Category Archives: From Growing to Golden

“From Growing to Golden” encourages people of all ages to expand their horizons. Knowledge is the foundation for growth in every stage of life. Learn something new, share it with others and see where it takes you!

Video Cooking Demo – Cauliflower Rice

If you’re a big fan of cooking with rice, Jenny Weisberger, sous chef at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, has an alternative you can try to mix things up a bit – cauliflower rice. You can season and serve it just like regular rice. In this video, she shows how she uses cauliflower rice in stuffed peppers.

Basic Cauliflower Rice Recipe
1 head of cauliflower
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive or safflower oil
1 medium onion, diced
¼ cup water
salt/pepper to taste

  1. Wash the head of cauliflower and dry. With the large side of a box grater, grate the whole head.
  2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add onion and sauté approximately 10 minutes or until the onion is soft.
  3. Add the grated cauliflower to the pan and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Then lower the heat and add the water. Cover the pan and cook for 6 – 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper
  5.  Remove and serve.

Video Cooking Demo

Join Diane Waple, chief dietitian at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, as she demonstrates how to incorporate a trendy “new” food – freekeh – into your cooking at home. Learn about this ancient grain and its nutritional benefits – just in time for the holiday meals you may be making this weekend.

Roasted Sweet Potato Stew with Kale and Freekeh
1 cup freekeh
3 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
Oil for roasting
4 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of fresh Lacinato kale, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, diced
1 12-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 12-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, diced

Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Bake in a preheated oven 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and set aside. While the potatoes are cooking, pour all ingredients into a large pot on top of the stove over high heat. Stir and heat for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add roasted sweet potatoes. Cover partially and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Recipe adapted from

Warm Breakfast Freekeh
1 cup freekeh
2 ½ cups water or almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Pour freekeh and liquid into a saucepan and bring to a boil for about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes.
Recipe adapted from

Baked Oatmeal-Freekeh Casserole
1 cup oatmeal
2 cups cooked freekeh
1 ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
½ cup applesauce
½ cup egg substitute (or 2 beaten eggs)
5 Tbsp. stevia-brown sugar blend
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Optional: blueberries, dried fruit, nuts

Mix all ingredients together. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes in a 9 X 9 pan or until center is set and firm.

Volunteering: Talking Baseball and Building Friendships

By Garrett Powell, volunteer at Masonic Village at Sewickley and 2013 scholarship recipient


Photo by Tamara’s Camera Photography

Since middle school, I have always loved being actively involved in the community. At a young age, I began accompanying my mother and siblings to nursing homes where we assisted with group activities, holiday parties, cooking and art classes. At the time of my high school graduation, I had accumulated approximately 600 community service hours.

Impacting Others

While in high school, I regularly visited my grandparents who reside in a nursing center, thus deciding to volunteer at Masonic Village at Sewickley was an easy and natural choice.

My favorite activity while volunteering was spending time with residents watching or talking sports. Some of my most memorable experiences occurred during the time I spent with a particular gentlemen watching Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games and discussing current events. After many weeks of conversations, this gentleman told me that he thought of me as a son because he had someone to talk and laugh with, and something to look forward to for that week to come! He went on to explain that his own family had been visiting less often, and I reminded him of his grandson. To make this individual’s days more meaningful is what volunteering and community service is all about!

I am very impressed with every part of Masonic Village! The staff were very welcoming, especially the Activities Department. They provided me choices, making my experience unique and rewarding. Everyone was kind to me and always interested about my life outside of Masonic Village. I made some lasting friendships.

Life’s Next Journey

My experience at Masonic Village taught me many life lessons that have helped me in my journey thus far through college. I learned that you should enjoy every moment and every person that walks into your life, and that happiness has to be made out of the situation you are given.

As a freshman at Virginia Tech, being a member of the Residential Leadership living and learning community has allowed me to continue my community service in the Blacksburg community. I am currently volunteering at Warm Hearth Village and a local elementary school.

The building program I witnessed during my time at Masonic Village at Sewickley inspired my interest related to community living options in college. It is my desire to continue to volunteer my time and talents at Masonic Village during my summer and holiday vacations. I would encourage all high school students to become involved in community service and consider spending their time with the senior population, a group of individuals who have so much to teach us.

Masonic Village at Sewickley and Elizabethtown award $2,500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors who have volunteered at least 100 hours at Masonic Village. Students and others interested in volunteering at any Masonic Villages location are encouraged to visit our website.


Behold the Turtle!

By Cynthia Bard Hollinger, supervisor, volunteer services, Masonic Village at Elizabethtown 


A few of Masonic Villages’ hundreds of volunteers.

When asked recently why she volunteers in the Masonic Health Care Center, a volunteer who resides in our retirement living area, answered: “Because I just love it!  The care that the staff gives the residents is incredibly compassionate; the residents are so appreciative of all the assistance, attention and kindnesses; and I know that I am needed. It gives me one more reason to get going in the morning, and I like the structure it provides in my life! Plus, I can only go to Wegman’s so many times!”

What a great testimonial! Volunteering is a state of mind … an expression of the heart … a commitment to doing good and doing it well! Volunteers often say that they get so much more out of their volunteer service than they give. Whether volunteers are dedicated to overseeing a library or a gift shop, leading tours or a Pickleball tournament, escorting residents in wheelchairs to rehab or on a shopping trip to Walmart, piecing together intricate lap robes or a jig saw puzzle with another resident, serving coffee to residents in their Country Kitchen or wine and cheese at a social in retirement living , gathering residents for music and memories or singing in the choir … the outcome is the same: people helping people to live life in a better and happier way!

When I was growing up, one of the “philosophical lessons” my parents repeated to my siblings and me was: “Behold the Turtle.”  Protected by a hard shell, a turtle pulls in its head and legs to remain safe and secure.  However, to get anywhere in life, he needs to stick his neck out, take a bit of a risk perhaps, and he will go places … slowly, but surely!

To all of you who volunteer at Masonic Villages or in your own community: thank you for making a lovely difference each week!  To those who may be unsure of or unfamiliar with volunteering:  perhaps this may be your time to “Behold the Turtle!”

Happy Volunteer Celebration Week … April 6th ~ April 12th!

Hope Springs Eternal

By Scott Ruth, landscape manager, Masonic Village ElizabethtownMasonic Village Formal Gardens

March 20th

This is the infamous date we are all longing for – the official start of SPRING!!

In my 45 years of maintaining landscapes, gardens and grounds, the winter of 2014 is one that will not soon be forgotten. We have had more snow and colder temperatures in winters past, but not with the frequency and duration that “old man winter” threw at us these past three months.

Since January 1st, we have experienced snow or rain on 32 of the first 62 days of the year. The totals here in Elizabethtown reached 33.9” of the white “stuff” and 3.55” of the liquid variety.

The February 6th ice and snow event caused our Landscape Department the most anxiety. The physical damage was obvious on nearly every part of the campus with fallen trees, littered limbs and dangling braches around every turn. In total, we lost 43 trees and the number is still rising as damage assessments continue. Twenty-three of those trees we deem to be “prominent” pieces of our landscape here at Masonic Village.

LandscapeThe staff will work diligently this spring to try to get them replaced with as suitable as specimens as we can find. Nearly 1,000 hours have been dedicated so far this winter, strictly to clean up from that one day event on February 6th. Damages have exceeded $150,000 and will also continue to rise as corrective pruning continues through the next several months.

Tips for your own outdoor spring cleaning:

  • If you have branches or shrubs on your property that have been bent by the snow and ice DO NOT try to pull them out of the snow cover. Allow the snow to melt and the branches to rebound on their own.
  • The silver lining of all the snow cover we experienced this winter? It has acted as a blanket to protect the tender root systems of our plants, as well as, replenish the soil moisture for a rapid recovery in spring plant growth. Before replanting, wait and see if your plants recover.
  • If plants need to be replaced, any time the proper plants arrive at the local nurseries, it is safe to replant.

Speaking of our staff, I would like to take this opportunity to personally THANK all of them for their tireless dedication this entire winter for their snow removal efforts. The numerous events and numbing temperatures have pushed patience to the brinks, but not once, without exception, did any one of them walk away from the work in front of them. Truly, truly a great group of people! We are all fortunate to have them working with us and for us here at Masonic Village.

Hope springs eternal … anxiously waiting for the third week in March!!

Healthy Eating as You Age

By Stephanie Riccelli, RD, LDN, chief dietitian, Masonic Village at SewickleyEating Right

Remember the saying, “You are what you eat?” Make it your motto. When you choose a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, it will make you feel vibrant and healthy inside and out.

Eating healthy does not need to be difficult. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate. Build a healthy plate with foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins. Here are some suggestions:

  • Color your plate. Fill ½ your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green, red and green vegetables. Add fruits and vegetables as snacks
  • Choose whole grain breads, cereals, pasta and brown rice. Also, fiber-rich cereals can help your digestive system.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain healthy bones. Include three servings of calcium and vitamin D per day to help keep bones healthy. If lactose intolerance is an issue, try lactose-free or soy milk.
  • Variety is key. Vary protein choices such as seafood, nuts, beans, lean meats, fish, poultry and eggs.
  • Decrease intake of sodium and empty calories from fats and sugars. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt. Limit intake of saturated fats such as desserts, cheese and fried foods.
  • Eat fresh foods; avoid processed foods such as sausages, hotdogs, bacon, pizza and canned foods.
  • Use caution with condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, pickles and olives.
  • Watch your portions. Older adults need fewer calories than younger adults. Try to use a smaller plate. When eating out, choose lower calorie menu items and dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Exercise. Always speak with your physician before starting an exercise program.  Pick exercises and activities that you enjoy, and start by doing what you can.
  • At Masonic Village at Sewickley and Elizabethtown, special icons designate “sodium-smart” options with less than 280 mg per 100 grams of food and “fat-smart” options which provide 10 grams of fat or less per 100 grams of food. The goal of these icons is not to limit or dictate what people eat, but to identify choices for those who wish to make healthier selections. Consider these guidelines in your everyday food choices.

Remembering When!

By Leanne Grace, director of professional development, Hildebrandt Learning Centers (manager of Masonic Village 6296834-1501x2251Child Care Centers in Elizabethtown and Sewickley)

All research today is pointing to the benefits of play as the foundation for learning and academic success. Through play, children learn to interact with others, develop language skills, recognize and solve problems, and discover their human potential. In short, play helps children make sense of and find their place in the world.

Remember and share stories about where you played, who you played with, what you played and the kind of stuff that you used in your play. Do you remember building forts? Having tea parties?  Wearing layers and layers of dress ups and jewelry?  Being able to use real tools and have the materials to make stuff?

As significant adults in children’s lives, you have a powerful role in supporting their play. Here are some simple ways to help the children in your lives get the most out of play:

  •  Choose simple toys as gifts:  A good toy is 10 percent toy and 90 percent child. The child’s imagination is the engine of healthy play. Simple toys and natural elements like wood, boxes, balls, dolls, sand, and clay invite children to create their own scenes – and then knock them down and start over.
  • Bring back the art of REAL work: Believe it or not, adult activities such as cooking, raking, cleaning and washing the car actually inspires children to play. Children like to help for short periods and LOVE real tools, but then they quickly lose interest and want to engage in their own play.
  • Reduce or eliminate screen time: Give children a chance to flex their own imaginative muscles. They may be bored at first. Be prepared with simple playthings and suggests for make-believe play to inspire their inner creativity.
  • Encourage outdoor adventures: Children need time every day where they can run, climb, find secret hiding places, and dream up dramas. Natural materials – sticks, mud, water, rocks – are the raw materials of play.

The most important gift you can give to children is relationship.  Remembering when and sharing your stories of play is a wonderful way to build relationships and create new play memories.  Before the last snow melts, be certain to create a “Summer Snowman.”  Simply build a snowman approximately 10 to12 inches tall, wrap in foil, place in your freezer and create a new tradition by bringing it out on the 4th of July or to celebrate a summer birthday!

To learn more about Masonic Village Child Care Centers, visit

Coping with the “Winter Blues”

By Lynn Christ, director of social services, Masonic Village at Lafayette HillLynn Christ

As the cold weather and shortened daylight hours keep us indoors more, the “winter blues” can creep in and make some people feel depressed. Just imagine how much more this can affect a resident in a long-term care community who does not have the ability to go places independently. With a little bit of assistance and creativity; however, residents can find ways to cope with these sad or lonely feelings.

Both staff members and family can help by acknowledging that this is a common reaction to the slow-down after holiday celebrations. Validation of the resident’s feelings, and sharing your own experience, can help a resident maintain good self-esteem. It is healthy to express our feelings, both positive and negative ones. Then we can move on.

Things You Can Do:

  • Share a cup of hot cocoa or tea with one or more resident to lend some warmth, both physically and socially.
  • Give residents something to look forward to. Mark their calendar with anticipated family events, such as a new baby, birthdays, graduations, and the next date you will be there to see them.
  • Bundle up a resident with extra warm clothes and blankets and take him outside to feel and smell the snow, or just peek outside to be in the sun.
  • Help a resident to redecorate his or her room, update pictures, or appreciate the change of season.
  • Plant a lemon or orange seed in a small cup and see if it takes root.
  • Bring in pets and take new pictures of them with the resident.
  • Encourage a resident to re-kindle an old hobby, even if just as a spectator or reading about the subject.
  • Bring in your laptop or tablet, and share videos or photos of things the resident likes. Many long-term care communities offer computer access for residents. Assist a resident in setting up their own pages on the “It’s Never 2 Late” computer program (used in Lafayette Hill and Elizabethtown). This is good for brain stimulation (learning a new task) and enhancing one’s self-worth by keeping up with modern inventions. Best of all, it fosters improved communication with family and friends the resident may not see often. Make it a two-way interaction by sending pictures to the resident to keep them in the family circle.
  • If you are not adept at using the computer, make a new scrapbook the old-fashioned way. These are great for reminiscing about good times and promoting our sense of well-being.
  • Don’t forget to laugh, and laugh heartily. This truly is the best medicine!

The Value of Spirituality


By Rev. Deborah Valiton-Carnish, assistant in pastoral care, Masonic Village at ElizabethtownRev. Deborah Valiton-Carnish

After working many years in the clinical setting, I have discovered that one of the privileges of being a Chaplain is the opportunity to meet people where they are and ask the question, “What does Spirituality mean to you?” The response is rarely the same. However, there is a common thread throughout every answer: the desire and need to feel connected. Social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for the sacred apart from the ordinary. So the question then becomes, what is sacred?

Based on one’s own human experience, the sacred may be defined by that which gives a sense of hope, purpose and meaning to life; the life-giving belief that no one is alone. There is someone beyond oneself that is involved and active in a caring way. 

Many find spiritual connection in the religious rituals celebrated in their faith tradition, such as honoring Holy days, communion, singing or prayers. Others may find a deep spiritual experience through meditation, art or nature. Spirituality can also be found in the seemingly mundane tasks of serving one’s family through providing a safe and caring home.

Spirituality involves a deep personal experience of being connected, and that is valuable. The connection can be celebrated in the joyous times and can be a source of hope and strength to sustain during the difficult seasons along life’s journey.

The importance of connection in the lives of our community is vital for spiritual growth.  Spirituality is broad by definition, and rightly so, for it allows for an expression of faith and hope, unique to each person, offering a deep appreciation for the fact that all are connected.

The reality is that being created as unique individuals, we should not be surprised that the Creator desires us to connect in unique ways as well. For it is in the diversity of expression that community becomes a beautiful tapestry of grace. So as you celebrate a New Year, celebrate what is sacred to you, honor it and hold it dear, for quite possibly, there can be found inner peace and connection. 


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