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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Exercise Improves Mind and Body Health

Isn't it wonderful? More and more research is pointing to the fact that there's a direct correlation between aerobic exercise and brain cell health and even cell regeneration.

Here's a new report for you to see. Brain Cell Health and Aerobic Exercise

I'm grateful I spotted this study. It encourages me to keep up with my exercise routine. I love to get out there for aerobics in a natural setting. I never have been one to go to a gym for treadmill walking. My preference is to commune with mountains, flora and fauna, streams, a river, or sea. Time flies as I hike and walk outdoors, probably because there's so much of interest for me to see.

What's your take on the study and what motivational techniques work for you to keep you active and vitally alive? 

Which kind of aerobic exercise do you enjoy the most? Swimming, biking, hiking, Zumba, walking, or running rev up your engine and improve blood flow to the brain. Exercise is good for your whole family, so plan times when you all will be able to get outdoors for fun and health.

 My quote for the day is: "Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. " John F. Kennedy

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Reduce Clutter to Create Tranquility at Home

Reduce Clutter to Create Tranquility at Home

Are You Ready?

Do you frequently feel out of sorts because your household lacks order? How often have you searched for car keys, papers, or a sweater, but couldn't find one or the other? Struggle no more. This blog provides information about free or inexpensive ways to get a handle on clutter, locate Missing in Action Items, and simplify your lifestyle. 

1. The first step to change is to admit that clutter and disarray exists. As an example, I'll use my past experience. When I took a close look at my old thinking around my stashes of magazines and books, kitchen utensils, and the like, I began to understand myself better. Instead of shaming myself about times I needed things around me to feel good about myself, I decided to let go of self-judgment. All that did was keep me locked into guilt and inaction. Take it from me, the best thing I did for myself was to just be an observer of my thinking and actions. And this is how I did it.

Every day for a week I wrote in a journal about what I did or didn't do to clean up my living space. I recorded how often untidiness, lost item searches, and stress from things being out of place zapped my energy. Writing got this stuff out of my body and onto the page and made it more real and manageable.

I also wrote in my journal about whether I thought putting off household tasks actually saved time for another project or impeded my overall progress. I made sure to record even the tiniest accomplishment, as it served as a morale booster. So make sure to list and even brag to yourself about every positive step. 

Procrastination or failure to own household tasks (wishing and manipulating so someone I live with would do it for me) eventually led to running short of clean underwear or dishes. It also made me feel bad about myself. Slip ups (pun intended) like this made me cranky. Eventually I realized it just wasn't worth it!

Don't abandon the ship and your dream to create a tranquil home, just because it requires time and effort. 

"Be proactive and conquer the declutter challenge. In the end, you'll dance the happy dance." Nancy Andres

2. Get into the habit of taking 10 minutes a day toward the beginning of the day to make your bed, fluff pillows, and take out garbage. You'll be amazed at how doing these simple things upgrades your outlook on law and order.

3. Use baby steps and take another 10 minutes a day to organize. Donate, give away, or throw out unusable items. You know, they're the things you haven’t even looked at within the last year like old socks and shoes, lightly worn but ill-fitting clothing, books you never want to read again, and household goods you have no use for. Give them to your favorite charity and help the needy. Recycling cuts down on the amount of things you have collecting dust, and reduces the amount of junk dumped into a landfill. Then, the next day organize that junk drawer in your kitchen, nightstand, or magazine rack. You'll find that these 10 minute blocks of cleaning add up.

4. Mop up kitchen and bathroom spills on counters and floors as soon as they occur. Keep little messes from spreading.

5. Place a hamper or bin in your kitchen and bathroom for soiled towels and clothing so they won't be overlooked when you're gathering stuff for the wash. Share KP duty with all members of your household. Even the smallest child can take part. Remember this is good training for self-sufficiency. 

6. Tackle one half of each closet at a time. First off, arrange clothes neatly on hangers and button top button or arrange skirt or pants correctly on the hanger. Create your own management system. Some people like to arrange clothes according to category like causal, dress, and exercise gear. Others prefer to sort by colors, and still others like to place all shirts, pants, and outwear into separate sections. If your closet doesn't have space for hanging items, invest a few dollars on hooks, wall racks, or a free standing wardrobe. Put this contraption where it's needed. A great place to hang outdoor clothing is on a hat stand in the mud room. If you don't have a room like that, put extra hooks on the inside of your bathroom or bedroom doors. You can hang bathrobe, pajamas, hats, belts, pocketbooks, or other items that won’t be damaged if you store them this way. 

7. Use clear storage bins and racks for shoes, bags, and odds and ends whenever possible. They are easy to locate and take up less space than those on hooks or racks.

8. Make it a rule of thumb that if you haven’t worn or used an item for a year or more, it comes up for review. Whenever I release something and donate it to my favorite charity or give it to a friend, I feel lighter. I also notice that the clothes I keep are more visible and are easier to keep neat.

8. Be a mindful consumer, when shopping for new clothing or household goods. Before I take home any item, I pause to think about whether I've got something similar at home. I ask myself whether it is an impulse purchase, or do I really need it? If I decide to buy a particular item, I make sure to release an item I already own. If I get something new, I put an older item in the rag pile, donate it, or give it away.

In addition, check out this article from the Los Angeles Times, an interview by Bonnie McCarthy of Peter Walsh, author of Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight.
 'Clutter is never about the stuff' — an organization expert explains why (and what to do about it)'.

Another quotation for today is “Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” 

― Wendell BerryFarming: a hand book

Please take a moment to comment below and share this post. I appreciate your visit and wish you a clutter-free day.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce with a Secret Source of Veg Protein

Yum, yum. This is Scrumptious Pasta and Sauce!

Want to prepare a sauce that's packed full of nutrition, and looks, smells, and tastes great? It features the bright Mediterranean flavors of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. A secret ingredient, pinto beans, adds deliciousness, heartiness, and increased protein. Beans make the sauce a perfect thing to combine with pasta, legumes, veggies, brown rice, and many other foods. All beans provide a powerful helping of plant based protein, so perhaps this blog post will encourage you to eat beans more often. 

Look below to see how easy, cost effective, and fun it is to cook with them. You might be tempted to keep the sauce ingredients on hand to enhance the taste of all your favorite veggies. I revealed my secret ingredient so you'll try it. Maybe it will be your clean eating go-to gravy. One I love so much.

Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce with a Secret Source of Veg Protein, Served on Gluten Free Fusilli Pasta


For Pasta
1 12 oz. package gluten free pasta (I used organic brown rice and organic quinoa mix fusilli) and fresh water to cook it in.

For Sauce
2 14.5 oz. Organic San Marzano Style Diced Tomatoes
2 14.5 oz. Organic Tomato Sauce
12 Organic cherry or grape tomatoes or 2 small whole ones
1 4 oz. can Organic Sliced Mushrooms or 1/2 cup fresh ones
1  15 oz. can Organic Pinto Beans
Sprig of Fresh Organic Basil
1 teaspoon Dried Organic Oregano or sprig or 2 of Fresh Oregano 
1 teaspoon Dried Sage and 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme (optional)
2 Organic Garlic Cloves minced
2 Organic Zucchini 
2 Organic Carrots
1/2 Organic Yellow Onion (can substitute red onion or scallions)
Salt to taste (I prefer mine with no added salt, because canned tomatoes and tomato sauce have a lot of added salt)
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

Notes: Feel free to add other veggies if you like. A few ideas are red pepper, string beans, kale, capers, and celery. When you add additional veggies, it makes the sauce thicker, increases nutrients, and heightens taste even more.
I always use organic ingredients when available, because organic means produce is not genetically modified, not sprayed with chemicals, and is not grown in soil that contains chemical fertilizers.

How to Make It

1. Open diced tomato cans, tomato sauce cans, and rinse fresh tomatoes. If you're using fresh tomatoes, chop them in the bowl of a food processor until chunky. Place all in a large saucepan that has a cover. Add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and bring all ingredients mentioned in this step to a boil. Stir and turn heat to simmer. Then cover and cook for 15 minutes. While tomatoes are simmering on the stove top, do the next step.

Note: Select fresh tomatoes that are bright red in color. This is a signal that they have ripened fully and are loaded with a valuable nutrient called lycopene, an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer and lowers unhealthy cholesterol. Cooking tomatoes for at least 30 minutes  releases more lycopene than cooking for less time. That's why my recipe suggests you cook tomatoes for 30 minutes total. Canned tomatoes are picked when at the peak of freshness and can be used when you don’t have fresh on hand. I buy only those that are packed in BPA free cans, because bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen found in the epoxy coating of food cans, has been linked to many health problems. Many companies have publicly pledged to stop using BPA in their cans, but check to see that the ones you buy are labeled BPA Free.

2. Rinse canned beans, mushrooms, and all fresh veggies in cool water. Prep zucchini and carrots by washing and scraping off sand and dirt with the side of a knife. Keep as much skin on as possible, as it contains fiber and nutrients. Peel onion and garlic. Rinse basil and any other fresh herbs and veggies you want to include. Put all remaining ingredients except pasta in the bowl of a food processor and chop until they reach a consistency that you like. I like to see little chunks of veggies in my sauce as it adds bright splashes of color and texture. Chop as fine or as chunky as you wish, but for 2 minutes max. Pour veggies into simmering pot of tomato sauce, mix, and cover. Bring to a boil again and simmer for 15 minutes more. 

Zucchini on the left is scraped clean as is the carrot on the right

Basil, Pinto Beans, and Mushrooms

3. While veggies, beans, and tomato sauce mixture is cooking (the last 15 minutes of the cooking process) put up a large pot of fresh water to use to cook the pasta. Follow the package directions (the package of fusilli I used stated that 1/2 cup of dried pasta is one portion and to cook fusilli from 7-10 minutes). It's best to test pasta for doneness at 7 minutes, so it doesn't get overcooked. When done, place pasta in a colander and strain. Put individual portions of fusilli into dishes, top with sauce, and serve while still piping hot.

This is Freshly Made Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce 

Right below is another way I used my versatile vegan tomato sauce, a day later.

I combined 2 cups of Tomato Sauce with 2 cups of Lentil Soup for this Mouthwatering Soup Transformation

For information about lentil soup see this link:

A few days later, I served the remaining sauce on steamed green cabbage and red skinned potatoes. It looked fabulous and was so delicious. I seasoned the dish with organic garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of extra virgin organic olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of Himalayan Pink salt.  

Organic Green Cabbage, Organic Red Skinned Potatoes, and Sauce

When you tabulate the cost of a home-cooked meal like this to meals that have been processed commercially and frozen, or eat a similar meal in a restaurant, you'll realize you come out way ahead of the game by eating at home. You save money, are eating real food, and can trust the quality of the ingredients that are in it. My secret ingredient protein tomato sauce recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare, so you save time too. Refrigerate extra sauce, as soon as you're finished making it. It will stay fresh for up to four or five days. Have fun inventing new ways to serve it. Other ways to use it might include to put it into gluten-free burritos or organic corn tortillas, or use it to top off spiralized zucchini. 

Don't forget to let me know what you think of my "secret ingredient" vegan tomato sauce. This is how to do it. Scroll down at the end of this post and write in the space that says "enter your comment." Then, click on "publish" after you've written your comment. Thanks so much.

The quote for today follows: "Putting even one thing in your shopping basket that's locally produced or organic makes all the difference. It's a vote for the future, for animal welfare, for the environment, for your children's children." Sheherazade Goldsmith

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Easy, Economical Ways to Really Relax

Easy, Economical Ways to Really Relax

Does muggy weather or the dry heat days of summer, just like we have in Tucson, make you feel edgy? Is your reaction to someone's behavior making you feel hot under the collar? Are you frustrated or overwhelmed by unfinished projects at work or at home? Perhaps family obligations are more than you want to deal with right now. Maybe you are doubling up on work to pay down credit card debt or watching every penny so that you'll be able to send a kid to college. Don't delay. Check out my ideas for free or inexpensive ways to really relax. 

If you want to face the rest of your day refreshed, renewed and raring to go...

Change Your Pace to Refresh

At times, we all need to give ourselves permission to take a 5 or 10 minute break . Read the definition of relax and breathe deeply.

Stand up for a quick stretch to relieve muscle tension. Reach for the sky and down toward your toes. Spreading your arms wide with palms toward the sky, helps you release trapped energy you've picked up from sitting too long or stressing about things you are powerless over.

Run in place, when you feel sluggish, stale, or foggy headed. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins, the feel good hormone.

Take a power walk (even 5 minutes will do) to speed up metabolism, preferably outdoors. Nature is a natural healer, one that doesn’t cost anything. Take responsibility for your well-being. Once you're in motion by moving outdoors, your spirit and body will thank you.

Put your feet up, against the wall to do a restorative yoga pose, Viparita Karani. All this pose requires of you is to do no more than rest and breathe. Relax in this pose for 1 or 2 minutes at first. Then gradually rest for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Feet up the wall pose changes the effect of the pull of gravity on your circulation. When you stand, gravity tends to draw blood toward your feet. When you invert yourself in this pose, blood tends to be flow in the opposite direction, toward your head. Read this article from Cindi Lee to Check Out Proper Body Alignment at Yoga Journal Before Doing this Pose.

Switch Off Perfectionism

Learning to do something new requires practice, determination, and concentration. If your default setting is to be hard on yourself for making mistakes, you set yourself up for self-criticism, negativity, and tension. Adjust your thinking by observing how often perfectionism brings self-inflicted stress into your body, mind, and spirit. 

Eliminate the internal critic by telling yourself you are okay, no matter how long it takes you to learn new behaviors, move forward, and change. Treat yourself gently. Self-compassion gives us strength to postpone instant gratification for a longer term goal.

I've discovered that perfectionism is a fear-based behavior that I adopt when I try to control an outcome in order to receive love and acceptance from others. Whenever I realize I'm striving for the wrong reason, outward instead of inward approval, I can make a conscious decision to switch off perfectionism. As soon as I focus on my learning curve and appreciate my efforts to gain new knowledge, information, and skills, I become my own best friend. 

"Being able to feel content about progress without an expectation of perfection is a life-skill that helps us live gracefully." Nancy Andres

Be a Good Vibes Leader

Think Positive Thoughts and Smile

Your attitude and behavior influences your level of relaxation. 

Do this:

1. Count your blessings.
2. Let go of striving to fix or change other people, places, and things. When you can accept things as they are, you will find ways to be at ease about today's reality.
3. Make the choice to see the humanity in everyone and be kind and encouraging to others.
4. Bring passion to your own work and lifestyle.
5. Self-caring behaviors like those above and napping, eating a nourishing meal, and short breaks in daily routine, helps you refresh and renew yourself.

Human beings are naturally attracted to those that are happy and smiling! Are you eager to work and play with people who have a positive outlook? 

Yes. Our relationships can stress us or satisfy us. If yours are bending you out of shape too often, perhaps you need to back away from some people and relationships, kick back, and unwind. 

Note: If you're looking for hints about ways to communicate more effectively, see this article from Susan Heitler Ph.D. at Psychology Today, "10 Things to Say to Generate Good Feelings."

Additional Ideas to Help You Take Time for You

1. Put in a phone call to a mentor, life coach, or chat with a confidant.
2. Eat lunch with a pal or go to the movies with your best friend.  
3. Decide to put a tense or stressful situation on the shelf for a short time, while you listen to your favorite music or dance up a storm. You may have a new perspective about the scenario, when you look again. 
4. Indulge in a hobby, read a book, daydream, or work on a craft project.
5. Laugh often, laugh at your foibles, laugh at life's absurdities

People who take good care of themselves by having downtime as well as work spurts, find balance, energy, creativity, flexibility, and resilience that is necessary to lead a healthful and happy life. 

The quote for today follows:

"Take precious time to just be." Nancy Andres

Take Precious Time to Just Be

Before you go, please comment, ask questions, or share whether it's easy or hard for you to kick back and relax. Why do you think that's so? I'd appreciate feedback, as it's challenging for me to take frequent breaks during my workday. I know I feel better when I do. I often get caught up in the creative writing process, and think I might lose my train of thought and enthusiasm if I take time away from my computer. Any input is greatly appreciated.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

What Mourning and Loss are Teaching Me About Resilience and Recovery

During the last few months, three family members have been critically ill, and I have been challenged and tested. All three of my dear loved have died, two on the same day and the last on June 2nd.

My heart aches with loss. Yet I am slowly healing and using self-care practices that help me recognize the need to live fully by cutting back on some activities and relying more on others. Meditation, prayer, journal writing, yoga, walking in nature, and limiting outside obligations to a bare minimum all help. Daily living while mourning is a balancing act, one that I review one day at a time.

A life skill I'm using to recover my equilibrium is to record and savor quotations that have meaning for me at this time. Each of the ones I've included in this blog post help my heart stay open for healing and give me hope. The wise words displayed below encouraged me to feel my feelings and let them flow through me, especially when I felt vulnerable, overwhelmed, sad, confused, hurt, angry, or afraid.

Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, in the present, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience, moment by moment ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. Mahatma Gandhi

Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a new way to stand. Oprah Winfrey

Don’t let your hearts grow numb. Stay alert. It’s your soul which matters. Albert Schweitzer

Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers.

Thanks for Your Thoughts and Prayers. They Create Powerful Healing

Perhaps when you are challenged, you'll recall this blog post and these quotations will support you. 

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Thanks for Visiting

Hope you enjoyed your visit and will return again. Be well. Live well. Lead a colorful life! Warm regards, Nan