Simple advice for a better life.

Improve Your Gas Mileage – Save Money

Go GreenSummer is almost over, but this does not mean that we considerably cut down  on driving.

Some of us prefer to get on the road once the “summer rush” is over, to avoid all the traffic, congestion, and actually enjoy the trip.

Autumn season can be a breathtaking experience for travelers who enjoy the beauty of nature, especially once the leaves begin to change colors, which is my favorite part of that season.

Here are some tips from, on getting the most out of your auto fuel, and help the environment.

Today’s Tip: Relax Your Driving


Improve your gas mileage – and reduce emission – by slowing your roll.


Aggressive driving can reduce gas mileage by up to 33%, costing you an extra $1.31 per gallon.

Did you Know?

The 1912 Ford Model T got 28.5 miles per gallon, making it more fuel-efficient than many of today’s wheels.

Happy trails!

Poppy seeds are used in many food preparations, in cooking and baking.   Dried poppy seeds are not exactly something one would like to snack on, but once used in breads, cakes, salad dressing, etc, it enhances the texture and flavor of the dish.

I personally like onion rolls sprinkled with poppy seeds, Poppy Seed Cake, and Poppy  Seed Roll (Zavyvanets – in Ukrainian).

Today I will share a recipe for a Poppy Seed Cake.

This recipe is quite easy, since it calls for a can of ready made Poppy Seed filling, unlike when my mom was baking with poppy seed, she had to prepare her own filling from scratch, which was a long process.

She cooked the poppy seeds, then she drained it well, then grind it twice on a fine blade.  After that she would flavor it, and finally it was ready to be used for baking.

Aren’t you glad Solo does all this hard work for us?  I sure am!

I also would like mention that this cake is not very tall.  It rises taller during baking, then drops during cooling, to about 1 1/4 inches.


  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or any vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 can (12.5 oz) Poppy Seed Filling (by Solo)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda


  1. Separate egg yolks from egg whites.
  2. Set the egg whites aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar.
  4. Beat well until light and fluffy (it will resemble vanilla pudding).
  5. Add in oil, and mix well.
  6. Mix in the Poppy Seed filling.
  7. Add milk and Vanilla extract, and mix one minute longer.
  8. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the baking soda and baking powder.
  9. Gradually mix it into the batter.
  10. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  11. Fold into the batter, evenly.
  12. Preheat the over to 325 degrees F.
  13. Grease well a 9 x 13 x 2 sheet cake pan, and dust it lightly with flour.
  14. Pour the batter into the pan.
  15. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  16. Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan, for 10 minutes.
  17. Invert it from the pan onto a wire cooling rack, to cool completely.
  18. Cut into serving pieces, and dust the tops with powdered sugar, before serving.


TIP:  Please note the adjusted picture, in case you printed out the original post where I mismatched the picture from a different poppy seed cake recipe (Fancy Poppy Seed Cake).

Zucchini casseroleI already shared the story about my zucchini crop this year,  so now it’s a perfect time to share a zucchini recipe.

I was thinking of posting a Zucchini Bread recipe, but I have been baking a lot lately, so a vegetarian dish sounded more appealing to me.

My sister might like this recipe as well, since she just told me that she is contemplating becoming a vegetarian.

I could be a vegetarian most of the time, but I think I occasionally would miss my poultry and pork dishes.

My mom loved zucchini sauteed with butter, onions, garlic, and some Italian spices.

Today I will share this yummy recipe for Zucchini Casserole with tomatoes, cheeses and Italian spices.

One recipe fills a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

Zucchini casserole serving


  • 2 medium zucchini (8 inch long), sliced into thin discs (1/8 inch thick)
  • 3 large tomatoes, sliced into thin discs (1/8 inch thick)
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dry oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dry basil (1/4 cup fresh, chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tbs. butter (or canola oil)
  • 1/2 cup Italian Seasoned bread crumbs


  1. In a large bowl, combine the Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Grease the casserole dish, or spray with a  cooking spray.
  4. Divide the sliced zucchini and sliced tomatoes into two equal parts.
  5. Arrange the first half of the zucchini slices in the casserole dish, covering the whole bottom.
  6. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese mixture over the zucchini layer.
  7. Arrange the first haft of the sliced tomatoes over the cheese sprinkled zucchini.
  8. Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese mixture over the tomato layer.
  9. Repeat the zucchini, tomatoes, cheese, layers again.
  10. Set aside.
  11. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter, over medium heat.
  12. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent (2 minutes).
  13. Turn off heat.
  14. Add the seasoned bread crumbs, and mix until the butter is totally absorbed and onions are mixed in.
  15. Preheat the over to 375 degrees F.
  16. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly all over the top of the casserole.
  17. Cover with aluminum foil.
  18. Bake for 20 minutes.
  19. Uncover and bake for 20 minutes longer.
  20. Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Zucchini casserole serving 2

Best served fresh, while the topping is nice and crunchy.

Still great the next day, but the bread crumbs become soft as they begin to absorb the moisture from the veggies.

Enjoy, and share your comments.

Yukon Gold Potatoes

new potatoesIf you recall my previous post, this year I planted some Yukon Gold potatoes.

It takes several months for potatoes to fully mature, but I rather use mine when they are very young, and fresh.

Today I dug up several of these potatoes from under the growing plants, and tried to leave the little ones behind to continue to grow, but as you can see some broke away, so I picked them as well.

If you do pick some of the larger potatoes from under the potato bush, you still need to make a soil mound around the plant, as it was before, to protect the still growing remaining potatoes.

Any potatoes exposed to light will turn green, thus not suitable for consumption.  My first crop already produced at least 10 lbs of potatoes, and I still have 4 more potato plants growing.

All this from ONE Yukon Gold potato!  Pretty good deal, wouldn’t you say?

New potatoes are so much tastier than the full grown ones, and best of all, they do not need to be peeled.

new potatoes - no peeling needed

The skin is tissue paper thin, and is easily scraped off with a paring knife (the potato juice might stain your fingers).  They also can be cooked with the skin on, and served that way, or scraped off once cooled.

New Potatoes with butter and dill

I love new potatoes, boiled, cut up into chunks, and flavored with sauteed butter and dill, with salt and pepper to taste.

My grandma would also serve homemade white cheese (resembling cottage cheese) mixed with sour cream, as a side dish with her new boiled potatoes, plus a cup of fresh buttermilk.  Simple meal, but 100% organic!

I never acquired the taste for buttermilk as a drink, however I do use it in baking and cooking.

Do you like buttermilk?

Did you ever enjoy new potatoes freshly from the garden?

Please share your thoughts, and serving ideas.

Baba- GrandmaBeing a grandmother (BABA in Ukrainian, or BABCIA in Polish) is such a rewarding experience, since you have lots of fun with your grandchildren, without being the firm disciplinarian you once were as a mother to your own children.

Of course, I try to follow the parent’s rules, as not to cause too much confusion for the grandchild, but I am much more relaxed with these rules, and try compromising to achieve the needed results.

Another grandma shared a link with me to a wonderful article about disciplining children, and how often parents use the wrong approach in disciplining their children, which compelled me to share it with all of you.

Also, there are several references to great parenting books, which would make a perfect gift for new parents.

Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.

According to her, there are patterns to behavior.

Kids do the same things when they’re tired, hungry, or getting fed up;

it’s up to adults to take note and adjust accordingly.
Ignoring a kid’s signs is one of many discipline mistakes parents make all the time.

We’re too negative.

“Don’t hit your sister!” “Stop pulling the dog’s tail!”

The number of things you tell your toddler or preschooler not to do is endless.

THE FIX: Ask for the behavior you want to see.

“Parents say ‘no’ so frequently that kids become deaf to it — and the word loses its power,”
Save the nay saying for truly dangerous situations , and focus on telling kids how you would like them to behave.
For example, instead of,
“No standing in the bathtub!”
“We sit down in the bathtub, because it’s slippery.”

We expect too much from our kids.
As soon as you shush him, he does it again.  Why doesn’t he listen?

THE FIX : Play teacher.

When your child breaks a norm, remind yourself that
he isn’t trying to be a pain — he just doesn’t know how to act in the situation,
so snapping isn’t effective (or fair).

Kids are born mimics, so modeling or drawing attention to something we want them to do goes a long way.

It takes time and repetition for kids to learn to handle themselves,”

We model behavior we don’t want to see.

When you drop something, you yell.

A man cuts you off and you call him a rude name.

But then you get mad if your kid reacts the same way when things don’t go her way.

THE FIX Apologize and take a do-over

We use time-out ineffectively.
When you send your 3-year-old to his room after he hits his brother, he starts banging his head on the floor in rage.

THE FIX: Consider a time-in

A time-out is meant to be a chance for a child to calm down, not a punishment.
Some kids respond well to the suggestion that they go to a quiet room until they’re chill.
But others view it as a rejection, and it riles them up.

Plus, it doesn’t teach kids how you want them to behave.

Take a “time-in,” where you sit quietly with your kid.

If he’s very upset,
hold him to get him settled down.
Once he’s relaxed,
calmly explain why the behavior wasn’t okay.

Too angry to comfort him?

Put yourself in time-out;
once you’ve relaxed,
discuss what you would like your child to do differently.
We intervene when our kids simply annoy us.
You hear your children chasing each other around the house and immediately shout.

THE FIXIgnore selectively.

Keep in mind that children sometimes do things that are irksome because they’re exploring new skills.
Other times, they’re seeking attention.
When safety isn’t an issue, try watchful waiting.

We’re all talk and no action.

“Turn off the TV… I’m serious this time… Really!” Your kids continue bad behavior when warnings are vague, for the same reason you run yellow lights — there aren’t consequences.

THE FIX Set limits and follow through.

Start with respectful directives.
If she follows through, thank her.
If not, give a consequence

We assume what works for one kid will work for another.

THE FIX Develop a diverse toolbox.

Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.

  • Linda Sonna, Ph.D., author of The Everything Toddler Book
  • Devra Renner, co-author of Mommy Guilt.
  • Robert MacKenzie, Ph.D., author of Setting Limits With Your Strong-Willed Child.
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