Diva Ranting: Grandchildren….

I muse today about the joys of being a grandparent.  However, in this depressed area, I look around and see so many children being raised by grandparents because our society had made it acceptable to let breeding babies become a source of income, and reason for unemployment.  In our depressed area of Appalachia it is the norm not the exception. Lame excuses for taking drugs instead of working is the daily mantra. I live in a county of orphans.  Grandparents who are elder and often in-firmed trying to do the right thing by the crack babies that have no one to care for them.  Our churches and non-profits can only do so much to put band aids on this situation.

All of the charities, angel trees and toys for tots efforts do not change the circumstance once the holidays are over.  Write to your legislature, in every place on Earth,  and demand an overhaul of the systems that not only supports this behavior (for the last 6 generations), but encourages it by grants and state jobs for those who would not see an end to it for reasons of greed and corruption.  

Apathy is killing our societies globally. Care enough about your grandchildren to try and make a difference by demanding better systems that you pay for with your taxes.  

Namaste, The Queen Cronista

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Diva Rambling: Christmas…

I am in the middle of wrapping and shipping for the Holidays.  My dining room and living room look like a pack of elves set off a wrapping paper bomb.  I’v gotten in such a hurry to get it all out and shipped I’ve lost the joy of wrapping and enjoying the reason I’m doing it all in the first place.  GIVING!!!!!!

It is the season of the birth of the One Child that changed the world and history forever.  It is about giving.  Not just gifts but love, compassion and sharing it all with those we love.  Time to take a deep breath and get back into the true spirit of it all.  May your days be merry and bright!  Namaste the Queen Cronista….

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Diva Tasting: Shrimp Linguine…

Ingredients

  • 1 Pound Uncooked Linguine

  • 3 Tablespoon Butter

  • 3 Tablespoons White Cooking Wine

  • 1/2 Teaspoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced

  • 1 Teaspoon Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley

  • 1 Pinch Salt And Pepper To Taste

  • 1 1/2 Pounds Medium Shrimp, Peeled And Deveined

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat; add wine, cheese, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over low heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

  3. Increase heat to medium high and add shrimp to saucepan; cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp begins to turn pink. Do not overcook.

  4. Divide pasta into portions and spoon sauce on top and toss; garnish with Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, if desired.

  5. Serve with Garlic Bread and Mediterranean Salad

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Ranting: Take a Stand….

Today I was forced, once again, to take a stand on something that should not even be an issue.  Refusing to fall prey to manipulative people is something I cannot back down and roll over to…EVER!  I am especially passionate about it when the manipulator is manipulating a superior (ever read the fairy tale “The Emperor Has No Clothes”?) the ruler who  calls you onto the hot seat because you took a stand against someone who openly bullies others and manipulates others adults with a “sad bunny routine!!!!” Hell to the NO!

I went to school with a bunch of these “mean girls”.  They never picked on me; they knew better.  They knew I would not tolerate it…. even today…I sure don’t.  Actually it is usually their helicopter moms who should be bitch slapped as well. Letting these little over-entitled brats think they are all that and a bag of chips is their fault as well.  The acorn rarely falls far from the tree. 

If you have a child that is being bullied…go to the source and stand ground for them.  A restraining order is a good tool if it is really bad  (include the parents of the brat as well).  I’m not into bullying or aggressiveness ever….unless it is needed to protect the innocent.  I will take a stand against bullies, outright rudeness and bad manners (another form of bullying), anytime I see it.  I can go there in a heartbeat, Sisters.  The Good Lord failed to grace me with the good sense to be afraid of almost anything.  It is easier for me to stand ground than some, but when it is the right thing; it is a must.

Give the gift of standing ground to someone for the Holidays so everyone can enjoy them in joy and good health.  Namaste, The Queen Cronista…

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Diva Tasting: Sirloin and Zucchini Boats…

Herb Rubbed Sirloin Tip Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 Tablespoons Smoky Paprika

  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder

  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper

  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano

  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 1 (3 Pound) Sirloin Tip Roast

  • 1 Bag Of Fingerling Potatoes Halved Lengthwise

  • 1 Pound Of Brussels Sprouts Halved Lengthwise

  • 1/2 Cup Of Water With 2 Tablespoons Of Worcestershire Sauce

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, and thyme. Stir in the olive oil, and allow the mixture to sit about 15 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a Dutch Oven or 9×13 aluminum baking pan

  3. Spread the potatoes and Brussels Sprouts in the bottom pour Worcestershire and water over vegetables.

  4. Place the roast in the prepared Dutch Oven or baking pan, and cover on all sides with the spice mixture. Cover or Tent the roast until 15 minutes before cooking time is up. Pull off Lid or tent and roast 15-20 more minutes until brown on top.

  5. Roast 1 hour in the preheated oven, or to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Let sit 15 minutes before slicing.

  6. Serve with herb roasted fingerling potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts on the side.

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ingredients

  • 3 Zucchini

  • 1 Pound Pork Sausage Browned And Drained and cooked

  • 1 Cup Dry Bread Crumbs

  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced

  • 1 8 Oz Cream Cheese Softened

  • 1 (32 Ounce) Jar Alfredo Sauce

  • 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Trim stems from zucchini and slice lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and put in bowl. Mix seeds with browned sausage, garlic, bread crumbs, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. Stuff squash with sausage mixture and place in 9×13 inch baking pan. Pour Alfredo sauce over squash and cover pan with foil.

  3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until sausage is cooked. Remove foil and cover with mozzarella cheese. Cook until cheese is melted.

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Diva Musing: Relaxing for the Holidays….

I’ve heard it said this is a stressful time for many. The women in my family are all like Elf’s on speed.  We can’t get enough holiday movies, music, baking, and giving.  However, for those of you who tend to let it get to you I thought I’d give a helpful reminder to keep you on track.  Namaste, The Queen Cronista…

Practice Yoga To Kick Depression To The Curb
by Meditation Daily
If you’ve ever experienced depression, you know that it can be detrimental to every aspect of life. When you are depressed, it may be hard to even get out of bed, let alone be productive and fulfill all of the day’s responsibilities. Even spending time with family and friends may feel like an insurmountable obstacle, because you feel so unspeakably low.
Depression is widespread
While many people go through a bout of depression every once in awhile, especially around stressful or tragic life events, a significant portion of the population suffers from what is known as major depressive disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), about 6.7 percent of American adults (over 15 million people) suffer from major depressive disorder. While more women are affected than men, anyone may develop it.
In order to combat major depression and get back to normal life, many people opt for prescription antidepressants. The problem is, not only do these drugs often have a long list of unpleasant to downright dangerous side effects, in many cases, they do not work. This leaves millions of people searching for a better, safer, more natural option. One such option is yoga.
Benefits of yoga
The ancient healing practice of yoga has so many benefits that it’s difficult to list them all. You may have heard (or experienced) that regularly practicing yoga has the potential to:
Increase flexibility
  • Strengthen many muscle groups, including the core
  • Improve lung capacity
  • Stabilize blood sugar
  • Reduce stress
  • Alleviate anxiety
  • Help you sleep better
  • Reduce risk of heart disease
  • Improve memory
  • Enhance ability to focus
New study finds encouraging results
Along with all of these amazing benefits (which are just a few of the many), yoga may also provide significant relief to individuals suffering from depression. A new study performed by researchers at Boston University Medical Center tested the effects of a regular yoga practice on the amelioration of major depressive disorder, with some very encouraging results.
Iyengar yoga improves depression
Results showed that individuals in both groups reported improved depression symptoms after the eight-week study. The individuals that practiced yoga more frequently had even more improvement than those who practiced less frequently, but results were positive for all. On these results, Dr. Chris Streeter, corresponding author of the study, stated:
If you have depression, give yoga a try
These findings are truly exciting because yoga is a safe, natural practice with no side effects (when practiced safely) and a whole host of benefits to virtually every system in the body. If it is able to help depression as well (as research strongly suggests it can), that means millions of people may be able to achieve a high quality of life naturally, while also improving their health in many areas. It’s a win-win all around.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, it’s worthwhile to give yoga a try. Look for classes in your area; many studios offer free community classes once a week as a way to give back. If there are none available, find Youtube videos that specifically instruct beginners. Just make sure you start slow and don’t push your body too hard, too fast. Go at your own pace and increase your difficulty level gradually.
Meditation Daily
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Diva Tasting: Chicken Tikka Masala..

One of my Diva Favorites.  I spiced it down a little for those who have not experienced the wonders of Indian food.  I thought it would be a good turkey break for the holidays. 

Chicken Tikka Masala
Ingredients
  • 6 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Halves, Cut Into Bite-Size Pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons Ghee (clarified Butter)
  • 1 Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
  • 1 (14 Ounce) Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt, Or To Taste (optional)
Directions
  1. Heat ghee in a large skillet over medium heat and cook and stir onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic; cook and stir just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric into the onion mixture; fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir tomato sauce into the onion and spice mixture, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Simmer sauce for 10 minutes, then mix in cream, paprika, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Bring sauce back to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir chicken into the hot oil, sprinkle with curry powder, and sear chicken until lightly browned but still pink inside, about 3 minutes; stir often. Transfer chicken and any pan juices into the sauce. Simmer chicken in sauce until no longer pink, about 30 minutes; adjust salt and sugar to taste.
  4. Serve with Jasmine Rice, Cream Spinach and Rice Pudding.
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Diva Tasting: Holiday Roast Chicken….

Good Roasted Chicken
Ingredients
  • 1 (5 pound) whole chicken
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Remove giblet packet from cavity of chicken and pat bird thoroughly dry with paper towels. Place 1 tablespoon butter into chicken cavity, sprinkle salt and black pepper into cavity, and stuff cavity with onion, celery, and lemon pieces. Loosen skin over breast and thigh of chicken with your fingers and insert garlic under the skin. Place the chicken breast side up on a rack set into a roasting pan.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat; add dried parsley and Italian seasoning. Pour half the butter-herb mixture over the chicken and rub the seasoned butter onto all parts of chicken. Reserve remaining butter mixture.
  4. Roast chicken in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then remove and turn chicken so breast side is down. Pour remaining half of seasoned butter over the chicken, brushing it over all parts of the bird. Return to oven and roast an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees F. Roast chicken until skin is crisp and brown and the juices run clear, 1 hour and 20 more minutes. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, not touching bone, should read 160 degrees F. Let chicken rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before serving.
  6. Serve with fried marinated artichokes and cauliflower mashed potatoes and an arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette.
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Diva Tasting: 5 Star Roasted Chicken….

Ingredients

  • 1 (4-5 Pound) Whole Chicken

  • 1 Cup Butter, Softened

  • 2 Tablespoons Mrs Dash® Garlic Seasoning

  • 1 Teaspoon Coarsely Ground Black Pepper

  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley

  • 1 Pinch Dried Rosemary

  • 1 Lemon Zested and Halved

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Rinse and pat chicken thoroughly dry with paper towels. Mix butter, garlic season, black pepper, thyme, parsley, and rosemary in a bowl and rub the outside of the chicken thoroughly with the margarine mixture. Place any remaining butter mixture into the cavity of the chicken. Place chicken into a glass baking dish. Place the halved lemon in the cavity and sprinkle the zest over the top.

  3. Bake chicken in the preheated oven until browned and the juices run clear, about 2 hours. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, not touching bone, should read at least 160 degrees F.

  4. Serve with Green Beans, Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and Dinner Rolls.

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Diva Rambling: No Negativity for the Holidays….

12 Habits of Unhappy People (and How to Avoid Having Them)
I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” ­– Martha Washington, wife of 1st U.S. President George Washington
Happiness is something that we all strive to attain. As human beings we can accept the fact that: (a) life is short, and (b) unhappiness makes our lives difficult. As is common knowledge, our habits have a big impact on the quality of life that we live; specifically, these habits directly impact our happiness (or lack thereof). To make a clear distinction, there is a strong difference between clinical depression and chronic unhappiness. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, while unhappiness is a disposition that is often acquired through how we choose to live our lives. Similar to depression, however, unhappiness can be diagnosed and treated.
HERE ARE 12 HABITS THAT CAN CAUSE UNHAPPINESS, ALL OF WHICH CAN BE AVOIDED.
1. CHRONIC COMPLAINING
Happy and successful people do not complain much. On the other side, it seems that chronic complainers always have something negative to say… even when those around them are happy! The bottom line: we all have different circumstances that we are given in this lifetime, but in the end these circumstances are ours – fair or unfair, wanted or unwanted. Instead, seek solutions to problems instead of complaining, which leads to nowhere.
2. BEING CRITICAL – OF SELF AND OTHERS
How we talk to ourselves shapes our self-image, for better or worse. Self-worth is an essential component to our happiness, and feeling good about ourselves is a right that we all have. Realize when mistakes are made, accept them, and move on…don’t engage in negative self-talk. Further, respect the inherent differences of others and recognize their right to live happily and without undue criticism.
3. LIVING BEYOND MEANS
We live in a materialistic society, one where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements for the latest car, gadget, or credit card; all promising an easier, more fulfilling existence. Don’t believe it for a second. While purchasing a new product may provide a needed emotional boost, it doesn’t last. Ever heard the term “buyer’s remorse”? It exists for a reason. Instead, seek out something to do that doesn’t involve whipping out a piece of plastic – exercise, reading, sightseeing, etc. – anything brings satisfaction without the debt.
4. NEGATIVE ADDICTIONS
Most things are good in moderation – food, a drink or two, entertainment… it’s when these things take center stage in our lives that it becomes a problem. Unfortunately, many good people have met their end through addictive habits, especially through dependence on alcohol and drugs. A great preventative measure and remedy to these addictions? Finding and living our passions to the greatest extent possible (see #8).
5. REGRETTING THE PAST
Regret is not only useless, it can be extremely harmful. Research continues to show that repetitive, negative thoughts about decisions made in the past in often a precursor to chronic stress and depression. According to Psychology Today, there are four ways to cope with regret: (1) learn from mistakes but don’t dwell, (2) if nothing can be changed about the situation to let it go, (3) make sure too much blame is not being undertaken, and(4) reframing the situation more positively.
6. WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE
We only have so much say in what our future holds. This is not meant to disempower (quite the opposite); rather it is stating simple truth. What we can do is live in the present while fully exercising our God-given abilities and talents, enabling and empowering us to live a happier existence. There’s that phrase again: living in the present. Face difficulties as they arise and let them go. Enjoy the beautiful things in life and experience them fully…be present.
 7. BEING DRIVEN BY FEAR
Yes, fear can be an enabler to unhappiness. To fully understand this, we have to again go back to being present. Quite simply, we can’t allow fear of the unknown (and/or the unavoidable) to cripple our quality of life. Fear is a negative thought process that is often on auto pilot. Remember: we are not our negative thoughtsWe are not fear, worry, anxiety, or any other negative thought process.
8. DELAYING GOALS AND DREAMS
It’s relatively easy and effortless to get caught up in the routine of life: working, eating, sleeping, maybe even a day or two of doing something fun or relaxing. But here’s the thing: by not directing our talents and passions toward a positive and tangible goal, we potentially discard something great before its realization. The hardest part of living out our goals and dreams is taking the first step. After building a game plan taking that first step, only then can we see the possibilities.
 9. GOSSIPING
Nothing exudes unhappiness and insecurity more than negative small talk about someone else. After all, why would a happy, confident person engage in something that is of no benefit? They wouldn’t. Gossip is something to be left to the kids at recess, not to adults attempting to make their lives (and others!) better.
10. HOLDING GRUDGES
Similar to other negative emotions, animosity is a needless weight on our backs. We are all witness to the negative behaviors of other people and can become (sometimes justifiably) angered as a result. But remember: this isn’t about their ignorant behavior; it’s about your happiness. Either forgive, forget, or ignore… and move on with your life.
11. EATING POORLY
Ingesting nutritionally-bankrupt food is all about immediate gratification. It’s certainly not about feeling good long-term, as eating poorly can result in bad health, weight gain, depression, lack of energy and decreased productivity; while having a well-balanced diet results in an entirely opposite effect – more energy, a healthy weight, mental alertness, and increased productivity. Eat right, look great, and feel great.
12. EXPANDING OUR PROBLEMS
When we experience unhappiness and discontent, our first reaction is almost entirely emotional. In other words, we blow things completely out of proportion. After all, we still have that darned “lizard brain” (amygdala) – the epicenter of negative emotions. Instead, just take a step back, look at the problem objectively (with minimal emotion), and focus on a solution!
Once aware of these habits, you can make sure to keep them at bay by following the advice mentioned above.
Join the discussion:  What negative habits do you try to avoid?

 

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