must Go On!?!

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“The Show Must Go On” is a show business phrase that originated in the 19th century. It meant that regardless of what happens, the show must continue on. We’ve seen it happen in movies or in real life, when a performer falls or gets injured, the band continues to play, or the ringmaster steps in to make it part of the show.

The holiday season is a show! You see people balancing 20 things at once, stressing out over hosting the perfect party, sending out the perfect holiday cards, and buying the best gifts. It’s a tough act to keep going, especially because most people around us are doing it, so you look like a slacker if you’re not measuring up. But in all honesty, I’m too busy to notice if someone else is not measuring up because I’m trying to balance my own act. So with that said, do we need to keep the act going if we don’t really want to? It’s hard to quit! It’s part of our culture. We exude abundance and fake our happiness in order to make it all look good.
And all of this brings m…

Natural Sore-Throat Remedies

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By Katherine Bagley for YouBeauty.com From African geraniums to chicken soup, we spell out which natural treatments really work.
For millions of people every year, sore throats serve as the major warning signal that they are about to be hit with the flu, common cold or a bacterial infection like strep throat. On a far less ominous note, allergies, dry air and pollutants can also cause them.
While there are lots of over-the-counter medications that can treat aching throats, there are also countless home and natural remedies to sooth the soreness for those who prefer more organic health care or just can’t make it to the pharmacy. Since it can often be difficult to separate the scientific fact from fiction, we’ve compiled a guide to the everyday affordable materials that have been shown to relieve the pain and wipe out early infections.
Licorice Root
Also known as "sweet root," this perennial herb, commonly grown in southern Europe and Asia, has been used in medicine for thousands…

Salted Caramel Sauce

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Recipe courtesy of Kelsey Nixon
TOTAL TIME: 44 min Prep: 5 min Inactive Prep: 30 min Cook: 9 min

YIELD: 1 1/2 cups sauce LEVEL: Intermediate
INGREDIENTS 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup water 3/4 cup heavy cream 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 teaspoon gray sea salt, crushed or kosher salt

DIRECTIONS In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. If necessary, use a wet pastry brush to wash down any crystals on the side of the pan. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the unsalted butter, and salt. Transfer the caramel to a dish and cool.

*Cook's Note: The salted caramel sauce will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Reheat before serving.

Uses for Salted Caramel Sauce: Salted Caramel Dip with Harvest Apples: Package the sauce with seasonal apples …

Gift-Giving With Love, Empathy and Kindness

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The holiday season brings excitement, kindness, fun, stress, resentment, anxiety and high expectations. At times, I feel all of those emotions at once and it’s so overwhelming that I shut down. I pressure myself to make all of my family and friends happy with my gifts. It’s so unrealistic! Think about it for a minute…if loved one has a tendency to always see the cup half empty, what makes you think that a new sweater or shirt will bring them much joy? We set ourselves up to fail when we have expectations that our gifts will make others happy, and they too, set themselves up when they expect nothing less than the moon wrapped up in a small box with a pretty bow.
Growing up, my family didn’t exchange gifts for the holidays or birthdays. We didn’t have much money to buy much of anything, especially gifts, and my parents worked so much that they never had the time to make us gifts, and would never think of it in the first place. But, our family and extended family provided so much love d…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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Macadamia-Almond Christmas Cookies

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Recipe courtesy of Nancy Fuller
Total Time: 1 hr Prep: 10 min Inactive: 30 min Cook: 20 min Yield: 4 to 5 dozen cookies Level: Easy
Ingredients 2 cups macadamia nuts 11/2 cups sugar 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/2 cup vegetable shortening 2 large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon almond extract 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon fine salt 2 cups white chocolate chips 1 cup pistachios, roughly chopped 1 cup dried cranberries Nonstick cooking spray 48 to 60 red-and-white striped chocolate kiss candies
Directions Put the macadamia nuts in a food processor and process until smooth and buttery (this should measure about 1 cup). Add the sugar, butter and shortening and pulse until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and pulse until blended. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and pulse until just incorporated.
Transfer the cookie dough to a medium bowl and fold in the white chocolate chip…

Before I die, I want to___________

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Most days, I rush around trying to keep my head above water. I try to make sure that my house is clean “enough” in order for my family to live comfortably. I carpool my kids around “trying” to get to school, practices, classes and activities on time. I painfully squeeze in as much time as I can to write. I shop at 3 difference grocery stores in order to stretch the buck. I plan birthday parties, holiday parties and family vacations on a dime, literally, on very little cash, so I have to be really creative. And when that very desirable, but rare moment, comes around that I have “me” time…I’m bored!  I look at my phone, check email, text a few friends and try to find something to keep me busy!

So, in one of those rare moments of boredom, I went on TED Talks and spent the 30 spare minutes of my day watching a few videos. And then, this video by Candy Chang found me! Candy’s “Before I die, I want to_______” project was inspiring and so cool!Candy turned the side of an abandoned house in he…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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Millionaire Shortbread Cookies

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Recipe courtesy of Marc Murphy
Total Time: 3 hr 25 min Prep: 15 min Inactive: 2 hr 30 min Cook: 40 min Yield: 36 bars Level: Intermediate
Ingredients Shortbread Layer: 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus extra melted for coating the pan 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for coating the pan 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Cookie Butter Layer: 1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk 1/2 cup light brown sugar (not packed) 3 tablespoons cookie butter, such as Biscoff or Speculoos 1 teaspoon fine salt
Chocolate Layer: 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped 2 teaspoons vegetable oil Flaky salt, such as fleur de sel
Directions For the shortbread layer: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a pastry brush, butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and coat with flour, tapping off excess.
Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse. Add the butter and pulse until the dough just comes together. Press the shortbread mixture into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown …

Quote of the Day

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Quote of the Day

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Making The Present, Worthy Of The Future

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She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful. -Terri St. Cloud
When I read the quote by Terri St. Cloud, I nearly broke out in tears! There are days when I beat myself up while trying to justify why I said something that hurt someone’s feelings, or why I chose to do something the way I did. I waste time re-playing the past, hoping to make details pretty, but every single time, I fail to see that it’s too late for that. It’s silly to want the past to auto-correct, but even better, to erase that misspoken word or action. And not only that, but to also notify all parties involved of correction or deletion and have them adjust their brains and/or hearts to do the same! And sadly, that’s exactly what I try to do when I waste time re-playing the past, but it’s all in hopes of bringing me relief from feeling guilty and bad about it all. In essence, I’m very unforgiving of myself. From here on out, I will continue …

Hangover Cure Prickly Pear Cocktail

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Hangover Cure Prickly Pear Cocktail courtesy of doctoroz.com Studies have shown that drinking an 8-ounce glass of prickly pear juice within five hours of consuming alcohol can help you to avoid a hangover.
Ingredients 8 oz prickly pear juice 8 oz lemonade fresh mint
Directions Blend with ice. Enjoy!
Fore more wellness tips visit doctoroz.com

Turning Vulnerability Into Strength

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The fact that every single person alive is a vulnerable being is astonishing, yet not believable, because we live our lives with hard shields, guarding our chests and emotions. Like most people I know, I hide my physical and emotional vulnerability at all times. Here’s the meaning of vul·ner·a·bleˈvəln(ə)rəb(ə)l/adjective: vulnerable susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. During the holidays, we expose ourselves to emotional harm when we buy gifts for others, when we go to parties and socialize, and when we go to family dinners and have to spend time with people that we rarely see (or like to see) during the year. ‘Tis the season for our biggest exposure to vulnerability!
The fear of our gifts not being good enough, being left out from a gathering, being talked about behind our backs, and being judged, are the biggest and most painful emotional attacks, yet we pretend that we’re ok when they happen. Or we lash out at everyone else around us without addressing the painfu…

Life Is Full Of Pleasures: Cyndi's Top 3

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