Feed Your Soul

Why houseplants?

- Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One very good reason for appreciating houseplants is the fact that they improve your quality of life and indoor air quality by clearing airborne toxins in your home. Champion air-scrubbers like Boston fern, Sweet Chico and dwarf date palm make great housewarming presents and are ideal for elderly residents in assisted living facilities.

Can you control the clutter?

- Tuesday, January 17, 2017

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.” –Eleanor Brown

Keeping a home tidy and organized is practically impossible for most of us, especially when organizing often requires too much effort and time than we care to dedicate. 

The key is to set realistic goals.

Start with your kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home and often the messiest room in the house. Start by cleaning and putting away the dishes. Then tackle the piles of paperwork. Once you can see your countertops, you’ve accomplished something. Look for ways to store paperwork that are easy. When it’s too difficult to put things away in your home, it becomes more likely that clutter will collect on countertops.

Don’t forget the beauty of delegation either. More than likely, you weren’t the only one who made a mess in the kitchen. Get the family to help put things away and do this on a continual basis. They’ll be less likely to leave things out next time. Plus, they won’t have the excuse that they don’t know where items are kept.

How to cut fresh herbs...

- Monday, January 16, 2017

Whether used for cooking, bouquets, teas or herbal baths, there’s no substitute for fresh cut herbs and knowing how to cut, preserve, harvest and store them is essential. Here are some tips and tricks for cutting fresh herbs.

It’s good to snip herbal plants regularly throughout the summer as this will encourage new growth and branching. Herbs are hearty so you can harvest successive cuttings whenever you need fresh herbs. Be sure to cut no more than one-third of the stem’s length unless the herb is chives or lavender in which case you’ll want to harvest the flowering steps at ground level when they’re in bloom.

It’s best to gather herbs early in the day before the sun bakes the plants’ essential oils but after the dew has dried. When harvesting herbal leaves, the best time to do this is when the plant’s flowers start to form, cutting the stems at their peak. Near the end of the growing season, when you’re ready to start harvesting seeds, wait for the flowers to mature and turn brown. Harvesting the seeds will be easier.

When it comes to cooking with herbs, strip the leaves from the plant’s stems by sliding your forefinger and thumb from top to bottom. Herbs like bay, parsley and tansy have thicker leaves and you’ll want to snip those.

Preserving herbs entails gathering small bunches (10-15 stems) and hanging them in a warm, airy place to dry. You can wrap the stems tightly with a rubber band or tie them with twine. Then hang the herb bunches on the rung of a hanger, from a nail, or on a drying rack. Depending on the plant’s moisture content, drying can take up to three weeks. Remove crisp-dry leaves before storing herbs. Place a paper bag over dry seed heads, tying the open end of the bag around the stems, with one type of herb in each bag. Label each bag and in a few weeks the seeds will drop into the bag. Allow seeds to dry out completely before properly storing.

To properly store dried herbs you’ll need airtight glass or ceramic containers. Store these containers away from light and heat. This is the best way to protect the herbs’ fragrance and flavor. Keep your herbs’ leaves whole, crushing leaves to release flavor just before needed. Dried herbs should be used within a year of harvesting.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s most urgent question...

- Monday, January 16, 2017

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The life changing magic of tidying up...

- Sunday, January 15, 2017

“Start by discarding all at once, intensely and completely.”

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart.”

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

- Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Declutter your mind...

- Sunday, January 15, 2017

The holidays are over and mid-way through January you thought your schedule would return to normal. Problem is, it hasn’t and you’re having a hard time keeping up with your to-do list much less sleeping at night. Is your mind so muddled it keeps you up at night? Here are a few tricks for de-cluttering your mind so you can sleep and be better equipped to tackle your to-do list.

Give yourself permission to take a break. It’s okay to put down your to-do list and just breathe. For 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour, if possible, focus on the present rather than making plans in your head. When you take the time to let go, you’re more likely to have more success when you return to your to-do list.

Meditation. You don’t have to be Buddhist to meditate, nor an expert. Not only that, you don’t need to set aside a lot of time out of your day to meditate either. Meditation is about slowing down and you can meditate while you cook or take a shower. As you meditate, pay attention to your contact with the Earth. Focus on the movements of your body, the feel of the air on your skin, and the center of your body where your breath fills you most. Relax any tension you feel in your neck, shoulders and jaw. Let your thoughts, worries and concerns go. Imagine your thoughts written on a leaf that floats away down a river. Do this for as long as you can or need to. For some this is 2-3 minutes, for others 10-15 minutes. You’ll find you’ve given yourself a mental reboot.

A change of scenery is more powerful than you might think. Whether it’s to your back porch to have lunch, a neighbor’s house for a visit, or a simple walk through your neighborhood or local park, when you break any kind of cycle, changing location is a huge help.

Get moving. When you get your blood flowing and oxygen throughout your body and to your brain, you’ll feel renewed and ready to focus again. Consider walking, dancing, yoga or a pillow fight with your kids!

The best way to get things done...

- Saturday, January 14, 2017

The best way to get things done is to simply begin.

Wine and cheese pairings...

- Friday, January 13, 2017

Here are some suggestions for wine and cheese pairings.

·         Try pairing Champagne with brie or triple creams. The champagne’s scouring bubbles is a perfect match to the triple cream’s rich texture.

·         Sparkling Shiraz and Cambozola. The sharpness of this German cheese’s blue cultures stand up to the wine’s effervescence and tannins.

·         Chenin Blanc and Fresh chèvre. Both the cheese and the wine match each other in acidity and intensity.

·         Cabernet Sauvignon and Achadinha Cheese Company’s Capricious. This hearty, aged goat cheese is meaty enough to stand up to this robust wine’s tannins.

·         Stilton with Port. The salty sharpness of this cheese melds with this wine’s sweet depth.

·         Cheddar with red Bordeaux. The gravelly texture of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot combine beautifully with the tang and crystalline crunch of Cheddar.

·         Aged Parmigiano-Reggiano and Chianti. Parmigiano’s nutty, distinct crumble coupled with the mouthwatering fruit of Chianti balances this cheese’s salty richness.

How to make your dreams come true...

- Thursday, January 12, 2017

Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined.

There are millions of dreams that aren’t nearly as impossible to make reality as we think.

As acclaimed motivational speaker Earl Nightingale said: “Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.”

What dreams do you plan to make a reality in 2017?

Traditions to bring your family together...

- Thursday, January 12, 2017

Traditions strengthen your family’s bonds, enrich the life you share together, contribute to your children’s well-being and create lasting memories. There are lots of family traditions practiced during the holidays and there are plenty of others observed throughout the rest of the year. Here are some traditions families living in the Information Age are observing so technology doesn’t take over!

Daily connections include:

Family Meals that begin with grace or sharing something they’re grateful for that day. No TV, no cellphones, and no tablets. Everyone takes a turn sharing something positive and negative that has happened to them during the day. Families also share stories and interesting information they’ve read or heard that day.

School Lunch Inspiration. Put inspiring notes or drawings in your children’s school lunches. It’s a great way to connect and make your kids feel extra loved.

Bedtime Story. Children whose parents read to them regularly typically do better in school and have larger vocabularies than children who don’t.

Weekly Connections include:

Family Game Night – From Pie in the Face to Monopoly, family game night is great fun, a fantastic way to keep connected and ramp up the laughter.

Movie Night – Borrow your favorite 80s movies from the library, hit the dollar store and let the kids pick out their favorite candy, pop some butter flavored popcorn at home and you have the perfect opportunity to wax poetic with your kids about why movies from the 80s were so much better than the ones produced today.

Pizza Night – Almost everyone loves pizza and having a pizza night gives you and your family a favorite meal to look forward to each week. Skip delivery and making your own is another way to connect and pass on some cooking skills to your kids too.

Saturday/Sunday Morning Breakfast together – Pancakes and waffles are “easy like Sunday morning.” So are biscuits and gravy. Indulge your inner chef.

Monthly Connections:

Box of Goals. Setting and working toward a goal is an important life skill. On the first day of every month, have family members write down one goal they wish to accomplish that month. Then place the piece of paper in a cigar box or a tin from the dollar store. At the end of the month you can take out the pieces of paper and see how everyone did. Then write new goals for next month. You’ll be amazed at all you and your family can achieve.

Family Service Day. If your family’s mission is to serve the community, consider designating one Saturday or Sunday each month to helping others. This could be in the form of spending a morning at a homeless shelter, helping a neighbor with yard work or sorting clothes at Goodwill.

What are some of your family’s traditions?


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