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Posts Tagged ‘culture’

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#1 – Shop for Less
Shopping in Asian markets is an experience for me. It’s amazing how much cheaper fruits, vegetables, bulk spices, and even meats are in these stores, not to mention the variety of goods available. For example, the Asian market I frequent sells medium-sized frozen prawns by the scoopful for $3.99 a pound everyday! One aisle I am always drawn to houses the home goods. Pots, dish drainers, colanders, cleavers, and more can be had for very reasonable prices. I’ve stocked a few college apartment kitchens with items found here. Dishware can be purchased by the piece, so any size set can easily be put together. Colorful Chinese and Japanese bowls of all sizes and designs appeal to thrifty, yet stylish shoppers.

#2 – Keep It or Toss It
If you need to know how long to safely keep meat, vegetables, and fruit or what the shelf life of herbs and spices are, visit this website. Type in the item in question and search. It also has answers to food safety questions such as, “Are eggs still safe after the expiration date?” Go to www.stilltasty.com.

#3 – Pumpkin Pie Spice
If during this holiday baking season you realize you forgot to buy pumpkin pie spice at the store, don’t worry. Just mix together 1/4 cup ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 tablespoon ground cloves, and 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg and you’re ready to bake! Combine the ingredients until thoroughly blended. Store in an airtight container.

#4 – Style Tip for Men
Ladies, help your man out by helping him select the right accessories. Here’s a lesson in belt selection. Belts worn with his jeans should not be the same ones he wears with his suits and obviously belts worn with his suits should not be worn with his jeans. Jean belts should be made of a more casual looking leather or of fabric. Suit belts should be made from more refined and polished leather.

#5 – A Quote from Albert Schweitzer
Do something for somebody everyday for which you do not get paid.

My hope is that someone out there in the infinite internet universe is reading and enjoying my blog! Have a good weekend!

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iChat

My mother and I had lunch together the other day. We ate, we laughed, and we had a great time just being together. The only thing that would have been better is if we were in the same room. My mother lives about two-and-a-half hours away from me, so we lunched together via the magic of computers.

About a month ago my sister and I purchased my mother a new iMac. She’s no stranger to computers, but this new one is faster and has more bells and whistles, including a built-in video camera. Using the iChat video conferencing feature, we were able to sit at our desks that day and eat our sandwiches and carry on a face-to-face conversation. Also, by pivoting her computer screen around, the computer camera could scan the room, and show me the new furniture in her office, as well as my dad sitting in his recliner waving to me and watching television.

Despite her lack of formal computer training, my mom’s been an eager student and has become quite adept at Googling information, emailing her friends, working on Excel spreadsheets, and instant messaging and Skyping with family members all around the country. The screen grab above shows a three-way video conference with three generations of us laughing and having a good time. It’s been wonderful to see her empowered by her new knowledge of computer technology and it’s been a blessing for me to be able to spend time with my parents everyday.

Video conferencing could have a huge positive impact on senior citizens in general, but especially so for those who live in senior care facilities. The loneliness of these seniors is palpable. I volunteered in a senior assisted care facility for several years and found it difficult to observe residents who never had visitors. Wouldn’t if be wonderful if these senior facilities had video conferencing capable computers on site so that the residents could stay connected to the world by having video visits with friends and family? Of course, I know that this requires their friends and families also to have these types of computers, but I’m a dreamer and always believe that if there’s a will, there’s a way. Considering there are computers everywhere – surely neighbors, friends, employers all might be willing to share their computers periodically for these priceless visits.

Nothing can ever replace an in person visit, but sharing time together in any form possible is valuable. Thanks to computer technology, we have at our disposal the ability to stay connected with everyone we care about. With applications like iChat and Skype, which have basic services for free, we have few excuses not to include seniors as part of our connected group. So what about this – buy a relative you’d love to see more often a computer video camera for the upcoming holidays?

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“I have fifteen friends now!” I shout to my husband and then laughingly add, “You only have four!” Prodded by friends, my husband and I joined the spectator sport of Facebook. I opened an account a few weeks ago and in doing so I found I am Facebook-challenged. I am reluctant to put out personal information on my profile page, but my son tells me, “How are people going to find you, if you don’t tell them who you are?” That is challenge number one for me. Do I want to be found? Am I lost? Do I want aspects of my quiet life open for world viewing?

Challenge number two: The whole idea of adding or removing friends makes me feel like I’m in elementary school again. Who do I ask to be my friends? Are my feelings going to be hurt if someone doesn’t want to be my friend? Is it about having the most friends and being popular?

Challenge number three: Do I really want to know about the crazy things my kids are doing? Not really. For that matter, they don’t want me to know what they are up to, either! Begrudgingly they all accepted me as their Facebook friend. Do I like being a snoop? Maybe just a little!

Challenge number four: Facebook seems like an alter world to me. It’s like a maze with many different pathways, and often times I can’t figure out how I even got to a site. Then there are the cafes, farms, aquariums, roller coasters, tokens, Halloween treats, hearts, and hugs – all of which I’ve not figured out, yet. My kids get calls from me with questions like, “I got a heart today, should I accept it?” or “Somehow dad accidentally set up two Facebook accounts and now he has two walls, but he can only see one wall and people are writing on the other wall . . . !” What have I gotten myself into?

Facebook is like joining a worldwide playground. I still have a lot to learn about its offerings, but in the meantime, I enjoy reading the comments and viewing the photos that my friends and family share. I’ve found delight in establishing contact with friends from long ago. And one of these days, I may even play the World Cafe game, because the food sounds so good and it’s low in calories!

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sc0014fe50Every woman has her Achilles’ heel, not just in the normal sense, but in terms of her body image. Renee Zellweger, in her movie role of Bridget Jones, provides a portrait of this insecurity as Bridget gets dressed under a blanket because she does not want her boyfriend to see her “wobbly bits.” Working in a women’s retail clothing store, where the target age is probably forty years on up, I’ve made some interesting observations. Not surprisingly, this one is the most common: Most women are not happy with at least one part of their body. Lamentations abound from the dressing rooms. On a daily basis I hear, “If I lost weight, this would look better” or “I like to cover my arms” or “I used to wear low necklines, but can’t now.” Women are so hard on themselves. How did we get this way? Yes, I say “we” because I am also guilty of this irrational self-criticism. How many times has my husband heard these words pitifully escape from my mouth as I come out of a dressing room, “Does this make my hips look big?”

Women aren’t born with these insecurities, so how did we develop these along with a streak of vanity? We can guess that societal pressures, plus promotions by the cosmetic, fashion, magazine, and diet industries, all play parts. Here’s a link to an article called Women and Body Image: Ten Disturbing Facts. The author’s first point clearly illustrates how the fashion industry plays a role in shaping our body image. She states, “The average American woman is 5’4” tall and weighs 140 pounds. The average American model is 5’11” tall and weighs 117 pounds.”

In addition, if we aren’t comfortable with our bodies, what messages are we sending to our children? Here’s an alarming statistic in the article: “One out of every four college aged women has an eating disorder.” Consider our daughters who played with Barbie Dolls and other shapely fashion dolls. Do are daughters also have body image issues as a result of seemingly innocent play? Point number nine in the above article states, “At 5′9” tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 which is considered severely underweight. Because of her ridiculous proportions (39” bust, 18” waist, 33” thighs and a size 3 shoes!), if she was a real woman, she wouldn’t be able to walk upright – she would have to walk on all fours. Note that the target market for Barbie Doll sales are girls ages 3 to 12.” Beauty and Body Image in the Media, another online article, also makes claims about Barbie, “Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition.” This is not child’s play.

Where I work there are no mirrors in the individual dressing rooms and just a few in the dressing area. Although there are women who hate this lack of privacy, it’s a good thing. There is a lot to be said about the camaraderie and commiserating that transpires when women are together trying on clothes. I have witnessed complete strangers laugh and give advice to one another. There’s a positive energy in the air when women support women. I tell my customers who are critical of their bodies, that I can help them look their best just the way they look now. We can’t deal with how they used to look and we can’t wish away the ten pounds they’d like to lose. All we can control is the present. Sometimes when they start picking apart their bodies, I remind them that they are lucky to be healthy. I know it’s weird stuff for a sales associate to say, but I like to put things in perspective. Am I a top seller in the store? Not really, but I do have customers say they’ll see me next week for their therapy session or that I make them feel good. It’s all in a day’s work for me and I like myself better because of that.

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