Friday, May 28, 2010

Mowing and Memorial Day

Today I welcomed Amy Beneventi as a guest host. We had fun and learned quite a bit from our guests.

Dr. Trey Rogers, talked to us about the Briggs and Stratton "Yard Smarts Boot Camp" for 2010. They are looking for 12 recruits who will learn what it takes to have a great looking yard at home by applying their new knowledge and skills to improve and beautify a community green space chosen from public nominations. If you'd like to learn more about the contest, go to: Dr. Rogers also talked about the simple and easy ways to have a great lawn for about $100.00.

  • Mow the right way. Don't scalp the lawn thinking you have to mow less. (Something I confess, I have done in the past!)

  • Apply a few bags of mulch. It provides a finished look and is good for plants because it helps them retain moisture in the soil

  • Fertilize naturally. It's OK to leave a light layer of grass clippings on the lawn after you mow.

  • Start a compost pile.

  • Take 30 minute to maintain your mower. You should do this in spring, before the mowing season starts. Change the oil, clean or replace the spark plug and change the fileter. This could save on major repair bills down the road

  • Let nature water. Your lawn only needs about 1" of water per week to be green and to thrive. So let nature handle the irrigation, unless you are in a drought situation

For more information, you can check Dr. Rogers website at

During the last twenty minutes of the show, Gail Nampel stopped by. She is a member of the Dodge County Master Gardeners and told us about the Digital Photography Workshop and Critique Session that is coming up on Saturday, June 19th at 1pm at the Administration Building in Juneau. The deadline for submitting your photos is Monday, June 7th and anyone can participate. The photos don't have to come from your garden and you don't need to be a member of the Master Gardeners. You can get much more information at

If you'd like to become a Master Gardener, or what just like to find out more about the organization, you can attend a meeting. They are held on the last Thursday of the month (January through October) and begin at 6:30pm in the Administration Building in Juneau.

This monday is Memorial Day.

It's more than just a day off work. It's a time to remember those who valiantly gave their lives for our freedom. If you can not attend an area service, take time to give quiet thanks for all those brave men and women who paid the ulitmate sacrifice ...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grilling Do's and Don'ts

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my favorite son!

Since he is my ONLY son, I can easily say this-in fact, it's pretty much a running tag line on birthday cards both from him and to him. He's a wonderful young man and I'm very proud of him!! (This photo was taken about twenty years ago)

With the warmer temperatures and the upcoming 3 day holiday weekend for most of us, there will probably be lots of grilling going on-both on the grill and on our skin.

Today I shared a few "Do's and Don'ts" for maximum fun in the sun...

My daughter works for the American Cancer Society and she sent me these tips for "sun safety".

Friday, May 28th is "DON'T FRY DAY" and even though spending time outdoors is part of a healthy, active life you should take some precautions.

  • Cover Up: wear lightweight, comfortable clothing to protect as much skin as possible

  • Use sunscreen: preferrably with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or higher. The higher the number the better the protection agains UVB rays, so read the label before you buy

use 1 oz. which is the equivelant of a "palmful" to cover your legs, arms, neck and face and for best results, apply every 2 hours-even more if you are swimming or sweating

  • Wear a hat: with at least a 2-3" brim all around to protect your neck, ears, eyes, nose and scalp

  • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays: Invest in a part of wrap-arounds with at least 99% UV absoprtion to block damaging UVA and UVB light

  • Limit exposure during midday: that's when the sun is most intense Usually between 10am and 4pm, so try to plan your outdoor activities outside this timeframe, when possible

  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps: The UVA and UVB rays that are given out can cause serious long term skin damage and both contribute to skin cancer.

I will be participating in the Beaver Dam Relay for Life on Friday, June 25th and will gladly accept pledges and donations. I'll update you next week for my website and tell you all about the cupcake lollipops I'm making to sell as a fundraiser for the event.

Here are just a few great tips to remember when grilling:

  • Choose Non-Reactive Bowls: stainless steel are easy to clean, don't hold odors and are dishwasher safe. AND they will not react with acidic ingredients. Many BBQ sauces, brines and marinades contain a lot of acidic ingredients so it's very important to keep this in mind when doing the prep work

  • Make-shift grill brush: crumple a piece of aluminum foil (to about the size of a naval orange). Pick it up with locking chef tongs. Works great!

  • Prep Smart:To avoid soaking bamboo skewers each time you need them, soak a big batch once for an hour or so; drain. Freeze them in a plastic bag. When it's time to grill, pull out as many as you need and you're all set.

  • Picture Perfect Burgers: Burgers can puff up in the middle as they cook. To avoid this, press a little indentation into the top of each raw patty with your thumb or the back of a spoon. Then, when the center pushes up, the top will be relatively level.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watermelon Wednesday

Ahhhh! The sweet taste of summer!

Even thought summer hasn't yet officially arrived, you can get a taste of it when biting into a sweet, juicy chunk of red, ripe watermelon. Whether you are selecting one from a farmers market or at the grocery store, here's what to look for if you want to experience the BEST flavor:

1. Press fingers and thumbs into skin from all angles. A good
watermelon should be hard all around.
2. Give it a few taps with your knuckles or the pads of your
fingers. A winning watermelon will typically have a slight
hollow sound upon tapping.
3. Look for mean green. Dark shades of green typically
indicate an optimal combination of sun and water while the
melon was growing.
4. Once you bring it home, leave it on counter for a day or
two. The Nutrient value and flavor is best when eaten
at room temperature.

If you're selecting cantaloupe, choose fruit with even coloring. Compare the skin to that of other fruits. It should be on the dark side and free of bruises or irregularities. It should also be heavier than it looks, so don't be afraid to pick it up out of the bin. Lightly tap the fruit with your fingertip. If it sounds hollow-it is ripe

We held our last "Garden Doctor" program of the season today.
Dick Zondag, of Jung's Garden Center in Randolph comes in every Wednesday during spring for a thirty minute show. He takes questions on gardening, trees, shrubs, plants, etc. and will answer questions. It's hard to believe spring is almost over but the final Garden Doctor program is a sure sign that summer is almost here....

....just like watermelon!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wine and the Weekend

Today is Wine Day...

Did you know that moderate wine consumption, (defined by the American Heart Association as one to two four-ounce glasses a day), may help you live longer.

If you don't always know how to select a great wine, relax! You're not alone. Pick up a copy of "HOW TO BUY WINE" by Jonathan Ray ($15.95). You'll find out which wines pair best with different foods, the correct way to store wine, a road map for deciphering labels and an invaluable pronunciation guide.

This weekend marks the unofficial beginning of the summer season with the Memorial Holiday Weekend. We spoke with Cooper Munroe, spokesperson for "Planning the Perfect Picnic" and I shared these tips, if you're going to be getting together with family and friends this weekend:

    • Make getting to the picnic a “scavenger hunt”. Leave clues or a “treasure” map for your family to find their way to the picnic destination.
    • Bring along a board game, bocce ball, softball and catcher’s mitt, Frisbee or football for some outdoor fun
    • If kids will be joining you, try to pick a park with a playground nearby.
    • Plan a hike and bring the picnic with you. Stop when you get hungry or find a scenic spot to eat.
    • Avoid mayonnaise and ice cream-based dishes that can turn bad or melt in the sun
    • No basket? No worries! Load your goodies into a sturdy cardboard box, plastic bin or even a backpack.
    • Set the mood with a sunset picnic. If it’s allowed, bring a few votive candles and a small bouquet of flowers to add to the ambiance.
    • Consider packing a picnic for others, whether it’s for your kids in the backyard, your neighbors or even a coworker in need of some lunchtime fun.
Today's Quote: "Not everything that is faced can be changed.
But nothing can be changed until it is faced."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Showers, Snails and Special Memories

We're having a heat wave today, however the weather on Saturday was wonderful.

I enjoyed spending time with my oldest daugther at a baby shower for one of her high school friends. Sarah lives in Michigan, so I don't get to see her that often. It was a wonderful day to sit outside, and catch up on the busy lives of her friends (and their moms). The mom-to-be received some wonderful gifts (she knows it's going to be a girl). What a fun relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon....

One of my favorite baby items- the hooded terry towels. Babies outgrow them way too fast!

We played a couple of games and I learned that most babies are born on Tuesdays, in the month of September (all those January snowstorms) and the month that records the least number of births is November!

Today's Quote:
"Babies are God's way of showing us that the world should go on."

Today is National Escargot Day.
I shared an Easy Garlic Escargot recipe on the show today.
Do you have a "snail" story? The only time I tasted escargot was in 8th grade "Home Ec" class. We had to plan and prepare a meal for our teachers. I do remember that spaghetti and meatballs, French bread, and a green salad were on the menu as well as escargot. I think we roasted or baked them. I have no idea why we chose "snails" as our appetizer but I do recall that I thought they were pretty good-if a little "slippery".

Yesterday was National Taffy Day.

My Mom has a recipe for homemade taffy that we used to make on snowy winter days, usually after a morning of skating at the local ice rink, or building forts outside in the snow. She would mix together all the ingredients, bring the syrup to a boil, drop a bit into a cup of cold water and if it formed a ball we'd be ready to grease our hands with butter and pully the candy until it turned white. I was always amazed at how my Mom knew when the taffy was just the "right" temperature. We shaped it into ropes, cut it into pieces and then wrapped the pieces in waxed paper. That is if we didn't eat it all first! Six hungry helpers made for not too many leftovers!

In today's book nook segment we talked with hematologist/oncologist Dr. Christopher Flowers about Cancer Survivor Day coming up on June 7th. -More about that later.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Pineapples and People

On today's show we were looking for creative ways to use pineapple. One of my listeners suggested grilling the rings. Sprinkle with just a little bit of lemon juice, grill for a few minutes and you'll have a delicious, refreshing dessert. Or top a scoop or two of ice cream and drizzle chocolate syrup over the top. You can also scoop out the fruit and use the shell as a "bowl" or "boat". You can serve a mixture of fresh fruits and top with a little bit of toasted coconut.
I purchased a pineapple corer/slicer a few years ago after staying at a bed and breakfast with my daughter. The innkeeper showed us the tool that he had gotten at Williams/Sonoma. (I'm sure you can find this tool in other places, too.) It works GREAT! You just twist off the top leaves, slice the top to level and place the tool on top of the pineapple. You rotate the slicer until it almost reaches the bottom, pull it up and you've got perfect slices! If you don't take the tool to the bottom, you can use the pineapple shells for serving your Pina Coladas or other specialty drinks.

We spoke with Dr. Martin J. Bergman, clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at Drexel University College in Pennsylvania and a full time rheumatologist and Shari Witley, President and CEO of Women's Workout World, in Chicago, a mother of three who has rhuematoid arthritis. They discussed the myths associated with arthritis, how it affected Shari's life and how medications can help. Shari's main advice: don't ignore pain and work with your doctors and/or specialists to find a treatment that's right for you. Dr. Bergman's advice: arthritis is not just for senior citizens and treatment is available.

In the Book Nook segment next week:
  • Monday we'll be talking about Cancer Survivors Day

  • Tuesday: Picnicking spots in the Milwaukee area (just in time for Memorial Day)

  • Wednesday we'll have our final Garden Doctor program with Dick Zondag from Jung's Garden Center

  • Thursday we will featur a local author (Watertown) who has written a number of books about the area. This one is titled, "Wicked Watertown" and we'll travel back in time to hear about the many "dastardly deeds" that happened in Watertown, Wisconsin

  • Friday we will talk to Trey Rogers about Briggs & Stratton' first ever "Yard Smarts Boot Camp".

I will also be having a "guest co-host" on the show on Friday. More about that next week...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Strawberries and Shades

Today is Pick Strawberries Day.

Although here in Wisconsin, it's about one month too early to be able to go to a berry patch and pick a quart or two. I love to make strawberry jam. The sweet smell that permeates the kitchen, the luscious red color in the jam jars, and the fact that I will be able to savor the sweet taste far into the cold winter months makes the task of picking them so worthwhile!

Here is a "little bit" of strawberry trivia and folklore for you to impress your friends and family:

  • The strawberry was a symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love, because of its heart shape and red color.

  • If you find a double strawberry, break it in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will soon fall in love with each other.

  • To symbolize perfection and righteousness, medieval stone masons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals.

  • The strawberry is a member of the rose family and is the only fruit with seeds on the outside rather than the inside.

I also shared this recipe for "Chocolate Berry Shortcake":
2 c. baking mix 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg ¾ c. low-fat vanilla yogurt
3 Tbsp. honey 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 c. sliced strawberries 1 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ c. sweetened whipped cream or nondairy whipped topping
Preheat oven to 425. Combine baking mix, cocoa & nutmeg in medium bowl; mix well. Add yogurt, honey & oil, stirring until a soft dough forms. Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet, 1” apart forming 6 shortcakes. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Place baking sheet on wire rack & cool for 20 minutes. Combine strawberries & sugar in small bowl. Slice each cooled shortcake in half horizontally; place bottom halves on individual plates. Divide whipped cream and strawberries among shortcake bottoms. Top with remaining shortcake halves. Serve immediately.

It sounds YUMMY doesn't it?

If you have always been a fan of the children's classic, "Goodnight, Moon" then you'll want to be sure to get a copy of the new book, "The Fathers Are Coming Home".

Although Margaret Wise Brown (author of Goodnight, Moon, passed away in 1952, over 70 of her manuscripts were recently found in an old cedar trunk in a barn on her sister's farm. This new book was written to honor all the men (and fathers) that were soon to be coming home from WWII and its classic rhythm and lyrics will resonate with children and families today. (It would make a great fathers day gift idea!)

We also talked about wearing sunglasses. Just as it's so important to wear sunscreen, you need to protect your eyes. If you're going to be purchasing new "shades" for the summer make sure that the label says "99% or 100% unltraviolet blocking" instead of just "UV protection".

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May is the month for many celebrations including Mother's Day and I am blogging this at almost the end of the month!

Experts say it takes 21 days to create a "habit" and so I am really going to try to blog for the next 21 days. My thought is that after 3 weeks, I will have carved out time in my hectic, busy day and I will be more inclined to be sure to get my thoughts down regarding the show, or the books I've read, or the interesting bits of information I can share with you.

I've had some GREAT interviews and read some very interesting books this month.
If you are looking for a great birthday gift for a girlfriend, sister or just a great read for yourself get a copy of "Life's Too Short to fold Fitted Sheets"-by Lisa Quinn. There are some great shortcuts and tips for cleaning, entertaining and just getting yourself a little more organized without feeling that you have to "do it all". Lisa also gives permission for "Tiara Time" - a chapter in the book that you will want to check out.

"How to have your second child first" by Kerry Colburn and Rob Sorensen, is a great book for first time parents. The book is sprinkled with humor and lots of practical tips and advice. Tip #1 is: you don't need to buy all that stuff!" It's a great reference book for both MOM and DAD.

While reading "52 Loaves, by William Alexander", I had the strongest urge for a piece of fresh baked, crusty, warm, French bread! William covers the 6000 year history of a food that uses only four ingredients: flour, salt, water and yeast. He sets out trying to bake the "perfect loaf of bread (one loaf per week) and chronicles his journey to achieve his quest.

Whether you are a history buff, a poetry lover, or follower of Emily Dickenson, you may want to pick up a copy of "Maid as Muse", by Aife Murray. She shows us how the servants in Emily Dickenson's life influenced her life and the poetry she wrote. Beside her poetry, Emily Dickensen was also a wonderful baker and included in the book are many of her recipes.

If you're ready to start your spring cleaning (the weather hasn't really been warm enough for me to tackle my windows!), you can clean almost everything in your home with plain soap, baking soda and vinegar.
Kitchen and bathroom floors: (not recommended for wood floors): Use vinegar, either straight or mixed with water. Vinegar and a stiff brush will work great for cleaning grout as well.
Sinks: make your own sink scrub with one part vinegar and flour parts baking soda. Scrub on the paste, let sit for a few minutes and rinse.
Tubs and toilets: Spray with vinegar; sprinkle with baking soda. Scrub and rinse clean.
Windows: Spray with vinegar; wipe with crumpled newspaper or a lint-free towel. Avoid streaks by not clenaing windows in direct sunlight.
Carpets: To absorb odors, shake baking soda over carpet; then vacuum. For spot cleaning, spray vinegar and scrub with clean towel. Don't worry about the vinegar smell, it won't last long.