Monday, October 31, 2016

10 Interesting Facts about Halloween

Pumpkins, Hokkaido, Autumn, October Happy Halloween to everyone.  I hope it turns out to go well for you.  I live in a place where the city council dictates the hours that children may go around trick or treating so by 8 PM, we are done. 

Every year, a new movie or two comes out with the Halloween theme and school set up carnivals, dances, or other events but what do you really know about it.

This is not a history of the holiday since its changed so much over time.  Instead, I'm looking at cool facts on the celebration.

1.  There is a $1000 fine if you decide to spray silly string around in Hollywood California.  The law hit the books in 2004 when thousands of people decided to spray it all over the place.

2. Dressing up originated a very long time ago when Celts wore costumes and masks so they could confuse and hide from evil spirits.

3. The term Halloween comes from the Catholic Church.  They have a 3 day celebration, Hallow mass, where people pray for the saints and those who have passed. Over the years it changed from Hallow's eve to Halloween.

4.  Originally, they carved turnips not pumpkins because this particular tradition began in Europe where they did not have pumpkins.  When the Irish came over in the 1800's, they brought this tradition with them but since they could not find the turnips, they used pumpkins.

5. Many of the symbols associated with Halloween such as spiders, black cats, etc came about due to a historical association with witches.

6. A full moon on Halloween is extremely rare.  The last one was in 2001 and the next one is scheduled in 2020.

7. The tradition of trick or treating has been around since medieval times when it was called "guising".  Children and poor dressed in costumes would go around asking for food or money in exchange for songs or prayers.  It was also called "souling".  This tradition came to the US with the Irish.

8.  Trick or Treating was suspended in World War II due to sugar being rationed.  It came back after the war in 1947 when several radio shows helped re-popularize the tradition.

9. Halloween is the second most popular holiday behind Christmas.

10. The most filmed Halloween character is Dracula.

I hope you enjoyed these facts and I hope each and everyone of you has a great Halloween.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Top Ten Health Benefits of Paddle Boarding.

Easter, Paddle Board, Adventure, Mammal The last few times I've visited Hawaii, I saw more and more people on paddle boards.  No I'm not a paddle boarding type person.  I prefer swimming and just lazing in the water but I have friends who love to do anything with a paddle board or a surf board.

It appears that paddle boarding has been around in one form or another for a very long time.  They've found records of this type of thing in Africa, Peru but the modern version has its roots in Hawaii.

Back in the 1940's several of the well known surfers would stand on their boards with paddles so they could check out waves and other surfers.  Sometimes, they might steer their board with the paddles.  In the early 1900's the life guards in Israel have used a version of the board with a double paddle to go out to rescue people.

If you go a bit further back, you'll find a photographic record from 1886 of a man standing on a board paddling through the marshes in the United Kingdom.  This is the first photographic record of paddle boarding.

In 2003, a standup division was added to one of the surfing contests in Hawaii.  Over 50 participants registered and competed.  In 2004, this sport migrated to California where it took off like wild fire. It wasn't until 2008 when the Coast Guard classified the boards as vessels just like kayaks and canoes, that the paddle board became fully accepted.

In 2009, paddle boarding was the fastest growing sport in North America.  The 35 to 44 age group has the most people who enjoy paddle boarding of all age groups.  Brazil had one year where the number of paddle boarders increased by over 500%

Paddle boards provide some very specific health benefits while providing the user with a fun time. 

1.  Paddle boards improve balance because you are standing up on the board.  It requires you to make constant corrections so are working on using your core muscles to provide stability.

2. This activity requires the use of almost every muscle in your body so you get a full body workout while on the board. 

3.  It is low impact so it will not cause damage in the same way as other forms of exercise.

4. It helps reduce stress due to the soothing sounds and rocking of water be it the ocean or a lake.

5. Paddle boarding builds strength due to paddling and standing.

6.  This activity provides you with a great cardio workout.

7.  It can be used to help people build strength and cardio as they recover from certain injuries.

8. Paddle boarding can increase your endurance so you can go farther as time passes.

9. Due to the nature of this activity, you improve your cardiovascular health.

10. Finally, it allows you to enjoy time in nature.

Will I ever learn to paddle board?  I doubt it. I spent time trying to learn to stand on a surfboard growing up and I never managed to get the hang of standing on one.  I spent more time off the board than on.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The 10 Most Expensive Perfumes In The World.

Perfume, Bottle, Glass, Cosmetics  Yesterday, I wrote about what makes certain perfumes more expensive than others.  Today, I'm exploring the 10 most expensive perfumes in the world.  I already know that some of them will have diamonds in them but what which ones fall into this category?

10.  Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien is at the bottom of the list costing a mere $441 per ounce.  It has been around since 1981 when it was launched as a perfume for both men and women.  Its fruity scent has lemon, orange, grapefruit, citrus and other ingredients but it is actually sold in a bottle that runs $1500 for 3.4 ml

9. JAR Bolt of Lightening is a bit more expensive at $765 per ounce.  JAR is the initials for the jeweler who created this scent.  Although it is marketed as having the scent of the air after a lightening strike it is actually more of an oriental fragrance for women.

8. Joy by Jean Patou for $800 an ounce.  This scent was created back in 1929 for the French couture Jean Patou but it was launched for the public in 1936.  It was designed to lift people's spirit during the depression and became extremely popular.  This is the perfume, I mentioned yesterday that used jasmine flowers and rose petals.

7. Caron Poivre costs $1000 per ounce. This perfume was released in 1954 as a unisex perfume which could be worn by either males or females.  It is a limited edition perfume sold in Baccarat crystal with a white gold collar.  It has a spicy and peppery scent.

6.  Hermes 24 Faubourg for only $1500 per ounce.  This is a limited edition perfume by a company who manufactured only 1000 bottles total when it was released in 1995.  The soft curvy bottle is made of St. Louis crystal.

5. Clive Christian #1 sells for $2150 per ounce.  It comes in two scents, the woody oriental for men or the floral oriental for women.  The bottle is made of lead crystal with a 1/3rd carat diamond on the neck.

4. Chanel Grand Exhibit can be had for $4200 per ounce.  This version is the rarest, purest version of Chanel # 5 making it a very limited edition scent.  Each bottle is created using molds so each bottle is unique and very few are created each year.

3. Baccarat Les Larmes Sacrees de Thebes sells for $6800 for each ounce.  The scent is bottled in a pyramid shaped Baccarat crystal.  This was one of three limited edition scents launched in 1998.  This one is the least produced of the three.  It uses amber, jasmine, rose, and other expensive ingredients.

2. Clive Christian #1 Imperial Majesty perfume costs over $12,000 per ounce.  Only 10 bottles were ever released in 2005 so it is super expensive and super rare.  Each bottle contains 16.9 ounces so the bottle costs over $200,000 which is why its so rare and expensive.

1. DKNY Golden Delicious Million Dollar Fragrance Bottle for $1,000,000.  It is a golden apple shaped bottle made of 14 carat yellow and white gold with 183 yellow sapphires, 2,700 white diamonds, and so many other precious jewels.  The 2909 precious jewels recreate the New York City skyline. This was auctioned off and the proceeds went to charity.

Wow is all I can say. I'll stick with my cheap stuff and enjoy the scents that I love most.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Why Are Some Perfumes More Expensive?

Still Life, Roses, Perfume  When my mother was growing up, she was told that a women was never completely dressed until she spritzed herself with a bit of perfume.  By the time, I was at an age, I might have started wearing it, she no longer wore it and I discovered most scents were not particularly appealing.

I've seen perfume in those duty free shops at the airport and wondered why some cost so much more than others.  Some can cost a thousand dollars an ounce while others are only a hundred or so.  

The cost of the perfume depends on three factors.

1.  Does the perfume contain any rare ingredients?  Does it contain the oils of a flower, root, three, or musk from an animal?  Some of these can be quite pricey to make so these can increase the cost. It could be the perfume uses a synthetic ingredient that is hard to make so it costs more.  The perfume might use something from a flower that blooms once a year so the flower is quite scarce. 

One of the perfumes from the 1930's that claimed to be the most expensive in the world, used 10,600 jasmine flowers and 28 dozen roses to make one bottle.  It takes 8,000 jasmine flowers to produce 1/25th ounce of oil.  Other expensive ingredients include the Bulgarian Rose, oud, ambergris, and orris.

 Oud is a resin produced when a wood was infected with a mold and is known as "liquid gold".  On the other hand ambergris is collected from remains found on the beach and was originally from the intestine of the sperm whale.  Then there is orris which is the dried rhizomes from the iris plant.  If a perfume has 15% or more of these ingredients in it, it is going to cost more.

2.  The cost of marketing can cause the price to rise especially if the company has to hire celebrities to sell a hard to sell fragrance to the public.  Other ways the cost goes up is if the company only creates a limited number of bottles.  Some people will buy one of the limited run for bragging rights, much like purchasing a limited run piece of art or wine.

3. The final factor is packaging.  Perfumers know if they want to sell their product, they have to create a beautiful package.  Some of the most expensive perfumes in the world come in crystal bottles made in France. Some even have diamonds in them.

It is often hard to know if you are paying for expensive ingredients, marketing, or packaging.  Do you have a favorite perfume?  Occasionally, I wear something I buy in Hawaii because I love the floral scents but only a very small bottle because it is more likely to evaporate before I use it up......LOL.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

9 Uses for Nut Shells

Almonds, Nuts, Hazelnuts, Mixed Nuts  Around Christmas time, someone in the family always sends me those gift pages with mixed nuts.  I enjoy eating them but I'm not always sure what to do with the shells.  Yesterday I wrote on ways to use peanut shells.  Today, I'm looking at ways to use other nut shells.

Some are harder to do at home but are still possible while others are quite easy.  Many of the suggestions are aimed at one type of nut while others apply to all types of nuts.

1.  A cheese company in Oregon burn hazelnuts to smoke certain blue cheeses.  I wonder how this type of smoke would work with fish or jerkys?

2. Place the nut shells in the bottom of the flower pot under the soil to improve drainage. 

3.  Use pistachio shells to create brooches.

4. Grind the shells to a course mix before adding to a homemade soap or face/body scrub.

5. Crushed walnut shells can be used to polish jump ring and chain maille pieces.

6. Use a mixture of crushed shells as a landscaping material or use as a mulch in the vegetable garden.

7.  Create tea candles by pouring the soy wax into walnut shells.

8.  Dig crushed shells into the soil of house plants and your garden to enrich them.

9.  Add finely ground nuts to resin to create figurines.  If the figurines are stained or painted, they resemble wood.

So many possibilities so you are not throwing the nuts out.  Let me know what you think.

Monday, October 24, 2016

6 Uses for Peanut Shells

Peanuts, Healthy, Shell, Delicious  There are times at the end of a party when I've got a ton of peanut shells to clean up.  I am the type who hates to waste anything that I could compost or use for something else.  Here in Alaska, composting can be done but it slows down significantly in the winter when everything freezes solid for several months.

So what are some ways to use those shells when you've enjoyed all the nuts? 

1.  The most obvious is to compost the shells.  It is recommended you grind them up a bit to help them break down further and help release the nitrogen.  Peanut shells are classified as brown material for he compost pile.

2.  It can be used as a mulch around the garden.  There is a warning floating around the internet that one should not use peanut shells for mulch in the South due to possible blight but I've heard people have successfully used it.

3. Create your own kitty litter by soaking these shells, adding some biodegradable dish soap, and letting them dry before adding some baking soda.  If nothing else, this makes a great emergency kitty litter.

4. Use them instead of the Styrofoam peanuts when you need to pack something so its well protected during transit.

5.  Instead of salt use peanut shells on icy walks and steps to make it easier to walk.

6.  Peanut shells used to start fires and they turn into charcoal so if pressed, they could replace briquettes.

So if you end up with a bunch of left over peanut shells, think of putting them to use in one of the above ways.  Let me know what you think!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Where Does Fat Go?

Push Ups, Exercise, Fitness, Workout  I try to exercise every day and I manage it most days of the week. At work, they even started a group workout session two days a week after work but that one is extremely intimidating. We look like a group of uncoordinated misfits trying to get in shape.  it was the DVD, not us but still.

The girl leading an aerobic workout stated on a DVD that we loose most of our fat when we exhale but it doesn't sound right to me because of what they told me growing up.

I was taught that the fat is released into the blood system where it is absorbed and used for energy by muscles yet a recent study done by the British Medical Journal claims that 84% of the fat you loose is released from the body when you exhale.  Another 16% is released through sweat and urine.

Apparently a gentleman in Australia lost 33 pounds and wondered where all the fat went.  That is quite a lot of weight to loose.  So he teamed up with a researcher at the University of New South Wales to find an answer to that question.  After quite a bit of research it was determined that fat mixes with oxygen to create carbon dioxide and water.  So when you exhale, 84 % is in that breath, while 16% leaves via your sweat glands.

A bit of background information. When the body stores fat in the body it is stored in the form of triglycerides which are made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, the three molecules needed to create carbon dioxide and water expelled by the body.  So when you loose weight, your body is breaking down this fat and eliminating it from the body.

This study was published in 2014, so the information is still new enough that many doctors, biochemists, trainers, and nutritionists are not aware of this information yet.

Yes, triglycerides should sound familiar.  You hear about them in regard to heart disease.  If your triglyceride rate is too high, it could signal a potential stroke.  So if you need to lower your triglycerides, increase your aerobic exercise so you can break it down in your body and exhale it every time you exhale.

It is an interesting relationship.  Give it a shot and enjoy yourself.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Metabolism - Fact or Fiction

Physiotherapy, Weight Training, Dumbbell  Have you wondered how much you hear about metabolism is true?  I've often wondered myself so I'm checking into the topic to find out the truth.  I've always heard metabolism slows down around 30 and you will gain weight no matter what you do. 

Based on personal experience, it is not true for me because I weigh less than than I did when I graduated from high school.  For others, it is true so what do official groups say about it.

To start with, metabolism is basically the rate at which our bodies convert the food we eat into energy used by our bodies.  There is this myth out that we cannot change this rate at all but that is not quite true.

Genetics does help determine metabolic rate but we can do things to encourage better metabolism.  One way is to create more lean muscle in our bodies because muscle burns more calories per hour than fat.  This means if you work to turn the fat into muscle, you'll improve your metabolic rate. 

Although muscle mass does decrease with age, there are things that can be done to slow it down.  For instance, if you add hand weights to your work out you can slow down the decrease so as to help your metabolic rate.

There is a general belief that if you eat after 8PM at night you will gain weight but that is not exactly true.  It depends on what you eat that will make the difference.  If you eat healthy foods, there shouldn't be a problem unless you eat way more calories than you consume.  However, if you eat lots of chips, soda, and other such snacks, you will be likely to gain weight.  Remember, its what and how much you eat at a time that will determine weight gain.

Unfortunately, people believe if you eat a very low calorie diet and skip meals with the idea that you'll jump start your metabolism, it won't work.  By doing this, you are sending signals to your body that you are unable to provide enough calories for your body and it will start making changes so it does the same functions using fewer calories.  You could easily end up gaining weight.

Researchers have discovered if you do not get enough sleep per night, your metabolic rate slows down and its easy to gain weight.  So make sure you get enough sleep every night.

So if you exercise, use weights, eat healthy, watch the amounts you eat and sleep well, you can help keep your metabolism functioning and stay well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Drones Are Happening Now!

Quadrocopter, Camera, Drone, Fly, Robot  I just saw this cool You Tube Video on the O'Reilly website on drones.  No it was not on any type of military use, nor was it on an engineering use.  It was on a humanitarian use.

Zipline has just started operating a drone delivery service in Rwanda, an African Country, with bad roads which cause delivery to take hours or days.  These drones are delivering blood, plasma, and coagulants to hospitals at a cost that makes it quite economical. 

The drone is launched with the product.  It flies using satellite navigation to the hospital, drops the blood or other item attached to a parachute and returns home.  The flying time can take 15 to 30 minutes instead of say 4 hours.  In the rainy season the time to get blood to a hospital can increase drastically because of terrain and lack of paved roads.

These drones resemble planes so they have a cargo hold.  They are launched using a catapult.  Once they are in they air, they provide their own power and currently fly up to 93 miles away.  They fly at a height of below 500 feet so they do not interfere with normal air traffic.

You are probably wondering why this is so impressive.  If you stop to think that hospitals use around 65,000 units of blood per year on postpartum bleeding, children, and others, it will save lives.  About 50% of the blood is used to help women who suffer from postpartum bleeding.  The hospital can call in an order of bleed and it is immediately sent.

Unfortunately, hospitals cannot order huge amounts of blood due to it having a definite shelf life.  This way, hospitals can have their usual supplies and order in more as necessary.  In fact, the cost to the hospital is no more than that of having it delivered by road.  So this way does not increase the cost at all.

In addition, because the drones do not land, there is no need to set up any special launching equipment.  Furthermore, these drones are in constant communication with Rwanda Air Traffic control apprising them of their current location.

Once this system proves its worth, I would not be surprised to see it used in other parts of Africa and the world who need a faster system than road. 

Because I'm a technology geek, I think this is soooo cool.  What do you think? 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When Does Teasing Become Bullying?

Bully, Bullying, Boys One of the biggest issues at the local school is when one student sees his or her actions as teasing while to another it looks as if the student if bullying.  When does teasing become bullying?

I use the line of if the student being teased says stop it and the perpetrator does not, to me that is teasing but it turns out its more.  If the teasing embarrasses, alienates, or criticizes, it has just crossed the line into bullying.

The thing about teasing is that it can be done in a gentle positive manner or it can turn nasty and cruel.  Unfortunately, it is the classification many bullies hide behind by claiming they were only joking.  It it hurts someone, it is not teasing. 

Some people claim teasing is not bullying but if it is being done to be hurtful, it does become bullying.  Its a form of verbal bullying designed to tear down the victim and make the instigator look better.  It can involve name calling, sexual harassment, and taunting.  This is the form of bullying that carries over into texting, emails, and websites.  It can be a very powerful and hurtful form.

Even Psychology Today weighs in on the topic.  Psychologically, teasing is not that bad and can be positive, neutral, or negative but it really depends on how the person being teased responds.  If they laugh, everyone thinks its a joke but if they get angry, others might continue teasing to get the same type of response.  It is classified as bullying when the bully refuses to accept his victim shrugs it off as a joke and continues the comments.

The article goes on to explain that boys often use teasing as a way of establishing pecking order and for girls the teasing occurs more within groups whose stability can change rapidly.  Even with this psychological explanation, I am going to stick with the idea that if the teasing is hurtful and happens repeatedly, it is bullying. I will also consider it bullying if I see it as one person or group picking on anther repeatedly.

I know the program they give at the local school looks at the more prevalent forms of bullying and ignores the subtle distinctions of teasing and bullying.  I'm not even sure that is a part of the standard education. 

 What do you think about this topic?   I would love to hear back from readers on what you think.

Monday, October 17, 2016

11 Cool Uses for Used Coffee Grounds.

Coffee, Coffee Ground, Food, Beverage  What do you do with your used coffee grounds once  you've finished brewing your coffee?  Do you throw them away all nice and moldy?  Or do you use them around the house?

My mother just tosses them in the trash but it seems such a waste when they could be reused in another capacity.  I've got just the thing for you.  Check the following list to see if any of these ideas strike your fance.

1.  Take the grounds, put them in a bowl, and slide the bowl into the fridge or freezer to help eliminate those funny odors.  You know the smells made by those green science fair projects.

2. Use a few teaspoons of grounds on a thin cloth to help remove grease and grime.  Be sure to rinse well.

3. If you want your stationary to have that antique look, just dip the paper in a mix of grounds and water for a minute or two, dry, and brush the grounds off.

4. Placing a ring of coffee grounds around the edge of plants to protect them from ants and slugs.

5. Coffee grounds can be used to acidify the soil.  If dug in the ground around mop head hydrangea, they can help the plants absorb aluminum which helps the flowers' blue color.

6. If you sprinkle the damp grounds on fireplace ashes, it cuts down on the amount of dust created when the ashes are swept up.

7. If you rub a scoop of grounds between your hands, its can make them softer and help eliminate odors from fish, garlic, and other smelly foods.

8. If you place an inch or two of moistened grounds in a can or jar and then  extra sticky double sided tape around the top, you have a cockroach trap.  Cockroaches love the smell of coffee.

9.  Throw them in the compost heap because they are great green matter, rich in nitrogen.

10. Mix your carrot seeds with dried coffee grounds to give them a boost when planted.   It helps produce larger carrots and keep the pests away.

11. If you rub it into your pets fur between washing and rinsing, it can get rid of fleas, keeping your pet nice and healthy.

There are lots of other uses from cleaning your face to unclogging sinks.  If you wonder about any of these, do a quick search and have fun.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Did You Know This About Coffee Creamer?

Coffee Table, Dessert, Eaten Up, Finish  I don't know about you but where I work, they have a huge container of powdered coffee creamer while some folks have their private stash of their favorite flavored liquid coffee creamer.  My mother sticks to her milk but I've always wondered what coffee creamer actually is.  Before that though, did you know coffee creamer in one form or another has been around since the mid 19th century?

It first appeared in France as an evaporated milk product.  By the 1860's it was being used world wide.  In 1952, "Pream" a dairy based creamer consisting of dried cream and sugar .  Unfortunately this product did not dissolve well in liquids.  In the early 1950's scientists began experimenting with non-dairy versions.  In 1958, Carnation marketed the first easily dissolving coffee creamer.  You know it - Coffee Mate.

Coffee creamers in general are not healthy because they are made of oils or fats (often hydrogenated), sweetner, and other ingredients such as stabilizers.  Although it does not have much transfat in it, if you drink it in several cups a day it will add up and could increase your risks for certain things.

Coffee creamers are used in ways you'd never think of.  For instance, it is found in ice cream production, in seasonings, in instant cereal and powdered drinks, along with instant noodles, soups and bakery products. Very mundane but did you know that it is often used in the film industry as fake snow?

Its has some interesting cleaning powers.  If you mix it with water and soak your fabric in it to whiten it.  It is also used to de-foam fishing tanks in the fishing industry.  Wow!

There is one more use for it that makes me rather nervous.  Some varieties of coffee creamer are combustible so Hollywood film techs use it to create explosions because it is a cheap, reliable explosive.

I hope you enjoyed reading about coffee creamer and that you learned something new.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Age of the Super Hero

Super Hero, Captain America, America If you watch T.V. or go to the movies, you know super heroes are taking over. Everywhere you look, you see the Avengers, Super Girl, Batman, Superman, The Flash, The Arrow, and so many more
Its like comic books have come to life and their characters walk the earth but do you know how old some of them are?  I know some are way older than me but how old?  I had to look it up.

Although Superman was created in 1933 by two high school students, he became as we know him in 1938 when they sold the rights to Detective Comics now known as DC comics. They received $130 dollars for their rights and were contracted to continue providing material for the series.

Three years later, Captain America made his first appearance in March 1941 and published by Timely Comic, the predecessor or Marvel Comics. Captain America was created to be the super strong patriotic soldier who smashed through the enemy and give the country hope.  He was the most popular comic during WWII.

Just a few months later in November 1941, the Green Arrow made his appearance in More Fun Comics #73.  Over the years, he's been rich, lost his money, become a streetwise crusader and had other adventures.

Now between Superman and Captain America, Batman made his debut in 1939 as Bat-Man a hyphenated name.  He was different than most superheros because he uses his intellect and physical prowess rather than super powers to win.  In 2015, Batman was listed as number one on the list of 50 of the greatest superheroes in the history of comic books.

The original Flash appeared in 1940.  Apparently the Flash has had four different identities from college student, to forensic scientist, to nephew, to a grandson depending on which series you are reading.  In 1961, the Golden age Flash meets the Silver age Flash, introducing readers to the Multi-verse concept.

If you are one of those who have been watching The Avengers and their offshoots, you'll find some of these characters are much younger.  For instance, The Green Hulk has only been around since 1962 when his duel personality was introduced to the world.  I remember the one command from the movie  "Smash".  It made me laugh.

Thor aka The Mighty Thor made his first appearance in 1962.  Originally, Thor had an identity as Dr. Donald Blake, an American physicist with a bum leg.  His cane changed into his hammer when ever he changed to his superhero identity, not like in the movies.

Iron Man made his first appearance in 1963 but it was not until 1968 that he had his own comic book.  The movies are pretty accurate on his history, just updated to take place in a country we have been fighting now. 

These are pretty much the major super heroes we've seen in the movies and on television recently.  I've never been much of a comic book reader but I've mostly enjoyed the movies and series.  I will say that season 2 of the Flash had some weird twists and turns.  Who do you like best?

I'll talk some more on some of the lesser known heroes in another column.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Apples And Johnny Appleseed.

Apple, Red, Fruit, Ripe, Harvest  I love apples.  I eat them as much as I can.  I prefer them straight as part of my lunch, sometimes dipped in peanut butter but more often I just enjoy them. 

Years ago, I bought my parents an heirloom apple tree.  I don't remember the type but I do remember that just after I gave it to them, they moved from Texas to Washington state where it sat in a shed over the winter and ended up struck by frost.

Dad still planted it and with luck, it grew and blossomed.  Every year, he got a crop of apples in the spring.  When I was in college, I drove to a town a few hours away and brought back  bushels of apples all stashed in the back.  When I got back, I sold the ones I didn't need off to friends, paid for the gas and time, and made a bit of money. 

Do you remember hearing about Johnny Appleseed when you were in school?  I do.  They said he would wander through the west with a pan on his head while wearing a flour sack and pass out apple seeds here and there.  The stories make him sound like a strange old man but that isn't exactly the truth.

Johnny Appleseed's real name was Johnny Chapman.  He was born in Mass during the American Revolutionary War.  He was actually an orchardist and nurseryman.  According to the homestead law, a person could lay claim to land by making it into a permanent homestead.  One way to meet the law, was to plant an orchard of fruit.  He used this law to his advantage by laying claim and planting small tart apples.

These apples were grown for use in making hard cider or apple jack.  This made the apples more valuable than eating ones.  Once these orchards had grown and ready, he'd sell off these tracts of lands to settlers making quite a profit on the deal. When he died at the age of 70, he still owned 1200 acres of land.

He was a vegetarian and animal rights activist due to his religious.  These same beliefs kept him from grafting limbs to his trees which lead to him only planting apple seeds.  He did carry a sack of apple seeds with him as he traveled.

He did not become famous until after his birth and entities like Disney down played his being a businessman.  Furthermore, the prohibition hurt the countries apple orchards when the FBI went into to cut down any trees that could be used to make illegal alcoholic beverages like hard cider.

There is one of his original trees still growing in Nova, Ohio.  He is credited with helping create new varieties because his trees had a chance to grow and adapt to their situations.  It appears it can take up to 15 years to get an apple tree from seed to producing.

Enjoy and remember Johnny Appleseed was a businessman who traveled the frontier making his money. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

5 Ways to Create New Habits

Tea, Tea Cup, Nature, Teapot, Outdoor  We think of habits as bad such as drinking too much or not getting enough exercise but some habit can be good such as regularly exercising, or eating well but sometimes its not the habit but either starting a new habit or changing one that is the problem.

I've recently started microjournaling.  I try to do it ever day but I don't manage.  This is a habit I want.  I stepped back and looked at why I'm not doing it every day and realized I chose a time I am trying to get my evening exercise, fix dinner, and get ready to go back to work.  In other words, its not a great time so I'm going to try to move it to first thing in the morning.

The best ways to build a new habit or change a habit aren't that hard.  They are actually small steps one can easily do.

1.  Set a small goal that is a step towards the overall picture.  For instance, you want to write a book, set a goal of say 500 words per day to make it easier because 500 words is only two pages and that is something anyone can do.  Pretty soon, you have a book of 50,000 words.

2.  Use the if-then method.  Rather than stating a general goal like I will eat better, you might say well rather than buy a hamburger and fries, I'll get a salad with meat.

3. Sometimes its a simple as changing your environment or schedule.  For instance, instead of buying snacks in that handy vending machine, bring some cut up fruit so you have a better choice and are less likely to use the vending machine.

4. Know why you want to make the change.  Were you cholesterol levels a bit higher than they should have been?  Are you getting winded every time you walk from your car to the building?  Its important to know why you want to do this.

5. Its easy to put off fully implementing the habit for a variety of reasons.  The best way around this is to determine where things are breaking down.

I've used several of these myself.  For instance, for my microjournaling, it breaks down to when I try to do it.  I'm going to move it to the mornings on work days beginning today so I do it when I have a bit more time.

I try to exercise every day but I had days it was too hard to work in a regular exercising session so I bought a bunch of 10 minute ones and those are easy to pop in because I can do them while dinner is simmering on the stove.  It was the time issue.  I've tried it first thing in the morning but I hate getting up that much earlier.

I make my lunch and I often make it with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables so I know my lunch is healthy for me.  The thing I need to do is make it right before I go to bed so I have time in the morning for other things.

I hope this helps those of you who want to change habits or create new ones.  Enjoy

Monday, October 10, 2016

Cyber Bullying.

Shakedown, Robbery, Theft, Tax, Money  I watched a rerun of CSI: Cyber, the episode on cyber bullying and it was fascinating.  When I was young, the bullying consisted of one person who threatened people while surrounded by his gang.  If you got mad enough and hit him, he'd leave you alone but this cyber bullying i way more insidious.

The episode I mentioned involved a teenage girl who was being set up to be bullied by her classmates to the point someone set up a "Kill Yourself..... " website where her classmates were encouraged to post nasty messages.  In fact the person who started this all was doing it all for revenge.  The girl's father dumped her a couple months prior.

A grown woman's revenge hurt this girl and her friends turned on her.  When interviewed, they basically said that it wasn't anything big when they spread these rumors or posted to the site.  One of the FBI people stated these kids could be anyone they wanted to be online and because they sat behind a computer or phone, it didn't seem like any big deal.

Cyber bullying is defined as using technology to threaten, harass, embarrass or target another person.  Due to the fact it involves technology, cyber bullying is restricted to teenagers.  If adults are involved it is referred to as cyber stalking or  cyber harassing.

The thing about cyber bullying is that it is not always easy to spot.  If your child shows you a text that is mean or nasty, its easy to see it as cyber bullying but if one child impersonates another, that is not as obvious, nor is posting personal information, photos or videos designed to hurt another.

1. According to one website over 43% of teenagers experience cyber bullying in their lifetime.  That is almost half of all teenagers. 

2.  Teenage girls are more likely to experience cyber bullying (40% compared to 30% for boys).

3. Cyber bullying can lower self worth, increase depression, and make a person feel worthless.

4. Around 60% of overweight students have received mean texts, embarrassing online comments, or nasty e-mails.

5. About 88% of teenagers on line have witnessed others being mean or cruel online.

These are just a few statistics associated with cyber bullying.  If you have teenagers, you might want to visit sites such as this one so you are better equipped to discuss it or to look for signs so you know if your child is being cyber bullied. 

Remember, this new generation sees their texts and written material as nothing serious and may see hurting others as something common that others are doing.  It might be worth a talk on how serious it can be because it can cause teenagers to take their lives.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Beauty of Sweet Peas and 10 fun facts.

Sweet Pea, Lathyrus, Dew, Floral, Plant  I am not much on growing flowers but I have a few favorites.  One is the Sweet Pea due to its beauty and aroma.  Although it looks a lot like green peas you grow in the garden, its seeds are poisonous.

Sweet peas come in dwarf which grow between 8 and 24 inches tall while the regular varieties can reach between 6 and 10 feet tall.

It is strongly suggested that sweet peas be rotated every year and never grown in the same spot twice in a row.  It is best to give 4 years before planting in a previous area.  It is recommended you do not grow sweet peas in any area in which you've grown legumes.

 1. If you eat the seeds, you will develop a disease called Odoratism whose symptoms could be mistaken for scurvy.

2. Up until the mid 1800's there were only 6 colors of the sweet pea available.  More became available as people worked on hybridizing the plant.  One gentleman created so many new colors that 23 are still available today.

3. In the 1930's growers in California shipped railroad cars full of sweet peas east because they were so popular.

4. In 1901, a sweet pea mutation was found which was named Spencer after the Earl of Spencer.  It became quite popular due to its ruffled upper petals and long lower petals.

5. The first recorded appearance of sweet peas was in 1695 but no one is sure whether it was from the wild or found in a garden.

6.  One of the earliest named varieties, the "Cupani" named after Francisco Cupani, can be found in seed catalogues today.

7. Varieties come with or without tendrils.  The taller varieties tend to have tendrils but the dwarf ones do not always have tendrils.  California growers worked on breading sweet peas without tendrils.

8.  The older varieties from the Eckfort line are reputed to be the most fragrant.

9.The name sweet pea is attributed to Keats as having first coined it.

10. Small compact sweet peas referred to as the 'Cupid' type were extremely popular around the early 1900's.

I enjoy the old fashioned ones with the beautiful scent.  They remind me of my grandmother.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mug Cakes

Dish, Roast, Cafe, Table, Slice, Icing  I've seen recipe books for mug cakes but couldn't figure out what they were until I checked on line.  My goodness, they are small cakes microwaved in a cup till done.  No more making a cake for one or two people and hoping you'd get it eaten before it went bad.

I checked out a few recipes and they don't look hard to make.  Just the standard flour, sugar, butter or oil, baking powder, and an egg.  The only difference is that the amount for each ingredient is cut down to just enough to cook in a coffee mug.

In general its between 1/4 and  1/3 cup flour, 1/2 an egg or 1 egg depending,  up to 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 to 2 tbsp of oil or butter,  1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt.  Some recipes have you add chocolate powder (3 tbsp) for a chocolate flavor, perhaps apple sauce or mashed bananas, depending on the flavoring.  I've even seen coffee cake recipes which follow the same basic form but add a crumbly top made of flour, butter, and sugar. 

I've seen recipes that ask you to mix the ingredients in a bowl and then add to the cup while others have you mix it in the cup before baking.  No matter, once its mixed and in the cup, microwave it for 2 min at high.  Keep an eye on it so its not over cooked.  Let set for 15 minutes before eating.

If you want a more specific recipe, do a quick search on the internet where you'll find mouthwatering ones like Nutella mug cake, chocolate orange, chocolate peanut butter, apple cinnamon or even a S'mores mug cake. 

Just imagine having a do it yourself dessert bar with all the ingredients available so people can make their own mug cakes.  Include some gluten free flour for those who need it or have flax, chia, or egg substitute for strict vegans.  You could use small disposable cups if you didn't want to wash all those cups afterwards.

I'm going to have to try a carrot mug cake.  I always have pulp left over after making fresh juice and I could make small mug cakes on demand.  I love adding a bit of pumpkin pie spice to my carrot cake recipe and I top them with a wonderful cream cheese frosting.  The best way is to let the cream cheese soften before adding powdered sugar and a smidgen of vanilla.

Do you have a favorite mug cake you'd like to share?  Please let me know.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Top 10 Most Fragrent Roses.

Red Rose, Rose, Rose Bloom, Blossom  I love planting roses around the house.  Where I live in Alaska, we have tons of wild roses with beautiful scents but most people end up planting roses.  Some choose what ever roses can be found at the local gardening center, some can be ordered in from an on-line place or you might get it at your local grocery store.

The problem is simply that not all roses smell alike.  Some have a great scent that sends you back to your childhood while others are sort of neutral.  If you want the flowers with the best smell, which varieties should you look for?

These 10 roses are considered the flowers with the most intense fragrances in the world.

1.  Memorial Day rose is a beautiful pink hybrid tea rose with a double bloom reaching 5 to 6 inches across.  It is said that one flower can scent a room.  This rose blooms by Memorial Day if you'd like something aromatic by then.

2. Sunsprite is a gorgeous deep yellow rose reaching 2.5 feet tall so it can be grown in a container if desired but the scent is wonderful.  The blossoms are single blooms with 25 to 30 petals per blossom. It is classified as a Florabunda who blooms from late spring to early frost.

3. Secret is a hybrid tea rose whose pink tinged white petals are beautiful.  The blossoms reach 4. 75 inches across and have an intense scent to provide the wonderful rose smell around the house.  Although the plant has mostly single blossoms, they occur in clusters of two to three.

4. Mr Lincoln is a hybrid tea rose whose classic rose scent strikes chords of remembrance.  It is considered the most fragrant rose in the world.  Its deep red, almost violet color comes through on its double 5 to 6 inch across blossoms.

5. Louise Odier is a beautiful bourbon rose.  Its deep pink, double blossom provides a deep intense scent.  You won't see its 3 inch wide blossoms till the beginning of June.

6. The Royal Highness exhibition quality hybrid tea roses produces a 5 to 6 inch soft pink colored blossom. This particular rose grows best in a sunny climate, producing a large pointed buds are seen first before they open into its high centered shape.

7. The grandflora type Fragrant Plum has a lavender colored center deepening to a plum at the edges of the flowers.  The 4 inch double blossoms bloom in June.

8. Heritage, an english rose, is a classic heritage rose.  Its light pink, double blossoms with a perfect cup shape are a delight to have in the garden. In addition, the 3.5 inch blossoms carry a light lemon scent.

9. The florabunda Honey Perfume rose with its apricot yellow double blossoms bloom from spring to autumn releasing a beautiful honey perfume scent to waft across the yard.

10. Finally, Double Delight, a hybrid tea rose whose white center and red edges provides a striking double blossom. This 4 to 6 inch rose is noted for its intense spicy scent.  It is good for both exhitition and cut arrangements.

So if you wish to plant a rose garden for its fragrance rather than only for color, check some of these out because they provide both.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Spare Ribs, Meat, Pork, Food, BarbecueMost everyone uses BBQ sauce at some point in their life, even me!  I choose to skip the meat but that does not mean I avoid BBQ sauce.  I've used it on my tofu when I want to grill it to create a meal I can eat at friends houses.  So what is most BBQ sauce made of?  Tomatoes often in the form of ketchup and spices with something sweet or tangy.

Most recipes start with ketchup, vinegar, sugar - usually brown sugar, and thinned with water.  Its the added ingredients that make the difference.

Personalize it with onions, garlic, chipotle peppers, mustard,  pineapple  juice etc but not all BBQ sauces are made with ketchup.  I found one on the Food Network that is quite different.  Its a Peach - Mustard BBQ sauce with no ketchup.  Its only made with butter, onions, garlic, vinegar, mustard, peach jam, Bourbon, and salt. 

On another site, I found a Teriyaki - Peach BBQ sauce which took the basic ketchup based sauce and added a pureed mixture of peaches, peach juice, teriyaki sauce and powdered ginger to create a unique version.  On the other hand, the Cherry - Chipotle BBQ sauce used a base of ketchup with butter, green onions, garlic, cherries, apple juice, chipotle powder, vinegar, and a bunch of spices all blended in a blender. 

Of course you can make the Dr Pepper BBQ sauce out of ketchup, Dr. Pepper, garlic, onion, brown sugar, vinegar, chili powder, and Worcestershire sauce.  This Mango BBQ sauce has you grilling tomatoes, mangoes, chili peppers, and onion slices before blending them into a liquid mixture and adding a variety of spices.

How about a Strawberry Habanero BBQ sauce made of strawberry jam, limes, soy sauce, habanero hot sauce, ginger, and mint all blended and allowed to rest for 24 hours before using.  If that does not appeal to you, why not try an Apricot Habanero BBQ sauce composed of onion, garlics, yellow sweet pepper, dried apricots, water, habanero hot sauce, vinegar, and mustard.

You might want to give these a try or look for something else that appeals to you.  A quick search on the internet will result in thousands of recipes for you to try.  Enjoy, have fun.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dump Cakes

Muffins, Pans, Filled, Vessels, Tins  I've noticed there are more and more cookbooks being produced on making dump cakes.  I had my first one a couple years ago when someone brought it for dessert at a pot luck.  I really didn't care for it because it had a bit of an after taste .  I suspect the recipe was one with a cake mix and can of lemon lime flavored soda. 

The general description of a dump cake is you dump a box of cake mix, fruit, and liquid, stir, and bake.  I hate using cake mixes because the final product is too fluffy.  I prefer my cake to be a bit heavier with fruit and nuts.  something that sticks to my bones.

I think my mother did something similar but it was more like she made a yellow cake mix up and poured it into a cake pan with brown sugar, and butter on top of slices of pineapple for an upside down cake mix.  She never did anything like that.

I admit some of the recipes I've seen look quite good. What about one made with 1 box chocolate cake, 1 box of chocolate pudding, 8 oz of Reece's mini peanut butter cups and  1 3/4 cup milk.  Bake at 350 till done.

Just a quick search reveals tons of recipes for dump cakes from caramel apple to pineapple coconut to a variety of chocolate cakes but according to an article not all recipes result in a consistent product.  Furthermore, they don't always taste that great.  One combination she mentioned involved a white cake mix with orange soda.  That one holds no appeal at all.  I've never liked orange soda.

The author gave herself a challenge to create a better than average dump cake made from scratch that was just as easy as using the prepackaged ingredients.  She did it.  She created a quick "cake" base, uses butter, fresh or frozen fruit, gives it a shake before baking.  There is a link for making your own yellow cake mix base.  To add some texture to the cake, she suggests using nuts.

After reading her recipe, I'm willing to consider making my own "dump cake" because this is home made and made from reasonably healthy ingredients.  It doesn't use over sweetened fruit, soda pop, or other ingredients I find unhealthy. 

Check it out and let me know what you think.