Fiesta Bowls

Looking for an easy, healthy and tasty summer meal idea?

Here is our newest culinary creation: Fiesta Bowls!

What’s a Fiesta Bowl, you ask?

Think Mexican Fiesta in a bowl.

Combine in a large bowl any combination of the ingredients below…make it how you like it!

: cooked ground beef, ground turkey, chicken, steak, shrimp

Rice: brown rice or white rice

Beans: black beans or pinto beans

Veggies: lettuce, cucumber, avocado, corn, peppers, green onions, red onions

Fruits: tomato, mango, pineapple

Toppings: salsa, sour cream, black olives, shredded cheese, tortilla chips or tortilla strips, pico de gallo, hot sauce, fresh chopped cilantro

Here are some tips for seasoning your meats: with your meat of choice add half a diced onion and sprinkle in half teaspoons of garlic powder or chopped fresh garlic, cumin, Mexican oregano, chili powder, smoked paprika or regular paprika.

This is a great meal for families. Prepare all the ingredients separately and allow everyone to prepare their own Fiesta Bowl with ingredients of their choosing. They will love you for it.

Let the Fiesta begin! Ole’!

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Spring Into Action

Spring is a great time to get moving. Exercise is vital to maintaining one’s health and wellness. As one of Leslie’s doctors says “motion is lotion” for joints. It’s also vital to good circulation and respiration, as well as keeping ones muscles tone and limber.

Here are our top 10 suggestions for working exercise into your life:

Walking – it’s recommended that you get 20 minutes of exercise every day. One of the best ways to do that is walking. We like to walk after eating a good dinner to help promote good digestion. Beside just walking around our own neighborhood, we also like to go walking at some lovely walking paths such as: Lake Katherine in Palos Heights; Messenger Woods in Homer Glen; The Portincula Center for Prayer in Frankfort; and Midlothian Meadows Forest Preserve in Midlothian.

Stairs- climbing stairs is a great way to get exercise into your life. Ed likes to go to the Swallow Cliff Forest Preserve in Palos, IL and climb the stairs there. He also likes to get 15 minutes of stair climbing in during his lunch hour at work, walking in the stairwells of his six story office building.  

Go shopping (no, not to buy things) – the malls are a great place to go walking no matter what the weather is like outside. Some malls allow people to walk around the mall before the stores open. The Orland Square mall is one example. Go to the mall just to walk around no matter the weather outside.

Tennis – we recently rediscovered playing tennis as a couple and as a family. Several of the local area high schools have tennis courts open to the public free of charge. Some even have lighting for playing after dark. Don’t overdo it at first, but get moving and tennis is a great way to have fun doing it.

Go hiking – hiking is a lot like walking…actually it’s exactly like walking…but more adventurous. Starved Rock State Park in Utica, IL is 90 miles southwest of Chicago, and is a great place to hike trails and explore. Hiking is a great way to get some fresh air and take in some beautiful natural scenery.

Gym membership – get a gym membership. There are lots of gyms to choose from. They can be expensive. But if you can afford it, and will use it, it can be money well spent. Gyms have a wide variety of exercise options to choose from: treadmills, ellipticals, stair masters, bicycles, row machines, swimming, wall climbing and weightlifting. Some also offer classes in aerobics, Zumba. Yoga, Pilates, and cycling.

Sports – enjoy your favorite sports and get some great exercise in the process. Here are some suggestions: basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, swimming, golf and racquetball, just to name a few.

Skating – rollerblading, rollerskating and ice skating are fun ways to get moving. Equipment ownership can be a little pricey, but you can often rent skates at a roller or ice rink for a reasonable fee. You can make an outing of it and have fun doing it with family or friends.

Bicycling – cycling is an enjoyable way to get around and you can get some good exercise doing it. You can cycle in your neighborhood or nearby trails. Bicycles can be expensive, but if you’ll use them, are a good investment.

Swimming – as spring turns into summer, stay cool swimming, and get some exercise in the process. 

Of course, whatever activities you choose, bring and drink lots of water to stay hydrated before, during and after your activities. And take precautions to wear appropriate clothing and equipment for your activities, and stay safe doing them.

Have a wonderful spring and summer!

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Some adventurers have gone in vain searches for the legendary Fountain of Youth, as if it was some mystical source of restoring and preserving one’s youth.  Fools!  They’d be slapping their heads to learn that the magical supply of the fountain was as close as their own faucet or well….WATER!

There is no more vital contributor to your health and wellness than water.

We did some research and wanted to share some information with you that may encourage you in your intake of water.

The human body is 99% water as a fetus, 80% water as an infant, 65% water as an adult, and 50% water as an elderly person.  

Do you see a trend here?  As we age, we lose water content at the cell level.  This results in cell shrinkage, wrinkling and premature aging.

What can you do to stave off aging and wrinkles?  Drink generous supplies of water to ensure your body is as hydrated and full as can be.

The human body can survive 8 WEEKS without food.  Depending on the environmental temperature, a person can live only 10 to as little as 2 DAYS in extreme temperature without water.  

Life is water dependent.

Too often our society pushes alcohol, soda pop and other commercialized beverages on us. Alcohol has dehydrating effects on the human body.  It also is harmful to the liver and function of other organs including killing irreplaceable brain cells.  Soda has high levels of sugar or corn syrup that are not good for one’s health.  It can contribute to diabetes and unhealthy fat buildup and obesity. An occasional alcoholic drink or soda pop are not be terribly damaging.  But if you drink more alcohol or soda than water, you’re not doing your health good. 

It is recommend by many sources that an adult person drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water each day. This is about 2 liters of water. How many of us ever do?

The supply of water you drink is important.  Choose the cleanest supply of water you can.   We prefer purified bottled water.  Spring water may be even better for you as it has needed minerals and a healthier pH balance, but can have an earthy smell and taste which may be unpleasant. Water from a faucet or fountain is less preferable unless you can have confidence in the water source and pipes that deliver the water.  Some communities have water supplies that are contaminated with chemicals or lead.   A filtration system can help to improve such supplies, but drinking large quantities of it can also increase the intake of those chemicals and do long term harm to your health. Doing some research on the water you’ll be drinking will be time wisely spent.

Starting your day drinking a full glass of water is beneficial to your body breaking a long fast from it.  It helps flush out toxins, reinflate internal organs and supply skin with natural moisturizing effects.  

Drinking a glass of water before meals can give you a fuller feeling which can help you feel satiated by less food, thus helping in weight maintainance or loss.  

Drinking water before and during exercise can help muscles function, joints stay lubricated,  keep your body from overheating, flush out toxins during perspiration and aid necessary respiration function.

Drinking a glass of water before bed or during the night can also be beneficial.  It can give you a fuller feeling without making you feel like you need to eat to satisfy a hunger.  It helps your body heal overnight.   Though some people may not like drinking water before bed as they don’t like getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, the health benefits of doing so can far outweigh the inconvenience.

Chronic dehydration can adversely affect your organs and lead to kidney stones, cholesterol problems, constipation, gout, arthritis and liver, joint, and muscle damage.  It can also lead to premature hair loss or graying!

Water is 0 (ZERO) calories!  So drink as much as you reasonable can with no adverse effects!

And water is often free or very low cost compared to other beverages and fluids. Drinking water instead of other beverages can save you money!

Have a hard time drinking just plain water?  Flavor it up with a splash of lemon, lime or small amounts of fruit juices.  Cranberry juice, lemonade, or cucumber can give water a little flavor and keep it tasting fresh.

Drink water.

Be healthier.  Look younger.  Feel better. 

Make a habit of it for long-term life.

These are just some of the benefits of drinking lots of water.  A health regimen can have no greater friend than water.

Make a commitment today to replace your intake of other fluids with simple, pure, ample supplies of water.  

You’ll be glad for years to come that you did.

Water IS life. Live it up!

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To Your Health!

We are very health conscious. 

And we want you to be health conscious too. 

We care about you.

Health is precious.   

If you’ve got it, it’s easy to take it for granted.  

If you don’t, all the money in the world can’t buy it.

Choices you make every day determine whether you preserve it.

We want to help and encourage you in your health choices and preservation.

Health is a broad topic.  It is comprised of physical health, mental health and spiritual health.  All are vital to overall health. 

And we want to encourage you in all these facets of health. 

We will be focusing our efforts in the coming weeks and months on our own health, and sharing nuggets  of knowledge here on our blog.

Do you want to improve your own health and wellness too?

Why not follow our blog and receive our posts by email as we post them.

To your health!

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First Dateaversary 

Four years ago today we went out on our first date together to a Casting Crowns concert.  That makes today what we call our First Dateaversary.

Casting Crowns had been Ed’s favorite Christian rock band for several years.  Their songs lifted his spirits at some of the worst times of his life.  He got two tickets to the concert and saw an opportunity to ask Leslie out to a special event.  
Little did he know that Casting Crowns was also Leslie’s favorite Christian rock band.

While we were waiting to enter the concert we ran into a couple of friends from church who had better seats than our ticket seating.  

Our friends also had backstage passes, and a couple of extra backstage passes, and invited us to join them to meet the band after the show!

Here we are with lead singer Mark Hall (far right) and other band members (left).  

And here are a few comics that Ed made subsequently that captured the essence of the experience.

Some things you can plan a long time for. 

But even when things work out as well as you could hope for, sometimes God pulls some strings and works them out even better than you could have possibly hoped for.  

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Ed Day Dream of St. Patty’s Day

Four years ago today, St. Patrick’s Day, we met for a drink at Panera in Tinley Park to get to know one another.  The meeting only lasted an hour, but we both felt comfortably right at home with one another from the start.

Here is a comic later made to commemorate the meeting.

Today Ed made a fun video that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day.   It’s called Ed Day Dream of St. Patty’s Day.   Enjoy!

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Today is a day we affectionately call “Emailaversary”.  It was March 14th, 2013 that Ed sent an email to Leslie asking her out on a first date.

Ed had called Leslie the day before to ask her to go with him to a Casting Crowns concert he had purchased two tickets for.  Unfortunately, Leslie wasn’t home when Ed called.  Ed was concerned that the concert was only 9 days away and he wanted to get his invitation to the concert to Leslie as soon as possible so she had time to consider his proposal and respond to it.

What follows is Leslie’s account of receiving Ed’s email.


Four years ago today, the day started like any other.  I (Leslie) was off to work – meetings, paperwork and then back to my office to catch up on phone calls and emails.  
To my surprise I opened my email to find an email from Ed Novick.  “Ed Novick?”, I thought, “Why is he writing me at school?”  Well I thought I better read and find out. 

Ed had called me the night before but I was at a church meeting, and by the time I got home it was too late to return his call.  My intention was to call him back after work that same day.  

To my surprise I opened the email and found a beautiful letter that Ed had written inviting me to a Christian concert coming up the following weekend. Again to my surprise it was my favorite Christian band, Casting Crowns!  How could he have known? 

I got nervous as I was reading this thinking it had been quite a while since I was asked out on a date. And I got a little panicky and a coworker had just walked into my office and said, “Good morning!  How are you?”  I quickly answered, “Nothing!”. I was caught! I was reading a personal email and she said, “What’s going on?”. I quickly replied,  “Fine!”

I motioned her over to my desk and said, “Come look at this. A man from church just asked me out on a date.” 

She read the email and said  “That’s just beautiful!”.  I said, “I know!  I know him from Bible study, but I had no idea he would think to ask me out.”

“You are going to go, right?”, she asked.

“Of course!”, I said.  “What am I going to say to him?”

She said, “Well you’re going to call back and tell him “Yes” you would love to go, right.” 

“But I haven’t been on a date in a long time. I’m a little rusty”, I said.

“That’s OK”, she said. “I’ll help you think of a few things for you to talk about.  You’ll be fine.” 

“OK”, I said. And then we both laughed and jumped up and down. I was very excited.

 I came home after work intending to call Ed back. While I was thinking of what I might say my mom came home. I was very excited and told her about the beautiful letter Ed wrote inviting me to the concert. 

She was right. She had had a hunch the night before that he might be asking me out. 

We talked and I said, “Well gosh, I’m kind of nervous to call Ed”.  She said it would be fine.  She said, “Just call him and talk to him and tell him you want to go.” She asked, “What’s there to be nervous about?”.

I said, “Well to be honest, I haven’t had a date in a long time, and I’d be in the car with him for about an hour driving to this concert”.

“So?” she said.

 “Well, what if he was the rooftop killer?!?!?”, I asked her.
“Leslie!”, she said, “his brother is a priest!”

“Right”, I said, “but I won’t be in the car with his brother!”
Then we both laughed. I knew it was silly, and I was excited to call Ed back.  I did. And we had a very pleasant conversation. He invited me for coffee on the weekend, which happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, to get to know each other a little better prior to the concert, so I agreed and I was very excited that we would be meeting ahead of time.

More precious than gold was the peace that swept over me that I knew could only come from God. I couldn’t wait to see what God was up to. I couldn’t wait to share coffee and conversation with Ed on Sunday after church on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2013.

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