Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Library Loot #3

   Sooo...the ear infection and tonsillitis and sinus infection and...and...and...well, they won, and my amazingly awesome boss gave me today off to recuperate. Last night after work I had a craving for double dumpling soup, and decided that I would spend my day reading Anna Karenina while drinking pots of jasmine tea. (Yes, that's POTS)
   Soup ingredients? check
   Jasmine tea? check
   Anna Karenina? Anna? Hellooooo? Is Anna here? Nerp. The library's copy was so battered (it wasn't me, I swear) that it has been discarded. No Anna? What am I supposed to do with myself now?? (This as I'm standing in a library full of books...) What to my wondering eye should appear, but a shiny brand-new copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes. Published by Walking Lion Press in 2011, it contains, in chronological order: A Study in Scarlet (1887); The Sign of Four (1890); The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892); The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894); The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901); The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1904); The Valley of Fear (1914); His Last Bow (1917); The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927).
   Incidentally, in a discussion group I recently held at work in honor of Sherlock's birthday (December 1, the day A Study in Scarlet first appeared in print) the residents and I learned that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle rather emphatically loathed Sherlock Holmes, whom he felt took attention away from his more serious, worthy works of literature. And it was news to me that Sir Arthur had written anything other than Sherlock. So much for my literary genius. Anyway, a pot of tea accompanied me on my adventures in a Study in Scarlet last night, and later today (okay, as soon as I finish typing this) I'm going to curl up with a pot of tea and Dr. Watson and ...that doesn't look very good :P (Actually, to be perfectly flip, in the Granada Television Series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the very dashing David Burke plays Dr. Watson, and I would not mind curling up with him AT ALL. Just sayin'.) SO, I am going to curl up with my tea and MY BOOK and go on an adventure with Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes.  I bid you adieu, mein dear friends, until I have another free moment to actually update this blog.

And for those of you that are Sherlock Holmes fans of the caliber that I am, here is an image of the David Burke (sigh) and Jeremy Brett television series from Granada Television. I watched this faithfully every Monday night at 9 PM on A&E all thru high school.


...and a close up of the BEST Sherlock Holmes EVARR (and the very dashing Doctor Watson!!!)


Double-Dumpling Soup:

Another Rachael Ray creation, adapted by me and loved by my family! (And especially tastie when you're feeling under the weather)

Double Chicken Dumpling Stoup

February 2007 by Rachael Ray
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  •  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, shredded (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 package Cooked Perfect Italian-style frozen meatballs (or make your own)
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 1 pound bag frozen corn 
  •  1 1 pound package  gnocchi
  • Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (a couple of generous handfuls)
  • Crusty bread, for dunking
  1. In a soup pot, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. add the celery, onions, garlic, carrots and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth, cover the pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add meatballs to the stoup. Simmer for about 20 minutes while you wash up. Add the gnocchi to the stoup and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the spinach and corn and parsley and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the stoup from the heat, discard the bay leaf and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve with the bread.
  • Georges Duboeuf Regnie Flower Label 2005 (France) (Tho I am in no shape to be drinking any kind of alcohol at this time....)

Wordless Wednesday #7

...because there really are no words to describe how weird my children are.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Myddfai Reiki: 5 things to do when you can't sleep due to stress or anxiety

We all need our sleep, and plenty of it. As I mentioned before, everyone in my house is sick (with the exception of the goldfish) and part of why the adults aren't getting any better is because we aren't sleeping properly. He and I keep getting up to tend to sick children, and we are sick ourselves. See the pattern? If you're short on sleep because of the holly-day rush, or any other stressful factors, read more from Elise Moreau:

Practically everyone knows what it feels like to be kept up at night by their own thoughts. Whether you’re analyzing the events of the past day or worrying about what’s to come tomorrow, the inability to calm and control your racing mind so that you can actually get some shuteye can be enough to feel nearly torturous.
Ensuring a good night’s sleep, even when your daily life is busy and frantic, starts well before you turn in for the night. A few critical things to keep in mind include:
  • Staying regular with your sleep time (and wake-up time).
  • Cutting out all caffeine in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Limiting exposure to light-emitting screens an hour before you go to bed.
  • Creating an optimal sleep environment that’s dark, quiet and cool at night.
  • Doing something relaxing right before you hit the hay (like reading a book, stretching, taking a bath or listening to some calming music).
These are all good habits to develop and maintain, but they don’t exactly help when it’s the middle of the night and you’ve been lying there wide awake for an hour or longer. So when you need to fall asleep, like right now—but your mind won’t let you—here are at least five things you can do.

1. Grab a notebook and a pen to write out what you’re feeling.
Instead of trying to suppress your thoughts, try releasing them through journaling. Use a pen and piece of paper to write out whatever’s currently flowing through your mind. Don’t try to type out your thoughts on a laptop or anything else with a screen since the blue light will only keep you awake longer.
Journaling will help you clarify your thoughts and feelings. You may be able to really focus in on what the problem is and maybe even solve it. And even if you don’t solve it, journaling will at least help you get some of that negative energy out of your system.

2. Turn on some ambient music that’s specifically designed to help you fall asleep.
If you find it difficult to be left alone with your thoughts while it’s so quiet, you may be able to use music to distract you, drown out your negative internal voice, and calm you down. The perfect type of music to listen to when you’re trying to sleep is instrumental ambient music, ideally with a 4/4 beat at 90 beats per minute, set at low to medium volume.

3. Follow a guided meditation geared toward stress and anxiety relief.
Meditation relaxes both the mind and body while quieting the mind and bringing you back to the present moment. To find a guided meditation that targets your problems of stress, anxiety and insomnia, get up and grab your phone or laptop (making sure to turn the brightness way down on the screen to avoid excess light exposure) and search for free apps or YouTube videos that offer them.

4. Turn your worrying thoughts into thoughts of gratitude.
This certainly isn’t easy to do, but it’s very powerful if you can do it—especially during those tough times. Force your mind to shift toward thinking about everything you’re truly grateful for in your life, and if you want, you can use your negative thoughts as a starting point. For example, if you’re stressed about a project at work, try thinking about what it is you love about your work, the great people you get to work with or the accomplishments you’ve made.

5. Try a mental exercise to take your mind off of what’s keeping you up. 
Maybe all you need is some distraction. Simple mental exercises take your focus off your worries and are easy enough to do. For example, with your eyes closed, you could try thinking of all the fruits and vegetables there are that start with the letter “C.” Or you could try to recall each and every dog you’ve petted over the past five years. These are some good ways to exhaust your mind and eventually help you drift off to sleep.
If falling asleep and staying asleep is a regular problem for you, then you should talk to your doctor about it. Depending on what’s causing it, you may need some other forms of treatment (in addition to good sleep habits). Regardless of what’s keeping you awake at night, the above tips are still powerful enough to help just about anyone.

Related Articles
10 of the Most Productive Ways to Nap
10 Bizarre Ways to Reduce Stress
7 Unexpected Benefits of Unplugging from Technology

Myddfai Reiki: 5 Benefits of Mandarin Oranges

My household LOVES these lovely little gems of goodness, and I'm on a massive health spree lately because we're fighting the flu, ear infections, sinus infections, tonsillitis, and bronchitis in this house. (And sadly,it seems we're losing.)

Mandarin oranges have become one of the most popular pleasures of the festive season; we pile the beautiful orange gleaming fruit into large bowls and stuff them into children’s stockings.
Did you know that mandarin oranges, satsumas, tangerines and clementines are all different varieties in the mandarin family? They are all smaller than oranges with a looser skin, making them easier to peel.
Below are 3 tasty and simple recipes for your pleasure.  First, let’s learn how good they are for us.

5 Health Benefits Of Mandarin Oranges

1. Reduces Risk of Liver Cancer
The National Institute of Fruit Tree Science studied a Japanese population who ate a high number of mandarin oranges. In another study, a team at Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine studied patients with hepatitis who drank mandarin juice for a year. Both of the studies showed that mandarin oranges reduced the chance of liver cancer.

2. Inhibits the Growth of Leukemia
Mandarin oranges contain tangeretin, a flavone found in citrus peels which studies have shown help reduce the risk of leukemia.

3. Reduces Risk of Hardened Arteries
Tangerines contain a powerful flavonoid known as nobiletin, which has been shown in a study to lessen the hardening of arteries, especially in diabetics.

4. Combats breast cancer
Both tangeretin and nobiletin were found to fight breast cancer cells, according to a study using the extract of the peel.

5. Full of Nutrients

They are an excellent source of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that helps prevent chemical damage to cells and helps keep the immune system healthy. They are also a good source of vitamin A, and a source of B-complex vitamins.
Mandarin Orange Green Smoothie
Mandarin Orange Green Smoothie
Mandarin Orange Green Smoothie
This is a super easy green smoothie to make with only 3 main ingredients, so there’s not much shopping to do. I love a green smoothie for breakfast. Learn 10 Reasons to Eat Green Smoothies.
2 – 3 Mandarin Oranges, peeled and sectioned
1 cup Kale or Baby Spinach
1/2 Avocado
A few Strawberries (Optional)
Clean water
  1. Start with blending mandarins till liquefied.
  2. Next add the strawberries and avocado till fully blended.
  3. Then add kale or spinach slowly till blended in.
  4. Add just enough pure water to be able to add more spinach.
  5. Blend till smooth; use the liquefy button on the blender.
  6. Drink immediately.
Refreshing Fruit Salad with Mandarin Oranges
Refreshing Fruit Salad with Mandarin Oranges
Refreshing Fruit Salad with Mandarin Oranges
It is so easy to make a refreshing fruit salad for breakfast or a snack at any time of the day.
1 Apple
1 Banana
1 Mandarin Orange
Handful of Blueberries
Handful of Pomegranate Seeds
A few Grapes
  1. Very simple—chop and mix fruit together.
  2. Serve and eat.
   2 Servings
Mandarin Orange with Kale and Veg Salad
Mandarin Orange with Kale and Veg Salad
Mandarin Orange with Kale and Veg Salad
This is a smart way to get kale into a meal. Adding the mandarins along with the sweet bell peppers makes this a very healthy and tasty salad.
1 pound fresh Kale
2- 3 Mandarin Oranges, peeled and separated
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, sliced
1 small White Onion, sliced (optional)
1 -2 Green Onions, chopped
Olive Lemon Juice Salad Dressing
1. Wash and trim kale.
2. Toss peppers, oranges, and onion with dressing.
3. Serve and enjoy.
13 Health Benefits of Oranges
Celebrate With Healthy Foods This Christmas

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Myddfai Reiki: 5 Foods and Herbs that Eliminate Pain

Pain is a part of life as much as we would like to avoid it. A headache, a sprained ankle or aching joints are unwelcome occurrences in the lives of most people. But what happens when pain becomes a daily experience and starts to affect our quality of life? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. An estimated 25 percent of Americans have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours. It’s the most common reason Americans access the health care system. Chronic pain, defined by the NIH as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks, is a leading cause of disability in the United States. It’s also a major contributor to health care costs in the United States.

Because pain is a subjective experience, there is no “one size fits all” solution to dealing with it. Pain—whether acute or chronic—comes in many forms and is big business for drug companies. Unfortunately, many anti-pain prescription drugs, such as opiates (oxycodone/OxyContin) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS like Celebrex), include unwelcome and potentially dangerous side effects. Oxycontin, for example, can cause: nausea, vomiting, addiction, weakness and dizziness, to name a few of its side effects.
Nature, in its infinite wisdom, has created powerful anti-pain medicine that we can take in the form of fruit, spices and herbs. Combined with other non-drug pain management techniques like massage, pain sufferers have viable and delicious options that contribute to a healthy, fulfilling life. Here are five edible solutions to eliminate pain.

Bromelain: This enzyme is most commonly linked with fresh pineapple and has a long history of combating pain and inflammation. In a study reported in Clinical Immunology, researchers from Duke University Medical Center found bromelain reduced production of several pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines that are elevated in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and play a role in the progression of IBD as well as pain linked to the disease.

Cayenne: This popular spice gives food a spicy kick; however, it’s also proven to increase circulation (which can aid in the healing of physical injuries) and reduce pain. The pain-fighting ingredient in cayenne is capsaicin, a known analgesic and anti-inflammatory compound. A 2013 study out of Australia National University concluded that capsaicin produced anti-inflammatory effects that were comparable to diclofenac, an NSAID prescribed for mild to moderate pain, symptoms of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, menstrual cramps and migraines. While cayenne can cause stomach upset in sensitive people who ingest too much of the spice, this symptom is typically far less dangerous compared to the side effects linked with diclofenac.

Cherries: Consuming cherries instead of pain drugs? Sounds like a no-brainer. This delicious tree fruit contains compounds called anthocyanins, which are antioxidant flavonoids found in many colorful plants, such as berries, grapes and cherries. The antioxidant properties are linked with numerous health benefits, and researchers at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore found that tart cherry anthocyanins have a beneficial role in the treatment of inflammatory pain.

Ginger: This delicious root has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic medical traditions of India as a natural pain fighter. Check out my article Ginger is Better than Drugs for Pain. Ginger is a great addition to many meals, including Indian and Thai-inspired curries, as well as hot and cold teas. While ginger is available in supplement form, the fresh root is really your best bet for fighting pain. It’s also a great digestive aid.

Turmeric: a staple of Indian cuisine, turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a yellow spice grown primarily in India and Indonesia. It can be found in its raw form in most grocery and health food stores and is available in supplement form in a standardized extract. The main therapeutic ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has been shown to deplete nerve endings of substance P, a pain neurotransmitter. Depleting this substance interrupts pain signals and reduces the sensation of pain. Turmeric also inhibits pain using a similar mechanism as drugs such as cyclo-oxygenase (COX-1 and COX-2) inhibitors, common forms of NSAIDS with unsavory side effects.
For acute pain, four tablespoons of turmeric powder mixed into water or honey can be taken every day. Turmeric is bitter on its own and the honey can make it more palatable. In supplement form, up to 1500 mg of curcumin daily is safe; however, if you are taking blood thinners, you should consult your physician before supplementing with curcumin.

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, is an international best-selling and 18-time published book author, whose works include: The Probiotic Promise: Simple Steps to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out (DaCapo, 2015).