Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

New Comment System - Disqus

I am trying a new comment system from Disqus.  I am going to see how it goes.  If I start getting a lot of spam and it becomes a problem, I will make some alterations which might include moderated comments. I dislike moderated comments but if it's either that or go back to the captcha, I'll have to make the choice

One of the nice things about Disqus is that when one of my "trusted" readers comments, I am able to add him or her to a white list. If I need to go to moderated comments, I can allow those on this list to be able to comment without my moderation.

There is also a black list to which I can add spammers and I understand that this should be helpful, as well.

Let me know if you have any problems commenting, please!  Everything seems to work well for me but I need to know if one of you has a problem so I can correct the issue.

Thanks!

Image found here

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ruby Tuesday - July 30, 2013

It's Tuesday, again!  I missed last week's Ruby Tuesday because I was on vacation. No, I didn't go anywhere.  I just got lazy, that's all!

As usual, if you want to join in the fun, go to Ruby Tuesday too and add your link!

It's tomato season around here and boy do we have an abundance of the beauties!  I thought these made a nice contrast against my green counter, though on my computer it looks more brown...  

I have to admit that I used my phone camera for this one but I thought it turned out well in spite of it!  Happy Tuesday everyone!


Monday, July 29, 2013

Myths and Facts about Vision

I have horrible eyesight.  I'm quite nearsighted and my astigmatism makes it difficult to correct my vision well with contacts so I've resigned myself to having to wear glasses.

I was just thinking the other day about some of the things I was told over the years - especially when young - and I wondered how many of them are true.

Here are some statements that are commonly made about vision and our eyes.   How many of them do you think are true?

1. Sitting too close to the TV is bad for your eyes.  I was told this a lot when I was young but it turns out that there is no truth to this statement.  In fact, younger children might be better able to focus on the television if they are closer.  You do want to make sure that they aren't sitting closer because they are becoming nearsighted, however.

2. If parents have poor vision, their children will too.  This is mostly true.  Vision problems, including cataracts, do tend to run in families. There is no guarantee one way or another, however.

3. Too much computer use can damage your eyes.  Nope.  Like the television, this won't damage your eyes.  You might suffer a bit of eye fatigue if you spend too much time all at once viewing the screen, however. This is because we blink less when staring at a screen so it's always good to take an occasional break now and then to avoid dry eyes!

4. Wearing glasses will make your vision worsen over time. I always thought this was true, at least as far as nearsightedness goes, but it isn't! It doesn't seem to matter if you wear glasses or not, your vision will most likely change over time.  So, no need to worry about damaging your eyes!

5. If you cross your eyes, they'll stay that way!!  Who hasn't heard this old chestnut before?  No need to worry, though! There's no truth to it!

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Information for this post was obtained from the following sources:
WebMD
Eye Care America
ABC News

Image obtained here (no, it is not my eye)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Massive Alphabet Meme, part one

This is the Sunday Stealing Meme from here.

The Letter A
Are you agnostic? Yes, an agnostic atheist.
What is your age? 48
What annoys you? The neighbors' dogs barking at 6:00 am.

The Letter B
Do you like bacon? Yes, but I no longer eat it.
When is your birthday? October
Who is your best friend? I don't really have a "best" friend.  I have a few good friends.

The Letter C 
What is your favorite candy? Depends on my mood - either a Heath bar or a Twix.
Who is your crush? I'm a bit old to have a crush.
When was the last time you cried? A couple days ago.

The Letter D 
Do you daydream? Sometimes
What is your favorite kind of dog? Bull Terrier but I love my pit bull, Brooke!
What day of the week is it? Sunday

The Letter E 
How do you like your eggs? Over hard, no dippy.
Have you ever been in the emergency room? Yes
What’s the easiest thing to ever do? Breathe? It is automatic for most of us...

The Letter F 
Have you ever flown in a plane? Yes. Several times.
Do you use fly swatters? Yep!
Have you ever used a foghorn? No... What an odd question.

The Letter G 
Do you chew gum? Not very often. I prefer breath mints.
Ever tried gazpacho? No.
Are you a giver or taker? Giver.

The Letter H 
How are you? Alright.
What’s your height? 5'3"
What color is your hair? Brown with gray silver highlights

The Letter I 
What is your favorite ice-cream? Depends on my mood... Peanut butter swirl is a favorite as is Mint Chocolate Chip.
Have you ever ice-skated? Yep!  In high school I even had my own skates!
Do you play an instrument? I used to.  Haven't played anything in years.

The Letter J 
What is your favorite jelly bean? I'm not a fan of the regular ones but I like some of the Jelly Belly ones - like the popcorn flavored ones.
Do you wear jewelry? Just my engagement ring.
Have you heard a really hilarious joke? Of course.

The Letter K 
Whom do you want to kill? No one.  What a terrible question.
Do you want kids? No more than the 3 I have!
Where did you go to kindergarten? In the town where I grew up.

The Letter L 
Are you laid-back? I think so.
Do you lie? Only occasionally - little white lies.
Do you love anyone? Yep!

The Letter M 
What is your favorite movie? Again with the favorites...  I like quite a few.  I'll name one:  Arsenic and Old Lace.  It's hilarious!
Do you still watch Disney movies? Occasionally.
Do you like mangoes? I've never really tried one so I don't know.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday 9: So Much To Say

These are the Saturday 9 from this site.

1) The lyrics refer to a baby's "one year of crying." When was the last time you cried ... felt weepy ... or at least teared up? Just the other day when I thought of a friend who died.

2) Let's lighten it up a little. When was the last time you laughed really hard? Today!!

3) Do you have "so much to say" that hasn't been said yet? Tell us if you owe someone a phone call, note, email or text.  I missed a whole lot of posts this week on my blog - as I was on vacation. Does that count?

4) Earlier this summer, Dave took a bike ride before a show and his tire blew out. He didn't have a cell phone with him and was afraid of missing that night's performance. Fortunately two fans -- driving to see Dave Matthews Band in concert -- recognized him by the side of the road and gave him a ride to the show. Share a recent act of kindness you either did, or received.  I donated to a non-profit organization earlier today.

5) Before he hit it big, Dave Matthews was a bartender. What job did you have right before the one you have now? I worked as a telemarketer. (I hated it but it paid the bills until I found something better)

6) The Dave Matthews Band recorded an album live at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, in the mountains near Denver. Is there a trip to the mountains in your future? Probably.  I love the mountains.

7) Do you suffer from hay fever or allergies? Nope!

8) What's in your pocket right now? A five dollar bill and my fitbit.

9) American Express promotes "Small Business Saturday," and encourages us to shop at local, independent retailers. Is there a shop, boutique or restaurant in your town that you're particularly fond of? Not anymore.  The coffee shop closed down at the end of March.  I guess my next choice would be the bar/restaurant down the street so I imagine that would count.  We don't have a lot of businesses in our small village.

Saturday Six - July 27, 2013

1. What’s the most exotic animal you’ve actually been able to touch in person? An albino python

2. Was it dead or alive at the time you touched it? It was alive - and quite lovely!

3. What’s the most exotic animal you’ve gotten closest to without touching? A sand tiger shark - at the Baltimore aquarium.

4. What’s the most exotic animal you tend to enjoy watching most at a zoo? Otters!  They're adorable! (and not very exotic but so fun to watch)

5. What’s the most exotic animal you’ve seen in the wild in your neighborhood? Skunks.  That's exotic enough for me!

6. If you could hold any exotic animal (or have a one-on-one encounter if it’s too big to hold) and you knew there was no danger of being injured, which animal would you choose and why?  A jaguar. They fascinate me!

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Monday, July 22, 2013

5 Myths About Swimming Pools

It's summer, at least in the northern hemisphere, and it's been hot and humid here in the northeastern United States the past week. When the weather turns hot, many of us enjoy a dip in a pool to cool down. Some of us are lucky enough to have our own pools in our backyard and some of us go to a community pool. Regardless of where you choose to swim, it can really help you cool down when it is hot outside!

There seem to be some misconceptions floating around about swimming pools so I thought I'd take a look at them here today.  How many of these myths have you heard before?

1. The chlorine in pool water turns light hair green. It is true that blondes who swim a lot might get a green tint to their hair but the chlorine isn't doing it.  It is actually the copper in the water that causes this chemical reaction! Copper plumbing leading to pools can introduce copper to the water as can certain anti-algae treatments.  Regardless of the source, there are some natural remedies to remove the green listed on this page and, if they don't work, there are commercial products that will solve this problem. Note:  I've never had this problem with my darker hair so I can't endorse any of the remedies I linked.

2. Red eye is caused by too much chlorine in the pool water.  It is true that we can sometimes get irritated, red eyes from swimming but too much chlorine isn't the problem.  Nitrogen which is found in sweat and urine interact with the chlorine to form chloramines which irritate our eyes. The water might actually need more chlorine to prevent this chemical reaction - not less.

3. You must wait 30 minutes after eating to go back in the pool. The idea behind this one is that our bodies divert blood to the digestive tract and away from our arms and legs. This might cause our limbs to not function properly and place us at a risk for drowning.  The good news is that this isn't true. We have enough blood to keep our entire body functioning well after we eat. There is no need to wait.

4. If the pool water is clear, it is clean. Not necessarily. Though clarity is something you want to look for, it doesn't mean that there aren't harmful microorganisms in the pool that could cause a problem.  One should avoid swimming in a pool if the water isn't clear, but don't use this as the only sign that it is safe.

5. If a pool smells strongly of chemicals, it is clean. There should be a faint smell of chemicals, not a strong odor.  Remember the chloramines we mentioned earlier?  When they are present in a pool, there may be a strong chemical smell along with them.  You should avoid swimming in pools with a strong chemical smell.

How do you know it is safe to swim in a pool?  You should follow the guidelines below.

The water should be clear so you can see to the bottom of the pool.
The sides of the pool should feel smooth and clean, never slimy.
There should be no strong chemical smell.

Image found here

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Collapse

This is the Sunday Stealing meme this week!

Have you ever clicked on an ad on the side of your screen by accident?: Yes - but only on my phone, actually.  I use an ad block on the internet so I generally don't see the ads posted there.

When was the last time you were disappointed?:  Oh, who knows?  I'm constantly disappointed.  Maybe my expectations are just too high or something.

Do you like the smell of rain?:  I love the smell of rain.  I once bought some candles scented to smell like rain and I am amazed that they managed to make them actually smell like rain!  I've no idea how they did that!

What was the last thing you took a picture of?:  A zucchini pie I made - so I can use the image when I post the recipe.

When you go to McDonald's, what drink do you usually get?:  I don't go to McDonald's unless I'm desperate.  I would probably get coffee or a latte, now that they have those.

What were you doing today at 2:15 in the afternoon?:  It's not 2:15 PM yet so I'll go with yesterday.  That was about the time I returned from shopping.

What's the nickname of your home state?: The Keystone State

What's the worst type of weather in your opinion?:  Hurricanes.

Do you have a Kindle, Nook, iPad or none?:  None of them.

Would you rather read or write?:  Read.  I'm not much of a writer -though I practice enough here on my blog!

When was the last time someone took a picture of you?:  I've no idea.  Maybe when I had my drivers license renewed?

Do you own a pair of slippers?:  Yes.  I received a new pair from K for Christmas.

Name something negative that you hate about yourself: Wouldn't anything I hate about myself be negative?

Is your house currently hot, cold or just right?: Just about right.

Is there a Dead End road near where you live?: Yes. Just up the street.

Do you roll your eyes often?:  I'm a skeptic.  I roll my eyes on a regular basis.  It's less painful than face-palming.

Growing up, did you see your cousins often?: Not a whole lot.  Most of my cousins are quite a bit older than I am so we didn't have much in common when I was young.

Where was your first job at?: I worked as a maid at a motel.

When's your birthday?:  October 23

Is life a party to you?: No.  It's not that one can't have fun but you have to get the work done, too.

Who are you tired of seeing in the news a lot? : Kate Middleton.  I wish that baby would arrive so we can stop obsessing!

When was the last time you flew a kite?:  When my kids were little.

How long have you had a blog?:  I started blogging in 2003 on Xanga.

Have you ever had to call and complain about a product you bought?: I've written to complain. I don't think I've ever called to complain, though.

Name something positive you love about yourself: I'm stubborn - in a good way.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday 9: Endless Summer

These are the Saturday 9 from this site.

1) The best-selling Beach Boys album of all time is this two disc greatest hits compilation. Do you have favorite Beach Boys song? All Summer Long - I've no idea why.

2) The original members of the group were the Wilson brothers, their cousin Mike and a friend from the neighborhood. Have you ever worked with a family member? Yes.  My twin sister and I worked at a motel as maids for a couple summers.

3) Originally released in the mid-1970s, Endless Summer was one of the first fast-selling albums sold on TV. Have you ever picked up the phone and purchased anything directly from TV? I think I did order some knives once.  Ginsu knives...  *rolls her eyes*

4) The Beach Boys are very popular in Australia. Have you ever been Down Under? No, but I hope to visit one day!

5) Actor John Stamos played bongos on the Beach Boys' hit, "Kokomo." In his younger days, Stamos was Blackie on the daytime drama, General Hospital. Have you ever followed a soap opera? Yes.  I watched General Hospital during the Luke and Laura era. It became too ridiculous after a while so I stopped.

6) Many Beach Boys songs revolve around the surf. How are you on a surf board? I've never tried and I don't think I ever will!  I lack coordination!

7) Would you prefer summer to be endless? Or do you enjoy the changing seasons? I'm not a huge fan of summer - or winter, for that matter.  I like the moderate temperatures of spring and fall.

8) Do your summer 2013 plans include a trip to a waterpark? No.

9) Describe your swimsuit. Um...It's a one-piece with a blue/green design. Nothing special.

Saturday Six - July 20, 2013

1. What is your favorite song and why? It's hard to pick one, but one of my favorites is Somebody to Love by Queen

Why?  I don't know, really... the harmonies, the energy they put into it,  I've no idea!

2. What is your favorite band and why? Oh, gosh!  Again... just one?  Well, we'll go with Queen since I already chose a song by them. They were just such terrific musicians!

3. What is your favorite place to vacation and why? Vermont.  We went there on vacation several years ago and it just felt like home. I would love to live up there.

4. What is your favorite local restaurant and why? Issac's.  Why?  Because they have so many different vegetarian sandwiches and soups that I never have to have the same thing twice!

5. Who is your favorite living relative and why? Hmmm.... I don't know, really.  I guess my sister Nancy because I always looked up to her and wanted to be like her.

6. What is your favorite pet (current or past) and why? My first pet cat, Squeaky - because she was the first pet I had on my own, I guess.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Conservative Group Calls for the End of Sexy Salad Dressing Ads

Have you seen the latest ads for Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing? They feature a man called the Zesty Guy who often appears bare-chested. Well, to be honest, I'm not sure that's what Kraft calls him.  I think that's what the media and/or public have dubbed him.  It seems like an apt description to me, but that's neither here nor there.

The commercials use an attractive man and a bit of humor to sell the salad dressing.  Here's one of the television commercials so you can see what I'm talking about.



Kraft is using the same actor, Anderson Davis, in its print ads for their dressing and one of these ads has the conservative group, One Million Moms, up in arms!  The photo shows the Zesty Guy laying on a picnic blanket, apparently naked, with a corner of the blanket covering up his...  jewelry. You can see the ad in this article.

The group claims that "Christians will not be able to buy Kraft dressings or any of their products until they clean up their advertising"! 

Seriously, One Million Moms?  
  1. The ad in question was printed in People magazine- a magazine that prints celebrity news and gossip. It also runs a yearly "Sexiest Man Alive" feature.  It is not, by any means, a conservative magazine.  I wonder how many seriously conservative women even read People magazine. Frankly, I'm surprised you even found out about the ad in the first place!
  2. In case you've been hidden under a rock all your life, I'll enlighten you to the fact that sex sells. This article in Business Insider mentions 13 brands that use sexy models to sell their products and this list is not exhaustive. Take a look around you and you will see that all sorts of products are advertised with sexy ads.
  3. If you don't like the ads, then don't purchase the product.  The best way to have your "voice" be heard is to discontinue purchasing the product.  Yes, writing a letter might get some attention, but the real motivation behind commercials is to draw attention to the product and, hopefully, to sell it.  If they fail to do this, then the company will try some other way to draw attention to their product.
  4. Have you ever considered that, by making a big deal about this, you are actually helping Kraft by alerting people to their ads?  I hadn't seen any of these ads before I heard about your campaign but I have now!  Now, I'm not going to start to purchase Kraft dressings any time soon - but that's because I like to make my own.  If I do purchase dressings, however, I might subconsciously be drawn to Kraft Zesty Italian.  You never know! That Zesty Guy certainly is attractive!

I think that One Million Moms' campaigns to write letters and boycott companies often seem to draw more attention to the companies and might have the opposite effect to what they intend. I wonder if they consider that at all. I find that am generally more interested in supporting some of the companies they target than boycotting them.

This group is overly concerned with sex, in my opinion, and dislikes when gay couples are portrayed as normal human beings as evidenced by previous attacks on JCPenney. They didn't like the Mother's Day ads with two mothers,  the Father's Day ads with two fathers or that they hired Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson because she is gay. Because of this, I'm offended by them. Thank goodness they don't really number in the millions as their name would imply or they might actually be a force to be reckoned with.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cucumber Salad

We have cucumbers coming out our ears!

Cucumbers are one of those crops that produce a lot at once!  K planted two cucumber plants but I think we could have done alright with just one.

So!  What do I do when I have too many cucumbers?  I make cucumber salad!

I'm not sure if this is common in all parts of the world but it certainly is around here.  Everyone seems to have their favorite recipe and this is mine.  I took my mother's recipe and altered it a little by adding the seasoned salt - she used table salt - and adding dill.  She used some fresh ground pepper but I think it's too strong a flavor for the dish.  Have fun with it and make it your own way!

Cucumber salad

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

4 medium cucumbers, peeled and sliced thinly
1 small red onion, sliced thinly

Place the cucumber and onion slices in a bowl.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Pour over the cucumber and onion slices and stir to coat.  Place in the refrigerator until chilled.
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This is not a low fat food but it is delicious!  I generally taste the sauce before I pour it over the vegetables as I like a good mix between the sweet sugar and tart vinegar and sometimes I like a bit more vinegar.

You will find that the liquid will get a little watered down from the cucumber juices.  This is the way I remember it being when I grew up but some folks don't like it that runny.  I've seen suggestions on other recipes to salt the cucumber slices ahead of time, cover and leave for a couple hours, then pour off the liquid. I dislike the idea of adding more salt to the recipe so I'd definitely reconsider the seasoned salt if you do this.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How Dangerous are these "Banned" Food items... ? Part 3

We've been taking a look at food ingredients and additives that are banned in some countries but not in the United States.  I was curious about why these items are banned anywhere so I'm investigating the best I can by researching the substances.

I've heard about the following substances before.  They are rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) and rBST(recombinant bovine somatotropin). They are two names for basically the same substance and are given to dairy cattle.
Bovine somatotropin (BST) is produced by a cow's pituitary gland in small quantities and it is used to regulate processes in their bodies. This hormone was once given to cows to increase milk production but it was expensive as the only source was dead cattle.  Scientists learned how to use DNA technology to synthesize this hormone and created rBGH and rBST. These artificial growth hormones are a much less expensive way to increase milk production.

There are several issues that people have with the use of these artificial hormones.
  • They are concerned about the health of the animal as there is an increased instance of mastitis, a reduction of fertility and increased lameness in animals given these substances. 
  • Milk produced by cows given the artificial hormones is not chemically identical to milk from cows not given the substance.  Milk from the treated cows has a higher level of BST and IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), another hormone. BST, if consumed in milk, is destroyed by our digestive system but there is a concern with the safety of IGF-1. The substances has been shown to increase the risk of cancer. It is uncertain whether this substance is absorbed into the body or not during the digestive process. 
  • Cows given the artificial hormones are more likely to have to be treated with antibiotics and people are concerned about trace amounts of antibiotics appearing in milk from these cows. 
The main problem I see with consuming milk from cows treated with these artificial growth hormones seems to be the higher level of IGF-1 which we are unsure about.  Skeptics are quick to point out that the amount consumed in milk is minute but it could still be a concern.
Some folks take issue with the idea of using DNA technology to manipulate genes so they would avoid these products for that reason alone.  I've addressed the use of GMOs already and my thoughts can be found on this post so I'll not go into that again here. 
If you wish to drink milk from cows not treated with these artificial hormones, there is a list on Wikipedia of companies who supply it. It shouldn't be difficult to find.

Our last "banned" substances are BHT and BHA. Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are added to food to prevent spoilage of fats and oils. They can also be found in cosmetics.
The FDA classifies both substances as generally recognized as safe but the National Toxicology Program believes that BHA might be a human carcinogen - based on animal studies - and that BHT is linked to an increased risk of cancer in animals. The waters are murkier for BHT as there are studies that seem to show a decreased risk of cancer associated with the substance, as well.
Both substances are broken down and absorbed into the body when consumed. The problem is that we simply do not have enough evidence to know for certain how these substances interact with the human body. 
It seems prudent to limit your intake of BHA and BHT if at all possible. I don't think we need to totally avoid them but eating less processed foods will go a long way in helping you consume less of these substances.

This concludes my series on food ingredients banned in some countries but not the United States. Part 1 is available here and part 2, here if you missed them. 

If you are aware of any substances that I overlooked, please let me know! 


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Information for this post was obtained from the following sources:
Skeptics Stack Exchange
Wikipedia
Science Blogs
About.com
Berkeley Wellness

Image obtained here

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ruby Tuesday - July 16, 2013


It's Ruby Tuesday, again!  Click on the logo to see other participants or join in yourself!

One of our neighbors gave us a couple of long planters with these flowers several years ago.  I've no idea what they are, but they come back year after year.  She advised us to take them inside to a dark place over winter and bring them back outside in the spring after the frosts have passed.  Sure enough, they come back to life and bloom again!


(As usual, click on the image to make it bigger!)

Let me know if you recognize these blooms! I'd love to know what they are! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

5 Things That Make You More Attractive To A Mosquito

It seems like some people get bitten by mosquitoes more than others - even if they are in the same place at the same time!  It turns out that there may be a reason some people are more appetizing to these pests!

Scientists have discovered what sort of things attract mosquitoes and they might explain why some of us get more bites than others.  Some of these are things we can control and others are not.

Do any of these apply to you?

1. You have type O blood.  People who have type O blood get bitten nearly twice as often as people with type A. Type B falls in between the two.  Unfortunately, there is nothing one can do about his or her blood type.

2. You exhale a larger amount of carbon dioxide than the average person.  One of the ways mosquitoes find us is by smelling the carbon dioxide that we breathe out.  People who weigh more generally exhale more carbon dioxide as do pregnant women.  This makes it more likely for mosquitoes to find these people than a young child.

3. You are exercising or exerting yourself. Mosquitoes are attracted to certain substances that are found in sweat.  If we are being physically active, we will perspire more and attract more of the pests.

4. You are drinking beer. Scientists haven't quite figured out why, but mosquitoes are more likely to bite a beer drinker than one who is consuming another beverage! At least we can do something about this one!

5. You are wearing dark clothing.  Here is another thing we can control!  Mosquitoes use sight as well as their sense of smell when finding their dinners and it is easier for them to hone in on a person wearing darker clothing such as black, dark blue and red.

Hope you are one of the luckier less-bitten individuals!  If not, don't forget your mosquito repellent when you're going to be outside after dark!

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Information for this post was obtained at the following website:
Smithsonian.com

Image obtained here

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Saturday 9: Just Give Me a Reason

The Saturday 9 is hosted by Crazy Sam on this site!  Feel free to visit and join in!

1) When she first burst onto the scene, Pink was a self-proclaimed tomboy. Now she's glam. Literally. She was on the cover of the June issue of Glamour and is a spokeswoman for Covergirl cosmetics. Does a celebrity endorsement increase your interest in a product? No.  Not at all.

2) This song is about a woman who feels her lover slipping away. Do you believe a couple can repair a relationship once it starts to sour? Of course, if they both want to and are willing to work on it.

3) As a little girl, Pink wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. If you could excel (or, if you do excel) at any sport, which one? I'm not coordinated enough to play sports but I wouldn't mind excelling at tennis!

4) Pink is married to motorcycle pro Carey Hart. Have you ever ridden really fast on a motorcycle? Nope!

5) When she found out she was pregnant, Pink says she gave up whiskey and cigarettes … but admits she misses the whiskey. Do you have a habit you know you should break? Not really.  I already gave up smoking and don't overeat anymore.

6) In 2010, she fell out of the aerial harness that was supposed to carry her across the stage. Are you afraid of heights? Not really.

7) Pink enjoys showing off her tattoos. Do you have any body art? Yes,. I have 4 tattoos.

8) Pink can be very salty in her language. When was the last time you cursed? All the time in my head.  I can't remember the last time I swore out loud, though.

9) On her website, Pink sells 10 different t-shirts. Do you have a favorite t-shirt? What does it look like/say? Hmmm... I have a lot of t-shirts I like.  I think my favorite is the one with the caffeine molecule on it!

Saturday Six - July 13, 2013

1. Who is the last person whose photo you took? Probably my grandson, Levi.

2. Who most recently took a photo of you? I can't recall anyone doing this recently.

3. When you take a photo, what camera or device do you prefer to use? I generally use my phone.  I don't own a digital camera and I don't prefer our film camera.

4. Do you have any social media accounts on which you share your photography? Sometimes I share pictures on Facebook or Google + and I put some on my blog sometimes.

5. Do you ever browse someone else’s photography for creative inspiration? Sometimes.

6. When was the last time you had a roll of film developed? Earlier this year after the grand kid's birthdays.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

The Wackadoo Meme Part 2

This is the Sunday Stealing meme this week.

This week's questions come from Shopafreakingholic and it was stolen there as well, but the search doesn't go back any farther.

30.] What brand of batteries do you usually get? Kirland from Costco - because they're cheap.

31.] Are any of your friends pregnant or have kids? Some have kids.

32.] What is in your medicine cabinet? OTC pain killers, Tums, etc.

33.] What's your favorite aspect of the natural world? Um, what?

34.] What's your favorite man made thing? I don't know... the computer?  Cell phone?

35.] Can you whistle properly? Yes. I whistle better than I can sing.

36.] What song do you think is the most widely heard in the world? I've no idea... Perhaps Happy Birthday to you? Is that sung in most English-speaking countries, at least?

37.] Where's the strangest place a fast food restaurant was located? I've no idea.

38.] What states surround your state? Or are you not land locked? New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia,  and Ohio.

39.] Do you own binoculars or monoculars? What do you use them for? No.

40.] Do you ever wish you had a telescope on the roof or attic to stargaze? Yes, but then I would want to live away from all the lights so I could see more.

41.] What's your favorite chocolate bar? Heath bar or Twix depending on my mood.

42.] Do you fall asleep easy in cars? How about planes, trains and boats? No - except for planes.  I get bored and drowsy on planes.

43.] Would you rather live a year of your life in every major country or stay in the same place you live forever without vacations? I guess I'd have to go with option one.  I love to see new places.

44.] What will you not tolerate in a person? If he or she is a bigot.

45.] Do you forgive others easier or yourself? Why is this?  Others.  Because I'm human, I guess.

46.] How was God made, if he exists? I don't believe a deity exists so this is irrelevant.

47.] Have you ever done aqua aerobics or polo? Nope!

48.] What age were you when you learned how to swim? Young... Maybe 4 or 5?

49.] What shows or characters scared you as a child? I can't really remember being scared much by shows.  I do remember that a particular episode of The Waltons scared me for some reason. It was the one where the meteorite fell through the Baldwin sister's roof. I'm not sure what scared me about that, though.

50.] Do you stay up all night on New Years Eve/Day or go to bed after 12am? Go to bed - sometimes before midnight.

51.] What's something unusual currently in your fridge? Not very much unusual in there...  Perhaps the rainbow chard I just bought?

52.] How about your freezer? My Han Solo in Carbonite ice cube tray.

53.] What could you be doing now that is more productive? Running the dust mop over the bedroom floor.

54.] Give me some lyrics from the song that's stuck in your head? "Don't sleep on the subway, darling...."

55.] What's your favorite type of firework? The ones that whistle.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Being Tracked and Tracking Progress

I like technology. I really do!

I'm tickled that I have an app on my phone that tracks my location and tells me the weather where I am - not just where I live - and if there is severe weather approaching my location.  Awesome, right?

I love having an app that tracks how well I sleep, how long I sleep and wakes me, gradually, to the music selection of my choice.

I'll even admit that I like the fact that if I'm signed into Google when I search for something at work, Google will remember my interests and use that information to show items of interest on Google Now if I'm on my phone or search suggestions on my home computer.

Yes.  I'm being tracked.  I know a lot of people seriously have a problem with this but I don't.  I think that the benefits outweigh the risks. That's my opinion, though.  I know others will disagree.  I'm not going to argue the point.

Moving on...

In other news, they are replacing the bridge over the creek that runs next to the plant where I work.  I've been watching them and it's really neat how they're going about it.  First they inserted a flexible hose into the creek which was attached to a pump.  They pumped the water into a pipe that ran across the road and to another flexible hose that shoots the water into the creek bed downstream.  Then they placed sandbags in the creek to stop the flow so all the water can be pumped up and over leaving a dry creek bed behind.  They then broke down the bridge and scooped up the pieces and hauled them away.


I took the above picture yesterday.  You can see the two pumps they are using on the right side and the sandbags. Also in the picture is the machinery removing pieces of the bridge. You should be able to click the picture to make it bigger.

I took the following picture this morning. Sorry it's rather dark.  It's overcast today. They have removed all the debris and lined the bed with a fine gravel where they will build the new bridge.  They are currently surveying the area and, hopefully, will start construction today - as I'd like to get a picture of their progress before I leave today. (Again, click the picture to embiggen.) (<-- I like the word, embiggen, even if it was made up by the writers of The Simpsons!)


I hope I'm not boring everyone but I found it interesting to watch the progress.

Finally, I wanted to include a poll on this post but I didn't realize that my poll host website is blocked at work so I'll just ask the question and folks can leave comments to tell me their preference, if any.

*** The question of the day is:  Would you be more interested in a recipe for a zucchini pie or a cucumber salad? ***

I want to post one of them next Thursday so let me know if either one interests you.  Or not.  If that question doesn't interest you just answer any other question you wish. I'm easy like that.

Thanks!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Raspberry Blueberry Pie


I've mentioned before that we have red raspberry bushes in our garden.  This means that I find myself with a lot of raspberries all at once for a couple weeks of the summer!  Yes, I do freeze quite a few of them so I can make pies and muffins during the rest of the year but I do tend to make many more raspberry dishes when they are in season!

Red raspberries are a tart sort of berry so they pair nicely with blueberries which are more a bit more sweet.  Here is my favorite recipe for the two berries combined in a pie.  Don't omit the raw sugar on the top crust! This really makes it special!


Raspberry Blueberry Pie

pie crust for 2-crust pie

3 cups fresh raspberries
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup tapioca
1/4 cup crème de cassis (black currant flavored liqueur)

1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons raw sugar


Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out 1/2 the dough and line the pie plate. (I use a deep dish pie plate as this is a juicy pie!  You may want to place foil under your pie to prevent it making a mess in your oven.) Set aside the other half of the dough.

Mix raspberries, blueberries, sugar, tapioca, and crème de cassis in large bowl. Pour into dough-lined pie plate.

Roll out reserved dough and place on top.  Trim and crimp edges together. Cut a design through top crust to vent the pie.

Whisk egg and milk in small bowl to blend. Brush some of mixture over crust. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake pie 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350°F. Continue baking about 1 hour more or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown.  Watch carefully as you may need to cover the crust to prevent it from over browning.

Allow to cool about 2 hours.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How Dangerous are these "Banned" Food Items...? Part 2

Last Wednesday, I was discussing food ingredients that are banned in some countries but not the United States. If you missed it, that post is available here. I'm going to continue on that theme today.

Another item that is banned in some places but not the United States is arsenic in poultry feed.  Yes, believe it or not, it seems that it was once common practice  to add arsenic to poultry feed.  It helped to reduce infections, apparently.  The National Chicken Council says this is no longer happening. I imagine that's why no one ever got around to banning the practice in the US.
If you really want to be sure that you know what your poultry is eating, then do some investigation.  The company I work for, for example, feeds an all-vegetable diet to the birds and doesn't use antibiotics. I feel safe serving that poultry to my family. There are several companies with the same practices so you should be able to find chicken raised in this manner where you live.

Certain artificial food colors are banned in some areas of the world.  Yellow #5 is one of these as is blue #1.   People who are allergic to aspirin may also react to yellow #5, and some can be allergic to blue #1, as well. If you want to know if a food contains these, look on the label.
Red #40 is another artificial dye banned in some countries.  Studies indicate that it might be linked to an increase in hyperactivity in young children. It might be best to avoid feed this to young children if they have attention issues or signs of hyperactivity.
There are a number of relatively unsubstantiated studies linking some artificial dyes with ADHD in children, as well.  These studies include so many artificial dyes that I'm not going to list them.
I think the safest thing to do is to limit your child's exposure to any artificial food colors until we know more about them, to be honest. This might be somewhat difficult as brightly colored candy and sugary snacks often contain artificial dyes. The ones I have listed here will appear on the labels of products that contain them.  As far as adults go, I doubt ingesting a small amount occasionally would be harmful unless allergies are involved.

Bromated flour is the last ingredient we are looking at today. Potassium bromate is added to some flours.  It is supposed to help make the dough more elastic and bleaches the flour.  Some studies have indicated that potassium bromate can cause cancerous tumors when fed to rats and mice.
The FDA has decided not to ban the substance at this time as it appears that the vast majority of the potassium bromate turns into potassium bromide - which is harmless -  during the baking process.  I found this information here. If you are concerned about this additive, then read the labels of any baked goods you purchase.  Potassium bromate or bromated flour will appear on the ingredients list if a product contains it.

I know of a few more of these banned substances but I'm going to wait until next week to discuss those.

Image found here

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ruby Tuesday - July 9, 2013

Ruby Tuesday 2

It's another Tuesday - a Ruby Tuesday, to be exact! Click the Ruby Tuesday Logo to visit more of this week's participants - or to participate yourself!

I have this plant growing in my garden. They are a perennial called Potentilla Nepalensis Miss Willmott,  It produces so many bright little pink/red flowers! Here are a couple up close. (click the image to enlarge it)



Have a terrific day!

Monday, July 8, 2013

5 Myths About Pit Bulls

Many of you may be aware that I am the proud owner of a pit bull mix named Brooke.  Her full name was Brooke Lynn as she was rescued in Brooklyn, New York.  That's Brooke in the picture to the left and below, modelling a hat.

We adopted her from a pit bull rescue organization that does a terrific job with these often misunderstood dogs. They train them well and teach them to be social with people and other dogs.  I often think that if a burglar broke into our house, Brooke would greet him at the door and expect to be petted. Of course, I might be wrong about this as our dogs may behave more protectively if their people are not around.

As a pit bull owner, I've often encountered people who think that they are a dangerous dog breed.  I find this somewhat humorous because when I was growing up, it was the doberman pinschers and rottweilers that were supposed to be the "dangerous" dogs.

There are many misconceptions about pit bulls so I thought I'd take the time to clear up some of them today.

1. It is dangerous to have a pit bull if you have children.  The fact is that pit bulls are no more dangerous around children than any other breed.  Unless mistreated, most pit bulls are "people pleasers". Some dogs do better around children that others and you need to find out how your dog interacts with others before you allow him or her around young children.  In addition, children need to be taught how to act around animals - not to pull their tails or ears, for example - and should never be unsupervised around any dog regardless of that dog's breed.

2. Pit bulls will attack without warning.  No dog generally attacks without any warning or for no reason.  There is generally a reason.  If a stranger enters a dog's yard, for example, the dog might act aggressively toward that person.  The dog is simply defending his territory!  If a dog is stressed out by too much unfamiliar noise or a lot of people visiting, he or she may need to be taken to a quiet area of the house for a while to calm down. We have to pay attention to our dogs.  There will generally be signs that they are getting upset before they lash out at anyone.

3. Pit bulls do not get along with cats or other dogs.  This depends on the animal!  Some dogs, regardless of breed, will get along just fine with other dogs and some will not.  Some will tolerate cats, others won't.  There is no set rule here.  Our first pit bull got along just fine with our cats.  If anything, the cats were the aggressors but she just ignored their antics.

4. Pit bulls have locking jaws.  I'm not sure how this came to be believed but no dog has any such mechanism.  This is a total myth.

5. Pit bulls have a higher bite power than other dogs.  In a comparison between a German Shepard, Rottweiler, and an American Pit Bull Terrier, the pit bull had the least amount of pressure.  This is another example of a misconception.

For more information about pit bulls, visit these sites!
Cesar's Way
Parade Magazine
Bad Rap
Petfinder

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Wackadoo Meme, part 1

This is the Sunday Stealing Meme.

This week's questions come from Shopafreakingholic and it was stolen there as well, but the search doesn't go back any farther.

1.] What age is your youngest aunt? Well, she would have to be in her mid- to upper-80s! We don't ask about age in our family much.

2.] Do you miss someone right now? Yes. A dear friend took his life 2 years ago on the 9th of July and I was just thinking how much I missed him.

3.] What can you see North West to you? Currently?  The bulletin board next to my desk.

4.] Do you like bowling? Not really.

5.] Can you pronounce Italian words? Um, yes. Food words.  Spaghetti, lasagna, etc.

6.] Do you prefer black or beige coloured jackets? Black

7.] Do you own a hoodie? Yes. Several.

8.] Do you like roasting marshmallows on a bonfire? Not as much as I used to.  I avoid those sorts of foods now.

9.] Do you like cheesy puffs? Not really.  I dislike how messy my fingers get eating them and the flavor doesn't excite me.

10.] What's your name without vowels? Cthrn - if you count "y" as a vowel.

11.] How many layers of clothing are you wearing? Two, if you count undies.  It's hot outside!

12.] When was the last time you got a take away? What did you have? I think the last time was a burrito bowl from Chipotle! Yummy!

13.] If you could climb any mountain or range which would you choose? The Appalachians are more my speed.

14.] Do you alphabetically arrange anything in your room? What? Movies.  CDs.

15.] Have you ever visited fat-pie [dot] [com]? No.  I'm not sure what that is nor whether I want to so I won't.

16.] Do you prefer sweet or sour fruits? Sour.  Not a big fan of sweet stuff.

17.] Do you like Flo Rida? Which song of his? I recognize the name but I'm not familiar with his music.

18.] How are your dancing skills? Lousy, at best.

19.] What is your favorite number? 25 - for no reason at all.

20.] Describe your best friend to me? She's an introvert, like me, but she's very sweet and rather brave, in spite of herself.

21.] What is your favorite alcoholic drink? A good craft beer - preferably a porter.

22.] Do you do any sports or have you done any sport professionally? I don't do sports.  I do watch sports, though - NFL football, mostly.

23.] What is your ringtone? I have several for different people but the default ring right now is Largo al factorum from the Barber of Seville.

24.] Do you like chilli flavoured chips/crisps? Not really

25.] Do you curl or straighten your hair? I curl my bangs, generally - though when the weather is this humid, I'm not sure why I bother!

26.] What's the nicest smell of shampoo? I prefer a fruity or a clean smell rather than a floral scent.

27.] What smell turns you on? How about turns you off? I'm not sure what smell "turns me on" but I'm turned off by most mens' cologne.  Too strong or something.

28.] Who's your favorite comedian? Depends on my mood.  I like Eddy Izzard and Ricky Gervais - but, also, I enjoy Gabriel Iglesias and Kathy Griffin. And Ellen Degeneres.  And Jeff Dunham.  Okay.  I'll stop.  I like a lot of comedians.

29.] RnB or Reggae? Hmm... either - but I have to be in the mood.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Saturday 9 - Dedicated to the One I Love

I thought I'd participate in the Saturday 9 this week.  I did so once before and I've no idea why I haven't been back!
The Saturday 9 is hosted by Crazy Sam on this site!  Feel free to visit and join in!

1) The lyrics include the line, "Love can never be exactly what we want it to be." Are you happy with your love life? Most of the time.

 2) Another lyric is, "Each night before you go to bed, whisper a little prayer for me." Do you say your prayers? Nope!  I'm an atheist.

3) Mama Michelle and Papa John were married in real life. It didn't end well -- not for the couple and not for the band. Do you believe you could work successfully with a romantic partner? I think most of the time, it's a bad idea. You need some time away from each other now and then, in my opinion.

4) After the band broke up, Michelle tried her hand at acting and eventually became a regular on the nighttime soap, Knott's Landing. Of course, she could live off of her music royalties while she learned her new craft. If money was no object, what career would like to try? If I had enough money to live on, I would go back to school. I'm not sure what I would major in, though.  I have too many varied interests!

 5) There is a famous rumor -- completely false -- that Mama Cass died while eating a ham sandwich. Can you think of another urban legend? I remember one about a woman finding a dead baby mouse in her chicken McNuggets. (battered and fried)  That never really happened.

6) In the 1960s, every high school girl wanted to wear her hair like Michelle and Cass -- long and straight. Can you recall a fashion trend from your school days? Well, there was the feathered look - like Farrah Fawcett or the shag - like Florence Henderson wore.  Bell-bottomed, hip-hugging pants were in, as well - though the bell bottoms have come back around again. Then in the 80s, we went with straight legged pants and shoulder pads! It was all pretty horrible, actually.

7) With the Fourth of July falling on Thursday, are you able to enjoy a looooong four-day holiday weekend?  Nope!  I had off Thursday but had to go in on Friday. (or I wouldn't have gotten paid for Thursday)

8) Many communities have parades to celebrate Independence Day. Have you ever ridden on a float or marched in a parade? Yes - both!  I've marched in parades in marching bands and when I was in the girl scouts.  I rode on floats with the girl scouts, too.

9) In honor of the Fourth of July, name your favorite Founding Father. That's a tough one.  I think it might be John Adams - but that might have more to do with my fondness for his wife, Abigail, than John. Benjamin Franklin is up there, too!

Saturday Six - July 6, 2013

1. Which holiday are you most likely to spend outdoors? Memorial day.  We almost always go to the parade in a town near us and generally have a picnic with my family.

2. What’s your favorite cookout food? Well...  I'm not much of a potato or macaroni salad person.  I don't eat most meat.  Perhaps the veggie tray, if there is one?  I like vegetable kabobs but most people don't cook those. Ooo!  And if we use the fire pit, then I'd go with potatoes baked on the coals!  They are awesome - all smokey and delicious!

3. Which cookout food could you do without? Any of the meats! :-P

4. Which holidays do you think are appropriate to celebrate with fireworks? I'm a traditionalist so I think just  Independence Day is enough!  If you have them too often, it becomes commonplace.

5. Which holidays do you wish weren’t celebrated with fireworks? Any but July 4th.

6. Which holiday is the last one for which you threw a party yourself? Well... it wasn't really a "party" but we held the family Thanksgiving feast here last year.  We don't do a lot of parties.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Why it is not alright to wear a feathered headdress as a fashion statement.

In the United States, we have a terrible history of mistreating indigenous people.  Well, alright.  We have a history of mistreating any people who are different from us in any way - but back on topic. Our European ancestors, instead of trying to live alongside the native people already living here, took the land they wanted and forced the indigenous people out or slaughtered them. There's no nice way to put that. We didn't bother to learn about who they were. We didn't bother to find things we had in common. We just didn't trust them because they were different.  We are not alone in this behavior, of course.  I'm just writing about what I know best and I'm am most familiar with the shameful behavior of my European ancestors here in the US.

I'm going to digress a little here, but please bear with me.  One of my favorite movies is a musical called Holiday Inn.  Made in the 1940s, it stars Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby and the song White Christmas was written for it. It has some glorious song and dance numbers that I just love to watch.  It is also a deeply flawed movie and it is hard to watch some of it.

The problem I have with the movie is the way the people of color are portrayed. For starters, there is an African American cook at the inn named -wait for it - Mamie.  She is the stereotypical black "help" character of that era right down to the way she speaks.  The worst part of the movie and what bothers me the most is the blackface number that Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds perform.  (If you don't understand what is offensive about blackface, then I suggest you educate yourself.) I still watch the movie because of the wonderful music and dancing but it reminds me of how things used to be and that we have improved since then - at least in some respects. (and I'll admit that I have to fast-forward through the blackface Abraham number as I just can't watch it.)

The other day, I saw something that I think is just as offensive as someone performing in blackface. I am ashamed to admit that I didn't think of it that way at first but the more I thought about it, the more wrong it seemed.  It was a picture of a woman at a music festival wearing a feathered headdress. It was similar to the Sioux warbonnet in the image on this post. At first I thought that, since the festival was in the UK, she may just not be aware of the how offensive it could be to Native Americans.  Then I was told that people wear them in the US as well!  I wanted to believe that this was an anomaly but the more I looked around the internet, the more I realized that this is actually a trend.  People are wearing these headdresses like a fashion accessory all over the place!

Let's examine this situation a little bit more.  The problem with blackface is that one is representing a particular group of people as if they are all the same happy-go-lucky, somewhat stupid, characters and not real living human beings.  Well, that and you're implying that they aren't good enough examples of themselves so you have to blacken your face to show them how to do that the right way or something.  But the problem is the stereotypes that we reinforce - like Maime in Holiday Inn and the "darkies" played in minstrel shows.

The stereotypical Native American is the sort that we see in old westerns.  They run around with feathers on their heads, their faces painted.  They speak like Tonto from the Lone Ranger.  They are shown as uncultured, wild, war-hooping, murderous savages. These stereotypes show the indigenous people the way that they might have been perceived by our ancestors.  They do not represent the reality of who these people really were and certainly do not represent the indigenous people who live in the US today.

There are modern tribes in the US today. Their members don't run around wearing headdresses and war paint.  They dress like everyone else.  When they do don ceremonial dress such as headdresses (and not all tribes have that tradition, by the way) and special clothing it is generally for ceremonies and, many times, spiritual reasons.  These are items that can have deep meaning to them. In many tribes, you have to earn the right to wear certain articles.

When a person of European descent puts on a headdress and/or warpaint it is offensive and demeaning. Remember that the Europeans killed so many of these indigenous people and forced them to give up their land and move west into what they called Indian territory.  Over time, that territory became smaller as the invaders claimed more and more land. Now descendants of the people who committed these atrocities are appropriating these garments and using them as fashion accessories! This is just so wrong!

Even if you aren't of European descent, you don't get a pass.  You haven't earned the right to wear them and no, you are not "honoring" Native Americans by wearing them.  They'd rather you didn't. (Don't believe me? Check out some of the resources I list below.)

So, please. Let's do our part to educate people about this issue.  It is not cool to wear these items. They are not fashion accessories.  They are items that have deep meaning to the people who wear them as part of their cultural traditions.

------
You can find out more about this subject by reading the articles I have listed here.
What's wrong with my headdress?
But Why Can't I Wear a Hipster Headdress?
13 Rock Stars Who've Worn Native Headdresses (There's nothing wrong with writing to these stars and educating them about how wrong it is, either.  Just saying.)

Image found here

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Broccoli Salad

Today is Independence Day!

Many people have cookouts on this holiday so I thought I'd post a recipe for a salad that my daughter often takes to these family gatherings:  Broccoli salad!

There are tons of different recipes out there for broccoli salads and most of them are pretty much the same. This is the one that we like.  It is not vegetarian - as it contains bacon - and I've not tried it without the bacon so I don't know how that would be.  So, no.  I couldn't eat this (or wouldn't) but the carnivores in my  life enjoy it.  (and I did when I still ate meat)


Broccoli Salad

1 large head of broccoli - chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped onion
10 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
raisins (optional)
1 cup mayonnaise (low fat mayo can be used, as well!)
2 TBSP vinegar
3-4 tsp sugar
1 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds

Stir the first 4 ingredients together in a large bowl. Now mix the mayo, vinegar and sugar and pour over the other ingredients. Stir to coat. Stir in sunflower seeds right before serving.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How Dangerous are these "Banned" Food Items--and why aren't they banned everywhere?

I received an email the other day from some organization I must have signed up with a while back for something.  You know how it is. Anyway, it contained a link to a list of food items - or ingredients in food products, really - that are banned in some countries of the world but still available here in the United States.  Curious, I clicked over to see the list.

Olestra was the first one I recognized.  It's that fat substitute invented by Proctor and Gamble that is supposed to pass through your digestive tract without being absorbed into your body.  This was supposed to allow you to eat fatty items - like potato chips - and not gain weight.  It also can act as a laxative to some people so it can have some not-so-nice side effects.
The problem with olestra is that the particles that are passing through the digestive tract attach themselves to certain vitamins and take those along for the ride.  Not so cool.  That reason is why it is banned in some countries of the world. In the US, it isn't used a whole lot - mostly because of the press surrounding the product.  Products that contain it must be labeled so you will always be able to know that it is in a product.
I, personally, avoid this item.  I don't want to take the chance of having digestive issues.  I think that it is fine to have fatty foods occasionally and in moderation so if you want chips, then have a few of the regular ones.

Next up was one I had never heard of, azondicarbonamide! It is used to bleach flour so it can be in breads, baked goods and other processed foods. The article claims it can induce asthma attacks!  This sounds very serious so I looked into it. Turns out that this is true - if it is inhaled.  This report explains that it is hazardous to people working with the substance if precautions aren't taken and it is inhaled. Prolonged exposure can cause skin irritation, as well.  There appear to be no problems with it being ingested, however.  It looks like this is a case of misunderstanding the problem with the chemical and over-reaction. I'm not going to concern myself with this one.

Let's look at one more item on the list, brominated vegetable oil (BVO). It is found in some sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas. The article states that it is banned in some countries because it contains bromine - which can be toxic.  Alright... let's take a look at this claim.  This Snopes article was helpful. Yes, bromine can build up in person's body and can cause some severe problems.  Loss of memory, skin lesions and nerve disorders can be caused by a buildup of bromine in your system.  You do have to consume an awful lot of the substance to have this problem, however.  Something like 2 to 4 liters of soda containing BVO a day would create a level of bromine in your body that could cause serious problems.
Personally, I don't drink sodas but drinking that amount of a sugary drink seems like a really bad idea even if it doesn't contain BVO.  A 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew contains 880 calories, itself!  I imagine an occasional soda might be alright, however, so if you enjoy an occasional soda I wouldn't worry too much.

I'm going to stop there and perhaps I'll revisit this list again next week.

I think that it's important to be aware of what is contained in products we consume. We should be careful not to fall for claims that might not be as accurate as they could be. We should also keep in mind that different countries have different regulations and may differ on what they consider safe.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid these issues is to avoid processed foods altogether.  I'll admit that this might not be possible for all of us but we should still make the effort to cut back on processed foods if at all possible. Finally, the best rule of thumb is to ingest food products in moderation.  It's clear that overconsumption of any one product can cause problems so we should eat a variety of foods throughout the day.  Let common sense be your guide.

Image found here - and now it's making me hungry for chips *sighs*

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ruby Tuesday July 2, 2013

Ruby Tuesday 2
I thought I'd try something new this week:  A photo meme!

Specifically I'm talking about photos that I've taken that contain red (or pink) so that I can participate in Ruby Tuesday!

Click the Ruby Tuesday 2 logo for more information and to visit other Ruby Tuesday participants.



I was inspecting our raspberry bushes today and spotted this berry which is almost ready to be picked!  Soon I'll be making pies and muffins and freezing the excess berries!  I might try my hand at making jam this year, as well.  We'll see how motivated I am!

What's your favorite raspberry treat?

Monday, July 1, 2013

5 Facts about Independence Day

[I apologize to those who reside outside the United States as this will be a post about an American celebration that may not interest you.  Hopefully my next post will be more universal.]

This week in the US, we will mark the 237th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th.  We celebrate by taking the day off work, having picnics, attending concerts and setting off fireworks!

It is apparent that some people in my neighborhood have already begun celebrating.  One would be surprised to find out that most fireworks are illegal for the general public to set off in Pennsylvania considering all the fireworks being set off the week of the 4th.  It seems like a local tradition around here to set them off then hide from the cops. But I digress...

I went looking for some interesting facts that have to do with Independence Day and the signing of the Declaration and this is what I found out.

1. Two of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, both died on July 4th in 1826.  That day was the 50th anniversary of the signing of the document!

2. It took several decades before the day was celebrated as a holiday. The first public celebration at the White House of Independence day was on 1804 but it did not become a federal holiday until 1941.

3. The oldest man to sign the Declaration of Independence was Benjamin Franklin who was 70 years old at the time.

4. Even though the Declaration was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, the first and only man to sign the document on that particular day was John Hancock.  He did so as part of his role as the President of the Second Continental Congress.

5.  The last signer was Thomas McKean who did so in January, 1777.

May everyone have a safe and happy July 4th this week - even if that day isn't a celebration where you live.

Image obtained here