Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Vitamin D - Do You Need Extra?

Landscape, Scenic, Water, Reflection I've been hearing comments recently that most people do not get enough Vitamin D in their diet.  My doctor recommended I take a supplement, especially during the winter.  Since I started taking it, I no longer get a nasty rash on my inner elbow in the winter.

Vitamin D is referred to as the "Sunshine Vitamin" because its produced in your skin as a response to sunlight so when you are outside in the summer you are producing it.  Up here in Alaska, we are covered from head to toe so we do not get exposed to the sunlight.  I fall into the category of needing to supplement due to lack of exposure.

You may be wondering what's so important about getting enough Vitamin D?  Well aside from aiding in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, it also helps with the immune system, and development of strong teeth and bones.

According to several studies, Vitamin D may reduce your risk of heart disease, risk of multiple sclerosis, and decrease your chances of getting the flu.  In addition, it appears that this vitamin can help regulate moods and decrease the possibility of depression.

It is recommended that you expose your skin to the sun for 10 minutes a day before you apply the sunscreen because that can block your production of Vitamin D.  Furthermore, pollution, being indoors, and living around tall buildings can interfere with Vitamin D production.  This can be helped by eating a diet including salmon, sardines, egg yolks and juices that have been fortified with the vitamin.  If you have darker skin or are older, your body may not be producing as much as you need.

It is recommended you take between 1000 and 2000 mg per day by mouth and if you take too high a does it is possible to have calcium accumulate in the blood which could cause kidney stones. 

I cannot suggest you supplement with this vitamin but if you think you are deficient, see your doctor and check with him or her.  Have a nice day and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Travel Insurance, Do You Really Need It?

Airport, Aircraft, Departure, Travel  If you travel by air a lot, you will notice a place in the check out line asking if you want to spend a certain amount of money to purchase travel insurance.

Travel insurance states it will help get money back if you have to cancel flights, hotels, cars, etc.  I admit, I've never used it and the only time I had to cancel flights due to major medical emergencies, I have not had any problems without it but that was before I left.

There are four things travel insurance can cover.  First is trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage which can cover the cost of the tickets.  Second covers baggage and personal items so if they are stolen or lost, you can get some sort of reimbursement.  Third is emergency medical so if something happens, you'll be taken care of and fourth is accidental death or dismemberment.

It turns out this is not a simple question to answer because there are a lot of factors involved such as:

 1. Is the reason you cancelled your flight due to medical?  If so, many of the airlines will allow you to cancel if you can send a doctor's note.  Some will accept your word for it.

2. Does your credit card cover this particular situation?  Many airline credit cards have travel insurance built in to the benefits so check before you book.

3. Does the insurance only cover what you booked before you leave?  I am one of those folks who often makes reservations after I get to where I'm going because I can find better deals or I figure out my itinerary when I get there.

4. Did you book your hotel through a company that allows for cancellation up to 24 hours in advance with full refund?

5. Do you have health insurance which is accepted where you are going?  If you travel in the country you live in, its usually not much of a problem but if you are going overseas?  Your medical may not work there.

6.  For accidental death or dismemberment, many people already have policies through work so you may not need this.

So how do you decide its worth buying?
1.  Ask yourself how much of a financial disaster it would be if things go amiss.  For instance, if you paid for an expensive travel package overseas, it would probably be good to get it but if its a cheap last minute ticket, probably not.

2. Check out your credit card travel coverage to see what it covers.

3. Find out the cost of travel insurance both through the airlines and through independent companies so as to compare both cost and coverage.

It is recommended to get travel insurance if you:
1. Spend over $5000 on a tour package including cruises.

2. If you have a long and complex itinerary.

3. If you leave the country.

4.  If you are on medicare and leave the country.

Skip it if you are staying with friends rather than hotels, have a pre-existing medical condition not covered by the policy or if you already have coverage.

If you buy travel insurance, it is recommended you get one that has a "cancel for any reason" clause because that allows you to cancel without penalty as long as you cancel within the state period, buy it before you buy your trip, and it covers what other available policies does not. 

Hope this helps you decide if you need travel insurance.  Let me know your thoughts.

Monday, November 28, 2016

11 Ways To Use Coffee In Your Cooking.

Coffee, Cup, Serving, Breakfast, PourWhen I was growing up, there was a friendly argument among my relatives over using instant or brewed coffee when cooking or baking.  My aunt always used her left over coffee that had been left on the burner and was both thick and bitter.  My mother on the other hand preferred instant because that's what she and dad used.

I stayed out of the argument because I don't like coffee flavored anything and I still don't drink it.  I prefer my tea.

So I decided to find out who was right because both women felt like they were right.  My aunt complained my mother's baked goods had too much coffee flavor and my mother said her goods had a bitter flavor without much coffee too it.

Most recipes ask the person to use instant coffee because the water has already been taken out so you only get the coffee flavor and you can control the amount going in.  If you use brewed coffee, it has a fair bit of water and can make it more difficult to have the product come put right.  Its like the difference between using those concentrated bottle flavorings vs using the real thing.

The only brewed coffee that might work with some adjustment is espresso because its flavor is so concentrated to begin with.  I did read of a person who grinds their coffee so its a fine as possible, then brews it triple strength in a french press to use in baking.  She adjusts the added liquid to make up for the liquid in the brewed coffee.

So what are some ways to use coffee in your cooking?

1.  Add coffee to your marinade because it adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat.

2. Mix ground coffee, paprika, and salt together to create a spice rub for pork and other meats. Its possible to use instant coffee instead of the grounds.  You might want to add cocoa to the mix for a bit of added flavor.

3. You can add it to a sauce for the eggs, mix with butter to top pancakes, or make a southern style gravy.

4. Buy a jar of instant espresso and use in baked desserts to finish a great meal. 

5. Make a paste of coffee grounds, brown sugar, and cayanne to marinate your bacon in for a level of added flavor.

6. When you make granola, add some coffee grounds to the mixture before baking for the coffee flavor.

7. For a coffee flavored coffee cake, replace half the liquid with strongly brewed coffee.

8. How about coffee cured tuna for a different but exciting change of pace.  Click to find the recipe.

9.  Make coffee flavored ice cream or pop cycles which use brewed coffee.

10. Throw some ground coffee into your cookies for that added zing.

11. How about pork loins flavored with coffee and cola?  Check out the recipe.

Hope you found something you liked in the list above.  Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Black Friday?

Buying, Customer, Cute, Female, Girl  Have you ever wondered how the day after thanksgiving has become "Black Friday", complete with sales and madness?  I have but up until today, I've never done anything about finding out.  Historically, the term "Black Friday" has referred to several events beginning in 1869 when two people purposely tried to buy up enough gold to cause the price to go up before they sold it at a huge profit.  The scam was discovered but in the process, the stock market took a serious nose dive.

One story on the shopping Black Friday is that the day after thanksgiving is the day when retailers finally start making a profit but this may not be the origin of the phrase.

This particular Friday became known as the kickoff to the holiday season beginning in 1924 when Macy's began their Thanksgiving day parade.  

It is said that this term originated in Philadelphia back in the 1950's when masses of people converged on the town in preparation for the annual Army-Navy Football game played the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  According to accounts of this day, it was total mayhem and absolutely crazy.

People who came in for the games would come early to shop while others came in because this day is the day when Santa made his first appearance in stores. The influx of visitors meant that police officers were unable to get any time off and had to work longer shifts to cover the city due to an increase in crime.  By 1961, this was an annual event in Philly but it wasn't until the 1980's that the term and concept spread nation wide.

As time passed, the event spread to cover 4 days so now it includes Cyber Monday.  In fact, Black Friday now begins the day before Thanksgiving and due to the internet, one does not have to leave your house to take advantage of many of the specials.

Do you head out to the malls or do you shop from the comfort of home?  I shop from the comfort of home because I don't live where there are Black Friday sales but I know people who head out to try to buy that 1 TV on sale for $50 so they are lined up and ready to go at 5 AM. 

Have a good day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Black Friday Sales

The day after thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, is the day of huge sales starting at 5 or 6 AM and designed to make you want to go in to shop.  The problem is that most of us do not know what the best things to shop for.  In other words, they have the best discounts.

We all see those bargains such as the 55 inch big screen television for $130 or a phone for $40 but you need to stop and check things out before buying.  Is that item an off brand or is it last year's model?  So what should you buy that is worth it at this time of year.

1. Appliances are great things to buy.  I'm talking about vacuums, laundry machines such as washers and dryers, dishwashers, and refrigerators.  These large ticket items are usually marked down so you get the best price you'll get all year.

2.  Apple devices are usually on sale with the best buys being found at dealers other than the apple store and you want the last generation, not the current one.

3.  Android or window tablets can be found with good prices, especially if you are interested in a budget tablet or a refurbished one.

4. Although clothing can be marked down on Black Friday, the best time to buy clothing is on Cyber Monday.

5. Television sets can be a very good buy at this time so you need to check it out. 

6. Laptops, both mainstream and budget, tend to be sold at very good prices.

7. Certain game consoles can be great buys.  Look for bundles with software and controllers.

I figure if I see something at a good price and I need it, I'll buy it but I am not getting up to be at a store before the crack of dawn just to get one of two items on extreme sale.  Let me know what you do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Coin, Coins, Money, Savings, A Wealth Of
How often have you said “I don’t have time for that.”  or “I ran out of time.”  or “I couldn’t figure out how to find the time to do it.”?  I’ve said it myself, more times than I care to admit.  I realized the other evening, I am making a choice to do something at a certain time when I may or may not have enough time to do it. 

On days, I have no time in the evening, I can find time in the morning.  A simple choice of changing the time when I write in my journal and I have the time so I get it done rather than feeling guilty when I go a day or two without writing in it. 

It all boils down to choices.  Even when we think we are not making a choice, we do.  We make a choice not to do it. 

Choice is a good word for everything that happens in life.  Every decision, every reaction is based on a choice often made in a split section.  I remember a song I heard once about every second being an intersection where your choice sends you left or right on a different path.

Sometimes our choice is based on thought such as exercising at a certain time of day, or looking for a job in a specific location or even a specific type of job, while other times the choice might be turning left instead of right because we changed our destination.

Many times we do not know what the consequences will be and every choice has a consequence.  I know someone who chose to leave a bit earlier for band, so he was driving into town along a two lane hi-way. Someone had chosen to partake of drugs so they were under the influence at the time and texting when they made the decision to pass. 

In the process of passing a car, they ran into my friend head on.  He survived but was left permanently disabled.  It turns out the other driver was almost to their destination when they chose to pass.  So that one decision left two people severely injured and made it so my friend could not work again in his field.

On the other hand, someone I know made a choice to take a later flight home from Europe so they were not on the flight that crashed in Scotland all those years ago.  They’d originally been booked on that flight but for some reason, moved to a later one.  They lived when others from the company died.  A choice with a good consequence.

I work with high school students.  I use the word choice with them.  I hope to make them understand, they make a choice to complete the work or not.  If they loose their temper, it is a choice they made because they allowed something to trigger their anger.  When they announce they are going to walk out of the classroom, I respond with a comment about it being their choice but please be aware of the consequences.

Just remember, we make the choices every second of every minute of every day and these choices guide us through life.  Have a good day.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thanksgiving is Coming

Turkey, Food, Thanksgiving, DinnerThanksgiving is coming.  We've celebrated it for a very long time but did you ever wonder if it was celebrated in any other countries?  I have but I've never done anything on the thought until today.

The United States has been celebrating it since the first settlers managed to survive their first winter or two.

There are seven other countries who celebrate Thanksgiving or something similar to it. Our nearest neighbor Canada has been celebrating Thanksgiving since 1578.  Originally, it was celebrated on November 6th but in 1957, it was moved to October on the second Monday.  The menu is roughly the same was the one in the United States.

Germany celebrates a fall harvest festival on the first Sunday of October where they give thanks for a good crop and good harvest. In Germany, they are more likely to eat chickens, roosters, or geese.  The big difference with this festival is that it is a religious based one celebrated in both the city and countryside.

Japan celebrates a thanksgiving every November 23rd to celebrate the hard work of its people.  It was created back in 1948 to celebrate the hard work of people in post war Japan.  Today the celebration is lead by the unions but they include crafts for the children and provide gifts for the local police officers.

Grenada has a thanksgiving due to the United States.  Their thanksgiving is celebrated on October 25th to celebrate the United States assistance in restoring order to the country in 1983. At the time, the soldiers stationed there told the people about thanksgiving so the people worked in secret to provide a meal including a turkey and all the goodies.  Today it is celebrated as a remembrance of the occasion. 

Liberia has a thanksgiving celebration due to the freed slaves who returned home.  They brought the tradition with them and now it is celebrated with baskets of food being brought to churches.  These are auctioned off and then everyone returns home to eat.  There is also lots of music and dancing.

The Netherlands celebrates the fact that 40 percent of the people on the Mayflower started out in that country.  England was just a stop over on the trip.  Today, Leiden celebrate with a nondenominational church service on the 4th Thursday of November and offers a nice treat of coffee and cookies after the service.

The Norfolk Islands celebrates Thanksgiving due to American whalers.  Back in the 1890's an American whaler suggested decorating the local church with the idea of attracting whalers to celebrate Thanksgiving.  He died before the next thanksgiving but the locals did it and it became a tradition.

So thanksgiving is not only celebrated in the United States.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

Naming Fashion Colors

Crayons, To Color, Color, Painting  I hate shopping for clothing other than jeans and t-shirts in normal colors.  I see a color and I'm always wrong about its name.  My conversations include comments like this:

"What do you mean its not purple?"
"Eggplant?, That's a food."
"Peach is last season's color?  This is seashell?"
"When did that color change to eggnog from pale yellow?"

I can never keep up with all those color changes. It got me to wonder how they come up with these names.  Names that only the fashionista remember and the rest of us are still on the basics.

It turns out committees not individuals are responsible for naming fashion colors. This committee is made up of 10 people whose identities are kept secret and they meet in Europe twice a year (May and November).  The committee members are not only in fashion but are in other fields as well.

This group decides the up coming shades for a company called Pantone whose only business is the make color and dye samples to be sent all over the world.  This group decides the colors used by various designers.  Since the colors are standardized, manufacturing companies can just ask for certain colors and know exactly what they are getting.

On the other hand, some of the crazy names for nail polish are named by the companies, or perhaps copied from names out there.  The colors are individual rather than via a committee.  I just look until I find the color I want and buy it.

I've gotten to the point where I look at the color, don't ask what its called or call it by some name and go for it.  I hate trying to figure out what the shade is currently called.

Just think about this the next time you see a color with a new name.  Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Star Gazing

Milky Way, Starry Sky, Star, Galaxies  I love the nights when its clear enough to stand out and watch the stars.  Living in Alaska, I seldom see them during the summer because it doesn't get dark enough but beginning in late September or early October, it gets dark enough to enjoy the stars.

I live out in the middle of nowhere so I have no problem with light pollution.  I have beautifully clear skyies but not every is so lucky. I've lived in cities but it was so hard some nights to see the stars but there are some things you can do to make star gazing easier.

1. Find a place in the shadows away from overhead lights so you have less glare and a better chance to see the sky.

2.  Wait for an evening with less dust and low winds because the dust can cause light to be reflected back, making it harder to see the stars.

3. Take a trip into the countryside so there is less light pollution to worry about.

4. Place a shade on your telescope to cut down on the light that way.

5. Cover your head with a dark cloth to prevent the light from affecting your eye.

6. Ask your neighbors to turn off their security lights so it is darker in your area.

7.  Purchase some colored filters which will enhance the planets and cut down on the light pollution.

8. Go out after midnight when the amount of light has reduced due to the decrease in activity.

9.  Purchase specialty filters designed to reduce light pollution.

10. Use a digital camera to take pictures so you can eliminate the pollution digitally.

Yes, I do own a telescope but I haven't really used it much because the best time to watch is in the middle of winter when its really cold and its hard to adjust things with thick gloves.  I need a clear enclosed heated room so I can enjoy viewing the night skies without freezing to death.

Every time I look up and see the clarity of the night sky, I am in awe and thankful I get a chance to see it.  Let me know what you think?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Vegetarian Mushroom Sandwich

The other day I was reading a wonderful cookbook on Banh Mi sandwiches.  In it, I found some nice ideas for marinading meat, mushrooms, and other foods.

I mixed two tablespoons each of Black Chinese vinegar and sweetened soy sauce, with one tablespoon of chopped garlic.  I sliced several button mushrooms into the mixture and cooked it over medium heat until the liquid had mostly disappeared. 

I spread the mix on a toasted bun my neighbor gave me.  I layered sliced tomatoes and avocado over the mix.  I melted a bit of cheese on the other part of the bun before putting it on top of the mixture.

Ohhhh, it was soo delicious.  I want to try this again with sliced tofu marinaded in this mix so it has the flavor.  I might even try it with Portobello mushrooms since these are often used instead of meat.

I wish I'd been able to do justice to describing the flavor but no words can describe the delightful taste exploding on my tongue.  It was just sooooo good that I all I can do is salivate with anticipation of when I can make this again the next time.

I admit, the recipe I gave will only feed one person but its easy to adjust for more people.  Sorry this is so short but I wanted to share one use of Black Chinese Vinegar.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Basalmic Vinegar

Vinegar Jar, Green Glass, Bottle  Yesterday, I looked at vinegar in general and today I'm taking a closer look at Balsamic vinegar because it is fascinating due to having several different grades, much like olive oil.  It can range in price from $3.00 for a 16 ounce bottle to $200 for a bottle of premier vinegar.

As stated yesterday, balsamic vinegar is made in Italy from grapes.  The preparation of the grapes determines its quality. 

At the top, is the traditional balsamic vinegar is only made in one or two places in Italy and is made from crushed grapes including the skins, juice, seeds, and stems.  This mixture is cooked until it has been reduced by half before it is left to ferment for up to three weeks.  At this point, it is further concentrated over a span of 12 years as it moved through a series of barrels made of different woods.

Once a year the contents from the smallest cask are bottled.  The remaining vinegar is moved to the next smaller sized barrel while the largest is filled with fresh liquid. This type of vinegar is labeled as Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale and carries a D.O.P. ("Denominazione di Origine Protetta") stamp.  The stamp is the European Unions assurance this has been made to strict regulations.

The next level down is the Condimento Balsamic.  This vinegar has been made using traditional methods but has not met the strict regulations required for traditional vinegar.  The vinegar in this category may not have been aged 12 years or it might not be made in the two cities designated to make traditional balsamic vinegar.  Unfortunately the condimento term can also be used on lower quality vinegar because it is not a protected designation.

Next is the Balsamic vinegar of Modena I.G.P.  The first balsamic vinegar imported into the United States came from Modena but as it became more popular the demand out stripped the supply and all sorts of balsamic vinegar was imported.  In 2009, the Equropean Union created the I.G.P. designation which guarantees that only certain grapes are used in the making of this particular vinegar.  In addition, the grapes can be from anywhere but they must be processed in Modena, Italy.

This vinegar is not fermented but is cooked in pressurized vats and aged a minimum of 2 months in wooden vats.  The acidity level of 6% is created by adding wine vinegar to it.  The last grade is imitation balsamic vinegar which is often made of colored and sweetened vinegar. The vinegar used might be wine, white, or apple cider vinegar that is processed so it resembles balsamic vinegar. 

The easiest way to tell what you have is by reading the ingredients list.  If it is the best, it will list grape must, if its medium, it will have grape must and wine vinegar, if its the lowest, it will not list the grape must.

So next time you go shopping you know what you are buying.  Just know the better quality it is, the more you'll pay for it.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Types of Vinegar

Vinegar Fermentation, Glass Bottle  I decided to look at vinegar today because a friend just sent me a bottle of Chinese black vinegar.  No, I'm not sure what it is but I know its used in Asian cooking.

Chinese black vinegar is made out of glutenous rice and malt so its much darker than apple cider.  It is similar to a balsamic vinegar.  It comes from the Chinkiang Province and is traditionally used in Sharks Fin soup.

Since I mentioned Balsamic vinegar, I'm checking it out next because I really like it in my salad dressings.  It has a much better flavor than regular cider vinegar.  The original balsamic vinegar is made in Italy from the whole pressed grape including the skin, seeds, juice and stems, fermented and bottled.  There are more than one type so this will be covered in tomorrow's column.

I use a lot of rice wine vinegar which is made by fermenting the sugars in the rice into alcohol before  turning it into vinegar.  Compared to distilled vinegar, rice wine vinegar has a much milder and sweeter flavor.

If you are into Fish and Chips, you are aware of malt vinegar which is made from malted barley which has been brewed into an ale and allowed to turn into vinegar. 

Then there is red or white wine vinegar is vinegar made out of red or white wine and is often used by the french in their cooking.  The wine is allowed to ferment until it has turned sour and bottled for use.  Sometimes it is aged so the flavor becomes better before being bottled.  

Apple cider vinegar is made from apple juice which has been fermented twice to create the vinegar.  The process uses both yeast and bacteria to create vinegar as we know it.  On the other hand, white or distilled vinegar is made from fermented distilled alcohol.  

There are tons of other types of vinegar but these are the main ones. Tomorrow, I'm focusing on balsamic vinegar because it is graded according to the process used to make it.  Have a good evening.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


It snowed yesterday with a cold wind that pierced your bones.  On days like that, I want it to be spring.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Magic Lives

Pink Peony, Flower, Peony, Pink, Floral  When I was a little girl, I would watch reruns of "Bewitched".  I loved the way the woman would twitch her nose to make things happen.  It was fun watching her say a few words and someone would disappear.  I wanted that power to send my sister off to the park when she irritated me.

When I got older, I realized it was all created for television and totally fake.  It was fun watching televised specials with magicians who do those ingredible tricks.  The ones where they made a jet disappear or a building appear.

Recently, I've come to realize we have a world filled with magic.  Its not the hand waving type or the huge televised things, its the small naturally occuring ones.  Think about this:

At the end of winter, was the snow melts, we see small grape hyacinth peek up through the small holes and begin blooming.  A beautiful purple against the glaring white of the snow.  To me, its a magical moment because its still cold out.  Or what about the tree's when they bud because its warming up and the sap is flowing.

Every winter, many places get cold enough, plants go dormant till spring.  It is so mind blowing in the spring to see the plants wake up and color unfold replacing the white with a cornucopia of color.  Then in late summer, early fall, many of these same plants have fruit and vegetables which ripen.  Have you had a fresh tomato or an apple, straight from the plant while its still warm having been kissed by the sun?

My mouth is drooling thinking about that.  The fragrance just wraps itself around your senses whisking you to somewhere else.  I have a friend who when she visits family in Arizona, she goes out to pick a fresh peach.  She described the magic of one and how it is so different from what is found at the grocery store.  As she spoke, her eyes were closed while she licked her lips in anticipation.

Have you ever picked an ear of corn straight off the stalk?  Its so juicy you could almost enjoy it without cooking.  A child I know, picked the families first ear of corn and ate it before anyone knew it was ready.

What about those moments where you see a wild animal who pauses to stare directly at you, possibly taking time to wink before sauntering off.  I visited a friend one time and we stood with cups of tea in our hands while we watched a doe and her two off spring wander through the yard.

Nature provides us with so many magical moments, proving to me that magic is alive and well in our world.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why Gold?

Pyrite, Pyrites, Fools Gold, Iron Gravel  The other day when I looked for interesting facts on pizza, I noticed one of the most expensive pizza's in the world had flakes of edible gold on it.  On television, one sees ads for buying gold because its supposed to be good to use in times of trouble.

Even stories such as the one with King Midas focus on wanting gold, gold, and more gold.  The price of gold is currently around $1275 per ounce which is equivalent to one month of rent or house payment for many people.

There are all sorts of gold hunting shows on television where people go into places to find the elusive mineral.  I have friends who talk about hunting for gold but they aren't sure after seeing what it takes on those shows.

The United States used gold to back paper currency which meant you could turn the paper money in for its equivalent amount of gold but no one really did it.  The government set the price of gold but most countries quit using gold during the depression although the United States went off the gold standard in the 30's, it did not officially end it until 1971.

Now why are people so inured with gold?   Is it the color, its it its properties?  What?

Well, there are a lot of reasons.

1.  Gold is gold.  It does not require the backing of anyone else, a bank, or a government.

2.  Gold is beautiful and easy to work with.

3.  It does not rust, can go through a fire, and remains recognizable for a very long time.

4.  There are few materials which will corrode Gold.

5. It is the only metal of this color.

6.  It is considered rare.

7. There is only one grade and one price.

8.  We want to eat it because it shows wealth. 

Its worth.
1. At the time of Christ, an ounce of gold would buy a toga, a leather belt, and sandals for a Roman citizen.  Today it will buy a good suit, a leather belt and shoes.

2. In 400 BC an ounce of gold purchased 350 loaves of bread, today it still buys about 350 loaves of bread.

3.  In 1978 when gold cost about $190 per ounce, it took 290 ounces to buy a median priced house.  Today it takes about 225 ounces to buy the median priced house.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Roasted Vegetable Pizza and 9 Interesting Facts on Pizza.

Pizza, Tomato, The Olives, Italian, Dish  Years ago, I visited a restaurant in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I believe it was an Italian place but I remember to enter, you walked in by the kitchen.  I ordered an eggplant parmesean pizza which was quite good but it was not what I was used to.  The crust was like a bread.  It was more of a cracker, very thin and crispy.  I was assured by the lady from Europe who came with us that this was a traditional Italian pizza.

I prefer a thinner crust.  The other day, I roasted some beets, carrots, and parsnips.  I had some for dinner but I didn't feel like eating them all at once so I saved a few back and used them on a pizza.  Remember I do not use exact measurements.  I cook by feel much of the time.

I made up a sourdough thin crust and let it rise in the pan while I chopped up the left over roasted vegetables into small pieces which I stirred up with some Italian spices.  I chopped up a couple Roma tomatoes.  When the dough was ready, I sprinkled the tomatoes and roasted veggies all over so it was well covered.  I topped with a mix of shredded cheese and Parmesan.  I baked it at 425 till done. 

I loved the way the flavor of the roasted vegetables came through the cheese.  It was great.  I tend to throw whatever I have around when I make a pizza.  I did one with left over spiced refried beans, tomatoes and cheese.  It was my vegetarian version of the taco pizza. 

Now for a few interesting facts on Pizza:

1. The term "pizza" first appeared in 997 AD when someone was supposed to pay the Bishop of Gaeta 12 pizza's ever Christmas.

2.  The most expensive pizza in the world costs $12,000 for an 8 inch pizza.  You are paying for the Chef, the wine expert, and a sous chef who come to your house to prepare it.

3.  The earliest pizza recorded comes from Greece, long before Italy or the United States.

4. The first commercial pizza originated in 18th century Italy and was a bread with no toppings.  It was sold to the poor.

5. Although pizza was sold in the United States it did not be popular until World War II when soldiers returned from fighting in Italy where they tasted the real thing.  They helped create a demand so became quite popular.

6.  Italy passed laws which stated exactly what ingredients could be used so it is designated an Italian Pizza.  Frozen pizzas do not meet the criteria.

7.  The first frozen pizzas appeared in 1957 by the Celentano Brothers.  At first it could only be found in grocery stores but over time, frozen pizza's were sold in gas stations, convenience stores and other places.

8.  The first american pizzeria opened in New York in 1895.

9. Although American prefer pepperoni on their pizza's, in India, they prefer tofu, pickled garlic, and minced mutton.  Americans consume about 2.51 million pounds of pepperoni every year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Winter, Snow, Nature  It snowed Friday night while I was asleep.  It wasn't a heavy snow fall, just enough to cover the ground so we could cheer.  Winter may have finally arrived. 

A couple weeks ago, it got cold enough to freeze the lake solid enough for people to start walking across it but it warmed up again so the lake melted.  This is the first time I've seen the lake totally liquid on Halloween.  Usually its frozen solid.

When it snowed Friday night the lake started freezing again but it didn't freeze very deep yet.  I saw some children running on the ice and it made a funny sound as they raced across the ice.  The sound was kind of a whooshy tingy sound. 

No the ice is not quite thick enough because it made the sound.  When the ice is frozen solid, it sounds like any road as you cross it.  I wait till the elders tell me its safe or I watch for the snow machines and ATV's to start crossing it regularly.  If those heavy machines make it across, you know its safe.

The kids have this thing where they want to be the first one across the whole lake.  Its like a badge of honor.  Unfortunately, its also extremely dangerous because the water is so cold a child could find it hard to get their breath when they fall in.  They do not think of the little ones who may follow them out.  The police make regular trips around the lake yelling at the kids to get off.

Once the ice is solid, you'll see dogs pulling small sleds, kids ice skating, snow machines with sleds whipping around the lake trying to throw kids off while the kids hang on for dear life.  Its a popular game out here.  Furthermore, the school will crack open the skies so students can practice cross country skiing. 

The new P.E. teacher is already talking bout skiing to the next village over but he'll have to wait till all the waterways are frozen or he won't make it.  It also takes a few hours because you can't go very fast.  A few years ago, a teacher did it.  I think it took him about 4 hours to go 18 miles. 

Have a good day everyone. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

When Did The Rules Change?

Volleyball, Net, Volley, Girls, Ball  This past weekend one of the villages about 20 miles away flew in to play volleyball with our local high school.  You did read that right, they flew in on a chartered 206 or 209 because the only thing we have close to a road are the rivers and bay between here and there.

Due to a lack of helpers, I ended up as a line judge.  I sat there watching the ball, the edge of the court, and the servers but along the way, I discovered the rules had changed from when I was in school.

Now they go to 25 points instead of 21.  Points are scored every time instead of only on the serve and they no longer have the skunk the way it used to be.   Ohhh yes, the definition of in and out have changed a bit so I made a mistake but I learned.  It was great and our girls won all but one game.  It all ended early due to the plane arriving one hour earlier than expected but they managed to finish the game with a rousing 30 - 28 win. 

Have you ever wondered how and when volleyball came about? 

1.  It was first created 1895 and originally called Mintonette originally due to its commonalities with badminton.  The name was changed to Volley ball after someone observed the players "volleyed" the ball.  The first official game was played on July 7, 1896.  In 1952, the came became what we know it as today - Volleyball.

2.  Setting and spiking were added to the game in 1916 during a game played in the Philippines.

3.  The first specially designed volleyball game was created for the game in 1898.  Before then, they used the insides of basketballs.

4. Although volleyball was unofficially played at the Olympics in 1924, it did not become an official Olympic sport until 1964.

5. The official governing body, The Federation International De Volleyball, came into existence in 1947.

6.  Beach volleyball was first played in 1930, the first professional tournament took place in 1976 at the Will Rogers State Park.  Twenty years later in 1996, it became an official Olympic sport for both men and women.

7. Most volleyball players jump on average 300 times per game so it is considered a good workout.  I love it except when I hit the ground.  I don't bounce the way I used to.....LOL.

8. The longest game ever played took 75 1/2 hours in North Carolina.

9.   The fastest serve was clocked at just over 81 mph. 


Friday, November 4, 2016

An Ongoing Process.

Wool, Knitting Wool, Sockenwolle  I bet you are wondering about the title of today's blog.  Earlier this week, I read a  list of writing prompts and one of them made me realize that I have numerous projects that have been started bur not yet finished.

Its not that I'm not interested in finishing them but I have a tendency to put them away somewhere safe and then forget the location.

For instance, I have two different sets of knitted socks started.  One is a bright pink and the other, a sea green.  I just found them last night after about 6 months of being MIA.  Turns out I threw them on a chair I don't use when I was cleaning last spring.  Yeah!  Hopefully, I'll get them finished over the next couple of weeks.  I love my hand knitted socks.

Then there are the couple of electrical projects that I need to finish but I had to learn to solder before I could finish them.  Yes, I watched a couple videos but my work area needs cleaning so I don't set anything on fire.

I also have some jewelry I'm mostly finished with but I've got to put those finishing touches to make them just right but I doubt I'll get it done before summer because I put it in a box in my closet when I needed the counter for my electronics.

I promise, I am not going to be like my mother who started a sweater for me, then each sibling as they came along and finally for the grand children. She never finished it.  I think she gave up between the grand children and the great-grand children.

I never say my projects are incomplete.  I never tell anyone they've been sitting for a while.  I tell people everything is a work in progress and its ongoing.  On some of it, I'm letting the design totally gel or I'm almost out of the color and I need to order more yarn.  I am great at finding reasons.

My latest projects are making a couple animated keynote movies (I just have to record the sound to finish it).   I am getting ready to play with green screen stuff ( I have to finish reading up on it and sketching out a bit of a story board for it) and I am trying to write a novel because its November.  I have that one sort of sketched out, I just have to write.

I'm sure many of you do the same.  Honestly, I hate to declare the project dead and gone when I still have a possibility of finishing it.  Its like saying good bye to a dear friend you gave birth to but who has not finished growing to adulthood.  I'm not ready to say goodbye because I've spent so much time with it.  I've put some of my heart and soul into the project.  To say good bye means I am saying good bye to a part of me.

There are times when I go back, pick up the project, and finish it so I can proudly share it.  Sometimes, not always, it depends.

Let me know what you think.  Do you feel that way? 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How To Stay Healthy In These Busy Times.

Woman, Female, Girl, Human, Person  In today's busy world, I have days where I'm only home for an hour or two before I have to head back to work after putting in 8 hours already.  Those are the days, I do not feel like even trying to exercise officially.  Those are the days I don't feel much like cooking.  So how does one manage to eat well and exercise when all you want to do is get home, sink into the sofa, and eat whatever is handy.

Fortunately, I know my late days so I can prepare for it ahead of time.  As for diet, that is the easy part of the whole equation.  Although its only me, I still cook enough food to eat over several days.  I might make a Thai Vegetable Curry, a small pan of Lasagna, and perhaps some Shepherds Pie.  I do this on Sunday and package the food in servings so I can microwave the dish to eat later.

This way I have a great meal and I just have to throw together a salad or side dishes or even eat it alone.  I also take the food to work to eat for lunch.  I do not like the choices at work because much of it is some sort of meat served in a sauce over rice, noodles, or potatoes so its very heavy in salt and preservatives.

As for exercise, I try to get it by taking a long walk around town on good days.  For me, a long walk is from work to the post office, back up and around by one of the stores, across the back row over looking the bluff, up the road to the old airport, down it and around back to my house.  Its a couple mile walk so its a good one but on nights the weather does not allow it, I have some short 10 minute exercise videos.

There is a whole set of 10 minute workout videos you can find on Amazon.  I've got several I use at home when I need a quick workout and some of them are quite intense.   Some offer yoga, Pilates, various body toning ones, and some are over all workouts.  Even Jillian Michaels and Leslie Sansone have one.

I just got one of Jillian's 10 minute ones and by does it kick rear.  Its very heavy duty, high intensity and even with the modifications, i felt like I was way behind the video.  On the other hand, Leslie's has some I enjoy that are just right but I'll continue doing both.

Its only 10 minutes and I can sneak it in while dinner is heating in the oven or before I get settled on the couch.  Its not much in the grand scheme but it gets rid of the guilt that grows in the back of my head when i do not exercise. 

If all else fails, head out for a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood before you sit down for the evening.  I have fully embraced Nike's "Just Do It!" saying because I am less likely to skip it is I remind myself of that.

Let me know what you do if you have only a few minutes to exercise.  Do you skip it or do you try to fit something in.  I have a friend who has her stationary bike in front of the television so she can sit there and get 10 minutes of hard riding in.  Let me know your solution.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Why Wait?

Fireworks, Rocket, New Year'S Day  We are into the start of the holiday season when people put on weight from having a blast eating candy at Halloween, food at Thanksgiving, and lots of goodies between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  By January first, you are looking at that extra five pounds of weight, so you make a resolution to lose weight by exercising more and or dieting.

Its always struck me as strange that people will put on the weight and then make that resolution.  Unfortunately, most people don't turn that resolution into a habit.

Have you ever wondered why you wait till New Years to do something?  Why not decide to begin the change now before you put on the weight?  Yes I know its hard because its a season where we travel, make tons of food, and enjoy ourselves.  Why not put things into action and make your resolution right now to start your exercise tomorrow?

I'll tell you tomorrow some of my secrets to improving my diet, incorporating more exercise even on the busiest day, and not giving up.  In the mean time, I usually set Sunday as my day to get back in the swing of things. 

If I get off track, I don't say "I can't do it!"  I put it behind myself and set tomorrow as a new start.  I figure I am human and its easy to slide but its what you do at this point that counts. Do you sigh,  decide its too hard to continue and just give up?

It is easy to say you're too busy to eat better or exercise.  Believe me, I use every excuse in the book when I'm feeling lazy.  I also know how easy it is to skip the second day, once you've skipped that first day.  It is hard when you are tired to motivate yourself to get up and do something.  The other night, the power was on and off every few minutes for a good 20 minutes and then it was off for a couple of hours.  Rather than choose something prepared, I made a peanut butter and raisin pilot bread served with some yogurt that had freshly sliced bananas and granola sprinkled in.

Pilot bread is a nice cracker we eat a lot in Alaska.  I think I read that Alaskans eat more Pilot bread than any other state.  It makes a good meal and is the go to by everyone I know.  I couldn't get my regular exercise in due to the power issues so instead I exercised the next day.

Every time I slip, I start again tomorrow.  If need be, I mark it on the calendar to remind me to start again.  Tomorrow I'll discuss some ways I manage to get my exercise in and eat well.  Let me know how you get yourself back on track.  I'd love to hear from people.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Now What Do You Do?

Pumpkin, Lantern, Halloween  Ok, Halloween is over,  The little ones in costumes who come trick or treating are gone and its time to take all those decorations down.  You have a couple of pumpkins you cut up for that perfect look.  The question is one we all face. What do we do with the pumpkins we carved?

For some folks, they toss it in the compost but for others like me, we bake the pumpkin and freeze it until thanksgiving when we use it in our pumpkin pies.  This is not all you can do with the pumpkin when you are done with it. 

Here are 10 ways you can use your pumpkin.

1.  Make pumpkin puree which you can use in a pie, muffins, with your oatmeal, in breads, and in tons of other ways.  All you do is cook it either by baking, boiling, or steaming and mush up the innards.  If you burned a candle, just scrape or cut out the bad parts and use the rest of the pumpkin.

2.  Make your very own Pumpkin Spice Latte with real pumpkin.  Mix together milk, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, a tsp of pumpkin puree, and sweeter in a pan and heat till steamy.  Pull off the heat and either use a frother or blender to turn the milk into a great froth, then mix with coffee.

3.  How about a Pumpkin Lasagna using a spiced pumpkin sauce made of pumpkin puree, cream, and spices.  Prepare as usual with veggies instead of meat and voila!

4. What about making a pumpkin butter out of pumpkin puree, apple juice brown sugar, and spices.  Cook till done.

5.  Roasted pumpkin seeds are great.  Clean and dry the seeds, place on a cookie sheet, gently rub in a little bit of oil, add seasonings and bake at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes.

6. Add the stringy parts around the seeds to a water with other scraps of vegetables to make a stock you can use in just about anything.

7. Cut the stringy guts into small pieces and use instead of pumpkin puree in the pumpkin bread recipe.

8.  Cook pumpkin chunks with vinegar and other spices till just fork tender and can to make pumpkin pickles.

9. You can always dry the skin into crispy chips to eat as you want.

10. Turn the pumpkin into a planter by planting a plant in it.

11.  Create a pumpkin face mask with honey, pumpkin puree, and milk.

12.  Have your own neighborhood pumpkin catapults to see who can send theirs the furthest.

These are only a few ways to use pumpkin after Halloween.  Enjoy yourselves trying a few of the ideas.  I plan to try the pumpkin face mask and the pumpkin lasagna.