Grace brings us face-to-face with aging as she relates her experiences, her memories, advice for surviving the aging process...with Grace. This is a place for humor, sharing, and learning as well as what I hope are some entertaining meanderings of my thoughts.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

7 Tips ~ How To Make A Good First Impression

There is a familiar saying “You only get one chance to make a first impression.”  If you are like me, you always make that attempt to do everything right so the person you are meeting walks away happy to have met you.  Meeting new people is something we all do often – even those who shy away from social situations. Whether you’re meeting someone for business, or just in a casual setting, a good first impression can make a big difference to your continued relationship.  With that in mind, I have a few tips to help you get off on the right foot.


1) Make Eye Contact:  The very first and most important thing is to make sure you are making eye contact.  This helps create the impression of honesty and also shows that you are paying attention to them.  You want the person to feel important.


2) Smile With Feeling:  Smiling at the other person helps create an atmosphere of warmth and also serves to disarm the tension that can exist when first meeting a stranger.  It will help you both relax.  But make sure that your smile is given with genuine good feeling – it should go all the way to your eyes!  Shallow smiles are easy to spot and tend to put others off.  Always be sincere.


3) Offer A Firm Handshake:  When shaking the hand of a stranger, ensure that you grasp firmly.  A limp hand can give the impression that you aren’t all that interested in the other person.  However, you don’t want to go overboard and deliver a crushing handshake that leaves the other in pain – that would come across as inconsiderate and over the top.  My Mother’s hand was broken when she was in college when some young man gave her and extra strong handshake.  Oops!


4) Ask Questions About The Other Person:  When you’re talking to someone for the first time, be sure to ask them questions about themselves.  Ask about their hobbies, their business interests, and their family and so on.  Everybody likes to be asked questions and given a chance to speak about themselves.  Giving someone else this opportunity will leave the other person feeling good about the conversation they had with you.


5) Don’t Go On About Yourself:  Some people love to talk about themselves, but this really isn’t a good way to start a new relationship.  It’s okay to talk about yourself, but wait until you’re asked, or until there’s an appropriate reason – for example, you find out that you share a common interest with the other person.  If all you do is talk about yourself when you first meet, the other person may get the impression you’re self-obsessed, and aren’t interested in them or anything else.

Source: akk_rus

6) Use The Other Person’s Name:  It’s a good idea to use the other person’s name shortly into the conversation.  Not only does it show that you remembered it, but it also helps generate a friendly tone that makes conversation easier.  I use this one often since I am horrible at remembering names!


7) Listen Closely:  To really get off on the right foot, it’s important to listen closely to what the other person is saying and respond.  Nothing is more of a turn off than feeling like you’re being ignored in a conversation.  By being attentive to what the other person is saying you show that you’re interested and that you care – two key foundations for any relationship.


Was this helpful?  I realize that by the time we are of a certain age, this should be no new revelation, but I am of the mind that it never hurts to share things and remind ourselves of things that should be second nature to us.


Do you have a favorite tip for first impressions?  Care to share?

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hungry? Try These 10 One Dish Meals

One dish meals are great for those times when you just can’t muster up the motivation, energy or time to cook an elaborate meal. Lately, this is me, so here I am offering up some help in the kitchen!  Instead of needing to gather up several items to create a meal, one dish meals allow you to feed yourself and your family bountifully with just one delicious dish.

One dish meals can vary a lot in preparation time, number of ingredients and complexity of the recipe. Some one dish meals can be quite complex and gourmet. So this list includes both simple recipes and a few more complex one dish meals.

I'd like to clone Rachel Ray and install her in my kitchen, but, well, that hasn't worked out yet.  So, here are today's top ten picks for the one dish meals.  (Note: These are not complete recipes with measured ingredients, cooking times, etc.  Rather they are suggestions to get you thinking about which recipe to look for.  You may already have your Grandmother's favorite recipe in a box in the kitchen, or you may be like me, surrounded by cookbooks, but finding what I want on the ever-so-helpful Internet!) 

Meal #1: Chili

Chili is a fantastic way to cook up a meal that’s delicious, filling and fast. There are many different recipes you can choose from to create the perfect taste. It’s a very flexible recipe. You can add more garlic or onions to add more kick. You can add more chili powder to give it spiciness. You can add a bit of sugar to make it a little sweeter. You can use meat or go vegetarian.

One great thing about chili is how easy it is to cook up an enormous batch. Since all the ingredients just go in one pot, you can easily cook up a lot more than you need for one meal. The rest can serve as leftovers for the rest of the week.


Meal #2: Chicken Noodle Soup

If you’re in a rush and want something yummy and satisfying quickly, chicken noodle soup does the trick. Cooking the whole meal takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

If you’re really in a hurry, this meal can be prepared without much fanfare. Just throw the noodles in chicken broth, along with some vegetables, and simmer.

If you have a bit more time, you can fry some of the ingredients going in your soup before throwing them in the pot to boil.

If you want to get more complex, you can cook up some Chinese Noodle Soup or Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup instead as well. These take more time to prepare, as both have ingredients whose flavor needs to be gradually released into the soup.

Meal #3: Cream of Celery Soup with Bacon

You might not think that bacon, celery and cream soup would go well together. Surprisingly, they do. The contrast between the bacon’s salty texture and the celery’s clean texture creates a very nice blend of sensations.

Preparing cream of celery soup with bacon is a bit different than how you’d cook other soups. You start by frying the bacon on the bottom of the pot itself. The bacon will release fats that’ll help flavor the cream soup.

After the bacon is done cooking, you throw in the rest of the ingredients (onion, garlic, celery, etc.) Finally, you add the cream soup and then add the bacon back on top once the soup is finished.

Best of all, most of the cooking for this meal doesn’t need much attendance. After the bacon is fried and the soup is in the pot, you can spend your prep time reading a book, catching up on work or doing leftover dishes.

Meal #4: Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables

This dish uses the flavors of root vegetables to flavor the chicken, as well as the grease from the chicken to flavor the vegetables. This dish offers a fragrant symphony of incredible flavors. It’s also quite an easy dish to prepare.

Cooking this dish is no more difficult than slicing up all your vegetables, placing it on the bottom of an oven-friendly dish and then placing the seasoned chicken on top.

The actual vegetables you choose depends on your tastes and what you have in your fridge. Try to get a mix of contrasting flavors. For example, beets for sweetness, onions for tanginess, potatoes for starch and so on. These flavors when combined with the chicken’s richness will bring out and incredible taste and aroma.

Meal #5: Chicken in White Wine

This meal was first popularized by cooking roosters in red wine. Chefs found that this particular way of preparing a rooster resulted in ever so tender meat. Today, instead of using red wine we use white wine and instead of using roosters we use chicken. But the effect is the same: A tender, juice and flavorful dish.

To cook this dish, you’ll need a Dutch oven, which is basically a very large pot. You cook the in the pot first to add flavor to the grease. Then you cook the chicken for 5 minutes on each side to brown the chicken, again in the pot. Then you remove the chicken, lower the heat and cook the rest of the ingredients.

This dish is a relatively complex and time consuming dish to prepare. Cook it on a day when you have a bit of time to spare. The cacophony of flavors will absolutely make it worth your while.

Meal #6: Sausage, Pepper and Onion

This recipe falls under the “medium” difficulty and time-spent category. The dish is quite filling and once you’ve made it a couple times becomes quite easy to make. You can use different kinds of sausage meats, like garlic sausages or cheese sausages to change up the flavor of the dish. For an unconventional meal, you can even go for chicken sausages or Italian sausages.

To make this meal, you’ll need a high sided skillet or Dutch oven. You cook the sausages first in water and olive oil, then add the peppers, onions and other ingredients. The recipe comes with chili peppers and parsley, which you can of course replace according to your personal flavor preferences.

Meal #7: Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan (one of my all-time favs) is a baked chicken dish with yummy pasta sauce on the outside and soft tender chicken on the inside, topped with cheese. If you’re handy with the oven, it’s quite a simple dish to prepare.

You start by seasoning the chicken on the outside. You coat each piece of chicken with eggs, flour, salt and pepper then fry it up to make it and nice crispy. Then you pour the pasta sauce in your baking tray, place the chicken on top and add cheese and other dressings.

Put it in the oven and wait for the cheese to melt. That’s all there is to it!

Meal #8: Lasagna

An old standby standard in one dish meals, lasagna can be as elaborate or simple as you want. You can make it vegetarian and add all kinds of vegetables like colored peppers, mushrooms, carrots and more. Or simply go meaty and cheesy.

You can save time by using a premade sauce or cooking your sauce in batches and freezing them for when you need. In addition, most recipes don’t require that you precook the noodles because the sauce cooks the noodles during baking. 

Meal #9: Taco Pie

This is a truly fast and easy one dish meal. If you’re feeling lazy or in a hurry, this dish serves as both a delicious meal and a time saver.

Preparation is simple: First, you fry the ground beef in a skillet with your taco seasoning. If you want to add additional vegetables like onions or tomatoes, just throw them in the pan as well. You can use a premade pie crust and add your taco ingredients, top with cheese and you’re ready to bake. Drizzle with salsa, sour cream and guacamole when it comes out of the oven.

Meal #10: One Pot Chicken with Mango and Couscous

This meal is both sweet and extremely delicious. It’s also very healthy, as both couscous and mangoes are full of all kinds of high quality vitamins and minerals. To top it off, it’s quite easy to make.

Start by cooking your onions and your chicken. Add in the tomatoes, then the mangoes. Make sure to get all the juice from the mango in the pot. As you cook the mangoes, more juice will come out and seep into the couscous and chicken.

Then add chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Add the couscous, wait 10 minutes and your meal is ready!


These are ten fantastic one-dish meals you can cook up whenever you’re pressed for time or just don’t want to put that much work into preparing a multi-course meal. 
What are your go-to recipes for meals in a hurry?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday ~ Brought To You By The Letter Purple

Ahhhh...Pinterest!  This week I found some gorgeously purple pins I want to share with you...

Source: via Pat on Pinterest

Have a very purply sort of day today!

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pumpkin Chunkin ~ A Smashing Good Time

Looks like cannons!  Source

After reading a comment on my last post, I couldn't stop thinking about the sport (?) of Pumpkin Tossing or Pumpkin Chunkin that is popular this time of year.  Although I grew up in the Midwest, and we had a large garden, we never participated or even knew of this way back then.  I suppose we hung with the wrong crowd. (smile)

People use things like catapults, pneumatic air cannons, trebuchets, or onegers to hurl a four pound pumpkin into the air or towards a target.  Some are quite the festive occasion, others are just small gatherings with no fanfare - except from the fans.

Catapult.  Source

At the annual events, the ones sponsored by businesses or at schools, the participants must register their team, follow the rules set by the organizers, and build their hurling machines to specifications.  There are even websites where one can find a pattern!  Who knew those existed?  In some contests, it is a requirement that only certain types of pumpkin are used, so they will stay whole after landing.  In those cases, smashed ones do not count.  In others, smashing is quite alright.  So, I reckon one can choose one's battles, right?  What is your preference?

Jack-o-lanterns awaiting their "flight."  Source
Those poor guys above are about to be sent sailing through  the air in some contest unknown to this writer.  I am thinking they are in one that permits smashing, 'cause they fellas are just not going to hold together under the toss!
Would it surprise you to learn that the World Record Pumpkin Chunkin was at Moab, Utah in 2010 with a toss from a pneumatic cannon named "Big 10 Inch" for a distance of  5,545.43 feet!  Oh, my goodness!   With firing power that great, I wondered if there have been any mishaps.  I did find that there was one casualty...a duck who was in the line of fire of one of those pneumatic air cannons.  RIP.
Aftermath.  Source
After the fun, I am wondering who cleans up?  Do they turn the pigs loose, get a shovel crew going, or just leave the mess to compost over time?  I am guessing the photo above was the result of a smashing good time.  What do you think?  Have you ever been Pumpkin Chunkin?


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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wordless (Sorta) Wednesday ~ October

October is here.  Even in the high desert of Arizona we are feeling a slight drop of temperature, signalling the change of season.  Today I am sharing more Pinterest obsession with you...sights and scenes of October...enjoy!

Source: via Pat on Pinterest
Source: via Pat on Pinterest
Source: via Pat on Pinterest
Source: via Pat on Pinterest
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October's Here ~ Tips to Get You Ready For the Holidays

 We go through this every year.   We may even have our own routine.  But, preparing for the holidays can still be a daunting task – especially for whoever it is (you?) takes most or all of the responsibility for running the household. There are oodles of things that need doing, and it can often be difficult to remember what these are, let alone what action is required.  But wait…there is help for you!  This short list gives you a few tips that should get you ready for a smooth and comparatively relaxing holiday season!


  1.  Pencil Out A Budget:  Before you do anything… if you haven’t already, you need to figure out what your budget is for holiday expenses.  Don’t worry if it looks like your budget is not big enough, you still have a few months for you to save a few more bucks.


  1.  Draw Up An Action Plan:  Spend some time thinking about the things you need to do (some of which are included below). Once you’ve figured out the priorities, make yourself a rough timetable that gives deadlines for each task.  It will help to put this onto a household calendar to serve as a reminder – and to help you keep on top of preparation tasks.


  1.  Start Shopping For Presents Now:  For most of us, holidays are a time of giving, and this usually comes in the form of presents. Don’t dilly dally – if you’re going to get presents for family and friends, start buying them right now!  If you’re short on ideas, then get suggestions from your kids, friends, and family.  I have three granddaughters close in age.  I chat with one of them to see what her age group is listening to, wearing, doing, and I shop for similar Christmas gifts for all of them.   The key is not to leave present-buying until the last week.  Save yourself all the stressful and unnecessary rush, and also help to ensure you can get the gifts you really want.


  1. Get Your Holiday Cards Written and Addressed:  If you like sending cards out to your friends and family during the holiday season, then don’t wait until the last few weeks before getting them ready.  Wow…have I learned this the hard way!  One year I even sent them out after Christmas and vowed “never again.”  As soon as you see cards in the shops, buy some that you like and start writing them out.  You can have them all signed and ready to go well before send-out time, leaving you with less on your mind as the season approaches.  It is such a relief!


  1.  Stock Up On Baking Ingredients:  If you like making special treats for holidays such as Christmas cookies, candy, cakes and other baked goodies, then buy the ingredients you need now.  As December approaches, the things you want are going to be more in demand and may not be as easy to find. Once you’ve got the ingredients you need, start baking early. Most of your sweets can be baked and frozen and won’t you feel great when you get these ready well ahead of time!  (Hint: YES, you will!)

There you have it, my friends.  Five easy peasy tips for organizing yourself early so you can enjoy your holidays with less stress!   Now, pick up that pencil and begin your list... time’s awastin’.

Do you have your own routine or tips you’d like to share with us?  Please tell us in your comment so we can all benefit!

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Pondering Body Art

While having a quick dinner with HB (HoneyBunny) and a friend recently, we observed a very tattooed man in the ordering line.  No one commented for a few minutes, then my friend asked this question..."If they wear their art on their bodies, what to they put on their walls?"
We chuckled and watched as the man left with his order.  Now, I can't stop thinking about it.  This is something that never entered my mind...I never would have thought to ask that question.  Now, it has me thinking...what DO they have on their walls?
When one has spent hundreds or even thousands to have their bodies inked, does one have enough left to decorate at home?  Are their homes stark?  White walls?  Boring, minimalist furnishings?  I think probably not.  But, isn't in a good question to ask as a conversation starter?
What do you think?

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Taking Charge of Your Health

It isn't news that I have been having some health issues these past few months.  I don't want to bore you with the details so much as  I'd like to pass on what I am learning as I attempt to get a diagnosis and some relief.  The process is similar to working a jig saw puzzle - the pieces need to be found and put together to get the picture of what is happening to the body.

It was after my first tests and the trip to the ER and hospitalization that I began making notes of my symptoms and what I was doing when I felt those symptoms.  The most important one was/is shortness of breath.  But, at that time I didn't realize it was occurring when I used my arms and/or bent over, and also caused my heart to race.  Nor did I notice that it took me a day to recover from each episode.  This should be the first thing we do, but when you can't breathe so well, you don't really stop to think about making lists.  Now, I go to Doctor appointments armed with my list of questions and also my symptoms - in addition to my records from other doctors.  You can read more about preparing for a visit to the doctor here.

Yesterday I followed up with my Primary Care physician, who, believe it or not, went down my list item-by-item, and ordered blood work that had not been done as yet, and another CT scan of my lungs (#3, but who's counting!), and referred me to another Pulmonologist (this time in Tucson) and also to a Rheumatologist.  Hallelujah!  A plan of action and I feel better just knowing someone is still working with me to find an answer! 

The blood work will tell if there is some inflammation going on, another will check for thrombosis, and the others check for various heart and lung issues.  These tests were not among the many that were done by the Heart or Lung doctors or the hospitals, so this is encouraging to me - and it tells me he is listening to my questions! 

Being prepared and doing your own research is very helpful in knowing what questions to ask.  Talking to friends who have had similar issues is also a good way to find a doctor who will help.  And, the other important lesson to be learned is how to eat healthier.  I am a lazy cook, and I tend to shop for the same items each trip to the store, so I definitely can use some help in this area.  We eat fresh fruit and rarely have fried foods, but I am sure there is a lot of room for improvement in our diet.  I hope I have enough will power to make more healthy changes in our diet so we can both look and feel better!

What is your primary health tip if you were asked?  Do you face health issues that so far have no answers?  What are you doing to take matters into your own hands?

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