Tuesday, January 31, 2012


It's flu season again, people! People are hacking and coughing everywhere we go. I have been struggling with a head cold for OVER a week now, and it just seems to be hanging on and getting worse instead of better.

So I went online and googled "phlegm" (after I figured out how to properly spell it, that is).  So here is what you can do to keep from getting this yuck!

There's no cure for most of the bugs that are going around, so it's important to keep from catching 'em. Don't inhale other people's sneezes. Don't kiss folks who are ill. But most important, wash your hands frequently, especially before eating. Most people pick up germs with their hands, and then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes: instant infection. When you touch your face before washing your hands, it's like licking every doorknob you've touched since you last washed.


Many viral syndromes start with a sore throat or cold symptoms, often followed by a cough. It's not technically "flu," or influenza. True influenza is caused by influenza viruses. Certain drugs will make it less severe or may prevent your getting it. However, doctors see so many viral infections that aren't influenza that true influenza may be hard to spot.

Smokers have more trouble than non-smokers, since their lungs have lost their natural cleaning capabilities. Normal lungs are lined with tiny hair cells that sweep up the watery mucus layer inside your bronchial tree. This is how lungs clean out the dirt, air pollution, dust, and germs you breathe. One minute of cigarette smoke will paralyze your lungs for 24 hours: all the dirt, smoke, and grime in the air stays in.

What to do when you're definitely sick? The first thing is to beware overuse of cough and cold remedies! Most contain strong drying agents which make your nose drip less, by drying it out. Unfortunately, that dries your lungs out, too. You end up with dried phlegm plugging up your chest. This tickles and irritates your bronchial tubes, making you cough. It blocks off small sections of your lungs and your bronchial tubes get infected with bacteria. This is called bronchitis.

Once you've got a chest full of dried phlegm, how do you get it out? The key word here is "dry." Ever notice how a steamy shower makes you cough? That's because water vapor moistens and loosens the dried phlegm, which then starts to slide down the bronchial tubes. It tickles a new area and makes you cough. However, you want the phlegm to go up and out.

How do you get phlegm up? Easy: steam up your lungs. 5 or 10 minutes in a closed bathroom full of steam works fine. Then, lie face down on a bed or couch with your head, shoulders, and back hanging downward over the edge, and have somebody pound your back with cupped hands while you're breathing as deep as you can and coughing hard. Do the chest percussion twice a day if possible. This may help you get some phlegm up and out, which is where you want it. Chest percussion should last about 5 minutes. Have a cup nearby for the phlegm.

Always check the phlegm color. If it's clear, white, or pale, the infection may still be viral, and antibiotics may not be necessary. If it's yellow, green, brown, or bloody, or if you are having fevers, chills, chest pains, or have other health problems, you might need antibiotics. Contact your health care delivery person.

Very important: get plenty of fluids. If you're dry, the phlegm will be thicker and harder to get up. Don't use alcohol as a primary fluid source: it dries you out. Coffee and tea do the same thing, to a lesser extent, but the caffeine can help wheezing.

A humidifier is very helpful, especially with a heating system that dries out the air. Since you're often breathing through your mouth when sleeping with a stuffy nose, your lungs get even drier. Use the humidifier in your bedroom at night. If you're sensitive to molds, be careful: they grow better when it's damp. Turn the humidifier off during the day and air out the room.

Watch for high fevers not responsive to aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetominophen; shortness of breath; coughing up blood; or painful breathing. If you get any of those symptoms, get in touch with your healthcare provider!

The number one remedy for the common cold?  Bed rest.  Your body needs to recouperate and regenerate ... take lots of naps and get a good nights sleep and you'll feel better faster!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pecan Pie Muffins

I try not to think deep thoughts early in the morning. Generally, just finding shoes that match can totally make me happy. But every once in a while I find myself reflecting on life in general and how it can change seemingly in an instant.  Every day I struggle with paying attention to the here and now. Lofty ambitions and long-term plans have their place, but there’s also something invaluable in the simplest pastimes: a long walk in the evening; organizing that junk drawer; playing catch with the grandchildren; baking a batch of cookies. 

I find cooking to be very relaxing.  A creative endeavor which always calms and soothes. Your hands get busy, your mind wanders and the senses take over. And, in the end, you are rewarded with something tangible, edible, shareable. It’s a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

This past weekend I tried a new recipe that I thought my husband would enjoy.  His FAVORITE pie in the whole world in pecan pie.  So when I saw this recipe for Pecan Pie Muffins I immediately saved it and placed it in my "to try soon" list of recipes.  There are only SIX ingredients ... it is the SIMPLEST of recipes to throw together, and afterwards my husband came up to me and said DO NOT LOSE THIS RECIPE.  He absolutely LOVED them.  Said they were even better than pecan pie because they were so portable and easy to toss into his lunchbox. 

So here's the link to the recipe.  http://tastykitchen.com/blog/2010/09/a-tasty-recipe-pecan-pie-muffins/

And don't be surprised that they don't rise very much ... and let them cool about 15 minutes before trying to get them out of the pan ... they will hold together nicely at that point.  And once cooled immediately put them into an airtight container or individual baggies.

I actually had one RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN slathered in butter (my bad) ... and it was definitely one of those OMG this is sinful moments!!


Tasty Kitchen Blog missamy Pecan Pie Muffins blackhawkwife

Monday, January 23, 2012

Me Oh My ... I love pie!!!

Good Morning, and Happy National Pie Day!

Just the word PIE conjurs up images of mile high meringues, velvet custards and flakey crusts. 

While those who know me best know that I am not a fan of FRUIT pie ... I've never liked cook fruit. But I swoon over the aroma of apples simmering in cinnamon and sugar.  I've posted my family's favorite apple crisp recipe here: http://lillianchild.blogspot.com/2011/09/fall-has-arrived.html, which is one of my go to recipes for family potluck events.  And I've posted about my mom's SINFULLY rich lemon meringue pie here: http://lillianchild.blogspot.com/2011/08/today-is-national-lemon-meringue-pie.html.

And I adore Bakerlla's cake pops, but take a look at her PIE POPS!: http://www.bakerella.com/easy-as-pie/

Pie Pops

And every year for my daughter's birthday, she requests PIE ... not cake.  And ALWAYS french silk pie
from Village Inn. 

So whatever your PIE passion, indulge tonight in one of YOUR favorite pies!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Today is National Popcorn Day!!

The HISTORY of Popcorn

Popcorn was very popular from the 1890s until the Great Depression. Street vendors used to follow crowds around, pushing steam or gas-powered poppers through fairs, parks and expositions.

During the Depression, popcorn at 5 or 10 cents a bag was one of the few luxuries down-and-out families could afford. While other businesses failed, the popcorn business thrived. An Oklahoma banker who went broke when his bank failed bought a popcorn machine and started a business in a small store near a theater. After a couple years, his popcorn business made enough money to buy back three of the farms he'd lost.

During World War II, sugar was sent overseas for U.S. troops, which meant there wasn't much sugar left in the States to make candy. Thanks to this unusual situation, Americans ate three times as much popcorn as usual.

Popcorn went into a slump during the early 1950s, when television became popular. Attendance at movie theaters dropped and, with it, popcorn consumption. When the public began eating popcorn at home, the new relationship between television and popcorn led to a resurge in popularity.

Microwave popcorn -- the very first use of microwave heating in the 1940s -- has already accounted for $240 million in annual U.S. popcorn sales in the 1990s.

Americans today consume 17 billion quarts of popped popcorn each year. The average American eats about 54 quarts.

The SCIENCE of Popcorn
People have been fascinated by popcorn for centuries. Some Native Americans believed that a spirit lived inside each kernel of popcorn. When heated, the spirit grew angry and would eventually burst out of its home and into the air as a disgruntled puff of steam. A less charming but more scientific explanation exists for why popcorn pops.

Popcorn is a type of maize, or corn, and is a member of the grass family. Popcorn is a whole grain and is made up of three components: the germ, endosperm, and pericarp (or hull). Of the 4 most common types of corn—sweet, dent (also known as field), flint (also known as Indian corn), and popcorn—only popcorn pops! Popcorn differs from other types of corn in that its hull has just the right thickness to allow it to burst open.

Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. Popcorn needs between 13.5-14% moisture to pop. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel's hard outer surface.

As the kernel heats up, the water begins to expand. Around 212 degrees the water turns into steam and changes the starch inside each kernel into a superhot gelatinous goop. The kernel continues to heat to about 347 degrees. The pressure inside the grain will reach 135 pounds per square inch before finally bursting the hull open.

As it explodes, steam inside the kernel is released. The soft starch inside the popcorn becomes inflated and spills out, cooling immediately and forming into the odd shape we know and love. A kernel will swell 40-50 times its original size!

And what is it about theater popcorn that makes it SO addicting?  My husband and I have been known to go to our local theater JUST to buy a tub of popcorn to enjoy at home watching t.v.  It has it's own special flavor that just cannot be duplicated on a stove top or in a microwave!

Here's my favorite carmel corn recipe ... ENJOY!!

1 cup butter

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup peanuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

Over medium heat, combine first 4 ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Stir well. Pour over 8 quarts popped corn. Stir to coat well. Bake in large roaster or pan for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper to dry. When cool, seal tightly in storage bags.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Canvas Fun

Okay, I think I need some photography classes, as these pics do not show ANY of the actual colors.  But you get the idea.  I recently started creating on canvas and am having SO MUCH FUN!

This canvas is for a very good friend of mine who is deeply religious.  Not sure if the whimsy will suit her wall decor, but I had fun making it for her.

This second canvas is for a dear friend who I met years ago when I sponsored a humane society card event. We became fast friends and have so much in common.  Her birthday is next week and I hope she likes what I created for her.  I even made the flowers (which are a beautiful burgandy color, but look black in this photo).

And I want to again thank Tracy over at Helmar USA for inspiring me to create on canvas.  She was such a huge inspiration for me to go outside of my comfort zone.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Very Superstitious

Friday the 13th - Superstitions

Where Do They Really Come From?

Black Cats

Although in the U.S. we believe that having a black cat cross your path is bad luck, it's not the same the world over. In Egypt, for example, all cats are considered lucky. This dates back to ancient times, when cats were considered sacred. Our modern-day fear of black cats may stem from the Middle Ages, when it was believed that a witch could take the form of a black cat

Breaking A Mirror

The belief that you’ll have seven years' bad luck if you break a mirror is said to come from the Romans, who were the first to create glass mirrors. But long ago, many cultures, including Greek, Chinese, African and Indian, believed that a mirror had the power to confiscate part of the user’s soul. The thinking was that if the mirror was broken, then the person's soul would be trapped inside

Walking Under

A LadderAn open ladder forms a triangle, and triangles were once considered a symbol of life, so walking through that shape was considered tempting your fate. It is also thought that because it has three sides, the triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity, and “breaking” it by entering the triangle is bad luck

Tossing Salt

The belief of tossing a pinch of salt over your left shoulder to get rid of bad luck come from the legend that the devil is always standing behind you, and throwing salt in his eye distracts him from causing trouble. Nowadays, most people only do this after spilling salt, which is thought to be bad luck because salt was an expensive commodity long ago and folklore linked it to unlucky omens in order to prevent wasteful behavior.

Knocking On Wood

Knocking on wood, or simply saying "knock on wood" after making a hopeful statement, is rooted in the idea that you’re tempting fate by acknowledging your good fortune. The expression comes from the ancient belief that good spirits lived in trees, so by knocking on something wooden, a person was calling on the spirits for protection.

Opening An Umbrella Inside

One explanation for this one comes from the days when umbrellas were used as protection from the sun; opening one inside was an insult to the sun god. Another theory: An umbrella protects you against the storms of life, so opening one in your house insults the guardian spirits of your home, causing them to leave you unprotected

Saying “Bless You”

Considered a polite response to a sneeze, the phrase is attributed to Pope Gregory the Great, who said it to people who sneezed during the bubonic plague. "Blessing" someone after they sneezed originated from the erroneous beliefs that the soul escapes the body during a sneeze and that the heart momentarily stops as well. Therefore, saying “God bless you” was a way of welcoming the person back to life.

Rabbits’ Feet

This one can be traced as far back as the seventh century B.C., when the rabbit was considered a talismanic symbol, and the left hind foot was a handy way to benefit from the rabbit’s luck. In some cultures, this foot is believed to promote reproduction, so women carry one around to boost their odds of conceiving.

Crossing Your Finges

It’s a near-universal sign of wishing for something, but there are many theories about its origin. One is that when Christianity was illegal, crossing fingers was a secret way for Christians to recognize each other. Another is that during the Hundred Years' War, an archer would cross his fingers to pray for luck, before drawing back his longbow with those same fingers.

Four-Leaf Clovers

Legend says that when Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden, Eve snatched a four-leaf clover as a remembrance of her days in Paradise. Since then, lucky attributes have been assigned to all four-leaves of the rare plant—each associated with St. Patrick and the Holy Trinity in Irish legend.


There are several theories here. The first is that the devil appeared at the door of a blacksmith, who agreed to remove a shoe from his hoof if he promised to never enter a place where a horseshoe is hung over the door. The second belief is that witches rode on broomsticks because they were afraid of horses, so a horseshoe is a good charm for scaring them off.

Bird Droppings

Many people the world over believe that if a bird lets loose on you, then good things are coming your way. One idea is that it's a sign of major wealth coming from heaven, based on the belief that when you suffer an inconvenience (albeit a pretty gross one), you'll have good fortune in return.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Use by October 2007

I thought I should purge some of the items here at my desk that I keep in my personal drawer for "emergencies".  You know, those foodstuffs you keep on hand just in case you get snowed in and can't leave the office (okay, so in 28+ years that has never happened - but what if it did??!!). 

Or what if you get an undeniable craving for a twinkie at 4:30 in the afternoon (although twinkies NEVER expire so they don't really count).  

How about that leftover throat lozenge from the flu of 2003?  Would using it make Madame Curie roll over in her grave?

I ran across something that looked like this ...

And I asked myself ... what does "best by" really mean?  What if I'm hungry enough that I don't care if it is the "best" noodle soup I've ever had and would settle for something less?  I mean, it's been vacuumed packed and NOTHING gets through a vacuum seal, correct?  So it should really still be okay.  Then I wonder if there is a study going on somewhere testing the benefits of expired products for their medicinal value.  I could be their poster child!

And have you ever "sniffed" a carton of milk, even though the expiration date is blatantly over a week old?  You just KNOW you're gonna get that spoiled milk high ... sort of like the smelling salts they used years ago to bring women that would swoon back to their senses.  Maybe you could still use it in place of sour cream in that banana bread recipe you were going to make.  I mean, isn't that what sour cream is made from ?  Soured milk?

So I did some research, and learned the true meanings of all of the terms used to denote expiration ... here's what I found.

The actual term "Expiration Date" refers to the last date a food should be eaten or used. Last means last -- proceed at your own risk.

Other, more commonly spotted terms are:

"Sell by" date. The labeling "sell by" tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires. This is basically a guide for the retailer, so the store knows when to pull the item. This is not mandatory, so reach in back and get the freshest. The issue is quality of the item (freshness, taste, and consistency) rather than whether it is on the verge of spoiling.
"Best if used by (or before)" date. This refers strictly to quality, not safety. This date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date. Sour cream, for instance, is already sour, but can have a zippier, fresh taste when freshly sour (if that's not an oxymoron!)

"Born on" date. This is the date of manufacture and has been resurrected recently to date beer. Beer can go sub-par after three months. It is affected by sun. The light can reactivate microorganisms in the beer. That's why you have to be especially careful with beer in clear bottles, as opposed to brown or green.  But this is a MOOT point in our household, as I've never seen a 12-pack last more than one weekend!!

"Guaranteed fresh" date. This usually refers to bakery items. They will still be edible after the date, but will not be at peak freshness.

"Use by" date. This is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

"Pack" date. You will find this one on canned or packaged goods, as a rule, but it's tricky. In fact, it may be in code. It can be month-day-year-MMDDYY. Or the manufacturer could revert to the Julian calendar. January would then be 001-0031 and December 334-365. It gets even weirder than that.

If you are not up on your Julian calendar and dating seems sort of a hodgepodge, how about memorizing some basic rules?

Milk. Usually fine until a week after the "Sell By" date.

Eggs. OK for 3-5 weeks after you bring them home (assuming you bought them before the "sell by" date). VanLandingham says double-grade A's will go down a grade in a week but still be perfectly edible.

Poultry and seafood. Cook or freeze this within a day or two.

Beef and pork. Cook or freeze within three to five days.

Canned goods. Highly acidic foods like tomato sauce can keep 18 months or more. Low-acid foods like canned green beans are probably risk-free for up to five years. "You do not want to put cans in a hot place like a crawl space or garage," Peggy VanLaanen, EdD, RD, a professor of food and nutrition at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, tells WebMD. She suggests keeping canned and dry food at 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in a dry, dark place. Humidity can be a factor in speeded-up deterioration. The FDA notes that taste, aroma, and appearance of food can change rapidly if the air conditioning fails in a home or warehouse. Obviously, cans bulging with bacteria growth should be discarded, no matter what the expiration date!



Anything that makes you gag is spoiled (except for leftovers from what you cooked for yourself last night).


When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.


Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yogurt. Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway and can't get any more spoiled than it is already. Cheddar cheese is spoiled when you think it is blue cheese but you realize you've never purchased that kind.


If it makes you violently ill after you eat it, the mayonnaise is spoiled.


Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting problem in your freezer compartment will probably be spoiled - (or wrecked anyway) by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.


This is NOT a marketing ploy to encourage you to throw away perfectly good food so that you'll spend more on groceries. Perhaps you'd benefit by having a calendar in your kitchen.


If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a three-block radius to congregate outside your house, the meat is spoiled.


Sesame seeds and Poppy seeds are the only officially acceptable "spots" that should be seen on the surface of any loaf of bread. Fuzzy and hairy looking white or green growth areas are a good indication that your bread has turned into a pharmaceutical laboratory experiment.


Flour is spoiled when it wiggles.


It never spoils.


It is generally a good rule of thumb that cereal should be discarded when it is two years or longer beyond the expiration date.


Bibb lettuce is spoiled when you can't get it off the bottom of the vegetable crisper without Comet. Romaine lettuce is spoiled when it turns liquid.


Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a softball should be disposed of. Carefully.


A carrot that you can tie a clove hitch in is not fresh.


Raisins should not be harder than your teeth.


Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.


If you can take it out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.


Putting empty containers back into the refrigerator is an old trick, but it only works if you live with someone or have a maid.


You know it is well beyond prime when you're tempted to discard the Tupperware along with the food. Generally speaking, Tupperware containers should not burp when you open them.


Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in or near your refrigerator to gauge this.

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Discovery!

I love discovering new unique websites. Especially ones that cater to my inner artist!  This site has so much going on that I can't even begin to describe it.  You just have to go and experience it for yourself.  And hopefully you still have a few pennies left from Christmas, because there is going to be at least ONE item you won't be able to live without!!


I was really surprised at how reasonable the prices were on most of their items.  I adore these 6x6 banana leaf envelopes.  Would be such a unique presentation for my handmade cards!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 5 - National Bird Day!

Happy National Bird Day! 

It's Tough to Be a Bird" is a 1969 educational animated short (21 minutes) made by The Walt Disney Company. It won the Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Cartoons in 1970 and was nominated for a BAFTA Film Award for Best Animated Film in 1971.  A red bird explains how birds have contributed to human culture, even as people often try to kill them. He claims this may be because humans were jealous that birds could fly but people cannot, mentioning the legend of Icarus and films of early unsuccessful flying machines.


These colorful guys look like they are waiting for the gun to go off ... on your marks, get ready ... FLY!

This little guy just makes me smile!

And here's a pair of snow birds! I used to drive behind them all the time when I lived in Arizona!

This photo just brings out the "mom" in me!!

And my son just recently introduced me to the phenomenon that is known as Angry Birds!  So addicting to play!

This movie STILL gives me the chills when I watch it!

And then there is THIS amazing species
... is there any wonder why it is the national bird?

Have a bit of fun and go here to "name that bird call" : 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter?? Winter?? Where Art Thou?

No, this is not a photo from my deck (I actually found it on pinterest).

... and no, we don't have ANY snow on the ground. 

And we haven't since way before Christmas. 

And we are expecting highs in the 40's and 50's for the next TEN days with NO moisture in the forecast at all.  

This is highly unusual for Nebraska.  But you won't see me shedding any tears, as while I do enjoy watching a nice snowfall on the WEEKENDs when I don't have to drive on any hazardous roads, I prefer dry pavement whenever possible!  It seems the older I get, the less comfortable I feel traveling in any sort of hazardous weather conditions. 

Anyone else feel that way? 

Monday, January 2, 2012

First day of 2012 Cardmaking Frenzy!

So here are 20 cards that I made for a special order.  Let me know what you think! (click on any image for larger more detailed view).