Saturday, April 5, 2014

Don't Wait For Rock Bottom to Cure Your Eczema or Psoriasis

I hope this gets read by everyone who is suffering from eczema or psoriasis. I truly want to help because my daughter Jordan had eczema from infancy and finally after 26 years, she is practically cured (99% clear!).

I think Jordan's story is typical, now when I look back and after researching this condition for years.  As an infant she had been treated with antibiotics just a few days after she was born.  We didn't know at the time that the antibiotics probably destroyed her healthy "gut flora" (bacteria) that aids in good digestion.  She received more antibiotics over her infant and childhood years for ear infections and no one advised us that we should've been giving her probiotics after each antibiotic treatment.  So instead of having healthy intestinal bacteria, yeast was flourishing, burrowing into her intestinal walls and making tiny holes which allowed undigested food particles and toxins into her bloodstream. This condition is known as "leaky gut".  Her immune system reacted to this "invasion" with the eczema. Other people may react with other autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc. [For more details click here for an article, or google "leaky gut".]

Over the years Jordan was treated by several medical doctors, including dermatologists and an allergy doctor.  She was prescribed steroid ointments which got stronger and stronger.  I began worrying about the side effects of steroids, plus they didn't help consistently.  We turned to natural remedies such as herbal ointments, supplements, teas, oils, rotational diets, Ayurvedic massage, etc.  Many of them helped, but nothing worked long term. Jordan tested "allergic" to certain foods: corn and chicken, for instance.  Isn't it interesting that those two are probably the most ubiquitous in the American diet?  We thought, "Hurray!  Now all she has to do is avoid those foods!"  but no, over time she tested positive for more and more foods.  I now understand why: We were not healing the root cause: the tiny holes in her intestinal walls.
I highly recommend these topicals from Champori.com

I had learned about “leaky gut” at least ten years ago, but buried my head in the sand because I dreaded the thought of putting my daughter on a strict no sugar/no starch diet.  I kept trying what seemed easier: ointments and other, mostly topical, natural remedies.  As they say, sometimes you have to hit "rock bottom" before you can be finally cured.  These remedy "patches" that we were using in the earlier years, did, after all, provide some relief and there were times that her skin was almost inexplicably clear.  Why would I want to subject her to this horrible diet? 

Then two years ago her eczema was the worst it's ever been.  Over half of her body was covered with eczema: raw red patches on her legs, arms, torso, neck, and face. It was frightening to look at. [I could probably impress you here with before and after photos, but I don't want to sensationalize her condition.]  Her naturopathic doctor suggested the GAPS diet and we tried it, along with the BED diet. Both are anti-yeast diets.  Her skin did improve, but not even close to 90% after a year on the diets.

I came across Dr. Jason Uchida's website while looking for a new doctor for my mother in Honolulu.  I watched some testimonial videos: http://www.drjasonuchida.com/video.html  and found that he, too, used an anti-yeast diet.  We went to see Dr. Uchida and he gave us the diet specifics and also 4 different supplements which are essential to killing the yeast and healing the gut, as well as aiding digestion. In just a few weeks, I could see that Jordan was healing more than she had on the GAPS and BED diets.  I suspect that the supplements had a lot to do with this in addition to the small differences in the diet.

The bottom line is you MUST heal from the inside. Steroids and ointments DO NOT heal you, they only mask the symptoms and provide temporary relief.  Jordan's condition took over 20 years to get to its worst point so we were prepared for a long recovery time.  She's now been on Dr. Uchida's regimen for almost a year and still has a small patch of rash that comes and goes.  We are both very happy to live with that since now she can eat chicken and other formerly "allergy foods" that she used to react to, as long as it's allowed on the anti-yeast diet.  Once that small patch totally disappears, she will be able to gradually add back "illegal" food items such as dairy, grains, and fruit.  By the way, as a side benefit, she lost 20 pounds!

I would strongly recommend contacting Dr. Uchida or feel free to ask me for more details because we’re so thrilled with the results from this regimen that I want to help others.  

Note:  I am not posting this as a service to Dr. Jason Uchida or Champori.com and do not benefit in any way from references.  The only benefit I'm hoping for is that of the health of others.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

What Works...and What's Funny

 
[For those of you who don't care to read about "what works", scroll down for a small dose of funny.  After all, laughing is also a therapy that's healthy and works!]

I've often touted natural remedies and supplements, but I wanted to specifically list the following as those that definitely worked for me, Jordan, and/or my husband.  Saying "I heard this is good," or "Studies show this is good," can't beat "I took/did this and it WORKED!"  If you'd like to add to the list, please use the COMMENT feature to let me know what worked for you!

Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV has dozens of health benefits and is EarthClinic.com's #1 remedy, but what I'm absolutely sure it works for is an upset stomach/diarrhea. I take about 1 Tbsp. in water and it works within a half hour. I sometimes follow it up with something anti-microbial such as Olive Leaf Extract or Grapefruit Seed Extract. Slippery Elm is also soothing for the stomach.
 

Bar of Soap for Leg Cramps

This sounds funny, but it works!  Put a bar of soap between your mattress and sheet near the foot of the bed if you have nighttime leg cramps.  If this works for you then stops working, change the bar or score it.  Check out this site for a possible explanation of why this works.  What's funny is that my mother's friends did this in their Las Vegas hotelroom and the maid kept throwing away the soap.  Can you imagine what she was thinking?  "These guests have some kind of weird soap fetish!!"

Crystal Deodorant

My husband tried multiple brands of anti-perspirants and deodorants for years. None worked 100% plus they'd leave stains on his shirts that wouldn't wash out easily. I don't recall what led him to try the crystal (rock) deodorant, but it was shockingly effective! Who knew that an unadvertised, old-fashioned seeming ROCK had so much power? No more icky yellow stains on his work shirts! It's a bit more expensive than those conventional sprays and roll-ons, but lasts for literally years, making it a win-win (effective, economical).
Note: Until recently I thought of it as a win-win-WIN because it was said to be healthier than those advertised brands (Ban, Mennen, Secret, etc.), but I found that because it contains Alum (related to the aluminum ingredient in conventional deodorants which possibly causes health issues such as Alzheimer's), it's healthy reputation is debatable. I'm now thinking of experimenting with homemade deodorants using simple baking soda and coconut oil.
 

D-Mannose Powder 


Ever since my mother had a terrible reaction to Bactrim (some of which was permanent), I avoid antibiotics as much as I can.  When my medical doctor prescribed antibiotics for a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection), I asked my naturopathic doctor for her opinion and she recommended D-mannose powder.  It worked!  D-mannose is   found in cranberries and other fruit and more effective than simply drinking cranberry juice.  It's also healthier because the fructose in cranberry juice can become a problem. I was a little nervous about not taking the antibiotics because they warn that a UTI can lead to a more serious kidney infection if not properly treated, but the D-mannose worked so quickly that I didn't have to worry for very long.  I noticed an improvement in less than a day!  In a few days symptoms were totally gone.

DMSO

Jordan sprained her ankle at the bon dance last weekend.  I took her to the doctor who wrapped it up and gave us the usual instructions, none of which helped the swelling much.  Luckily my sister phoned me and I told her about it and she reminded me about the DMSO she'd given me.  I cleaned Jordan's ankle then put some on before she went to bed.  When she got up the next morning the swelling had gone down almost to normal.  Impressive! 

Miracle II Soap and Gel 

I've been selling Miracle II products for about ten years.  I mainly sell it because I love the products and want to buy them at wholesale.  Miracle II is not a multi-level marketing product, which is great because I'm not about to earn a Cadillac off my friends and I sell the products well below suggested retail.
   
I love the Miracle II soap because it removes soil and oil so well and rinses so clean that it doesn't leave residue in the tub.  It's one of those soaps you can use for every cleaning purpose from personal care (showering, bubble baths, brushing your teeth) to cleaning your house. Diluted it will kill insects, yet animals and plants like it.  One of my customers has tried many soaps and shampoos for her dog that her vet recommended, but the only one that doesn't harm its skin is Miracle II!  Someone else told me her cats would never go into the bathroom when she was taking a bath until she started using Miracle soap. 
 
Miracle II Neutralizer Gel is a highly alkaline gel that we use with great success orally for canker sores in the mouth and on burns.  It's amazing on sunburns and my husband insists that when he puts it on before golfing he doesn't burn.   The Neutralizer also comes in a liquid which people use to alkalinize their drinking water.  I spray it into my mouth, throat, and nose whenever I feel I'm coming down with a cold and it seems to keep the cold away. 

Speaking of colds, we rarely get colds or flu, but if we do, we use Zicam, Umcka, and Grapefruit Seed Extract, along with the Neutralizer and our colds/flu are pretty mild and last only a day or two.  Since all three of us began taking 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day about 8 months ago, we haven't had colds at all, which is pretty great considering my husband works at the airport and Jordan's also among a lot of people 4-5 days a week.  Me, I'm a hermit most days so I just worry about the bugs THEY might bring home with them...and oh yeh, computer viruses.

Nutribullet

You may be tired of landing of the Nutribullet infomercial while channel surfing, but I don't mind it anymore because I bought one!  It was recommended by my friend/cousin-in-law Rose, who is a nutritionist and wellness coach.  I'd tried juicing a few years ago and after a few attempts Mr. Juiceman ended up in the closet. After buying the Nutribullet, poor Mr. Juiceman was banished to some rummage sale.  
 
We try to drink veggie/fruit smoothies at least 5 days a week and it's been fairly easy to do.  Although I can't say definitively that the smoothies are working, I'm including the Nutribullet in this list because it definitely delivers a great smoothie in a minute or two. What's most important is that it's easy to operate and EASY TO CLEAN, unlike blenders and juicers.  Every morning as I prepare our dinner salad, I stick veggies into the Nutribullet cup at the same time.  In the afternoon I add some frozen fruit, ice chips, and water.  For sweetening I use a little honey or agave syrup plus a few drops of Stevia.   I highly recommend NuNatural Stevia liquid drops because it has no bitterness or aftertaste.

 

Eczema Remedies:

Since she was an infant Jordan's eczema has steadily gotten worse until it was all over her body.  I've been immersed in researching and trying different remedies, treatments, and diets for the past 12 years.  [And you thought all I did on the computer was play Bejeweled!].  These are the treatments which were the most effective:
 

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Lotion

Not quite as effective as Champori (see below), but good and easier to obtain since it's sold at Long's and probably Walmart. We use both the Champori and Aveeno every day.
 

Ayurvedic Panchakarma Massage

One of the treatments Jordan went through in our "Quest for the Cure" was Panchakarma Massages.  It triggered her first period in her late teens, and just as Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, the Ayurvedic physician predicted, her eczema totally cleared up for a couple of months.  Unfortunately her period did not repeat and the treatments were much too expensive to continue.  It gave me new respect, however, for Ayurvedic medicine because it was the first treatment that actually worked. [We'd been to medical doctors who prescribed steroids that did not work well.] 

Champori

Champori is an herbal ointment of Tibetan origin.  It's sold online and works better than anything else we've tried.  It's not a permanent cure, but helps immensely. 

Dr. Jason Uchida's Protocol

Dr. Uchida is a naturopathic doctor in Honolulu. I came across his website while looking for a doctor for my mother and was fascinated by the audio and video testimonials he has on his site. At the time, I had Jordan on the GAPS/BED diet, which is similar to Dr. Uchida's anti-yeast diet. After having only limited success with the GAPS/BED diets after a year, I took Jordan to see him and we began following his diet and using his supplements. While the GAPS and BED diets helped clear her skin to perhaps 75%, Dr. Uchida's regimen has taken her to 95% clear after just 3 months. Of course we're hoping she will someday be totally clear, but this would involve total healing of her "leaky gut" caused by too much yeast, too little probiotics. She's had this problem since infancy and I expect it to take years to fully resolve.


As I mentioned earlier, if you'd like to share a remedy that's worked for you, please do so in the COMMENTS section.  
 

What's Funny...  

And now I have a chuckle to share that I posted a couple of years ago and forgot about.  I thought I'd post it again as a reminder of something that may not happen much anymore because less and less people are using landlines and extension phones:
 
You know what's funny? When a voicemail becomes eavesdropping.  While checking my voicemails I had to listen to this several times until I stopped laughing.  Julie was leaving me a voicemail and Gregg happened to pick up an extension in a different part of the house.  Names have been changed to protect the dignity of loved ones:

JULIE: "Colleen, this is Julie, I'm going to be on Kauai next week and we should get together--"
GREGG: "Julie? Oh, you're using the phone?"
JULIE: "Hi Gregg, yeh, I'm calling Colleen."
GREGG: "HI COLLEEN!!"
JULIE: "Nooo, she's not home, I'm leaving her a message."
GREGG: "Ohhhh..."
JULIE: "Hey, you came home late huh? You'd better take it easy, you're working too hard!"
GREGG: "Well I had to finish the job. Oh, by the way I saw Grace and she said her mom had surgery."
JULIE: "Nah? I hope she's ok."
GREGG: "It was her knee...or was it hip, I forget."
JULIE: "Lip?"
GREGG: "HIP!"
JULIE: "Oh hip, haha! Sounded like lip."
GREGG: "Did you eat dinner already? Geri said she made stew."
JULIE: "Yes...I ate already. The stew was good!  So should we go visit Grace's mom? How long will she be in the hospital?"
GREGG: "Ah, I dunno. Nowadays they don't stay long."
JULIE: "Yeh, hmmm I guess we can call the hospital....Uh oh wait a minute...I was leaving a message for Colleen!"

Ohhhh my god, it's really funny to listen to, even if the conversation itself isn't funny. Just the idea that they got carried away and forgot why they were on the phone in the first place. Not to mention they forgot they were being recorded.  And here we're worried about the NSA!? 




Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"The Prep"

I had an epiphany today: I figured out why the word "anal" became a slang term.  Like after you spend a lot of precious computer/nap time sweeping and mopping the floor then someone walks by eating a cookie, dropping crumbs on it.  You scold them and they say "Geez, you're so anal!" And you wonder what cookie crumbs on a clean floor have to do with the butt.
 
I had a colonoscopy today.  Everyone who's ever had one will be quick to tell you that the procedure is nothing, it's "The Prep", the day before, that's sheer torture.  Forcing yourself to drink ten glasses of chemicals while not being allowed to eat solid food is just Level 1 of the torture.  Level 2 involves expelling said ten glasses of chemicals from your colon, which occurs over endless hours with very little warning.  Hint: Buy Depends, you'll thank me later.  Level 3 is all about the mental stress and paranoia.  For instance, while I'm preparing meals for Jordan and hubby, what if I absentmindedly pop something into my mouth as I always do?  From 4-5 days ahead you are not supposed to eat seeds, nuts, and popcorn.  Well I forgot about nuts in cookies and seeds in tomatoes, leading to ridiculous anxiety.  "OMG, how could I be so stupid, I ATE TOMATOES!!!!"
 
I was explaining to Jordan about the wonders of technology and how far we've come in less than 20 years.  From cassette tapes to mp3's, from room-sized computers to iPads, from floppy disks holding a few photos to mini SD cards holding thousands, etc. etc.  So why why why do we still have to go through the torture of "The Prep"??!!  WHERE ARE OUR PRIORITIES!!?  Why aren't scientists on this?  Surely they get colonoscopies themselves?  [Possibly once a scientist hits 50--the colonoscopy age--he somehow loses his juju?  That explains a lot!]
 
Worst of all, something occurred to me a week before I began "The Prep": What if after I go through all this the day before, the appointment gets postponed or cancelled the day of the procedure?   This was my third colonoscopy and somehow that had never occurred to me before. (See how age makes you wiser?)  I was horrified to have this even enter my mind!   So guess what happens next?  Tropical Storm Flossie.  Remember "The Secret" where the Universe gives you stuff? Yes, this storm formed because I had that "what if" thought.  It was scheduled to hit Kauai on the very morning of my colonoscopy appointment.  As if "The Prep" weren't stressful enough, now I had to pray that the storm either sped up or slowed down.  Happily it obliged and dissipated.  You're welcome Kauai!

So finally "The Prep" is over and the time comes to go the hospital.  I hobble to the truck and struggle--with sound effects "ow ow ow"--to sit comfortably, wishing I had one of those donut cushions.  We arrive at the hospital and I am not making this up: The very moment we pushed open the doors of Same Day Surgery and stepped into the hallway, lights started flashing and an alarm began ringing, along with a voice saying something about a fire and evacuating. Was I having a nightmare?!  We asked, "Is this a drill?" and an employee replied no, but hopefully a false alarm.  As a group of us gathered outside, I said, "I don't care if they have to do the colonoscopy on me in the parking lot, I'm having it done TODAY!!"  Apparently that spectacle had to be avoided at all costs, so we were allowed back into the building just seconds after my announcement.
 
The surgeries were behind schedule so I had to wait longer than the half hour they'd estimated when I checked in.  About an hour later, I was understandably worried and this is what I overheard next in the next cubicle.  Again, I am not making this up (although I am paraphasing since I forget the exact words):  "So sorry, Mr. So-and-So, you'll have to come back again tomorrow.  You're already cleaned out, but we're going to give you some more laxative to drink tonight, ok?  Yes....sooo sorry"  I'm pretty sure my face turned white.   I expected a nurse to peek in and say,  "So sorry, Mrs., the doctor is cancelling everyone's colonoscopies this afternoon...."

Well about twenty minutes later the cheerful nurse did peek in, but it was to say it was finally my turn.  They wheeled me into the surgery room, put a mask and monitor on me, and the doctor had me sign on the dotted line.  I considered thanking him for showing up for work, but thought "Don't jinx this...the power might still go out..or another fire alarm, etc." plus I was getting sleepy.  The next thing I knew, I was back in my little cubicle.  The doctor came in and announced that everything had gone well and I had no polyps.  He left me the report complete with a couple of photos of my squeaky clean colon, and he had even noted "bowel preparation was excellent".  I think my happiness at that moment surpassed landing on time in Paris. 
 
After not having any solid food for 40 hours I'd been fantasizing about my first meal, but after seeing his report, and thinking of all I went through for my "excellent bowel preparation" and squeaky clean colon, it seemed like an atrocity that I was about to mess it up with the tea and graham crackers the nurse had left me.  And that, my friends, was the "aha moment" when I saw the connection between a clean floor and one's butt.  I'm pretty sure that term "anal" was coined by someone who had just gone through "The Prep."

Update:  It's close to a week since "The Prep" and I still find myself stopping before putting food in my mouth---especially tomatoes!
 
 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

11 Months Later...

I guess it's time to do a blog post because the Universe has spoken.  Or at least two people in the universe anyway.  Within two days I've had two lovely, sophisticated ladies with superior literary tastes--or so I presume--ask me to continue my blogging since I haven't posted for almost a year!  You may roll your eyes and think "Big deal!" but considering no one mentioned missing my blog before and then suddenly two people in two days--unsolicited, mind you--ask me to keep writing, well I consider that a Sign.  [Cynics insert your snide "Sign of" joke here.]
 
So why have I been neglecting my blog? You might think I've been much too busy traveling, socializing, and volunteering at community events...but no, it's more like "I don't think anyone would be interested in a blog post about Facebook games." 
 
Yes, I spend time on Facebook, but I'm not one of those who post play-by-play events of my day-to-day life.  Not sure people would "Like" a photo of my new Spin Mop. 
FB Status: "Oh joy, I got my Spin Mop today!"

Nope, I'm there to play Bejeweled Blitz and DoubleDown slots.  I do occasionally share what I consider helpful links to health articles or give unsolicited advice I feel may be helpful, but these don't get much reaction from my so-called Friends.  In fact, if there was a "Don't Give a Rip" button, most of them would probably click it!  [Wow, someone call Mark Zuckerberg, about this new button idea!]
 
I saved $1520 with this one!
Which brings me to my latest Facebook status post which regarded how I cured my jewelry buying addiction.  Well ok, I admit a big part of my cure was the escalating price of gold, but one day while coveting a bracelet on QVC.com, I had what seemed to be a silly idea.  I right-clicked and saved the photo.  Hmmm!  I now "owned" the bracelet and could look at it anytime I wanted to.  Cool!  I just saved $489!  I love saving money!  I now have about a dozen jpg files in my Jewelry Folder.  Not a lot, just the most special jewelry that I really enjoy looking at.  I sometimes lose interest in a piece so I just delete the file.  Imagine if I had spent $489 on it!  I don't have to worry about them getting lost or stolen either. The best part is that as crazy as it sounds, it really does help curb my jewelry appetite.
 
So next I'm going to collect pastry and ice cream photos.



Friday, August 10, 2012

Deep Thoughts...Not

"Grandpappy Amos and the Girls
and the Boys are the Family
Known as the Real McCoys"
What does it mean when suddenly out of nowhere you start humming and singing "...Grandpappy Amos and the girls and the boys...." ?!?!?!?!?  That happened to me last night at 1:00 a.m.    I posted this on my Facebook status (something I rarely do) because it was so weird.  Apparently nobody on my friend list was up OR if they were, they had no idea what I was talking about. 

Well I'll tell you what it means:  It means that I've been a TV-holic for over 50 years!  "The Real McCoys" was one of the earliest shows I recall watching, along with "Ozzie and Harriet"  (my favorite because I had a crush on Ricky Nelson when I was 5 years old).

So sue me, I'm still watching TV!  Current favorites: "The Good Wife," "Modern Family," "The Middle," "Person of Interest," "CSI", and "So You Think You Can Dance".  Oh, and reruns of "Monk" and "Law and Order".  I really am trying to cut down so I try not to watch any new shows unless I inadvertently stumble upon them and get hooked.  There are fewer and fewer shows that hook me lately.

I just saw someone on TV who works at home and has "a couple of internet businesses." Hmmm! We have a little in common maybe since I work at home on the internet?  She's shopping for a house and has a "budget" of one million dollars.  Ok, nothing in common.  Does that qualify as an oxymoron ("budget of one million dollars")?  I changed the channel.  Why torture myself?

I feel very fortunate to own a house--ok half a house. It's nothing fancy and I'd say 99% of the time I'm satisfied.  The 1% of the time is when I'm watching HGTV.   I blame my husband.  He loves watching that stupid channel.  I don't know what's worse, having to watch HGTV and experience house envy, or the reality shows like the ones on the History Channel--what I call Redneck TV.  It's kind of funny because it's like going from one extreme to the other.  As much as I don't like seeing how wealthy people live, I dislike even more seeing people getting their cars towed away, looking into some misfortunate's forfeited storage container, or watching cussing shirtless perpetrators being arrested. 

Ok, I did enjoy "Dog the Bounty Hunter," because it was taped in Hawaii and they acted tough, but sweet at the end.  Example: "You know what BLEEP? I'm gonna file bond jumping on you, you 9mm packing ice head. If you wanna stay out of jail buddy, you better BLEEP show up right now with your old lady. Yeah, listen, we gotcha... you know what BLEEP? You better come right now BLEEP tweak. You better get her right now. [shouting] GET HERE TWEAK!"  Then at the end "You want a cigarette?  Bruddah, if you get a goal in your mind- go for it- you're not in hell yet, you can still make collect calls, you can still talk to your old lady, you can still have children and you can still love and be loved."  Awwwww.

As much as I hate the reality cop shows, I love the make believe ones.  Except for a couple of pet peeves: If you watch police shows on TV, did you notice how TV cops (like in "Law and Order") will approach a suspect and from fifteen feet away yell the guy's name?  As in "HEY! Jimmy Mafusco! We want to talk to you!!"  Then the guy runs away, leading to a fun chase down the street?  Is this some law I don't know about?  "Police are not allowed to utter your name unless they are a minimum of fifteen feet away so as to give you ample time to make a break for it."  I don't see this happening on the real cop shows.

Maria Bello as Jane Timoney,
always appropriately dressed!
NBC recently cancelled "Prime Suspect" before it finished its first season.  Oh...my...god.  How could they do this to my new favorite female detective, Jane Timoney?  It kills me to think it might be because she's one of the few---if not the only---lady cops on television who do not go to work everyday showing cleavage (example: the CSI ladies).  Please, NBC, she can unbutton!  This was an excellent program that grew on me with every new episode.  I think the title was the issue.  So blah and contributed nothing.  The title should've been "Tough Heterosexual Lady Cop" or "Realistically Dressed Female Detective", you get the drift.  All kidding aside, it was a very good program that deserved more time for viewers to find and love it.

My favorite team, Logan and Briscoe!
I'm wondering if people these days prefer to watch law breaking rather than law enforcement.  And if they do watch law enforcement, it's got to be sexy and/or in an exotic location with a young cast, like the so-over-the-top-I-can't-watch-it-anymore "Hawaii Five-O".  Heaven forbid any cop is over forty unless he's the captain!  Lenny Briscoe must be turning in his grave--how I miss him!


And finally, a question:  If the computer is so smart in "Person of Interest," can someone please tell me why it can't tell Harold exactly WHY that interesting person's number showed up?  Puhleez!!  I guess the answer is:  because then the show would last only 30 minutes rather than an hour.

Ok, enough complaining. I'm beginning to  sound like that cantankerous Grandpappy Amos!
 

Monday, July 16, 2012

What's Relevant in This Year of Change

How's your year going?  Remember, this is 2012, that very controversial year that was all over the media in 2011.  Funny how I haven't heard anything lately regarding the differing speculations about this year now that we're in it.  Or maybe I haven't heard anything because I've been so busy experiencing the phenomenal volatility of our 2012!  [Not to mention too busy to blog!]

Never in my life have I had a year like this, and it's only half over.  1982 might be considered--with a new house, a hurricane, and a new job--but no, not even close.  This year it's about losing more loved ones than ever before, plus major life changes, both good and bad.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if an asteroid was heading our way.

These sudden changes are not just occurring within our family and relatives, but are being experienced among our friends, too.  Much of it is because we're at that age where our parents are getting too old to care for themselves.  Almost every friend in our age group is dealing with these issues, and the most difficult is when you live away from your parents.

There are hundreds of articles on caregiving for the elderly, such as this one from the Mayo Clinic.  I just want to add a few suggestions that I've used this year.  What's relevant for me this year?  Simplifying and minimizing:


I wrote about this earlier and I'm still using my Eureka "The Boss" Bagless vacuum cleaner.  This is perfect for the elderly because it's lightweight and they don't have to mess with filters.  As I said before, this little $20 vac gets my house cleaner than my Kirby (which cost $1200 twenty years ago) did.  For lazy people like me, the thought lugging out a 20-pound vacuum cleaner is off-putting, so I wouldn't vacuum as often.  This cutie is actually fun to use.  I feel like I'm a kid again playing house.


My father-in-law mentioned that he's overwhelmed with junk mail.  It's taking up his time because he's smart enough not to just toss them out, but has to use a marker to black out any sensitive info.  Ah ha!  First I went to Amazon.com to order him a rolling stamper that blacks out identity info.  A shredder, of course, is an obvious solution, but sometimes we prefer to use our roller.  I also ordered him a pair of shredder scissors. 

Next,  I found this website: DMAchoice.org, registered, and was able to opt him out of magazine offers, catalogs, special offers, and credit offers.  By the way, for especially annoying mailers who send you mail seemingly once a week, do this:  Take a page from their mailing that has your address on it.  If it involves ordering something, be sure to black out that section to avoid any funny business on their end.  Near your address, write "Please remove me from your mailing list".  Insert the page into their postage paid return envelope and mail it back to them.  THIS WORKED FOR ME on multiple occasions.  These companies do not want to pay postage that does not include an order.  For a couple of companies, I did this 2-3 times, but it did work in the end.  You might even stuff the envelope with all the sheets they sent you to push your point across, but would I do such a thing?  Noooooo.


I don't like filling our landfills unnecessarily, and we do compost and recycle everything allowable.  Our weekly gray trash bin is barely a third full from our family of 3.  HOWEVER, if your independent elderly loved one is having difficulty dusting, using Swifter Sweeper cloths is justified.  The dry disposable cloths used on the floor sweeper are also good to use like a rag for wiping dust off shelves and furniture, and in fact are more effective than those fluffy Swifter dusters, which are still handy for high and low spots with the extendable handles.  When it comes to those with aging issues, making life easier for them with un-green disposable products is forgivable IMHO! 


Keep a big plastic basket or container for your elder to put things that they have "issues" with in, such as bills they don't understand, gadgets they can't figure out, etc.  Of course this is for elders who have someone who visits them fairly often.  Having something to put their "frustrations" in is helpful on so many levels!  First of all, having all their "problems" in one bin makes it easier for both themselves and you to find and solve.  Secondly, it gives them psychological relief to "dump" their problems in one specific place.



I'd like to share this little graph that someone emailed me that made me feel better to know that I'm not the only one.  Of course I'm not even 60 yet, but my excuse is that I'm a normal multitasking female.   With this in mind, however, put yourself in the place of your independent elder and think of ways to make life easier for them.  For example, buying multiples of the same item such as scissors, flashlights, pens, etc. and putting them in convenient containers in multiple locations will save them both trying to remember where they put things and/or walking to get them.


This is something we've used for years and great for seniors:  SuperSwitch Wireless Remote that you can use to turn on small appliances.  We found ours at a hardware store, but Amazon has them also.  For anyone who has mobility issues, it's great to be able to switch on different lamps by remote.  Ok so we don't have mobility issues, but someone in our house loves gadgets.


Lastly, if you haven't already, gift your elder with a digital picture frame, preferably one that has an on/off switch that's simple and that also turns off automatically to save power. And yes, it's nice to have current family photos in it, but also consider their old photos that bring back happy memories. It's not necessarily all about you and the grandkids, you know! 


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Costco Faves

What are your favorites at Costco?  I'd like to share mine with you because sometimes we get stuck buying the same things by habit, overlooking great products until a friend mentions them.  [Reminder: Click on images to see larger version if available.]

My latest favorite is the Kirkland 4-pack Frozen Cheese Pizzas for only $9.99. They're medium-sized and you can add your own toppings. I like them especially because the ingredients are relatively good, compared to other frozen pizzas. I'm always checking ingredients because Jordan has many food allergies, such as corn products which is in almost every processed food known to Americans. I had overlooked these pizzas until I read about them in the Costco Connection magazine.   
Wedding card and envelope

Are you paying over $3 apiece for greeting cards?  Even the "budget" cards are about $1.00.  Well don't read this if you're boycotting Made in China products, but Costco has been selling the most adorable 3D greeting cards for about 50 cents a card!  For about $15 you can buy a box of 30 a great assortment of cards (birthday, wedding, congrats, thank you, etc.). 
New Baby card
(click for larger image)
I bought a box several years ago and still had over half a box left, but when I saw a new set being sold recently, I couldn't resist buying it. I get enjoyment just looking at them and it's almost agonizing when I have to give a card away! Seriously, I don't believe you can find cards that compare to them being sold separately in the card aisle of most stores. The envelopes are designed for each card, too. This could turn me into a greeting card hoarder.

Gift bags, sadly no longer found
at Costco.
Another Costco find a few years ago that unfortunately I haven't found again is a large plastic "briefcase" filled with decorated gift bags.  I suspect they were manufactured by the same company that does the greeting cards.  All were three dimensional and again, I found myself hoarding the sets.  I bought one set, took it home and was so in awe of them, I made Leonard look at every...single...one...of....them. I then went back and bought two more sets.  To my credit, I did end up giving one set to a friend as a gift.  Hmm....usually you use gift bags to put gifts in, but she was thrilled to get those gift bags as a gift!

Here are a few more of my current food favorites: 

Frozen Organic Broccoli Florettes--$5.99 for 4 lbs.  What I love is that they're packed in 4 individual bags.

Celery Sticks -- $3.99 for 2.5 lbs  Totally worth it because they're ready to eat!  Celery is an excellent snack for both dieting and to alkalinize your body.  For a special treat, eat them with Laughing Cow soft cheese wedges (sold in those flat rounds). Just 35 calories per wedge!

Evergood Pineapple Sausage-- And are they ever good!  Maple syrup + pineapple in a sausage = onolicious!  $8.89 for 3 lbs. 
 
Kirkland Lavash Chips--Whoa, I--errr we, yeh WE--ate this up within a couple of days.  It's replaced Stacy's Pita Chips as my favorite carb crave.  The pita chips taste great, but are a bit hard.  These chips are thin and crispy.  $5.99

Kirkland Peanuts-- Ok, not only are these roasted peanuts in a super large can, the peanuts are super large.  What I love, though, is that they're harder than your usual Planter-type peanuts.  Reminds me of those Chinese peanuts in the shell.  These are salted, but not overly salty.  Leonard ordered me not to buy them anymore because they're bad for him.  Well maybe because he eats 2 cups at one sitting?  I am gonna buy them again and put them where he can't find them. 


Kirkland Organic Strawberry Spread-- Soooo strawberry-y and not overly sweet.  We buy the Fage Plain Greek Yogurt and mix some of this in.  Ohhh so good and good for you!

Golden Grill Hashbrown Potatoes -- Mr. E loves hash brown potatoes, and these are so amazingly convenient to store and easy to prepare.  Just add hot water, let soak 12 minutes and fry!  I try to avoid preservatives and sadly there are some in here, so we only eat these a couple times a month.

I'm waiting for Costco to catch up with Sam's Club and sell SALMON BONES. [See my blog post about them.] Whenever we go to Honolulu, we buy several trays, freeze them, then bring them back to Kauai.  They're best broiled or grilled.  Again, so good and good for you!

Feel free to let me know what your favorites are!  I know I'll remember some others later, so I'll post again....hopefully it won't take me another six months.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Never Despair, We Shall Prevail!

Just when you thought I'd given up blogging, here I am back...but I'm totally copping out by posting some photos I got in my email box  and with the Dow Jones plunging down lately, we sure need some cheering up.

How on earth could the stock market be down when we have such amazing products on the horizon, sure to sell by the millions?  Our fellow human beings are constantly thinking of the next hot item that we can't live without.  I tell you, it's so inspiring and reassuring to know that our enterprising friends will always be around to boost up our economy.  Dow Jones down 2000 points?   Big deal, wait til they get a load of these gems, I'm telling you, the economic outlook will shoot up for sure!



Okay, so I've been wanting something like this because it can be such a pain to carry crackers or cookies while drinking my mocha latte.  I'll probably spend more on cookies now that I have a place in my mug to stash 'em.  So you see how this mug will stimulate the economy in TWO ways?  Woohoooooo!




Next we see that the prayers of thousands of waithelp have been answered.  Oh--my--god--this will surely revolutionize the restaurant business...NOT.  I mean the concept is there, but what's with the finger bumps that take up a third of the tray? 




Uh, I guess some people have to be silly 24/7, even while drinking their Starbucks coffee.  Of course people who drink Starbucks coffee--$4 for a small cup that's called "Tall"--may automatically assumed to be a little crazy.  And they should've colored the teeth coffee-stained.



Now this one is something legitimate!  A teabag dunker/timer!  I can't tell you how many times my tea was too strong because I put the teabag in and walked away for more than a couple of minutes.  You know how it is (read this blogpost).  This is both cute and practical for tea drinkers!



 

 Here's another great idea!  No more searching for someone to take your photo!  When Jordan and I were at the fountain of Saint Michel in Paris, people kept coming up to me to take their photo.  It was very weird.  I think it was because I was Japanese.  They figured I wouldn't steal their cameras because I probably already had ten.






We needed this at every single bon dance we attended this summer!  Although we had a large umbrella, it wasn't quite big enough so we tried using two.  We had to hold them at perfect angles or someone (usually hubby) would get dripped on.  This would certainly take care of that!  Awesome!







Probably the same person who invented the finger tray above invented this one.  Not a bad idea, especially for kids and drunk people.







Ohhhkay, now this ladder is definitely not for drunk people. It looks iffy to me. It somehow reminds me of some teen boy climbing up a trellis to sneak into his girlfriend's bedroom. Then the trellis breaks away from the wall....






I love this one. Makes me wish we had stairs in our house! Hmmm, maybe others will feel the same and build second story extensions on their homes. That will provide construction jobs and see, more economy boosting!


I don't like this one because there's no way I'm wearing this!  Do you really want to advertise the number of a potbelly?? This is for the bold and beautiful ...or maybe the boastful.  





If indeed we experience the "double dip" recession despite the brilliant inventions seen above, it doesn't mean we will stop having brilliant ideas.  No siree Bob, poverty inspires even more inventiveness!   First of all, thank you to ThereIFixedIt.com for the following:






Hopefully grass prices will remain low...















Of course there's foot power.  That way this guy can actually afford to put some food in his shopping cart.


Plastic shopping bags are illegal on Kauai so unfortunately we may not be able to make these nifty thrifty "backpacks". 
Speaking of plastic shopping bags, did you fellow Kauaians ever imagine there'd come a day when you scrounge around for these bags and treat them like gold?  When I go to Honolulu, I'm thinking of raiding my mom's closet and bringing some home. 








"This here is called a Dust Book. In the ole days, your grandpappy an' me used to have World Books that we had to use to make school reports.  There was no such thing as Google.  Wikipedia?  Nope, Encyclo-pedia.  But now I got me 22 Dust Books to sweep the floor." 











Yiyeeeeee I'm both repulsed and impressed at the same time.







And lastly, if the stock market crash makes it impossible for us to see the lovely old fountains of Europe, never fear.  As Humphrey Bogart might say, "We'll always have Plastic."





Thanks to ThereIFixedIt.com and Humorsharing.com for the photos!









Friday, July 15, 2011

You Save Hundred Fifty Dollah Here!

This is a re-broadcast of a post I did last year.  It's that time of year again for graduation photos and for anyone on a tight budget, I thought this may be helpful:



I know I just posted about more ways to save money a couple of days ago, but I just came across another one today while going through a pile of "stuff" that's been sitting in a box for...uhhhh...YEARS.  [No sense in my trying to hide that fact since those who know us well know that Jordan graduated two years ago!]  As school will be starting soon and some of you will be faced with the expense of Senior photos, I decided to post this immediately.

When we decided to let Jordan go through the graduation ceremonies, we found that the senior photo deadline had already passed.  We had to rush to get a photo for the yearbook so we went outside and took some photos of her in our backyard.  Happily they turned out pretty well and I emailed one to the yearbook class.

As graduation approached, I realized that we'd need photos to pass out, so after ordering more prints from the drugstore,  I went to a photography studio in Honolulu and was able to purchase black photo folders for under fifty cents each.  I think you can probably find them online for even less.  I'd advise using either a rotary cutter or paper cutter to make trimming the photos easier.

Next I went to Vistaprint.com and using their template, easily designed those name cards for the graduation announcements and photo folders.  They cost under $20.  Note: Try coordinating the cards with the photo to create a theme.

All considered, we spent under $50 and maybe 3-4 hours (taking photos, ordering prints and cards, trimming photos, etc.).   A photo package from a professional photographer will cost from $200 to $400, so wow, by being "late" we ended up saving money...and not just fifty cents either!  (See posts below if you haven't already.)  Russell Peter's father would be impressed, I think!

Now I realize if everyone did this, the professional photographers would lose business.  Rather than blame me, they ought to take it to whoever originally had the idea to go "natural."  Remember when all annuals had those senior photos where everyone had to wear graduation caps?   Or how about those fake tuxedos and fake gowns?  Even worse.. the FURRY gowns?  Oh my god!! [For the integrity of good journalism, I am selflessly inserting an example of a typical "fur" photo.  That's not me, it's some typical late 60's/early 70's conformist Hawaii teen who contributed to the demise of many hair salons back then.]

That photographer thought he was being clever by letting seniors to go "casual," and the students probably cheered him, thinking "Thank god I don't have to wear that goofy furry thing!!" but inadvertently, he/she now allowed us to do it ourselves.  Big oops!  So as Stephanie Plum always says, "It's not my fault."

More important than just saving the money, doing it yourself gives you such a great feeling of accomplishment.  Besides, the money you save will be spent on something else, I'm sure, still contributing to the economy! 




Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sweet Teeth in Paris


A common sight in Paris: enticing pastries of every color and flavor
imaginable...pig flavored too?? (Click for larger view).
Paris is the home to Euro Disney, but I didn't have to go there because the city of Paris itself was  Disneyland enough for me--especially for my taste buds and even more for my sweet teeth (yes I'm pretty sure I have more than just one).

As I mentioned in the last post, I ate a lot of both sweets and savories and did not gain a pound.  Paris may not offer the outdoor sports activities that Hawaii does, but to see Paris properly you're on your feet a lot more than on your butt (although the most fun I had was sitting and eating!).  That said, many people claim it's not just the walking but also the fact that French (also Italian and Spanish) food is much healthier with less additives.  See below for a link to an interesting, yet embarrassing obesity chart by country.  Embarrassing for us Americans, but when in Paris, you can relax knowing you're in skinny territory and can do like we did (Reminder: Click on photos for larger image):

At Angelina's on Rue Rivoli near the Louvre Museum
1) You don't have to wait for lunch to have dessert.  At the famous tearoom, Angelina's, we had their famous hot chocolate which was dark, thick, and rich.  We each had our own little pitcher of whipped cream.  With it we had a huge palmier (buttery sweet flaky palm leaf) which was a childhood favorite of mine--anyone remember the old Alexander Hotel in downtown Honolulu?  We also shared a pain au chocolate (croissant-like roll with dark chocolate inside).  Charlie continued his Parisian chocolate eclair taste testing.  After this breakfast we were ready for the trek up the Champs Elysee.
Clockwise: fresh whipped cream, chocolate eclair, palmier,
the famous Africain hot dark chocolate, and pain au chocolat.

2) Before arriving in Paris I didn't know what a macaron was.  It's related to neither macaroni or macaroons.  It's an interesting "sandwich cookie" made of two delicate meringue shells (egg, sugar, and almond powder) with a cream, jam, or ganache filling.  Flavors are endless and creative ranging from the usual chocolate and vanilla, to the exotic passion fruit, rose, and licorice.  Being flourless, you could say they're more a candy confection than a traditional cookie.  It's easy to get obsessed comparing the macarons around Paris and finding your favorite flavor.   The consensus seems to favor Laduree as the best source for macarons.  After all, they're credited with being the creators of the modern macaron.


The famous Laduree macarons--they come in every color. 
3) Another dessert we sampled more than once in Paris was the profiterole.  It's not as exotic as the macaron, but for a chocoholic ice-cream-addict like me, it's just as good and much easier to understand.  It's simply a small cream puff with an ice cream filling (usually vanilla), topped with chocolate sauce.  Many of the cafes we went to offered this dessert due to its popularity.  Our first profiterole was the best because it didn't taste like what you'd expect.  Somehow the vanilla ice cream tasted different and the chocolate sauce obviously wasn't from a squeeze bottle.  I was happy to find that although the components were
This one's a bit large and messy...or possibly someone
got to part of it before my camera did.
"ordinary" to us Americans, the flavor managed to say "Yes, it was worth traveling for two days to get here!"   The profiterole in the photo was the second or third we had.  It's relatively large, while the first ones we ate were smaller (three on a plate rather than one large).  Susan, Jordan, and I devoured it before realizing that we'd forgotten to take a photo.  We waited in vain for the waitress to pass by with another order, but it was just as well.  Would we really have had the nerve to say "Wait!  Let us photograph your profiteroles!"


Fruit Tart from Le Croissanterie at Forum de Halles
4) One of my favorite pastries are fruit tarts.  The one pictured here was part of our first lunch in Paris purchased at La Croissanterie at Les Forum des Halles, an underground shopping mall.  The raspberries were so large I thought they were strawberries.  Like all of the desserts I tried in Paris, although the tart appears to be very sweet, it wasn't overly sweet.  This could be another reason we didn't gain weight there.

La Croissanterie, I learned later, is part of a chain of "fast food" cafes.  Brioche Doree is another similarchain that we inadvertently visited.  Thirty-five years ago Paris didn't have these chain cafes so it didn't occur to me that we'd been frequenting
 Click on this photo to see a larger version of the little pink
pigs made of meringue.
chains--duh! I probably would've avoided them knowing they were indeed part of a chain, but I think the food was still delicious regardless.

5) The best part about walking the streets of Paris is definitely "window licking" (the literal translation of the French term for "window shopping",  l├Ęche-vitrine).  If you ask me, that's an appropriate term since so many of the shop windows in Paris pretty much make your tongue hang out. 


Patisserie de Sud Tunisian
Photo taken by Denis Prezat

The delicious windows are not limited to just the French patisseries, but to other cuisines as well.  While visiting the Latin Quarter, I found the "South Tunisian" (similar to Greek) pastries irresitible in the window of Patisserie du Sud Tunisian.  Again I neglected to take a photo, but found this online.  I chose something similar to baklava and Jordan chose, of course, a chocolate cookie.

6) Berthillon ice cream was born the same year I was and it's said to be the best ice cream in the world so obviously it was a very good year.  We went searching for it one day on Ile St. Louis.  On every block on the little island there was a shop selling it so we got a little confused.  We then learned that the original store was closed that day, but happily we still got to purchase some at one of the other shops.  I love almost any ice cream so yes, it was at least as good as Haagen Daaz. On any given day they offer over 60 different flavors which change with the seasons.  Check out a list of the flavors linked below--pretty amazing.  Unlike American ice cream, Berthillon relies less on add-ins such as candy bits--although they're not above adding them--and more on varying the flavor of the base ice cream itself using fresh seasonal fruit, spices, liquers, etc. And again, natural ingredients.
I could be wrong, but possibly the Cochon (pig) is France's
mascot or national animal.  "La Vie En Rose" is on the right.

7) One evening on Rue Montorgueil it was fun to find Jordan's idol Edith Piaf honored with a dessert called "La Vie En Rose,"  a concoction of rose ice cream and strawberry sorbet...and a pink piggy.  Naturally we ordered it for her.  Susan's dessert also came with a cute meringue cochon.  Well, the cafe is called "Le Pied de Cochon," after all! 

8) Research before, not after, your trip. On our last evening in Paris, I was panicking.  It was a Sunday.  I had promised Jordan, after denying ourselves a few days earlier, that we'd have "fancy pastries" on our last day.  I found several patisseries that I had hoped to buy from closed.  The French are not like Americans.  They actually like to rest on Sundays so most stores are closed or close early.   Just when I was feeling very disappointed, we discovered a patisserie open on Rue Montorguiel.  I didn't even notice the name of the shop since I was just so relieved that we'd found our "fancy pastries."  We chose a few to take back to the apartment.  Again, they looked super sweet, but oh my goodness, they were so incredibly delectable, I'm not ashamed to admit I was glad Charlie and Susan were too full to want any!
  
Pastries from Stohrer's on Rue Montorguiel.  The chocolate
one in the middle was a-maz-ing.
Now keep in mind that we had just two months to plan this trip so procrastinator that I am, I didn't get to do the research I should have.  I actually read more about Paris after our trip than before or during.  It was during this after-the-fact research that I discovered that Stohrer's is  the oldest patisserie in Paris and one of its most reputable...and located on Rue Montorguiel.  I ran to look through my receipts and sure enough, that "last resort" patisserie we'd found open on our last day was indeed Stohrer's!  It had been a blessing in disguise that the other shops had been closed because if I had returned to Hawaii without sampling Stohrer's wares, I would've been devastated, considering we'd been staying just a block away! 

I know there are a hundred other patisseries and cafes I'd love to try in Paris.  You can be sure I'll have my list ready with me if I am lucky enough to return to my Disneyland of Food. 

Links: