How to Clean the iPlant Sprouter!


Hi. I posted a review on the iPlant Garden Sprouter a while back.  Recently someone asked questions about the screens, how to clean, grow etc.  So here is a post just about that.  As many of you know, I am learning a vegan diet based upon the Hippocrates Health Institute training I am currently taking, which advocates 50% of your meals be sprouts. So I am learning best ways and am serious about growing them the best and easiest way possible.

Before you put any sprouts in your iplant, soak them over night. This will help them germinate and grow faster.  Fill your iPlant water area between the min and max line and check it every day.  You can even mix about 1/4 tsp of baking soda into the water container which will help ward off any mold build up.  At least every 24 hours, the water should be changed out.  Use the old water to hydrate your garden patio or house plants, it’s great for that!

I have been sprouting daily since March using a double decker iPlant and my screens are still in good shape.  I have also been careful with them.  To clean them (and its ok to eat the roots too on the smaller sprouts) I gently pull all the sprouts at harvest (about 7 days) and then I use the spray nozzle in my kitchen sink faucet along with a soft veggie scrubber or nail scrubber, to gently get all the remaining sprout material off the screen. The screens will naturally darken a bit from the bright white and when they do, I soak them in hot water with a bit of bleach, couple of tablespoons of bleach to enough water to completely submerge the trays and I leave them to soak a while.

Now, as I am in very heavy rotation, I have also ordered extra trays, too. You will want to thoroughly clean your iPlant machine after each use but I will admit I typically just wipe mine down well with a complete cleaning once a month.

As we take this journey together, I am here for you so feel free to reach out with any compliments or questions you have please.  🙂  Namaste.

EPIC FAIL & Health Effects

Image result for cat napping on laptop

OOOPS!  
Whether you crashed before getting the job done, as my cat Tiger did here in this photo, or knocked it all out beautifully but still didn’t get credit, we’ve all been there.  You feel like you failed and not just yourself but everybody else involved in your life perhaps.  How do you climb back out of the doldrums?  A friend reached out to me earlier because they were just fired after working diligently for the last 6 years. Whether you lost a client, lost a project or lost your job, it sucks to be you right now. But please understand this is temporary and you are going to move onward and upward to something far better!  It’s just time for some re-tooling.

An Opportunity in Failing
Whatever your fail, know that failing provides us new growth opportunities.  Find some quiet time to sort through what happened and your part in what took place.  Taking ownership for any actions on your part that landed you in the fail zone just helps you learn and do better next time.  If you look back and see that you did everything flawlessly but still things went awry, then you are just in the wrong situation.  Perhaps a change of people, circumstances or organizations is in order.

Minimize Drama
Drama can be very addictive.  Before long, you just live drama and believe it’s normal but it is not.  What is normal is peace at your center.  Daily, we tell others how we want to be treated by what we accept.  Who you were last year, last week or even last minute may not be who you are right now because we all have that amazing power to grow and change.  We may not control others, but we sure can control how we think, feel and act.  And we can reset our boundaries that range anyplace from what we work for on an hourly basis to who is at the forefront of our lives, who sits balcony row and who is curbside.

Take Control of Chaos
The first step to minimizing drama is reducing chaos.  Clear clutter, clean your home, your car out, maintain your stuff.  When you look around at a clean car, a clean home with things you love that are clearly well cared for, that has a strong impact on you and that impact hits every time you cross the threshold, grab a drink and sit on the sofa.  Make your spaces inviting to you. This conveys pride in a healthy way and will help boost your self-worth if that is flagging.

Finding Your Super Power
Analyze the past for wins and losses but don’t get too hung up on your history of fails. Instead, try to focus on your history of wins.  What are the intrinsic qualities you possess that became the catalyst in all of these successes?  I’ll give you an example from my life.  I have a tenacity coupled with a strong grasp of what is right and what is wrong or fairness.  I once accepted a position that turned out to be very different than what I thought.  I quickly realized that, no, actually I did not have the knowledge base I truly thought I had to be in the position I now found myself in.  I called upon my super powers.  In spite of fear, not knowing the buzzwords, the work, the tools, I was tenacious and I had a strong desire to get it done for my client and get it done right and timely.  I wowed management, and most importantly, the customer, and I learned a whole lot.

Reallocating Your Super Power
So now that you know what your super power is or super powers are, looks for ways you can take those skills and re-apply them elsewhere in your life for a win.

Mentors and Good People
Surround yourself with people who care about you and are a positive influence.  When you have suffered a failure, the last thing you need is a Debbie Downer telling you how life is cruel.  True, life is a mean thang sometimes, to be sure, but it is also filled to the brim with glorious fabulousness.  Hanging with the right crowd will help you bounce back faster.

Job Loss Help – If you’ve recently been laid off or fired, I’ve included  helpful links below but while you sort through all of the stages of grief, and some all over the map feelings, know that there are reasons for everything, even if we don’t yet know why they happened.

http://lifehacker.com/the-five-stages-of-grief-after-losing-a-job-1725201444

http://lifehacker.com/nine-things-you-should-and-shouldnt-do-if-you-lose-you-509536697

Growing Sprouts at home and iPlant Review Eat Sprouts for Amazing health benefits!

Pictured above, is the iPlant sprouter. This link takes you to the 2 tier but you can get a single deck if you like,  here is the quick link to that:1-tier iPlant.  For the same square footage taken up in the kitchen, I prefered to go virtical and have options to grow more at once and more variety too.   Sprouts are an abundant source of vitamins, minerals, oxygen and protein. I recently learned that we need to eat our oxygen not just breath it. Living foods, such as sprouts, are abundant with it! With our factory farming methods and soil erosion, sprouts should be a good part of your diet these days and with so many seed blends available, they are tasty and easy peasy.

Converting to a plant based diet, I find sprouts to be expensive and hard to find at the store because I can make a salad that uses an entire bunch at a time.  So I researched and found the very best way to grow them in my kitchen and am very excited to share this with you!  Rather than jars or planting them in soil which would both require more effort from me when I am really busy with other projects, I wanted something simple where I would not need to keep monitoring them, spraying them throughout the day etc. En voila, I located the iPlant. Click on the iPlant picture to take you to Amazon, the best place, best price to buy it!

The iPlant comes in colour choices, so for fun, I got the hot orange.  But you can go green or mod white if you prefer.  Set up is so easy.  Your iPlant will come either double decker or single deck depending on how you order it. Each deck has 2 seed trays so a double decker will give you a total of 4 trays and that also means you have 4 growing options too.  Maybe you want a mix of seeds in one tray, just broccoli sprouts in another tray, spicy Radish seeds for another, then this set up provides you this flexibility.  If you plan to be a sproutaholic, as I am now, you will want to just go ahead and order the double decker and also an extra set of seed trays too, that I ended up ordering a few weeks after getting my iPlant, so that I could keep a constant rotation of sprouts going and not run out.

Because the iPlant is not always available on Amazon, I located a similar and well-rated machine, The Tribest Freshlife 3000, another automated sprouter which is stackable up to 3 tiers!  I have not personally tried this machine out yet so if anyone does, kindly post here how you feel about it to help others out.

Here are the steps to growing:
1) follow all the directions provided but you basically soak your seeds in their trays and overnight is best.
2) Place water between the low and max line in your iPlant.  I typically put just a hair over the minimum in mine at home.
3) After an overnight soak, place the trays into your iPlant, with the water level good and plug it in after you have it all together with the lid on.

The iPlant will periodically water your seedlings and keep the temperature perfect.  Once your seedlings are sprouted and perhaps an inch or 2 or so, take them out, and rinse them very well while they are still in the trays.  Place some paper towels down on your counter and pull the washed sprouts out of the mesh seed tray and pile them onto the paper towels.  Pat them firmly but gently dry and then either put in in a baggie with a paper  towel to shore up moisture or you can buy a hemp sprout bag to store them in.  They last a week in the fridge, use them swiftly for the most benefit and freshness.

And because you will need them if you sprout alot, which you should, here is a link to additional iPlant trays so you can keep the sprout rotation cycle going!

Cleaning the trays – After pulling out the sprouts, I gently scrub the mesh with a vegetable brush.  I also soak them a while in soapy water and periodically soak them in hot water with a bit of bleach.

A recipe I love, other than of course tossing them into salads, on sandwiches, on top of stir fry’s, is to put a bunch of sprouts in a bowl, toss in a sprinkle of Mirin which is Asian sweet Saki that you can get in the Asian section of most any store, and a sprinkle of toasted Sesame oil.  YUMMO!!!

Feel free to comment here with any question, suggestions on recipes etc.

Sprout on!
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Living Sustainably – Encouragement to go Vegan – Miessence and The Hippocrates Diet

I began my journey thinking primarily of health, the planet, harming animals fewer times, with a burning question about what food really is.  I began preaching organic living 20 years ago because it’s safer. I have been passionate about the purity of what goes in and on my body. What is applied soaks in. But what I have learned so far this year is stunning me and taken my journey to another whole level.

Most of my family has been killed off by cancer. I lost my dad before I was 18.  Mother passed in 2015, a brother in 2014 and currently I have 2 family members who are terminal (a brother and cousin). All of my people were meat eaters, who did not embrace an organic diet. Then I was laid off at my job of 26 years where I was a project manager.  It’s been a perfect storm. With what I knew already, coupled with the deaths of loved ones, and time to study, this solidified my goal of a preemptive strike.  I am asking you to walk with me and then help others take the blinders off that Agribusiness and Corporate America wants to keep tightly in place.  All of us deserve to live our best life, with abundance on all levels.

The Planet – We have harmed her greatly.  We have polluted the air, our water, and soil with the way we do our business, all the chemicals, hormone disruptors, toxins. There seems no end to it. Pesticides, like DDT, began as chemical warfare.  After the war, corporations had surplus and wanted to find a use and profit. We didn’t even know how DDT worked when we began using it as a pesticide spread far and wide on our crops to kill off good and bad bugs and while this toxin was banned decades ago, it is something that will always be here as it takes so very long to break down.  DDT is in all US soils which means it is also in the bones of our beef who dine on grasses. (What cows really eat, they do not actually eat corn and their bodies don’t process corn well at all.  This is a forced cruelty perpetrated by the meat industry to fatten the cows cheaply.)  We no longer rotate crops and rest our soil. Because of this and CAFOS, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, otherwise known as Factory Farms, with our addictions to meat, to beef and the dairy industry, we have soil erosion. It takes 40 bowls of spinach to equal the iron content of 1 bowl of spinach from 1950.  We have depleted our soil of nutrients. If you are buying your lettuce from the grocery store, you should be aware. Because of Corporate choices in the way business was conducted and continues to unfold there is not only less nutrition in our vegetables (although Organic is higher and better) there is no absolute safe haven from toxins. You and I share what is known as a body burden because of this. For those not already vegan, try adopting a more plant based diet where meat and dairy is consumed not more than 2 days a week.  When you do shop, buy local and organic from known farms so you understand the quality and how the animals are treated.  But I encourage a visit.  It can be quite eye opening.  After a long search for the holy grail of animal kindness in the meat and dairy culture, it turned me vegan.

Health – The oil and gas industry, Monsanto and GMO and pesticides all contribute to our body burden, which is the level of toxins our bodies cannot get rid of, that are tucked away someplace in our fat cells, in an attempt by our bodies to continue existence.  Our body is an amazingly resilient self-healing machine, capable of fighting off numerous diseases, even cancer.  Cancer is simply a mutated cell and a healthy body fights it every day.  When our immune system gets tired, the system breaks down and we begin to fail.  It is paramount that we detox daily, exercise to flush out toxic waste and minimize the chemicals we put in and on our bodies.

Food – Many animals are taught by their elders how to hunt and what is food to them.  Otherwise, they would not know.  This accounts for why some Whale Pods will either prey on fishes or marine mammals, but not both.  Some even kill moose and sea birds. These skills are taught by the parents and become the pods culture that is passed on to the next generation.   We are a product of our environment and how we were raised.  I recently met a vegan who had been raised in the vegan lifestyle.  He had never tasted meat.  I was a bit envious that I had not been raised similarly.  I remember my family giving me treats for eating my meat, which I did not want to consume as a small child.  It turns out, I was onto something.  What is food to us is by our culture.  But our bodies are set up, from our teeth, our jaw design, down to our digestive tract, to eat plants, vegetables.   I advocate growing your own organic vegetables and herbs wherever possible. This can be on a patio or a window sill.  Buy organic when you shop.  Every day we support companies and their decisions, with our dollars.

Harming Animals – Everyone can google search these days, so go do that.  It is shocking how we treat our food.  I always had felt our food should be honored and kept safe from harm, both plant and animal.  Films like Food Inc. were eye openers for me and fueled my drive toward organic farms.  Factory farming methods are the most inhumane of the bunch and should absolutely be shunned. To buy from them, perpetuates untold suffering for both them and us, as we consume that unhealthy, unsanitary meat and dairy.  There are many things I could say here and all of them would turn your stomach.  I leave you to your google searches where folks have worked undercover at these places and provided snapshots of what takes place.

Is there a kinder killing?  The flat answer is that we are taking animals with their own thoughts, goals and awareness, who do not want to die, who see their buddies go before them, are so scared, want out, badly, but cannot do anything but march forward.  I watched a cow desperately try to walk backwards, turn around, get away from death, before finally bowing his head in despair to the reality that he was next.  Even organic meat is not in our best interest health wise.  Meats and animal fat hold the highest levels of toxins.  When we eat animals we consume those chemicals too.  The truth is that we don’t have to consume meat to live a robust and healthy life and doing so is actually shortening our life and putting us in the clutches of heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer.  I urge you toward a compassionate diet, one that will extend your vitality and years of great health.

The Hippocrates Diet – The Hippocrates Health Institute (HHI) is a vegan diet, with at least 80% of consumed foods being raw. If you are healthy, 20% may be cooked.  Enzymes and oxygen are in all raw food.  Yes you actually eat oxygen, not just breath it! Vitamins require Oxygen and Enzymes for utilization. Cooked food is depleted of Oxygen and enzymes.  Digestion is the #1 thing.  If you lack enzymes from your food, your body will borrow it from other places (not good).  Due to soil erosion, and the toxins in our environment, there is a huge focus on sprouts and wheatgrass juicing.

Alternative Lifestyle Consultant- What I do is help clients shift to a vegan or more plant based diet.  I help them with best products, juicer, sprouters, blenders, food processors, to set their kitchen up with to make it easy as possible.  I realize that a lot of us travel or for other reasons, may not be able to sprout their foods on a consistent basis.  This is why I became an independent rep for Miessence.

Miessence – Body Tonics & Skincare/Body care – It is vital that what we apply on our skin be pure, be free of pesticides and other toxins.  The way we guarantee this is by buying organic.  Fantastic skincare you can feel good about is just the beginning.  The superfoods, what I call Body Tonics, are great for on the go, or for those folks who cannot sprout their wheatgrass at home on a regular basis.  Cancer doesn’t like an alkalized environment.  Deep Green alkalizes our body with algae and grasses. Probiotics increase the body’s enzyme production.  And Antioxidants help us repair and fight off daily onslaughts from the air we breath, the water we drink (get a purifier) and the (organic) foods we eat.

No matter how cleanly you choose to live, you need to daily detox because the body burden is there. It takes a full 7 years of this diet to eradicate most of the body burden.  Some of it is always going to be with you, but I encourage you to take steps now toward a brighter, enlivened future!

Suzanne O’Brien – PureTemple Ph 214-334-8517

http://puretempleholistic.com/

http://puretempleholistic.blogspot.com/

http://www.miessence.com/puretemple/en/category/1/skincare

 

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Shut Your Mouth! Gum & Teeth Health

My best friend has an extra layer of enamel on her teeth. Yes, I hate her.  Seriously, I am envious, but we all have our kryptonite.  It only means that for my oral health, I need to work harder at it.  Keeping the mouth alkalized is important, as well as clean and steering clear of sugars and acids that erode enamel.

Things that alkalize your body don’t always alkalize your mouth, for example lemons.  Adding lime or lemon to water creates a refreshing alkalizing water, great for your body, but not great for protecting the teeth.  The healthy mouth is continuously producing saliva to help break down foods, clean the teeth from deposits and remineralize and protect your teeth.  Think of your teeth like gears in an engine, you need lubrication to keep them from breaking down.  I read that night time is the hardest time for the teeth and was curious why.  Well, for one, saliva production is reduced.  And if you sleep with your mouth open, you are in trouble right there, not to even touch on grinding.  In a dry mouth, teeth can become severely worn and without a help out from saliva, there is no natural repair.  I read the book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, author Ellie Phillips, which had a lot of great information.  I even tried her recommended program for daily oral care. Not all her advise on oral care worked for me.  Firstly, her recommendations include products with questionable ingredients from my place of organic living, reduction of chemicals etc.  Next, they flat out stained my teeth and I believe mostly due to the fluoride.  I say this because I used to use a prescription fluoride on my teeth and for years experienced ‘heavy coffee drinker’ staining.  Even though I didn’t drink coffee, had perhaps a daily cup of tea, coffee perhaps once or twice a month.  Additionally, Fluoride is a carcinogen in the body, derived as a byproduct of making aluminium.

Once I kicked the fluoride curbside, my hygienist suddenly stopped complaining about ‘heavy stain’ and instead complimented me on how clean and free of stain my mouth was.  Now suddenly I was back to complaints about heavy stain.  So here are my tips on taking care of your mouth.  Oil pulling takes time but works great.  If you floss, be thorough, but very gentle around and in between your gums.  Before you brush your teeth, rinse with water to alkalize your mouth first.  Even better oil pull with organic coconut oil for 20 minutes prior to brushing.  Zellies mints are not bad tasting and contain Xylitol, which is a natural sugar substitute from the birch tree.  You can also buy a bag of it and I did both via Amazon.  Pop the Zellies between meals, after meals to alkalize your mouth and protect your enamel.  You want to shoot for about 6.5 to 10 grams a day of Xylitol for oral benefit.  What I like to do is take a teaspoon in my morning tea and then pop the mints throughout the day till I have hit close to the above number.

Sticky spots and stains –  Over the years, I have had areas of heavy stain, such as behind my front teeth (thanks, fluoride) and a couple of areas with deep crevices where my dentist has spotted sticky spots which are would be cavities in the making.  Each time I ask, I am told the stain is too ingrained or the sticky spot will be a cavity, not much I can do because the crevice is so deep etc.  By applying the methods here and spending the next 6 months adding extra and gentle diligence to those concern areas, I have always found my very next bi-annual visit to be completely free of those troubles.  The dentist doesn’t even bring them up!

Root canal warning – Root canals aren’t ‘Big Fillings’ but are very serious and affect the entire root system of the tooth the root supports.  This can lead to root reabsorption as the body no longer recognizes a tooth there.  Per my beautiful hygenist, Gabriella,  while the plan is to keep the root intact to save the teeth and keep them still functional, the nerve, also called pulp, dies.   While the nerve is killed off,  there may still infection or decay.  This is why they typically prescribe antibiotics.  And it can be very challenging to remove all of this infection.  Root canals are typically done on molars because they are harder to reach back there and do a lot of heavy lifting where food particles and sugars can rest and hide.   Don’t forget to brush and floss all around the back teeth.  You want to avoid a root canal like the plague (or plaque) that it is.   Once the pulp is killed, a rare condition called root reabsorbption can take place, which is what happened to me.  The body does’t ‘see’ a tooth and re-absorbs the roots holding it in place.  Also, you can still get rot and decay under the gumline affecting the root as well.

Now, at night, for whatever reason, I began sleeping with my mouth open and ended up with dry mouth.  This is bad because you can wear your teeth and erode your gums this way!  Freaked out, I researched a solution to this and it’s medical tape. You can cut a piece of medical tape about a 1/4 inch in length or so and place it just above your upper lip onto the philtrum, over the mouth and secure the tape just below your lower lip. This will help you keep your mouth shut at night but you will still be able to breathe or speak if necessary.  With the AC on and the nights my mouth flew open and dried right out (so attractively) where my tongue felt like a freaking caterpillar, this simple thing, taping my mouth, has helped greatly!  I apply lip balm ahead of adhering the tape.

Remineralize  – I use Hailicare Mineral Sticks.  I add them to a vat of drinking water in a lovely glass vessel for home and for office, I put one in my canteen.  Your body needs minerals and our soil levels are depleted of them and so, therefore, our food is too.  The reason is primarily factory farming and all the soil erosion this has caused.  Crops used to be rotated with supplements added, soil allowed to ‘rest’ etc.  For the most part, all this is gone to greed.  Nobody cares about your body, well, I do.  Honestly, it began selfishly worrying about my own teeth and bones but now has become a thing I need to share out and help others with.

Non-Fluoride & Natural Toothpastes that help!
Apagard Premio Toothpaste –   It comes in a 2 pack for savings, and as well as an extra strength.  The nanohydroxyapatite helps remineralize your enamel, thus making it much stronger, as well as filling in those sensitive exposed dentin areas. I used this product most evenings.  Once a week I use Magic Mud which has purifying charcoal which helps to minimize staining as it polishes and detoxes too.  Every morning, I use Himalaya Neem and Pomegranate, which is tasty and fluoride free with all natural agents that go to work in your mouth.

Other Helpful Tools
Product Details

What you don’t see, you won’t work as hard at.  Get a Gum Dental Mirror with Light, the light is super bright making it very easy to see stained areas that you may be missing in your daily brushing routine. Just by using this tool, I have significantly reduced stains on the inside of my teeth which you may think is no big deal but clean teeth are healthier teeth and I want to minimize my time in the chair!
You cannot go wrong with a portable Waterpic Cordless water flosser!  I use mine twice a day, prior to brushing and after I floss with typical floss. It is amazing what you get out even when you think everything is clean.  I love all the options as well, the in between teeth flosser with a brush and being able to control the jet stream.

Gum Stimulator/Massager The one I actually use is pointy at the tip.  This one is round with little nubbies for massage.  Either way or both (they’re cheap) the object is to gently go around the gum surface, around the teeth to help stimulate blood flow to the gums and this helps prevent gum erosion.

Your Toothbrush – Check out this Oral B Genius.  I’ll admit I own 3 electric toothbrushes and they are all a bit different and have different brush heads.  I alternate them as they each clean a tad differently.  Now, I use a soft bristle regular toothbrush that you get for free at the dentist office, for using such things as the Magic Mud noted above.  It’s a polishing agent and I want to be super delicate when I use that.  I want to gently work that in and around all my teeth and I want total hand control there.
Product Details

Click here for RINSES – I personally rarely use one, but I like Toms as it has a fresh taste and isn’t full of potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

Never think just because everybody in your family has cavities or lost their teeth or kept them, that your story will be likewise.  It is all up to you, your diet, your health and your gentle diligence in grooming the mouth.  Isn’t this so much better this, and so many other things in life, are really completely or mostly up to you?  🙂

 

 

The Death List – What to do when you are responsible for taking care of a loved ones final earthly issues

I’ve had the unfortunate experience of losing a brother in 2014 and my mother in 2015.  As a friend put it, ‘Let me know if you need anything, but I guess you’re pretty much an expert at it now…not that you wanted to be an expert at this.’   When you are in agony over loss, having a checklist helps.  This list helped me greatly so passing it on.

Prior to Death
Bank – Add your name to the checking/savings account. Ideally, ahead of time, get your name added as a cosigner on their bank account.  This is much easier than setting up an account after death in which to receive checks and make final payments and simply makes paying for things, closing final business as well as closing the account later far easier.  Everyone should have a plan because we don’t live forever and things happen.  Planning ahead is an act of kindness.

Monthly Bills – If you don’t already know, get acquainted with who they have phone, gas, electric services with.  For my brother and mother, I set up online access to pay bills and view their accounts so I would suggest getting user and passwords ahead of time to simplify.

Credit Cards and Debts – You are NOT responsible to pay off credit cards of the deceased unless you are a spouse.
IF you are on any credit card accounts, after you handle any final business such as getting the card cancelled, have the rep you speak with remove your name as a final item.  Once your name is removed you can no longer speak on the decedents behalf because you are no longer on the account, but also, you cannot be held responsible for any balance due (except spouse see above).  When mother was very sick under hospice care, we knew she could no longer use her credit cards and took care of closing her credit accounts.  In my mothers situation, she had a ton of bills and no money to pay them, so I alerted all folks and repeatedly, that there was no money to pay off her debts.

Nursing Homes and Medicare – The way this works is that one must qualify for Medicare, get approved for payment and the nursing home gets paid 2 ways.  Firstly, they take all your monthly earnings, all but $40-60.00 in spending money per month (I know, right?).  This is based on all monthly payments your loved one gets direct deposited in their checking account, any VA or SSI or pension payments.  Whether your loved one gets 10k a month or 1k a month, they end up with $40 bucks and the rest goes to the nursing home.  The nursing home told me they wanted me to sign agreement so that they would take payment monthly directly out of mothers account. What I did is write the checks myself for my mother because I did not trust the system and I was very glad I did because the nursing home WOULD have taken mothers final January SSI check and left me stranded to pay the difference!  They said and I quote “We don’t refund money, it is up to the family to deal with paying back the VA or Social Security.’  So, pay it monthly yourself!!!  DO NOT allow a nursing home direct access out of the checking account ever!!!  Secondly the nursing home gets paid via Medicare, once they get all their paperwork in order.  The nursing home mother was in was slow and didn’t bother filing until after her death, even though we’d already moved her back home!  They may try to get you to pay but you do not have any responsibility to pay for nursing home care unless you sign documents that say you do! Read everything and ask questions.

After Death
You will ultimately need a death certificate and this comes from the crematorium or funeral home you use.  It takes time and longer depending on the burial or crematorium you use.  I used Acremation for my brother which was less than a grand, his ashes placed in a nice box and death certificates quickly provided. For my mother, who donated her body, I still have not received her ashes.

1) Funeral choices – There is a wide birth of choice here.  I chose simple, cremation which is what they both wanted, with a simple memorial at our home to honor them.
2) Obit in the paper – I did not announce their deaths in the paper because all their friends were alerted that needed to know but this is a step in the process so putting it in the checklist.
3) Death Certificates –  Order more than you think you will need right up front as this is the cheapest approach.  They get a lot more expensive to order later.  That stated, also understand that most places accept a copy rather than an original so most of us own a printer that copies and scans docs, makes things easy.  Both of my family members lived simply, did not own real estate or have any assets, just bank accounts and credit cards so I ordered 5 each. I still have all originals as I was able to use a copy for everything, just to give you an idea here.

1) Social Security – If your loved one is getting SSI payments, you will want to alert them to the fact your loved one has passed.  Please note that even if your loved one dies at the tail end of the month, if they do not live through the entire month, the money deposited will be taken back!  They don’t care that your brother had a car payment or mortgage due or the very simple fact that bills don’t stop at time of death here.  Send in Death Certificate once available. DO NOT spend that last SSI payment.
2) VA payments – Same as above.
3) Cancel the monthly bills, water electric, gas, phone, cell
4) Get all receipts ready to prep the final taxes.  On this note, I got mixed messages here but what I ultimately found out is this: On the final taxes, if doing electronically, such as via TurboTax, you will be asked the question regarding death.  If doing by hand, or via mail, write the words Deceased along with the decendent’s name, and date of death across the top of the tax return.  You would need to sign the forms as the appointed personal representative of the deceased.
But they died owing money to the IRS
*****Unless you are a spouse, IF the decedent died owing final taxes, and they died leaving nothing to pay off the debts, as my brother and mother both did, then you are not responsible for paying out of your own pocket.  This is per Lane Mullinax CPA.  I was quite nervous as my brother had apparently cashed out a small IRA to pay off personal debts he owed and plain giving money away to people he liked, realizing his death was imminent.  He despised the IRS and paid no taxes on the cash out and thus ended up owing taxes on it.  I was so relieved to know that I was NOT responsible to pay off the IRS on his behalf.
I want to stress that this situation is if the person has no assets, no cash left after bills, no home to sell off etc.  In my brothers case, he left a car payment, medical debts, monthly bills that needed covering.  Although his finances were considerably better than mothers, there were still earthly concerns to address at his passing that evaporated what was left in his checking account from his monthly VA and SSI checks.

A note about body donation – A lot of folks think this is easy peasy lemon squeezy.  I’ll donate my body to science, to a school, it costs my family nothing and at time of death, the family just makes a phone call en voila, my body will be whisked away, all take care of for free and they will get death certs and ashes later.  No, no, not quite.  Mothers body was donated to a school.  I will be kind and not mention them here.  But let me state that yes they finally agreed to take her body after I threatened to go to every retirement home in the vicinity and post a blog to re-educate folks about how the ball gets uncomfortably dropped at time of death.  Here’s why:  Schools and med facilities are always looking for different things.  They may not want your dad’s cancer riddled body because that is of no use to them right now, they have enough bodies with cancer for example.  So while someone may have indeed been ‘Pre-approved and accepted’ that actually is a false message and the school or med facility, at their discretion, may go back on their promise right when you are at your most vulnerable time. If your loved one is in a hospital or nursing home, they MUST be moved immediately!  This means planning ahead.  I was tipped off by my hospice rep that things are kind of ugly with body donations and called ahead, got flack and baracudaed past all of that with threats.  Not a great thing to sort through 11th hour either when one wants to be as calm as possible and be there for their loved one not on the phone arguing about taking the body later!  IF your family member has agreed to donate their body, I would seriously look at other options that fit your situation, ahead of time.
5) On this checklist is yourself, from planning time off for bereavement, PTO time, to also taking time to be alone and with friends and family for support and maybe a trip to the SPA.  Your loved one would want you to be happy and healthy so as much as this time just God awful hurts, do take some time to love and nurture yourself.  Do it for them!
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Overemployed? Been there! My story also with some help to minimize your load

Time to chill, even for a minute is so important to be quiet and get in touch with you and with your inner peace and calm, or, let’s be honest, even your inner crazy.  The world of chores, business, expectations, take us literally up and away from so many delighter opportunities if we let that happen.

I was laid off after 26 years at my telecom company where I was a high functioning Project Manager over Implementation of large Voice and Data networks for strategic companies.  I loved my work, I loved most of my customers, I loved putting out fires and calming nerves, getting everybody to play nice in the sandbox.  I loved making it fun, business should always have some fun in it.  I especially loved pulling rabbits out of hats and numerous times making the near impossible actually happen for my customer.  But I did not enjoy the long hours at all.  I only rarely had times where I could take a break.  And my health suffered after 2 straight years of working 16+ hour days, 7 days a week, including every holiday too.  Ironically, even being so very sick as I was, I had too much work to stop and take sick leave so I kept on working, but gained a full appreciation for cutting it way down wherever that was possible and focusing way more on me time.

While I (thankfully) did not have someone standing over me demanding those hours out of me, as some of us do, I was, nevertheless ‘overemployed’ as I have named it.

It is a very tricky place to be.  So here is what I see, the nut of it.  If you work for a large corporation, as I did, they will use you up, just keep squeezing that tube of paste until it all comes out.  Regardless of how your direct manager feels about you, he can only protect you so long.  Once you hit 50 your days are numbered. You need a back up plan.  But way ahead of this, you need to spend some time on a daily/weekly basis, just focusing on yourself and personal items and pleasures. Getting in touch with who you are and finding your passions is paramount.  Many lead you to new revenue streams which diversify those eggs that may all be sitting in one corporate employer basket.  We go around once and our life should be about life and living not working for the man, no matter how rewarding it may be.

I was exemplary at my job, had perhaps 4 sick days since 2000, was a team player, got along with everybody, my customers loved me and although we had a health plan, I personally had not ever used anything other than dental cleaning twice annually, a few pairs of glasses and a checkup every 8-10 years.  That’s it.  Cheap!  When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I located a volunteer organization to shuttle her to most of her daily radiation appointments, thus maintaining my presence and my focus on work. When my brother was sick with Cancer I did a similar thing to remain focused on the workload.

My mother and brother are now dead and I was just laid off in February.  Nope, nothing is permanent, particularly our time with loved ones.

So what I am saying is that, no matter who you are, how young and vibrant you feel, how dedicated and loyal you are or how reasonably paid you are or how little you cost the company in healthcare etc, or how greatly motivated and stellar at working autonomously with little to no need for a manager to, well, manage you, your days are indeed numbered.  Most importantly, your time on earth is.  So why not stop, smell those flowers and get some me time in?

The issues is that so many of us find ourselves being paid for an 8 hour day but feel stuck doing way more because this has become an accepted expectation.  If a man beats his wife and his wife goes along with that, guess what?  That man now believes that beating his wife is accepted behaviour because that behaviour is being allowed when it should not be.  The beat down is still there, just in a different form.  Each one of us has our limits, our line in the sand.  I am asking that you find yours and then do what you can personally do to assure that line stops getting rubbed out.  Only you have the power to do this, to enforce your line.

Depending upon the company, I have seen folks mandated to work a set amount of non paid overtime hours.  I find even the idea of this expectation rude.  My husband works for such a company.  While they love him, and that’s all great, he is exceedingly over worked.  To my mind, we want to be productive at work, get the job done and well.  That stated, if we have a rare opportunity to cut out early one day out of the month then why the heck not do that?

For my personal situation, I had no help, I was knee deep in my clients kimchi, and was brilliantly stuck sideways doing the hours if I wanted to assure that what was on my plate didn’t blow up for my customer and, ultimately me.  To stop work would mean failure and nobody was going to ultimately realize the truth of it, that it was enough work for 3 people so 3 should have been hired.  No, rather, it would have become a black eye for me.

I know a lot of you are in this camp, on this mission, paddling this same boat. While we may rarely feel like it, in these moments, I am telling you right now that we are in control of our choices.  If enough of us scale our work back, we win more personal time in our day.  Frankly, if we are doing the job of 2 people, another person should be hired and that is a mismanagement issue not an underachieving employee one.  For each employee who routinely works a 12 or 16 hour day, that is the same as taking one full time job away from someone who needs work.

Work to life balance has been a buzzword for years.  But so much of what I see is just the words spoken with no real meat of intention behind them.  I see open door policies that really aren’t open at all, because they are not really open for change.  I once reported  (anonymous) an issue to our ethics hotline.  They were zero help, they told me to contact HR.  HR was zero help, they wanted me to discuss the concern with my director and offered to set a meeting up.  I was also advised that I should go back to my manager even though the concern wasn’t about me, not even about a member of my direct team and was not about anybody that rolled up under my new director.  It was about policy being flagrantly ignored that could lead to a lawsuit!  Two people that I knew of  had been recently denied their bereavement time.  My suggestion to HR,  was for the company to send out a refresher to all management on policies.  Don’t single anybody out, just mandate that all managers refresh themselves on the policies in place and then refresh their teams too.  Everybody on the same level playing field knowing what the rules are.  Those in violation of said rules would be educated and further transgressions minimized but this refresher would absolutely open a logical door up to single those folks out the next time they denied their staff bereavement or comp time etc.

Sometimes you are purely in a situation where, regardless of intentions, you are not going to fix what is broken.  You are, however, always in control of how you think, feel and act.  I will always look out for justice being done to people and animals but for those individuals, my advise was to brush up their resume’s and move on because nobody cared to listen.

If you feel stuck, just look for ways to create space in your day for you, even if it is just a ten minute break with a cup of tea and a book.  Scheduling times you check email and times you do other work really helps too.  We don’t have to be engaged in email all day long.   Pick and choose your battles, what must happen today and what could wait until tomorrow, so that you can locate some kind of stopping point for your day and finally rest.  Feed yourself healthy food, drink water, get up from your desk and move around every few hours. Deep leg thrombosis IS a thing and it can kill.

When all is said and done, you take yourself with you wherever you go, so it is vital that you and your health come first. Whatever company you work for, I can pretty much guarantee the corp is putting itself first.  Copy that and put yourself as priority #1!  If you have poor management, where things are broken and nobody cares to fix that, don’t stress over it.  Bring it up the once.  If you don’t gain an ear take that as your clue to move on. Try not to take it personally if you get no place with some advise.  Be thankful for the paycheck and do your best but get your resume updated and out the door as you continue to still work there.  Try hard not to put yourself in a situation where you may end up bitter.  If you are going to be bitter at working 12+ hour days, then just don’t do it.  Leave instead if you must. Our lives are insane enough without adding bitter to the flavor.  And be patient, things can take time, but persevere.  Take a long look at your skills and how those translate to other opportunities.  Sometimes we feel stuck when really, we only need to look at ourselves (and our situation) with fresh eyes.

Om – Stressing? Let’s calm that right down

Breath work and being in the present is so amazing for calming right down whenever stress strikes.  I’ve been doing yoga now for 15 years and love it.  Doing Vinyasa Flow (there are many yoga options) taught me how to breath deeply, expanding the lungs, which is great for longevity and aging but also how to control my breath and I learned breathing techniques.  Doing yoga truly is a moving meditation and helps one tie in the mind, the body and the spirit.  For this reason, I feel Yoga is the best form of exercise out there and should certainly be incorporated into whatever other work out you engage in on a weekly basis.

Regarding meditation, here are a couple of videos on both the breath and meditation.  Try taking a break for a minute to watch just one.
Namaste

– check out this 13 minute Ted talk

And for the breath, if you feel that RIGHT NOW you really just need to BREATHE –  close your eyes and breathe through a short 10 minute meditation from a Vipassana meditation teacher

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Skincare – What to Avoid

The painful truth is that the money machine is not set up to protect us.  The government doesn’t protect us.  Big pharma and Big business mostly is after our wallet and they don’t typically care about the environment, the planet or toxins unless they are an all organic green company.  In my Hippocrates training recently I learned that after the wartime in the 50’s companies had created toxic chemicals to kill our adversary that was later used on our crops to kill bugs.  And we didn’t even realize then what the substances actually did, how they really worked!

All this stated, we know men are mostly wash and wear while most women apply at least 8 different products on their face every morning.  But either way you go, we all have skin in the game.  Yeah, I couldn’t really resist saying that.  We must all be mindful of what we apply on and in our bodies.  Everything we apply topically sinks into our body.  Just seeing a pain patch do its magic is eye opening as to exactly how swiftly the product is absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

Everybody is busy and just trying to get through another hectic day as swiftly as they can, right?  This is why I post this stuff, to help us all avoid toxins while learning what we all can do, to live a greener and cleaner (and far healthier) life.

Avoid anything with ‘eth’ in the name, such as Sodium Laureth Sulphate, ceteareth or oleth.  Propylene Glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze, is even in food and is especially prolific in cosmetic and skincare!  Avoid it is you see the words PEG or Polyethylene glycol, DEA, TEA Lauryl Sulfate, MEA, Pareabens, Formaldehyde, Triclosan.

And things can get tricky when stuff sounds natural, sounds pleasant and nice but isn’t, such as Japanese Honeysuckle Extract or what about fragrance?  That doesn’t sound bad but yes, that is too.  Just the word ‘fragrance’ can really mean that up to 400 separate ingredients (and chemicals) went into that product.  This can include toluene, phthalates, which can cause liver and kidney damage, harm a fetus, and disrupt the endocrine system amongst other things.

Buy products that state they are certified organic from companies you know and trust.  On that topic, know that one of the best things sbout Miessence, other than the fact it is a carbon neutral company that has gone through the necessary steps to be certified 100% food grade organic with no chemicals, is that the products are made fresh from the factory and shipped directly to you.  Unless you are very motivated to make your own skincare products in your kitchen, this is one of the rare lines where you can get the absolute freshest most pure and potent product for your gorgeous skin!

Smile and stay pretty!

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HAIL SEITAN! Preparing Seitan at home is not the devils work I thought it might be.

So I said to my husband Michael, hey, wouldn’t be fab humour to put the words ‘Hail Seitan’ on a T-shirt.  Then I saw it was already done.  What was not yet done was my happy hands in the kitchen preparing Seitan from scratch as opposed to locating it in a dish at a restaurant.  Having done it, it is fairly simple.

I picked up some Bob’s Red Mill, Vital Wheat Gluten, which is organic I am told.  For those of you, like me, who had no clue what this really is or how to make it, it is a great, flexible wheat gluten substitute for meat.  Gluten is made from the endosperm of the wheat berry and when mixed with water, it becomes this malleable, elastic food substance.   Included on the back of the package of this stuff are two recipes, one for Honey Oatmeal Bread, which I may try at some point, but primarily for this article, there is a great basic seitan recipe.  You can also google for fun. But just buying this product and following the instructions on the back make it a breeze for first timers.  I will say that for the broth recipe, rather than water, I did it with veggie stock.  There is also a delicious organic veggie mushroom stock, which is harder to locate. Mmmmmmmm!  That stuff is great in like everything.

BASIC SEITAN
2 c Bob’s Red Mill Vital Wheat Gluten
1/2 Tsp Sage
1 Tsp Marjoram
1 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
2 Cups water

Broth
6 cups Organic Veggie Stock, try the mushroom one or you can use just plain (purified) water.
2 Tbsp Molasses
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce

You boil the broth and while that is getting ready to boil,   mix the gluten flour and spice3s, add the water in and stir into a spongey dough. Knead the dough a minutes to make it come together and become more elastic.  Next cut it into 2″x2″ pieces and place this into your boiling broth.

Cook your gluten in the broth for about 1 hour and lower the heat as needed.  Drain and use seitan in stir-fry, sandwiches, stews, etc.

And since I am just beginning here with Seitan, if anybody has another fantastic recipe they’d like to share, feel free!
Happy healthy eating!
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