The Spice Rack(et)

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I’ve been grocery shopping since I was a teenager.  As my mom’s real estate career took off and she had to work late at times, my dad, my sister and I became very domestic. Dad learned to cook, I started reading cookbooks, and Katherine and I did all the shopping.  When my dad decided to teach himself to cook, he went all out.  He didn’t have any interest in making french toast for supper or making a killer spaghetti and meatballs. No, he decided to cook the dishes he likes to order in a restaurant, so it was Veal Oscar and Lamb Chops with Pesto Cream for us!  He also came up with some dishes, and my sister and I made the list for those meals and all the other stuff in between.  Armed with that list and a blank check, we’d hit the Irmo Winn Dixie and shop away.  Interestingly enough, even though we had a blank check with us, we became meticulous label readers and comparison shoppers.  Each week we would come home and unload all the bags onto the counter so we could visually survey just how much we’d been able to buy for “our” money. I can’t put into words how valuable and educational this experience was for us.  And it carried us into, and has remained with us through, our adulthood.  Just the other day, I saw just how much that experience had taught me.

Cayenne pepper I needed cayenne pepper. As I often do, I stood in front of the spice area in the store and started scanning the shelves from top to bottom.  I’ve known for a long time now that this is an area of HUGE profit in the grocery biz.  Most people arrive at the spices, spot what they need, conveniently right at eye level, pick it up, toss it in the basket and off they go.  NO!  BACK UP!  YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! That’s exactly what “they” want you to do!

Packaged herbs and spices are one of the biggest rackets in the grocery industry.  If you’ve ever grown herbs yourself, you know how little it costs. Most major grocery chains have their own private label, which I truly believe, comes from the same place as the brand name spices. For the most part, they carry the usual suspects (basil, oregano, sage, garlic powder, etc.) and some of the more interesting and special herbs and spices.  Then, there are the pretty little glass jars that attract most people’s attention.  They look much prettier than the grocery store brand, and they are much more interesting than the old school ones that are still in the little metal canisters that we all remember from the 60’s & 70’s. I imagine it being like that scene in “Finding Nemo” when Marlin & Dory happen across the spooky, terrifying fish with the hypnotic light on the end of its antennae…it’s so pretty.  So, most folks see the pretty little bottles, grab that cayenne and continue on without a second thought.

Zatarains Cayenne Pepper If you continue scanning those shelves, like I did the other day, you may find some pleasant surprises.  In this case, I wanted cayenne pepper.  The little glass jar of pepper (at eye level) was $4.49.  Just one shelf down (about hip level) was Zatarain’s cayenne for $1.49.  Same number of ounces, same ingredient, different shelf, dramatically different price.  See, that’s what “they” are banking on. They have studied our nature and know that most people will spot what they seek, grab it and go.  But, seriously, a $3.00 difference?  It’s simple robbery on the spice route!

Look one shelf down and you’ll encounter the special blends such as Cajun spice, blackening spice, or Creole spice.  The price tag is offensive to me.  Read the label and you’ll probably find that you have all those spices at home in your cabinet right now.  You don’t need a sketch of Prudhomme on the label to make it authentic.  But, the advertising and marketing geniuses are betting that you either don’t know this or are too lazy to mix up your own stuff.

Ok, I have one concession to this rant.  Maybe you (I, we, they) are simply too busy or just not inclined to spend this time or attention to this matter.  No big deal.  Do your own thing, ride your own ride.  But, if you’re like me most of the time, you want to find the true value, the true deal and spend an honest buck. If that’s you, devote about 5-10 minutes to really check out your grocery store’s herb/spice aisle.  You may be surprised and enlightened by what you discover.

I Am A Heart Attack: LMC’s New Heart Health TV Commercial

At Lexington Medical Center, we are pulling out all the stops when it comes to promoting heart health in 2013. We’ve produced a new television commercial designed to make a big impact. Within the commercial, the viewer meets his or her future heart attack. The concept for the commercial involves the personification of the heart attack, i.e., the heart attack as a person. It speaks to us and tells several important truths about the bad lifestyle choices many of us make that may lead to a heart attack. We’re proud to share our new commercial with you below:

The “New” Working Mom

By: Roshanda Pratt

r8 bloomShe arises at 6 a.m. to get the children ready for school. By 8:30 a.m. she is back home, preparing for a meeting with a potential client and putting in a load of laundry.  This is a brief description of the “new” working mom.  She is known as a “mompreneur.” According to Biz Online, Ellen Parlapiano and Pat Cobe, two leading authorities on women-owned businesses, coined the term back in the late 1990’s. defines a mompreneur as a female business owner who’s actively balancing the roles of mother and entrepreneur. According to statistics, women make up the fastest-growing segment of small business owners today.  There are many reasons why women venture into the business world.  For some, it is an opportunity to provide a better service or product than is currently available, while others want to be their own boss. For most, it is the opportunity to make more money.

As a mompreneur, my reason for leaving the traditional workforce to work from home is solely to pursue my passion and to create a legacy for my children.  My husband and I want to give our children greater opportunities or a better start in life than we ever had.  What a blessing to pass on not only generational wealth, but a business idea in which our children could further expand.  Isn’t this what Sam Walton, Truett Cathy and Jerome Monroe Smucker did?  For too long, the business world has been left up to the men.  But there is an emergence of women who are not just staying at home, but making it profitable.

However, this “new” working mom requires a considerable amount of discipline, time management and support.  For example, I work up until 30 minutes before the children get home from school. This allows me to transition my thoughts from work mode to being plain old mom. Then comes homework, dinner (which is sometimes prepared by my husband), baths and preparation for school with some goofing off in the midst of it, and then it is back to the work grind until sometimes midnight. Since I have roles both as a business owner and a mom, I must work hard at not only one job, but two. In no way am I minimizing my friends who work outside the home, in particular single mothers. In fact, let’s take a moment right now to applaud our sisters who are working hard both outside and inside the home. We celebrate YOU!

Even though I have many roles, including acting as a referee in the disputes over toys, serving as a taxi driver, reviewing additional problems while returning client phone calls, and finishing up a project or blog post, I would not trade my “work” life.  It has been a juggling act between maintaining a family life and growing my media and marketing business, but the lessons I have learned and the legacy it will create for my children is priceless.  The other day, I asked my oldest daughter, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She told me a school teacher. I asked her, instead of being a teacher why not own the school?  My daughter may not have understood at the time, but I am putting an image in her that she does not need to work in a job that already exists; she can create one. Is this not what every woman wants; a chance to create her own thing?

What do you think? Is there a difference between mothers who work from home versus those who work outside of the home?

Ro 🙂

My New Go-To Breakfast: Overnight Oats

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

I was hoping that things would settle down after the holidays, but now it’s just a different kind of busy! I’m working on some upcoming stories on a local romance writer and a Lexington Medical Center green building, but for now, I want to share my favorite new recipe: Overnight Oats.

Refrigerated oatmeal may sound a little odd, but trust me, it’s a fabulous, fast, healthy start to your morning. On Sunday, I make five jars and have breakfast for the whole week. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Overnight OatsOvernight Oats
Ingredients (1 breakfast)

  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use plain light soy)
  • 1/4 medium banana, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup fruit of your choice (fresh or frozen ok)
  • Honey to taste


  1. Place all the ingredients in a container. (I use an eight-ounce Mason jar because I like using glass, plus they are so cute!)
  2. Cover, shake and refrigerate overnight.

Instructing Zumba on a Cruise Ship

By: Shannon Shull

When one of my fellow Zumba instructors told me that Celebrity Cruise Lines was working with Zumba Fitness to book instructors for their cruises, I jumped at the opportunity. After a  strenuous audition process, I was thrilled to be offered a gig on the Celebrity Summit! They first offered me a position on a 2-week cruise but I had to turn them down. There was no way I could be away from my kids for that long. Fortunately, they offered me a week-long cruise that I was able to schedule. I have to admit, I was very nervous since I did not know what to expect. Every ship’s Cruise Director and Activities Manager do things a little differently, plus the number of classes you teach usually depends on the number of days the ship is at port and at sea. Needless to say, it was quite the adventure and I just had to be prepared to do my thing!

Ship Pool Deck

I am so glad that I took the plunge and accepted the job because it ended up being such an amazing experience. On my first night on the ship, I met with Manuel, the Activities Manager, who filled me in on the schedule and then interviewed me on-camera. The interview played on the main ship channel on all the TVs in each room and around the ship. All of my classes were on the main pool deck’s stage – the stage of the open sea! Some folks would show up in their work out clothes ready to Zumba and other folks would see all the fun we were having and join in from the pool, the bars and the dining areas. Each class was like performing a show! If people weren’t dancing, they were watching from the pool, the balconies, etc., and some were even taking pictures. Of course, it helps that everyone on a cruise ship is on vacation and, therefore, in party mode! The air was always electric with happiness and fun.


The one thing it took some getting used was the ship’s movement; when a ship is at sea, it moves and sways A LOT. Attempting to dance on a moving object took some getting used to. In some of my video footage from my classes, you can see the water in the pool dramatically sloshing back and forth. Dancing on a rockin’ ship certainly presents a challenge for the muscles and your equilibrium. Such a weird feeling! It took me days after returning home to get over the occasional sensation of being on a moving object.

Rockin Out to Air Guitar

The funny thing is that before I taught my first class, the crew kept warning me about the Caribbean heat. Shoot! That Caribbean heat was nothing compared to the heat of the indoor pools where I teach Aqua Zumba back home! Yes, the sun on the ship was hot, but the wind of the sea was glorious! I discovered very quickly that I had to wear a hat when I taught to keep my hair from whipping around like crazy, but it felt great and kept me cool enough that I didn’t walk away dripping sweat after each class. When I teach Aqua Zumba, I don’t get the privilege of getting in the water; I have to teach from the side of the pool and those indoor pool rooms are like steam bath saunas! Once I start dancing, I’m usually literally dripping sweat by the 2nd or 3rd song, and I’m not even a big sweater! When I walk away from teaching an Aqua Zumba class, my clothes are wet with sweat and I look like a red-faced, stinky mess. When I first started teaching Aqua Zumba it took me months to condition my body to teaching in that environment. But goodness do I love it – regardless of the heat, I have so much fun teaching it that I get over the sweaty part. So my point here – teaching Zumba on the deck of a ship was the ultimate experience. I could handle those conditions any day.

It would be such a privilege to serve as a Zumba instructor on another cruise! I really hope I get the opportunity to do something like this again. It was such a blessing to meet and dance with so many fabulous people from across the world. And it definitely was an honor to represent Zumba and to work with the incredible Celebrity crew. What an awesome cruise line. They definitely made me feel like a celebrity!

Lentil & Mushroom Stroganoff

By: Brady Evans

I think if sour cream had a different name my husband would like it a little better. It isn’t doing itself any favors by masquerading as something delicious gone rancid. My husband just doesn’t like it. At all. It is forever hidden in the back of the fridge even when recently purchased, and I only secretly add it to recipes he’ll be eating.

LentilsI lie. He LOVES sour cream…when he doesn’t know about it. The same sort of story goes for lentils. So they make somewhat frequent appearances on our dinner table. Long story short: he thinks he hates both items until he takes a bite, and then he loves them both.

Mushrooms? I’d be risking our marriage if I served those. I don’t.even.go.there. When I whipped up a dish containing a delicious trifecta of sour cream, lentils AND mushrooms, it goes without saying that my husband was not even in the same state as me.

This dish is so good. It includes the two meatiest vegetarian entities to replace red meat in a stroganoff that will leave any eater, vegetarian or not, feeling ultra satisfied.

Lentil and Mushroom Stroganoff (adapted from Cate’s World Kitchen, who adapted from Jamie Oliver)


  • Stroganoff2 cups lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 8 ounces mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small handful of parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Cooked rice or pasta


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes.
  2. Drain and rinse the lentils and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium high. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and turn heat to low. Cook 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms, paprika, and a few pinches of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, another 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are browning and soft.
  5. Stir in the lentils, parsley, and vinegar and cook, stirring, for a few minutes.
  6. Stir in the sour cream, cooking just until heated through. Taste and adjust seasonings, then serve over pasta or rice.

Failure! Failure?

By: Crissie Miller Kirby

I loathe the word failure.  By nature, for me, “failure is not an option.” So, as I paused to reflect on 2012 and those resolutions I made, and posted here for the world to see, I had to determine whether they had been a lesson in torture or triumph.

First, I took a few minutes to actually reread the post, not quite remembering what I written.  I had resolved to be healthier, be more organized, and to stop being ashamed of my failed marriage.

When I started thinking about those items, I first thought, “Oh, great Crissie ~ you FAILED!  Miserably!”

But, then again, did I?

Okay, I will be honest ~ when it comes to being healthier, I did not do well, at all.  I rarely got to the gym and my self-imposed ban on sweet tea and soda, well, it fell by the wayside.  So, I’m trying again.  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  Tonight the boys start a karate class and I will start kickboxing.  Yes, I promise, I will keep you posted on how that goes.

In regards to more organization; honestly, I didn’t do as well here either.  But, when I got down to the nitty gritty, I didn’t totally fail.  It has taken me 34 years to really realize that, while I am a pack rat and a hoarder by nature, that I CAN break the cycle and I CAN get rid of things.  To that end, I have thrown away more things this past year.  I have not stored as much stuff or held on to things that are, really, meaningless.  I’ve realized that being more organized is a process, which, after spending 34 years collecting “stuff,” is going to take time. So, I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back for this area because at least I have started and I believe, in the end, I will succeed.

Now, to the area where I think I have made the most progress and had the most success.

Essentially, my goal was to stop being ashamed of the fact that I am divorced.  I AM DIVORCED.  I am divorced.  Divorced.  Single.  But, I am not dead, and it is time to hold my head high.  And, I think that I did accomplish this goal from 2012.  Sure, I hate being divorced, but not because I desire my “old” life back; I hate being divorced because I still don’t like divorce in general.  But, I have taken comfort in knowing that in my own situation it was a last resort, and it is not the end of the world, and I am still alive and well.

I can honestly say that I feel like I came alive in 2012.  I lived life to the fullest.  I started going to church more often, when I was home (the boys and I traveled to the coast a lot this past summer).  I had shied away from church activities because in some ways, I didn’t feel as if I belonged anymore.  But, I do belong.  My children belong.

And, I’ve started dating again, somewhat, in small baby steps.  But, that is not an area that needs to or will be rushed.  I’m in no huge hurry to be married again, although some day, I would like that, simply because I enjoyed being married, but not because I HAVE to be married.

Now, I look back at 2012 as a lesson.  A lesson in life.  A lesson in areas that need a little work and areas that just need to keep going at the pace at which they are moving already.

2012 was NOT a failure.

The King of the Crustaceans

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

LobsterI have appreciated lobster from an early age. As special occasions rolled around, my mom would present us with broiled lobster tails and drawn butter, which is just about the simplest yet most pristine preparation for this ultimate luxury food. By the time my sister and I reached middle school, we were completely hooked. But of course, lobster isn’t cheap, so it was reserved for special occasions. Back then, some friends of my parents owned a nice restaurant called the Stadium Steakhouse. As you can imagine, they made steaks, but they also had an entrée on their menu that to this day, I’ve never seen in any other restaurant: Danish lobster tails. So, when we celebrated our 11th, 12th, etc. birthdays or were celebrating a ballet recital or softball win, we always asked to go to Stadium Steakhouse, where we always ordered Danish lobster tails. Sadly, these little delicacies were the victims of over-fishing and I’m really not even sure if anyone in the world serves them at this point.

As I became an adult, lobster remained one of my ultimate special treats. One time, Food & Wine magazine published a “lobster primer” to teach those of us who are not Down Lobster At HomeEasterners how to properly cook, dismantle and enjoy a live lobster. We all gathered at mom and dad’s and indulged together. Later, when my cookbook addiction really got rolling, I couldn’t resist Jasper White’s Lobster at Home. I have read that book cover to cover and have stared at the photos forever.

Before I got married, my mom, sister, my aunt and I started taking Mother’s Day trips together. We went to Chicago, where we shopped at Michigan Avenue, ate pizza, and saw Fiddler on the Roof at the Chinese Theatre. We went to Amelia Island and stayed in the coolest B&B, took a boat out to see the wild horses at Cumberland Island, and found a shrimp shack right on the dock. So, when my turn to plan the trip rolled around, I knew exactly what we were going to do. We were going to go to Maine and eat lobster like there was no tomorrow. Long story short, we stayed in Boothbay Harbor and my mom and I managed to have lobster in some form for every meal except two.

Now, I’m married and have a delightful 6 year old. She’s always been a good little eater with an adventurous spirit. She’s a shrimp fan, loves steak, thinks green beans are for everyday use, while she hates chicken nuggets and won’t even think about eating cereal in the morning ☺. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately, wild-caught Canadian lobster tails have been on sale at almost all of our grocery stores. When Publix advertised lobster tails B1G1, I almost fell out of my chair. Once I regained my composure, I headed to Publix and swooped in. My head was spinning with ideas but I realized that there was one recipe and its picture that I’ve turned to over and over again in that cookbook. That was the one; it was the obvious choice. I knew I had to make Jasper White’s “Pan-Roasted Lobster with Chervil and Chives.” As you can probably imagine, I had no luck finding chervil around here…not even Whole Foods carries it. Luckily, Jasper clued me in that I could mix fresh parsley & fresh tarragon and get pretty close.

It’s a fast paced recipe and timing is everything, but oh man!, it is worth it. My husband and I were in heaven with the lingering aroma of flambéed cognac in the air, while my daughter just dug in and discovered at this young age, like myself, that lobster is indeed nectar from the gods. She loved this dish so much that the next day when I asked her opinion about dinner, she said “I’d like lobster.” Yeah, me too. Since then, we’ve taken advantage of these awesome sale prices a couple more times. For Christmas Eve supper at my parents’ house, we had corn chowder with shrimp, crab casserole and pan-roasted lobster. It was heavenly and a perfect meal for one of the most festive nights of the year. And, I realized something. If you keep your eyes open and watch the prices you can serve lobster for as little as $5.00 a person. Jasper White’s title Lobster at Home is perfect. You can have it at home and it can be just as special and marvelous as a restaurant on fancy date-night!

If you like this, you can subscribe to Elizabeth’s blog Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef) or simply like it on Facebook.

Paying it Forward

By: Katie Austin

Happy New Year to my Every Woman Blog family!  I hope 2013 is off to a great start for each of you!  Like most, my husband and I spent the better part of January 1st preparing for re-entry back into the real world   Yep, it was time to head back to work, and the plan was to spend a relaxing first day of the year at home watching the college bowl games.  Go Gamecocks! 🙂

Pay it ForwardOur first decision for 2013 was that we were not going to cook on the first day of the year.  We had been cooking a ton over the holidays, so after a unanimous vote (there were only two of us… LOL!), the decision was made and off we drove to Lizards Thicket with images of breakfast dancing in our heads.  If you haven’t had breakfast at Lizards Thicket, they do a great job for a good price, whether you choose to eat in or carry out.  Just thought to mention that and no, this is not a paid advertisement 🙂

Like you would expect, we pulled up to the drive-thru, placed our order (veggie omelette, potatoes, toast, and juice each – yum!) and then moved forward to the checkout window to pay for our scrumptious meal.  What happened next was completely unexpected and why I wanted to share this story with you!  (This is where I build suspense and you cry out “What happens next?!”)

When we pulled up to pay for our meal, a young woman at the register said to us “Your meal was just paid for in full by the man driving away.” We went into shock and sat there staring, with our mouths wide open, at the gray car pulling away to see if it was someone we knew. I asked her “Did he really just pay for our meal?”  She replied with a smile, “Yes. His meal was only $7 and he paid for yours in full.”   Our meal was double the price of his, and he paid for ours without hesitation. She told us that this had been happening all morning with each car pulling up to pay for the meal ordered behind them.  She then went on to tell us that her mom had someone pay her $63 grocery bill and told her “Happy Holidays” before walking out of the store with their own groceries.

I literally did not know what to say and for those that know me, that takes a lot!  Haha! As we waited for our food, we learned that this young woman was a single mother and she smiled as she told us that she felt blessed to be a part of something special.  People were paying it forward and she was a part of it!  We were so moved by what had just happened that we wanted to do the same so we offered to pay for the meal ordered behind us. We paid for their meal, giving about the same as a tip, and then drove off smiling knowing that the car behind us was going to learn that we had just paid for their meal! I wonder how many times the story was told that day to each car pulling up who offered to pay for the meal ordered behind them 🙂

What a great way to start 2013 and it warmed our hearts to know that we were making a difference along with everyone else who was stepping up to pay it forward.  As we ate our breakfast, we realized that because we paid less than our original meal cost, giving more for a tip to make up the difference, that we were helping the young woman we just met at the drive-thru window. It’s amazing to think that one random act of kindness can spark many to do the same and the lives changed that day including ours!

Pay it Forward DayTo pay if forward doesn’t mean that it has to be something you pay for.  I found a website that sets an international Pay It Forward date each year and offers ideas for paying it forward.  What a great idea!  The date has been set for Thursday, April 25, 2013 so mark your calendars and be prepared to make a difference.  You never know if your act of kindness will be the biggest change in someone else’s life 🙂

Have you done something to pay it forward?  Are you planning to participate in Pay It Forward Day?  Share your ideas with us and how we can each pay it forward for a better tomorrow.

Looking forward to another year with my Every Woman Blog family!

51 Ways to Be Good to Your Joints

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

This year, resolve to be good to your joints! This great article from Arthritis Today lists 51 ways to improve your joint health. Even though you may not have arthritis, it’s important to protect your joints to maximize their use, mobility and function for as long as we can.


There are several items in particular that I need to work on:

Stttrrreeetttccchhh. Stretching isn’t just for workouts anymore. Take breaks throughout the day, including at your office, to get re-energized and help keep your muscles and ligaments flexible and strong.

Compute comfortably. Your upper body should be spaced 20 to 26 inches from your computer monitor, the top of which should be at an even line with the top of your head when your head is in neutral position. Your arms should hang comfortably at your sides, elbows at a right angle, with your wrists relaxed while typing.

Sit and stand. Neither sitting nor standing on your feet all day is good for you. When possible, alternate between the two to prevent locking yourself in one position. If your job primarily involves sitting, take a break and stand up every 30 minutes or so.

Check out the article and see how you can be kind to your joints in 2013.

Do you have any joint issues? What is your favorite tip to either take care of it or help prevent joint pain flare up?