The Daily Dozen

The Daily Dozen

In my ongoing quest to stay healthy, my trainer suggested I read the book, How Not to Die, by Dr. Michael Greger. I know I am going to die but I want to go out as healthy as possible with strong joints and an active lifestyle until the very end.  My takeaway from the book, to improve my current diet, is to keep up the fruits and veggies, limit meat and incorporate more beans like garbanzo, lentils, and black beans, and get in my fiber with whole grains plus add daily  a tablespoon of ground flax seeds and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.  There is a very easy app to use to track your daily progress of following a more healthy eating plan. Notice I didn’t use the word “diet”. You can find the app at Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen.  You just click the radio button every time you eat one of the recommended daily dozen and the app helps you keep track.  Plus I like checking off items on a list.  I am weird that way.

In anticipation of a busy week, I have sorted various fruits and veggies into small portions in little bags ready to grab in the morning from the refrigerator as I head out the door to work.

I made a big batch of Italian lentil soup and stored it in individual containers to take to heat up for a warm and healthy lunch.  I also whipped up two loaves of Maple Oat, Millet and Buckwheat bread to get in the fiber recommended by Dr. Greger and provide for a special treat for breakfast, toasted with almond butter or avocado spread.

Italian Lentil Soup:

2 T olive oil — heat in dutch oven and add 1 diced yellow onion, 2 large diced carrots and 2 stalks, diced, celery.  Add lots of garlic and saute until soft, add 2 boxes of vegetable or chicken broth.  Dump in a can of fire-roasted, diced, tomatoes and 1 cup of dried red lentils. Season with bay leaves, thyme, oregano and turmeric.  Stir and allow to simmer for an hour or so.  Add salt, black pepper and 2 cups of chopped spinach, or collard greens or kale (whatever you have on hand). Cook for another 15 minutes and you are ready to eat.

I had a bowl for lunch today and added 1/4 tsp of turmeric to my portion and sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top.  Really tasty. If you like it spicy add hot sauce or your favorite condiment.

Lentil Soup

Oatmeal and Flaxseed Maple-Honey Bread

I took a tested recipe from King Arthur Flour and modified to add more fiber.

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 T honey
  • 8 T butter – you could probably get away with a little less.  Next time I am going to try to half it and see what happens.
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 T salt
  • 2.5 tsp dried yeast
  •  1/2 cup of millet flour
  • 1/3 cup of buckwheat
  • 1 T flax seeds
  • 5 cups of AP flour – you may need to add more but start with this amount first. I had to add about a cup.

Take 1/4 cup of water and heat water to 105 degrees.  Use an instant thermometer to check it.  Add 2 1/2 tsp. of yeast and a pinch of sugar and let it activate the yeast for 10 minutes.

Take the boiling water, oats, maple syrup, honey, butter, cinnamon and salt and combine in a mixing bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.  Then add the yeast and flours and seeds.  Knead in mixer to start and add 1/4 cup of flour until you get the correct consistency of not to sticky but not too dry.  This is something you learn with practice. Knead by hand for 5-10 minutes. Get in a little lower arm exercise in the process.

Place in greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap and allow to double.  Takes about an hour or so. Looks like it is growing before your eyes!

Punch down and divide into two loaf pans — make sure you grease them first.  Repeat the steps for the plastic wrap and let rise until 1 inch over the rim of the pan.  Another hour or so for this step.While I waited for the dough to raise, I went outside to work in the garden and nearly died from the heat.  No breeze, high humidity and heat is a killer.  Be careful out there fellow Texans. Maybe we will see a little shower tonight?

I sprinkled my two loaves with maple syrup flakes that I bought when we were in Vermont for a little special sweet crunch on top.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes until you tap them and they sound hollow.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes and then munch. This bread and the soup would pair nicely.

Ode to Kansas Days

Ode to Kansas Days

 

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I did my usual morning walk, listening to Spotify, this time to a playlist called Country Coffeehouse.  The music inspired me to try to write an ode. Since I am stuck at home today, meeting various repair and service companies, I thought I would try crafting one about my younger years growing up in Kansas.  Here is my first draft.  Any musician friends out there are welcome to take the lyrics and turn the ode into a song.

Chorus:

Drive the two-lane road from my hometown

Pass the s-curve, signaling left at the old fairgrounds

This stretch of road changes too many lives

Cuts them short, going way too fast, a few precious ones, who survives?

Too much speed, too little time, one less life in these parts now

Verse:

Cruise the square, round and round, until your head spins

Sip on Coors Lite until the cops tell us to leave or they will take us in

Head to a house on the bricks not far from the school

Toss balls at a hoop daring ourselves to break the rules

Chorus Repeat

Verse:

Finish school, get a summer job counting hospital beds for the State

Go on a couple of dates, stay out catching softballs far too late

Tell Mom and Dad we are doing fine

Wondering how it will be when we leave past the hometown sign 

Chorus Repeat 

Verse:

Pack our bags, fill the trunk, blink through the tears, and catch the road

Ellsworth Hall is on the hill, my 6th Floor room is my now, new abode

Walk the hills, meet the Profs, and jump to reggae on old Mass Street

Study hard, make the grades, meet the boy and he talks sweet

 Chorus Repeat

 

Verse:

Tie the knot, in a church in downtown Lawrence, on a cold-hearted night

Drive out west, to greet the sun, to make us right

Two young souls, bound for the coast

Never to return to the vast wheat fields, the starry nights, or the quiet sounds we miss the most

 Chorus Repeat

 

 

 

 

First Day of School Reflections

First Day of School Reflections

It has been 50 years since my first day of school but I still remember walking through the doors of Medicine Lodge Grade School under the watchful eyes of the very impressive replica of the Statue of Liberty that towered over me at the main entrance. Lady Liberty greeted me and so did my teacher — all from great heights above me but with an openness that welcomed me to a community that would support me through successes and challenges.   I later learned that this replica was part of the Boy Scouts of America’s 40th anniversary celebration and was placed in front of the school around 1950.  It still stands.

The idea for the project was organized by the Scout Commissioner of the Kansas City Area Council and eventually over 200 of the small replicas were placed around the country.  And one of them somehow found its way to my little school in Barber County in south central Kansas.

The campaign called “Strengthen the Arm of Liberty” placed replicas of the statue, made of stamped copper, purchased by local Boy Scout troops and donated in 39 states. The statues are approximately 8 12 feet tall without the base, weighed 290 pounds and originally cost $350 plus freight.  Many have been lost or destroyed, but preservationists have been able to account for about a hundred of them. They were commonly installed at city halls, libraries, and schools.

 

medicine lodge kansas
Lady Liberty in Medicine Lodge, Kansas

Sweet memories from my first year of school:

  • Graham cracker and milk breaks, except that time Ruthie spit up on me
  • Learning to jump rope and loving every recess
  • The tall metal slide
  • Music lessons and art projects
  • Learning to tie my laces on a fake shoe with real laces
  • Reading groups
  • Being with kids my own age all day long
  • Making new friends
  • My own desk with the lid that lifted up to store my stuff inside
  • My hook in the back coat closet
  • Shiny waxed floors
  • Not left at home with only Mom
  • Walking to school with my friends and occasionally my brother, but he usually walked several steps ahead of me so his friends wouldn’t see him with his little sister
  • Lunch especially peanut butter and honey mixed together for seconds

I hope everyone had a great first day of school and let’s make it a great year so you too will have memories you won’t soon forget.  If you have a memory to share, please post.

 

Mom’s Czech Egg Noodles

Mom’s Czech Egg Noodles

Raised by a frugal Czech and Scottish mother, we cooked all our meals from scratch using simple and inexpensive ingredients.  One of my favorites is homemade egg noodles, cut with a knife, and hung to dry before boiling them in water and salt or better yet in chicken broth, also from scratch.


Tonight, due to cooler temps, I made scratch noodles with boiled chicken, the trinity and sage.  Willing autumn to arrive and soon.

Noodles:  2.5 cups flour and  a dash or two of salt, add 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, 1T butter and combine.  Knead and allow to rest for 30 minutes before rolling out.  Cut into strips and hang to dry for at least two hours. Boil in a lot of salted water.

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Add to chicken and veggies and broth.  We fried fresh sage and added that, plus hot sauce and Parmesan cheese. From scratch, just, almost like mom.

Grant Writing is not a Solo Sport

Grant Writing is not a Solo Sport

Tarrant Area Grant Writing Group (TAGG)

It is impossible to write an award-winning grant in isolation. And many unsuccessful grant writers fall into this trap.  They are good at writing but professional grant writing is so much more than the written narrative or basic research on the internet. It is not a solo sport.

To be successful, you must reach out to others in your network to learn from them, to partner together on proposals and to support one another.  In Tarrant County and in my opinion, especially in Fort Worth, we are superb at collaboration in the grant development arena.  There are some great groups in existence including (1) the grant professional group supported by the Mental Health Connection, (2) the Grant Professional Association (GPA) local chapter that meets in Bedford, and (3) the National Grants Management (NGM) Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter that meets at the Arlington ISD Professional Development Center. For development staff, there is the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Fort Worth Chapter.  For school districts, we meet at Region XI Educational Service Center (ESC) to discuss specific funding streams from the federal and state government.  The North Texas Area Council of Government provides support for grant applications through the Governor’s office and is the go to place for transportation and juvenile justice grants.

For general support, the CNM Connect in Fort Worth, located on Berry Street, near TCU, is the place for ongoing professional development as well as access to databases on funders and foundations.  If you join this organization, you get on a list for invitations to all kinds of support and networking.

You can also just form your own network of grant writers and meet informally to share challenges, glean new tips, share contacts, and support one another.  I have recently joined a great group, called the Tarrant Area Grant Writers Group (TAGG) and we meet for lunch at University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) every other month to talk about our craft.

Whatever you do, if you are writing grants for organizations in Tarrant County or Fort Worth, Texas, get involved with one of the grant writing organizations listed above. It will make you better in all aspects — both grant writing, development, and implementation strategies — and help your own professional growth and exposure for your organization.  The time invested should result in helping you and your organization meet grant funding goals to support the critical needs of our rapidly growing, multi-cultural north Texas community.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller.

People Watching

People Watching

I came from a long line of people watchers.  The most notorious was my mother.  She was wife to a coach of high school football, basketball, gymnastics and track in the 1960’s and 70’s.  My mother worked outside the home, commuted 30 miles daily, but still attended my father’s games whenever she was needed.  She wasn’t a big fan of athletics.  So, she often brought a novel along or spent her time observing the crowd and making observations about people, most often to me who sat beside her at these events.

My daily routine is to get up early in the morning and walk up to the middle school track. I workout and observe people.  My daughters would say I stare at people.  Today was no different.  I want to thank the tax payer for the beautiful track we have at our local middle school and so many people use this gift every single day for their daily exercise. Today, at the track, I did my routine and observed:

  • Miss Lanky and Lass
  • Mr. Sweaty Back
  • Sir Preying Mantis
  • Ms. Fast Walker
  • Two Friends Who Talk, a lot
  • Mr. Man Who Walks Backward
  • Mr. Speedy
  • Women Who Walks But Gets No Where
  • Lady Who is Too Observant

I jog and observe people and make up names for them.  When RM and I are at parties where we don’t know anyone, we do the same game.  But we take it even further.  We make up names and then we assign occupations and lifestyles to them as well.  We are weird like that.  It is how we roll.

To all the people watchers out there, be careful, because someone, most likely, is watching you too!  What name would you give yourself if playing the game?

Standing Up

Standing Up

Literally, I am standing up at my desk and writing this post about standing up.

Since sitting is now considered the new smoking, we are modifying our desks where I work with a new height-adjustable standing desks in order to be up out of their chairs, at least 2 more hours each day than in the past.  If we do this, we hope to gain improved health benefits of reduced risk of: obesity, metabolic problems associated with Type 2 Diabetes, risk of heart disease, risk of cancer and lower long-term mortality. A 2012 study published by the Smithsonian Institute found that if t
he average American reduced his or her sitting time to three hours per day, life expectancy would climb by two years.

Not everyone is totally sold on the standing desk idea and are concerned it it just fashionable and not proven good for our health.  For example, a lot of the research was conducted over a short period of time, like six months.

I think standing in moderation is the route to go.  And I don’t think it is for everyone especially with employees with joint problems.  Best to check with your doctor and get their input before rushing to join the growing trend.  We have some employees that prefer to sit on exercise balls or take hourly breaks to walk around the office floor to stretch their legs.  These are all great options to improve our overall wellness and remain productive.

The desk I received will lower so that I can sit as well as stand.  My goal is to split my time between standing and sitting each day.  I have a nice mat that came with the standing desk that provides some important “cush” under my feet.  I am also wearing practical shoes.  I love my Clarks.

So, literally, stand up at work, take walk breaks, keep moving, and get those creative work solutions happening on your team or in your group. So, my next grant proposal will be written, in part, by standing up.

standing up

 

Small Town, Big Beach

Small Town, Big Beach

My family vacationed in Gulf Shores, Alabama, last week.  We stayed in the Driftwood Towers condos rented through the Meyer Vacation Rentals agency and found the place conveniently located on the main beach strip along this busy section of the Gulf.  The beaches there are white and clean and the water warm. While busy with tourists, we found it less packed with sun worshipers than Florida or along the Carolinas and the beach experience was just as nice. It is a 12-hour drive from the Fort.

This trip we encountered lots of jelly fish or “jellies” as the locals refer to these slimy floating, stinging pockets of flem.  Can you tell I am not a fan?  I avoided a sting but several in our party were not so lucky.  We learned from a very helpful woman that powdering on meat tenderizer is supposed to relieve the pain.  Who knew?


This year, my girls and I wanted to try out paddle boarding and kayaking.  We saw some brave souls trying it out on the ocean waves but we opted (wisely) to look for calmer waters at Little Lagoon State Park just a couple of miles from our condo.  We found a service that would deliver the boards and the kayak to us and pick them up from the lagoon area when we were done.  Well worth the service fee after a day of paddling and tons of sun.  We paid less than $200 for all of the equipment for a full day of use. The owner, Perry Guy, is a character and tossed in a free C.D. of his music with our purchase.  He is hoping for a hit in the making when he releases A Gulf Coast Christmas this holiday season. He already published a children’s story under the same name.


The kayak was a two-seater so everyone in our party of 4 could be out on the water at one time. The lagoon was only a few feet deep and so clear that we could spot the jellies.  My niece joined us at the end of our afternoon and was able to stand up on the board on her first attempt.  We all took plenty of spills off the boards but the kayak was very easy to maneuver and all of it was great exercise and a new experience for each of us. Yes, we had sore arms, lower back and shoulders the next day.

Down for the count, again.

 We slurped our share of raw oysters and grilled shrimp at both The Shrimp Basket and Acme Oyster House.  I would recommend both places for hungry families and they both handled our large parties of 8-12 with ease.  Our condos had fully equipped kitchens and there were full service grocery stores just a mile or so away from where we were staying.  One night, we served buffet style what I call, Mexicali Sloppy Joes. What made the dish complete was the addition of homemade pineapple salsa (thank you, Katie) and blue corn chips.

Mexicali Sloppy Joes for a Crowd 

  • 2.5 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can corn/or cut the kernels from 2-4 corn cobs
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 2-4 hot peppers — we like it spicy
  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa
  • chopped garlic, onions and celery
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 2T honey or brown sugar
  • 1T red wine vinegar
  • 2T worstershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp dry mustard or a dollop of prepared mustard will work too

I browned the meat (drained it) and sautéed the onions, garlic, celery and peppers and then threw everything into the crock pot and let it cook all day while we were at the beach. We served it in bowls over tortilla chips and then topped with pineapple/cucumber salsa. Some in our group opted for the more traditional hamburger bun and loved it that way too.

Tips we learned to make a beach trip fun:

  1. Bring beach chairs and most importantly a large tent for cover and relief from the heat.  My brother brought a really nice tent and is was a life saver (literally).
  2. Lots of SPF 50 sunscreen — we liked the spray on type so we could reapply often.
  3. Some sort of light top with long sleeves for the middle of the day to cover.  Sunscreen just doesn’t cut it.
  4. A large floppy hat and two pairs of sunglasses (you will lose one in the water for sure)
  5. Plenty of lotion to apply after showering.
  6. A small cooler to take 8-10 bottles of water with you from the condo to the beach– saves trips back and forth over the soft sand. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  7. Go to the grocery store when you first arrive and buy a case of water, juice, almond milk, breakfast, lunch and dinner items (we bought enough for two nights of eating in and then splurged to eat out two nights).  We brought several items from home with us like coffee, canned beans, dried pasta, bread, whatever I had already in the pantry at home. Saves time shopping because once you get to the beach you don’t want to have to run a bunch of errands every day.
  8. Laundry soap, dish soap, dishwasher soap, dryer sheets and toilet paper — the condos give you very limited supply which will run out the first day.
  9. Meat tenderizer — who knew?
  10. Your favorite adult beverages — wine/beer opener.
  11. A pair of binoculars to see the dolphins go by
  12. A flashlight for night crabbing – we didn’t see very many but it was fun walking around the beach with everyone else in the dark.

To my family — thanks for agreeing to meet and for all the wonderful moments we shared.  Cheers!