Saturday, April 30, 2011

Take and holde this toth and nayle, that to be honour onely which springeth of true virtue

Fighting tooth and nail is a simile to the way animals fight to survive, teeth and claws(nails) being the only weapons they are endowed with.   It is to struggle with all one’s strengths and resources in order to win when something important is at stake. 

In effect when people say - he fought tooth and nail for his rights - they're saying that he fought fiercely with all he had for his rights.

Do you know it is not the police’s responsibility to defend individuals?  It is their job to protect the public and enforce the laws.    I hear reports on the news all the time of people who were injured or killed because they didn’t have the means to protect themselves. 

Being a 4’13” woman, I believe it is my right and responsibility to have the knowledge and means to defend myself, my home and my family . . . by tooth and nail if necessary.  

I have with me, at all times, different means of self defense.  Not the least of which is a weapon at all . . . it’s a state of mind.  Situational awareness . . . this is simply being observant of my surroundings and being able to identify potentially dangerous situations.  By being conscious of what is going on around me I am able to avoid unsafe conditions or be prepared to defend myself. 

I have taken courses on hand-to-hand personal defense that have provided me with useful techniques to use to protect myself.  I’m not talking about a martial arts class, but basic training in methods to fend off and inflict injury in order to escape.    For example . . . in the instance of a male attacker, I solid kick to the groin area combined with knee to the face is extremely effective in disabling an attacker.   Obviously, there are different techniques for different situations. 

I also have a permit to carry a pistol and I am a certified pistol instructor.  As such, I am a practiced shooter and very comfortable in the use of firearm.   I carry a pistol with me everywhere I go that it is legal and permissible to do so.    This is a last resort of self defense . . . only point a gun at something or someone you intend to destroy . . . guns are serious business.

Having the knowledge and skill to be able to protect myself gives me a sense of empowerment like nothing else has. 

I would recommend some form of personal defense for anybody.  However, not every form of self protection is for everybody.   A person should use whatever they are comfortable with . . . it doesn’t make any sense for someone who is afraid of guns to carry one . . . . what good will it do if you’re frightened to employ it?


That being said . . . honey badger don’t care . . . honey badger is a bad ass!


Cinnamon Hazelnut Coffee Soap
16 ounces lard
1/2 teaspoon Instant Coffee, added at trace
1/84 cup honey added at trace
2.3 ounces lye
7 ounces Ice Cold or Part Frozen Strong Black Coffee

Remember that when you’re making your own soap that you should have a dedicated set of equipment set aside just for this process. 

This recipe is for a cold process soap.  The basic tools required are:

A Large Pot . . . Enamel or cast iron do very well for this.
A Large Wooden or Plastic Spoon
A Hand Mixer (Optional)
A Large Baking Pan or Shallow Cardboard Box

Put the ice cold coffee 1 to 2 quart container.  I use a dedicate 1-quart plastic measuring cup.

Using the stirring spoon (known to soap makers as the "crutch"), pour lye slowly into the coffee, stirring until the lye is all dissolved. Remember that lye is very caustic and will burn your skin and eyes! Any splatters must be washed off immediately with lots of water!

Cover the solution to keep out air and allow to cool (or warm up) to about 85 degrees F.  No need to apply heat – heat will be chemically produced when the lye comes in contact with the liquid.

Melt the fat in the 4-6 quart bowl or pot. Don't use aluminum or galvanized bowls!  When the fat is melted, cool it down to 95 degrees F. Prepare the box with a plastic trash bag lining, so the fresh liquid soap can't leak out.  Note that I am using a shotgun shell four-pack box.  This is the perfect size for this recipe to create a nice thickness for the soap.

When all is ready, begin to stir the liquid fat in a circular direction while pouring the lye water into it in a thin steam (pencil size or thinner) until it is all added. Crutch (stir) the mix vigorously, using “S” pattern or use a hand blender alternating with a circular pattern until the mix begins to cool and thicken.  At this point do NOT stop or the mix may separate!
First the soap will be murky, then creamy, then like heavy cream and finally, like hot cooked pudding and will show traces when you dribble a stream from the crutch onto the surface. This process can take from 10 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature, weather and purity of your ingredients. Stir vigorously but patiently! With hand blender stir time is cut to 1/10 of the regular time.
I've found that using my old Kitchen-aid Classic is the perfect tool for stirring my batches of soap.  Although I am constantly monitoring the mixing process, the stand mixer lets me be a little more hands off and I can be doing other things around the kitchen while the soap is mixing and cooling.

Add the honey and instant coffee at trace.  Trace is when the mixture doesn't sink back into itself.  It will look like caramel.

When your "trace" does not sink back into the surface, the soap is ready to pour into the lined box. Wear rubber gloves and treat the raw soap like you treated the lye water. Wash off all splatters immediately. Have 10% vinegar and water and a sponge to neutralize splatters.

Once the soap is in the box, sprinkle with cinnamon.  This will add a pleasant scent and also act as an exfoliant.  It also looks really pretty on the finished bars.

After 3-5 hours the soap may be cut into bars with a table knife, NOT a sharp knife. Allow the soap to cure in the box for about a week before breaking it up and handling it, and another month before using it.


If you are interested in some perfectly wonderful hand crafted soap but don't want to go through the process of making it . . . Soaps by Judy is a fantastic source.  She's a personal friend of mine and a great lady and she makes the most amazing soaps!  Check out her website and look her up on Facebook.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Firewater Friday - Some people gaze into their navel for inspiration. I look into mine and see navel fluff

Belly button fluff (BBF). . . those little poofs of fuzz that appear mysteriously in your navel . . . what is it and how does it get there?  Inquiring minds want to know . . . well, I did so you get the benefit of my inquisitiveness.  Lucky you!

I have a long standing belief that navel lint was manufactured by little dudes that labor to create the biggest ball of fluff they can in the shortest amount of time possible.  I imagine they would like a little something like the doozers in Fraggle Rock.  Those little guys are soooo freaking cute!

Anyhoo . . . BBF is made up primarily of clothing fibers with sweat, fat, dead skin cells and loose strands of body hair mixed in for texture and consistency.    The quantity of each ingredient varies from belly button to belly button depending on the formulation devised by the particular doozer crew performing the actual labor. 

BBF is an anomaly in that it defies gravity; most BBF comes from your underwear.  A shocking discovery reveals that the lint particles actually migrate upwards via a line a body hair that extends from the groin area to the navel . . . the hairs around the belly button are arranged in a spiral configuration; much like a conveyer belt moving materials that leads directly to the belly button and to the doozers. 

The favorite color of doozers is blue-gray . . . much the same color as clothes dryer lint.  But some radical elements of the workforce will incorporate crazy colors like red and green. 

Those who go commando and/or shave their belly hair have less BBF than the average person.  These people are also responsible for the increasing unemployment numbers being reported by doozer unions worldwide.

Although moral among doozers is generally high . . . actually the highest of most large workforces . . . there are disgruntled crews that put bad things into the finished BBF product.  These bad things are what cause the unpleasant odors that sometimes accompany the lint. 

Doozers like a clean work environment.   A clean doozer is a happy doozer.

The world record holder for the largest collection of BBF belongs a hospital worker from Australia. He has been continuously collecting BBF for 18 years. Strangely, he reports that his fluff is almost always red in color, which changes to a yellow-blue after many years. He swears that he never wears red clothing.   He wants to save enough to stuff a pillow. Some people have way too much time on their hands . . . and lint in their belly buttons.


Fuzzy Navel

  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce peach schnapps
  • 4 ounces orange juice

Pour ingredients into a highball glass almost filled with ice. Stir.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

If you can't control your peanut butter, you can't expect to control your life

I like peanut butter . . . I don’t love it but I know people who are just nutty about it!  They'll even eat it straight from the jar  . . . can you imagine??  :-)~

What is obvious is that peanut butter is made from peanuts.  What is less than obvious is that peanuts are not nuts at all.  They are, in fact, legumes . . . related to beans and peas.  Legumes are edible seeds enclosed in pods. Unlike true nuts, which grow on trees, peanuts actually grow underground.   They are generally classified as nuts because they are . . . well . . . nut-like.

Contrary to popular belief, Peter Pan didn't actually invent peanut butter.  Yeah, I know, he likes to take credit.   But don't you believe it!!  How can you trust an adult who pretends to be a little boy and wears tights . . . I mean really!

Peanuts have been known as a food source for centuries.  Peanut butter has been around almost as long . . . Incas made a peanut paste as early as 950 BC.   John Washington Carver developed many uses for peanuts including peanut butter, paper, ink, and oils beginning in 1880. However, he wasn't credited for the creation because he never patented it.

Peanut butter, in a meal-like form, was invented by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.  You may recognize the name . . . he's also the fella who invented corn flakes.   In the late 19th century, he created and patented a process for turning raw peanuts into a butter-like food.  At the time it was considered a vegetarian health food that provided and excellent source of protein.

Joseph L. Rosenfield invented a churning process that made smooth peanut butter . . . well . . .  smooth. He sold the invention to the Pond Company.  They marketed it as Peter Pan peanut butter. Several years later, he made his own brand of peanut butter . . . he called it Skippy.  (see this older post on Skippy)

For those of you who do indulge in a spoonful of peanut butter now and again, there are other uses for the ooey-gooey stuff that you may not be familiar with. 

Peanut butter actually works quite well as a lubricant.  You know how the squeaky wheel always gets the grease?  Well, suppose you ran out of grease or perhaps your wife accidentally threw it away.  I’m guessing, unless you have a severe allergy, you have peanut butter in your kitchen cabinet.  Smear it on and give it a go.  You might be surprised.  I’ve also read that it can come in handy as a personal lubricant but I’m not going there!

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.  That works well for little kids but not so much for Whiskers or Fido.  Cats and dogs love peanut butter.  If you need to give your furry friend medicine, mix it up in a spoonful of peanut butter.  They’ll think your giving them a treat.    Guess what . . . mice like it, too.  So if you have a squeaky pest, add it to your mousetrap. 

If you really like the taste of peanut butter, substitute in a recipe that calls for butter.  The next time you’re fixing up a batch of fudge brownies, try using peanut butter instead.  Those babies will taste like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I've read that peanut butter works well to remove the burnt taste from food, just add a teaspoon and stir.  I haven't tried it  . . . so I dunno about that. Give it a try and let me know.   I've also read that it can be used to remove gum from hair, smear it on and it's supposed to come off easily.  


Homemade Sesame Peanut Butter

1 Cup Roasted Peanuts
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons Honey
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sesame Oil

Place the peanuts and salt into the bowl of a food processor. 

Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Drizzle in the honey and oil.  
Place the lid back on and continue to process until the mixture is smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. 

Place the peanut butter in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Your birthday is a special time to celebrate the gift of 'you' to the world

My very first birthday was awesome . . . if it wasn't for that day I wouldn't be here today.    My life was almost short-lived.  When I was six months old I was hospitalized for spinal meningitis and almost died.  Thankfully the only lasting consequences of my sickness was total deafness in my left ear and a diminished sense of smell in my left nostril.  I don’t consider either of these things detriments . . . the deafness me be one of the greatest gifts of all time.  Why you ask?  Because I can bury my good ear in my pillow at night and not hear a bloomin’ thing!  You can’t tell me that doesn’t rock!  As for the reduced sense of smell . . . let’s just say if there’s something stinky I can close off my right nostril and breathe blissfully away.  How cool am I??  HA!   My sense of balance is somewhat impaired which makes me a bit clumsy but that only adds to my personality.  Right, hunny?

Anyhoo . . . when I was a kid we got to go out to dinner for our birthday.  This was a big deal . . . we rarely went out to a restaurant to eat.  I always picked the Red Bull Inn . . . a small chain of restaurants in Pennsylvania . . .  with it’s dark dining room, buxom waitresses and buttery lobster.   I was more interested in the lobster pot than the waitresses. 

Then off to Alaskaland for ice cream after where they would serve a huge ice cream sundae with a flame burning on top by the wait staff singing a rousting rendition of Happy Birthday. 

On of my most memorable birthdays was my thirteenth.  That birthday I got to plan a party and invite a bunch of friends.  I decided on a roller-skating party at Sir Skate . . . flashing disco lights, rocking music and Pac Man game consoles . . . all on wheels!!  Roller skating was big then and Pac Man was all the rage.  Way fun . . . the best party ever!! 

When I turned 21 my sister took me out for my first legal drink . . . we went to a bar and had lemon drop shots . . . Absolut vodka with a sugar dipped lemon wedge on the side . . . yums.  Ah . . . sibling bonding . . . intoxicating!

On my 25th birthday I got myself a tattoo . . . a decision I have never regretted but boy it could have been sooooooooo bad.  I had been thinking aobut getting a tattoo for sometime . . . I had some ideas about what I wanted but nothing definitive.  That day I decided I was going to get the tattoo . . . and that was that.  I went to a tattoo artist without an appointment . . . at least I was smart enough to pick someone with a good reputation.  He had some time so he agreed.  I decided on the design but before he could get started I had to take off my shirt . . . or so he said . . . so I did.  For a 25 year old me . . . that was a huge deal, but I did it.  He complimented me on my perky young ta-ta’s and he went to work.    He did nice work and I’m happy with the tat on my teet.

I don’t remember my thirtieth birthday . . . that’s because I got sh!tfaced.  And, that’s all I know about that.

My fortieth was not a big deal . . . I’m not obsessed by my age.  I feel good and I’m happy and that’s all that really matters. 

But from my mid-thirties on I get a new (or gently used) gun for my birthday . . . I love to shoot and having something new to plink with is always a good thing.  Besides  . . . in my marriage there is a clearly defined balance of power . . . I must have more firepower than he does.  I tell him it’s so I can keep him in line but its just cuz I know that the one with the most toys when they die wins!