Friday, October 20, 2017

Uses For Oatmeal Other Than At Breakfast.

Berries, Bowl, Breakfast, Food, Fruit  Oatmeal is something I've had for breakfast over the years.  I usually have it cooked with dried fruit or I allow it to soak in milk overnight for the next morning.  It can be used in other ways just like tea bags, and left over coffee grounds.

It is said if you cover acne with  cooked oatmeal that has been cooled, it can get rid of it.  Be sure to let it set on the acne for several minutes before rinsing off.  In addition, cold oatmeal placed on a burn is said to help it heal.

Don't have any baking soda around for to remove smells from the refrigerator, use oatmeal instead.   People swear if you use oatmeal in ashtrays, it helps to get rid the smell of smoke.

If you grind half a cup of oatmeal in the blender before adding 1/4 cup of milk and a couple tablespoons of honey to make a paste you can use on a sunburn for 20 minutes to get rid of the the itch and it gets rid of irritated skin.  You can also add a cup of ground up oatmeal to your bathwater to sooth your sunburned skin.

The same bath water recipe can be used to sooth the skin of your dog.  Place your dog in the oatmeal water, pour the water over its skin, and dry the dog off after you take him out of the bathwater without rinsing him.

Mix 2 tablespoons of ground up oatmeal with one teaspoon of baking soda and enough water to make a paste.  Spread the paste on your clean, dried face for 10 minutes before rinsing off with cool water.  This a nice face mask.  On the other hand if you use equal parts of ground up oatmeal and baking soda, it makes a wonderful dry shampoo to add body to your hair between washes.

Make your own safe modeling substance out of equal parts of oatmeal and flour, and enough water to make a "clay"  it stays moist for hours but does harden overnight.  You can use food coloring to create a rainbow of colored "clay".

If you place dry oatmeal on spilled oil, it soaks it up nicely so its easier to clean.  In addition oat flour can be used to thicken soups or add oat flakes to your meat loaf.

I hope you found some new ways to use oatmeal in your regular life, other than for breakfast.  Have a great day.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Russian Presence in California.

 Most people know the Russians established a presence in Alaska long before gold was discovered.  They came to this state to obtain furs which resulted in Russia building numerous posts for the fur trade.

Unfortunately, the Alaskan climate was not good for growing enough food to support its colonists and the animals trapped for the fur trade began declining.

So in the early 1800's, Russia established a post in California to grow grains for its northern populations in Alaska and to establish a fur trade.  After a search, the Russians selected Bodega Bay, north of San Francisco for its amenities and protection from the Spanish to start their colony.  In 1812, 25 Russians and 80 Aleuts arrived to build the settlement.  The Aleuts brought their skin covered kayaks with them to fish in the sea and to help build a settlement similar to the one found in Sitka.

On August 30, 1812, a special religious service to commemorate the completion of the stockade. They used redwood for constructing the stockade and other buildings. Although between 20 and 40 cannons were installed, the stockade was still considered a commercial not a military venture.  It was named Ross Fortress.  In the following years, the Russians added a chapel, store houses, etc to make it more of a town.

In addition, a windmill, cattle yard, bakery, thrashing floor, cemetery, farm buildings were built while an orchard and vegetable garden were added.  Everyone in the area worked for the Russian American Company.  Although, they were able to hunt animals on an island about 30 miles away, the wild life population dropped during the same time period.

Unfortunately, the amount of grain the Russians hoped to raise for its Alaskan colonies never meet their expectations.  Between the infertile soil, the fog, gophers and mice, they were unable to raise large wheat crops. Fun fact: The amount of barley and wheat in private plots out produced those run by the company.

This caused the Russians to establish two more colonies in the area in the hopes that growing conditions were better but wheat crops never met expectations.  On the other hand raising stock was much more successful so they could send shipments of wool, tallow, hides, salt beef, and butter were sent to Alaska and other destinations.

By 1839, the Russian American company decided to abandon Fort Ross because the sea otter population had declined significantly, the agricultural side could not meet the expectations of the headquarters. Even the shipbuilding industry was not profitable enough for the company.

Alexander Rotchev was charged with selling Fort Ross.  He approached the British, the Spanish, the French, the Mexicans before finding a buy in Captain Sutter, a Mexican Citizen. He purchased the fort but not the land it sat on because the land still belonged to Mexico.  It appears he is the same man who built the mill where gold was discovered a few years later that started a massive influx of people to California.

Have a good day.  I hope you enjoyed this brief history of the Russian influx into California.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

11 Weird Citrus Fruits.

Fruit, Food, Citrus, Pomelo, GrapefruitYears ago, I taught school on a small remote Alaskan Island, accessible by helicopter except for a few weeks when the ocean ice became thick enough to land small planes on.

Although, I'm a math teacher, I had to teach language arts.  Since the island is so remote, most students did not get a chance to taste anything more exotic than oranges or tangerines.

I had a friend send any weird fruit he could find at the local grocery store, then priority mail it out to me for my students.  This way, they had a chance to see something out of the ordinary and they had a chance to taste these odd fruits.

Some of the citrus fruits on the strangest fruit list made it out to the island but many didn't.

1. Buddist Hand or Fingered Citron is a yellow fruit with long finger like tendrils off a central bud that looks like an alien hand.  This seedless fruit emits a lemony scent when cut open.  It does not have juice or pulp but is filled with a pith. It is not edible in the traditional sense but its rind can be candied or used in baking.  It is also considered one of the oldest citrus fruits believed to have traveled from India to China and Japan where they are displayed for good luck.

2. Yuzu is a citrus with bumpy skin and hailing from Japan.  This Vitamin C (three times richer than lemons) fruit tastes like a cross between lemon, mandarin and grapefruit and has caught the imagination of chefs.  Although not as popular in the United States, it has been used for centuries in Asia, it is used in Ponzu sauce often used in Japanese cooking.

3. Pomelos look as if they are a huge grapefruit but they do not have any of the grapefruits bitterness.  This was one of the fruits sent out to me. I remember  it was much sweeter than expected.  It can be used in salads, marinades, cocktails and salsas.

4. Tangelos which are a mix of a Tangerine and a Pomelo or Grapefruit. They are about the same size as oranges but have a sweet juice with a tart after taste.  A couple of these were sent out.  The kids thought they were weird oranges but enjoyed them.

5. Finger limes come from the rain forests of Australia and are known as the caviar of citrus because they are filled with pearls of tart flavor.  Their skin ranges in color from green to black. The fruit is about the size of a gherkin filled with individual globules bursting with a lemon lime flavor and are used in salads, or toppings for other things such as shrimp.  

6. Calamansi limes which look more like oranges due to their shape and orange skins but are quite small.  Its flavor is a mix of lemon, kumquat, and lime.They are used in Filipino cooking.  I've only seen pictures of this particular fruit.

7. Meyer lemons are slightly smaller than regular lemons but are prized by chefs for their sweeter, less acidic flavor. They were brought to the United States back in 1908 by Frank Meyer.   I have heard of them but I've never seen any for sale at the local stores.

8. Bergamont and I am not talking about the herb used to flavor things.  This fruit looks like a regular grapefruit with clear pulp but has begun surpassing blood oranges in its use by chefs.  It originated in Italy as a cross between a sour orange and a lime.  Its flesh is used in marmalade's and jams while it skins are used in pastries.  Chefs love its distinctive flavor.

9. Kumquats are the size of an olive and look like a small oval citrus fruit. whose juice is both tangy and sweet.  It is eaten whole but can be used in salads, jams, or marmalade's. I actually ended up with a couple out on the island.  The students couldn't believe they were so small and so orange. 

10. Blood limes.  yes, you read that right.  I have never heard of these before today.  They are a cross between red limes and the Ellendale Mandarin, specifically created in Australia as a salt resistant crop.  It produces fruit in the winter.  The outside is usually red while the interior ranges from  a yellowish orange to a reddish tint.  It's pulp is said to be full of flavor that bursts in your mouth and is sweeter than standard limes. 

11.  Ugli Fruit or Jamaican Tangelo has a thick wrinkled peel that hides a sweet interior.  They were discovered growing wild in Jamaica about 80 years ago.  One of these was sent out and the kids loved it after they got over the funny skin.  This was one of the fruits they wanted more of.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Taking Wax Buildup off of Linoleum Without Harsh Chemicals.

Floor, Wood, Hardwood Floors  A couple years ago, the guy who repainted my apartment began cleaning the wax buildup off my kitchen floor.  The buildup made my floor grey and dingy.

He started it but only got a small area finished before he had to move on to another apartment.  He did it because I know him well and he thought he'd do something nice while he repainted the house.

So he completed a small area and moved on.  The area was small enough to cover with a small throw rug but I'm kind of OCD in certain areas and I can't stand knowing there is a small white area among the grey kitchen floor, even when covered with a rug.

So I had to work on getting the rest of the wax build up off.  I hate relying on chemical substances to do the job so I checked the internet.  Most of the recipes I discovered contained ammonia or used vinegar but required the use of a scrub brush.  I hate ammonia since its fumes can be dangerous and I am scared to use a scrub brush for fear of scratching the original linoleum.

I found three possible recipes that sound safe but require a scrub brush.  One is using club soda directly on the wax buildup, let soak, then scrub before wiping off.  The second is to mix 1 gallon of vinegar with 1 cup cream of tarter, pour on wax, let soak, scrub and wipe off.  Unfortunately, cream of tarter is difficult to get out here.  The third requires the use of Isopropyl Alcohol mixed in a 1 to 3 ratio with water, pour on, soak, scrub and wipe off.  The final method requires good ventilation.

 I don't like the scrubbing part so  I resorted to using boiling water, paper towels, and a scraper designed for I'm not sure what but not for this.  I pour boiled water on paper towels placed over the area I'm interested in getting rid of wax build up from. I let it set for a while and then scrape the softened wax off.  It is slow but I don't have to worry about trying to ventilate the fumes from my house.

I did find a couple recipes which require a person to mop using a solution either vinegar or baking soda mixed with warm water.  They say if one or two applications doesn't take it all off, scrape the remaining bit off.  I still prefer my plain hot water with patience and a bit of elbow grease.

I'd love to hear from others who have experience taking wax buildup off linoleum floors using safe ingredients.  Let me know please.  Have a good day.

Monday, October 16, 2017

10 Fact about Hot Air Balloons.

Hot Air Balloons, Blue, Sky, Sunshine  One morning, many years ago when I lived in New Mexico, I was fortunate enough to crest a hill, just in time to see numerous hot air balloons silently gliding across the sky.  I will never forget the breath taking site.

I can assure you, I will never be up in one.  I love the videos of the view but I am extremely scared of heights.  I can't even step on a chair without trembling.

I have no idea why I'm scared of heights, I just am.  On the other hand, I love watching balloons from the ground and yes I wish I had the guts to take a ride.  Maybe someday, I'll get the guts up to do it.

Did you know, hot air balloons have been around since the mid 1700's when a couple of men sewed cotton cloth to paper to create the balloon part.  The first few went up above 1000 feet but the first manned hot air balloon flight carrying a duck, a sheep and a rooster occurred in 1783 in front of the Kind of France. The first human flight happened just the same year. The first transatlantic flight took place only 2 years later.

Fun facts about hot air balloons:

1.  Louis XVI wanted to use condemned criminals as the first pilots because if they died, he considered it no big deal.  He was talked out of it.  A scientist and aristocrat managed to fly for 20 minutes in the first human flight in 1873.

2.  The scientist decided to be the first man to fly across the English Channel using a new type of balloon filled with a mixture of half helium, half hot air. Unfortunately, 30 minutes into the flight, the balloon exploded making him the first fatality.

3. Champagne after flights came about because balloons landed in their fields scaring the livestock or smashing crops.  The champagne helped sooth tempers. 

4. In 1808, two love sick suitors held a balloon duel over Paris rather than the standard duel at 20 paces.  The balloons took off and at the appropriate height.  Each man fired a blunderbuss.  One man died when his balloon floundered and fell to the ground while the other landed safely.  It is assumed the survivor won the hand of the lady.

5.  In 1794, during the French Revolution, a balloon spend 9 hours in the air with an observer who wrote down his views of the battle and regularly dropped his observations to the ground.  No one knows if the information helped the French win the Battle.

6. During the early years of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln authorized the creation of a balloon corps used to observe enemy movements up to 15 miles away. The Confederates made their own balloon out of dress silk but it was captured by the Union. The Union quit using balloons because they were easy to shoot down due to their size.

7. From 1800 to 1900, circuses regularly featured smoke balloons which were balloons without a basket.  A daredevil with a parachute attached himself to the balloon, the balloon was held over a hot fire until it was filled with hot air or smoke and released to rise up into the atmosphere.  When the balloon reached its highest point, the daredevil released himself from the balloon, opened the parachute and floated down to the amazement of the audience.

8. In 2010, an entrepreneur started a service with glass bottom baskets so people could see directly below its location. Its private but there is some talk of allowing the public to use it again.

9. Hot air balloons have no way to steer so they go where ever the wind sends them.  They cannot be used in rain because the hot air can cause the droplets to boil and possibly destroy its fabric.

10.  The longest flight went from Japan to Canada.

I hope someday I get up the guts to ride in one but I don't know if I'll manage it.  I am just scared of heights.  I hope you enjoyed these few facts.  Have a great day.


Friday, October 13, 2017

What Do You Know About T.V. Dinners.

Food, Salmon, Seeded Mustard, Dinner  When I was in my teens, I did a lot of babysitting.  The people I babysat for always left a tv dinner I could pop in and cook later in the evening, after I put the kids to bed.

It was a treat because my family never ate TV dinners.  We couldn't afford them for one thing and it was cheaper to feed the lot of us by making it all from scratch.

There is a bit of controversy over who is responsible for creating TV dinners.  I'd say based on what I've read, it was a series of events which lead to this item becoming part of American Society. 

Clarence Birdseye, the man whose name if found on frozen foods, created the first real system for freezing foods. In 1923, he figured out a way to package and flash freeze fresh foods so they could be sold to consumers.  By 1949, the Bernstein Brothers were selling frozen dinners in the compartmentalized aluminum trays in the Philadelphia area.  But it was the Swanson company who made the biggest strides in the field.

In 1954, Swanson's had 260 tons of  Thanksgiving left overs they needed to figure out how to use.  They asked their workers for suggestions and one man had just seen the compartmentalized aluminum trays used by Pan American Airways to serve food.  He made the suggestion to the Swanson brothers back in Nebraska so they packed the food, prepared an advertising campaign based on television and sold over 25 million dinners at 98 cents for each one.

In the 1960's Swanson's expanded their line to include breakfast and lunch.  In 1973, they introduced the Hungry Man line designed to appeal to the male population.

Now for some facts about TV dinners.

1. The term TV Dinner is actually a registered trademark.

2. The tray was modeled after the trays used by the airlines.

3. The box containing the first TV dinners were designed to look like television sets complete with dials and volume control.

4. When the TV dinner was first released, television was so new, there was only three to four hours of programming available to watch. It usually ran in the late afternoon and early evening, during dinner time.

5. Up until 1960, TV dinners came without desserts.

6  Since 1987, the TV dinner tray has joined Fonzie's jacket at the National Museum of American History.

7. September 10th is National TV dinner day.

8. Swanson stopped calling them TV dinners in 1962 but the name sticks.

I hope you've enjoyed this small look at the history of TV dinners.  I'd love to hear from you.  Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Girl Scout Cookies

Thin Mint, Homemade, Grasshopper, Food  I wondered what the first commercially marketed cookie was but got side tracked when I ran across some history on Girl Scout Cookies. I have bought them in the past even though we do not have any girl scout troops in the village.

Usually one of the teachers has a niece, sister, cousin, or other family member who is selling cookies so they place a sign up sheet in the teachers think tank for people to place orders.  They do charge a bit more because they have to be shipped out.

I love Tagalogs while others in my family love the thin mints.  I think everyone has their favorite.  So how long have the Girl Scouts been selling cookies?  For longer than I expected.

Girl Scouts began selling cookies back in 1917 as a way to fund their activities but the cookies were made by the girls and their mothers. 

In 1922, the Girl Scouts published a sugar cookie recipe in the groups magazine to be made by girl scouts for sale as a way of financing their activities.  One could argue this was the first cookie sold by Girl Scouts.  It was suggested these cookies be sold for 25 to 35 cents per dozen back then.  Each dozen were wrapped in wax paper bags and sealed with a seal before being sold door to door.

In 1934, The greater council of Philadelphia arranged to have their cookies commercially made for sales while a year later, the Greater Federation of Girl Scouts in New York had the words "Girl Scout Cookies" printed on the box of commercially made cookies they sold. In 1936, the National council began licensing bakeries to produce commercial cookies.

Due to shortages of sugar and other baking supplies, girl scouts could no longer bake cookies so they switched to calendars until the end of rationing after the war. By 1948, 29 licensed bakers produced enough cookies to meet increased demand.

In 1951, Girl Scout cookies came in three basic flavors, sugar, mint, and sandwich. At the time, cities expanded and suburbs grew up around cities. The Girl Scouts in the suburbs set up at shopping malls to sell their cookies.

In the 1960's the number of bakers dropped to 14 but more and more cookies were being sold due to the children born right after World War II were joining girl scouts.  In 1978, the number of bakers dropped to four to ensure lower prices and quality while all the boxes featured the same designs showing girl scouts in action.

As time passed, the number of bakers dropped to two.  Boxes and logos were redesigned and sales continued to grow. Girl scout cookies are now kosher and there is even a gluten free version being offered. 

I admit, I was one of those girls who went door to door to sell cookies.  I never sold enough to receive any award nor did I go much past the age of 15 due to moving overseas but I still buy the cookies, toss them in the freezer, and enjoy them through out the year, especially the thin mints.

Now for the Fun Facts.

1. There are only two licensed bakeries who make official Girl Scout Cookies.

2. They may make up to eight types of cookies but thin mints, peanut butter filled sandwich cookies, and shortbread cookies must be made every year.  This is one reason the varieties change from year to year.  Not all are made every year.

3. Each bakery names its own cookies which is why the same cookies have different names in different parts of the country.

4. Girl Scout cookies are sold for different prices in different parts of the country because the councils are the ones who set the price.

5. Thin mints are the best selling cookie of all the varieties.

6.  The girls sell over 700 million dollars of cookies each year.

I hope you enjoyed this quick look at history.  let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Its Time for Auroras Again.

Aurora, Northern Lights, Borealis, Night  October is when we start seeing the Aurora Borealis here in Alaska.  You wander out around midnight or one, look up to see beautiful green or pink slights dancing across the sky. Sometimes, they swirl but most of the time they dance.

In the bush of Alaska, I've heard people say that the aurora will dance if you whistle.  I don't know if the belief is true only because I've always seen it dance.

The Sami people up in Northern Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia believe the northern lights are the souls of those who have passed on.  They are respectful of the lights whenever they see them.  They have a variation on the local belief of whistling.  They believe if you whistle, you bring the souls closer and closer until you are taken away.

Another belief in Scandinavia in regard to the northern lights is the dancing green lights represent huge schools of herring swimming by in the sea.  When fishermen saw the lights, they felt they would have good catches when they fished. 

In Sweden, lots of displays of the aurora predicted good yields of crops the following year while the Norwegians thought the lights were the spirits of old maids dancing across the sky and waving at the watchers.  On the other hand the Finnish believed that magical arctic foxes used their tails to spew snow up to the sky.  The Finnish word for the Aurora translates as "fox fires."

If you check out the legends in Asia, you'll discover the Chinese believed the lights were caused by dragons spewing fire at each other while they fought in the sky.  On the other hand, both the Chinese and Japanese believe a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed all their lives.

This last may explain why so many Japanese fly to Fairbanks, Alaska to go to Chena Hot Springs to view the aurora in the winter and spring.  Its a popular destination.

The Scottish are reputed to believe the lights represent the clans fighting and spilling blood due to the reddish lights seen there.  In other places like France and Italy, the appearance of the northern lights signal war, plague, or other bad occurrence.

I never think about the legends when I see the lights.  I just stop and stare at their beauty and hope they last a good amount of time before fading into the night sky.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

14 Interesting Facts about Oreos

Cake, Pastry, Sweet, Sugar, Unhealthy  I remember those commercials growing up. The ones where someone would always twist the cookies apart to eat the filling first, then the crunchy cookie sides.

I seldom ate them because my mother did not buy cookies.  Instead we made them but occasionally I'd visit a friend whose mother served them as a snack after school.

The other day I discovered there are quite a few different varieties of Oreos including one with a chocolate hazelnut filling.  Have you ever wondered when Oreos first made their appearance?  They've been around for over 100 years.

The story begins in 1898 when several bakery companies merged to form the National Biscuit Company now known as Nabisco.  Their first successful entry is the box of Animal Crackers just four years later but in 1912, they began production and marketing of Oreos.  They successfully filed a trademark on these cookies in 1913.

Apparently, these cookies were originally released in 1912 but were sold at 30 cents per pound rather than per package as they do now.  It appears the first package made its appearance to a grocer in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The cookie in 1912 is quite similar to the current design dating from 1952.  It was called the Oreo Biscuit when it was originally released but the company changed the name to the Oreo Sandwich in 1921 before they changed the name to the Oreo Creme Sandwich in 1937.  The cookie was renamed with the current name of "The Oreo Chocolate Sandwich cookie" in 1974.

No one is sure where the name came from.  There are lots of different theories but no one knows for sure.  Now for 10 interesting facts about the cookie.

1. Since 1912, Nabisco has manufactured enough cookies to circle the globe 312 times if lined up end to end.  If you stacked the cookies you could travel from the earth to the moon 5 times.

2.  The original filling recipe called for pork fat as part of the recipe.  This lead to problems with being classified as kosher but in 1998 Nabisco took steps to change that so all Oreos are now kosher and the packages carry the symbol.

3.  In 1912, when Oreos hit the market, there were two flavors, original and lemon meringue.  The original proved to be more popular so Nabisco discontinued the lemon meringue flavor in the 1920's.

4. Since 1912, over 450 billion cookies have been sold world wide.

5.  For its 100th birthday, a special birthday oreo with a cake flavored filling and sprinkles.  Over the years, they've created other flavors such as green tea, blueberry ice creme, root bear float, caramel apple, and other flavors created to appeal to consumers in different countries.

6.  Oreos are sold in over 100 countries.

7.  The Hydrox cookies looks like a copy cat cookie but it was actually released four years prior to Oreos.

8. There was an oreo breakfast cereal produced from 1998 to 2007 but it can still be purchased in Korea.

9.  The cookies have a 71:29 ratio of cookies to cream but the double stuff one is only 1.86 or 1.67 times as much filling, not twice as indicated by the label.  It depends on whose article you read as to the figure given.

10. The cookie has a pattern of 12 dots, 12 flowers, 12 dashes, and 90 ridges in each one.

11. Nation Oreo day is celebrated on March 6th

12.  Each cookie takes 59 minutes to make from start to finish.

13.  A portion of West 15th  Avenue between 9th and 10th avenue in New York City was renamed "Oreo Way" to celebrate the fact the first cookie was produced at the factory there.

14. When Oreos were originally introduced in 1912, they were one of three.  The other two, Mother Goose Biscuits and Veronese Biscuits were never as popular.

I hope you found this interesting.  Have a great day.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Harmful Skin Mixtures.

Make Up, Rouged Face, Close, Eye, Pink  I hope the title grabbed your attention.  I bet you think that all makeup sold on the market is safe. It is for the most part but there are a few things that are not.  So many fewer than say back in Elizabethan times.

Many of the toxic elements of Elizabethan makeup came about due to the idea of the perfect women.  She had to have snow white skin, bright eyes, red lips and cheeks, with pale hair.  This is a time when chemistry is not very advanced so chemists used what they had.

Lets start with how they managed to get the extremely pale skin.  The desired shade was one of white or as white as possible.  One way to get it was to mix white lead with vinegar so it could be spread over the face or neck.  This was the preferred method of nobility if they could afford it.  Other choices included alum mixed with tin ash, or cooked egg white with talc or sulfur.  

Red lips and cheeks could be obtained by using madder, cochineal, or ochre based compounds but the most popular was vermilion, a mercuric sulfide, as it could be used in a thick layer.   Since many of the ingredients used caused skin damage, there was a whole set of mixtures used to treat blemishes,  spots, freckles, and acne which could contain lemon juice, rosewater, mercury, alum, honey, or eggshells. 

In fact, washing ones face with mercury was quite popular as it provided a face peal that made the face soft.  At the same time, women used eye drops containing Belladonna to create the desired bright eyes.  In addition, they lined their eyes with a kohl containing powdered antimony. Of course women also plucked their eyebrows but they also plucked up to one inch of hair to move the hair line upwards for the desired high brow look.

As for the blonde or reddish gold hair, dyes were not very advanced so women used a variety of ingredients including urine to lighten hair.  Since it was difficult to obtain the ideal color, many women shaved their heads and wore wigs instead.

As you can see, many ingredients used then poisoned and killed their user.  Today, one of the fashion ideals is people getting henna tattoos rather than regular tattoos because they are temporary and wear off after a while.  I've gotten them in the past because I think they are cool but you have to make sure the person applying one uses regular henna.

There is a "Black henna" on the market that is often used to provide darker almost black tattoos rather than the dark brown.  This mixture contains paraphenylenediamine or PPD which is a very toxic ingredient.  This ingredient is used in permanent hair dyes but its levels are controlled.  When used in black henna mixtures, the levels often exceed safe levels because they want to speed up the time it takes the color to develop. 

Unfortunately, PPD can cause chemical burns on the skin and lead to potential allergenic reactions.  Not everyone has reactions but its better not to use it.  How do you know the difference?  Regular henna is an orangish brown appearance.  If it appears black, don't use it.

Let me know what you think.  Have a good day.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Fun Goverment Assignment.

Businessman, Cartoons, Training, Lecture As you know, I am a teacher.  I had a column all ready to go but I got called in to help out with the government class and that activity sparked a whole new entry so I am running late because of it.

The small government class is made up of mostly English Language Learners whose teacher believes in providing them a chance to practice their English.

She divided the students into three groups. Their assignment - They had to create a presentation designed to convince people of adopting a certain candy as the national candy.

The students chose Hershey's, Twix, and Skittles.  It was fun listening to the students as they provided a bit of history on each candy.  Apparently both Twix and Skittles originated in the United Kingdom before being introduced to the United States. 

Of course, Hershey's originated in the United States.  Most people know this, especially if they live in the area around Hershey, PA.  The town where Hershey's chocolate is made and has been made for a very long time.  One interesting fact students mentioned had to do with Hershey's being the chocolate sent overseas to the servicemen during World War II.

The group who favored Skittles, had the best presentation. They focused on the question of "Which candy should become the national candy?" best  They related as much as they could to the history of this country, its diversity, and the states.  They constantly reminded us of the correlations between the candy and our country.

The other two provided wonderful histories but they were not reminding us of the reason for the presentation so they never really told us why it should be adopted.  Still, they all tried.  Most students find making presentations difficult, I think this was a great way of easing them into practicing this skill.

I enjoyed myself.  I think if I'd been able to do an assignment like this when I took government in high school, I would have enjoyed it so much more.  I might have also learned a bit more because I had a chance to understand governmental processes more.

Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Origins of Three Sweet Desserts.

Mixed Berries, Pavlova, Pie, Cake, Sweet  When I was in Finland this past summer, I ended up at a party hosted by a group of people from New Zealand.  The dessert they provided goes by the unlikely name of Pavlova.

The pavlova is a dessert consisting of a base made up of a baked sweetened meringue, topped with fruit and whipped creme.

I remember trying to make the dessert when I was a teenager living in Australia.  It was hard to bake it just right because if the oven was too hot, it overcooked, too low, it under cooked and if someone stomped, it died.

It requires egg whites, sugar, corn starch, and a bit of vinegar whipped into a stiff meringue that is placed on a piece of parchment paper in a circle.  It is then baked for 1.5 hours at around 250 degrees. The trick is to leave it in the oven when the time is done and let it cool completely before opening the oven door.  This is the part that makes it a difficult dessert to make.

According to what I understand, this beautiful dessert was created to celebrate the visit of world famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who visited both Australia and New Zealand in 1920. Both countries have claimed its creation but it appears recipes for it were published in New Zealand Cookbooks and magazines before the same recipes appeared in Australia.

Either way, the dessert is extremely sweet, extremely delicious and extremely addicting.

The second is the Baked Alaska which as far as I know is not a regular dessert served in the state of Alaska.  Baked Alaska is ice cream encased in either pastry or meringue.  There is a record from 1802 showing Thomas Jefferson served ice cream wrapped in pastry for dessert at a state dinner in the White House.

Researchers have found a recipe called Baked Alaska Apple pie dating from 1855 in which the author has cooks add ice cream to the apple pie before placing the top crust on it and baking it.  Between then and 1900, there are records of a variety of desserts similar to the dish we call Baked Alaska but none carried that name until the Fannie Farmer Cookbook of 1896.

She has the cook prepare a meringue which is put over a cake topped by ice cream before browning it under the grate.  Originally it used a walnut spice cake for the base, topped with banana ice cream, and covered all over by the meringue.  The reality is that no one is absolutely sure who created the dessert and who named it.

The final dessert is the ever popular trifle, a layered dessert with cake, fruit, pudding, and whipped cream.  Early versions of this dessert resembled fools, a dessert of pureed fruit mixed with creme.  The two names were often used interchangeably to refer to the same dessert.  In fact, trifle developed as a way to use up old cake.

There are records from the mid 1700's show that alcohol, cookies or cake, and custard was combined to create trifles served in a special trifle bowl.  These bowls were prized possessions of many a housewife.  By 1751, recipes started appearing in various cookbooks.

Although most trifles now a days are nonalcoholic, alcohol in the form of sherry, Madeira or brandy were the chosen flavors traditionally used in this dessert. Over time, arguments have arisen over the type of jelly, whether the custard should be made from scratch or from a powder, etc.

The only trifle I've ever eaten was made by a family aunt who used lady fingers, vanilla pudding, fruit, and whipped cream on top of it all.  I've never had the alcoholic version nor have I ever eaten the traditional English version.

Let me know what you think. Have a good day.

It is said the name was inspired by the purchase of Alaska in 1867. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

3 Favorite Flavors of Rice.

I discovered three types of rice I absolutely love to cook with.  You can find them in the store if your store carries Lotus Foods Brand.  I don't normally like highlighting specific brands of food but they are the only people I know who carry these rices and which I can find easily both locally, well in Fairbanks, and on Amazon.

First is Madagascar Pink, a rice whose outside is a beautiful pink.
The grains are not all pink but ranges from light to dark and cooks up nicely. Although the hull is partially milled, the taste reminds me of a delicate flavored hearty rice. 

I realize its almost a contradiction but its really not.  Its like comparing homemade bread fresh out of the oven to store bought bread. 

The rice is grown in the Lake Alaota region of Madagascar.  Lake Alaota is the largest fresh water lake in Madagascar filled with marshes, etc and its the largest rice growing area in the country.

The rice takes cooks in about the same amount of time as white rice but is chewier and is just as easy to cook.  I don't measure things out, but I go with having about 1 inch of water above the rice, place on low heat until cooked.  I've used it in stir fried rice, plain, and any other way I can think of.

It is high in manganese and molybdenum and is considered a good daily source of magnesium, phosphorous and complex carbohydrate.

Second is Bhutan rice which is a darker red shade than the Madagascar Pink.
As you can see, it also has more red colored grains.  It is grown at 8000 feet elevation in Bhutan where its been grown for the past few centuries.

It is just as delightful as the Madagascar pink when cooked but carries slightly more color when fully cooked.  In Bhutan it is often served with mushrooms and hot chilies but in the United States it is more often served with flavorful foods such as pork, duck, or eggplant.

This rice is one of the few exports from Bhutan because white rice is replacing its use there. The rice takes only 20 minutes to cook.  It is high in magnesium, manganese, molybdenum and phosphorus and is delicious when eaten alone or with something else.

The last type of rice on my most favorite list is Jade Pearl Rice.

The grains are small and round with a pale jade green color even when cooked.  The pearled rice is infused with an extract of bamboo which gives it, its green color.

The specific variety of bamboo used to provide the green color and add to the flavor is said to provide health benefits including extending one's life.  

In 20 minutes it cooks into a nicely lightly sticky rice that quite different from most other rices.  The descriptions say it tastes like bamboo or a green tea but to me, the flavor complemented the coconut milk based curry I served with it.

I use all three rices in place of white rice with dahls, coconut milk based curries, regular curries, etc at dinner and for the left overs in my lunch.

Unfortunately, you cannot get most of these rices in bulk unless you live in a large enough place with huge Asian stores.  Due to my location, I end up ordering these rices via Amazon in the smaller sizes.  I go though them quickly because the rices are wonderful and I prefer them to the more standard white rice.

Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear if you've ever had these rices and what you thought about them.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Once Upon A Time

Wallpaper, Background, Night, Blue, Girl  Once upon a time, the way most fairy tales begin and the title of a television show, soon to start its seventh season.

I run about one year behind because I live in a place where the over the air choices are limited, no cable and I'd rather pay for basic internet than for Satellite because the channels I want come with the most expensive package.

I'd heard the actress playing the lead character "Emma" was leaving the show.  I was scared she'd die when I heard of the final battle with the visions she had.  I hate seeing characters die in any show because I have such a soft heart.  I've loved the fairy tale quality of the show with all its twists and turns, its bringing in characters from various stories.

Season six was no different than in its wonderful twists and turns from previous seasons.  I love the way the evil queen - the evil part of Regina she got rid of, the Black Fairy who turned out to be Rumpelstiltskin's mother and who stole his son to raise, Aladdin, Jasmine, Jafar, and changing reality.

It twisted and turned to a musical episode with some wonderful songs, a wedding, and a change in reality to help Emma loose hope.  Hope the one thing that keeps us going.  Hope, the one thing that keeps us going through the hard times.  Hope which convinces us things will be better.

The final battle was not physical, it was of keeping the belief alive vs the one who wanted to kill it.  Henry remained hopeful until the very end, even going so far as to leave his mother with one last story.  I loved the way she came back with that first step to face her enemy for the final showdown.

She won due to her goodness and everyone got their happy ending.  The endings made my heart turn warm and glowing.  I heard there  was going to be a 7th season with a slightly different focus on Henry this time rather than Emma.

I love the way they segued into the teaser for this new season so people will want to watch more to find out why Henry and why he has a daughter.  Since I don't have access to the current season.  I am going to have to wait a full year until the series comes out on DVD so I can buy it and have a marathon session.

Yes, I still have hope that the future will allow me to do the things I want to do.  I believe it will happen.  If it doesn't, I will always hope until the day I die.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 2, 2017

A Sweet Tooth.

Elephant, African Bush Elephant  Over the weekend, I posted a picture of an elephant asking for peppermint.  There is a story behind the request.

I've done a variety of jobs throughout my life.  Some jobs were full time, some weekends only, and some are in between everything.

At one point in my life, I worked at a Renaissance faire about two hours south of my house.  I got involved because a chance opened up and I love learning new things.

It was so cool.  I received training in improve theater which helps me in my current job.  I went from actor, to singer, to musician to being the opening act for the morning when people waited for gates to open.

I had a partner I was "married" to.  In the morning, we'd go out among the crowd, he one side, me the other.  I'd go looking for my "husband" to tell him that mother was moving in with us. I had to look for him because he'd gone out drinking the night before and never came home.

I'd harangue him about his drinking, he'd cringe.  I'd inform him about my mother moving in and he'd turn pale.  We had a grand old time as the saying goes.  It was so much fun.  Other times, we'd set up by a business and play or sing to bring people in. 

One of the attractions at the faire, one kids loved, were the elephants.  One elephant had a sweet tooth for peppermint candies.  If she, yes she, smelled a scent of peppermint, she'd lift her trunk and follow the aroma.  She'd follow the aroma till she found the candy.

It didn't matter who had the candy, she'd take it.  She took candy out of a child's hand.  She'd slip her trunk into a man's shirt pocket and steal it.  She LOVED peppermint.  Adults laughed when their candy was stolen, children cried but it didn't stop her.  Once she got the candy, she popped it into her mouth wrapper and all. 

The owner of the elephants moved around the country working various ren faires from January to December.  Its how he makes his living. Yes I have fond memories of those days when I'd spend the weekend camping out and working.  Someday, I'll tell you more.

Have a good day and let me know what you think.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Sunscreen in the Winter?

Sunscreen, Sun Milk, Lotion, Sun, Beach  Summer is ending and fall is upon us. Where I live, we are having a wet fall, complete with mud and overcast days.  Its the time of year when many of us put away the sunscreen.  The sun is too weak for us to burn so we won't really need need it for another year. Or will we?

I just recently discovered we should be wearing sunscreen year round rather than just during summer months when the sun is at its strongest.

Yes, you read that right! year round. The reason being is that when you are exposed to the sun daily on your commute, when out for a daily walk, etc, has a cumulative effect.

There are two types of UV rays.  The obvious one is the UVB which is responsible for our skin burning but it is the UVA rays we need to be aware of.

It doesn't matter the temperatures have dropped because you are being exposed to UVA rays, responsible for aging skin. UVA rays reaches deep into the skin  and they make up 95% of the UV rays we are exposed to.

It is suggested since snow reflects such a high amount of UVA rays (almost 80%), it is necessiry to use sun screen to protect one's skin when out snowboarding or skiing. UV radiation increases 4 to 5 percent for an increase of 1000 feet in elevation. Remember, just because its cloudy, does not mean you are protected.  Clouds are only able to block out about 20% of UV rays, this means 80% of the rays get through.  

Many dermatologists recommend the continued use of sunscreen to protect your skin.  Just because you've applied the sunscreen for the day, you'll be fine.  You still sweat so the sunscreen has to be reapplied at regular intervals.

One other place we are exposed to possible damage is at the office.  There is current research indicating pigment cells are stimulated by the light from computer screens and overhead lights, in addition to the sun.  This discovery has lead to the recommendation that people wear sunscreen even in an office.

I admit, before reading this, I shared the belief I didn't need sunscreen once fall hit.  Living in Alaska, the amount of daylight drops significantly.  But having learned more about UVA, I am going to keep using my sunscreen year round.

Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Manhatten? $24 Really?

New York, Skyline, Manhattan, Hudson  Have you ever wondered if the Europeans actually purchased Manhattan, NY for $24.00 worth of beads and trinkets or was that one of those myths that sprung forth due back in the mists of time? 

I remember hearing about it when I grew up and accepted it as truth but somewhere in the last couple of years, I heard something about it being a myth.

There is a primary source in the Dutch Archives where a reference is found to purchasing the land for 60 guilders in 1626. Although there is a deed in regard to this, the deed was not written for several decades and by that time, it was inhabited by the Dutch.

The $24.00 came about in the 19th century, when historians converted the 60 guilders into American dollars.  Since then, that figure has been quoted as the purchase price. There is no evidence what the exchange rate would have been in 1626 since the dollar did not exist.

There are still mysteries surrounding the whole even.  Even though there is a letter written by a merchant in regard to the purchase of the land, he neither mentions which tribe sold it, nor who actually bought it.  There is some speculation that the tribe who sold the land didn't, actually own it but were just traveling through.  Apparently, the Dutch claim was contested later on and they had to pay the true owners but it is not known how much was paid as compensation, so they ended up paying twice.

In addition, the author does not actually mention what was used to purchase the land.  He only states they traded "for the value of 60 guilders".  Based on what the Dutch paid for Staten Island, years later, it is possible usable items such as shirts, cloth, powder, socks, muskets, adzes, kettles, axes, knives, and lead made up the value.  Items considered quite usable at the time.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. Let me know what you think.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Blood Oranges.

Blood Orange, Citrus, Orange, Tropical  The first time I had a blood orange I didn't know what to expect because of its name.  I had never heard of them but saw one in the store so I decided to try one.

Since then I've had several and enjoyed each and every one.  If you look at the picture to the left, you see what one type looks like. 

Yes blood oranges are red inside and some  have red splotches on the outside.  Even the juice is reddish. The amount of red depends on the variety and its growing conditions.

The red is caused by anthocynan, a pigment found as red in cherries or red cabbage, or blue in blueberries or purple in eggplant. 

These oranges provide large amounts of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, calcium, and fiber.  In addition they carry a powerful antioxident.

The earliest written record appeared in 1646 when a Jesuit priest wrote about a purple flesh colored orange that tasted like a grape.   As far as anyone can tell, this is the result of a natural mutation and no one is sure where they originated although it is thought they originated in China and was brought to Sicily and Spain in the 11th and 12 century.

Blood oranges are grown around the world including places like Texas and California.  There are several varieties include Tarocco, Moro (or Morro), and Sanguinello (or Sanguigno).  Sanguinello oranges have a deep reddish purple flesh while the Tarocco flesh has a light red tint. The Moro has a medium red flesh and is the most common blood orange found in the United States.

Since blood oranges are a winter crop, they tend to be available between December and April.  In Italy, they are as common as Navel oranges while in the United States they are a specialty item so they command a higher price.  You can find them in many stores including Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, and some of the store chains.

The flavor is less sweet and less acidic than regular oranges.  Since it is a only a winter crop, it is possible to purchase the juice year round which can be used in cooking, making syrups, or adding as flavoring goods.   I tend to only go for the fruit and enjoy it when I can get my hands on a few.  They don't last long in my fridge.

Let me know what you think. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Brain Breaks

Brain, Anatomy, Abstract, Art, Branches  Although this is a hot topic in education at the moment, it is also applicable to anyone who works at a job requiring a lot of time seated.  This applies to me when I'm getting my blog updated and ready to go for the next week.

A brain break is a short break of physical activity designed to clear the brain of stress and overload so it functions better.  It is important to take brain breaks ever 30 to 60 minutes so you don't get fuzzy.

Basically the brain has two sides, one which deals with focus and efforts while the other side likes to wander.   The first side often gets too cluttered with information overload and the second part of the brain does not get a chance to wander so the brain basically stalls.

Some ways to take a brain break at the office.

1.  Get up and move around.  When I worked in an office, I would wander off to the bathroom, check on things, and take the long way around so I'd get a three or four minute break of just moving around.  Even three to four minutes is enough to reset the brain.  A short walk also has been shown to relieve stress, reduce fatigue, and boost energy.

2. If possible, take a short 25 to 30 minute nap to to increase energy, improve learning and memory, boost mental alertness, and increase and productivity.  I realize this is easiest done when you work at home.

3. Take a short break to calm the mind through deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to obtain maximum renewal in a minimum amount of time.  It can lower cortisol levels over time.

4. Volunteer to make a coffee run for the office so you can get out of the building and take a brain break.

5.  At lunch, walk around the building a couple of times while listening to music. 

6.  Use you cell phone, take it to a quiet place so you can pace while you make your calls.

Notice, most of these get you up and moving around so you can get a bit of exercise to get your brain unblocked. 

Let me know what you think.  I love to hear from people.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Short or Long Exercise Sessions

Runner, Race, Competition, Female  I am not one of those people who goes to a gym to exercise one to two hours before or after work. 

There are two reasons I don't do it. First, I don't have a gym within a two hour air flight and second, I don't have the time right now.

 What I do have the time for is a couple or three shorter sessions.  I wanted to know if several short sessions is as good as one long session?

So I took a look.  If I don't have time for one longer session, three shorter ones are considered as good or better.  Research indicates that three shorter ones can actually have some definite advantages over one long one.

In one research project, they discovered the benefits of shorter bursts of exercise lasted longer than fewer longer sessions.  Another study showed blood pressure readings improved well for both types of sessions but there were fewer spikes with shorter sessions.

According to the CDC it doesn't matter which way you go because the overall number of minutes done per week is important.  People need to accumulate 150 to 300 minutes per week of moderate exercise to receive benefits.

Benefits include weight loss, stronger bones and muscle, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and a boost to both your emotional and energy levels.

To receive the most benefits from exercise, long or short, make sure it is challenging but not so challenging that you can't finish the whole session.  If you do a longer session, take sure you take as few breaks as possible and if you do have to take a break, keep it as short as possible.  Try to include some interval training for best results.

It has been suggested that people get up 15 minutes earlier, squeeze a 10 minute session at lunch, a quick walk in the park in the evening.  I hate being outside when its cold and rainy or snowy and blizzarding.  I rely on exercise DVD's.  I have a huge collection of 10 minute ones which fit my needs when I need short ones.

I am glad to hear my sneaking those 10 and 15 minute ones into my schedule is ok.  I used to feel guilty not doing 45  to 90 minute sessions because I could only use 10 to 15 min sessions at once.  I am glad I am doing something right.

Have a great day.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017


Note:  This is actually carved in ice, back lit with colored lights.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Brief History of Wedding Photography.

Wedding Photo Viet  One of my nieces is due to get married next summer.  Many couples hire a professional photographer to snap beautiful pictures of everything from start to finish.

In today's society, most couples who marry end up with a book filled with pictures of everything so they can remember the event but it hasn't always been this way.

Wedding photographs have only been taken since photography itself began.  The first real wedding photographs began in the 1840's at a time when photography did not yet have a commercial use.  In fact, one of the first wedding photographs was taken of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840. These original photographs were taken in studies because of the type of equipment being used. These ones are called daguerreotype portraits where the photos were on tiny copper sheets and it required couples stand still for long periods of time so the image set.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, photography methods improved to the point photographers could take multiple pictures for a wedding album but most were still being taken in black and white even though color became available in the early 20th century.  Early color photographs faded due to its unreliability'

Towards the end of World War II, techniques changed enough that wedding photographs moved out of the studio into capturing the event itself.  The end of World War II brought a boom of marriages which caused photographers to shoot weddings on speculation with the understanding the bride, groom, and families would buy the photos they like best.  Cameras became more portable, lighting more compact, and film came on rolls.

The style of photography still remained the same with heavy lighting so even the candid shots were posed but in the 1970's when 35mm cameras became popular.  The new style called wedding photojournalism which captured the whole wedding from start to finish.  This also meant that any amateur who had a camera could advertise and take pictures.

The latest change came with the development of digital cameras. The digital camera is small, portable, and all photos can be edited and sharpened. In addition, these photos are easier to distribute to all parties.

Let me know what you think.  Have a great day.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Making Apple Juice at Home.

Apple Juice, Sweet, Fruit Juice, Healthy  I remember in College, driving a few hours up to Dixon to get fresh squeezed apple cider.  We'd wait in line and buy a few gallons because it had no preservatives and if you weren't careful, you'd end up with something slightly alcoholic.

Other weekends, we'd drive in the other direction to pick up a bushel or two of apples picked from the ground because they were really cheap.  I'd take them home and spend time making apple butter, apple sauce,  dried apples, and of course juice.

I did not own an apple press as I was a starving college student living in college housing but I owned a pan and cheese cloth so I could make juice.  I admit, the process took over the whole kitchen which wasn't very large so much of this was done on the kitchen table.

General recipe 1:
 Quarter the apples after removing blemishes and soft spots.  Remove the seeds before placing them in a large pan.  Add enough water to almost cover the apples, simmer till nice and soft.  Line a colander with cheese cloth.  Scoop apples and liquid into the colander and let drain.  When done, press with a spoon so get any extra liquid out.  Heat the juice, add any sweetener or spices to it before pouring in hot sterilized bottles while leaving 1/4 inch space.  Process in a boiling water canner for 30 minutes.

General recipe 2:
Cut the apples into quarters. Remove the seeds, central core, and any soft spots.  Chop the apples into small pieces and place in a blender.  Blend until it resembles a sauce.  Place in a cloth lined strainer and strain until the juice has finished draining.

If you wonder what to do with the left over pulp?  That is easy.  I've used it to make a apple spice cake or apple spice quick bread because I hate to waste anything.  I've also used the pulp mixed in with oatmeal to make one that was more like apple spice.

If you have a different way to make apple juice, let me know.  I'd love to hear from you.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Retirement Yes or No

Fishing, Sunset, British Columbia  Last night, I spoke with a lady who talked about retirement.  Hers.  Maybe.  What she said is that she is eligible to retire but isn't sure she wants to.  She said she goes back and forth.  The biggest thing holding her back is her lack of hobbies.

Apparently, she works long hours and goes home to sleep.  She doesn't do much else.  I am shocked because most people I know have hobbies.

I pointed out retirement is for exploring things you haven't had time to explore during the rest of your life.  You can write the great American novel you've had in the back of your mind since you were 20. You could start that business you've always wanted to own.

In regard to starting your own business, there is information on the internet, including who to talk to who offers free or low cost information.  There are short business classes you can take to help you write a business plan, start the actual business, etc either on line or locally.  There is a place I take classes, I mention a bit later and they do have some business classes.

If you want to learn new things, search the internet for free classes.  I've taken two from Future Learn for free.  I'd have to pay if I want a certificate but I don't need a certificate.  There are other places you can go to take free classes to learn a new skill on the internet.  I'm getting ready to find a German Language class so I can learn a bit of German before I go there next summer.

There are also classes for a fee at craft stores, hardware stores, yarn shops, etc.  You can also check YouTube for videos showing how to do something.  I learned to cast on stitches for knitting by watching a knitting video.  I have a set of beading videos I plan to use so I can make jewelry. 

The coolest thing I see about retirement is most colleges offer much lower tuition for taking classes if you are over 62.  I know someone who signed up at the local university to take a beginning level German class for only the fees and books so it was about $300.

The thing about retirement is you have more time to visit the places you've always wanted to visit.  You can take advantage of off season rates, sales on airfares or cruises.  You have fewer time constraints.

The thing about retiring is you have to plan ahead so you will stay busy.  All the people I retired who quit doing things, died young.  Those who kept busy with learning and small businesses have lived a lot longer.  I saw a study that said if you keep learning, your brain stays healthier and if you do get Alzheimer you are less likely to show it because you are exercising your brain.

I have a long list of things I plan to do when I retire.  I expect the list will keep me busy for the rest of my life.

Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

11 of the Best Places to Travel in the Fall.

Fall, Autumn, Red, Season, Woods, Nature  I can only travel during the summer or around Christmas time but other people have the option to visit places during the fall. When I retire, I'd like to spread my traveling across the full year and not just cram it into the summer.

So what are some great places to see in the fall?  I know I don't know so after a bit of research, I've come up with some lovely suggestions.  These suggestions are not in any particular order.

1. Highly recommended is the Oktoberfest in Munich which runs from the end of September to the beginning of October.  Be warned this event attracts over 6 million people to enjoy beer and pretzels.

2. What about Grizzly Bear watching at the Bear Camp in British Columbia from August to October.  Its a great place to go to take pictures of bears in the wild.

3. Go to the Caribbean because its the off season for hotels but hurricanes are up a bit.  However,   Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao are less likely to be hit due to their location. 

4. Do you love seeing the leaves  change.  Most people think of New England but Japan, The Douro Valley in Portugal, along with Moscow have gained reputations for places with spectacular fall shows of changing color.

5. If you are an avid skier, think about heading to Chile to do some spring skiing.  In addition, many resorts including the Portillo resort have good prices going since its toward the end of the season.  I tried skiing one time but ended up going down the hill backward. I've never been since then.

6. Check out the Diwali Festival of Lights in India.  Its a 5 day Hindu festival held in November usually.  It attracts millions of visitors with its fireworks, prayer, and celebrations.

7. If you've wanted an excuse to go to Africa, check out Malawi's Lake of the Stars Music Festival toward the end of September.  You may not find the big names you are used to, but you'll hear some great music you'll enjoy.

8.  For those who prefer something a bit more unusual, check out the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Austria.  This biennial championship happens in odd years, so it is happening this year.  You'll find it in the Austrian Alps during the beginning of October.

9. If you rather stay in the United States, San Francisco has gained a reputation as a great place to visit in the Fall due to fewer tourists.

10. Another great place to visit in the fall is the Grand Canyon.  The fall has fewer crowds and better temperatures.  Its beauty is the same year round.  I visited near Christmas one year. I took so many pictures including one of a tree whose bark was amazing. 

11.  Check out Washington D.C. in the fall.  Once school starts the number of visitors drop making it less crowded as you check out museums, plazas, and monuments.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Homemade Liquers.

Coffee Cup, Cup, Saucer, Ceramic, Coffee  I adore Bailey's Irish Cream but not in my coffee.  I love it in my hot chocolate drunk on a cold winter day after walking home during a blizzard.

Unfortunately, it has alcohol in it and I cannot have it in my house.  In Alaska, villages can be wet, damp, or dry.  Wet means it is sold in the village, damp means you can bring it in or personal consumption or dry means you cannot have it in anyway.

My village is dry.  If you bring it in and are caught, you will be arrested and end up in jail.  It has happened before.  Although the village is dry, alcohol is sold here and people make their own.  The last time I heard, a fifth of alcohol ran around $250.

So I want to make my own without the alcohol so I can enjoy the flavor in my chocolate to give it that little bit extra flavor.  Unfortunately, I could not find a recipe for Irish Cream without alcohol.  It is frustrating because I do not want to be arrested.

I will share the alcoholic DIY version of Irish Cream because its all I could find.  There are several recipes I found but most of them are as follows:

Recipe 1.
1 1/4 cups Irish whiskey
1 tablespoon espresso powder
14 ounces condensed sweetened milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon real almond extract
2 tablespoons honey

Mix in a blender, put in a jar, refrigerate 2 hours, shake and serve.

Another couple of recipes recommended you make concentrated cold brew coffee and use 1/4 cup of it.  It also recommended using one ounce of 60% cacao chocolate chips melted in 1 pint of heavy cream over a double boiler.  Stir in 1/3rd cup of sugar to the cream mixture.  When fully mixed with the sugar melted, take off of the heat, add 2 tbsp of chocolate extract to the chocolate mixture, before adding 1 1/2 cup Irish Whiskey, cold brew coffee, and 1 tsp vanilla to it.  Mix with an immersion blender, pour into a bottle, refrigerate till ready to use.

On the other hand it was easy to find an alcohol free version of Kahlua by 3 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water, and a 2 inch piece of vanilla into a pan.  Bring to a boil, and simmer till the volume has been reduced by half around a half hour. When done, add 8 tbsp of instant coffee mixing well before cooling. In a jar, mix the sugar syrup with a fifth of either rum or vodka.  Shake and store in a dark place for approx. 10 days. After 10 days, strain the mixture, bottle it, and enjoy.

I doubt, I would every make the Kahlua because I do not like coffee flavor.  I'm going to keep looking for a nonalcoholic version of Irish Creme but I do not think I'll find one since the Irish is supplied by Irish whiskey.

Have a great day and let me know what you think.

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Brief History of Desserts.

Bananas, Dessert, Ice Cream, Fruit  When I was growing up, we seldom had anything for dessert to end a meal.  Usually, we finished eating the main meal and we were off to do homework or headed out to play in the neighborhood. 

If we had dessert it was because it was a holiday such as Thanksgiving or it was someone's birthday.  If mom made cake, it came out of a box and so did the frosting. 

My favorite - A German Chocolate cake with coconut pecan frosting.  Once I got older, I fell in love with carrot cakes or apple spice cakes because they had more substance to them.  They were more filling and I chose smaller pieces.  I recently began wondering when desserts became a normal part of the meal.

Apparently, the word dessert is derived from the French word desservir which means cleaning the table.  Back in the 17th century, when entertaining could last all night, cooks often prepared sweets or finishers in advance served at the end so people were filled to the brim before they left. 

Sweets have been around for a long time but appeared originally in the form of nuts or fruit rolled in honey. This is considered the first candy.  If you look at the Chinese, you'll find they invented a form of ice cream that was actually a flavored ice.  It wasn't until it reached Italy that adjustments were made so the flavored ice became a sorbet. No one is sure when it became the ice cream we know today.

One of the contributions to the development of modern desserts came when sugar began to be manufactured in the middle ages but it was still extremely expensive so only the rich could afford. The first printed recipe for apple pie appeared in 1381.  The original gingerbread appeared around 1400 but it was made by soaking bread crumbs in spices and honey.

By 1600, Pralines made an appearance in France at the tables of nobility while in 1700 the Eclair began its evolutionary journey to the form we know today.  By 1740, numerous cupcake recipes existed so they were quite popular, although they are making a reappearance in a big way today.

In the 19th century, the lemon meringue pie became popular although both lemon and meringue custards existed prior to that.  Its only really been since the 1500's that desserts have really developed.  Along the way, many meat based puddings were replaced by sweet versions.

I hope you enjoyed reading this brief history of desserts. In a couple days I'll look at a few specific desserts and their history.  Have a good day.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Metabolism Fact or Fiction.

Runner, Marathon, Military, AfghanistanI'm sure you've heard people complain about their slowing metabolism as they grow older or state something like "I can't eat anything or it shows up around my waist.  So that begs the question "What is metabolism?" and "What things do we know that are actually false"?

Metabolism is defined as the process our body uses to convert what we eat into the energy we use to live and function. It is responsible for everything from breathing to sitting and moving.  A slow metabolism needs less fuel to keep going while a fast metabolism burns through calories.  

We've all heard that we are stuck with what ever metabolism we were given.  While its true, our metabolism is determined by our genetic make up, we can do things to increase our metabolism.  One way is to increase lean muscle mass because muscle burns more calories per hour than fat.

Although our muscle mass decreases as we age we can still include weights twice a week in our exercise regime so we can keep our muscle mass up so our metabolism does not slow.

Another claim floating around the internet is that drinking green tea or eating chili peppers will cause our metabolism to speed up.  There are a few studies out which indicate they temporarily increase metabolism but not enough to counter eating more calories.  Its better to eat a good balanced diet with good portion control.

The third myth concerns eating late at night causes you to gain weight.  This isn't fully true.  Its eating extra calories, no matter when that cause people to gain weight.  Many times, people are more likely to much in the evening when they are watching television or doing something sedentary.

People believe that by cutting back on calories significantly, they will jump start weight loss but for most people, if the number of calories are cut too much, their bodies will begin to store energy in the form of fat because the body thinks it is starving.

Some people believe that both men and women have the same metabolism. This is not true due to the way each is built.  In general men have a higher metabolism because they generally have more leaner muscle mass than women and their organs are larger.  In addition, women have a layer of fat which does not go away.

Its been said if you skip a meal, particularly breakfast, you will kick your metabolism up so you burn more calories but its been shown by eating breakfast a person is less likely to binge eat later in the day.  As mentioned before it can actually cause your body to store fat in case of famine.

It appears the best way to keep your metabolism going, especially as you age, is to keep the amount of lean muscle mass your body has, exercise regularly, and eat a good balanced diet so you are not eating extra calories.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear from people.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Does Fat Change Into Muscle?

Man, Board, Drawing, Muscles, Strong  I remember being told by P.E. teachers, we had to exercise to change fat into muscle.  They always said, muscle was denser and so much better for us but I couldn't figure out how fat could be changed into muscle.

The phrase is actually not quite right because fat cannot change into muscle.  In fact, they are two different parts of the body.  Fat is the body's way of storing potential energy while muscle is active as you move and burns energy.  

You cannot turn one into the other but with it is possible to build muscle and shrink your fat.  Its important to eat enough protein, about one gram per body fat, eat dense carbohydrates, and include healthy fats.  Balance weights with cardio and you have the best situation for building muscle and cutting fat cells.

When doing weights, implement compound movements so more than one group of muscles is worked at any one time.  The cardio should be in the form of HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training or circuit training alternating cardio with strength.

Here are 7 myths associated with the topic which seem to persist.

1. The first myth is that cardio is best for burning fat.  While cardio does burn more calories, lifting weights actually burns more fat.  In one study, it was found women who completed an hour long strength training session burned at least 100 more calories in the following 24 hours than those who skipped it.

2. It it believed that is you lift weights, you will become bulky but this is not true.  Muscle growth occurs slowly over days, months, and years.  People comment about having gained bulk quickly after adding weights but all that happens is that you are packing more muscle in the same place. You are tightening your body.

3. One of my favorites - If you do not exercise your muscle will turn to fat.  If you quit training, your muscles actually shrink while your fat cells fill in the areas where muscle used to be.  They do not turn into fat because they are two different creatures.

4. This is a new one on me.  I was taught to stretch muscles before working out or just after your muscles are warmed up.  Apparently, stretching increases flexibility. Most injuries occur during the normal range of motions. It is recommended you warm-up properly to prevent injury.

5. Another new one is that cables and resistance bands have gained a reputation for toning muscles while free weights are better for building muscles.  This is a total misconception because a muscle contraction is the same regardless of tool used.

6. As you know by know, eating lots of protein does not build muscle.  Your body requires a well balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to build muscle. 

7. Spot exercise such as lunges does not burn fat from one location.  Your body when it burns fat, burns it from the whole body, not a specific location.

I grew up learning most of these myths which were promoted as gospel for anyone wanting to watch their weight.  I now know they are all wrong.  You may wonder why I wrote about the topic?  Well, its fall and pretty soon the colder weather will arrive.  Once the snow starts, I do not take the long walks I do the rest of the year.  I need to know the proper ways to keep my body fit so when spring comes again, I do not start at the beginning again.

Let me know what you think.  Have a good day.