Tuesday, June 2, 2009

www.icouldsewdothat.com is live!

I'm moving my blog format to www.icouldsewdothat.com. Please follow me as I move on to my new location. I'm very excited to finally have my own url, see you there!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Swap Announcement: 06.14.09 5pm @ The Parkside


I have good news everyone! Our friends at The Parkside located in NorthEast Baltimore City, MD at 4709 Harford Rd. Baltimore, MD 21214, have offered to host our upcoming summer clothing swap. The swap will be in full swing by 5pm and will run through 9pm. Please bring at least one bag of clothing (feel free to bring more) and accessories and then swap them out for something new. We will have demonstrations on how to refashion/recycle clothing that you love. Please bring only items that you can wear on your body (jewelry, bags, clothes, shoes, etc). This swap is open to men, women, and children and the more folks we have the better selection of clothing we'll have to choose from, so bring a bag of clothes and a few friends to enjoy a glass of wine, or a tasty beverage, dish, and do some free shopping on Sunday, June 14th, 2009 at The Parkside.


If you would like to volunteer to help sort clothing or provide racks/hangers please contact me.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Enjoying the fruits of this season's labor.

So this post is just a quick update, sadly no photos to add either. However, you will be happy to know that I have been busily cutting and drilling away on my self-watering vegetable garden containers; and I'm nearly done! I've also been enjoying my time out of school and used these last two weeks to get some seriously overdue spring cleaning done. I have been organizing like nobody's business, but I promise to get something interesting up for you soon. In the meantime, tonight I was able to enjoy my first harvest of the season! The mesclun mix that I am growing in a window box with organic potting soil has already grown enough to make a salad for myself, my husband, and my daughter tonight. This means that even if I never grew another salad, it will have paid for itself. Hurrah! More importantly, it was much more convenient to take my little scissors out back and cut exactly what I needed for dinner and the fresh, perfect, tasty little leaves are far superior to the mushy, bruised mess that I pay nearly $4.00 for at my local grocery store. Growing your own lettuce is super easy and well worth the small effort required to get it started. It's not too late to get your salad garden going either, so what are you waiting for; get digging!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

10 Minute Transformation: Funky 70's Tie Recycled into Colorful Belt



This is seriously the easiest project that I've ever done, but the reward is big. There are many reasons that you might want to make your own belt:
1. It will fit exactly the way you want it to
2. No animals will have been harmed in the making of your belt
3. Belts are freaking expensive! Even a cheap Target belt is almost 20 bones, this cost me about $1.50
Here's how to do it:

1. Go to the thrift store, or some man's closet (ask permission before you steal this man's tie please) and get yourself a fun necktie. I purchased mine at the local Goodwill, where they weigh clothes by the pound. I purchased two ties for about $.50.
2. Get yourself (2) D rings. If you can find an old belt at the thrift store with good rings, but no personality, pick it up and strip it down for the hardware. If not, a fabric store will have them in assorted sizes, usually for about $1.00.
3. You can measure this belt in one of two ways. First, you can find a belt that you know and love and use that to measure your new belt. Add about an inch so that you'll have a 1/2" seam allowance to work with. If you don't have a belt that you know and love, take a tape measure and measure around the area where you like to wear your belts (some like waist, some like hips, it's your belt...you get to decide!). Again, add 1" to this measurement.
4. Cut your tie to length. I used pinking shears and cut off at the fat end. Keep your scraps; they are great for applique!
5. Fold over one end of your belt and sew it in place. Take the other end (same side) and insert it through both D rings and sew into place.
6. Rock out in your new belt!

Oh the Humanity: Hipster Love/Hate

I read this article and litterally lol'd at my desk today. I snickered because I have been both the giver and receiver of hipster mockery. Sadly, I can really identifiy with far too much of this article's content and therefore felt compelled to share it with you all, who will undoubtedly get a chortle out of it too.

The Hip Game of Mocking the Hipsters

by RUSSELL SMITH

Hipsters are taking a great bashing on the Internet these days, and it's hard not to join in the uncharitable fun - contemporary urban fashion is at its most ridiculous point since at least the late 1960s, and there is something so cleverly smug about the skinny-jeans artist brigade that they cannot help but annoy. You have probably seen the "Hipster Olympics" video on YouTube, a fake contest in the spirit of Monty Python's "Upper Class Twit of the Year," in which young New Yorkers compete in choosing ironic T-shirts, photographing themselves for MySpace and criticizing a jock. So now I encourage you to check out my current favourite hipster-mocking site, the rudely named "Look at This [Expletive] Hipster," which is a collection of candid photos of real people on the blog site Tumblr. LATFH, as we will call it, is modelled on the famously cruel Vice magazine "Dos and Don'ts" photos, in which an anonymous, violently misogynist and racist, and very funny voice made comments about unfortunate people photographed in the street. There is the same tone here. But where Vice magazine praises, with masturbatory enthusiasm, some of its subjects (the Dos), LATFH is purely negative. It's all Don'ts. Which were always the funniest anyway. Here are three textbook hipsters, for example, standing on the lawn of some college campus, all stick men with mandatory hipster slumped shoulders and mops of unwashed hair, in their super-narrow jeans and their striped T-shirts and their oversized glasses, and they are looking with some boredom at a girl sitting on the lawn in front of them, and she has a blanket over her legs. The caption reads, "There better be some torn leggings, bruised thighs and tattered cowboy boots under that blanket, or we are out of here." Which actually made me laugh out loud. Or here is an extremely skinny, pale, androgynous boy in dark glasses, sitting next to his identical-looking girlfriend on the subway, and the caption reads, "I'm sorry. This is the last time I'll ask, but are we a lesbian couple?" And here is a guy with the most unbelievably hideous, greasy mullet, big 1970s spectacles, an ugly mustache and a nasty acrylic sweater. He is saying, "Why yes, I do have ironic pubic hair." Now yes, of course, this is a juvenile and conservative humour, and it is not cool to find sexual androgyny ridiculous; it usually indicates some kind of insecurity. I have been on the receiving end of it so much in my life I am surprised by my own hostility here. Why is it that the hipsters irritate me so? I try, I try hard, to see something subversive or rebellious or aesthetically interesting in their determinedly ugly clothes and their determinedly unimpressed stance and I just can't.
I see a certain hypocrisy: The hipster pose is of someone who rejects fashion, who is wearing second-hand clothes because she is poor and refusing to buy into consumer culture, who makes fun of sensual subcultures such as Goths and dandies, and yet the outfits she invariably concocts are so odd they cross the line into flamboyance. If you combine your second-hand 1970s dress with huge plastic sunglasses and canvas running shoes, you can't deny you want to be looked at. And then of course there's the weedy, whiny music, and the lack of interest in any cause or intellectual issue, other than possibly environmentalism (the default cause of the sensitive dropout). The twist on hipster mockery, of course, is that (like all vicious satire), it comes from inside. That is, you have to recognize the subtle hipster tropes, which means that you are probably pretty much a hipster already. I myself wouldn't be so irritated if I didn't live in the thick of them. Vice magazine is the prime example of this self-deprecation, and LATFH itself is deeply in-the-know. One picture, of a guy in a plaid jacket listening to headphones, is captioned, "If I didn't already know I was listening to Animal Collective on these headphones, I would bet myself $100 that I was listening to Animal Collective on these headphones." Which is, of course, only funny to a hipster. Indeed, this kind of photo blog, and Tumblr itself, are madly hip. This is exactly how hipsters communicate. Tumblr is a site where, for free, you can create your own "tumblelog," a blog that is usually a collection of photos, links and oddities rather than of written entries. Like Twitter, it represents microblogging, a trend away from the page-long texts and arguments of blogs and toward brief flashes. You could call it post-literate. And like any good Internet meme, LATFH has spawned iterations with similar names. "Look At This Lovely Hamster," for example, is exactly the same, except it's pictures of hamsters. Is it a parody, is it ironic, or is it completely serious? What's the difference? I can't tell. That's how hip it is.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2 Days, 12 Hours, 44 minutes, and 29 seconds

In my effort to live naturally, frugally, healthfully I noticed a glaringly obvious hypocrisy in my life; I've been a smoker for about 16 years. I did manage to quit once for about 1 of those years, but that was before Grad school. My husband often jokes that I'm the best quitter he knows, I quit all of the time and it is depressingly true. Most often I only relapse for a cigarette or a few, but occasionally I creep back up to a pack a week or harassing strangers for nicotine outside of bars. It's embarassing... So, this week I have taken a few steps to prevent my constant relapsing (ex. Monday night) and I found an interesting iGoogle gadget offered by Quitplan. I don't actually use their services, but I love the free gadget. I enter, the last time I smoked, the number of cigarettes per day, the cost per pack and let it do it's thing. Each time I log onto the internet it trumpets that I have now been smoke free for 2 days, 12 hrs.... and I haven't smoked 38 cigarettes, I've saved myself $11.40 and and I've added 5 hours to my life! Each time I relapse I have to set it back to 0, which is a tangible reminder of my momentary lapse in judgement. Fortunately I have not yet used those opportunities to return to full blown smoking, only treated them for what they are...a ridiculous step back from my goal. However, I find that the coutner provides me the best kind of unpatronizing support that I respond to best. I also have a few additional resources in my bag of tricks including, gum, nicotine mints, chocolate, and stretchy pants. In an effort to ensure my success I am taking 2 months to let myself go. I do still plan to lift weights and exercise, but I have promised myself not to notice the extra pounds that seem to be packing on fairly quickly. With nothing to signal my brain that the end of the meal has arrived (because I've been smoking after every meal since about 15 years of age) I am constantly overeating. Sure, this would be an issue long term, but losing weight has always been easy for me, quitting smoking has not. So, be prepared for lots of drawstring skirt and pants tutorials and plenty of t-shirt material outfits because I'm looking forward to letting it all hang out, if only briefly while I deal with my nicotine addiction. I'd like my cookie now please...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Swap?


It's that time of year again, when I drag out last year's goodies and donate the duds that I never did wear and pick-up some new fun spring clothes at my local Goodwill. Goodwill is a great way to recycle clothes and get a great deal, but I like the idea of free even more than cheap, plus I'd love the opportunity to hang out with my friends and neighbors. For this very reason I am considering hosting a clothing swap in Baltimore City. I'd like to gauge a general interest, so if you would be willing to participate please comment so that I can get a rough estimate. Also, if you have any friends that you think would be interested, please pass this post along. I'd like the swap to be open to men and women. I think that the more people we can get, the more opportunity we'll have to find new sizes and flavors of ready to wear or alter goodness. I'll post details as this develops and if it's a small group, we'll use my living room. If I can get a real group of friends I have a local place with plenty of room in mind.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rockin' Refashion: The Twisted Sister Tote




A really good friend of mine gave me an awesome 80's Twisted Sister shirt and told me to make something out of it; so I did. I made a rockin' tote bag that I can't wait to show off (pics to be posted soon). To make your own bag out of one of your retired, but beloved t-shirt you will need:

2 L or XL t-shirts
tailor's chalk
needle & thread
pins

You can use a machine or sew by hand, I did both. The project for a total noob like me took about 2 hours. Here's how I did it.

1. Measure 4" up from the bottom hem of your tshirt and draw a line straigh across the bottom of the shirt parallel to the hem. Next, cut through both layers of fabric, parallel to the hem and you will have a 4" wide tube. Keep this, it will be used to make the handle later. I chose a single long handle that can be word over the body, but if you prefer to make two short handles for a more traditiona tote, you can certain do that too. The world is your oyster and this is your bag, make whatever kind of handle you like to carry.

2. Draw the shape you like, using your tailor's chalk, to include the coolest part of your t. This will make the body of the bag. I chose to make a square, but you could make a heart, a circle, a triangle, or whatever shape captures the coolest part of your t. Cut this shape through both layers of t-shirt and then use it as a stencil to trace onto your other tshirt. If chose not to make the bag reversible and used a far less cool shirt to make the inside. You could use two totally awesome shirts and make a bag that is completely reversible inside out. Also, my design was cool on the front and back, so I used just the Twisted Sister shirt to make the front and back. You, however, can mix and match your shirts to reverse front and back, or in and out.

3. Pin your shirts together with the cool pictures facing in and lay your other shirt on top, making a super cool t-shirt sandwhich. Make sure to use your tailor's chalk to mark the top of your design, if you can't easily tell up from down.

4. Sew the sides and bottom edges of your shirts together. I chose an interesting looking stretchy stitch on my machine, but choose one that you like, but is designed to work on stretch knits. If you have an older machine, a medium width zig zag stitch will do. I used cool bright green thread to complement my t. Sew around the edges removing the pins before your needle gets to them. (Beweare the broken needle from trying to sew over your pins!) Be sure to leave the top open, so that you can put all of your awesome stuff in when you are done.

5. Turn your bag inside right (cook picture on the outside). Fold the top of the bag down, all of the way around about 1/2" and pin in place (pin to what will be the inside of the bag). Sew around to attach the outside t-shirt to the inside t-shirt. Do not sew straight through, or you won't be able to open the bag.

6. Finally, take your t-shirt tube from step 1 and fold in half, then fold in half again. Pin the edges and sew along the seam from end to end. This will make a 1" wide length of t-shirt to be used for the handle. Pin the handle in place and try on your bag to be sure that you like the length. Finally, hand sew on using a running stitch to attach the handles.

7. Rock out with your bag out!

Spring Fever: Gardening and Building Jumps...Wait, What?!?



It's Spring again finally. The birds are chirping, I'm in my garden, and my husband is committing gravity defying feats of stupidity. It's great fun, in fact I wish that I was spending more time on the jump and less time digging in the berms.
So, I've been splitting my time between building the landing and working on my self-watering planters. So far I have mangaged to get my green onions, parsley, basil, strawberries and beets all into their containers. I have also planted some additional rosemary, because my previous year's work was being bullied by the oregano and I was hoping that the addition of a fully grown brother would aid in it's survival; we'll see. As you may know from reading my previous blogs, I am responsible for the (attractive) front yard garden and my husband is responsible for the (horrible mud pit) back yard, also known as the pump track, or dirt jump area. Our friends and neighbors came out to see Jamie's inaugural jump and even sent us pictures. Jamie, our friend Greg, and I spent the better part of two weekends building this madness, which suprisingly looks much smaller in pictures. I am responsible for the digging, also knows as the berm b*tch, and Jamie and Greg were on ramp and platform building detail. The first picture is from the side at ground level, while the second was taken from on top of the launching platform. Here's to another great season. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I Did It! My Very First Thrift Store Refashion Project: Dress to Skirt


So, I have some very exciting news. I was the lucky winner (highest bidder) on a used Necchi 535FA sewing machine. I picked my sewing machine up for under $60.00 with shipping. If you had read my earlier blogs I had purchased a new Singer about a year ago with terrible results. The tension was a mess and the plastic reverse lever stripped off on my very first attempt to sew. I promptly returned it for a refund, dreaming of the very expensive Husqvarna Viking that would one day be mine. I finally go tired of hand sewing and set about finding a machine. This baby is all metal, solid and purrs like a kitten. It worked perfect out of the box and even though I have no idea what I'm doing is super easy to use. I'm not stoked abuot the 4 step button hole, but hey, at least it makes one! So, for my very first sewing project I made my stepfather a bag to cover his birthday gift out of the discarded sweat pant legs that I had laying around in my scrap pile. But tonight I have finished my very first sewing refashion. I recently went thrifting at Goodwill and bought enough close to supplement my wardrobe for the entire year for the cost of one jacket at Nordstrom's. A few of them fit right off the rack and a few were even new with tags from New York & Co. and Target. The best though were my works of art waiting to be realized. For about $4.00 a piece I bought some beautiful dresses that were all too big. Lucky for me I dislike dresses anyway, so I wouldn't feel bad about cutting them up and making them look much cooler. My very first project that I completed tonight was to take a rather boring 80's light cotton dress and turn it into a skirt. This was super easy, even for a total novice like myself. It took me about an hour (yes, mom I should be doing my finance homework, but a girl needs a little fun sometimes!), but that's because I am super slow on the machine and I had to craft a drawstring belt. Luckily the dress had two ties, so I cut them off and then cut the dress off at the armpits. I folded the waist down to make the skirt the lenght that I liked (about 2") and then I sewed a medium zigzag stich all the way around to form my casing. Finally, I noted that the two strings weren't quite long enough to give me the length that I needed for a belt. However, I took a t-shirt from the scrap bin, cut the bottom hem off and sewed into the middle of my two matching strings. This way,the tshirt part is in the casing where no one will see it anyway, and my belt is now the perfect length. I used a safety pin and ran it through the end of the string, snipped a little hole in the front of my casing and inched the safety pin dragging the belt through and out the other side. My new green and purple paisley skirt is adorable and fits like a dream. Best of all, the drawstring waist hides all of my newbie sewing sins. My husband joked that I looked like a hippie, but when this summer's 90 degree weather hits and I'm rocking my new featherweight cotton skirt I think I'll get the last laugh.

*I don't have a working camera yet, but as soon as I do I'll post pictures of how the skirt would look as a dress and how it looks now.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Oh No! What's left?


I just read a Discovery News article about how Lobsters and Crabs feel pain...I'm so depressed. I love seafood and thought that I was being a good human being by helping the environment and living a pescatarian diet. Then I go and read this: crustaceans possess "high cognitive ability and sentience." I watched Alton Brown tell me that they had the same nervous system and intelligence as a cock roach, and who would feel bad about eating them...if they weren't so icky. I'm a good Southern Maryland girl who loves her crustaceans and can't envision a summer without some tasty Maryland crabs. I've often wondered about the little noises I hear emmanating from the pot that sounded a little like tiny, crabby screams. I shudder just thinking back on how awful the experience of being tempted with a tasty chicken leg, rammed into a crate with a bushel of your enemies trying to rip your legs off, then dusted with pepper and salt, and tossed into boiling water. I can't promise to give them totally up just yet, but I'll try to eat fewer and be quicker about their dispatch. If I find out that my chocolate can feel pain I'm giving up on all of this and going straight back to raw cow.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

EarthTainers


I'm very concerned about growing a bountiful harvest of veggies and conserving water at the same time this season. My seedlings are doing well and I'll be preparing to plant in the next week or so, so I've been reviwing multiple container types. Raised beds, planters, feed troughs and many other options exist that are pretty and will grace my front yard, but they do waste a lot of water and aren't ideal for vegetables. Herbs will do wonderfully in these, but tomatoes suck up a lot of H2O and that is both expensive and wasteful. I encountered a very interesting article on something called the EarthTainer. This was developed by Ray Newstead as a self-watering vegetable container that can be made by anyone using his free designs and purchasing inexpensive items from big box stores. Gary Ibsen's Tomato Fest covered a great story on Ray's planters and includes a link to the plans and videos on installation. I'll be purchasing enough to make several of these to put in my unused and full-sun driveway space so that I can put my little seedlings out so that I can begin to literally enjoy the fruits of my labor as soon as possible.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Interesting Article : Mark Bittman's "Putting Meat Back in it's Place"

This is a great article in the New York Times by Mark Bittman who encourages everyone to help save the planet, by eating at least a little less meat.

June 11, 2008
The Minimalist
Putting Meat Back in Its Place
By MARK BITTMAN
LET’S suppose you’ve decided to eat less meat, or are considering it. And let’s ignore your reasons for doing so. They may be economic, ethical, altruistic, nutritional or even irrational. The arguments for eating less meat are myriad and well-publicized, but at the moment they’re irrelevant, because what I want to address here is (almost) purely pragmatic: How do you do it?
I’m not talking about eating no meat; I’m talking about cutting back, which in some ways is harder than quitting. Vegetarian recipes and traditions are everywhere. But in the American style of eating — with meat usually at the center of the plate — it can be difficult to eat two ounces of beef and call it dinner.
Cutting back on meat is not an isolated process. Unlike, say, taking up meditation or exercise, it usually has consequences for others.
The keys are to keep at least some of your decisions personal so they affect no one but yourself and, when they do affect others, minimize the pain and don’t preach. (No one likes a proselytizer.)
On the other hand, don’t apologize; by serving your friends or family less meat you’re certainly doing them no harm, and may be doing them good — as long as what you serve is delicious, and that’s easy enough.
Reducing the meat habit can be done, and it doesn’t have to make you crazy. Although there will undoubtedly be times you’ll have cravings, they’ll never give you the shakes. So, in no particular order, here are some suggestions to ease your path to eating less meat.
1. Forget the protein thing. Roughly simultaneously with your declaration that you’re cutting back on meat, someone will ask “How are you going to get enough protein?” The answer is “by being omnivorous.” Plants have protein, too; in fact, per calorie, many plants have more protein than meat. (For example, a cheeseburger contains 14.57 grams of protein in 286 calories, or about .05 grams of protein per calorie; a serving of spinach has 2.97 grams of protein in 23 calories, or .12 grams of protein per calorie; lentils have .07 grams per calorie.) By eating a variety, you can get all essential amino acids.
You also don’t have to eat the national average of a half-pound of meat a day to get enough protein. On average, Americans eat about twice as much as the 56 grams of daily protein recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (a guideline that some nutritionists think is too high). For anyone eating a well-balanced diet, protein is probably not an issue.
2. Buy less meat. How many ounces of meat is a serving? For years, the U.S.D.A.’s recommendation has been four ounces a person, yet most of us have long figured one-and-a-half to two pounds of meat is the right amount for four people. (Our per capita consumption of meat hasn’t changed much over the years, and remains at about a half-pound a day.) Change that amount, and both your cooking style and the way the plate looks will change, and quickly.
Remember that most traditional styles of cooking use meat as a condiment or a treat. This is true in American frontier cooking, where salt pork and bacon were used to season beans; in Italy, where a small piece of meat is served as a secondo (rarely more than a few ounces, even in restaurants); and around the world, where bits of meat are added to stir-fries and salads, as well as bean, rice and noodle dishes. In all of these cases, meat is seen as a treasure, not as something to be gobbled up as if it were air.
For many of us who grew up in the United States in the last 60 years, this is the toughest hurdle. The message (remember “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner”?) was in our psyche from before we could hold a fork. We may have vegetarian nights, or seafood nights, but when we have meat nights, there’s often a big piece of meat (or poultry) on the plate, with starch and vegetable to the side.
3. Get it out of the center of the plate.
You don’t have to jump into utterly unfamiliar territory; just try tweaking the proportions a bit. You might start by buying skinnier pork chops, or doling out smaller slices of steak .
Build the meal around what you used to consider side dishes — not only vegetables, but also grains, beans, salads and even dessert, if you consider fruit a dessert — rather than the meat. Nearly every culture has dishes in which meat is used to season rice or another grain. Consider dirty rice, fried rice, pilaf, biryani, arroz con pollo: the list is almost endless.
Similarly, there isn’t a country in the world that cooks legumes that doesn’t toss a little meat in now and then. And mentioning stir-fries and pasta dishes here seems almost too obvious.
But you need not go transcultural. When you make stew, soup or another dish with many ingredients, you make a decision about its main ingredient and about the quantity of that ingredient. If you think of meat stews or soups, chicken pot pie, even lasagna, you’ll quickly recognize that the decision to load them up with meat or to use meat as an ingredient of equal importance to the others is entirely yours.
The same is true when you’re grilling. Compare these statements: “We’re grilling a leg of lamb and throwing a few vegetables on there,” and “We’re grilling vegetables and breads, and will throw a few chunks of lamb on there.” Again, if you see the meat as a treasure, things change.
4. Buy more vegetables, and learn new ways to cook them.
If you’re a good cook, you already know you can make a meal out of pretty much anything. If you open your refrigerator and it’s stocked with vegetables, that’s what you’re going to cook. You’ll augment the vegetables with pantry items: pasta, rice, beans, cheese, eggs, good canned fish, bacon, even a small amount of meat. We’re not discussing vegetarianism, remember?
If you’re not a good cook, you have the opportunity to learn how to cook in what could turn out to be the style of the future.
5. Make nonmeat items as convenient as meat. There is a myth, even among experienced cooks, that few things are as convenient as meat. And while there’s no arguing that grilling, broiling or pan-grilling a steak or chop is fast, it’s equally true that almost no one considers such a preparation a one-dish meal.
By thinking ahead, and working ahead, you can make cooking vegetables as convenient as what in India is often called “non-veg.” Spend an hour or two during the course of the week precooking all the nonmeat foods you think take too long for fast dinners.
Store cooked beans in the refrigerator or freezer and reheat as needed, with seasonings. Keeping precooked beans in the freezer will change your cooking habits more easily than any other simple strategy.
Reheat cooked whole grains (the microwave is good for this) for breakfast with milk or dinner with savory seasonings. Wash tender greens and store in a salad spinner, covered bowl, or plastic bag. Most other vegetables can be poached, shocked in ice water, drained, and served cold or reheated in any fashion you like — sautéed quickly in butter, steamed, grilled or made into a gratin or something equally substantial.
6. Make some rules. Depending on your habits, it may be no bacon at breakfast; it may be no burgers at lunch; it may be no fast food, ever; it may be “eat a salad instead of a sandwich three times a week,” or “eat a vegetarian dinner three times a week.” It may mean meatless Fridays. It may mean (this is essentially what I do) meatless breakfasts and lunches and all-bets-are-off dinners.
7. Look at restaurant menus differently. If you’re cutting back on meat, there are three restaurant strategies. Two are easy, and one is hard, but probably the most important.
The first: go to restaurants that don’t feature meat-heavy dishes. It’s harder to go overboard eating at most Asian restaurants, and traditional Italian is fairly safe also.
The second: Once in a while, forget the rules and pledges, and eat like a real American; obviously you can’t do this every time, but it’s an option.
The third is the tricky one: Remember you’re doing this voluntarily, for whatever reasons seem important to you (or at least seemed, until you were confronted with the lamb shanks on the menu). Then order from the parts of the menu that contain little or no meat: salads, sides, soups and (often, anyway) appetizers. If all else fails, offer to share a meat course among two or even three or four people; many restaurant entrees are too big anyway.
I distinctly remember (no great feat; it was just over a year ago), the first time I was in a restaurant and ordered two salads and a bowl of soup.
My companion, who had long known me as a meat-first kind of guy, asked, “Really?”
The waiter asked, “How would you like that served?” And then life went on as usual. Wasn’t bad at all.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Blue, Green Garden?


It's seedling time again, but this year I wanted to use grow lights. However, traditional grow lights use a lot of energy that is wasted in the form of heat. Also, it's difficult to grow seedlings in a small home or apartment with these lights because of the high heat that they put out. Luckily, I stumbled across L.E.D. grow lights designed for all stages of plant growing. Blue bulbs for seedlings, red for flowering, and a cool cube of mixed red and blue for all-purpose indoor gardening. I've read a few reviews that sound promising, so I contacted EarthLED for their recommendations on the type and number of bulbs I'll need for my flats. He recommended the EarthLED GrowLED 38. He also indicated, "When the GrowLEDs are hung 3 to 12 Inches above plants each GrowLED 38 Illuminates 1-2 Square Feet of growing Area." I am going to order three bulbs so that I can be sure to illuminate all of my flats. I'll update with photos and progress as I go. If you have experience with L.E.D. grow lights; please comment!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Twice Baked Potato: Easy and Nutritious

Potatoes are super easy to make and a tasty snack or meal. Potatoes are high in vitamin c, minerals like potassium, are high in iron, protein and fiber. In short, potatoes are very good for you. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to put a lot of unhealthy things in our potatoes. Still, even if eaten with addition of a small amount of unhealthy foods, if replacing something even less healthy (empty, sugary caolories for example) potatoes can be good for you. I've been facing a tough semester and have had far less time to prepare food than I would like, but rather than turning to pre-packaged processed foods, I've tried to find comforting low-maintenance foods and twice baked potatoes fit the bill. You can use lot of ingredients to fill your twice-baked potatoes, but here is what I made tonight.

4 potatoes (russet)
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp chives
1 clove of garlic (smashed and finely chopped)
salt + pepper (to taste)

Simply scrub your potatoes and pop them in the oven (pre-heated to 350 degrees). I prefer my toaster oven for this task because it uses less energy and takes less time to heat up. Bake your potatoes for about 60 minutes (70 if you like really crisp skins). About half-way through, flip and poke a few holes in your potatoes with a fork. Remove the cooked potatoes with a pot holder and slice off the tops. Scoop out the tender flesh with a teaspoon, leaving enough to help the skins hold their shape. Put into the bowl and mash with your butter, milk, cream, olive oil, etc. and then add additional ingredients and mix. Scoop the fluffy mixture back into the potatoes and up the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the tops begin to brown. I enjoy mine topped with a bit of sour cream. Enjoy!

Mark Bittman: What's wrong with what we eat


Charles Moore: Sailing the Great Pacific Garbage Patch


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Save Money: Stop Washing Your Face!

As you may know from reading my blog, I decided to eschew facial cleansing products and moisturizers and have been using olive oil instead. It's less expensive and breaks the cycle of irritated, oily, acne-prone skin. I strayed once, for about a week, with terrible results; my face was a mess. Luckily, olive oil doesn't hold a grudge and within one week my skin had returned to its dewey, soft, small-pored glory. Now, my favorite dermatology blog has let me know what I suspected; I don't have to wash my face in the morning. I used to be so jealous of my husband, who never cares for his skin, and continues to have a perfect complexion. Each morning, upon waking, he goes into the bathroom and rinses his face with cold water and moves on. The nerve! I decided that since my skin was starting to look pretty good that I would try it to...and guess what? My face is great! I did a little searching on the derm blog and found an article backing this up with a sensible explanation: your face knows what it's doing, so leave it alone :)
Brilliant!

How to Save Money on Facial Moisturizers: Stop Washing Your Face
What is the ultimate in natural skin care products? Moisturizers from your own skin. Treat yourself everyday to an exclusive facial moisturizer, better than anything you’ll find at Neiman Marcus. Let your skin produce its own natural oils and don’t wash them away.
It always impresses me how women will spend hundreds of dollars on skin cleansers and toners, then spend hundreds more dollars on exclusive facial moisturizers to replace the “cellular” oils that they just stripped off.
Here is a great tip: there is no better moisturizer for your face than its own natural oils. Your skin goes to great trouble to produce “exclusive,” highly modified fats, like ceramides and cholesterols to keep its surface smooth and well protected. Why not keep them there? The best natural cure for dry, dull skin is your skin’s oils.
If you have normal to dry skin:
Wash your face at night with a gentle cleanser such as Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser. Be sure to remove all traces of makeup, especially along the hairline. Rinse well and pat dry.
In the morning, wash with just water. Skip the soap.
If you have oily skin:
Wash your face at night with a gentle cleanser such as Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Daily Cleanser. Keep in mind that scrubbing harder will not make your skin less oily. Over-scrubbing can actually irritate your skin and cause it to secrete more oils. Rinse well and pat dry.
If you are still too oily, consider adding a toner in the morning such as Neutrogena Deep Clean Invigorating Dual Action Toner which contains salicylic acid.
The bottom line: allow the natural oils in your skin to stay on your skin, giving you a truly natural glow.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stretching Your Dollars: Potato Soup 3 Ways


We've had another cold snap here in Baltimore and couldn't think of anything tastier or more comforting than potato soup. In these tough economic times it will also help stretch your budget. I've found three tasty ways to cook potato soup and I'll share my recipes here. Also, The first night's recipe was designed for 6 servings, but the second night, only two. I took the leftovers from the first night and dumped them in with the second night and it was super tasty and gave us two full meals. I served a salad and crusty bread with our soup and our bellies were sufficiently filled. I've used vegetarian tofu sausage in my recipe, but you can use whatever you like from kielbasa to chorizo and with equally tasty results. I used real butter in my recipes, but vegetarian/vegan spread would work just as well. Also, if you don't have heavy cream on hand, evaporated milk works in a pinch. I highly recommend the good stuff though, once in a blue moon isn't likely to destroy your diet or your health. Finally, a stick blender isn't required if you have a blender or a food processor, but as someone who loves to make lots of soup, mine has really saved me a lot of time and aggravation. I have this one and it's been kicking out some heavy duty soups in creamy perfection for many, many moons now.


Here's what I did:


1st Night: Vichyssoise

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

5 leeks (white part only), thinly sliced

4 Cups Chicken stock (veggie stock for my veggie friends)

3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 + 1/2 Cups heavy cream

1 Cup Milk (I used fat free, but soy will also work and make it even creamier tasting)

2 Tbsp chopped chives, or spring onion tops

salt + pepper to taste


In a soup pot cook leeks and butter, sprinkled with salt + pepper, over medium heat until the leeks are soft, but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and puree your soup using your handy-dandy stick blender, or a blender (in batches). Add 1 cup of cream + 1 cup of milk and return to simmer, stirring occasionally. Vichyssoise should next be chilled, but my family and I like it warm; it's good both ways. If eating warm, let the soup cool for about 10 minutes, then stir in the last 1/2 cup of cream, top with chives and enjoy.


Night 2: Potato, Leek, and Tofu Chorizo Soup


2 servings of leftovers from night 1

1/4 tsp cumin seed

1/4 tsp caraway seed

1 Leek, thinkly sliced (white part only)

2 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth)

1 russet potato, peeled and diced

1 link of tofu chorizo (or about 4oz of any other smoked sausage)

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp heavy cream

1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves, thinly sliced (about two handfuls)

salt+pepper to taste


In a soup pot toast the seeds over medium heat, stirring regularly for about 2 minutes, then remove and set aside. Next, add teh butter and leek and cook until softened, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Next, stir in the broth and potato and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is tender, about 10 minutes. Finally, add the seeds, sausage, cream, salt+pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes. If you have leftover soup from last night, dump it in here. Stir in the spinach just before serving.


Night 3: Potato, Kale, and Tofu Chorizo


1 tofu chorizo link (or about 4 oz of smoked sausage)

2 + 3/4 Cups chicken broth

3/4 lb small red-skinned potatoes, thinly sliced (or if you only have russets, subsitute, but peel and dice)

1 Cup white wine

5 Cups fresh kale leaves, thinly sliced

1/4 tsp caraway seeds


Saute tofu chorizo over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, potatoes, and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add kale and craway seeds and simmer uncovered until potatoes and kale are tender, about 10 minutes more. Season with salt+pepper and Enjoy!




Sunday, February 22, 2009

College E-books?

I'm finishing up my master's degree through the University of Maryland, where it feels like I've been in school for my entire life. Books are incredibly expensive, although for my master's in business it hasn't been nearly as costly as my undergraduate degrees, one of which was in Art History. Those enormous books with lots of glossy photos of paintings were hundreds of dollars a piece. In the past I had always purchased used books from Half.com or Amazon because I could conserve natural resources and my money at the same time. However, this semester I had a new option, E-books. I was a bit nervous at first because having a book means that you can take it with you anywhere and you can highlight all over it, which I do excessively. The cost of the e-book was significantly less, however, and I couldn't find it used. I purchased my book through our college bookstore which gave me access to a book offered by CourseSmart. I've been using it for about four weeks now and well, it's not so bad. I can highlight electronically and it keeps the highlighting until I choose to remove it. I can make notes and I chose the internet accesbile version. You can download a drm version as well, but then you can only access it from one computer. I work from my daughter's computer, my work laptop, and my husband's mac and I really enjoy the flexibility. There area few downsides to e-books though, including the fact that it wears my eyes out very quickly, I can only choose from two zoom settings, and there is no way to save your page. However, I imagine that eventually the software will progress to include some of these additional "needs". Their website boasts that they have saved over 175,000 trees so far, so I feel good about conserving the environment, and my cashflow. Now I'm off to do some exciting reading on finance in my e-book online. I only hope I can remember what page I was on...

Friday, February 20, 2009

City police search for man who fired @ officer in Lauraville

City police were searching for a man who flashed a weapon at police and nearly ran over an officer before fleeing on foot.

read more digg story

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Olive Oil Update

So...I'll admit, I cheated on my facial regimine. It all started when we left for a mountain biking trip to Cleveland and I couldn't find anything to put my olive oil in that wouldn't make a mess all over my suitcase, so I took my old facial products. It's benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, it's good for me, and it's only for one day, and....and... Ehhh, not so much. I used the other products all weekend, and then it crept into the week, and then...it started. My face really broke out. Boy, did I make it angry this time. I had white heads, black heads, a cyst. Egads! Luckily, this weekend I came to my senses and returned to my skin's one true love; the olive oil. It welcomed me back with open arms, smaller pores, and it's calming, healing powers. In a few days, I should be right as rain. Phew; that was a close one! Now what did I do with that really large Whole Foods paper bag?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mozy: Environmentally Friendly Back-up?

A few years ago my labtop power source went up and I lost everything. My pictures, my homework, my address book. I was angry. I was angry because my laptop was one month out ot the warranty date, I was angry because I couldn't afford to buy a new one so soon, I was angry because I had lost everything, but mostly i was angry because I hadn't thought to back everything up and the first thing everyone says is, "Oh did you have your data backed up?" and I, knowing better, had to lower my head and answer no. So recently, as I am working on my grad-school papers was thinking, what if I lost everything? I would back up with cd, but that's super wasteful and really inconvenient. I could buy an external hard drive, but they are expensive and I don't have dedicated office space. I work from several different computers all over our house and sometimes at work or coffee shops. This posed a unique issue in that I needed to get my work from a single source available anywhere that I had internet access. During the superbowl I noted a commercial for a company named Mozy. I actually thought that the commercial was terribly lame, but a great concept. I can store all of my data online! I can back-up my computer from anywhere? Brilliant! It turns out that you can actually get free storage space from them too. If you need more space than they offer for free (lots of photos, videos, etc), then they only charge you $4.95 a month. That seems perfectly reasonable to me and for now I don't have enough data to require the subscription service yet anyway. So, I'm beginning to use it today and I'll try to remember to post up about my experience, but its drag-n-drop and compatible with Windows and Mac so I'm pretty excited. If you'd like to try it yourself we can both get some free space if you click on the link below and sign up:

"https://mozy.com/?ref=7JZK8L
For every person that clicks on that link and starts using Mozy*, you'll both get another 256MB of free backup space. That's right, you get extra space, and so do they. That's 1GB of free space for every four people! (We have powerful computers here that can do that sort of math.) For a limited time, there is no limit on the free space you can get."

Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Dermatology Blog Update: Tea Tree Oil Not Effective for Acne

Bummer, I purchased tea tree oil for my daughter and I to use on our acne. I'll have to agree that I didn't really see any difference. The Dermatology Blog written by Dr. Benabio has just confirmed what I thought...

Is Tea Tree Oil a Good Treament for Acne?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has antiseptic properties. It has been used as a natural antifungal and antibacterial agent. You might have heard that teat tree oil can help treat acne because it kills acne-causing bacteria. However, unlike benzoyl peroxide and retin A, there is not much evidence that tea tree oil is an effective treatment for acne.
There are only two published studies on the use of tea tree oil for acne. The first was done about 10 years ago in Australia. It showed that 5% tea tree oil is comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide. The tea tree oil took longer to work, but appeared to be less irritating than the benzoyl peroxide. The second study, which was done in Iran, showed that 5% tea tree oil was more effective than a placebo in treating acne. Comparing tea tree oil to a placebo, which is essentially comparing it to non-treatment, is not the same thing as comparing it to another acne-fighting treatment. It’s likely that tea tree oil has some effect on acne but it has never been shown to be better than traditional acne therapies.
In contrast to other acne treatments, however, tea tree oil is an increasingly common cause of skin allergies. Like other fragrant oils such as balsam of Peru, tea tree oil can trigger an allergic contact dermatitis in people who are sensitive. This can range from a minor itchy rash to a full scale blistering eruption.
Tea tree oil is also toxic if swallowed. If consumed, even in small doses, it can cause reduced immune function, abdominal pain, diarrhea, drowsiness, confusion, or even, in rare instance, coma. If applied in the ears, it can lead to hearing loss. It has been shown to be toxic to animals when applied to a large area of skin. Tea tree oil can affect hormones as well. One study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that repeated application of topical products containing tea tree oil (and lavender oil) could cause prepubertal gynecomastia, a rare condition resulting in enlarged breast tissue in prepubscent boys. Tea tree oil is not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers.
Because tea tree oil is a naturally occurring substance, it tends to get good publicity, but it’s probably only an average or below average product for acne. Oftentimes people believe that since tea tree oil is natural, it must be safe and better for you than traditonal acne treatements. It’s not true. Remember, turpentine (a related tree oil that is used to strip paint) is also natural, but it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Celestial Seasonings Trees for the Future


I receive the Celestial Seasonings Newsletter by email and today I received and update on their program "Trees for the Future". They now have two ways that you can help plant trees. You can buy a box of their tea before March 31st, or you can plant a virtual tree online.

Here is the text from their newsletter:

You can help Celestial Seasonings plant trees either by sipping our tea or clicking your mouse! We're partnering with a nonprofit organization called Trees for the Future to plant more than one million trees around the world. There are two ways you can help:

1. Purchase your favorite Celestial Seasonings tea between now and March 31. For every box of tea you buy, Celestial Seasonings will sponsor the planting of trees around the world. Our goal is to plant up to one million trees!

2. Plant your own Virtual Tree online. For each virtual tree planted online at CelestialSeasonings.com/trees, we'll sponsor the planting of one real tree by Trees for the Future up to 50,000 trees. That's in addition to the one million trees we're already planting.
Whether you choose to sip tea or surf the web, your actions benefit the environment and economies of emerging nations by improving the quality of their water, air and soil, promoting biodiversity and generating additional income for their residents.Visit our website or our new Facebook page for full details and to plant your own virtual tree!
Celestial Seasonings also offered these tasty recipes using their tea, so for Valentine's Day, if you can't afford to go out for an expensive dinner, or purchase flowers, candy or cards, stay home with the ones you love and snuggle up with some tasty home baked treats.

Serves 8

Click here to download this recipe in printable PDF format.

Your special someone will love this cake's scrumptious combination of irresistible chocolate with the whistling cool freshness of our beloved Peppermint herbal tea. Try this moist, dark and delicious cake for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and any other day that you want a tasty treat.
Ingredients
1 cup water
6 bags Celestial Seasonings® Peppermint herbal tea
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
1/2 cup soft butter, plus enough butter to grease the pan
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups flour, plus enough to dust pan
1 tsp baking powder
Powdered sugar for dusting cake
Instructions
Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Bring the water to a boil in a heavy saucepan and add the tea bags. Remove from the heat and steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags, carefully squeeze out the excess liquid and discard the bags. Return the tea to a boil.
Combine the chocolate and butter in a large bowl. Pour the tea over the top. Whisk until melted. Stir in the sugar and egg yolks. In a separate bowl, mix baking soda and yogurt. Add to the chocolate and butter batter and mix well. Sift flour and baking powder into the batter and mix well. In another separate bowl, whip egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the batter.
Grease and flour one bundt pan. Pour in the batter. Bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Better Battery




For less than $20.00 you can purchase one of the coolest green gadgets I've seen so far this year. ThinkGeek is offering a pair of AA batteries that can be recharged using the usb port on your computer! These are so convenient I can't pass them up. Here is what ThinkGeek has to say about them:


APPLY DIRECTLY TO USB PORT!


Rechargeable batteries are great! They power all our favorite gadgets. Without them, we'd be tossing all these alkaline batteries and their caustic chemicals back into the environment, and that's a recipe for bad times. The problem with rechargeables is the myriad plugs, ports, sockets and bays you need to have around to keep them filled with electrons. Oh, the battery's dead, but where's that dang recharger? Sound familiar? Then, one day, an enterprising geek built the charger into the battery. Not just any charger, mind you. They used a standard USB port built right into the battery. Now, when your batteries are flatlining, pop the cap, and jam 'em into your nearest ubiquitous USB port. Whether it's on your computer, laptop, monitor or powered USB hub, all you need is 250mA of juice from your universal serial bus, and a little patience. In just a few hours, you'll have 1300mAH of power!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Acupuncture Update: Nightmares

Over the past two weeks and with increasing frequency since my last treatment I have been having terrible nightmares. My husband really enjoys waking to the sound of a blood curdling scream at 2 am. The worst part for me is that I waken so terrified, heart pounding, crying, and recalling my dream. I always remember exactly what is happening and one dream has been recurring since childhood. Last night was the most bizarre series of dreams I have ever had and unfortunately I couldn't go firmly back to sleep until around 5 am, overslept began developing a migraine and felt crappy all day. At my treatment today, my doctor asked me specifics of the dream and noted that it could be a number of things and recommended a few interesting things to help clear my mind including smudging, which is explained in detail below, and covering or removing the mirror facing my bed. She then proceeded to stick a needle square in my forehead (and other places) and I drifted off in a warm and comforting wrinkle in time. I did find some interesting information about nightmares and acupuncture and I am hoping that tonight is a more restful experience as a result.

From: Acupuncture - Dream Disturbed Sleep

t is important to differentiate between normal dreams, and dreams which are troublesome and indicate some kind of imbalance.

Dreaming which does not make the sleep restless, is not frightening, does not disturb the mind the morning after, and does not leave the person very tired in the morning, can be consider as normal.

‘Excessive dreaming’, or dreams with indicate imbalance may be defined as dreams which cause restless sleep or nightmares, resulting in the person feeling very tired the following morning.

Within Chinese medicine, the Mind (or Spirit) resides in the Blood, in particular the Heart Blood. In this sense, the Blood acts as an 'anchor' for the Mind to prevent it from wandering off. When the Heart Blood is weak, then there is no 'anchor' for the Mind and at night it can wander and cause excessive dreaming. The old classics of acupuncture described various types of unpleasant dreams such as nightmares, waking up screaming, sleepwalking and talking in one’s sleep. They related dreaming to the wandering of the 'ethereal soul ' at night.

Although it is mainly the Heart organ that is involved with excessive dreams, other organs such as the Kidneys, Gall Bladder, or Stomach may also be involved. The content of the dream may also give some indication of where there is an imbalance, for example, dreams with crying and weeping would point to a Lung excess condition, since these are the emotions linked to the Lungs. Plunging into water and being scared would indicate a Kidney deficiency condition, and there are many others.

At the initial consultation, information is gathered to get a complete picture of what is causing the bad dreams and disturbed sleep. Treatment would normally be once weekly, perhaps more frequently if the dreams were particularly disturbing.

Smudging: What It Is and How to Do It


By Annie B. Bond

Smudging is used and recommended by indigenous peoples, feng shui practitioners, healers, and more, for “space clearing” and purification.

A Native American healer I respect smudges his computer every night. I myself use it frequently when I feel “stuck” emotionally. What is smudging? Why do it? Why learn about it?

Here is what I think smudging is, and why it is often a very useful tool to use in the home.

Healers often recommend smudging to change the “energy” of a place after an event has happened, such a death, or even an argument. Smudging a computer would be done to remove the electromagnetic field energy; smudging one’s desk at the end of the day could be to remove the “work” mentality from the air; smudging after an argument would be done to clear the air, quite literally.

I think that smudging works to change the energetic of a space because of the science of entrainment. Our senses respond to vibrations, and there is a law of physics that makes vibrations want to start being harmonious, to be in synchrony. Entrainment is a word often used with music. In sound healing, the dissonant chord is gradually influenced by the harmonious cord and the disharmony changes to harmony over time.

Even air has a vibration, held I believe in the humidity. The water of the humidity would absorb the negative “vibe” of an argument, for example, and hold it. If you burn a healing plant, such as sage, in such an atmosphere, the humidity would then hold the energetic of the healing plant, and bit by bit the discordant energetic of the argument would be influenced by the harmonious vibration of the plant smoke.

The herbs burned are usually sage (white in particular), sweetgrass, or cedar, although any dried herb is fine, even lavender. If the herb has too woody a stem, the leaf part will burn very fast and die out.

White sage is a good choice because the leaf clusters are very long, and the leaves will smolder for quite a long time, emitting smoke into the air. Sage is also known as a purifying herb. Sweetgrass burns very quickly, and is a great choice for emanating sweet smell into the air (and healers believe sweet grass brings a high level of spirituality and burns away negativity). Cedar is very strong, and is considered powerful for removing negativity.

Buy your smudge sticks from those who honor the plants and bundle the herbs with sacred ceremony of appreciation. If you grow your own herbs, research making smudge sticks and honoring the plants.

To burn herbs, and create smoke, you have to be very careful not to start a fire. I use a big ashtray, with steep sides. Some light whole bundles of herbs, but I don’t because there is no need, usually, for that much smoke. Instead, I untie a smudge bundle and pull out just a few leaves, and light them. Once there is a flame, you blow out the flame (making sure you catch any sparks in the ashtray). The herbs will smolder, and the smoke will waft into the home. Walk around with the ashtray (smoking herbs included), and make sure the smoke reaches into all the areas of a room you want.

When you are done, let the herbs extinguish on their own (if they are safely in the ashtray and away from wind), or extinguish them fully with water.

As I think about smudging, sitting here on the cusp of spring and winter, I can see how smudging out the winter mood’s to let in the renewal of spring is a great use of smudging.

From Dream Moods:

Twins
To see twins in your dream, signifies ambivalence, dualities and opposites. It represents security in business, faithfulness, and contentment with life. It may also mean that you are either in harmony with or in conflict between ideas and decisions.

To see twins fighting in your dream, represents a conflict between the opposites of your psyche. One twin signifies emergence of unconscious material and suppressed feelings, while the other twin represents the conscious mind. There is some situation that you are not confronting.

Spiders
To see a spider in your dream, indicates that you are feeling like an outsider in some situation. Or that you may want to keep your distance and stay away from an alluring and tempting situation. The spider is also symbolic of feminine power. Alternatively, a spider may refer to a powerful force protecting you against your self-destructive behavior. If you kill a spider, it symbolizes misfortune and general bad luck.

To see a spider spinning a web in your dream, signifies that you will be rewarded for your hard work. You will soon find yourself promoted in your job or recognized for your achievement in a difficult task. Spiders are a symbol of creativity due to the intricate webs they spin. On a negative note, spiders may indicate a feeling of being entangled or trapped in a sticky or clingy relationship.It represents some ensnaring and controlling force. You may feel that someone or some situation is sucking the life right out of you. Alternatively, if a spider is spinning a web in your dream, then it could be a metaphor for the world wide web and global communication.

To see a spider climbing up a wall in your dream, denotes that your desires will be soon be realized.

To dream that you are bitten by a spider, represents a conflict with your mother or some dominant female figure in your life. The dream may be a metaphor for a devouring mother or the feminine power to possess and entrap. Perhaps you are feeling trapped by some relationship.

Web
To see a web in your dream, represents your desire to control everything around you. Alternatively, it suggests that you are being held back from fully expressing yourself. You feel trapped and do not know what to do or where to go. The dream may also be symbolic of your social network of acquaintances and associates or it may represent the world wide web.

Mother
To see your mother in your dream, represents the nurturing aspect of your own character. Mothers offer shelter, comfort, life, guidance and protection. Some people may have problems freeing themselves from their mothers and are thus seeking their own individuality and development.

To dream that you are having a conversation with your mother, denotes a matter that has preoccupied your mind and you are not sure how to deal with it in your waking life. It indicates unresolved problems that still need to be worked out with your mother.

To hear your mother call you in our dream, signifies that you have been negligent in your duties and responsibilities. You are pursuing down the wrong path.

To hear your mother cry in your dream, denotes some illness or affliction.

Throw

To dream that you are throwing something, indicates that there is someone or something that you need to rid yourself of from your life. Consider the object that you are throwing. Alternatively, the dream may be a pun that you are "throwing" or fixing a game or situation. Are you working against the objective?

Rocks
To see rocks in your dream, signifies permanence and stability as expressed in the familiar phrase "as solid as a rock". It may also indicate that you are making a commitment to a relationship. Or you may be contemplating some changes in your life that will lay the groundwork for a more solid foundation. On the other hand rocks may also symbolize stubbornness, disharmony and unhappiness.

To dream that you are climbing a steep rock, signifies struggles, obstacles, and disappointments.

Death
To dream about the death of a loved one, suggests that you are lacking a certain aspect or quality that the loved one embodies. Ask yourself what makes this person special or what do you like about him. It is that very quality that you are lacking in your own relationship or circumstances. Alternatively, it indicates that whatever that person represents has no part in your own life.

To dream of your own death, indicates a transitional phase in your life. You are becoming more enlightened or spiritual. Alternatively, you are trying desperately to escape the demands of your daily life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Oh No! Not My Kashi! I Just Ate All Of These!!!!

Recall -- Firm Press Release

FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company.

Kashi Initiates Nationwide Recall of Select Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bar Flavors And Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Cookie Flavors

Contact:
Kris Charles
269-961-3799

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- February 2, 2009 -- Kashi, La Jolla, CA – As a result of the expansion of Peanut Corporation of America’s recall to include all peanut ingredients produced in their Blakely, Georgia facility since Jan. 1, 2007, a voluntary nationwide recall has been issued for the following products:

  • Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bars in Trail Mix and Honey Almond Flax varieties, 7.4-ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to September 19, 2009 and followed by the letters CD (SEP 19 2009 CD), with the following UPC codes: 1862703000, 1862703001, 1862723959, 1862728409, 1862731567.
  • Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Granola Bars Peanut Butter, 7.4-ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to August 8, 2009 and followed by the letters CD (AUG 08 2009 CD), with the following UPC codes: 1862703002.
  • Kashi™ TLC™ Chewy Cookies in Oatmeal Dark Chocolate, Happy Trail Mix and Oatmeal Raisin Flax varieties only, 8.5-ounce box with a “Best If Used Before” date prior to July 30, 2009, with the following UPC codes: 1862732467, 1862742593, 1862762001, 1862762002, 1862762003.

These products are also included in some Club assortment and variety packs of Kashi TLC products.

These products are sold nationwide in retail and club stores. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection to these products. Consumers can also visit the following Web site for information on this recall: www.kashipeanutbutterrecall.com.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. For more information on Salmonella, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Website at http://www.cdc.gov/.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled products are urged to destroy them. Consumers with questions or who would like a refund may contact the Consumer Response Center at 877-701-5868. Consumers with questions or concerns about their health should contact their doctor.

For a list of various company recalls and for more information on FDA’s ongoing investigation, visit FDA’s Web site at http://www.fda.gov/.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Dermatology Blog Says that Olive Oil Good for Skin and Flax Seed Oil Even Better!

Since I began my little olive oil as face wash and moisturizer experiment I've gotten everything from "why"? to "great idea"!, but I haven't had any one with a dermatology background agree that it's a good idea or even green light it as being not harmful. Today, however, I found just the article posted on The Dermatology Blog, written by Dr. Benabio. He says that olive oil is beneficial to your skin, and recommends flax seed oil as an alternative. So, without further ado, here's the professional advice I offer as evidence to support my sanity:

Flax Seed Oil and Your Skin

Flax oil or flaxseed oil is derived from the pretty, blue-flowering flax plant. The oil, obtained from processing the seeds, is high in omega 3 fatty acids, especially alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for normal skin and body function, but they are not produced naturally by your body.

The only way to get omega 3 fatty acids is from your diet. You can add flax oil as a dressing in salads, as a substitute for other oils (except in cooking, since flaxseed oil breaks down quickly when heated), or even take a tablespoon in a healthy smoothie. Flax seed flour, which is also high in omega 3s, can be added to muffin or pancake mixes or even sprinkled on cereal. You can also buy flax seed supplements.

Foods high in omega 3s help your skin protect itself by increasing natural oils that your skin secretes on the surface. These fats and oils are critical for keeping your skin soft, protecting it from irritants and preventing it from drying out.

But will it make me look younger?

Ah, the question most people want answered: maybe. According to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who consumed the most linoleic acid had the youngest-looking skin among 40-74 year-olds.

Like vitamin C and olive oil, flax oil has benefits not only from eating it, but also from applying it directly to your skin. When smoothed on your skin, flax oil can help lock in moisture and prevent water loss through the skin. Applying it can also improve your skin’s dry dull appearance and even improve the appearance of fine lines, both of which certainly make you appear younger.

As an added benefit, omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, which help minimize redness and skin irritation. There is evidence that omega-3s can improve chronic skin conditions such as eczema (atopic dermatitis), rosacea, acne, and psoriasis, but only preliminary studies have been done. Omega 3s have been shown to aid in wound healing as well. There is even some evidence that flax seed oil might protect against ultraviolet light (sun) damage and can help protect you against skin cancer.

What to look for when buying flax seed oil:

Because flax seed oil is easily oxidized, which diminishes its antioxidant capabilities, it is important that you find flax oil that is

  • in a dark container
  • protected from light
  • vacuum sealed when you buy it
  • stored in the refrigerator after opening it

What about cold pressed oil? This is controversial. There is no standard for labeling an oil “cold pressed.” Heat and/or high pressure is needed to extract the oil from the seeds. Oil that is labeled as cold pressed and sold in the refrigerator section is certain to be a lot more expensive but not necessarily more effective. As soon as the oil is exposed to air and light, it begins to break down, anyway. So save your money.

Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD.

The Dermatology Blog Tackles Exfoliation

I've recently began reading The Dermatology Blog because I have sensitive skin, my daughter has acne to the point that the doctor recommended prescription drugs and I'm looking for sensible, inexpensive, natural solutions that are good for our bodies and our environment. The Dermatology Blog has lots of great ideas. I had recently read about ladies making their own exfoliating facial scrubs at home using olive oil and sea salt. I think this is a fabulous idea and I'll begin incorporating it into my routine in a few weeks, but for now read this article to make sure that you aren't overdoing it:

Facial scrubs can be soothing and can give your face a soft, healthy glow. They can also make your face raw. Too many women are overusing their facial scrubs, giving them red, irritated cheeks. Are you over-scrubbing?

A patient came to me last week with a bright red, painful rash on her cheeks. She thought she was allergic to her new citrus facial scrub from Burt’s Bees; she was faithfully using it everyday.

She wasn’t allergic to her facial scrub. It was doing what it is designed to do: remove a layer of cells from her skin every time she used it. But at that point she was down to raw skin.

This is a classic case of too much of a good thing in facial skin care. Facial scrubs can be an easy, rather inexpensive way to exfoliate the dull scaly cells on your skin’s surface leaving you with softer, more vibrant skin. However, exfoliating has gotten a little out of hand recently.

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Thanks to my wife’s subscriptions, I have noticed that several women’s magazines this month have articles touting the benefits of some apricot-and-citrus-lavender-dead-sea-salt-micronized-facial scrub. It’s too much.

Facial scrubs can exfoliate your skin chemically or physically. Chemical facial scrubs use salicylic, glycolic, citric, or lactic acid to chemically remove the dry dead scales on your skin’s surface.

Physical scrubs exfoliate physically by using ground apricot pits or almonds, sugars, salt, sand, or even tiny beads in microdermabrasions. These abrasives are often mixed in an oil base (such as olive oil if it’s homemade), and when you scrub the abrasive on your face, you physically remove the dull, scaly surface to reveal the healthy living cells beneath.

It is helpful to understand that although these dead cells can give you a dry, dull look, your skin puts those dead cells at the surface for a reason: to protect the delicate living cells below. A little exfoliating once in a while can be useful, making your skin softer and visibly brighter. But you must do this in moderation, that is once every two weeks (which is about how long it takes your skin to turn over).

Some people can tolerate scrubbing more frequently than this, but I suggest you start slowly and work your way to more frequent exfoliating if you so desire. You will notice at some point that using your scrub more frequently does not improve your complexion any further. That’s because there are no dead cells left on your skin’s surface. In this case, give your skin a break, and let it heal before you scrub it again.

Over scrubbing with physical or chemical facial scrubs will not clean your pores, reduce your skin’s oiliness, decrease your acne, or give you a permanent healthy glow. It will however make your skin red, irritated, and raw.

Remember, everything in moderation.

EVOO: Day 3

Well, I got up early, took a shower, washed my face did my make-up and then my truck slid from one end of my street to the next. My neighbors helped me shovel it out and clear the street enough that I could move it to a curb and I called it a day. I did nothing, I mean really nothing after that. I napped, I attempted to watch t.v. and then I napped some more. But...the good news to report is that even though I had on my full make-up my face didn't get oily. Incidentally, I've started hitting the t-zone with the Burt's Bees herbal blemish stick in combination with washing my face with olive oil each morning and before bed. Not only is my face doing well, dare I say it's improving?

Chronicling my adventures in proving that less is more. I'll learn to refashion/recycle clothes, prepare gourmet meals using as many natural/basic/raw ingredients as possible. I'll learn to spend less, live more, and reclaim those things that are truly valuable in my life.

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