Friday, November 30, 2007

In the Midst of Winter

It snowed about 7 to 8 inches on Thursday. The weatherman was totally off the mark as he said it would be just a couple of inches at the most and not even that. Still it was beautiful, seeing all the trees with their branches covered in snow. Even dusted off my cross country skis and went out in the backyard and gave them a work-out.

So in the midst of winter, I decided to paint peonies. A customer was interested in some although I am not sure they would necessarily want this one but it gave me an excuse to escape the winter cold.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Circle of Friendship

I finally finished all the ankle bracelets this weekend. Here is a photo of one. I apologize for my not so good photography. I found some cute little boxes to put them in at Michaels. I made a matching tag that says:

Our circle of friendship grew from a few to ten
Like this chain, may our bonds remain unbroken until the end.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Gift Giving Ideas

It's that time of year again and I realize that my Christmas shopping is far from done. Usually, I will have about 75% finished by this time. Many times I will start back in July, looking for the summer bargains. However, it is getting harder and harder to buy gifts for my friends and their kids. Especially the kids, so this year, I will probably be giving a lot of gift cards to their favorite stores. Luckily, I started putting back about $400.00/month in August to cover some of these gifts plus gifts for my kids and family.

Since we had to pay a lot for college expenses and car repairs, I decided to also make some of my gifts. One idea was to give a living wreath to some of my neighbors and friends. I found some Christmas green and red pots at the end of summer on sale for $10.00/pot. We had plenty of English ivy growing in our garden. Got some berries from Michael's. Will add a bow later. But here is what they look like:Also got some Christmas tins on sale for 50% off. Will fill them with my soft peanut brittle. I've made it two years in a row and it has been a big hit. Here is the recipe:

Peanut Butter Peanut Brittle
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-1/2 cups light corn syrup
  • 2 cps salted peanuts
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
Combine sugar and water in heavy saucepan. Bring mixture to full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in corn syrup. Cook to hard crack stage, 300 degrees.

Meanwhile,mix peanuts, peanut butter and vanilla. Remove syrup from heat; at once add peanut butter mixture and soda; stir. Working quickly, pour onto buttered cookie sheet; spread
with fork, break into pieces.

For my women's group of 10, I have been working on some wirewrap jewelry. I am making them all matching ankle bracelets signifying our circle of friendship. It's my first experience making this type of thing but after a couple of days of practice, I think I have got the hang of it. Definitely much better than buying them each a gift and much more economical too.

Just a few ideas for the holiday season.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Improvement

I talked to my dad over the Thanksgiving holiday and it sounded like there was no real improvement in his condition. He had gone to the pulmonary specialist on Monday and basically was told to go home and wait until the middle of December and they will do another CT scan. If the CT scan shows no improvements, they will have to biopsy the lungs.

They measured my dad's blood oxygen levels and he was borderline for normal. I could tell my dad was discouraged. He's been trying to use the oxygen just at night while he sleeps but not during the day. His O2 levels are not coming back to normal on their own. I could not believe his doctor did not check him to see if he still had pneumonia. That was what they originally diagnosed him with when he was taken by ambulance to the hospital , a few weeks ago. It makes me wonder if my dad ever had pneumonia in the first place. Anyway, my dad had a coughing spell and he could not catch his breath. That had to be very scary. It's just going to be another long drawn out process for a diagnosis. In the meantime, my dad is suffering and I am frustrated.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Personalizing a Gift

My husband had given me the Xyron Personal Cutting System back in September. I hadn't had a chance to use it until now. It's a die cut machine that will cut out different letters and shapes. Since I do scrapbooking occasionally and also a little card making, I thought it would be a good asset to have. I assembled everything according to the directions and then turned on the machine. I plugged in the template.The machine worked but the template did not. I unplugged the book and replugged it back in. I did it several times and nothing. I went back to the directions and it said to do what I was doing. This was great, I just happened to see the warranty cards fall out of the instruction book. The machine is under warranty for 1 year provided that I send in the card, 30 days after purchase. Let's see this was purchased back in the middle of September... Oh well! There was a phone number to call tech support and I found that was nonexistent. I finally went online and read there were several complaints about the pads used for this machine. Great. Finally a miracle happened and the template just started working and I was able to cut my letters.

I was looking for a special birthday gift and I found this necklace thru Chinacat Creations. Actually the necklace shown is not the one I ordered as I have wrapped it. She sent this one by mistake and then resent the similar Dance necklace that I had wanted and a pair of matching earrings to make up for the error. I was totally delighted to get the surprise. It's a beautiful necklace.

I wanted to make a personalized card that would match my gift. So I used the machine to cut out the letters of the word "Dance" and I designed a simple card. The gift is for my friend. We took several ballroom dance classes together with our husbands. My friend approaches life with happiness, joy and great passion and I thought the word, "Dance" was just a great metaphor for how she lives her life.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Creating a Healthy New Lifestyle

My husband believes I have lost my mind and he has not been too happy with me. It all started when I read, "More Natural Cures Revealed" by Kevin Trudeau. Then I went out and bought the first book , "Natural Cures" by the same author. Now I am one that does not necessarily believe everything she reads. I am a skeptic but certain things do ring true in the book although not everything.

I would like to make some changes in our household. Changes that will cost some $ and I think my husband is upset about that. Also he thinks a lot of this is hocus pocus and I know it will be a battle to overcome his way of thinking. I don't blame him, he is a scientist and he works with a lot of man made herbicides, the kind that are used on crops that we eat, the kind that are blasted in the book so I can see why my husband is a little upset with it all.

One of the concepts in the book is that prescription and non prescription drugs just mainly treat the symptoms of our illnesses but never really the cause of it. That I know is true. Trudeau believes that illness and disease are caused by 4 things:

  • toxins that have built up in the body
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • electromagnetic chaos
  • stress
Everything we own and use has some toxins in it. The carpet, our sheets, even our shampoo, toothpaste and lotion have it. Anything that you cannot eat, you should not put on your skin is what Trudeau says because your skin is a living organ and chemicals can be absorbed thru the epidermis into your body. Propylene glycol is one that is found in lotions and other skin products. As a former lab technologist, I used to work in Entomology. Propylene glycol was something we used in our insect traps, to kill the insects and preserve them. Since I had to work with this chemical, I read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and it listed its toxicity and how dangerous a chemical it was. As I recall, it was nasty to work with so I had to go through my insect samples under a fume hood . True enough, I looked on the bottles of one of my lotions and propylene glycol was listed as an ingredient.

We have a well that was tested a few years ago and it showed there was a high concentration of nitrates from farmers fertilizers . When my kids were young, we drank just bottled water because younger children cannot tolerate nitrates as well as older kids and adults. As they grew older , we switched back to well water. I would like to get a reverse osmosis filtration system for our house. My husband has been fighting me on this for awhile.
One of my friend's husband was having a lot of heart trouble and it was linked to a chemical found in their well water. It seemed a farmer up the road had been dumping a large amount of chemicals onto his land over several years and it gradually found its way into my friend's drinking water. Another family was also affected and in their case, their kids grew up and had children with serious birth defects, most likely associated from exposure to this chemical.
The reverse osmosis will take out a lot of things but I was told ultraviolet light will also be needed to breakdown any chemicals left in the water.

I have teflon cookware. I remember hearing about the teflon flu which people got when they turned up the heat on their pots and pans. I decided I would get rid of it all and replace them with aluminum cookware.

A lot of us are lacking in vitamin D. I even heard Dr. Oz ,on the Oprah show, say that he believes that it is because of the lack of this vitamin that you see a lot of cancer, MS and several other diseases. Being in the sun can help offset that. We are inside so much that we don't get exposed to natural sunlight.

Trudeau says to eat only organic vegetable and organic chicken and beef. He says to stay away from pork because of the retroviruses that we can consume and that may cause havoc in our bodies. (My husband used to work for an organic food company and they were only allowed to use natural chemicals and fertilizers on the crops. However some of those natural chemicals were a lot more toxic than the man made ones so not everything organic is necessarily safe.)
He also says to stay away from shellfish because they are the bottom feeders and will have a lot of toxins stored in their tissue. Farm raised fish also have been fed certain foods that have toxins in it . I know that I read something about this too, a few years ago.

Microwaving food also can be harmful because it changes the energy of the food and makes it a lot less healthy. This would be a hard one to give up. The microwave has made life so much easier. I will have to research this further.

I always wondered about what happened to all the hoopla with cell phones and cancer. I remember people were getting brain cancer and it was because they were in close proximity to the electromagnet energy from the phones. According to Trudeau, the risk is still there but not only from phones but from computers, microwaves , tvs and the list goes on. My kids both have cell phones and have them on 24/7. I wonder what will happen in 20 to 30 years , will they be adversely affected because they used this technology?

I would like to make a few changes to the household to try to create a healthier lifestyle. I certainly don't want to go overboard but there are a lot of things I need to research more to see
if it would make a difference.

I have to say that I can't recommend Trudeau's Natural Cures site. He is a very controversial figure and he does not offer this info for free. As with anything, one has to proceed cautiously with the information that is out there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Doctor's Visit

I finally got in to see my physician's assistant. I really love her because she spends a lot of time with her patients and she is very thorough and competent. Anyway, I told her about my
lightheadness and she said it sounded like vertigo. She checked my eyes, ears, nose, lymph glands, hearing,heart, lungs,blood pressure, and coordination. She said after checking everything that my brain functions were normal. I think my husband would beg to differ on that but certainly that was good news. She was telling me that she was having similar symptoms and that they eventually went away after about a month. Could be an inner ear problem but it's going to have to be a wait and see deal. She's sending me for blood work to check things in general and my thyroid too. Anyway, I felt a little better leaving the office. Now I have to get ready for my college boy as he will be coming home tomorrow for Thanksgiving break. I am supposed to host the dinner for friends next Thursday so I need to get my act together and start preparing for that.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is it Perimenopause?

I have been experiencing dizziness in the past few days and it has been a little scary. It's weird because I have never had a problem with dizziness before. My hair also has been falling out too and I am afraid I could be bald in a few years. I have been experiencing heart palpitations which I suspect is related to perimenopause. I was surprised to see how many symptoms can be caused by it:

  • Changes in pattern of periods
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats often followed by a chill
  • Trouble sleeping through the night
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood changes, feeling crabby (probably because of lack of sleep)
  • Trouble focusing, feeling mixed-up or confused
  • Hair loss or thinning on your head, more hair growth on your face
Not only that but you can have urinary incontinence, lack of libido and dizziness are other symptoms too. Fun stuff! Guess I will have to get checked out to see if that is what is going on with me.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Two Birds with One Stone

I decided to do a low key party for my BF who will be turning fifty this month. Luckily, I belong to a neat group of 9 women and they jumped in to help me. My one friend, who has been laid up for the past 3 weeks, is going to host it. The rest of us will be bringing food. I am bringing the decorations and the drinks. A couple of the girls are baking and decorating a birthday cake. This party is supposed to provide company for my laid up friend and be a surprise party for my BF. So it will kill two birds with one stone.

The recipe that I am bringing, I have a made a couple of times and it has been good. It's a low fat chicken recipe. I have been making it for Andy, who gave it his seal of approval.

Asian Chicken Noodle Salad

  • 4 cps of thinly shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cp of peanut butter (creamy)
  • 1/4 cp of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tbs[ sugar
  • 1 tbs minced ginger
  • 3 tbsp chicken broth
  • 12 oz linguine
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 4 scallions chopped
  • 1 small red pepper chopped
Boil linguine. Rinse in cold water. Put in bowl. Blend peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, chili garlic
sauce, sugar, ginger, and broth until smooth.
Add chicken, carrots, scallions, pepper strips to linguine and toss. Pour peanut sauce over mixture and toss.

* The chili garlic is spicy so I usually don't add the full amount. Also I saute all veggies since my son has digestive problems.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Loosen It Up

I decided that I would like to develop the abstract side of my art a little more. I took a class a few years ago from a very well known artist who did this type of art. It was a tough class because I had no idea how to create art like that. In the past, I thought there was nothing to it, a monkey could paint this way. When I took the class, I realized it was not going to be easy. The teacher wanted us to come up with our own original pieces , she did not want us to copy her style . The teacher had us take paintings that we had done, tear them up, rearrange the pieces in different order and then repaint the new picture. She also had us draw things and really exaggerate the form. By the time I was done with that class, I had a healthy respect for the abstract.
Raining Blue- Mixed Media Acrylic and Watercolor

I usually do very realistic art but I want to loosen it up a little bit and so here are some small pieces that I have done:

Heavens and Moons- Mixed Media Collage , Acrylic and Watercolor

Red Iris- Watercolor and Acrylic
in my Etsy Store

Monday, November 5, 2007

Natural Cures

I just heard from my mom that my dad had to be put in the hospital. Apparently he has had trouble with shortness of breath and fatigue coupled with a huge ongoing headache for weeks if not months. My mom was trying to get him to go see a doctor and he did finally on Friday. When he stepped foot into the doctor's office, they immediately called an ambulance and had him taken to the hospital. After some x-rays and a CT scan, the doctors told my dad that they thought he had walking pneumonia and something else. I asked my mom what was the something else, and my mom replied, "Oh your dad thinks that he might have pulmonary fibrosis. Your uncles both had it. But your dad is relieved that they were able to diagnose the pneumonia." When I heard this, I immediately went to the internet and looked up pulmonary fibrosis ( people who are exposed to asbestos get this although there are other causes) and the first thing I saw was that it was fatal and that people who had it, died within 5 years. OMG! I don't think my parents realize the seriousness of the situation. For now, my dad is on antibiotics, oxygen and is back home. He is feeling better but he has to stay on the oxygen to feel that way. He did say he made an appointment to see a pulmonary specialist which I was happy to hear. If in fact this is what he has, the prognosis is grim. There are not a whole lot of medical treatments out there for this type of condition.

Which got me thinking, I wondered if there is something out there that could help my dad that is not sanctioned by the medical community. Believe me, I have been brought up with the mindset that if you get sick, you go to a medical doctor to get fixed, period.

Just in the last couple of years, because of the lack of help from the medical community, I had been forced to look elsewhere for answers and have been so overwhelmingly surprised by the things I have found out. It started when my oldest son had a serious wart problem. I took him in for several months to have them frozen off with no results. The next step was to see a dermatologist to have them dug out. They were huge and it definitely would have disfigured his hands to have them cut off. I searched online for a remedy and found it with banana peels and duct tape. Probably duct tape would have been enough. Within 7 days of wrapping his fingers with this stuff, warts were completely gone. My sister-in-law said it was the acid in the duct tape. I think it was an anaerobic environment that was created with the bananas and tape which killed off the wart virus. But this started me thinking that there has to be other remedies and cures that are out there that work a 100X better than what the doctors are coming up with.

When my youngest son got sick with severe GI problems, I again was faced with doctors that had no answers and no treatments to help my son who was literally wasting away. Again, I went to the internet and found various supplements , probiotics, enzymes and etc that have helped him tremendously.

Now I am reading a book called "More Natural Cures Revealed" by Kevin Trudeau. I haven't finished it but he brings up some interesting points about how the drug companies are paying big bucks to make the public believe that their drug is the cure all. Doctors are in on it and lobbyists too. The companies are paying big bucks to discredit information supporting use of alternative methods. Methods that Trudeau claims work better, cheaper and usually are safer. The author says that he does not sell any of the products he supports therefore he has nothing to gain unlike the drug companies. I usually don't like to read books that are very one-sided, which this is. I would like to read the drug companies take on this issue.

It definitely gives one food for thought.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

In the Moment

My youngest son is having his birthday party today. Unfortunately, since he had to switch it from last week, some of his friends that were going to come, could not as they had other commitments. My son was a little frustrated but I told him, look there is not much you can do about it, just enjoy the time now with the friends that can come.

I had posted before about being confused and kind of in the dumps because of several things going on in my life. When I start to feel this way, I read a lot of books. Interestingly enough, I already had a book in my possession called , "A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. I had read his previous book about, "The Power of Now," and it was fantastic. The New Earth book, I had read last year and was disappointed, it didn't do a lot for me.

By pure serendipity, I found it again and decided to give it another try. What I read was absolutely astounding. The questions about life and what is my life's purpose were answered in the book. Tolle even says that if you are not at this awareness stage, the book will be meaningless to you. He talks about inner and outer purpose. Your inner purpose is to awaken, your outer purpose can change and be many things but without alignment of the two, there is no joy and it will inevitably end in some form of suffering. Transcending ego based consciousness is the key to happiness and the ending of suffering and conflict.

Everything I have been reading lately, points to "living in the present" as the secret to having a fulfilling life.

Thoughts dictate our lives 24/7 and if you can slow that down or as Tolle says, puts space around your thoughts, you will be living more in the moment. Meditation practice is the way to develop that space.

One of the questions that I have been asking myself lately is that I am almost 50 years old and what have I done with my life? This is an excerpt from the book, "My fear is that I will remain stuck with doing little things for the rest of my life, things that are no consequence. I'm afraid of never rising above mediocrity, never daring to achieve anything great, not fulfilling my potential.
The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for. Everybody's life really consists of small things. Greatness is a mental abstraction and a favorite fantasy of the ego. The paradox is that the foundation of greatness is honoring the small things of the present moment instead of pursuing the idea of greatness. The present moment is always small in the sense that it is always simple, but concealed within it lies the greatest power."

This book spoke to me on so many levels and is now one of the most powerful and enlightening books that I have ever read.