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Get Your Hand Out Of My Pocket! December 31, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor.

TimonStarting this morning, they’ve been rolling in fast and furious.  Each time I check my e-mail, “LAST CHANCE” pleas greet me.

In a single 30-minute period, appeals from The Ocean Conservancy, HSUS, ASPCA, WWF, Green America and 4 other groups alerted me to the pending midnight DEADLINE for contributions.

Talk about creating a sense of arbitrary urgency.  😉

At least these non-profits are engaged in work I applaud and support throughout the year.

Not all “pass the hat” groups can say the same.

ZombiesHave you heard of the National Film Preservation Foundation?

The NFPF uses actors, actresses, directors, producers,  and other Hollywood types (you know, people who have raked in mega-bucks for entertaining the masses) as spokespersons to get us, the paying public, to chip in to restore old movies and films.


Wikipedia ~ Piggy Bank (in Public Domain)

Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood and other “glitterati” are asking us to fork over $$$’s to preserve their motion picture legacy?!

They’ve got a lot of nerve.

As far as I’m concerned, people who have been featured on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous have NO business passing the hat in my direction.

Get your hand out of my pocket!

Go raid your own piggy banks.

Aah . . . that’s better!

It’s A Wrap! December 31, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Home & Garden, Humor.

Wikipedia ~ Aluminum Foil (in Public Domain)

Aluminum Foil has been a mainstay in kitchens for decades.

And not just for keeping food fresh by acting as a barrier to light and oxygen and all manner of unpleasant odors.

Other uses abound:

* Sharpen scissors by swiping them once through 7 layers of foil.  Using 8 layers would probably work too.  No guarantees if you only use 6.

* Get into the Guinness Book of World Records by making the world’s largest foil ball.   Richard Roman of Alliance, Ohio set the current record in 1987.  The weight of his ball . . . 1,615 pounds.  Wow!  That’s a lot of chocolate wrappers.  I wonder how much Richard weighs?

* Toss a small crumpled ball of foil into the dryer with wet clothes to prevent static electricity from infiltrating your clothes.  Don’t toss aluminum foil into your microwave unless you want to see sparks fly.

* Next year will be the 100th year anniversary of the first commercial use of aluminum foil in the United States.  In 1913, it was used for Life Savers candy wrappers and also as ID leg bands for racing pigeons.

Wikipedia ~ Tin Foil Hat (in Public Domain)

* Make a tin foil hat to keep aliens in UFO’s from reading and controlling your thoughts.

Foil is an effective foil against alien mind readers because it reflects 98% of all light rays and more than a few electro-magnetic rays.

Plus it acts as a placebo . . . giving peace of mind to paranoid people.

* Unlike other wraps, tin foil can often be reused.  Clean with soapy water, rinse, dry, and smooth out.

* If your brown sugar is hard as a rock, wrap the brick in foil and bake at 300 degrees for 5 minutes to soften it back up.

Then bake cookies!  C’mon . . . the oven’s already pre-heated.  You can start your diet tomorrow.  Next Tuesday at the latest.  😉

Aah . . . that’s better!

* * * * *

 Well . . . that about wraps up another year of blogging fun on SLTW.

Thanks for visiting, reading, commenting, linking, liking, sharing, and caring about the eclectic topics we discuss . . . as Spirit Lights The Way.

Happy New Year!

Stay Tuned for tomorrow’s post:  The Writer’s Desk ~ A Contest Giveaway!!!

Cry Baby! December 30, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor.

220px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_27At one point, my parents had four children under the age of five ~ Jim (5) led the pack, followed in short order by me (3), Doug (1) and Betsy (newborn).

One morning (before Betsy’s arrival), Doug started crying. Mom changed him. Still crying. She fed him. Still crying. She put him down for a nap. Still crying. Nothing worked to stem the steady tide of tears.

As lunchtime rolled around, with Doug screaming bloody murder in the background, Mom decided to let Jim and me have a picnic lunch in the backyard ~ so we could eat away from the noise, noise, noise, noise, noise.

Since she hadn’t planned on serving us a picnic lunch, Mom didn’t have any traditional picnic fare on hand ~ and with three young children, one purple with virtual apoplexy, she wasn’t about to run to the store.

No problem. Ever the resourceful type, she decided to serve us one of her favorite meals ~ liver and bacon!

On a picnic!

What was she thinking?

As she sautéed up the liver and bacon, Doug continued crying. As she set up a small table and chairs for us in the backyard, Doug continued crying.  As she carried out plates of liver to us, Doug continued crying.

When I looked at the plate of food she placed in front of me, I started crying.


Pluto-HappyAt the time, we had a Cocker Spaniel named Muffin. Old, no longer house-broken, and without any real tolerance for children, Muffin was not an ideal family pet. But, as I stared in dismay at the liver and bacon on my plate, her short-comings were not in the forefront of my mind because Muffin had one redeeming virtue . . . she loved liver.

So, with Doug still crying in the background, I fed my liver to the dog.

Jim looked over at me, smiled, and said, “I’m telling.”

As it turned out, Jim did not get a chance to tattle on me ~ Mom had seen the whole thing from the kitchen window.

When she came back outside carrying a plate, I assumed it was dessert.

It wasn’t.

She placed a second portion of liver in front of me, grabbed the dog by the collar, and returned to the house to check on Doug, who was still crying.

Now, at this point, Jim was really smiling . . . a Grinch-y Grin curled up from his lips as he reached the halfway point of his liver and entered the home-stretch toward dessert.

In contrast, I hadn’t even left the starting gate, nor did I plan to.

I hated liver and knew (even though I was not quite two) that liver had no place on a picnic.

Hmm . . . perhaps this picnic signaled the advent of my vegetarian lifestyle.

I sat there, letting the liver congeal on my plate, without taking a single bite, while Doug continued to serenade us with salty sobs in the background.

When Mom returned for Jim’s plate, she took one look at my untouched plate, and said, in her best Scottish brogue, “Ye canna ha’ yer pudding until ye eat yer meat.”

Life is so unfair at times.

As I burst into salty sobs of my own, with Doug competing for attention in the background, I thought . . . What a Cry Baby!

He doesn’t even have to eat liver!

* * * * *


WP Daily Prompt ~ The Early Years (write page 3 of your Autobiography)

The Book of Invention December 30, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Home & Garden, Humor, People.

The Book of Invention, by Thomas J. Craughwell, is a fascinating look at 250 of the most important inventions through the ages.

In between the invention of Paint for pre-historic cave paintings (circa 30,000 B.C.)  and more modern inventions like the Internet (1983) and DNA Fingerprinting (1984), the author addresses 247 other inventions and their inventors.

Here they are . . . in chronological order:

Inventions B.C.:  Pottery, Sewing Needle, Boomerang, Oil Lamps, Baskets, Bricks, Mirror, Sugar, Clock, Loom, Sauna, Wheel, Wigs, Sundial, Plow, Bronze, Oven, Alphabet, Buttons, Candle, Charcoal, Ink, Paper, Sewer System, Silk, Veneer, Umbrella, Bells, Glass, Rivet, Soap, Porcelain, Scissors, Carts and Chariots, False Teeth, Saddle, Coins, Aqueduct, Arch, Stirrups, Aspirin, Catapult, Paved Roads, Lighthouse, Wallpaper, Clothes Iron, Cement, Compass

1st – 10th Centuries, A.D.: Easel, Vending Machine (to dispense holy water at an Egyptian Shrine), Dome, Fork, Carousel, Horseshoes, Windmill, Paper Money, Chimney, Gunpowder, Fireworks

11th – 18th Centuries: Ambulance, Cannon, Flying Buttress, Hourglass, Printing Press, Globe (1492), Screw, Sawmill, Newspaper, Telescope, Barometer, Combination Lock, Microscope, Steam Engine, Thermometer, Dental Braces, Flush Toilet, Franklin Stove, Glue, Lightning Rod, Bifocals, Jigsaw Puzzle, Submarine, Balloon, Guillotine, Battery, Cotton Gin, Corkscrew, Pencil, Vaccination, Ball Bearings, Parachute

19th Century: Locomotive, Matches, Tin Can, Stethoscope, Fire Extinguisher, Elastic Fabric, Braille, Lawnmower, Mechanical Reaper, Dry Ice, Colt Revolver, Morse Code, Bicycle, Camera, Postage Stamp, Anesthesia, Vulcanized Rubber, Rubber Band, Sewing Machine, Suspension Bridge, Antiseptics, Odometer, Safety Pin, Milking Machine, Elevator, Syringe, Lifejacket, Pasteurization, Toilet Paper, Oil Well, Window Screens, Torpedo, Underground Trains, Dynamite, Periodic Table of Elements, Square-Bottom Paper Bag, Typewriter, Air Brakes, Can Opener, Blue Jeans, Barbed Wire, Internal Combustion Engine, Telephone, Microphone, Phonograph, Refrigerator, Light Bulb, Cash Register, Shower, Stapler, Player Piano, Electric Fan, Skyscraper, Automobile, Dishwasher, Contact Lenses, Paper Drinking Straw, Pneumatic Tires, Motion Pictures, Escalator, Carborundum, Slot Machine, Radio, X-Ray, Mousetrap, Hearing Aid, Paper Clip

1900 – 1925: Washing Machine, Air Conditioning, Safety Razor, Vacuum Cleaner, Flashlight, Airplane, Coat Hanger, Colored Crayons, Windshield Wiper, Fly Swatter, Outboard Motor, Plastic, Aluminum Foil, Geiger Counter, Nutcracker, Stainless Steel, Turn and Brake Signals, Armored Combat Tank, Wristwatch, Drywall, Adhesive Bandage, Zipper, Pop-Up Toaster, Traffic Light, Cotton Swabs, Frozen Food, Adhesive Tape, Fax Machine

1926 – 1950: Liquid-Fueled Rocket, Aerosol Spray, Respirator, Television, Bread-Slicing Machine, Penicillin, Chain Saw, Sunglasses, Saran Wrap, Answering Machine, Nylon, Parking Meter, Radar, Sunscreen, Aluminum Siding, Nonreflecting Glass, Photocopier, Shopping Cart, Teflon, Toothbrush, Ballpoint Pen, Helicopter, Paperback Book, Duct Tape, Aqualung, Atomic Bomb, Microwave Oven, Kitty Litter, Transistor, Frisbee, Zamboni, Artificial Cardiac Pacemaker, Credit Card, Disposable Diapers

1951 – 1984: Bar Code, Fiber Optics, Calculator, Robot, Synthetic Diamond, Hovercraft, Velcro, Television Remote Control, Satellite, Laser, Three-Point Seat Belt, Ultrasound Imaging, In Vitro Fertilization, Artificial Turf, Athletic Shoe, Kevlar, ATM, Air Bags, Computer Mouse, Smoke Detector, Compact Disk, E-mail, Space Shuttle, Early Pregnancy Test, Personal Computer, Post-it Notes, GPS, Internet, DNA Fingerprinting

Wow!  That’s a long list!  And a surprising one.  

It’s hard to believe that the Atomic Bomb came before Kitty Litter . . . that Submarines pre-dated the Guillotine . . . that Airplanes came before Coat Hangers . . . that we had a Space Shuttle before we had Post-it Notes . . . that Escalators and X-rays arrived before Mouse Traps and Paper Clips . . . that Air Conditioning came before Fly Swatters.

But, perhaps most surprising of all, is the following timeline:

* 5,000 years ago, the village of Skara Brae in Scotland’s Orkney Islands had a sewer system connected to small toilet chambers in their houses.

* In 1596, Sir John Harrington (1561-1612) designed and built a flush toilet for his cousin, England’s Queen Elizabeth I.  The cascade of water made so much noise, Elizabeth refused to use it.

* The first valve-operated toilet arrived in 1738 in France. 

* But it wasn’t until 1857 that Joseph Gayetty of New York produced the first roll of “Therapeutic Paper for use in the loo.  It contained aloe.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Any surprises on the list for you?

Arepas! Arepas! December 29, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.

I love the versatility of corn meal ~ perfect for melt in your mouth cornbread, johnny cakes, hush puppies, and . . . Arepas!


Cat in Hat
Ho! Ho! Ho!
Very Funny
I can’t stop laughing

Spicy Arepas!

2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cornmeal in blender or food processor and pulse until finely ground.

In medium saucepan, bring water, salt, and crushed red pepper to boil. Whisk in cornmeal. Transfer to bowl. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 8 patties . . . 3 inches in diameter and 1/2 inch thick.

In large skillet, fry patties (4 at a time) in hot oil over medium high heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes total, turning once while cooking.


Transfer cooked arepas to a greased baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

Serve with spicy black beans and cole slaw.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Breathe. Relax. Repeat. December 28, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Life Balance.

Donald-Duck-LazyHolidays are FUN . . . but they can add to our stress levels as we struggle to shop, wrap, decorate, cook, clean,  entertain, and meet the expectations of others.

Now, it’s time for some serious STRESS relief:

* Exercise is a great stress buster.  Go for a brisk walk around the block.  Boost your heart rate while lowering your stress rate.

* Take the dog and/or kids to the park or playground.  Play tag, dodge ball, or monkey in the middle.

* Volunteering two hours per week can reduce stress and provide other feel good benefits.  Offer to take nursing home residents in wheelchairs for outings around the neighborhood.  Walk dogs at the local shelter.

* Join a tai chi or yoga group in the park.  Meditative movements help melt anxiety.  Sunshine is a mood booster.

* Some foods are proven stress busters.  Chocolate comes to mind.  Other options ~ whole grain breads, citrus, spinach, salmon, and black tea.  Try a Spinach, Fennel, and Orange Salad dressed lightly with a balsamic vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and orange juice).

Donald-Director* Play games with friends and family.  Laugh.  Be silly.  If you prefer to be serious, join a bridge club.

* Don’t just do something, sit there.  Meditation is a great way to gain clarity and melt away stress.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3:  Breathe, Relax, Repeat.

Aah . . . that’s better!

They’re Gone! December 27, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Health & Wellness, Humor, People.

7dwarfsNow that your houseguests have left the building, it’s time to put some order into the disorder. 

On the bright side . . . cleaning up the chaos left behind by houseguests can help you lose any holiday weight you temporarily adopted . . . provided you don’t clean out the refrigerator by scarfing down all the leftovers in one sitting. 

* Dusting, vacuuming, and mopping burn 150 calories an hour and allow you to exercise your whole body.  Move briskly.  Limit chocolate breaks.

* Reorganize the fridge with healthy snacks (hummus, fruit, raw veggies) kept front and center.  Hide baked goods and chocolate in back behind the stuff that no one is interested in eating.  Step away from the drumstick!

* Stripping beds and carting laundry helps tone arm muscles.  Bending and stretching to pick up misplaced items and tidy up messes helps improve  range of motion.  Whistle while you work . . . “I like to move it, move it.”

* Sweeping up porches, patios, and driveways provides the bonus of fresh air and sunshine.  Wait until Mother Nature offers up a sunny day. 

The-Pink-PantherWhat’s that?  You didn’t have houseguests?  Your house is immaculate?  Not a dust bunny in sight?  Holiday decorations packed away?  In Martha Stewart approved ornament carriers?  With Dyno labels for each carrier?

What’s your secret? 

Aah . . . that’s better!

Oh, Christmas Tree! December 26, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Life Balance, Nature.

If you bought a “real tree” to decorate for the holidays, don’t just toss it into the trash once you remove the ornaments . . . repurpose it!


Many communities offer programs to collect and recycle trees FREE of charge.  Some towns chip the trees into mulch for parks and paths.  

Others may submerge the trees into ponds and lakes to provide protection and nutrients for fish.   

Check with your local government to see if it offers this eco-friendly service.

Aah . . . that’s better!

When We Get Stuck December 24, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness.

IMGP1836aI’ve been writing annual missives for thirty years.

Sometimes, the words flow easily.

Other years, it’s a struggle to balance joys and sorrows.

This year, I got stuck, mired in memories.

To get unstuck, I flipped through 29 previous newsletters, noting the constant opening and closing of doors ~ births, deaths, marriages, graduations.

That’s life.

Like it or not, the arrival and departure of people, places, and things (friends, jobs, pets, homes, and hobbies) form the fabric of our lives ~ each milestone and experience woven into a seamless tapestry with no clear delineation or demarcation to mark the passage from one moment to the next as we live in the NOW.

IMGP2767b2012, like a toddler throwing a tantrum while navigating the terrible twos, has been filled with difficult moments and not-so-subtle reminders that the only constant in life is change.

Dad died.  Mom can no longer live alone.  A house filled with memories must be sold. Tigger has diabetes. My sister is still seeking a cure for vision and mobility issues. Hurricane Sandy re-arranged the East Coast.  A lone gunman stepped into a school and opened fire, killing 22 students and teachers.

Life, like time, flows in a single stream.  We cannot double back, detour around rough patches, or request a “do-over.”  There’s no “rewind” button.  We cannot press “pause.”  This is IT.

We live it . . . or we miss it.

Even when we are standing still, mired in memories of what was, life continues to ebb and flow around us . . . gaining momentum as we age.

But, just as Y2K did NOT signal the end of the world, neither will 2012.

Life will keep flowing forward and we will flow with it, doing our best to live happily ever after on a moment by moment basis . . . enjoying family reunions, playing miniature golf with nieces and nephews, relaxing on the beach.

We are HERE and it is NOW . . . what else is there?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Don’t Forget Fido! December 23, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Health & Wellness.

At this festive time of year, there are lots of things to keep out of your pet’s reach ~ chocolate, caffeine, onion, garlic, grapes, raisins, bread dough, tinsel, ribbons, garlands, ornaments, electric cords, candles, poinsettia, holly, ivy, mistletoe, and xylitol (a sweetener in gum and candies).

Here’s a treat that good for dogs to eat . . .   

Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Puppy Dog Treats

Pluto-Happy1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. honey
2 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine first 5 ingredients. Stir well. Add flour and beat with an electric mixer until dough forms. Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness.

Cut dough into biscuits using a 2-inch cookie cutter. Transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheet(s).

Bake 45-60 minutes until biscuits are crisp and golden brown. Turn oven off. Leave biscuits in oven to dry overnight.

Makes 4-5 dozen dog treats.

Woof . . . that’s better!