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Welcome to My Venture!

Although my approach may be a bit unconventional, it is my greatest desire for this online journal to be a unique place where we can share life lessons learned from the many wonderful people–past and present– who profoundly touch our lives!

I sincerely hope you will feel inclined to comment and pay tribute to these great mentors by sharing your thoughts with me and this community.  It’s my goal for all who visit here to benefit as we participate and read one another’s insights.

I’ve learned that everyone has something to teach and something to learn!

A Little TLC For Our Smiles!

A Little TLC For Our Smiles!

No doubt about it, our smiles are one of our most cherished assets, and since I’ve recently devoured a substantial portion of bite-sized Halloween candy, it seemed like a good time to offer a few reminders on how to take good care of those smiles from one of my favorite dentist’s…my son, Dr. Jake Wilding DDS!

A Little TLC For Your Teeth!

“They sure are handy when you smile…so keep your teeth around for a while!”  Dr. Suess

Tips for good smile care.

A healthy smile is achieved by using a variety of methods to help create and maintain the appearance and integrity of those pearly whites!

◊  Knowledge is power:

Jake was always a “cause and effect” kind of kid…he also loved learning  how the various functions of the body were interrelated in his physiology and anatomy labs while doing his undergraduate studies, so it’s apropos that he would give me a brief overview of what dental decay is exactly!

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries, results from the action of bacteria that live in plague, which is a sticky, white film formed by  a protein in saliva and sugary substances in the mouth.  Tooth decay takes place when the acid from plague bacteria and sugar attach to a vulnerable tooth surface that is not given proper care.

Did you know that tooth decay has become such a critical problem, that according to the American Dental Association, it is second in prevalence after the common cold only, of health issues that affect our overall well-being.

◊  An ounce of prevention:

I suspect that if we had unwanted bacteria growing in any other part of our body and were told that we could prevent it (or at the very least, slow growth down) by brushing the area twice a day, along with regular check-ups by our doctor, we wouldn’t even hesitate to do it!  As a nurse, I’m always aware that it’s easier and less expensive to prevent health problems than treat them later on down the road.  Being mindful of our bodies, including taking time for good oral hygiene, is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Like any other daily routine that promotes wellness, a little tender loving care for our smiles is a crucial component.  I like the four simple strategies to prevent tooth decay and preserve healthy teeth that Jake outlined.

1. The best way to prevent tooth decay is obviously to brush our teeth at least twice a day, preferably after every meal and floss daily.  Effective brushing cleans the outer tooth grooves and spaces between the teeth as well as the tongue.  Flossing once a day also helps prevent gum disease, known as gingivitis, by removing food and plaque at and below the gum line, as well as between the teeth.  We should visit our dentist every six months for a thorough oral exam and professional cleaning.

Using an electric toothbrush will certainly amp up our oral care and a water pick is a great choice if we have a hard time flossing or have deep pockets along our gum line, but good old-fashioned brushing and flossing are always the “go-to” care options.

Brush your teeth quote

Like most dentists, Jake suggests that we brush our teeth in a circular motion with a soft/medium bristle toothbrush for at least two minutes to allow time for the fluoride in the toothpaste to infiltrate completely into the tooth enamel.  We can make it fun by humming a favorite song or brushing during an advertisement segment of a TV show we’re watching.  Only use fluoride with someone who can rinse and spit.  Babies can’t spit and often just swallow what’s put into their mouths, and that can cause their stomachs to become upset and may lead to fluoride spots forming on developing tooth buds.  (Jake likes a toothpaste called MI paste.  You can read about it here.)

2.  The use of products containing fluoride and calcium phosphate helps to make your tooth enamel become more resilient to demineralization caused by food and bacteria in plaque.  Toothpastes, mouthwashes, vitamin supplements and fluoridated public drinking water are all possible sources of fluoride.  Put in simple terms, fluoride chemically binds with a natural mineral (hydroxyapatite) in our tooth enamel and helps strengthen them so they can better withstand decay and erosion.  Calcium phosphate helps to remineralize the lost calcium in weakened teeth.

A Little TLC For Yor Smile!

“Wake up, put on your prettiest smile and love today!”  Daily Dental Humor

Speaking of fluoride, the debate about the addition of fluoride into public water is always ongoing…but nearly all public health, medical and dental organizations record a significant reduction in dental disease when fluoride is properly added (0.7 mg of fluoride per liter of water) to community water.  Because of its contribution to the large decline in cavities in the United States since 1960, the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) named water fluoridation one of the 10 great public achievements of the 20th century!

3.  While fluoride, along with thorough brushing and flossing, proves to be most beneficial on the smooth surfaces of teeth, sealants should be considered to help protect the irregular chewing surfaces.  A sealant is a clear, flowable resin that is painted on the grooves of the back molars that quickly bonds into the depressions of a tooth, protecting it against dental caries and plaque.  Sealants cost less than fillings and can last up to 10 years.  It is usually recommended that sealants be applied to premolars and molars of children and teenagers between the ages of 7 and 14 within the first few years after eruption.

Dental sealant.

(Sealant via World Dental Clinic)

Sealants often reduce the risk of tooth decay by as much as 80% in molars.  I had sealants applied to my children’s teeth when they were young, and even now as adults, they have had very few cavities.

4.  Eating a nutritious diet, not only helps us maintain a healthy weight, it’s integral in preventing tooth decay.  It goes without saying that a variety of foods from each food group, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and low-fat dairy products, with a limited amount of refined sugars and processed carbohydrates is best when it comes to maintaining good oral health; when we eat is an important factor to consider as well, since foods eaten with a meal cause less harm to teeth than snacking throughout the day, since more saliva is released during a meal–and saliva helps wash foods from the mouth and lessens the effects of acids that cause tooth decay.  Most dental care providers also agree that babies not be put to bed with anything in their bottle except water to prevent early onset tooth decay.  A healthy lifestyle simply require us to be aware of our habits and establish a better routine when necessary.

A Little TLC For Your Smile!

I know what you’re thinking…easier said than done–right?  I like the motto my father lived by, “Moderation in all things!”  It’s worth taking the extra effort though, if we can feel good and have more time and money to enjoy ourselves rather than being sick and having to pay extra in medical and dental costs.

◊  A good investment: 

Did you know that the condition of our teeth and gums can often offer clues to other more serious systemic problems regarding our general health, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sinus infections and arthritis, to name a few.  Because of these potential links, it is important that we tell our dentist’s if we’re taking any new medications or have had any major changes in our overall well-being.  It’s been said that if our eyes are the window to our soul, our mouths are the window to our bodies.  As you can see, giving our smiles a little TLC is a good investment that always proves to have huge dividends!

Smile quote.

When I asked Jake if there was a treatment plan for my sweet tooth…he just laughed and said, “Yes…..self control!”   Ugh!!  He also gave me a few suggestions to help make a visit to the dentist more enjoyable.  Always visit with your dentist and be informed about the procedures that are recommended.  If treatment requires a shot, (anesthesia) try taking a deep breath and keeping your eyes opened and fixed on a focal point.  Know that it will be over in a few seconds, then the numbing sets in.  Communicate with your dental team.  If you are feeling anything uncomfortable, raise a hand and let them know.  Perhaps more medicine needs to be administered, a bite prop adjusted or more suction provided.  Ask to see the tooth before and after the procedure–often seeing the improvement makes any discomfort experienced seem more worthwhile!          

I’m so blessed to be surrounded by lovely people in my life who always make me smile…sometimes even when I don’t feel like it!

One last thing, since Monday is Veteran’s Day, I want to express how blessed and thankful I feel for all those who have served and those who still work hard to preserve our freedoms in this wonderful land of America!

Army Proud!

Jake obtained his professional degree with a military scholarship and has served as a dentist for the army for the past 4 years.  He and his cute family recently moved to Augusta, Georgia, where he will study prosthodontics.

I’m curious…how do you make going to the dentist a good experience?  Any dental “tricks of the trade” that you swear by to keep your smile healthy? 

–All the best, Mary

Sunday Morning! Taking Time To Nurture Our Souls!

Sunday Morning!

Sunday morning always seems to have a special feeling…whether I’m attending church, going to work as a nurse in the NICU, or enjoying a leisure breakfast with my husband, I love the unique pace of a beautiful Sunday.  More than ever before, it has become a day to reflect and take the opportunity to truly be grateful for all the many blessings I enjoy.  My cute hubby, who is a news junkie of sorts, has also deemed it a good news day–a much-needed break from the grind of the regular work week and a day to nurture our souls so that we can be better fortified to live our best lives.  For some time now, we have recorded the CBS news show, “Sunday Morning” that used to be hosted by veteran TV journalist, Charles Osgood.  The unique stories shared on this wonderfully produced program, spotlight the innate goodness found in most people and their genuine desire to serve and uplift others.  After all–when it’s all said and done…isn’t that what life should really be about?

Sunday Morning! Nurturing Our Souls!

“Wishing you a happy Sunday!  Let’s do what makes our souls shine!”  Steve Hartman on “Sunday Morning”

Taking The Time To Nurture Our Souls!

In today’s society, we tend to have the need to constantly push ourselves to achieve and always show strength–and while these are admirable attributes in and of themselves, we run the risk of making life more about accomplishments and less about being loving and doing more of those things that bring us happiness.  If you’re feeling a bit stretched to your limits–you just might find that any given Sunday morning is the perfect time to be a little introspective and take a personal inventory of the things that nurture your soul and create more joy in your life.  My husband is a financial planner and makes the analogy on occasion, that if you don’t make regular deposits into your bank account of life, so to speak, there will come a time when you won’t have anything left to withdraw.  Wise insight!  How then, do we go about nurturing our souls so we can open our hearts and be more caring?

♥ Count Our Blessings

It’s sounds a bit cliché, but perhaps one of the best ways to find more contentment and joy in our lives is to really recognize what we have to be thankful for…whether you write these things down in a journal or just take time for a moment or two of thoughtful meditation, acknowledging our blessings seems like one of the best ways to nurture our souls!

Sunday morning! Taking Time To Nurture Our Souls!

Most anything from generic spiral notebooks to small pocket planners work well for jotting down some thankful thoughts, but if you’d like a special gratitude journal, Rifle Paper Co. has a good variety of unique ones!  

It goes without saying, that a personal thank-you is always the best way to express gratitude!

Showing gratitude.

My mom always used to say, “Gratitude unexpressed is not gratitude!”

♥  Unplug And Look Up!

I know this seems to be the “catch phrase” of this generation, but with the influx of information from all the technology readily available at our fingertips, it does seem that more often than not, our eyes are constantly looking down at our phones or they’re affixed on some other sort of screen.  As I’ve made a conscious effort to put my phone away during those times that I’m playing with my grandkids or out for the evening our with my husband, I can vouch for the fact that a big part of nurturing my soul has come from looking up and being truly present in the moment when spending time with family and friends.  In fact, I’ve even gone so far as to find excuses to plan special occasions with family and friends, where we get together and socialize the old-fashioned way with fun games, good food and lively conversation.

Nurturing our souls.

I think every family has a few favorite games that they love to play together, but if you want some great ideas for some hilarious and technology-free fun, then check out the “Unplug and Play” game book by Brad Berger!

♥  Create A Home Sweet Home!

I’m a firm believer that your home should be that comfortable safe haven from the outside world; the place you go to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most!  While I don’t necessarily adhere to overly strict rules when it comes to keeping a nice house, one of the first things I learned in nursing school is that a neat environment lends itself to our overall well-being!  The rhythm of a good weekend where equal parts of work and play are enjoyed, always serves to help me nurture my soul, especially when a little quiet introspection while relaxing at home on a lovely Sunday morning is included!

Home sweet home pillow.

“A Sunday well spent…brings a week of content!”  Old Proverb

♥  Strengthen Our Body And Minds! 

All too often, we prioritize everyone and everything else in our lives except for time to care for ourselves, leaving us feeling a bit exhausted and overwhelmed.  As a result, we find we’re living in a state of chronic stress without fully realizing it.  Living this way can take a huge toll on our physical health, as well as our mental state of mind.  Recognizing that our bodies and minds…and ultimately our spirits are all connected, gives us a powerful incentive to do better at including some regular physical exercise and mindful creativity to help us live a more balanced and vibrant life style.  Taking time to do these things helps us to have a sense of inner peace, which is key to nourishing our souls.  Creating simple routines to include a little self-care is obviously a very individualized process, but taking care of ourselves is integral to being more fully present for others.

Nourishing our souls quote.

“A happy life is manifested in a more balanced union of the body, mind and soul.”  Tribute Journal

♥  Love More Fully!

Ultimately, when it comes to nourishing our souls, I think you’ll agree, that loving with a generous heart is what seems to matter most.  In her article, “Rx For The Soul” psychologist, Dr. Judith Rich, states that “the soul is here to learn to love it all, even and perhaps especially, those things the ego thinks are unlovable.”  Maybe by loving the unlovable parts of ourselves and others, we’ll see the good and decent parts of one another more clearly and our souls will find peace and a greater acceptance of people from all walks of life!

Nuturing our souls.

“At the end of our life, our questions are simple:  Did I live well?  Did I love fully?”  Jack Kornfield

As I close this post, I want to share a good news story by TV journalist, Steve Hartman, on a recent “Sunday Morning” episode.

Happy Sunday…and best blessings to everyone!

Sunday blessings

“Do not face the day until you have faced God in prayer!”  Bible Quotes

Now it’s your turn…what do you do to nourish your soul?

–Much love, Mary

The Cookbook Challenge! Garden Pasta!

The Cookbook Challenge!  Garden Pasta!

If you’re like me, you might be feeling a little overrun with all the fresh veggies you’ve picked from your garden before the fall freeze gets to them.  This month’s Cookbook Challenge came partly out of desperation to find creative ways to use up some of our abundant tomato harvest.

The Cookbook Challenge!

“My green thumb has come only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant’s point of view.”  H. Fred Ale

At Home With Ina Garten!

One of the ways my hubby  likes to unwind after a long day at work, is to kick back and watch a good cooking show.  (I know…funny!)  If you were to ask me who his favorite Food Network chef is…hands down, it would be Ina Garten, better known as the Barefoot Contessa.  I think it’s her homey meals served without a lot of fanfare to family and friends, including her congenial husband, Jeffrey, who has become a celebrity of sorts, in his own right.

While it’s true that we own several cookbooks, we have collected more of Ina Garten’s than any other chef…and her “Barefoot Contessa At Home” is a favorite, because like it states on the cover, it truly is great recipes you’ll use over and over again…so it just made sense that in searching for a fun, new recipe to use some of our tomatoes in, I reached for this cookbook.

Ina Garten cookbook.

“My extravagance is my garden, it’s the first thing I look at every morning, it gives me such pleasure.”   Ina Garten

We’ve made quite a few recipes from this cookbook, but this was the first time trying this one…it’s the perfect recipe trifecta; simple, healthy and delicious!

Garden Pasta

Ina Garten explains that she got this recipe from a good friend, Jean Halberstam, who had a cookware store in Nantucket where they both lived.  She also states that the recipe is the essence of summer lingering into fall–that sold me!

4-6 cups cherry tomatoes, halved 

Garden pasta recipe.

This year, we planted a fun variety of tomatoes in our garden…from heirloom, to assorted cherry tomatoes, as well as the popular red celebrity tomatoes.  I cut all the tomatoes I used to about the same size as the halved cherry tomatoes.  

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

2 tbsp. minced garlic 

Since we like garlic on the lighter side, I sprinkled garlic powder to taste.

1/2 small red onion, minced

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Freshly chopped basil leaves

1 pound angel hair pasta  

Garden pasta recipe.

I like a little more substantial pasta with this recipe, so I used the Al Dente brand fettucine noodles.  They have a great, fresh taste and cook up quickly too.  

1 1/2  cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving.

Combine the cut tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, basil leaves, salt and pepper into a large bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let marinate.  You could also do this the night before too.  

Right before serving, bring a large pot of water with 2 tbsp. salt and a splash of olive oil to boil and add pasta.  Cook according to directions on the package.  It usually takes only 2-3 minutes if using angle hair pasta. 

Drain cooked pasta well, then stir it into tomato mixture.  Add parmesan cheese and toss well.  Garnish with more basil leaves if desired.  I added some toasted pine nuts too; they give the recipe a tasty crunch factor.

Serve in large bowls and enjoy!

The Cookbook Challenge! Garden Pasta!Recipe!

“It’s hard to have anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato”  Tribute Journal  

Now, more than ever before, we find ourselves yearning to gather with family and friends around a good meal, sharing laughter and expressions of love!

I’d love to know the fresh veggie recipes you enjoy this time of year.

–Mary