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Flower Power

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Recently I received a lovely email from a friend with gorgeous pictures  of wildflowers blooming on the plains of Texas this spring.  The slide show ended with a quote from  former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, “Where flowers grow there is hope.”                                                       

With the holidays just around the corner the air waves and the internet are abloom with advertisements for flowers. Many of us will spend big bucks to buy flowers for the holidays.

I wondered, is there any truth to Lady Bird’s quote? During the recession is it worth it to spend money on just flowers?

In a word, YES!!!!

In previous posts I have written about the health benefits of laughter, animals and having a pet, even chocolate. Now I am going to do one on the benefits of flowers.

I have always loved flowers. Before my back injury I did a lot of gardening, both flower and vegetable. Not only is gardening great exercise (a 130 pound woman burns 416 calories per hour gardening*), for me it is pure pleasure. Flowers feed my soul.

I used to think it was just me. So I was truly surprised when I began to research this topic.

Esteemed university’s such as Rutgers’s, Texas A&M, and Harvard have each done research studies on the effects of flowers. This is what they have found:

1.  Flowers have an immediate impact on happiness in all age groups.

2.  Flowers have a long-term positive effect on moods. Flowers lessen anxiety.

3.   Flowers make intimate connections. The presence of flowers led to increased contact with family and friends.

4.  Flowers Decrease Depression. Study participants showed a significant increase in happiness and positive moods when flowers were present.                                                                                                                                 

5.  Flowers Refresh Recent Memory. Seniors performed higher on everyday memory tasks and experienced enriched personal memories in the presence of flowers.

6.   Flowers Encourage Companionship. Seniors who received flowers re-engaged with members of their communities and enlarged their social contacts to include more neighbors, religious support and even medical personnel.

7.   Flowers feed compassion and kindness for others. 

8.   Flowers chase away anxieties, worries and the blues at home.

9.   Living with flowers can provide a boost of energy, happiness and enthusiasm at work.

10.   In the workplace workers’ idea generation, creative performance and problem solving skills improve substantially in environments that include flowers and plants.

You can find more detailed information on all of the studies and their findings including methodology at about flowers. You can also find information about the power of flowers from the Free Online Library.

So this holiday, all holidays, and just when ever you feel like it, go for it. And while you’re at it, buy some for yourself. Plant some in your garden and put a plant or two in your home as well. During the recession we need all the help we can get to feel positive, make connections, and lessen stress. Flowers are one of the cheaper pleasures we can buy during the recession. Think of buying flowers as an investment in you and in your loved ones.

Sit back, relax and watch some beautiful flowers and listen to the lyrical music of Spring Waltz.

   

Featured Recipe         Tomato and Ham on Toasted Bread
From Flowers to Spain

Our recipe today is inspired by Spanish tapas. Tapas are not any particular food or ingredient. They can be anything:  meat, seafood, vegetables, cheese. Tapas are basically an appetizer, small bites. In Spain they can be eaten day or night. They can either be a small snack or you can make a meal of them.

There is an entire tapas culture. Years ago tapas used to be served free in the taverns, inns and bars of Spain. After work and before dinner you meet your friends for a drink and eat tapas. You share laughter, fun, and friendship. If you want to learn more click here tapas.

Using Up Left Overs

The tapas I share with you today is fairly simple and for me  gives me an opportunity to use up some left overs in my kitchen. If you look at the ingredients in the picture carefully you will see very small pieces of cheese. This is what is left from my fajitas and a few other recipes. Even that tomato is the last of five I bought last week. During this recession I cannot afford to waste anything. These left overs are perfect for this recipe. [print_this]

This is what you will need for 3 people:

Crusty bread or rolls

1-2 slices of garlic peeled,  optional

1-2 tomatoes

2-4 slices of ham torn into small pieces

Tiny slivers of cheese

Olive oil

NOTE: If you cannot afford fresh tomatoes you can use canned.

 

Here is what you do:

Slice the bread on the diagonal.

Cut the tomatoes cross wise.

There are two ways to approach getting the tomatoes on the bread: You can rub the cut side of the tomato on the toast or you can grate the tomato into a bowl and then spoon it onto the toast. I have done it both ways and both ways are good. It is personal preference.

Now toast your bread and if you are using garlic gently rub the toast with it.

Then either rub the toast with a tomato half, or if you grated the tomato place a tablespoon or so of the tomato on the toast.

I rubbed one half of a cut tomato on the toast in the back row. You can see the tomato and its juices run into every little crevice of the toast. While on the other toasts you can see more of the tomato flesh on the toasts. It is personal preference. They both taste the same.

A close up up the toast where I rubbed the tomato flesh on the toast.

Now, place the ham on top of the tomatoes.

Using a potato peeler slice the cheese into small bite sized slivers. Place the slivers on top of the ham.

Drizzle olive oil on top.

Eat and enjoy.

NOTES:  Everything will proceed faster if you slice the bread, grate the tomatoes, tear the ham, and prepare the cheese before you toast the bread. Make an assembly line. Then you just have to assemble the tiny sandwiches. And this way every one can add what they want to their tapas, which is fun, and also allows your children to participate in making dinner and learning how to cook.

If I have left over green onions and/or sliced black olives I add those to the tapas too.

This particular tapas is good with soup and a salad and makes a complete and filling meal with either or both of these.

COST

Crusty bread or rolls                                            $2.45

1-2 slices of garlic peeled, optional                       $0.10

1-2 tomatoes*                                                    $0.88

2-4 slices of ham torn into small pieces                 $1.44

Tiny slivers of cheese                                          $0.45

Olive oil                                                              $0.35

Cost for 3 people = $5.67

Cost per person   = $1.89

Bon Appetite!!!! And until next time enjoy your flowers.

*Source: Eat, Drink, and be Merry, Dean Edell, M.D.,page 136; Harpers Collins, 1999.

Note: This post was updated on May 16, 2011 to reflect the current MTTD layout of the recipe. No content was changed.

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