September 25, 2010

Great Multi Grain Pasta Salad Recipe

That good-for-you brown pasta isn't the same in recipes as the yellow kind.  I still like the basic pasta (yes, even the traditional elbows) for a standard pasta salad, but I did monkey around and find a combo of stuff that seems to work pretty well with the hardy whole grain noodles.  Thought I'd share it with you, Dear Reader.

What You Need (Double This if You Want a Big Bowl of Stuff):

6-7 oz of whole-wheat pasta - e.g., 1/2 box of Ronzoni Healthy Heart 7 Grain Fusilli (the corkscrew kind)
1/2 cup good mayo (I like Hellman's Mayo for this)
1/2 container of plain yogurt
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1- 2 T balsamic vinegar  (I like this stuff, so I go for 2 tablespoons, you might not want that much)
stevia powder (I use KAL brand, it's just so much better than the rest) unless you have to use sugar (then 1 t of table sugar)
garlic powder (shake in, stir, test it -- see if you need more.  I like garlic, so I put in more than most)
parm cheese -- grated (put it what tastes good to you, I like a lot of this stuff)
1 bell pepper (red, green, orange -- whatever is cheapest and looks the freshest, get a big one)
4 green onions - chop them all (green leaves n little white orbs)
handful (around 10) black olives, sliced into little circles
3 chopped hard boiled eggs
1 cup chopped grilled chicken or turkey -- great way to use up the leftover roto chicken you brought home from the store
celery if you've got it -- couple of stalks

Here's what you do:
Cook the pasta in boiling water, salting the water before you add the pasta but after it's boiling (saves your pot).  I add oil 2 the water here because I think it helps keep the noodles from clumping, but others will disagree with me.

Drain the pasta, and get it to room temp.  (In a hurry, throw it into the freezer while you are getting the other ingredients together)  You don't want to add hot pasta to the mayo, etc. -- messes things up.

In your big bowl, stir together the mayo, yogurt, oil, vinegar, and the powders (stevia/sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper), shaking them in a bit at a time until you get the combo of spices the way you like it.  Stir this around till it's a smooth dressing for your salad (i.e., if you used sugar, you want it to dissolve). 

Chop up the veggies and the meat. Bite size.  Throw them into the dressing, coat them all up and then add the pasta, stir things around.

Fridge this puppy until it's nice and chilled. 

Tip:  I like to add the parm cheese to the hot pasta, and then the cheese sorta melts and coats the pasta.  This keeps that pasta from soaking up all the dressing later, which is great.  I hate to pop the top the next day, and see that the pasta has drank all the dressing/sauce/etc.  I do this all the time, assorted recipes.  Works like a charm. 

September 24, 2010

Tom's of Maine 24 Hr Crystal Confidence Deodorant: All Natural Deodorant that WORKS

This may be getting close to TMI for you, Dear Reader, but I just have to share this great personal find.  I've been wanting to avoid standard antiperspirants for years now, for all those bad juju reasons we've all heard about -- and because rolling aluminum bits into my body on a daily basis just seems stupid, quite frankly.  (For what that does, read the postscript.)

However, this posed a big, big problem because while I can deal with the transition from anti-perspirant to deodorant okay, I just did not want to ... well ... stink.  There I said it: stink.  Smell.  Clear a room smell-bad.  This is a big deal for me, and I bet it's a big deal for you.  Sweat is one thing.  Stink is another.

So, imagine how thrilled I was after all this trial and error to find Tom's of Maine's 24 Hour Crystal Confidence Roll On Deodorant.  I like the Citrus Zest version, because the scent is so nice.  I also like that it works. 

Not to say that other natural deodorants didn't work -- they just didn't work for me after around 3 -4 hours.  Working from home, this is easier to accommodate than my past life in the Office.  I had gotten into the habit of using some of the other versions periodically during the day, because forewarned was forearmed.  Better to be a little nuts and add a little more here and there, than have a Deodorant Failure.  Funk is bad. 

No need with Tom's of Maine's 24 Hour Crystal Confidence.  Now, it doesn't last me for 24 hours.  But it'll go a good 12 or more.  And that, to me, is just fine.

Try it -- see what you think. 

PS - Potassium alum vs aluminum in anti-perspirants

Tom's of Maine Crystal Confidence does contain potassium alum, but this is different from commercial antiperspirant's aluminum component.  Potassium alum has a different chemical composition; you can buy it in solid, crystal form as Thai Sticks if you prefer that to Tom's version, and from what I've read, it's not absorbed into the skin.  It's too big, cellwise. 

Potassium alum lies on your skin and kills baceria; in the commercial anti-perspirants, some form of aluminum ( aluminum chloride; aluminum zirconium tricholorohydrex glycine; aluminum chlorohydrate; aluminum hydroxybromide; aluminum hydroxide) actually goes into your body to chemically block the sweat glands from releasing their liquid.  Apparently, the sweat glands just swell up with sweat that's not allowed to escape naturally.  Ewww. 

September 23, 2010

FDA Warning Letter to Lipton's: Green Tea is a Drug and Lipton's is in Violation of Federal Law. Wow.

I buy Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated - I bet you do, too. It's the little yellow and green box, and sometimes the price is right. Who knew I was buying a drug from a criminal?

However, that's apparently the case, because in August 2010, the FDA sent an official warning letter to Unilever, Inc., the company that provides us all with Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated - and the letter's online for us all to read at the FDA website.

Here's some juicy tidbits for you:

"Based on our review, we have concluded that this product is in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) ...

"Your website, also promotes your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product for conditions that cause it to be a drug under section 201(g)(1)(B) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B)].

"For example, your webpage entitled "Tea and Health," subtitled "Heart Health Research" and further subtitled "Cholesterol Research" bears the following claim: "[F]our recent studies in people at risk for coronary disease have shown a significant cholesterol lowering effect from tea or tea flavonoids ... One of these studies, on post-menopausal women, found that total cholesterol was lowered by 8% after drinking 8 cups of green tea daily for 12 weeks ...."

"The therapeutic claims on your website establish that the product is a drug because it is intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. Your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product is not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses and, therefore, the product is a "new drug" under section 201(p) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(p)]. New drugs may not be legally marketed in the U.S. without prior approval from FDA as described in section 505(a) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 355(a)]. FDA approves a new drug on the basis of scientific data submitted by a drug sponsor to demonstrate that the drug is safe and effective.

"Your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product is offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use this drug safely for its intended purposes. Thus, your Lipton Green Tea 100% Natural Naturally Decaffeinated product is misbranded under section 502(f)(1) of the Act in that the labeling for this drug fails to bear adequate directions for use [21 U.S.C. § 352(f)(1)] ."

I could add more, but you're more than able to go read the whole thing for yourself.

As for me, Lipton's Decaf Green Tea may not be my preferred brand, but you can bet I'm gonna be buying an extra box or two -- just because this FDA action makes me mad.

September 21, 2010

Hoarding: a Lifestyle in Opposition to Simple Living

I admit it, I do catch the occaional episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive on TLC TV.  I couldn't tell you when it airs, but I can tell you that everytime I watch the show, it makes me get up and dust or vacuum or do a load of laundry.  Something.  Maybe part of this is because (personal revelation, dear reader!) my mother, looking back, was obviously a hoarder.  So was my first husband's mother.  Wow, there's some food for thought.

Me?  I don't hoard.  Maybe living this lifestyle of voluntary simplicity in some way is reacting to that background - that's sounding plausible.  All I know is that organizing and simplifying seems smart and wise and it's a peaceful, joyful life.

Hoarding - The Reasons for It

As a result of the show, and as I pondered this personal connection with hoarders, I did go surfing around investigating hoarding.  I learned hoarding is a compulsion, with both psychological and physical components.  I learned that lots of professionals discuss anger and anxiety as emotions felt by haorders when faced with the idea of throwing anything away.

I'm not arguing with any of that -- from my experience, this all sounds true.  However, from my experience, there's something that isn't being discussed here.  From what I know of hoarding, it's a twisted way of dealing with a major loss.  It's a grief thing.  It's got a depression component and a thread of denial runs through it, but at its core - its a strange way of fighting against loss. 

Why share this with you, Dear Reader?  Because There's Simplifying Lesson Here for Us All

In the process of simplifying your life - be it downsizing, going green, living frugally or living slowly or moving to a one-income household, or expatriating - and there are lots of varieties of simple living, some of those hoarder reactions seem familiar.

There's the stuff.  Stuff you don't want to get rid of, even if you don't need it and will never use it.  There are all those boxes of memories - the kid's school papers, your old college textbooks - that need to be culled. 

Letting go of stuff is hard.  It involves loss.  Simplifying is hard.  There's an emotional component to the process.  It's worth it, but in no way is it easy.  Simplifying your life may not be simple at all. 

God bless you, Dear Reader.

Doctor Mark Hyman Decries Conventional Medicine in HuffPo: The Rising Awareness of Lifestyle Medicine

Dr. Mark Hyman (M.D.) practices medicine and writes bestselling books (he's made the New York Times Bestsellers list four times so far). Dr. Hyman also founded The Ultra Wellness Center, and is considered to be a world-wide leader in "functional medicine" - so when he writes an article for the Huffington Post (the top blog in the country per Technorati), people pay attention. 

The article is entitled, "Millions Die Due to Withheld Medical Treatment" and if you can't read it at the link (it will be archived at some point), feel free to check Dr. Hyman's website or contact me -- I've saved a copy in OneNote because I don't want to lose it.)

Practicing Physician Claims Conventional Medicine Corrupted by Greed

You should, too.  Why?  Because Dr. Hyman is standing up against a huge contingent of his peers when he writes that conventional medicine today is corrupt: that by its co-dependence upon the big pharmaceutical companies, the true cures for such major diseases as diabetes and heart disease lies in lifestyle medicine

What is Lifestyle Medicine?

Since lifestyle medicine isn't as profitable as conventional methods, it's being ignored according to Dr. Hyman and the result is akin to the Tuskegee Experiments of the 1920s (and if you don't know about this  horror, it's worth your time to stop and read what Dr. Hyman's written - just to learn about this).  

Dr. Hyman's providing lots of information on the web to help people - his website is great, so is the UltraWellness Center.  For example, check out his free series of articles online, "7 Keys to Ultrawellness."  Great stuff in here. 

Lifestyle Medicine Incorporates Simple Living.  Wow. 

Dr. Hyman promotes many of the things that simplifiers value.  Things like eating whole, fresh, organic foods.  Foods that you cook yourself in ovens and on stovetops.  Avoiding bad stuff like high fructose corn syrup and mercury.  Exercising.  Getting enough rest.  Avoiding stress.  Drinking lots of good water.  Taking vitamins. Taking herbs, too. Understanding detoxification. (Did you know that internalized stress can make you fat? Wow.) 

Want to Learn More About Lifestyle Medicine?

To learn more, check out his personal site or Dr. Hyman's UltraWellness website (where he offers a free ebook and lotsa free videos), follow him on Twitter (, or surf around for "lifestyle medicine" where you'll find good sites to learn from, including: 

American College of Lifestyle Medicine
Harvard Medical School's Lifestyle Medicine Institute
The Institute of Lifestyle Medicine

September 20, 2010

The Changing Value of a Dollar: What a 2010 Dollar Converts to in Past Years

Okay, I was watching a rerun of the Andy Griffith Show this week, and it was the episode where Helen Crump gets a children's book published - and Andy worries about being put on the back burner what with Helen becoming a rich and famous author.  Of course it works out, Andy apologizes in the end - but not before there's some tension between him and the nice schoolteacher.  (To watch Helen the Authoress, episode 213, go here.)

What is a 1967 Dollar Worth in 2010?

Here's the thing: as I was watching the show, I got curious about the $1000 advance that Helen received for the book -- all of Mayberry was very, very impressed.  Now, today, that's not that much money.  Not that any of us would turn it aside, but it's not the stuff of "rich and famous," right?

So, I went and checked on the web and found this Inflation Converter at  According to their site, Helen's retainer amounts to around $6500 today.  That's nicer, but still not the big fat number that the Mayberry awe was suggesting to me. 

Still, it's interesting to ponder how a dollar has changed so much in so little time, right? 

September 19, 2010

Bless the Animals Day is Here

For Catholics, St. Francis of Assisi is remembered each year in October, and as part of that remembrance, there is a traditional blessing of the animals.  However, over the years the idea of having one's animals, especially beloved pets, blessed has spread across the world, and across the denominations. 

October 4th is Feast Day for St. Francis of Assisi

The Catholic blessing of the animals occurs on the feast day for St. Francis, and is accompanied by this blessing by the priest:

“Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”
October 2 - 3 Other Blessings of the Animals Will Take Place

Non-Catholic events that provide a blessing of the animals - particularly pets - will be happening across the globe over this weekend.  For example, yesterday in Long Beach, California, there was the 9th Annual Interfaith Blessing of the Animals.  Another was held here in San Antonio, at a local United Methodist Church -- and because we like to be different, this year the 25th Annual Blessing of the Animals and Pets will occur in Market Square on December 11, 2010. 

Prayer Available for Animals Anytime at God, Bless the Animals Site

Of course, you can pray for your pets anytime, anywhere.  However, there's also a site with written prayers and the opportunity to send it prayer requests as well as ask for emergency prayers at the internet prayer ministry, God, Bless the Animals.

September 18, 2010

Getting Rid of Online Advertising 1 - Opt Out at the Network

Network Advertising Initiative is an organization devoted to finding answers to the growing problem of spam, spyware, and other evil things used to monitor your web use for marketing purposes.

Yep, there are "advertising networks" out there keeping track of where you surf through small programs (e.g., cookies) silently placed upon your computer. No one asks your permission, they ride along the internet and grab hold unless you've blocked them somehow. These networks use the data sent by the software to their main hub to compile your preferences. All for the purpose of gearing advertising especially for you, lucky you.

That's why when you surf for netbooks, you suddenly get ads for netbooks showing up on the magazine sites you visit for example. Targeted online advertising.

There's no single magic button to stop this Big Brother type of tactic. However, there are ways to minimize it, and one of them is to Opt Out at the network site.

For example, you can Opt-Out at the NetworkAdvertising site fast and easy. Just follow the steps.

Does it mean that they'll never put a cookie back on your machine? Nope. However, with some other tools that I've already implemented, I'm happy to report that I only had one cookie from this network on my machine - made me all Security Proud.

More on that later.

September 1, 2010

FOXBusiness Offers 7 Steps to a Single Income Family: Is Downsizing Becoming Acceptable?

Today, FoxBusiness has a great article entitled, "7 Steps to Becoming a One-Income Family" that really does give substantive help in moving from a two-income household to a one-income family.

What I like best is the end of the article, where the expert points out that American society predominates with instant gratification and a pressure to spend - but that the ability to simplify things is doable, and he appears to say there is power in it.

Which those of us who have been simplifying voluntarily for years know - and have been sharing with anyone who cares to listen, for years now.

Power. And freedom.

Maybe if the main stream media is writing articles like this, frugal living and voluntary simplicity won't suffer such a stigma in the future. Downsizing is cool now? Wow. That's great.
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