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Happy Mother’s Day

Motherhood: the most under-appreciated profession of all time. It used to be that in a family, the husband went to work while the wife stayed home to maintain the house and raise the children. She cooked, she cleaned, she kissed boo-boos, and she was always there. Today, the family may look a bit different, with husband and wife sharing work and child-rearing responsibilities, but that same nurturing, compassionate woman helps her children every day, regardless of what else she may be responsible for.

In today’s modern world, some argue that being a stay-at-home mom is not a “job”. It’s not….it’s many jobs. A mother is a nanny, a maid, a CEO, a chef, an administrative assistant. Let’s appreciate and recognize all mothers this Mother’s Day, whether or not they are still with us. Take time to thank your mom for all the sacrifices she made for you over the years that shaped you into the person you are today.

Mothers and grandmothers…thank you for all that you do for your progeny. The sacrifices may not ever be fully realized, but you do it anyway, because you love your children and your grandchildren. They love you, as well.

Happy Mother’s Day!

earthday

Earth Day 2016 – Reduce Food Waste

Every year, on April 22nd, we celebrate Earth Day. The first Earth day occurred in 1970, when 22 million Americans came together in celebration. This event was created to bring awareness to the fact that there was no regulation regarding industrial influence on the environment. Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day to force the nation to consider what we were doing to our home.

This year’s theme for Earth Day is food recovery. Food waste is a big issue these days, made even more sad by the fact that not everyone has adequate food. It has been very heartening to see local restaurants and bakeries commit to donating their excess food to the homeless, but we can go even farther.

A great way to start reducing food waste is to plan out your weekly meals. I try to do this already, because otherwise, I find myself buying random junk that happens to be on sale at the store. When you plan your meals, you know exactly what you need, and you tend to buy healthier items. It helps to note quantities as well.

Storing produce properly helps it to last longer. It is also wise to go ahead and clean the produce, chop it up, and then place it in the storage containers. You can even freeze it! Produce that has started to wilt is still great for cooking.

What about those spoiled leftovers? Depending on what you are throwing out, some of it can be turned into compost. Also, you can use scraps for animal feed.

I try to avoid having leftovers by cooking one or two nights, and then eating the leftovers before cooking again. Sometimes, I turn one meal into something else. For example, that Thanksgiving Day turkey becomes a turkey casserole that consists of a creamy soup, spices, some beans, and whatever canned vegetables are in my pantry. Top it off with bread crumbs (crumbled from the loaf you bought for the week), stick that in the oven for 20 minutes, and you have a brand new dinner from old leftovers!

To find out more about Earth Day, celebrations in your area, or other ways you can help reduce food waste, visit https://www.epa.gov/earthday.

snowbuds

Welcome, Spring!

Spring has sprung and, depending on your location, you may not believe it! Here in Missouri, the Spring Solstice was heralded with a surprise snow storm only a couple of days after warm, summery weather. Local budding trees had a hilarious layer of snow over their fresh flowers. The next month will be a tumultuous transition of storms, blossoming crops, and the eventual lead-in to summer.

This is a season of renewal, newness, and refreshment. Gardens are springing up, and those of us that are winter hermits are emerging from our shells to breathe in the fresh air. Houses are getting their once-a-year deep clean, as the air flowing in from open doors and windows invigorate their owners.

So throw open those patio doors, take in a deep breath, and make a commitment to enjoy this wonderful weather for all it is worth! Get out and explore; learn something new during this season of newness! What adventures do you look forward to?

stp_jen

St. Patrick’s Day Fun Facts

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day….a celebration of all things Irish, including beer! Who, though, is St. Patrick? What does he have to do with the Irish? Why do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th every year? Excellent questions! Let’s see what the Encyclopedia Brittanica has to say about this tradition.

St. Patrick, originally born in Roman Britain, was sold into slavery in Ireland at the age of 16. Later, he would escape, only to eventually return to Ireland to convert as many Irish as he could to the Christian faith. He became Ireland’s patron saint, establishing schools, monasteries, and more during his time in Ireland. Of course, many legends surround his time on Earth, including the driving of snakes from Ireland into the sea. Also, he is credited for using the shamrock to explain the Trinity – the three parts of God in one.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th because that is the anniversary of his death. The Irish-American community turned the holiday into a celebration of Irish culture. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is a day for green beer, corned beef and cabbage, and excessive revelry. So grab a pint, grab a friend, and enjoy St. Patrick’s Day responsibly!

All credit to http://www.britannica.com/topic/Saint-Patricks-Day

Happy New Year

“Lucky” New Year Traditions

With only a couple of days left in 2015 you are likely looking back on the past year, looking forward to next year and perhaps making plans for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  When it comes to those New Year’s plans there is a good chance that at least one activity is geared toward bringing you luck, prosperity or both in the year to come.  It’s funny how superstitious everyone seems to be when it comes to our New Year traditions.  I don’t really put too much merit in improving my luck or prosperity by taking part in these traditions, but I feel compelled to and enjoy participating all the same.

The only New Year’s Eve tradition that I’m familiar with is that whatever you’re doing at midnight is what you’ll be doing all year long.  That may explain why everyone wants to be surrounded by friends and family, in good spirits and possibly kissing that someone special at midnight.  If this is indicative of what the next year will be like, you should expect a happy one.  Also counting down to the new year with excitement sets the stage for looking forward in anticipation instead of hesitation.  In Puerto Rico, children throw a pail of water out of the window at midnight to rid their home of evil spirits.  In Spain, it is customary to eat 1 grape for each stroke of the clock at midnight for good luck, and in Belgium farmers wish their animals Happy New Year for blessings.

On New Year’s Day, there are several superstitions about how what you eat can affect your luck in the New Year.  I always eat black-eyed peas, cabbage (or greens), cornbread and ham.  I’m not really sure if this is an American tradition or if it is just a Southern one.  The peas are for luck and the cabbage is for prosperity.  The ham and cornbread just round out the meal for me, but they are also meant to represent prosperity.  There are a few different ideas about how this tradition started or why these foods were chosen.  Some say that the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s dates back to the civil war when that was the only crop left to eat.  Likewise, it is also thought that the tradition of eating cabbage or greens could be due to the fact that it is abundant this time of year.  Other lucky foods to eat on New Year’s Day include doughnuts (or any food in a ring shape) in Holland or a stack of pancakes in France!

While most of these traditions are kind of funny if they aren’t your own, I think the important thing is that your traditions bring you closer to the people in your life and give you a sense of common ground with friends and neighbors.  So you may not actually influence your luck or prosperity in the New Year, but your desire to go forth with high hopes and the best intentions will probably start you off on the right foot or at least a positive one.  My hope is that whatever this year has held for you that you find reasons to be thankful, and I wish you all the best for a very Happy New Year!