Cydira's Country Corner.

A potpourri of country wisdom, kitchen witchery, and random thoughts from yours truly. Take a gander, you may find a new interesting recipe or a funny little tidbit to bring a smile to your day.
Dear Reader,

I've been absent for a while. Some of this was due to life being hectic for the kids. Parent teacher conferences, school meetings for other stuff, and the kids taking turns having the flu ate up most of a month. Then came the diabetes diagnosis for me right at the end of March. Shortly after the diagnosis my vision started having major issues because of how high my blood sugar was. I literally couldn't see across the room. It was depressing and terrifying all at once.

Now that my vision is improving and we're beginning to get a handle on my blood sugar, I'm optimistic that I can resume my normal daily life. This means I can get back to posting here on Keen and start doing readings again. One of the challenges I have here is not with Keen itself, but with my phobias and my disability. I have been letting these things run the show way too much and I want to change that.

Some of those changes are going to come from making a point to be present on Keen for a regular schedule again. Some of those changes are going to come from doing things like getting in more exercise, changing my diet, and learning better ways to cope with my phobias, anxiety, and disability symptoms. Some of my posts are going to be a bit more personal going forward. Some of the recipes I will share are going to be focused on good dishes for people like myself who has type 2 diabetes. My hope in all of this is to become a more active member of this community again.

Have a beautiful day.

Hi there, sorry it's been a while.

Late January, I fell off my front steps and my snow shovel kindly caught me. I fractured a few ribs in the process. It has taken me a few months to recover. Now that I'm no longer on strong pain killers or in constant pain, I have a great deal more focus. This means that I can get back to giving readings. At the moment, I am doing Keen Mail readings for $3.00 a piece. This is a single question reading with out the option of additional clarifying cards. I will be on chat a bit later this morning.

I have some chores to finish up before I can start taking calls today. I look forward to hearing from you. :)
Due to a combination of things, I will not be available for calls until next Monday. I hope you all have a wonderful week. I will see you then. Thanks for your patience. ♥
Hi there,

I'm going to start something new on Mondays. I have spiritual guides and companions that have a lot to say. The afternoon post at the beginning of the session where I'm available on chat is going to be featuring what wisdom they have to share. I must warn you, some of them tell really bad jokes. Like just now I was encouraged to post sheep puns, that bad. Puns aside, they have a lot of great ideas and stories to share.

A little later, I'll post something about who they are. Or should I say, I'll be taking dictation from them about what they want to share about who they are. Right now, I need to step away from the computer for a few minutes and take care of a few mundane things.

Hi there,

It may be easier to find your sign in the list and click the button. All readings are for the really low rate of $5. First three questions are free. Just note in your reply what month you are referencing in the reading. Questions 4-5 are $1 each. Questions after that are $3.00 a piece. Here's your list. Find your sign, click the button, and learn what 2018 holds for you.

Aries 2018

Taurus 2018

Gemini 2018

Cancer 2018

Leo 2018

Virgo 2018

Libra 2018

Scorpio 2018

Sagittarius 2018

Capricorn 2018

Aquarius 2018

Pisces 2018
Hi folks!

I'm sorry this post is a little late. I had a wicked migraine that completely threw me off for a few days. I had planned on posting this Friday, but it is obviously happening today. Home planning is one of the tasks of my day that I don't like the most, to be honest. It ranks right up there with doing the dishes on my list of chores I dislike. At the same time, it is the chore that does the most to help everything run smoothly around my household. Like the dishes, it is one that I do and try to stay a little cheerful about it. (Stickers help.)

Planning can take a few different manifestations. FLYLady got me started on the whole home binder thing a few years back. I've adapted her system but the principles behind it are pretty solid. The biggest thing about a home binder is that it is a reference and planning tool. It has multiple sections for each major thing that needs to be handled in your home. My home binder has a section for monthly planning, a section for menu planning (and recipes), a section for master check lists of chores for the whole family, and my financial stuff for the household. Someone else may have a section in their home binder for things like what tasks are required for the upkeep of their own home, maintenance record details for their vehicles, and pet health information. Home binders are super easy to customize.

At one point, my home binder was where I did my weekly planning. Now, I have a smaller day planner that I use along with my home binder. The day planner is my back up to the weekly menu that gets posted every Thursday on the fridge. Every day of the week has a note with the meal planned for dinner on one side of the page and lunches for everybody on the back of the facing page. My daily planner also has a page at the front for my daily routine. (I have it inside one of those plastic covers so that I can use a dry erase marker to check of things as I get them done. You save paper and money that way.) But, every week, I sit down and cross reference the two binders.

Once a month, I draw up the charts for menu planning and my trackers in my daily planner. Right now, I have extra pages for the chore charts for the kids. I have also begun to make them to do lists on 3x5 cards to go with their chores for the day. Those to do lists are the same thing as what is on their chore chart for the day, just in list format. This seems to help them get their jobs done more effectively. We're still on week 2 of this process. We'll see if it sticks or not. But, the to do list based off of the chore list is something I use on a regular basis for myself as well.

I used to put a to do list in my planner. When that got to be overwhelming, I started writing it on a chalkboard that I have hanging in my kitchen. Colorful chalk helps me feel a little better about the chore lists and it is honestly pretty satisfying to erase the thing I needed to work on instead of crossing it out. My chore lists are broken down by room right now. Every week, I pick one room to focus on. I then spend 15 minutes working in that room every day, in addition to one hour a week cleaning all of the rooms. We live in a modest sized apartment, so that hour is more than enough time to give everything a quick once over. That is after the kids pick up their mess. 15 minutes is not a very long time and after a little while you get to where you are just doing maintenance cleaning.

It's a bit harder to teach this concept to the boys. To them 15 minutes is still forever and a day. Given time, however, I think they will come to understand that 15 minutes cleaning their toys takes less time than it does to spend two hours every weekend picking up EVERYTHING. (Can you guess what we did Saturday and Sunday?) My planner and my home binder keep me on task for a given week by keeping the chores in an orderly list for myself and the rest of the household. There is no longer any questions as to what must be done first, second, or last. No one wonders what their bonus job for the day is (because there is always one more thing that needs done aside from basic chores) because it is on the chart.

The really cool thing about the home binder that I forgot to mention is the section I have for when we have a babysitter. It lists all the emergency contacts. It is where I put my note about things they need to keep in mind and all the details about medications that may need to be taken or allergy concerns. (My youngest is asthmatic and it gets a little scary at times. Thankfully, he seems to be growing out of it.) Because each section is labeled, there is no confusion about where to look for details. I can't recommend this practice enough. I'm planning on teaching the boys how to do this sort of thing because I know it will make their check list loving hearts less anxious someday when they have their own apartment or house.


This week's theme for motivational quotes is: Perseverance.

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. - Maya Angelou

Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before. - Jacob A. Riis

Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th. - Julie Andrews
Hi there,

If your household is like mine, you try to get everyone to pitch in and share the work load. It is especially challenging to get the younger members of my household to help out. We've tried a bunch of things. Bribery, punishments, reward charts. You name it, we've probably tried it. It may sound a little silly to say this, but it actually is frugal to get everyone in the household who can help in on the maintenance of the place. It has a bunch of benefits.

1. It reduces the workload and makes things go faster. Thus it saves time. And time = money, even at home.

2. It teaches personal responsibility and life skills. This allows the kids to learn how to take care of their own home before they're off living on their own with no idea how to wash a dish or mop a floor. That gets expensive quick too.

3. A clean home helps you save money on health costs because there is less chance for illness to happen.

4. Staying on top of things like laundry allows you to identify mending that needs done, which saves you money in long term expenses.

The biggest challenge is getting the kids to help. Young children seem to be the hardest because they're like cats. They'll do what they want, when they want, and usually go off in the opposite direction of where you need them to go unless food is involved. Then they may trip and kill you trying to get to their favorite snacks, if your kids are anything like my boys that is. Bribery only works so far. Once the kids get bored with what you're offering them, they're going to stop being motivated to work. And yes, they will get bored of sweets before they have tooth problems.

Reward charts and such are a good intermediate step between offering something for every chore done and giving them independent tasks with out direct supervision. A sticker for each task completed has the satisfaction of getting a reward and it helps them visually track what they need to do. The awesome thing about reward charts is that they can be used to work towards long term goals too. I keep a prize box that the kids work towards a prize at the end of the week if they finish all of their chores. The trick with the prize box is make sure it is something the kids would enjoy, it has variety for what the rewards may be, and they're inexpensive. The prize box this week has a bunch of toy cars in it.

To do lists are more independent than reward charts. I found that they make a good stepping stone between major tasks for my boys. Thus, if the chore is 'clean your room', I will give them a to do list with the steps for cleaning their room on it. One boy has one half of the list and one has the other because they share a room. As the steps get done, they check off their work. There is some supervision still, because I have them bring me their check lists so that I can check their work, but there is increased independence for them with this task. (I like to use the graph ruled 3x5 note cards for this.)

Another technique that works is to make them a 'home binder' with the day's schedule and their tasks in it. I got the idea from some home schooling parents. It seems to be working out pretty well. On school days, they check the calendar in the front to make sure they know if they have a special class they need to bring something in for (like my eldest has band which requires bringing his drum sticks and lesson book). The next section has the daily schedule in it. After this is the section with daily chores. Daily chores are on a check list for the week. When they chore is complete, they check the box and move on to the next task. Daily chores are followed by weekly chores (in our place, they have a unique chore each day for the entire household like washing dishes or taking out the recycling).

The third section is where they take notes on the books they are reading. This is not as big of a deal as it is going to be during the days they have off from school. This is because the school has a reading log they keep in their backpacks. The reading log in their home binders is just a note of the book title and one sentence about what they liked about the book. Super simple, but it makes sure they read the book rather than just flipped through it. After that is a section for math problems. This is because they're both struggling with the subject so they get a little extra practice from time to time. Then comes the reward page. This is a sticker page that gets a sticker for each task done. Bonus stickers come for doing math problems and reading more than two books. When the page gets full, the child gets a surprise. Surprises range from a special activity to a new book or toy.

Home binders can be set up however it works best for you. They make a good way to log what chores are getting done on a regular basis. This helps you identify what the kids are struggling with and what chores they really enjoy. My eldest, for example, loves to wash dishes. This means I can add in another day to the weekly rotation for him and he'd be excited about it. My youngest struggles with keeping up with his laundry. Thus, I have to give him a little more direction and support on that chore. The great thing about home binders is that it combines the reward chart thing with the to do list thing. It sets the kids up for independent work but also supports them through it. And can help them set up their home organization system when they're on their own. (More about that kinda thing in my next post!)

What works to motivate your youngsters to help out in the home?

Today's rune is Gyfu (also spelled Gifu). This is associated with the letter 'G' in the English alphabet. Gyfu is known as 'gift' and is an irreversible rune. It is a rune associated with prosperity. It is also associated with partnerships, specifically love focused ones. As such, it is a popular rune for wealth and love spells. Gifts played a major part in ancient Norse and Germanic society. They were the social ties the bound people together and indications of a good ruler (for the ideal ruler was generous and gave freely from their wealth).

Gyfu comes to us today to indicated that this is a good day for partnerships. It is an especially beneficial day for initiating them. (So, if you have that crush you wanted to ask out, today is a good day to give it a shot.) It also shows us that we have good things coming to us, be it money, literal gifts of goods, or good luck. On the whole, Gyfu is indicating that today should be a good day for the Keen community.

Hi everybody, Dagaz is visiting us again today. This is the rune associated with the letter 'D' in the English alphabet. It is the rune of daytime, dawning, and sunlight. It is also associated with the Norse god of daytime, Dag. In many ways, this rune is like the tarot card The Sun. It speaks of sudden enlightenment, hope, and new beginnings. Fortunately, Dagaz is one of the runes that can not be reversed. Thus, it is always arriving in a benevolent aspect.

Today, Dagaz is reminding us that there is hope. Even in the dead of winter, there is still sunlight coming to us, though it may not be visible yet. We are encouraged not to give up and to keep trying to reach for our goals.

Hi there,

It can be a sticky mess when you're making bread. Dough gets everywhere it seems when the kneading process is happening. Unless you're wearing gloves. And then you might as well bake the gloves in the dough with how they get so sticky. (Pro tip: DON'T DO IT. I made that mistake. Total loss of loaf. It was tragic.)

If only there was a way to avoid that mess, right? Well, there is a great one. Just mix up your dough, put it in a greased bowl, turn it around a few times, then cover it with some plastic wrap that's been sprayed with cooking spray (this way the dough doesn't stick to the wrap or dry out). Then pop that bad boy into the fridge for 8 hours. (Or 12, it is going to rise slowly in there.)

The best part, however, isn't that lack of kneading. It's pretty great, but the best is cooking it. You need a cast iron or oven proof dutch oven for this part. Or a large casserole with a tight fitting lid. It has to be at least 4 quarts deep. Set your oven to 400o F and let it heat up with your dutch oven in there. While it is heating up, take out your bowl full of dough and let it warm up some after you take that plastic wrap off. Set your heap of dough on a large bit of parchment paper.

When your oven is at temperature, take the dutch oven out VERY carefully. Then VERY VERY carefully, lower your ball of dough into the pot. Replace the lid on it and pop the whole thing back into the oven. Turn the heat down to 350o F and cook it for the usual length of time (around 45 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when you tap on it). Then take the lid off and cook until the top is golden brown. You'll want to cool this on a wire rack.

Your final product will look like one of those fancy artisan loaves of bread they sell at the grocery store. And you had to do next to no work to make it. When I make it at my house, it comes out to be a pretty big loaf of bread. Perhaps that is the only reason why it lasts longer than two days. (My guys love their bread.)

Hi there!

Chickpeas are pretty awesome. Not only can you make hummus with them, you can have them in soups, stews, and a wide range of other dishes. If you are shifting to a more vegetarian diet, like I am, you may want to try out replacing some of the meat proteins in your diet with beans. Chickpeas can make a pretty good replacement for tuna if you do it right. The trick is not not mash the chickpeas completely. Instead, you want them only coarsely mashed so that they're like flaked pieces. The best tool for this job is the humble fork. I'm sure, though, you could pulse them a few times in the food processor. Just don't do it too much or you get the beginnings of hummus.

For this recipe, you will need one 15 oz can of chickpeas, a few tablespoons of pickle relish, one sheet of nori, and about a 1/4 cup of mayonnaise (or less, this one you can do to taste). In a medium bowl, flake your chickpeas. Then crumble your sheet of nori with the chickpeas. This is what gives the whole thing the taste of tuna. If you don't want the taste to be really strong, use less than a whole sheet. Again, do this to your taste preferences. Add your pickle relish and your mayonnaise. Mix until uniform. Then spread that goodness on some toasted bread and enjoy.

This is a really forgiving recipe. It is also just as adaptable as regular tuna salad recipes. If you don't like pickle relish, leave it out. If you want celery, onion, and carrot in there, throw 'em in. Just remember to flake your chickpeas and the nori. Flaking the chickpeas will give them the texture and mouth feel of tuna. The nori will give everything the taste of tuna. And that's all that's really to it. One of my favorite and easiest vegetarian lunch foods.

Today's rune is Tiwaz. It is associated with the letter 'T' in the English alphabet. It is also associated with the Anglo-Saxon deity Tiw (pronounced tee-ew). Tiw is considered by many to be a cognate to the ancient Norse deity Tyr. Both are deities associated with law and order. They are also associated with sacrifice for the sake of the greater good (in Tyr's case, the most famous myth associated with him is the loss of his right hand in the binding of Fenris, the great wolf-child of Loki prophesy declared would consume Odin at the twilight of the gods).

This rune is associated with victory in combat. It was common in runic magic to have it as part of a bind rune upon one's person to ensure victory and prevent harm. It is also associated with legality and civil affairs. While Tiw/Tyr is known as a god of warfare, he is better known as a law giver. Some speculate that he was the head of the Aseir before Odin, or was worshiped as such prior to the migration period of Norse history. Archaeological evidence is inconclusive on this point.

Today, Tiwaz comes to us reversed. It is warning us not to enter into legal agreements with out careful consideration. It is also warning us to be careful of situations that require us to make too great of a sacrifice. If we find ourselves in some manner of conflict, we may discover that we are at a disadvantage today. Thus, the watch word of the day, today, is caution.

Hi there,

Working is hard. Working with other people is even harder. To make things easier, try to incorporate a little kindness into your day. Small, thoughtful things not only make it easier to deal with that one cranky coworker, it shows the people higher up that you have 'people skills' which can lead to advancement in your career. It also helps create a work place culture of kindness, which means eventually that cranky coworker will be less cranky. In theory.

Here are 10 thoughtful things that may help at work.

1. If you use the copier, make sure it has enough paper when you're done. Every time.

2. If the coffee pot is the break room is empty, put on a fresh pot. You'll be the office hero, trust me.

3. ALWAYS give the pen back. And keep extra pens on hand.

4. Keep some hand sanitizer in your cubicle or at your desk. When you go to shake hands with someone, discreetly clean your hands before and after. This will prevent you and them from getting sick from what ever that awful thing is going around the office.

5. Always greet the secretary and the hospitality staff in the morning. Also the security guards. They spend all day basically ignored or treated like furniture. Acknowledge their humanity when you see them. It will boost their morale.

6. Treat your support staff like they are your equals. Someday, one of them may be promoted and working right beside you or above you.

7. Treat the custodial staff like they are just as important as you are. Their job is vital to the company. With out them, everybody would get sick and the place couldn't function.

8. If you can not help talking about your coworkers, do it in a complimentary fashion. Find things that you are impressed by and that you really like about them. Become known as the person with a nice thing to say about everybody.

9. Always park correctly. It sounds like a silly thing, but if you are always parking correctly, you have made at least five lives easier with the parking spaces around your car.

10. Keep an extra few dollars in your pocket. This way if you're at the vending machine and someone is short some change, you can loan them some of yours. Eventually, it'll come back and someone will lend you some change.

Hi there,

It is pretty easy to get caught up in the day and forget about doing something sweet for someone until it is late and you're worn out. It happens on a pretty regular basis around here. But romance is more than candle lit dinners and roses. It can also just be doing thoughtful things for each other.

Here is a list of 10 thoughtful things that can help keep your partner feeling your love through the day.

1. Pack them lunch with a silly joke or fond memory written on a note card. (Be warned, your jokes may get shared if they're especially good. Or, in my case, deliberately cheezy.)

2. Make one night a week the night that you have their favorite comfort food for dinner. (And do the same for yourself.)

2. Always hold the door for them when their hands are full.

3. End the day with cuddling and happy things that happened during both of your experiences of the day.

4. Plan at least one hour a week for you to spend just relaxing together. It may be binge watching a tv show or each of you reading a book sitting on opposite ends of the couch. Spend an hour just relaxing in each others presence.

5. Find out what sort of thing they love to have as a snack. Make a point to keep it in the house. Do the same for yourself.

6. Give them the first cup of coffee (or tea) fixed just how they like it. You don't have to do it all the time, but on a regular basis works pretty well for my relationship.

7. Treat them to breakfast on a lazy morning. Your cooking skills don't have to be fantastic. It can be just cereal and coffee. The fact that you put it together for them will mean a lot.

8. Surprise them with a random love note. I like 3x5 cards for this. I can just write something down quick and sneak it into the book Beloved is reading.

9. Remind them of the important things when they're having a harried morning. (Like when I reminded my husband to put on his glasses before he left for work right as he was about to shut the door and go start driving without them last week. It was a crazy week for everyone.)

10. This sounds contradictory, but make sure you give them some alone time after work or a stressful situation to get themselves sorted out. That little bit of breathing room helps a lot.

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