Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Wish List

A couple of weeks ago, I needed some fresh basil for a recipe. Rather than buy a small container of basil that would go limp in a couple of days, I decided to buy a basil plant (it was in the produce section) and have fresh basil all winter long. I transplanted it into a pot when I got home and tenderly nurtured it. I had never tried growing anything in the winter, but how hard could it be.
Day 1

Day 14

I'm hoping someone will buy me a Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Herb Garden for Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Budget Friendly Home Gym: Part 4

The Bosu Ball

The Bosu ball is a great addition to any workout routine. It improves core stabilization and therefore balance. Just standing on it and trying to balance makes you engage a myriad of muscles. You can use it right side up or up side down. You can purchase a Bosu ball for about $100 at most sporting good stores or, of course, you can get it online. It comes with a DVD of four different workouts that are as challenging as you want to make them.

As I have aged, my balance has deteriorated. The Bosu ball is helping me to improve. I know this sounds like an elderly person talking, but as our balance gets worse, we're more prone to falls. With the Bosu ball, I can postpone getting my "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up" button.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Autumn Recipe

My co-worker, Kay, gave me this tasty recipe today. I decided to have it tonight, but since I didn't have parsnips on hand (does anyone have parsnips on hand?), I substituted with carrots. My husband tolerated it (no yummy sounds on this one), but I really liked it. Kay didn't give me a name for it, so I gave it my own. (I thought if I mentioned the apples first, more people might try it.) So here it is:

Baked Apples and Autumn Vegetables

2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
2 Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 T. Olive oil
1 T. Honey
2 T. Soy sauce
1/2 t. ginger

Cut up vegetables and place in a large baking dish.
Microwave honey and oil for ~20 seconds and mix well. Add soy sauce and ginger. Mix and pour over vegetables. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

A word of warning: Don't eat orange vegetables too often. Our dietician at work was eating squash and sweet potatoes everyday and as a result, her skin started to turn orange.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Budget Friendly Home Gym: Part 3

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a great piece of equipment. They are inexpensive, lightweight, and take up hardly any space. (You can even pack them in your suitcase so you won't miss your strength training sessions while on vacation.) Practically anything you do with dumbbells can be done with a resistance band. They run anywhere from $10-20 and can be purchased at most discount department stores or sporting good stores. They come with an attachment to anchor it in a doorway and with instructions. You can also find exercises on the internet. I've included a few exercises here. WARNING: The model has just gotten up and is not wearing make-up nor has she showered or washed her hair.
Bicep Curls

Tricep Extension

Chest Press

Standing Row

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Decorating the Christmas tree is more than just hanging ornaments. It's a walk down memory lane, reminiscing about the years since my husband and I have been married. Of course, we have a "First Christmas Together", as well as, three "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments. My favorites are the handmade ornaments my children made when they were in elementary and preschool. The sequins have since fallen off the felt Christmas trees and bells, but I still hang them up.

We also have ornaments from vacations--a painted egg from Salzburg, Austria, an ornament from a White House tour, a painted glass ball from Sunriver, Oregon, and so on.

I have the ornaments my sister-in-law had my nieces pick out for me when they were toddlers--Kim picked an angel and Lindsay chose Kermit the frog.

My most recent "memory" ornament is the paw print of our little Border Terrier, Molly. The impression was made when we had her put down. Even though it makes me sad to hang it, it also brings back the great memories I have of her.

I always feel nostalgic when decorating the tree. I wish for those days when the kids were young and at home. When I was a child, I counted down the days until Christmas. Now I count down the days until my children are all home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quick Workout

With all the busy-ness of the holiday season, it's hard to find time for those extended workouts. I try to always get my cardio workout done, but the weight training tends to take a back burner. So here's a way to get a little strength training in that will tide you over.

Do three sets of the following:

1. Squats - 30 reps

2. Push-ups - 20 reps

3. Crunches - 75 reps

These exercises will work most of your major muscle groups in a short amount of time.
A few other things you can do: while waiting in line at the grocery store, do calf raises (raise up to your tippy toes and lower back down). You can easily do hundreds of these. Also, contract your abs whenever you come to a red light. Remember to give yourself a day of rest between strength training workouts.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Quick and Easy Salmon

I got home from work a little later than planned and didn't feel like fussing much with dinner. This recipe is great for pulling a meal together in a few minutes. I added some green beans and a Caesar salad and voila! Dinner was ready in less than 30 minutes.

Citrus-glazed Salmon

2 T. low-sugar orange marmalade
1/2 t. balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. Dijon mustard
4 salmon fillets
salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray

1. Preheat broiler
2. Combine first 4 ingredients.
3. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil for 5-6 minutes. Turn salmon. Broil for 2-3 minutes. Brush with marmalade mixture and broil for an additional 2 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.