Write On! How to Empty your brain to reduce stress

Non-stop writing, stream of consciousness, free writing . . . it doesn’t matter what you call it – it can change your brain, change your day, change your relationships, change your life.

I’m not being overly dramatic as there is a body of research which shows that simply putting pen to paper changes your brain.

Easy Peasy Writing How-to

Write on! by Peggy

Choose a focus – a situation, feeling, thought and create a “topic Sentence”  If you can’t think of a specific begin with “Right this moment I am thinking . . . ” or “I am feeling . . .” or ” “I can’t think of anything . . . “

It can be anything in the past, the present or the future.

  • Use a pen that writes smoothly and comfortable to your hand.  Don’t use a keyboard since the act of writing with your hand is important.  Your small muscle movement is expressive (much like artistic expression, your handwriting is unique to you.  It doesn’t matter if it’s legible or beautiful as the movement registers with your brain in ways that tapping out letters on a keyboard do not).
  • Set a timer for approximately 20 minutes.  It takes that long for your unconscious brain to push through your logical thinking processes.
  • Use a journal, a piece of paper, a brown bag – it doesn’t matter.
  • Start with your “topic sentence”, thought, feeling . . . just start. 
  • Write continuously for 20 minutes, never letting the pen stop.  If your mind goes blank simply makes loop-d-loops with the pen until you have words to put down. Write quickly, spontaneously, intuitively.  It doesn’t matter what you write just put down on paper where your mind takes you.
  • Do not be concerned about spelling, punctuation or grammar.
  • Do not be concerned if it doesn’t make sense.

Read  research How Writing About Past Failures May Help You Succeed In The Present,  click here

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The HeART of Spirituality Workshop – Finding Balance

How can we find balance in the chaos that surrounds us?  This was the question at the recent HeART of Spirituality workshops held at Tapestry Unitarian.

“As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the balance—this is the balance—this is the balance.” – Baha’i World Religion 

The participants picked images that represented spiritual balance and spiritual imbalance and made collaged Contemplation Cards.  Similar to tarot cards or vision boards these cards can be used in many ways.  

Can you tell which cards represent BALANCE and which represent IMBALANCE?  See all the cards on  CATNIPblog.

To see all the Contemplation Cards,  a picture of the participants and directions how to make the cards click HERE.

Ecclesiastes Chapter 3:1-8

  1. 1 To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
  2. 2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up [that which is] planted;
  3. 3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
  4. 4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
  5. 5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
  6. 6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
  7. 7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
  8. 8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

How to cook a turkey FAST and painlessly (for you not the bird)

It’s THAT time of year again for “Cooking with Judy”  Here’s my yearly Thanksgiving post — cuz it’s tooooo good not to be shared!  

img_00131 I have a reputation, among those who know me,  to have an “interesting” sense of humor.  Even though How to Cook A Turkey with 500 degree heat sounds like a joke IT IS NO JOKE.

The turkey comes out brown, beautiful and MOIST.   I’ve done this every year for over three decades and it’s never failed. 
All the people who have tried it do it again and again. . . except for the woman bought a ButterBall Turkey* . . . to see why, keep reading.
 
Ingredients:
10 – 18 pound turkey* and a sense of adventure
 
Directions:
  • Pre Heat oven 500 degrees (this is not a typo)
  • Clean the bird
  • Throw it into a covered container – put on lid or aluminum foil
  • Do not add ANYTHING to the pot and/or the bird.
  • Do NOT baste or look at until time is up  (you will hear burbling, don’t worry, by the time you hear burbling the turkey is dead)
  • Bake (and I do mean BAKE), 7 minutes per pound, unstuffed at 500 degrees FARENHEIT
  • 7 1/2 minutes per pound, stuffed
*WARNING: Do NOT buy any *turkey that has ANYTHING injected under the skin (especially butter!) or the fire department will join you for dinner after you scrub the black soot from your ceiling.
Q & A (I won’t bother you with the Q-part)
  • Yes, it comes out brown and beautiful.
  • No, it is moist and delicious
  • I always put the stuffing in a casserole rather than the turkey – others have stuffed the bird and said it was great.
  • Yes, it will smell like Thanksgiving not like a house-on-fire.
  • No, PETA would not endorse this because it is more humane . . . for the cook
  • Yes! 500 degrees.  It is not a typo
  • Yes, 7 minutes a pound
P.S.  A typical turkey will take a little over 1 hour to bake. The first year I made the turkey this way I had the critter sitting out raw and naked as a J-bird when the guests arrived.
When they found out nothing was in the oven everyone nervously inquired what time we were going to eat.
Made me smile.

 

The HeART of Spirituality – Virtues – Take 2

In case you need a refresher on what a virtue is here are a few:  Patience, Responsibility, Joy, Love, Compassion, Justice, Generosity.

 Can you guess the virtue* I need to work on?

Take a look at the second group of fabulous prayer/contemplation cards!  Here’s the first group – Take 1

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“Consider the virtues of the human world and realize that the oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of them all. 

Read the Gospel and the other Holy Books. You will find their fundamentals are one and the same. Therefore, unity is the essential truth of religion and, when so understood, embraces all the virtues of the human world.”

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” . . . we must endeavor to promulgate and practice the religion of God which has been founded by all the Prophets. And the religion of God is absolute love and unity.” – Abdu’l-BahaThe Promulgation of Universal Peace. p. 32.

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Another Spontaneously posed picture of those who were able to stay till the END.

Another SPONTANEOUSLY POSED picture of those who were able to stay till the END.

(Try out the exercise we did after making the cards.  Click here for the entire list of virtues and the worksheet on the TUTORIAL PAGE)

*The Virtue of Moderation 

10 packages, possible trans fats

Another Spontaneously posed picture of those who were able to stay till the END.

Another SPONTANEOUSLY POSED picture of those who were able to stay till  the END.

Chocolate chip cookie – OREO – Brownie recipe!!

I have been Oreo-deprived for years. I don’t buy them because they are potato chips to me – can’t stop with one.  When my good friend Linda sent this recipe I thought I’d die and go to heaven.  AND it seemed toooooo simple.

I have 4 potlucks to go to so I immediately went to the big box store and bought a TUB of cookie dough, enough for more than 80 cookies.

NO trans fat

Healthy, NO trans fat

10 packages, possible trans fats

10 packages, possible trans fats

a 10-package box of Oreo cookies

 

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Triple Chocolate, triple trans fat

and a Box of brownie mix that makes 8 batches of brownies.

First Pot luck:

  • I ate 2 packages of the Oreo cookies to make sure they were fresh. 
  • 1 layer of chocolate chip cookie dough on bottom of 13″ x 9″ pan
  • 1 layer of Oreos.
  • 1 package of brownie mix (per mix instructions) poured over top.  Didn’t seem like enough brownie mix for the 13 x 9 pan so I made 2 packages.
  • Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes it was soup.  After 55 minutes it was congealed enough to remove. (and I was afraid the chocolate chip cookie dough on the bottom would be burnt).  Soft and squishy and any trace of Oreo had been drowned in the brownie batter.  BUT verrrrrrrrrry tasty.

Second Pot luck:

I ate another package of Oreo’s to make sure they were still fresh and this time only made one batch of brownie mix.

SUCCESS!!!

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2 More Potlucks to go . . . Need to buy more Oreos

Thanks Linda B.  You ARE the best!

Sneak a Peek into my Journal

Visual journaling is more fun for me than written –  I rarely reread my written entries but can look at the visual pages and know instantly what was happening, what I wanted to express (and things I wasn’t consciously aware of expressing!).

I also rarely reread what I write on the blog but the last post on gratitude stuck in my mind.  So here’s my gratitude page AND the process I used . . . in REVERSE ORDER!

Step 3

Added squiggly lines and pastels

This is the finished page – I lost interest in the left side!
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Sept 3: Added squiggly lines and pastels

Step 2

Smeared gesso (white paint works too) over the magazine images to blur them

Finished page - I lost interest in the left side! Paint, collage, pastel

Step 2:  Smeared gesso (white) over top of pictures

Step 1

  • I don’t like working on a white page so I spread paint on the blank page. Cut out about 20 pictures
  • Focused on my “gratitude” and picked pictures that caught my attention.
  • Pasted them down.  Didn’t matter they got wrinkled – just adds texture!
pasted magazine pictures

Step 1: pasted magazine pictures onto page that I smeared with paint.

Can you figure out what the focus of my gratitude was?

Healthy OREO LASAGNA (parenthetically speaking)

There are so many recipes for Oreo Lasagna on the internet I taste-tested them all to make sure you, my loyal subscribers, had the healthiest.  Note: If you are allergic to chocolate substitute ingredients that aren’t chocolate.

Healthy OREO LASAGNA

Ingredients
2 packages Oreo cookies (One package to eat – for energy – while you are making the lasagna and the other for the recipe)
4 tbsp. butter, melted
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened (This is good as not only is it reduced fat but it’s softened so it won’t be hard in your arteries)
1/4 cup sugar (An excellent source of energy)
2 tbsp. skim milk (This is good as it’s a major food group)
12 oz fat-free cool whip (This is good as it is low-fat like the cream cheese.) 
6 Snack Pack Fat Free Chocolate Pudding cups  (This is good as there are preservatives in the pudding cups which will help the Oreo Lasagna from going bad before it hits your stomach

2 bags of mini chocolate chips (One bag to eat while you’re waiting for the lasagna to set in the refrigerator)

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Instructions

1.  Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray (Do NOT use butter and add fat to the recipe)
2.  In a zip closed bag, crush the Oreo Cookies (Taste the crushed topping as you go to determine the proper consistency.  Do NOT use a food processor to crush the Oreo’s so you benefit from the exercise of pounding the cookies into submission)
3.  Set aside 1 cup of crushed Oreos for topping
4.  Combine remaining crushed Oreo’s with melted butter
5.  Press Oreo-butter mixture into the bottom of the dish
6.  In a small bowl whip the softened cream cheese using a handheld mixer until light and fluffy (Make sure it’s fluffy as air is a life force)
7.  Mix in sugar, milk and 1 1/4 cups of cool whip
8.  Spread cream cheese layer over the Oreo crust
9.  Layer chocolate pudding in an even layer over the cream cheese (or just mush it all together since it will eventually end up that way)
10.  Spoon remaining cool whip over pudding and gently smooth (It’s important that you are gentle so as not to agitate any existing fat molecules)
11.  Sprinkle on mini chocolate chips
12.  Refrigerate to chill for 4 hours (Eat the remaining chocolate chips while Lasagna is chilling)


Each serving is 8 WW+ points (I’m not sure if this is short-hand for Weight Watchers or 8 out of 10 points on the Wowza Wowza scale)

Nutritional Info
Calories 309 Calories from Fat 127 Total Fat 14.1g Saturated Fat 7.0g Cholesterol 20 mg Sodium 265 mg Potassium 46 mg Carbohydrates 42.9g Dietary Fiber 1.0g Sugars 28.4 g Protein 3.5 g (Obviously a good source of protein – almost 4 grams)
Vitamin A 6% – Vitamin C 0% – Calcium 7% – Iron 6%  (This is good as it’s better to get your vitamins through food than pills)

Nutrition Grade – D (“D” as in DEEEEEElicious . . . of course)