Best Medicine?

Sarah

Research shows that women who walk three hours a week lower their risk of heart attack, coronary death and stroke by 34 to 35 percent.  Where are my shoes?  A woman who lives down the street from me walks six miles six days a week, and I recently met a man who walks two hours every day.  Impressive!  According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, walking increases bone density, manages the negative effects of osteoarthritis and eases back pain.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Surgeon General recommend taking 10,000 steps a day which translates to about five miles.  The pace of the walk should be between 90 and 110 steps per minute which is pretty brisk.

Not only does walking result in better health and a longer and fitter life, it also makes for a sunnier outlook.  Walking, particularly when walking with good company and in pleasant surroundings, reduces depression and anxiety. Walkers also tend to be good sleepers.

As to what to wear for the daily walk, don a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses.  Your skin and your eyes will thank you for that protection!  Comfortable shoes will keep your feet happy too.

Walking seems to have it all. Simple and natural, it doesn’t require any instruction or skill. It can be a very modest form of exercise or it can demand enough skill and intensity to be an Olympic sport. You can walk alone for solitude or with friends for companionship. You can walk indoors on a treadmill (not my favorite) or outside in the city or country, at home or away. You can get all the benefits of moderate exercise with a very low risk of injury. And to boot, walking is inexpensive. All things considered, Hippocrates was right:  “Walking is a man’s (or woman’s) best medicine”.

Beans–and More Beans

Sarah

Pinto beans, lima beans, cannellini beans, black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans—they’re the staples of my diet!  We all know that beans are an anti-inflammatory food, high in fiber and a great source of protein.  I eat dried pinto and/or dried lima beans every week.  I also eat canned black beans in salads.  I’m not too fond of chick peas (there’s something about the texture.), but I love hummus.

For a quick dip, purée a 15-ounce can of chick peas (drained), ¼ cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt with olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper to taste, and a dash of paprika. Serve with toasted whole wheat pita triangles and fresh vegetables for dipping.

In Texas we eat black-eyed peas, which are actually beans, on New Year’s Day for luck, but many of us eat them year round.  I’ve also added dried lentils to my diet.  No soaking required!  Have you noticed canary beans (also known as mayacoba beans) in the rice/bean aisle at the grocery store?  I think they’re from Peru.  Reportedly canary beans have a unique taste and can be substituted for pinto beans in recipes that call for that ingredient.

Peanuts, which are high in healthy fat, magnesium and fiber,  are considered a bean because  they are in the legume family.  My favorite peanut butter (Laura Scudder’s) contains only peanuts and salt.  A spoonful (or two) of peanut butter makes a great snack.  Yum!

Beans are healthy, versatile and affordable and a food you can always have on hand.  Guess I’ll keep eating them, and I think I’ll try the recipe below.

Smoky Black Bean Soup from Eating Well

1 lb. dried black beans, soaked overnight

2 T extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped (reserve 1/3 c. for garnish)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 T ground cumin

4 c water

2 c brewed coffee

1 bay leaf

1 t salt, more if needed

Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt & chopped cilantro for garnish.

Sautee onions, peppers, celery & garlic in oil.  Add cumin and cook a minute more.  Add remaining ingredients except garnishes.  Cover and simmer until beans are soft.

Volunteering–Good for Your Health?

Sarah

Everyday Health reports that most of us know that if we eat our fruit and veggies, exercise often, and avoid smoking, we have a better chance of living longer and healthier lives. But you may not know that regularly giving to others should perhaps be added to that healthy checklist.  Volunteering is associated with lower depression, increased well-being, and a 22 percent reduction in the risk of dying.  Wow!  That’s impressive!  With those benefits there should be no shortage of volunteers.

Studies show that for those who are 55 or older these benefits are particularly remarkable. Perhaps those of us in that age group are often retired or experiencing the “empty nest” syndrome.  We can begin to doubt our self worth and question our purpose, slipping into a habit of putting entirely too much focus on self. Boooring, tiresome (and unhealthy) for ourselves and for those around us!

Research indicates that benefits are optimized when you volunteer in a minimum of two endeavors.  There are so many opportunities that finding two places in which to serve should be quite easy:  in schools, in programs that serve the needy, in arts organizations, in your church, in neighborhood projects or clubs.  The list goes on and on.  What are your interests or passions?  Your time and your talent can make a real difference in the life of an individual and in the life of your community.

If you want to live a longer, happier, and healthier life, take all the usual precautions and then … take the challenge.  Get out there and share your time with those who need it. Where do I sign up?

 

 

Hats

Attracting butterflies!

Attracting butterflies!

Need a black & white accessory?

Need a black & white accessory?

Sarah

When did American women stop wearing hats and why?  Did that accessory go out of vogue in the late 50′s?  mid 60′s?  Remember Jackie’s pillbox?  The hats worn today include a billed unisex gimme cap, a winter cap to wear when walking, running or skiing or a brimmed straw to be worn at the pool or beach–casual wear to be worn with casual clothes.  You might see one or two pastel creations on Easter Sunday, but during the rest of the year that hat (and any others) sit on the shelf in the closet.  Maybe we’ve discarded a really fun and important part of our wardrobe.  A hat can complete an outfit.  A hat can add a flattering color near the face, camouflage  a bad hair day, keep your head warm, protect you from the sun, lift your spirits.  When you’re down in the dumps, go buy a new hat!  I wonder if there are still millineries in the U.S.  In New York perhaps?  The women of the British royal family seem to wear hats.   The queen must have dozens!  Of course, there is the Kentucky Derby, but how often does one attend that event?

I’d like to resurrect the wearing of hats on certain occasions or in certain settings:  church services, daytime weddings, funerals, lunching at a nice restaurant, setting sail on a fabulous cruise, attending a daytime party, going up in a hot air balloon and certainly, celebrating National Hat Day which I just discovered is tomorrow, Jan. 15, which is remarkable!  I’m having lunch with a friend tomorrow, and I’m definitely wearing a hat!  How about you?

 

2014

On this last day of 2014,  I am remembering some of the special events of this year.  One of the most recent was the pinning ceremony that

we attended for our youngest daughter on December 11th.  She graduated from Texas Woman’s University in Houston having earned a

BS degree with a major in nursing.  The ceremony was very meaningful, and I was priviledged to get to “pin” her.  I am impressed with the

community that she will share with other nurses.  Afterwards we celebrated with champagne and dinner with family who were able to attend

We are very proud of her!

 

And of course Christmas!  We were in Dallas this year at our older daughter and son-in-law’s home.  Their house was very festive and of

course the grandchildren created excitement.  There were 11 of us, 4 grandchildren and 7 adults.  Dinner was delicious and comfortably

informal. For our dining entertainment, our oldest grandson read Knock Knock jokes and riddles  aloud from his Boys Life magazine.  And in

typical fashion the children came and went from the dinner table because the presents under the tree were more interesting.  After the presents

were opened and dessert eaten we concluded the evening with dancing by the granddaughters, ages almost- 3 and 19 months.  The dancers

were undaunted by our younger grandson’s attempt to blast them with a fancy ray gun that he got earlier as a present.  Such good memories!

As the 2015 rapidly approaches, I want to echo my sisters’ resolutions to enjoy friends and family more in the new year!

 

 

Resolutions for 2015

What is a resolution?  The act of resolving. The answer to a question; the act of answering; the act of determining. I think of resolutions as goals that I set for myself. I have made resolutions in the past to lose weight, become more fit, eat a better diet, be a better friend. For some reason I have come to the conclusion that I want to spend more time with my friends & family. Maybe that is partially due to losing a couple of friends to heart disease & cancer recently. Definitely as I get older I realize how precarious life is. We really don’t know when we will die. So I want to enjoy & celebrate the relationships that I have:  be they friends or family. My resolution for 2015 is to have friends & family over for dinner very often. I love to cook & entertain & my husband got a smoker for Christmas. What a fun way to cook for friends. I encourage everyone to find ways to share time with others:  visiting, volunteering, serving, singing. Whatever your style, bring joy & laughter to others & it will come back to you!

Christmas 2014

One of the sisters came to celebrate Christmas and also our daughter & her husband from New York. That was very special but in addition we had cousins from down the street & additional cousins from Houston & California.  The cousin from California is 81vn and the youngest is 14. We also have a baby on the way in May: our daughter & son in-law are expecting. It was a wonderful time. The food was great but it was really the fellowship that made the day so special. We talked about everything imaginable: health, family, faith. It is a unique thing with family that we have a shared history. We were all telling family stories that sometimes were familiar and sometimes not. It didn’t matter so much the content of the stories but that the participants were all known & loved by all. One of the cousins remarked that he really doesn’t have anyone to share so freely with in his circle of friends but he feels so loved and accepted that he can reveal himself more. What a wonderful Christmas gift: that feeling of being loved. But that truly is what Christ came to give to us so how appropriate to experience it at Christmas dinner!

Perfect Gifts

Christmas Gifts--Yum!

Christmas Gifts–Yum!

Sarah

It seems that there comes a time in life when the giving and receiving of consumable gifts seems appropriate and appreciated.  I gave and received those sorts of gifts this Christmas.  I was given tangerines from the Texas valley, pecans from San Saba, Texas, local honey, coffee, homemade apple bread, wine, port, chocolate, tea, hand soaps, a container of narcissus and jars of dip and jam.  I love all of these things!  In turn I gave grapefruit & oranges from the valley,  tamales from a local bakery, toasted pecans, wine, coffee, jam, balsamic vinegar and organic pomegranate juice!

I guess most of my friends and family who are mid-60′s plus, just don’t need or want more things–unless they’re big ticket items which they buy for themselves–a new car, a green egg,  Alaskan cruise or tickets to a Las Vegas or Broadway show.  I sort of like this point in my life.  Certainly things have to be replaced, maintained and updated (bathrooms, kitchens, the house in general,  clothes, shoes, plants in the landscape), but I don’t really need or want to accumulate more objects.  There’s a certain freedom in that circumstance.

Exceptions to the  list of consumable things that one might want to acquire are books, CDs or DVDs. I was very pleased to receive a book on yoga which was on my wish list.  I also purchased an Andrea Bocelli Christmas CD which I’ve enjoyed, and I can’t wait to see the Advanced Style DVD which Susan is bringing for our birthday celebration!

Hmmm, maybe I’m not as free from the desire to acquire things as I thought!  Happy New Year!

 

 

Simple Pleasures

Sleeping cats

Sarah 

Evenings, I love them!  A good CD playing, a glass of wine, a cozy fire burning and a cat or two (or three) to keep you company.  What could be better?  I recently got a pick-up load of wood from a reliable source so I’m set for the winter.  I try to gather a little kindling and lay the firewood early in the day so that all I have to do is stuff a little newspaper below the logs and strike a match to get the fire started.    It’s such a pleasure to return from working or from yoga practice to this inviting retreat.

I also love a good cup of coffee or tea in the morning.   Someone gave me a can of Polar Bear tea which is a holiday blend of black tea with cranberries and spices.  I’ll try it tomorrow morning.  Hope it tastes as good as it smells!

According to the Bible, when King Solomon ruled over all of Israel his people lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree.  That’s about the sum of my aspirations–to live in safety under my fig tree.  I’m just glad my fig tree has a fireplace!`

 

Trees in the Fall

Sarah

I live in a wooded part of the state of Texas.  The woods are filled with several varieties of oak, sweet gum, hickory, pine and magnolia.  Every year about Thanksgiving, which is coming up this week, the leaves of the deciduous trees turn all sorts of glorious colors:  yellow, bronze, copper, gold, orange, red and maroon.  The view of the trees from my house is fabulous!  I know the northeast is known for spectacular fall color, but this is pretty impressive.  Crepe myrtles are commonly planted here, and they can be quite vivid.  There are a couple of other trees that should be mentioned:  the Chinese tallow and the ornamental pear.  The tallow tree is not a native and is really a trashy tree and not long lived, but it redeems itself every fall with its showy leaves.  The ornamental pear is not particularly long lived either, but the white blossoms in the early spring and beautiful fall color make it quite popular.  Another of my favorites for its color is the bald cypress. It’s actually a conifer that’s deciduous.  The bald cypress is fast growing and lives a long time.  I have one in my yard which I planted.  The only thing I don’t like about it is its “knees” which come up in inappropriate places!

I’ve tried growing a couple of Japanese maples with no success.  That maple is an under story tree.  I made the mistake of planting one in an area that receives intense afternoon sun.  Its leaves sort of fried every summer.  In another attempt, I planted a maple near my front door.  It seemed to thrive for several years but suddenly died.  I don’t think I’ll try another one.

There are many folks that love the desert and others who like an expanse of sandy beach, but I’m very pleased and thankful to live in the forest– particularly at this time of year.  Happy Thanksgiving!