Tuesday, May 25

Gardening Questions?

I don't end up bringing it up that often nowdays, since I don't have an in-earth garden, but once upon a time I was immersed in biointensive gardening. If you have any gardening questions, I might be able to answer them. Meanwhile, I'm waiting to see if the spirit moves me to post on gardening topics other than my current container garden.

The image is of flax plants that we grew, before flowering, bearing one of the last frosts of the year. While their little blue flowers are exceptionally beautiful, this is my absolute favorite stage of their growth, as their tips bend elegantly over their straight stems.

Sunday, May 23

The Spy Sagas

Do you like spy movies? I love them. The real ones, like Jason Bourne, and the bumbling ones, like Inspector Clouseau and The Man Who Knew Too Little. Good spy movies don't come out too often. I've just discovered this great British spy show, which is sort of like a (currently) 72 hour long spy movie. Yes, that's what I've been watching lately--in reality it's a short term addiction, but doesn't it sound better to call it a marathon--or even "the spy sagas." Oh, I haven't told you which show it is, have I? In the States it's called MI-5, while in the UK it's called Spooks.

I'm definitely into spy movies for the intrigue, not the violence--although I will admit that on the rare occasion that it's really well done, as in the first Jason Bourne movie, I am impressed. (As a semi-pacifist, I find this a bit embarrassing.) Still, in most movies and shows it's decidedly excessive. And sometimes in other scenes they lay the suspense on too heavily. I find that if I just mute the music during these scenes, it's not so over the top intense. But then maybe other people aren't as easily overstimulated by such things as background music, heh.

I must admit that since I discovered itunes subscriptions, tv shows have become a new vice. What are your favorite shows lately?

Friday, May 21

Adblocks for Safari

This is a public service message. You can download adblocks to add to your web browser, to, as you might guess, block ads. They usually won't take care of every single little ad, but they will remove most of them, especially the big obnoxious ads that are such annoying distractions while you're trying to read.

I have a Mac, use Safari as a browser, and I use MacUpdate to find downloadable software. (Or applications or scripts, whatever they are.) If you're using Safari as well, here are three adblock applications you can download:

Safari AdBlock 0.4rc3
SafariBlock 2.2r1
GlimmerBlocker 1.4.5

I just downloaded and installed all three (plus a fourth more obscure CSS based one, Ad Subtract Automatic) and my websites are now free of most ads again.

If you use another browser, search around the web, I'm sure adblocks for your browser are also available. I believe that Firefox has one of the best adblock add ons around.

Wednesday, May 19

Wild And Wonderful Bird Feeders

I've ventured into the dangerous and exotic world of bird feeding. Vancouver has a store that specializes in bird feeding and birding (the observation of wild birds in their habitats), The Backyard Bird Centre. I ended up coming away with a tube feeder, a bag of black oil sunflower seeds, and a hummingbird feeder.

The tube feeder was a pretty easy decision; in person, the metal ones looked a lot nicer. The fellow at the store recommended the sunflower seeds as the best all-around bird feed, but I think next time I'll get a mix. Apparently the small feeding holes of the bird feeder will discourage starlings, and mayybe sparrows; if I want to feed bigger birds, I can just attach a tray to the bottom of the bird feeder.

The hummingbird feeder was a more complicated choice. I bought this beautiful, simple feeder. However, I was told that I should fill the container to the brim in order to keep it from dripping, as this causes a vacuum. As I already knew, it's best to make hummingbird nectar at home; but you also have to change the nectar every 2-4 days, to keep it from going moldy. And then I read that it often takes a long time for hummingbirds to discover your feeder. Plus, the hummingbird feeder I got won't be so easy to clean--another crucial, frequent habit. So finally I ordered a smaller hummingbird feeder. I might introduce the larger feeder once hummingbirds are showing up.

Keep in mind that you don't need a garden or porch to be able to keep a bird feeder; if your windows open in a cooperative way, you can affix a bird feeder onto your window with suction cups, and get the best view possible.

Tuesday, May 11

Wash Your Face With Honey

Yes, you can wash your face daily with honey. I've been doing this for, I believe, three years. It's actually very simple, and it's either equal or superior to store bought facewash.

In order to do this, put about a spoonful of honey on your hand, around your fingertips. You face should ideally be dry, and your hands should be dry or lightly damp; your hair should be kept back. Rub the honey on your face, massaging it in thoroughly, particularly in any problem areas--although be careful not to put excess pressure if there's any inflammation. Then you rinse it off with water. It won't be sticky in the slightest, unless you don't rinse it off. I keep the honey off my palms, so that I can still turn the faucets on and off.

If you're concerned about making a mess, try it in the shower first. But remember, it's really the same motions as regular facewashing.

How does it work? On the most basic level, honey cleans your face because it's soluble in both oil and water. You can test this out in your kitchen, if you'd like. So as you rub it in, it picks up the oil and other substances on your skin, and when you rinse it off, they leave with the honey. It works in other ways, as well. Honey is a potent healing substance, which can even be used very effectively for wound dressing. Fanatic Cook has a great post about this. Its basic action is to produce small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, which will help to disinfect whatever it touches. Finally, if you massage the honey into your skin fairly thoroughly, the honey will actually go into pores and loosen small blackhead plugs, which will then come out and be washed away. No really--you will be able to feel the plugs, and even see them if you wish. Those with difficult acne or other skin conditions may prefer to use the extra medicinal manuka honey; bear in mind that it smells medicinal, and is more pricey. Otherwise, any type of honey will do.

What else is there to say about honey as facewash?

I get a really large jar of honey, and keep it in the kitchen. Then I have a few dispenser jars, you know with the spout thingies; one in the kitchen, one at the bathroom sink, and one in the shower. I refill those as needed.

Honey crystalizes, and that's more of a problem for facewash honey than it is for kitchen honey. (Especially in the winter, when cold temperatures cause it to crystalize more quickly.) Even when it's only slightly crystalized, it becomes unpleasant to rub into one's face, with all those sharp edges. (Not painful, just unpleasant.) There are ways to de-crystalize honey; I believe a microwave works well, but I'm not sure since we don't have one. In general I just rinse out the crystalized honey with hot water and soaking, and then replace it with new honey.

One of the great benefits of washing my face with honey is that it makes life simpler. There's no need to choose between products; the honey is always the same, and it's always good.

Monday, May 3