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High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator) Part II

24 Sep https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/whirlpool-estate-6-shelve-options-crisper-meat-drawer.jpg

When I had bought my Whirlpool Estate eleven years ago, the instructions said to wash the inside of the fridge before storing the food. My new Frigidaire instructions didn’t say anything about washing it but I did it anyway. I hated to take the time to do it, knowing that all my food was melting, but it was easier to do it then than later! Plus, while wiping it down, I found particles of white plastic in the freezer so I was glad I took the time to do it. The outside of the fridge still had some Styrofoam particles on it so I wiped the outside of the refrigerator too. I can’t tell you how many times I wiped and mopped up the floor which was still sticky in spots for days!

 

I was lucky in that I had finished the caramel swirl, chocolate chip ice cream the day before my refrigerator went out on me. Wouldn’t that have been a lovely mess! I was also lucky in that I decided to pull the fridge out from the wall for the umpteenth time Wednesday morning to check the drip tray. It was filled to the brim. If I hadn’t checked, the delivery men would have likely spilled it all over. That would have been a nightmare. I got an old towel and a bucket and drained it dry.

 

The new Frigidaire had tape everywhere! It was worse than a crime scene! The shelves were shrink-wrapped in plastic. What a pain when you’re in a hurry! I was afraid I would break the shelves getting the tape off. Since I was working as fast as I could, I didn’t get every drip off every food item so some things went in the fridge moist. That was a mistake. The next day, I noticed I had water in my crisper drawers. I was hoping the new fridge wasn’t malfunctioning already and thought it might be from the wet items on the shelves so I mopped up the crisper drawers with a paper towel and dried off some of the foods on the shelves. I still had to cook the defrosted meats because I didn’t want to throw them out. Who wants to cook at a time like this?

 

I had some Coho Salmon that defrosted, previously purchased from the fish counter so it was well-wrapped. I just threw that in a frying pan with some butter and ate it before anything else. It was very good! I also made a bag of previously frozen shelled edamame to go with it – the kind you just put in the microwave and steam. Easy and quick was all I could handle Wednesday night.

 

On Thursday morning, I was up early because it was going to be the coolest day of the week and I needed to mow the backyard. It was actually pleasant with a mild breeze. We had been having hot, sweltering, muggy, rainy, humid weather in the high 80’s. Even though I had long pants on and a shirt with long sleeves, and enough mosquito repellant on to make me cough, I still got bitten when I mowed! Only one bite this time though; I am like fillet mignon and strawberry shortcake to a mosquito.

 

Thursday afternoon I made meatballs of the defrosted ground turkey, fish sticks from the cod fish, and chicken nuggets from the chicken breast. I realize I didn’t have to be fancy when trying to save these meats and fish, but I do love to cook and although the flouring, egging, and breading was time-consuming, the end result was worth it and delicious! (I was determined to get something good out of this experience!) I found a great tartar sauce recipe from a Martha Stewart DVD that I got from the library the week before. I ate like a Queen with my newly working refrigerator!

 

Friday morning I mowed the front yard. It began raining so I had to stop after only doing 1/3 of the yard. I went to the library and then the grocery store and picked up some of my favorite things: spinach dip, blue corn tortilla chips, white flesh nectarines, watermelon, bread and butter pickles, and a bottle of red wine. After the week I had, I deserved it! When I came home from the store, I finished mowing. It was the sloppiest mowing job I’ve ever done but I didn’t care! I just wanted it all over with so I could relax!

 

Saturday I forced myself to do nothing. It wasn’t easy but I needed the rest. I was exhausted Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Today, as I write this, is Sunday the day of rest, but I continued cleaning up and organizing things. The new fridge had caused a chain reaction: items got rearranged in the kitchen, put away, washed and wiped; baseboard trim that had separated from the wall behind the fridge got hammered into place and sealant was squeezed onto spaces between it and the wall and the floor; wall paper that had come away from the walls in the bathroom and the bedroom got re-cemented with wallpaper glue, and so on. It was like I was just moving in! I was stuck in “drive” gear and couldn’t get out! However, now that it’s all done, I feel pleased and I don’t feel exhausted anymore. Who knew a dying refrigerator could be so much work? And it could have been so much worse! All along I kept thinking about people who suffer through flooding disasters. I don’t know how they continue to stay in their home afterwards .

 

So, in all, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I learned a few things that could help me if a future catastrophe happens and maybe you could learn from my experience too. None of the food made me sick – I was worried about that. All my yogurt containers were good. Even my homemade meatball calzones that I had in the freezer which defrosted, I ate and they were good! I guess I did a better job with the bags of ice than I realized! I always wondered why some people needed a second fridge in their garage. I’m beginning to see the benefit now! Imagine life without a refrigerator? Do you remember your grandparents having an icebox?

 

I’m glad I am in good physical condition because it helped me to rebound quickly. It also helped me to move my fridge, pack my food in containers and place a 7 lb bag of ice on each one. All the more reason to work out ladies so you can tackle household emergencies without injuries or mental breakdowns! Fitness rules!

 

It’s interesting that all of this happened the week before the Labor Day Weekend. Now I know why they call it Labor Day!

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High on the Stress List: Divorce, Moving, Job Loss, and Death (of your Refrigerator).

22 Sep https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/my-frigidaire.jpg

Good health encompasses stress; some of it good, some of it not so good. You can lessen stressful situations with good planning. A little luck doesn’t hurt either. Exercise can help control stress in most situations, but maybe not this one!

 

Stress denial: On Tuesday, I noticed that the packaging of my store-bought pastry in my freezer seemed a bit soggy. I ignored it. While dozing off to sleep that night, I noticed my refrigerator often making a clicking sound. Uh-oh I thought, and fell asleep. On Wednesday morning I tried vacuuming the refrigerator coils since I neglected them for several months. No change in the clicking noise. I pulled the plug and then plugged the fridge back in one minute later. No change. I turned off the fridge and pulled the plug. No change. The refrigerator kept clicking. By Thursday morning, I realized that all my frozen food was defrosting in my freezer.

 

Full blown stress: I decided to buy several bags of ice to help save my food. I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night because I couldn’t make up my mind if I should buy a new refrigerator or call a repairman. The last time I called a repairman for a refrigerator I learned that he would charge $100 just to come out to look at it! I called the Whirlpool number to get a repairman for my Whirlpool. The gal I spoke with asked me how old my refrigerator was and I told her, eleven years. “Oh!” she said. “If it was me, I would buy a new one.” I asked her how long they usually lasted. She said between 10-13 years. I didn’t have time to do research online to find out if what she said was true and I didn’t have time to research refrigerators to see what would be the best deal for me unless I wanted to let all the food in my fridge go to waste while I did my research. So, I went to H.H. Gregg and asked the saleswoman if the sale coming up included the week before because they were advertising 30% off! Frankly, I didn’t understand her answer but I think I got a good deal anyway!

 

Stress ebbing away: I wasn’t charged a delivery fee or one to cart away my old fridge. I was able to open up an H.H. Gregg charge account for 5% off the cost. The best news was that they could deliver my new fridge the next day!

 

After I left H.H. Gregg’s, I went straight to Meijer to buy ice. One 7 lb package was $1.67. They also had 20 lb packages of ice but that would be too unwieldy. So I bought two of the 7 lb packages and put one in my freezer and one in the refrigerated section.

 

On Thursday evening, I got a call from H.H. Gregg’s telling me the refrigerator would be delivered between 3 – 6 pm on Friday and they would call me 40 minutes before arriving. That was perfect because I would use those 40 minutes to remove everything from the fridge.

 

I had my Rubbermaid container ready for the refrigerated food, and a clean, cardboard box which I lined with heavy plastic for my freezer food. In hindsight, I needed a bigger box. I also learned from this experience to not put foods in plastic bags. They become sloppy wet. All my cheeses which were wrapped in plastic wrap got wet. All my frozen vegetables and frozen cherries in their original plastic bags were soggy, defrosted and I didn’t feel safe using them. I had to throw them away since the bags were opened. Although I previously thought wrapping a rubber band around the plastic bags after I had opened and used them was fine, it was only good like that if your refrigerator doesn’t die! I will be on the lookout for tightly sealed plastic containers.

 

Stress comes in all shapes. If you handle it calmly, you can get through it easily enough. I won’t recommend exercising to get rid of refrigerator stress because just moving food from the refrigerator to other containers is a workout in itself! Not to mention that I had to wash the floor three times due to items dripping and the fact that a piece of thawed fish leaked all over everything due to a small hole in the plastic packaging. Hence, the need for plastic containers!

 

I am enjoying my new refrigerator, a Frigidaire, even though when it runs it sounds like a cross between the boiler room of the Andrea Doria and LaGuardia airport. I don’t care. Sometimes denial is a beautiful thing!

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Pilates For Men 10-20-30 Challenge Band Workout- REVIEW

15 Sep https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/1349598-mens-fitness.jpg

The Pilates Sports Center presents this exercise DVD. The 10-20-30 challenge refers to Joseph Pilates, who believed if you follow his program, in 10 sessions you’ll feel a difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see a difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body. This DVD is # 2 in a series of 3 and I’ve only done the #2 workout three times. I can really feel it in my arms. The #1 workout is mat work and the #3 workout is a ball workout. The #2 DVD uses a stretch band for all the exercises.

 

Men, don’t scoff at using a stretch band! Using a stretch band for an exercise is a smooth motion as opposed to jerking with a heavy weight. In my opinion, there’s less chance for injury. Let’s hear it for less injuries: Yaaaaaay! Let’s hear it for men’s health! Yaaaaaay!

 

The nice thing about this d DVD is that women can do it too although it doesn’t say so anywhere on the DVD. It’s a tough workout and there is a lot of emphasis on shoulders but what’s wrong with women having strong shoulders? We have to carry babies and children and grocery bundles so we need our shoulders to be strong. Strong shoulders help to prevent shoulder injuries.

 

I’ve done many of these shoulder exercises before using women’s fitness DVD’s although there were some new exercises that I hadn’t tried before like the “sword”, the “face wash”, and “superman” (loved that one), just to mention a few.

 

But shoulder exercises aren’t the only exercise on this DVD. There are abdominal, hamstring, back, tricep and bicep exercises. Two very well-muscled men do the workout. They’re a nice change of pace since I’m usually doing my workouts with women trainers and assistants. Of the two men working out in the video, one does the advanced exercise and the other does the regular exercise. The instructor is not in the picture, we only hear his voice and lame music. The two men are silent (and very serious I might add) throughout the workout. They don’t even break a sweat so you can imagine how strong they are! (I can imagine how strong they are – mmmm, baby!)

 

Another benefit of using a stretch band is that you can regulate how difficult you make each exercise. Wrapping the band around your hand several times makes the band more taught and the exercise more advanced as the instructor will tell you. I use my stretch tube which works on the same principle. You also use a mat although you probably don’t absolutely have to have it. There is one exercise where you get on your knees and the instructor tells you to fold your mat over to give your knees double protection but other than that, you don’t really have to have a mat. I like that he tells you to fold your mat over because when I do, it really makes a difference on my knees so it is definitely a good tip. However, you could just as easily do the exercise standing up since it is for your arms! I couldn’t see the point in getting on your knees for that one but that is my only criticism of the exercises.

 

Towards the end of the session, there is an exercise where he tells you to tie your knees together with the stretch band (sounds like torture, doesn’t it?) then lie down on your side supporting yourself on one knee and elbow while you raise your hip up and swing the top leg out and back – that’s a doozy! Come to think of it, it IS torture! But he tells you when an exercise is going to be hard before you start it, not that it helps any. He does try to motivate you through it but he is no Jillian Michael and frankly, I’m glad of that!

 

The Bonus feature includes safety tips, beginner and advanced options, version 1 (includes verbal cues), and version 2 (music only). Not in the bonus feature is getting a brief stretch after the workout. You’ll need it and maybe a hot tub to soak in!

 

This is a good fitness DVD to have in your collection. I highly recommend this DVD for men and women.

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The End of Football as we Know It?

13 Sep 607527 tome213 Heisman trophy

How many times have you seen the Ray Rice video punching out his girlfriend on the elevator? Five times? Ten? The public outcry is so strong that you would think domestic violence had never happened before. Were all the previously abused women just making it up? So, they must have been breaking their own bones then?

 

This is such a broad issue that it’s hard for me to know where to start. OK, I’ll start at the beginning, at least as far as I’m concerned. On November 11, 1984, Dr. Joyce Brothers published an article in the Parade Magazine Issue of the New York Times titled, “Why Men Abuse Women.” In it, she pointed the finger at several professions dominated by men who abuse women: athletes, police officers, lawyers, military men, and doctors. We’ve seen videos of the police in abusive situations, and we’ve seen athletes cause serious injury to other players; and now we’ve seen an athlete in a domestic abuse situation. So far, lawyers and doctors have been too smart to get caught on video. Far be it from me to criticize military men during the country’s present situation. Domestic abuse is not a new issue other than the fact that we now have it on video to watch over and over like the twin towers coming down.

 

I don’t know what bugs me most out of the Ray Rice situation. How about the comments that the woman deserved it because she hit him first? These were women making these comments. So, if a woman hits a man, that gives him the right to knock her out? Forget that he outweighs her or is 10 times stronger than her. Forget that he trains to be brutal in his profession. None of that matters. She started it so she deserved what she got. Mr. Rice not only knocked this girlfriend out, he dragged and then not gently dumped her on the floor, with a facial thump as it hit the floor. This is how a man shows his love for his girlfriend? Man rules the roost. There are people out there who believe this.

 

Mr. Rice has now been suspended indefinitely by the NFL from playing and released from the Baltimore Ravens. His punishment has been the most severe punishment any team owner or league has ever given to a player for domestic violence.  I was frankly stunned that his punishment was comparatively severe. What would have possessed them? Their tough players are their bread and butter. Are they nuts? With any more new rules, policies, and punishment, this will become an entirely new game. I can’t see Casper milquetoast types playing football…can you? People are drawn to the brutality of the game. Isn’t it how some people get out their aggressions? What is behind this new tack? Have sponsors and advertisers squawked over this video? Did a few big ones threaten to pull out? Isn’t it enough that they have recently been hit with concussion lawsuit injuries? If this trend continues, they’ll have to call it footsie-ball instead of football. I’m not much of a football fan, but it is what it is.

 

Or will it all blow over and will players will be instructed not to blow their cork where cameras are visible?

 

Psychologists say, “You can’t change someone else, you can only change yourself.” What’s that old joke? How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change. Let’s stop trying to change these men. Counseling isn’t going to help them unless they want to be helped and how many of them want to change? I don’t know any men who want to change and I don’t know of any abusive men who have changed. Why make the effort to change when you can get away with it. There’s no motivation for them to change. Wife divorces you? There’s plenty others waiting in line. You’re fined? There’s plenty money in the bank. You could always write a book or sell your mansion if things really get tough. Too much bad publicity? You know what they say, “Even bad publicity is good publicity.” Or, “The public forgives and forgets.” Just lay low for a while. Isn’t that what celebrities do? These light bulbs don’t want to change. They want to remain dim bulbs.

 

Let’s talk about the women of domestic abuse. Critics say, “Why don’t you just leave?” These critics live in la-la land. They can’t see their nose despite their face. Maybe he threatened to kill her if she leaves him. Maybe he threatened more abuse. Maybe he promised he’d never do it again. A common statement but not accurate. Maybe children or a pregnancy is involved. Maybe he has her so scared and intimidated that she feels like a prisoner even though there are no visible bars around her. Maybe she can’t drive. She never learned. He hides the car keys. She can’t manage it because she’s in a wheel chair.

 

Years ago I did volunteer work at a women’s shelter where there were abused women and children. There was a young woman there in a wheel chair with her children. I don’t know if her abusive husband put her in the wheel chair or if she was in a wheel chair before he abused her. Is one worse than the other?

 

How about the children growing up in an abusive home? Children mimic what they see. So much has been written and televised about bullies in the classroom. These child bullies have learned this bullying behavior at home. Sometimes authorities have punished parents when a child has displayed poor behavior but often in a way that didn’t make any sense. In my opinion, of all the times where they should punish a parent for a child’s misbehavior, this is one of them! When a child sees that the bullying parent is put in jail, wouldn’t that be a good deterrent? We can’t put the child in jail but if the child learns that bullying is learned behavior and his or her parent is going to jail….I would think that would be a wake up call for the entire family. Abusive men are bullies. Mr. Rice is a bully.

 

Mrs. Rice, yes, his then girlfriend became his wife, is now suffering public humiliation on top of all her other miseries. Whatever future dreams she had of raising children in a happy home and/or a life that was better than hers (isn’t that what we all aspire to as mothers; to give our children better than what we had?) are now looking out of reach. Any thoughts she had of financial security may be shaky at best. Mr. Rice may want to dump her and may blame her for this incident but his lawyers and/or owners may tell him not to incite fans and the public anymore than they already are. Play it cool for now. Don’t add anymore fuel to the fire. The same advice to her. Don’t rock the boat. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes right now for all the tea in China.

 

What’s a woman to do? A woman could take the advice of Dr. Joyce Brothers. Although Dr. Brothers has passed, she was once the most admired woman, pre-Oprah. A woman could get an education or skill to learn how to support herself and be independent. A woman could get an MBA and start her own business. You don’t need a man for this. A woman has many options these days. A woman needs to set boundaries when it comes to male abuse. One slap is one too many. Run, don’t walk in the opposite direction. Don’t be dazzled by his guilt gifts. They’re a poor salve for physical and emotional wounds.

 

When I was married, over 30 years ago, my husband invited a medical student/resident, his wife, and their beautiful red-haired eight-year-old daughter to our home for dinner. I knew this family and was friends with the wife who was one of the sweetest, southern drawled women I had ever met. She had told me in confidence that he physically abused her but never in the face, where it would show. I was speechless. She said it as if she was telling me that the weather outside was great and we should go on a picnic – in total denial. As we were eating our dinner, the husband proceeded to degrade and belittle their beautiful daughter. It was cruel and uncalled for. I make it a practice to not stick my nose into others’ family affairs but this was too much. He was a guest in MY home! So I told him that maybe he could talk to his daughter like that in his home but he was not allowed to speak to his daughter like that in my home. I was prepared to follow up with telling him to leave if he dared say anything.  And if they all left I was prepared for that too. Abusing that angel of a girl was not going to happen in front of me. You could have heard a pin drop. Nobody said anything after that for a while.  Eventually, conversation started up again and it was forgotten. Except that I never forgot it. I hope that little red-haired girl remembered I responded to her father’s remarks. I hope she got the message loud and clear and that it was a pivotal point in her life. Like Charlie Brown, I was a big fan of that little red-haired girl. With any luck, maybe her father got the message too.

 

It’s good that this video incident is getting so much attention and conversation. It’s the young and naive women who need to hear it most, although the older generation isn’t immune.

 

Domestic violence is not good for anyone’s health – not mentally or physically, or even financially. Not for the wife, not for the husband, not for the children. As a good health advocate, I hope to see women make more enlightened decisions about their partners and their futures if they should decide to go it alone. Life is a struggle. Don’t make it harder than it is by choosing the wrong partner. It’s better to have no one than to have someone who abuses you.

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8 Vegetables You Have Never Eaten (and May Never Want to Try) – New Food Friday Flash

15 Aug Farm in Minnesota

I’ve covered some of the fruits you’ve never tried or even heard of in the last two New Food Friday Flashes and I could do more. Maybe I’ll come back to fruits in the future. Today I’m covering vegetables that you’ve never tried or heard of.  It’s good for your health to eat your vegetables but in some of the vegetables listed below, it might be better for your health if you avoided these vegetables!

Also, I couldn’t find a photo of any of these vegetables but I found a nice photo of what is a “forgotten farm in Minnesota” according to the photographer and selected it for my featured image.

 

Ackee

The alternate name for Ackee is vegetable brains. Is that because if you eat it you will get smarter? Unfortunately not. It’s because it looks like brains. Does it taste like brains? No. How do I know? I’ve eaten a brain sandwich at a country fair once. It was fried pork brains. It had a mild flavor and was served on a bun with either mustard or ketchup. I asked for one side mustard and the other ketchup. But I digress. Vegetable brains, (Ackee) tastes like scrambled eggs according to some. Looking at a photo of Ackee as it is ripening on an evergreen tree, totally creeps me out. It can only be picked when it has turned completely red, has been split open showing it’s “smile” revealing two black seeds that look like eyes. Anything other than the creamy yellow pulp cannot be eaten nor can the unripened fruit because it is fatal! Yipes! You can find this vegetable in the forests of the Ivory Coast and Gold Coast of West Africa. Served with salt cod, it is Jamaica’s national dish! Canned Ackee is available around the world and completely safe. Don’t forget to eat your veggies!

 

Celtuce

You would think that Celtuce is a cross between celery and lettuce but it isn’t. It is sometimes called Chinese lettuce as it originated in China. It is grown mainly for its thick, tender stem, but its leaves can also be eaten. In China, the stems are broiled or boiled, added to soups, and used in stir-fries with meat, poultry, or fish. It is grown mostly in home gardens and is not widely known. When cooked, the stem tastes like a cross between squash and artichoke which means that I would like it a lot!

 

Marsh Samphire

This vegetable is shaped like miniature Arizona cacti but flourishes in the mud of salt marshes around the coastlines of England and France. Collecting and cleaning it is messy and time-consuming. Marsh Samphire is also known as glasswort and was once used in glassmaking! Today, however, it and its relatives are seen as plants of the future because they will grow in salty conditions. To cook, blanch without salt (because it is salty) and add butter. It is served in salads and on trout. Cultivated varieties can be imported from Israel and the Gulf. Its nickname is sea asparagus.

 

Angelica

The healing powers of Angelica, according to the people in France’s marshy Poitou-Charente region where Angelica has grown for centuries, have used it as an antidote to poisons. Hmmm, possibly good to eat after you eat Ackee (above)? Angelica is a member of the parsley family and also grown in Italy, Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, and parts of North America. It can withstand the temperatures of Iceland and Greenland. The leaves can be shredded in salads and used in omelets and fish dishes. The stems are often stewed with rhubarb or made into preserves and jams. Today, it is most commonly used as a candied confection for cakes, sweet breads, and cheesecakes. The leaves and stems taste like licorice.

 

Golden Needle

One of the least familiar ingredients to the Western world is golden needles also known as tiger buds. That is, unless you’ve heard of the folk song, “Silver threads, golden needles can’t unbend this heart of mine….” Sound familiar? These buds range in color from pale gold or orange to dark amber in its dried version. They are often added to noodles and meats prepared over high heat. Their sweet, musky flavors complement woodears, enokitake, and misos and appear together in recipes across China and Japan.

 

Ratte Potato

Unlike other vegetables or fruits with names that mislead you to believe their taste, shape, or lineage is why they were so named, this particular vegetable actually was named Ratte Potato because it, alas, looks like a rat!  Eeeeks! Leave it to the French to take care of that problem: they called it Quenelles de Lyon. Ratte’s texture is dense, firm, resistant to breaking down, and yet smooth. They have a nutty taste similar to chestnuts.

 

Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche is also known as corn smut. Part of its name is the Aztec word for dung. I’m not making this up folks. Truth is stranger than fiction. It is a naturally occurring fungus that disfigures growing corn. I’m surprised I never heard of it, considering that Indiana is a corn-growing state. We (we?) must call it something else. The corn kernels swell and mutate into distorted silvery blue lumps with black interiors. How divine. It has a mushroom-like flavor with hints of corn and licorice. It is usually sautéed with garlic and onion and used to flavor traditional Mexican dishes. It can be difficult to find fresh huitlacoche outside of Mexico, but specialty food stores in the US and Canada often stock flash-frozen or canned versions in the event you are dying to try this.

 

Stinky Tofu

Known as ch’ou doufu in Mandarin, it has a mild, faintly sour, beany flavor which is far surpassed by its gargantuan aroma. As you might have guessed, it is a fermented concoction made with vegetables, herbs, shrimp and sometimes other seafood items. There are many, many fermented vegetables served around the world but I chose this one because it is often eaten as street food in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong where you might encounter it in your travels. It is deep-fried until crusty then dressed with spicy sauces, and topped with chili oil and garlic in Hunan. How will you know it? Your nose knows.

 

Based on some of the description of these vegetables, is it any wonder kids don’t eat their vegetables? Poison? Used in glassmaking? Rats? Dung, and Stinky? Those are hardly enticing descriptions. Consider yourself lucky. You didn’t have to look at the photos of these vegetables as I did when doing the research! On the other hand, don’t little boys love gross things? The grosser the better? Maybe you can tempt your non-veggie eater with a plate of Ratte Potato or Ackee!

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“Orbit” by John J. Nance

9 Aug Mir spacecraft

All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy. When you follow a healthy lifestyle, you want to be sure to eat right, get enough exercise and enough sleep, and also incorporate entertainment into your life. If the entertainment you choose is educational, all the better! Audiobooks fill that bill for me.

 

This is a review of the audiobook “Orbit” by John J. Nance. It is a bit unusual that the author is also the performer of this audiobook. Nance did a great job! This was especially surprising to me since I am such a big fan of performer Dick Hill. I still favor Mr. Hill over Nance, but Nance’s writing is so strong and so vivid that it put this audiobook over the top. He has a gift for detail.

 

Recently, I had seen the movie Gravity with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Two people told me they didn’t like it. I ignored them because generally, I love space movies. I enjoyed Gravity very much as I knew I would. But when I noticed the audiobook, Orbit, on a shelf, I wondered if it would be too soon to see another space flick, knowing that it might be similar to Gravity. I decided to give it a try regardless.

 

It started out being similar to Gravity; even so, I was getting into it anyway. I can usually tell by the first disc if I’m going to stick with it or not. Then, it took an interesting turn. Each turn it took was more interesting and exciting and surprising than the next! I was hooked before the end of the first disc.

 

This is an audiobook that is difficult to turn off, that’s how good it is. The main character, Kip Dawson, wins a trip to outer space. His second wife (his first one died in a car accident) doesn’t want him to go. She and his daughters are terrified that something will go wrong. Kip knows the company offering the trip has a clean record. He is confident nothing will go wrong. But something goes very wrong.

 

We are told that if anything does go wrong, nobody will come to his rescue. Not NASA, not the Russians, not the Chinese, nobody. It would be too expensive. Besides, this is a commercial flight. This, readers, is the future of outer space. Our grandchildren may be lucky enough to book such a flight!

 

While Kip is in space, he witnesses a tragic accident on board and has accepted the fact that in four or five days, his oxygen will be depleted and he will die.  He decides to record his thoughts on the ship’s laptop computer. All communication systems are down so he writes to what he anticipates will be a reader sometime in the future who finds the spaceship. It could be a few days, weeks, months, years, or maybe never. He doesn’t know. So, he writes about his first girlfriend. He writes about his second marriage and how unhappy he is in it. He writes about his oldest son who hasn’t forgiven him for the death of his mother, Kip’s first wife. He writes about sex and how important it is to him and to all men! What the heck, right? Who’s going to read it? Probably nobody! Right?

 

Oh contrare, mon ami! As it turns out, the space engineers who built the ship set up a separate communications link on the laptop so that it could download information. It was only one-way communication. A kid on earth, someone who had gotten into trouble hacking once before, hacked into the Kip’s laptop. What are the chances?

 

I won’t spoil the ending or even the middle, but this was a great story – so much fun with a good ending and a positive, inspirational message. I loved it and I was sorry when it ended! It will make you laugh and it will bring a tear to your eye. Make an effort to get a copy. There are nine hours of listening pleasure on eight discs. I’m giving a very strong recommendation.

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5 Mile Walk at Home ADVANCED with Leslie Sansone – Exercise DVD Review

29 Jul Walking Shoes

When I last posted a review, it was of an audio book. This time I’m doing a review of an exercise DVD. This is an excellent exercise DVD that is low impact and great if you can’t go outside to exercise because it is too hot, too humid, too blustery, too cold, too icy, too snowy, or too whatever! Working out at home is convenient, saves you money, and gives you the most control over your workout. I have nine of my own exercise DVDs and shuffle them with DVDs I get from the library. It’s the 5 Mile Walk at Home ADVANCED DVD with Leslie Sansone that I’m reviewing here.

 

Leslie Sansone has built an empire on her Walk at Home exercise DVD program. I purchased her 5 Mile Fat Burning Walk DVD and when I needed more, I checked my library and they had this advanced program which I tried and liked a lot.

 

Leslie’s as chipper and perky as ever and her motivating style keeps you focused. In this DVD, she uses hand weights in the first mile, a stretch belt in the third mile, and a stretch band in the fifth mile. I use my stretch tube in the third and fifth mile and it works just as well.

 

Each mile runs from 10 to 14 minutes. The back of the DVD says the entire running time is 65 minutes. I usually do the entire 5 miles. Today I only did three miles. I might do the other two miles later.

 

There are several highlights in this DVD. She included a bonus segment of a 7-day weight loss meal plan and suggests you follow it and do the ADVANCED walk DVD every day to see your body change. You have the choice of Leslie’s instruction with music or the music only option.

 

She’s got a nice group of people walking with her in each mile. One of them is her daughter who is a bit quiet and apparently more introverted than her mother! Then she also included a husband and wife couple. There’s a grandmother who doesn’t look anything like grandma, and a working mother with three kids. There’s a guy in the back row who looks like a body builder. Leslie gets around to talking to all of them.

 

There is no separate warm-up section but she slowly warms you up at the beginning of each walk segment. I do my own warm up before all my exercise DVDs regardless of whether or not they include a warm up. Although it isn’t stated anywhere on this DVD or on the case, she included a cool-down stretch segment that comes at the end of mile five and she included two of the women who were in the other segments.

 

Leslie used two-pound hand weights in mile one. I only used one-pound hand weights but I also used two-pound ankle weights in the three miles I covered. I like to push myself to do more being careful not to injure myself by doing too much.

 

On days when I’m tired or sore, I do Leslie’s 5 Mile Fat Burning Walk which is my easiest exercise DVD.

 

Whether you are just starting to exercise or if you are a dedicated exerciser, Leslie has a DVD to suit you! Whichever one you chose, you will find it lowers your stress level besides all the other benefits of walking. Give her 5-Mile Walk At Home ADVANCED DVD a try. I think it’s her best one yet!

 

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An Additional 10 Fruits You Never Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

18 Jul Basket of Fruits

This was supposed to publish automatically on the 18th since I set it for that but for some reason, it didn’t.  Anyway, the middle of the month comes around so fast! Where does the time go?

Recently, on last month’s New Food Friday Flash, I wrote a post and a Yahoo article about 10 fruits you’ve never tried or even heard of. Since that peaked several readers interest, I decided to do another post about 10 additional fruits that you’ve most likely never heard of.

NOTE: At the time of this writing, Yahoo articles will not be accepting freelance writing anymore. So, until I find another website that I enjoy submitting articles to, I will be posting the more in-depth information here on my blog instead of including a link to a separate article.

Sometimes we are all so caught up in our own little world that we don’t stop to think what other fruits might be available in other countries. Since we are such a mobile society, we have the opportunity to try these fruits when we travel for business or pleasure. But first, it helps to know that they exist! When I listed these fruits, I began to think that their names reminded me of other names. For your amusement, I also included some of the names they reminded me of in parentheses.

 

Pitanga

The Pitanga fruit grows wild in Latin America and can range in colors from scarlet to near black. This is a very fragile fruit that is very sweet and barely larger than a cherry. It is also known as a Surinam cherry, a Brazilian cherry, a Cayenne cherry, and a Florida cherry. Its grown in gardens and orchards only across the world because of its delicate skin. You can find it in juices, ice creams, jams, and chutneys.

 

Illawarra Plum

This plum belongs to an ancient species and is a southern hemisphere conifer found along Australia’s east coast. The tree itself is a prolific producer. Most supplies of this fruit come from wild harvest and are used in sweet and savory dishes. They are most often enjoyed in preserves, fruit compotes, baking and sauces.

 

Cashew Apple

We’re all familiar with the cashew nut but are you familiar with the apple that is attached to the nut? It is one of Brazil’s fruits found along the coast of the northeast region. Cashew apples range in color from pale yellow to vermilion. Ancient tribes used it to make a wine called mocororo. Today it is one of Brazil’s most popular fruit juices. It is also used as a base in a juice called cajuina. You can find it in ice creams,  mousses, trifles, jams, and chutneys. When set on low heat for several hours, it produces a syrup known as cashew honey.

Cashew Apple

Cashew Apple

 

Lucuma

The lucuma is found mostly in Peru but also in Chile, Brazil, and Ecuador. It’s not likely that you will find it fresh in any other countries. It is an indigenous crop once known to the Incas. It resembles a small mango, first green, then turning red. The flesh is gold colored and fragrant. One tree can produce up to 500 fruits in one year. It can be eaten out of hand, and used as a drink. It’s powdered form is used in ice creams and sweets. Lucuma is rich in iron and niacin and an excellent source of beta-carotene. Gluten-intolerant folks can use it in place of wheat and it can also be used as a low-glycemic sweetener.

 

Red Mombin  (Reminds me of a snake. There’s a black momba snake, I’m not sure there’s a red momba)

The Red Mombin has many names: jocote, ciruela, Spanish plum, and siniguelas. It is grown in Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. The tree is easy to propagate and is fast growing and therefore it may transition from being a wild fruit to a cultivated fruit. It has a sweet flavor and a citric fragrance and comes in many colors. It can be eaten raw or produced into a refreshing juice, a base for ice creams, a preserve, and eaten green before ripening seasoned with salt. The fruit is small, only 1 – 2 inches with a delicate skin.

 

Ambarella (Reminds me of the movie, Barbarella with Jane Fonda)

As you have seen, many of these fruits are known by many different names. The Ambarella is one of them. Other monikers are: golden apple, pomme cythere, Otaheite apple, Tahitian quince, hog plum, Brazil plum, Polynesian plum, and Jew plum. I wouldn’t want to get into an argument over its name! It was originally native to the society Islands of the South Pacific but now grown in tropical and subtropical areas such as Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Jamaica, Trinidad and Venezuela. Many people enjoy the fruit when unripe for its tangy sourness and crisp texture. It is often mixed with other fruit juices for a cold drink. It can be stewed to make a sauce accompanying meat or made into preserves, pickles, chutneys, jams and relishes. It is a popular street snack served sliced and dipped in salt and cayenne.

  

Wampee (Reminds me of Native American Indian words: cross between wampum and teepee)

The Wampee tree is native to southern China but also grows in greenhouses in England. You can find the fruits in Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. It is a distant cousin to the orange. Each fruit has five segments of soft jellylike flesh varying from sweet and tangy to sharp and almost sour. They are thirst quenching and refreshing. In Vietnam and China, the halved, sun-dried, immature fruit is used as a cough remedy. It can be eaten as a preserve, a jam, and made into pies, and drinks, including an aperitif. Wampee can be eaten fresh when fully ripe. The Chinese prize the fruit as a digestive aid.

 

Mirabelle (Reminds me of Clarabelle, Buffalo Bob’s cow. Wow, how old was I, 5 ? Anybody remember Buffalo Bob?)

There are two varieties of Mirabelle, which is a honey-sweet plum grown in orchards: the smaller is the Mirabelle de Nancy and the other, the Mirabelle de Metz. They have been most closely identified with the region of Lorraine, France. Travelers in France or persons of French extraction may be familiar with the dessert tarte aux mirabelles. Mirabelle can also be made into jams, jellies, and preserves. If you have the opportunity to taste the tarte, don’t pass it up or you will regret it!

 

Salak (Reminds me of words I’ve heard regarding Iraq)

Native to Indonesia although also grown in Thailand and Malaysia, Salak is known as snakeskin fruit because it has a leathery scaly skin. The best Salak are grown in Bali. The taste is a cross between a pineapple and a Granny Smith apple. Once you peel away the reddish brown skin, the three white segments  resemble peeled cloves of garlic but on a larger scale. Salak can be eaten fresh, but are also pickled or canned in syrup. They can be cooked in desserts and are often added to pies and puddings.

 

Duku (Reminds me of a city in western Asia?)

The flesh of the Duku can be either white or pink. These fruits are round like golf balls, their outer shell is a bland tan color. However, their segments are juicy and sweet. This is another fruit with many names and is found across Southeast Asia. Another variety of this fruit is called langsat but it is smaller and egg-shaped with a thinner skin. It is also more tart than duki. In Thailand it is known as longkong. In the Philippines it is called lanzones where they might preserve the fruit in syrup. Filipinos dry the skins which when burned produce a smoke that repels mosquitoes. Anything that repels mosquitoes is A-OK in my book.

 

Do these names remind you of other names?

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Bean Relief Tip-Puree Them!

14 Jul Beans (sxc.hu - adyna)

Lot’s of people have intestinal gas from eating beans and lentils. These legumes can cause problems in their whole form.

According to a mini-magazine I received in the mail, you can avoid this issue by eating puréed chickpeas (beans) and lentils. Puréed chickpeas are also known as Hummus. You can also make lentil soup and purée the soup.

These puréed legumes are less likely to trigger symptoms! Now there is no excuse not to eat your beans! I don’t know if this works with all beans, but if you try it out, let me know!

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10 Fruits You Never Heard Of – New Food Friday Flash

20 Jun Fill Your Cart With Fresh Fruits

We take for granted all the varieties of apples, pears, plums, oranges, and other fruits, that we find in our supermarkets everyday. Many of these fruits are shipped from across the nation and beyond so that they can be on our table, fresh, sweet, and ready to eat. But have you ever thought about what fruits are served at kitchen tables in France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Central America, India, or Africa?

 

The 10 fruits I’m covering today in this New Food Friday Flash are fresh fruits that turn up on kitchen tables more commonly in other countries. If you do find any of them at your local grocery store, let me know! But how can you try these fruits? Well, you could ask your grocer if he could order them for you or you could plan a trip to the country they come from, vacation there, and as part of your adventure, try the new fruit!

 

Here is the list of 10 fruits below. Do you recognize any of them?

 

Casseille

 

Sea Buckthorn

 

Riberry

 

Marula

 

Mazhanje

 

Mamoncillo

Mamoncillo Fruit

Mamoncillo

 

Griotte

 

Acerola

 

Davidson’s Plum

 

Jamun

 

For more information about them, the ways they are used, and which country each is from, read the article I’ve written here.

 

The next New Food Friday Flash will contain 10 more fruits you’ve never eaten and a link to more in-depth information about them.

 

Fruit is good for your health and travel is good for your mind!

 

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