The Essence of Nature Saturday, May 14 2016 

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Lavender for sleep. Peppermint to keep alert while driving. Tea Tree Oil to disinfect. I’ve used essential oils since the early 70s, but now they are my go-to-source for nearly every need.

Young Living’s Purification eliminates odors in the trash can. Thieves cleans and disinfects counter tops. Lavender soothes burns. Peppermint keeps ants away. And the lovely fragrance of diffusing jasmine makes me happy.

Pure essential oils are concentrated compounds that have been pressed or distilled from plants. They do not have a fatty or oily component. They are called “essential” because they carry the essence of the plant or plant part they are made from.

Essential oils can be diffused, and some used directly on the skin or even ingested, if they are of high quality.

I was drawn to essential oils more recently because I sought a more natural pain remedy. I’m allergic to most prescription and over-the-counter ones. I also am trying to eliminate as many chemicals as possible. Essential oils have offered me many options for all of this.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books or my author Facebook page?)

Time for Lunch? Monday, May 2 2016 

In a perfect world, there’d be no laundry. And believe it or not, it may be the way of our, albeit, distant future.

As reported in the journal, Advanced Materials Inerfaces, researchers in Australia have discovered a way to embed minute flecks of silver and copper within cotton fabric. When exposed to light, the metal particles, called nanostructures, release bursts of energy that degrade organic matter on the fabric in about six minutes. The particles are invisible to the naked eye and don’t change the feel of the fabric. Nor do they rinse off in water.

This process is in the early stages of research. Studies have yet to determine how long it will take stains, such as ketchup and wine, to degrade in natural sunlight and if odors can be eliminated.

I don’t know about you, but I do laundry nearly every day. I’m already planning what will replace all that time I spend sorting, washing, drying, folding, hanging, and storing laundry. Maybe we can finally meet for lunch.

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(Have you seen my posts on Mary K Doyle Books or my Mary K Doyle Facebook page)

©2016, Mary K Doyle

Want Some Bugs with That Cake? Saturday, Apr 23 2016 

The concept of red velvet cake escapes me. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of the flavors. But what’s wrong with chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting without dying the cake red?

Red velvet cake requires 2-4 tablespoons of red food coloring to transform the brown chocolate to red. And do you know what that red food coloring is made from? Bugs.

Red food colorants are typically made from chocineal, carmine, or carminic acid, all of which are made from crushed carcasses of a South and Central American insect known as the female dactylopious coccus. It takes about 70,000 insects to make one pound of cochineal.

The Aztecs and Mayans produced the red dye for coloring fabrics as far back as the 15th century. It became popularly used in foods in recent times as a safer alternative to those found to be carcinogenic. Today FD&C Red Dye #40 is also used. This dye is not made from insects but rather coal.

Red food coloring is used in most red drinks and candies as well as red velvet cakes. Check the labels to know for sure.And enjoy those tasty treats.

(Follow my posts on Mary K Doye Books and my Facebook author and book pages)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

 

Sun’s Up Saturday, Apr 16 2016 

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Finally, the sun is shining in the Midwest. We can have any weather in the spring-rain, sleet, snow, chilly, or warm-but these are the days we treasure. It’s in the 70s and everyone is running outside, waving to neighbors, driving with the windows down, and firing up the barbecue.

It’s also the time we get our first sunburn of the year because we forget about sunscreen. Actually, we should be using sunscreen year-round. We can burn even on a cloudy day since UV light passes through clouds.

Studies show that the daily use of sunscreen significantly slows the aging of skin and lowers risk of cancer. Broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher is our best defense. Anything less only protects from sunburn.

The recommendation is to apply a generous amount of sunscreen to dry skin 30 minutes before going outside. Be sure to cover all exposed areas including the head if hair is thin. Reapply at least every two hours and immediately after swimming.

(Beautycounter Protect SPF 30 All Over Sunscreen uses non-nano zinc oxide, which is an effective and safe natural mineral sun blocker, aloe vera for hydration, and green tea and blood orange extracts for antioxidants. Find yours here on my website.)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

Your Business Your Way Sunday, Apr 3 2016 

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My husband, Marshall, was a born pitchman. He easily could entice customers to happily empty their wallets on the products he showed them. He often said that he loved the challenge of sales because it is a profession that has no limits to your income.

If you enjoy sales and are interested in building your own business, consider joining a movement to bring safe products into the hands of everyone. Become a Beautycounter consultant and your income is only limited by your earning desire. Put in a handful of hours a week for some fun money. Make it your career, and you will earn a very comfortable living on our generous compensation plan. Some of our 11,000 consultants earn as much as 6 figures.

Once customers try our products, they’re hooked. They not only return to replenish the products they use, they’re eager to try others. Beyond the assurance of being among the safest available, these products perform fabulously. Our line is continuously increasing and appropriate for babies to adults. And we have cosmetics for the look you want from everyday to runway.

Beautycounter is a thriving three-year-old company that covers the United States and Canada with a mission to offer exceptional personal care products without known toxins and dangerous chemicals. Believe it or not, this is not the industry norm.We have chosen to ban the use of more than 1,500 ingredients deemed even marginally unsafe.You can see our entire product line and list of ingredients here on our site.

Contact me if you want to have your own business, be a part of an important mission, offer amazing products, and enjoy the camaraderie of a friendly and fun team of peers and mentors. I love this company and am happy to tell you more!

©2016, Mary K Doyle

 

Spiralized Wednesday, Mar 30 2016 

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Stand too close to me, and you may get Spiralized. My new toy is a Mueller Spiral-Ultra 4-Blade Spiralizer. It was a bargain on Amazon at $28 for the 8 in 1 spiral slicer, pasta maker, juicer, and mandolin.

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The gadget sure has helped me add more vegetables to my diet. And dinner never has been easier! Cucumbers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, squash, white potatoes, and onions are transformed in minutes from whole vegetables to beautiful streams of deliciousness.

Baked, fried, or boiled, everything cooks quickly. Just add a little olive oil and seasoning or a sauce of choice.

Firm fruits and vegetables spiralize and slice best. And cooking needs a gentle touch. Boiling the “pasta” is really a brief parboiling or it turns to mush.

Some of my favorite spiralized dishes are:

  1. Baked thin spiralized sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of olive oil and coconut lime seasoning.
  2. Roasted sliced and seasoned potatoes
  3. Spiralized zucchini sauteed in a dash of olive oil with pine nuts, crushed garlic, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese.

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My only complaint about the Mueller Spiralizer is a lack of instructions with the product. After several nasty cuts from the very sharp blades, I found a good YouTube video on how to use it. I also have since purchased their cookbook which has instructions, guidelines, and some interesting recipes. The print is large enough to see without reading glasses but the few photos are only in black and white.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

The Dawn of Spring Saturday, Mar 19 2016 

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Color returning to our baby’s cheeks. The price of gasoline going down. Greenery poking through the dark earth. We search for signs of hope, and the dawn of spring does that in the gentlest ways.

Today marks the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere, its earliest arrival since 1896. The season corresponds with the vernal equinox, the day when day and night are nearly the same. Equinox comes from the Latin aequus and nox, meaning equal night. Earth’s two hemispheres receive the sun’s rays nearly the same amount of time because the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun. The equinox occurs at the identical moment worldwide regardless of the time on the clock.

Nature responds to the increasing sunlight with birds singing, trees budding, crocus blooming, and temperatures climbing. Resurrection, new beginnings, and life anew. Our spirit is lifted in anticipation of happy, sunny days.

©2016, Mary K Doyle

Living Thoughtfully Sunday, Mar 6 2016 

 

The many years of caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s disease has prompted me to remain in the present. I learned a long time ago not to look back at the past with frustration at what no longer can be. I also rarely look ahead with worry. If I’m on track today, tomorrow will be fine.

Nearly a year ago, I had a medical event that has raised my consciousness significantly further. After a series of tests, I was diagnosed with a condition called fibromuscular dysplasia. Because it is at least in my left inner carotid artery and the renal arteries, complications can include high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic kidney failure, aneurysms, dissections, and stroke.

I’m fortunate to be seeing one of the doctors who wrote the paper on FMD for the American Heart Association. He advised I follow a Mediterranean diet, exercise, avoid stress, and be aware of signs of stroke. He said if I have one, I could lose the vision in my left eye and all function on my right side. When I asked what he thought my chances of stroke were, he gave me the vague answer that it may or may not happen.

I’m not sure why I even asked that question. After all, even if he said it was 95% certain that I would have a stroke, why can’t I be the 5% who doesn’t? Again, I’m not going to worry about what might not happen. Today is where I will remain.

The diagnosis and this perspective have led me to live thoughtfully. More often, I take a moment of pause before speaking, acting, or doing. I ask if this is on what or with whom I want to spend my time, money, efforts, talent, and energy. Do I want these words to be my last? Is this a product I’m proud to promote? Are these the people I want to be with until the end?

I’m working to simplify and declutter my life as much as possible. I don’t want to leave behind any messes for my kids to clean up or waste time caring for things that don’t matter to me.

This new approach is actually quite a lovely way to live. It doesn’t eliminate activities I’d rather not do but my attitude has changed. I scrub the bathroom, because I like it clean. I pay the bills to get them off my desk. And any bit of free time, I do what makes me happiest.

I’ve always been grateful for my many blessings. Now, I enjoy them much more.

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

Every Vote Counts Saturday, Feb 27 2016 

The Illinois primary election is fast approaching, and I’m not sure how I will vote. Unfortunately, I’m not excited about anyone in the race.

In my opinion, few of the 11 presidents who served in my lifetime, including the present one, were exceptional leaders. The public vote has spoken otherwise, however. Either they found these presidents more than acceptable or that they were the best candidates on the ballot.

Regardless, I accept the decision of the democracy, and I will vote every opportunity that I have. It is my privilege and obligation to step forward and note my choice. Voting is not a God-given right. Many countries around the world limit that opportunity.

It can be difficult to sift through the media noise surrounding the elections but important to do our best to listen, read, and discern for ourselves. May you use your power wisely, the elected make us proud, and God bless America.

©2016, Mary K Doyle

Statistics and Magician’s Wife Tuesday, Feb 23 2016 

 

Storytelling throughout history was the passing on of the essence of an event. Specific details were not necessary. It was a person’s emotional interpretation of a significant occurrence. The heart of the story was what was important.

These stories would get passed down by word of mouth, so they altered along the way. I recently heard on the science program, Nova, that every time we recall a memory, we edit it. It becomes less and less accurate because our imagination fills in bits and pieces of things that may have happened, and then those imagined additions become part of the memory.

Today, we do more reporting than storytelling. We want specific details—time, dates, and numbers. When I wrote Sunday feature articles for the Chicago Tribune, three things were to be included: real voices, meaningful quotes, and statistics. Stories needed to be about people with real concerns, told in their own words, and backed up with relevant data.

Statics are an important element in substantiating a story. They tell a level of truth in numbers. Although it was my least favorite college class, I do realize its significance from sports and politics to science and demographics. However, in all reality, even those numbers are a matter of interpretation and can be twisted.

WordPress offers a stats page for each of my blogs. It shows the number of views, likes, visitors, and comments for every post and even where those viewers are located. These numbers give me an idea of who is reading my blogs and whether they are of interest to anyone. There is a wide variation of numbers for many reasons including relevancy of content, writing style, and the time and day of posting.

My most viewed post ran back on August 19, 2013. It had 777 views on WordPress plus countless others via Facebook reposting.

For those who might like to re-read it, and those who never saw it, here it is again:Top 10 Ways You Know You Are a Magicians Wife

©2016, Mary K Doyle

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