Did you ever Wonder? A grab bag of information.

So, now that I am blogging more often, I’m almost always looking for topics to write about. Here are a few quickies that came up over the weekend….

  • What is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/sweetpotato.html

Although yams and sweet potatoes are both angiosperms (flowering plants), they are not related botanically. Yams are a monocot (a plant having one embryonic seed leaf) and from the Dioscoreaceae or Yam family. Sweet Potatoes, often called ‘yams’, are a dicot (a plant having two embryonic seed leaves) and are from the Convolvulacea or morning glory family. 

Why the confusion?In the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. Thus, ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were referred to as ‘yams’ to distinguish them from the ‘firm’ varieties.

  • How can you soften a not-quite-ripe Avocado to use in guacamole? 

I found a few answers to this one online. They included things like putting them in a bag with a banana or apple for a few days, microwaving them for 30 seconds, putting them through a potato ricer.

As is turns out I had one ripe avocado and two that were hard as rock. I tried the potato ricer method, no luck, too hard. Then I tried microwaving them, no on that one too. Finally I chopped them up and ran them through a food processor. No, they didn’t get all lovely and creamy but at least the pieces were small enough to mix with the other ingredients and the one ripe avocado. So our guacamole was a little on the chunky side…

  • What’s the definition of a serenade?  Must it involve singing?

My dear husband is re-teaching himself how to play guitar and sometimes in the evening he will play and I’ll say “Oh, you’re serenading me.” He insisted that a serenade had to be a song that was sung, my opinion was that it could be any kind of music, vocal or not. So I looked it up. This one was not as clear an answer as I had hoped, but I did find this definition from Webster’s Dictionary:

SerenadeHowever, most of the other definitions did say it was only music that was sung. So, while I will still believe his evening guitar playing is a serenade…. not everyone would agree.

So what do you wonder about?

Intelligently buying Organic | How to choose fruits and vegetables

This website: http://www.ewg.org has a couple of terrific food lists… the dirty dozen (the fruits and veg with the most pesticides) and the clean fifteen (fruit and veg that use the least pesticides in normal cultivation.)

I try to buy organic all the time… I want to vote with  my dollars to support organic farmers. But sometimes the sticker-shock on Organic produce really bothers my Yankee frugality.

This list: http://askjo.co/X8RFKe

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Has a full list of 45 fruits and vegetables arranged by how many pesticides are used in  normal cultivation. Those with lower numbers you need to strive to buy organically all the time, the others… well, when your frugality fights with your principles…

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Steer clear of Victim-Entitlement

Victim

There are, of course, real victims in this town as a result of the atrocity committed on December 14th. There are many who were harmed and injured, both physically and mentally on that day. I am not saying any of this to dishonor the true victims of this tragedy.

It’s the rest of us I’m talking about…. the wider circle of this town, many of whom appear to have fallen  into a victim identity that is turning into selfishly entitled behavior. I heard a story the other day about a woman who took her many grandchildren (only one of whom is from Newtown) to Disney World in April and all were admitted entrance for FREE because of the Newtown connection. This is the sort of entitlement I’m talking about avoiding.

EntitlementA study done in 2010 at Stanford University states:

Three experiments demonstrated that feeling wronged leads to a sense of entitlement and to selfish behavior.

Read more: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20085398

I understand that the process of healing from what we have all experienced is a long road and that people will travel that road at their own pace and in their own way. But I also think we need to be aware of the tendency toward entitlement thinking and guard against it.

Here’s a link to a website with a fantastic PDF entitled Deadly Perils of the Victim Swamp: Bitterness, Self Pity, Entitlement, and Embellishment by Karl D. Lehman M.D. and Charlotte E.T. Lehman, M. Div. that makes the following points about Victim Entitlement:

Victim entitlement tells us that we have the “right” to avoid responsibilities and consequences we don’t want, and the “right” to take things we do want: “I shouldn’t have to carry the same kind of responsibilities others are expected to carry because my life has been so hard,” “I have the right to act this way (angry, violent, rude, unfaithful, etc.) because of the things that were done me,” “It’s okay for me to take this _____  because of all the things that were taken from me.”  The sad truth is that we are “entitled” (have the right) to stay wounded, bitter, and miserable.

The article is filled with incredibly helpful information on healing from the Victim Swamp, I highly recommend it as a resource. Let’s continue to heal our pain and work to not fall into victim-entitlement.

 

References/Resources:

 

Easy Kale Chips – Putting the Crunch in Crunchy

We know that lots of dark green leafies are good for us. But eating enough of them was always a challenge for me. I like Swiss Chard in a lot of dishes, but I could never really enjoy Kale. Until I found a recipe for making Kale Chips.

Kale, Olive Oil, Popcorn Salt

As with most things, there are simple and complex recipes. This is a simple kale chip recipe. One bunch of Kale. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tad wilted, like mine was, since you’re going to dry the kale to a crisp anyway.

Kale - tough stems trimmed

Trim out thick stems, wash the kale. Tear into pieces (I leave mine pretty large because they shrink a lot in drying.) Coat with kale chips with olive oil. On this, you do have to get in there with your hands to make sure all the curly leaves have a nice sheen of oil on them. I then sprinkle with some fine popcorn salt. Go easy, though, they have an assertive taste on their own and don’t need much salt.

Kale coated with oil and salt

Put the oil-coated kale leaves into the dehydrator. It’s a damp day today and mine took 3.5 hours to dry. The last time I did them, they were very crisp at 3 hours. I also had some parsley drying today, so that could have effected the time as well.

Kale on dehydrator tray

Take out your kale chips and munch away. I like them a lot and my 13 year old daughter thought they were “pretty good.” I have also mixed some kale chips in with freshly popped popcorn. Yum!

Kale Chips

Footnote: A Facebook friend commented: “If you don’t have a dehydrator you can bake them in a 275 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. I like mine Spicy-cayenne pepper, red chili flakes, garlic powder and kosher salt – yum!”

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Resources/References:

If the World Were 100 People

Matthew Kelly asks a question at his talks and presentations about “How do you see the world?” and then gives some statistics around if the world were 100 people.

This infographic shows some of those stats…

If the World were 100 People
If the World were 100 People infographic by KVSStudio.

 

 

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My “no poo” adventures

No, it’s not potty talk. “No Poo” is a catch-phrase used to describe hair-care without Shampoo. I learned about it a while ago while surfing around some crunchy blogs.

The basic recipe for going completely no ‘poo is; about a tablespoon of Baking Soda in 8oz of water, shaken well, scrubbed into hair and scalp and rinsed. If you need conditioning, the recommendation is for a tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in 8oz of water for a conditioning rinse.

No Poo

I was totally intrigued and decided to try it. I had recently jumped on the Wen bandwagon, an absurdly expensive “cleansing conditioner” that I had used years ago with great results. However, this time around, it made my hair very heavy and greasy, so I was looking for an alternative.

Being that I have oily hair to begin with, I was leery of trying the baking soda alone, but I gave it a try. Unfortunately, there can be a transition time (up to a couple of weeks) as your scalp gets used to the fact that all the natural oils are not being stripped away by shampoo. I have to confess, I couldn’t take the transition time, my hair was too greasy with just the baking soda wash. That first day it was as if I hadn’t washed my hair at all. I might try again this summer…

I did a little more research and found that there are both simple and complex recipes out there for a homemade shampoo. What I ended up with was a sorta ‘poo method using 1 part liquid castile soap to 3-4 parts water. I added essential oils to make my own scented blend. This seems to be the perfect recipe for me. The castile soap and water combination foams up great, washes my hair completely clean and costs SOOO much less than commercial shampoo. Not to mention that it avoids all the chemicals in shampoo.

I do occasionally use the vinegar and water rinse (again with a little essential oil added for scent.) I know it seems hard to believe, but the vinegar water is a great conditioner. I need it only rarely because my scalp and hair are now very “balanced” and my hair is neither oily or dry. I also no longer need gel or mousse or anything else to style my hair. It’s is soft, has body and, mostly, behaves.

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References/Resources:

How to Cope with a Negative Teenager: Timely Advice

Here are 7 things you can do as a parent when your child is being negative and it’s pushing all of your buttons.

1. Don’t try to turn your child into something she’s not. As a parent, you might feel you’re responsible for how your child feels and behaves. If so, the choices she makes will feel very personal to you. You’ll find yourself trying to turn her into a positive person, a “Negative Nancy” into the proverbial “Sally Sunshine.” The result? She’ll work all the harder to resist you. This will cause you to push harder, creating more and more reactivity and negativity between the two of you. Remember, you’re not responsible for the choices your child makes about her attitudes or behaviors. Instead, you’re responsible for how yourespond to these attitudes and behaviors.

2. Try to be nonjudgmental. As hard as it is, try not to be judgmental, critical, or defensive. So if your child says, “This food is gross,” don’t react by saying, “Why are you always so negative about everything? The least you could do is say thank you!” Instead, say something like, “Hmmm, I’m sorry you don’t like it,” or “Too bad you find it so unappealing,” or simply, “Oh.” Nothing more needs to be said.

Related: Why it’s better to take charge rather than try to take control as a parent.

3. Don’t personalize it. Try as hard as you can not to personalize your child’s negative attitude and constant complaining. Have a slogan in your head that helps you ignore some of his negative remarks. Try repeating the following to yourself: “It’s nothing personal and nothing to worry about. These are just feelings.”

4. Be direct. If your child launches into a venting session when you’re stressed out or in the middle of something,be clear and direct. You can say, “Sorry, but I’m not up for listening to this right now. Why don’t you save it for later, when I can focus on what you’re telling me?” That way, if your child really needs a sounding board and isn’t simply complaining for the sake of complaining, you’ll be able to give him your full attention and listen to what’s on his mind. (And maybe by that time, he’ll have worked through it on his own. In this way, your child will learn to rely on himself to calm his anxieties.)

5. Reflect but don’t react. If your child always has something negative to say, you can go with it without agreeing with him. If he says “It would have been a good day if I’d gotten a home run during recess,” you can say, “Yeah, really just to have that one extra thing, that would have made it better for you, huh?” Instead of trying to negate his negativity, listen to it and let it go. When your child is critical of something and then you’re critical of him being critical, it just adds to the cycle. Often we don’t hear ourselves complaining about our kids and we just pile it on. So try to be nonjudgmental about it.

6. Put a time limit on complaints. If your child is really a chronic complainer, you might consider putting a time limit on him.When your child launches into a complaining session, listen to what his beef is and then let him let him know he only has a few more minutes. You can say, “Okay Jackson, two more minutes to talk about how you hate math, and then we’re done with this subject today. I can’t hear anymore.” You can also establish a complaint time as James Lehman advises in The Total Transformation Program . Set aside a time each day, like after dinner, when your child has 10 minutes to complain about everything that’s bothering him. Limit it to that time of day and that amount of time. If he forgets and starts being critical about something, just remind him that he can tell you all about it at complaint time that night. You can also give him a journal in which he can write everything down. Another idea is to give your child five “complaint tickets” per day that he can use at any time. Each one is good for one complaint, but after the five are used up, no more. (This works well for younger kids.)

Related: How to give consequences that work.

7. Give honest feedback. Your ultimate goal is to let your child be who he is, but also to let him know that his attitude does have an impact. Giving him honest feedback is one of the best ways to set your own boundaries while respecting his. When he’s going on and on about something or someone, you can say, for example, “When I’m hearing too much of your criticisms and complaints, I find myself tuning it out.” You could also try saying something like, “Hey, I think I need to hear a few more positives right now because I’m getting zapped.

Generally when you give authentic feedback, you’re just letting your child know that what he’s doing is not working for you right now. Again, simply complaining about his negativity is not necessarily going to be helpful. Instead, you need to be honest about it and let your child know what you’re feeling about the impact of moods, attitudes and words. That’s about you expressingyou—not you criticizing him.

Related: How to avoid getting entangled in your child’s emotions—and parent more objectively and effectively.

A final piece of advice: When dealing with your negative child, be counter-intuitive.Again,while the goal of helping your child be a more positive person is a good one, trying to make him be one will backfire.Instead, do what is counter-intuitive: accept his negative feelings. His feelings are separate from you, so allow them without “futurizing” and personalizing and getting entangled. Don’t let your own anxiety about your child interfere. Rather, listen without criticism.Stand next to him, not joined to him. Only then will he stop being compelled to use his energy to fight you or defend himself from your criticism. With your acceptance, he’ll be free to begin thinking about how he wants to change and grow.

Excerpted from: http://www.empoweringparents.com/how-to-handle-your-negative-complaining-child-or-teen.php#

 

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SPAM by Sears

I have a few pet peeves. SPAM is one of them. The FTC has put out very specific guidelines on marketing emails and in 2003 the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act) act was signed into law.

Several months ago, I began receiving marketing emails from Sears, that I never signed up for. I searched for, and found, the–required by law–unsubscribe link.

Sears SPAM

As expected, this brought me to a page where I could choose to unsubscribe from Sears promotional emails. Only there was a glitch… Sears responded that my email, the one they are using to SPAM me, is not a valid email address.

Sears SPAM

So, I called the customer service number and reached what sounded like a call center in India. Where I explained that I had tried to unsubscribe and asked to be taken off the email list. I was assured that my email address had been removed from their list.

However, emails continue to arrive. So, now it’s time to report them to the FTC. If Sears (or anyone else) is SPAMming you, you can do this too. Maybe if enough of us complain, we can make a difference.

Here’s the link to report businesses that are violating the CAN-SPAM law: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx?Lang=en

There are several pages to the complaint form, but it’s easy enough to fill out…

Sears SPAM

After submitting the complaint, there are links to several other resources to help you reduce the amount of SPAM email you get. I will include them below in the Reference/Resources section.

To help save my sanity, I will now create a filter in my Gmail to delete any email messages that come from this Sears address. However, if they (or someone else) is SPAMming you too, please report them to the FTC and perhaps together we can reduce the amount of junk email flooding cyberspace.

References/Resources:

Anything worth doing is worth doing _____

This weekend at church we heard a terrific homily by Deacon Norm Roos in which he shared his own struggles with prayer, and his motto that anything worth doing is worth doing well… which of course meant that if he wasn’t good at prayer, he spent his time on things that he was better at.

Prayer

I can totally empathize with that point of view. I know the things I am good at, as well as knowing my limitations. I spend more time on the things I am good at and tend to avoid doing things I am not good at.

But, of course, Deacon Norm continued to talk about the intrinsic value of prayer. And that prayer, even done poorly is better than no prayer at all. Prayer is intrinsically good for us, whether we do it well, or whether we do it poorly.

Matthew Kelly from Dynamic Catholic talks about the 7 Pillars of Catholic Spirituality, the value of Contemplation and spending time in the “classroom of silence.” He’s been encouraging people for over 20 years to spend 10 minutes a day in prayer, so that they can hear the voice of God in a world that’s overwhelmed with noise.

How to Say NO

 

Know Your No

Identify what’s important to you and acknowledge what’s not. If you don’t know where you want to spend your time, you won’t know where you don’t want to spend your time. Before you can say no with confidence, you have to be clear that you want to say no. All the other steps follow this one.

Be Appreciative

It’s almost never an insult when people make requests of you. They’re asking for your help because they trust you and they believe in your capabilities to help. So thank them for thinking of you or making the request/invitation. Don’t worry; this doesn’t need to lead to a yes.

Say No to the Request, Not the Person

You’re not rejecting the person, just declining his invitation. So make that clear. Let him know what you respect about him—maybe you admire the work he’s doing, or recognize his passion or generosity. Maybe you would love to meet for lunch. Don’t fake this—even if you don’t like the person making the request, simply being polite and kind will communicate that you aren’t rejecting him.

Explain Why

The particulars of your reason for saying no make very little difference. But having a reason does. Maybe you’re too busy. Maybe you don’t feel like what they’re asking you to do plays to your strengths. Be honest about why you’re saying no.

Be as Resolute as They are Pushy

Some people don’t give up easily. That’s their prerogative. But without violating any of the rules above, give yourself permission to be just as pushy as they are. They’ll respect you for it. You can make light of it if you want (“I know you don’t give up easily – but neither do I. I’m getting better at saying no.”)

Practice

Choose some easy, low-risk situations in which to practice saying no. Say no when a waiter offers you dessert. Say no when someone tries to sell you something on the street. Go into a room by yourself, shut the door, and say no out loud ten times. It sounds crazy, but building your no muscle helps.

Establish a Pre-Emptive No

We all have certain people in our lives who tend to make repeated, sometimes burdensome requests of us. In those cases, it’s better to say no before the request even comes in. Let that person know that you’re hyper-focused on a couple of things in your life and trying to reduce your obligations in all other areas. If it’s your boss who tends to make the requests, agree upfront with her about where you should be spending your time. Then, when the requests come in, you can refer to your earlier conversation.

Be Prepared to Miss Out

Some of us have a hard time saying no because we hate to miss an opportunity. And saying no always leads to a missed opportunity. But it’s not just a missed opportunity; it’s a tradeoff. Remind yourself that when you’re saying no to the request, you are simultaneously saying yes to something you value more than the request. Both are opportunities. You’re just choosing one over the other.

Gather Your Courage

If you’re someone who is used to saying yes, it will take courage to say no, especially if the person asking doesn’t give up easily. You may feel like a bad friend. You might feel like you’re letting someone down or not living up to expectations. Maybe you’ll imagine that you’ll be seen or talked about in a negative light. Those things might be the cost of reclaiming your life. You’ll need courage to put up with them.

After Irene tried these practices she started working less and spending more time with her kids. She’s still doing great work and she’s still valued by her boss and co-workers, but they’ve noticed the difference too, she told me. And not all of it is positive. They’re respecting her boundaries—they don’t even seem to resent her for them—but she’s had to give up something she never knew was important to her: her sense of herself as someone who could do it all. It’s been hard for her to feel as valued and necessary as she did when she always said yes.

“Would you rather go back to saying yes all the time?” I asked her.

She answered me with a very well-practiced “No.”

Excerpted from Life Hacker: http://lifehacker.com/5984918/nine-practices-to-help-you-say-no-without-feeling-like-a-jerk

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