Thursday, January 13, 2011

When soothing is needed...

Frenchie and Missy met up on the deck for the first time the other day.
It didn't really go very well...

Missy left with most of what he/she arrived with.
Frenchie was pretty ruffled about the whole thing too.

The white fur was definitely from Missy.

I thought that would be the last time we would ever see Missy dropping by our place.
It wasn't.
Missy still hangs out there all the time.  Frenchie still alternates between being the sweetest cat ever and being a total battle axe.
She charges Hart about once a day, but they are spending time in the same room all the time now. 
We hope they will eventually smooth things over and become old friends.
Often folks that have had serious rumbles at the beginning later become friends after all.

Take the Brits for example.
We Yanks have two wars with them. 
Now the Brits stick sandwich boards on our streets proclaiming the most questionable brags in broad daylight.

Salt Lake's UK district is quite small, but also quite noticable.
A "London Market" is right next to a British Tea room on one of our busy streets.

For two years I have driven past the cute little shops, promising myself I would "pop in" some day soon.
Summer flowers in the front porch bike basket gave way to snowy Christmas plants...and it was time to keep my promise.

Cute enough...although the other room with a glowing fake fireplace was better.
On the cold snowy day that I stopped in, the fireplace area was already packed.

A late lunch of Tomato Basil soup, pickled salad, sausage roll and tea by the window by myself was just the thing for a work week break.
It was the tea that was the big hit out of all the elements of my repast.

The pretty pink toned drink was flavored with cherry blossoms, rose petals, hibiscus and green tea.
It was heavenly.  I could easily have ordered another pot if I didn't have to get back to work.
I asked the waitress where I could purchase some of the tea; she said they didn't sell it and didn't know where I could get some.
Darn it! 

I hoped the London market next door might sell some, but no such luck.
They did have free copies of the Union Jack available however; I got all caught up with the doings in the UK: big storms, soccer scores, lottery winners etc etc.

(Picture above: Frost on a car window... it has nothing to do with this story. Pretty though, isn't it?)

Since January is National Tea Drinking month, I decided I really, really needed to find a source for that delicious tea.
A bit of Internet sleuthing and Ta DAH!
Sakura, AKA Japanese Cherry Blossom Tea.
Blended with rose petals, green tea and hibiscus.

I ordered it a week ago Wednesday and this past Wednesday it arrived.
Love it.
Actually I have found three teas that I love right now, this one, a Tulsi Rose tea from India and Oolong tea, after Dr. Oz said oolong tea helps with weight control.
I didn't need to hear that suggestion spoken twice; I got right out and bought some lickity split.
Brewed up a pot and found that both Bernie and I love the light flavorful oolong tea a lot.
The other night I woke up at 3 am, and wanted a cuppa of oolong of all things.
Didn't make a cup during the night, even though oolong is noted for being very low in caffine, but I sure liked having one first thing the next morning.

Teas that I like:
Canadian maple tea (with milk, always)
Earl Gray
Constant Comment
Mint in the summer.

Actually that last one has some interesting properties.  I keep a bottle of mint oil in my desk at work for times when I feel a little too warm, if you get my drift.  A quick whiff of the oil cools me right down.  A tea can be made using it too.

Mint oil has a lot of healing properties.  
My Massage Therapist told me that I should smooth a drop of mint oil on the three places on my shoulder where I tore a tiny bit during my stair case fall. 

And he suggested that I smooth mint oil on anywhere else I had bruised, like on my outer thigh for instance.
I've have good reason to be smelling especially minty fresh the past few days...

(And I think I might need to order another bottle of mint oil pretty soon!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

King me!

Let me just go on record here that something else is totally  wrong in my world:

There are NO Kings Cakes to be found in Salt Lake City this year.

I want and need a purple, yellow and green sprinkled Kings Cake.
The lasts two years I have stooped to baking my own; they have not measured up to the wonders of store bought Kings Cake as readily found in the South.
Ever wonder why Southern folks are so easy going and nice?
It is because because they have enough sense to start putting out Kings Cake everywhere on January 6th, to celebrate the visit of the Three Kings to Baby Jesus.
The tradition goes like this:  A cake is put out with the little Baby (the golden thing in the picture above) hidden inside the cake.
The person who gets the slice with the baby has to bring the next Kings Cake to the next gathering.
This practice goes on up to the first day of Lent.
Kings Cakes are EVERYWHERE in the South during the Mardi Gras season before Lent. 
If you go get your oil changed, your mammogram done, consult with your lawyer, go to the library, what ever...there WILL be Kings Cake there.
Think you need to get back on your diet after Christmas? 
That clearly can wait until Lent.  Here, have some Kings Cake.
Unless you live in Salt Lake City of course.

When you last tuned in, I was bemoaning my lack of ability to get things done.
I am pleased to report that I managed to re-subscribe to the computer security service after only two tries.
Hurrah for ME!
I also heard back from Picasa about my picture problems.  I was assured that if I would just uninstall and re-install the program all my problems would be fixed.
Detailed instructions were included and it was easy peasy.
I did note that a few picture series of my oldest chips were missing; I thankfully had the chips and just reloaded them directly.
Now I am promising myself that I will go through four years of photos and tag each and every one of them with a label so I won't have to hunt to find all my mushroom pictures or rainbows or whatnot.
Won't that be nice when that task is all done?
It may take years....but I can work on it while B. watches the TV shows that he likes.
(You know, the ones with no dialogue, but lots of sounds of tires screeching, things blowing up, guns firing, airplanes roaring.  Do the males in your world also eschew dialog in favor of explosive sound effects?)

Since yesterday's post I have been swimming around the Internet and reading seriously heavy medical and science papers to answer an interesting question posed by one of our skin care students:

If copper binds with the enzyme tyrosinase that causes the release of melanosomes into the keratinocyte and a result of hyperpigmentation, then how can copper peptide be beneficial for the skin.

I have found articles explaining why copper binding with tryosinase causes hyperpigmentation (spots on skin), and articles about how copper peptides help heal wounds and reduce skin wrinkles.
I just can't quite put my finger on why copper is bad for skin in one formula and good for skin in another.

Thought I would just throw the question out there for you all to think about while you munch your Kings Cake, or whatever it is you are having with your tea today.

Meanwhile I today I will be working on researching new developments using LED lights.. 
You know, the little red lights that glow from all your appliances and clocks and what not?

Turns out those little lights are being used in mind boggling ways in medicine now.  Military troops carry little LED thingamabobs that are waved over wounds causing them to be heal up lickity split just like "Bones" used to do in the old Star Trek episodes. Post chemo issues are being fixed with LED lights.  Dental work is being done with LED lights.  I'm beginning to wonder what can't be fixed with LED light.

Best of all...wrinkles and age spots are fixed with the little lights!
(Here's one way too scientific article about it, and here's an easy one.)

Let's all sing it with a whole new meaning:
"This little light of mine....I'm going to let it shine."
"All around my old crow's feet...I'm gonna let it shine...."
"Let it shine till I look 19.  I'm going let it shine...."
"The FDA must  not blow this out...I'm gonna let it shine..."

Back to work. 
(Dang. I still want some good old fashioned Kings Cake!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


No pictures today, just some random musings and reporting from my life.

First of all, let's talk about the date today: 1-11-11. 

Huh, look at all those ones. Guess I'll see something like it again in November.

OK, that's done.

Next up:  Discussions about the Arizona shootings.
Tragedies like this at the hands of a person who clearly is mental ill is just that: A tragedy. 
It is not a reflection of political rhetoric, too much violence on TV or uncivil discourse any more than a flu's fever is related to anything except the body's reaction to a problem.
I am sorry for all the pain this man's actions have cause. 

Then a bit of about an article in Sunset magazine this month.  A family of four lives in a 1,400 sq ft. house in Mill Valley, and has virtually NO trash to put out each week.  The mom goes to the store with glass containers and buys fresh items like meat and such, and has them placed directly  into the glass containers. She shops for non-packaged food items at the local farmers market.
 Each family member has a specific number of clothing items which are replaced as needed twice a year at the local thrift shop.  Memory items are photographed and sent on their way, each person has one "memory box" in which to store things they want to keep. 
All family toiletries and medicines fit into one medicine cabinet.
They have no books in the house; they visit the local library for reading materials.
(There is no mention in the article that any house in Mill Valley costs over a million dollars by the way...the mom does fly home to France once at year, which she mentions as her one vice in a totally living green lifestyle.)

Sounds like an austere home. 
We raised our two children in 1,100 sq ft. and never thought it was a daring lifestyle choice. 
We shopped at thrifts shops because it was fun.  
We raised veggies sometimes.
This sort of article makes me both annoyed at the Northern California "superior" mindset about everything they do, and also wistful about the fact that I find thinning my possessions to be extremely time consuming. 
It is nice to have just the bare necessary items to attend to; it is also a lot more cozy to have some useless but visually attractive items AND some back up items for emergencies too.

Given the choice between California and Western United States covering Sunset Magazine and Southern United States covering Southern Living: No contest!  SL is the best!!!!

Next: Picasa has upgraded to include HD video content downloads. Hurrah! Anyone out there tried it yet?

I installed the upgraded version and then started to get Picasa is not available messages.  Worse, my photo library disappeared from Dec 2010 back.  I can still see the pictures in my external back up hard drive...and Picasa was installed in that drive so I don't get why Picasa isn't displaying the pictures.

Also: My DSLR camera downloads sooo slowly and copies all the chip's pictures again into Picasa even thought I have directed that duplicates not be copied.  It makes me not want to use my DSLR because at 800 pictures loading at about a minute per picture...forget it!

Anyone else having these kinds of issues?

A whine:  Last March a church friend had a baby girl. I bought a gift for her...and we at last connected in the summer months for dinner with the family at our house.  Due to a quick exit due to baby and big brother issues, the gift was left behind.  I have tried to connect up with the family a few times, and the gift is still in my possession.  I need to call and make a hard appointment to drop by with the gift before the baby outgrows the outfit!  Why is it so hard for me to make the call?  I think it is just awkward at this point but still...
Any suggestions on how to handle this? Would it be rude to suggest the mom meet me downtown or something?  I hate to have her have to feel like she needs to stop everything to visit with me at home....

A minor medical report:  I broke one of my unwritten rules and went down our uncarpeted steps on Sunday evening.  Slipped and thudded down six steps on my my upper outer thigh.  The black bruise is as big as my hand, but my shoulder muscles got some minor tears from my attempt to hang on to something to stop the fall.

In October I fell from atop a four foot ladder while picking apples in our neighbor's yard.  The ladder was very lightweight and on uneven ground.  I should of known better that to climb up on the top step and reach for an apple with my finger tips.  The ladder fell with my legs tangled inside, and I rolled with the ladder on my legs over an embankment when I fell another four feet to a concrete patio.  I was lucky I didn't hit my head!  Both my ankles and calves were black for a few weeks, and my ankles are still sore to touch.  Bone bruise and some tearing was the opinion given by a massage therapist.  It may take up to six months before all the ankle swelling goes down.

And I slipped on ice in the canyon in November, skinning my knee.  I haven't had so many "boo-boos" since I was a toddler I think.  I'm glad I have 1. A hot tub to soak in 2. Massage Therapists that know what they are doing 3. studied how to fall (go limp, don't fight it...a fact that I remembered as I thumped the third step down on Sunday.) and 4. have a really healthy body that heals, but it is really a drag having a sore shoulder when it comes to hooking up bras and slipping on winter jackets.

Another whine:  My office had a ceiling collapse due to roof water leak.  My computer died.  The leak collapse messed up a bunch of stuff, and it is unclear if that was why the computer died. I finally got a new computer and the replacement ceiling tiles that are exactly one week old are already soaking wet.  The temperatures outside have not been above freezing since the collapse happened, and there is a LOT of snow on the roof.  One warm day, say at 37 degrees and I will have a restful waterfall spilling down from three locations over my head.

Apparently no one is concerned that another collapse will take out the new computer. No one was concerned that I did absolutely nothing at work for six days either.  Well, I did dust a bit just for the exercise.
Basically though, I got paid for just showing up and sitting around doing nuttin'.

The pay check will be taxed however.

What else? 
I ripped through my to-do lists over the holiday, and yet can't seem to check anything more off.  The baby gift, an application process, diet and exercise, painting the downstairs bath, Bible study, booking flights, reallocating stocks, renewing Norton computer security...all these things just languish on my list. My brain considers them, then zones out. 

I remembered the first time someone told me that they were not thinking about anything.  I was as shocked as if they had told me they were not breathing....of course the brain is constantly engaged in thoughts!
Lately I have discovered my brain is very capable of shifting into neutral too. It is totally strange.  I'm not sure if I can go back to constant processing, or if I even want to.  The "ignorance is bliss" aspect is so much more appealing than "knowledge is power" sometimes.

Every time I find something out (like what was with the Florida airports changing the headings on their landing strips) then I find myself having yet another question that puzzles me.  For example, the pilot next door explained that the earth's core is fluid and moves about, and that causes changes in magnetic north, so the landing strips have to have their heading changed to match the new magnetic north's co-ordinates.

I totally got that....then about twelve hours later I started to wonder why only one Florida airport airstrips needed changing.  Wouldn't all the landing strips in the world need changing? 


(Tuning my brain back to white noise static. Feel free to join in!)

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Question: Why would anyone want to make vinegar at home when it is so inexpensive to buy in the store?

Answer: Because the Sunday paper ran a column about how to do it way back in October when there were apples falling all around my neighborhood.

According to the recipe in the article, the vinegar making process was simple. I decided I would give it a try.

Basically all you have to do is randomly chop up apples and drop them into a clear container filled with filtered water. (No fussing either, the apple bits go in including skin, core, stem and seeds. Or just left over skin, core and stem if you want.)

A bit of cheesecloth or other breathable material goes over the jar opening.  More apple bits can be added right up until the time a whitish foam appears atop the fluid.

At the point the foam appears the jar is removed to someplace where it won't freeze or get too hot and is then left alone for about a month or two.  The bigger the apple chunks and the long the mix stews, the stronger the resulting vinegar will become. 

The whitish foam is called the "mother" and is a form of fermentation.
Whenever you feel the vinegar is at the level that you desire, the fluid is drained/strained off into another container and capped off.  The solid matter is disgarded. 

Again...why would anyone want to bother with this small task?
Well for one: the vinegar has an extra flavor that is quite tasty.
And then there are all the non-culinary purposes for vinegar use: It can be used for many things: an antiseptic, antibacterial and anti fungus fluid, useful for both for cleaning purposes and for wound care (diluted of course).  
A vinegar rinse is good for hair, great for removing hard water deposits on glass and metal, cleaning glass in general.
It also contains most of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health.
Just try looking up uses for vinegar and you will see that there are plenty of suggestions and ideas for vinegar usage to replace other chemical mixtures.

I guess I felt like I wanted to be a bit of a pioneer woman or perhaps a survivalist: if things ever get really bad, now I know I can stew up a batch of cleaning and antiseptic fluid and a multi vitamin resource just by using the apples that grow abundantly in my neighborhood. 

Naturally an apple grown without chemical spray is watch carefully to be sure no toxic sprays have come around the apples that are used.

All it took was about 15 minutes, an old glass floral vase, some cheesecloth and about three good sized apples to make a quart of vinegar at home in a month. 

Want to see the article that inspired me?  Check it out HERE, the directions are written on the side bar.

So simple...I have to wonder why ever has vinegar making been kept such a big secret until now?

(Another tip: DO make a point of see The King's Speech.  Everything that you've heard or read about it is oh so right!)