Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wiping Off Kisses

 I grew up in a large affectionate family. I really only had one creepy relative, and thankfully wasn't around them much. I've always cared about my family, but dreaded being made to hug and kiss everyone.

   At large gatherings I'd be asked, "Did you kiss  (relatives names)?" To me, the kissing was much worse than the hugging! Kissing felt like the next level of affection, and was always supremely uncomfortable for me. Unless we're romantically involved, don't put your lips on my face!  At one point I remember writing a list for my mom, telling her," I only want to hug these  certain people, and I don't want to kiss anyone in our family!"

    At no time does a child or adult owe anyone a hug,a kiss, or an excuse as to why they don't want to give one. That message needs to begin in childhood!  When  a child doesn't want to share affection with someone, having whomever they chose not to kiss or hug erroneously believe he or she is "rude" (or "cold" or "unaffectionate", or any of the other inaccurate descriptions to which I personally was subjected) is a much more favorable outcome than for said child to receive the message that their feelings are invalid, or that anyone has the right to invade their personal space.  If a child protests against being touched or held by someone, honor it (Even if that means super-imposing the child's picture onto Santa's lap).

   As someone who has taught dance for many years, alot of my work involves physical adjustment of students. I always announce what I'm doing and if it's a single student struggling I'll ask, "Do you want me to come over and help?" 99% of the time they want adjustment because it helps them feel the correct way.  On the rare occasion a student tenses up, I immediately defer to verbal correction and motion with my hands. It's common courtesy!

Please be sensitive to the messages your actions and demands are sending to children; they are people, too. There are countless ways children can be taught the important lesson of  showing care and respect for others without forcing affection against their will. Check out THIS article for more information.

*A special thank you to my sister who sent me this article and inspired this post! 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

5 All Natural and Effective Deodorants

      We all remember the smelly kid in school (or worse, the smelly girl who always took her place next to you at the ballet barre in your most challenging and sweaty dance class). None of us wanted to be these people, or be near them.  After showering we slathered ourselves with chemical-laden antiperspirant deodorants. It seemed the only alternative was offensive body odor. These toxic formulations certainly work well, but research on their health effects is sobering to say the least.

   When I got into natural foods back in the 90's, I found myself intrigued by the selection of natural deodorant options. I tried many, most of which never worked well, and were a total waste of my allowance (Returning something after rubbing it all over my armpits felt awkward at the time). Over the years though, I've discovered natural options that work amazingly well. Most of these deodorants are inexpensive and can be found in your kitchen or bathroom.

  *Salt Rock Crystal Deodorant. 
   An old classic, salt rock deodorant is a product you buy about once yearly. One application immediately after bathing works well to keep you odor free. The only negative is in hot climates it's only effective for one good sweat, then needs to be reapplied.  It's a great option.

*Cornstarch, Baking Soda, &  essential oil.

   This is a simple mixture that works well, and can be used head to toe.  Pour 1/4 cup of cornstarch, 1/4c baking soda  into a small jar or shaker bottle, as you stir add 10 drops of your favorite essential oil. Side note: Plain baby powder may also. work if you don't sweat much.


*Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

   ACV  works  well as a deodorant, and in case you were worried about smelling like a salad,  the vinegar scent dissipates when it dries. This super cheap and simple spray is  also portable so you can use it to freshen up anytime, anyplace. It's also dirt cheap all you need is a bottle of ACV and a little spray bottle.  Bear in mind , while using ACV spray you'll still sweat but won't have body odor.

*Lime Juice

  I became obsessed with using lime juice as deodorant when I tested it on a triple digit summer day, and it passed with flying colors. There's nothing more natural, effective, economical, and simple than this. It works even better followed by a dusting of powder. Some people advise you to use a fresh lime, but I buy the lime juice in that little bottle that looks like a lime. Any area you want to keep fresh needs a few drops of lime juice. That 99 cent container will last you up to six months.

*Schmidt's Deodorant

      If the aforementioned deodorant options aren't quite your style, consider this option.  I'd go as far as referring to Schmidt's Natural Deodorant as "spectacular". As with most commercial deodorants, Schmidts comes in a tube you rub onto your skin. It's all natural, comes in a variety of amazing scents, and offers a separate formula for sensitive skin. Get it at Target for under $5! One container lasts for months.

    I hope these options will be as pleasing to your armpits and noses as they've been for ours!


Friday, November 30, 2018

Shower Me with Presents!

       When the topic of wedding showers  came up recently, I was filled with memories of my own shower and most favored gifts. When we got engaged, I wasn't feeling the whole bridal shower thing.  I love family  and presents. Crowds and surprises, though? Not so much! My mother's response was to host my shower  at our family home; it was lovely and tasteful.

   Being  minimalistic, we didn't ask for some of the "necessities" engaged couples are encouraged to place on their registries (16 high ball glasses? Why?). Between minimalism and my big family, we ended up getting all of our requested items! Before getting married, I'd often stress over what to buy  for  bridal showers, now  I've got it figured out!

If you're anything like me, you tend to want to buy people gifts that are useful, but also fun and colorful. Given their practicality the items on bridal shower registries are usually, well, boring! At least when someone's having a  baby it's somewhat fun seeing all of the cute baby clothes and toys. Those warm feelings are rarely aroused when a bride-to-be tears open  gift wrapping to reveal a strainer!

    After we got married though, I realized those super practical "boring"  gifts were my most cherished stand-bys, items  I still put to use.  The fun stuff? With the exception of my picnic set (Best.Gift.Ever. I live for picnicking.), much of it broke after a while or eventually got sold because we didn't use it.  One shining example: At mom's urging, I took time searching for the most beautiful China. I ended up giving that China to my mom because it was so delicate a few pieces broke within a year or two. If I can't use something all the time without it easily breaking, it becomes useless clutter. Why do I need certain dishes for special occasions, anyway? I digress.

   Cooking utensils, measuring cups, my beloved toaster(hubby calls it "the burnt bread maker"), pots and pans, those are the best gifts. I remember who got them for me, and think of said people when I use them. So, if you get married and I buy you a boring gift, please trust that it's because I want you to remember me with love when, five years into your marriage, you're stirring the Marinara Sauce you've finally perfected.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Nasty Nails


   Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but often it's to everyone's benefit to know the truth. I'm thankful for investigative journalism when it's used to uncover injustices. I prefer writing about more lighthearted subjects, but there are times I come across something that has to be shared.

    When I was a teenager, I remember  noticing the nail  industry becoming saturated with foreign people; I'd go in and the manicurists often spoke little to no English. It became a running joke that our nail techs were probably talking about us to their co-workers. Many of us left the nail salon flaunting our French tips, wishing we too spoke an exotic language so as to say whatever came to mind without consequence!

    I  stopped going to such salons after observing some disgusting practices that put my inner germophobe on high alert. In one instance a nail tech was double dipping in a filthy pot of wax (unsanitary and illegal), in another instance I developed a spot of nail fungus. An additional reason I stopped was the frequent mention of such places' numerous violations in the state cosmetolgy newsletter.  Apparently, the danger runs even deeper than my experiences.

   I recently read an article highlighting the fact that many foreign workers in nail salons are not only unlicensed (licenses are sold, bought, and traded), but grossly underpaid ($3/hr after months of no pay).  Many workers are not citizens and unaware that the business practices to which they've fallen prey, are illegal. The article also speaks of the emotional damages suffered by these women, many of whom live in groups, stuffed into cockroach infested one bedroom apartments.

   I've heard people say they frequent such salons because of the cheaper prices. Unfortunately, someone has to pay the difference and in this case it's often the worker. I'd encourage any reader who is a customer at one of these salons, to read THIS article and consider whether that $10 manicure is worth contributing to the severe  financial and mental abuse of others.


Season's Greetings (and shopping, and singing, and eating)!

  It feels like we celebrated  Thanksgiving several times this year. It's a good thing I love mashed potatoes! First, we were invited to a "Friendsgiving" Potluck hosted by people from church. I sometimes get nervous cooking for others because I am a simple cook, but I told myself no one else there would be Italian enough to judge my Marinara. Surprise, one of the women was actually from Italy. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable. We were treated warmly and had lots of laughs.

     We spent Thanksgiving Day at the house of old friends who have a close knit family that reminds me of my own. I brought creamed corn and stuffing, and we spent the entire day eating, talking, and- of course- laughing. The day after, I made a vegetarian loaf ( it tastes better than it sounds), mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. That was our third, more intimate thanksgiving celebration, just the two of us. Finally, we had a repeat feast on Black Friday, and somehow we've still yet to tire of homemade cranberry sauce.

   Now we're officially into the Christmas Season, and I'm relieved to announce that our shopping is complete. It was done over a few hours, while browsing Amazon under a cuddly blanket. Does anyone else avoid leaving the house on Black Friday? I sure do.  Even though our winter weather is second only to that enjoyed by Floridians and Hawaiians, I dread the thought of immersing myself in any kind of holiday rush. Have you seen those videos that show people engaging in physical violence over toys and televisions? I am not about that scene. Online shopping is truly a homebody's dream! We did most of our shopping on Amazon and even got some good stuff for ourselves (getting myself a Christmas gift is a favored tradition of mine!). Personally, I would enjoy  buying for each person on my list more randomly, whenever  I see something that reminds me of them. I feel like the pressure of time constraints cramps my style. I suppose I could make gift purchases that way, and then send the gifts closer to Christmas.......IF I remember! 

      Speaking of Christmas activities, at  the request of my parents  I've  recorded a few Christmas Songs to help get them into the holiday spirit. They'll probably play them for guests, and say things like,"This is our daughter singing!"  Sometimes, I feel like other family members must be thinking,"We get it, your daughter sings well." Hopefully, some of them enjoy my vocals anyway. Plus, it feels good to have my talent appreciated.   For those who want a sneak peek, I posted my favorite: click here.

   Happy Holidays to my family and friends!







A Visit to the Vet

    The other day Matt noticed our kitty,Dahlin, had an irritated eye. It was a little swollen and he kept squinting. Dahlin was otherwise acting like his usual sweet self, but after reading online that it could be an infection or something that could progress into vision problem,I made an appointment at the vet.

   Something I really appreciate about our vet is the fact that it's cats only!  I need not worry about some vicious dog snarling at us (or worse) in the waiting area (side note: I love certain dogs, but generally consider myself a cat, turtle, and bunny person!).  In addition, the doctors, technicians, and office staff are all passionate cat fanatics.

   The cat-centric office doesn't appear to soothe  Dahlin; he hates going to the vet. First, it took Matt a good 10 minutes to get him into his carrier. Then our kitty cried all the way to the vet, making a 10 minute drive seem way longer! In the exam room,  Dahlin snuggled in close  and proceeded to hide behind me when the vet tech entered the room. The whole scene made me feel guilty, but not as guilty as leaving a potential eye problem untreated.

  Dahlin received lots of TLC from everyone, and appeared calmer by the end of his visit.  The vet sent us home with eye drops and provided a full tutorial for how to best administer them. She also recommended a cat sedative,  which I happily purchased for future vet visits.

    Hopefully, this will be our last visit for a good while aside from the fact that our other cat is due to be neutered soon. Here's hoping he will be calm and happy!

Here's our sweet friend, hiding behind me at the vet.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Vacay or Stay-cay?

    Last spring while visiting Southern California, we found ourselves talking about how much we'd enjoy living by the beach if a reasonable option existed. While reading a piece highlighting some more reasonable places to live in California, one town that stood out was Eureka. The pictures  showed streets lined with Victorian homes,  and a variety of artsy shops. Even better, Eureka was the gateway to the North Coast's magnificent redwoods and rugged, picturesque coastline.

   When our trip to Hawaii was rained out, we decided to check out the Eureka area.  As we flew into the Arcata airport,  we were greeted by an abundance of lush, green mountains and the stellar, rocky coastline's crashing waves. However, when we landed and began the short drive to pick up a few items for our trip, we found ourselves disturbed by the abundance of tweakers and people under the influence of heroin  roaming the area. It felt like the land of the zombies! We found out that the town had a needle distribution program which resulted in many people active in addiction flocking to the area, and sadly ruining what would otherwise be a lovely place.


   Not wanting to miss out on the areas positive attributes, we spent the next day visiting to the redwoods. The North Coast Redwoods were everything we imagined and more. What a treat for the senses. Afterwards, we took a quick ride to Crescent City, an older but incredibly friendly town, where we ate dinner while watching an ocean sunset. The next day, we knew it was time to head south.

   Our drive was beautiful. We drove along "The Avenue of the Giants" ( a stretch of road that runs parallel to the 101 and is loaded with,you guessed it, Sequioa Trees)!  We'd forgotten just how much chilly and damp weather throws a wrench in our efforts to enjoy long stretches of time outside, though.We decided to head home early, and I found myself thinking instead of scrambling to make a new vacation when we were rained out of Hawaii, plenty of time and money could've been saved with a simple stay-cation!

  Depending on where you live, the thought of a" stay-cation" can bring about varying levels of doubt. After this latest trip, while nice, wasn't worth the cost, I was beginning to warm up to the concept. Here are a few fun ideas:

1. Spa Day:

    I love going to the spa, so much in fact that it's where my pre-wedding bachelorette party was held. If you live near a spa with facilities, it's easy to make a day of it. At most spas I've visited, If a guest  books one treatment they are able to use the facilities for the entire day. My favorite spa offers yoga classes, indoor and outdoor private pools and hot tubs, poolside dining ( extra), Swedish showers, beautiful grounds and walking trails with ponds, waterfalls, and exotic birds. All I had to do to enjoy it for the day, was book a service!


2. Foodie Adventure:

   We're not big on dining out but many folks would enjoy a culinary tour of their area. It could be fun to choose a locale, for example : Italy, and dine out for the day in the style of Italian  natives. Alternately, you may want to tackle with your family, a recipe you'd never have the nerve to attempt alone.

3. Hotel Getaway:

    If you live near a nice hotel, a one- night getaway could be fun. If it doesn't require a tank of gas or a plane ride, it counts as a stay-cay, right?  Check in and enjoy the pool and/or hot tub, follow with dinner and a show, then break in the hotel bed (wink), and enjoy some room service before heading home.

   Do you prefer to vacay, stay-cay, or like me, enjoy a bit of both?