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Winter Warm-Ups

Winter Warm UpsBrrrr…it’s chilly!  It’s a good time to find your cutest fuzzy socks and your favorite mug filled with hot chocolate and warm up.  In fact, after you take a few sips, you might try warming up by simplifying the world around you.   It’s the perfect time to think about losing a little weight, you know the weights of anxiety and frosty memories and closets that need to be trimmed.  Run some laps around the way you look at things and get a grip on what you can quickly change.

Take the first lap around your environment.  What can you do to lighten the load, or bring some light to the place where you hang your hat?  What about starting with that closet door you hate to open?  You know the one, it’s hiding the college sweaters, the party dresses from a decade ago, the velour running suit you never ran in.  Let go of those things.  Call it an exercise of love.  Give a blast of fresh air to Good Will and take a deep breath.  Golly, you’re getting lighter already.

Next, look in the pantry and pull out those boxes and cans of things that are never going to become tonight’s dinner and send them to the food bank.  Yes, it was a great deal when you got a case of creamed corn for next to nothing at the wholesale club, but are you really going to eat all that?  The local food bank or homeless shelter will love you if you stop by and donate things.  Bend down, hoist a few cans out of those shelves, stand up and repeat!  The pounds are just melting away.  You’re looking absolutely fabulous!

Okay, you’ve cleaned out your closets and you’ve fed the community, so what else can you do to lighten your load?  Maybe it’s time to take a quick inventory of all the stuff you carry around in your head that no longer serves you.  Let go of old conversations that sting your heart whenever your mind wanders back passed them.  Forgive yourself already and move on.  Make a clean break with the past.  Give yourself the present of today.  Today is never too heavy and it fits just right.  Remember your dreams?  You still have a chance to make them come true.

Opportunities for simplifying things are endless.  Book shelves can be cleared, the junk drawer can be cleaned, and the space where you’ve packaged up and saved your old hurts and slights can be tossed out.  Once you’ve cleared space you have room for new and loving experiences to come in.  You can run faster, more efficiently, and more joyfully. 

 With these warm-up exercises, you’ll be ready for the best and most comfortable moments of joy that today can bring.  In fact, you’ll be warm and toasty even when you’re not wearing your cutest fuzzy socks.

Winter Warm UpsWinter Warm UpsWinter Warm UpsWinter Warm UpsWinter Warm UpsWinter Warm Ups

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Presidents Day Trivia

Presidents Day TriviaHail to the Chief! Presidents Day falls on the 3rd Monday of February each year. Originally known as Washington’s Birthday, the day is also famous in the retail world as a day to break out the winter sales. So celebrate by attending a parade, wearing red, white and blue, or buying a new car. While you’re honoring our nation’s leaders, keep your brain busy with some mind-popping presidential trivia!

DID YOU KNOW?

  • America’s first president, George Washington, was the only president ever to be unanimously elected.
  • America’s fourth president, James Madison, was the shortest president, measuring in at 5’4”.
  • America’ss sixth president, John Quincy Adams, regularly swam nude in the Potomac River.
  • The term “O.K.” came from our eighth president, Martin Van Buren. He was raised in Kinderhook, New York and was known as “Old Kinderhook.” O.K. became a shorthand for Van Buren, and thus “okay” was born.
  • Tenth president, John Tyler, had 15 children – the most of any U.S. president.
  • Fourteenth president, Franklin Pierce, was the first president to introduce a Christmas tree into the White House.
  • Fifteenth president, James Buchanan, was the only president to stay a bachelor.
  • Sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln, was the tallest president at 6’4”.
  • Seventeenth president, Andrew Johnson, had no formal education. His wife taught him to read, write and do math.
  • Twenty-second president, Grover Cleveland, answered the White House phones personally.
  • Thirty-seventh president, Richard Nixon, was the first president to visit all 50 states and also to ever visit China.
  • Thirty-fifth president, John F. Kennedy, suffered from Addison’s disease.
  • Forty-fourth president, Barack Obama, is the first black president of the U.S.
  • Eight presidents were left-handed: James A. Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry S. Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
  • Only two presidents are buried in Arlington National Cemetery: John F. Kennedy and William H. Taft.

Do you have any interesting presidential factoids to share? Leave them in the comments section below!

http://www.biography.com/presidents/pres_facts_trivia.jsp

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/prestrivia1.html

http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/pres/trivia.htm

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Black History Month

Black History MonthDid you know Black History Month got its start in 1926 as a week set aside to honor African-American contributions to American history? Every U.S. president since 1976 has officially designated February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have followed the United States’ lead and devoted a month to celebrating black history.

Black history, like all history, isn’t just about dates and facts; it’s about people making a difference in each others’ lives.

Take the story of John Price.  Price ran away from a slaveholder in Kentucky when he was sixteen and found his way to Oberlin, Ohio, where he settled among the welcoming townspeople.  Oberlin was a stop on the Underground Railroad, a vast network of people from the South to Canada, who opened their homes and risked their lives to help slaves escape to freedom.  After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, bounty-hunters often roamed the streets of towns like Oberlin, looking for runaway slaves.

One September morning in 1858, when Price was eighteen, he was captured by bounty hunters and held in a hotel in the nearby town of Wellington to wait for a southbound train. When the people of Oberlin heard of Price’s capture, they rushed to Wellington, stormed the hotel, and freed the young man.  Price was hidden at the home of an Oberlin College professor until his safe passage to Canada could be assured.

History doesn’t remember the names of all the people who freed John Price. All we know is that some were farmers and some were businessmen, some were slaves and some were free, and some were black and some were white. But they were all Americans, ordinary people who cared enough to help.

This Black History Month, as we take the time to honor the contributions of African-Americans, let’s remember the spirit of residents of Oberlin, people who looked past color and class distinctions and came together, with kindness and caring, to make the world a better place.

 

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That Love

That Loveby George Davis

Who are you?
And what have you done with the old me?
What have you done with my heart?
I don’t even recognize me anymore.

What kind of Love is this?
At one point, I thought it was that fly by night,
it was fun while it lasted type of love.
But everyday my heart is awakened by some different type of love.
Every day, everything I thought I knew is made different.
This isn’t just a part-time type of love.

This is that…

that…”when you leave the room, you take my smile with you” type of love.

That…”when you close your eyes, the sun sets”…

that…”even just a whisper from your lips shakes the foundation of the Earth”
type of love.

This is a supernatural type of love.
The type of love that could only be conceived in the mind of a higher power.
That Esphesians chapter 5 type of love.
Two bodies and one soul.
Yeah. This is that type of love.

That “give me your hand, and I’ll give you my heart” love.

That “everyday, I say ‘I Do'” love.

That “I was nothing until I was yours” love.

Baby…this is that “you don’t only finish my sentences, you complete my spirit” type of love.

We got that “every day is Christmas and every night is Valentine’s” love.

That “when I look into your eyes, I see the greatest love poem ever written” love.

Damn!
What is this?
Where did it come from?
How did it take so much control
of so much of my soul?
I believe it started with a kiss.

————

Did this make you think of your special someone?  Send them a Valentine and let them know!

 

That LoveThat LoveThat LoveThat LoveThat LoveThat Love

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Valentine Recipes

Valentine RecipesWe’re serving up some Cupid-approved recipes! After all, it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without a few special indulgences, would it!?  Enjoy and don’t forget to add the love! 

 

Chocolate Decadence -Tiramisu

  • 2  3-ounce packages  ladyfingers, split
  • 1/4  cup  brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • 8-ounce carton  mascarpone cheese
  • 1- cup  whipping cream
  • 1/4  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla
  • /3 -cup  chocolate liqueur
  • 1 ounce  white chocolate baking squares or white baking bars, grated
  • 1 ounce  bittersweet chocolate, grated
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Chopped chocolate-covered coffee beans (optional)

 Directions

1.    Line the bottom of an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with some of the ladyfingers, cutting to fit as necessary. Drizzle half of the espresso over ladyfingers; set aside.

2.    In a medium mixing bowl, beat together the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form. Beat in the chocolate liqueur until just combined. Spoon half of the mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, spreading evenly. Sprinkle white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate over the mascarpone mixture. Top with another layer of ladyfingers (reserve any remaining ladyfingers for another use). Layer with remaining espresso and mascarpone cheese mixture.

3.    Cover and chill for 6 to 24 hours. Sift cocoa powder over top of dessert. If desired, garnish with cocoa beans.

4.    Makes 12 squares

 Source:  BetterHomes&Gardens.com

Drinks, Please!

Pink Passion — Cosmopolitan

Ingredients

  • 10  ounces (1 1/4 cups) citrus-flavored vodka 
  • 1/2  cup  Rose’s lime juice
  • 2  cups  cranberry juice
  • 4  ice cube trays

Directions

1.    Combine vodka, lime juice, and cranberry juice in a pitcher

     with 2 cups water and stir to blend.

2.    Divide between ice cube trays

and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight.

(The drink cubes will freeze only partially).

3.    Just before serving, empty trays into a large bowl and using a fork,

break up cubes to loosen ice crystals (the ice will be slush-like).

4.    Spoon slush into tall stemmed glasses

and serve immediately.

Source:  Myrecipes.com

Cupid’s Arrow — Chocolate Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces base spirit (vodka, light rum or brandy)
  • 1/2 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce white creme de cacao
  • Chocolate syrup to coat rim of martini glass

Directions

Coat rim of martini glass with chocolate syrup.

Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass.

 Sweet on You! — Snack Mix

Ingredients

  • 1 package (12.7 ounces) Valentine’s M&M’s
  • 1 can (9-3/4 ounces) whole cashews
  • 1 package (8 ounces) yogurt-covered raisins
  • 1 package (3.53 ounces) dried cranberries
  • 1 cup miniature pretzels
  • 1 cup chocolate bear-shaped crackers

 Directions

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container. 

Source:  Tastebook.com

Turn Up the Heat!  — Authentic Restaurant Style Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  •  2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
  • ¼ cups chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 whole jalapeno, quartered and sliced thin
  • ¼ teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  •  ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ cups cilantro (more to taste!)
  • ½ whole lime juice

 Directions

1.    Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor.

2.    Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like — about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

3.    Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or (even more yummy) cheese nachos.

Source:  Pioneerwoman.com/Ree Drummond

Puppy Love Pretzels

Ingredients

  • 20 small mini pretzels
  • 20 chocolate covered caramel candies
  • 20 pecan halves

 Directions

1.    Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).

2.    Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place one chocolate covered caramel candy on each pretzel.

3.    Bake for 4 minutes. While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each candy covered pretzel. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

 Source:  Tastebook.comTop of Form

 XOXO! — Brownie Hearts

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla      
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cup Valentine’s Day M&M’S® milk chocolate candies or M&M’S®
  • peanut chocolate candies
  • Medium size heart-shaped cookie cutters
  • 1- 8 x 8-inch pan
  • Cooking spray

 Directions

1.  Spray cooking spray into an 8 x 8-inch pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Place butter and unsweetened chocolate into saucepan over low heat and melt. Stir

     to make smooth, set aside to cool, about 5 minutes.

3.  Add sugar and vanilla, stir to incorporate.

4.  Add eggs, one at a time, stirring to combine after each addition.

5.  Add the flour, stirring to mix thoroughly.

6.  Add 1 cup of the M&M chocolate candies and stir to combine.

7.  Place into prepared pan, making sure the mixture is level and smoothed.

8.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the candies onto the top.

9.  Place into the oven and bake 20-25 minutes, or until it tests done.

10. Let cool completely and cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter.

 TIP: Use leftover brownie pieces to top your favorite ice cream, or mix them into a milkshake.

 Source:  brightideas.com

(We are not affiliated with any of these sites.)

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American Heart Month Health Tips

American Heart Month Health TipsHearts are associated with love and life, and that’s why American Heart Month is so important. For the month of February, it’s important to take a look at what keeps your heart healthy so that your life stays strong, happy, and full of vitality and love for many years to come.

 According to the American Heart Association, “Cigarette and tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes are the six major independent risk factors for coronary heart disease that you can modify or control.” Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, it’s important to be vigilant in your daily health routines. Simple healthy habits can help prevent heart attacks and other heart-related issues. Here are a just few tips for keeping your heart beating long and strong.

 Know the signs of a heart attack

One of the most important things to remember is that not all heart attacks come on quickly and with intense pain. Heart attacks can also begin slowly and with milder warning signs. It’s important to be able to identify and react to these symptoms as soon as possible.

- Discomfort in the chest. If you have discomfort in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or is an intermittent pain, or if you have feelings of pressure, squeezing, fullness, you may be in the early stages of a heart attack.

- Pain in other areas of the upper body such as discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach can indicate heart attack.

- Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

 Diet

Need some food tips and tricks?

- Watch your portion sizes – reducing overall caloric intake can help with weight and cholesterol issues

- Choose lean meats or skinless poultry for meals

- Opt for low-fat dairy products

- Cut back on your salt/sodium intake

- Eat more fiber

- Limit alcohol consumption

 Exercise

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise a day.

- Get moving! Increasing physical activity reduces heart attack risk and reduces stress.

- Try small chunks of exercise at a time like walking for 10-minutes at a time, 3 times a day, 5 times per week.

- Make it fun! Ride a bike, go swimming, play outside with the kids – the point is to get your heart pumping and your body moving.

 Quit smoking

Quitting smoking has innumerable benefits!

- Lowers blood pressure

- Increases stamina for exercise

- Decreases risk for heart attack and stroke

 For more tools and tips on living your happiest, healthiest heart life, visit the American Heart Association website at www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

(we are not affiliated with this site).

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What is Chinese New Year?

What is Chinese New Year?Chinese astrology dates back to ancient times.  Perhaps the oldest known and recorded horoscope system in the world, early inscriptions and records found at archaeological sites indicate that this ancient Chinese art existed as early as the 14th century, B.C.

Unlike Western astrology, Chinese astrology is based on a lunar calendar. Also more philosophical in approach, it endeavors to advise an individual on his or her life choices, fortune, and fate — based on birth year and innate character traits.

The Chinese horoscope is represented by 12 different symbolic animals whose characteristics are believed to influence the fate of everything and everyone born in that year. The signs are: The Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The 12-sign zodiac is based on a lunar year, rather than months.  Hence, each of the animal signs lasts an entire year, but begins between mid-January and mid-February.  When the cycle is complete, a new one begins, repeating itself.rd of February. The Chinese New Year 2011 celebrates the year of the Rabbit (born in 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011). People born under this sign are affectionate, talented, always pleasant, and also value security and tranquility. Rabbit people are very good problem solvers and have excellent judgment. But a Rabbit hates disorder, fighting or engaging in aggressive behavior because of its peaceful nature.  Some notable Rabbits include Arthur Miller, Orson Welles, King Henry V, Confucius and Albert Einstein.

The celebration of the Chinese New Year is rich in traditions, majesty and rituals. In 2011, the Chinese New Year festival will begin on the 3rd of February. The Chinese New Year 2011 celebrates the year of the Rabbit (born in 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011). People born under this sign are affectionate, talented, always pleasant, and also value security and tranquility. Rabbit people are very good problem solvers and have excellent judgment. But a Rabbit hates disorder, fighting or engaging in aggressive behavior because of its peaceful nature.  Some notable Rabbits include Arthur Miller, Orson Welles, King Henry V, Confucius and Albert Einstein.

Sources:  Wikipedia.com; History.com; Britannica.com; chineseastrologer.org

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