Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Grab Bag Kid Rocks:

19 year-old Taylor Wilson just may change our world…..

Taylor Wilson

Sorry for the 30 second ad… couldn’t find a way around it… but this is worth the wait

Many thanks to Barbara S. (Mom!) for sending this in

Grab Bag Plumber Hacks:

Wait…. don’t go… listen. These are some great tips from a great site called FamilyHandyman.com. You just might not need to call a plumber, or you might be able to fix things that have been bugging you forever…. like the sink sprayer thingy….

Grab Bag Battery Bar:

A very simple way to test any alkaline battery to see if it’s still good:

Battery Check

Thanks to Pat M. for sending this to me.

Grab Bag Acne Smack:


A friend recently asked if I might do a post on acne treatments for a family member of hers who was struggling with finding remedies that worked. 

Acne is often a combination of triggers all converging at the wrong moment, so it is best to keep in mind that one remedy may not resolve the issues. But if one remedy is found to be helpful, then trying to individually and systematically add additional remedies would be best to discover what the right mix might be.

I won’t offer here all the possibilities that would be available through a dermatologist’s office, or what you can see advertised online or available in drugstores. 

What I will offer is a few suggestions that:

1) Make sense

2) Are easy and relatively inexpensive to try

3) carry virtually no risk of side effects, with the potential for improvement (risk-to-reward ratio is good).

These first tips are the toughest…. they are dietary.

None of those are easy by any means, but MANY acne-prone people have done those and swear by them.

To me, this is no different than someone who is overweight and longs to lose the extra pounds. It’s not about if you wish the weight or the acne was gone – I think 100% of people who suffer because of acne or excess weight have that desire. What it’s really about is how motivated you truly are to make the needed changes. 

No one wants to change the way they eat. And patience is required, because one day of dietary sacrifice does not a remedy make! Do some research as to how long you might give these before judging if they are working or not:

1. Remove dairy … this seems to be the number one dietary criminal in the minds of the acne-laden.

In fact, a 2010 paper in Clinics in Dermatology makes it clear that you could use all the best pimple-clearing products available (and the worst ones like Accutane) and still not keep breakouts at bay—unless you dispense with dairy.Well+Good

2. Remove sugar… a very close second to the dairy.

3. Remove wheat… a very close third.

On to external things:

1. When I ran across this tip it just resonated with good sense:

Change your pillow case EVERY DAY.

Acne-prone skin is very susceptible to all irritants, and rubbing your face back and forth on a pillowcase that has oils, skin cells, bacteria and dirt from previous nights is asking for trouble. 

2. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Some dab it on their skin with a cotton ball. Some dilute it and splash it on as a toner. Some make a dilution of 1:7 parts ACV to warm water and a little honey and drink it. It might work for you, as it has for many. It also MAY MAKE YOUR ACNE WORSE, as it has for many. Fair warning.

3. Castor Oil. Massage in at night, wash off in the morning. Some mix 50% castor oil with 50% olive oil. If you don’t like the smell, put a tiny drop of peppermint or spearmint essential oil in the mix.

4. Milk of Magnesia (!) Some say paint it on at night with a paint brush, wash off in the morning, others also add a thin layer (thin enough so it is not crusty white) in the morning to leave on all day.

Sites to check:



Grab Bag Say Cheese:

I guess if you’re convinced you have a “best angle” in photos, you pretty much stick to it?

sZZOpZd WobveNs TohIi3b sCm5kne

Grab Bag Legacy Left:

Every house has a story to tell. So why not leave yours behind for some future resident to enjoy? Summarize your highlights (in tiny font to squeeze most of it in!) and print it on a label, and fix to the back of a light switch cover plate.


Light Switch Time Capsuule

Credit: Sean Michael Ragan for Makezine.com

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Similar to a couple of weeks ago… here are two versions of the same image, with the pieces merely reassembled. 

Observe the triangle on the bottom. It consists of 4 coloured pieces, and a missing square. In the image on top, the same colored pieces have just been shifted to a new location. Three pieces move to another place, the overall shape seems the same, but the square is no longer missing. How did this occur?

triangle puzzle

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

It’s Back-to-School time, so here’s a little college humor…

college-life-13 college-life bad-student what-bored-russians-do college-essentials



Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Grab Bag Sleeping to the Top:

Arianna Huffington shares her recent and uncomfortable discovery of what it takes to be successful… her brief presentation may surprise you.

Grab Bag Tip Trip:

Just some random “Grab Bag” tips:

• Never put citrus fruits or tomatoes in the fridge. The low temperatures degrade the aroma and flavor of these persnickety fruits.

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• To clean cast iron cookwear, don’t use detergents. Just scrub them with salt and a clean, dry paper towel.


• To clean an electric kettle with calcium buildup on the heating element, boil a mixture of half white vinegar and half water, then empty.


(This happens to be my kettle of choice for all my green tea making – made by Capresso. They also now make a variable temp kettle.)

• To banish ants from the kitchen, find out where they are coming in and cover the hole with petroleum jelly. Ants won’t trek through the jelly. If they are coming under a door, draw a line on the floor with chalk. The little bugs also won’t cross a line of chalk.

antinfestation-kitchen petroleumjellyuses

Grab Bag Memory Minders:

Hit the full-screen icon to read these more easily.

Grab Bag Juice Zeus:

I just discovered Kris Carr (thank you, Jennifer K.)…  Kris is living with a slow-growing, rare and incurable cancer.

That’s right… incurable. But Kris makes you realize that life itself is incurable for us all, isn’t it? And boy, is she LIVING! She has written 5 books and a movie, appeared on Dr. Oz and Oprah, and, and, and… you get it.

…… and…. she is 67 ways of adorable. Love, love, love this funny video where she explains her juicing e-book you can buy ($20, immediately downloadable here).

While I haven’t covered juicing/blending much here, it is certainly a health-biz trend. My take is that, if the portions of fruits are low and the veggies are high, it can be incredibly healthful.

I’m thinking I might need to jump onto this veggie-train 🙂

Kris Carr

Grab Bag Mind Blower 1:

Wow. Hold on to your hats, kids. This 6-minute video is a clip from a truly amazing documentary called Samsara.

If there was ever a reason to go vegan, fire up your blender and buy Kris Carr’s juicing book, this clip is it.

You must ABSOLUTELY go full screen on this, as the player embedded is quite small.

Grab Bag Mind Blower 2:

BUT, WAIT! Beyond what see above, Samsara is an incredibly rich documentary, shot entirely on 70mm film, taking 5 years to film in 25 countries.


“SAMSARA explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience.”

I just purchased it in HD at iTunes and watched it through Apple TV on my TV yesterday. It is absolutely spectacular. I highly recommend this 102 minutes of sensory awe.

Mind. Blown.

You can:

1. Buy the DVD here

2. Rent or buy the download at:

  • AT&T U-verse
  • Verzion Fios.
  • Comcast
  • Cox
  • Time Warner
  • DirecTV
  • Dish Network
  • Avail-TVN

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Look at the image and count how many people are in the picture. After the image shifts, count again how many individuals are there. Where did the extra person come from?

Notes: Even though there is nothing added to the image or taken from it, there seems to be an extra additional person. Try to find some clues.


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

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Sunday, August 18th, 2013

Grab Bag Get Some Satisfaction:

This brilliant psychologist packs a rapid-fire punch in his 15 minutes on TED. Be prepared…. Shawn squeezes a lot into his time slot…. a faster, yet more entertaining, speaker I have yet to hear. Be sure to go Full Screen to keep up with Shawn.

Shawn Achor is the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures on positive psychology in the most popular class at Harvard.

He is the CEO of Good Think Inc., a Cambridge-based consulting firm which researches positive outliers — people who are well above average — to understand where human potential, success and happiness intersect. Based on his research and 12 years of experience at Harvard, he clearly and humorously describes to organizations how to increase happiness and meaning, raise success rates and profitability, and create positive transformations that ripple into more successful cultures. He is also the author of The Happiness Advantage.

Take away:

To re-wire our brains for happiness and success, Shawn prescribes these 5 habits:

Screen Shot 2013-08-11 at 4.05.48 PM

1. Write down 3 things you are grateful for every day for 21 days in a row. Research shows that by 21 days, we will have re-wired our brains to search for life’s positive aspects.

2. Journal about one positive experience you have experienced in the last 24 hours. Doing so allows your brain to re-live it.

3. Exercise. It teaches your brain that your behavior matters.

4. Meditate. It encourages your brain to focus and stop jumping from task to task, which is all too often expected or required in our society.

5. Random acts of kindness. Something as simple as writing an unsolicited email of thanks to someone, or as large as buying a bike for a child who can’t afford one… these efforts put happiness and success in perspective, allowing us to acheive more of both.

Grab Bag Siri Suggestions:

For those with an iPhone, I will share that I am slowly using Siri more and it tickles my senses to interact with her and have her accomplish things for me. I use her most while driving. She is really good at making reminders, setting appointments, reading emails and text messages to me, sending emails and text messages for me,  telling me what the weather is in any given city, telling me all kinds of stuff.

Here are some examples of what she can answer or do:

  • What day of the week was November 28, 1980?
  • Remind me to order iTunes gift cards two days before Christmas.
  • How many days until New Year’s?
  • Make an appointment named ‘Post Holiday Call’ for three days after Christmas at 10am with Jason Snell.
  • Reschedule my meeting with Jason Snell to January 8 at 2 p.m.
  • When is my next meeting?
  • What time is it in Dubai?
  • What time is sunset in Tucson, Arizona?
  • Mail my wife about Dinner tonight and say Would you like me to bring home Chinese?
  • Add “The Snuggie Sutra” to my ‘Books to buy’ note.
  • Remind me to pick up milk when I leave here.
  • What’s the current outside temperature?
  • How high did AAPL get today?
  • What did the market do today?

In my car I use Siri through my Plantronics K100 bluetooth speaker, which clips to the sun visor in my car. I’ve shared it before here, but it still is such a slick system, it bears repeating. And it is now selling for about $40 (I paid $70 two years ago)


Once you have initially “paired” your phone with the K100, you’re set. Get in the car with your phone (you can even leave it in your pocket or purse), power up the K100, and it will say “Power On”, and when it scans for and senses your phone, it will say, “Connected”.  If the K100 is already on, when you get your phone close to it (probably ~50ft. or so) it will say “Connected” (be aware… best to turn the K100 off every time you leave the car… if left on, it has been known to steal my calls when I unknowingly get too close to the car, and all of a sudden my caller is speaking to an empty car and I don’t know what the hell happened 🙂 ).

To operate Siri through the K100, just hold in the round button on the K100 until you hear the Siri “double-beep” activation sound. Then ask Siri to do all kinds of useful stuff for you, completely hands-free.

And what WOULD Siri look like? Here’s one artist’s vision of her:


Grab Bag Sexy Time:

Why is sex such a problem?


Grab Bag Stain Solver:

From HomemakerChic.com….

I have a few spots I am going to try this on, but want to hear your feedback, too. If you try this, did it work for you or not?

Here’s a REALLY easy way to get stains out of your carpet. This works for organic stains like dirt and food. Be careful if you’re trying this with dyes or ink as the vinegar can make things worse. For stains you’re unsure about it is always best to call in a professional. (Or pretend you are one if you’re like me).

I have no idea where these stains come from, seriously. My husband must be sloshing drinks out of his glass or something because I have no messy kids and hardly any guests. I tried scrubbing and using Resolve carpet cleaner but neither worked. But this handy little tip worked like a charm.

All you need is White Vinegar, Water, a Spray Bottle, A Rag, and an Iron.

Spray the spot with a solution of 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water.

Lay a damp rag over the spot.

Iron on the steam setting for about 30 seconds. If the stain is really stubborn, repeat the steps, but I promise it will work!

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Not a game so much as a quiz and an exercise, from Mind Motivations:

Are You Left or Right Brain Predominant?

Look at the picture below for about 30 seconds and have a think about what you see. Then read below to evaluate the results of what you saw and find out if you are left or right brain orientated.


If you see the lady turning clockwise you are using your right brain

If you see the lady turning counter-clockwise you are using your left brain

 Some people do see both ways, but most people see it only one way. See if you can make her go one way and then the other by shifting the brain’s current. BOTH DIRECTIONS CAN BE SEEN. If you look away, she may switch from one direction to the other. We find that if you just look at her feet or relax and look at the floor where the reflection shows, she will switch direction!

Experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking.

Differences Between the Left & Right Brain

Left Brain Right Brain
Logical Intuitive
Sequential Random
Analytical Holistic
Rational Synthesizing
Objective Subjective
Looks at part Looks at whole

Most individuals have a distinct preference for one of these styles of thinking. Some, however, are more whole-brained and equally adept at both modes. In general, schools tend to favor left-brain modes of thinking, while downplaying the right-brain activities.

Left-brain scholastic subjects focus on logical thinking, analysis, and accuracy.

Right-brained subjects, on the other hand, focus on aesthetics, feeling, and creativity.

Additional Information

There is a lot of research showing meditation, hypnosis and brainwave entrainment audios can help create unity between the left and right sides of your brain. This can be quite useful to ‘exercise your mind’ so to speak. Promoting unity of thought can help create more clarity in your decision making processes. This means you will neither ‘over-think’ about things too much with your left brain – or – be ‘too creative’ with decisions that require logical analysis with your right brain.

Note from LK: This exercise can be found on MindMotivations.com, which offers hypnosis recordings in CD and download. If you are interested in training your brain hemispheres in unity, I can also give a personal recommendation for Hemi Sync. I was introduced to them years ago when I needed surgery, and used their surgical recordings before, during and after my surgery, with what I felt to be good results. They have loads of task-specific recordings. While I’m not versed in it enough to really appreciate the differences in the recordings they offer, I can say that listening to these tracks does seem to make you feel different. Check out Brain Sync as well.

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

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Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Grab Bag Bluetooth Boom Box:

I’ve really been enjoying this latest improvement to the Boom Box dynasty this summer. Super easy, super portable…

Logitech UE Boom Box

Logitech UE Boom Box

Your music, Pandora’s music, your friends’ music… really any music that can be generated from your bluetooth-enabled phone (or other device) can be carried around your home, your yard, the beach, the park… virtually anywhere. No wires, no plugs, no connections.

While there are a number of bluetooth boom box products on the market, I chose this one because:

1. It has great sound

2. It can be recharged simply by plugging in the charger (some others have batteries that need to be removed and charged in a seperate charger)

3. It’s a decent size and easy to carry around (there are smaller ones, but sound is compromised).

While not cheap ($250), I can tell you that I have already used it in MANY more situations than I predicted. You can “kick the tires” and compare sound with other, similar boom boxes at Best Buy. I have not found any retailer offering discounts on this as of this writing.

I feel it worth the money, and highly recommend.…. 🙂

Grab Bag Autism Breakthrough?:


While not a cure, the path to resolution often starts with discovery of cause. Read this report on a new blood test for autism:

A GENETIC “signature” of autism in babies as young as 12 months has been identified for the first time, an international conference is to be told.

A simple blood test is now being developed and may be available in one to two years, Professor Eric Courchesne will tell the Asia Pacific Autism conference in Adelaide today.

“This discovery really changes the landscape of our understanding of causes and effective treatments,” says the director of the Autism Centre of Excellence at the University of California in San Diego.

“This is going to lead to much better treatments at a much earlier stage and a large percentage of children having an excellent outcome.”

He said the several gene networks that are a common thread in autism have been identified for the first time.

“During the fourth, fifth and sixth months of pregnancy, they disrupt the production of brain cells, producing too many or in some cases too few, and how the cells are organised and connected,” he said.

“We’ve also identified four gene networks that are a ‘biological signature’ of autism in babies as young as 12 months.

“A blood screening test is being developed.

“At this stage it’s looking very promising that the blood screening test will have high accuracy, specificity and sensitivity for children at risk of autism.”

Professor Courchesne and his research partner Dr Tiziano Pramparo and their team have spent the past six years on this specific piece of work.

They scanned the brains and analysed the blood of more than 600 babies and toddlers aged from 12 months to four years.

“People have been looking at individual genes. What we’ve found is that it’s how these genes combine in networks and how these networks disrupt brain growth that is a common pathway in autism.”

Grab Bag Poop Scoop:

I have a friend…. and you will know who you are when you read this… who complained to me that he/she (so sly of me) was plagued with horrible constipation for a few weeks. Pebble poop was the best he/she got, day after day. The normal issues were discussed, and the poor victim had ticked all the boxes:

1. Drinking enough water

2. Eating plenty of fiber

3. Getting regular exercise

Nothing had really changed in their daily routine, except for the lack of meaningful motility.

LK’sGrabBag to the rescue. Here is what I prescribed, which seemed to get things moving… and I have some further tips to share in case this doesn’t work for you, or your friends:

• In a bowl, mix a couple of heaping tablespoons of greek yogurt (organic, please), a couple of tablespoons of tart cherry juice, and a heaping tablespoon of chia seed. Throw in a handful of (organic) blueberries if you want. Mix and enjoy… really tasty.

That little late afternoon snack started moving things in the right direction (pun intended) for my friend.

In addition, let me offer these suggestions:

• Are you getting enough vitamin D? If you don’t take any, you might want to consider doing so, especially if you don’t spend much time in direct sunlight (I hear vampires are terribly constipated 🙂 )

• Perhaps a more powerful version of the yogurt snack above is to soak chia seeds in tart cherry juice until they puff up, then eat them.

Abdominal massage. I forgot to tell my friend about this, and it may be my favorite. Useful for anyone, if you have had any abdominal surgery (and I’ve had a bunch… should have put in a zipper, really), there is bound to be scar tissue, and some of those adhesions may lead to intermittent or chronic constriction of the very-complex abdominal tissues. This is such a great technique to learn, because if you’re constipated in Prague, who the heck knows the Czech word for chia seed? It is extremely effective:

Screen Shot 2013-08-08 at 3.36.13 PM

Grab Bag Righteous Rules:

A few good ones to ponder….

7 Cardinal Rules

Grab Bag Good Tips:

Life hacks to ease your day…

Don’t have icepacks for your cooler? Prep a few of these… so much neater than bags of ice.

Make your own lunchbox icepacks from dollar store sponges soaked in water and put in ziplock bag. When they thaw, the sponge absorbs the water.


Yet another use for coffee filters… and more effective than a rock:


Mold can stubbornly reside in grout and caulking sealer in your ever-moist bathroom.

HERE is an easy-to-try tutorial on how to potentially eliminate mold buildup:



Want to be a BETTER GOOGLER? Check out this info graphic, which includes some Mac keyboard shortcuts and tips at the end (if you need it bigger, click on the graphic [and once more if it shows as a small version] and it should lead to a larger version for easier viewing):

Better Googling

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Looks kinda stupid…. but I found this one to be SO addictive! Shoot the colored eggs in the right spots to make groups of 3 or more that explode for points. 


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Found this to show how that fluffy feline curled up on your couch may be a murderous serial killer….. hilarious and scientifically true:


Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Grab Bag Border Patrol:

A fun exploration into the realities of that fence we share with our neighbors to the north….

Border Patrol

Grab Bag Va-J-J Fun Facts:

Some tidbits of interest about the often misunderstood Tunnel of LoveWalt Disney even makes the list ??!!

Slide #1, for example, shows clearly that the clitoris is roughly the size of your first two fingers, held pointed down in that iconic, ironic, upside-down “V” (for Victory?) symbol 😊

Grab Bag Conversation Rumination:

Earlier this month I posted two consecutive weeks about the idea of end-of-life decisions, and how we are woefully underprepared as a society for the eventualities most of us will face with our own deaths, as well as those of loved ones.


I profiled a group who had produced an award winning documentary called “Consider the Conversation”. I ordered the DVD and received it a couple of weeks ago and was able to watch it with my mom, my sister and my brother-in-law. Mom is a vibrant and healthy 87-year-old, and my sister is a 61 year-old, wheelchair bound, amazingly inspirational woman with MS. We all found this documentary not only useful in terms of applying to our own lives and wishes, but so important to spread to the medical community and society at large.

Now that I have seen it, I want to even-more-HIGHLY recommend you order it and watch it with as many people as you can.

We are facing a critical issue which is both societal and personal, and most of us are completely unaware of it. We HAVE to learn about these choices. We cannot claim ourselves responsible adults if we ignore these questions about dying. This is just good life housekeeping, like paying your bills, planning your retirement or wearing a seatbelt.

Somewhere at the intersection of “fear-of-death” and “advanced medical technology”, we as a society separated death from life and allocated it to a hospital room where decisions are made by people we have likely never met. That needs to change.

We must encourage each other to embrace the final chapter and take our best shot at defining our desires for life and death if we hope to have that closing chapter written the way we would like it to be.

Grab Bag Sun Sense:

Great article on the ins and outs of sun exposure… especially the less obvious, but just as risky indirect or invisible rays. Thanks to my wonderful, sun-exposed son for sending this in:


UV and You II!


When the sun shines, we can see the colors of its visible light and feel the heat of its infrared rays. We can’t see or feel the sun’s ultraviolet light though since that band of radiation lies beyond the bounds of our senses. We experience ultraviolet light through the aftermath of its effects, which may take anywhere from minutes to years to materialize. In a few cases those effects are beneficial but by and large they are far more harmful than helpful. UV’s high-frequency/high-energy radiation is hazardous to all life forms. UV light is used to disinfect drinking water because it kills microorganisms on contact. We’re much bigger than those microbes are and we have a lot more cells to spare, but the UV damage is still done and it does accumulate over time so if we’re not careful the ultimate outcome for us and the amoeba may be the same.

In the solar spectrum, X-rays are the most deadly. Right next to X-rays in lethality is UVC, the highest frequency, highest energy type of UV light. Thankfully, neither of those two forms of radiation can reach the Earth’s surface. X-rays are absorbed in the outer regions of our atmosphere while the stratosphere’s ozone layer stops UVC. Even though we did accidentally burn a hole in the ozone layer last century and it will likely take most of this century for the hole to completely fill back up, all UVC is still being shut out by that stratospheric shield.
The ozone layer also eliminates 95%+ of all UVB, the mid band of UV radiation, while its lowest frequency form, UVA, is unaffected by ozone and gets a free pass through the sky just like visible light does. Having a little UVB show up is good since limited exposure to that wavelength of light enables our body to manufacture vitamin D, a chemical compound that is essential for human health. But you can produce all the vitamin D you need with just 10 to 30 minutes of sunshine twice a week. Once you’re done making the D any further exposure to UV can start causing problems.

Overexposure to ultraviolet light causes a radiation burn that we call sunburn. Absorption of UVB energy breaks chemical bounds in the DNA of skin cells. If a cell can be salvaged, the DNA will be repaired, but when the disruption is too sever, the cell switches into self-destruct mode and under goes controlled disintegration. Aware of the damage, the body responds in several ways. First it activates the immune system to fight off any infection. That means expanding blood vessels in the injured area so that more white blood cells/nutrients can be pumped in, and the dead cells can be flushed out. It’s that increase in blood flow which turns sunburned skin red.


The body’s next self-defense tactic to counter excess UV is to step up the production of melanin. A photoprotectant pigment, melanin is the compound which gives skin its color. The more melanin the skin makes, the darker it becomes. This natural tanning process does provide some protection against UV light but that protection comes at the price of accelerated skin aging, which turns the skin dry, coarse, spotty and wrinkled before its time.

Far beyond cosmetic concerns are the further complications that can be caused by prolonged ultraviolet light exposure. Over time the UV damaged DNA in the skin becomes harder to repair. Cells with defective DNA can lose the ability to regulate their reproduction and they may undergo the chaotic, uncontrolled cell growth of cancer. UV radiation is responsible for several types of skin cancer, with malignant melanoma being the most lethal. UV light is detrimental to the eyes and has been linked to macular degeneration and cataracts. Our immune system can also be adversely affected by UV radiation, which may make those other disorders even worse.


If you’re in life for the long haul then you should take good care of yourself. That includes protecting your body from excessive exposure to UV light. You can do that by using sunscreen, putting on a hat and wearing sunglasses. The more you cover up, the greater the amount of harmful radiation you block out. A burqa would be nearly 100% effective but that’s probably taking protection a bit overboard. Do what suits you best. While some of these precautions against UV rays may seem inconvenient at the time, they can definitely be worth the extra effort in the long run. Such preventive steps may literally save your skin and the rest of you as well.

Grab Bag Summer Sippin’:

Sunburn got you down? How about this GRILLED LEMONADE recipe from rehabkitchen.wordpress.com to up your backyard game this summer? Let me know if you try it… I’d like to soon (I think Step 4 refers to 1/3 CUP of sugar, not just “1/3 sugar”).

Grab Bag Shoe Sense:

I don’t know about you, but I have put up with my running shoes (and really any lace-up athletic shoes) eventually exerting uncomfortable pressure on the top of my feet. They seem to tighten in certain spots while I’m wearing them.

I’ve lived with this for, I don’t know, decades?

Finally… RELIEF!

Here are a few ways to better lace your shoes if they don’t stay as comfortable as you’d like:




Hot Spots


Bruised Nails


Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 11.07.06 PM


Heel Slippage

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Oooohhh… this one is tough. Click on the picture for instructions… and put your game face on… you’ll need to be quick!

Two for One

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

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Sunday July 14th, 2013

Happy Bastille Day

Let Them Eat Cake

Grab Bag Coupon Code:

Last week I mentioned Avasol, a new sunblock I liked. They got excited about that and contacted me, wanting to share a special 10% discount for you Grab Bag readers.


So…. I urge you to give their products a shot… It’s  a good sunscreen, made by people who really care about clean, effective products, and it will make me look super special if you buy something from them, so what more could you ask for?

cream-L stick-L

Go to Avasol.com and use the code


at checkout to get your 10% off 🙂

Grab Bag Throat Lump:

Roger Boddie is a beloved middle school principal who was ready to retire after 36 years. He won’t be at the helm when the  construction of a state-of-the-art facility for his kids is complete, but he’s excited for the future students, staff and faculty.  He thinks he is guiding a video tour of the construction site…..


Grab Bag Pot Head:


Great tutorial to get new concrete, stone or terra-cotta pots looking like they have been in your Italian garden for 30 years:

Adding Moss Works Best On

• Terra Cotta

• Stone or Concrete Containers

• Stone or Concrete Sculptures

There are 2 ways to go about doing this. Both ways work really well, so choose one that best suits your tastes.

Moss requires an acidic environment to grow, which can be developed by painting a pot with buttermilk or yogurt, that’s why both recipes below have one or the other.

Recipe 1:

  1. Collect mosses either from around your yard or a friends or neighbors (you can also buy moss spores at a garden store)
  2. Finely chop the moss up (or sprinkle in the moss spores into the mix below if you purchased them)
  3. Allow the moss bits to dry up for a couple of days (if you collected them yourself)

Then mix together in a large bucket or bowl:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1-1 1/2 cups dried, crumbled moss

Once the above is mixed together, put the bucket in full sun for three days.

When the mixture is good and smelly, brush it generously with a paintbrush on the outsides of your clay pots. Then wrap the pots in plastic wrap and put them in partial sun.

In two weeks the pots will start to grow mold, and by eight weeks the pots will be nice and furry with moss, and looking very antique and old.

Recipe 2:

  • Blend pieces of dried moss or purchased moss spores into
  • 2 cups yogurt or buttermilk
  • Paint onto your pot with a paintbrush
  • Put your pot into a plastic bag to create a humid environment for the moss to develop
  • Set the pot and bag in a cool, shady spot until the moss begins to form, which will be about 10 days
  • Make sure to plant the container so you will be watering it regularly, which will keep the moss alive and growing

From weekendgardener.net

Grab Bag Genus Genii:

Now that your garden is filled with mossy Italian pots, let’s think bigger.

Get inspired by these creatures, created by busy hands at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

Hoping you have a BIG yard…

Go full screen, lower right corner of the player:

Grab Bag Peaceful Piece:

Just melt into this astounding video fantastic music, plus the visual magic of fog rivers and fog waterfalls, courtesy of Simon Christen and that magic “City by the Bay”… this is a meditation station…

Start the player and then hit the Full Screen icon, lower right corner..

Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

Thanks to Tally D. for this 😊

Grab Bag Good Tips:

A few random tips for better living:

A little heat makes old tape work like new

Tape Tip

Sometimes, masking tape that’s been sitting on a shelf for years won’t pull off the roll without tearing. Freshen it by microwaving it for 10 seconds. Heat softens the adhesive for easy release.

Is your under-sink cabinet gross, grimy and moldy?…..

Under Cabinets

A few scraps, a few screws, and a few L brackets, and you can make yourself your very own vertical behind-the-door cutting board holder…



Photocopy the back of whatever you want to hang on a wall (double check that the measurements on the photocopy are the same as the real deal… some photocopiers slightly enlarge or reduce the image, which wouldn’t be good for this tip). Tape the copy to the wall for perfect alignment before drilling holes.

Photocopy template

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Given a template on the top to follow, you must place each corresponding shape in the correct position and rotation to match the images, as quickly as possible… this is really interesting to hone multiple aspects of visual perception:



Grab Bag Funny French Stuff:

In honor of Bastille Day….

even-more-pretentious-about-bastille-day-ecard-someecards boycotting-because-upset-about-bastille-day-ecard-someecards fourth-july-except-takes-bastille-day-ecard-someecards celebrate-last-time-french-bastille-day-ecard-someecards historical-knowledge-french-revolution-bastille-day-ecard-someecards holiday-made-acutely-aware-bastille-day-ecard-someecards bastille-envelope pause-admire-country-where-bastille-day-ecard-someecards

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Grab Bag Green Machine:

Tossing out some salad tips here… the healthiest salad greens are listed, in order of worthiness.

Click “full screen” icon, lower right corner, to more easily read the slides.

from EverydayHealth.com

Grab Bag Cool Pool:

I’m probably late waking up to this, but I am completely captivated by the thought of Natural Swimming Pools (NSPs), and had no idea it was already so widely done, albeit mostly in Europe. Next time I’m in the market for a pool, or a pool re-do, this is DEFINITELY worth considering.

Natural Swimming Pools, Swim Ponds, whatever you want to call them are a growing phenomenon, and a welcome one at that.

Basics rules are this:

1. Pools have two zones: one deep for swimming, diving and playing, and one shallow for rock filtration and plant life.

2. The water is constantly cleaned and recirculated by means of a pump, pulling water through the natural filter beds, sometimes aided by a UV filter, depending on conditions. A waterfall is often added as a mechanism of reintroducing water back into the pool.

3. Plants in the shallow portion are a must, and establish the bacterial equilibrium needed to achieve clean water.

4. ZERO chemicals are used to keep the water clean. Yes… I said ZERO, nada, zilch chemicals.

5. Natural Swimming Pools can be heated if desired.

6. NSPs can be constructed from scratch or converted from an existing swimming pool.

Below are links for North American natural pool designers/contractors, and a slide show of NSPs from all over the world to provide   inspiration….

Click “full screen” icon, lower right corner, to more easily see the slides.

totalhabitat.com Bonner Springs, Kansas

swimpond.com Vancouver, Canada

bionovanaturalpools.com Rochester, Minnesota

expandinghorizons.biz Vista, California

Grab Bag Wow Moment:

Hilarious mind bender….


Grab Bag Bang-for-Your-Buck:

OK… first to admit it… I have been to the Dollar Tree…. and it is good.

I have scored everything from loads of colorful baskets and tubs for the grandson’s birthday party to everyday drinking glasses for myself.

This blog post clues you in to some of the great finds that you can discover at a dollar store…. and what to stay away from:

Dollar store finds

Grab Bag Re-Veg:

16 Foods That’ll Re-Grow from Kitchen Scraps


By Andy Whiteley

Co- Founder of Wake Up World

Looking for a healthy way to get more from your garden? Like to know your food is free of the pesticides and other nasties that are often sprayed on commercial crops? Re-growing food from your kitchen scraps is a good way to do it!

There’s nothing like eating your own home- grown vegies, and there are heaps of different foods that will re- grow from the scrap pieces that you’d normally throw out or put into your compost bin.

It’s fun. And very simple … if you know how to do it.

Just remember … the quality of the “parent” vegetable scrap will help to determine the quality of the re-growth. So, wherever possible, I recommend buying local organic produce, so you know your re-grown plants are fresh, healthy and free of chemical and genetic meddling.

Leeks, Scallions, Spring Onions and Fennel

You can either use the white root end of a vegetable that you have already cut, or buy a handful of new vegetables to use specifically for growing.

Simply place the white root end in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position. I keep mine in the kitchen window. The green leafy part of the plant will continue to shoot. When it’s time to cook, just snip off what you need from the green growth and leave the white root end in water to keep growing. Freshen up the water each week or so, and you’ll never have to buy them again.


Lemongrass grows just like any other grass. To propagate it, place the root end (after you’ve cut the rest off) in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position.

Within a week or so, new growth will start to appear. Transplant your lemongrass into a pot and leave it in a sunny outdoor position. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot tall – just cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.

Celery, Bok Choi, Romaine Lettuce & Cabbage

Similar to leeks, these vegetables will re-grow from the white root end. Cut the stalks off as you normally would, and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water – enough to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting. Place it in a sunny window position, occasionally spraying your cutting with water to keep the top moist.

After a few days, you should start to see roots and new leaves appear. After a week or so, transplant it into soil with just the leaves showing above the level of the soil. The plant will continue to grow, and within a few weeks it will sprout a whole new head.

Alternatively you can plant your cutting directly into soil (without starting the process in water) but you will need to keep the soil very moist for the first week until the new shoots start to appear. 


Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward. Ginger enjoys filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment.

Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.

Ginger also makes a very attractive house-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant between harvests.


Re-growing potatoes is a great way to avoid waste, as you can re-grow potatoes from any old potato that has ‘eyes’ growing on it. Pick a potato that has robust eyes, and cut it into pieces around 2 inches square, ensuring each piece has at least one or two eyes. Leave the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two, which allows the cut areas to dry and callous over. This prevents the potato piece from rotting after you plant it, ensuring that the new shoots get the maximum nutrition from each potato piece.

Potato plants enjoy a high-nutrient environment, so it is best to turn compost through your soil before you plant them. Plant your potato pieces around 8 inches deep with the eye facing upward, and cover it with around 4 inches of soil, leaving the other 4 inches empty. As your plant begins to grow and more roots appear, add more soil. If your plant really takes off, mound more soil around the base of the plant to help support its growth.


You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove – just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.


Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.

As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never need to buy onions again.

Sweet Potatoes

When planted, sweet potato will produce eye-shoots much like a potato. Bury all or part of a sweet potato under a thin layer of soil in a moist sunny location. New shoots will start to appear through the soil in a week or so. Once the shoots reach around four inches in height, remove them and re-plant them, allowing about 12 inches space between each plant. It will take around 4 months for your sweet potatoes to be ready. In the meantime, keep an eye out for slugs… they love sweet potatoes.

To propagate sweet potatoes, it is essential to use an organic source since most commercial growers spray their sweet potatoes to prevent them from shooting.


Mushrooms can be propagated from cuttings, but they’re one of the more difficult vegies to re-grow. They enjoy warm humidity and nutrient-rich soil, but have to compete with other fungus for survival in that environment. Although it is not their preferred climate, cooler environments give mushrooms a better chance of winning the race against other fungi.

Prepare a mix of soil and compost in a pot (not in the ground) so your re-growth is portable and you can control the temperature of your mushroom. I have found most success with a warm filtered light during the day and a cool temperature at night. Just remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil, leaving just the top exposed. In the right conditions, the base will grow a whole new head. (In my experience, you’ll know fairly quickly if your mushroom has taken to the soil as it will either start to grow or start to rot in the first few days).


To re-grow pineapples, you need to remove the green leafy piece at the top and ensure that no fruit remains attached. Either hold the crown firmly by the leaves and twist the stalk out, or you can cut the top off the pineapple and remove the remaining fruit flesh with a knife (otherwise it will rot after planting and may kill your plant). Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the bottom of the crown until you see root buds (the small circles on the flat base of the stalk). Remove the bottom few layers of leaves leaving about an inch base at the bottom of the stalk.

Plant your pineapple crown in a warm and well drained environment. Water your plant regularly at first, reducing to weekly watering once the plant is established. You will see growth in the first few months but it will take around 2-3 years before you are eating your own home-grown pineapples.

And one for the kids….. ‘Pet’ Carrot Tops!!

I call this a ‘pet’ because the plant that re-grows from planting a carrot top will NOT produce edible carrots, only a new carrot plant. The vegetable itself is a taproot which can’t re-grow once it has been removed from the plant. But it makes an attractive flowering plant for the kitchen, and they’re easy and lots of fun to grow…. for kids of all ages!

Cut the top off your carrot, leaving about an inch of vegetable at the root. Stick toothpicks into the sides of the carrot stump and balance it in a glass or jar. Fill the glass with water so that the level reaches the bottom of the cutting. Leave the glass in filtered, not direct, sunlight and ensure water is topped up to keep the bottom of your cutting wet. You’ll see roots sprout in a few days, and you can transplant your ‘pet’ carrot into soil after a week or so.

Your success re-growing lovely fresh vegies from scrap may vary, depending on your climate, the season, soil quality and sunlight available in your home or garden. And some vegies just propagate easier than others do. In my experience, a bit of trial and error is required, so don’t be afraid to do some experimenting. Get your hands dirty. It’s lots of fun! And there’s nothing like eating your own home-grown vegies.

Grab Bag New-Kid-On-The-(sun)Block:

A local California company has just introduced what looks to be a natural, clean and effective sunblock. I’ve been using Avasol for the past month or so and I must say I like it.

I am using both the stick ($15, free shipping) and the the cream ($29, free shipping). Click on the pictures to link to the site.

stick-L cream-L

Grab Bag Brain Game:

I think we’ve done this before, but it has been a long time, and this bears repeating. A couple of different ways, this puzzle asks you to look at a layered, complex image and identify the individual images that comprise the total.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 12.20.37 PM

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

1043965_619173454770336_1441042938_n 49a37a7d9a2c7656ec2eb00b0d31eedb 8686e0c0f7b4df1ca28ccfd2dcabe883 760288a3136594af26df16247173504f e72dfca413bad539c52f22d1eee69ed1 5f833ac8a1ea34fdd2adcf8d379590c7 fad8b4bb1db23639f766b620638d3c36 c321a2fa46130c245ebfae710e2aa3f0

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