Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Little Diomede

Image result for Diomede Picture By Unites States Coast Guard, Petty Officer Richard Brahm [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. 

There is a small remote island about half way between Alaska and Russia called Little Diomede.  Its about 1.5 miles from the International Date line and about 2.5 miles from Big Diomede, the other half of the pair.  Little Diomede is American while Big Diomede is Russian.

The island is about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide. The village which you see in the picture is on the Russian side of the island.  In order to see Alaska, you have to climb to the top of the island or you have to take a boat around to the other side.  The only real way is by helicopter most of the year or by plane if the ocean between the two island freezes solidly enough.

A long time ago, everyone lived on Big Diomede but over the years part of the population moved over to Little Diomede.  Sometime during the late 1940's or early 50's the population on Big Diomede was removed from the village located on the east side of the island facing Little Diomede and relocated on the Russian Mainland.

When I worked on the island, I cleaned out several file cabinets and found hand written cards with names, entrance and exit dates for residents of Big Diomede who came over to visit their relatives.  The cards are dated back to the late 40's with nothing recent.  This supports the stories residents tell of having lost relatives when Russia made the island a military outpost.

I heard stories from the elders that during the 50's to about the 70's, the national guard would watch the Russian outpost while the Russians monitored us.  It is kind of sad that many of the families lost touch with those members who were moved to the Russian mainland.

In early fall, when the top was fog free, we'd often climb, hoping to have a gorgeous 360 view.  To the east you could see the mainland part of Alaska and to the west, you could see all the way to Siberia.  The view is describable and breath taking. We could see 20 to 25 miles in any direction.  Although it looked like a short climb it took a couple hours up and another couple down. 

On my first trip up, the person who took us up, pointed out the spot a plane had run into the side of the island.  I guess it had been foggy that time and the pilot did not see the island until it was too late.  There are also the remains of one or two satellite installations.

In the spring, when it starts warming up, everyone goes out to the ice either to play or dig holes in the ice for fishing.  People would attach sleds to their snow machines, running shuttles down to the furthest hole and back on a regular basis.  Sometimes, kids would be in the sled and enjoy several round trip rides before heading off to do thing.

I spend three years there before I moved on.  I'll probably talk about it again sometime because it is such a special place that filled me with so many wonderful memories.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Dresses and Sari's

Saree, Fashion, Silk, Dress, Woman  We've all seen those beautiful sari's worn by Indian women.  Just one piece of cloth wrapped around, creating a wearable piece of art but did you know these same saris have been used to create dresses?

I know a lady who has her own line of patterns and she made up this beautiful 1920's dress from a silk sari.  It flowed and was just breath taking.

Other ladies who are into historical costuming use a sari to create a dress from the 1810 time.  There are lots of instructions available out there to create these beautiful regency gowns of Jane Austin's time.  There are even ways to use the sari blouse for the bodice while the skirt is made the sari itself.
Couple, Man, Woman, Costume, Drama

In addition, I use sari's to make belly dance outfits.  I found this cool length made of two colors.  One in the center surrounded by a second color on the outside.  The inner color became the skirt while the outer side made the pants.

Other times I cut off the trim on both edges before making the skirt.  I attach the trim to the bottom and use the decorative end part for the top.  I love the way they all turn out. 

Woman, Person, Model, Happy, Party DressI found this cool dress where the person took the decorative pattern from one sari and matched it to a plain color from another sari to create a cute chick knock about dress.  Sari's can also be used to make layered skirts with a bohemian feel, full of freedom and twirl.  Or if you prefer, obtain a fancy sari to make a one of a kind evening dress which makes you stand out from all the others at a ball.  Almost like Cinderella.

The dress to the left is a style one could use when remaking a sari into a fancy dress.  The trim would be at the top and bottom while most of the dress might be much plainer.

Although sari's make up into phenomenal dresses it might not interest you  if you aren't a dress person,  what about pants?  I've seen pants made so the fancy trim is at the bottom while the plainer pattern makes the legs.  The ones I saw were made out of paler colors.  I'd make mine out of the darker colors because that is my preference.

People also use sari's for pillows, quilts, table cloths, runners, chairs, etc.  I've even seen some causally flung across windows to add a bit of  mystique to an otherwise ordinary room.  So many uses.

Yes, I have a huge collection of sari's in my closet for the day I have more time on my hands.  One of these day's I'll make another trip into Canada to purchase a bunch more because I adore using them for just about everything.

Let me know if you've ever made something out of a sari.  I'd be interest in seeing it.  Have a good day.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Quaint Places

Coffee, Cup, Apple, Laptop, Working, Bed  When I was younger, I ended up traveling.  I prefer staying in hostels or B&B's because they tend to have more flavor and you meet some really cool places.

There was this place in Fiji I stayed one time.  There were others in the group.  The biggest thing I remember about the trip was the cook at the hotel.  For breakfast, they offered eggs, cooked any way you wanted.

Of course, everyone ordered their eggs.  I wanted poached eggs on toast.  I got a very hard poached egg on toast, hard enough to bounce but so did everyone else.  The cook apparently decided to cook all the eggs the same way.

Then there was the hotel room in Auckland.  It was a normal room except for the bed which must have been completely made of feathers.  I remember going to bed and sinking down so far, the sheets and blankets lay totally flat on the bed. You would never see me unless you looked carefully.

Ohhh and that B & B in Scotland.  When I got to Scotland, I popped into the tourist place and booked rooms for my train trip around the country.  So I took off for my place but when I got there, I was met by the owner explaining she'd booked me into another B&B because she had a pipe break.  So I was shipped off in a taxi.  The new place was great and I was sent to the check this wonderful park out.

On the way, I passed a fund raising event filled with great activities which had all the people watching.  Hmmm, in Mexico I took a taxi to a hotel and ended up at a different one because the driver thought we wanted the more expensive one. Ohhh but once we got settled, we ended up finding this Popsicle place  which had frozen fruit popsicles.  I knew they were fruit because the melon flavored ones had seeds mixed through out them.

Every time I go anywhere, I acquire a new memory to join the ones I already have.  I go to Oahu at least once a year and every year, I find a new place to eat.  The last time, I found a great little place at a farmer's market in the King Shopping Center.  He had plans to open his own Korean restaurant in downtown.  His food was fresh and great.  I ate there a lot. 

One year, a friend and I wondered into a Japanese restaurant.  Fortunately, they had an English speaking waiter who was able to translate the menu for us.  The food was great and I think we were the only non-Japanese diners in the place. 

I hope you all have fun memories of quaint places.  Let me know and please share.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Using Odds and Ends

Soup, Cream Soup, Bowl  I am the first to admit that I hate throwing out anything if it can still be possibly used.  That might be why I save those little bits of vegetables people normally throw out.

I've read where people suggest you throw the bits of carrot and potato peels, pea shells, corn cobs, broccoli stems, mushroom stems, etc into your freezer in a bag until you have enough to make a huge pot of broth.  If you eat meat, you can save your bones and add those.

As far as broth goes, I usually simmer up a pot over the weekend so its ready for the week.  I add two  parts water to one part scraps and allow to simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.  Pour through a cheesecloth to remove whats left and you have a lovely broth to cook with for soup or any other dish that needs broth.

My mother was noted for cleaning the fridge out at the end of the week by throwing any and all left overs into water, cooking until soft and serving as is or blending into a creamy liquid and serving that.  I will be the first to admit some concoctions tasted much better than other concoctions.

I also take broccoli stems, cabbage cores, the last bit of other veggies, cut them up, saute them in a bit of oil, add a bit of broth and cook till soft.  I pour in a half a can of enchilada sauce, sometimes more and heat.  I dip corn tortillas in the other half of the sauce and create layers of tortillas, filling (veggies in sauce), sprinkle cheese and continue till I run out of filling mix.  The top layer is tortillas, sauce, and cheese.  I bake it at 350 till nicely browned. 

I save left over rice and chopped veggies to create fried rice for one.  I've been known to throw left over rice or pasta in my soups.  I also use left over cooked potatoes in soup to help thicken or I make potato cakes.  Sometimes, I mash them and throw them in with the liquid when I make bread. 

I do not limit myself if its only a tsp of something.  I find a place for it in my cooking.  I grew up with a family who tried not to waste anything because money was tight.  I've recently discovered you can use the bean liquid from canned beans to cook with.  I read you can even whip it up and use it as a whipped topping.  I think that is cool.  I haven't tried it yet but its on my list of things to try.

If I loose something in the fridge and it ends up green, I throw it in the compost of dig it directly into the garden so it will break down.  I try not to waste any food. 

I'd love to hear from others on how they use those little odds and ends from cooking in cooking.  Let me know and have a good day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Shorter Reading Times

News, Newspaper, Computer, Read  I heard somewhere that people do not want to stop and read long pieces anymore.  They want it short and to the point so they can finish it in a short time so they can move on.  Since there is so much information out there, people want to have the ability to access more within the same period of time.  People have invented apps which will pull articles down from the internet to read.  Newspapers, more and more, have on line additions.

According to one source, the ideal length for a blog is no more than 1600 words or about 7 minutes while its head line should not be longer than 6 words.  Standard newspaper articles are between 500 and 800 words. Unfortunately, the average reader only spends 9 seconds on a page.  They look at the first paragraph, hop to the middle and then the end if you caught their attention in the middle.  I admit, I am one of those people who reads the opening and hops to the middle.  It it important to put something in the middle to capture people's attention.

As far as articles go, slightly over half the people who click on the article remain for longer than 15 seconds.  That really isn't long.  Its the time you have to capture their attention so they read the whole article.  This statistic indicates that clicking on the article does not mean t is being read.  What it means is that you have 15 seconds to capture and keep their attention so they finish it.

In addition, it has been found that of those who visit the content, only a small percentage share it.  According to one piece of research there is absolutely no connection between the number of people who share an article and those who actually read it.

In addition,  many people are reading via their cell phones.  In fact, a study shows people spend double the time on articles which are over 1000 words vs those under.  It appears these readers stay engaged longer than most.

Many of these facts seem to fly in the face of a study reported on back in 2015 which said that people generally loose interest after about 8 seconds.  Is this true?  I don't know but the same study also said that over 3/4 of the people in the 18 to 24 age group reach for their mobile devices when they have nothing to do while only 10% of those over 65 do.

I'd love to hear what you have to say on this topic.  Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The 11 Most Beautiful Beaches In The World!

Seascapes, Motion, Ocean, Wave, Movement  How many of us dream of running from our mundane lives to lay on a beach somewhere exotic.  I know I get that desire in the middle of winter when its dark and extremely cold outside.

Of course the list varies  a bit based on who made the list but I'll try to give a good variety.

1. Trunk Bay, St John in the United States Virgin Island.  It has been photographed so many times due to its beauty. In addition, it is part of the Virgin Island national park and has this wonder 225 yard underwater trail to explore the bay.

2. Frasier Island, Queensland Australia is on the World Heritage list because its the largest sand island in the world.  It is noted for its breath taking beaches and has one beach made up of 70 different colored sands.  This particular beach has been named the Rainbow beach.

3. Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande, Brazil.  This place is off the beaten path and offers two miles of untouched white sand beach complete with crystal clear waters.  There are restaurants, no shacks, nothing to disrupt its beauty.

4. Anse Source d’Argent located in the Seychelles is noted for the beautiful cliffs surrounded by a gorgeous pink sand.  This is another of the places frequently photographed due to its beauty.

5.  Hidden Beach in Puerto Vallarta Mexico is not longer hidden but has clear waters and is formed in an area reputed to have been created due to some military bomb testing.

6. Plage De St. Jean, French Caribbean - a beautifully clear elegant beach located at the end of a short runway.  This place is reputed to be for the rich and perhaps not so famous.

7. Blinky Beach, Lord Howe Island, Australia which is an island located between Australia and New Zealand.  It is known for its beautiful surf and sparkling waters.  If the name sounds familiar, Lord Howe Island is often mentioned in reference to Amelia Earheart's last trip.  The one she disappeared on.

8. 7 Mile Beach in Jamaica is actually 6 miles long but is one of the longest and spectacular beaches in the world.

9. Maya Beach in Ko Phi Phi, Thailand has been used as a backdrop in at least one movie and is noted for being the perfect tropical beach.

10. Barnes Bay, Anguilla - is one of 33 beaches in the area but is noted for its smooth soft sand and has fewer visitors so is less crowded.

11. Horse Shoe Bay, Bermuda.  Although its a very popular destination, check out Port Royal Cove due to its beauty, pink sand, shallow depths, and dramatic rock foundations. 

So if you want to escape winter, here are some beautiful places to visit.  Enjoy

Monday, January 23, 2017

Baking your own bread

Appetite, Bake, Baked, Bakery, Bread There is nothing better than having the smell of fresh baked bread permeating the house.  I know, many people use their bread makers to do this job but for me, I seldom get the result I want. Its hard to monitor it so the bread comes out perfectly.

I prefer starting from scratch, mixing it by hand, kneading it, shaping it, and baking it because I have more control over it at every step.  I can add a bit more flour, let it rise a bit more, punch it down a bit earlier if it rose faster than expected.

Bread is something you really can't hurry or it won't turn out properly.  I've learned to add a certain amount of flour and just stir till it holds together before getting stretchy or it doesn't have the proper finished texture.  If I try to make it faster, it turns out wrong.  So along the way, I discovered a way to make sure I have bread whenever I want it.

Usually, I stop and make a huge pot of dough, enough for at least two to three loaves of bread.  I mix it up, let it rise, then pinch off enough to bake one loaf of bread, or make a pizza, some rolls, before I put the rest of it in a ziplock bag and store it in the fridge.

I found I can leave it in the fridge for a few days.  When I'm ready to work with it, I pull it out, pinch off what I need, put the rest back in the fridge and let the part I'm working with have a chance to warm up in the pan I'm going to bake it in.  I let it rise then bake as normal.  In a little while, I have hot bread I spread butter and jam on to enjoy. 

I can buy bread at the local store but its usually that soft white bread you can mush into balls.  It can be kind of old or even moldy so I prefer to make my own.  It is always so much better - taste wise, is healthier and has fewer preservatives.

I admit, I tend to consume 1/4th of a loaf as soon as its cool enough to pull out of its pan.  The hot bread is sooo inviting that I just cannot resist it.  Once its cold, its just not quite the same and you can't rewarm it in the microwave to get the same experience.  At this point, I sometimes spread the bread with butter, sprinkle it with a cinnamon/sugar mixture before broiling it to create a crispy candy like topping. 

Yum.  I seldom use bread in a sandwich but sometimes I do toast it, cover it with a Greek yogurt cream cheese and top with Swiss cheese and avocado.  Please feel free to share your favorites with me.  I'd love to hear.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Two Gluten Free Dinner Dishes.

Falafel, Middle Eastern Food, Chickpeas  Over the past two days, I've had a great time trying two new dishes.  Both are gluten free and both only use one type of flour.  I have a friend visiting who cannot eat wheat so I've been looking for recipes which look great, taste good, and do not require tons of specialized flours.

The first recipe I found is one for sweet potato falafel made with equal amounts of chickpea or garbanzo bean flour, and mashed sweet potatoes.  Add in no more than 1/4 cup water, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp chopped onion, 1 tsp chopped garlic, 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley and salt to taste. 

Mix up and let set about 15 to 20 min to give the flour a chance to absorb the moisture.  Rather than make round balls, I went for patties because they fit in a sandwich better and I placed them on a greased cookie sheet.  I baked them for 15 at 350 before flipping and baking them on the other side for another 15 min. 

I served them in sandwich form on toasted bread with a bit of tahini sauce.  For me, I prefer more spice so I'll play around with the recipe a bit but it was soooooo good that I'll make it again.  You could use cooked or canned beans in this recipe but you'll have to grind them up before mixing with the sweet potato and leave out the water.

The other recipe I made so far is a pizza with a crust made out of equal parts chickpea flour and warm water.  Add some garlic and salt to the batter and let set a full hour.  At the end, spread the mixture around the pizza pan and place under a broiler for 5 to 10 min until it is firm in the middle and slightly brown at the edges.

Pull it out, spread the tomato sauce, cheese, toppings and then bake at 425 for 15 to 20 min till the cheese is melted and the toppings are nicely cooked.  Let cool a few minutes and serve.

Both recipes were were easy to make and both tasted quite good.  I plan to make them again for my friend.  Give them a try and enjoy.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Charges Per Person

Taxi, Cab, Taxicab, Taxi Cab, New York  When you are in one of the places outside of the road system or cities in Alaska, the charges for taxi's and hotel rooms really differ from what you are used to.

If you fly to a place like Nome, Bethel, or Barrow, you enter a different world of things.  Charges are often more expensive than you are used to.

The last time I was in Bethel, the charges were all over the map.  First of all, the standard cab fare is $7.00 per person from the airport to the store or many of the hotels and motels.

It is usually a bit less if you go to the hotel and more if you are heading out to the other end of town.  Fortunately, all the taxi's charge the same amount so it really doesn't matter which one you take.  If you are a senior (65 +) you will get a one dollar discount.

In Bethel, the average cost of a B & B is between $150 and $200  while the hotels are in the $170 to $300 range depending on which one it is.  The cost gets you a very small room equivalent to something you'd find at Motel 6.  In addition, most places charge the base price for one person and then add $20 for each additional person or animal  you have in your room.

If you end up in a village due to weather issues, check with the city or the local school to see if you can rent something there.  Often a room at the school will run between $30 and $60 per night.  This gets you floor space at school or if you are lucky, a room in someone's house.  It does not mean the cost includes a meal.

I realize many people just sleep at the airport if stuck somewhere but most terminals in the larger towns like Bethel, Nome, or Barrow close down in the evening after the last flight of the day so you cannot sleep there.  You simply ask for a list of hotels and they will happily provide the information.  One airline has a list right next to the public phone on the wall.

If you end up in a village, just ask the agent for ideas or the phone number for the principal of the school.  Find a place and ask for a lift.  It is very different out here.  Although I've been doing this a long time, I still cringe every time I have to shell out the cost of a great hotel for something no better than Motel 6.

Have a good day. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Poetry - First African American Poet.

Log, Tree, Bark, Aesthetic  Growing up, I suffered through poetry in school.  I think I had the old ladies who always chose rhyming poems.

Remember  the one starting with "I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree."?  or "Captain, O captain, our fearful trip is done."

I can't tell you who wrote either poem only that they stuck with me.   In college, I had to write a biography on some poet.  At the time, I stumbled across a small one sentence on a woman named Phyllis Wheatley, the first recognized African American female poet.

I had to do the report before the internet was filled with information and I had to rely on interlibrary loan to get all the books I needed.  There was very little I could find on her but I managed.  It was fascinating to discover her life and her work.

She was born around 1754 in West Africa and came to the United States as a slave.  She was purchased by Mrs John Wheatley, the wife of a Boston Taylor.  She was taught to read and write along side the Wheatley children but she was still expected to carry out her duties. She started writing poetry at a young age.  It appears her first poem was published in 1767 but it was a eulogy which brought her to national attention in 1771.

She soon had a book of 28 poems published by someone in London.  The book was a moderate success but her benefactor, Mrs Wheatley, died soon after it was published. By 1778, Mr Wheatley and his daughter had both died and the surviving son moved out, married, and died in England a few years later.  She married John Peters, a free man, in1778 against advice.  He made his money in a variety of ways but both he and she found it difficult to find work in these harsh economic times.

She worked hard to make a bit of money here and there while her husband was unable to find work and went further into debt.  By the time she died in 1784, he was in prison and she managed to print another volume of work.

It is thought she wrote around 145 poems and multiple letters but not all of them survived.  She preferred writing in couplet form using Iambic Pentameter.  Although many thought she was not against slavery , she chose to use biblical references in her poetry to motivate church members to rise up against slavery.

I think part of the reason she made a name for herself at this time had to do with the fact she was an educated slave who could write poetry.  Her poetry is quite pretty and characteristic of the times.  If you get a chance, check her out.  She was my first encounter with African American poets.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's That Time of Year.

Tropical Island, Waves, Ocean, Sand As mentioned yesterday, I don't like the really cold temps and about this time of year, I'm ready to fly off to a warmer climate.  Unfortunately, I can't do that due to my job but I've found a way to handle my wanderlust.

Although I cannot go anywhere, I can still pretend I'm off to Fiji or Tahiti without ever leaving my house.

I have Prime membership with Amazon so I've got access to all sorts of videos for free.  It allows me to check out streaming videos on gardening, so I can enjoy the beauty of roses while I learn more about their care.  There are videos on Birds you see in your back yard, homesteading, Zen gardens, Gardens of the World.  Videos with lots and lots of green which is a great change from the white and grey of winter here.

If I don't want gardening, I can check out Bryce Canyon, Food places, New York, Smart Travels, Culinary travels to Jamaica.  I can visit the Yukon, Scotland, Hawaii, and so many other places without ever leaving home.

I can check out the problems with interstellar flight,  the secrets of archeology, jungle waterfalls,get educated on single malt whiskey.  So many choices all varied according to what I am in the mood for.  Even popular science for kids.

I hope to travel to Finland in August so I can use these videos to get ideas of where to do.  I found one on national parks, another on the 9 places in Finland one must go in the summer, one talking about being there for 7 days, and a couple on just visiting Finland in general.

I plan to watch these later on so I can make choices on what to see while I'm there for my conference.  I have always enjoyed having a list of places to visit before heading off but I also get suggestions from the locals once I'm there because they tell you of events you might not know about.

So enjoy, have a good day, I"m off to watch something on Paris France, a place on my bucket list.  Take care and let me know what you think.

I realize it is more fun to do all these things yourself but you sometimes can't.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Free Land.

Coast, Sea, Surf, Rock, Beach, Wave
It is that time of year again when the temperatures plummet  down to the -30 and -40 range.  Where you cannot go outside without your snow pants, winter coats, face covering, good gloves, winter boots and hood.  It is too easy to end up with frostbitten limbs.

I know a young man who was out, driving around on his snow machine.  He had is baseball cap on sideways under his hood so the hood did not fit properly and he ended up with a frost bitten ear and frostbitten side of his face.  It was nasty. 

I am really not a cold weather person.  I realize that is strange as I've live in Alaska for many years but I prefer wearing minimal clothing and being able to just throw on some flip flops on my way out the door.  I hate spending 5 to 10 minutes getting ready.

So about now, I fantasize about running away to the South Pacific kind of like those authors and artists in the 19th century.  You know places like Tahiti or Samoa.  Somewhere I can be warm all year long, swim, and just bum around. 

While wandering around the internet, I stumbled across this article.  Apparently, the Pitcairn Islands government is so desperate to build up the population, they offer free land.  Yes you read that correctly, free land to build your house on.

For those of you who have seen the movie "Mutiny on the Bounty", this is where the descents of the event settled. Unfortunately, they have been loosing residents and want to build up the population.  I checked things out and there are things to be aware of.

First, it only receives supplies every three months by ship so if you want certain things, you have to order them in from New Zealand. This includes your house usually via a house kit.  In addition, travel to and from is not especially easy because it does not have regularly scheduled planes, only the supply boat. 

There is a general store for basics such as flour, milk, cheese but its only open a few days a week.  You do have access to locally raised fruits and vegetables.  There is power, phone, and internet but the availability of jobs are limited.

If you are the type of person who likes being away from it all, this is the perfect situation. If you'd like to know more, check the information out here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Toothpaste, Mouthwash, and Carsenogenic Ingredients.

Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Dental Care A friend just told me that his friend said he bought some cheap toothpaste which turned out to have at least one carcinogenic ingredient.

That didn't make sense to me since they are sold to the public and most things are being pulled when that happens.

So I checked into that idea.   When I searched for information on the topic, the American Dental Association is not the first place to come up.

What they indicate is they have tested and those that meet their standards are awarded a seal of approval.  They state they continually monitor all products with their seal of approval to determine if an ingredient can pose a health risk.

Their determination is based on the results of clinical studies, not on rumor.  In addition, they stay abreast of current research so if they have to withdraw a seal of approval, they can. 

In several articles on the internet, I've seen a claim about fluoride being toxic, especially to children.  I understand the concern because very young children swallow rather than spit toothpaste out.

Back to the list given.  I've had trouble finding out things like how much of each of these ingredients are used?  What is the legal limit for each?  Are these ingredients actually cancer causing when they go through the stomach?  Can they actually be absorbed or are they inert and just go straight through.

According to a New York Times article published in September 2016, only one toothpaste in the United States contains Triclosen,  one of those ingredients said to be toxic.   The toothpaste is Colgate Total.  You will see comments that this ingredient has been banned in the use of soap but that is only because soap manufacturers have not provided the safety research.

From other things I've read many of the ingredients on the toxic list actually perform a specific job and may not be in high enough quantities to worry about.  It is important when you hear something like what my friend said, to go research it to find out the truth and not believe everything you hear. 

Yes I use regular toothpaste and will continue to do so because I do not see it is something to be worried about it.  Let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Life Line

Package, Shipping, Made, Post, Office Out here in the bush of Alaska, there are two extremely important things which make life possible for most of us.  The first is air planes and the second is the post office.  Both are linked and important.

When the planes are unable to fly due to weather, it means our supplies such as food do not arrive.  Even the stores rely on postal bypass mail in order to get supplies in. 

Airplanes are also responsible for carrying air freight.  Air freight is used to get perishables into the village faster than regular mail.  I use it for my twice a month box of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The stores bring much of their frozen foods in this way.  That is why a half gallon of ice cream is often $13 to $15 each or pizza is between $15 and $20.  I am talking about things most people pay between $3 and $8 in the frozen food section.

The post office is important because many of us order from Amazon, Wal-mart, grocery stores.  I sent 4 boxes of stuff the 29th of December but I do not know if its here yet because the post office lady has been out with strep throat.  She has no helper so when she is sick, our post office is closed.

I am worried because I bought fresh fruit and veggies and I am worried about them.  I have mangoes, avocados, and a couple other time sensitive foods that may be nothing more than mush when she is open again.  I could not pack them in my suitcases because I'm only allowed 100 lbs total when I fly the local airline so I send things by mail often. 

It is often times a gamble since the mail can make it on a plane before you get stuck in town or in this case, it never left the hub until the day after I got back but that was the first day she was sick.  In addition, I have all my bills on auto pay because its not unheard of for bills to arrive after they are due. 

During the month of October, pfd month, mail slowed to a crawl and things that took 2 weeks, could take 4 to 6 weeks arriving.  Pfd is the permanent fund dividend that Alaskans get once a year from a fund. Its extra money people use to order more things C.O.D. so the post office is inundated with boxes, boxes, and more boxes.

As you can see if either the weather closes in or the post office person gets sick, we cannot get the supplies we ordered.  Although you get used to it, it is frustrating.  I still hope my mangoes are perfectly ripe (I bought them green) and maybe my avocados made it.  I'll do an update as soon as I get them. 

Have a good day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Exercising at Home.

Converse, Tennis, Comfortable, Sport  As I stated yesterday, I exercise at home.  You can effectively exercise at home and you do not need to invest in a lot of equipment.

A good fitness workout is composed of 5 parts.
1.  A warm-up
2. A cardio workout.
3.  Strength training.
4.  Flexibility training.
5. Cool down.

The warm up could be as simple doing a short walk.
Cardio can be done through a DVD, walk faster, or jump rope. Other cardio exercises include jumping jacks, jogging in place, climbing stairs or dancing.

Strength training often uses dumb bells but you could substitute a couple cans of food to start with.  Most standard cans weigh just under a pound.

If you chose to do crunches, squats, leg lifts or push-ups you have added a bit of resistance training to your overall work out

 Flexibility is covered by doing yoga and then cool down can be as easy as walking slowly and throwing in a few stretches.

Remember, if you need to follow a DVD to follow, you can check out You Tube for free exercise videos.  Just type in the type of exercise, or the program/person you want.  That is all and you are off. 

Some tips for people who exercise at home include:
1. Challenge yourself but make sure you pay attention to your form so you do the exercise as correctly as possible.

2. Find a partner so you have accountability.

3. Keep a journal to monitor your progress.  Include both good and bad days.  I write down which DVD I used and how long I exercised.  I also write down tips I find.

4. Schedule your workouts in your daily planner so its there.

5. Set a goal that is within your reach.  It should be something you cannot do right now but something you can reach in a reasonable period of time.  It might be "I am going to loose 5 lbs."  As you progress towards your goal, give yourself a mini reward such as a new fitness magazine.

6.  Make exercise as much a part of your life as eating and sleeping.

As you can see, you do not need anything fancy to exercise at home.  Go for it.  Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


The waiting room.
Due to weather issues it took a lot longer to get home than usual.  It was fine flying into the hub city but it was the part of going to the village that was problematic.  These are Caravans which seat no more than 9 for a full load or some passengers mixed with cargo.

 I flew into the hub on December 30, 2016.  I called a head of time to see if the airline was flying.  They'd had to cancel all flights the day before.  They were flying so I headed out.  By the time I got there, the weather closed in and everything was on weather hold.

Ticket Counter in the distance.
Each airline, including Alaska, has their own terminal.  The waiting rooms are small and get crowded rapidly due to a lack of seating.  There used to be more but much of it has broken over time and has not been replaced. 

Due to the way things work, you end up arriving early and hanging around till the flights are cancelled for a day.  There is a television, internet, and plugs but having to sit there from 7 AM to 4 PM is a pain.

One smart vendor sets up outside the terminal with his lunch cart (pickup with appropriate modifications) and sells food to the patrons of two different airlines.  Many people buy his food to take home so they don't have to cook while others inhale it in the terminal.  

The plane.
Every day except for New Years day, I reported to the building by 7AM so I'd be checked in, ready to go should anything fly.  By 4 PM after listening to updates on the wind being too strong or visibility too low, they'd cancel all flights till the next morning. 

We'd all line up and get rebooked for the next available flight.  Finally on January 2, 2017, the weather cleared enough to send 4 plane loads of people to my village.  

Other villages didn't have the weather issues so they could get home.  One flight got to within 10 minutes of their destination before having to turn around during weather. 

When my name was called for the flight, I almost ran the pilot over in my desire to get home.  To clarify the process, they announce the flight, whose on the flight and tells you to meet the pilot at the door.  He has  a list of people he checks off the names, walks everyone out to the plane and lets us board. It is not fun being stuck there with not much to do and I'm one of those who is afraid to leave in case they start flying.

I thought I'd share a bit of my life out here with you.  Have a good day.

Everyone was thrilled to get home.  I thought I'd

Monday, January 9, 2017

10 Tips for Exercising Effectively.

Physiotherapy, Weight Training, DumbbellYes I am one of those people who exercise at home.  There is a gym of sorts at work with bikes, walking machines and some weight machines but honestly by the end of the day I am tired and just want to get home.  I am sure there are people out there who want to exercise but do not always want to stop by a gym.

I have a life goal (not a resolution) where I try to work out 5 days a week.  I use DVDs to get my exercise in. Some are aerobic, or yoga, or pilates, or dance, or stretch, or fitness ball.  Some are made for real people and others are made for those who worship fitness but I use them all depending on my mood. 

There are things one can follow either at the gym or at home to have a more effective workout. I follow these suggestions at home.
1. Be consistent - Work out on a regular basis so you experience the full benefits of your workout.

2. Choose an effective exercise routine which should include 20 minutes a day of strength training twice a week ( I have two sets of weights), interval training which alternates say walking or running, include some increased cardio workouts such as running or dancing.

3. Set realistic goals such as walking 10 minutes a day and then increase.  I try for a minimum of 20 minutes a day.

4. Have a buddy to keep you working out.  I don't have a buddy but I write it down in my daily journal.  I am thinking of getting together with a couple of coworkers to check in with each other or workout with each other.

5. Find a plan that works for you.  If you are not a gym type person, set aside some floor space at home to work out. I have a good space in my tiny living room set aside for working out.  Its where I can see the television.  My weights are kept under the coffee table.

6. Choose a workout you are happy to do.  Choose something you like.  I love dancing so I've been having a great time with a couple of those "Dancing with the Stars" and "Think you can dance" DVDs.  I ordered another one that was geared for those who want to be in the same shape as a SEAL.  So not me.  I don't use it but I use the ones that make me feel successful and happy.

7. Watch your body clock.  Select a time when you have the most energy.  For me, I can't because I"m working but I often put dinner in the oven and get my workout done while dinner is cooking.  I've found the best time for me is between 5 and 7 PM.  I still have energy and the time.

8. Take the time to get a professional assessment to help you focus on the areas most important for you.  Since I have no one available to help with that, I try to do flexibility, balance, aerobics, strength training, and stretching. 

9.  Find some sort of inspiration to keep you going.  It might be reading someones story of how they did it.  For me, I set a goal.  I want to visit Paris on New Year's Eve and dance on a table when I'm 95.  I have to stay in good shape to do that.

10. Hang in there.  You will have ups and downs but if you hang in, you will experience results.  There are days when I'm so tired, I don't want to do anything more than sit down on the couch.  I throw on a 10 minute exercise routine and often it gets me motivated to do more.  If not, I've done something.

I'd love to hear from all of you.  What keeps you motivated?  What is your routine?  Have a great day. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

11 Simple Winter Drinks

Tea, Cup, Sugar, Spoon, Hot, Beverage  I noticed that weather has been cold and nasty in many parts of the country.  I got stuck for several days in a town where the only hot drinks I could find were your standard coffee or tea.  Nothing more than that.  I would have killed for something a bit more exciting.

There are drinks out there that are easy to make and not too hard to create with ingredients from the pantry.

1. Chai Tea - mixed crushed cinnamon, ginger, cloves, fennel, and other spices are added to milk, brought to almost a boil, add a tea bag or two and let steep for 10 minutes.

2. Heat some apple cider with mulled spices, orange zest, and ginger, let steep a bit and serve.

3. Make hot chocolate from scratch, add in some ground up chipotle and cinnamon, steep and enjoy.

4. Blend a few eggs in a blender, pour in a heated mixture of cream, sugar, and nutmeg, blend until frothy. Add a bit of brandy if you want some alcohol in it.

5.  Add a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream into a hot cup of cocoa to add richness and flavor.

6. To create a quick toddy, add Frangelico to hot water, top with whipped cream.

7. Mix hot almond milk with cocoa powder, maple syrup, and melted dark chocolate to create a nice warm drink.

8. You can also mix some unsweetened almond milk with tumeric, ginger powder, nutmeg, vanilla, and cayenne pepper, heat and serve.

9. How about a hot chocolate where you mix nutella into milk, add cocoa powder and sugar, heat and enjoy.

10.  Enjoy milk mixed with cocoa powder, equal amounts of brown and white sugar, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt, and vanilla.  Heat it up and top off with whipped cream.

11. Ever thought about mixing pear nectar with water, tea bags, orange juice, stick cinnamon, whole cloves, and orange peel.  Heat and simmer for 10 minutes, sweeten with a bit of honey.

Do you have a favorite winter drink?  Feel free to share it in the comments section.  Let me know what you think.  Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Worst Cooks on the Food Channel.

Food, Salmon, Teriyaki, Cooking  You all know I got stuck in a small town in one of the better hotels on New Years Day.  I stumbled across a show called Worst Cooks in America.

I didn't realize there are people out there who do not know how to cook from scratch.  I learned early in life because my mother could cook if she followed a recipe but she never got past the point to adjust things for better flavor.

My dad said my mother couldn't even boil water but she had some legitimate reasons for never learning to cook.  Back to the topic at hand.

It appears the first half of the show is where folks prepare a dish to show how well they cook and the second half is where they are divided into two teams with each team replicating a dish demonstrated by a chef.  I will tell you, the whole hour kept me laughing.

The folks they chose were absolutely clueless.  One guy said he cooked for his wife 41 years ago and poisoned his wife so she never allowed him to cook for her again.  Another cook commented she didn't think they were supposed to poison the judges and the other girl said that's why there were medics standing by.

Another lady decided to make salmon cakes. She used canned salmon but didn't realize the fish would have bones in it.  She thought she got most of them out. Another thought you should drown the dish in ketchup.  

During the part where they tried to replicate the chef's recipe, one girl shot a lobster claw across the room to hit the wall.  Another one screamed as she placed the lobster in water and when she pulled it out. One guy kept trying to devein a shrimp from the wrong side so the chef gave him a hint so he could do it.

During tasting, one chef began coughing after tasting one of the dishes because the cook used way too much pepper.  Another was asked where the zucchini was.  She replied that she had cut it in extremely small pieces but it disappeared during the cooking.

I had sore ribs by the end of the show due to all the humor.  It was a wonderful comedy and made a great escape from being stuck in a hotel room in a town when all I wanted to do was to go home and sleep in my own bed.

If you have seen the show, let me know what you think of it.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The History of Lipstick plus 17 interesting facts about it.

Lipstick, Red, Labial, Lips, Make-Up  I grew up watching my grandmother and mother apply their red lipstick every day.  It didn't matter if they were going out or staying in but the properly dressed woman and to have that finishing touch. It was always a red, like a cherry red, never a pink. 

So where did lipstick come from and when did it become acceptable to wear it? Originally, lipstick was more of a stain than anything else because fruit and plant juices provided the coloring but it appears the Mesopotamian s were the first ones to create something more.  They ground up precious gems and dusted their lips with the sparkly material.

Next came Egypt where people belonging to the royal class, priests, and the high class regularly wore lipsticks.  Although there were several recipes used to produce lipstick, some required extremely poisonous ingredients.  However, this is the place where the carmine color became popular and it was gotten from a specific insect.

The use of lipstick spread to the Romans and Greek where it was primarily used by actors but its use faded when Christianity spread because the catholic church outlawed its use because red was the color of Satan. However, it came back into fashion with Queen Elizabeth the First due to the pale skin and bright red lips she promoted.

After she died, its use fell into disuse except for certain types of women.  No self respecting woman used lipstick at this point in time.  Wearing lipstick came back into fashion in the late 19th century when photography and movies came into fashion.  At the same time, improvements were made until it became part of being the well dressed woman. Apparently lipstick flourished in the Middle East and Asia when it fell out of use in Europe. 

So now for some interesting facts about lipstick.

1. In ancient Greece, only prostitutes could wear lipstick.  There was a law on the books that stated prostitutes could be punished if they appeared as proper ladies without their lipstick.  They were required to wear it.

2. The average woman spends $1780 on lipstick out of the $15,000 they spend on makeup in their lifetime.

3. Hazel Bishop created the first smudge proof, long lasting lipstick   just after World War II while working in a dermatologist's lab.

4.  The most expensive lipstick is Guerlain's KissKiss Gold and Diamonds Lipstick available for a paltry $62,000 because the tube is made up of 110 grams of 18K gold and covered with 199 diamonds.  

5. Supposedly, only Elizabeth Taylor was allowed to wear red lipstick on her movie sets.

6.  Lipstick was the only cosmetic not rationed during World War II because it was classified as a moral booster.

7. Apparently, men stare at women longer who wear lipstick than those without it.

8. In the 1500's people believed lipstick had magic healing properties.

9.  The term "Kiss of Death" came about because some of the early lipsticks contained poisonous ingredients..

10.  Lipsticks do have a use by date.  They can become rancid.  If you want them to last longer, store them in a fridge.

11.  Max Factor introduced lip gloss to the population in 1930.

12.  The first swivel up  lipstick tube was invented in 1923.

13. Lipstick sales go up on gloomy or rainy days.

14.  In the early 1900's several suffragettes wore bright red lipstick as a way of protesting for the right to vote.

15. Beginning in the Roman times, men wore lip color until the 18th or 19th century.  Even George Washington wore lip color.

16. In 1915, the state legislature of Kansas introduced a law prohibiting women under the age of 44 from wearing lipstick. Fortunately, it did not pass.

17.  The state of Pennsylvania allowed men to annul their marriage is on the grounds their wife wore lipstick or other makeup during their courtship.

Let me know what you think!  I found it fascinating.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What is a computer?

Monitor, Display, Screen, Computer If you read yesterday's column, you know I wrote about the women who worked for NASA as Human computers but I wanted to know more, such as when did computers begin, etc.

Apparently the term has been used for much longer than I guessed.  I figured it was a fairly new term but it came into the use by 1613.

At this time, the term referred to a person who carried out mathematical calculations.  In general, it was a male only profession until the late 1890's when a Harvard astronomer hired women to process astronomical data.

These women classified stars according to their spectrum for a catalog first published in 1897.  Some of these women had degrees while other did not.  It didn't matter because they all got paid as if they were paid as if they were unskilled.  About 25 to 50 cents an hour.  As a matter of fact, by the beginning of the 20th century, working as a computer was considered woman's work. At this time, everything was given in terms of "girl years " or "kilo-girls".

During World War I, women calculated trajectories and economic information for production both for the United States and for England.  Many of the women employed created usable tables which could be used on the front lines.

During the depression, one of the projects, the Mathematical table project used women to help create these tables.  By World War II women performed many of the calculations because of a shortage of men.  Women helped with the numerical equations associated with nuclear fission.

Furthermore, the first computer programmers were women taken from the computer pools.  They worked on one of the earliest computers at the University of Pennsylvania during World War II.   You know about NASA but women helped with the Manhattan project by providing calculations for Nuclear Fission.  This continued until the late 60's as computer became powerful enough to take over.

I honestly thought the term "computer" was quite recent.  I did not know it had been in use  for over 300 years.  Let me know what your think!