YouTube: Hidden Killers of Victorian Homes

Want to watch couple of fascinating videos?

Try Hidden Killers of Victorian Homes on YouTube. 

This video is 5 years old, but I just stumbled upon it yesterday. The documentary details how the enlightened Victorians killed themselves and their children with all the new discoveries from richly colored wall paper (arsenic) to corsets to make all women have hour-glass figures (internal organ damage and respiratory disease).

Those are just a couple of the so-called advances that led to illness and death. It's horrifying to think of all the people who died because they lacked the common knowledge about elements touted as beneficial for people and/or desirable for homes.

New Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home

A second video was made 2 years ago with more hidden killers! In fact, there are several documentaries posted on YouTube that detail Victorian life. Each, from the video on food adulteration to how pharmacists made condoms from sheep intestines, is correct and historically accurate—and many were rather gross. 

Takeaway Truth

If you're a history buff or a reader or writer of Victorian romance novels, this will give you a different perspective on that era. If a writer, these documentaries will certainly spark your imagination.

Review: DOE

Today, it rained—a lot—courtesy of Tropical Storm Beta. Since we'd planned to work in the yard this week, the weather derailed our plans. We ended up watching movies instead. 

One we watched which was worth the time was Doe, directed by Justin Foja.

Timothy Davis starred as the man who awakes with no memory of anything. Complete global amnesia.

Eight years later, the man with no memory has married, fathered a child, and built a great life as a professor of languages since he has an uncanny ability to be fluent in 37 languages.

Tatyana Ali stars as his wife who redeemed him with her love, and Mathew St. Patrick as his best friend who tries to help him put together the pieces of a mysterious, fragmented life.

After finding a clue about his former self, Doe—now called John—races against time and a predestined Fate to discover the truth about his identity.

My Thoughts

The movie was suspenseful and gripping as it presented the compulsion John felt to know his  true identity. The acting was superb, and the story had the immediacy of an action flick and the poignant emotions of a character piece.

Takeaway Truth

Put DOE, now on Prime Video, on your watchlist. It's definitely worth it.

Thought for Today: Be Present

Live today.

Don't get caught in the trap of regretting what you missed.

Don't regret what you didn't get done yesterday.

You missed the opportunity gravy train because you weren't prepared or the timing was wrong or whatever reason kept you from hopping aboard.

Stuff happens. Get over it. Put it behind you.

Avoid thinking that you can't be happy until you get this special thing or you accomplish that thing.

Be happy now. Tomorrow may be too late. You may be dead tomorrow!

I hate to use talk show buzz words, but be present in your life. Live in the now. Be happy now.

Takeaway Truth

Enjoy the journey, because time spent on that road is longer than time spent at the destination.

Saturday Share: Yeast-Raised Waffles

Best waffles I ever ate? These Yeast-Raised Waffles

I've had this recipe for years, but I make these only on special occasions because they must be mixed up the night before and left to rise.

Since the kids are grown and gone, I no longer have to plan every meal in advance so I usually fix a simple breakfast.

You can serve these fancy with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and berries. Or, you can simply add maple syrup. Personally, I like only maple syrup, but suit yourself.

I use a traditional waffle maker. My new one, which is actually several years old, is exactly like my oldest one which is at my house in the country. The old one is probably 30 years old and still makes delicious waffles. It's a Black and Decker as is the new one from Amazon.

The difference between my two waffle makers, other than age, is weight. The old one weighs more because the steel used many years ago was heavier and higher quality than what is used in today's appliances. 

My "new" one weighs 8.57 pounds according to the Amazon description. My old one probably weighs 10-12 pounds or more. Both have removable grids. 

First tip: do not wash grid plates in a dishwasher. When cool, place in a sink full of hot, soapy water. Soak about five minutes, then wash well.

Second tip: Never oil or grease the grid plates. The Teflon-coated grids will remain stick-free unless you coat it with oil before baking as some people do. This bakes that grease onto the grids and is  impossible to clean completely. From then on, they will stick.

Third tip: If you're using a waffle-maker like mine, there's a Waffle setting. Use it. If it doesn't have a heat setting, make sure it's hot.

Yeast-Raised Waffles

This recipe makes a very think batter so don't be dismayed and think something is wrong. The end result is super light and crispy. Serves 4.

Note: I guess this recipe will work on a Belgian waffle maker, but I'm not making any promises.

Belgian Waffle irons have deeper "indentations" and the raised "teeth" are wider and fewer than on a traditional waffle iron. 

Use cautiously because cleaned stuck batter from a waffle iron is not a pleasant chore.

Ingredients for Night Before

  • 1/2 cup warm water, 105-115 degrees F.
  • 1 package of yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons if you're measuring from a jar)
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
Directions for Night Before
  • Place 1/2 cup of warm water in a large glass, ceramic, or chinal bowl (not plastic).
  • Stir the yeast into the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • In a sauce pan add the milk and the butter. Melt the butter over low to medium heat. You do not want it hot because it will kill the yeast.
  • Add the salt and sugar to the milk mixture and stir well.
  • Add this mixture to the yeast mixture and blend.
  • Stir in the 2 cups of flour and beat until smooth.
  • Cover the bowl with a cotton dishtowel or a piece of wax paper with a plate on top.
  • Place in a draft-free area of the kitchen counter.
  • Let stand overnight at room temperature.
Ingredients for Next Morning

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Directions for Next Morning
  • Turn on your waffle iron to heat.
  • Whisk together the 2 eggs in a small bowl. Add the eggs to the batter. Stir.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. (Be sure the baking soda is loose and sprinkled over the batter, not a clump of it dumped in. If it's "clumpy," I use a tea strainer to "sift" it onto the batter. Then beat well.
  • About 1/2 cup of batter makes a large square waffle. I use the waffle setting. When the red light goes out, it's ready. Pour the batter evenly over the grid plate. Close. The light comes back on. When the red light goes off again, the waffle is done.
  • Remove carefully. Don't get burned because these bakers generate very high heat.
  • Pour the batter for the next one, etc.
  • If you're trying to serve all of the waffles together, place the baked waffles on a non-stick foil lined cookie sheet in a 250 degree F. oven to stay warm.
  • Each 1/2 cup batter waffle is 301 calories of deliciousness.
Takeaway Truth

This probably sounds like a lot of steps to go through, but once you've done it, the process seems much easier. The time in making these waffles is repaid in taste.

Porch Lifestyle

Darling Hubby and I arrived at our house in the country before noon today. It was ten degrees cooler than in Houston and breezy.

For a long while, we haven't been coming up here regularly. We decided to put it up for sale.

That meant we have been here more lately, polishing it up so it will sell quickly.

As we drove up here, with 4 Adirondack chairs in back (simulated picture of chairs on our porch), we started talking about how much we love it up here.

The air smells clean, the stars at night really are big and bright, and the sky is just bigger here. If you're not accustomed to being in the wide open spaces, you may not know what I mean by "the sky is bigger."

Big Sky Perception

In the country, where you see mostly woods, rolling hills, and sky, there are no buildings obstructing your view of the horizon so you really do see more of the sky.

In cities where tall buildings or hundreds of houses proliferate, all of that can block miles of sky. You never get that upside down bowl-shape view of the sky.

That type of view is what we see when we're sitting on our back porch here. We can look out and feel as if we're looking from one side of the horizon to the other.

Country Chores

When we arrived, DH changed clothes, jumped on his riding lawn mower, and started mowing the 2 acres around the house.

I cleaned out the kitchen cupboards and drawers, did my bit of weekly housecleaning, and went outside to arrange the new chairs on the porch and do some gardening.

After we'd each finished our "chores," we sat on the porch in the new chairs. (It was too dark to take a picture by the time I decided to write this blog.) 

We shared a Coca-Cola. We buy the Mexican Cokes because they come in glass bottles and are made with sugar, not HFCS. We get ours from Costco or our local Randalls. You can also get them from Amazon, but they're rather pricy.

The windows in the living room were open, Pandora was playing on the TV, and we listened to my Italian Dinner Music station. 

The afternoon was sublime. Good music. Good company. Doing nothing but talking a bit and watching the mockingbirds in the pistach tree, the doves on the highlines, and the bluebirds and cardinals in the fruit trees. 

We watched a storm roll in, huge billowy white clouds changing to smoky gray and midnight blue. Thunder rumbled, and then huge raindrops poured down. We saw the horses in the pasture just east of our house start running, as if they relished the sudden rain and raced for the sheer pleasure of it.

TheOtherKey from Pixabay
The storm raged for about five minutes then moved westward. 

A few minutes later the sky cleared, the white clouds were just as white and puffy as before, then the sun came out. 

The grass, the fields, the trees—every growing thing looked greener, as if cleaned and refreshed.

Tonight, the big sky is populated by millions of bright stars. We returned to the porch. Crickets are chirping, night birds are calling. In the distance, a dog barks. Later, we'll probably hear a coyote or two. The evening is perfect. We really love it here—especially the porch lifestyle.

Takeaway Truth

We decided NOT to sell our little piece of heaven in the country.

P. S. Photo is what twilight looks like as we look from our back porch with a lone live oak tree across the way. Next time, I'll take a picture with my digital camera which does a better job than a cell phone at night.

7 Tips for Urban Survival Today

You need to sharpen your situational awareness.

Do you know the definition of situational awareness?

If you watch suspense movies involving special operatives you probably know.

If not, here's a definition.

The perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their future status.

In other words, it means be aware of where you are, who's there with you, what's going on around you, and what might happen in the very near future based on these observable facts.

For instance, if you're walking down a dark sidewalk, and there's a strange man following you who slows down when you slow down and speeds up when you speed up, what does your gut tell you might happen in the very near future? You might be attacked.

That's situational awareness—knowing you're being followed and deciding that might not be a safe thing, and thinking about what might happen. 

Right there, you've exhibited the 3 levels of situational awareness: perception, comprehension, projection.

Most women instinctively practice situational awareness if they're walking down a dark street or traveling alone. 

What too many don't do is carry that situational awareness into their everyday life.

In this time when masks are more or less mandatory, your situational awareness should be at DefCon 2—high alert. You can't see peoples' faces which we depend on to read someone's mood and/or intention. 

I subscribe to many newsletters. One of them is The Well-Armed Woman which is all about women defending themselves.

A recent newsletter addressed the issue of masks and situational awareness. Some of the points it made were so important, I wanted to pass them on. Please read the full newsletter regardless of your personal belief about women carrying guns because it has great information about why masks affect your situational awareness and what you can do about it.

Stay Safe

1. Hone your situational awareness and be alert to what's happening around you. The world seems like a powder keg ready to explode at the least provocation so don't be caught unaware.

2. When in public, pay attention to the people around you, the chatter if you're in a crowd, and the general mood of the crowd.

3. Have a plan before you need one. Each of us needs to think about what we'll do if we're caught in an explosive situation. Always look around you and see where the exits are whether you're in a mall, a school, or a city street.

4. If you see a lot of people congregating, leave the area. I was once in an anti-American riot in Japan back in the day. People were filling up Coke bottles with gasoline at a nearby service station and throwing them at cars with license plates that identified them as American. 

5. NEVER stay in a crowded place where the mood is ugly. A crowd can quickly become a mob, and mob mentality is a real thing. People fueled by emotion and adrenaline can do things they'd never do in their ordinary normal lives.

6. If you walk into it, turn around and walk out as quickly as possible. If you drive into it, do the same thing. Leave as soon as possible.

If you're in a car, practice what driver's education taught you. Never pull up close to the car in front of you. Always be able to see the vehicle's rear wheels. That way you can pull out of the line of cars if something happens.

7. If someone cuts you off in traffic, blasts their horn at you, or shows a Mr. Digit hand puppet, don't engage. Don't say or do anything that might set someone off. You never know who that driver is. There's been shootings in many states that began with a rude driver. Take the high road.

Takeaway Truth

Plan ahead. Think smart. Be safe.

Choose Apples Based on Use

Apples in Apple Orchard
Image by lumix2004 from Pixabay

 September is apple season.

 Did you know September was usually the month         when   apples were harvested? 

 Of course, that was before fruit was imported from     countries all over the world and stockpiled for   months     on end. But fruit in season tastes better.

 How to Choose an Apple Variety

 Many varieties of apple are available, but not all are   good for cooking.

 Here are some tips for choosing the right variety based on whether you want to eat it or make a pie.

We have 2 apple trees at our place in the country. We needed 2 for cross-pollination. The two we chose, a Gala and a Pink Lady, were chosen because each is a good eating apple. The Pink Lady is excellent in apple pies and crisps.

In making apple pie, it's best to have a sweet apple like a Pink Lady and a tart apple like a Granny Smith.

Apple Facts

1. 1 pound of apples = 2 large or 3 medium or 4-5 small apples

2. 1 pound of apples = 3 cups peeled and sliced apples

3. Best and most easily available apples for pies: Cortland, Fuji, Granny Smith, Jonagold, Winesap.

4. Best and most easily available for making cider: Gala, Rome Beauty, Winesap.

5. Best and most easily available for making applesauce: Braeburn, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh, Winesap.

Takeaway Truth

Wish you were here to share a slice of apple pie!