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25 Sep A new sink and faucet

If you follow my blog, you know I like to work with my hands and that I also like a challenge. Installing a bathroom sink and faucet was the most challenging home project I have ever attempted. It was difficult and I’m not going to say you should try it. But I can give you some tips on what to look out for if you want to do it yourself.

Things You Need

You need the right tools for the job. Here is a photo of the tools I used. They are in the top portion of my pink toolbox (ignore the bottom part). The donut shaped object below the safety glasses is Teflon tape. It’s cheap. Buy it.

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

You need safety glasses because you will be laying down on your back in your cabinet under your sink and when you loosen or tighten parts, you will get gunk, dirt, dust, and water on your face so you want to protect your eyes. You might even drop a locknut or worse, your pliers on your face when your hands get tired from loosening and tightening parts. I kept repeating to myself, “Use both hands to hold onto the pliers!”  This worked for me and I didn’t drop anything on my face. In fact, I didn’t have any injuries other than accidentally squeezing my thumb in my pliers! No damage was done fortunately.

You need the patience of Job (In the Bible). You need determination, perseverance, and commitment. You need to laugh at the face of the unknown. I knew nothing about installing a sink or faucet. I knew nothing about water pipes. You need to be fearless when you go to your local Menards or Lowes for help because even if you find a female sales associate, they will inevitably get a male associate to help you. Some male associates feel threatened by a woman who wants to install a sink herself or who has “technical” questions. Ignore their attitude and focus on their answers. If they stump you with a question that you don’t know the answer to or they become stumbly, bumbly themselves, don’t give up! Stall. Ask more questions. Read the label yourself of the item they say you need. If all else fails, ask to speak to another associate. Don’t let them intimidate you. As a last resort, ask to speak to the manager and tell him the problem. Fortunately, I never had to go that far.

You need silicone to keep water out of certain parts and to keep certain parts in place. The instructions that come with your new faucet will show/tell you where to use it. There were no instructions with my sink, but the sales associate at Lowes told me to use it under the sink to anchor it to the top of the cabinet. He said it would hold. He better be right! I bought Silicone Extra. That “extra” better stand for extra strong adhesion! But more about that later.

You need a roll of paper towels. Leaks will happen. I started with a nice thick bath towel but once that got wet, then what? So, I found paper towels to be better. And a small bucket for the bigger leaks.

You need a small fan to help dry out the cabinet from the leaks. It is also helpful to help dry the silicone and WD-40 or anything else you use. It is also important for adequate ventilation when using these chemicals. I opened a window and my patio doors too and turned on the fan vent on the ceiling.

Run a Fan to Dry Space!

Run a Fan to Dry Out the Space!

You need light! It’s dark in that cabinet. I used a small desk lamp and also a large flashlight. It has a 6V super heavy duty battery and is used for the outdoors. I use it indoors when there is a power outage.

You need a digital camera. If/when you get to a part/area that either doesn’t fit or doesn’t work and you’ve tried everything you can think of, take a picture of it and go to your local Menards, Lowes, or wherever and tell the sales associate the problem. If you are having problems explaining it or he or she is not getting it, show them the photo of it on your camera. I had my digital photo ready but I remembered the magic word “flexible” while I was at Lowes, and didn’t need to show my photo. I reasoned that I needed a flexible trap pipe because my sink drain was mysteriously at an angle instead of straight down and I couldn’t figure out why! It is also shorter than my previous drain. If you don’t have a digital camera, draw a diagram.

You need something soft and cushiony to lay on, kneel on, and sit on. You will be doing all three. I used my rubber exercise mat and doubled it. It was a knee saver!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Reserve books about plumbing from your local library. Search the internet to see photos and instructions on installing and removing bathroom sinks and faucets. My old sink had anchors and screws to hold it in place. My new sink came with zilch, nada, nothing. You get what you pay for: $29 at Menards. Cheap, but looks good!

My cabinet is 30” wide so for my cabinet, I needed to be able to squeeze my body into the 16 ½” x 12 ½” door space. At 5’8” and 164 lbs, that was a challenge. Sometimes I had to angle my shoulder in on the diagonal. You need to have the stamina to go in and out of your cabinet many, many times to make adjustments! If this is your first time installing a sink and faucet, make that many, many, many times! Bonus: I lost weight doing this project!

Can you fit into a small space?

You Need to Fit into a Small Space!


I began this project on September 3rd, 2015. Then I got sick with bronchitis and had to leave everything “as is,” code words for the mess from hell. It stayed like that for several weeks until I recovered! It helps to have a second bathroom with a functioning sink. I do have a half bath but the sink doesn’t function so I had to substitute my kitchen sink for brushing my teeth, etc., etc. Actually, all of my sinks need work.

Read over the instructions that come with your faucet and sink. Carefully study the diagrams. I labeled parts in the diagrams myself which helped. But be prepared for instructions that don’t tell you everything! Just when I thought I was all finished and began cleaning things up and putting stuff away, I found a small, black washer in the box that the faucet came in. “What is this? Where does this go?” I re-read the directions for the 5th time. Nothing about a small black washer. I scrutinized the diagrams again. And there it was. It wasn’t even labeled! I could strangle the author! So, I had to undo a pivot nut, pull out the horizontal rod, and slip on the washer. (It had been a place where I was getting a LEAK. No wonder!) It was an easy fix, but it could have been much more difficult. Hey, I couldn’t have ALL bad luck!

Differences of Opinion

My instruction sheet said to use silicone on the underside of the flange. The flange is the shiny round part that you see when you are standing up, looking down at your sink drain. It’s where the water goes down the drain. One of the library books I borrowed said to use Plumber’s Putty on the underside of the flange. I decided to go with Plumber’s Putty but only in that area. Why? Well, I’ve watched many episodes of Ask This Old House on PBS in the past and they always use Plumber’s Putty. Also, the putty is easier to work with and to clean up. Most of all, I believed that if I had to remove the flange for whatever reason, it would be easier to remove after using putty and nearly impossible to remove with the use of silicone. Fortunately, I didn’t have to put that to the test!

Advice vs. Reality

Some of my plumber’s books rated each project from easy to difficult. Most were labeled easy. If you are a plumber, it’s easy. If you are like me, it’s difficult. Don’t believe everything you read. I screwed and unscrewed every locknut, pivot nut, and part at least twice. The instruction sheet showed four areas where you need to look for leaks when you are all done and start to run the water. Don’t believe them. Nearly every connecting part leaked when I ran the water at the end of the project. I’m not exaggerating. This was after I, with all my might and pliers, tightened each part. LEAKS!

Places that leaked

So Many Places to Leak!

So I loosened water tube parts, cleaned them off as roughly as I could to remove any debris and retightened them until I was exhausted! That worked. I already told you about the black washer above. In fact, now that I think of it, the only two parts that DIDN’T leak were two of the four parts the instructions said would leak! Idiots! By the way, if they say not to over tighten, ignore them. Unless you know for sure that you are as strong as a plumber, tighten with all your might. A tornado might be able to move me but it won’t be able to move my sink and faucet. Not now, anyway!


Don’t give up hope! Towards the end of this project I was getting discouraged at all the leaks and wondered if I would need to get a plumber. Yet, after all I went through, I wasn’t fully ready to surrender. I’m beginning to realize where my son gets his stubborn streak.

With all the information you have at your fingertips, sometimes it just isn’t enough. So, you have to use your noodle! Although I hate the expression, “Think Outside the Box,” you may have to think outside the box. For example, I kept having a leak at one of the pipe joints. This was a connection between my old pipes and the new pipe part. The old pipe part had a screw nut to attach to the old pipe trap part. The new pipe trap part came with a similar screw nut. At first I used the new screw nut but it kept leaking at the joint. I counted how many times I could turn the new screw nut. Eight times. I removed it and put on the old screw nut and counted how many times I could turn it. Thirteen times. The old screw nut made more sense to me so I used it instead. No more leaks! Do you understand the logic there? I hope so.

After watching repairmen do their jobs in my house, I am confident that anything they can do, I can do too. Maybe even better. Certainly without breaking something as I’ve seen them do to my property! Some of them are careless and klutzy. I am not, neither will you be because it is YOUR property! One of them broke my newly installed thermostat and didn’t replace it! Another broke off the spigot of my water heater while he was fixing my furnace. I had a flood in my kitchen! Another threw away my faucet filter into the trash without telling me that it could be cleaned out and put back! Aaaargh!


I am not so secure in my work in that when I use my new sink and faucet I won’t be checking for drips and leaks. I will definitely be checking underneath every time I use the sink, at least for the first few weeks. I even put a mini-bucket under the pipe trap where it had leaked during testing. If I find water in it, I will know I have a leak and either need to tighten some more or find some other solution. But folks, really, with all the tightening I did, I’m expecting my sink and faucet to BOING out of my bathroom!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Was it all Worth it?

You bet it was! My new sink and faucet are gleaming! I need sunglasses when I walk into the bathroom! I feel the need to dress up! I find myself wiping up every bit of moisture in the sink and on the faucet after I use it! It’s like having a new car! Better! I have pride of ownership and tremendous pride in the success of my project. I am so happy! If you tackle this project, contact me if you need help. GOOD LUCK!

Job satisfaction is good for your health!



23 Sep New Drain - Old Pipes

 When I bought my house 18 years ago, little did I know that I would become an expert at fixing so many things around the house. My parents never owned a house so I can’t say that I learned from my dad or mom. I learned on my own with help from the Internet and library books.

I don’t like to brag, but I’m going to.


In 18 years, I’ve repaired both my toilets using replacement parts which included having to saw off a corroded part. Picture all 5’8” of me on my stomach sawing off a part that I couldn’t see from my angle on the floor. I didn’t break anything that wasn’t supposed to break and I was successful in repairing leaky, running, and over-flowing toilets. Who needs a plumber?

Wood Doors

I wrote a post about this and if you want to read it, just type in  “doorway” without the quotes in the search field at the top of the page. I fixed my wood accordion doors that enclose my washer and dryer. A screw had stripped so the door was inoperable. I had to take the door down to see what was going on because I had no clue. I created a new screw hole and the door has worked fine since.

Rain Gutters and Spouts

Who likes to clean out rain gutters, raise your hand! It’s such a messy job and I got tired of it. Over the years, I bought two kinds of cheap gutter covers. One was a foam type cover that didn’t fit, or so I thought. The other was a plastic weave roll that you could cut to size. Neither worked well. I decided to get something more expensive this year that would thwart what my maple tree delivers.

Thanks to my maple tree, my gutters were filled with leaves, twigs, whirligigs, stems, and muck. I also had clogged drain spouts. At first I used a crappy pair of ice tongs to remove the debris. That didn’t work very well. I tried using my garden trowel. That didn’t fit in the gutter. Finally, I got the brilliant idea of using my long barbeque tongs. They worked great and they also worked great helping to clear the drain spouts. If you decide to tackle this job yourself, be prepared to get mucky water splashed on your face and clothes, not to mention leaves, twigs, and whatever in your hair. You will be bitten by mosquitoes too not to mention that it doesn’t smell so great either. But hey, if you’ve changed a diaper in your lifetime you’re ready for anything!

My drain spouts had solidified with debris. No garden hose was going to do the trick. At first I used the long wooden end of my hammer to push the stuff down. That only compacted everything more. I tried using the bathroom shower and sink drain wires as seen advertised on TV that I bought at Meijer years ago. They didn’t work either. I finally decided to use a wire coat hanger that I had straightened out and at one time used in my vegetable garden for who knows what. It was rusted by now but who cares! It loosened up the debris as I shoved it down the drain spout and with the help of my barbeque tongs, was able to remove enough debris so that when I inserted the garden hose at full force, the water cleaned out the rest of the spout. Persistence counts! It was probably clogged for years!

As for the more expensive gutter covers? They were $2.18 each at 4’ a piece at Lowes. I needed a total of 33 of them. I did this over the course of three days. I could have completed it in two days but I ran short and had to buy more. I’ve learned one thing in tackling these jobs myself. Nothing is as easy as they say it is in a book. If everything is going well and you think you’re going to be finished ahead of schedule, don’t count on it. The last thing you do will be the thing that takes the longest!

At first I was buying these gutter covers at Menards. They ran out of them. They said they had a back order and wouldn’t get them in until September. (I started this project August 7.) They told me to go to one of their other stores. (A ½ hours drive for me.) I decided to check out Lowes. They had gobs of them and they were about $.50 a piece cheaper! Hah! Luckily I only bought and installed five from Menards.

These gutter covers are a rubberized plastic with round holes the size of a thumbtack but also have a mesh covering on top of that to prevent little, teeny, tiny things from getting caught like the stems of leaves, etc. That is what I wanted! You slide them under your roof shingles and snap the other end of them onto your gutters. After installing the first one, I got the hang of it and the rest were, well, I wouldn’t say easy, but easier to do than the first one!

Funny Story

While standing on line at Menards with my five gutter covers, the man behind me asked me if I was going to install them myself. When I said yes, he laughed and asked me if I would do his too! He asked if I was going to get up on the roof. I said no. I was able to finish the job mostly on the third rung of my ladder. At the back of my house, in some areas, I had to get on the fourth rung which is a little scary at first but I was very careful and didn’t rush anything. One thing I didn’t do was hold on to the gutters! A couple of times I held on to the shingles while climbing down the ladder! Some of the nails in the gutters were protruding so they got a few whacks with a hammer. And that’s another story but not funny.

Gutter Nails

My gutter nails were popping out all over so I decided to start my gutter project with new gutter nails. I looked at what they had a Menards and what they had was a slight improvement of what I already had in the gutters. The groves in the new nails were deeper. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a nail that would screw in. With the help of a nice Italian salesman, we looked at the catalog and I special ordered screw-in gutter nails. They arrived about a week later. Guess what? You can’t screw in these gutter nails with a screw driver. The end of the screw had a small square hole in it and the screws came with a special part that you would insert into the square hole along with your electric power drill. Hey, I’m good but I’m not power drill ready yet! If I ever decide to start making my own furniture or what-have-you, I will buy a power drill! I returned the screw nails to Menards. As for this project, I decided a few good whacks with my hammer and the old nails would have to do. If the nails popped out again, I would buy the better version of the nails that I have. Theoretically, and this is where my college education comes in handy, since the gutters are now cleared and so are the downspouts, there won’t be as much weight in the gutters from all the rain filling them up. Less weight, less pulling on the gutters, less strain on the nails. Theoretically.

Leaky Kitchen Faucet

Fixing a leaky or dripping kitchen faucet is an easy job, so say the books. Sure, as long as your water shut-off valves work! I was able to shut off my hot water supply but the cold water wouldn’t budge. No matter how many whacks with a hammer, no matter how much lubricating oil, no matter how much WD-40…..well, actually I don’t know about the WD-40. I didn’t buy it until AFTER I finished the job. My house main water shut-off valve is behind my washer. So, undaunted, I pulled out my washer. That wasn’t easy! It was the second time I pulled out that washer. The first time was about a month ago when I decided to replace the water hoses since it’s recommended you replace them at 5-years. I did and it was uneventful – one of the few uneventful projects I’ve ever done. But back to my kitchen sink. I shut off the main shut-off valve and checked the kitchen sink. I had removed the handles and could see that the cold water had a small amount of water still coming through. Although it took me much longer with the water constantly coming through, I managed to change the handle, cartridge, spring, and seat of the cold water which had been dripping. No more water drips!

Bathroom Sinks and Faucets

This is my latest project and one that I just finished. Last summer my air conditioning man told me he used to do plumbing work. I told him I wanted to get a new bathroom sink and faucet. He said if I would buy the replacement sink and faucet, he would do the work for $200. At the time I thought I would let him do it. But I’ve come so far on my projects and have gained so much confidence that I decided it was time for me to tackle this project too.

I removed the sink and didn’t bother removing the faucet since it was attached to the sink so I saved myself some effort there. I temporarily carefully dropped in the new sink and faucet. I wasn’t able to attach the pipes to the drain pipe of the sink! The trap didn’t meet the drain; there was a half inch gap!

New Drain - Old Pipes

My New Drain Didn’t Meet Up with My Old Pipes!

Unfortunately I began this project at 4:00 in the afternoon and gave up at 11:30 in the evening when I started to feel sick.  

So, as you might have gathered, I needed to become an expert in pipes – maybe get some new pipe parts. Did I come up with a solution?

More about my bathroom sink and faucet project in an upcoming post!

P.S. What’s good for my pocketbook is good for my health!




18 Sep Baked Lamb Pizzas

I hope you don’t get tired of my excitement with James Beard’s bread book, but every recipe I’ve tried is very good. Here’s another one. It’s called Lahma bi Ajeen and as you might guess, it’s made with lamb. I love lamb and I love pizza so it sounded like a unique combination and I wanted to share it with you for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

Beard’s recipe calls for pine nuts but I substituted pecans that I had on hand and they were a very good substitution. It also called for tomato paste but I had two tomatoes that were going to go bad if I didn’t use them so they were also a good substitution.

Beard wrote that these “pizzas” were fun to make. I have to disagree; they are more fun to eat! My only criticism of his book is that his instructions aren’t always crystal clear although it’s never ruined my finished product so I can’t complain too loudly. For example, he writes that these pizzas make 8 servings and that you should divide the dough into walnut-sized balls. Well, he must use some pretty big walnuts because I ended up with 16 walnut sized balls.  

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough Balls

Did he mean that each person should get two pizzas? I don’t think so. At any rate, if you’re going to go to the trouble of making pizza, it’s much better to have 16 than 8 of them.


For the Dough:

1 package active dry yeast

pinch of granulated sugar

scant 1 cup warm water (100° to 115°)

1 pound all-purpose flour (about 3 ¾ cups)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in ½ cup of the lukewarm water and allow to proof for 10 minutes. Put the flour and salt in a large, warm mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil and the yeast mixture. Work the dough vigorously adding the remaining lukewarm water gradually to make a soft dough. Knead in the bowl about 15 minutes (I thought I was the only one who kneaded in bowls!) until the dough is pliable and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for 2 – 3 hours or until doubled in bulk. (I use my microwave turned off.) Lightly oil the top of the dough to prevent a crust from forming.

For the Filling:

1 pound finely chopped onion

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 ½ pound finely ground shoulder of lamb

½ cup pine nuts

½ six-ounce can tomato paste

1 teaspoon granulate sugar

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns

2 dashes of Tabasco sauce

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Sauté the onions in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until wilted but not browned. Remove from heat and add garlic. Then add it to the ground meat along with the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Make a small sample patty, fry in ½ teaspoon olive oil and taste. Correct the seasonings if needed. Set aside while you roll out the dough.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured board and knead a few times. Divide into walnut-sized balls and allow to rest for a few minutes, then roll each piece with a lightly floured rolling pin into a circle 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Spread the prepared filling generously over each piece. Transfer each piece to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 450° to 500° for 8 – 10 minutes. The patties should be well done but still pale in color.


The other interesting thing to note is that even though I spread a generous serving of the lamb mixture on each pizza dough as he says you should do, I still had about ¾ of a cup of the lamb mixture left over. AND, I didn’t use 1 ½ lbs of lamb as the recipe suggests; I only had a 1 lb package. Go figure! As usual, I baked them in my convection toaster oven.

Lamb Pizzas

Lamb Pizzas in my Convection Toaster Oven

With the leftover lamb mixture, I added it to some store-bought Classico basil and tomato sauce and poured it over pasta. It was very good! If you have leftover as I did, you could also stuff zucchini or an eggplant with it.

Lamb mixture

Lamb Mixture Cooking

Beard says you can cut these pizzas into wedges and serve them with cocktails. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing worse than eating cold, ground lamb – it’s too greasy. I wouldn’t recommend them for eating with cocktails or as hors d’oeuvres. These pizzas are best eaten hot.

Baked Lamb Pizzas

Baked Lamb Pizzas Hot from the Oven

I ate 5 and froze the rest. They freeze well and reheat in a toaster oven very well.

Storing Lamb Pizza in Container

Storing Lamb Pizza in Container for Freezing

Also, they cool off pretty quickly. If I make them again, I will be sure to really load on the lamb mixture so I don’t have any leftover and so that the pizza will stay hot longer. Those are my words to the wise. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!



21 Aug Hair style

As I wrote about in last month’s New Food Friday Flash, I would be writing more about foods to put on your body and not just in your body for good health. This month’s post is for a recipe for a great shampoo that you can make yourself with simple ingredients. You can find these ingredients in a health food store or online at for example. I was able to find all the ingredients at my local Meijer supermarket and that is why I selected it for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.


Black Tea Shampoo Recipe

1 cup distilled water

6 bags black tea (regular tea)

½ cup liquid unscented, baby mild Castile soap

1 Tablespoon vegetable glycerin

10 drops Ylang essential oil



Boil water and steep tea bags 30 minutes.

6 Black Tea Bags

Boil 6 Tea Bags

Cool. Combine with remaining ingredients. Put in a clean, bottle (an old washed, shampoo bottle works well). Label the bottle. Shake bottle before each use. Shampoo, and let sit in hair for 2 minutes. Rinse. You will not get as much lather with this shampoo as with store-bought shampoos. Condition as usual.


I chose not to use Ylang essential oil and instead used Peppermint essential oil. The Peppermint oil has more uses. Many times these essential oils are interchangeable – but not always! Lavender essential oil could also be used in this shampoo as it is beneficial in fighting dandruff and stimulates hair growth.


NOTE: Black Tea shampoo is for brunettes. Blondes can substitute chamomile tea for the black tea as it has a natural blonding effect. However, I did not test the chamomile myself.

Chamomile flowers

Chamomile Flowers


I created a list of all the recipes I thought I could use from all the books I had read. I also selected ingredients that were most often used. I did not want to spend a fortune making my own shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergents, body lotions, cleansers, bath soaks, makeup removers, lip balms, insect repellents, car washes, tub and tile cleaners, window washes, and a few others! This was research I wanted to do to find a way to avoid allergy-causing ingredients that manufacturers use in their products. Their ingredients also cost us more. In theory, making your own products should cost less in the long run.


One of the benefits of using this shampoo that was not mentioned in any of the books I read is that it makes your hair more manageable. When I use it, I don’t use a conditioner afterwards. My hair has never looked so good! I don’t curl it; I don’t blow dry it. If that doesn’t make it all worth it, then I don’t know what does. How’s that for an unsolicited testimonial?


As much as I like this particular shampoo recipe, I have found another that I like that contains the juice of a grapefruit. As soon as I finish this Black Tea Shampoo, I will be making the grapefruit shampoo. If it is as good, I will be reporting back here to you!






17 Jul Hair style

You may have noticed that I recently posted a New Food Friday Flash a week earlier than usual. That’s because I had allergy brain, otherwise known as fog brain due to allergies. My allergies have really been acting up lately and I’m not just talking about my respiratory allergies. Let me tell you how I got Angelina Jolie lips due to an allergic reaction.


Angelina Jolie Lips

Sunscreen Lips!

I always wear lipstick outdoors to keep my lips moist and prevent cracking and bleeding. I’ve been wearing Chapstick with sunscreen to do the same when I’m doing yard work. Over a gradual period of time recently, my lips began to swell. Then they developed cuts or ulcers at the corners of my mouth. It hurt when I ate and they bled. I thought, “What the heck is going on here?” I finally figured out it was due to the sunscreen in my Chapstick. I stopped using the Chapstick and the next day, no more ulcers. My lips returned to normal although I rather enjoyed their puffiness!


The moisturizer I use on my face when I’m outdoors also contains sunscreen. When I stopped to think about it, I had seen a dermatologist six years ago for red blotches on my face and a scalp rash. He gave me all kinds of drugs which helped my scalp but didn’t do anything for my face. The blotches were still there. After the recent lip incident, it dawned on me that my moisturizer also contained sunscreen and that it was probably what caused the blotches on my face. I stopped using the sunscreen moisturizer on my face. No more blotches on my face. Now I use a non-sunscreen hydrating moisturizer.


I felt good about finding the causes of these allergic reactions until I developed yet another allergic reaction and rash on my arms and legs! This happened at the same time that a Measles outbreak occurred in Indianapolis which worried me even though my inoculations are up-to-date and I had Measles when I was young.


I suspected my laundry detergent because I had bought a new one – one I had never heard of before. I had also been adding more detergent to the wash than I usually do. So, I stopped using that brand altogether. I bought a mild, perfume and dye-free detergent. I’m sure you’ve heard of it: ALL. I also now use less detergent than the manufacturers recommend. I’ve had this rash about three weeks at the time of this writing and still have not rid myself of it although it is much improved. I cut back on the detergent due to the advice from one of the authors listed below.


Right around this time, I had been watching a program on the Livewell Network called Steven and Chris. I have to commend them on their wonderful, knowledgeable guests. Nutritionist Joy McCarthy caught my ear on one of their programs. I was lucky in that my local library had her book, “Joyous Health.” She was the spark that ignited my desire to find the underlying cause of my recent skin reactions.


Cancer-causing Ingredients

Her book lists ingredients to avoid in cosmetics, such as: BHA, BHT, DMDM, (a formaldehyde-releasing preservative; formaldehyde causes cancer) and PEG (may cause cancer), and many others. These ingredients are not only harmful to us, they are harmful to fish and other wildlife.

Fish and Wildlife

Save the Fish!



She also writes that people with asthma or who suffer from allergies, are especially sensitive to sulfites, commonly found in:



dried fruits

potato chips

frozen fries

fruit snacks

frozen dinners

Nitrates and nitrites (which cause cancer in animals)


I had written a post a while back about sulfites. They can also be listed as celery root extract in an ingredients label. The good news on dried fruits: she says you can soak the dried fruits in filtered water and then use them without suffering a reaction! 


After I read her book, I went back to the library and reserved books on natural products. I learned a lot and am still reading and learning!


A Growing Intolerance to Chemicals

According to author, Melinda Coss who wrote, “Natural Soap,” there has been a sharp increase in the number of people suffering from skin allergies due to our growing intolerance to chemicals in household products. So, this is not just a female problem. Men use household products and cosmetics too. Men wear sunscreen and men do laundry! Isn’t that right men?

Incredible Hulk

Strong Men!


Hair Care

Each of the books I borrowed and read had something to offer, including one that was focused more on African-American women, written by Lisa Akbari, “Every Woman’s Guide to Beautiful Hair at Any Age.” Although her tone was scolding, I figure I needed to be scolded! I am much gentler to my scalp and hair thanks to reading her book.


Other changes I am making due to my readings are to use natural products on my hair like coconut oil instead of store bought cream rinses and shampoos which contain harmful ingredients like sulfates, parabens and artificial fragrances that cause inflammatory skin reactions and are suspected to cause cancer.


Coconut oil is useful not just for sautéing foods, but also as a conditioner for your hair, a lip balm, and a shaving oil, just to name a few things. It conditions and soothes skin, so says DK publishers of the beautifully artistic book, “Natural Beauty.” You can find coconut oil in the same aisle as the olive oils. Buy the organic, oil-pressed jar.


A Light Bulb Moment

  • All these years I have been a fervent believer in caring about what I put into my body without enough thought as to what I put ON my body. What can I say? It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks! Arf!


Food for Face

Bananas and avocados will not just be going in my mouth; they will be going on my face, in my hair, and on my hands. A mixture of avocado and honey makes a great hydration hand mask for dehydrated hands according to author Elizabeth Tenhouten, author of “Natural Beauty Homemade Recipes for Radiant Skin and Hair.” Bananas contain pantothenic acid which strengthens the hair.


Hair Growth

Mix half a banana with one egg, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and one tablespoon of honey. Shampoo then apply the banana mixture to your scalp and hair; leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and condition. Author Annie Strole claims this mask is great if you want to grow your hair and prevent it from breaking. Promise me you won’t ring my doorbell when I’m doing this! 


Hair Buildup

Kelly Reno, author of Soaps, Shampoos & Other Suds says you can remove soap build-up from your hair by combining ½ cup water and two tablespoons of lemon juice in a bottle. Shake thoroughly and gently massage it in. Then rinse with warm water. There are many variations to this recipe. Some authors recommend apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice.


More in Future Posts

More on this topic will be posted on my blog in the future. These books have really enlightened me. I have already made my own shampoo and lip gloss. Some of these ingredients were not readily available in supermarkets although they did have many of them. It has taken me about a month to get all the ingredients that I need without breaking the bank.


An Investment in Safe Products

I should be able to make my own laundry detergent, hand lotion, shampoos, rinses, conditioners, facial masks, hand masks, lip gloss, lip balm, and more. I am in the process of extracting the best recipes from each book using the most popular ingredients like avocado, lavender essential oil, castile liquid soap, and aloe vera gel just to name a few. I stayed away from the harder to find, more exotic ingredients like calendula oil or apricot kernel oil or the endless variety of oils that are either online or at health food stores (even though I did find a health food store nearby that stocks EVERYTHING!) I don’t know how involved I will get into this. If I see more promising results as I did from my homemade lip gloss, I may invest in more of these products.


An Investment in Time

I haven’t seen any noticeable results from my homemade shampoo except that my hair looks thicker and is easier to manage. I know, those are good results, but the shampoo is hard to work with when my hair is wet. I’ve tried two different shampoo recipes with one being better than the other. I have a third that I want to try before deciding that homemade shampoo can take the place of unsafe, store-bought shampoo. I’m also having trouble with homemade hair conditioners. They seem to be too oily. The third recipe for shampoo I want to try, contains some oil whereas the other shampoos didn’t. That might be the one! Third time’s the charm! Stay tuned!




New Food Friday Flash – Sweet Potato Rolls to Die For!

19 Jun Pull apart Sweet Potato Rolls

Can we all agree that we all love hot, buttered rolls? But they’re not the best for our health or waistline. Since I am always looking for ways to improve my diet, I have tried another James Beard bread recipe that I am addicted to! Again, it’s from the “old” book I found at the library. The man knows bread! I’ve also read his book on fish. It wasn’t nearly as good and disappointing in comparison. But I wasn’t disappointed with his Sweet Potato rolls recipe!


Has anybody not heard that we should stay away from white potatoes? Why? At the risk of repeating what you already know, they’re not as nutritious as other vegetables; they contain a high amount of pesticides (they’re in the “bad” 15 category), and we tend to fry or slather them in butter or sour cream which is not good for us. What’s a potato-loving girl (or guy) to do? Substitute your potato craving with a sweet potato.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes have more nutrients, they’re high in fiber and they’re low on the pesticide scale (they’re in the “good” 15). We can make a “pumpkin” pie with them. We can bake them in the skin and serve with a pat of butter. And, we can make sweet potato rolls with them! I’ve tried several recipes making rolls with white potatoes and they have hardly any flavor and little nutrition. You’ve got to try these sweet potato rolls!


I’ve made sweet potato rolls five times now. When I’m down to my last one or two rolls, I start baking a sweet potato. I like the sweet potato skin to show some blackened areas from baking because that caramelizes the potato and brings out the sweetness.


I knew that yesterday I was planning to do lots of yard work and would be too tired to make the rolls, so I started the night before. I put the dough ingredients and sweet potato together (I had baked the sweet potato the night before that) and put it in the fridge overnight. I wasn’t sure this would work, but happily, it did!


The next morning before I went out in the yard, I took out the bowl of dough. It had risen beautifully as you can see in the photo.

Sweet Potato Dough

Sweet Potato Dough well-risen

 I rolled the dough into 24 balls and put them in two cake pans as I usually do. I placed them in my microwave oven (turned off) with a hot cup of water, and left them there to rise while I did my yard work. When I came in exhausted, at 4:00 pm (I began at noon), I checked on my rolls. Look at how much they rose! 

Sweet Potato Dough Rolls

Big, Puffy, Sweet Potato Dough Rolls


I then baked the rolls in my convection toaster-oven. For me, it takes 17 minutes at 350° but I will give you the original recipe below.


They say we “eat” with our eyes. Look at the color on these beauties!! They’re gorgeous! They’re moist! They’re fluffy! When you put them in cake pans, they pull apart like cotton candy! 

Pull apart Sweet Potato Rolls

Beautiful Color on these fluffy Sweet Potato Rolls


The final result: they tasted the same as the sweet potato rolls I made without putting the dough in the fridge. The only difference is that they raised more, and were bigger than usual. What’s not to love about that? Isn’t it great to know that you can do this recipe in steps if you’re short on time? Plus, if you use the refrigerator method, you don’t have to knead the dough at all.


I enjoy them with breakfast and with dinner. They reheat very well in the microwave and they keep in the fridge very well. I keep them in the cake pan.  After they’ve cooled on a rack, cover them with aluminum foil. I also put the foil-covered rolls in a clean, plastic bag in the fridge just to ensure that they don’t get stale. This works very well. I keep the other cake pan with rolls covered the same way, and put them in the freezer. So, when the first batch is nearly all eaten, I take out the frozen batch and put them in the fridge. Easy-peasy.


Beard says you can substitute the sweet potatoes with canned sweet potatoes (without the liquid), or winter squash, like butternut squash or acorn squash. I tried acorn squash rolls yesterday but I prefer the sweet potato.  Either would make an excellent substitution since they are equally nutritious, high in fiber, and low in pesticides and a good way to sneak a vegetable into your family’s meal.


Sweet Potato Roll Recipe

2 packages dry yeast

4 Tablespoons sugar

½ cup water (100° – 115°)

3 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Tablespoon salt

2-3 eggs (one for basting rolls)

3-3 ½ (or more) cups flour

½ – ¾ cup cooled, mashed sweet potato

2 Tablespoons cream


Combine the yeast with 1 Tablespoon of the sugar and the ½ cup water in a bowl. Let it proof 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of sugar, the melted butter, salt and 2 eggs. Stir well to blend. Stir in the flour one cup at a time with the potatoes. (I prefer to add the potatoes before adding the flour.) Knead 2-3 min. Add enough additional flour to prevent sticking. Dough will be soft. Shape it into a ball. Put in a buttered bowl, turning to coat all. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place about 1 hour. Then punch dough down, shape into a ball again and let rest 2 minutes. Form into golf ball size balls and place on a buttered cookie sheet or 2 cake pans. Let rise until doubled in size. Brush with the last egg mixed with the cream. (I prefer using only an egg white mixed with 1 Tablespoon water and 1 Tablespoon powdered dry milk which I always have on hand. I never have cream in the house!) Also, I brush the rolls before I let them rise. If you brush dough after it has risen, it tends to deflate the dough.


Bake at 375° for 20 minutes depending on your oven. Makes 24 rolls or two loaves. Bet you can’t eat just one!



New Food Friday Flash – Irish Soda Bread

15 May Irish soda bread side view

I have been on the hunt for an easy to make, quick, delicious bread recipe since the year of the flood. I think I found it! This is not the usual recipe for Irish Soda Bread. Most recipes I’ve seen contain raisins. This one is raisin free. If I want bread with raisins then I’ll also want cinnamon in it. Then it wouldn’t be Irish Soda Bread, it would be Cinnamon Raisin Bread. I also have a recipe for Irish Soda bread using yeast. This is not that recipe. I started making this bread at 8:00 pm one night when I craved bread. It was on a cooling rack at 9:00 pm. That’s what I’m talking about and that is why this month’s New Food Friday Flash focuses on Irish Soda Bread.


The story: I was searching the book shelves at my library for baking books and came across a book by the famous chef, James Beard. When I tried to check it out using the computer checkout station, I couldn’t find the library number on the book. I asked the librarian about it and she said it was an old book so the number would be on the inside cover instead of on the outside of the book. Sure enough, it was inside. I hesitated for a moment when she said “old book” but I thought I’d check it out anyway. Boy, am I glad I did!


James Beard’s “Beard on Bread” is a treasure trove of bread recipes. I’ve made two of his breads so far and both were very delicious. The Irish Soda Bread caught my eye because it had no yeast or raisins in the ingredients and when I scanned the recipe, it said to knead for 2-3 minutes. There is no waiting for the dough to rise. His ingredients list did not include any sugar but his directions said to add the sugar! Aaargh! I thought, too many obstacles! This recipe can’t be any good! There is no waiting for the dough to rise? There is no 10-minute kneading as I am used to? Should I add some sugar? Should I leave the sugar out? But I was desperate for a piece of bread! Desperate I tell you. I left the sugar out even though my other Irish Soda Bread recipes contained sugar in the ingredients list. It would only go to my waistline anyway.


Here is the recipe:

3 cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1 ½ to 2 cups buttermilk


Beard also included another version of this recipe using all white flour instead of whole wheat flour. I used half white bread flour and half white all-purpose flour. If you use all white, decrease the baking soda to ¾ teaspoon.


Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly then add enough buttermilk to make a soft dough, similar to biscuit dough but firm enough to hold its shape. Knead 2-3 minutes on a floured board. Form into a round loaf and place in a well-buttered 8-inch cake pan or a well-buttered cookie sheet. Cut a cross sign on the top of the loaf with a very sharp, floured knife. As it was baking, it rose and kept rising! It was beautiful bread, decorative because of the necessity to cut a cross on the top with a sharp knife before putting it in my convection toaster oven. It browns nicely in 35 – 40 minutes at 375° in your oven.

Irish Soda Bread in one hour!

Does this bread look like Santa Clause or it is just me?


Beard says to cut the bread in paper thin slices. I like it thin, I like it fat, I like it any which way but loose. He likes it buttered. Its great buttered but it is also good with blackberry spreadable fruit. It is very good as garlic toast (slathered in butter, topped with Italian herbs and garlic salt). It would also be good as sandwich bread. You have to try this bread. It’s good for novice bakers, old-hand bakers, what the heck, a kid could make it.


It keeps well in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. One-hour bread. I think I died and went to heaven!

Irish Soda Bread T-stand

Yipee! I love this bread!




New Food Friday Flash – A Better Breakfast

17 Apr Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast for Breakfast

I’m a big fan of PBS. They have a program; actually, it’s more like a documentary, they call “Breakfast Special.” Apparently, it was so popular that they now have a Breakfast Special II. The narrator and cameraman (and crew) go around the country at various restaurants that serve breakfast. These breakfasts are special! The interviewed customers rave about them. The program is light and funny. The breakfasts are typically huge, sometimes unusual, and very delicious-looking. When they stopped at a restaurant that served buckwheat pancakes (at only a certain time of the year), my mouth watered so much that the next day I ran out and bought buckwheat flour and made my own! Since sadly, I am not a breakfast lover, I decided it was time to make my own “Breakfast Special.” That’s why I chose it for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.


Breakfast has never been my favorite meal of the day. Sure, I love my recipe for Southern Rice Pancakes but it is time-consuming and the syrup and butter I put on them goes straight to my hips. A few times a year I’ll treat myself to bacon and eggs but I recently learned I’m allergic to sulfites. So, in an effort to eat a healthful breakfast and incorporate more beans in my diet, I created a recipe that I love and I want to share it with you. The following are the star players.


The Grits

Grits are similar to corn meal which is how you make polenta. Polenta is a southern Italian staple. I’m half southern Italian (and half northern Italian) so the chances of my liking grits, ironically popular in the south of the US, were good! Grits are white whereas corn meal is yellow. Grits are grittier and corn meal is creamier. I top the grits with a pat of butter.


The Beans

I’ve discovered refried beans. I don’t know why they’re called “refried” because they aren’t fried to begin with so how could they be “re” fried? In the supermarket, you can buy various types of refried beans, some with lard, some without, but I like the lardless Pinto refried beans. I doctor them up in a tablespoon of olive oil in which I fry half a chopped onion, one clove of garlic chopped, and about a teaspoon of Chipotle in Adobo Sauce (comes in a can) minced. I keep my Chipotle in Adobo Sauce in a container in the freezer and when I need it, I scrape it with a fork or whatever is handy and put it in the pan. This all gets sautéed until the onions are translucent. Then, in goes the can of beans. I mix it well, put it in a dish, and take as much as I want to go with my grits, saving the rest in the freezer.


The Egg

Any egg will do, but if you really want to spoil yourself, use Eggland’s Best eggs. The flavor and vitamin/mineral content is superior. I like mine well peppered with a little salt.

Beans, grits, & egg

A well-peppered egg on top of grits and refried beans


The Grapefruit

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Looking at the Red Texas Grapefruits I bought at Meijer, I can see it is no lie. They are wonderfully sweet! If you haven’t had a red Texas grapefruit, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Try some grapefruit

Texas Red Grapefruit


The Alternative

I made oatmeal instead of grits but put on too much cinnamon. Yet it turned out great and now I prefer it that way! Sprinkle on a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and it’s a nice alternative to grits and better for you. Buy old-fashioned oats, also better for you.


I coat my 6-inch cast iron pan with a little coconut oil and spread the bean mixture on one side and the grits or oatmeal on the other. Top this with an egg, salt, and pepper and it’s ready for the toaster oven for 7 minutes at 400° for a still jiggly egg. Experiment with the time to get your egg the way you like it.


While this is baking in the oven, I am eating my grapefruit. I also make myself a large hot cup of water with ¼ of a lemon squeezed in and a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger. Sometimes I add honey, sometimes Truvia, a natural sweetener. It’s better than tea or coffee. Actually, it tastes a lot like regular tea to me but doesn’t stain your teeth and ginger is good for you.


This breakfast is divine! The beans are a little spicy, the grits or oats a little sweet, and the egg, well the egg is an egg and if you like eggs, it’s good! The grapefruit is sweet and juicy! Sometimes I’ll have a slice of Irish Soda Bread too with butter or jellies depending on how hungry I am and how much time I have.

Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast for Breakfast

Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast


Now I can join the people who love breakfast as long as I’m having THIS breakfast! Try my breakfast special, you’ll like it!



An Episode of “Cops” Right Before My Eyes

10 Apr 662718

April 9, 2015 around 11:30 am, a Thursday. I decided to go to the library even though the weather predictions were for severe storms. My car needed a free rain wash so as far as I was concerned, it was a perfect day. That’s how it started out anyway.


As I was making the turn onto Rockville Road, I was barely able to make the turn because traffic was so backed up. I knew there must be an accident. Sure enough, after driving maybe 100 feet, there was a white van and a small black car that looked like it took the brunt of damage to the headlight area. Four young people were standing next to the vehicles, now in the center of four lanes of traffic, two lanes going east and two going west. Two of the accident victims were wearing red shirts. Meijer’s employees wear red shirts so I assumed since they were practically in front of Meijer, that that’s where they were headed until the collision.


Because of the accident, everybody was driving very slowly, including me. Little did I know what was to happen next.


Maybe 500 feet further on I saw a white car parked on a gravel area to my right in front of an abandoned building. There were two people in the car. I not sure why, but I kept looking at them. Something didn’t seem right to me. Then, I looked to my left and I saw a youngish guy, maybe 28 in a dirty, tattered undershirt, with dirt on his face, running in the turn lane area of the four lanes of traffic. It looked like he was running in slow motion. This wasn’t my imagination. The guy was stoned. He had a big grin on his face, laughing. Then I saw a cop car coming from the opposite direction of me with his siren going, and carefully cut across traffic right in front of me. I had plenty of time to stop, maybe I was already stopped, I don’t remember. He slowly pulled into the parking area behind the white car to my right, got out and yelled, “Get down f*cker!” Before I knew it, seconds, there were cop cars all over to my left. How they managed to get there so fast with all that traffic mess is beyond me! A big guy from somewhere behind me, ran to help the cops. At least that is what I presumed he was going to do and it turned out that he did. He may have been a plain clothes cop. Maybe he was an ex-Marine or a fireman. Who knows? I didn’t know what the heck was going on. He ran towards the stoned guy with energy that was palpable. A black guy in a pickup truck in front of me had also stopped and got out of his car and stood within feet of the action. I wasn’t sure if he was going to help the cops or cause trouble. I wondered at the time if he had a phone/camera. I was OK up until that point.


Then I thought I heard gun shots. This is when I got unnerved! A split second of panic! Should I get out and run for it? Should I duck under the dashboard? Fortunately I didn’t have to make any such decisions because apparently, the sound I heard was the stoned guy being tasered. He ended up getting tasered twice as far as I could tell, and believe me I had a front row seat. I heard him yell out, “Ow!” just once. At this point I grabbed my purse and dug out my mace. With all the crime that’s been going on in this city, as of a few weeks ago, I felt the need to carry mace with me. That’s a pretty sad statement of the crime situation Indianapolis has reached. I imagine a lot of the folks in the cars near me reached into their glove compartment for their gun. This isn’t Texas but they’re far from being gun-shy here. It’s not unusual to hear on the evening news that children have been shot. There are homicides almost nightly. Now that summer is coming, it will only get worse.


You know how so many people say when they are in a similar situation like mine, “I felt like I was watching a movie!” Well, I didn’t feel like I was watching a movie, but I wished I was watching a movie! It was more like I was IN this movie! And just yesterday, in a jocular mood, I was saying aloud to myself in my house, “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!” I’ll never say that again!


But I digress. When the lead cop of this scenario began talking with the black guy and the two of them seemed like they were joking, I decided all was in hand and put my mace back into my purse. Two cars behind me decided the show was over, pulled out of line not wanting to wait for the pickup to get going so we could all get going. I didn’t feel like I wanted to do anything rash but I would have thought that one of the cops would motion cars to now go on their merry way because in case you didn’t get the picture, traffic was at a standstill. After a few seconds, the black guy got back into his car, looked at me with a slight smile, and started up his truck. That’s when I began driving too and everyone followed.


What just happened exactly? I asked myself if I needed to pull over. Am I upset? Not to be funny, but am I going to have PTSD after this? I decided I wasn’t that upset. It was over quickly and efficiently. There were no hurt innocent bystanders. I don’t know what kind of shape the perpetrator was in because I didn’t see him put into a squad car. I think he was still on the ground under police bodies when I drove off. I wouldn’t think that such a skinny guy would need that much man-power to be over-taken. I’ve watched a few episodes of “Cops” and I do get the situation. I’ve seen how Tasers work on news footage so that wasn’t new to me although the sound of it was. And, I’ve even seen that lead cop before, where, I don’t remember; a gray-haired guy, probably with a lot of years of experience on the force. I appreciate him slowly driving in front of me and not veering wildly in front of me as I’ve had happen to me on another occasion by an impatient cop when there was no incident at hand whatsoever! In hindsight, this was all well-orchestrated. In hindsight, I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I actually do hear gunshots. That feeling of panic made me think of all the children in the Columbine massacre.


After these two incidents, the car collision and the dramatic arrest that played out in front of me, although I wasn’t speeding, I caught every green light on my way to the library. That had never happened before. Once in the library, I got on a computer, reached in my purse for my USB stick and it wasn’t there. I had left it at home. That meant that I didn’t have any of my passwords and therefore couldn’t do anything on the computer! That had never happened before either. What kind of a crazy day is this?!!!


So, you mean to tell me that I got up early, got dressed, touched up my roots with my new hair color stick, all to just witness a two-car accident and an arrest within feet of each other? What kind of an insane day is this? I could have stayed home and baked bread! As it was, there was hardly any rain, not enough to give my car a good wash, so that a bust too. (Just a little play on words for your amusement.)


Hours later as I was eating my dinner, thoughts of the arrest kept running through my mind. I pondered why the black guy in the pickup truck and the lead cop were so chummy with each other when everything was all over. I remembered thinking as he got into his truck that he looked as proud as though he were part of the collar. (The arrest.) And I was like, “huh?” about that at the time. I also wondered why they would let a motorist, and a black motorist at that, get out of his vehicle and stand near the action. Then it dawned on me. He was part of the “sting.” Maybe he was the lead detective on the case. I wouldn’t know half as much of this stuff if I wasn’t a fan of the Jack Reacher audiobooks!


Anyway, that was my day. How was yours?



New Food Friday Flash – Wildflower Honey and Honeybees

13 Mar Honeybee at work

All my life, I used clover honey in my tea and in any baking dishes or any recipes that called for honey. The truth is I never really liked the taste of it. One day, I decided to try Wildflower Honey. I will never go back!

Honey Made from Wildfloewrs

Wildflower Honey


As you might have guessed, wildflower honey is from wildflowers and clover honey is from clover, the annoying green that has invaded your lawn!


I have also tried buckwheat honey and another variety called golden honey. Buckwheat honey comes from buckwheat. I liked it even less than clover honey. Golden honey comes from Goldenrod. Golden honey has a lemony note and goes well in tea with lemon. The ebeehoney website (link below) claims that their customers who have allergy issues prefer this type of honey because “goldenrod honey is taken off very late in the season when goldenrod is primarily the only plant in bloom.” So, can honey be taken as a treatment to lessen allergy symptoms? Probably not according to the Mayo Clinic. Still the idea isn’t so far-fetched.  


Light-colored honeys like clover honey or orange blossom honey are higher-grade honeys. Dark colored honeys like buckwheat honey are lower grade honeys. This is according to Encarta Encyclopedia. Somewhat contrary to this is information from the website which claims that darker honey has more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties compared to lighter honey. They also claim that honey variety tastes can vary due to rain amount, nectar sources, sunlight, etc. which all affect what flowers, plants, trees, are in bloom for the bees to collect nectar and pollen.


Why do bees make honey?

Bees make honey to feed their larvae (their young). They also make it to help them survive the winter months. It is similar to squirrels storing nuts for the winter. During the other seasons, their food source is pollen.


Busy Bees Filling their Comb with Honey ( NoShoes)


The honeybee is native to Asia and the Middle East and was introduced to North America by early European colonists. This bee is known as the European honeybee. By the mid-1800s, honeybees had become widespread. Today, they are on every continent except Antarctica. There are six other recognized species of honeybees: the Indian honeybee, Koschevnikov’s honeybee, the dwarf honeybee, the andreniform dwarf honey bee, the giant honey bee, and the mountain giant honey bee. (I wouldn’t want to run into him! Or, is it her?)


A mustachioed Bee and his Girlfriend( vjeran2001)

There are many races of the European honeybee. Races? That is what it says in my Encarta Encyclopedia. The most popular are the Italian, Carniolan, and Caucasian honeybee. How do you know when you’ve been stung by an Italian honeybee? When it stings you it says, “Batta Bing!” Just a small joke. Very small.


Africanized honeybees, also known as killer bees, are a hybrid of African and European races.


Honeybees exist in a very complex social community or colony. The queen bee is the only sexually productive female. She is the mother of all drones, worker bees, and future queens. She can lay as many eggs in a single day as her body weight, often exceeding 1500 eggs. She controls the sex of her offspring. Amazing, these creatures, aren’t they? No wonder they are among the most studied insects.


Beekeeper ( NoShoes)


The queen mates with the drone honeybees. The drones don’t do anything but mate with the queen. They are the equivalent to a stud horse or George Hamilton. Once they mate with her in mid-air no less, they die. They make the slackers of the office world look busy.


The extreme opposite are the worker bees. They are workaholics. They keep the nest clean. They construct the honeycomb. They defend the nest. They collect the nectar, water, pollen, and propolis, a gummy substance used to seal the exterior of the nest. They convert the nectar to honey. They feed the larvae, queen, and drones. They control the temperature of the nest. You would think this would tire them out, but no, they communicate the location of food to other worker bees by “dancing!” Uh-oh, I feel another joke coming on. This must be why the BeeGees wrote the song, Staying Alive! “You must be dancing, yeah!”  Anyway, in six weeks the dancing worker bees are dead. Would that be square dancing or the polka? Sorry, my dance card is full. Is Garth Brooks involved? You might want to think twice the next time you tell someone you are “as busy as a bee!” 


Tulips Waiting for the Bees ( gregav)

By now, it is common knowledge that honey is bees’ “spit.” Well, not exactly. It’s actually worse than that! A worker bee, called a “field” bee, goes out to collect the nectar from flowers and puts it in its honey sac, which is an enlargement of its esophagus. It regurgitates the contents into the mouth of a “house” bee that deposits the nectar into a cell in the comb and carries out the tasks necessary to convert the nectar into honey. Encarta doesn’t go into the tasks of converting the nectar into honey. Could it be any worse than what we already know? All I know is that it goes from one bee’s mouth to another bee’s mouth and then into my mouth. Yum.


Survival Issues

Wasps and hornets prey upon honeybees. Honeybees also fall prey to birds, cane toads, robber flies, bears, and the ferocious honey badger.


During the past 10 years, mites have killed thousands of honeybee colonies in North America. The mites live in the bee’s breathing tubes or on the outside of larvae and adults. Sometimes it seems like dust mites are in my breathing tubes so I can relate. Science is trying to develop tolerant strains of honeybees to replace the mite-susceptible ones. Menthol fumes can help reduce some mite infestations.


There are 20,000 species of bees worldwide. They are not on the endangered species list yet. If that ever becomes an issue, not only will we see a reduced sale of honey, but we will see a scarcity of such crops that rely on pollination to the tune of $10 billion annually in the United States.



Honey contains a natural presence of botulinum endospores. Children under one year old should not be given honey because their systems are not developed enough to handle the bacteria.  Some adults shouldn’t eat honey if they are sensitive to pollen, celery, or other bee-related allergies.


Final words of advice: do the taste test to see which honey you prefer. When you see a bee, don’t swat at it, just get out of its way and don’t spray pesticides near them.




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