Thursday, February 28, 2013

My Wheatgrass Sprouts, or Jack and the Wheat Stalk

My wheatgrass has sprouted!!!

four seed starting pellets filled with wheatgrass sprouts

Yippee!!!

Wheatgrass sprouts rather quickly, and is supposed to be quite easy to care for... you know... just like any other grass.  You also don't have to worry about how far apart the seeds are planted.  Again, just like any other grass.

Imagine if all gardening was this simple?

Indeed, I'm beginning to think that I should transplant it into the shallow clay pot that I bought already!  Why, you ask?  Well, I've discovered that wheatgrass blades are pretty tenacious.  Just like the grass that grows in sidewalk cracks, wheatgrass sprouts will happily burst through netting that they shouldn't.

one sprout pinched between my thumb and index finger, growing through the pellet's netting

I'm kinda worried that once the roots grow large enough, they'll be poking through the egg carton they're being held within.

And then they'll shoot through the window sill,

Laughing wheatgrass on a window sill.  Long, full roots growing through the sill and down toward the floor


Clear down through the basement, and into the foundation of the house.  Then, the grass will continue to grow to such heights that the entire house will raise up into the clouds.  Finally, a goose will fly inside and start laying golden eggs, which some kid named Jack will climb up and steal from us.

A huge blade of grass, poking through the house and pushing it onto a cloud.  Smiling stick figure climbs up the blade.
Jack and the wheat stalk


That greedy kid...

So, you see, I really need to move the wheatgrass into its permanent container, soon.

Why am I so interested in wheatgrass?  Well, I took a wheatgrass shot a few years ago, and to be honest, I didn't need, or even want, the orange juice 'chaser'.  I really liked it.

Yeah, I'm an odd one, I know.

Ok, so not only do I like the taste of wheatgrass, oddball that I am, but it's also a great and nutritious plant to have around.  It provides vitamins A, C, and E, as well as contains nutrients like magnesium, chlorophyll, calcium, amino acids, and iron.  This isn't just hearsay.  I found that information on the Mayo Clinic's site.

On the flipside, there are a lot of claims about the benefits of wheatgrass that don't have any concrete research to back them up.  This doesn't mean that the claims are false, of course... it just means that they can't be 100% verified.  There just haven't been enough studies done... yet.

I have found small studies that place wheatgrass in a very favorable position, however.


  • Take, for instance, A pediatric study that was done in India which shows that wheatgrass juice may reduce the amount of blood transfusions that are required to treat thalassemia major, the most severe form of anemia.  A total of 11 out 16 patients had significant reductions in transfusions necessary.  


I should point out, however, that aside from being a very small study, it was not carefully controlled.  Regardless, the results make a large and more carefully controlled study worth doing!


  • Another study, published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology shows that wheatgrass juice is an effective treatment aid for ulcerative colitis.  This study, unlike the one previously mentioned, was a highly controlled, double-blind study.  


While also a rather small study, it was highly controlled, making it worth noticing.

These are only two, but there are more out there, to be sure.  I've even heard that wheatgrass has been show to help with cancer, though I haven't actually seen a study saying as much.  That doesn't mean  it can't aid in cancer treatment, nor that the study isn't out there.  It just means that I haven't seen one.

If you have, of course, let me know in a comment!

Based on what I've seen, growing wheatgrass is a great idea - an entire packet of seeds costs less than two shots of wheatgrass juice, and can last for quite a while - it's grass, right?  It lives through everything!

Most people don't particularly like the taste of wheatgrass juice, making me a bit of a weirdo, since I really do like it.  But, hey!  That just makes things easier for me, right?

The only problem in my case is that I don't have the right kind of juicer.  I guess I'll just have to hope enough nutrients get through my basic centrifugal juicer, since a masticating juicer is what you should really use in this case.

No worries, though.  I have time.

Now, go plant some wheatgrass for yourself.  It's easy to grow, and healthy, as well!







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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Dairy Petition That Should Offend Us

I've been alerted to something that may concern you - and most certainly concerns me.

A February 23rd post published by Activist Post brought to my attention a petition to amend labeling requirements for dairy products that's been filed by the FDA by the International Dairy Foods Association, as well as the National Milk Producers Federation.

This time it's not about GMOs.

Rather, the dairy industry is asking to be allowed to place non-nutritive sweeteners in our milk (as well as 17 other dairy products) without mentioning them on the label.  This all basically has to do with a section of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 that allows sugar to be added to milk without adding it to the label.  We don't recognize milk, even flavored milk, as having any added sweeteners, anyway, right?

Wait... we do?  

Huh.  The petitioners don't seem to think so...

"Further, the petitioners assert that consumers do not recognize milk—including flavored milk—as necessarily containing sugar. "

Besides, kids push aside anything that has words like 'reduced-calorie' or 'diet' on the label.  If these words are used, kids won't drink chocolate milk in school.

"However, IDFA and NMPF argue that nutrient content claims such as “reduced calorie” are not attractive to children, and maintain that consumers can more easily identify the overall nutritional value of milk products that are flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners if the labels do not include such claims."

But, wait... if they hate regular milk, and won't drink chocolate milk, since it's the reduced sugar kind and the soda vending machines are gone in most schools,... then they may have to drink WATER.

The horror!!!



Ok, but seriously.  It gets better.

See, hiding what's in our milk means that we'll be better able to evaluate the nutritional qualities of our food.  Hiding information makes for more honest communication.  No... it's true!  They say it themselves!

"Finally, IDFA and NMPF argue that the proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace and are therefore appropriate under section 401 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 341)."

and...

"Accordingly, the petitioners state that milk flavored with non-nutritive sweeteners should be labeled as milk without further claims so that consumers can “more easily identify its overall nutritional value.”"

But, hey... What do I know?  Maybe subterfuge does promote honesty.  Perhaps hiding ingredients does help people identify nutritional properties in food.

And perhaps I live on Atlantis and have every last one of my needs met by mermaids who hang on my every last word, worshiping the ground I walk on.

Yeah, I don't think so, either.

There's a public comment period that lasts until May 21, 2013.  That gives us about 2 months...

But don't wait, because let's face it.  We'll forget if we put it off, and that would be tragic.

The way I read it, it seems that the IDFA and NMPF think we're stupid.  I could be wrong, but when you claim that we don't realize that some type of sugar goes into flavored beverages, and that removing important ingredients from a label will help us better understand what's inside, I call bull****.

Don't wait.

Read the petition for yourself, then submit your commentary.


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Monday, February 25, 2013

Winter Sowing - Take 2!!!

And we're back at the beginning...

Last year at around this time, I decided to try winter sowing.  The concept of starting seeds outside in the snow was just crazy to me!

So naturally, I tried it.

Gallon milk jug sitting outside with no snow
Last year's canterbury bells


There was a problem, however.  Last winter was a mild winter for this region, and snow was just about non-existent.  As a result, nothing really took off and grew the way I was hoping it would.

The theory behind winter sowing is simple.  

You're basically treating seeds the way they'd be treated in nature.  The seeds go through a process of freezing and thawing, which causes them to slough off their shells in a steady and slow manner.

This is all done in a controlled manner, of course.  The seeds and soil are placed in a plastic container (milk jug) which actually stays at a warmer temperature when the sun shines on it.

This process conditions the seed for growth, then provides a properly warm environment at the tail end of the season, which allows the plant to grow at a time when you'd normally still be staring at seeds inside and under a grow light.

It's the lazy person's seed starting method, which means I love it!

I grabbed my supplies again this year, and went to work.  This was the perfect anniversary project to celebrate the beginning of the second year of Even Green Boots Leave Trails, after all, since it was the first project that was done!

1 bag of dirt, 1 packet of lemondrop marigold seeds, half gallon milk jug sliced in half, paring knife

Marigolds were the plant of choice, since flowers and herbs appear to be the most viable candidates for winter sowing, from what I've read. Well, that, and my daughter loves yellow.  She insisted on yellow flowers.

So... Marigold, it was.

The supplies were simple:

  • Dirt
  • Seeds
  • Plastic milk jug
  • A sharp knife

Just as before, the work involved was simple, as well.  
  1. Cut the milk jug in half.
  2. Pierce the bottom and sides for air flow and drainage.
  3. Fill the bottom half with dirt.
  4. Add water.  Make sure to use a lot of it.
  5. Plant the seeds according to the directions on the packet.
  6. Tape the plastic milk jug back together.
  7. Label it - if you do enough of these, I promise that you'll forget what went where!
  8. Do a happy dance.  The hard part is done.
See?  I told you it was the lazy person's seed starting method!

Now that you've finished the happy dance - 
          Do that happy dance, darn it!
- It's time to take things outside.  

You want to place the plastic milk jug in an area that 

a) Gets plenty of sunlight, and 
b) Is out of the way.

We got a lot of snow the evening before I started my winter sowing, 

Child in snowsuit and coat, clinging to a small tree while atop a snowdrift beside the shoveled driveway
My daughter, bravely clinging to a tree
atop the highest mountain in the universe...
So I actually had to place the jug inside the snow.  Much different from last year!  I chose to place it beside the bench at the corner of the porch.  It was an area that wouldn't attract foot traffic, yet would supply the marigolds with ample sunlight.

half gallon jug covered almost completely with snow.  The word "marigolds" is written with permanent black marker

And...

Just like the first time I did winter sowing, I left the lid on the top.

Don't leave the lid on the container!!!

The top of the container needs to remain open in order to allow rain and snow to enter.  Otherwise, you'll have one dry milk jug!  I ran back out to remove it, shaking my head.  

Some people just never learn, right?



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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy Anniversary to US!!!

Guess what?

Today is the 1st anniversary of Even Green Boots Leave Trails!!!

::cue fireworks, noise-makers, and confetti::

This is every bit as much your anniversary, as it is mine.  After all, without you the Green Boots wouldn't exist!

::cue cheers and champagne::

To those of you that have been here since the beginning, thank you so much for your support.  You're the backbone of this blog, pure and simple.

And thanks to those of you that are new to the Green Boots, as well as those that may be visiting for the first time!  Your presence keeps me going.

Even Green Boots Leave Trails has helped me learn a great deal that I may not have, otherwise.  Hopefully, it has done the same for you.  The discovery of what works and what doesn't, as well as what's fact and what's not, is something that I love to focus on... full force.

New knowledge is one of the most fulfilling aspects of life, and if I can use that knowledge to make the environment a little better, while helping you learn how to do the same...

Heck yeah!

We rock!!!

And on that note, I think we all deserve a little cake before I start getting too mushy, don't you?


In celebration of this day, I've elected to go back to the beginning.  

Remember last year's winter sowing project?  I've attempted it, again.  This time there's a lot more snow to work with, so hopefully things will go much more smoothly.  

Of course, it should've been started in January, but...

Oh, well.  Wish me luck!  I'll post about the new project on Monday.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

My First Home Energy Report: The Confusion, the Shame

I got my first Home Energy Report from the power company.

I've been working hard to reduce energy in all possible ways, so I was overwhelmingly excited to see how my home compares with others.  This energy report was something that I never had in my old desert home.  I thought about the many ways I've worked to reduce energy consumption.  

  • My dishwasher runs only when it's completely full, and I don't use the dry cycle.
  • I caulked up as many air leaks as I could find.
  • I used plastic on the windows.
  • I shower every other day.
  • I wrapped the water heater in a blanket.
  • My clothing is washed in cold water, and only full loads are done.
  • My thermostat is set to as high during the summer or as low during the winter as I can handle.

I could go on, but we'll leave it at that.  You get the idea.  I really, really try.  I did not, therefore, expect to respond the way I did when the energy report arrived in my mailbox.

Crying figure, saying "But... What... Happened?"

I was not a happy camper. With the amount of time I've taken to make this home more energy efficient, I should be pleased with the results.I expected that I'd have a long way to go, but not this long!

Bar graph showing Efficient Neighbors (1,154), YOU (1,567), and All neighbors (1,682).

I'm the blue.

Or maybe I should say that I'm so blue...

All that work, and yet I was barely below average consumption.  

What you're seeing above, by the way, is merely my energy usage for this month. This puts me on the higher end of energy consumption.  

Not pretty.  Not at all.

"So what's the deal?"  I thought.  It didn't make sense.  I was in complete confusion.

I continued on, and looked at the yearly graphs for natural gas

Line graph plotting natural gas usage for each month, showing the efficient, average consumption, and me

and for electricity.

Line graph plotting electricity usage for each month, showing the efficient, average consumption, and me

Things started to come together.

Natural gas usage was particularly high November-February.  These are months in which heating is used.  Minnesota is a particularly cold state, after all, and heaters are an absolute necessity.

But then I noticed what natural gas usage was like for the rest of the year.  Not bad at all.  Indeed, I was at level or below the efficient natural gas usage for the remaining months.  That made me feel a little better.  My energy savings decisions were actually doing some good.

But what about electricity?

It wasn't nearly as pretty there.  My electricity usage was high all around, but especially high in May-August.  This is when the air conditioning was turned on.  I'm rather cruel as far as air conditioning is concerned.  

See, I've got this thing:  Since I'm from the desert, I expect to use less a/c in Minnesota.  That means that the air doesn't turn on until the inside temperature hits 87 degrees during the day, and 84 at night.  If it still feels too hot?  Well, too bad.  That's what water guns and iced tea are for.

But it didn't help.

I then realized that maybe the energy problem, in terms of heating and cooling, wasn't so much what I was or was not doing.  Maybe, just maybe, the problem was the house.

It's huge.  That's a lot of area to heat and cool.  

It's also old (as in 'built in 1896' old).  Old means drafty.  Even with what I had done to plug air leaks, I couldn't get them all.  If I was plugging air leaks that were big enough to see through into the neighbor's yard, after all, there had to be plenty more that I couldn't see.  Add to that the fact that there were foundation problems that couldn't be fixed along the doorways and windows, the loss of heat (or cold) began to add up.

This made me feel a bit better, as well.

I couldn't ignore, however, that electricity usage was through the roof during non-cooling months. I couldn't let myself off the hook as much as I'd like to.  The majority of the problem surrounding electricity consumption was on the human end.  It couldn't be blamed on the house.

I still have a long way to go.

If you look closely at my list above that shows what I've done to increase energy efficiency, you'll notice that the majority had to do with gas costs.  Gas home heating, gas water heater... 

Gas, gas, gas.

Some things need to change.  Beyond the house itself, that is.  I need to continue what I've done in terms of natural gas, of course, but now I need to focus on electricity.  I've done some things in that regard, but I need to do more.

This should be an interesting journey...

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Blizzard Without Snowfall? Huh?!

I'm constantly amazed by the sheer volume of things that I don't know.

These are things that aren't exactly rocket science.  You don't need a degree to obtain this information. These are simply things that you learn while you go through life.  I mean, I have the basics down:


  • Snowballs are cold.
  • Bodies are kind of bouncy.
  • Force is equal to the mass of an object times its acceleration.


This is all simple.

But sometimes the environment that you live in is very different from what you've always known.  When that happens, the result is a mixture of confusion, excitement, humility, and wonder.

Holy crap!  
There doesn't need to be snow falling from the sky to have a blizzard!!!

Yeah, that one made my head spin.

We had a blizzard last night... without snowfall.



Those of you that live in snowy regions are shaking your heads and softly chuckling at me, I'm sure, but my dear friends in the deserts and tropics are totally sympathetic.  We grew up in a world where our blizzards all came from books and movies.

This means that we all learned that the following three things are necessary in order to have a blizzard:

  1. Heavy snowfall: Preferably large flakes that immediately stick to eyebrows
  2. High winds: The winds must cause a person to stumble repeatedly and lose their way
  3. A Grumpy Mountain Man:  Somebody has to save you from this mess, after all

You can imagine my surprise, then, when no snow was falling from the sky, yet my weather app was telling me that we had dangerous blizzard conditions that would remain in effect over the next few days.

Huh???

Ok, so here's what I learned when I got to my computer to check it out. In the real world:
  1. Wind chill must be below -15.  (We were at -30)
  2. The winds themselves must be higher than 35mph, and they must be sustained, rather than gusts. (Totally had that)
  3. There must be snow blowing. (The air was white)
So, yep.  It was a blizzard.  

Specifically, it was what is called a ground blizzard.  A ground blizzard occurs when loose snow on the ground  is lifted by the winds.  

In my case, a hard, crusty outer layer of snow that had been sitting there for a while had winds blowing across it for long enough that it started to break apart.  The snow beneath the crusty layer was much, much finer, and so as the outer layer was broken down, the fine stuff started to fly out, creating the solid white mass of nastiness in the air.

And there was no grumpy mountain man to save me from it.  I checked.

So I stayed inside where it was safe.  Evidently, people have been lost simply walking from their homes to their cars.  I'm assuming they had to walk a bit of a distance, but still... that's pretty creepy.

It's amazing what kind of things you don't know until you have a chance to live through them, huh?


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

If Driving is Freedom, Freedom is a Prison.

Transportation.

That's the big issue on my mind today, mainly due to watching the documentary, Sprawling From Grace.  In a nutshell, this documentary focuses on our society's love of oil. Our love of unencumbered transportation.  Our lives are focused around transportation.  Our cars define who we are.  Where we live.  How we play.

It's a love that needs to be modified. 

We love our cars.  When we buy one, we focus on finding one that defines us.  Is it sexy enough?  Too sexy?  Is the color right?  Is it fast?  Will it be able to jeep Moab?

Ok... that last one only appeals to me and a select few others, but you get the point.

Sprawling From Grace made me think.  While I knew that we, as a society, are too in love with our cars, I never really thought about it.  Again, like most people.

But then I moved to a small city in Southern Minnesota.  I moved within walking distance of fast food, a grocery store, a garden nursery, a pharmacy, and even the city's downtown area.  I had an opportunity to do something that I had never done before -

I ditched my car.

Ok, not totally.  I still use it more than I'd like.  The thing is, though, that when it's not too cold to do so, I can walk to the places that I'd only ever driven to in my old home.  Car-free shopping.

I now only need to get gas once every three weeks or so, and my tank is small, so I only buy about ten gallons.  It'd be even less, but I have to go out of town to buy my Cedar Summit Milk.

This sudden upsurge of increased exercise and enjoyment made me realize just how valuable this activity is for a person.  The documentary, on the other hand, called attention to the fact that I was now getting something I never had the ability to access before.

Something that many people can't enjoy.

This is because modern cities are designed for cars... not people.  

People have to drive to get to work.  
To get to the store.  
To enjoy themselves at a park.

Driving, driving, and more driving.  Very little is within walking distance.  People tend to drive 15-30 minutes to get to work - on a good day.  In high school, we dreamed about our driver's licenses  because those licenses meant freedom.

Driving is equated with freedom.

Think about that for a second.  Our dreams of freedom revolve around a gasoline guzzling hunk of metal.  Freedom stinks like gas and oil.  Freedom means sealing ourselves off from the rest of society, and disassociating from the beauty in life.

Freedom is a dream that will come to a crushing halt when oil becomes too difficult, too cost ineffective to continue.

You know that what I'm saying is wrong... that freedom is more than that.  You think about lofty ideals and aspirations of greatness.  But ask yourself:  This freedom that you love, how are you going to take any of the actions that you deem necessary to take advantage of it...

Without a car?

You begin to see my point.  What was once a luxury, something gorgeous that was associated with happiness and freedom, has now become a prison that we can't see ourselves living without.

That's because we need to redefine ourselves at a societal level, as well as a personal level..  

Sure, I can't tell you to do what I'm doing:  Ignore the car.  Do everything you possibly can without using it, of course, but let's be realistic.  Before moving to a small city I didn't have that ability.  I had a Walmart neighborhood market for my groceries and a dollar store. Not exactly the ideal.  At all.  My situation may have changed, but yours probably hasn't.  Do what you can to reduce the amount of time you spend in the car, but remember that in many places, and probably your own city, there's not a lot that can be done.

Of course, now that we realize that, we can take it to the next level:  society.  

Most cities have public transportation, but frankly, in most cities it sucks.

There's no way to put it nicely.

In my old home, the buses stopped running at 9:00 pm.  That pretty much made buses completely useless for evening entertainment, as well as, say, getting home from work if you work the swing shift!

And then, of course, they were unreliable.  Several times, I had to wait for over an hour to catch a bus, because of a breakdown.  Not fun.

Increased efficiency is necessary.

Rather than funding projects to add lanes to a freeway - because, seriously... they don't help - plug the money into public transit.  Make it better, so that people will actually want to use it!  This reduces fuel consumption and helps people's pocketbooks.

This is my take, and it's really only a smidgeon of what can be said.

I recommend watching Sprawling From Grace, which speaks about the transportation issue in far more detail than I could.  It's currently streaming on Netflix, so watch it while you have the chance!

And I also found it on SnagFilms, for free!

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Slaying the Jabberwock... With Seeds

"O frabjous day!  Callooh!  Callay!"

No... unfortunately, I did not slay the jabberwock with my vorpal blade.  But!

I did finally conquer the extreme unrest that comes with staring at snow all day long, wanting to do some gardening, and being unable to accomplish that desire.

My daughter and I went to Farmer Seed and Nursery, which is within walking distance of our home.  I loaded myself with seeds, and told my daughter to go ahead and pick a few flower seeds for her own garden.

We came back with a load of seed packets, as well as a shallow pot.  I then grabbed a few organic seeds I had managed to grab up at the grocery store while they were on sale.  I began arranging everything into what I felt was perfection, then gazed down at our loot.

Three cardboard egg cartons, a shallow clay pot, small paper bag (filled with seed starting discs), and over 14 seed packets

I was a happy girl.

You're probably wondering what in the heck I have egg cartons scattered around for.  My husband has been wondering the same thing for the past few months, no doubt worried that he had married a hoarder.

But no, he didn't.  

All of those egg cartons were saved specifically for starting seeds.  Why buy a bunch of plastic containers when you already have free access to eco friendly planters?  Each one of these cartons can hold 12 seed starting discs and can be treated like the jiffy pots we get when we buy transplants from the nursery.

I'm already planning which seeds go into which egg cartons, as you can see.

I really thought that was as far as it would go, but then I noticed that the seed packet holding the Anaheim Chile Pepper seeds had an indoor planting time of -

NOW!!!

In my joy, I danced around a bit, stumbling into various pieces of furniture and causing my daughter to erupt into giggles.  My joy may seem kind of strange to you, but you have to remember - this is Minnesota.  The earliest I expected to be able to start growing anything indoors was the second week of March.

I elected to plant the peppers in the same egg carton as the organic wheat grass I found.  The wheat grass will eventually be moved to the shallow pot that you see in the picture above, while the chiles will be placed outside.

wheat grass and Anaheim chile pepper seed packets atop an egg carton

I grabbed the seed starting discs and set them on a medium sized dinner plate.  I then poured water over them and waited for the discs to soak it all up.  I went through two rounds of pouring water, since there were 8 discs drinking it in.

8 seed starter discs sitting on a green plate filled with water

Ugly, right?

It sure is, but soon each one of those will be bursting with life.  I've set the carton on an East facing window sill.  I'd prefer South facing, but I have to take into account the safety of the plants in a given location, so east it is... I don't want to a) forget about them, or b) place them in a location that my dogs would disrupt through a desire to look out the window.

I still have 4 slots left for plants in this carton, but I haven't decided what to place there.  Some sort of herb, is as far as I've gotten.  Any ideas?

No mint, though... I planted plenty of that last year, and I have no fear of a dwindling supply!

Who knew that slaying an emotional jabberwock would be so simple?  The tiny terrarium I was given for Christmas, as well as these seeds - already ready to be planted - have done a very effective job.

"One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!"



**As you've probably figured out by now, I have a great love of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Remove Bloodstains Without Bleach!

Some of you remember when I smashed my head into a rock wall a while back.  

Well, I just realized that there was one thing I didn't cover when I talked about it:  Bloodstain removal.

Seriously.  Granted, it's not every day that you need to worry about this particular problem, but when it hits you don't have a lot of time to think about how to fix the problem.  Bloodstains set fast.

The washcloth I used to clean my head before applying frozen peas was one example of a bloodstained problem.

green washcloth covered in blood
Eew.
So how did I make all of that nastiness go away without using bleach?

It was easy.  I just followed the advice my mom gave me the last time I had a bloodstained mess.

Yeah... I'm a bit accident prone.  My pain threshold, however, is fabulous!

1.  Keep it wet.  If it's not already wet, run some water over it.  This is more important than any other advice.  If blood dries, it starts to set.

2.  Grab some hydrogen peroxide.  Forever after, you will consider it your best friend.  Give that bottle a hug to show you appreciate the work it will do for you.  Or not.  But trust me when I say you'll be singing its praises for a while afterward.

3.  Fill a bowl/basin/container with water.  Add some peroxide to the water.  I've actually never measured, having never needed to - I go with my gut - so let's say 1/4 cup of peroxide to 3 cups of water.  Or just pour however much you want - I've never damaged anything by using too much peroxide.  I'm not sure that's possible.  On the flip side, you don't want to waste it, either.

4.  Soak the bloodstained fabric inside your peroxide and water mixture.  And stare at it.  Not because you have to stare at it, but because it's rather entertaining.  As the peroxide attacks the bloodstains, bubbling occurs.  Yes, you can actually hear the fight between the peroxide and bloodstains as it takes place, because of the

Snap!  Crackle!  Pop!  

of the bubbles.

You'll never look at rice crispies the same way, again, will you?

5.  Let it soak for an hour or two, just to be on the safe side.  I mean, the last thing we want is to remove it too early, right?  It may not take that long, though... as the fabric soaks, the stains are visibly removed.  Not only that, but the fabric is brightened!

6.  Wring it out, then wash normally... as though the bloodstain was never there.  Yep.  That's it.  The end result will look even better than it did before the bloodstains occurred.  How awesome is that?

bright green washcloth, free of stains.


The choice to use hydrogen peroxide, rather than bleach, is an eco friendly one.  Indeed, not only does it work on bloodstains, but it's great as a general whitener for any of your laundry.

And did I mention that it's cheaper than all of those chemically created laundry brighteners?

There really isn't any reason not to use peroxide if you need a fabric whitener or brightener... except, perhaps, habit.  Of course, habit is probably the worst reason to stick with anything.

And it's fabulous for bloodstains!




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Friday, February 15, 2013

Ice Scraping Chisel Thingie to the Rescue!!!

I made an awesome new discovery!!!

To be honest, I wasn't going to post about it.  Most people probably already know about this magnificent piece of awesomeness.  It's a smile inducing, extra magnificent, ice chiseling, super fantastic scraper tool thingie!

Ice chisel with black blade and gray handle sitting on snow


I'm getting the impression that you're not impressed.

Ok, sure.  It looks like a shovel.  Big deal, right?  Well, let me make it a little more exciting, then!  Here's a side view!

Same ice chisel, but this time from a side view... still sitting on snow.

Your silence is deafening...

I suppose this means I need to explain why this is the best discovery ever.

Fair enough.

I'm sure you remember the gorgeous sheet of ice that covered my sidewalk a while back, trapping fallen leaves in all their glory, showing the ripple structure created as the water froze.  It was quite beautiful.

http://evengreenbootsleavetrails.blogspot.com/2013/02/rusty-camera-skills-and-beauty-of-ice.html

Unfortunately, what wasn't quite as beautiful was the fact that it didn't melt.  Not only that, but when I went to grab sand to throw on top of the area - since not many people have the same love of sliding across ice that I do - I discovered that water had gotten into the garage and was soaked up by the sand bag.

The sand was frozen like a rock.

I tried to use my shovel to break apart the ice, but managed to simply break the cheap plastic while doing absolutely nothing about the ice.

Then we had another melt.

And another freeze.

Now I had two layers of ice to contend with.  I was not a happy camper.

I was near to pulling my hair out.  People were of absolutely no help, telling me to just use ice or sand.  They didn't seem to realize that I was dealing with a mass of hard, thick ice due to the fact that all water from my neighbors' yards pool into my sidewalk.  The pooling effect was so intense that I really could turn the area into an ice skating rink.

So I lost it.  Completely and totally.

Fortunately, I had my breakdown at my insurance agent's office.  I had discovered that I had paid an incorrect amount on my insurance bill this last month, and needed to make up the $2 difference.  It was then that my rep's assistant asked the question that would doom her:

"So how are you handling our Minnesota winter?"

The Desert to Minnesota Handbook (which I made up myself, and keep in my mental filing cabinet) clearly states the answer I should give her:

"Oh, well, you know... it's a bit nippy out there."

Unfortunately, she got instead was a long list of grievances which culminated in a near panic attack as I explained the ice on my sidewalk in full detail.  I went on at length, even though the voice in the back of my head kept telling me to keep my mouth shut.  I really tried to stop, but once the floodgates are opened, well...

She handled this surprisingly well.  

Even better, she gave me the answer to my problems.  The answer that nobody else saw fit to give me.  In their defense, it's quite possible that they thought I already knew about the one tool that would help, but the amazing woman sitting in front of me was the only one to actually offer me a reasonable option.

She did this by asking the receptionist at the front (another person that is awesome) to bring out the chisel that my insurance rep uses on the sidewalk outside the business front.

Thirty minutes later, I had bought a magnificent and heavy ice scraping chisel thingie made from tempered steel, and was on my sidewalk, ready to tackle the world.

I had to go through two distinct layers of ice, so it took quite a while.  I couldn't get to the bottom layer until the top layer was removed, and the bottom layer was overwhelmingly hard to break.

Segmented ice: white top layer, gray bottom layer, then melted water reflecting the tree branches above


But my ice scraper chisel thingie was happy to go through this with me, and we actually managed to break through the layers to create a - rather narrow - walking path.

A little over two inches of ice removed, showing a clear sidewalk path


Hooray!!!


If it wasn't for my insurance agent's assistant, I would never have been able to do this.  She gave me an eco-friendly way to remove thick slabs of ice from the sidewalk, and I really can't thank her enough for that.

Maybe there is some validity to the slogan, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there..."






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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Coconut Palm Sugar: Part 3

For the past few blog posts, I've been evaluating coconut palm sugar. 

Bag of Navitas Coconut Palm Sugar
 

We've looked at the rather small amount of research that has gone into its nutritive value, as well as coconut palm sugar's remarkably low glycemic index value.  Today, we're going a step farther.

Do you remember how I had discovered that coconut sugar was the center of a huge controversy?

That controversy has to do with sustainability.  

Specifically, we're talking about the process involved in attaining this sugar, and how it may or may not effect the future of the coconut tree as a species.

Coconut palm sugar is created by tapping the sap (also referred to as 'toddy') of the coconut tree.  

This is done by tapping into the flower bud.  Sap drips from the fleshy stem (for lack of a better descriptor) from which a series of blossoms can grow.  

(image source)


It is then collected and heated just enough to begin the evaporation process - around medium heat.  As the liquid evaporates, crystallization occurs.  The fine crystals we get in a bag of coconut palm sugar are created through constant stirring.

No other processing is required.

Simple, easy, and green.

Or is it?

Tropical Traditions, a company that sells coconut oil, questions just how green this process really is, promoting other sweeteners, such as raw honey and grade B maple syrup (Grade A is more highly processed than Grade B).  

Here's the problem, as they state it:
"What no one is warning consumers about is that coconut palm trees cannot produce both coconuts and coconut palm sugar! When the sap used to make coconut palm sugar is collected from the coconut palm tree, from the flower bud that will eventually form a coconut, that tree can no longer produce coconuts! Think about that for a minute. No coconuts = no coconut oil, no dried coconut, no coconut flour. Is coconut sugar worth giving up these other valued products that come from the coconut?? Some claim that if a coconut palm tree is producing coconut sugar, which means that it cannot produce coconuts at the same time, that it can still be converted back to producing coconuts at a later time. However, in Marianita's experience in growing up in a coconut producing community, she has never seen this happen, and we have not seen any studies that have been conducted published anywhere to back up this claim." (source link)
They link to an article from the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation that talks about the Philippine Coconut Authority's promotion of coconut palm sugar production in order to drive their point home.

They have a valid worry.  One wonders if the price of coconut oil, and coconuts in general, will skyrocket, due to decreased supply. Naturally, a company that is centered around coconuts would be worried about this result - I know I would be!

But would this have other repercussions?

If Tropical Traditions is correct, and if a tree can't be coaxed to reproduce coconuts, what does this mean for the future of coconut trees as a whole? Could it be another case of humans pursuing a path toward the extinction of a species?  

If the coconuts aren't able to be produced, after all, how are they going to produce new trees?  

I know, I know... this seems like I'm panicking.  

We all know, however, that humans are notorious for acting first and thinking later - even I am a great example of that!  We all are, in some way.  I couldn't help worrying, though, that the need to be financially secure (a very valid and understandable need) could cause something like this to happen.  

Think about it.  You find a way to make more money.  This money enables you to put food on the table.  That food on your table keeps your family alive, and even healthy.  Is it really even a choice?  According to the CIA's world fact book, in 2009, 26.5% of the Philippine population lived below the poverty line.  This fact is accurate as of January 2011, according to the site.  

We're not talking about having the funds to buy an iPod.  We're talking about having the money to survive.

You begin to see why I worry.  When it comes down to your family or the environment, is there really any other choice than providing for your family?  

If you answered that question with "yes", you really need to get off of your $1,000+ computer, hang up your iPhone, and pay attention to the world around you.

This means that unless there are other options available for people to collect the much sought-after sap, coconut trees could be in some serious danger.

Fortunately, I did find something that caused me to sigh in relief.

I found Coconut Sugar Philippines.  Their site had a single sentence that made me smile.
"With proper management, it is now possible to have two products from a single spadix, sugar and nuts." (source)
Sweet!!!

Unfortunately, I didn't find anything on how that could be done.

Yep.  It was a dead end.  At least for now.  The site showed one photo of this taking place, but without any information talking about the process.

Well... Oh, well.

I did notice, though, the terminology used on sites that spoke about the process.  The trees are no longer "allowed" to produce coconuts.  Ability and allowance are two different things.  But that's not all...

I found Wilderness Family Naturals, which dedicated a short section to the coconut palm sugar process.

Apparently, the trees that are used for sugar production, in many cases, are the ones closest to the house, as well as the oldest ones - the ones whose nut production is no longer what it used to be.  Basically, this would mean that there is clear selection of existing trees, rather than a blanket change, on many coconut farms.

Think about it.  

This means the trees being used are carefully selected in order to ensure coconuts can still be collected on their farms, while providing safety around the central living space (Sudden death due to a coconut falling from a tree is not impossible.  It happens more often than you'd think).  This safety is being provided in a manner that's still profitable.

Furthermore, one simple thing finally hit me: Many of the trees they saw "had been tapped for over 10 years."  Researching further, I found that a coconut tree can produce sap for up to twenty years.  That's twenty years of continuous income from one tree.

The coconut is one of the Philippine food staples.  

They'll ensure that coconuts continue to be a viable food source beyond mere sap.  Are we lacking a supply of corn for tables in the United States?  Of course not... even though we use corn syrup in just about everything on the supermarket shelves!

One of the tasks of the Philippine Coconut Authority is to
"Implement and sustain a nationwide coconut planting and replanting, fertilization and rehabilitation, and other farm productivity programs;" (Source)
As far as sustainability is concerned, I think coconut palm sugar is a viable sweetener.  My views could change in the future, based on new information I receive, but I see no danger of losing our precious supply of coconuts, nor the coconut oil I'm so enamored with.

Indeed, buying 100% coconut palm sugar may even help the Philippine poverty situation on some small level if, of course, the sugar you purchase was actually farmed in the Philippines.

What do you think?  Is this a good and sustainable option, or do you think coconut palm sugar shouldn't be on store shelves?
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Coconut Palm Sugar: Part 2

I never thought I'd have enough to say about a single sweetener that I'd have to break it into parts, but here we are on part 2!

Wow!

Yesterday I discussed the nutritive value of coconut palm sugar.  What first seemed a very simple quest to find information and lay out the full load in front of you turned into a fruitless search for a single study cited by  just about every company that sells the stuff.  I'm still trying to locate it.

Wish me luck!

Today I want to talk about the glycemic index value of coconut palm sugar.

Note: I'm specifically referring to 100% coconut palm sugar in this post

The glycemic index (GI) of a food is a measure of how quickly the sugars within a food convert into glucose within human body.  Glycemic index is measured on a scale of 0 to 100.   A low GI is anything below 55.  A high GI value is anything above 70.  Low is good.  High is bad.

Right about now, I imagine you're thinking:
Great, Rebecca... now what the heck does that even mean???

Well, peanuts are a very low glycemic food, having a rating of about 13.  Once you eat peanuts, they don't really effect blood glucose levels.  The body happily accepts them, without putting up a fight.  Kind of like the reaction most people have when a butterfly lands on them.



Rice cakes, on the other hand, rank a whopping 87 on the glycemic index!  Rice cakes convert to glucose at a startlingly fast rate, spiking glucose, and causing everything to go haywire.  Kind of like if a rocket was headed straight for you.


Simple, right?

 The lower the glycemic index of a food, the better that food is for your body.  Butterflies do a lot less damage than rockets.

Coconut palm sugar is rated as a low glycemic food.  It has a GI score of 35.

In general.

I have to point that out, because the rating can change based on several factors: the season the sap was collected, the individual batch of coconut trees that were tapped, the specific brand of coconut palm sugar you've bought, etc.  The list goes on...

According to Nature's Blessings Inc., a company that produces coconut palm sugar (and also cites more than one source! Hooray!!!), it is predominantly composed of sucrose with a low level of fructose.

I find this interesting.  Why, you ask?

Well, sucrose is basically table sugar.  

Table sugar has an average glycemic index of 68!  There's a big difference there.

And fructose?  

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the first thing that comes to mind.  Fructose is actually the common sugar found within all fruits.  It's not as bad as it sounds.  Most fruits fall into the middle ground within the glycemic index scale.

On the other hand, HFCS, as its name implies, is very high on the GI scale.  The numbers in this regard seem to vary, with some sources giving numbers within the 70s, while others place it in the high 80s.  This, I believe, has to do with the concentration of fructose within any given variety of HFCS.

You can see why I find the GI of 35 so interesting!  

I'm prone to believe its GI rating would be considered high, given basic knowledge of where fructose and sucrose fall within the Glycemic index.  This number, however, is actually backed up by the Philippine Coconut Authority, through the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

Yep.  I actually found a copy of the  GI study's abstract.

Hooray!!!

In moderation, therefore, coconut palm sugar is actually a much better choice of sweetener than table sugar.  Your body appreciates the low GI, and you appreciate the yummy sweetness - similar to brown sugar!

It's not something that would be considered a diabetic sweetener, since the calories and carbs per serving are the same as table sugar, so I won't recommend it for people struggling to keep their blood sugars in check.

Sorry guys... I want that miracle sweetener just as much as you do!

But for sugar-a-holics that are trying to slowly transform their lives, this may be a valid step toward accomplishing that.  

Not to mention the fact that it somehow causes you to feel more satiated after a cup of coffee than the table sugar sweetened equivalent.  Seriously - in the mornings that I've used it to sweeten my coffee, I've actually felt less of a need for a third cup (something I battle every morning).  

My body is truly fulfilled.  There's no heaviness, just contentment.  

While my nutritive value search did absolutely nothing to answer important questions I had about nutrition, My glycemic index search went quite well. 

It looks like I'm still standing on the middle ground in terms of the value of coconut sugar, right?

On Thursday I'll talk about the claims about environmental sustainability.  That debate is rather fascinating, and I'm enjoying the research involved in examining their arguments.





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Monday, February 11, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Coconut Palm Sugar, Part 1

My quest for the perfect sweetener continues.

On my last trip to the store I made a discovery.  Just above eye level sat a medium sized bag tucked in between the agave nectar and the stevia blends.

My heart skipped a beat.  My body temperature slightly raised and a feeling of everything-is-good-in-the-world overcame me.  It was a certified organic, unprocessed, highly nutritive, non-sugar sweetener.

Package of 100% organic coconut palm sugar
Look!  It's in front of my fish tank to give it more of a tropical feel!
Pay no attention to the  fact that a goldfish doesn't belong in that vision...

Coconut Palm Sugar.

Naturally, I scooped it up.  This was something I had to try.  The price tag was a bit higher than I'd like, but I wasn't going to let that stop me.  I had a mission, after all, and I wasn't going to take that lightly.  Ignoring such a treasure would cause me to lose sleep.

I'd get deep circles under my eyes due to the high stress levels created by ignorance, and I'd curl up into a tiny ball, crying until I lost enough water to dehydrate, finally succumbing to this loss of fluids and ending up as an emaciated husk resembling the mummies dug up after a few millennium. 

Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration.  Probably only one millennium.

But you get the point.  I had to try it.

The first thing I need to point out is that this doesn't fall into the same category as the monk fruit sweetener I blogged about in the past.  It can't be classified as a "diabetic" sweetener.  Nativas coconut palm sugar fulfills this requirement, having 4 grams of carbohydrates and 15 calories per serving... just like table sugar.

One serving of coconut palm sugar is a mere teaspoon, and the ratio of coconut sugar to table sugar for the purpose of sweetening is 1:1.

So it's not a sweetener comparable to monk fruit or stevia.  

Not even close.  Never make the mistake of believing otherwise.  You use much less stevia or monk fruit to sweeten a beverage.  I don't know what the given ratio for one of these sweeteners to sugar is, but my personal ratio is around 4:1.  Big difference.

I have found quite a few benefits to coconut palm sugar, however:

  1. It has nutritive value.
  2. Coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index.
  3. There's no major processing involved.
  4. It's yummy.
That's a lot, right?  I thought so, too. 

I decided to go on the quest for more information.

I looked into the various claims, and actually found that there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding coconut palm sugar.  Some people adore it to the point of using terms that make it sound like a food sweetening miracle.  The other side's terminology reminds me of people that panic about The Apocalypse.

So, what do I think?  

Well, I haven't taken a side yet.  It's too new to me.  Instead, I'll go into the various claims so that you can have a starting point for determining your own opinion.  This will end up causing me to break this up into a few posts, in order to ensure I'm giving you an adequate amount of information.

Note: I'm specifically referring to 100% coconut palm sugar.  

Read your label to ensure that's what you're getting.  Often, packages contain a blend of coconut palm sugar and table sugar.  This isn't even close to the coconut palm sugar I'm talking about here.

The Nutritive Value of Coconut Palm Sugar

Coconut palm sugar is made from the sap of the Cocos nucifera.  The package that I bought says that
"Organic evaporated coconut sugar is especially high in minerals incuding potassium, magnesium and zinc, as well as vitamins B2, B3 and B6."
Big claims.  No wonder some people liken it to a miracle food!  But is it true?

The first thing we have to realize is that as an unprocessed food, nutritive values are dependent on brand, batch, and even region of origin.  The numbers I give, therefore, are general, rather than specific.

First, I went to coconutpalmsugar.com's nutrition page.  Obviously, this is going to be highly biased in favor of coconut palm sugar, but it's a great starting point.  There are many nutrient amounts listed, but I'm sticking solely to the ones mentioned on the bag I purchased.  That leaves us with:

Potassium - 1,030 mg/ 100g (this means 1,030mg in 100g of sugar)

Magnesium - 29 mg/100g

Zinc - 2 mg/100g

** no listing for B vitamins on this site

But what does that mean, exactly?  Numbers are nice, but if we don't have the knowledge necessary to understand them, they're pretty much worthless.  I went to netrition.com for answers.

The recommended daily value of Potassium is 3500 mg, so 1,030 is great.  Almost a third of what you need.  Score!  

Magnesium's recommended daily value, on the other hand, is 400 mg.  29 mg is a far cry from that, so you're getting a little under 1/16th of that.  Better than nothing, but not particularly spectacular.

Zinc has a recommended daily value of 15 mg, so 2 mg isn't particularly shabby.  Eat an oyster and you're good to go, right?  If you like oyster, that is...

This all sounded absolutely amazing!  I was thrilled beyond belief...

Until I realized that every single website that gave me information about nutrients within coconut palm sugar (that actually had the decency to cite their information) all got it from the same study done in the year 2000.  That alone wouldn't really have upset me overly much, but I discovered that the study used powdered coconut palm sugar.  Not crystallized.  The study wasn't viable for this particular instance because of that.

I decided to check out the study on my own.

Unfortunately, I couldn't actually find the study that was referenced.  Seriously.  I even had a friend look for it in his university's database.  Nothing.  I then looked a little more closely at the source:
COMPARISON OF THE ELEMENTAL CONTENT OF 3 SOURCES OF EDIBLE SUGAR - Analyzed by PCA-TAL, Sept. 11, 2000. (MI Secretaria et al, 2003)
When "My Secretary and others" were cited, I kind of had to sit back and have myself a good laugh.

I stopped laughing, however, when I couldn't track anything at all about this study.  Maybe someone's secretary did this, after all...

Needless to say, I found that people seemed to just be quoting a single impossible to find source over and over again - as though they were simply students in class copying the smart kid.  Plenty ended up just quoting each other, and some decided to get creative and change the macro-nutrient levels from mg/100g to mg/L... hence showing bigger, prettier numbers.

As excited as I got in the beginning of my search, happily digging for information, I finally had to throw up my hands and say,

"That's enough!!!"

I gave up.  In my mind, all of this nutrition information is completely worthless until I see the so-called study that they all seemed to get their information from, because at the moment, it has nothing to show for it.  It's like that one study that everybody cites doesn't exist at all.

Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe the study can be found.  If so, please show me where to find it.  If I can't find it in a university database, nor on the internet, I become rather skeptical.  Of course, I'll continue looking.  There are still a few stones I haven't overturned in this quest.

What do you make of this?

I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I'm sure, after all, that there must be some concentration of minerals in coconut palm sugar.  I can taste that there's something more than empty calories within those crystals.  When I can't find anything to prove that, however, I can't really make the claim.

Next time, in Part 2, I'll go over the low glycemic index value of coconut sugar, and possibly go through the rest of the benefits mentioned at the beginning of this piece.
                                                                                              










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Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Klutz's Head Wound, or Frozen Peas, I Love You!!!

I have a new found love of peas.

Remember those old movies and TV shows where a child is injured, so the child's mother brings out a giant steak for him (it's always a boy) to place over the wounded area so that he doesn't have a bump the size of a pregnant woman's belly on his head?

While I wouldn't recommend a steak, doing that same thing with a bag of frozen peas is a great idea.  A really great idea.

A few nights ago, I made a rather poor judgement call.  

I was feeling lazy, so I decided to take both dogs out at the same time.  This wouldn't have been a problem, except that I elected to take them up the treacherous trail that leads to the fenced in area of the back yard.

Again, this wouldn't have been a problem, but after the last freeze that covered everything with ice, I didn't reapply sand to the trail.  Then, a few inches of snow covered the yard, so the ice was covered.

Naturally, I forgot about it.  Well, not entirely... I knew it was still slick, but I also knew where to step in order to avoid the worst of the ice.

Funny how knowledge and reality are sometimes totally different, right?

As luck would have it, while the dogs and I were walking back down the trail, someone walked by our house.  This caused the small dog to begin barking, which caused the large dog to become interested.  He moved to get a better look, brushing past me on the trail.  My foot came down - in the wrong spot - and I slid.

Over four feet.

Down the treacherous trail.

Thankfully, I finally landed on my butt.  This would have been the end of the story, but my butt then slid down one extra step to the bottom, throwing my head forward...  into a rock within the retaining wall.

Ouchie.

Aside from a sharp pain from, you know, thwacking my temple into a wall, I was ok: no dizziness, no confusion (aside from the basic, "How'd that happen?"), nothing.  So I got back up (still holding both leashes, I might add.  Go, me!") and walked to the house.

As I walked back, I felt water on my face, above my left eye.

"Dang!" I thought. "The stress raised my body temperature so much that 
the snow that fell on my head is melting!"

As I leaned forward to open the door, red drops fell onto my glove.

Oops.  Not melted snow, then...

As soon as I got inside, I went into the bathroom and examined my head.  Yeah... either I hit myself on that rock way too hard, or I was growing horns that were poking through the skin causing me to bleed out.  I figured it was probably the former.

Cleaned head gouge just above the temple.
Although... it's in the correct spot for horn growth, I think.


Not wanting to panic anyone, I decided to be as quiet about this as possible.  I found a baby washcloth - super soft - and I was good to go.  Unfortunately, I wasn't as quiet as I meant to be.  It turns out that blood is a little harder to wipe off of your face than I thought, which caused me to really notice the extent of the damage, so I said things like,

"Nifty.  I did a good job with this."

and

"Wow.  I look pretty good in red eye shadow."

Being a little louder than I thought I was, my words kind of attracted attention.  From the next room, my husband asked if everything was ok, which I naturally replied with a "yes" to, and then my daughter came in and looked at me.

"Mommy has a big boo-boo!!!"

Ugh.  That brought him into the bathroom pretty quickly. He wasn't as fascinated as I was, either.  Indeed, the blood drained from his face, and I began to wonder if he was going to hyperventilate.

The good news?  

When I asked him for a bag of frozen peas, he brought it to me in 2 seconds flat.  I wrapped it in an old flannel baby bib - because it's oh-so-soft - and rested it on top of the wound.

Why peas?

Well, you want something that will conform to the shape of your head in order to increase comfort.  Hence, the steak from 50s TV.  Ice cubes just won't do it - even the smaller ones will end up pressing into the wound and causing more pain, or not touch the area at all, doing very little to help.

Frozen peas - or corn -  work every time.  

They touch the area without adding undue pressure.  They're cheap, and you'll use them eventually, anyway, so it's a smart idea to always have one extra bag of peas in the freezer for situations like this.

It's also an environmentally friendly solution, since you're not using something that's been chemically formulated to stay cold or hot, and the waste involved is non-existent - not even any packaging waste, since it simply gets placed right back into the freezer in its original packaging.

The bag of frozen peas not only helps with the pain, it also helps reduce swelling.

Cold basically reduces your metabolic rate, which in turn reduces blood flow to the area.

Increased blood flow to a damaged area is what causes swelling, so using cold to slow that blood flow is important.  The faster you get that bag of frozen peas to to area, the better your chances of not swelling to the point that you look like you're growing an extra head.

Don't let this happen!  Seriously... sentient wounds are not cool,
regardless of what sci-fi TV may claim.

Once I finished clean-up, the flannel wrapped peas went onto my head and stayed there for around 20 minutes.  I then removed it to discover a small amount of blood still flowing.

I continued this process for a while, until I finally gave up and placed a band-aid on my head.  Naturally, the band-aid got changed a couple of times, as well, while my husband chewed his nails to nubs.

"Are you sure you don't need stitches?!"

I really didn't.  Head wounds always look worse than they really are.  Bleeding was minute, and not enough to cause problems... beyond my nervous husband's quickly roughened nails, that is.

At one point, I rubbed some arnica cream around the outside of the area, in order to help reduce inflammation.  I made sure not to touch the open wound at all, because arnica should only be used on unbroken skin. 

The next morning I removed the Candyland band-aid - yes, Candyland.  I have a four year old, remember? - from my head, and examined the wound.



Not bad... not bad, at all.

It had continued to bleed enough to fill the lower half of the band-aid while I slept, which is why it appears to have blood around the area, but there was absolutely no increase in swelling and only a slight hint of bruising.  Not bad!

Frozen Peas, I love you!!!

So, in re-cap:

  1. Clean the area.
  2. Hold frozen peas onto the area for a while.
  3. Remove, then apply arnica cream around the edges of any swelling, making sure to avoid open areas.
  4. Put those peas back onto your head again.
  5. Remove the peas from time to time, until at last covering your wound with a bandage.
  6. Sleep well, knowing that you'll have far less swelling and bruising than people who don't follow these instructions will have!

Put frozen peas on your shopping list.  You won't regret it!








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