Friday, December 9, 2011

In The Here and Now

I am thinking this morning of the skill and blessing of acting on current information.  I was taught from childhood to live in and celebrate the here and now....sometimes I am successful at this...others times not so much.   

I am seeing now that there are many aspects to this skill.  One is seeing the world as it is now...acting on what is, not what was when considering times, places, and things.  

Another is responding to others based on what is happening between you right now, with no baggage from the past or hopes for the future.  When you untie these binds of past and future, the present can brighten and show you more of the person than you saw when you let these things cloud your vision.

Yet another aspect, and the one I am contemplating this morning, is seeing yourself in the here and now.  Accepting your current self fully.  I think there is wisdom in spending some time reflecting on the past so as to spur growth...and there are great benefits to planning for our future selves...paths of learning and accomplishments we aspire to.  

But, we cannot live the past and future.  If I act according to my wants, desires, skills, interests of the past, I am blocking knowing myself in the present!  (Wow, I am just figuring this out while writing it...or relearning what I already knew?).  Who am I now?  What are my interests right now?   I need to allow myself to grow, change, turn and turn till I come round right.

I have attached one of my favorite songs ever: Simple Gifts.  It is an old Shaker hymn that packs power to quiet my soul and open me.  

'Tis the gift to be simple
'Tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be
And when we find ourselves in the place just right
It will be in the valley of love and delight

When true simplicity is gained
To bow and to bend we will not be ashamed
To turn to turn it will be our delight
'Til by turning and turning we come round right.

No lyrics could be truer.  I often sing them over and over in the car as a kind of mantra.  I think singing is powerful and causes our selves to internalize words and ideas in a much deeper way than just listening.  Here is Judy Collins' version.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When you need a laugh...a little Joe Cocker lyrics.

Whoever put this together did an incredible job.  Funny as heck.  No disrespect to Joe Cocker...he is a heartfelt rousing performer who gives us his all.  But these really sound like the lyrics! 


Monday, October 24, 2011

Things have been ok for me....except that I'm a zombie now....

In the spirit of upcoming All Hallows Eve, I thought I would repost this hilarious zombie song.  Jonathan Coulton is so creative and funny.  I love the lyrics:  "I'm not a monster, Tom, well...technically I am...I guess I am."

Warning: some cartoon gore!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Three Dog Night

Dedicated to my Australian friend, Liz who always cheers me with her comments.  Three Dog Night took their name from an Aussie saying about how cold the night was and how many dogs you should sleep with.  :)

We probably all are familiar with the few hits of Three Dog Night that continue to play on oldies radio stations: One, Joy to the World, Black and White, Mama Told Me Not to Come, and Shambala.  But it's easy to forget how big a sensation they were in the early 70s.

When I was about 8, my older brothers scratched their Three Dog Night: "Naturally" album and so gave it to me.  I had a little kiddy record player in my room to play my disney and sesame street music.  This was my first non-childrens album and I loved it.  Here are a several Three Dog Night songs you might remember if you are old enough...or might enjoy hearing for the first time if you are that young.   :)

No matter whether or not you take the time for all of these clips, don't miss the last one.  It is joyful.  :)

First, a love song...gentle and simple...Sunlight.

Here is a funny clip from a CBS Variety Show starring Lily Tomlin featuring Three Dog Night Performing Eli's Coming.  Better hide your heart!

Remember records?  Turntables, needles...getting good at setting the needle on just at the start of your favorite song (took talent, I can tell you!).  Here is Three Dog Night's I Can Hear You Calling spinning on the turntable.  Love that scratchy sound at the beginning.  Ahh, memories!

As I was hunting around YouTube looking for more Three Dog Night, I came across this incredible blast from the past:  Three Dog Night performing on Hugh Heffner's Playboy After Dark TV show!  I had no idea there was such a show...very risque for the era.  Hugh himself (very young) is doing the interviewing and there are some groovy dance sequences.  Three Dog Night performs two songs: Nobody and Better Find Someone to Love.  Enjoy!

Three Dog Night making an ecological (or sociological?) statement.  The Family of Man.

This was probably my favorite Three Dog Night song as a child...not because of the accusation...I think I just liked the way it sounded.  Here is Three Dog Night's Liar.

I love this never fails to lift my spirits and remind me of what's important.  I know it is often played on the radio, so I wasn't even going to include it here.  But, I found this video on YouTube and had to share it.  What a wonderful trip this must have been!  What a perfect video to Three Dog Night's Shambala!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Alaska bear cub in grocery store

This is a grocery store just a few blocks from where I work. Saturday afternoon, a little bear came in and climbed around in the produce. Poor little guy....he is way too small for this time of year and won't make it on his own.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Been sooo busy

Hello fellow bloggers!  Sorry it has been so long since my last post.  We have had a VERY busy September at the Civic Center where I work.  Many conferences and always short-staffed.  So hard to find staff!

During my hectic weeks I often think of things to blog but have just been too busy.  I hope to get some of these thoughts on posts soon. 

Until then, enjoy Jape.  I just love the sound of it and the video is fun.  There is a drug reference "we took our first pill when the music was Fish", and I think the song is the description of the way the drug (probably Ecstasy) made him feel. 

However, I think that ---drugged or not---the band does create a piece of art (the song) that conveys and draws you in to the way it floating.  Listening to this song...  "how tiny we are girl, how tiny we are"...I can float without the chemical assistance.  :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Even in the Quietest Moments

It seems to me that most of today's music (not all!  I know there is still some heartfelt stuff out there) is just showcasing...posing...trying to get the most attention. 

Here is a wonderful example of an immensely talented man who just lets his innermost thoughts pour out musically.  You can just feel his heart.  What a thing it must be to touch so many with the baring of your soul.

Experience Roger Hodgson

Friday, July 29, 2011

Commentary and Art Together in a Music Video


I love this song.  Yoav is so original. 

This video is a bit visually challenging. 

Would love to hear your comments. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What does an eagle sound like?

If I may engage in a bit of anthropomorphism, by their visage eagles seem serious, angry, and harsh.

To be blunt, they look really pissed off.  To look at them, I imagine they are plotting some revenge...out flying around with a score to out!

We have bald eagles all over here on the island and I usually see them every day.  Before I moved to Alaska, I imagined that these majestic large predatory birds must have a screech that signals impending death...a sound like we might imagine comes from an ancient teradactyl.  Or at least like a hawk:

But no.  I was totally wrong.  Eagles do not sound majestic nor dangerous nor even masculine.  Eagles surprisingly sound like girly birds chattering at some coffee klatch:

They woke me up the other morning with all their incessant squeaking and chattering.  I thought to myself that many people probably aren't aware of the silly sound they make, so decided to share. 

 Did you know?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Voices as Ethereal Instruments (aka Ear Candy)

Take a listen to this!  Oh my!  So amazing....especially towards the middle where the mix of voices grow.

This lends itself to being listened to loudly on headphones.
I would say if you like Enya and that type of music, you are in for a treat!  Take a listen to Alice by the Cocteau Twins.

Haunting and lovely. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blonde in Shadows

This is by my friend, Myrna Rooker who lives here in Ketchikan.  Myrna worked for me in a construction office years ago.  She was such a fun, original person...I truly enjoyed her company.  However, it was sometime after she had left that job that I ran across this sketch and was blown away!  I had no idea that Myrna was hiding such talent!  I love the look in this woman's eyes.  

Thanks for allowing me to post, Myrna!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Backyard

My backyard looked so lovely this weekend, I just had to share.  My husband wants to get the weedeater out and mow all the grass down, but I love the wild meadow feel of it.  We own that little patch of forest that the path leads to...but unfortunately we will be cutting most of it down to build a small one bedroom cottage.  Sorry beautiful fairy forest.  :(

However, I really am not so sad about it as having both the house and the cottage to rent out will help fund our sailing!   Woot Woot!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Soapmaking Part 3

Step 5:
Make Ye the Soap

Once your temperatures are correct (or close), return the pot of fat to the stove, but do not turn on.  Slowly pour the lye mixture into the fat stirring gently until fully mixed.  The soap mixture should turn opaque. 

Now it is time to stir!  You can stir briskly by hand for about 20 to 30 minutes, or use a stick blender for about 15 minutes.  When using the stick blender, just turn it on occasionally and run for about 30 seconds.  Then use the stick blender in the off position as a spoon to stir the rest of the time.  

The tricky part is knowing when the soap is done.  You look for the consistency.  You want to add the essential oil when the mixture "traces".  Tracing means that when you pull the spoon across the mixture, it leaves a trace on the top for a moment.  My mixture this time actually was a bit over-stirred.  Usually you are going for a consistency kind of like honey.  Here is mine that is more like pudding: 

However, it still turns into soap.  Just add your essential oils and stir until blended.  I used spearmint, bergamot, and tea tree in this batch.  Then pour into your mold. 

Cover immediately and wrap with towels or blankets to keep warm for 48 to a week. 

After 48 hours, remove blankets and cover and let air out for about another week or two.  When you first remove the lid, it will be smelly.  The smell of the fats dissipates over time.

After 2 - 3 weeks, the soap is ready to cut.  I don't like to wait any longer as it continues to harden and becomes harder to cut.  Pop it out of the mold and slice with a sharp knife.  If you want precision cuts, you can use a miter box.

Set the bars of soap in a container to dry for at least a month.  I like my soap best when it has seasoned for three or more months.  It loses the last trace of fatty scent and becomes harder and dryer so that it doesn't disappear so fast in the shower.

Here is a wonderful website where I got my recipe and much information. 

 I know this whole process sounds very involved but, now that I know what I am doing, it only takes about 2 hours and provides enough soap for my husband and I for about 3 months.  Well worth  it knowing that we are not only saving a little cash but we are no longer bathing ourselves in unknown chemicals. 

I hope someone out there catches the soapmaking fever from this!  Happy Soaping!

Soapmaking Part 2

Step 3:
Mix the Lye

Now we come to the somewhat hazardous part of the process: working with the lye.  Lye is an element derived from wood ash.  It will burn you and you do not want to inhale it.

You will need a container to weigh the lye in (glass or stainless steel...if you use any porous material such as plastic or wood, you will need to mark it as for soapmaking only so it doesn't find its way back into your food preparation items.  If you use glass of stainless steel, the lye will rinse off fully and you can again use these items in the kitchen.) 

I use a large beer mug. 

I usually do this part outdoors because of fumes.  Gather the following and head outside:

5 cups very cold water in a medium saucepan
Wooden soapmaking spoon
Container to measure lye
Long dishwashing gloves

First, put the beer mug (or whatever you are using) on the scale empty and either hit tare to zero the scale out or add the weight of your beer mug/container to the 13 oz of lye you need. 

Next, PUT ON YOUR GLOVES.  Some people also use safety glasses, but I think that is a bit overboard. 

Pour the lye into the beer mug/container until the scale reads 13 oz (or the mug weight plus 13 oz if you didn't tare the mug). 

Now slowly pour the lye into the cold water and stir gently.  Avoid inhaling the fumes...I always stand upwind of it as I add and stir.  The mixture will get slightly bubbly and cloudy for awhile.  Stir until fully dissolved.  The temperature of the mixture will shoot up and become quite hot.  After a few minutes, the mixture will turn clear and the fumes will stop.  Take everything back inside.

It is very important that you always add the lye to the water, not the water to the lye. 

Step 4:
Temperature Control

Now, you have your pan of melted fat and your pan of lye.  Here is where your handy thermometer comes into play!  You need to bring the temperatures down before combining them.   You will want the fat to be about 105 degrees F and the lye to be about 83 degrees F. 

To achieve this, you can either wait until they cool or put them in an ice bath for a bit.  The ice baths will bring the temps down fast, so keep an eye on them.

Soapmaking Part 1

Finally, I took the time to take pics of my soapmaking!  Following is the recipe and full instructions. 

Please bear in mind that I make utilitarian soap.  You certainly can take the basic recipe and add all kinds of bells and whistles and come up with a more "boutique" soap. 

However, I have constant comments on this basic recipe being a great soap for body and face.  It isn't as harsh as commercial soaps and so doesn't dry you out so much.  

First, before we get to the recipe, I wanted to show you that this IS A REAL SOAP.  When you look at the recipe, you might think "Ick!  That can't make a real soap.  It must be greasy!"  Not true at all.  It lathers and washes just like commercial soap.  Here is the tupperware I use as a soap mold when I was rinsing out the excess soap.  See?  Regular lather!     

Basic Soap Recipe & Instructions

First, here is the equipment you will need...or something similar:

Large stainless steel or ceramic coated stock pot (soap-making pot)
Other large stock pot
Medium saucepan
Large tupperware tub
Stick blender (or 1 strong arm for stirring)
Wooden spoon (mark it for soapmaking only)
Pair long dishwashing gloves
13 oz Lye
6 lbs fat
5 cups cold water
1/3 to 3/4 oz essential oils

Step 1:
Prepare your fat

 You will want to know the weight of your empty stock pot so that you can determine when you have enough fat in it.  Mine weighs 17 oz (1 lb 1 oz).

You will need 6 lbs of fat.  I usually just save my cooking fat (bacon grease, fat from frying meats, fat from boiling ribs to bbq).  I save it all in a coffee can in the frig until I am ready to make soap.  This time, I didn't have much saved up, so I supplemented with lard purchased from the store.  You can also get fat from the butcher and rend it yourself.  

So, to prepare your fat, put it in one of the stock pots and melt on the stove.  Then pour from one stock pot to another through the strainer, back and forth, to remove any food particles.  When you finish, the fat should all be in your soap-making pot.

Next, set your soapmaking pot on the scale.  If your pot is hot, you will probably need to put a potholder between the pot and scale.  If so, weigh the potholder first. 

Add lard or other fats (pure coconut oil, olive oil, etc.) to the pot until you reach the desired weight:

6 lbs fat
+ weight of stock pot (1 lb 1 oz)
+ weight of potholder (mine is 2 oz)
= 7 lbs 3 oz (yours will vary of course!)

Finally, melt your fat over low to medium heat until it is clear.

Step 2:
Prepare your container

I use this tupperware container because I can easily bend the sides to get the soap out later.  However, I also put a very light coating of fat on it to help it not stick. 

Natural Living Humor

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not My Generation

Not my generation, but a bit older than me.  This video just has to put a smile on your face.  A group of older folks (in their 60s to 90s I believe) singing My Generation by The Who.  They are having so much fun!  Take a look and have fun too!  

Please excuse the finger at the end...I would cut that part out if I knew how.  But this is well worth the watch anyway.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Homemade Deodorant

About two years ago I had an epiphany.  Actually, the beginning seed of this epiphany was an overheard conversation at the Kauai airport... 

A young man was telling his two travelling companions that he wouldn't put anything on his skin that he could not also ingest.  Why would we? he stated.  Our skin absorbs it into our bloodstream...just think about how medicated patches work.

A few months later I looked around my house and realized that I was surrounded by toxins that I was either breathing in or absorbing through my skin.  I had already become a label reader and had been trying to not purchase any food items with ingredients in it that I did't understand.  Why wouldn't the same wisdom go for what we breathe or put on our bodies?

So, bit by bit, we are trying to change out all of the household items for their natural counterparts or just doing without:

  I make my own bar soap out of all natural ingredients (a recipe post on that will be coming soon!)  We use it to wash our bodies, faces, hair, and as shaving cream.  It doesn't work very well as dish soap and is too clumpy for laundry...although we did it for awhile.  I am still looking for a better recipe for those items.  Any ideas? 

We switched from after shave and perfume to homemade oils with a jojoba or grape seed base and essential oils.  This is really a lot of fun because of the combinations you can come up with.  Just got to love a man who smells like cedar with a hint of cinnamon! 

We got rid of lotion, hair conditioner and baby oil and now use organic cold-pressed coconut oil.  Oh!  and I use baking soda as an astringent for my oily spots on my face. 

As for deodorant, I at first tried not using any and just rubbing some of my homemade fragrance oil in my pits.  However, this didn't work very well and I smelt a bit funky at the end of the day.  Sorry if that is TMI, but we're talking deodorant here and these are the things you need to know! 

A girl who works with my husband makes homemade deodorant and has been sending some home with him for me.  It seems to work very least for our weather here in the rain forest.  I still smell nice when I get in the shower the following morning.  I got the recipe from her and whipped some up this week. 

Emily's Deodorant

In a small saucepan measure:
2 Tablespoons Baking Soda

3 Tablespoons Cornstarch

3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil

2 Tablespoons Cocoa Butter

Heat on Medium Low

Stirring occasionally

Until it is all blended.  I left it on the heat and stirred for about a minute more once it looked like this.

Remove from heat and let sit for a minute.  Then add your oils.  I used vanilla, rosewood, grapefruit, and tea tree oils.  Tea tree has natural antibacterial properties.  I won't use vanilla next time as it created brown specks which I don't like.  All together, I put in about 30 drops of scent.  Keep in mind that some essential oils can irritate skin so it is a good idea to understand the properties of each before use.  Emily suggests cypress, melaleuca, lavender, or rosewood.

Next, pour into empty deodorant containers.  Or, you could just put it in a short wide-mouthed jar. 

As you can see, I had some problems with this step!  The large container I washed completely with hot water and melted all the leftover deodorant out of it before filling.  Silly me!  That left it open to spill right out the bottom! 

Seeing my mistake, I did not melt all of the leftover deodorant out of the small ones, so they worked fine.  I discovered that these sticks (at least the ones I had) were meant to be filled upside down.  You know the clear plastic cap that is on stick deodorant when you buy it in the store?  Not the outside cap, but the one that actually is touching the top of the stick?  You leave that in, turn the container upside down, remove the plastic plug in the bottom and pour it in.  Or, just don't clean the last little bit out.  But, that bugs me....I want it clean. 

Anyway, after pouring it in, refrigerate for a day, then no further refrigeration is required and you can just keep it on a shelf.  It does melt at body temperature and so goes on a bit different than store-bought deodorants.  It melts in your armpit more quickly...kind of feeling like a roll on. 

Here is the final product.

Keep in mind that this is NOT an antiperspirant!  You should not use an antiperspirant if you can possibly avoid it.  Nature gave us sweat glands for a purpose and plugging them up is bad berries!

Have fun!
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