Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating today

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends and family celebrating today…

 

thanksgiving

 

On a more serious note, be sure to be thankful for what you are celebrating!

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Gray is not my color

Gray is not my color.  My hair started to turn gray when I was just 14 years old, yes 14!  The boys in my classes at school used to fight to sit behind me so they could pull out the strands of gray from my very long hair. Good thing I have always had lots of hair.

By the time I was 30, my hair was very gray. This picture of me and my siblings was taken when I was 34; I’m the sister with the gray hair…

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….even though I am the youngest sister and second youngest sibling.  Very annoying, even though I knew it was hereditary; my father was totally white by 30.

When it was streaky gray (like the picture) people actually asked if I had it colored that way.  It did kind of frame my face I guess.  The straw that broke the camel’s (gray) back came later that year (still 34) when my eldest son started junior kindergarten.  For a Hallowe’en party in his classroom, I dressed up as Snow White.  When I took my wig off at the end of the day, one of the children said “that must be Matthew’s grandmother, she has white hair”   That was when I decided that gray is not my color.

So, for years (twenty some now) I have tried various colors on my hair.   I have always admired red hair on other girls, and because my dark brown hair always had natural reddish highlights in the summer, I have always aimed for reddish brown.  The problem is with so much gray, the reddish brown sometimes comes out orange and I HATE orange.  Even at expensive salons my hair would come out too orangy/coppery for my liking.

The solution?  I finally discovered how to get the color I want by combining two shades.  Yes, DIY haircolor.  I do it myself, saving myself lots of money and the annoyance of paying for the wrong color.  I start with a medium dark brown on the roots, then spread the rest of that color throughout my hair, then add a reddish brown in streaks on top of the medium brown, avoiding the roots.  This phote was taken in the summer when my hair is always lightened by the sun, but you get the picture…

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Over the years I have tried many DIY hair color products too.  My choice these days is Belle Color by Garnier, in shades 50 (medium brown) and 65 (chestnut brown)…

 

 

It reminds me of a commercial (I cannot remember which one) where Penelope Cruz proclaimed (with her sultry, sexy accent) “the color I want is the color is get”

I love these Garnier products because they make my hair silky smooth (others leave it coarse and tangly) even before I condition it.  Each box of hair color includes a pouch of conditioner that contains argan oil, a well-known miraculous treatment for hair…

 

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The Garnier products are creamy (not drippy) and offer 100% gray coverage.  They also have an almost pleasant smell, unlike others that reek.  My color lasts three to four weeks before those returning gray roots are too obvious to hide.  It is so unfair that dark roots look much better than white ones and are even quite fashionable (apparently)

These Garnier products can be purchased online through Amazon here:

CHESTNUT    or   MEDIUM DARK BROWN

 

So, if gray is not your color either, try your hand at your own conconction of color!

 

 

I’m a snob

Ok, I will admit it, I am a snob, a plant snob that is!  Some plants I find just too common and boring.  For example, “Look at that beautiful hosta!” said no one ever.  Or spirea either for that matter, unless you are talking one of the bridal wreath variety, then you may just hear or think that, but only if it is pruned correctly.

I appear to have developed an aversion to hostas, probably because people have overused them in their gardens.  The only time I enjoy them is in the very early spring when their green spikes are one of the first signs of new growth to emerge from the soil as it thaws out here in the Ottawa area.  In the summer they get eaten by slugs and earwigs, and in the fall they turn mushy and slimy…

 

 

So, what perennials do I prefer to hostas for the edges of my gardens?  Here are my choices:

For shady areas I like perennial geraniums.  They are one of the first perennials to green up in the spring, require no maintenance what so ever, and maintain their neat, non-sprawling (most varieties) mounded shape.  They do spread throughout the garden, but are very shallow rooted, so easy to remove from places you do not want them to spread to.  These geraniums are great for planting under trees, even evergreen trees where nothing else will thrive.

Another good choice for an edging plant in shady areas is lamium.  It’s variegated leaves, reblooming pale flowers, and tidy habit make it one of my favourites..

lamium (with daylilies)

 

For part shade to part sun locations in the garden, I am loving heucheras these days.  Some varieties tolerate more sun than others, so be sure to read the tags.  By the way, heuchera is pronounced with a hard c.  I will never forget that after I was chastised for mispronouncing it by a 93-year-old client.  Heucheras come in a variety of colors from palest green to bright chartreuse to orangy-brown to reddish brown to deep wine red.  Leaf shapes vary too from smooth and rounded, to almost maple-leaf-like, to curly, lettuce-leaf-like.  They look good all summer, need no fall cleanup or protection, and survive our cold winters with no problem.  A simple tug to remove any crispy leaves in the spring and they are good to go…

 

pictures on right from Pixabay

 

My first choice for full sun edging plants are those in the sedum or stonecrop families.  As succulents, sedums and stonecrops are all drought tolerant, thriving in hot, dry areas, especially next to stone walkways where not much else will grow. They too come in a variety of colors and shapes, in fact, look especially nice (I think) when varieties are mixed together randomly.

 

pictures from Pixabay

 

So, next season think outside of your comfort zone, and become a plant snob by replacing those boring hostas with a little more pizazz!

 

Breast or bottle feeding

Is it better or easier to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby?  Over the years I don’t think it has ever been disputed that breastfeeding is far healthier, but bottles are certainly very convenient, especially for fathers wanting (or needing) to feed their babies.

The health advantages of breast milk include:

  • contains antibodies that fight viruses and bacteria
  • contains all the essential minerals and vitamins needed in the first 6 months
  • lowers the risk of asthma and allergies in children
  • lowers the chance of diarrhea and ear infections
  • breastfeeding helps moms get back to pre-pregnancy weight faster

When my mother was feeding me and my siblings, (in the late 50’s and early 60’s) breastfeeding was not as popular as it is today.  Why that was I am not sure.  Moms were still predominantly “stay at home” and breastfeeding was (and still is) certainly the more economical way to go.  Maybe because of the larger families and the time commitment involved in breastfeeding.  It would be hard to concentrate on breastfeeding with a few other munchkins running around.  I have heard too that breastfeeding was considered to be an uncultured or low-class practice, an opinion that started in the early 20th century and extended almost to the 21st century.

When I was feeding my own babies (in the 90’s) breastfeeding was the thing to do.  I found it very convenient and relaxing, with no complications.  No sterilizing bottles and no filling bottles in the middle of the night.  I do know several women that had difficulties though, with low milk production or trouble with babies latching on properly.  I always said that was the advantage I had in having large babies; (my first was 10 pounds!) they had no trouble latching on and draining me every feeding.

Today, there appears to be mixed feelings about breastfeeding.  It has been making a comeback due to the increased interest in pursuing healthy, more natural lifestyles.   However, although no one can really dispute the health advantages, some modern women still feel tied down and men feel left out when choosing to breastfeed their babies.

The smart choice (in my opinion) is to do both.  Reap the health benefits for mom and baby, but make it more convenient.  Modern technology has produced very efficient (although the electric ones are costly) breast pumps and bottles with colic reducing nipples shaped like breast nipples so baby does not get confused with different sucking procedures going back and forth.

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I have seen my daughter-in-law pump two 5 ounce bottles in ten minutes, something that would have taken me hours to do by hand years ago.  Below are a few of the newest products out there for breastfeeding moms on the go; they are all greatly admired by this grandma…

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On being a Grandma

I have always claimed that my greatest accomplishments in life are my three sons.  Now that I am a Grandma too, I am discovering that this experience is right up there with being a mom, although I cannot claim it as an accomplishment.

I so envy the current generation having children with their parents willing and able to help with their grandchildren.  And, I admire the grandparents willing to spend the quality time with their grandchildren.  I am also very grateful that my two eldest sons have settled close to home, so any grandchildren they produce will be close by.  In my generation, we went to visit our grandparents once in a while, but always as a family (mine had 8 members) and usually for special occasions where the house was full of cousins and other relatives.

Spending the last few days with my grandson I am reminded of how miraculous a new baby is.  From the moment they are conceived to the time they are full grown, their progress is an amazing accomplishment, one we as humans should be incredibly proud of and grateful for.

It is such a joy to spend quality time with a grandchild, even a tiny one that spends most of the day eating, sleeping, spitting up and pooping with bouts of unexplained wailing.  Even my gardens have taken a back seat this week as I babysit (that’s what the parents call it, I call it bonding with) my grandson.

Home renovations

Now I know what people mean when they say that home renovations always snowball.  You start off planning to renovate one area, but the plan quickly “snowballs” (gains momentum) to include other areas until you are overwhelmed (and broke). If this post sounds familiar it is because a previous post complained about RENOVATIONS at our cottage that had the same snowball effect.

On the home front, we started off by deciding to renovate our main floor powder room. Our eldest son is getting married this summer, so that was our (my) incentive.  By renovating, I mean totally gutting it, removing everything, then painting, then flooring then installing new vanity, toilet, mirror, lighting etc etc.   That was the plan, but…

When ordering flooring for this powder room we decided to add to the order so we would be able to use the same flooring in our front hallway.  This hallway, between our front, side and garage doors is a high traffic area, so we wanted something very resilient, but nice looking.  We chose a glueless “Luxury Vinyl Tile” (LVT) called Allure Ultra Locking Tile that supposedly “clicked together very easily”….

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The flooring arrived before the vanity, granite countertop and toilet for the bathroom, so we decided to start with the hallway before we tackled the bathroom.  The first thing we did in the hallway was remove everything from the hall closet including the shelving there.  The piles of coats, jackets, shoes and boots are now (still) in my living room and dining room….

Then came the fun job of replacing the shelving and repairing the scuffed up paint in the closet area. Repainting the whole house will come later, to match the color I chose for the bathroom walls…

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We used a roll out underlay on top of the subfloor to cushion the tile and prevent any imperfections in the subfloor from showing through.  (mottled gray color in first picture) Sections of this were taped together to ensure they would not shift when installing the tile.  Next, we figured out the pattern we wanted the tile to be in. (you do not want your lines to line up)  For obvious reasons, it is best to do this before you start laying the tile

I love the color, (a taupe and gray pattern) the durability and the comfort of the flooring product we chose, but it sure was a lot harder to install than we were led to believe.  Of course, our hallway is not a perfect square or rectangle (lots of indentations/obstacles) and the walls not perfectly square/straight, which meant we had to measure and cut lots of pieces to fit.  This is where the slogan “measure twice, cut once” comes in.  Fortunately, I am married to a very precise, handy-man…

 

The hallway flooring is installed and the new closet doors have arrived. (leaning against the wall in picture below)   The next step in the hallway project is to install rods and shelving, put the clothes back in and the doors on.  New baseboards, door stops, and ceiling lights will be the finishing touches…

 

On to the bathroom.  The new vanity, granite countertop, back and side splashes, as well as the sink, toilet, mirror and lights are all here, somewhere…

Stay tuned for the progress of their installation.  After that, I hope we can convince ourselves to replace the carpeting with hardwood.  The snowball is still growing and gathering momentum, while our renovation budget is shrinking, fast!

Omega 3 vs omega 6 fatty acids

 

When researching a previous post about healing fats, I learned that the balance between omega 3 fats and omega 6 fats is another health concern.

First of all, you have to know the difference between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Both are important for maintaining a healthy body and neither are manufactured by our bodies, so must be obtained from our diets. While omega 6s are found in the foods within a common modern daily diet, omega 3s are usually supplemented.

omega 3s:

  • cold water fish (sardines, salmon, herring etc) and fish oil
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • garlic, flax seeds,  walnuts
  • extra virgin olive oil

pictures from Pixabay and Pexels

 

omega 6s

  • wheat, whole-grain bread, and cereals
  • grain fed chicken and their eggs
  • refined vegetable (soy, corn, sunflower, safflower) and grape seed oils
  • nuts
  • meat from grain fed animals
  • processed and fast foods

 

pictures from Pexels and Pixabay

 

Both omega 3s and omega 6s have health benefits and drawbacks.  While omega 6s are helpful in treating the symptoms of arthritis, diabetic nerve pain, menopause,  high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and even allergies, too much omega 6s can cause depression, dyslexia, obesity, hyperactivity, and other health problems.

Omega 3s are crucial for our brain, hormone, and immune function,  good vision and hair, skin, cell and tissue growth.  They are helpful in treating symptoms of lupus, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, breast and colon cancers and irritable bowel disease.  A deficiency in omega 3s can result in conditions such as depression and mood swings, poor memory, fatigue, poor circulation, dry skin and more.

The problem comes when too much omega 6s, especially from vegetable oils and grain fed (as opposed to grass-fed) meat, outweigh and overtake the benefits of omega 3s.  This happens because the omega 3s and omega 6s compete for the same enzymes to aid in their metabolism.  Although a ratio of 1:1 between omega 6s and omega 3s is the ideal balance to strive for, studies have shown modern diets to be as high as 16:1   This higher proportion of omega 6s is leading to the increase of many disease states within our modern societies including arthritis, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and other inflammatory processes, as well as numerous types of cancer.

Start paying attention to the ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids in your diet and make some changes before your health takes a turn for the worse!