How To Organize Your Kitchen Spices

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I know: you’re probably reading this and thinking, “Why on earth would I want to?” 😀

But trust me when I say that once you figure out a system how to organize your kitchen spices, it will save you money and it will save you time.

And honestly, there are probably better systems out there than mine. My spice cabinet is kind of small, and I’m not inclined to move it (nor do I know where I’d move it to.)

But think about it. Have you ever ended up on more than one occasion with multiple obscure spices that you don’t use often?

Like cardamom.

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Or coriander.

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Or what about this one?

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I’m a big fan of Paleo cooking. One of the reasons I love Paleo meals is that they are very flavorful. In other words, they are recipes which require spices. Multiple spices.

When you have a household with two cooks who both like flavorful food and have a tendency toward impulse seasoning purchases, you end up with a cabinet that looks like this.

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And this.

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That’s the top shelf, with about 10 varieties of hot sauces.

See what I mean? Would you want to dig through this every time you needed something? I’m in spice hell! 😀

2015-06-30 15.17.09This picture is all the tall spices on the middle shelf. Seriously.

One item that has made finding them a whole lot easier is a lazy Susan. (Just who was Susan, anyway?) I’ve been using this guy for about 16 years. (These work great in your bathroom vanity too, by the way.)

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All the little ones sit nicely on the top shelf, and the bigger ones on the bottom.

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This certainly makes it a little easier to identify what’s there. But what about all these?

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Wait. I saw something out the window. What is that?!?!

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Yep. Squirrel! Sorry. The little stinker.

So the other day, after digging through that cabinet for the LAST time without any idea whether I had something or not, I snapped.

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My solution to this cesspool of spices was to take inventory. Sure, it took a few minutes to set up: I was waiting for something to come out of the oven, so I alphabetized them while I was waiting, and I jotted them down on paper.

Next, I typed them into a Word Document. The beauty of this is that you only have to do this ONCE. (Unless your hard drive crashes and you lose everything on your computer. In which case, you have bigger problems than this.)

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I sorted mine into 3 categories:  Spices, Seasoning Blends, and Hot Sauces.

The final list looks like this, and hangs just inside the door. Now do you feel my pain? 😀

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This handy dandy system has already saved me money: I was at the shop yesterday making my grocery list, and realized I’d forgotten to check and see if I had some whole cloves. Dang. It meant either a trip back home, or a guess. What would you do? Exactly: I would have guessed. And had a 50/50 chance of getting it right.

Wait! I have a list! So I went into my computer files, and Ta Da! I had ground cloves but no whole cloves.

My plan is to update this list every once in a while, after I get several scribbles on it. And if I run out of something, or it’s past the expiration date, immediately add it to your grocery list.

A little bit of time for a lot of rewards. That’s a winner in my book.

Add a little SPICE to your life, friends! 😀

Before & After: A Rindercella Story

Once upon a time, there was a handsome Prince who bought a cozy little house on a small acreage just outside of the nice small city he lived in. There were trees, and wildlife, a beautiful yard, in the country, and he could still get a pizza delivered.

House 2002

After he worked at painting and adding new carpet, he was pleased with his efforts and his charming 960-sq. ft. house, and all was well.

A year later, he met a Princess, who moved in shortly afterwards. Not long after that, her two dogs came to live with them. And over the next few years, as they began their happily-ever-after journey, two more dogs joined their family.

So they added a fence to their yard.

West side

The Prince and Princess, while cozy and content in their little cottage, began to feel cramped. Their rooms felt small; in fact, one year at Christmas there was only 3-feet of space between their Christmas tree and TV. This wouldn’t do!

And so, after much discussion, they decided an addition was the way to go. Could they stay married? Could they agree on anything? Would it ever be finished? This remained to be seen, and while they both might have been skeptical, neither spoke out loud, and they forged ahead.

That was how it came to be that 13 years ago today, June 26, 2002, the Prince and Princess broke ground for an addition.

SW corner

But first, one pesky big tree had to go.


With the tree gone, the digging began in earnest.

West side excavation

“Wow! Does that look different!”, they said.

West side dirt

“What’s going on here?,” Maggie and Cassadie asked. (Did you really think this fairy tale would be without dogs? Seriously?)

On a humorous note, in the background is a 24-ft. 5th wheel.  Yes. 24. Not 42.

Cassadie Maggie

Then, the walls began to go up.

First walls

And so, the handsome Prince and his crew began to set forms. It was really taking shape!

Concrete pour floor

And then the floor was poured.  The Princess thought they should have their picture taken for their Christmas card standing on that concrete floor, with the words “The Money Pit” spray painted beside them. In red.

The Prince wasn’t enchanted with that idea.

Jim n Maggie

Look how young the handsome Prince looks! And Maggie, with no gray hair.


After a lull, the framing began to go up. (Lull? Get it?) 😀

Framing traps

This was the Prince’s stepfather building the framing for the trapezoid windows. Just a guess, but the Princess is pretty sure that if the Prince’s mother saw him up there today he would be in big trouble!

without traps

Things have a way of looking really funny until they are completed. The Prince asked the Princess several times, “Are you sure that’s going to look right?”

west side of house

Slowly, it began to come together.

Installing windows

Windows came in, and were installed in the original part of the house. And, the trapezoid windows were installed in the addition.

New front door

Over the years, the Prince and Princess continued to work on their house. Through stops and starts, re-do’s and do-overs, mistakes and accidents, they’ve almost got it just the way they want it.

Many of you may know this place.

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Better known these days as Black Dog Lodge. 🙂 You’ve come a long way, Rindercella!


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Have a great weekend, friends!

Recovering From Fibromyalgia (Part 2)

A fibromyalgia diagnosis doesn’t have to mean the end of everything fun. Here’s the rest of the story of how I got back to feeling like a Rock Star (or, if you remember the 80’s, better than a Rock Star most likely.HA)

2. Exercise.

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Your body was made to  move, not made to sit on your ass all day every day. But, modern living being what it is, we all have to make a living. That is what makes exercise doubly important.

I know it’s hard to start new habits, but it’s an absolute necessity if you want to feel better.

Exercise is also one of those things that’s a process. You need to do it consistently. Find something that you enjoy doing that helps you move.

Be patient! We live in such an instant gratification society that when people don’t get fit or feel better instantly, they give up.

If you’re starting an exercise program for the first time, start out slow. Walk 5 or 10 minutes every day for a couple of weeks to give yourself time to adjust. Each week after that, add a couple of minutes or a couple of blocks.

For instance, let’s say you’ve decided to take the plunge and start exercising. The absolute worst thing you can do is overdo and end up really sore, which makes you dread your workouts. You’re simply dooming yourself to fail if that’s the road you take.

For example, what if you started walking 5 minutes every day for a week. That’s it. Just 5 minutes a day. The next week, add two minutes per day, and the next week, another two minutes. That’s 120 seconds of additional walking per day each week. Then continue adding two more minutes per per day each week after that.

At the end of 3 months, you’d be walking almost 30 minutes per day. If you walked 6 days per week, that’s THREE hours of exercise a week! Phenomenal! See how it adds up, folks? Where else would you be in 3 months?

Just think: you went from ZERO to THREE hours a week in only THREE months. That doesn’t sound too shabby, does it? And you only started with 5 minutes per day.

I’m a Slow and Steady Wins the Race kind of gal myself, that’s why I think this way.

Progress is still progress, however long it takes. Do you think it matters now that it took me 12 years to finish my college degree? Heck no! And as far as I was concerned, it didn’t even matter then! 😀

Jackin steel

Once you’re up to speed with a walking program, gradually add in some weight bearing exercise. Weight-bearing exercise is so important to prevent osteoporosis as well as help keep your strength up as you age. Weight-bearing exercise will help you balance out your body strength so you don’t fall, help slow or prevent your muscles from shrinking which naturally occurs as you age, and help you get up off the toilet. 😉

I highly recommend consulting with a trainer or utilizing machines to make sure you are doing the exercise correctly in order to prevent injury. Again, work up slowly.

When I started lifting weights is when I really started to see improvement.

And remember: not all muscle soreness is bad!

If you’re starting an exercise program, you may feel some soreness. A little soreness is natural; you just want to avoid the intense muscle soreness that hurts so much it discourages you. Shoot, if you’ve ever had a massage, you know your muscles are sometimes sore afterwards.

This does not mean it’s bad, or that your fibromyalgia is acting up. There IS a difference.

3. Consider Supplementation.

2015-01-12 15.47.56You’re right, this picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I was just checking to see if you were paying attention. 😉

Do you take a probiotic regularly? If you don’t, you should. A probiotic is an over-the-counter supplement which contains good bacteria to keep your gut healthy. Gut health, or lack thereof, is a factor behind many illnesses. While you may not notice an immediate improvement upon taking it, over the long term it makes a huge difference.

If you don’t like or eat seafood, check out a good quality fish oil supplement.

Talk to your doctor about other supplements. Besides a probiotic, I take Vitamin C, Vitamin D (unless I’m out in the sun), and Magnesium. I also am an avid user of essential oils, which promote and support good health, energy and a healthy immune system without adding chemicals to my life.

4. Get Plenty of Sleep.

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Wind down naturally at the end of the day, allowing yourself some time to relax, at least an hour before bed.

Stay off electronic devices. Make sure your room is dark; get some blackout drapes if you have to. Keep a small flashlight by the bed for bathroom breaks.

Watch your alcohol intake; it can be especially disruptive to sleep. (I know this from experience.)

Try bathing at night instead of a shower if you have a tub to help you relax. Rub your pillow with lavender (a good quality essential oil) to help you sleep. I diffuse lavender at night, which helps us relax and sleep better.

Try some gentle stretches to release muscle tension and prepare your body physically for sleep.

Consider the use of white noise to help you sleep better and block out other noises. My husband and I use a fan. The TV does NOT count as white noise, sorry. 😀

5. Take Care of Yourself.

Keeping your stress level low is incredibly important. Learn to say no, stop trying to do everything, recognize your limitations, and give yourself a break.

I have taken up yoga this year, and I really love what it does for me, mentally and physically.

2015-03-07 09.56.56Not to mention the people in the class, of course. 😀

I hope you found this helpful, and wish you the best of luck in your journey to good health. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts! But day to day, it will make a difference. 🙂


Goodbye Harley

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As I sit writing about the loss that we feel, I admit it comes with almost a feeling of guilt. There are others who have lost so much more than us: families who have lost loved ones, those who are suffering from horrible illnesses or injuries, a friend who recently lost her oldest son, taken from this life far too young.

We can’t possibly know or understand what they feel, and our hearts hurt for them. But to us, our loss is painful. Without children, our dogs have become, in a way, our children. They are our family. They are who we look forward to coming home to each night.

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Harley liked to live life his own way. We did our best to try to teach him to live by our rules, but he was his own man. His life had gotten off to a rough start, but when he came to us, he brought something that we’d been missing for some time and really didn’t even realize.

Harley was a Doofus Maximus. In other words, a goofball. A lummox. A dingbat. He brought us joy, laughter, and silliness. Over-the-top boisterous fun, which we hadn’t had for a long time.

Jimmy’s heart really had never healed after losing his beloved Maggie. You see, the other girls are sort of Momma’s girls. He really didn’t have a buddy anymore.

And then Harley came along. For a few weeks, there was unrest until everyone figured out their job  in our household. Once that happened, it came easy: Harley looked after Jimmy, Ekko looked after me, and Charra looked after both of them. And for the most part, we had peace.

Every day, Jimmy rejoiced that he “had a wiener in the house!”

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Little did I know it was a ploy.

He’d been out once already. Our potty ritual was for me to let him outside, and I would stand on the front porch and watch. Once he realized I watched, he would watch to see if I was watching. It became a game.

So for the second time this morning, he acted very excited to go outside. It was an emergency! He needed to go now! I assumed he needed to poop.

I opened the door. He shot past me off the porch, running full speed toward the front of the yard as if he were after something. Knowing he wouldn’t listen to me (as in the past), I sighed and walked to the kitchen, stuck my coffee in the microwave, immediately walking back to the front door. That probably took 20 seconds or less.

I thank God that he protected me from seeing it.

By the time I got to the front door, it had already happened. I saw him lying in the road, the vehicle just past him slowly moving, then speeding up and driving away.

It didn’t register.

“What is he playing with that he’s lying in the road?” I thought.

I called to him.

He raised the front of his body up, barked twice and yelped, not so much in pain, but more as in telling to hurry up, he needed help.

Realizing what happened, I ran to him as fast as I could. My worst nightmare would be seeing him ran over yet again right in front of my eyes. Our yard seemed to be huge, but in reality it probably took less than 15 seconds for me to reach him.

By the time I reached him, he was taking his last breaths. I couldn’t believe it. Surely this was a bad dream.

Dragging him off the road, I called Jimmy and laid there snuggled up against him (pajamas and all), until Jimmy could get here to pick him up.

A neighbor, whose kindness I am grateful for, turned around and waited with me until Jimmy came. Several vehicles stopped, but there was  nothing to be done.

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My heart hurt for my husband. His heart hurt for me. We talked about every hour or two, because we didn’t know what else to do.

Harley made Jimmy smile again. He finally had a dog of his own, a buddy. They were inseparable. I knew he would feel the loss acutely.

Thankfully, we are not “what if” people. What is, is.

We all suffer setbacks. But to torture yourself doesn’t change anything. All it does is make you miserable. Life will always hand you lemons, and sometimes it makes you feel weary, as if you don’t want to go on.

But the quality of your life and your character are determined by how you react to things.

You see, we believe that things happen the way they are supposed to. We don’t always understand them, and may not for years. But at some point, it all makes sense. By no means does it hurt any less. But our faith helps provide us perspective and logic.

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I have experienced premonitions in the past that have always preceded a loss.

I didn’t remember until this evening that I’d had somewhat of an ominous feeling the last few days. I couldn’t explain it, and it wasn’t terribly intense. Just a feeling that something bad was going to happen.

Our friend Jenny (who also happens to be our veterinarian) came by to bring us a card this evening and to offer her condolences

“I don’t understand why God would give us something to fill such a void only to take it away,” I said tearfully.

“Because he needed you,” she said wisely. “He lived a wonderful life with you that he most likely wouldn’t have had otherwise. Not many people would have been willing to take him  and his situation on. And in spite of your best efforts to train him, to calm him down, he wanted to live life his way.”

And just like that, it all made sense.

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Our time with Harley was way too short. We had him less than a year, and he was only 15 months old. And to quote my husband, “he lived life full bore until it was over.”

We all should be so lucky. And at the end of the day, it’s about him and not us.

Thank you Harley, for all that you gave us. I’m so glad we were able to share our lives with you. We’ll miss you always.

How I Recovered From Fibromyalgia

2002-09-30 11.11.11-5If you’ve been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, you’ve learned that while the diagnosis is not life-threatening, it is certainly life-STEALING.

Many people don’t really understand fibromyalgia, it’s a bit of a mystery, but the pain and fatigue you feel are VERY real. I know this to be true, as years ago I was diagnosed with it. Here are my “secrets” to getting my life back. 🙂

I’m not here to tell you about the symptoms or the treatment; you can do a Google search yourself and find out all you need to know about that. No, my purpose here is to tell you how I feel like a Rock Star most of the time. 🙂

Keep in mind that good health, and feeling good, is a process. Optimal health is kind of a like a pie: it has several components which make up the whole. When one of these components is missing, you simply won’t feel your best. And the longer it’s missing, the worse you’ll feel.

2013-06-10 12.05.29Speaking of pie…I ate this in Gulf Shores a couple of years ago, and it IS just as good as it looks. Sorry, my bad. Squirrel!

So anyway, to achieve optimal health, you have to think of it as keeping the Pie That Is Your Life as whole as possible. That helps you feel good as much of the time as possible.

Is it foolproof? Certainly not. Those of us with fibromyalgia know with certainty when it’s going to rain, even when the forecast doesn’t mention it. (My thighs ache. True story!) Dramatic weather changes, such as the change of seasons or those cool-warm-cold-warm-hot periods we have make us miserable.

Once in a while, although they are rare, I still have one of those days when every muscle in my body simply hurts to move. If my schedule allows it, the best thing I can do for myself is to snuggle up under a blanket for a couple of hours and get really warm. That makes a world of difference. The best part is, because I’m healthy, it typically doesn’t last very long, and I go back to feeling like my Rock Star self. 🙂

But first, a Disclaimer: The tips I’m sharing with you are overall generally recognized good health tips; they have worked for me, and done consistently, they may work for you. But I can’t guarantee it. 🙂 Also, please check with your doctor before making any sudden or drastic life changes or starting an exercise program. Now that that’s out of the way….the good stuff.

1. Eat an Energy Diet.

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If you eat crap, you will feel like crap. Your body needs quality fuel, filled with nutrients to nourish it.

I’m referring to a balanced whole-foods diet with nutritious foods such as lots of vegetables, a variety of lean proteins, such as beef, pork, chicken, turkey and seafood (or wild game if you prefer it), nuts and seeds (if you aren’t allergic), some fruits and, if you like carbs, choosing the ones which are processed the least. Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible.  Develop a habit of using good-quality olive oils. Substitute almond or coconut flour for refined white flour in recipes. Reduce or preferably eliminate over-processed foods, preservatives, and sugar as much as possible. Reduce or stop your soda consumption (I consume fewer than 3 sodas per year. True story.) Artificial sweeteners and sugar will make your fibromyalgia pain worse.

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I love food. And yes, I love to take pictures of it things I ate. Especially if it was pretty. 😉

If you need to lose weight, watch your fruit and carb consumption, as it will wreak havoc on your blood sugar, and once it wears off you’ll be more tired than ever.  Since I began a mostly Paleo diet (one primarily without grains), my blood sugar hovers right around 86-88.  I eat beef, eggs and bacon every week, and my cholesterol hovers between 202-208, with no medication. This last time it was 212, but I figure that was the Nachos Bel Grande I ate for lunch the day before. 😀

And, drink lots of water. If you don’t like it, figure out a way to like it without adding sugar. Your body needs it. Without it, you’ll feel tired.

I’m not saying give up the things you like permanently; that’s what makes life worth living. Enjoy it with gusto, then resume an energy diet the rest of the time. Consistently, most of the time.

Don’t diet, make a lifestyle change. I still enjoy the things I have always loved, I just enjoy them less frequently. And you know what? I enjoy them more. That makes them more special.

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Like Lobster Mac and Cheese, for instance. This is a wonderful treat I enjoy about once per year. MMMMMMM.

If you’re having a crummy day and really need French fries, eat the fries at one meal, and follow that meal with a healthy one. Often, the quickest way to making myself feel better on a really crummy day is to have a really healthy meal. Start your day with protein, to give your body some long-term energy to get through the day. Day by day, it will make a difference!

So, this post got so long I had to break it into two parts. So stay tuned for Part Two!

My Bratty Inner Self

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If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, get fitter, or eat healthier, you know it’s a slippery slope. My efforts are dominated (or derailed) by a brat I call Tiffani.

Mind you, the brat I call Tiffani doesn’t really exist, nor does she resemble anyone I know named Tiffani. And, I don’t call her Tiffani all the time, mostly just for purposes of this discussion.

Because Tiffani is really my Inner Self.

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You know the one I’m talking about. The one whom, 30 minutes after you announce to someone you’re starting a new diet, demands you feed her chocolate and she doesn’t shut up until you finally give in.

Or you start a new fitness program, and you may do great the first few days, but suddenly she starts whining that she’s tired, she doesn’t feel like it, and really, what good is it doing anyway, so you might as well just forget it?

She’s also the one when, my trainer asks me to do something I’ve never done before, screams, “What are you thinking? This isn’t safe! You can’t do this! You’ll fall!”

I’m clumsy, remember? So falling is a very real possibility for a hot mess like me. 😀

I call her Tiffani is because the only time I hear from her is when she is unhappy, uncomfortable, hungry, or tired. Hence, I think of her as a bratty, self-absorbed teenager who is under the impression that the world revolves around her and her needs.

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Nice work if you can get it, eh? 😉

Most of the time she’s quiet and doesn’t make a fuss, unless she feels deprived for some reason. Say, maybe I’m on the run and I get too hungry; suddenly, she demands the only thing that she’s willing to eat is a Nachos Bel Grande from Taco Bell. At that point, there’s no way I can talk her down to a salad with some tuna or salmon.

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This is actually an Ahi Tuna Salad I had while I was in Florida. YUM. (And yes, the tuna was rare.) DELISH!

Taco Bell. That’ll shut her up. (Can you tell I’m channeling Ron White here?) 😉

The reason this whole topic came up is I was thinking that I’d been a little too relaxed about my diet, and I really needed to focus on eating cleaner for a while. I’d like to drop my last 20ish pounds, and my current eating habits won’t support that.

After all, 70% of physical fitness and healthy bodies happens in the kitchen. (Or something like that.)


When I want to make a change, especially if it involves food, I have to make deals with Tiffani. For instance, I was thinking that perhaps I should start keeping a food  journal and simply documenting everything I put in my mouth.

Just documenting, that’s all. Not counting calories. Not making a big change. Just simply tracking what I ate.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it?

With Tiffani, nothing is ever simple.

She started to panic, so I promised her that if she really wanted something, a cupcake, pizza, whatever, she could have it. All I was going to do was write things down so there wasn’t anything to worry about.

I promised her that I would think about it for a few days before I started it. We’ll do this gradually, and she’ll have time to get used to the idea, because that’s how I roll.

I haven’t heard a peep out of her since. 😀

Next time you start something new, try bargaining with your Inner Self and see if that improves your chances for success.

Happy Bargaining!