Precious Gemstones versus Semi-precious Gemstones

What is the difference between precious gemstones and semi-precious?  First let  us clarify that a gemstone is a jewelry-grade mineral and not just any old rock.  To be considered precious a gemstone must meet three requirements:  high MOHS hardness, fineness of color, and purity of chemical make-up.   The four precious are diamond, emerald (from Beryl family), ruby and sapphire.

Precious Gemstones

  • Diamonds are considered precious, but they are an exception to the "color:" requirement as "white" or clear diamonds are typically more desirable, especially for engagement rings and wedding sets.  The quality of finished diamonds is based on the four C's: carat, clarity,  color, and cut.  Many jewelers also suggest a 5th C for Confidence that it is coming from a reputable source who has properly graded the diamond.
  • Emeralds are precious, but you never hear anyone refer to any of the other beryls (blue aquamarine, white goshenite, pink morganite, yellow helidore) as precious.  Why not?   in ancient times, finding a quality green stone was rare, so emerald was only owned by royalty and the rich.  Today, it is not so hard to find and mine.  Some of the other colors of beryl are more rare than emerald.  So a gemstone being rare has nothing to do with it being considered precious now.
  • Rubies are corundum that are specific shades or red and therefore considered precious.  However, not all corundums are precious, since some are of lower quality or lack the chemical make-up to be called Ruby or Sapphire.  Honest jewelry dealers will typically list these non-precious varieties as red, blue, or green corundum.
  • Sapphires are also considered precious in the past.  Many  colors are classified as sapphires - that means the rarer fancy colors (anything other than standard blues) should be considered precious.  The rarest and most expensive blue colors are Ceylon and Cashmere.  

Semi-precious gemstones will only have one or two of the gemstone requirements for jewelry. Any gemstone besides the four above should be considered semi-precious.  Whether or not a stone is rare or natural, is no longer considered in defining it as precious.  The precious stones above were rare finds in ancient times,but come from many mines around the word now.  Currently, there are more semi-precious stones that are considered rare.  Rare typically means the stones only come from one place or are no longer available because they have been mined-out.

Gemstones from both precious and semi-precious classifications may be found in the lists containing anniversary stonesbirthstones and zodiac stones.

Quick Chicken Chalupa Casserole Recipe

What makes this 6-8 serving recipe a quick one is it is made with a store-bought rotisserie chicken, which already has flavor to it.

Quick Chicken Chalupa Casserole

  2 lbs cooked shredded chicken
  8-10 tortillas (depending on size)
  2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  1 cup green chili salsa
  1 cup red salsa (or picante)

  1. Bone and skin the chicken a head of time so the meal prep is quick.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 13x9 glass dish with cooking spray
  3. Layer tortillas overlapping, then cover with chicken, 1/2 cup cheese, and 1/4 cup each salsa.  Then repeat layering tortilla, chicken, salsa until you end up with salsa and cheese on top.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted.  Serve hot.
  • You can bake or boil a chicken at home and just add spices to give it a Mexican flavor, if you want to make sure it is lower-calorie.  You may also use canned chicken (or scrambled/cooked hamburger meat if you prefer beef) as long as you have at least 2 cups of cooked meat for layering steps. 
  • I found similar recipes on-line that called for flour or corn tortillas - so decide which texture you like best to use in your own version of the casserole.  
  • As for salsas, you can use mild, medium, or hot to your tastes.  Try it the first time with mild and then go up heat levels until you find the flavor that best suits your family and friends.
  • If you prefer a creamy casserole, I have seen recipes where they use cream of chicken (or cream of mushroom) soup and small can of green chilies instead of the green salsa.  So you might want to try that too.
  • Serve with possible topping options of sour cream, avocado or guacamole, cilantro or chopped green onions, and black or green olives.
If you try some of the variations or come up with ones of your own, please let me know in the comments for this post what you think.

What is the Difference in Genuine, Natural, and Organic Gemstones?

Buying jewelry can be confusing when you hear the terms organic, natural, or genuine.  The terms mean different things in the jewelry industry.  Basically they all mean that the primary gemstone in a setting is not man-made (aka synthetic, imitation, faux or CZ).  However, lab-created and farm-raised may seem man-made, but they are considered genuine since they are gemstones that man has merely helped along in the growing process yet still have the same chemical make-up of the stones that occur naturally (i.e. in nature).  Often the lab-created look better than the nature-made versions of the same gemstone because the lab-environment is prefect conditions for growth, whereas anything can happen in nature to cause inclusions or cloudiness.

Still confused?  The primary difference between genuine and natural gemstone classification is whether  the stone been enhanced in some way.  A natural gemstone has not had an enhancement or treatment to make it better looking.  Natural is merely mined, cut/shaped, possibly faceted, and polished  to be placed into a setting.  Common enhancements/treatments to change natural stones include: Dying (D) /Difusion, , Fissure Filling (FF), Heat Treating (HT), oiling, sealing, stabilizing, and Irradiation (IR).

So now you are thinking every natural stone must also be organic.  Sorry, not so.  Organic means it was once a living thing instead of a mineral or rock.  Therefore it must be plant-based or from an animal/insect.  There are very few gemstones that qualify as organic, although it does include the popular stones of amber, coral, and pearls.

To make things even more convoluted, you have precious gemstones and semi-precious gemstone classifications!

Wonderful Cabbage Soup Recipe and Seven-Day Diet

You may have heard of the Cabbage Soup  Diet (aka Wonderful Soup Diet).  In my home, we enjoy Cabbage Roll Soup so I thought I'd give this a try.  There were a lot of recipe variations, so I made my own recipe below combining some of the suggestions and leaving out others.  I did some research and found that medical sites said the diet was okay as long as you do NOT do it for more than a week - it is only a system flush to jump start a healthy weight-loss program.  Doing the diet for too long may result in muscle loss instead of fat loss.  Their main concern with the diet is the lack of protein, even with the add-ons for diet.  They also warned that you will quickly gain the weight back if you continue bad eating habits instead of choosing healthy options.

With that in mind, I decided to eat the soup at lunch and dinner only and have a microwave scrambled egg for protein at breakfast.  Thanks to the tuna/egg diet, I am not a big eater, so I just had the soup at my meals without any of the add-ons.  The only day that I ate something different at breakfast was Dairy Day (see add-ons under recipe), on that day I had yogurt instead of the egg.  You must drink lots of water during the diet.  I drank a glass before and after each meal to make sure I met the requirements. On the rare occasions where I craved a snack. I ate 6-8 almonds and/or a zero-calorie flavored drink.   I also walked at least 35 minutes each morning. I lost 5+ pounds in one week on my modified version of this diet and broke a weight kinit I had not been able to get below in previous attempts. Unfortunately, 2.5 pounds came back in the following two weeks.

  • If you want to lose weight quickly or jump-start weight loss, you may want to try this for 7-days.  If you want to repeat the week, you are supposed to wait 2 weeks before trying again.
  • If you are interested in a flat stomach rather than rapid weight-loss, do NOT do this diet.  It causes belly bloat for the week and a few days after.  Instead, you may want to plan ahead and  try the 21-day belly diet of healthy eating habits.  During the diet, you may want to add the 4-week flat belly exercises to the few the book recommends.
  • As with any diet or exercise plan, CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR before starting as foods can affect medical conditions and the effectiveness of some medications.  Although I had no real  problems on this diet, others I know had an adverse reaction and had to stop after first day.

Diet Cabbage Soup Recipe

1 (16 oz) package of Shredded Cabbage or Coleslaw Mix
1 large onion, chopped
1 (28oz) can of diced tomatoes
3 celery stalks, sliced into small pieces
1 1/2 cups carrots, sliced thin (about 6 carrots)
4 cups prepared bouillon
1 (14 oz) can of green beans
1 (8 oz) can V-8 juice

Saute onions in olive oil until transparent in your soup pot.
Add bouillon,  and other vegetables, except cabbage, and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 10 minutes.
Turn heat to low and place cabbage on top to begin wilting process.
After simmering 20 minutes, stir cabbage into soup.  Simmer 20 minutes more.

  • In order to have a full-week of soup, I had to make the recipe below twice,  
  • Many of the on-line recipes call for a whole head of cabbage, which is double the mix I used.  However, that much cabbage would not have fit into my soup pot with all the other ingredients!   So you could double the cabbage if desired.  Cabbage is supposed to slow digestion, which is how the diet works. 
  • If you skip the cabbage wilting stage, the cabbage will soak up all your broth as it cooks.
  • The bouillon can be any flavor you like: beef, vegetarian, or chicken.  I used chicken.
  • I included all the optional ingredients and it had a great flavor.  If you do not want to use V-8, you can add some spices or herbs that you like instead. If you want to add a clove or garlic, saute it with the onion,

7-Day Cabbage Soup Diet Plan - Add On Foods

  • Every Day - Eat soup at meals and drink several glasses of water throughout the day.
  1. Fruit Day - any fruit except bananas may be eaten with the soup at meals.
  2. Veg Day - green vegetable, leafy vegetable, or a small baked potato may be eaten with soup.
  3. Mix Day - anything from days 1 or 2 (Fruit & Veg) with meals.
  4. Dairy Day - milk, yogurt, or single small banana with soup.
  5. Meat Day - 10 ounces of beef, chicken, or fish once during the day with soup,
  6. Mix Day - anything from days 2 or 5 (Meat & Veg) with soup.
  7. Juice Day - brown rice or juice with soup.

Always consult a doctor before starting a diet or exercise program!

Only Four Weeks of Five Short Exercises to Get a Flat Belly!

The below 6.5 minute video shares planks and plank-like exercises.  I know planks added to a regular exercise or good diet plan can flatten your belly.  The video promises if you do the 5 exercises for 4 weeks you will get a flat belly.  That seems like a good deal for less than 5 minutes a day, if it works.  The idea is to start week 1 with about 2 minutes each day and then move up to 5 minutes per day in week 4.  Exercise included are: standard plank, left-side plank, right-side plank, modified sit-ups, and something they call backwards push-up (which looks similar to the old crab crawl from high-school gym class).  Most of the first minute of the video is just promo to get you to watch the rest, so be patient.

Always consult a doctor before starting a diet or exercise program!

Summer Fruit Tarts

Woman's Day cover
 July/August 2019 issue 
In the July/August issue of Woman's Day magazine, they have the cutest N0-Bake Summer Fruit Tart where they make fish and turtles out of fruit to top the cream cheese filling of the graham cracker crust on pages 102-104.  It would be a clever treat for a pool party, fish fry, or end-of-summer bash!  The Kiwi/Grape turtle would also be very cute on the top of cupcakes for a child's party.  The  fish and starfish on the tart are made from blueberries, mangos, plums, and strawberries.  This issue also includes 4 other ideas for cold desserts; as well as four 30-minute, 6 low cost, 4 low calorie meals, and veggies/salads.

Alternatively, you can adapt The Pretty Bees recipe for  No-Bake Rainbow Fruit Tart.  If you prefer to make one large fish rather than several, try baking Taste of Home's sugar dough version of Fruited Fish Tart.  

Thirty Tips for Using Bobby Pins Outside of Hair Styling

There are lots of hair style that benefit from the use of bobby pins.  Whether you want the pins to be displayed or hidden in your hair, you can try almost 50 different styles.

However, did you know that bobby pins have other uses in your closet and around the house too?  Below are 30 tips (15 each) giving ways to use bobby pins to help out.

15 Quick Clothing Repairs and Craft Tips Using a Bobby Pin

  1. Fix a broken zipper slide
  2. Mini clothespins for lingerie
  3. Use to hold silky fabrics together, instead of straight pins, when sewing
  4. Hold together a broken clothing strap or for a missing button
  5. Tie a knot in drawstring to thread back into pants or hoodie
  6. Repair broken or sagging hemline
  7. Use as a money clip
  8. Prevent tangling on the end of ribbon or lace roles
  9. Pin/brush tip for fingernail art
  10. Poke thru elastic to use as threader in new waistband
  11. Use as a tie clip inside a vest or jacket
  12. Keep balls/skeins of yarn together
  13. Secure loose end of a too long belt
  14. Stitch saver to mark ends of knitting rows
  15. Embellish pins for hair or jewelry-making crafts

15 Tips to Help Around the House Using a Bobby Pin

  1. Reset electronics with tiny hole or button
  2. Squeeze and roll- up toothpaste tube
  3. Pry out little batteries or SIM cards
  4. Mark end of the tape role
  5. Use as a bookmark
  6. Instead of paper clip or staple on notes or multiple pages
  7. Use as a bag clip on snacks
  8. Pry open stuck medicine or drink seals on bottles and jars
  9. Hold a nail when hammering it
  10. Open letter envelopes without tearing
  11. Lock the end of twine or cord onto roll
  12. Keep headphones cords from tangling
  13. Hook hair out of clogged drain
  14. Hold together streamers or tinsel on holiday tree
  15. Use as ornament holders if you are missing hooks

Let me know if you come up with any other ideas by placing your suggestions in the commetns for this post.

Big Daddy Breakfast Puff Recipe and Crescent Rolls for Brunch

Ever need to feed a crowd at breakfast or brunch?  If you do then you may appreciate the recipe below as an alternative to just having platters of eggs and sausage.  This recipe was given to me by my aunt - she got it from her son's girlfriend's father who of course got it from someone else.  Is that not how the best recipes make the rounds?  My aunt said the puff was even better warmed over in the microwave the next day!

The below recipe is made with a crescent roll crust.  Crescent rolls are not just for holidays or fancy dinners. You can use them in a variety of ways to make any day special.  Below the puff recipe, you will find links to other recipes you may want to add or use instead for your big brunch or breakfast spread.

Big Daddy Breakfast Puff Recipe

1 pound pork sausage (browned, drained, and crumbled)
1 package cream cheese (softened)
8 eggs (scrambled)
1 package Mexican blend shredded cheese
2 cans crescent rolls

1, Mix sausage and cream cheese together.
2. Roll out crescent rolls onto a cookie sheets.
3. Layer sausage/cheese onto 1 of the rolled out crescents, then top with eggs, then shredded cheese.
4. Place other rolled out crescents on top and crimp edges together.
5. Bake at 350 degrees until browned.
6. Cut into serving squares.

More Crescent Roll Brunch Ideas

Misrepresenting History of Freedom?

Why is the USA being lead away from their history by those who either do not know it or purposely twist it into something wrong?  Many monuments have been removed in recent past due to people twisting history as an issue to suit their current political desires. The most recent political distraction is the original American flag.  The USA flag (current and past) represents freedom!  Written proof is in the legal documents of the constitution and the Bill of Rights (amendments 1-10).

Please stop stomping on the flag and abusing the rights of its citizens by telling lies or showing disrespect.  If you can not do that, then at least research history before slandering and falsely accusing something you do not truly understand.  Having the right of free speech should not include purposeful misinformation or misrepresentation (aka fake news). Then again some who are ill-informed or deceitful might consider that censorship instead of common sense, which is typically for the good of the most people.

Summer Fashions Make Awesome Outfits

Good Housekeeping
Jube 2019 Cover
Been looking at a lot of magazines for May and June that are touting the new summer fashions?  I like when summer comes - the weird and wild looks go away to be replaced with light and lovely style.  Which magazine did the best job on summer fashions?  Surprising it was Good Housekeeping (GH) with May fashion photo articles of 25 summer dresses and 10 simple dresses, plus  nail designs slideshow.  The June GH issue has a 5-page photo spread "A week of Awesome Outfits" using light-weight separates. and a 4-page "Summer Beauty Special" with 5 cosmetic secrets plus a sunscreen evaluation. In addition to clothing fashion, the June issue has some good ideas for bed and bath styling.

GH covered dresses, shirts, shirts, and pants.  What about the easy-to-wear summer shorts or skorts?  Check out the June issue of Family Circle photo article "Find the Right Style Shorts for Your Body" or the Stitch Fix blog post "5 Ways To Style Your Summer Outfits With Shorts."