Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Monday, September 26, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

marge- beautiful soul, loving mother

Margaret Spillane Ulbrich 1925-2011

Monday morning in her sleep my friend and mother-in-law, Marge, followed the next path in her soul’s journey.

 I celebrate her completed life.

Her faith was strong; even though we differed in views, she never once made me feel as though mine was wrong and hers right, she just accepted we were different.

Her touch was motherly, when she hugged me or gave me a kiss it was no different then if I was a child of her womb.

I loved her laugh, her smile, her bright Irish eyes always shinning with happiness.

She brought into this world a son that would become my companion in life, a son she nurtured to be loving, respectful, and a man of integrity.

When we first met she described me to a friend as a “little hippie girl, but really nice.”  That memory still brings a smile to my heart.

She took my aversion of all things Maternal and showed me what Motherhood really meant.

Recently she thanked me for enhancing her life- for teaching her strength – I only taught her to release what she already  possessed- she had more strength than anyone realized. She was Irish.

she inspired 2 sons, 2 daughters,
 2 grandsons, 1 granddaughter,
2 great-granddaughters
and me

I won’t grieve for you.  
You are following the path God laid for you.
You took his hand when you heard his call.
He set your spirit free to find peace at the end of a mortal day.
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
Thank you for being a mother, a friend, a positive memory.

until our paths cross again beautiful soul

Thursday, September 22, 2011

being green~ uses for coffee grounds

I make a pot of coffee each morning, weekends it is fresh ground. And at work, in the ER, copious amounts of grounds find their way into the garbage. The other day I looked into finding uses for leftover coffee grounds, and it turns out, coffee grounds can be used for a variety of gardening, cleaning, and body care uses. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, you may want to check out your local coffee houses for their leftovers.

Uses for coffee in the garden
  • Use coffee grounds as a non-toxic, fully degradable fertilizer. Coffee grounds are a good source of nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, potassium and other trace minerals. While you need to be aware that not all plants love coffee, such as tomatoes, most are enriched by the added nutrients.
  • Coffee grounds are an excellent nutritional addition to compost.
  •  Use as a non-toxic bug repellant. Use a solution of coffee to spray your plants. The smell is too strong for most bugs. You’ll need to re-apply after a rain.
  • Use coffee grounds to keep cats from digging and pooping in your garden. Not only are cat feces bad for your plants, I personally hate the experience of accidentally scooping some up with my hands while gardening.
  • Use coffee grounds to deter slugs and snails. Both the smell and the abrasive surface help keep these pests out of the garden.
  •  Coffee can add nutrients to acid-loving plants such as azaleas and roses. Simply pour any left-over coffee around the base of the plant. Coffee is acidic. Roses flourish in soil with a pH around 6.5. Adding coffee will raise the pH.
  •  Control ants outdoors too. Just place grounds on the hills. 
A word on worms: they love coffee as much as we do. Theory suggests that besides the caffeine, the bacterium that grows on the many-sided grounds is not only a food source, but adds grit to their digestive system allowing them to digest better. Coffee-eating worms reproduce faster, which is great for oxygenating our gardens and compost. So, in terms of worms, you can:
  1. Work grounds into the soil.
  2. Place grounds into your compost.
  3. Mix grounds and soil to help keep fishing bait alive longer.
  4. Putting your bait worms in moist coffee grounds helps to mask human odor. 
Uses for coffee in the home
  • Use coffee grounds for natural ant control. Place dried grounds in the areas ants frequent. The smell is a deterrent.
  • Skip the toxic abrasive cleaners for pots and pans and use a handful of coffee grounds instead.
  • Scour (non-porcelain) sinks with coffee grounds.
  • Clean old food off of dishes. Be aware not to use coffee grounds on materials that might be absorbent or porous so that you don’t end up with brown stains.
  • Scrub your grill or electric griddle.
  • Coffee grounds can also be used as a deodorizer. Place grounds in a jar or dish to absorb odors from refrigerators and freezers.
  • Leave a dish of coffee grounds out to absorb odors in rooms that have an unpleasant odor. (a trick we use in the ER)
  • Deodorize a car that may have had one too many fast-food items left in it.
  • Rub on hands to remove food prep odors.
  • Use wet grounds when cleaning your fireplace or wood stove to keep the dust and ash from flying. You could also use wet grounds for the same purpose in a pellet stove, but take care to not allow the burn pot to get clogged, so I would use very sparingly in this case.
  • Dye paper, fabrics, or other porous materials with a strong coffee solution.
  • Cover up scratches in furniture. Dab a strong solution of coffee onto the scratch. Naturally, this works best on darker woods. 
Uses for coffee as a beauty aid
  •  Rub grounds through hair and rinse to add softness and shine.
  • Add highlights to brown hair by soaking in coffee.
  • Use grounds as a facial scrub or mask.
So drink up and enjoy the many benefits that come even after your cup is empty.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

meal ideas ~ bacon 'n' egg pockets

I absolutely love Jack-n-the box Breakfast Pitas…but my waistline or my healthy diet doesn't like them. Here is a quick and healthier version that tastes almost as good. Canadian-style bacon and cheddar cheese make these scrambled egg pitawiches extra yummy. These are so versatile that you can mix anything you want. In a hurry breakfast- Make up the egg mixture one night and have a on-the-go breakfast- just fill, heat in microwave, and go. NOTE: makes 4 pockets

Bacon 'n' Egg Pockets
2         eggs
4         egg whites
3        ounces Canadian-style bacon, chopped
4        slices cooked bacon (optional)
3        tablespoons water
2        tablespoons sliced green onion
1/8     teaspoon salt
Nonstick cooking spray
2        large whole wheat pita bread, halved crosswise
1/2     cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese 

1. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, egg whites, Canadian bacon, the water, green onion (if desired), and salt. Beat with a wire whisk or rotary beater until well mixed.
2. Lightly coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over medium heat. Add egg mixture to skillet. Cook, without stirring, until mixture begins to set on the bottom and around edge. Using a spatula or a large spoon, lift and fold the partially cooked eggs so the uncooked portion flows underneath. Continue cooking about 2 minutes or until egg mixture is cooked through but is still glossy and moist. Remove from heat immediately.
3. Fill pita halves with egg mixture. If desired, sprinkle with cheese and add bacon slices. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

healthy living ~ meditation

I can’t imagine what life would be like without meditation. It has seen me through tough times and many life changes, keeping me sane and grounded and real. Life is challenging enough; we can never know what will arise next and only when our minds are clear and focused can we make the best decisions.

How are you able to deal with the madness and chaos that occurs daily? How do you deal with the challenges of life? Meditation is highly misunderstood and often under-rated yet is perhaps what it takes to be a truly sane person. How does meditation affect us? How does it shift our priorities, enable us to make friends with ourselves, to find answers to our questions?

Here are eight ways meditation can make your life more meaningful and enjoyable!

1. Living With Kindness:
              No one deserves your kindness and compassion more than yourself. Every time you see or feel suffering, every time you make a mistake or say something stupid and are just about to put yourself down, every time you think of someone you are having a hard time with, every time you encounter the confusion and difficulty of being human, every time you see someone else struggling, upset, or irritated, you can stop and bring loving kindness and compassion.  Breathing gently, silently repeat: May I be well, may I be happy, May I be filled with loving kindness. 

2. Lightening the Load:
              In a stressed state, it is easy to lose touch with inner peace, compassion and kindness; in a relaxed state, your mind is clear and you can connect with a deeper sense of purpose and altruism. A time of quiet calmness is, therefore, the most effective remedy for a busy and overworked mind. Anytime you feel stress rising, heart closing, mind going into overwhelm, just bring your focus to your breathing and quietly repeat with each in- and out-breath: Breathing in, I calm the body and mind; breathing out, I smile.

3. Letting Go of Me:
              Stillness is always there between the thoughts, behind the story, beneath the noise. What keeps us from experiencing our natural state of being is the habitual and ego-dominated monkey mind. Meditation enables us to see clearly, to witness our thoughts and behavior and reduce self-involvement. Without such a practice of self-reflection there is no way of putting a brake on the ego’s demands. From being self-centered, we can become other-centered, concerned about the welfare of all.

4. Dissolving Anger and Fear:
              We do not accept or release our negative feelings so easily; we are more likely to repress or disown them. But when denied they cause shame, depression, anger, and anxiety. Meditation invites you to openly meet these places, and to see how selfishness, aversion and ignorance create endless dramas and fears. Beneath these is a quiet stillness where you can get to know yourself; this is a wondrous and beautiful experience. Whether you practice for just ten minutes a day or longer does not matter. You are releasing your limitations, while opening to self-acceptance and awareness.

5. Awakening Forgiveness
              Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. As you sit in meditation and watch your thoughts and feelings moving through you, so you can observe that who you are now is not who you were just a moment ago, let alone a day, a week, or a month ago. Who you, or someone else, was when pain was caused is not who you are now. When you experience your essential interconnectedness you see how the ignorance of this creates separation and suffering, so that forgiveness for such ignorance arises spontaneously.

6. Generating Harmlessness
               Simply through the intent to cause less pain you can bring greater dignity to your world, so that harm is replaced with harmlessness and disrespect with respect. Harm is usually caused unintentionally, whether by ignoring someone’s feelings, putting yourself down, reaffirming your hopelessness, disliking your appearance, or seeing yourself as incompetent or unworthy. How much resentment, guilt, or shame are you holding on to, thus perpetuating harmfulness? Meditation enables you transform this through recognizing your essential goodness and the preciousness of all life.

7. Appreciating Appreciation
               Take a moment to appreciate the chair you are sitting on. Consider how the chair was made: the wood, cotton, wool, or other fibers, the trees and plants that were used, the earth that grew the trees, the sun and rain, the animals that maybe gave their lives, the people who prepared the materials, the factory where the chair was made, the designer and carpenter and seamstress, the shop that sold it—all this just so you could be sitting here, now. Then extend that deep appreciation to everything and everyone in your life.

8. Being Aware
               Awareness is the key to awakening. Through awareness you can see your monkey mind and all its mischief. Almost everything we do is to achieve something: if we do this, then we will get that; if we do that, then this will happen. But in meditation you do it just to do it. There is no ulterior purpose other than to be here, in the present moment, without trying to get anywhere or achieve anything. You are just aware of whatever is happening, whether pleasant or unpleasant. No judgment, no right or wrong. Simply being aware. Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

frustrations can help achieve goals

Using the Energy of Frustrations
I want to share with you something that may be different from what you are probably used to hearing or reading about. Recently I have had some changes in my goals for the future. Along with those changes I have met with a lot more frustration than I am willing to accept at this time.  I called a friend, who is a Life Coach, for some suggestions of how I can get rid of these time-waisting frustrations and my unruly stress.

 He had an outstanding suggestion. He said “use frustration to reach my goals.”

What he described is a way to use your natural frustration and create a strategy that helps you reach your goals.

Instead of trying to stop your frustration and go back to a totally calm or neutral state,  it is possible to steer your frustration toward helping you instead of getting in your way. This is not only more effective for most people, it also feels more natural.

Some people can be motivated just by reward and, most of us also need a bit of pushing or fear to propel us to act. However, each of us may require a different blend or balance of each to survive the process of reaching our goals so that we get to enjoy the benefits we deserve.

How often have you felt frustrated when something seemed to prevent you from reaching your goals? How many times have you tried to calm yourself but then felt yourself frustrated? What if you could harness the power of your natural frustration to fuel your success? What if, instead of trying to stomp on your gut reactions you redirected them towards your greater success.

Consider this is a different view of your emotions--instead of good and bad- consider helpful and unhelpful.

Focus mostly on frustration because this is a very common emotion and when used properly can help you to reach your goals. Frustration is one of those emotions that usually leads to action. So you will feel the sensation of frustration and with practice you will recognize it to the point where it will lead to the proper necessary action.

Using the energy of your frustration is a strategy that you can practice ahead of time so it will be there when you most need it.

1. Imagine a goal you have already reached.

2. Now recall some of the obstacles that may have frustrated you back in the past before you reached the goal. Recall how you felt and what your next actions were.

3. If your actions were helpful in getting you closer to your goal then this is the strategy you can now practice for reaching future goals. Frustration is bound to be a part of any path toward self improvement, success, wealth, etc. so you may as well consider it as a stepping stone toward greater success.

If your action were less than helpful or inappropriate and actually took you further from your goals then you really will find this exercise helpful. From now on you will find that frustration will lead to the necessary action instead of unhelpful anger or debilitating helplessness.

Everyone has at some time in their lives met with frustration and you will meet with frustration again. Rather than treating frustration as the enemy on the road, you can begin to recognize it and let it lead you to the next proper action that will help you reach you goals. This is a much faster and easier way to reach your goals than to let frustration bully you off your path.

 I plan to meet frustration head on and harness its energy toward greater goals!

The other thing he made me think about is my plan, my goal, my dream. I want it so much that I fear not accomplishing it, all this stuff keeps getting in the way, the finish line pushing further away into future.  I told him I am frustrated that age or even death will prevent me from accomplishing my dream.

The phone was silent for a few seconds and then before he hung up, he simply stated:

“Is it not better to have had an unfulfilled dream than to not have had a dream at all?”

thank you Dr. Shawn

this week's journey

ed & marge~ my father-in-law & mother-in-law~
they have been my parents longer than my own, 
thank you for being my friend
you will always be in my heart and soul

what's new elsewhere... click on the links and take a peek at my other blogs

don't forget to visit  Journey  pages for pictures and webcam updates added this week. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

books ~ road trip entertainment

 This summer a friend, knowing that I was about to take another long drive from California to our ranch in Colorado, suggested that I listen to a book to help my “problem” of wanting to fall asleep as soon as the car started. Then, she handed me the 10 CD disks of the book Water for Elephants and said this book was exactly what I needed.  Well, I will say that after I finished listening to this book… I immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle, because I couldn't get enough- there were a few driving interruptions (Steve over the walkie talkie in the U-Haul truck) and I just had to be sure I hadn't miss a beat in the book. Even the second time around, this book was fun entertainment.

Books are for entertainment. There are some that are not, but overall, most manage to accomplish that goal. Some you enjoy while the book is open and then forget as you close the cover on the last page. Some may stay with you a day, a week, a month. These you probably tell your friends about. Most are interruptible if something else comes along. The phone rings, your neighbor comes knocking, cat fight in the yard, world peace is declared; you dog-ear the corner, set it aside and get back to it later.

And then there is that rare book you open to the first page and several hours later, your butt numb, your joints stiff from inactivity, your eyes misting, your vision blurred, you close the cover on the last page. That rare book that sucks you in so completely you lose track of time and place. You look up from the page at your surroundings and feel a momentary confusion. The morning light that was streaming through your window when you started reading is now afternoon light coming through the door. That rare book that, as you race mid-way through, you wish with all your heart it would never end. That rare book you long to jump into, become a part of, live forever in.

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen is such a book.

Am I going to see the movie?--- not sure yet, the book was just too wonderful.

and.... yes, listening to a book while driving greatly helped me avoid my usual "micro naps". 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

being green~ uses for plastic soda bottles

Each year, the average American drinks about 48 gallons of carbonated beverages, but only about one-third of all plastic soda bottles get recycled, according to the American Chemical Council (ACC).

We — or at least our landfills — are drowning in discarded soda bottles.

The ACC says that residential recycling programs for soda and other plastic bottles are now available to more than 80 percent of Americans, and that's clearly a solution to keeping bottles out of the landfills. But there are also several creative ways to reuse these bottles before you put them in the recycle bin. These ideas can help you save the environment.

1. A juicy tip. Cut the base off a two-liter plastic bottle and you have something that looks almost like the plastic juicers you buy at the grocery store. Use the base to start squeezing fresh orange juice and lemonade. 

2. Dripless cold packs. Fill these bottles almost to the top with water, freeze and then use in your coolers instead of loose ice or ice in plastic bags. It's cheaper and a lot less messy than all those melting cubes. Plus, keeping your freezer filled helps to insulate it and makes it operate more efficiently, not to mention that a full freezer keeps things colder for longer in the event of a power outage.

3. Workout weights. Try a soda bottle workout! Fill different-sized bottles with water or sand to use as free weights on land or in the pool. A one-liter bottle filled with sand weighs about 3.5 pounds.
4. Toilet tank trick. Drop a plastic bottle or two filled with water (or water and gravel) into your toilet tank and you'll displace enough water to save half a gallon or more with every flush. Most toilets flush just fine with less water, and you'll conserve water and save money. Your potential savings: Based on the average American household's FPP (flushes per person), a family of four will save about 16 gallons of water a day with this little trick. That could add up to saving almost $100 a year on your water bill.

5. Festive patio lighting. Don't put away your strings of Christmas lights after the holidays. Instead, feed them into colorful empty soda bottles and rope them together (secured with duct tape) to hang around the patio in the summertime

6. Keep your yarn tangle-free: With a box cutter, carefully cut a large door in the side of the bottle. Insert your yarn into the bottle through the door. (You can tape it shut if you wish.) Reach into the spout, grab the end of the yarn, and pull it through. You can put the top back on the bottle when you want to store your yarn.

7. Make a funnel: Create a make-shift funnel by cutting the top off of a plastic bottle.

8. Water your plants automatically while you're away: Make a small pin hole on the bottom side of the bottle. Fill it up with water. Leave the water bottle inside a plant pot, hole side down. Water will slowly leak out. Lasts for about three days.

9. Trap wasps. Cut the top off a bottle. Put something sweet into the bottom, then insert the cut-off portion back into the bottle, but upside down. Tape it in place. Wasps come in, but they can't get out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

meal ideas ~ mediterranean-stuffed chicken

Mediterranean-Stuffed Chicken

With outside temperatures still “hot” in many cities, here is a favorite recipe that doesn’t heat up your kitchen~ & it only takes 15 minutes to grill. Serve with a side of green beans or snap peas and enjoy!   Rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, artichoke hearts lend a touch of sophistication and wonderful flavor to this veggie-cheese-stuffed chicken. 

4          skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
1/4      C crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese (1 oz)
1/4      C chop fine, marinated artichoke hearts
2          T chop fine, roasted red sweet peppers
2          T thinly sliced green onion
2          tsp snipped oregano or 1/2 tsp dried, crushed
1/8      tsp ground black pepper
 Nonstick cooking spray

1. Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket in each chicken breast by cutting horizontally through the thickest portion to, but not through, the opposite side. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine feta, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, green onion, and oregano. Spoon evenly into pockets in chicken breasts. If necessary, secure openings with wooden toothpicks. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper.

3. Coat an unheated large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium heat. Add chicken. Cook for 12 to 14 minutes or until no longer pink (170°F), turning once.
Grilling directions: For a charcoal grill, place chicken on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170°F), turning once halfway through grilling. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place chicken on grill rack over heat. Cover and grill as above.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

healthy living ~ make your own dream balm

This balm is absolute heaven! You can’t help but be lured into dreamland when you take a deep whiff of this citrus-floral dream enhancer. These essential oils are said to open channels for peaceful dreaming and creative visualization while aiding in the relaxation of mind and body. I also like to use this balm to help relieve headaches, neck, shoulder tension, or use when I am feeling anxious or irritable. With or without the essential oils, it also performs wonderfully as a hand, foot, nail, and elbow balm. 

  5   T soybean base oil
  1   T beeswax
  1   T cocoa butter
  1   T shea butter
20  drops sweet orange essential oik
20  drops tangerine essential oil
15  drops geranium essential oil
15  drops lavender essential oil
10  drops neroli essential oil
  5  drops vanilla essential oil (optional)
  4  drops rose otto essential oil (optional)

In a small saucepan over low heat or in a double boiler, combine all ingredients except the essential oils and gently warn until all solids are just melted. Remove from heat. Stir a few timed to blend the mixture thoroughly, and then allow it to cool for 5 minutes. All the essential  oils and stir again.

Pour into storage containers. Lightly cover them with a paper towel and allow the blend to cool for 15 minutes, then cap. Allow the balm to harden overnight at room temperature. Because both cocoa butter and shea butter are included, the balm may continue to change texture slightly for another 24 hours. 

Note: This formula contains highly volatile citrus oil. Their scent and healing properties evaporate more rapidly than those of other essential oils resulting in a shorter shelf life. No refrigeration is required, but for maximum freshness and potency, please use within 6 to 8 months.
    Application: spread a bit of balm under nose, on your throat, temples, chest, back, or even on the soles of your feet. Inhale deeply and feel blissfully Zen-like.

Monday, September 12, 2011

fear,anxiety, and a keyboard

Recently I needed to take a simple “typing test.”  Those two words nearly turned my world upside down and my fear of the said “test” could prevent me from accomplishing a much needed goal and even change my plans for my future.  Several years ago, I needed to perform the same test and after five attempts, and many tears, I gave up and avoided any future opportunities that came around.  What? You ask, those who know me. How on earth does a professional student-research paper writer- and blogger—fail a simple typing test.  FEAR & ANXIETY- plain and simple. This time however, it's not as much of a choice I needed to take the test, but a necessity.  This caused me to sit down and think about Fears and Anxieties.

The situations, activities, and individuals that frighten us remain static. Their relative intensity does not change. Fear, on the other hand, self-magnifies. It is when you are afraid and envisioning all that might go wrong that the energy underlying your fear grows. A tiny flicker of anxiety can easily develop into a terror that manifests itself physically and eventually paralyzes you into inaction. (such as passing a simple typing test) Although frequently, in walking through that fear, we discover that the strength of our fright was out of synch with reality. And we learn that doing what frightens us can lead to great blessings. Confronting your trepidation head-on will help you accept that few frightening scenarios will ever live up to the negative disasters that we sometimes play out in our minds.

Though fear is literally an evolutionary gift meant to sharpen your senses and energize you during times of great stress, it can nonetheless become a barrier that prevents you from fulfilling your potential by causing you to miss out on rewarding, life-changing experiences. During the period before you face your fear, you may have to deal with a barrage of negative thoughts and emotions. Walking through it, whether your fear is public speaking, taking part in an activity that makes you nervous, or asserting yourself when the odds are against you, may be equally as difficult. But once you have emerged unscathed on the other side, which you will, you will likely wonder why you assumed the worst in the first place. As you spend time worrying about what might happen, it’s good to know that your fear probably won’t happen at all. It may feel like a great weight has been lifted from your shoulders, and you will likely feel a sense of passionate pride. Walking through your fear can mean taking risks and can require both practice and patience. Since it is challenging to act when you are gripped with fear, start small.

Each step you take into fear will strengthen you and help you confront future fears with poise, courage, and confidence. You will also find that when you are willing to stare your fear in the face, the universe will always offer you some form of aid or support. When you see the heights of accomplishment and personal evolution you can attain when you walk through your fears, your faith in yourself will grow, allowing your next step to be easier.

How did I do? Well, after a couple of days flustering over the want to run away from the situation I looked back on the experience of a few years ago and did the exact opposite. Instead of spending hours of pounding a keyboard with Mavis Beacon, unconsciously and consciously telling myself that I will never be able to do it and letting fear decide my fate, I took control. This time… I spent a few minutes typing on a regular keyboard at work to get use to one like I would be using for the test. (mine at home is ergonomically curved) And… most importantly, I assured myself that I would pass. “I am calm and relaxed because I type with accuracy and speed.” I chanted to myself  about 100,000,000 times in a couple of days. Ha!

When I arrived at the test site I sat down and my hands began to sweat and shake- I immediately panicked --- I inwardly yelled at myself to stop, this is preposterous. Then, began with my chant, some deep breaths, and just typed. When I finished I had to hold back the tears while I waited for the results because...I just knew I had failed…again.

Not only did I pass, but got a lot higher score than I needed. I nearly hugged the poor test-woman as I danced out of the office. At least I have opened some doors that my fears have kept locked the past few years. 

Overcoming your fears is quite liberating
- give it a try.

this week's journey

Trumpeter Swan in the pond at the North American Bear Center, MN
what's new elsewhere... click on the links and take a peek at my other blogs

don't forget to visit  Journey  pages for pictures and webcam updates added this week. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

weird news ~ man arrested for allegedly biting python — twice

Snake expected to recover after emergency surgery, losing ribs, and getting stitched up

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A snakebite in a north Sacramento neighborhood left the victim seriously hurt, but the injured party isn't whom you'd expect.

David Senk, 54, was jailed on suspicion of maiming or mutilating a reptile, with bail set at $10,000, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Police say a python underwent emergency surgery after a man allegedly bit the creature twice.

Officers were called to Del Paso Heights around 6:30 p.m. Thursday after a passer-by reported that a man was lying on the ground and might have been assaulted, according to Sgt. Andrew Pettit. When they arrived, they found David Senk, 54, still lying there — but police say he wasn't the one who was assaulted.

Another man approached officers and accused Senk of taking two bites out of his pet python, Pettit said. The man, who was an acquaintance of Senk, told police that the suspect asked to hold the pet, then began biting, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Senk was arrested on suspicion of unlawfully maiming or mutilating a reptile and booked on $10,000 bail. Pettit said it wasn't immediately clear why Senk bit the snake, or whether he was intoxicated at the time. A phone number listed for Senk was disconnected.

The python was turned over to the city's Animal Care Services, where it was recovering Friday after losing a couple of ribs and getting stitches.
      "She's doing well," Gina Knepp, acting animal care services manager, told the Sacramento Bee. "We did surgery on her last night and I think we saved her life."
in my world .... that snake would be having "man fingers" for supper

Thursday, September 8, 2011

being green~ pet food bags are NOT recyclable

Do you throw your empty dog food bags in the recycling bin? I used to until the recycling guys pointed out that dog and cat food bags can't be recycled. I didn't realize that most pet food bags were made with several layers of brown craft-type paper with at least two plastic seals sandwiched within the paper. These plastic seals mean the bag can not be recycled with the mixed paper, unless the paper has been separated from the plastic.

To remove the plastic liners so that the bag can be recycled, the bag must first be turned inside out. Once reversed, grab hold of the inner plastic liner and pull it away from the paper. After this inner liner has been removed, peel back the layers of paper until you've located the second plastic liner. Separate this liner from the remaining layers of paper as well. The paper can now be placed in the recycling bin with the mixed paper, and the seals should be disposed of in the rubbish bin.

Since it takes quite a bit of time to prepare a pet food bag for recycling, we now just save our empty dog and cat food bags to use in an assortment of practical ways around the house.

  • Shipping pouches For shipping paper items, clothing items or perishables, cat food bags make terrific waterproof mailers. I simply turn the bag inside out, pack the item inside the bag, then staple and tape shut. The mailing address can be written on the outside of the mailer with a permanent marker or on a pre-pasted address label.
  • Storage Storing greasy automotive or tractor parts? A large dog food bag is ideal for this use. Large pet food bags can also be used to wrap art objects and other breakables for transport. The waterproof liner prevents the art work from getting damaged and the multiple layers of paper provide extra padding.
  • Garden waste For gardeners, large cat or dog food bags are perfect airtight containers for collecting those noxious weeds that have no place in a compost bin; weeds such as puncture vine, Scotch and Russian thistle, field bindweed, and others. I keep an empty dog food bag in the corner of my garden shed just for these type of weeds, and close the bag with a clothes pin to prevent seed pods from escaping. Once the bag is completely full, it is stapled shut and placed it out with the rubbish for pickup.Large pet food bags can also be used to gather up thorny yard waste that ordinarily would puncture a regular trash bag.
  • Fireplace ashes When cleaning out the fireplace, a large dog food bag is a great container for holding wood ashes. The bag is strong enough to hold quite a bit of weight and can be easily carried out to the compost pile where it can be dumped and reused for another time. For families who don't compost wood ashes, the bag can be stapled shut and tossed in the garbage can.
  • To contain smelly garbage Whether it's dog droppings or spoiled food, there's some things we really don't want stinking up our garbage can. Cat food bags do an amazing job of containing odor, are practically puncture proof, and are perfect for storing smelly garbage. We roll the top of the bag closed and staple it shut to keep those smelly odors contained.
  • As a surface protector By slicing a large dog or cat food bag open along the side and bottom seam, you can create a water proof pad that measures approximately three by three feet. This is a perfect size for protecting the garage floor when changing the oil in a chain saw, lawn mower or car. I also use an opened dog food bag to protect my kitchen table when painting craft items or repotting plants.

Just because a dog or cat food bag can't be easily recycled means it has to be thrown out unused. By finding a second or even third life for those pet food bags, you'll find yourself saving money while deferring waste headed to the landfill.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

meal ideas ~ saying goodbye to summer salads

I know the days are growing shorter and cooler and with that we are starting to say goodbye to those wonderful refreshing salads.  Here are a couple of spinach salads that can take you through the last of the summer days and into the fall.

Superfoods Salad
Spinach, strawberries, blueberries, and walnuts sometimes are called superfoods because they are loaded with antioxidants, which are often touted as contributing to good health.

1/3       cup raspberry vinegar
2          tablespoons snipped fresh mint
2          tablespoons honey
1           tablespoon canola oil
1/4       teaspoon salt
4          cups packaged fresh baby spinach leaves
2          cups chopped, cooked chicken breast
2          cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2       cup fresh blueberries
1/4       cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1           ounce semisoft goat cheese, crumbled
1/2       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. For vinaigrette: In a screw-top jar, combine vinegar, mint, honey, oil, and salt. Cover and shake well.
2. In a large bowl, toss together spinach, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, and goat cheese. Transfer to salad plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with pepper.

Apricot-Spinach Salad
Apricots on the double mean dried bits in the salad and apricot nectar adding body to the ginger-soy dressing.

1           15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2       cup snipped dried apricots
1           medium red or yellow sweet pepper, cut into strips
1             green onion, thinly sliced
1           tablespoon snipped fresh cilantro
1           clove garlic, minced
1/4       cup apricot nectar
2          tablespoons salad oil
2          tablespoons rice vinegar
1           teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1           teaspoon grated fresh ginger
4          cups shredded fresh spinach

1. In a medium bowl, combine black beans, apricots, sweet pepper, green onion, cilantro, and garlic. In a screw-top jar, combine apricot nectar, oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger. Cover and shake well. Pour over bean mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours.
2. To serve, arrange spinach in a salad bowl. Top with black bean mixture.