Thursday, March 31, 2005

Dreaming of a Dremel

I've long been dreaming of getting a Dremel. Ever since I had a manicure and the manicurist used a Dremel to file my fingernails, I thought it was just the coolest little power tool ever. I mean, how much control must you have to file nails with a power tool? One little slip and my finger could have been gone. The Dremel is perfect for doing the little jobs I need done around my house, and it's just the right power tool for a woman.

The Dremel base comes in corded and cordless versions, and many attachments are available. After sanding down a dresser, I became especially interested in the the little sander attachment. It's shaped like a fat finger and could really get in those tight little spots that are always so hard to sand with a larger sander. Even though I used a power sander, I had a lot of spots that were still painted. I tried hand sanding, but not much luck with that either. The Dremel sander would be great, but I don't have one.

I would also like to have the mini saw blade attachment. I don't know what I would saw, but it looks so fun. My neighbor used to have a jig saw in her backyard, and she made wooden cutouts in shapes for the holidays. I was fascinated with the sawing process; it looked so fun and creative. I would like to try out the Dremel saw.

There's even a grout removal attachment for the Dremel. I could really use that on my dingy tile floors, although if I removed the old grout that means I would have to put down some new grout, and I don't see a grout applicator tool for the Dremel. There is a tile cutter attachment though.

The planing attachment would get lots of use at my home. I could plane down the front door that barely makes it over the tile, make my picture frames and birdhouse edges really smooth, and smooth out rough spots on the landscaping timbers outside.

The multipurpose cutting attachment would be lots of fun. I could cut holes in the wall with this attachment. I've always wanted to make one of those recessed shelving units in my wall; I could cut a hole, line it with wood I planed with the Dremel, and set in glass shelves. That would be nice! Apparently I could use this attachment to cut holes straight on into anything.

The Dremel also has attachments for sharpening lawn mowers, chain saws and garden tools. I could have the sharpest tools around if I used the Dremel for that. My husband would like the lawn mower attachment since he has to take the blade somewhere to get it sharpened - or maybe he wouldn't, since he doesn't have to actually do it himself now.

The Dremel has an engraving attachment that would let me engrave my name on all of my expensive household items. Or maybe I could make initials on silver jewelry with this attachment. I could even make great works of art by using the Dremel engraver to etch on glass or ceramic. This sounds so fun!

Dremels also come in "hot" versions; they can solder and fuse materials together, and can cut with the hot tip. I could also do wood burning and stenciling with this attachment.

The Dremel website has directions for tons of projects that look interesting. If I ever get a Dremel, I'm sure I'll use it every day for something that needs done; it's so versatile. I'm putting the Dremel on my Christmas list for this year, so hopefully, next year I won't have to be dreaming of having a Dremel. I'll actually have the coolest power tool ever!

Confessions of a Teenage Fashion Loser

I'll be the first to admit that I had zero fashion sense when I was a teenager. Perhaps growing up as the only girl in a single-parent home with my father and three brothers had something to do with it. I had no one to teach me the basics of outfit coordination, how to choose clothes that showed off my figure, or even how to do my hair or apply makeup. Consequently, I was the consummate tomboy and wore nothing but jeans and t-shirt ensembles throughout junior high and the first two years of high school.

That fact in itself doesn't bother me much; plenty of girls go through the same phase. What does bother me, even as I sit here pondering it nearly 20 years later, is that I couldn't even execute the jeans and t-shirt look properly. You see, I only had 5 or 6 t-shirts and 2 pairs of jeans that I would rotate for the entire school year! I pretty much had a Monday shirt, a Tuesday shirt, a Wednesday shirt, and so on. Imagine that scenario taking place week after week from August to June.

It's not that my father couldn't afford to buy me new clothes -- we were planted solidly in the lower-middle class and always seemed to have just enough of everything to get by. It's just that I never thought to ask for new clothes, and my father never thought to offer. So I kept on wearing the same old t-shirts from random places, like the "I left my [big red heart symbol] in San Francisco" or the maroon number from my bowling team, The Whammies.

Surprisingly enough, I was blissfully unaware of what the other kids thought about my "wardrobe." Because I never noticed other people's clothing, I naively thought they didn't notice mine. No nasty jokes or cruel comments ever reached my unsuspecting ears, though I'm sure (now that I think about it) that kind of thing was happening behind my back. Luckily, I turned things around during my junior year in high school when one of my friends went shopping with me and picked all my clothes out. I learned which kinds of clothes flattered me the most and I slowly built up a real wardrobe that consisted of more than just t-shirts.

I know that we all have been through those fashion cycles that make us cringe at ourselves when we look back at old photos. But when I see my pictures from junior high, I can actually feel my face turning red, even when no one else is in the room. I just hope that your teenage fashion follies didn't cover a whole four years like mine did!

Beware Of Nickel Jewelry And The Allergies That Surround 'Em

If you find yourself to be a person who enjoys wearing cheap costume jewelry then you should be careful. Cheap jewelry is often made with nickel, and believe it or not nickel is quite a common skin allergy.

Nickel, which is found naturally in nature, is usually mixed in with other metals. People run into nickel everyday from various objects and will not realize that they are allergic to nickel until they have long periods of exposure to it. Nickel jewelry such as earrings, bracelets, rings, and even belts have the ability to create severe skin irritations to people with nickel allergies. The fact that women are more likely to be affected with a nickel allergy then men is not the greatest bit of information, considering that women generally wear more pieces of jewelry then.

An allergic reaction to nickel can occur at any time to a person who is put into direct skin contact with nickel. Early symptoms of a reaction are redness of the area that had made contact with the nickel containing item, followed by blistering of the skin.

If you have other allergies, and have not been tested for nickel allergies a test is highly recommended. Being allergic to nickel containing products is not cool, but knowing that you are not allergic to nickel is even less cool.

Finding out you are allergic to nickel containing products is not the end of the world for those who really enjoy jewelry. By all means, you are still able to wear jewelry; you just have to make sure that the items of jewelry you wish to wear do not contain any nickel. While most pieces of fine jewelry will indicate their composition materials, cheap costume jewelry usually foregoes this listing, but usually do include nickel in the jewelry.

Remember, even if a piece of nickel jewelry looks totally hot, you should never wear it if you are allergic to nickel. The piece of nickel jewelry may look hot now, but the blisters and sore skin you get won’t be so hot afterwards.

Can A Tattoo Be Considered Jewelry?

Whether you like tattoos or hate them, you still have to live in a world where people are getting tattooed everyday. When you ask someone what they consider a tattoo to really be, most of the time they will declare tattoos as pieces of art. I mean, sure all tattoos are works of art, but still, could they not be considered jewelry?

The hot new thing is that people are getting bands tattooed around the various areas of their bodies, such as their arms and legs. These bands can represent various things, and take the place of bracelets. Would you consider these to be pieces of art, or pieces of jewelry? I would myself consider these types of tattoos to be jewelry. Actually I would consider any and all tattoos to actually be considered jewelry. Don't ask me why, it is just that I would much rather have a hundred fifty dollar tattoo that will stay on my arm for the rest of my life than some hundred fifty dollar chain that I will loose in a few months after working out at the local gym.

If you pick up some school books, you will learn that people actually tattooed themselves long before metallic jewelry came into fashion. Although these 'caveman tattoos' were crude and primitive, they were still enjoyed by the wearers.

So the next time you are thinking about a nice new piece of jewelry to enhance your image, perhaps you should stop and research tattoos. Even if you are not the kind of person that would hang out in a tattoo parlor, tattoos are becoming more widely accepted upon everyone. Finally, remember that everyone can wear jewelry but not everyone has a tattoo, so you will be sure to always have a conversation centerpiece some where on your body.

To Strip Or Not To Strip (Antique Furniture)

That is the question. Antiques are very valuable these days and antique furniture can rank high in their value, but if you find a treasure and it's in not so good condition (all it needs is a touchup) what do you do? There are some camps say a big NO to stripping or refinishing antiques as it can decrease the value and the other camps say that it is fine to refinish antiques, saying that it doesn't affect the value at all. Let's look at both sides of the story and then you can decide for yourself if you are lucky enough to find yourself with this dilemma.

The argument for not stripping or refinishing is that it will ruin the patina (the mellow look that the wood takes that has built up on the piece over the years) and it could also become rather pricey to start this endeavor. And I suppose most importantly, if you decide that you want to re-sell that antique, some say that it does affect the value (in the sense that after stripping and refinishing it devalues the piece by a large amount. If the appearance is that of peeling paint, or shabby chic, that is what is in style right now and tha'ts what many collectors are looking for, so perhaps instead of refinishing it, you might instead look at just good old plain soap, water and of
course a little elbow grease! That will at the very least allow the original wood to shine through and get rid of any grime that has collected on your piece from years past.

The people that are in favor of refinishing, say that it won't harm the value at all. Are they wrong, or mistaken? Well, if say, you have an antique table and it has already been painted, it's ok to go ahead and refinish. Refinishing a piece takes a lot of time and patience, but can be done. Go to a big box hardware store and ask them for the best materials to take off stain or paint off of the type of wood that your piece is made from and perhaps a few helpful hints would be wise to accept also. After using a chemical stripper, you can sandpaper the piece and then restain or paint, (of course, there are many more steps to it than this, but you get the idea). But better still take it to a professional antique furniture refinisher, one who was done many in his career. Yes, it will cost some money (quite a bit perhaps) but in the end, the final result will be well worth it! For instance, my parents bought a beautiful antique pedestal dining room table at a garage sale for $45. It was painted a wonderful shade of RED (well, so much for the antique!) anyways, they took it to a professional who in turn had the table 'dipped' (dipped by a machine into a vat of stain - so the end result is a overall coat) and then had it appraised by an antique dealer friend of theirs. He estimated that the table would have fetched about $1,000 (this was several years ago), so yes, sometimes it does pay to refinish an antique.

Well, no matter what you decide to do with your antique, it's always best to see a professional first before you do anything. But what ever the end result is, enjoy your antique!

Television - the education medium

I get pretty amazed all the time at the things my kids seem to know and at the knowledge they often display.

All sorts of stuff from the latest in rocket science to new developments in alternative energy fuel sources, to the very latest emerging legal technicalities in a popular musician's controversial trial they are learning and soaking in information from the tube at an amazing rate, all sorts of stuff that they do not even learn in school.

Despite having grown up with Television myself, I honestly do not remember ever being that knowledgeable about such a wide range of different subjects and topics.

Of course the battle to keep them off the tube long enough for them to do some decent amount of school work, still rages more than ever. And mostly it is battle that many parents all over the world are losing, whether they like it or not and whether they know it or not.

Many times I trace back the source of my kid's information to Television and do bear in mind the fact that we are well into the information age where the World Wide Web or internet is supposed to be ruling as the undisputed heavy weight champion and king of all mediums. Is it not amazing that Television still rules in terms of educating us all?

My own personal habits that I have unconsciously developed in recent years still point to Television being the major education tool even for me. I often watch something interesting on the tube that sends me to the World Wide Web for more information. See how these two mediums are working together in our lives? Indeed many of the other mediums these days, like newspapers, radio and books seem to be constantly sending us back to the World Wide Web for more information. Usually it is for more depth while at other times it is for more recent developments and updates on the subject of interest.

By the way, like most working parents, I do not watch very much Television these days. Still I tend to gather lots of information on the few occasions that I do find the time to watch a little Television.

Whatever the case, the internet seems to be very efficient and useful in providing more information. However it is clear that the initial information and education is still provided by the tube.

Yet it was not too long ago that some people had started predicting that Television was on its way out with the emergence of the World Wide Web or internet. These guys must have gotten really excited when research figures, proving that the net was the first medium in decades to cause people to watch less Television, started coming in.

Still there is no sign of Television disappearing from our lives, at least not any time soon. And if anything, history tells us that Television will only redefine itself but will never disappear. The introduction of new mediums throughout history has yet to cause the demise of previous other mediums. For example books did not disappear when newspapers came and neither did newspapers exit when radio came. Today radio still thrives long after Television took over as king. And so it stands to reason that Television will not disappear, even as the internet continues to become more and more important to our daily lives.

So the scene in our home in the living room continues to be the pretty much the same old and familiar one. My son armed with the remote and his siblings arguing with him over which channels he should flip to and which ones he should not. My daughter's interests are naturally very different from those of my son and it is not really just an age thing at all.

Once in a while they will arrive at a channel that they all want to watch. This is of course increasingly rare and order only truly exists when that remote is firmly in my hands. Then I get only polite requests and equally polite and swift compromises.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Birthstones

Do you know what a garnet is? Are you familiar with June’s birthstone? Sure, all jewelry is wonderful and very much appreciated by your loved one, but why not personalize the gift of jewelry? How many times have you witnessed a scene similar to this? A man has just given his girlfriend a small red box. She examines the box curiously. As soon as she opens it her eyes light up with happiness. She says with a smile, “Oh, Honey a blue-topaz ring! My birthstone. That was so thoughtful.” He replies with a wink, “Happy Birthday.”

Birthstones have always been a very caring gift to offer a loved one. But, sometimes it is difficult to figure out which gem corresponds with which month. And, remember, just because a certain gemstone represents a person’s birth month, it does not necessarily mean your significant other will adore the particular gem. For example, what if Andrea’s birthday is in November and Trevor buys her a citrine ring. Andrea hates the color yellow and now she is going to be disappointed when she discovers that the birthday gift she has been looking forward to all month is a yellow ring. The trick is to first know which gemstone matches which month, and then know your loved one’s personal tastes. So, let’s start from the beginning: know which gemstone matches which month.

January’s birthstone is the garnet. A garnet is a lovely stone that is available in many different colors, such as pink, red, lime green, orange, and many more. Garnets can even change colors! However, the most popular color of garnet is dark red. The dark-red garnet has a very traditional look, as it is used in many antique-style jewelry.

February’s birthstone is the amethyst. Amethyst is a very affordable gem whose color can range from purple to lilac, and even to transparent (transparent being the highest quality). This gem symbolizes sincerity.

March’s birthstone is the Bloodstone or Heliotrope. Used for mostly pendants, this earthy gem’s colors are green and red.

April’s birthstone is the diamond. Well, some would say that April is the luckiest month of the year. April’s baby hit the jackpot, because he or she just may be showered with diamonds once every year. The diamond is the hardest gem. That is one reason it is so costly. Diamonds are usually colorless, but variations of pink, yellow, and blue are also acceptable. Diamonds symbolize what else, but love.

May’s birthstone is the emerald. Emeralds are medium to dark green, always green. Remember, when choosing an emerald, the more bright the green, the more valuable the birthstone.

June’s birthstone is the alexandrite. What color is an alexandrite? Well, that’s a hard question to answer because this stone actually changes color depending on the light. Alexandrite seems to change from green to red or mauve or brown. In addition to that interesting feature, this gem is very rare. So good luck finding a genuine alexandrite in your local jewelry store. Most of Alexandrites found in the shopping malls are synthetic – beautiful, but fake.

July’s birthstone is the ruby. Have you ever heard of the expression “ruby red lips?” It refers to very red lips, of course. Rubies are red. Simple as that. Beautiful shades of red.

August’s birthstone is the onyx. I have noticed lately that many people have named their pets “Onyx” because they have black fur. So, this tells me that many people are aware that the color of onyx is black. But what they may not be aware of is that onyx comes in different colors, too, like gray, brown, red, and even white.

September’s birthstone is the sapphire. Sapphires come in a variety of colors. Green, orange, violet, pink, blue, you name it! They come in all the colors except for red. You see, red would be a ruby.

October’s birthstone is the tourmaline. Tourmaline comes in many colors, too. Look for it primarily in pink and green.
November’s birthstone is the citrine. Guess what color citrine is. If you said yellow, you’d be correct! Here’s a cool fact: citrine is yellow quartz.
December’s birthstone is blue topaz. Topaz comes in many different colors, but only blue topaz is December’s gem.

Now, don’t hold this list as gospel. If you decide to do some of your own research, you may discover that some months actually have more than one birthstone, and other months have different stones all together. The gems seem to change throughout the years, but this is the traditional list, as I know it.

The second part of your gem hunt, well, I can not help you with that. I don’t know your loved one. So, with your newly learned knowledge of gemstones, and what whets your partner’s whistle, get to shopping. If you are lucky, the beauty of your gemstone gift will have your partner gushing with gratitude, and have you possible saving some money. But if April is you paramour’s month, or other gemstones are simply not his or her cup of tea, well, then you're screwed. Just kidding. But as they say, get ready to spend your two-month paycheck on the perfect diamond. Hopefully, the thoughtfulness of your birthstone gift will work out just fine.

The Power of Advertising

The Power of Advertising
by Kat Yares

Have you ever watched a food commercial on TV that has left you starving for that particular food? I see them all the time. Red Lobster, Chili's, the Outback Steakhouse.

Last night, I dreamed the Red Lobster buttered lobster tail. Really, I could almost taste it in my sleep. In addition, it wasn't the first time I had seen a dinner platter invading my dream state.

There is only one problem. I can't go there. None of these places exists for miles and miles. I mean, really, I am not going to drive 90 miles just for dinner. But, the food just looks so luscious. Those commercials make my mouth water.

Makes me want to come up with something I need from the city. As usual, I come up with nothing.

So what to do? Head to the super center and buy a lobster? Nope, that won't work either. Frozen lobster tails just do not have the same appeal. Steak though, I could do steak. Let's see, two filet mignons, freshly cracked pepper, garlic mashed potatoes, yes, and I could do a steak house dinner.

What to drink with it? Hey, I'm splurging, how about champagne? Sound good. Do I want a veggie? How about fresh steamed asparagus, that works. Bread? A homemade French loaf slathered in garlic and Parmesan.

Back home now, I'm putting the finishing touches on my steak house meal. The Outback commercial comes on. I look at the platter on the screen and then I look down at the plates on the table. Okay, so, they have the blooming onion and I don't.

Butt the food on my table looks just as good and it ran me about half the cost. I think we'll eat just fine tonight.

Now if I could only find somewhere close with live lobster, I would have it made.

What to Look For When Buying a Watch

A watch is a piece of jewelry that you will most likely wear every single day for many years to come. Therefore, it is important to select a watch that best serves your needs and that you won't get tired of after its novelty wears off. Before you purchase your next watch, you should ask yourself the following questions to help you determine exactly what you want from your timepiece.

What is the primary purpose of the watch?
There are many different watches that serve many different functions besides basic time-telling. Do you want a dressy, diamond-encrusted watch to wear to black-tie galas and other formal occasions? Or do you just need a fun, casual watch for your jeans-and-a-t-shirt days? Perhaps you need a versatile, classy watch that is perfect for both work and weekends? Or maybe you are into sports and want to track your lap times, land speed, diving depth, or flying altitude. Whatever your needs, you can find a watch that has the features you want.

What style elements do you prefer?
Just as there are watches to suit every purpose, there are styles to suit every taste. One stylistic element to consider about your watch is the band. Do you want a watch with a leather (or alligator or snakeskin, etc.) band or do you prefer a fitted bracelet band? A band made from materials such as leather will wear out and need to be replaced at some point. A fitted band usually has removable links to make adjustment possible, and should be sized at your local jewelry shop. Fitted bands are typically made from stainless steel or other tough alloys, so they are quite durable.

The time display on your watch is another style element to consider. Do you want a digital time display or a traditional one with hour and minute hands (and maybe even a second hand)? Do you want time markers all the way around the dial or just at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions? Do you want Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, or gemstones as the time markers? You also should consider whether or not you need a backlight to make it easier to view the time display even when lighting conditions are poor or non-existent.

Another stylistic feature to consider is a day/date window. Some people like to be able to know the date at a glance, while others think this feature merely clutters up the watch face. You will be looking at your watch countless times per day, so it's best to choose a style that you are likely to enjoy and be comfortable with for a very long time.

What about the inner workings?
With watches, the mechanisms and features you can't see are often more important than the ones you can. How does the timekeeping mechanism operate? Do you need to wind it up every day? Or is it self-winding? Either way, these types of watches run on gears and springs which will need to be replaced or repaired periodically. Does it require a battery? Generally speaking, if a watch says "quartz movement" on the face, it needs a battery. Where was the watch assembled? This fact alone can tell you much about the quality of the watch.

How much are you willing to spend?
The variation in wristwatch pricing is staggering when you consider that you can spend anywhere from a few dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for a single timepiece. If you are the kind of person who likes to have a new watch every year or likes to have several different watches on hand to choose from, you might want to buy a less expensive model at first. If you are planning on wearing the same watch for a long time, you should go ahead and consider some higher-priced pieces. Whichever route you take, you are sure to be able to find a great watch that fits both your needs and your budget.

Conclusion
The bottom line is that you don't need to be an expert watchmaker to be able to make sound judgments about a watch you are thinking about purchasing. If you ask intelligent questions of your jeweler, you ought to get enough information to enable you to make a satisfactory decision. Furthermore, if you buy a high-end watch from recognizable manufacturers such as Rolex, Omega, or Cartier, you can rest assured that you are going to get a timepiece with quality components and superior craftsmanship.

Posted by Mishmash Musings

Cutting Terms

Do you get confused when a recipe tells you to dice or julienne? Sometimes it does not really matter if you cut an ingredient to the recipe specifications, but other times it can really make a difference in the outcome of the dish. The tips below will help you determine the cut recommended by the recipe.

CHOP and MINCE mean to simply cut the ingredient into smaller pieces. These cutting styles are generally used when uniformity of the pieces is not a concern. Chop ingredients by simply cutting the ingredient into manageable pieces, and then holding the tip of the knife to the cutting board with one hand while you use the other hand to move the blade up and down through the food. Mincing is simply chopping for a longer period of time to create smaller pieces.

What is the difference between CUBING and DICING? Both require cutting the ingredient into uniform cubes. Cubing refers to larger cubes (about 1/2 to 1 inch), while dicing refers to smaller cubes (less than 1/2 inch). Cubing and dicing are usually recommend with uniform size is necessary for the outcome of the recipe or for the appearance of the recipe.

Ingredients that naturally divide in small pieces sometimes require FLAKING. Simply separate the ingredient at its natural division points with your fingers or a fork. Fish is a commonly flaked ingredient.

GRATING and GRINDING are used to create small particles. Use a hand grater or an automatic grater to create the recommended sized particles. Cheese is a commonly grated ingredient. Many ingredients can be grated to create garnishes. Grinding requires using a chopper to create fine particles. Flavorings and ingredients used in small quantities are often grinded to help them blend with other ingredients easily.

Potatoes and other vegetables are often cut JULIENNE for aesthetic purposes. Julienne ingredients are cut into small four-sided sticks, like matchsticks.

SHREDDING requires cutting or tearing the ingredient into long strips. Ingredients can be shredded in a variety of widths. The recipe will usually recommend fine or coarse shredding. Lettuce and cabbage are commonly shredded.

How Would You Like Your Eggs?

Have you ordered eggs in a restaurant and not gotten what you expected? Do you know only one way to cook eggs and you have no idea what to call them? The information below should help you figure out what your favorite eggs are called, and maybe even give you some ideas for trying new egg cooking methods.
Perhaps the easiest way to cook eggs is to fry them. Frying an egg consists of cooking it out of its shell in a preheated pan (usually a frying pan) on the stovetop. Usually a little butter, margarine, fat, oil, or cooking spray is added to the pan while it is heating to prevent the egg from sticking. There are several ways to fry an egg. Sunnyside-up refers to an egg fried on one side until the whites are solid. The yolk is left mostly raw and will run when you pierce it with a fork. An over-easy egg is turned and is slightly cooked on the second side. The yolk is still soft and will still run when pierced with a fork. If you prefer a fried egg with a hard yolk, you want your egg cooked over-hard. And over-hard egg is cooked on both sides until the yolk is solid.
Scrambled eggs are beaten eggs mixed with milk and fried. You must stir them while cooking to expose the uncooked egg to the hot surface of the pan. You can make your scrambled eggs an omelet by adding meat and/or vegetables, and folding the eggs instead of stirring.
Hardboiled eggs are cooked in the shell in boiling water until both the white and the yolk are solid (usually about ten minutes). Soft-boiled eggs are cooked in the shell in boiling water until the white is hard and the yolk is only thickened. Poached eggs are simmered in water out of the shell and can be cooked to any desired hardness. They are often cooked in cups to keep a shape.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Fight Cancer with Food

Fruits and vegetables are an easy and enjoyable way to fight cancer. Scientific evidence is mounting that the benefits of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables go way beyond nutrition. These foods act in a way that helps your body prevent cancer.

In order for any type of cancer to form, the proper conditions have to be present in your body. Fruits and vegetables intensify the action of your body in cleansing itself, but it's imperative that you begin immediately to prevent cancer from forming by beginning a diet that includes fruits and vegetable.

Substances like beta carotene found in carrots, lypocene in tomatoes, the vitamin A found in many leafy vegetables, have all been shown to be effective in lowering the incidence of cancer. This intake must be steady in your diet, as binging on vegetables is not believed to have any affect.
Make it a habit to include daily helpings of fresh fruit, eat salads at least once a day. The old saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", like so many of the things we heard from our mothers is now being shown to have developed from common good sense and experience.
It's also a good idea to begin learning how to cook a little differently. Studies have shown that the most common methods of cooking may produce cancer causing compounds in our foods. Learn to use the microwave oven, or better yet, learn to cook dishes that involve stewing your meat rather than cooking it on a grill or in an oven.

Drink green tea. Throw away the coffee that you've been drinking every day for years and enjoy the health benefits of a proven cancer fighting food like green tea. It's been proven that green tea is effective in fighting many different types of cancers, including stomach cancer and lung cancer. The Chinese and Japanese have been drinking tea for years and are benefiting from a cancer fighting compound called catechins, contained in almost all types of tea, but found in high levels in green tea.

Other foods that appear to be very beneficial in cancer prevention are garlic and milk. Fish is another prime candidate for study, as research uncovers the fact that high levels of fish oil in the blood have been linked to lower cancer rates.

The old saws that our parents have thrown at us for years are now proving to be true. Eat your vegetables! As the population in our country ages along with the baby boomers, these old truths become more and more evident.

Rubies

Rubies are among the most beautiful of the gemstones used in making jewelry. They have been seen for centuries as a symbol of love. Many ancients believed that the red color was caused by an internal fire within the ruby.

Rubies are formed by a material called corundum and are one of the hardest of gemstones, making them very durable when used in jewelry. The color of a Ruby can vary widely from a pale pink to a deep red, and is determined by the amount of chromium oxide in the corundum. Generally, the deeper colored stones are considered rubies while the light pink stones are more commonly called sapphires.
Natural rubies are more valuable than synthetic rubies, which are created by a process of heating aluminum oxide to high temperatures and then cooling very slowly. A well made synthetic ruby can be hard to detect except by an expert, so when you're buying jewelry, be sure to ask the origin of the stone.

The natural corundum from which rubies are obtained grow in various places around the world. However, the crystals which are needed to form fine rubies are very rare and therefore very costly. The best rubies tend to come from Burma. These are of a very deep red called "pigeons blood." The Burmese have been mining these rubies for hundreds of years.

Because of the popularity of manufactured rubies, care must be taken when purchasing jewelry. In recent years, there has been processes invented which can deepen the color of a ruby in order to increase its value. The problem is the coloration exists in only a very thin layer of the stone and not throughout the whole stone. To the layman, these may be indistinguishable, so rubies should be purchased only after you've done your homework, and only from a reputable jeweler that will answer your questions in a forthright manner.

The Healing Power of Food- Heart Health

Everyone starts out with a fresh set of pipes. What I mean to say is, when we're born, all our arteries are wide open and the blood flows freely through them. Before long however, we all start down that road to a set of clogged arteries. This is caused mostly by diet, as fat accumulates on the walls of the arteries. This fat eventually hardens into plaque and begins to restrict the flow of blood.

Your diet is a primary cause of this fat accumulation and growth. Conversely, you can make better decisions about the food you eat and keep these arteries clean. This has been proven by studies of populations that have markedly lower rates of heart and circulation problems than those of us living in the U.S. Eat better and you'll live longer and healthier, without a major sacrifice of your eating pleasure.

One of the best heart foods is fish, which is rich in a fatty acid called omega-3. Statistics show that people who eat fish on a regular basis suffer significantly less heart trouble. This is because of several factors. Fish acts in such a way as to reduce several of the clotting factors in the blood. It also prevents arteries from constricting, elevates the levels of good cholesterol in the blood, and consequently lowers your overall blood pressure measurably.

Eating vegetables and fresh fruit is another avenue open to us. Vegetarians have very low rates of heart problems. Just the addition of a cup of fruit a day can make a difference in your heart health. Combine the fruit intake with a healthy intake of fresh vegetables and you've stepped into a portion of the population that sees much lower cardiovascular problems and far fewer heart attacks.

Olive oil is another heart friendly food. The people in the Mediterranean region in Greece and Italy are only half as prone to heart attacks as Americans. It's not because they don't eat fat, it's because they eat a totally different kind of fat than Americans. Their diet consists primarily of non-saturated fats such as olive oil, in contrast to Americans, who traditionally have leaned toward a high intake of saturated animal fats.

In addition, unsaturated fats are high in anti-oxidants, which are known to reduce the incidence of cancer in the populations that consume them. This is a heart healthy food that does double duty!
Here's another great way to improve your heart health. Drink a glass of wine. Note I said A glass, as in one. A moderate use of wine on a regular basis is a good way to improve your circulation. Why? Well, for one thing it raise the good cholesterol in your body. It also prevents blood from clotting, and once again here's a food that contains anti-oxidants. The trick here is to keep your intake of alcohol down to a moderate level. Any more than a couple of glasses a day are going to be more harmful to your body as a whole than beneficial to your heart.

Here's one I like. The heart power of garlic. There are many people who don't like garlic but I personally enjoy garlic dishes. The benefits of garlic to your heart is that over long periods of time it has been shown that a steady intake of garlic can help reduce the buildup of restrictions in the blood vessels.

Nuts! Nuts are high in heart friendly unsaturated fats. They are also high in our old friend the anti-oxidant. You don't need to go and consume nuts by the pound, just have a few bites two or three times a week and you will do a lot to improve your heart health.
In summary, there are a few simple changes to your diet: Eat fish regularly, eat a few nuts, and throw some garlic in that otherwise plain food. When you want a snack, don't eat a ham sandwich, try an apple or an orange instead. Have a glass of wine every once in awhile, just relax and enjoy it. Do all these things, and you'll be well on the way to improving your health.

Spring Is In The Air

by Kat Yares

Spring is in the air and it is time to put away the winter sweaters and bring out the summer tops. Same goes for the long pants; it is almost time for shorts.

It's a good excuse to clean out the closets anyway. Bag up those clothes I'm never going to wear again and get them donated to a thrift store or women's shelter. Sort through the keepers, winter and summer, store the cold weather clothes.

Not much left on the bed. A couple pair of shorts, four or five tops. Maybe it's time to go shopping.

Looking in the ladies section of the local super center, I see an outpouring or orange. Is this because of The Gates in Central Park earlier this year? The entire department is a sea of saffron.

Orange is not my color, nor is lime green or sunshine yellow. Give me neutrals, give me earth tones, and give me blacks and grays any time of the year.

I don't know, maybe I need to start shopping online for clothes. I've resisted doing that until now. But, it looks like to find something more suited for an older woman, yet not elderly in appearance, I'm going to have to hit the web.

I've seen the ads for Chico's. Maybe I should try there first, I think. Type it in, see several pretty things. I also see the prices. Way out of my budget. I head to Google and type in women's clothing. There are so many returns I don't know where to start.

But, start I will, probably with the advertisers here on this blog site. Maybe I'll find what I'm looking for, maybe I won't. If anyone has any ideas, I'm open to them.

Let's see, exactly what am I looking for? Earth tones, comfortable, not overly trendy. Something that will last more than a few washes in the washing machine before it starts unraveling. Reasonable prices, which means less than twenty bucks.

I don't know, maybe I'm just cheap. Yet, to me, to pay more than that for something just to kick around the house and garden in, is rather unrealistic. So tomorrow, once more I'll start looking. Looking for anything other than saffron orange.

Meatloaf

As a newlywed, I have been gradually trying to improve my cooking abilities and add to the small list of meals that I know how to cook. I had been looking for quite some time for a good meatloaf recipe. After all, meatloaf is a family meal standard and I felt like I should be able to whip one up. But I did not want to just throw together any old meatloaf. I thought I could find the perfect easy meatloaf recipe that would put all other meatloaves I had ever tasted to shame. After looking at a zillion boring yet slightly different recipes, I finally just decided to try it out.

My first meatloaf turned out alright, and I learned several basic key elements to putting together a meatloaf. First, I learned that there are four basic elements of a meatloaf - the meat, the filler, the other stuff, and the sauce.

You want to start with at least a pound of meat. Basic ground beef is just fine. To add a little interest, try changing out a third of the ground beef with some ground pork. The filler is a bread product used to bulk up the meat. Some good options are crushed saltines, bread crumbs, or seasoned bread crumbs. Use about a cup of filler per each pound of meat. The other stuff is basically anything you want to mix in with the meat. Most cooks play it safe with a little bit of onion and seasoning. Others may add a little bit of green pepper for a kick. Some adventurous cooks even beef it up by adding hearty vegetables such as carrots and potatoes. You can choose to be creative and try out new things, or stick to the basics. The sauce is poured over the meatloaf, usually about half way through cooking. Some favorite sauces are ketchup, sweetened ketchup (two parts ketchup to one part sugar), tomato sauce, and brown gravy. Or, you may opt for no sauce at all.

It is that simple. Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour per pound of meat, and you are done. So have fun and try something different next time you make a meatloaf. Use alternatives for your favorite filler, other stuff, and sauce and see what you can create.

The Fantastic World of the Food Network

If you are a food lover, there is no better venue to learn, salivate, and watch incredible chefs in action than on the Food Network. The Food Network television network puts together an eclectic and interesting lineup of shows to please every type of eater and chef in training. On the Food Network, you can learn from a number of chefs with different styles, so whether you are a novice or advanced in the kitchen, you can take something away from the programs.

For beginners in the kitchen, or simply those who feel they do not have the time to cook a delicious and healthy meal for their family, Rachel Ray's show "30 Minute Meals" is a winner. Each show is only half an hour, and Rachel will guide you through the cooking process of a complete and satisfying meal from start to finish in this amount of time. Skeptics are welcome to watch, and will see that Rachel utilizes a number of tricks and shortcuts into her cooking that are major timesavers. She cooks such dishes as shepherd's pie, honey nut chicken, strombolis, and more. It seems there is no dish this woman cannot prepare in under 30 minutes. Rachel Ray's dishes are easy to prepare and perfect for those who consistently rely on fast food or takeout due to a lack of time to cook. All viewers are sure to learn something valuable from this chef who can put together a great meal in no time at all.

Giada Di Laurentis hosts a show on the Food Network called "Everyday Italian." This show is a dream come true for anyone who loves Italian cuisine, but whose repertoire starts and ends with spaghetti and jarred tomato sauce. Giada's show usually involves three different dishes that she is putting together for a specific event such as an outdoor picnic or a bridal shower. She makes Italian food accessible to all and relatively simple to make. Her recipes are simple, and usually involve only a few ingredients. She often reflects on her Italian upbringing, and how her recipes have been influenced and inspired by those she enjoyed as a young girl. Giada's dishes include classic dishes like lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs, and range to more exotic chicken saltimbocca, and Tuscan white bean dip. Her food always looks delicious, and can inspire even beginning chefs to try their hand at classic Italian fare.

Finally, another Food Network favorite is a chef by the name of Paula Deen. Paula Deen's show, "Paula's Home Cooking", highlights delicious and rich Southern home cooking. Paula often involves local grocers and or family members in her show, and creates dishes that can be described as nothing other than comfort food. Dieters beware of this show, as most of Paula's food involves butter, cheese, and other decadent ingredients. But, once you start watching, it is difficult to deny yourself the Southern treats Paula prepares. Some of her dishes include a cheeseburger meatloaf, fried biscuits, chicken nuggets, and fiery Cajun shrimp. No matter where in the country you live, Paula Deen's home cooking will inspire you to take a trip to the South, and taste the wonder of some delicious comfort food.

Whether or not you love to cook, or can't stand the thought of the kitchen, the Food Network will provide you with entertaining shows to cater to your cooking needs and desires. Be it a quick meal with Rachel Ray, a trip to Italy with Giada Di Laurentis, or some good old home cooking with Paula Deen, you will find a variety of wonderful shows on the TV network that can inspire the inner-chef in everyone.

Invite Spring into Your Home

If you have been waiting all winter for the warmth of spring, wait no longer….it's here! Below are a few tips to brighten up your home and invite in spring.

Clean the Windows
If you cannot remember the last time you cleaned your windows, chances are they are covered with a film of dirt and grime. Clean the inside and outside of your windows with a glass cleaner or just plain warm water with a little mild soap added. The clean glass will let in more light to brighten up your home, while also helping to break down barriers between you and the outdoors.

Bring the Outside In
Do not leave all the plants and spring flowers outside. Spring is a great time to add house plants to your living space. When planting annuals, plant a pot to bring inside. Be sure to place it in a bright window so it can soak up the sun. Colorful flowers can quickly change the mood of a dreary room. Cut a few flowers from early blooming bulbs (such as colorful daffodils) or purchase a fresh bouquet for a beautiful spring centerpiece.

Open Windows
When the weather and temperature are pleasant, open a few windows to freshen the air in your house. If your house has been closed up all winter, the smell of fresh spring air can really make a difference.

Pull Back Curtains
Curtains hide your view to the outdoors. This might be appealing during the dreary winter, but when spring comes pull back the curtains and enjoy the view. This will also let in warm sunlight. If you have heavy curtains hanging over your windows, consider hanging new, more lightweight curtains to prevent blocking out nice views. Of course, you may want to keep curtains that block undesirable views, such as your neighbor’s clothesline.

Mimic Scents
If you cannot open windows to invite in fresh spring scents, mimic them with candles. Scented candles can bring pleasing aromas of flowers or even the spring breeze into your home.

Clean, Clean, Clean
Spring brings a feeling of freshness to the outdoors. Freshen your house with a good spring cleaning. Wipe away the dust and clean all those nooks and crannies where dirt has settled over the winter.

For the Birds
Hang a birdfeeder just outside your favorite window. Watching birds and hearing them sing is an excellent way to begin your spring season.

Light Colored Couches

When I was single and on my own for the first time, I was very excited about picking out my first very own living room furniture. My condo had a bright, open feeling and I wanted to get just the right furniture to keep this feeling. I looked for months and collected opinions from many family members and friends. I finally decided on an ivory couch and oversized chair with a subtle wispy pattern. I loved how they looked in my new space, and the room had a clean, open feeling.

My new furniture was perfect until I met the right guy. We got married and bought a small starter house and my perfect furniture was moved. When we set up our new living room, I noticed several dingy dirt spots on my ivory couch. I carefully cleaned it with carpet/upholstery cleaner, but I could not quite get it back to that perfect state. The couch then went through weekends with my six-year-old stepdaughter. I started regular spot cleanings to remove mystery stains of every color of the rainbow. My husband then discovered he was most comfortable when he leaned oddly on the back cushions of the couch, folding over the corner and creating a permanent crease in the cushion stuffing. Then came the dog. My husband insisted that the large dog be able to sit on the couch with us, causing my ivory furniture to gradually turn a darker shade of beige in some areas. I now cover the seat cushions with a quilt that I can periodically wash, and hope for the best. Luckily, the upholstery I choose has been durable enough to withstand the abuse.

I have learned one valuable lesson about choosing furniture: Make sure you think about the purpose of the furniture and the level of durability needed before making such a large purchase. Of course, I did not think too far into the future when I purchased my ivory set. It served its purpose just fine when I was single and living alone. I think my next living room furniture will be a darker neutral to help hide spots and dirt from aggressive wear and tear. When you choose your new furniture, make sure you consider color and the durability of the upholstery. That white couch may look pretty, but it may not be white for long!

Japanese Restaurant Etiquette

Do you know the proper etiquette called for when eating at a traditional Japanese restaurant? Do you know in which order to eat the food placed before you or how to propose a toast to everyone's health? While good old-fashioned table manners will get you far, you could still run into some unique situations where you might not know exactly what to do. In this article, I will tell you how to get through a Japanese meal without committing any major gaffes.

Being seated
Although many Japanese restaurants in both the United States and Japan have the full-sized tables and chairs that you are used to, some of the older, more traditional establishments have low tables with cushions set out on the floor around them. If you are led to a low table, you must remove your shoes before sitting down, so it's a good idea to make sure you wear clean socks that don't have any holes in them. There will be a hot, rolled up cloth placed before each person at the table. The cloth, called an oshibori, should be used to wipe your hands; then it should be rolled or folded up neatly and put back on the table. Don't use the oshibori to wipe your face, your neck, or your arms. Depending on the restaurant, there might also be small plates of appetizers, such as soybean pods or tofu, set out for each person. Additionally, you will be served water or tea at this time.

Ordering
If you are with a group of people, it is customary to order a variety of dishes for everyone to share instead of each person ordering his or her own meal. You can still order what you want, but just be aware that you might be sharing with everyone. When ordering food in Japan, it is considered unusual (and some would even say impolite) to make modifications to the menu or to make special requests. So if you need to have salad dressing only on the side, or if you want extra onions in your ramen, be prepared for some quizzical looks from your server (and don't be surprised if you don't get what you ask for). Drinks are also ordered at this time. Alcohol will be served right away, while soft drinks and juice are typically not brought out until the food is ready.

Drinking
When your beverage is brought to you, do not start drinking it right away. After each person in your party has been served, it is time for the toast. Everyone raises their glasses and says "kanpai!" which literally means "dry glass". After the toast, you can drink whenever you want. In Japanese restaurants, you should never pour your own drink. Instead, the person sitting next to you ought to notice your empty glass and fill it without you having to say anything. Similarly, you should monitor your neighbor's glass and do the same for him or her. If you do not want any more to drink, just leave your glass full. As you would do in most other restaurants, use your good judgment when drinking alcohol and take care not to become too loud or boisterous as the night wears on.

Eating
If your group has ordered dishes for everyone to share, then the plates will be passed around and you can serve yourself a little bit of everything. To remove food from a common plate to your own plate, do not use the same ends of the chopsticks that you have eaten from. Instead, turn the chopsticks around and use the opposite ends. Also, be sure not to take food from a common plate and put it directly into your mouth. Even if you are taking just one piece of something, you should put it on your own plate before eating.

If your group opted for individual meals, you will probably have several bowls and plates set out on a tray in front of you. As an example, your meal might consist of a bowl of white rice, a bowl of miso soup, and several side dishes of items such as fried chicken pieces or grilled beef strips. In Japan, it is customary to eat from all dishes more or less at the same rate so that you finish everything almost simultaneously. Usually, you should start with the miso soup, which you sip directly from the bowl. Then you move on to the other dishes, taking one or two bites from each plate before coming back to the soup. It is polite to eat all the food in front of you and not to leave anything on the plates. This is pretty easily accomplished, as serving sizes are very small.

It should be noted that most traditional Japanese restaurants do not provide "doggy bags" for you to take home any leftover food. So don't go overboard when you order, thinking that you will be able to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Special mention must be made here regarding the use of chopsticks. There is a veritable laundry list of things you shouldn't do with chopsticks. For instance, don't pass or accept food directly to or from another person's chopsticks. Don't use your chopsticks to spear food. Don't stand your chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice. Don't use your chopsticks to point at someone. And don't use your chopsticks to pull a plate or bowl closer to you.

Paying
When dining with a group of people, you will be expected to pay an equal share of the check rather than only for what you consumed. So even if the guy next to you drank seven beers while you just had two, you will both be paying the same amount. Payment is usually made at the register rather than to your server. There is no tipping in Japan, but if you eat at a Japanese restaurant in the United States, be prepared to tip at the standard rate.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Crawfish, Crawfish, Crawfish

Greetings from the Bayou state of Louisiana where we're just coming into the middle of crawfish season as I'm writing this on March 28th. We've got a few more good weeks left to go in the season and so far It's been a good season for crawfish with the supply plentiful and the price in reasonable range, although we've just come off easter weekend, when things can tighten up because of the celebrations. That's right, down here in Louisiana we celebrate Easter with more than just chocolate and colored eggs. We boil crawfish on easter Sunday.
This weekend makes three weeks in a row we've boiled, so I thought I'd drop an idea into your head about what to do with the extra crawfish that might be left over from the boil. Here's what I do.
1) The very next morning I get up early, and using crawfish I peeled and saved the night before, I make a crawfish and cheese omelet. Nothing tricky here, just a plain omelet with american cheese. I've had people look at me like I'm crazy when I tell them this but if you've never had a crawfish and cheese omelet you haven't eaten.
2) Crawfish and butter sandwiches. Simple, quick, and great.
3) Throw the leftover crawfish into some boxed Jambalaya. This isn't as good as made from scratch but it works and it's quick.
4) Have my daughter make a crawfish pie. I don't know the recipe but if you email me at edrouant@charter.net I'll get it for you.
5) Saute some onions and green peppers in butter. Add a tiny amount of crab boil towards the end, about a quarter teaspoon. While you're doing this grill some steaks plain. (Maybe a little salt and pepper) Right when the onions and peppers are ready, throw the crawfish in. Serve the steaks with heaping spoonfuls of the saute piled on top of the steak. Killer cholesterol but man that's a meal.

Blue Jean Blues

It was just the other day when my wife noticed that I was running out of decent blue jeans to wear. I hate to admit it but I had been trying to hide the fact that I was down to only a couple of pairs of well worn jeans that didn't have holes in the butt or in the knees or weren't unraveling somewhere along a hem. The fact is, I like my jeans well worn and can't stand to get new ones that have to go through the breaking in process.
"You know," she said, "I can see parts of you sticking out of those jeans that really ought to not be put on public display."
"Well," I said, "I don't really plan on going off anywhere so I think they'll be alright for today."
"You know, if we head over to the mall it won't take a lot of time to find a couple of pairs of jeans. There's no use you running around looking like a bum when you could be wearing a decent pair of pants." she said.
Having been married for over 20 years, I knew there wasn't a lot of room for argument, or rather, I knew there wasn't a lot of sense in starting an argument that I wouldn't be able to win. So rather reluctantly, I finished dressing and off we headed to the local mall, or as I like to call it, the seventh level of hell.
As soon as we walked in the door I got the first dose.
"While we're here..." she began.
"Oh no," I said, "We came here to get jeans. We're going to walk into Sears, grab a couple of pairs of jeans and head right back out the door."
"Dillard's is right there." she said. "We won't be in there for five minutes." And off she went with me trailing behind her like the last cow in the herd.
30 minutes later we were still standing at the counter in Dillard's debating whether she should get the blue eye shadow #489 or the azure #522, both of which appeared to be exactly identical to me and probably to every other male within 300 miles.

"Blue jeans." I whispered in her ear. "Blue jeans." I said again a little more forcefully, this time flicking my tongue out and licking her earlobe, a maneuver I knew would get her moving. (She hates it in public but at home alone...well that's another blog).
After getting away from the Dillard's counter, we had to walk past the bookstore. Naturally she thought of a birthday present she had to buy. At least in the bookstore I can find something to entertain myself with. Maybe a book on blue jeans.

Finally we got to Sears, where I promptly moved in, picked out a couple of pairs of 32x36 and headed for the checkout counter. "Aren't you going to try them on?" I heard as I was heading off. "I know what size I wear." I protested. "I've been wearing the same size for ten years. Why would I have to try on a pair of blue jeans?"
"It's gonna take five minutes. What's the big deal? You go in and try them on and come right out. It might save us a trip back."

Sighing deeply, I headed for the changing room. The waist was a little snug, but I'll be damned if I'll walk back out there and tell her that. I wonder why the people who make blue jeans mark them as 32s when they know they're really 31s?

I hit the checkout counter like a madman, wrote a check at record pace, and took off for the exit.
We finally left after getting ice cream, a quick trip through the household appliances at Sears, fifteen minutes of conversation with her friend from the PTA, a quick stop at the T-Shirt store, a pretzel, paying the cell phone bill, a peruse through the jewelry store, another conversation, and a coke. "See?" she said as the security guard behind us locked up for the night, "That didn't take long at all."

All about Diamonds

Diamonds are the probably the best known type of gemstone used in jewelry. They've been treasured by humans for thousands of years and continue to fascinate.

The diamond trade's earliest history stems from India. They found their way around the world, including the Middle East and eventually to Rome, where Diamonds were believed to be instruments of magic.
Diamonds were believed to possess many different powers, including the gift of health. In ancient times, many people swallowed diamonds in order to improve their health. Diamonds were also used for good luck, protection, and by ancient warriors in order to give themselves strength and bravery.

Diamonds are formed by pure carbon, one of the more common elements, but diamonds are anything but common. The carbon aligns in specific type of crystals to form a diamond, most commonly an octahedron, or eight sided configuration. Diamonds can also be formed in cubes or sometimes a 12 sided form called a dodecahedron.

Most diamonds that we are familiar with are white, sometimes slightly discolored by a yellow or gray hue. Others, less commonly, are yellow, green, blue, and pink. Blue Diamonds are very very rare. The Hope Diamond is one example of a blue Diamond.

Most of the Diamonds in the world today are found in Africa. They also appear in other areas of the world such as India, South America, Russia, and a few other places. Each locale tends to have characteristics common to that region.

Diamonds are formed under high heat and pressure in specific types of igneous rock called kimberlite. In order to be recovered, this rock is crushed and then washed and separated by various means. Most of the Diamonds that are recovered are of very low quality and destined to be used in industrial applications such as drilling and cutting. Only a small percentage ends up in Jewelry. There are a few things that need to be considered when purchasing Diamond Jewelry. The stone needs to be viewed and evaluated in terms of size, color, clarity, and cut.

Obviously size makes a major difference in the value of a Diamond. Large stones are simply much harder to find than the smaller stones, thereby increasing their value. The value increases tremendously as you go up the scale, as the truly large stones are becoming more and rarer.

Color is a major consideration. While the clear stones are highly prized, heavily colored stones are also rare, and are sometimes call "fancy". In general, the value of a stone will be higher the clearer it is. Unless it becomes heavily colored enough to be considered a fancy, its value will decrease.
Clarity is a measurement of flaws within the diamond. Since most diamonds have traces of various other minerals held within them. Clarity is determined by examination of the diamond through a magnifying glass or microscope.

The cut of a diamond is simply the shape that the Jeweler decides to cut the diamond into. Because some cuts require a larger stone, they are worth more. In theory, each stone should be examined carefully in order to determine its ultimate shape, but in practice, commercial diamonds are often cut into a shape that will yield the largest size for marketing purposes.

Black is the New White

I have heard designers rave for years about the benefits of pure white dishes. They say their simplicity is modern, their color does not compete with the beauty of the food, and they match any decor, allowing you to redecorate without the cost of new dishes.

Although I have never liked the country flower patterns and color ring patterns that dominate most traditional dishes, I never really liked the white ones either. White reminds me of winter and hospitals, not a warm kitchen. A new trend of black dishes has given another option of simplicity. They provide a nice neutral for darker kitchen decor, and an unimposing contrast for lighter color decor.

Most white and black dishes share a few common traits. Both can come in a matte or glossy finish. These two finishes can be mixed using patterns or pictures, such as flowers, to create subtle designs. Simple designs may allow you to easily add pieces to your set from other brands and collections while staying with the same color and finish. Or you can add contrast by choosing unique finishing pieces, such as your sugar and creamer, in a variety of colors and patterns and still accomplish the look of a complete set. Neutral colored dishes also look nice when used as serving dishes on buffets.

Six Unique Ways to Use a Martini Glass

Martini glasses are simple, yet beautifully shaped. Despite their elegance, they are usually stored in cabinets and occasionally used. The following ideas show how you can use your martini glasses in six unique ways.

1. The martini glass is the perfect dish for an individual shrimp cocktail. Simply pour the cocktail sauce in the glass, and then place the shrimp around the edge for an elegant appetizer.

2. Colorful desserts look fabulous in a martini glass. They are perfect for sundaes, fruits, pudding, and colorful gelatin cubes. Boring desserts will become fun!

3. Sauces come in many visually appealing colors, and look great sitting in a clear martini glass on your buffet table.

4. Martini glasses are useful as plate elevators. Place small and lightweight plates on one or more glasses to raise the plate off the table. This not only adds depth and interest to your table or buffet presentation, but also creates more usable table space. Just make sure the plate is not too heavy for your glass(es) to support.

5. Butter can be displayed nicely on your table or buffet in a martini glass. You can simply put spreadable butter or margarine in the glass, or you can be creative and use a melon baller to make small butter balls. Finish it off by sticking a spreader in the center and you have created a unique twist on a standard member of the table.

6. For a quick and easy table or buffet decoration, fill a martini glass. Depending on your decor or party theme, you can use items such as flowers, potpourri, marbles, small glass Christmas ornaments, ribbon curls, confetti, party favors, or numerous other items. You can also try using visually interesting foods such as carrot curls, radishes, or fruit slices.

Would You Wear Jeans to a Job Interview?

I was taught that when you go on a job interview, you should always look your best. You should wear a modest suit and conduct yourself in the same modest business manner. This shows respect to your interviewer and the company you are interviewing with, and also helps you give your best presentation. After all, a job interview is all about selling yourself isn't it?

I saw a strange face around the office today, and I automatically thought it was the son of a coworker visiting his parent. He was wearing blue jeans, tennis shoes, and a tucked in white t-shirt with a sports graphic silk screened on the front. His attire stood out, even in our small business casual office. I was shocked to find out later that he was there for an interview! I immediately assumed that he was not seriously considered for the job due to his presentation. I did not think his attire was appropriate and I thought my coworker interviewing him would find it disrespectful. I was very wrong. He was actually hired for the position. I hope this is not becoming the norm in the workplace. I find the traditional suit to be a job interview standard and I would hate to see this casual take on interview attire become acceptable.

It's All About Learning

Have you ever gone into a child's class room and looked at the walls? No doubt there are many brightly colored posters adorning that wall. There is no better way to make learning come alive for a child than with posters. Posters can teach children a variety of topics, virtually from A to Z (from astronomy to zoology and everywhere in between.

Posters can start teaching the very young, basics such as their alphabet (with Mickey Mouse or another fun character) or their colors or shapes, then moving up the next few grades, the can help the child identify the different type of dinosaurs to the planets in the solar system to bike safety to water conservation, or how about a poster featuring both dinosaurs and the times table? Then on to middle school, with posters that teach about plant life or how the body works or verbs in another language. High school posters could include maps of different countries, or healthy eating ideas or drug awareness posters. And even onto college, there are posters on 'success in exams', or subjects such as politics, or economics or science. Posters detailing specific topics like geoscience or the human skeletal system, or great world authors are able to be had.

Not only in schools can posters be effective, but also in the workplace! They can provide tips on health and safety on the job as well as tips on getting a good nights (or days) sleep (for shift workers) or safety on the job, such as 'always wear eye protection' or steps on dealing with injuries, or keeping clean on the job (for hospitals) or posters featuring the worker's rights as an employee.

No matter what subject you are teaching, it is very likely that you can find a corresponding poster regarding that topic. It may take some time to hunt for it, but it's out there. Also, it is possible for the parent/guardian to buy these posters to correspond what your child is studying at school. What a great way to doubly install the message for your student and every little bit helps them with their remembering the finer details of a subject.. My daughter loves dinosaurs, so we put up a poster featuring them in her room. It may not help her when she grows up, but it helped her remember them for school. Then she was able to use the pictures for a subsequent project.

Educational posters can be a great help to any student, in any situation, whether it be at school or in the work place.

Entertain With a Pie Social

By Kathy A. Schaeffer

If you want to host a unique kind of gathering for family or friends, try a pie social. Everyone will have a great time and you can arrange it so that the amount of work you will have to do yourself is minimal.

This is a gathering for which each of the guests (or families) will be contributing to the food that is being served. The menu will include ice cream, pie, coffee, and other drinks for the very minimum. Other items can be added to the menu if you choose, but these few items alone will make a successful pie social.

There are many ways to plan this kind of party. If you wish to provide only the drinks and plates, napkins, cups, and forks, you will need to assign most of your guests the chore of arriving with a pie. It can be either homemade or store bought, whatever they wish to bring.

Other guests will be assigned to bring the ice cream. If it will be ice cream bought at the store, make sure you have freezer space to store it until serving time, but the better idea is to see if any of your guests have ice cream freezers. If they do, you can plan an activity of making ice cream right at the party to serve with the pie. You can furnish the ingredients and ice if you wish to do so. At this point, divide it up any way you wish, but don't ask one person to bring more than another, try to keep it as evenly distributed as possible.

Also plan to provide drinks. Coffee is excellent to serve with pie, but some of your guests will prefer soda or water, so be sure to provide a variety of beverages. Remember to offer decaf coffee as well as regular. Depending on the number of guests, you may want to rent or borrow larger coffee making machines instead of using a couple of 12 cup pots.

To plan the social, first make a list of what you want to serve, and how much of each item you will need. The guests should be able to bring any kind of pie they want to bring, so do not micro-manage to the point of deciding which kinds of pies will be available. The number of pies and the variety of flavors will be determined by the number of guests that will be attending.

Decide how much ice cream will be needed and whether to do homemade or store bought. How much soda and how many bottled waters will you need? Besides these basic decisions, the only other bigger items will be how much you want to decorate, if at all, and putting your guest list together.

If you want to make a pie or two of your own for the social, baking is much easier than you may have thought in the past if something like pie baking has been a frightening prospect. If you can make a great pie crust, more than half of the battle is won, so here is one recipe that is easy to make and turns out tasting great. That said, crusts that are already made and frozen from the store shelves, or the "fold-over" kind found in the dairy section all work just fine, so don't be afraid to use one of those as your crust if you want to do that.

If you wish to make your own crust, however, try this recipe and method. In a large bowl, mix 3 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add a cup of solid vegetable shortening and make this into a crumb mixture with your hands.

In the meantime, beat 1 egg until it is frothy. Add 1/2 cup of cold water to the egg, and then add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to this mixture. When mixed, add this to the dry ingredients and blend it all together into a good dough forms. This will make enough for four single crust pies or two 2-crust pies. Divide it into four parts and use as many as you need for your pie baking session.

Now, what kind of pies will you make for the social? Any kind of pie goes well with coffee, so if you have any recipes handed down from mom or grandmom, go for it. Fruit pies are most probably the most popular (apple, peach, blueberry, etc.) but you can try pumpkin or mince pie, or any kind of dessert pie such as peanut butter pie or cheesecake.

For a different kind of pie, try this Raisin Crumb Pie. The first step is to mix 1/2 cup of oatmeal, 3 tablespoons flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons melted butter to make your topping.

Bake a pie crust prior to filling it and then add a can of raisin pie filling into the baked crust. Top with the oatmeal mixture you have sat aside. This pie does not have a top crust, the crumbs will take its place. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the topping is the way you want it to be, but do not let it get over baked or too dark. Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil if you don't want it to get too dark.

If your choice is traditional apple pie, prepare the pie crust and then get the filling ready for it. The way to do that is to peel 6 to 8 medium sized apples (this amounts to 6 to 8 cups) and slice them thinly. To the apple slices, add 3/4 cup to 1 cup of sugar (depending on the desired sweetness), 1/4 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (if desired, the nutmeg is optional), and a pinch (about 1/8 teaspoon) of salt.

Put this mixture into the pie shell (deep dish or regular) and put 3 tablespoons of butter, cut in small pieces, over the apples. Add the top crust and seal the edges in your traditional manner. Cut slits in the top crust so that steam can escape. Bake the apple pie at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes. You may want to cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent it from getting too dark for the last 20 minutes. Put the pie plate on a cookie sheet or even a piece of aluminum foil in the oven in case it cooks out. Cleanup would be a lot easier that way!

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Creating a Kid-Friendly Home

I always joked that children were not allowed in my home. This was not because I disliked children, rather because my home was not kid-friendly. The odds of a young toddler touching something that could potentially hurt them are very high in my home. Children are very adventurous and inquisitive. They like to explore and touch things they are not supposed to. Those who do not have children may not appreciate the importance of child proofing a home. Each day numerous children from all over the world are rushed to emergency rooms and doctor offices with injuries that occurred at home. These injuries can range from falling down a staircase to inhaling poisonous chemicals. Many child care specialist will emphasize how important it is for parents to create a safe environment for children. Most parents will comply and do a little rearranging, however other’s feel that children need to be taught boundaries. They reason that once a child is able to understand simple instructions, this is the time to teach them what objects they are allowed to touch. Although I completely agree with setting boundaries for children, I think that it is irresponsible for parents not to take the necessary precautions to ensure that their children are safe.

Homes with small children should be child proofed. Child proofing does not involve a complete renovation of the home. There are certain items that should never be within a child’s reach. Children are great for tugging on, and banging on objects. However there are certain items that are not safe for them to play with. For example, glass chess pieces, knick knacks, trinkets, picture frames, outlets, etc. Child proofing a home only requires keeping these objects out of a child’s reach. Toddlers are only about a foot tall. Therefore many parents opt to move objects of this sort from coffee tables and side tables to shelves. Children are attracted to items that are off limit - its part of their make-up. It does not matter if a room is full of colorful toys, if there is at least one object they should not touch, it is almost a guarantee that the toddler will head directly towards it. Over time children can be taught what items not to touch. It is not always easy to child proof a home. Those who are first time parents may find this task especially challenging. However, there are some practical tips that can help anyone convert their home into a kid-friendly living area.

Although not easy, creating a more kid-friendly home is not impossible. It only involves a little re-shuffling. Those who do not currently have children in the home may want to invest in a few shelves or tables that are at least three feet tall. These tables can be very inexpensive, yet stylish. Any household decoration that is within the reach of toddlers should be placed high. These include small figurines, plants, pictures, and anything else that toddlers should not play with. Household furniture can potentially have sharp edges, and children are notorious for falling. Therefore it may be ideal for parents to purchase edge bumpers. These are made from a soft material and designed to be placed securely around sharp edges. These bumpers are very inexpensive and are great for coffee tables, fireplaces, and furniture. Edge bumpers will lower the risk of severe injury in the event that a toddler falls on a sharp edge. Staircases are a toddler magnet. I understand that some young children are skilled stair climbers however accidents do occur. Parent should place safety gates to prevent toddlers from climbing up and down stairs.

Many parents allow their toddlers to roam freely throughout the home with little supervision. This would be fine if the parent is not distracted by other household tasks. In other words if a parent is busy doing laundry, mopping the floor, or carrying out any task that has their full attention it may not be wise to leave toddlers roaming. This allows too many opportunities for accidents to occur. If feasible, I suggest that parents have a special room that is designed especially for the child. This could be the child’s own play area. A parent could place the child in the room while taking care of other household business. Creating a safe playroom is easy and does not take a lot of time. Parents should first remove all items that can easily break. Items off limit should be placed high. Toys should be easily accessible. They can be place directly in the middle of the floor or in storage bins. Parents should also pay attention to make sure that all electrical outlets are covered. This is important because the child(ren) will be left alone. Safety gates should be placed at the entrance of the room to ensure that the child will stay confined to the play area. Before a parent places a child in the playroom they should quickly look to make sure that small objects are not on the floor. Once the child is safely inside the room, the parent is free to complete other tasks.

Hung Out to Dry

by Kat Yares

One of the things I especially love about spring is that I'm done with the clothes dryer. As soon as the permanent chill is out of the air, I begin hanging clothes out on the line.

I love the fresh smell. Just like fancy dryer sheets and fabric softeners, the scent of spring stays in the newly washed clothes for days. Unlike the washer and dryer additives, the smell is all natural-a true gift of nature.

If you plan your laundry around a predicted spring shower, you can have nature provide your fabric softener. Rainwater is a truly natural way to condition your clothes. Best of all it's free.

Not only do hanging clothes out to dry save wear and tear on the clothes, it also saves money. Running a dryer, be it gas or electric, can really increase the energy bill. The money savings alone buys at least several new outfits a year.

The truth of it is, hanging the clothes out really doesn't take much longer than putting them into the dryer. For some reason, it gives me a real feeling of accomplishment too. For me, it takes ten minutes to hang a load and maybe fifteen to bring it back inside. Of course, I fold as I take it off the line, so that does take a bit longer.

I have never lived anywhere that I didn't have a clothesline of some sort. Big city apartments or back country homes, they have all had a clothesline strung somewhere.

Balconies and breezeways of apartment complexes can usually handle a temporary, detachable clothesline of some sort. Where I had a yard, a thin cotton rope tied between two trees always served the purpose. When I finally settled down and bought a home, four parallel lines were strung permanently.

I have nothing at all against technology. During the winter months, I love my dryer, it dries my clothes and by doing that, it keeps me warm. I have hung clothes outside during the cold months, but there is no pleasure in that, only freezing fingers.

Old timers will tell you they don't understand the way us youngsters do things today. When it comes to laundry, I understand exactly what they mean. Sometimes, the old ways are best.

Not the Same Old Pizza

If you are a pizza lover like I am and eat it as much as I do, then you will understand how much it pains me to write this: sometimes, I just get tired of the same ol' thing. Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms... yawn. Face it -- no matter how much you love a particular food, there will come a point in time when the prospect of eating it once more doesn't make your mouth water like it used to. We all need something different once in a while, even when it comes to our favorite foods. The next time you feel like having homemade pizza, forget your usual recipe and try one of the following suggestions instead.

Please note that I am not going to give ingredient measurements or cooking times and temperatures in this article. I am assuming that you already know how to make your own pizza dough or that you can buy a ready-made crust from the store. All suggested ingredients can be added according to your own tastes. In other words, if you like cheese, go ahead and load it on. If you don't like a lot of sauce on your pizza, then just hold back. In addition, these pizzas can all be cooked at the same temperature and for the same amount of time that you would cook your regular pizzas.

Cheeseburger Pizza
This pizza is very easy to make and tastes just like a Big Mac. It's usually a hit with kids, so treat your young ones to a special lunch today. Instead of tomato sauce, spread Thousand Island salad dressing on the pizza crust. Next, brown enough ground beef to cover the entire pizza. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and shredded lettuce, then pop the pizza in the oven and cook as usual.

Teriyaki Chicken Pizza
Teriyaki chicken pizzas are very popular in Japan. I had a chance to try one while I was traveling through that country, and I thought it was delicious! Take a can of pre-cooked chicken cubes and add teriyaki sauce to taste. Put the chicken and teriyaki sauce mixture on a pizza crust, and then top with onions, mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese. Cook as usual, then add thin lines of mayonnaise in a crisscross pattern over the top of the pizza before serving. If you have reservations about eating a pizza with mayonnaise on it, then you can obviously leave it off. But it actually tastes very good!

Pesto Pizza
Pesto pizzas have been around for a while, but I never tried one until very recently. I was quite impressed with the results, and I think you will be, too. Pesto is another good alternative to tomato sauce. Spread it over the pizza crust, then top with chopped vegetables such as tomatoes, green peppers, black olives, and onions. Crumble feta cheese over the pizza, and then cook until the cheese browns.

Now you have three new pizza options that don't employ tomato sauce, sausage, or pepperoni at all. Your taste buds will welcome the change!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Add a Cheese Course to Your Next Dinner Party

It used to be that having a cheese course with dinner either meant you were at an upscale restaurant (spending half a paycheck on one meal) or at the house of a chef or European person, who was used to having said course included with their meal. But cheese courses are not just for movies or overly-fancy dinner parties anymore. Even a novice cheese-lover can have an entire cheese course at their next sit-down dinner without having to special order anything, and possibly without even breaking the bank.

There are several reasons for the emergence of the cheese course. One is the still-popular Atkins or low-carb diets. People who are watching their carbohydrate intake love cheese because it is high in protein and prevents you from having to eat all meats and eggs on these types of diets. There are also many cheese shops opening across the country. We are not just talking about a deli with a cheese counter, but actual stores dedicated merely to the sale of the diverse dairy product. But arguably the most intriguing reason is that there are so many great cheeses now being made here in the United States. This of course means that there are no import costs or taxes, which leads to a smaller price to pay to include a cheese course in your next meal menu. Here are a few tips and hints to help you get started-

Go to a cheese shop and ask for samples. If you find any one particular cheese that really tastes great, buy some! You have a few options- you can choose that and one complimentary cheese (ask the person behind the counter for suggestions). You can also include that with a series of cheeses, or simply serve it by itself! If a cheese is good enough, it can be nibbled with wine on its own merit. No need to pair it up with others that might overpower it. The choice is yours!

If you plan on serving several cheese courses over a period of time, try doing it by country or region. You can do one night's cheese course on the cheeses of France (though there are so many, this may be one that you have to do by region). There are many fine cheeses from Mexico that are of both the hard and soft variety. Of course, the pride of the United States is Wisconsin cheese, and there are varieties from that state alone. So decide in advance, or again, ask for the advice of the pros in the cheese shop or the cheese section of your local grocer.


There is much debate as to when to serve the cheese course. In some countries and cultures, it is to be served alongside the salad. In others before the entree, but after the appetizer. Some are right after the entree, but before dessert. And still others insist it goes after the coffee, as the very last thing served. The choice is really up to you. You may want to decide based on what cheeses you are going to be serving. Are you planning on serving mild cheeses? If so, then during the meal is great. Are you going for the stronger, moldier cheeses? If that is the case, then you should serve them last, so that they do not kill the taste of the rest of the meal.

Have fun, and throw a cheese party! Instead of the usual dinner party, have guests over for a "cheese class". Serve some cheeses and as they are sampling, inform them about the type of cheese it is, and see if anyone can guess its name. This can be fun and informative. Also, having other snacks that compliment cheese can mean that even if they didn't have a traditional meal, your guests will leave your house feeling full, like they have eaten at a buffet. Some examples of things that compliment cheese would be fruits, crusty breads (try toasted or broiled), honey and nuts. Serve with wine if you would like cocktails as well.

Though there are more ways to enjoy or learn about cheese than just what is listed above, this will get you started on your way to having a cheese course or party. The possibilities are endless and only limited by your imagination. Bon apetite!

Why Do I Need Sushi-Grade Fish?

Sushi has been a staple of Japanese diets for centuries, in some form or another. But it is just in the last few decades that it has become so mainstream. Today, you can go to most major supermarket chains and find that at least some of their locations sell pre-made sushi, or some of the ingredients to make it. All major cities (and some smaller ones, too) have at least one restaurant dedicated to sushi (though you may be able to get other Japanese or Asian foods as well).

Of course, with the popularity of sushi exploding and the reservations for the best sushi restaurant filling up, there comes a time when people might want to make their own. And why not? It's a fun project to work on and is a nice change from the usual dinner-at-home fare. But before you go to the store and stock up on those sushi-making foods, one should be well-informed. Sushi is more than just raw fish and rice. There is a lot more than meets the eye in preparing it, especially when it comes to picking out the fish. You must be aware of these things so that you don't get sick!

After you have selected the type of fish you want for your sushi (salmon, tuna and eel are amongst the most popular), then look up online or in your phone book for fish markets. Though most chain grocery stores sell fish, it is not usually "sushi-grade", and that is exactly what you need here. All raw fish to be used for sushi (with the exception of tuna) must be frozen long enough to kill any parasites. Tuna is the exception because it is not prone to parasites.

Now, here is a bit of a catch. There is not one set of laws that say the exact temperature that sushi-grade fish must be frozen at. There is likewise no law that says how long the fish must be frozen at any particular temperature. In some states, the fish only need be frozen if parasites are found. The good news here is that either way, in order for fish to earn the title of "sushi-grade", it must be closely inspected, whether it is frozen or not. This means you will get the freshest, safest fish possible for your meal. In fact, sushi-grade fish is so clean and safe, that many people buy it to use for all their seafood dishes, not just sushi. This is a good idea, unless you are on a budget. Sushi-grade fish is more expensive because of the strict inspection procedures and care that gets taken before it earns this label. But when it comes to health, particularly with seafood, the extra money is well-worth it. Call it an investment into your peace of mind. And an investment into a fun evening of making and eating one of the hottest ethnic foods in the country.

Loving The Low Carb Lifestyle

If you're a dieter, you know all about the low carb life-style... from The Atkins Nutritional Approach to South Beach Diet and right into the Carb Addicts Diet. Heck even celebrities are pulling it off in style, such as the famous Suzanne Somers.
If you're a low calorie fan, don't discriminate the low carb life-style just yet. I'm sure you have heard of scary cholesterol levels, and let your imagination go wild on how crazy the thought is to get skinny off of fattening things that seem dangerous to your heart. You've heard all this glorious raving news on how wonderful low carb life-styles are, but do you know WHY they are so glorious? I don't mean the pictures of people who have dropped 100 pounds or all these success stories... but the actual SCIENCE behind the craze. When my mother told me about all of this Low Carb hype, how you got skinny simply off of eggs, meat and all of the low cal dieter's dream foods... I simply raised my eyebrow in disbelief.
Alas, I was as a typical dieter with a low self-esteem seeking a fallback that would actually work. If you took Biology class, you should know that Carbohydrate, Lipids, Nucleic Acid and such are the factors that make up metabolism. Carbohydrates are the first to go through metabolism... and when you take them away, your fat gets burned in place of the Carbohydrates. So all of that fat that you're eating... is getting burned off anyway! That is the simple science on the Low Carb. The Atkins website offers some more great in-depth information on how this scientific process works.
Another myth about low carb dieting is that you've probably heard that you get all of your vegetables, fruits and healthy starches permanently taken away. This is simply NOT true. There are phases of the Low Carb life-style that you must take in order to get to your fruits and vegetables. Incase you didn't know, it is a LIFE-STYLE (a word commonly used in this article) not a simple 2 month diet. It leads up into eating your fruits and vegetables. You learn to eat and make healthy choices every step of the way. Living in a lifestyle where every grocery store coupon book lists mountains upon mountains of unhealthy addictive food items, it is very difficult to change life-styles. Only with perseverance and determination will you ever be able to change your life in any area that you are attempting to accomplish. You can definitely lose weight without any exercise regimen on the low carb life-style, but that doesn't mean that it's any reason to not exercise. Exercising is extremely important, and you'll lose weight FASTER. Diet and Exercise... you hear it everywhere, from every healthy person, so don't exclude it! I will make a list of Low Carb foods that will help you achieve your goals to weight loss. Listed below are some great items to help you get started:

Boneless chicken breast, eggs, cube steak, bacon, sausages, ham, lunch meat, green beans, salad, ranch dressing, broccoli, cauliflower, cheese, low carb yogurt, low carb baking mixes, low carb bread, radishes, ground beef patties, low carb hot dog buns, low carb hamburger buns, hot dogs.

There is a little sample list of all the wonderful foods that you can eat while you are adjusting to your new life-style. As you can see, you won't go without your breads and starches (the only difference is that they'll taste a little different and that you'll lose weight faster). There is a GREAT Carb Gram counter on the Atkins website that has a list of different foods and it tells you how many grams of carbs are in the certain foods that you are looking for.

Following your new low-carb lifestyle you may notice some unpleasant changes, such as low energy levels and constipation. Please do NOT forget to add a multi-vitamin to your new diet. This is very important, because when in the first two phases of your low carb experiences you will lack some essential vitamins that your body needs to function.

There are some excellent low carb drinks out there as well. Almost any Diet soda that you will come across has 0 carbs, if you're a soda junkie. Please remember NOT to substitute your Diet soda over water, water is extremely essential for your body to be hydrated and keep it fueled up! There are also some great 0 carb tea's out there such as decaf green tea... or peach and raspberry Ice Teas. Believe me... you won't be lacking in the realm of drinking. They even have low carb alcohol on the market!

Low Calorie Diets discriminate against fattening toppings such as margarine and sandwich toppings. On the Low Carb lifestyle... don't feel guilty at all! You'll lose weight just as fat. If you are still uncomfortable with over-doing the toppings, then just simply hold back and limit yourself to it! There are some great herbs and spices to flavor your meat. The great thing about this lifestyle is the way that you get to indulge on so many wonderful flavors!

Don't forget dessert! You are anything BUT deprived when you follow this lifestyle. The media and health experts know that this low carb lifestyle is really hitting it off well and creating what seems to be the new found fast miracle to weight loss... so they're making it a million times tastier and easier for us dieters! Browse down the ice cream isle and you're bound to find Low Carb chocolate sandwich bars. Walk past the candy isle and you can find caramel and chocolate candies or even hard candy!

Now even thought these desserts can get tempting... don't over do it! Just because these foods are dieter-friendly... does not excuse the unhealthy habit that you're creating with over snacking on them! Remember the "life-style," concept? Any junk food... whether it's a dieter's sin or dieter's friendly... you need to train yourself how to limit yourself to appropriate amounts.

Also keep in mind that everyone loses weight at their own pace. This is a wonderful life-style that allows you to lose weight quickly, but that does not mean that it's healthy to skip exercise and pig out on low-carb candies. This is your life-style... and you want it to be HEALTHY, therefore meaning: eat healthy, think healthy. Everything as a whole needs to change if you want to change your lifestyle. Your mind is as important as your body. One can't function without the other. Sometimes it gets hard to keep on track, but you really need to focus, that is what it all comes down to.

If you can incorporate some sort of meditative program into your life to balance out your mind, spirit and body connection, you will have a MUCH more successful time in following a path clear of sinful indulgences. Yoga, Zen or just simple and traditional meditation techniques work great. Don't just make it about your body; make it about your mind set too. These are two very important factors. Everyone will have falters and mistakes, as that is a part of life... but what makes you a bigger person, is getting up and brushing yourself off, and continue to strive for the best. Good luck and keep your head up!