If My College Students Can Do This, You Can Too!


Hello my friends! Life is pretty cool in Indiana, well actually it’s pretty cold to be honest but it is pretty with the sun, snow and ice.  Here’s what my backyard looks like right now.

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Snowy but pretty, right? Anyway, when it’s cold and snowy outside I long for warm, comfortingly delicious but healthy food. My girls texted that they wanted to make dinner together in Jac’s apartment, and did I have any ideas for a good recipe for them? Did I ever! Danzy’s been a bit under the weather since going back to school, so I wanted to give them something that was healing and soothing too. A top priority though was something easy to make for them. I think we succeeded, so come and join me for another episode of “Cooking with Jac and Dan!”

Baked Chicken and Rice

  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1/2 of a large container of organic low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

First, make 2 cups of organic brown rice according to package instructions.


Preheat oven  to 375 degrees. Chop onion, carrots, and celery.


Add the evoo to a large frying pan and add the carrots, celery, and onions. Saute until softened. Then, salt and pepper each side of the chicken thighs and add them to the pan.


Brown for 5 minutes on each side. Add minced garlic and the remainder of the salt and pepper.


Add the rice to the pan and chicken broth. Stir until combined.


Pour that all into a baking dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes, or until the broth is absorbed. Enjoy with a salad of mixed greens lightly tossed in a vinaigrette.

IMG_6977That’s all there is to it! The chicken is loaded with protein, has 30% RDA for niacin, 15% of phosphorus, vitamin B6, and Zinc, and 10% of riboflavin. It’s high in healthy monounsaturated fats, and has 6% of your RDA for iron. The chicken and broth are known to have medicinal properties to help fight colds and infections, and the carrots, celery and onion have tons of vitamins as well. The brown rice is a great source of fiber, and protein, along with magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine, vitamin B6, niacin, iron and zinc.

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If my college students can make this, I know you can too! It’s delicious, warm, comforting, and healthy. This dish has it all! Jac and Dan’s opinion was that it was easy to make, but they didn’t like how long the rice took to cook (45 minutes!). My suggestion for that is to make a double batch every time you’re making rice and put the extra in the fridge. It will keep for a week so when you need to make dishes that contain rice, it’s ready and waiting for you! They thought it was delicious which is the most important part! Eating food like this will help you live a life of vitalty- with Jac, Danz, and Valerie! 🙂




New Year’s Resolution? Nah, just be good to you!




My daughters jumping for joy! This is how I feel at the start of a new year!


This is EXACTLY the way I feel at the beginning of a new year. I am always very energized by the start of something new. There is so much hope looking forward to the unknown. It can be a little scary too, so for me, though I’m excited I am also in need of comfort. Especially after the end of the holidays which are so HECTIC and crazy, I’m definitely in need of some ME TIME. Let me tell you though that about five years ago, I was so stressed out and burned out that I sat down to make a list of the things I enjoyed and that give me comfort BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN SO LONG THAT I’D DONE ANYTHING FOR MYSELF THAT I HAD TO MAKE A LIST TO REMIND MYSELF OF WHAT I LIKED TO DO!.I don’t want that for any of you, so I’m going to share my list with you now. However, I urge you to make your own list, I’m just giving you a jump start with mine! As we begin a new year and a new chapter in our lives, I wish you a cozy new year! Here we go!

One of my favorite things- my Bose Bluetooth speaker!

One of my favorite things- my Bose Bluetooth speaker!

1. Music- My sister and I were talking on the phone this morning and she was mentioning how important music is to her, and she suggested I write about how HEALTHY music can be for you. Now you might think, “How is music healthy for you?”, but it really is. I always say that music soothes the savage beast in me, and I believe it to be true. There have been MANY days when I’m sad or upset, I turn on my music and feel SO much better. My Honey bought me my Bose Bluetooth speaker, which goes wherever I do because it’s cordless, and I link it to all the songs on my phone (over 2,000 at current count), and I have instant uplifting music. I make different song lists and depending on my mood I can “Pump Up”, listen to my “Faves”, or be inspired by my “Inspirational” list. I always say that I don’t collect things, that’s my Mama’s passion, not mine, but I do collect songs!


Another thing I really like to do associated with music is to attend concerts of my favorite singers/bands, and I’ve seen quite a few of them. As much as I enjoy listening to my music at home, I love hearing live music a hundred times more. There is an energy and electric feeling at a live music show, and it is awesome for me. Besides seeing famous bands, I also like to see local bands and musicians around Indy. My Honey and I share a love of classic rock music, and have spent many fun evenings rocking out near home. It’s great couple time too!


Jacsy loves her bath time!

Jacsy loves her bath time!

2. Baths- This is a newly acquired love for me. I’ve always been a showerer- you know, get in quickly, get out quickly. My older daughter, Jacqueline, loves to bathe and her enjoyment is so infectious that I was inspired to try it. I downloaded some classical music to my phone, lit some candles, put in some wonderful bath products and soaked. I LOVED IT! It was so relaxing and soothing!

Lush bath products are environmentally sound and wonderfully luxurious!

Lush bath products are environmentally sound and wonderfully luxurious!

Jac loves Lush bath products and when I got some for Christmas for her I also tried them myself. The bath bombs rule! You drop them into your bath and they sparkle and fizz. They are all natural and have different aromas too. They make bathing even more fun! I highly recommend them!


Love my Kindle and my doggie!

Love my Kindle and my doggie!

3. My Kindle- I’ve been a reader as long as I can remember. I don’t ever recall a time in my life in which I didn’t have a book in my hand. Reading gives me comfort, a sense of peace, and a satisfaction I don’t get from any other past time. Something else I collect besides songs are books on my Kindle. I got a Kindle about five years ago, after being VERY resistant to the idea of reading on an e-reader type device. I’m an avid reader, and rarely does a day go by that I don’t read something. I also read my morning mass readings and devotions each day. So when going out of town I’d be dragging around tons of books. That’s what convinced me to get a Kindle, for the ease and convenience of transporting and reading books. I read some pretty big books and instead of holding up a weighty book, I am using my very light Kindle.

This is from my new Kindle Paperwhite!

This is from my new Kindle Paperwhite!

This Christmas my Mama got me a new Kindle Paperwhite with the built in light and I LOVE IT even more than my old one. I can store tons of books on it and the battery lasts forever! I currently have around 120 books on my Kindle waiting to be read, and probably 300 in the archives that I’ve already read. I told you I collect books! I also save inspirational phrases and things that move me in some way by taking a picture and storing them on my phone like the two pictures above. Reading is life!

So, these are a few of my favorite things, and I’m going to share some more with you in the next few posts. I challenge you to think of some of your favorite things, and ENJOY THEM EVERY DAY! Life is too short to wait for time to do the things that comfort you and bring you peace. I’m going to be reading, listening to music, and taking baths because these things make me feel cozy and comforted. Try these things and you’ll be living a life of vitality- with Valerie!