Thursday, December 31, 2015

My New Years Resolutions

Hand, Keep, New Year'S Day  It is the night before 2016.  I've made my list of resolutions and checked it twice.  I decided long ago that I should not add many new resolutions each year but continue with the ones I've been working on for years.

1.  Continue exercising 5 out of 7 days a week.  I've concluded that the walks to the post office, to the store, or even out to the old airport count as exercise because that whole trip is at least 1/2 to a full mile.  On days I have to go back to work, I can get by on a short walk or a 10 minute exercise segment.  I try hard to walk at least 10,000 steps per day.

2.  Make time for myself and my interests.  I find that if I am not careful, I take work home and work all night.  It is hard to take time to just sit and relax.  I have two pairs of socks in various states of creation.  I am almost finished with one pair, I just have to finish the toe and the other, I just started and finished the cuff.  I found a bright strong pink which I don't mind.  I decided I don't like the pastel pinks, I prefer vibrant pinks. 

3.  I have to continue my dancing.  I need to do at least 15 to 40 min at least 3 days a week but I try for more.  I love dancing and often loose myself in the longer pieces of music.  I like pieces that are about 20 min long with a variety of tempos and atmospheres.  I love middle eastern dance best although I'll mix in some Latin American or African just for a change.

4.  I plan to continue eating better.  I love eating fresh prepared food where I choose the ingredients and have a chance to enjoy the flavors.  I'm not quite into slow eating yet but I plan to slow down enough to really enjoy the flavors.  I"m preparing to do a quick shopping trip tomorrow to get some fresh fruits and veggies to take back to enjoy.  You know cooking from scratch does not take much time, especially if you plan ahead.

5.  I want to get my blog entries written several days ahead and stay ahead so I don't get behind.  I keep promising myself that but I've not manged it more than once or twice. 

That is my full list of resolutions for the year of 2016.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nature's Medicine

Women, Old, Shepherd, Nature  My mother got her first issue of National Geographic yesterday in the mail.  I've always loved reading the magazine and over the years I have gathered a bunch of the old issues because they are fun to read. 

National Geographic allowed me to travel and experience other countries when I was 10 or 12.  I could see other cultures while being snuggled up next to a window or sitting under a tree. 

In fact National Geographic was the go to magazine when you needed to do a country report because they had been to every place in the world or at least it seemed that way to a 12 year old.

The latest issue provided a lovely article on how humans need plant life to help us stay mentally healthy and have reduced stress.  Apparently there is a need for humans, especially now, to help our tired brains relax and heading out to nature helps tremendously.

In other words, we use our brains so much in modern society that our over all performance decreases while our stress goes up.  Going out in nature, allows our brains to relax and reset themselves while our mental performance increases.  I've always known I feel better walking through a forest, sitting in a park, looking at the waves of the ocean as they crash on the coast.

What is cool is that one can find scientific evidence supporting this.  In fact, one study discovered a lower incidence of things like mental distress, anxiety, asthma, depression, etc when a person lives with in a half mile of a green space.  Its even been discovered that if a person lives in a place with more trees, they undergo a boost in heart and metabolic rates associated with an increased income.

Someone else discovered that people had less disease and death even just living near a green space without using it. Apparently, just being able to see the trees and grass helps restore people's health.  I found it interesting that a study is being carried out with incarcerated prisoners seems to support the idea of nature helping people.  The prisoners who exercise in a gym with nature videos playing are calmer than those who exercise in a regular gym.

You know, there may be some benefits other than fighting boredom on those walkers which have a TV screen associated with it. The ones that allow you to show a video as you walk so you are walking in a forest, or along the beach.  I'm wondering if showing a nature video on the television or playing a CD of nature sounds would help us relax faster after a hard day a work.

I might just give it try.  It would fit in with my New Year's resolution.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Oh The Weather Out There Is????

House, Snow, Buried, Winter, December  The weather this Yule season has been unpredictable.  I've been hearing about tornadoes hitting places in Texas, Missouri, and even in New Mexico.  

Tornadoes don't usually hit at this time of year but the weather conditions have been perfect to cause tornadoes to form, strike, and leave a path of damage.

I have never been in a tornado but I've lived in places where there were tornadoes several miles away but the wind was strong enough to rip a fence out of the ground in one place.  The other time I had a close encounter was on a camping trip.  We could see the funnel clouds off in the distance and I ended up sleeping in a friends car because the wind was trying to rip my tent out of the ground while I was in it.

It was scary and I hate being anywhere near a tornado.  No one has a choice when the weather conditions are perfect for tornadoes to form.

I've also had the privilege of being in a cyclone which is almost as powerful as a tornado or hurricane.  I remember having to put my bed, mattress side against the window, to protect the room because the winds were so strong.  Yes the window broke but I had enough protection that I didn't get hurt by flying debris. 

I noticed that the weather stream that caused the tornadoes, headed in an easterly direction with snow and blizzards.  I heard that over 3000 flights were delayed or cancelled nationwide yesterday and today they are expecting in the 2000 flight cancellation range. 

Some news folks were at the Chicago-O'Hare airport reporting on the state of delays and cancellations.  I gather there are so many delays that at least one airline is asking people to tweet in their requests to be rescheduled.  Isn't that cool.  A new use for tweets.  I think this is the first time I've heard of social media being used by an airline for rescheduling purposes.

I'm up in the Northwest right now.  The weather has changed from teasing rain with flakes of snow to nice and sunny.  Beautifully sunny even.  I'm not worried about the weather prohibiting my getting back to my home state but it may be an issue trying to fly the last leg home. 

I hope that those who are stuck in airports are soon able to travel and get where they are going.  Good luck to all who are traveling.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Star Wars

Darth Vader, Star Wars, Wallpaper, Movie  I have not had a chance to see the newest but I've heard some good things about it.  Imagine, in just a very short time, the movie has grossed over 1 billion dollars.  1 billion!!!!!

On the news this morning, they showed so many people in costume going to see the movie.  One young man stated that his mother had helped him make the outfit but he had to wear it.

There were storm troopers, resistance fighters, aliens form earlier episodes of the series, there were even the Sith!  I've seen all of the earliest ones on DVD but I only went to see the first of the second group.  I hated Jar Jar Binks who was irritating rather than cute. 

I never actually saw the other two because I was too disappointed in the very first one.  The one with the sith, with Liam Neesons character,  It did not have that "I'm a rebel" feel with all the ups and downs that the others had.  I gather the newest episode is back to the feel of the original.  As if the story got lost and finally found the correct road again.

I looked up the story line and it looks really awesome. It took me a while but I figured out what it is that makes me really love a movie and that is that I can place myself in the movie, with an important roll that helps make sure the end occurs.  I write a part for myself and image myself in the other world being a hero.  The original three made me feel like that.  They made me want to be a part of the rebellion but the fourth movie did not leave me with that feeling. 

I think the new movie will leave me with that feeling.  I doubt I will get a chance to see it while its out in the theater.  I usually have to wait till the movie is released on DVD.  I can wait to become a part of the Star Wars Universe again.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Viral Puzzle.

Butterfly, Stopwatch, Eye, Face  Apparently a phenomenon similar to Where's Waldo hit the internet and went totally viral.  Can you believe it.  A digital picture filled with tons of snowmen, some with scarves, others with hats and each and everyone with the traditional carrot noses.

It turns out, at least for me, its not that hard to find the panda hidden among the snowmen. Its a really cool puzzle.  If you are interested in checking it out, go to facebook and look for Dudolf, the artist, so you can check out the puzzle.

I just googled Viral Panda Puzzle which resulted in multiple news website, all reporting on this phenomena. I caught wind of it on one of the morning news shows. This made me curious if there were other Where's Waldo type internet puzzles and I found several cool ones.

1.  College Humor  offers 17 real life Where's Waldo pictures with a person dressed as Waldo in a variety of places.  Whoever created this even put Waldo at an anime convention.....LOL.  Sometimes, he's quite easy to find and other times, he's not.  If you are a Waldo fan, check it out.

2.  Art-Sci offers 10 Where's Waldo puzzles.  It looks like they posted the original pictures from the book on-line.  You can click on the thumbnail shots and enlarge them so you can play.

3.  Where's Waldo has its own website.  You don't have to be a member to check out some of the drawings and having fun looking for Waldo in the pictures.  These pictures have some interactive movement to make things more interesting.

So if you are a fan of Waldo, check these sites out and have fun.  Remember, this type of activity can keep your brain young.

Due to staying where there is no internet, I have to resort to the public library which is closed on Sunday.  I'll tell you Monday about my trip from Philadelphia to Seattle and the toils and tribulations.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Coffee Makers, Soup and Convience.

Coffeemaker, Machine, Coffee, Pot  Due to not having a regular television signal, I've grown used to watching DVD's and I  avoid commercials. So when I travel, I ended up watching the commercials and some are cute, while others turn out to be quite educational.

Over the past couple of days, I've seen products developed for those pod coffee makers.  The one you slide that little cup into, turn it on, and the hot water flows through it to make a single serving of either coffee or tea.

There were two commercials that caught my eye.  The first was done by a soup company.  The commercial was so subtle, it took me two or three times to realize the company had designed several varieties of soup that worked for this machine.

These soups are labeled "Fresh Brewed".  Apparently, the broth comes in the cup or pod which is slipped into machine for the water to run through into the coffee cup filled with the noodles, beans, etc.  After filling the reservoir, hit the switch and watch your soup being made. 

The second eliminates filling the reservoir.  One  of the appliance manufacturers has just designed a brand new refrigerator with a built in pod coffee maker.  Just think of it, the same water line that provides ice can also provide coffee, tea, or soup! 

I don't get to a real grocery store that often due to where I live.  My stores are more like 7-11 type stores so when I do visit a real grocery store, I am absolutely amazed at the number of simple dishes you only need to pop into the microwave and you've got a meal.  No need to know how to cook.

Unfortunately, when you don't cook, you miss out on so many healthy dishes you can make without all the salt, fat, and sugar found in manufactured foods.   Yes, I do eat more of that type of food when I'm visiting people or out traveling.  I also use things like canned foods because I live so far out that the price of fresh food can be extremely expensive if it arrives without being frozen.

The other spring I paid almost $14.00 for a cantaloupe and a $1.00 per banana.  I order in a box of fresh fruits and vegetables every two weeks so I can make healthy dishes for myself every day.  
I often add vegetables to my beans and rice, or create a sauce to throw over my pasta.  When I cook, I can choose to go anywhere and eat anything I can find a recipe for.

In case you are wondering, I own an electric water heater for my tea so I get the right temperature water, otherwise I don't own any fancy tea or coffee makers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Atlantis Space Shuttle, Launch, Mission  I just heard the first private spacecraft successfully launched, released a satellite into orbit and landed back where it started.  This is such an awesome accomplishment because up to now the only people who could launch satellites into the atmosphere was NASA.

NASA is a federally funded governmental agency responsible for space exploration.  They've been in existence for a very long time and a side effect of their work has been some awesome innovations that have made our life easier.

But over the past few years several private companies have been working on creating a reusable delivery system so they could go into the business of launching satellites.  Well just a short time ago (a day or so) Space X became the first company to launch their Falcon 9 into space and have it land where it started.

Up to now, most spacecraft have be of the one use only,  rocket parts dropped away, letting the payload cabin fall into the ocean so the astronauts could be rescued.  I checked out the company and this is not the first thing Space X has accomplished over the past few years.

In 2012, Space X successfully deployed the Dragon payload up to the international space station and has completed two more trips since then for NASA.  Just think, the are the only commercial company to make trips to the international space station. 

This accomplishment is as earth shattering as when the first manned space flight occurred in both Russia and the United States or when man first walked on the moon.  I remember hearing people talk about where they were back in 1969.  So this generation can talk about where they were when the first rocket completed a full round trip. 

Wouldn't it be neat to think that one day in the near future, we might be able to fly to the moon or even Mars, stay there for a few days and head home.  Think about all the possibilities this opens up to the human race to take the first steps to expand into space. 

For the moment though, this is the first step for companies who desire to provide satellite launching services.  Will Space X take over space exploration from NASA?  Who knows but remember, a baby crawls before walking. In time they run. 

We may see people living on the moon in the next few decades.  This is now one step closer to reality.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Trick, Dog Trick, Malinois  Since I'm traveling right now and staying at a hotel, I got a chance to eat breakfast downstairs in the little breakfast room.  The TV was on one of those morning shows where they have information in 1 to 2 minute segments.  I don't get a TV signal and don't have cable or satellite TV so I find out what's on during my trips.

This morning several items caught my attention but I chose one that I found particularly intriguing. DOGA!  I had no idea anything like this existed. 

DOGA is the name for doggie yoga.  I had to do a bit more research after I saw the clip but it is for owners and their dogs to practice yoga while spending time together.  I discovered that the person does the actual pose and the dog is incorporated into various postures.

In addition, the creator of this form of partnership yoga incorporated a lot of petting, massaging your dog.  Some poses has you putting the dog in your lap, others have the dog on the floor under you or next to you but the bottom line is that it is quality time spent with your pet.

What is interesting is there is a debate over whether the dogs are actually doing yoga.  A trainer stated that the dogs are really not doing yoga, but just spending time with their owners and the togetherness could be accomplished by spending time in the park under a tree, or just sitting and petting the dog.

Others who practice Doga disagree completely. One person said the dogs are doing yoga and pointed out several poses the dogs are actually performing.  Another stated that its like bringing a child to class with you. They don't know what is going on but they do it anyway.

It kind of reminds me of other forms of exercise that incorporate toddlers such as the one where you have your child in a stroller and you run or jogging while pushing the stroller.  Or exercising using the child instead of weights to develop strength.  So this is the same type of exercise that allows quality time spent with a companion.

Speaking from the perspective of not owning any pets, it sounds weird and I'm not quite sure if the dog is actually doing yoga but I've recently discovered that there are yoga poses that do not require you to twist yourself into a pretzel or end up spending more time falling down than staying in position.  So I figure if the owners are happy spending the time with their animal while exercising, go for it. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

I Love This Time Of Year

Handbag, Bag, Shopping, Carrying  I love this time of year with all its bargains.  Most of the shopping I do right now is done via online stores.  I keep getting e-mails telling me about wonderful last minute opportunities and great shipping rates.  I've found that some stores will offer free shipping to Alaska when they normally charge an extra fee.  Sometimes, they will even provide expedited shipping for free so you can wait till the last minute to shop. 

For instance, I just got a lovely e-mail telling me the more I shop, the more I save but when I looked at the whole picture, it turns out they are really only giving you 10% off.  So if you spend $100, they will take $10 off the total while if you spend $400, there will be a $40 discount.  I've already gotten my order taken care of from them and honestly, I did better during the after Thanksgiving cyber sales.

Another chain offered me 50% off everything in the store but if I wanted to order offline, they would provide free holiday shipping.  Since I'm traveling, I might actually find a store to visit to take advantage of the 50% off coupon.  I've gotten e-mails from beauty stores, shoe stores, vitamin stores, and more with spectacular deals in a flurry to get me to spend money.

Even some of the magazines I enjoy have sent offers which claim to be the lowest price of the year.  I received a magazine offer which was the regular price but which offered a free subscription of the magazine sent to anyone I chose.  That one I took up so that I could donate the subscription to the local library.  My local library has a budget crunch and this is a way for them to have more magazines for the community.  Just to let you know, its a create electronics type magazine.

Most magazines offer really nice gift rates at this time of year. Why not pay a few dollars to donate a subscription of a magazine you enjoy to the library if they don't have it already so there are more choices for library patrons?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

I Hate Small Airlines.

Natural, Yellow, Airplane  I really hate traveling in the winter and dealing with tiny airlines.  I was supposed to fly out Friday on a charter but a blizzard hit, canceling every flight in and out.  I can just hear you trying to figure out why that would happen!

Think of it in these terms.  The airplanes are small Navajo Caravans only seat 6 to 9 passengers comfortably and they do not fly when its too windy, icy, snowy, or foggy.  These conditions happen quite a bit in winter.

Anyway, due to the nasty weather yesterday, I had to re-book my flight and the charter was also rebooked for this morning.  That was when the problem occurred.  The airline decided to turn the charter into a regular flight and hit every village in the area before heading into the town where I would get on my connecting flight. 

What it meant is the 10 AM flight finally arrived at 11 AM and then hit one more place before heading into town.  I got to my connecting airline just in time to check in before the cut off.  If the plane had been any later, I wouldn't have made it at all.  What made it bad was the airline tried to charge us the regular fair which was $25 higher than the charter flight.

I did make it onto the flight that took us into Anchorage, AK.  It was a very full flight and just short enough  that the stewardesses could not offer refreshments to anyone in Row 25 and back.  I was in row 27, so I didn't get anything to eat or drink.  I will say the stewardesses did apologize profusely. 

I am glad there is a second airline that services the area or I'd be out of luck.  I prefer the other airline but they are just as bad when it comes to charter flights.  When dealing with a small airline, they will book charters but the charters are sent out when its convenient, not always when booked.  This is the third time I've tried going on a charter and its the second time the company messed up fully.

I think I'm going to stick with the regular flights since those seem to fly when scheduled and have a better record than the charters.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Cowboy Breakfast.

Biscuits, Gravy, Breakfast, Food  Today the breakfast special was a truly popular dish that most of the village loves and floods the eating establishment.  One of the guys spread the word that the cowboy breakfast was being served and next thing you knew the place was flooded with people.  

I had never heard biscuits and gravy being called that before.  The first time I ran across biscuits and gravy was in a small diner in New Mexico.  I'm not sure what I ordered but the biscuits and gravy came as part of the breakfast.  The gravy came in a bowl. It was just this white pasty congealed mass on the plate with the biscuits.  I had to ask what it was because I tried to figure out why they would serve me wallpaper paste!

To me, this was strictly a southern dish and honestly, I don't care for that dish all that much.  I"ll take a mushroom gravy poured over a couple scoops of rice topped off with a gently fried egg.  Its a Hawaiian dish that is a traditional breakfast.  Up north, you are more likely to have had sourdough pancakes which are really great. 

You know, I don't mind cooked eggs with melted cheese (real cheese, not the fake stuff) in the middle of some biscuits.  I also love peanut butter and tropical fruit jellies.  I will even take gravy on my biscuits if its a runny mushroom type gravy that gently flavors but does not overwhelm things. 

If I don't get out tonight maybe I'll make some creamed eggs on biscuits for dinner.  Have a good evening everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Networking has been around for a very, very, long time.  When I was younger, my dad always told me "It's not what you know but who you know"  that's important.  He is the one who encouraged me to make contacts and keep a list of contacts so that if you need to, you can find another job.  You never believe your parents until they are proved right. 
 When I was traveling back east one Christmas, I had a layover in the Detroit Airport and was waiting for a connecting flight to Pennsylvania.  A lady I know came tearing across the walkway from who knows where and stopped in front of me.  "I'd know that red hair anywhere!"  She offered me a job but I had a job I really liked and turned her down but it proved my dad right.

Since then, I've known people who got into selling things and used their connections to market the product of the month.  I've had friends who tried to get me into that type of program but I had trouble with it because you made the most money by recruiting people to get more people to sell the products.  Never made sense to me.

Now, it appears that networking is the way business is being done.  You network with other bloggers to help increase the number or readers thus benefiting both of you.  You network to find out when and where conferences are so that you can present at them.  You network to get a job helping to train people in something you are an expert in.

Part of networking is having a business card with a QR code so people can scan your information into digital form.  It used to be that you just passed out business cards but that soon became passe due to modern apps that will scan business cards into your digital device.  Its getting to the point, I can even put a QR code into my blogs, my e-mails, anything and the code has all the information a person needs to find me. In many ways, the QR code is the new business card and makes networking so much easier.

Furthermore, social media is the second layer of networking because people can exchange ideas and information through twitter, facebook, even webpages.  Networking has become do digitally based, you never really need leave home to make the contacts you used to have to make in person. 

I admit I'm a bit behind on social media.  I am slowly joining the rest of the world, one step at a time.  I am going to set up a twitter account and a facebook page over the holidays.  More on that later.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wearable Electronic Clothing

Smart Watch, Apple, Technology, Style If you are not familiar with this topic yet, wearable electronics is adding circuits, lights, etc so your clothing can blink, shine, and do neat things.  You turn your clothing into an electronics display.  Wearable technology can also apply to watches and other devices but I think the focus on clothing is more fun..

It is amazing how small electronic components have become.  I have not gotten to the point I can make a dress that can have moving or spinning lights.  I'm still at the stage of learning to solder.  

However, there are kits to help anyone start the process of creating wearable electronics.

1. Adafruit is a company that has lots of kits and pieces to turn your fashions into something my dynamic.  They offer two sew-able micro controllers, conductive material, batteries, and everything you need to create your masterpiece.  What I like best about this place is they have videos and lessons so you can learn.  I saw a beautiful pixie skirt  with instructions and a picture of a finished project.  I just wish I had way more time to play around and create things like this.  Yummmmmmm.

2.  talk2myshirt has some wonderful information on how wearable technology is used out in the real world.   One article was the use of wearable technology in healthcare.  The author wrote about an EEG shirt which has the leads and patches ready to be attached to the machines.  Cool. 

3.  There are even companies creating Smart Clothing for a variety of industries such as health care or fitness.  If you check out this webpage, you will learn more about what is happening in that field.  This is web site is associated with a conference for wearable technology and has a bunch of examples of what is under development. 

I think I"m going to blow my budget and try to make some wearable electronic clothing after I learn my Raspberry Pi.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Top 10 New Year's Resolutions.

Fireworks, New Year'S Eve, Bright, Light  We all tend to want to make New Year's Resolutions.  We  make  resolutions that will change our lives, make us better, and we expect them to happen right away.  Unfortunately, it takes a while to change anything in our lives.

In addition,  most of the resolutions we make, we are unable to keep.  When I lived near a gym years ago, membership would double in January because people started coming 5 days a week and within 6 weeks, they quit coming.  I think they dove in too deeply.

According to Time Magazine, these are the Top Ten Broken Resolutions.

1. Lose Weight and Get Fit
2. Quit Smoking
3. Learn Something New
4.  Eat Healthier and Diet
5.  Get Out of Debt and Save Money
6.  Spend More Time with Family
7. Travel to New Places
8. Be Less Stressed
9. Volunteer
10. Drink More Water.

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute less than half of those making New Year's Resolutions actually maintain them for 6 months or longer.  This means that the majority of people who make resolutions will not keep them.

Perhaps its because they make too many?  Perhaps, they try to dive in and do all of them at once?  Perhaps, they just give up if they mess up.  I don't usually make new resolutions but settle on continuing a couple of good habits.  If I mess up, I start again on the following day because I figure everyone messes up and we are all human.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Overall Heath

Sunrise, Lake, Water, Scenic, Landscape  Health is three fold.  Most of us are aware that we need to stay physically active to live a good long life.  I enjoy exercising if its walking, dancing, or sometimes even yoga but I'm not into the extreme type of workouts.  I have a nice collection of DVD's I used 5 days a week.  I'll admit, some nights, I only have 10 to 15 min to workout so I've got DVD's with workout segments that are that short.  It works well for me.  I would consider a gym but there aren't any close to me.  I think the closest one is about 150 miles away, so I have to make due with the DVD's.

The second component is keeping your brain as active.  I've downloaded a few apps that will help my brain stay active as I age.  I did one last and they said my brain was the age of someone 15 years younger.  Yeah.  I remember reading something years ago that said if we continue to learn and work our brains, we can slow down the onset of Alzheimer or minimize the symptoms.  I love digital devices because you can learn new skills, new languages, play games (I love word games), and do all sorts of things to keep your brain active.

The third component is your soul or ways to keep you centered and feeling whole.  I love sitting quietly outside on the porch just soaking in the serenity of the surroundings.  In winter, I love looking at photos such as the one here.  It helps me shut out the noisy demanding world and lets me rest my weary soul so I can recharge my batteries.  Sometimes I just put on the music I love, close my eyes and picture myself somewhere else.  I know some people who use meditation or yoga techniques to help them calm their souls and find peace.  It doesn't matter what we do as long as we give ourselves that break.

If we do not spend time making sure all three parts of ourselves are taken care of, we will find ourselves unbalanced, stressed out, and always feeling as if we are knotted.  Remember that we are our number one concern and we sometimes need to say no.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Cookie, Pastries, SweetTis the season to bake cookies, more cookies than you ever make at one time.  A time to make everyone's favorites to share with visitors and neighbors.

I usually make shortbread and pecan shortbread from scratch.  I love using butter and powdered sugar to make the cookie richer and smoother.  For pecan shortbread, I chop pecans into tiny pieces and add them to the flour before I cut in the butter.  I've used several different recipes from the United Kingdom and they all work out well.  Granulated sugar makes the cookies too grainy for my taste.

A family member makes Mint Surprise Cookies.  They look like the cookies with the chocolate kisses but the chocolate is in the middle so when you bit into the cookie, the mint chocolate flavor seeps into your mouth.  It is best warm while the chocolate is still cool enough to eat and still be gooey.  These are fun to make.    If you use the toll house cookie recipe without the chocolate chip cookies, its really close.  When assembling the cookies, take two small pieces of dough and slide a mint chocolate candy disk between them.  Make sure you can't see the disk and then bake.   I get the candy from Michaels.

I found this recipe for Chocolate Candy Cane Crunch Cookies that sound absolutely mouth watering by Rebecca at the Strength and Sunshine blog.  They look so awesome I plan to try them when I visit my parents house at Christmas time.  The best thing is that the cookies are gluten free.  I have a member of the family who is allergic to wheat and I've had trouble finding gluten free recipes that look really good.  I  may make them tomorrow. The same web site has 12 cookie recipes that are labeled vegan and gluten free.  I am going to have to try the cookies based on the pictures.

My mother always makes some wonderful chocolate chip cookies with lots of ooey gooey chocolate and crunchy nuts.  She often has grandchildren and now great grandchildren help her make them so they can take some home.  They love that she is the cookie grandmother/great grandmother.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Walking and Rolling

Last night I was over at the school, standing in the hallway, and the first of many little girls slid by.  Yes I did write slid.  They wore what looked like regular shoes but they moved along as if they had skates on.  I'm sure you've seen them but I haven't.

Roller Skates, Rollerblades, Roll SkatesI remember my first pair of skates.  I don't remember who I inherited them from but they were the ones you adjusted,  clamped on the bottom of your shoes and had a couple straps to help keep them on.  I wanted one of the types that professional's wore.  The ones that were black or white and looked like ice skates but with wheels.  They laced up to the calf and looked so beautiful but cost too much to afford.

In high school, I liked going over to the roller rink when I could.  It was a great way to spend an evening and meet boys.  I actually was accidentally tripped by a guy and had a nice evening chatting with him. 

Skates have been evolving.   At one point, skates went from four wheels arranged much like the base of a car to being arranged in a line which lead to inline skating.  If I remember, that lead to a lot of accidents and the recommendation of wearing a helmet and both knee pads and elbow pads to protect oneself.  Most of my friends ignored the advice.  The knee pads were great for protecting your knees during volleyball games.

Now they've apparently evolved into regular shoes with a couple of wheels so that the kid can roll along the floor.  They don't actually skate but they do roll.  Honestly, I don't know how they work so I did a quick search.  The wheel is in the heel and all the wearer has to do is shift their weight from the ball of the foot to the heel and voila!  Most of the shoes I've seen have a single wheel.

What I didn't know is that the original version has a removable wheel that can be popped in an out of the heel.  The shoes that have retractable wheels are cheaper knockoffs of the original ones and can have up two to four wheels. 

Now I know why the kids slide the way they do across the floor.  I did read that there is the possibility that the wheels can mark the floor and are prohibited Would I try them?  I doubt it because I am such a klutz when it comes to things like that.  Furthermore, the school is the only place with a smooth enough surface to use them.  The rest of the town has dirt roads and wooden boardwalks and right now, everything is covered with snow.  You can't use them.  Don't even suggest they use the local store because the stores are no bigger than a 7-11 and resemble the old fashioned general store which are stuffed to the gills with goods.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Crispy, Crunchy, and Glittery

Winter, Snow, Nature
  This morning was beautiful.  I came out of the house and out in front of my porch lay the freshly fallen snow.  The light from the porch picked up the glittery snow spread across the ground. 

When I first moved to a snowy climate, I'd wonder why people dropped diamonds in the snow but no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find them. Some kids say that the sparkles are stars that fell into the snow and still shine.  I like that description.

This morning,  I headed off to work.  I got to walk across the snow and my foot prints were the first ones there.  As I walked, the snow crunched much like Rice Crispies sound when you pour milk on them.  Did you know you can tell how cold it is by the pitch of the snow as you walk on it? The higher the pitch, the colder the temperature. 

I love being the first one to walk on the snow.  You know the snow is fluffy and light.  Unfortunately, the sparkles disappear when the sun comes up.  Unfortunately, the photos I take never show the true beauty of the picture. 

Did you know that the type of snow depends on the temperature?  You don't usually get the glittery snow when its really, really cold.  You also don't get it when its just around freezing, its got to be far enough freezing to get the medium sized flakes and it can't be too humid or the flakes are heavy and wet.  This snow when it ends up on my porch can easily be swept off onto the road in front of my house.  That is the best type of snow to have to move. 

<smiles>  Hope you all have a good weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Running Away

  After several days of extreme cold, wind, power failures, frozen pipes and the chance of possible frostbite, I had to find a nice warm place to imagine myself.  You don't know cold till you look out the window and see the cold air just sitting close to the ground.  Its not quite foggy but you can just tell.  So to keep from being discouraged, I think of running away to warmth.

Beach, Sea, Water, Blue, SandWhere else do you run but to somewhere tropical?  Somewhere with a white sandy beach where gentle waves lap the land.  Wait, why do we always have to have white sandy beaches?  Not all beaches are white.  I've seen many, especially those on the big island of Hawaii that are a beautiful black.

The black sand beaches I've walked on feel much the same as regular sand and when its wet, it sticks just as well.  But seriously, where do you go if you can't leave home.  If I need the real warmth, I love to go to a sauna and just enjoy the heat.  Have you ever been in a hot steamy room where you sweat the dead skin off and your body is all lightly flushed from the heat?  I have and it feels so good.

The process out here is that you go to a nice hot sauna and enjoy some conversation while you warm up.  Once everyone is ready, someone pours water over the hot rocks and fills the room with steam.  You sit there till you can't stand it anymore and then slide down so you are laying on the floor, counting the minutes while trying hard not to be the first one out.   When you can't stand it anymore, you run out into the dressing room where you cool off, drink liquid and talk.   We talk about anything and everything.  Its the equivalent to a coffee klatch

Once you are cool enough, you go back in and repeat the process.  A typical steam can take anywhere from two to four hours depending on things. At the end, you wash your body and your hair using a bowl or dish pan so you are squeaky clean. I have gotten done, gone home and poured myself into bed.  The next morning I got up feeling groggy and stumbled into work.  They refer to that as a "Sauna Hangover" but it is worth it.  At the end, your core is warm and you feel sooooooo good.