Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Growing younger day by day

Went to see Benjamin Button yesterday. First of all let me say the only things the movie has in common with the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the name of the main character and the concept of being born old and growing younger each year.

I'm not going to give away any of the plot. I will say that the cinematography is breathtaking. It's a period piece beginning in 1918 when Benjamin is born and ending sometime in the 2000's.

Brad Pitt is great and I don't particularity care for him as an actor. He made me believe he was a little old man who happened to be only five or six years old. He grows younger gracefully. The surrounding cast are believable and help the story develop. Except for one segment of about 10 to 15 minutes midway through the film, but I'll let you figure that one out for yourself.

The downside is that the movie is way too long at nearly 3 hours. It should have and could have been edited down to no more than 2 1/2 hours.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Perfumes and Scents at home

It's difficult to recreate some of the modern perfumes because they use artificially created scents, bases and stabilizers as ingredients but you can make a variety of eau de colognes, or light perfumes with "raw" ingredients. Use scented flowers, herbs, and citrus peels. You can have beautiful roses in your garden, or receive them as a gift, but if they have little to no scent they won't make perfume.

If you don't have time to make perfume but still want your home deliciously scented use reed diffusers and essential oils. Reed diffusers have about 20 hollow straw like spaces which draw up the scented diffuser oil and then diffuse it into the air.

Any flower that is scented can be used, don't be limited by these suggestions.





Four O'clock


Orange or other citrus blossoms



Lemon Balm

Citrus leaves


Citrus peels, colored part only, leave the white pith

Combine one cup of the petals of your favorite flower, leaves from the herb, or combination of both in a glass jar. Pour in ¼ cup of vodka, the higher proof the better. Shake. Push the petals gently so they're covered by the vodka. Cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap. Put in a cool dark place for 24 hours. Strain the petals out of the vodka. Save the vodka. Put fresh petals in the jar and cover with the saved vodka, add enough to cover the fresh petals. Put in a cool dark place for 24 hours. At this point the vodka should have the scent of your flowers. You can repeat the process a few more times to increase the strength of the scent.

Experiment with different combinations of scents. Keep the perfume in the smallest bottle possible. You can find apothecary type brown bottles at craft stores and health food stores.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

What a mess Mexican Food makes

I love to cook and I love to eat. I'm fussy about Mexican food because restaurants tend to glop everything with melted gooey cheese and I'm not particularly fond of cheese. So why not make it myself I thought?

Do you have any idea what a huge mess in the kitchen that leaves? I had masa harina, that's treated corn flour, all over everything. Shouldn't be too hard to tackle tamales right? Tamales are divine little bundles of tender cornflour breading enfolding morsels of meat, onions, garlic, chilies, and oddly enough olives.

So I whipped up the cornflour breading, literally whipped it, because you have to beat lard, that's rendered beef fat, until it's light and fluffy and then beat in the masa harina. That mixture is spread on a wet corn husk. The filling is placed in a line down the center of the mixture and the corn husk folded over the cornmeal breading. The tamales are then steamed for an hour.

Okay in my case it was two hours and they still weren't done. Nasty, greasy, little bundles of watered down meat filling. Oh well.

Had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner instead.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

The biggest jewelry purchase of your life

Will probably be your engagement and diamond wedding rings so make sure you know you're getting what you've paid for. Diamonds are valued on the four C's: carat, color, clarity, and cut.

Carat refers to the weight of the diamond not how big it looks. Differently shaped diamonds can look larger or smaller than other diamonds of the same weight. Carat weights should be exact. A diamond that weights .999 carats will have a proportionally lesser value than a diamond that is 1.111 carats because diamonds over 1 carat are valued at a higher value per carat then diamonds under 1 carat. For example: A 3 carat diamond may valued at 6 times the value of a one carat diamond other things equal.

Color in diamonds means the closer to pure blue white the more expensive the diamond. As the diamond proceeds to a more yellowish cast the less valuable it is. The perceived color can be influenced by the light it's viewed under and the background, as well as the color of its setting.

Clarity refers to the inclusion of any flaws that can be seen under a 10X magnification, what type of flaw and where it's located.

Cut means how the diamond is faceted not the shape the diamond takes.

Know the 4 C's of value diamond valuation and you'll receive full value for your engagement and diamond wedding rings.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Spa Experience at Home

You can create a lovely spa experience in your very own home. Spa treatments are great for your ego, your body, and your frame of mind but a little pricey for your purse. One of the easiest ways to reproduce that spa feeling is through lighting and scents. Most spas have subdued lighting in the relaxation and bathing areas. And a brighter light for the technician in the treatment areas. Cleanliness of the facility is crucial but that shouldn't be a problem in your own home.

Put together a collection of candles in colors that compliment your bathroom's décor. Fill the tub with warm water and sprinkle in a few drops of essential oil. Essential oils can be found in health food stores, on the Internet, and in some drug stores.

If you want to relax and de-stress use lavender oil. Basil relieves stress and helps lift depression. If a boost in energy is the result you'd like, try mint, rosemary or sage. Feel free to mix oils just keep them in the same family. Add a few springs of the herb itself if you happen to have some handy. Don't use dried herbs without some sort of wrapping or container, they make a bit of a mess in the bathtub.

Light the candles and step into your scented tub. After a 15 minute soak, pat yourself dry and you’re ready for the evening.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Decorating for Fall is Fabulous

I'm one of those people who love to change things around for the different seasons. Not just in my wardrobe but in the garden and in the house.

Halloween may not be a fantabulous decorating scheme. I mean black and orange is a difficult color scheme to work with at best. And it's not something I would like for the entire house. But it's fun to take one area and change it to a Halloween theme.

I have neutral furniture and walls, taupe, beige, and black. Sounds boring I know. Without the accessories it is pretty bland. But that's the key, the accessories. I switched out the blue and aqua pillows from summer and substituted in black ones. I already had coral colored pillows and a throw. I removed the shells and fish and added in pumpkins, cute little witches, some fall colored flowers and filled the glass jars with black and orange jelly beans, candy corn, and hard candies.

And there you go: Halloween.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

From 97 to 47 degrees

In less than a week, but that's Arizona for you. Seriously a week ago the high was 97 degrees and last night the low was 47 degrees with a high around 70. It will probably get back up to the 90's before October is finished but the cool break was appreciated.


Monday, September 8, 2008

Fall Fashions in 107 degrees

I was leafing through the latest issue of Instyle Magazine for the fall fashions. The good news is color. Lots of color. Rich russets, glowing gold, burnished browns instead of black, charcoal and that green that hasn't decided whether it's really grey, beige or green.

The bad news is that fall fashion means heavy fabrics and while the rest of the country is looking forward to crisp autumn mornings it's still reaches over 100 degrees as the high in September in the Southwest Desert. And the upper 90's is not unusual for October.

Fall fashions aren't wearable here until late November at the earliest and then it seems we should be moving on to winter fashions.

One compromise is to take the colors of fall but not the fabrics. Take the idea of layers but use lightweight cottons, short sleeves, and vests rather than heavy sweaters and long sleeves.


Monday, September 1, 2008

NOT one of my favorite things

Housecleaning. It is such a pointless waste of time because it never stays done. You dust and a week later you have to dust again. You make the bed in the morning just to unmake it at night. You wipe out the sink and counters after breakfast and then have to do it all over again after dinner.

Now I like a clean house as much as the next person I just don't like cleaning the house. I don't think anybody really does. Except of course the women on the cleaning product commercials on TV. You would think, given the look of absolute adoration on their face, that they would prefer scrubbing the bathroom shower to a day at the spa. And does anybody wash their kitchen floor in a dress and high heels? Is that a mop she's pushing around or is she practicing to be on Dancing with the Stars?

There is one cleaning tool I can't imagine being without and that's my Bagless vacuum cleaner
It gets up the puppy fur, removes dust from the drapes, dirt from the floors, and gets the yucky stuff up and out of the carpet. What did people do before the vacuum cleaner?


Monday, August 25, 2008

And now for your entertainment pleasure: the Democratic Convention!!!

Talk about boring. Political conventions have to top the list. Listening to the blower goers congratulate each other and rip the opposition is not my idea of a fun evening. And I wish somebody would come up with another finale than the balloons dropping from the ceiling. Maybe they could use bird poop.

So it's another TV wasteland. Okay more of a TV wasteland than usual. Looks like I'll be spending some time at blockbuster. Or maybe not. Maybe I should consider joining one of the online programs that lets you pick out the movie you want and then postal mails it to you in a couple of business days. That saves time because I don't have to drive to the store and money because I don't spend money on gas - these days at $4.00 per gallon every mile you don't drive adds up.

Andrew's review has a comparison of the blockbuster and netflix programs. I had no idea that netflix has nearly double the distribution centers than blockbuster. They don't charge a late fee either.

The downside is that I have to plan ahead. I can't decide this afternoon that there's nothing I want to watch this evening so I'll rent a movie. The other factor is that while I may be in the mood to watch a romantic comedy when I order the movie online, when I receive the movie I might prefer to watch a drama.

Well pretty much anything is better than watching a political convention.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Design on a Dime (or a Dollar)

I love those design shows on TV. One room at a Time, Design on a Dime, Extreme Makeover, Designed to Sell were fun to watch and you could pick up some snazzy ideas for cheap room decor. On occasion there would be an episode where you know they didn't stay within their budget. I'm thinking of a Designed to Sell show where they renovated two bathrooms with new vanities, sinks, shower doors and travertine tile flooring for $2000. That's not $2000 each but both. That was completely unrealistic. Now I know that there are no labor costs in the $2000, but we recently redid our bathrooms and the tile alone was close to $2000 with no installation.

Home furniture can be expensive think Ethan Allan, or budget priced when ordered from assemble-it-yourself catalogs. That never worked for me. I have a mind that puts things together backwards. I tried putting up shelves in the garage and had to nail them to the wall because they kept listing dangerously to the left. What I especially like from the design shows are the alternative ways to use furniture you wouldn't ordinarily think of. For example using banquet chairs in a formal dining room. The trick is to cover the banquet chairs with slipcovers. Another example is using a bench meant for the garden in the entry way.

I'm not a big fan of the cozy chic peeling paint look. I don't want to have to worry about getting splinters when I sit down, so I don't shop garage sales.

I'm also not much of a sewer, I don't have a sewing machine. I have learned that you can make your own window treatments by using printed king size sheets. They already have a pocket for the rod. No sewing required. And if you get tired of the look it's quick, easy, and cheap to change it.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Let's get cooking

Usually I'm not terribly interested in the Olympics but this year my significant other and writing partner and I decided to do something different. We're cooking our way through the games. We both love to cook (and eat - which is why occasionally you will see posts about weight loss on this blog).

Our first dinner was on the opening night. I picked China. Now for Chinese cooking one does a lot of chopping and for that I've found sharp knives are best, Shun knives do a great job of shredding and chopping; mincing and dicing. No wonder the Chinese gymnasts and divers are all so thin, that preparation for stir frying takes forever.

I do have to wonder if their competitors meet the legal age limit of 15. Have you really looked at the girls? They don't look like they've hit puberty yet.

Back to cooking. For his dinner on Saturday he picked Argentina, probably because Argentina cuisine is heavy on meat and he does like meat. He prepared a terrific stuffed roast. For Christmas I think I'm asking Santa for All Clad cookware because while the roast was delicious the roasting pan was a disaster. As in have-to-throw-it-out-I'll-never-get-it-clean disaster.

The sacrifices we make for good food.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

And once more the pundits are wrong

There was an interesting article in one of the business magazines I read. A woman with a start up gaming company was out beating the bushes for venture capital. Now gaming is a popular niche for investors. Think of the billions of dollars spent on Wii, or Xbox for example. Her search for investors should have been a slam dunk. But no.

It seems her gaming company was directed at girl's games. And the VCs had decided that games for girls don't sell well. Gaming is more for boys because of the violence, fighting, and chasing that most games include.

The venture capitalists were wrong. The best selling game of the year, that year, was "Nancy Drew." It turns out girls do play games but hey like the treasure hunting, puzzle, mystery solving types of games.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Fairy Princess Dresses

I had an interesting childhood to say the least. I grew up in Washington D.C. and spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill, yes the nation's capitol. My parents were involved in the D.C. social scene and in the theater, so they went out a lot. Which meant my mother had quite a closet full of cocktail dresses, hats, shoes, and jewelry.

One of my favorite memories is playing dress up games in her clothes. I mostly did that when she wasn't home, which was a lot. Not that she didn't take care of me, she did, but I was old enough to look after my two little sisters when they went out.

I especially remember a beautiful copper colored iridescent cocktail dress with a sweetheart neckline and full skirt. I felt like a fairy princess in that dress. The fashion at the time was tiny waists and full skirts. So just about any dress was fit for a princess. Think Grace Kelly and you'll get he picture.

Now, well, not so much. It's more of a how-much-skin-can-you-show-and-get-away-with game.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Playing dress up

Anybody remember the series Sex and the City? Of course you do. For one thing it was just released as a movie over Memorial Day Weekend. No, I didn't go see it. My significant other didn't like the TV program so I can't imagine him sitting through the movie.

One thing about Carrie, she had a fashion sense but some of those outfits made me feel she was playing Dress Up Games. Where you go into your big sister's closet, not that I had a big sister because I was the big sister, and put together outfits. The feather boa with the short shorts and high heels. That sort of stuff.

Her ballerina outfit during the opening credits was classic Carrie. I have a subscription to InStyle, although I have to admit I'm more of an OutOfStyle type of girl. Did you know that many of the "stars" have stylists? I know they do for major events but I had no idea that they relied on stylists for everyday wear.


The postman only rings twice

Of course these days he or she doesn't ring at all but leaves the mail in the box down at the corner.

Oh well that's progress I suppose. And progress also means it time for me to look at new cell phones and programs. Is anybody else as confused as I am? Please tell me why I would want to look at a website on a screen that's less than two inches square when I have a flat monitor 17 inch screen upstairs? And then there's email. I have to scroll so far over that I lose track of the sentence before I get to the period. It's difficult to compose email using the phone's touch pad which is completely unlike a computer keyboard.

One thing I do like is that I can have a different ring for my phone so I know it's mine. It's kind of embarrassing to be standing in line at the grocery store and a phone starts ringing. Is it mine? Is it the guy behind me? Is it the manager? Hard to tell when they all sound alike.

So I'm off to Download Free Ringtones and solve that problem. I've always liked Batman maybe I'll get The Dark Knight ringtones. Of course I still have to figure out what kind of new cell phone to get. Definitely not a blackberry or chocolate. I have enough trouble staying away from sweets.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Time Flies

Some days there aren't enough minutes in the hour and hours in the day to accomplish everything I set out to do. I rise early enough, my two dogs make sure of that. When the sun comes up they're ready for the day to begin and that means no sleeping in for me.

We take our walk, I shower and dress, we have breakfast, I sit down at the computer and suddenly it's 1 o'clock in the afternoon.

Mondays seem to be the worse. There is a ton of email from over the weekend. I've been trying to take weekends off from work, trying is the keyword there, so it builds up.

I've taken courses in time management and their suggestions don't make a lot of sense. I can't delegate, we have a small company. Unless one of the dogs learns how to blog (oh wait they do blog there isn't any one to delegate to.

Maybe I just need to get a new watch. If I kept track of the time rather than just using the clock on the computer perhaps I'd put my time to better use.

I like a bargain and I like Movado Watches so maybe I should put the two together and look at Discount Movado Watches. I do have a birthday coming up. Perhaps one with diamonds?


Friday, August 15, 2008

Cleopatra's Milk Bath

So make like an Egyptian.

Any spa experience isn't complete without a luxurious bath. A soothing soak in the tub can calm nerves and relax the muscles or serve as a wake up call and get the energy flowing. Baths come in many varieties.

Legend has it that Cleopatra bathed in ass's milk so her skin remained incredibly smooth and soft. I haven't seen any asses around lately, the four footed hoofed kind that is so here's an alternative recipe. You will need several springs of fresh rosemary, thyme and mint. You can use dried herbs if fresh aren't available. Use at least two tablespoons of each of the dried herbs. Combine with the peel of one orange and one lemon. Add these ingredients to 2 cups of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid.

Add the herb citrus mixture to the bath water and at least one cup of dry powdered milk as the tub is filling. You can use up to four cups of powdered milk. Fill the bathtub with warm, but not hot water. Soak in the tub for at least 15 minutes up to 30 minutes. Rinse off with cool water.

Wrap yourself in a fluffy bath towel and pat dry. While your skin is still moist and warm from the bath water apply a rich moisturizer.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Silly but fun

I was at a friend's house and her little girl was staring at the computer screen intent on the images before her, concentrating fiercely and quiet. Let me tell you that child is never quiet. Curious as to what was keeping her enthralled I went over.

She was engrossed in food games. What might you ask are online food games? Well she found a site that gave her a selection of games. One of the most elementary, and the one I started out on, was simply looking at a 6 item shopping list and then picking those items off the virtual grocery store shelves and dragging them to my shopping cart. Sounds simple. You control the speed of the cart by how fast you move your mouse. You can go faster if you don't have to look at the list to remember the items. It also helps to know that produce is way past the clothing aisles so you can buzz past them.

The first two times I played I didn't even finish the list before time ran out. She beat me 3 out of 5 times. Well she did have the advantage of experience.

The games seem simple but they're educational as well. They improve memory, hand eye co-ordination, and reading. Although younger children could play because the audio is supportive and the shopping list is in images as well.

Next time I'm bored I'm going back. I just need a little practice to beat her.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From Fishing Village to Holiday Hideaway

That's Yarmouth in the UK. It began life as a commercial fishing village netting Herring. As the fish population declined the holiday vacationers increased. And with good reason. Hemsby Yarmouth Holidays' offers weary travelers 15 miles of sandy golden beaches, clean, cold, clear, ocean water, restaurants and a broad variety of places to stay.

Love shopping? Then the shops within ocean view should be appealing. Restaurants offer varied menus and prices for those looking for a long romantic dinner or a quick bite between dips in the ocean.

Did you know that David Copperfield by Charles Dickens is based in Yarmouth? Or that the beloved childrens' tale, Black Beauty, was written by a Yarmouth Native, Anne Sewell.

Greater Yarmouth literally has something for every vacationer. There are festivals throughout the summer from the National Beach Volley Ball Championships to the Greater Yarmouth Festival of Bowls. And let's not forget the Great Yarmouth Maritime Festival in early September.

Children will be entertained by the amusement park, of course the beach, donkey rides, crazy golf and the circus.

Adults will love the cruising on the Southern Belle Passenger Steamer, the night life, and just soaking up the sun on the pristine beaches. Every Wednesday during the summer brings a free fabulous fireworks display.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Desert Wasteland of Television

You would think that with cable TV and the literally hundreds of channels that the challenge would be winnowing down to the programs you have time to watch, but alas that's just not so, especially during summer time.

The Olympics are one option but there's only so much thrill to seeing the American Women's Gymnastics team doing double buttskies (that's landing on their butt to the uninformed) and losing out to a Chinese team that looks like it's made up of ten years who haven't hit puberty yet. I mean come on, no hips, no curves, no bust line. That must make it easier on the uneven parallel bars, nothing to get in the way if you know what I mean.

Summer might be the time to catch up on watching the shows you missed. Free Tv Shows online make it possible to see episodes you couldn't watch - not everybody has Tivo- or shows you may have been curious about.

For example I'm intrigued by House M.D. I love the attitude and personalities. Dr. Gregory House, the character the show is named after, may not have much of a bedside manner, okay no bedside manner, but he's the Doc, I'd want if I had a mysterious disease. The guy stops at nothing to diagnose his patients. Gotta love him Unfortunately my significant other doesn't like medical shows, or cop shows, for that matter so I don't get to watch very often.

That's not going to stop me. This summer I'm going to watch House M.D online during my lunch break.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Put a little fun in your life

In my business life I deal with lots of entrepreneurs who take their projects very seriously, as well they should. But sometimes you have to take a break from the grunt work and have a little fun. I love reading and, what I call popcorn movies. Those movies that don't try to lecture you, enlighten you, or make you feel guilty. In other words, for the most part, they're not Indy movies or Oscar winners. What they are is fun.

Movies like "Indiana Jones," "Men in Black," "Under the Tucsun Sun," Enchanted," and most westerns.

Another way to take a quick break from drudgery is to find Free Online Games a few minutes spent playing can be refreshing. Some of these games can be addictive so monitor yourself, don't let a few minutes turn into a few hours.

You've heard it before but exercise can be uplifting. You don't have to change into sweats or a tank top and shorts. Get up, walk around the room, go down and up a flight of stairs, do some deep knee bends. Movement gets your blood flowing faster and that means not only will you get a boost of energy, you'll think more clearly.

What you don't want to do is get a hit of caffeine or sugar. it will give you boost but you'll crash about an hour later. Those energy drinks have the same effect, at least on me.

You'll have a better day if you have some fun.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Best photo forward

Have you ever wondered how celebrities look in real life? Do they have bad hair days? Personally I don't have bad hair days, or good hair days, I have hair and it does what it wants to, when it wants to. No sense fighting it. But I digress.

If you met a movie star or pop culture icon in the supermarket would you even recognize them? You've probably seen the tabloids where the headlines scream PLASTIC SURGERY GONE SOUTH and show you photos of Ms Glitz and how her smile is stretched so tight you could bounce a quarter off it. Compare that with the Celebrity Photos in the latest four color glossy fashion magazine and she looks fabulous.

I've been fortunate to meet a few actresses, models, dancers in my life and the truth is somewhere in between. When they're just being regular people they pretty much look like regular people. Okay maybe really good looking regular people, but not drop-dead-gorgeous-oh- my-gawd-he-can't-be-that-handsome people. Except for George Clooney. I met him years ago before he was an established actor and he was unbelievably handsome. Sigh.

The difference between you and I and the stars, is that they are paid to look great, we're not. They also have a stable of professionals to help them dress, make up, do their hair, even style them. We just have "What not to wear."


Thursday, August 7, 2008

As expected Joshua won

The last show of So You Think You Can Dance is usually a lot of fun because they bring in the favorite dances of each judge and you can see the top 20 dance all over again.

Joshua did win. I personally don't think he is the best dancer, that would have been Will, who didn't even make the final four, but Joshua has an endearing quality about him. Make no mistake he can dance as well.

Dieting for Dummies

Dieting for Dummies, Walk off the Weight, Cram down the Calories, all sound like book titles don't they? Well I think the first one actually is. We have been told often enough not to judge a book by its cover, although that's exactly what potential readers do. They look at the title first, then if the cover is attractive, they pick it up and turn it over and read the back blurb.

Why does the publishing industry think we need these in your face titles? If I want to lose weight I don't necessarily want to move to South Beach to do it, or go into the Zone, or well, ... you get my point. And while Oprah can afford both a personal trainer and a personal chef, me and about a bazillion others can't. Oprah also has the incentive to avoid gaining weight in front of her huge audience. And lots of support when she admits failure - yet once again- and goes on another weight loss program.

I have to admit that the Idiot proof diet review does have some merit. It's seems simple. The diet uses proven weight loss methods and then generates an 11 day diet menu for you. The program is online and has lots of support groups and forums. So maybe Idiot proof is a good term for that diet.

so You think you can dance?

Okay I admit it I love So You Think You Can Dance. I guess it's the frustrated dancer in me. This year they decreased the number of programs about the auditions and the judges were kinder. Less in your face and more aware of the fact that anyone who auditions has to be given a certain level of credit.

The programs about cutting from 100 to 20 final dancers are interesting but there are too many dancers to have any particular one stand out.

Last night was the performance of the final four. At this point it's a popularity contest not to be judged on the quality of the dancing. One of their best dancers Will didn't even make the semi finalists.

So who do I think will win? Joshua.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Diet Downers the scale's gone up.

Part of me wishes there was a magic pill I could take and the pounds would just melt off. It's not like I have a ton of weight to lose. I don't. In fact it's only about 15 pounds and I'd be exactly where I'd want to be.

I've tried the all you can eat fruit diet and don't ever want to see another banana or blueberry. There's the cabbage soup diet, where, um, people don't want to be around you because of your unique scent, shall we say?

And while the eat grapefruit, tomatoes, olive oil and salmon at every meal sounds good, it's fishy after awhile.

Diet pills sound like a good idea. However there are so many different kinds that work in different ways it's hard to tell what's a good choice and what's not. Take Alli for instance. It blocks about 10% of the fat you ingest from being digested. That's the good news. The bad news is that you can't eat whatever you want. If you go over a certain number of grams per fat per meal there are consequences to pay. Nasty consequences.

It would be nice if someone sampled all the different diet pills and diet pill brands and gave honest diet pill reviews. It would simplify the choice for me.

Or maybe I should just give up my before bedtime cookies and milk and get a little more exercise. Mhem. Maybe that would do it.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Bolt From the Blue

Monsoon season is here, finally. This June wasn’t as hot, or as dry, as it historically has been, but still any time the temperature is over 100 degrees and the humidity less than 10%, the relief provided by summer thunderstorms is welcomed. Monsoon means much needed rain, a cooling breeze, and lightning.

At any given time there are 2000 thunderstorms in progress around the world releasing 100 lightning bolts every second. A lightning bolt unleashes 20 million volts of electricity and heats the air around it to 50 thousand degrees, that’s five times hotter than the surface temperature of the sun. Every year there are a hundred or so lightning related deaths, several hundred more people injured, and millions of dollars of property damage just in the United Stated along.

Exactly what lightning is and how it’s caused has been a mystery for thousands of years. Ben Franklin with his infamous kite was the first to prove that lightning is electrical. Of course if old Ben was so terrifically smart, why was he out in the middle of a storm holding on to a metal wire attached to a kite?

Lightning is caused by the separation of negative and positive charges in different regions of a cloud. Ice particles in the cloud grow, break apart and collide. The smaller ice particles acquire a more positive charge and the larger particles a negative charge. The smaller particles are lighter and have a tendency to be carried up into the higher regions of the cloud. The larger particles are heavier and accumulate in the lower regions of the cloud. When the electrical potential (the difference between the negative and positive charges) within the cloud and between the cloud and the ground, is great enough, the electrical resistance in the atmosphere breaks down and the flash begins. Lightning is the electrical discharge, think of it as Mother Nature restoring order.

Thunder is produced by the heating of the air along the electrical current and occurs simultaneously with the lightning flash. Sound travels much slower than light, so the farther away the lightning is, the longer the delay between the lightning flash and the thunder. You can guess roughly how far away a strike is by counting the seconds between when the flash is seen and when the thunder is heard. For every five seconds counted, the lightning is a mile away. If you see the lightning at the same time you hear the thunder, odds are: you’re toast.

Worst places in Fountain Hills to watch a thunderstorm:

Under a tree at McDowell Park

On the tenth tee at Eagle Mountain

(any tee, green, fairway or rough on any golf course, for that matter.)

In a swimming pool

Sitting on the scrap metal horse at The Fountains Park

In other words if you’re caught in a thunderstorm, stay away from tall trees. Usually lightning will hit the tallest object and if you’re standing under it, the charge can jump from the tree to you. If you’re in an open space you are the tallest object, so crouch low, lay flat on the ground, or get to your car or a building as quickly as possible. Water is a great conductor of electricity, stay away from being in the water or on it during thunderstorms. There’s a reason throwing a hair dryer into a bathtub is used in cheesy movies to murder someone. And finally don’t pull a Ben Franklin – what was he thinking – stay away from metal objects.

Monday, August 4, 2008

time to take off the weight

Have you ever noticed that you diet like crazy before summer comes so you look good in a bathing suit, shorts, and cute cropped tops, but then when you go on vacation you gain some of the weight back? Me too.

I guess it must be all the restaurant food. How can you go to the beach and not chow down on creamy clam chowder, sour dough toast, and fried fish? Not to mention desserts, which I won't.

So what's a girl to do?

I've looked at different diet pills and besides being confusing, it's difficult to tell which ones really work. First there is Alli which says it prevents fats you eat from being absorbed in your stomach and intestines. The downside is well, on their website they say wear dark clothing and bring a change of underwear.

Then there's the pills that boost your metabolism by cramming you full of caffeine, green tea and herbs. No thanks. I get jittery enough during the day without extra stimulants.

There are supplements that make you feel full because they expand in your stomach so there isn't room for food.

And finally products that work in your brain telling you you're not hungry so don't eat.

I think I'll lose these few extra pound the old fashion way. Eat less and exercise more. One of my favorite diets is simply eating fruits and vegetables, as much as you want, cooked anyway you want (no butter sorry - but you can use olive oil) all day and then a having a 4 ounce portion of skinless chicken or fish with more fruits and veggies for dinner. I do that 2 days a week, eat reasonably the rest of the week and the weight comes off.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Summer Heat

Summer is ending but my dry skin is just beginning. I love the summer, even though where I live the temperature averages over 100 degrees during the day. May and June are dry, as in desert dry. July and August are humid, perhaps only from 20% t0 30% humid but combined with 105 degrees it's uncomfortable.

Drinking water is vital for your skin survival. You have to replace all that dripping sweat somehow. Did you know that your body burns 25 calories to bring your body temperature back to normal if you quickly drink a 12 ounce glass of ice water? So there's the double benefit of weight loss and better skin.

I've found that hydrating my skin through steam and then applying a nice thick moisturizer does wonders, especially if I do this right before bed. I don't use a greasy moisturizer because that would just clog up my pores. I've been lucky I've never had acne, even when I was a teenager. It must be awful to have to try to figure out How To Get Rid Of Acne when you're a young adult. Fortunately there have been a lot of advances and research into in dealing with skin problems like acne.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Love to Travel - Hate to Fly

I love to travel but these days flying is getting to be impossible. I live within an 8 hour drive of beautiful beaches or one hour's flight time. That's in the air time. Why would anyone drive for 8 hours when it only takes an hour to fly. Well here's why.

It takes an hour to drive to the airport and of course you don't want to cut that too close so leaving an hour and half for drive time makes sense. Checking baggage and getting boarding tickets takes another 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Going through security takes an hour. fly time for an hour. Landing and collecting baggages take 30 to 45 minutes and finally driving to the final beach destination takes from 30 minutes to an hour.

So it's really comparing 8 hours driving from my doorstep to the beach to 5 hours for flying and I have a car when I get there, save on car rental and save on airfare.

No matter where you live you can holiday in a place close to you and not spend extra time or money getting there.


Friday, August 1, 2008

A sign from Heaven?

One of the most widely known symbols in the world, the Peace Sign, is now captured in diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and gold in the Peace Sign Jewelry collection from HeavenlyTreasures.com, a New Jersey based company. The collection includes Peace Sign Pendants and Peace Sign Necklaces. While the peace sign is pervasive in our culture it is not commonly known that the symbol was designed as a logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the United Kingdom in 1958. Gerald Holtom, the designer was inspired by a Goya painting. The peace sign also incorporates the semaphore N and D signals. Semaphore is a method of communicating visually over long distances with flags. The letter N (Nuclear) is represented by the flags being held downward and away from the body at a 45 degree angle, while the letter D (Disarmament) is represented by one flag being held directly over the head and one straight down. The inner symbol is then enclosed in a circle which represents completion and infinity.

"Showing faith in world peace is one reason we're excited about the Peace Sign Jewelry collection," says Rebecca Mandel, Production Designer at Heavenly Treasures. "People can demonstrate their hope for peace by wearing the peace sign jewelry. We've used rubies and sapphires, which are actually the same gemstone called corundum. Any color corundum but red is called a sapphire. Red corundum is known as a ruby. The sapphires we use are a lovely dark blue and the rubies are a deep, rich red."

Other gems used in the jewelry are diamonds, jade, and amethysts. The carat weight of the pieces vary from .13 carat to about 1.5 carats total of gemstones. The peace symbol is available in pure gold as well. The peace sign itself is about one inch in diameter for the pendants and 5/8 of an inch for the rings and earrings. The inner symbol is composed primarily of fully faceted diamonds surrounded by a circle of gemstones or additional diamonds.

The jewelry is available in both white and yellow 14 k gold. The peace sign jewelry comes in pendants, with or without a chain, rings, earrings, and even an ankle bracelet. The items are sold separately but can be bought as matched sets of ring, pendant and earrings.

"There are other symbols of peace, such as the dove and olive branch, but none translates so beautifully and simply into jewelry as the Peace symbol. Our collection is a wonderful way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the symbol's design," adds Mandel.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tired Tomatoes, Cranky Cucumbers and Balky Beans.

No, this isn’t a salad gone bad, it’s a vegetable garden in July. Fountain Hills is a terrific place for all sorts of things, but not for growing vegetables in the middle of summer. No matter how much water they receive the plants are pooped. The tomatoes won’t set when the temperature is above 100 degrees because the pollen dries out before it gets to fertilize the flower stamen. The cucumbers are in a permanent state of wilt. They might perk up around 4:00 in the morning but I am not going out there with a flashlight to find out. The green beans should be renamed the yellowish brownish beans.

The lantana looks lousy and refuses to bloom. The lawn, once a cooling emerald sea of grass, is pockmarked by brown spots where the sprinklers don’t quite reach and a permanent sludge of mud where it gets over watered to compensate for the soaring temperature.

The plants aren’t the only sufferers in the summer heat. The swimming pool, even if aerated by sprays and fountains, is bath water warm. The cement is blistering and results in an odd little dance of shuffling and hopping in at attempt to have the feet make as little contact as possible with the pool deck on the way to the water.

The car is always hot. A trip to the Post Office or grocery store, isn’t long enough for the air conditioner to get going full blast. Opening the door and climbing in is like getting into an incinerator. Not that I’ve actually had that experience but I do have an active imagination.

The dogs, Kate our Irish Setter and Rose, our Springer Spaniel, refuse to go outside, except for the necessary potty trips. Kate actually sits under the sprinkler when it’s on. And then of course runs through the decomposed granite and the mulch so when she comes back in the house, one knows where she’s been and where she’s going by the paw print trail.

Both girls love their walks in the morning, but now the paraphernalia required resembles that of going on safari. Besides the requisite plastic baggies, and hand sanitizer, and emergency treats, there is the water bottle for them which attaches to your belt and a water bottle for each of us. At the half way point of the walk Rose gulps down her water. Kate on the other hand refuses to drink, she wants the water poured on her nose. That’s what she does to stay cool, puts her entire head in her water dish with her nose under water. Sometimes she even blows bubbles.

Then we have our hats and they have their little hats. You know the doggy kind that are terry cloth lined and you wet down the lining before you put them on? I don’t know if the hats actually keep the puppies any cooler but they look just darling. We have our bandannas and they have theirs. Well they did, until Rose ate hers. I suppose the bandanna just didn’t make the right fashion statement.

That’s just how it is in Fountain Hills in July, no matter how early you get up or how late you go to bed, it’s just too hot.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Three Dynasties of China Dynasty Three

Chen’s Garden, located at 16720 E. Avenue of the Fountains, 816-8880, is family owned. The inside dining room is tiny with only about ten tables. There is additional seating in the patio area, which is misted in the summer and heated in the winter. The décor is hit and miss Chinese but who cares, the food is right on and so is the service. Chen’s, offering Hunan and Szechwan cuisine, has daily lunch and dinner specials, in addition to its full lunch combo menu and dinner entrees. The hot and sour soup is a spicy broth loaded with tiny shrimp, strips of pork, tofu, and veggies. Follow that with Kung Pao shrimp in a chili sauce with scallions and peanuts, served with steamed rice, and you have yourself a satisfying dinner. Lunch combos are $4.95, with choice of entrée, fried rice, fried wonton and egg roll. Dinner entrees are $7.95 to $8.95.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Three Dynasties of China Dynasty Two

Pei Wei Asian Diner, 14835 Shea Blvd in the Eagle Mountain Shopping Center, has 62 locations in 13 states. The concept was developed by the ever popular P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, and offers more than just Chinese food. Traditional dishes such as crispy potstickers: fried dumplings stuffed with pork, cabbage, and scallions, complimented by a soy and ginger dipping sauce, are on the menu. You can also find more unusual dishes influenced by flavors from Thai, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese cooking. Try the Pad Thai rice bowl with Thai sweet and sour sauce, tofu, bean sprouts, scallions and peanuts topped with your choice of chicken, beef pork, vegetables, or Tofu. The interior of Pei Wei is modern Asian and just a bit crowded. Diners order cafeteria style, can watch their meal being prepared in the exhibition kitchen, and then delivered to their table by the friendly wait staff. Prices range from about $6.00 to $9.00 ala carte. 837-0926. Oh, Pei Wei doesn’t offer take out but does offer take away. As in drive up and you can take away your pre-ordered selection.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Three Dynasties of China Dynasty One

Fountain Hills is fortunate to have not one Chinese restaurant but three: Chen’s Garden, Pei Wei Asian Diner, and Ha Ha China.

Remember when you were a kid and you and your family would go down to your neighborhood restaurant for sweet and sour pork, fried rice, and egg drop soup? Well, family owned Ha Ha China, located at 11849 N Saguaro Blvd, 837-8889, is the Chinese restaurant of your childhood. The dining room is good sized, décor expected oriental and the food reliable. All the old Cantonese favorites are here and taste just how you remember them. The Mongolian beef is tender with just a hint of sweetness served over a bed of stir fried scallions and rice noodles. Those noodles have been crisped in hot oil and add crunch to the dish. The rice bowls are popular at lunch. Portions are hearty. Prices range from $4.00 to $8.00. Ha Ha China is the only restaurant of the three that delivers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

23 Full Grown Elephants? That’s a Lot of Books.

News Release

(Fountain Hills, AZ – June 2, 2008) The year 2007 saw 276,649 new books released by traditional publishers in the United States, according to Bowker, a leading provider of bibliographic information. The number of new titles increased about 1% from 2006. 276,649 titles is quite a few books.

Dee Power, the co-author with Brian Hill, of "The Making of a Bestseller," puts this number into perspective. If the books were shelved side by side, spine out, one would need almost 4.5 miles of shelving. If the books were stacked one atop the other, they would reach almost ten times higher than the world’s tallest building, the Taipei 101, which measures 1,671 feet. To transport one copy of each title, the vehicle would have to be capable of hauling 103 tons or 23 full grown elephants. Laying the books down in a straight line would require a little over 30 miles of railroad tracks.

If one person spent twelve hours every day reading each and every title it would take 263 years to finish them all.

If each author received a $5000 advance, the total would be over $1.3 billion. And most interestingly of all, if one author wrote all these books, consecutively, he or she, would have had to start writing during the time of Neanderthal Man, over 130,000 years ago.

How difficult is it to get a book published by a commercial publisher? Well the odds are better gambling in Las Vegas. Power and Hill surveyed over 60 literary agents. On the average these agents agreed to accept only a little more than 2 in 1000 of the authors who contacted them.

It has been estimated that 25 million people in the United States consider themselves writers and only 5% have been published anywhere. Ready for another dose of reality? Only 1% of manuscripts submitted to publishing houses are accepted for publication.

If 99% of all manuscripts submitted are rejected, by any standard, a writer whose book has been commercially published has achieved a major milestone. However you look at it, 276,649 is a lot of new titles and a lot of happy authors.


About the Authors:

Brian Hill and Dee Power were inspired by their own publishing experiences to research and write “The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents and
Booksellers Behind Them,” Dearborn Trade. Hill and Power have also co-authored two other nonfiction books. Reach them through their website http://www.BrianHillAndDeePower.com


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Losing weight can be a challenge for anyone. As a business person your schedule is packed. You may not have the time to attend meetings, prepare special meals, or the budget to buy into one of the prepackaged meal programs.

There are a few ways to painlessly lose a pound or two a week. One is to increase your exercise, but that doesn't have to mean hours in the gym. It can be as simple as parking your car at the far end of the lot at your place of work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and going for a walk at lunch.

Drinking at least 8 glasses of water flushes toxins from your system. If those glasses are ice water so much the better. Your body will burn about 25 calories per glass of ice water to bring your body temperature back up to normal. That's 200 calories a day just for drinking ice water.

A diet program that seems attractive is the Cookie diet. No you don't have to subsist only on chocolate chip cookies. That could get tiring after awhile. The Cookie diet program
includes a medical checkup and the unique smart cookie. You eat the cookies as a replacement for breakfast and lunch and then have a low fat dinner, such as chicken and vegetables or fish and salad.

And speaking vegetables and salad, most of us don't get nearly enough in our daily diet. Instead of potatoes or rice, have another serving of vegetables. Instead of bread for a sandwich use a lettuce leaf to wrap up your sandwich filling.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Compare credit cards

Have you been receiving a number of credit card offers lately? You probably have if your credit rating is pretty reasonable. Don't just sign up for the first offer you receive. Take the time to compare credit cards.

Make sure you have enough credit but not too much. Even if the credit is unused it can count against you when you want to buy a new car, refinance your mortgage, or buy a house. The lender thinks that even if the credit isn't used now, you could use it in the future.

Don't get confused by all the bells and whistles. Credit card offers can have different late fees, interest rates, membership fees, annual fees, cash advance fees and separate cash advance interest rates and usage fees. Decide what you will be using the card for and how often, then decide which card is the best for you.

Compare apples to apples when an offer comes in. A lower rate interest or even 0% interest may sound like a great deal, just make sure that after an initial time period the interest rate won't go higher than your current card.

Credit is not the same thing as cash in the bank. Just because you have an unused credit line of several thousand dollars don't think you have to use it. Save your credit for when you need it.

Take the time to compare credit cards and you'll have a good chance of finding the one that's right for you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Keeping track of time

Does time get away from you? In the beginning of the week it seems that there will be all the time in the world to get that to-do list finished. And then Friday comes and the realization hits you that you haven't even made a dent in that list.

If you don't have enough time in your day you might consider prioritizing your tasks. The most critical tasks are at the top of the list along with those that may not be quite as important but have a non negotiable deadline. Lesser tasks are toward the middle of the list and tasks which would be nice to complete but don't have much effect if they aren't completed are at the end of the list.

At the end of the day cross off the list the tasks that have been completed. Add the new tasks and re-prioritize. That's your to-do list for the next day. Of course you could also buy clocks and just set them ahead an hour. That way when it says 5:00 PM it's really only 4:00 PM and you have an extra hour on your hands.

Another way to buy a little time is to outsource or delegate those tasks that don't require your personal attention. If you spend several hours every week housecleaning, use a service to do the cleaning for you and use the extra hours to be more productive. Or to find some leisure time.

If all else fails consider purchasing a clock from Howard Miller grandfather clocks
It won't give you any more time but at least the passing of time will be more pleasant. And who knows it might take you back to a quieter time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Drowning in Debt?

Debt can be a lifesaver in an emergency situation but many people are drowning in debt. Unfortunately some of us think that an available balance on a credit card is the same thing as cash in the bank. If there's enough credit to go on a cruise, buy those expensive shoes, or go out to an elegant restaurant,well why not, we all deserve it.

Breaking down a $6,999.99 set of new living room furniture into easy monthly payments of $249.00 makes it easier to swallow. And what about that new car you've had your eye on? Never mind the price tag of over $20,000, it's only $389.00 a month. And suddenly you're facing a credit crisis. Your paycheck will only stretch so far and those "easy" monthly payments are pushing you under water.

Don't try to ignore the problem. Recognize there is a problem and that a
debt management program may be your solution. Debt management is simply a way to take all those credit card balances, personal loans, monthly payments and refinance the total with a new loan and often lower monthly payment.

It's difficult to do this by yourself. Often your creditors won't take your efforts seriously and that's where a debt management company comes in. The company can negotiate with all your creditors develop a new loan and debt repayment schedule for you.

It's something to consider if you're drowning in debt.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A day of doom and gloom

The stunning news of Brett Favre's retirement was not what I wanted to hear. As a long time Green Bay Packer fan, Brett and the team, became one for me. Sunday in the Fall without the Packers, without Brett Favre, is going to seem surreal. I've seen Brett play in person four times, I had always hoped I'd get to see him play one more time at Lambeau.

Truth be told, I have to wonder if Ted Thompson, the general manager of the Packers, had something to do with Brett's retirement.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lose 5 Pounds Fast on Fad Diets

You've probably heard of the cabbage soup diet, or the ice cream diet, or even the raw foods diet, and wondered do they work? Can you lose weight by sticking to a fad diet even if at first you think it's silly? The answer is yes.

The most famous fad food diet is probably Dr. Atkins' low carb high protein diet. Carbohydrates, such as sugar, flour, most fruits, and quite a few vegetables are eliminated from the diet and replaced with protein, such as meat, cheese and eggs. The diet is also high in fat since it's high in red meat. The diet does work and sparked an industry revolution. Even fast food restaurants were offering low carb "bunless" hamburgers. Dieters don't become hungry because blood sugar is kept at an even keel, protein takes a while to digest, and the fat means a feeling of fullness. The challenge with any low carb diet is the restriction of many foods. Menu options are limited.

Currently popular is the raw foods diet, which as you might imagine is vegan. As much raw vegetables, fruits, seeds, and nuts, can be consumed as you like. Nothing processed or cooked is allowed. Proponents of the raw foods diet say it's eating back to nature as humans were intended. The diet works because fats, other than through vegetables such as avocadoes, or seeds and nuts are virtually eliminated.

Pick up any woman's lifestyle magazine these days and you'll probably see another fad diet. There are several reasons fad diets work, even if only in the short term. When you become aware of what you're eating the tendency is to restrict the amount as well as the kinds of foods. The tomato and cheese diet might allow all the tomatoes and cheese you can eat, but eventually, one or two tomatoes are quite enough thank you.

There is some scientific support that certain fad diets do work. For the longest time the grapefruit diet was credited for weight loss only because calories were severely limited to less than 1000 per day. It turns out however, that there is a fat burning enzyme in grapefruit that helps you lose weight faster. Scripps Clinic of San Diego put 100 obese patients on three diets: One third of the patients had a grapefruit before every meal. One third drank a glass of grapefruit juice before every meal, and one group was instructed not to eat or drink grapefruit or grapefruit juice. The two groups that consumed either the grapefruit or the juice lost more weight than the third group.

Some diets rely heavily on fruits and vegetables which are up to 90% water. Eating 1000 calories worth of apples means you have to eat at least 10 medium apples. Eating 1000 calories worth of a McDonald's Big Mac means eating lunch. The fiber in the fruits in vegetables are filling, bulky and take quite a bit of time to digest.

One interesting website that gives a personal review of the top free fad diets includes reveiws. The owner has tried just about every free fad diet and given them her personal ranking. She explains what the diet consists of, why it works, how long she stayed on the diet and how much weight she lost.

With any diet program, whether a free fad diet, or a traditional regime, check with your doctor before starting. A fad diet might be an interesting and relatively painless way to shed 5 pounds or so before a big event or swimsuit season.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Replica Handbags take the fashion world by storm

With prices skyrocketing for couture handbags clever companies have taken advantage of the market demand for these pricey accessories without sacrificing quality. And customers are buying in a frenzy. Just take a look around at any street corner in the fashion district of New York city. Vendors set up and offer knockoffs of Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and more.

The problem is that these fly by night vendors last about as long as the handbags they offer. The construction of a replica handbag is important. If the original has a cloth or silk lining the replica should too. The materials, whether leather, man made or cloth should be of high quality.

If you're looking for a replica handbag you can depend on buy from an established company.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Power of the Press

The power of the press can't be underestimated. A strong publicity program is one of the factors in a successful marketing program. Consistent, newsy and interesting press releases lets the media know about your company and can establish you as an expert in your field. That means when a reporter is working on a story that's relevant to your industry they'll call you for an interview.

How do you establish such a working relationship with the press? Make sure your press releases aren't hard sell or are written like an advertisement. You might be extremely interested in the release of your new product but is it news worthy? How will your product make the readers' of the newspaper or publication, lives easier or more productive. Think benefits to the market not attributes of your product or company.

Send press releases out on a regular schedule every 3 or 4 weeks, but keep them news worthy.

Dee Power