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.