Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup — Winter comfort food

This Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe is crazy easy to make. Throw the ingredients in the crockpot and 6 hours later – you are done. It’s one of my favorite things to make early in the day and then come home to a wonderful smelling house with a meal ready to go! Now, I said […]

via Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup —


Fall Foliage in Ohio 2018

I took a few photos last week of our fall foliage and I’m glad I did…our temps dropped so significantly since then that we have had a few bouts of light snow. We didn’t get our usual spectacular color display this year due to a long and hot summer, but it’s all still a pretty sight to see.


The days are growing shorter and the amount of sunlight we see is decreasing–by the middle of December, it will be dark out by 5 pm. I must have some bear DNA in me because this time of year I love to eat all the carbs (see my apple/pear crumble I made last weekend) and nap in the afternoon under a cozy blanket! Next stop–American Thanksgiving on Nov. 22.


Back to Fall

Hello again from Northeast Ohio! After a string of warm weather days earlier this month (temperatures soared as high as 89 degrees), the chilly air is finally here and so is fall. And to us Ohioans, that means apples, pumpkins, beautiful fall foliage and Halloween candy and decorations. It’s also that time of year when I start packing away my summer things (goodbye sun dresses, sandals and straw bags) and start pulling out my favorite fall items: blanket scarves, tall boots and booties, chunky knit sweaters, blazers, and all things plaid and animal print. I especially love the color combination of black and white with large pops of bright red.

With that in mind, my good friend and colleague, Elle, from Abbey and Elle Upstairs Fashion and Design and I each did a quick photo shoot of an outfit that incorporates our fall fashion favorites. Here’s a pic from her blog post, which you can read here. She’s a thrifter like me, so her outfit incorporates new with resale items.

elle 1

For my outfit, I wore an oversized black sweater from H&M and a plaid skirt from Forever 21. The scarf, purse, ring and earings were purchased from resale shops in my area.

Because of the warm weather we had earlier this fall, we are still waiting for the leaves to change color. Hopefully Mother Nature graces us with some pretty fall foliage soon. Happy Fall!


How the Beer Industry Changed the World of Science: Part 3

The third and final installment of this series is bit different than the first two in that it discusses how a famous French scientist brought the two worlds of science and beer brewing together to exact revenge on Germany for invading his country during the Franco-Prussian War.


Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) and his revenge beer.

Pasteur was a French biologist and chemist in the 1800s who is best known for developing pasteurization—the process of heating liquids to a temperature between 60 and 100 °C, which kills bacteria and moulds that could otherwise lead to spoilage. Most people associate his name with milk, but he also played an important role in modernizing the beer brewing process.

In July 1870, Germany invaded France as part of the Franco–Prussian War. According to an article in Nature.com, “The Germans had captured the emperor, and Paris was besieged. Furthermore, Pasteur’s only son Jean-Baptiste had enlisted, and was now gravely ill with typhoid.” Pasteur also lost the use of his laboratory during the war due to the German siege. A treaty signed by both countries in 1871 gave Germany rights to part of France–the hop-growing region of Alsace-Lorraine.

All of this left Pasteur with an “obsessive hatred of Germans and Germany and, by the end of the war, Pasteur had formulated a plan to avenge his nation of honor.” His plan—to give French brewers an advantage they could use to outcompete German brewers and interrupt their booming beer business.

“He began isolating yeast strains that behaved like the German bottom-fermenting varieties but which acted faster and were more temperature tolerant so, in an age before refrigeration, could be used in climates warmer than Germany’s. Arranging a tour of European breweries, which notably excluded any in German territories, he began to share his secrets with others, including the Carlsberg Brewery in Denmark. These new, easy to produce and long-lived lagers would go on to take over the brewing world and are still popular today.”

In 1876, Louis Pasteur published this research in his most famous work in his book “Études sur la Bière” (Studies On Fermentation). “The book changed the course of brewing during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, representing a huge leap forward in the scientific understanding of the processes involved in beermaking. Brewers around the globe put Pasteur’s findings to work in their breweries, and thus plunged the industry headlong into the modern era.”

Installation Art at the Mattress Factory

Earlier this year, my daughter and I took a day trip to Pittsburgh to visit the Mattress Factory–an old Stearns & Foster mattress warehouse that was converted into a contemporary art museum and experimental art lab in 1977. The museum specializes in installation artwork, which can be described as three-dimensional works that are large, evocative and site-specific, something meant to transform a particular space.

These pieces may use sound, lighting, smell, and moving images to create a sensory experience. In one exhibit, for example, audiovisual projections on two long walls made it feel as if you were taking a ride on a NYC subway.

This was my first experience with installation art and I enjoyed the two hours we spent visiting all the displays, which were housed in three separate buildings. Even if you don’t quite “get” the message of each artist, it’s still worth viewing each piece as a unique twist on everyday objects and experiences.

BTW–If you missed Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art, take note: the Mattress Factory has two of her infinity rooms! When my daughter and I visited the museum, it was not busy so we were able to spend as much time inside each one as we wanted.

For more information, visit the Museum’s website at http://www.matress.org.











How the Beer Industry Changed the World of Science: Part 2

In the second installment of this 3-part series, I talk about a scientist who, through his work at a world-famous brewery, changed the world of statistics, and ultimately, medical research.

William Sealy Gossett (1876 – 1937) and Student’s t test


According to Priceonomics.com, “one of the greatest minds in 20th Century statistics was not a scholar. He brewed beer.” His name: William Sealy Gossett.

Born in England, “Gosset was in 1899 an energetic—if slightly loony—23 year-old gentleman scientist. He possessed a wickedly fertile imagination and more energy and focus than a St. Bernard in a snowstorm. An obsessive observer, counter, cyclist, and cricket nut, the self-styled brewer had a sizzle for invention, experiment, and the great outdoors.”

He spent most of his career working for the world’s largest brewery–Arthur Guinness & Son in Dublin, Ireland–which he joined in 1899 after studying mathematics and chemistry at New College in Oxford.

In 1904, Gossett wrote a report entitled The Application of the Law of Error to the work of the Brewery to make a case for using statistical methodologies to improve the brewing process.

He then went on to create a statistical method called the t-test as an economical way to monitor the quality of the brewery’s stout. A paper describing the t-test was submitted to the journal Biometrika and published in 1908. Guinness forbade its chemists from publishing their findings, so Gosset published his work under the pseudonym “Student.” Thus, the statistical method is known as Student’s t test.

Today, it is widely used in medical research to determine whether research results are likely to be true (and therefore “statistically significant”) or due to chance.

In doing so, Gossett’s work “is responsible for inspiring the concept of statistical significance, industrial quality control, efficient design of experiments and, not least of all, consistently great tasting beer.”

How the Beer Industry Changed the World of Science: Part 1


As a medical writer and educator, I enjoy reading historical accounts of famous scientists and their contributions to the world of medicine (Jenner and the smallpox vaccine, Madame Curie and the X-ray, Joseph Lister and surgical antisepsis, to name a few). But it wasn’t until I saw a Google Doodle celebrating the life of S.P.L. Sorenson (see below) that I realized that a number important scientific discoveries were made by scientists studying the beer-making process. Here is part 1 of 3.

S.P.L. Sorensen (1868 – 1939) and the pH scale


Sorensen was a Danish chemist who developed the pH scale while heading the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen in the early 1900s. The lab was supported by the Carlsberg brewery, which studied the art of brewing as a way to advance knowledge of biochemistry. pH stands for potential of hydrogen, so it is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration of a solution. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14: 0 is acidic and 8-14 is alkaline. Water is neutral at a pH of 7.

Generally speaking, solutions that have a high concentration of hydrogen (H+) ions have a low pH and are therefore acidic whereas solutions that have a low concentration of H+ ions have a high pH and are therefore alkaline.

Until Soresen, however, there was no way to precisely define alkalinity/acidity, which made it difficult to maintain strict quality control over the fermentation process and ultimately, the taste of the final product.  Low pH values tend to be associated with characteristics such as sharpness, dryness, and bitterness while higher pH values can be described sometimes as soapy or metallic. Most beers of today have a pH of about 4.5.

Sorensen was nominated for a Nobel prize for this work, but did not win.