Archive for January, 2014

Knitted Mittens

Posted on January 17, 2014. Filed under: Just Fun | Tags: , , |

Knitted Mittens

I started these mittens last year and they sat, forlorn, in my knitting bag until now.  I finally completed them in just a few hours.  These are little ones for a child and they’ll go to someone in a Milwaukee Public School who doesn’t have any.  It’s hard to believe, I know, but there are kids who come to school in January in Milwaukee (temperature today is about 15º) without hats, mittens, scarves, boots.  I have a client with a contact in the schools to whom these will go.

January, 2014 feels good so far.  I’m off to a good start for the year.  Exercise, check.  Eating right, check.  Completing projects, check.

Following through on things feels so good.  Why don’t a do it more consistently?

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Amazon’s Modern Day Censorship

Posted on January 14, 2014. Filed under: Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Kindle censorship

Here is the screen on my Kindle for recently blocked Youtube videos – showing its dark gray speckles.   I have an email in to Amazon to confirm this was intentional, but as of today, I am not allowed to view any video on Youtube on my Kindle that talks about a certain topic.  That is, until I found the wonderful geeks (God love the geeks!) online who will tell you how to get the real Youtube app on your Kindle where YOU decide what to watch without any screening by Amazon.  No matter what your views on individual Youtube video topics, I think you should find this censorship by Amazon alarming.

Years ago, as a second grade teacher in a local elementary school, I had a book on Egyptian mummies in my class.  It explained how the ancient Egyptians pulled the brain through the nostrils with long metal hooks to embalm separately from the body in jars.  Maybe you can imagine how popular this book was with 8 year old boys.  It was difficult reading, not really 2nd grade level, but because of its enormously interesting content, every boy in my class and quite a few girls too, were scrambling to get their hands on this book and decipher this fascinating information.  This was a reading teacher’s dream come true, because the motivation was strong to overcome the difficulty in actually decoding the words.

Then one of the boys’ mother came in to complain.  She didn’t want her son reading this book.  I said, “No problem.  He won’t have access to the book.  Your choice.”  Noooooo…..this was not good enough.  She wanted the book removed from my classroom stating, “No one needs to know this information.” 

Whoa there.  You have just stepped beyond valid parental authority to making a decision for other people (about historical knowledge no less) and that is where I draw the line.  Even in second grade.  Thankfully the principal backed me up and the book stayed on my shelf and now it was even more desirable!

Does Amazon really think they can play overzealous Mama to the American public?  And even if they have aims to change the U.S. law, do they think by turning off my ability to watch a video this will somehow be accomplished?  What a thought.  Big Brother Amazon sets out to rule the nation by restricting information.  Infuriating!!  Many thanks to the wonderful people at H2 Tech Videos for getting me a fix for this most irritating instance of censorship.

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New Year – Actually Doing It Already

Posted on January 12, 2014. Filed under: Art, Just Fun, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , |

deer drawing

I have wanted to draw more and use my kettlebells at least once a week.  So the time?  Where does it come from?  I’m going to try to get it from less blogging and time on facebook.  Also less shopping.  I find drawing about the most relaxing activity, but it does take effort, probably more than those other things that have been eating up my time.  Once I start, though, I’m absorbed so that’s the trick.  For now I’m going to try drawing on the days I don’t exercise.  That block of time will be for one or the other.  I’m going to see how it goes.

This deer needs a lot of work, but I see them almost daily very close to the house so I get some great shots of them from which I can work.  Since the landscape is pretty bleak right now they add some interest.  I love their ears!

By the way, the kettlebells have been used 2 weeks in a row.  Today was the first day for drawing in 2014.  We’ll see how long it lasts!

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Hiking Alone

Posted on January 9, 2014. Filed under: Photography, Poetry, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , |

winter field

Trudging along in the cold
Pumps the blood and keeps me bold.

To hike alone this vacant path
Means watching my back for lunatic wrath.

Yes amid this beauty here
I have to control vulnerability and fear.

Even with defense tools close
Surprise would aid my foes.

So I meld into this placid scene
Prepared, confident, and with senses keened.

This hiking is its own meditation
Random thoughts brought into consolidation.

The beauty, the danger, the focus
Provides me freedom, mental clarity the bonus.

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Eating Raw Garlic

Posted on January 6, 2014. Filed under: Health | Tags: , , |

eating raw garlic

I watched a Youtube video about eating raw garlic to prevent and treat winter colds.  Bill got a cold so I started using my stash of homegrown garlic.  My Joseph Joseph garlic crusher has been getting a lot of use as a result.  Every day we’ve been peeling, crushing, and enjoying it in salsa with a few chips as advised in the video.  You have to do something to disguise it because it is some powerfully burning hot stuff!

The guy on the video says eating raw garlic will cut short any cold you pick up so this was going to be a good test.

What do you know!?  Bill’s cold never got very bad and it was gone in 2 days.  I never got it.  We have continued our daily raw garlic regimen.  I have noticed it gives me a warmth in my chest after I eat it.  Quite a nice feeling on these bitter cold Wisconsin days!

Have you ever eaten raw garlic?  If so, what is your favorite way to disguise it?

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Good Travel Timing and Monet in Paris

Posted on January 4, 2014. Filed under: Art, France, Paris, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , |

Paris - Monet ExhibitWe happened to be in Paris in November, 2010, right in the middle of the biggest exhibition of Monet’s works to be shown in France in 30 years.  160 paintings were gathered from around the globe; private collections and museums as far away as Russia and Australia.  We discovered the exhibit by the absence of Monet paintings at the Musée d’Orsay and the sign telling us that the Monets were all at the Grand Palais for a special exhibit.

So we wandered over the bridge to the Grand Palais to find out that the exhibit was sold out months ago.  There was a 1/4 mile line of people waiting for a chance to get in without advance tickets, but after waiting for hours it was still iffy whether they’d get in.  We spoke to one of the guards for advice.  What could we do to get in, we asked him.

Ha, ha!  He told us if we came back in the evening we would only have to wait a short time!  So, we came back the next day about 9:00p.m. and almost waltzed right in!

And then our eyes almost popped out.  We got to see Monet paintings that we would never see again nor would we have had the opportunity to ever see if we hadn’t made it into this exhibit.  We saw groups of paintings he did in different light right next to each other.  I loved to think how some of these paintings probably hadn’t been right next to each other like that since they were with their creator.  I got to see some old favorites that I had seen in the Chicago exhibit of impressionism several years back.  My heart broke to see his portrait of his wife, Camille, as she lay dying in bed, but I was lifted to see his depiction of a Magpie in the snow.  It was great, too, how we were walking through the galleries with no crowds.  There were barely any other people there to block our views.

There were only two downsides.  We weren’t allowed to walk backward through the exhibit which we love to do one time to play our game of picking out the one we’d take home if we could.  Also the curators included some Roy Lichtenstein paintings perhaps as a more modern progression of what Monet started, but really, they looked so out of place here.  We just ignored them, though, no problem.

This show was an icing-on-the-cake experience for us.  We were in Paris, so we were seeing amazing art every day, but to have been there for this show and to have gotten in was truly magical.  We will never forget it.  Here’s another travel bonus:  once-in-a-lifetime experiences!

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Healthy Air Freshener + A Fix for the Girls

Posted on January 2, 2014. Filed under: Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Essential Oils 1Air “fresheners” enrage me – can you believe that?!  It’s because chemical manufacturers have hoodwinked the public into believing that saturating the very air we breathe with toxic chemicals is a good idea.  We’ve got everything from scented oils that get plugged in to an electrical device and gelled cones that dissolve to sprays given every natural-sounding name they can think of:  garden mist, lavender meadows, fe-breeze.  I maintain that when people are diagnosed with a variety of cancers no one ever asks what kind of chemicals have saturated their environment for decades:  the lawn chemicals, the laundry detergents, perfumes, shampoos, and yes, air “fresheners.”  No one looks at the cumulative effects of all this in our systems.

Well, I for one will have none of it!  Here is a healthy, fun, easy and cheap true air freshener for you:

1.  Put in 10-30 drops of essential oils of your choice (I recommend Aromatics International because they test each batch so they know it’s pure and  unadulterated.)  I used lavender and lime!  It smells refreshingly calming.

2.  Fill with water.  Stick in reeds and then turn over.  Turn them once a day.  Add more oils when needed, every few days.

Tips:  If you choose a container with a tight opening it will keep the oils in longer.  Use reeds you buy online (called replacement reeds) or at local garden centers.  Or any bamboo rods you have around will work too.  Change the oils for different moods or goals.  When my husband came down with a cold I added eucalyptus to battle those bugs!

Essential Oils 2Secondly today I have a little fix I’ve discovered for sore breasts.  Here’s what Aromatics International says about Rose essential oil:

Rose absolute – Rose damascena

Rose is known for many therapeutic effects such as hormone balancing during menopause, cooling for hot flashes (use the mist), calming, cleansing, and purifying the reproductive system. It can also be emotionally uplifting and tonic for the nervous system.

Sounds good to me and my girls!  This stuff is the priciest of all the oils, but really, I could spend much more on toxic perfumes, so I figure I’m worth it.  I used an empty 2 oz. bottle in which I put melted coconut oil and 4 drops of the rose.  That lovely little blue ceramic pot there I brought back from Paris, it’s La Fermière yogurt which you must have everyday if you get to Paris!  Anyway, it makes a nice little container to place my mixture in and fill with hot water just to melt that coconut oil again each day.  Then just pour a little out into the palm of your hand and rub all over.  It makes you feel so much better and it makes you smell good for a whole day without anything toxic to your system.  It has, thusfar in this perimenopause journey, been the most successful treatment for everything!  If you try it I’d be very interested to know how you like it.

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