Happy National Day of Encouragement!

The first proclamation for the Day of Encouragement was made by Mayor Belinda LaForce of Searcy, Arkansas on August 22, 2007. In September, Governor Mike Beebe of Arkansas signed a proclamation making September 12, 2007 the “State Day of Encouragement” for Arkansas. Later, President George W. Bush also signed a message making September 12 the official “National Day of Encouragement.”

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Here are ten of my favorite quotes about encouragement…

“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” Alexander Graham Bell

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas A. Edison

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C.S. Lewis

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” William James

Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment. Stephen Covey

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt

“If you dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” Walt Disney

“Everything will be okay in the end.
If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.”
Ed Sheeran


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Happy National Serendipity Day!

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Today is Serendipity Day, an officially recognized annual event and special day to celebrate unexpected and much appreciated grace.

Here of ten of my favorite quotations about serendipitous events…

The universe is always speaking to us…sending us little messages, causing coincidences and serendipities, reminding us to stop, to look around, to believe in something else, something more. Nancy Thayer

There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery. Jeff Bezos

Life is full of surprises and serendipity. Being open to unexpected turns on the road is an important part of success. If you try to plan every step, you may miss those wonderful twists and turns. Just find your next adventure—do it well, enjoy it—and then, not now, think about what comes next. Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked. Elizabeth Berg

Unless you leave room for Serendipity…How can the Divine enter?
Joseph Campbell

History is an intricate web of timing, people, circumstances and serendipity. Don Rittner

In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts. Peter McWilliams

Serendipity: Look for something, find something else and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.
Lawrence Block

What people call serendipity is just having your eyes open. Jose Manuel Barroso

If you use it intelligently, Twitter can be a form of engineered serendipity.
Jason Silva


Happy National Cheesecake Day!

I was delighted to discover a reason to celebrate (and partake of) my favorite dessert. But before doing that, I decided to delve into the origins of cheesecakes.

Cheesecakes date back to ancient Greece. Physical anthropologists have excavated cheese molds, dated 2000 B.C., on the Greek island of Samos. In Greece, cheesecakes were considered excellent sources of energy and served to athletes during the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C. Greek brides and grooms celebrated their nuptials with cheesecake.

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An actual cheesecake recipe from 230 A.D. has been unearthed: Pound the cheese until it’s smooth and pasty, mix the pounded cheese in a brass pan with honey and wheat flour, heat the cheesecake in one mass, cool and then serve.

When the Romans conquered Greece, they modified the recipe by adding eggs. These ingredients were baked under a hot brick oven, and the cheesecake was served warm.

As the Romans expanded their empire, they shared their recipe with the Europeans. In England, Henry VIII’s chef cut up cheese into very small pieces and soaked these pieces in milk for three hours. Then, he strained the mixture and added eggs, butter, and sugar.

A fan of the New York Style Cheesecake, I decided to research its history. German-born Arnold Reuben (well-known for his signature sandwiches) was invited to a dinner party where the hostess served a cheese pie. Fascinated by the dish, Reuben experimented with the recipe until he came up with the smooth-tasting cheesecake we all know and love.

Over the centuries, different cheesecake recipes have evolved, reflecting the cheeses and preferences of each country: Italians use ricotta cheese, Greeks use mizithra or feta, Germans prefer cottage cheese, and the Japanese use a combination of cornstarch and egg whites. More daring chefs have introduced specialty cheesecakes that include blue cheese, seafood, spicy chilies, and even tofu.

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I’m willing to try almost any flavor, but I’ll pass on the chilies, tofu, and seafood varieties. When it comes to creating my own cheesecake, I gravitate toward the following easy-to-prepare recipe that actually calls for frozen blueberries.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Delight

Ingredients

½ cup brown sugar
2½ cups graham cracker crumbs
¾ cup butter
8 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
32 ounces sweetened whipped cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3½ cups frozen blueberries

Directions

Combine brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and butter.
Press into the bottom of a 9” x 13” rectangular pan.
Bake for ten minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cool the crust.
Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice.
Add whipped cream and fold in blueberries using a wooden spoon.
Pour mixture into the pan.
Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Servings: 15

Any other easy-to-prepare cheesecake recipes out there?


Happy National Blueberry Muffin Day!

blueberrymuffinsBlueberry muffins make a delicious and simple change of pace for breakfast and afternoon snacks. They can be made in large batches and stored in air-tight containers or frozen for future use.

The following recipe is a family favorite and can be easily whipped up in less than an hour.

Enjoy!




Ingredients

½ cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 cups flour
2 cups milk
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups blueberries
Grated peel and juice of one orange

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Grease muffin tins with butter or margarine.
3. Mix oil, sugar, eggs, orange peel and juice with the electric mixer.
4. Gradually add milk, flour and baking powder.
5. Add blueberries.
6. Stir using a wooden spoon, not the mixer.
7. Drop mixture into tins.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Yield: 24 muffins

*Photographed by Christina Guidoccio.


Happy National Raisin Day!

When grapes are dehydrated to produce raisins, the nutrients become more concentrated, making a handful of raisins rich in iron, potassium, and B vitamins. But don’t take too many handfuls. One cup of raisins has a whopping 440 calories!

Here’s a family favorite recipe for raisin cookies.

Ingredients

1/3 cup margarine or shortening
2/3 cups brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, well-beaten
½ cup chopped raisins
1½ cups sifted pastry flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 Tbsp milk

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Using an electric mixer (or hand mixer), cream together margarine, sugar, and vanilla extract.
3. Add the egg and raisins.
4. Add sifted dry ingredients, alternating with milk.
5. Beat until all ingredients are well combined.
6. Drop by spoonfuls on a greased cookie sheet.
7. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the centers are soft with a touch of color and the edges are golden brown.

Enjoy!


Happy Take a Chance Day!

In celebration of Take a Chance Day and Poetry Month, I am sharing one of my favorite poems about risk-taking.

To Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live.

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

Only a person who risks is free.

The pessimist complains about the wind;

The optimist expects it to change;

And the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward


Happy National Food Day!

The main objective of National Food Day is to help people “Eat Real” by “cutting back on sugar drinks, packaged foods, and factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein.”

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Here are 10 quotes to inspire positive changes in eating habits…

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients. Julia Child

Fill your plate with the colors of the rainbow. What pleases the eye pleases the body as a whole. Deepak Chopra

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have. Winston Churchill

The first wealth is health. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Hippocrates

Ignore the food police. Be a laughing Buddha with happiness in your belly. And indulge your appetite for the pleasures of food shared with good company or eaten alone, in peaceful contemplation of the fruits of the earth. Christiane Northrup

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Michael Pollan

Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners. William Shakespeare

Get people back into the kitchen and combat the trend toward processed food and fast food. Dr. Andrew Weil