The Strawberries are Here!!!

My local farmer’s market had “Strawberry Fest” this morning!

I can’t even believe how good these smell and how beautiful they look.

strawberries at Franklin


I bought ten pounds of these beauties. Enough to freeze…



Enough to make jam…



And a few left over for a strawberry shortcake and a late-night snack.



God bless strawberry growers!!

If you’ve ever canned, you know my kitchen is popping away right now. 🙂

Quilting. What was I thinking?

IMG_20150908_180218183_HDRWhen I was a young girl, my paternal great grandmother made me this quilt. When I was at her house, I noticed her sewing in the evening while watching television. It was done completely by hand. It never occurred to me that she was sewing it for me.

At the age of fifty, I still have the quilt and I treasure it. At some point, she made me a second one, and my maternal grandmother, who was a professional seamstress made me a third. I should probably pass them down to my children, but I can’t bear to part with them.


I have long been an artist. I make music professionally. I write novels professionally. I’ve made all of the artwork in my home, from paintings to rugs to throw pillows. Well, I was bored and decided to take on the time-consuming project of making a quilt. What was I thinking??

quilt piecesIt started with cutting out 680 pieces. Sigh. That took a couple weeks. Then, fortunately, I had house guests, so I put it all in a box and ignored it for a couple weeks.





pinwheelsWhen I pulled it back out, I began making pinwheels for the center of the blocks. Twenty pinwheels seemed daunting, but using a sewing machine, (not sewing by hand, you silly rabbit!) the pieces came together fairly quickly, but still….there was twenty of them.





octagonsNow, I had to cut these square pinwheels and turn them into octagons. Not owning a special ruler or being able to find one at JoAnn Fabrics, I spent hours figuring out how to do this. After I had a total meltdown, my husband quietly worked on the computer constructing a template for me. In the meantime, I found a video on Youtube showing an easy way to turn a square into an octagon. When I cut one in two seconds and showed him, he was awestruck by the simplicity. “Well, if you want to do it like that,” he said sarcastically.

The original pinwheels were 7” squares, and after I turned them into octagons, I needed to sew corners on them, making them 6.5” squares. At the time, I was thinking this was some kind of cruel joke, but as the pinwheel got new corners, it began to change shape. It looked like a cross. Weird illusion.



starNext, I started working on the star points. They were time consuming, but they came together easily. The octagon/square was placed in the middle of the star points. Notice in this photo, the octagon still looks like a cross, and the completed square has two star points pointing up. Well, that’s also an illusion and won’t look like that for long.

I was supposed to cut these completed squares into large circles, but as with cutting octagons, that was just too much work. So instead, I sewed together frames, sewed them onto the completed squares, lining up the seams with each star point and creating a whole new angle on the original square. I flipped it over and trimmed off the excess corners on the square. That was so much quicker than trying to cut a perfect circle, hoping I didn’t cut it too small. From the wrong side of the quilt, it’s pretty sloppy, but from the right side, you can’t tell, and it saved me tons of time and probably a half bottle of whiskey.


one finished squareSince the octagon and the star points shifted with adding the frame, you can see in the finished square that the cross is gone and the star only has one point sticking up. This whole quilt is one big illusion.

1910 seams later, the quilt top is finished. I need to sandwich it and start quilting. But I think I need to take a break for a couple weeks first.


finished top



Won’t it be fun if my great grandchild won’t part with this quilt?

Mother’s Day Gratefulness

I read a blog yesterday written by a woman who was condemning Mother’s Day. She said it makes women who are not mothers feel bad. She also said she’s raising her son to not observe Mother’s Day because she doesn’t want him to feel obligated to buy her anything.

First, I think the woman is a gigantic twit. What about all the other kids making special construction-paper gifts at school for their moms? Is he supposed to sit in the corner and not make one, because she doesn’t want a gift? She’s obviously got emotional problems that need to be addressed, and she’s teaching her son to be ungrateful. If we’re not grateful for what we have in our lives, then we are doomed to be chronically unhappy. Perhaps he can find another nurturer to give his dandelion bouquet to.

lambSecond, there are also maturity issues here because Mother’s Day is not about buying gifts or getting gifts. It’s about giving. It’s also not about being a biological mother and feeling bad if you’re not one. It’s about thanking the person who nurtured you, who pointed you in the right direction, who loved you unconditionally. Hopefully, we all have someone who did that for us.


From a mother’s viewpoint, raising children (even furry ones) is not an easy job. It’s often painful and sometimes feels futile, but we do it. Do you know why we do it? Because we love. And love is the most important thing on the Earth. I don’t expect or need anything from my family in return, but I know what they will do on Mother’s Day. My daughter will send flowers and/or chocolate-covered something because she knows I love chocolate. My son will call late in the day and claim he forgot it was Mother’s Day. He will simply say, “I love you.” I raised them. I know what they’re like. My husband will buy me something to show he’s thankful for the way I raised the kids. Obviously I’m not his mother, but he’s showing his gratitude. I don’t need anything from them, but the moments of acknowledgement are sweet. They tell me the pain and futility of the job was worth it.


lionBack to the woman’s blog. If you haven’t done that painful job, why would you feel bad when other women who have done the job get special treatment and you don’t? Doesn’t make sense. The holiday is not about getting, remember? Get off your immature, egocentric horse, and go find someone to be nice to. Buy them a flower. Give them a hug. Call them late in the day and claim you forgot it was Mother’s Day but you just wanted to say, “I love you.”


Sure, some people, like me, don’t have a mother any more. Some mothers have lost children and grieve them on Mother’s Day. Some people have mothers who they wished they didn’t have. No one’s life is perfect. But, that’s no reason to squash the love that comes out on Mother’s Day.

To all you nurturers out there in the blogosphere – Thank you for loving someone and making the world a better place. Happy Mother’s Day!



A to Z – Phantom Time Hypothesis

A2Z-BADGE_[2016]April 2016 A to Z Challenge – I’m writing about history. Or maybe about the future?

P is for Phantom Time Hypothesis




crooked clockFor people like me who live in genealogy, world history, and ancestry, time is everything. Recorded dates and world events bring my research into focus. What if I’m wrong? What if the recorded dates are not the real dates?

gregory13In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduced the Gregorian calendar. He designed the passage of time from the previously used Julian calendar. The Julian calendar was calculated by the moon’s cycles, and it is said that it ran ten minutes too slow every year. Pope Gregory’s mathematicians and astrologers figured that since the time the Julian calendar began in 45 BC, the world had lost roughly ten days. He decided the Julian calendar would end Oct 4, 1582 and the Gregorian calendar would begin Oct 15, 1582. That should fix everything.

The discrepancy began when scholars refigured the Julian calendar and came to the conclusion that the calendar didn’t started as Pope Gregory had said in 45 BC. It was started with the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Pope Gregory’s calculations were either mistaken or intentional. No one knows. But according to these scholars, the Gregorian calendar should have actually been 1282.

If this is accurate, we are living in 1716.

This isn’t a problem with our current time. We are simply using a measurement of intervals, and if we all agree to it, then it’s fine.

The problem comes when you look at events that take place prior to 1582. What if something is known to have happened in 700 AD? Was it really 400 AD? The Phantom Time Hypothesis states 644 AD to 911 AD never actually existed. Archaeological evidence of that time is scarce. Our only knowledge of that time is from historians. All scholars of the time were controlled by the Holy Roman Church. Church records are filled with discrepancies and many documents from that time are known to be forged. Why would anyone forge them? Was it the church? If the Gregorian calendar is wrong, what does that say for the people who lived and events that occurred between 644 and 911 AD. What about the Carolingian Dynasty and King Charlemagne? Did they exist before what we know from history books, or were they products of fiction like King Arthur?

romanesque-architecture-pisa-cathedralThe one thing I find interesting is that Romanesque architecture was big in Europe in the tenth century, like this photo of Piza Cathedral in Italy. Why would that be so when the Romans were long gone by the fifth century? Unless, of course, they weren’t. Dumb calendar.

“They are better at this game than you are!”

“They are better at this game than you are!”

dollar_sign_eyes_sticker-ra34da77665d243eea60412a5dc1a3aed_v9waf_8byvr_512I read that line in a book about finance. It was referring to marketers. If you read my budgeting blog HERE, you know I’m a sucker for sales, but participating is said sales always blows my budget. What’s a girl to do?

When I read the above line, I think a light bulb turned on in my head. I saw the light. Halleluia!

Marketers are a smart bunch. They know me emotionally, psychologically, and financially. They’ve studied me and my spending habits. They actually have a degree in ME. And what do I have? A desire to get the best deal possible. If they can manipulate the numbers to make it look like I’m getting the best deal, and I fall prey to their shenanigans, they win every time.

I’m not only talking about shopping, stores, and budgets. I’m talking about big things too, like car leases and home equity loans. Coupons, convenient ATMs, cash back, loans, refinancing, etc. are all a shell game. The deck is stacked against you and the house always wins. The only way to win is to NOT play. I’m not saying don’t clip that coupon for Tide Laundry Detergent, but maybe I am. You have to investigate FIRST and not take a sale at face value, and who the hell has the time to do this?


Tide Laundry Detergent 50 oz size (32 loads)

Drug store $11.99. Target $10.99. Kroger $7.99. Walmart $7.49.  We don’t need a special deal, a minimum purchase, or a coupon for any of these prices.

I regularly shop at Kroger so it would probably cost me an extra $0.50 in gas to drive a couple miles down the road to Walmart just to pick up laundry soap, although I’ve been known to do things like that for a sale. But what is that extra twenty minutes of my time worth?

The local drug store’s price included a sale – buy one, get one 50% off. That means if you buy two, you’re not paying $11.99 each. You’re paying closer to the price at the other stores. The total price would be $17.89 for 100 oz. Of course you’re going to use it eventually and you’re already here, right? 100 oz at Target would be $21.89, so this must be a great deal.

Target has a sign on the shelf that says you can save $1.00 AND get free shipping if you buy it online. $9.99? Good deal! Who wouldn’t want laundry soap delivered directly to their house? Once you look at the website, however, you find the deal is “with a $50 purchase.” Ugh. I can spend $50 to save $1. Really?

I don’t want to drive down to Walmart, I don’t need two bottles from the drug store, and I’m not buying $50 worth of crap from Target, so I opted for the Kroger price. I googled “Tide coupons” and found a printable $0.75 coupon. My laundry soap costed me $7.24 with no hassles. If you would have chosen the drug store’s sale at $17.89 for two, you would have been screwed. You could have bought two bottles with two coupons at Kroger for $14.58 or at Walmart for $13.58.

Anyway, the bottom line (pun intended) is that it’s all a game to the marketers. You’re going to lose unless you invest hours and hours deciphering the real price of a sale compared with other real prices of other sales. I know some people are coupon crazy and can rock this, but I just don’t have that kind of time. Keep in mind, the people who can rock this are stockpiling, not budgeting. They are two different things.

I needed Tide and my budget was $10. I got it for $7.24. Good for me! Once I realized the marketers are so much better at this game than I am, I refuse to play anymore!

Video Book Trailers… and Facebook

I’m posting this for my author friends. We all stick together when we find something that works…or doesn’t.

I have video book trailers for three of my books. I uploaded them to Youtube and generally mention their existence and include the Youtube link as an excuse to market. My video trailer for The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge was posted on Youtube on May 27, 2013. As of this writing, it has 2,215 views. I’ve been plugging it every now and then for the last twenty months. It is embedded on my blog pages, linked to on my website, and I periodically blast it on Twitter to 6,000 followers and the Stuckey’s Bridge Facebook page to 3,800 followers. The problem with Facebook is if fans aren’t actively following your posts, they never see your status updates in their news feed, and the problem on Twitter is a tweet has a shelf life of only seven minutes. I can’t say the video has sold any books, but it is a useful marketing tool, an excuse to say, “Hey, look at me!”

Fast forward to January 17, 2015.

I realized I hadn’t “uploaded” my book videos to their respective Facebook pages. Honestly, I didn’t know you could do such a thing. I’ve always posted a link to Youtube. Keep in mind Facebook does not like to show links to other sites, so when I do post a link, a majority of my followers never see it in their newsfeed. Well, guess what happened when I uploaded Stuckey’s video to Stuckey’s page!!??…

I uploaded the video at 5 p.m. on a Saturday evening. At 10 p.m., it had 1000 views and 39 shares. People seemed to like sharing and watching the video on Facebook without having to click a link and be taken to a different site, well, that, and Facebook actually let them SEE the post. The video caught fire quickly, and I watched the views go up each time I refreshed the page. Finally, I went to bed.

Sunday evening at 5 p.m. (24-hours in), the tally was at 2200 views and 95 shares. We had accomplished in 24 hours what it took us 20 months to do on Youtube. I knew being Sunday, the numbers would grow by leaps and bounds for the rest of the evening, so I watched. (I also added the Amazon link to the comments.)

Sunday 7 p.m. – 2900 views, 114 shares. (6 views per minute since 5 p.m.)

Sunday 8 p.m. – 3400 views, 140 shares. (8 views per minute since 7 p.m.)

I thought the viralness (my new word) would die down since people had to go back to work on Monday morning, but I was wrong. The views and the shares kept growing.

Monday 2 p.m. – 4675 views, 170 shares.

Tuesday 11 a.m. – 5691 views, 204 shares.

Wednesday 5 p.m. – 6200 views, 218 shares.

Thursday 10 a.m. – 6585 views, 234 shares. We also got 74 new Likes on the page.

I’m calling that a successful campaign and the best part is – it was free! But, did it transfer into sales?

It took a minute of lag time, but it did transfer into sales. Sunday and Monday saw sales increase by 15 per day. Tuesday and Wednesday sales increased by 20 per day. Thursday sales increased by 25. Strangely, the individual books did not increase by much, but the trilogy, containing all three books in the series, is where we saw most of the sales, so you can multiply those above numbers by 3 if you’re counting actual books. These are hardly the numbers the books sold when they first came out, but free marketing is free, so I’ll take ’em!

Note: It helps to have an established book page or author page. I didn’t start from scratch. It also helps that my demographic for that book is the state where Stuckey’s Bridge is located, population 2.9 million. The people there already know the legend and are excited to find out anything new about the bridge.

Regardless, it’s worth uploading your video to Facebook. You won’t get the views logged onto Youtube, but when all is said and done, I’d rather have sales. If you’re curious about the video, here it is…embedded from Youtube…


21,480 people reached, 6,980 video views, 6,019 unique views


456 Likes: 60 On Post, 396 On Shares

144 Comments: 6 On Post, 138 On Shares
251 Shares: 244 On Post, 7 On Shares

29,328 people reached. 11, 079 video views, 8,782 unique views


642 Likes: 66 On Post, 576 On Shares

223 Comments: 8 On Post, 215 On Shares


385 Shares: 374 On Post, 11 On Shares



On This Day in 1963

On This Day in 1963, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated.

He was born May 29, 1917 to Joseph P Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald in Massachusetts and was 46 at the time of his death. His death certificate states he died of “multiple gunshot wounds of the head & neck” and “shot by a high powered rifle.” We already know so much about his life and his assassination, there’s nothing more I can add in a simple blog post, but what I find interesting is his death certificate. One can imagine how badly the typist’s hands were shaking as she typed, “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” “President of the U.S.,” and “United States Govt.” I wonder if she had to ask anyone what she should type in the box asking for occupation.

John F Kennedy death cert


Food Pyramid Categories…and what the heck they mean

September 1st, I posted a blog on a book I was reading that teaches a person with any chronic illness how to heal their body using nutrition. You can read that here. As I was doing my morning walk, I got to thinking that a lot of us could use some help understanding health and wellness BEFORE we get to the point of chronic illness, so being a certified nutritionist and a personal trainer who used to own a couple gyms, I decided to post a blog on the components of the food pyramid, which so many people don’t understand. Below is the pyramid broken down for beginners and forgetters.

Disclaimer: Please see your doctor before starting on any nutrition program as this may not be right for you. This diet contains all food groups and does not take into account any allergies, diet restrictions, or vegan/vegetarian choices.

USDA_Food_PyramidThe following nutritional program is based on the USDA food pyramid and in my opinion and experience is the easiest and best way to good health. I have followed this plan strictly three times in my life; once to lower my 200 cholesterol to 140, which I did in six weeks; once to lose 30 pounds of baby weight, which I did over three months; and recently, to control my borderline diabetes. I haven’t had my sugar checked recently, but I feel 100% better and coincidentally lost a quick ten pounds. Yay! We are using the lowest serving numbers in the pyramid diet, as the largest serving numbers should be saved for 230-pound male body builders who work out six times a week. By the end of the blog, you should understand the number of servings you need.

Let’s talk quickly about calories. The easiest way to decide how many calories you need is by the weight you want to be. If you want to be 140 pounds, multiply 140 by 10. You need 1400 calories per day. If you want to be 150 pounds, 1500 calories per day. Easy! This amount should be adjusted up or down by your fitness and exercise level. If you want to be 140 pounds, but are inactive, then 1200 calories would help you lose weight. If you want to gain weight from 140 to 150 and you run marathons, you may need 1800 calories. Adjust your numbers accordingly, understanding that 3500 calories equals roughly one pound (body fat and lean muscle tissue are different numbers, but that’s a good estimate.) If you consume 300 calories less than you need and burn 200 calories a day with exercise, that’s a 500 calorie deficit per day or 3500 calories per week. You should lose just over a pound per week. In contrast, if you overeat by 50 calories per day, you’ll gain six pounds per year. Not hard to do. We’ll discuss calories more at the end of this blog.

Let’s talk about measuring. It’s a pain in the rear to pull out a measuring cup to get a perfect serving of one cup or one tablespoon. Measure things the first couple times, always using the same cup or spoon or plate, then you can eyeball it for the rest of your life. Of course, when you buy new dishes, you’ll have to measure again. My new soup bowls are flippin’ huge!  🙂

Ready to feel better? Ready to have more energy? Ready to learn what’s good and what isn’t? Let’s go!


For the record – the white-faced beauty in the photo is my girl Lucy. Freckles is behind her.

Dairy – The first thing to know is the USDA recommends two-three servings of dairy per day. You need calcium for healthy bones and vitamin D to help absorb the calcium. A serving size is 8 ounces of milk or yogurt. That’s it! (Cheese looks like its included in the dairy category, but it actually has more protein than calcium, so we’ll include it later in the protein section.) If you currently drink whole milk, this week buy 2%, then 1%, then finally skim. You’ll get used to it, I promise, and soon you’ll wonder how you ever drank milk that was so thick. FYI: If you add a pat of butter to one cup of skim milk, you get 1%. Another pat will give you 2%. Two more pats will give you whole milk. Try that little exercise just for fun and see if you can drink it. Eww. Those fats are saturated fats and clog up your arteries and your heart. Also understand that your yogurt should be sugar free, fat free, and fruit free. Bummer! Don’t worry, we’ll fix it later.

Diet Plan – Enjoy one cup of skim milk with breakfast. You do eat breakfast don’t you? If not, just drink the milk. Enjoy one cup of skim milk or yogurt later in the day as an afternoon snack between lunch and dinner.


Fruit – Fruit contains natural sugars and tons of vitamins. They will give you spurts of energy and feed your organs in spectacular ways, aiding in fighting off colds and helping in digestion and elimination. The USDA recommends two-four servings of fruit per day. A serving of fruit is quite simple. In most cases, it’s a piece that you can hold in your hand. Orange, apple, pear, peach, kiwi, plum, etc. In some cases like watermelon, that measurement is not available, so keep in mind that you should still be able to hold the serving in your hand. One cup of watermelon or cantaloupe, 15 grapes, a box of raisins or dried cranberries, 1/2 grapefruit, 1/2 cup of berries, 1/2 cup juice, etc. If you’re not a big fruit eater, try the dried raisins or cranberries on your salad, cooked on top of your meat, or added to your morning cereal. Do not substitute a fruit serving for what’s in the bottom of store-bought yogurt. That’s too much added sugar. If you want fruit in your yogurt, add your own fresh fruit. If fresh fruit is not available, buy frozen fruit. If that’s not available, buy canned fruit that’s packed in water or light syrup. Avoid the extra sugar of heavy syrups whenever possible. Note: if you have blood sugar issues, you should eat your fruit with other foods. When eaten alone, fruit can cause a spike and a quick drop in sugar levels.

Diet Plan – Enjoy two fruits per day. Add one to breakfast and one later as a mid-morning snack. NOTE: Make one of them a citrus (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, pineapple) which covers your proper vitamin C intake for the whole day.

Culmination – You should enjoy a dairy and a fruit with breakfast (or as breakfast, try yogurt with fresh blueberries), a fruit as a mid-morning snack, and a dairy as an afternoon snack.



Veggies are easy! The USDA recommends three-five servings per day. A serving size in one cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked. Bam! You know what veggies are, but I will tell you what they are not. They are NOT potatoes, corn, or beans (except for green beans). Potatoes, corn, and beans contain more starch than fiber and are placed in the grain/starch category which we will go over below. So, your veggies are anything leafy and green, squash, zucchini, pickles, cucumbers, tomatoes (which are super high in vitamin C), brussel sprouts, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, carrots, radishes, etc. If you can grow it in your garden, it’s probably a veggie. The easiest way to keep track of your veggies is to eat one for lunch and two for dinner. Slice a tomato to go with your sandwich, add chopped veggies to the top of your pasta, salads are always good. If you’re on the go and simply don’t have time, try a small can of sodium-free V8 juice. You can chug it in one second.

Diet Plan – Enjoy three veggies per day, one with lunch and two with dinner. NOTE: Make one a dark leafy green (kale, broccoli, spinach, romaine, etc.) which covers your proper iron intake for the whole day. Iron is good for the blood.

Culmination – Enjoy a dairy and a fruit with breakfast, a fruit as a morning snack, a veggie with your lunch, a dairy as an afternoon snack, and two veggies with your dinner.


Protein – The USDA food pyramid recommends two-three servings of protein at three ounces per serving. Three ounces of meat is the size of a deck of playing cards. Just like the fruit or vegetable, it’s something you can hold in your hand. Proteins include beef, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, etc. It also includes all seafood, but with seafood, you can eat double because it’s lower in calories. Eggs are also included in the protein category. One egg equals one ounce, so a three egg omelet is good. The pyramid states cheese is in the dairy category, but they’ve gone back and forth with this for years. Here, we’ll keep cheese in the protein category, but make sure it’s a hard cheese like parmesan. Soft cheeses like American and Feta are super high in fat (that’s why they’re soft). Buy soft cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar that say “part skim.” That has a lower fat content. Don’t get me wrong: Fat is not bad, but we don’t want the saturated fats found in cheeses, we want healthy unsaturated fats, which we will learn about below. Although legumes, peanut butter, nuts and seeds are high in protein, they contain more starches and fats than protein, so are categorized in other places which we’ll discuss below in fats and grains. So, basically your protein is meat, seafood, eggs, and cheese. Make the most lean choices you can when choosing your meats, keeping in mind the farther away from the bone, the less fat. This means a steak is better than ribs, a breast is better than a leg. And processed meats such as sausage, bacon, and lunch meats should go far away. They are filled with sodium and fat. Avoid them if you can.

Diet Plan – Eat one serving of protein at lunch and one at dinner. (You can change your protein serving to breakfast if desired.)

Culmination – Our diet is expanding into eating five meals per day: Breakfast – one dairy and one fruit; Snack – one fruit; Lunch – one protein and one veggie; Snack – one dairy; Dinner – one protein and two veggies.


Fats – There are two kinds of fats: fats that come from animals are saturated fats, and fats that come from plants are unsaturated fats. Your body needs fats, but your heart doesn’t need the saturated kinds. The USDA recommends fat intake be kept to a minimum. You can add up to three unsaturated fats daily, one at each meal. A serving is generally a tablespoon. Fats include oil, grease, butter, nuts, seeds, and strangely, avocado. Watch where your fats come from. If it’s from an animal, find a vegetable substitute. Margarine is better than butter, Canola oil is better than Crisco, sunflower seeds are better than bacon. If you have to eat bacon (which I LOVE), one slice is a fat serving. The best way to use fats is to cook in olive oil, make homemade oil and vinegar dressing for your salad, and add some walnuts, almonds, or peanuts to your breakfast cereal.

Diet Plan – Keep in mind that all fats are optional and may be adding extra calories you don’t need. You may add one serving of fat to each meal.

Culmination – You should be eating five times per day and using the following in your diet: Breakfast – one fruit, one dairy, one fat; Snack – one fruit; Lunch – one protein, one veggie, one fat; Snack – one dairy; Dinner – one protein, two veggies, one fat.


Grains and Starches – These terms are used interchangeably, though technically, starches are grains, fruits, and veggies, and grains are just grains. Whatever, for the sake of this menu, we’ll pretend they are the same thing. This is the hardest category for people to master because it includes fried and sugary things such as cakes, pies, chips, and french fries. Ugh. The most important thing to keep in mind about grains is to ALWAYS choose a whole grain. Those fried and sugary items listed above are NOT whole grains. A whole grain is: whole wheat, barley, rice, corn, rye, etc. Read the label of your bread this week. The first ingredient should include the word “whole.” If your bread contains the words “enriched” or “bleached” then put it back down on the shelf. Enriched means they process the crap out of it until it has no more nutritional value, then add chemical vitamins and minerals back into it. Your body can’t break down those chemicals, so the “enriched, bleached” wheat bread you’re eating is just useless calories. Read the label!! A grain/starch is 80 calories. You can find that information on the label also. Generally, a serving of grain is one slice of bread, english muffin, pita, tortilla, small bagel, or one cup of breakfast cereals, but make sure they are “whole” and have minimal sugar. Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Total, pretty much anything by Kashi, is good. Natural grains such as one cup of oatmeal, grits, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta are perfect. The last part of grains include one potato, one ear of corn, or one cup of beans (not green beans, those are a veggie). Those are all starchy veggies and have been placed in the grain/starch category. Make good whole-grain choices for this category. Don’t waste it on processed chips and french fries. The USDA recommends six-eleven servings per day. The difference there is 480 calories to 880 calories. Yikes! Generally, five or six work for women, and six to ten work for men.

Diet Plan – You should add one-two servings of grain/starch per meal.

Culmination – Your pyramid meals should look like the following: Breakfast – one grain, one dairy, one fruit, one fat; Snack – one fruit; Lunch – two grains, one protein, one veggie, one fat; Snack – one dairy; Dinner – two grains, one protein, two veggies, one fat. This is a 1200 calorie diet. See “Calories” below to adjust your caloric intake by adding grains, veggies, and fruits.

CALORIES – We discussed calories at the top of the blog, but now that you have a better understanding of food groups, let’s break it down further. A dairy serving, a fat serving, and a grain/starch serving are each 80 calories. A fruit is 60 calories. A veggie is 40 calories. Protein is 150 calories. If you are adjusting your calorie intake, keep in mind we never adjust dairy, protein, or fats, because we don’t want to increase cholesterol or saturated  fat levels. Add calories by adding fruit, veggies, and grains. Don’t get lazy and add grains that aren’t healthy.

SNACKS – Besides the regular snacks on this diet, sometimes we just need something sweet, crunchy, or chocolaty. Count these snacks as your grains/starches. A sugar-free fudgecicle has 45 calories. You can have two in place of a grain! – Try your veggies raw and dip them in two tablespoons of hummus (70 calories = a grain). Just as satisfying as any sour cream or ranch dip. – If you find yourself surrounded by birthday cake or Thanksgiving pie, take the smallest piece and trade the calories out for your grains. – Alcohol is also 80 calories per a proper portion and counted as a grain, but use in moderation while getting your diet on track. Nothing can blow a diet faster than a late night alcohol binge. – Popcorn is a great TV snack and is 80 calories per three cups. Lay off the butter, try some popcorn sprinkle mix instead. The store carries great flavors like cheddar and jalapeno.

FREE STUFF – You can use up to three free items per day. These items include fat-free sour cream (perfect for that baked potato), ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, non-dairy coffee flavorings, low-fat mayonnaise, and of course, add herbs to everything. I always have fresh chives in the fridge. Diet sodas are free, but be warned they are very high in sodium, and new studies are coming out daily condemning aspartame. Tea and coffee is always free.

WHITE DEATH – Anything white needs to be used in great moderation. They include: sugar, salt, flour, rice, bread, pasta. Substitutes include: brown sugar or molasses, sea salt, whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole grain bread, and whole wheat pasta.

SHOPPING – Plan your menus in advance so you have everything you need when it’s time to eat. Don’t randomly throw dinner together with whatever is in the fridge. The best way to shop at the grocery store is to go around the outside walls. Everything you need for health is along those walls – fruits, veggies, dairy, meat, read the labels for the best grains, buy healthy fats. Everything in the center aisles needs to be approached with great caution. If it comes in a box, it probably doesn’t have much vitamins or minerals left in it, but it still has plenty of the calories, salts, preservatives, and sugars.

Eat balanced, eat fresh, eat healthy!

It’s Monday! What are you reading? The Gerson Therapy


I just finished reading

The Gerson Therapy: The Proven Nutritional Program for Cancer and Other Illnesses

by Charlotte Gerson and Morton Walker



coverThis is a different book than the sort I usually talk about. It’s a juicing book to heal your body. Dr. Max Gerson (1881-1959) was a pioneer in using nutrition to HEAL every chronic illness from arthritis to diabetes to cancer. After losing my son-in-law to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in February, I spoke to so many people who knew people who beat cancer using this program. They swear this program works. I also saw a TV special on Dr. Gerson and found him quite amazing. Well, heading into the second half of my life (if I live that long), I have some health concerns and thought I’d take a look at this book. I’ve fought blood sugar problems my whole life and was told by a physician that I would probably be an insulin dependent diabetic by the time I turned 50. I hasn’t happened yet, but I do feel it sneaking up on me.

I found the 2-year-long nutrition program to be quite intensive, but if it’s a matter of dying of cancer or following a strict diet for two years, I’ll go with the diet. There are some quirky things like coffee enemas that I won’t go into, but the science that backs it in the book is quite convincing.

My only problem with the book is what it said at the end. It said the diet should NOT be followed by healthy people. I don’t get that at all. You have to come down with a chronic illness before you can get healthy? I understand it’s a radical diet, but something about that didn’t make sense to me, and they could have told me that BEFORE I bought the book.

So, long story short, I’m sticking with my basic pyramid diet and hoping for the best.

I’m Back! August 1st is a Great Day!!

Sorry for being MIA. I’ve been in Bermuda since May and internet is ridiculously expensive down there. But I’m back now and will run around and catch up with everyone over the next week.

A few months ago, I published a journal/perpetual calendar called “On This Day” (check it out at  Amazon) to keep track of my ancestral dates. You know, births, deaths, etc. I finally found a minute to use it, and for the last few days I’ve been filling it in, and guess what I found out…

Today is August 1st, and I realized if it weren’t for August 1st, I wouldn’t be here. That gives me a strange feeling that I should put some energy into this day and enjoy it to the fullest.

culpepper earl and ina in front of carOn this day in 1936, my grandparents were married.








john thomas howington florence j smith marriage recordOn this day in 1892, her grandparents were married.



I’m glad to be back, especially on August 1st! Catch you all tomorrow.