Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's Begun...

It's that time of year again...Halloween...Samhain...Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)...All Hallow's Eve...No matter what you call it, it's October...& for our family, the celebration has begun! My birthday is in October...Autumn is my favorite time of year...Halloween is my favorite celebration...I started decorating the house yesterday & for the most part it's pretty much done...now I will just be fussing & tweaking it the next couple of weeks.

Over the years I have accumulated quite the Halloween collection...every year adding a couple of things to my stash. This year I've decided to not buy anything...Let's face it, most Halloween decorations & such are mass produced in China...how much cheap plastic stuff does one person need from China? This year I've opted to make things rather than buy new stuff. It's been hard a couple of times...Once I even had this huge black skull in my shopping cart...I was very determined to buy it...It was seriously the coolest thing ever...but after wondering around the store & thinking about all of the reasons I wanted it, I just couldn't justify it...so, back it went...And that's ok.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Corn Dollies

Last weekend my friend Crystal came over & taught several of us girlfriends how to make corn dollies. They were so fun to make! They are addictive...I want to make more. Here's how my first two turned out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tony The Mighty Pumpkin Hunter & Other Adventures From Yesterday

Yesterday when Tony & I woke up we saw what a BEAUTIFUL Autumn day it was. It was definately not a day for housework, chores, or hauling wood. Ok, well...I guess it was a good day to haul wood, but who wants to do that when there is a spark of adventure in the air? So the plan we hatched was that we needed some pumpkins for our front porch. Where to find the perfect pumpkin? We decided a trip to Greenbluff was in order! Especially since neither one of us had ever been there.

On the way to Greenbluff, we came across the Peone Cemetery. Since taking photos in cemeteries is a new hobby of mine (that's a whole other story...stay tuned!), we had to stop. This cemetery is a sweet little country cemetery & has a very peaceful, comforting, & sparkleing vibe. We were walking the paths in the autumn sunshine...Then I looked up...& what did I see? An Owl! Yep! I have never seen a real live Owl in person. 'He' was so amazing! He's watching us watching him...I took several pictures of course! Then he flew to another tree across the way. So we're walking back to the car & we found a very small Owl feather. How cool is that?

Then it's back on the road to go to Greenbluff in search of the perfect pumpkin. We ended up at Beck's Harvest House. They are open 7 days a week & they have a little restaurant...After all, it is very important to keep up your strength when you're pumpkin hunting ;) They have quite the thing going on! Produce, wine, honey, gifts, & pleanty of activities for the kids. We both had burgers & potato salad & it was REALLY good. We found white pumpkins, which were sweet looking, so we bought two of them...but we still were on a quest for the perfect pumpkin....

We decided to go to Carver Farms. It's on the way home & one year they had fairytale pumpkins. So back in the car...We got to Carver Farms & we walked all over the pumpkin patch. Finally, we found it! The perfect pumpkin! Tony carefully cut it from the vines to preserve the stem in all it's glory. Now...it didn't look that big on the ground...Tony carried that pumpkin on his shoulder for a quarter mile! When we weighed it it was 57 pounds...23 1/2 inches tall...& 56 inches around! Definately a trophey pumpkin!

Yesterday was a perfect day! Now today...today is wood hauling & house cleaning day. I think I'm going to need more coffee for today's projects...much more coffee....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fibro Wellness Movie

I just finished watching, "Mayo Clinic Wellness Solution: Fibromyalgia". It's very informative whether you have been living with Fibro for years or if you've just been diagnosed. Actually, it would have been very helpful for me to have seen this when I was first diagnosed. This movie helps to explain what is going on with your whole person, not just physically. Plus they give you an action plan on how to live well with Fibro...which includes good advice, diet, exersise, & meditation. One of the exersise suggestions is a daily yoga practice that is included on the DVD. Also included on the DVD is a guided meditation. Both the yoga & the meditation are designed specifically for Fibro. Actually I'm considering buying this one just for the yoga & meditation portion. I rented it from Netflix (love Netflix!), but it can also be purchased from www.gaiam.com.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


This quote has got me through many a rough days...

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow".
~Mary Anne Radmacher

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Story of the Kitchen Painting Fiasco

This is the latest in our home projects. We painted the kitchen green...kinda a pea green. If you've seen my kitchen before, it was already green, but it had seen better days & I wanted a darker muddier green. We settled on Ryegrass...Tony & I painted the kitchen, stood back & took a look. Here's the thing...the way the light was hitting two of the walls...well, they looked like a weird pastel green. There is no way we could leave it like that...I just knew our friends would come over & think I'd lost my friggin' mind...I could hear it now, "Um, Karmen? What's with the pastel walls?" Seriously, if you know me well enough, you KNOW I'm not a pastel anything kind of girl...so you'd definately think that if I actually chose that color, that I had finally lost my mind & all sence of reason.

Something had to be done! The other two walls were fine...they were indeed the color we wanted. However, the other two offending pastel walls would have to go. We chose to go to the next darkest color on the paint chip...Olive...we repainted & everything turned out fine & now I can entertain friends with my dignity intact!

Our Apple Tree

There's a couple of trees in our backyard that have been here since we moved in 8 years ago...We weren't really sure what they were...but this year they grew APPLES! Nice apples too! So we climbed up a ladder & picked 'em & I made a pie. It was really yummy! While I was peeling the apples to make the pie, Tony was watching me...I was using a little pairing knife to peel the skin off...my hands were cramping up & it was really getting to be quite the chore. Tony says, "Why don't you just use a vegtable peeler?". Huh? My mother never did it that way. I tried it anyhow...& guess what...it worked like a charm! How come I never thought of that? Did anyone else know that? I love men. They think different & see things different & sometimes that is a good thing. LOL

If MSG isn't harmful, why is it hidden?

I was watching the Home Shopping Network yesterday...not because it's a regular passtime of mine, mind you...My Mom wanted me to watch because Suzan Somers was going to be on talking about her new book that is coming out September 9th called, "Breakthrough: 8 Steps to Wellness". Mom is a big Suzan Somers fan...she likes Suzan's books about health, dieting, & bio-identical hormones & her line of food. So I tune in & watched just a bit (I'll watch more of it later...I taped it. lol). The part that really got my attention was when she was talking about MSG...How bad it is for you (which I already new) & OTHER NAMES FOR IT...HOW IT'S HIDDEN IN FOOD.

Now this is really concerning for me because I already know that my body doesn't like MSG so I avoid it like the plauge...Or at least I thought I was. MSG contributes to a multitude of symptoms...including Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms. Turns out that food manufacturers don't even have to list it...it can be called something else entirely...they can even put NO MSG ADDED on their label & it is a 'true' statement because the MSG wasn't added...BUT AN INGREDIENT THAT IS LISTED MAY HAVE MSG IN IT. What's worse...our fresh veggies & fruits can be sprayed with it...even organic products & fresh veggies & fruits can have MSG in it. Here's a list of just some of the ingredients that MSG is disguised under:

Autolyzed Yeast
Sodium Caseinate
Soy Sauce
Natural Flavorings
Yeast Autolysate
Brewers Yeast
Nutritional Yeast
Calcium Citrate
Hydrolyzed Soybean Protein
Soy Protein
Odalized Yeast
Beef Broth
Chicken Broth

I looked through a few of the food items in my kitchen & guess what...turns out that I am still poisoning myself...unknowingly. So this would explain why, even though I'm doing MUCH better most days, I still have 'unexplainable' relapses.

The following article is from truthinlabeling.org (lots of informaiton on their website including symptoms & reactions to MSG):

Where is MSG hidden?

MSG can be used (and hidden) in processed food, dietary supplements, cosmetics, personal care products, and drugs. It can be used in waxes applied to fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be used as ingredients in pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, and plant growth enhancers -- remaining in the edible portion of the plant or on the edible portion of the plant when its leaves, fruits, nuts, grains, and other edible parts are brought to market.

MSG is shorthand for processed free glutamic acid, i.e., glutamic acid that has been manufactured or freed from protein through processing or bacterial fermentation. It is a toxic substance. It can be used without disclosure.

To understand how MSG can easily be hidden, you must first understand that there are two very distinct ways of manufacturing MSG. The first is through manufacture of a product called "monosodium glutamate." There are a number of ways in which this can be achieved, but the end result will always be a product that contains glutamic acid (glutamate), sodium (salt), moisture, and a number of contaminants. It is important to understand that in "monosodium glutamate," glutamic acid will be the only amino acid present. If there were other amino acids present while the "monosodium glutamate" was being manufactured, they would have been cleaned out. When any product contains 79% free glutamic acid (with the balance being made up of salt, moisture, and up to 1 per cent contaminants), the product is called "monosodium glutamate" by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must be labeled as such. FDA regulations require that all food ingredients be called by their "common or usual names," and "monosodium glutamate" is the "common or usual name" of the ingredient that contains 79% free glutamic acid (with the balance being made up of salt, moisture, and up to 1 per cent contaminants).

"Monosodium glutamate" was invented in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo, Japan who noticed that glutamic acid had flavor-enhancing potential. Prior to that time, the Japanese had used seaweed as a favorite flavor enhancer, without understanding that glutamic acid was its flavor-enhancing component.

The second way of producing MSG is through breakdown of protein, i.e., processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is created when protein is either partially or fully broken apart into its constituent amino acids. A protein can be broken into its constituent amino acids in a number of ways (autolysis, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, and/or fermentation). When a protein is subject to autolysis, hydrolysis, enzymolysis, and/or fermentation, the amino acid chains in the protein are broken, and the amino acids are freed. Acids, enzymes, and/or fermentation processes may be used to create MSG in this way.

There are over 40 food ingredients besides "monosodium glutamate" that contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG). Each, according to the FDA, must be called by its own, unique, "common or usual name." "Autolyzed yeast," "maltodextrin," "sodium caseinate," and "soy sauce" are the common or usual names of some ingredients that contain MSG. Unlike the ingredient called "monosodium glutamate," they give the consumer no clue that there is MSG in the ingredient.

The Truth in Labeling Campaign has asked the FDA to require manufacturers to identify ingredients that contain MSG by listing MSG on a product's label. In response, we have been told that FDA regulations require that all food ingredients be called by their "common or usual names," but there is no requirement that a constituent of an ingredient be identified. Processed free glutamic acid (MSG) is considered to be a constituent of a hydrolyzed protein or fermentation product because the MSG is created during the hydrolyzation or fermentation process. To autolyze yeast, for example, yeast is subject to processing; and during that processing, protein is broken down, and glutamic acid is freed. The finished autolyzed yeast product will, therefore, always contain processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as a constituent of the autolyzed yeast. The MSG will not have been poured into the autolyzed yeast. Rather, the MSG will have been processed into the autolyzed yeast.

The distinction between having MSG poured into an ingredient and processed into an ingredient is important because the glutamate industry plays on this distinction in their efforts to hide the presence of MSG. One of their favorite ways of hiding MSG is to claim that there is "no added MSG" in a product. If MSG is processed into a product instead of being poured into a product, they declare that there is "no MSG added" or "no added MSG," in the product, even though they know full well that the product contains MSG.

That the FDA allows these distinctions to be made; that the FDA refuses to monitor those who make false claims about the presence of MSG in a product; that the FDA refers consumers who are concerned about the toxic effects of MSG to agents of the glutamate industry such as The Glutamate Association; and that the FDA refuses to require that MSG in a product be disclosed, testifies to the close ties between the FDA, Ajinomoto, Co., Inc., and the rest of the glutamate industry. It is true that the FDA does not require that the constituents of ingredients be identified. But there is nothing in FDA regulations to prevent constituents of ingredients from being identified. And there is precedent for identifying constituents of ingredients, such as cholesterol.

Although glutamic acid had been isolated in 1866 by the German chemist Karl Ritthausen, it was not until well into the 1900s that food technologists began to break various protein products into individual amino acids and used the processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as a flavor-enhancer. Today, some of those hydrolyzed protein and fermentation products are designed to replace "monosodium glutamate" as a flavor enhancer, because manufacturers know that consumers are looking for products without MSG in them, and that consumers may well not realize that products such as "yeast extract," "autolyzed yeast," and "soy sauce" are nothing more than flavor enhancers that invariably contain MSG.

The flavor enhancer known as "monosodium glutamate" was first brought to the United States in quantity in the late 1940s. Today, processed free glutamic acid (MSG), the toxic ingredient in the food ingredient called "monosodium glutamate," and a toxic ingredient in hydrolyzed protein, enzyme modified, and fermentation products, is found in most processed food. In 1997, MSG was introduced in a plant "growth enhancer" (AuxiGro) to be applied to the soil or sprayed on growing crops. Today, we know of no crop that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has failed to approve for treatment with AuxiGro. People first reported MSG reactions following ingestion of lettuce, strawberries, and giant russet potatoes in 1997 -- people who didn't know at the time that those crops might have been sprayed with a product that contained MSG.

The glutamate industry is adamantly opposed to letting consumers know where MSG is hidden. Why? Because the glutamate industry understands that MSG is a toxic substance: that it causes adverse reactions, brain lesions, endocrine disorders and more. And the glutamate industry must understand, as we do, that if MSG in food, drugs, and cosmetics were disclosed on product labels, people who reacted to those products might realize that it was MSG they were reacting to, and might, therefore, refrain from buying products that contain MSG.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


This is an email that was forwarded to me by a friend. I have always felt very passionate about women voting. After all, we have only been able to vote since 1920...women were thought to be too feeble minded to vote...I'm sure there were other arguements as to why women shouldn't vote...I guess I really should study up on it. I mean, I knew that women had to 'fight' for the right to vote...but I had no idea that they had to FIGHT for the right to vote. I had no idea that the story below had happened. After reading it, I feel even more passionate...& very proud...to vote. We've become very appathetic in the political process...I know in the past I have felt like my vote...my voice...didn't matter...BUT IT DOES. By me casting my vote I reaffirm & honor what these women & their families went through so that I can vote today.


This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.

Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.

The women were innocent and defenseless, but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House, carrying signs asking for the vote.

And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and their warden's blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women wrongly convicted of 'obstructing sidewalk traffic.' They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.

They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cell mate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

Thus unfolded the 'Night of Terror' on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his
guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there becausethey dared to picket Woodrow Wilson's White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women's only water came from an open pail. Their food--all of it colorless slop--was infested with worms.

When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeksuntil word was smuggled out to the press.

So, refresh my memory. Some women won't vote this year because- -why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work? Our vote doesn't matter? It's raining?

Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO's new movie 'Iron Jawed Angels.' It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.

All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote. Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege. Sometimes it was inconvenient.

My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women's history, saw the HBO movie, too. When she stopped by my desk to talk
about it, she looked angry. She was--with herself. 'One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that movie,' she said.
'What would those women think of the way I use, or don't use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just
younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.' The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her 'all over again.'

HBO released the movie on video and DVD . I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn't our usual idea of socializing, but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.

It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn't make her crazy.

The doctor admonished the men: 'Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.'

Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know.

We need to get out and vote and use this right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women. Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party - remember to vote.

History is being made.

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