We can wonder if, for all our separate histories, we are not more alike than different after all. ~Elizabeth Strout
In 1959, life in small town America revolved around family, school, work, and church which was pretty much the same decades before and decades since. Houses may have updated appliances, driveways new cars, and schools fitted with updated technology but people tend to stay the same. They root for a winner but can’t help finding fault, gossiping, and crucifying others for perceived slights, petty jealousies, or simply because they have nothing else to do. And, as soon as a person is knocked down to size, they come together to lift him or her up, rejoicing in their newfound redemption. Such is the story of the townspeople in a small northeastern town in Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout. Read more
Candied Pecans are so nutty scrumptious and so easy to make that you just may find yourself making these decadent treats weekly – especially around the holidays . Delicious on top of sweet potatoes, a hot fudge sundae (what’s a sundae without nuts?), or in a salad with chopped apples or dried cranberries, Candied Pecans add just the right amount of crunchy sweetness to a dessert, side dish, or salad. And, with just four common ingredients (including water), Candied Pecans are anything but complicated. Read more
The base of most homemade soups starts with chopped onions, carrots, and celery along with water or broth. These days, most supermarkets, including Trader Joe’s sell containers of fresh diced vegetables which makes it easy to make a batch of soup in a jiffy. But, if you want to add some pizzaz to a homemade soup, consider adding a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of dehydrated vegetables made by Harmony House Foods. Read more
When it comes to United Way, the basic question that most donors want to know is “how much of my donation goes to the organizations that provide health, education, and financial stability to members of the community.?” In other words, how much of my donation is awarded in grants to the local agencies? The answer depends on the community because United Way has more than 1,800 chapters worldwide. In North Carolina there are 54 United Way chapters with the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, Inc. (UWABC) serving about 250,000 people spread over 660 square miles in western North Carolina. Read more
Each Kindness is a beautiful picture book with a powerful message about how we treat people and the regrets we may have. Written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis, Each Kindness is told from the perspective of a young girl named Chloe who tells the story of what happened when a new girl named Maya joined her class in primary school (the book does not specify the grade but it appears to be about second or third grade).
Chloe recounts with brutal honesty how she shunned the new girl, made fun of her, and refused all attempts at friendship throughout the school year. When Ms. Albert, their teacher gives a lesson on kindness, Chloe wonders how much better the year could have been if she had shown Maya a little kindness and opened her heart to friendship. Read more
There are times a vegetable bowl will take my breath away – the vibrant colors of freshly cooked vegetables are literally eye candy but it’s the flavor that ends up reeling me in. When I think of a veggie bowl, I try to combine veggies of different colors and textures like beets and spinach.
Beets get a bad rap (i.e.borscht) but freshly cooked red or yellow beets are not only striking but earthy, flavorful and perfect to use in a vegetable bowl. Add sautéed dark green fresh baby spinach and the ultimate snack veggie bowl is done. All you have to do is grab a fork and enjoy. Read more
An english muffin’s most defining characteristics are its nooks and crannies but the ingredients to make this breakfast favorite are even more important because most of these round fork-split yeast-leavened breads are made with enriched white flour, sugar, oil, dairy products, and scary sounding ingredients (mono and diglycerides) which from a nutrition standpoint is not optimal. Read more
Most charitable organizations exempt from income tax under Section 501 are required to file an IRS Form 990, which details financial, management, program, and fundraising information. These returns can often be hundreds of pages long which can be overwhelming to potential donors who are trying to understand where charitable dollars are spent. Although all of the information is important, there are key pieces of information to focus on if time is limited. With that in mind, here are 13 tips to gain a quick understanding of a non-profit. Read more
Because if everyone just turns out like their mother, then what’s the rat’s-ass point?”
Elizabeth Strout is one of the few writers who has mastered the art of writing about difficult women we loathe but love to read about. In her Pulitzer-prize winning novel, Olive Kitteridge (2009), Strout gave us an opinionated, forthright, bossy, cantankerous, and self-righteous protagonist (Olive Kitteridge) who was also loyal, honest, and conscientious. Most readers identified in some way with Olive Kitteridge – the school teacher, the wife of the local pharmacist, and the mother who loved imperfectly – but felt relieved the similarities only went so far. Read more