Friday, February 27, 2015

Another Use for Chia

Remember the no-bake cookies make with chocolate and oats or sometimes cornflakes?  Sounds so 70's, doesn't it?

Sometimes I just have to satisfy my sweet tooth, so here is what I do with that old recipe:

NO-Bake Chocolate Nut Cookies

In a heavy sauce pan, combine:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil  (butter works too, but I am all about the trendy stuff)
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup agave  (or up to a cup of white sugar, altho' not trendy at all)
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

Bring to a rapid boil and boil for 1 minute.

Stir in:

  •  1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup combination of chopped nuts, raw coconut chips. oats, and seeds (chia, sesame, pumpkin, etc.)  
This is not an exact science; just throw in a combination of what you have or what you like.

Scoop 1 Tablespoon rounds onto parchment paper and cool for 30 minutes.
Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you eat them all.

I halved the original recipe and added all the nuts and seeds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Recently Lisa of Grandma's Briefs shared a recipe for a cinnamon coffee cake with chia seeds.

Chi-chi-chi-chia!  Not just for pottery pets anymore.  Once a last ditch Christmas present for Great Aunt Agnes, these seeds are now a trendy superfood.

While they may not be the cure for diabetes and obesity sometimes claimed, they are very nutritious with plenty of quality protein, antioxidants, minerals, and even some vitamins.  They are considered low carbohydrate because their carb content is mostly in the form of fiber.  Chia seeds have been shown to support bone health and healthy blood pressure (The two reasons I use them.)

When I originally heard about these seeds as food, the suggestion was to mix them with water or juice and let them gel a bit before drinking them down. There are much better ways to consume them, in my humble opinion.

Here is a recipe I have adapted for myself:

Blueberries, Farro and Yogurt

1 cup farro*
2 cups water
1 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon honey or agave
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon lemon zest

*This is a grain I have only ever found in health food stores. It is a kind of wheat.
**I like either plain Greek or vanilla.

Rinse the farro and combine it with water in a sauce pan.  Bring to boil and the lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook until all the water is absorbed (20 minutes).

Combine blueberries and sweetener of choice is an small sauce pan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add the chia seeds and lemon zest.  Lower heat and cook for another ten minutes, stirring frequently.

Serve the blueberries, farro, and yogurt layered or swirled
 together in a bowl.

My original recipe says this serves two.  I would say two people with extremely large appetites, but more likely four.

Monday, February 23, 2015


There are signs that the real estate bust of a few years ago here in Florida is starting a turn around.

Apparently, there is nothing like cold, snowy, nasty winters in the north to boost the Florida economy.

Four years ago this shopping strip mall was built seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  Apart from the fact that it is close to an I-75 exit, Mike and I could not understand why it was being built.  It did stay empty for a couple of years, then started filling up a little.

And then a great deal more of the thick tree and shrub cover started being bulldozed and burned off.

 Condominiums are going up.

Whole home developments are in the works.  Each one the equivalent of a small Vermont town in terms of the number of homes.

And not far away:

Three years ago, Mike's last winter in Florida, this space was entirely wooded.  Cattle and horse farms were nearby. When I came last winter this strip  mall had popped up.

When I got here this winter, a MacDonald's had been added.  What surer sign of a construction boom?  And, yes, land is being cleared for new developments all around this area as well.

Quiet little Venice is changing.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Back in the Saddle

Well, not really...although I did go back to the InStride horse ranch to once again volunteer in their literacy program.  Forty first graders came from a nearby school showed up yesterday for the field trip--really, I don't know where they hide all the kids most of the time.  It is just enough flexing of the old teaching muscle to be fun for me.

I also had a totally new experience yesterday afternoon--I had a facial.  Not only a facial, but a foot massage while the mask did its work.  And today my face feels as soft and smooth as a newborn baby butt.  I have to seriously consider becoming a high-maintenance lady.

TV show idea: The Real Retirees of Venice.  Somebody is going to steal that idea and run with it, I just know!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Turn That News OFF

I heard on the news the other night something about Congress wanting a second look at this deal where one can get a green card (EB5), no other questions asked, if one has half a million dollars to pay for it.  WHAT?? Who has that kind of money for green cards?  Not the people who are picking our lettuce, that is for sure.  So...Congress needs to wonder about whether or not unscrupulous persons--terrorist connected, drug dealing, human trafficking types--might take advantage of something like that??  Better late than never, I suppose.

 Perhaps I am just overly cynical.  I am sure that not everyone with money to invest is unscrupulous.

I also saw the day's update on the trial of that guy who shot the American Sniper, Chris Kyle and his friend.  I did not see the movie and do not intend to.  I don't know much about the case.  But taking a PTSD sufferer to a shooting range for therapy?  WHAT??  No one else thinks that was a bad idea from the beginning?

This is why it is not good for me to watch the nightly news.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Problem with Downsizing

The problem with downsizing, clearing out, minimizing, and simplifying--it just gives me more room to start collecting stuff again.

Perhaps I am missing something vital to the point of life simplified.

  But I find it so hard to resist small pitchers and useful little containers of any sort.
 I bought this blue table at a yard sale.  Yes, Barb, blue is a favorite color.
 I don't really remember where I found this plate but it perks up an otherwise useless corner of the kitchen counter.
And who doesn't eed an angel or two watching over?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Cool Saturday

It was slightly cool today, but such a beautiful day...and no snow in sight so I am not complaining at all.

I went to a craft fair.  There are many craft fairs in Venice, usually held in the downtown area where streets are blocked off, the parking is somewhat difficult, and the crowds are overwhelming.

This fair was set up in one of the parks and it was such a pleasant experience.  Pleasant for me since the crowd was small.  This was a first time event, so the word has not gotten out yet. It probably wasn't so pleasant for the vendors.  I did my best to help them out though.
 I am such a nice person that way.

I bought this sail boat hanging made from Florida scrap wood.  I thought it was pretty whimsical and it looks nice in the office/TV room.

Showing the three dimensional aspect a little better here.
Dry Dock Art has a Facebook page where more of their work is on view.

I plan to hand this Welcome plaque by the door. 
I bought a couple of the candle holders for gifts.

And my favorite:
This guy was selling these has the coolest shoes!  But it was this purse that kept calling my name.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lazy Day.

I just had a very lazy day today.  It was sunny, but a bit chilly so I chatted away the entire morning texting with a friend.

I ran a couple little errands, sending off the Valentine Day cards for Kristen and Dane.  I put a five dollar bill in each in honor of Abraham Lincoln's birthday.  I wonder if they even know about Abe having his own birthday since it was rolled into Presidents' Day long before their time.

I did some sewing.  I have been inspired by Linda and by Rian and their table top projects.  I like a small project like this that is finished in an afternoon.  Well, it is not quite finished yet.  I still need to hand stitch the binding to the back.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Products...New to Me

I get no kind of compensation for discussing these products.  I just like them.

I bought this bamboo hair brush at Richard's Whole Foods here in Florida.  I really like it a lot.   I can even use it on wet hair without snarling or pulling.  I plan to buy another one to take back to Vermont.

I went to a service auction recently.  Money was being raised for both the Wounded Warriors project and for EARS, a no-kill animal rescue and shelter in a nearby town.  I bid on a massage.  The certificate came in a gift bag with these products--a body cream, peppermint foot cream, and lip balms.  I will definitely be saving the lemongrass body cream for times when outdoor activities might require insect repellent, which is what lemongrass smells like to me.

What I really like about these products, though--they come in completely biodegradable, compostable containers.

 In my family, I am known as the garbage police so family members will understand my pleasure at finding these items.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Strawberry Season

It is strawberry season in Florida.  There was a tasting competition at the Saturday morning farmers' market in downtown.  The strawberries sold out.
I had to go to the supermarket.

Not organic, but still quite beautiful.  Strawberries here will last for weeks and weeks.

Strawberry season in Vermont lasts for about ten days in June if the conditions are ideal, but they are all the sweeter for the rarity.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


We had quite the rain storm early this morning.  A total of four inches.  Lots of lightning and thunder too.

It always kind of amazes me how much the rain sits in puddles here.  It seems like the soil is all dry sand.  You'd think the rain would just sink into the ground and disappear, but it doesn't.  Something about the water table.

When I got up this morning, I discovered that the rain had not only puddles outside on the road and the lawn.  It had puddled quite convincingly inside the laundry room door.   I am not sure what the problem is, but I had to find a Florida handyman.

I got some recommendations.  I went with a guy named Joe.  Why complicate my life?  Vermont Handyman is named Joe.

I will let you know the result of this highly sophisticated method of choosing help.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sweat or Glisten?

Are there health benefits to sweating?  An article in the New York Times said no, not beyond the function of keeping the body from overheating.

Of course, why believe the NYT when there is so much information on the internet.  Like this list from HERE.

Why sweat? 
1) Sweating cools your body. It’s a built in ventilation system.
2) It improves your skin’s elasticity and tone. You’ll look younger!
3) It improves blood flow. Your circulation gets a boost.
4) It has a great detoxifying effect. Sweat helps to push out “junk” from your lymph system, liver, blood, etc.
5) It improves digestion and helps eliminate constipation. What goes in should come out within 24 hours.
6) Sweating rids the body of pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals we breath in. Yes, it’s detoxing (point 4), but worth mentioning on its own.
7) Sweating boosts your endorphins. You’ll be happier.
8) It’s a natural antibiotic! That’s right, sweat can actually kill bacteria that can cause infection through antimicrobial peptides.
9) Sweat naturally elevates your “bad ass” level. When you finish a yoga class or run all sweaty and hot, you look like you’ve earned your stripes.
10) It helps you relax. Keep calm and carry on.
I am not a scientist, of course, but it does seem to me that most of these listed benefits would be attributed to the exercise, not the sweat, just as the NYT article suggests.  There is something appealing about thinking that toxins are being flushed out with sweat.   I don't know if it is true, but I would like it to be.
I was interested because I have been taking hot yoga.  There is something addicting about it--those endorphins--but, good grief, it does involve some heavy duty sweating.  I am getting marginally more flexible, but if I thought bad stuff was washing out as I exercised, I'd be even more motivated.
Actually, what I was really researching was whether it was possible for my brain to be melting and leaking out all my pores.  I really cannot pass myself off as "glistening" after a hot yoga class.  I think this is something that deserves more research.