Archive for September 30, 2013


My life was enriched when Youlanda shared her childhood experiences as the daughter of a Black farmer with me…I hope the same happens to you after reading this blog!

(I also wrote about her father in a June 5, 2013 blog post)




Tips to Avoid the 24 Hour Workday!

“OUCH!”  “WHAT A PAINFUL PUNCH TO THE SOLAR PLEXUS!”  Those were the thoughts of Julie Smith, from Home Instead Senior Care, when her son informed her, “You care more about your career than your children!”  Instead of ignoring her son’s complaint, Julie did some deep soul-searching and decided to make significant changes in her life to devote more time to her family.  She shared her journey towards Work-Life Balance with the North Alabama Dietetic Association on September 10, 2013 in a lecture entitled, “WORK LIFE BALANCE:  TIPS TO AVOID THE 24 HOUR WORKDAY!”  This blog will share Julie’s hard-earned wisdom with us.





Julie started her talk by sharing statistics on how hard Americans work.  Here they are:

1.  In a survey of 800 Senior Executives, 73% work after hours.

2.  63% work weekends.

3.  70% believe modern lifestyle (i.e., technology) decreases their leisure time.  She gave the example where answering an email within 24 hours was the norm about 10 years ago and was considered a timely response.  With the advent of texting, that time has been trimmed to 5 minutes.

4.  The majority of people check Facebook three times a day:  morning, noon, and evening.

5.  According to financial guru, Clark Howard, a majority gave up 9 days of paid vacation.

6.  In regards to working women, it is not so much the struggle to get ahead that is their number one priority, it is knowing when to turn off work.

7.  For Generation X’ers, 28% logged more work hours this past year versus three years ago.

8.  Sadly, research shows it is much harder for a 30 year old woman to handle a full-time job and children today than it was 15 years ago.


With these depressing statistics, is there anything one can do to create balance in their life?

Here are the tips from Julie to bring forth balance in life:

1.  Most people wait until vacation to take a break from their work.  She recommends “Staycations.”  These are breaks that can be intermingled throughout the week.  Examples include a game or movie night, evening walks, evening fishing trips or tennis matches.  She encouraged us to use our imaginations in our quest for “Staycations.”

2.  Take time to enjoy the view.  Last year Julie and her family went to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  She especially loved the view of the majestic Grand Teton Mountains.  One day she was in the lobby of their hotel.  The windows had a magnificent view of these mountains.  Julie observed she was the only one in the room admiring the view.  ALL of the rest of the people in the lobby were texting, talking on the phone, or gazing at their smartphone computers.  What a sad commentary on our society!

3.  Julie said she had to learn to “JUST SAY NO.”  This was the hardest suggestion to fuse into her life.  She also learned to delegate more…which ended up to be a “WIN WIN” situation at her work.  By delegating, she gained more life balance and her colleagues got to take on more responsiblity, which offered them more growth at work.  She gave an example of when she had to attend a must-go-to meeting.  In the meantime, a local TV station called and wanted to interview a representative from Home Instead Senior Care, which would bring great publicity to the agency.  She decided to attend the important meeting.  The trip to the local TV station was delegated to one of her colleagues, who happily rose to the challenge.

4.  “Do a few things great, instead of a lot of things mediocre” is a new mantra for her.  Also, she says it does not pay to be a martyr because it only leads to more stress.

5.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Her mother offered to help Julie with the laundry, a task her mom enjoys. For years, Julie refused.  One day she relented and asked her mom for help.  The result, according to Julie, “For the first time in years, I don’t have mountains of laundry to be done in my home!”

6.  Julie began her journey into Life Balance by identifying four things she would like to change.  She chose one action item per week to work on.  She said the road to Life Balance has not always been smooth, but the pay-offs have greatly improved her life.  One of the heartwarming rewards is her son waits to read to her each day.  Julie happily says, “It is our special time together that we both look forward to!”

What about your life?  Are you feeling that the demands of your job never cease?  Are there any of Julie’s suggestions you would like to merge into your life?  Perhaps you have other “Life Balance Tips” to share with us working women.   If so, please register on my site to share them with others!  In closing, I wish you, my dear readers, a Happy Balanced Life!


“I want to devote my future work to the progress and strength of Western Civilization, and I consider the United States to be the bulwark.”  This is a quote from Wernher von Braun upon arriving to the United States.  This post will feature a timeline of von Braun’s life in the USA.  Because his life was was entwined with the development of US space travel, highlights of the history of space flight will also be featured.



Fort Bliss, Texas was the first stop in the US for Dr. von Braun and the Paperclip Scientists.  Their mission at this time was the development of missiles for the Department of Defense.  The missiles were tested at White Sands, New Mexico. Missiles are still tested in the New Mexican desert to this day.  They had little contact with the outside world due to the secrecy of their project.  Dr. von Braun referred to themselves as the “Prisoners of Peace.”

In 1946, Wernher wrote to his father and inquired whether the hand of Maria von Quistorp was available for marriage.  When he asked her to marry him, this was her romantic reply, “I had never thought of marriage with anyone else.”  They were married on March 1, 1947 in Germany.

The Secretary of the Army approves the reactivation of the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama on October 28, 1949.  The purpose was to consolidate rocket activities.   Wernher von Braun and the Paperclip Scientists are moved to Huntsville, AL in 1950. The Army Redsone Missile was the first large scale ballistic missile for the US.  It was designed by Wernher von Braun, based mostly on the design of the V2 missile.

All of the Paperclip scientists had a library card from the Huntsville Library within ONE day of moving here.  Many of them remarked they liked Huntsville because the Appalachian foothills in the area reminded them of Bavaria.  If I may insert an editorial comment here….Bavaria Germany does not have the hellish heat of an Alabama summer.

Dr. von Braun is featured in Colliers magazine in 1952.  His article has artwork of what futuristic space travel and missions to moons and planets would look like. These pictures ignite the imagination of Americans.  It becomes “way cool” to be a fan of space travel.

Huntsville High School auditorium was the place where Dr. Wernher von Braun and the Paperclip Scientists were sworn in as American citizens on April 14, 1955.

Humiliation! The Soviet Union beats the US into orbit with the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957.  The satellite is the size of a beach ball and transmits a continuous “beep beep” signal for 22 days.  The US launches Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958.  THE SPACE RACE HAS BEGUN!

Hallelujah!  President Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on July 29, 1958.  It is officially activated on October 1, 1958.  Both my husband and I were not even born when this happened.  Adam would eventually work for NASA, thus enabling us to pay our mortgage.  Thank you very much President Eisenhower!

On September 8, 1960, President Eisenhower formally dedicates the site of Adam’s future employment in Huntsville, AL:  The NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), named after the late Secretary of State, George C. Marshall.  Dr. Wernher von Braun is named Director of the MSFC.  Once again, thank you President Eisenhower!



Soviet Cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human in space on April 12, 1961.  Gagarin circles the Earth in Vostok 1 for 108 minutes after lift-off.

Astronaut Alan Shepard reaches altitude of 116 miles in the Freedom 7 capsule on May 5, 1961, becoming the first American in space.

President Kennedy issues the challenge to go to the moon before the end of the decade on May 26, 1961.  Congress issues over 1 billion dollars for NASA.  The Moon Program will be known as APOLLO. 

Prior to this famous speech, von Braun informed Kennedy, “If we can’t beat them in earth orbit, we will beat them to the moon.”

Dr. von Braun and his team of engineers, physicists, technicians, welders, and machinists work tirelessly.  Their efforts pay off on July 20, 1969.  MAN LANDS ON THE MOON ON A SATURN V ROCKET DESIGNED IN HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA. 

“HOUSTON, THE EAGLE HAS LANDED!”…the first words spoken from the moon.

Who can forget the immortal words of Neil Armstrong on this date as he descended from the lunar module onto the moon?  “ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN.  ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND.” 



Dr. von Braun’s life in America has been compared to a comet…he burned brightly and then fizzled out.  However, his “fizzling out” had to do more with the political will of the American people.  Once we landed on the moon, interest in future space flight declined rapidly, unfortunately.  Dr. von Braun was transferred to NASA headquarters in Washington, DC in 1970 to head up strategic planning for the agency.  He resigned from NASA in 1972 to work for Fairchild Industries in Germantown, MD.  He died on June 16, 1977 and is buried in Alexandria, VA.

One of the reasons I devoted two blog posts to this amazing man was because in addition to his wizardry at rocket science, he was an accomplished musician, scuba diver, avid reader, and pilot.  Since moving to Huntsville, AL, I have met people who worked with Dr. von Braun.  They all said his legendary management skills were phenomenal.  An engineer who worked on the Saturn V shared with me the memory of when Dr. von Braun visited him while he was toiling on the problem of “getting the O rings on the Saturn V rocket to fire at the right time.  Dr. von Braun exhibited great faith in me.  Shortly thereafter I solved the problem!”

I don’t recall eating okra prior to moving to Alabama.  Since moving here, it has become one of my favorite vegetables, and is frequently served in cafeterias and restaurants in the area.  I am willing to bet that Dr. von Braun never ate okra until he moved here also.  This is something I have in common with him, in addition to sharing his love of space flight.  A big bonus of including okra in your diet is the soluble fiber in this veggie is a powerhouse at lowering cholesterol.  Here is an easy to prepare STEWED OKRA recipe to celebrate the leading role the Southern city of Huntsville, Alabama played in the moon landing!


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 – 14 ounce can stewed tomatoes

1 – 16 ounce package frozen cut okra, thawed

Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over low heat.  Cook the onion and the garlic 3 minutes or until soft.

Add the tomatoes: bring to a boil.  Add the okra and cook, covered, 10 minutes.  Uncover; simmer 20 minutes or until the okra is tender.



Recipe provided courtesy of John Wiley and Sons.  From the American Dietetic Association Cooking Healthy Across America by American Dietetic Association and Food and Culinary Professionals, a Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Copyright 2005, John Wiley and Sons.  Page 140.

In closing, my favorite quote from Wernher von Braun:  “My friends, there was dancing here in the streets of Huntsville when our first satellite orbited the earth.  There was dancing again when the first Americans landed on the moon.  I’d like to ask you, don’t hang up your dancing slippers.”

Source:  The 100th Birthday of Dr. Wernher von Braun exhibit at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama and the “Missile to Moon” DVD from Alabama Public Television.






Happy Jewish New Year…Southern Style!

Happy 5774!  Wishing you and your family many blessings this year!

My first blog post in March 2013 featured the culinary expertise of Tina Wasserman, author of “Entree to Judaism:  A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora.”  This blog shares more of her knowledge of Jewish cuisine and features a recipe from her book.

Tina’s recipe that I am sharing today is LUBIYA or SEPHARDIC BLACK-EYED PEAS.  Since moving to Alabama, I participate in the Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on January 1st.  Grocery stores in the Heart of Dixie showcase black-eyed peas and collard greens at this time of year.  Eating these foods on New Year’s Day is suppose to bring you good luck throughout the new year.

Tina has a theory about this Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s day.  For over 2000 years, Ethiopian Jews have celebrated Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year) by eating black-eyed peas.  Tina believes it is entirely possible that this custom spread to West Africa over the spice trading route, and the slaves learned about this recipe.  When the slaves came to the United States to work on the plantations in the South, they brought the recipe and the tradition of eating black-eyed peas at the beginnning of the New Year!

I know you have been waiting patiently, so here is Tina’s recipe for LUBIYA or SEPHARDIC BLACK-EYED PEAS!


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups water

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 pound fresh or frozen black-eyed peas

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1.  Heat a 3-quart pot over high heat for 20 seconds.  Add the olive oil and heat for another 10 seconds.  Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions are lightly golden.

2.  Add the water and tomato paste, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the peas and the cumin, and cook covered for 1-2 hours or until the peas are tender.  It might be necessary to add a small amount of additional water to the post if the mixture looks to dry.  Conversely, if the mixture is too soupy, continue to cook uncovered until some of the liquids has evaporated.

3.  Remove from the heat, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Serve alone or over rice.

Yield:  8 servings


* Peas need time to absorb water and expand.  Either soak the peas for a few hours before cooking, or cook them for a long time until they reach the desired consistency.

*Never put salt in the water prior to cooking beans, as it will harden the beans and prevent them from absorbing the watear and becoming soft.

*Save leftover tomato paste by scooping out tablespoons of the paste onto a sheet of plastic wrap.  Place them in the freezer, and when frozen, peel off the plastic and store in a freezer ziplock bag until needed.

Source:  Tina Wasserman.  Entree to Judaism:  A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora.  New York:  URJ Press.  Copyright 2010.  Page 221

Tina Wasserman’s website is

Have fun preparing and tasting Tina’s Lubiya recipe.  It is sure to bring you good luck throughout the year! 😉




Dr. Wernher von Braun – Life In Europe. (Part 1 of a 2 Part Series)

My essay on Dr. Wernher von Braun -the man who led the US to landing on the moon in 1969.


A tribute to Dr. von Braun’s German roots, a German recipe!


1 to 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 cups)

1 cup water

1/4 cup white distilled vinegar

2 1/2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion (1/2 medium)

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried dill weed, or 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place the cucumbers in a medium-sized bowl.  Mix the water, vinegar, onion, sugar, salt, dill, and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour over the cucumbers.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Nutrition per serving:

Serving size:  3/4 cup

Calories:  25 kcal

Fat: 0 gram

Saturated Fat:  0 gram

Cholesterol:  0 mg

Sodium: 590 mg

Carbohydrates:  6 grams

Dietary Fiber:  Less than 1 gram

Protein:  1 gram

Recipe provided courtesy of John Wiley and Sons.  From the American Dietetic Association Cooking Healthy Across America by American Dietetic Association and Food and Culinary Professionals, a Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Copyright 2005.  John Wiley and Sons.  Page 27