Through the Fire … Taking Steps Toward Happiness

When I started this blog, I envisioned a platform for inspiration … a place where we could all share a little about our lives, with the hope that everyone could find a small, helpful piece they could take back to their own lives. I imagined recipes, gardening tips and sharing ideas on how to stay motivated in our continuous journeys to health/fitness.

I never really imagined that PLANK could have a more serious impact. Last week, however, I received a letter from a reader who said that this blog had saved her. It’s always nice to hear that your words or ideas or attitudes have inspired people … but save them?

My Sister’s Perfect Garden Party

My nephew recently got engaged, and last weekend, my sister threw him and his fiance an engagement party at her house. As I’ve shared here before, I love to host parties … and I especially love take advantage of the gorgeous Southern California weather by hosting outdoor parties. So, I was in absolute heaven at this party, which was an afternoon BBQ, hosted outside in my sister’s gorgeous yard. The whole thing was so lovely, and I got so many great party and entertaining ideas, that I thought I’d share with you all too!

Spring Gardening: My Quest for the Perfect Tomato

A couple weeks ago I posted a little tour of my backyard and garden, and shared with you all some of my plans for spring gardening. This week, I got busy cleaning up the mess left by winter, getting tips at my local nursery and planting all my spring garden vegetables. So, I thought I’d share the progress. Let me know what you think and if you’re planning any spring gardening of your own!

A Family Favorite Recipe: Zucchini & Sausage Penne Pasta

For my daughter’s recent birthday, I asked her what she’d like me to cook and she immediately replied that she wanted the Zucchini & Sausage Penne Pasta that I’ve made for years. It’s a long-time family favorite that never seems to get old and is always a dinner party pleaser. And best of all, it’s an easy and relatively quick meal to prepare! 

Attention, Tone & Subtext: A Communications Challenge

When I started PLANK, I mentioned that there might be some random musings … well today is one of those days. 

I was thinking the other day, as I was learning my script for Days of Our Lives, that it’s very interesting how you can take any sentence or phrase and say it at least 10 different ways … all with different subtext. As an actor, this is always interesting to explore, and there are even acting exercises dedicated to this very thing. 

This plays out in our everyday lives, too, in how we interact with people. As actors, we consider our character’s motivation and make conscious choices about how we deliver lines. But in life we often let emotion alone drive delivery … and sometimes our intention is lost in the mix.  Our communications can so easily be misunderstood, especially in today’s world where texting and emailing sometimes replace actual face-to-face conversations.

A Collection of Recipes: From Your Kitchen to Mine

Earlier this week I celebrated my birthday, and thanks to so many of you, it really was the best day! One of the sweetest presents I got this year was a fantastic collection of recipes, “From Our Kitchens to Yours,” shared by some of my fans.

Okay, for starters, that this group of fans would come together, from places all over the world, to put this together warms my heart. But my favorite part is that each recipe is accompanied by a sweet little story that gives me a glimpse into the lives, heritage and backgrounds of each of the ladies who contributed.

One thing I have always struggled with on this acting life journey is that I don’t get the opportunity to really hear much from the wonderful people who support us. The events are great, but it’s especially hard – knowing people have waited patiently in line to meet us – when we only get to spend a couple of minutes with each person. It all goes too fast, which is why I must confess to not knowing a lot of your names … or at least I’m not always able to put names and faces together.  So please forgive me on that …

I love that PLANK has given me the opportunity to learn more about many of you, and I love the stories that you share here. Over the past two years, so many of you have referenced things you do for certain occasions, or things your grandma tried to teach you … sharing the traditions that were passed down to you. We sometimes forget to do that and it really is so special. It always reminds me of the daily things my grandma passed down to me …
 

A Few of Grandma’s Tips

  1. Vacuum slowly. 
  2. Use steam when ironing.
  3. For scrambled eggs, put the cracked, unbeaten eggs all in the pan, stir around the yoks until the end and then chop them up.
  4. To wash your silver, place crinkled foil in the bottom of the sink. Then disolve Spick & Span in hot water and let siver sit in it for a while. (I’ve never tried it, but I’ve never forgotten it … and I’ll take her word for it)
Anyway, thanks to everyone who contributed for taking the time to share your recipes, stories and pieces of your lives with me. And a huge thanks to Jennifer Brock and Nikki Stauffer, who pulled all of this together. I have been looking through the recipes and there are so many I want to try. One, in particular, that caught my attention was the recipe for Spinach Banana Muffins … I can’t wait to try these, Nikki!
 
 
 
 
 
And speaking of muffins and passing things down … I am so happy that my daughter, Katie, has started showing a real interest in cooking and baking. We share recipes often now, and she recently sent me a super easy, great recipe for healthy banana muffins that only have five ingredients.
 
So, I thought I’d share both muffins recipes with you all — one from your kitchen, and one from mine (sort of). Click here for Katie’s recipe
 
Spinach Banana Muffins

Spinach Banana Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach (5 oz.)
  • 1 small banana
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients
  3. In a blender, combine the non-dairy milk, spinach, banana and vanilla extract. Blend until entirely smooth
  4. Place the coconut oil in a bowl or mug and microwave on high until entirely melted
  5. Pour the green smoothie mixture and melted coconut oil into the dry ingredients. Mix/fold together until a batter forms.
  6. Fill each cup of a well-greased muffin tin 3/4 full and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
http://www.plankblog.com/cooking/3332/