June 30, 2010

Portobello Curry with Green Rice

Posted in Food, Health, Recipes tagged , , , , at 6:43 am by Liliana

Portobello mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms

I love mushrooms and am always looking for delicious recipes that feature this exquisite fungi.

Try this  fragrant, enticing recipe and spice up your summer dinner. It will make you think of the Far East and the ancient spice rout!

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 lb. Portobello mushrooms, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion
  • 2 tsp. Madras (spicy) curry powder or curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped cashews or peanuts


1. In medium saucepan combine rice, 2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

2. Meanwhile, in blender or food processor combine 1/2 cup of the coconut milk, cilantro, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 garlic clove, and the lime juice. Cover; blend or process until nearly smooth. Stir into rice. Cover; keep warm.

3. In 12-inch skillet cook mushrooms in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes; turn occasionally. Add green onions, curry powder, red pepper, and remaining ginger and garlic. Cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes and remaining coconut milk. Heat through. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

4. To serve, divide rice among plates. Top with mushroom mixture and sprinkle with nuts. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens


June 29, 2010

Weekend at the Lake

Posted in Children, Family, Food, Friendships, Holidays, Home, Weather tagged , , , , at 6:39 am by Liliana

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

We spent a few days at our cottage near Lake Michigan.

Between our guests from Alaska and Chicago and our own extended family, there were fifteen occupants. Half of us were children.

Every room was put to good use. Branka and Joe took the back bedroom. Sasha and Sam claimed the tiny front room. Tom and Sharon slept on an air mattress in the little side porch. Next to them, in the middle walk-through room, slept the two boys, Nate and Julian.

In the upstairs loft, we had a crowd: Jeff and I on the bed, Nicky and Nena on the floor.

And then the tent. Laurie brought a big, sturdy tent, and she and the two little girls (Katie and Monica) slept outside. The huge rain storm did not scare these ladies away.

The children spent hours filling balloons with water and popping them on the side of the house. They climbed the play structures in the little park down the street. Sam and Nate played soccer and basketball, at the same time. They buried each other in the sand, and we had to make them come out of the lake. No one wanted to stop bobbing in the huge waves that came after the storm.

The adults walked on the beach, sat talking on the front porch, drank Turkish coffee out of dainty porcelain cups. Branka made soups, corn bread and puppy seed and walnut strudel. Sharon and Tom made a Mexican themed dinner one night. Jeff barbecued a feast on Saturday night.

Since it was also Nena’s birthday, Branka bought a huge Dairy Cream ice cream cake. It was not just the little kids who asked for seconds! As the storm raged outside and we cooled ourselves with melting vanilla, chocolate and cookie dough flavors, Laurie asked what the adults would do differently if they had another chance at being twenty two.

Most had a similar wish – slow down the time and spend it enjoying each others presence. And so we did.

June 28, 2010

Ice Maker Parts and Advice

Posted in appliance parts, RepairClinic.com tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:47 am by Liliana

Ice Maker

Ice Maker

The hot days of summer are here in earnest. Temperatures are high, humidity is steaming, and we all need something to cool us down.

Ice – it is such a beautiful word in summertime, isn’t it? If you have an ice maker, this is when you use it most.

If your ice maker is not working property, RepariClinic.com can help you diagnose the problem and find the right part to fix this essential summer helpmate.

Here are a few possible problems with your ice maker:

  • No ice – if your ice maker has completely stopped making ice, check items in this order:
    • It may be turned off. Look for the wire along the right side of the ice maker that looks a bit like a coat hanger. If the wire is in the raised position, the ice maker is turned off. If so, try one of these:
      • If your ice maker has a small red plastic lever, lower it to lower the wire.
      • If there’s no plastic lever, simply lower the wire.
  • Make sure that the temperature is 8 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. If the freezer is too warm, the ice maker won’t cycle properly and the ice maker fill tube may be blocked by ice. If this is the case, melt the ice by using a hair dryer; be very careful not to melt any plastic parts, though!
  • Replace the water shut-off valve or water-inlet valve, or both, if necessary. The ice maker head assembly may have broken parts. Look to see if the gears are broken. Check to see if the small plastic arms that rest against the ice rake are broken. If the ice maker head assembly is modular and you’ve found broken parts, you can just replace the entire thing.
  • Small ice cubes or too few of them – if your ice maker is producing ice poorly, you probably have a clogged water line, a defective water-inlet valve, or a defective ice maker mold thermostat that isn’t cycling properly. Check these:
    • The water line that’s attached to the back of the refrigerator. Make sure you have good water flow. If the flow is poor, you need to repair, clean, or replace the tubing or the shut-off valve that supplies the water.
    • The water-inlet valve. Replace it if it has failed.
    • Check the freezer temperature. If should be 8 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. If the freezer temperature is too low, the ice maker won’t cycle properly.
    • The ice maker mold thermostat. Make sure that it’s cycling properly.
    • Specks in the cubes  – if you find black or gray specks in your ice cubes, have a look at the ice cube tray. If the protective coating is peeling away, the most economical solution is to completely replace the ice maker.

Enjoy your summer with a cool, ice filled glass of lemonade!

June 27, 2010

The Oil Spill

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Children, Cleaning, Health, Money, News, Travel, Weather tagged , , , , , at 6:46 am by Liliana


"Make my hands respect the things you have"

There is a great environmental tragedy happening in the Gulf of Mexico and it affects our entire planet.

I wanted to address the issue, to acknowledge the unprecedented affliction, torment and suffering, but my words feel inadequate and shallow.

What can I say that hasn’t been said? What wisdom can I offer?

I will let this beautiful Native American Prayer speak for me. It says everything, and much more, that I wanted to express.

Native American Prayer

Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

(translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)

Source: http://www.sapphyr.net/natam/quotes-nativeamerican.htm

June 26, 2010

Blueberry Parfait

Posted in Breast Cancer, Cancer, Food, Health, Recipes tagged , , , , , at 7:27 am by Liliana

Blueberries are in season

Blueberries are in season

Blueberries are in season.

One of the most nutritious and delicious fruits, blueberries can be eaten in an infinite variety of ways.

You can make this easy-to-prepare recipe with blueberries or any one of your favorite fruits for a quick and elegant dessert.

Indulge yourself or impress a guest.

Prep and Cook Time: 5 minutes


  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 4 oz low-fat yogurt
  • 1 TBS chopped walnuts
  • 2 tsp grated dark chocolate


  1. Layer yogurt and blueberries in 2 wine glasses.
  2. Top with chopped walnuts.
  3. Sprinkle grated chocolate

Serves 2

June 25, 2010

How is Avery Doing?

Posted in Cancer, Children, Health tagged , , , , , , at 6:42 am by Liliana

Avery is doing great!

Avery - enjoying water and with dad and mom

Little Avery is doing great.

Her body is healing wonderfully. She is learning new things every day and delighting her parents, brothers and everyone who knows her. She is goodhearted and fun to be around.

Yesterday, Avery got to ring the bell at the hospital! The bell ringing at the children’s hospital signifies that SHE IS DONE WITH CHEMO. A new MRI of her neck and a CT of her lungs is scheduled for June 28. We hope it all comes clean and clear, and then both parents and friends can relax and enjoy the summer with this amazing little girl.

Every day, Avery learns more words, NO and MINE among them.  When doctors try to touch the port on her chest, Avery puts her hand over it and loudly says “NO”!

She learned the words Hot and Bubbles.  She has started picking flowers from her garden, bringing them to her nose and smelling them.

Avery participated with family, friends and well wishers in the Garden City Relay for Life event.  This little toddler was described as “the face of the Relay. ” Team Avery raised over $8,000 for the American Cancer Society and was given the award for Team Rookie of the Year.

Avery’s diagnosis last year with non-rhabdomyosarcoma, deeply touched everyone who knows her story. This rare form of cancer has the characteristics of three different types of cancer, all in one. By the time Avery was diagnosed in October, it had already spread to her lungs and was ranked Stage 4. After four rounds of chemotherapy, her cancer had shrunk and there are now no traces of lesions in her lungs.

I will keep you updated on Avery’s progress.

Best of luck, little angel! Keep growing, flourishing, and learning.

June 24, 2010

Raina’s Cakes

Posted in appliance parts, Food, RepairClinic.com, Women, Work tagged , , , at 7:11 am by Liliana

The Margarita Cake!

The Margarita Cake!

On several occasions in the past few weeks, employees at RepairClinic.com come to work and were dazzled with a lovely surprise – a beautifully decorated cake!

The first cake was a pink and purple sphere, adorned with jewel colored swirls. As Roger said, it looked like something out of a cartoon by Dr. Seuss. It was playful, twirly and funny. There was a little note next to the cake that said – Enjoy!

We had no idea who made it, and no one wanted to cut into it first and ruin the design.

I know it happened on a Tuesday morning, because we were having our Marketing meeting. Who made the cake?

Raina came forward. We should have known that the cake was hers, it certainly had her lively personality stamped all over it. She and her husband, Tim,  were looking for a fun project and decided to give cake making and decorating a go. They were so good at it from the first try that we all encouraged them heartily.

We cut into the cake and it tasted as good as it looked.

A few days later we found another cake in the lunchroom – this one was made in the shape of Sylvester the cat. Tim made Sylvester, and sent it to the good people at RepairClinic to enjoy. Employees looked, laughed, marveled and then attacked. Sylvester was gone before I went to the lunchroom for my second cup of coffee.

But it was the cake number three that blew us all away. Early one morning, Raina brought in a shimmering, green cake in a shape of a huge margarita glass. She even had a straw sticking out on one side.

People from all departments came to see the margarita glass cake. Cameras appeared in the lunchroom, flash lights were brightening the start of our day, and the morning acquired that sparkly and elegant feeling usually reserved for festive afternoons.

We can’t wait to see what Raina and Tim come up with next!

June 23, 2010

Apricot Smoothie

Posted in Food, Health, Recipes tagged , , , , , , , at 6:45 am by Liliana

Apricots in season

Apricot season

Early summer is apricot season.

I love to eat this fragrant fruit fresh or cook it in a variety of  ways.

Apricots are delicious when roasted with meat; blanched, pealed and eaten as desert with vanilla ice cream; or slowly simmered into jam.

I found this delicious sounding smoothie in the New York Times food section.

Doesn’t it sound like the perfect treat for a light breakfast or a refreshing summer afternoon delicacy?

The writer advises that “an apricot smoothie should be pure apricot, with no other fruits to dilute the intense flavor.”


  • 3 medium-size apricots (about 6 ounces), pitted
  • 3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon mild honey, such as clover or acacia
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 or 2 ice cubes

1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend at high speed until smooth. Serve right away.

Yield: One serving. Drink this right after you make it. Enjoy!

Source: New York Times Food Section

June 22, 2010

Soccer World Cup 2006

Posted in Children, Travel tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:44 am by Liliana

World Cup Victory, 2006

World Cup Victory, 2006

When my daughter Nena and nephew Sasha graduated from high school four years ago, they went on a trip to Europe. We have family in Holland, so that central little country became their home base. They stayed with relatives for a few days, then set off on trains with their student Eurail tickets.

That summer of 2006, most of the world, and Europe in particular, was inflamed with soccer fever. Germany was hosting the World Cup, so every country on the continent wanted to show off its national skills and prove its superior soccer technique.

In Brussels, the ancient markets had the latest soccer paraphernalia for sale. In Paris, while eating crepes and strolling in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower, the kids heard blaring television and radio sets and kept track of the scores. From Paris to Bordeaux, they argued with a number of rowdy Australian students about the greatness of players like Zinedine Zidane and Marco Materazzi.

While marveling at Gaudi’s buildings in Barcelona, they heard the news that the French beat the Spaniards. French fans appeared out of nowhere, filling the streets with French flags, language and songs. The kids walked with the victors, sang and celebrated.

But it wasn’t until they came to Rome, that they realized what blazing soccer fever really meant. The Italians were frenzied. The kids sat in cafes for hours, watching games and rooting for – who else – the Italians! And then, on their last day in the city, Italy won the tournament.

What can I say, it was a wild celebration any way you look at it, and Nena and Sasha never made it to their student hostel that night. They walked around the streets of Rome for hours and hours with thousands of other revelers. Sasha got a hold of a couple of huge Italian flags and they carried them around, shouting, singing, proclaiming the superiority of everything Italian.

In the morning, as they caught the train to Holland, they heard the news that the next World Cup was taking place in South Africa.

And here it is now – the summer of 2010. Where will these kids be four years from now?

June 21, 2010

RepairClinic.com Summer Barbecue

Posted in appliance parts, Children, Company Meetings, Family, Food, RepairClinic.com, Weather, Women, Work tagged , , , at 6:46 am by Liliana

RepairClinic.com Summer Barbecue and Fun Day

RepairClinic.com Summer Barbecue and Fun Day

Last week, we celebrated the beginning of summer with a company barbecue and family fun day at RepairClinic.com.

After all the downpours and extreme weather we were having in Michigan lately, we were all a bit nervous. But the morning was pleasant, sunny and dry. Perfect for a barbecue.

The tent was already up when I arrived, and people were arranging tables and chairs. Two huge bouncies we had rented out for the afternoon fun with the kids were being inflated. I had stopped at the flower shop and picked up dozens of jewel colored African violets. Wrapped in green and white tissue paper they added charm and elegance to our gathering when I placed them on white tablecloths.

The grills were being fired up on the side of our building, and Lisa, Ryan, Tracy, Shielda and Veronica were ready to start grilling when Raina arrived with the meat.

Alana stopped at the bakery to pick up the desserts – an amazing selection of delectable little pastries, fruit tarts, chocolate brownies, carrot cake slices and napoleons.

When employees started lining up at 12:30, everything was set up and ready. I placed a perfectly done piece of steak on my plate, potato salad on the side, and green salad with dried cherries.  Prizes were given, employees recognized and Larry informed us on the progress of the latest projects and initiatives. I quietly listened as I tasted a delicate fruit tart with light cream and tangy kiwi and raspberries.

After the employee luncheon, we started cleaning up and preparing for the arrival of our friends and families. The bouncies were ready. We brought out the food, the ice cream cart full of goodies, and lots of cold and refreshing drinks.

The balloon guy was setting up when the first families arrived. Children lined up and I don’t think that guy got a break for a second the entire afternoon. We had two caricaturists doing portraits and each had a long list of patrons. Music was playing in one corner of the tent and children danced with full balloon headgear. Others were racing up the large bouncies, sliding down, then racing up again. People talked and some introduced new colleagues to their families. I visited with the little children and held the new babies. Everyone took pictures.

No one wanted to go home at the end of the afternoon. Children asked their moms and dads if they could come again tomorrow. And, I don’t think I was the only one who slept like a baby that night.

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