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Thursday, July 31, 2014

What Is Your Scale for "Enough"?

One of the nice things about living is a small town is the small town press newspaper that is published once a week.  I enjoy all the photos and the stories that don't really make the national news; I like reading about all the local news. Newspapers like this make one feel really connected to the town you call home.

There was a very interesting article in my local press this week ( by a woman who wondered "How Much Is Enough?"  "Enough" means different things to different people, and her article featured several people she knows who went through their closets, cupboards and garage storage areas with the express purpose of eliminating useful items, in good condition, that were donated to help those in need.

I heartily applaud their efforts.  Each time we moved house we got rid of more of our "stuff".  All was donated except for the washer, dryer and refrigerator. Those items were sold on Ebay, so they went to people who could not afford brand new appliances.  It made us feel good to be able to help others with useful items we no longer needed.

While thinking about this subject I began to wonder just what "enough" is based upon.  It seems to me that the concept of having enough is determined by what is perceived as "poverty".

In my research I found seven types of poverty that affect people:

  1.       Economic poverty: lack of food, clothing and shelter
  2.       Bodily poverty: lack of health and hygiene, malnutrition
  3.       Mental poverty: lack of thinking and education
  4.       Cultural poverty: lack of cultural activities and practices
  5.       Spiritual poverty: lack of mental peace and feeling of brotherhood
  6.       Political poverty: not casting one’s vote, lack of development
  7.       Societal poverty: lack of unity and neighborliness
In his book, Eric Jensen gives us other poverty points of view:

"What Is Poverty?  Teaching with Poverty in Mind
by Eric Jensen
The word poverty provokes strong emotions and many questions. In the United States, the official poverty thresholds are set by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Persons with income less than that deemed sufficient to purchase basic needs—food, shelter, clothing, and other essentials—are designated as poor. In reality, the cost of living varies dramatically based on geography; for example, people classified as poor in San Francisco might not feel as poor if they lived in Clay County, Kentucky. I define poverty as a chronic and debilitating condition that results from multiple adverse synergistic risk factors and affects the mind, body, and soul. However you define it, poverty is complex; it does not mean the same thing for all people. For the purposes of this book, we can identify six types of poverty: situational, generational, absolute, relative, urban, and rural.
1.     Situational poverty is generally caused by a sudden crisis or loss and is often temporary. Events causing situational poverty include environmental disasters, divorce, or severe health problems.
2.     Generational poverty occurs in families where at least two generations have been born into poverty. Families living in this type of poverty are not equipped with the tools to move out of their situations.
3.     Absolute poverty, which is rare in the United States, involves a scarcity of such necessities as shelter, running water, and food. Families who live in absolute poverty tend to focus on day-to-day survival.
4.     Relative poverty refers to the economic status of a family whose income is insufficient to meet its society's average standard of living.
5.     Urban poverty occurs in metropolitan areas with populations of at least 50,000 people. The urban poor deal with a complex aggregate of chronic and acute stressors (including crowding, violence, and noise) and are dependent on often-inadequate large-city services.
6.     Rural poverty occurs in nonmetropolitan areas with populations below 50,000. In rural areas, there are more single-guardian households, and families often have less access to services, support for disabilities, and quality education opportunities. Programs to encourage transition from welfare to work are problematic in remote rural areas, where job opportunities are few (Whitener, Gibbs, & Kusmin, 2003). The rural poverty rate is growing and has exceeded the urban rate every year since data collection began in the 1960s. The difference between the two poverty rates has averaged about 5 percent for the last 30 years, with urban rates near 10–15 percent and rural rates near 15–20 percent (Jolliffe, 2004)."

When you combine these two lists, you have a pretty comprehensive view of poverty today.

How do you define poverty?   How do you define "enough"?  Where do you stand?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Today's post is just a report of the day.  Today is July 30, 2014 and it happens to be my husband's birthday.  He scheduled today as a vacation day and his employer scheduled him off yesterday and tomorrow so he has a nice 3-day "weekend" in the middle of the week.

Our "weekend" is any two consecutive days he is scheduled off from his retail job.  Anyone who works retail has to live with a constantly changing schedule. If you are paid every 2 weeks, and your "week" is Sunday through Saturday, your scheduled "off days" can sometimes not arrive until you've worked 8, 9 or even 10 straight shifts.  It can happen, fortunately it does not happen often.  

We started the morning by driving about an hour and a quarter to a regionally famous Pennsylvania Dutch Smorgasbord restaurant in Lancaster County, Shady Maple.  Years ago Shady Maple was nothing more than a little roadside farm stand owned by a young Mennonite couple, where they sold the produce they grew on their farm. It was situated under a maple tree, hence the name.

In 2000 their little stand had grown into an entire complex containing the Smorgasbord, a large gift shoppe on the lower level of the restaurant, a Fast Food Dutchette, a cafe and a furniture store.  The complex is a testament to the faith and work ethic found in this family and very prevalent in this area of the state.  The family still owns and operates this huge concern and to the delight of their customers, you can get a free meal on the day of your birthday!  

If you can still walk after eating all that food (breakfast is a great time to go because you have the remainder of the day to work off the calories), there are so many things to see and do that the rest of your day won't be boring.

We chose to come home after a brief stop at September Farm Cheese in
Honeybrook.  Another Mennonite establishment, their store consists of a cheese factory, a bakery, country store and Sandwich Shop.  The next time we go to the area, we'll make September Farm our first stop.  They have lots of free samples to try, and the last thing I wanted to do after breakfast was sample.   The family has won prestigious awards since they began producing cheese in 2007, and the variety is impressive.  It's a lovely site to visit. (And they sell cheese curds as well.  You have to try cheese curds...a real treat!)

Our dog Mollie was happy we hadn't spent the entire day away from home, and later in the afternoon she got to ride along with us when we did a few errands.  Fred was happy because he got his free birthday water ice from Rita's.  In our area, water ice is a major summertime draw! 

I promised to bake Fred a molasses crumb cake tomorrow, along with a pot of home made corn chowder, and on his way to Rita's he also picked up the movie "Noah" from the Redbox at the supermarket.  Definitely not an exciting day, but a day he could orchestrate.

Today was the perfect weather day for Fred's celebration, one of those days you wish you could order up on demand:  sunny, blue skies, white puffy clouds, moderate temperature (no need for A/C in the car), mild breeze and very low humidity.  Couldn't ask for a better day to just relax and do whatever you wish.  That's exactly how a birthday should be: a day you plan to your specifications and the perfect weather in which to enjoy it.  I wonder if I start now, if I could manifest the same type of weather for my September birthday.  

Happy Birthday, Frederick Achatz!  I love you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Lies We Tell: Who Really Knows You?

Last night I watched a movie released in 2009 on the FX channel called "Everybody's Fine". Robert De Niro portrays Frank, a man trying desperately to connect with the adult children he loves and feels he has "lost" after the death of his wife.  

Eight months after his wife's funeral Frank plans a family dinner and invites his family who are scattered across the country.  As the event approaches he begins to receive calls from his children, each offering up a vague excuse for bowing out of the dinner.  The children all love Frank, but as in many families, the children spoke mainly to their mother about their lives and problems.  

It was Frank's wife who kept him informed of their childrens' lives; the information she wanted him to know filtered through the information the children wanted her to know.  Sound familiar?  How many of us fit into one or both of those categories?

Frank sets out to "surprise visit" each of this children, dropping off an envelope with each one as he leaves their homes.  It soon becomes painfully apparent that although the siblings are all in fairly close contact with other, they are not anxious to see their father because they all have access to information they are keeping from Frank.  They all try to obtain the "whole story" before breaking the news to Frank in order to protect him.

Frank finds himself stumbling into his childrens' lives where he senses their constraint throughout their conversations with him.  Unbeknownst to them, he sees and recognizes facts about their lives they wish to hide from him.  The children all realize they are not perfect, and they were raised to not disappoint him.  They are not anxious to be judged by the father they loved, respected and feared.

It occurred to me that we all tell lies in the guise of protecting someone else from feeling disappointed and protecting ourselves from criticism.  It begins early on.  Parents hide their disagreements and arguments from their children. They hide their financial struggles because they want to spare them from worry.  Parents want only the best for their children and tend to operate under the "bubble wrap" theory that what the children don't know cannot cause them pain. Parents always fail to realize that children know more of the truth than they let on.

Children lie to their parents.  At first, they lie without realizing the lie, because the lie is a manipulation. They lie about how they feel, what they want, and what they are doing all with the intent of getting their own way.  Some children never outgrow that behavior.  As they become older, children lie out of a desire for independence; they lie about where they go and who they are with.  Much of the time the lies are innocuous.  The parents know they are being lied to and they hope the lies never move beyond innocuous. 

Grown children continue to lie to their parents and parents continue to lie to their grown children.  Parents will keep their medical problems from their grown children because (a) they don't wish to worry the children, (b) they do not wish to become a burden, (c) they, like most people, fear death.

Grown children continue to lie to their parents for exactly the same reasons, plus a few more!  They will keep deteriorating relationship facts from their parents just in case they can repair the relationship.  No one wants to hear a parent complaining about or even mentioning past unbecoming behavior of one's significant other.  They will keep unpleasant news about grandchildren to themselves because they know how much grandparents love to brag about their grandchildren.  The result is a family that may know each other, but doesn't really know the current emotional state of mind or thought processes taking place.

It is strange to think that though you would expect your family to know you better than any other person, the truth is that sometimes your family knows the least about your true self.  I believe the reason for that is because family members who have grown up with you tend to remember you in your formative years and do not often recognize that you have grown, matured, and changed.

Maybe it is easier to know the people in your family if you skip a generation. for example, your children might be more forthcoming with information when talking to a grandparent. If you happen to be in that "middle generation", I'm still working to puzzle that out.  Lucky for me there are a few people who really do thoroughly know my true self; and the person I am closest to (my husband) knows me the best and continues to love me.

Watch "Everybody's Fine" if you have the opportunity.  The film is well acted and well written and there is a lot of depth to discover.  I especially enjoyed the ending!

Monday, July 28, 2014

J.K. Rowling Has Left Harry Behind Book Review

 I believe I would be hard pressed to find a person who has never heard of the young wizard Harry Potter.  I know of people who have not seen the movies or read the books, but they at least have heard of Harry Potter and his creator J.K. Rowling.

Her Potter books are available in English, Welsh, Ancient Greek, Irish and Latin (Latin? Who reads contemporary literature in Latin?  I am amazed.)  In addition, Rowling wrote The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Quidditch Through the Ages as accompaniment pieces to the Potter series.

In 2012, Rowling wrote her first novel written specifically for adults, The Casual Vacancy. Many adults read the entire Potter series, and as Harry aged so did the story line. The last two books dealt with more of the adult wizards in Harry's life (along with a few Muggles) and the plot line became progressively dark and serious. I would not recommend children read the last two books unless they were very advanced readers.  In fact, I found The Deathly Hallows so dark and harrowing at times that I needed to set the book aside for a bit before continuing.  

My husband actually chose The Casual Vacancy for me to read during a recent library visit.  We both read the Potter series, and he knew of my penchant for novels set in the English countryside.  The book is not one you can pick up and read casually; I would not classify the 503 pages as a "beach read".  For me, reading this book took a certain amount of dedication on my part.

The Casual Vacancy is a novel set in "Pagford", a small, picturesque English
village, complete with quaint market square and ancient Abbey.  "Pagford" is located a few hours from London, and although the village has a pretty facade, the inhabitants are anything but.  It's a small town ruled by a small parish council with big political aspirations.

The first character we meet, and really the main protagonist, is Barry Fairbrother, and he is dead by page 5.  His death leaves an open seat on the parish council, and no sooner is the body pronounced "dead" than the infighting and jockeying for the "casual vacancy" begins.  Rowling explains the vacancy:  
"A casual vacancy is deemed to have occurred: (a) when a local councillor fails to make his declaration of acceptance of office within the proper time; or (b) when his notice of resignation is received; or (c) on the day of his death"
Almost everyone in the village was fond of Barry, but no one could foresee the hotbed of nasty activity to come.  He and his wife Mary had what looked like a happy marriage, but you never really know what goes on behind closed doors.  The inhabitants of the village are either at war with their family or neighbors, hiding a pathological behavior, experiencing teen-age angst and/or lust, or just struggling to meet their everyday needs in a depressed economy.

The council members themselves are a very diverse group with strong opinions that (surprise) conflict with the self-proclaimed leader.  They, along with their offspring, are a jumbled mass of insecurities, fears and self-hatred covered with a thin veneer of respectability.  The only characters even remotely true to themselves are the assorted and dysfunctional Wheedon family members, and their truth is seriously depressing.  If you thought abject poverty, addiction and violence are not to be found in the English countryside, think again. I wish there had been some positive outcome for at least one of those characters.

"The Casual Vacancy" paints a very dark and depressing picture that just drags on for what seems like actual weeks and months.  I found it difficult to find a character I actually liked.  (Those people were probably minding their own business, working on their relationships, and enjoying small town life.)  I absolutely felt sympathy, anger, and sadness but there is no happiness to be found in this novel.

I found myself really longing for the ending, and yet I could not stop reading until I knew how all was resolved.  The novel followed the same path some of the PBS mysteries follow: a slow and winding unrolling of the events involving people with extremely convoluted lives, brought to a rapid end 15 minutes before the end of the program.  

Rowling took her time getting there, then ended the tale wrapped up in tragedy and more death.  The ending was not particularly surprising, but it was very sad.  I would have appreciated a bit more "story" about the light at the end of the tunnel for the characters, along with a ray of hope for them.  

I found the ending unsatisfying, given the volume of characterization and detail that came before.  Although Rowling hit all the dark and despairing areas of the characters' souls, she for the most part neglected to find the faint spark of light that was hidden in some dark corner.  

Rowling certainly does have a knack for showing people at their worst, but even the house elves had some brightness in their strange little lives.  I read online that this novel will be turned into a BBC drama.  Maybe the drama will be better than the book.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 27 Blog Post

This is day 27 of the July Ultimate Blog Challenge.  I am proud to have made it this far, to have written one post a day, beginning on July 1.  Sometimes the post is finished in the afternoon, but it's more usual for me to write in the late afternoon/evening hours.  In fact, one day I almost forgot all about writing my post!  I did write it, posted it after midnight, and made certain to publish another post that day; I had come so far, and did not want to give up.

I will be honest, I wasn't certain I had the discipline to participate in this challenge.  Writing a blog is voluntary for me; one of my goals was to have people read what I write.  I suppose it's a form of validation for me.  My family and friends have been telling me for quite some time that they enjoy reading what I write.  Why is it that I feel I need validation from perfect strangers?  (Well, that is assuming that at least one person unknown to me has read at least one of the posts.)  I have great admiration for those whose source of income is derived from blogging. 

I will also admit that I'm relieved the Challenge is coming to an end; I am certain I cannot sustain writing a daily post, but it has given me the impetus to schedule future posts.  My goal is to write at least 2 per week, one business-geared and the second geared to whatever piques my interest.  I never before scheduled time to write, so this Challenge has definitely taught me a valuable skill.  I am even considering keeping a personal journal. That is another goal I have yet to carry out; and I have some really beautiful journals in which to write. 

Today I wrangled with technology for several hours until reaching the point where I could get online to publish a post.  I sometimes think there are tiny, nasty gremlins living in the inner workings of my laptop.  They always know when I am against a deadline or when I have a form that requires printing. Swearing causes a high-pitched gleeful keening, shutting down and restarting becomes a lengthy process that continues for what feels like hours and hours. They are particularly nasty on hot, humid today.  I am so not a summer person.  My idea of summer heat is 78-83 degrees with 52% humidity.  Humidity makes the gremlins hateful! #sledgehammer.

Yes.  My laptop is old.  Intellectually I know this.  Emotionally, I am frustrated by the quirks and glitches that sometime take over my day.  Today all I could think of was "Oh, no!  Today is the 27th and NOW you're going to die on me?"  Ah, I live to write another day.  #blogboost

Saturday, July 26, 2014

An Interview With the AmeriPlan Programs

I want to thank Jaye Carden, Network Marketer, MLM, Affiliate Marketer,owner of for today's inspiration.  Jaye and I are LinkedIn connections, and he posted some wonderful questions in the "I Work From Home" group.

Today I have the AmeriPlan Medical and Dental Plans here to answer Jaye's questions someone should consider when choosing a work from home opportunity.  The AmeriPlan Medical and Dental Plans have been in business for over 20 years.  In fact, Dental Plan is the "grandfather" of the group, being introduced in 1992 in Dallas, Texas.

All of the Plans agreed to be interviewed for this blog post.  Without further ado, I would like to introduce  AmeriPlan Dental Plus, AmeriPlan MD Plus, and AmeriPlan Healthcare.  AmeriPlan Freedom Plan could not be with us today, but sent a message along.

Welcome!  Let's get to those conditions Jaye listed for consideration.

1. Is the product way over priced?

Dental Plus:  "Let me field this concern.  We have four programs available. The Dental Plus is $19.95/month per household and saves our members money on Chiropractic and Vision care as well as dental care.  Plus, we offer great savings on prescription drugs!  The MD Plus is $29.95/month per household,  (includes AmeriDoc and Hospital Advocacy along with Prescription and Dental).   The Healthcare Plus program is $49.95/month per household, includes everything in Dental and MD Plus and includes discounted services for Doctor Office visits, podiatry, hearing and wellness programs.  It's pretty much the whole deal!  

2. Will people want this product OTHER than to join the opportunity?

MD Plus:  "Oh, let me take this one!  Hail Yeah they will!!  How can anyone not want to save money?  That's what you do with us, you save money!!  And talk about convenience; with me you have access to a doctor 24/7, just pick up your phone or send an email.  Don't even have to take the car out of the garage!  Plus, each and every one of our team members receives the full magilla coverage for their entire household.  Talk about value!!"

3. How much is the autoship, is there an autoship?

Healthcare Plus:  "Please allow me to take this concern.  What we have is a small overhead fee.  When you enroll with us as an Independent Business Owner, you do own your own business!  Every business in the world has overhead.  In fact, if you go out and find yourself a j.o.b. (you know, just over broke), you might need to go out and spruce up your wardrobe, buy new shoes, maybe even buy another car or pay for transportation or parking.  Then there is child care, lunch money, and how about those collections for co-workers' birthdays/retirements or buying the stuff your co-workers' kids are always selling for school?  Oh, and what about the money you spend on gas now that you're leaving your house every day for 8 or more hours.  Yeah, there's that time away from your family too.  The overhead with us will cost you $99.95/month, but that's taken out of your monthly residual pay, like a payroll deduction."

4. Does this product bring a life changing result for many people?

MD Plus:  "You betcha, bucko!  If you save money on your medical and dental services, doesn't that leave you more money for bills or fun stuff?  And you can't put a price tag on better health for you and your family!  Plus, knowing you have someone to fight for your financial health when you are hospitalized (the hospital advocate that comes with my plan) can make your whole recovery process go smoother.  No one wants to go into forever-debt after a hospitalization.  Think of all the stress that saves!"

5. How long will it take for a customer to see results?

Dental Plus:  "You got almost immediately?  You enroll, make your payment, get your ID number and call the dentist for an appointment.  Doesn't take much time at all.  You can use a credit/debit card or ACH payments directly from your checking account to cover the cost.  Easy peasy and even if you don't need it on day one, it's ready and waiting for you.  Oh, you do have to be a member for 3 business days before you can use my Hospital Advocacy. Other than than, you are in like Flynn!"

6. Is it easy to duplicate?

Healthcare Plus:  "Absolutely!  With AmeriPlan you never have to reinvent the wheel!  Everything is in place for you!  Sample ads and brochures to print, scripts to use, and all you do is generate leads, contact leads, rinse and repeat.  The business is so easy.  What you do is share the information about the great products and/or the business opportunity.  The products are, after all, for everyone to use regardless of age.  Everyone needs medical and dental care, so you're not telling folks about something they'll never use.

You know how to talk to people, right?  That's what the Independent Business Owners do. There are no crazy gimmicks, you don't need to be a genius. There are no parties to go to, no weekly home presentations, you don't have to drag stuff around in your car. There are no products to stockpile in your garage. Anyone can do it, anyone can teach it.  Follow the yellow brick road!"

7. What training, and leadership is in place?

MD Plus:  "Oh, the training is my favorite part!  It's all done at home on the computer and telephone!  You don't have to go to school and you do it in your own time.  There are six steps to start, and when you've finished them, you are ready to rock and roll.  You learn how to set up your websites.  Oh, did I tell you that when you enroll you get your professionally designed e-commerce sites?  And a training website?  And a back-office website?  Yep.  All included as part of your monthly overhead, along with the total support of the Corporate Office.  They take care of all the membership stuff when you enroll someone, and they handle any and all problems that arise.  It's a sweet deal!

After you finish the first six steps the training doesn't end there!  There are daily training calls that the Freedom At Home Team leaders do.  If you can't get on the phone live when the calls take place, they are all recorded and stored in our great library for you to access 24/7.  Not only that, but the leaders have set up great Facebook group pages for the IBOs use. You can go there to connect with other team members all over the country.

In the library and on the Facebook group pages there are loads of scripts, ads, instructions on finding prospects, and all kinds of marketing help!   You can learn how to set up your own blog, how to make a Facebook Fan Page, how to use Instagram and other Social Media sites.  There's so much info your head will spin!

The best part of all is when you enroll you get your very own, personal mentor!  Those mentors are there to help your get up and running and independent ASAP, but they don't go away!  They, along with the rest of the Freedom At Home Team, are there to support and help you throughout your whole career.  You're in business for yourself, not by yourself!"

8. Will I love the product and believe in it?

AmeriPlan Lifestyle: "Hey, am I too late to get in on this discussion?  I wanna tell everyone about the great deals you get with me!  In addition to all those other guys, you can have me too for only $99.95/month per household. My program includes everything you already heard about with those other guys.  So, you get all of that plus: ID Theft protection, discounts on dining, automotive, recreation, shopping, business and technology, hotels, home and garden, movies, and printed or digital grocery coupons.  What's not to love?

Plus, you can use your memberships all over the country, not just in your home stomping grounds.  Now remember, we are NOT INSURANCE, and that's a good thing because our members don't need preauthorizations, or referrals, and you can use your memberships even if you do have insurance or even Medicare.  You gotta believe in products like that:  affordable and available no matter what your age or medical condition.  There really is something for everyone. 

If you want more information, go to to read about the memberships.  If you want to enroll and start making money, go to for information and an application."

Well, I'd like to thank our panelists from AmeriPlan today.  I'd also like to thank Jaye Carden again for his inspiration.  I hope these questions and concerns help you to make the best decision for you and your family!  

Have a great evening!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Not-Quite Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Pie

For as long as I can remember, my favorite vegetable has been corn. Whenever my mother asked me what vegetable I wanted for dinner the answer was always the same, "corn".

I did eat other vegetables when I was a child, and coming from a home where my dad loved having his meat and potatoes every dinner, my mom did a great job feeding us whatever vegetables she could manage.  My dad was second generation Ukranian, so meat and potatoes played a large role in every dinner.  To his mind, dinner was not dinner without meat.

My mom, on the other hand is German, Pennsylvania Dutch Welsh and English, and grew up in a mostly Pennsylvania Dutch household.  I have to say I never really cared from my maternal grandmother's cooking.  It was very plain, and unexciting as far as I was concerned, and she had a tendency to boil lots of things. 

Both my parents grew up during the depression years but the difference in their diets was profound.  My dad's parents always had butter on the table, my grandma always had a huge garden and she canned vegetables, meat was served at every dinner accompanied by mashed potatoes or home made pierogies.  My mom's parents raised chickens, so there were always eggs and eventually, chicken to eat.  My mom told me stories of how she used to help knead the yellow coloring into the margarine they used.  Meat, however, was not served at every dinner.

Summer Corn

Corn has always been abundantly grown in the Pennsylvania countryside, and when corn season arrives, people buy it up as fast as it hits the farmstands and grocery stores.  My mom remembers them all having corn on the cob for dinner.  They would butter a slice of bread and roll the corn in the butter; it sounds like a tidy way to handle the buttering aspect.

If you eat at any Pennsylvania Dutch establishment, be it a homestead or a restaurant, you will always find fresh corn pie on the menu during corn season.  I remember attending our local fair when I was growing up, and every church stand featured little individual corn pies.  It was the best!  Today you have to visit restaurants in the Lancaster, PA area, or visit a diner in a town where there are still considerable Pennsylvania Dutch people residing.

Traditional Recipe

When I was a child growing up my mom would make corn pie using fresh sweet corn she cut off the cob.  She would first make a 2 crust pie crust, fit a pie pan with one crust and then fill it with fresh-cut corn, sprinkle it over with a bit of sugar and salt, pour milk over the top (not to cover, but not too skimpy), dot the top with butter and then place the top crust on the pie and bake it.  When it was finished baking, much of the milk was absorbed so you could pour a bit more over the top of your slice when it was in your dish.  It was, to my mom and me, a complete meal.

Now, for the purists who may be familiar with corn pie, sometimes a diced potato was included in the corn along with diced hard boiled egg.  We preferred our pie sans potato and egg (the egg white always seemed to toughen up in the pie).  If fresh corn isn't in season canned corn can be used and I've even seen creamed corn used along with whole kernel corn.  You can find many recipes for corn pie in any good Amish cookbook, or Amish cooking website.  Although plain cooking, the Amish and Mennonite housewives produced many delectable dishes!  If you ever visit Lancaster County, you can take your pick of Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch Smorgasbords!  

As I mentioned, my dad would not accept eating corn pie for his main dinner...unless my mom prepared some sort of meat to go with it.  She would often serve hamburgers with it, sometimes country sausage; but my mom and I would stick with just the pie.

My own non-traditional corn pie

I wanted to find another way to make my favorite pie without using a traditional pie crust.  I usually keep frozen pie crusts in the freezer because I cannot construct a flaky crust to save my life.  I've tried.  I really have!  It doesn't matter what recipe I use, or what method I use, it never seems to be really flaky enough to suit me.  I believe I over-handle the dough in the rolling out process.  

Years ago I discovered the most wonderful invention Betty Crocker ever invented: the "Impossible Pie".  Oh, I was in heaven with this discovery.  It's perfect for a non-making pie crust person like myself.  I started out making the traditional coconut custard impossible pies and graduated to all sorts of savory or sweet concoctions.  Give me a box of Bisquick, some eggs and milk and I am set!  

For the uninitiated, impossible pie is a crustless custard pie.  The Bisquick in the egg and milk mixture actually sets up during the baking process into a very light "crust" on the bottom of the pie.  They are super easy and quick to bake, and taste delicious.  I often whip one up with left-over meat and or veggies when looking for a quick dinner.  If you Google "Bisquick Impossible Pie" you will find an endless list of recipes to suit any occasion.  Meat, savory or sweet, and Impossible Pie is hard to beat!  Even people who claim to "hate" coconut custard pie, absolutely love an Impossible Coconut Pie.
 (I can give you names).

Tonight I found myself with fresh corn on the cob and no frozen pie crusts.  I wanted to make a corn pie so I thought "Impossible Pie"!  Bisquick to the rescue!  (You can even buy low fat Bisquick now.)

I husked the corn and cut it off the cob (I used 4 cobs).  Then, for something different, I pan fried the corn in an iron skillet with a bit of salt, Adobo seasoning and black pepper sprinkled over it.  I placed the corn mixture into a 10" quiche pan, spread it out and sprinkled a combination of grated sharp cheddar cheese along with some smoked cheddar cheese.  Over that I poured my impossible mixture:  3/4 c Bisquick, 3 eggs and 1-1/2 cups milk.  Easy, peasy and popped it into the oven at 400 degrees F until the custard "set". And there you have it, my version of Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Pie. (A touch brown, but very tasty!"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How Do I Get Out of This Slump?

Have you ever experienced a slump?  It does not matter whether the slump is work related or personal, sooner or later we all find ourselves in Slump Valley.

Merriam-Webster defines "valley" as: a low area of land between hills or mountains and a low period, point or level.  What is a "slump", but a low period, point, or level?  No matter what the slump refers to, it is a low point surrounded by the hills and mountains of "I should be doing...", "I'm overwhelmed", and "I think I'm burning out".  And like many valleys, Slump Valley has its own little river running through it, "The Long and Whining River".  Like every river, it has a music to the flow of the water; Long and Whining sings "I'm so tired.  "Why is this happening to me?"  "Why is it taking so long to reach my goal?"   "I'm so bored".  "I'm not good enough."  "I don't have what it takes."

How long are you going to visit Slump Valley?  Listen, the longer you stay, the more difficult it is to leave.  You can really get into that comfort zone of pain. (Just because it's painful, doesn't mean you won't be comfortable.)  That's one of the worst things about Slump Valley. 

Why Slump Valley is comfortable

Comfort usually means there is no physically unpleasant feeling, and if you are visiting Slump Valley there are definite, unpleasant physical feeling. When in a slump you suffer from the constant tightness in the pit of your stomach because you don't want to be there.  You can manifest other symptoms too: headaches, anxiety, nervousness, stomach aches; the list is endless.  You don't want the pain, but if you stay in the slump you can get used to the pain, and use it as an excuse for maintaining the status quo.  The reason why we stay in a slump is because to climb out we need to get out of the comfort zone.  

What was the straw that broke your camel's back?  Find out why you went into a slump.  Was every hour of every day in your calendar filled?  In your enthusiasm to try something new and exciting, did you choose one too many new somethings?  Did you over-promise, and now have to deliver?  (You do know that you under-promise and over-deliver, right?)  By the way, it doesn't matter if you over-committed to your boss, your family, or yourself; over-committed will cause burn out before you can blink.  Are you one of those super-driven people who start a project and expect to meet your goal in an unreasonable period of time?  Are you, excuse my French, a per-fec-tion-ist?

Slumps are costly

Now you can stay in Slump Valley for a week, or a month...or (gasp) more. The longer you stay, the more expensive it becomes.  If you are in a work slump the money will not flow in when you need it.  If you are in a fitness slump,  those fat cells will plump right up again and your muscles will begin to feel "soft".  If you are in a relationship slump, your level of personal happiness and self-confidence will continue to plummet.  How long can you afford to stay in your slump?

It is normal to feel sorry for oneself when things are not going along at a rapid enough pace.  Realize that Sorry Lodge is a very costly place to spend your time in Slump Valley.  Sorry Lodge has doors that do not open, and windows hung with thick curtains that shut out the sun and the fresh air. Sorry Lodge does not encourage visits or conversations.  You need to break out of Sorry Lodge immediately!  Feeling sorry for yourself does nothing to change your situation.  The past is done.  The past, on any plane, no longer exists! The future does not exist either, except in your dreams and aspirations.

Tips to get out of Slump Valley

Take advantage of what you do have, the present.  Do something!  Set a timer for 10 minutes and something that will help you reach your goal. Organize your desk.  Clear your calendar; eliminate any unnecessary tasks. Write a to-do list of only the essential things that can be done in one day. Stretch your body.  The time will pass quickly, and you may just find the encouragement to continue.

Do something for someone else!  The act of doing for another takes your mind off yourself and the way you feel, and forces you to focus on another person. 

Get your heart rate going!  Pick an activity that you enjoy and use your handy timer set for 10-15 minutes.  Take a fast walk.  Do some squats.  Touch your toes and as you bring your arms up, do a little jump.  Get that blood pumping! Find something to do that will invigorate you.

Be sure to get enough sleep.  If you have trouble getting to sleep, try mediation; or just take 3-5 deep cleansing breaths and continue to count your breath (count "1" in,  count "2" out and repeat) .  This simple tip will relax you to the point where you will drift off.

Develop a morning routine.  Try this simple routine:  wake up, before getting out of bed stretch your body for 10-20 seconds.  Get out of bed, drink a full glass of water; perform your normal bathroom routine, get dressed, have breakfast.  It's important to not skip breakfast.  Have a bit of fruit and some protein (yogurt or cheese), maybe a piece of toast if you're not a breakfast person.  An easy morning routine that you don't have to think about takes the pressure off you to "get right to work", and eliminates anxiety.

Remember, your morning routine should set you up for the day, not continue until lunch time.  Learn how to say "no" to the things that will make you a slave to your calendar and set you up for rushing around to get things done. 

Ask for help.  There is no shame in asking for some assistance.  People who care about you are usually very willing to lend a helping hand.  Just be careful not to take advantage of this, it's your life and your slump and your intention is to take control of getting where you need to be.

Last, but not least, if you are a spiritual person, take time to remember that God knows what you can accomplish, and He has set things in motion to help you reach your goals.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

8 of Mine! What's Your (Guilty) Pleasure?

We all know that pleasure is a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. Experiencing pleasure is one of the finest joys you can have in your life.  What brings pleasure is different for every person, but what about "guilty pleasure"? 

You know what a guilty pleasure is, it's those things we like that we shouldn't like, but we do and like anyway.  AND, we don't tell anyone about them!  It's that last part that adds the little bit of naughty, spicy devilment, the secrecy!

Disclaimer time!

For the purposes of this post, we are talking only about legal pleasures. We're not going to debate what is moral, that's between you and your conscience!

Cat's coming out of the bag

In the interest of authenticity, I'll post some of my own guilty pleasures:

1. Reading what I refer to as mind candy

You know them, People Magazine and those other celebrity gossip magazines. My favorite issues are the issues that come out immediately following the award issues.  I can be as judgemental as I please, and no one has to know! Oh, the "who wore it best" feature?? LOVE them!  "She's too skinny, her butt is too big, WHAT was the stylist thinking with that hairstyle?  Oh, that dress is so ugly!  Does he ever shave?  Why does that hair look so greasy?"   Yeah. Those comments. Out loud!  The fact that I am SO imperfect next to the beautiful people has no bearing on this...

2. Recording all the Brit Mystery shows and Masterpiece Brit Mysteries on 

PBS stations and spending a Sunday watching them all day (if it happens to be a work day for my husband).  He finds them rather slow, and I just love the English countryside, the actors and all the accents!  

3.  I am a shameless Anglophile

I was one of those Americans who got out of bed early to watch Prince Charles marry Lady Diana Spencer. I also watched her funeral and cried the entire day.  And when he married Camilla, well, suffice it to say the commentary was unflattering.

4.  Adding vodka  to the tonic water I sometimes drink to avoid Restless Leg Syndrome

I don't drink vodka often, but when I do, I prefer Grey Goose.  Stay thirsty..I mean, sleep well, my friends.

5.  Playing board games

No one plays board games anymore.  I love them.  I really love Mexican Train (for you domino aficionados out there).  Except for Monopoly.  I hate Monopoly.  Thank the friend my ex-husband had for ruining Monopoly for me. He freaking played for blood!

6.  I am a Bryan Adams fan

I do not apologize, I just consider myself in good company with every other Bryan Adams fan.

7.  I am a popcorn fanatic

There's always room for popcorn!  I will even eat it air popped without butter. Popcorn is really good with Brewers Yeast sprinkled on it...honest.

8.  I will never turn down a nut-topped sticky bun

Sticky buns are very popular where I live.  They are raised cinnamon sweet rolls, usually baked 8 to a pan, with a beautiful sticky, dark caramel-like topping and covered all over with chopped walnuts.  Some bakeries place just raisins on top, others have both nuts and walnuts.  Some are just plain.  Give me the walnuts every time!

Okay, those are the 8 I am willing to admit to.  What are some of your guilty pleasures?   Don't be shy!  Share them, please.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On July 16 I gave you 4 important reasons to buy the AmeriPlan MD Plus discount medical plan.

Today I'm going to give you an example of how well the program works!  Now, keep in mind this disclaimer:  AmeriPlan programs are NOT insurance, however the plans can be used by anyone, with or without, insurance.  In fact, the MD Plus plan, which includes Dental, Prescription and Hospital Advocacy in addition to the AmeriDoc Telemedicine is one I will never relinquish!

First, the medical Hx:

On Sunday I started with what I thought was a sinus problem.  I've been prone to sinus problems for years, and usually my allergy medication keeps them in check.  When I have problems, however, one of the first things I do is to use a neti pot. 

A neti pot????
Example of Neti Pot

If you are unfamiliar with this item, it's simply a way to irrigate your sinus cavity with warm filtered water containing a saline solution.  It is not an activity for which you want an audience.  You fill the pot with the solution, position your head sideways over the bathroom sink and pour half of the warm solution through one nostril, allowing the water to pour out the opposite nostril.  You then reverse the position to pour water through the other side.  It's very simple and takes just a few minutes.
The procedure works quite well when you have a head cold as well.  The salt in the solution soothes the membranes in the sinus cavity and the procedure thoroughly washes away any disgusting junk that was harbored inside. 

If you suffer from seasonal allergies that include pollen, using a neti pot in the evening before bed will help remove the pollen, giving you relief. 

The pots can be found in your local drug store, and on the Internet and often come with little packets of saline used with the neti pot.  They are available in various materials, shapes and prices.  Since I keep mine tucked up in a bathroom closet, I prefer something simple and unbreakable, similar to the illustration above.

Moving on to the topic at hand

I used my little neti pot, but the pressure and pain I was developing throughout my sinuses was not relieved.  That was my first clue about the situation.  Usually one session with the neti pot relieves both pressure and sinus pain. I still had the pain.

In fact, I developed a good deal of pain as the day continued, and Monday it had reached the point where cold compresses did not help for long, and the OTC pain relievers worked for only about 2 hours.  I was constantly clock-watching and counting hours between doses.  Not only that, I just could not concentrate on anything but pain.

I had been operating on fits and starts of sleep lasting no more than 2 hours at a time, and that alone was taking a toll.  The worst was yet to come.

And then there was swelling

Monday evening the left side of my fact began to swell.  Oh, this was just lovely!  As if I didn't look and feel miserable enough, now my face was puffing up and I was beginning to look like a lopsided blowfish.  Not to mention the FGXpress pain strips I had placed on the left side of my face, which just added to my weird appearance.  FGXpress Power Strips are wonderfully effective, strips coated with all natural pain relievers.  I had about 5 strips placed strategically on the left side of my face, and by 7pm last night the pain was negligible.  (The Power Strips will soon be another blog topic).

Despite all my efforts to self-treat, it was the swelling that pushed me over the top.  The situation worsened overnight.  I have difficulty sleeping with more than one pillow under my head, and laying with my head somewhat flat did nothing to dispel the swelling.  Tuesday morning I looked in the mirror and it was really and truly an awful sight to behold.

AmeriDoc to the rescue!!

I spent a few early morning hours trying to sleep sitting in a comfortable office chair, but I realized I was fighting a losing battle.  

I'm like everyone else with a computer:  I input symptoms to see what's causing my problem.  (C'mon, admit it, you do the same's too easy to do, and wow, the diseases you discover are just amazing in their scope!)

I had already decided I needed a prescription to recover from what I now suspected to be a tooth abscess.  Odd, I thought, because I didn't encounter pain while eating or brushing my teeth, but the situation could not be ignored! I also decided to take advantage of my AmeriDoc plan as soon as reasonably possible.  Even though I knew I could call for a consult 24/7, I decided to wait until daylight.  

I accessed my AmeriPlan member account, and requested the consult. I was happy I had input my medical history into the system when I purchased the program...before I needed to use the plan, as I was in no mood to list everything this morning.  It was such an easy procedure!

I filled out a brief form and described my problem.  Since I was pretty sure I needed an antibiotic at this point I requested a medical consult.  Less than one half hour went by and my AmeriDoc doctor was on the line to talk to me.

The doctor was very pleasant, asked pertinent and thorough questions and then gave me the diagnosis:  tooth abscess.  He asked if I was allergic to any antibiotics, told me what he was going to prescribe and gave me follow-up advice to call my dentist in case the abscess needed to be drained.  There I was, in my p.j.'s, sitting in the family room, talking to a licensed and certified medical professional!  He had access to my entire medical history (which he was able to review before he even called me), and spent the same amount of time my personal family doctor would have spent with me at his office. He also called the pharmacy with the prescription.  

All this happened well before 9am.  Had I called my family doctor I would have had to wait until 9am, then I would have had to wait to be fit into an appointment time.  I know from past experience that Monday mornings are a very difficult time to schedule a same-day appointment.  I was saved from having to drive to the doctor and then wait for the prescription.  My dear husband was able to go to pick up the prescription for me, and I had my first dose of antibiotic before noon.  We had to wait a bit for the prescription to be filled as they didn't open before 9am, but waiting for prescriptions to be filled nowadays is a commonplace procedure.  

To top it off, the cost for the consult was only $17.50.  That alone saved me money as my insurance co-pay is higher.  Plus, I didn't have to drive the extra distance to the doctor's office (saving in gas money), and I didn't have to wait until sometime this afternoon for an appointment.  Having the option of calling AmeriDoc was truly wonderful and I finally got to witness first-hand the value of this program.  I will never hesitate to call an AmeriDoc doctor. Naturally if you are experiencing any kind of medical emergency, you are directed to dial 911; my family doctor's office has the same advice when I call.

Had I not needed a prescription, but was just looking for medical advice, the call would have been free.  Each time I walk into a doctor's office, it costs me money.  Each time I have an infection of some sort (and we all know when infection sets in), the doctor will require an office visit.  And if I call with a question, well, it's time to schedule an appointment.

Now I know as well as anyone that there are circumstances where I absolutely need to be seen by my family doctor.  But if I'm out of town, and I cannot reach my doctor or if I don't have access to an Immediate Care facility, having AmeriDoc is invaluable.  I know for a fact that had I visited either my family doctor or an Immediate Care facility, the cost for the consult would have been not only more money, but more physical discomfort.

As for the prescription, in this case the cost for the antibiotic was $9.99 with or without the prescription card.  Usually when you are prescribed a generic drug, the pharmacy already has discounted it to equal the discount you'd receive with the prescription card.

I love this new Ameriplan MD Plus discount plan!  Imagine how much more valuable it is to someone without an established physician!

Follow up advice

Yes, I know, I still need to see the dentist!  I do have a broken tooth, and that most likely was the site of the bacterial infection.  Fortunately for me, I can use the Dental portion of my AmeriPlan MD Plus program to locate a participating provider less than 5 miles from my home!  

I really, really, really dislike going to the dentist, but I'll give you a report after I've seen one. For now, I'm hoping the chipmunk cheek will slowly disappear.  The FGXpress Power Strip I placed on my cheek is taking care of the residual pain, and I still have the ice packs to help resolve the swelling.  

For a Monday, the day is actually improving!