Tag Archives: health

I’m trying to go poo-less

I did something rad this morning – I washed my hair without shampoo.  That’s right, I was ‘poo-less’.  I read that a solution of bicarbonate of soda (1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water) would work well and be kinder to the hair and even though it sounds dodgy, I reasoned that we do know that sodium bicarbonate has a reputation for dissolving grease and grime and neutralising odours.  So, purely in the interests of science, I gave it a go. 

I wet my hair then gently rubbed the solution into my scalp (because that’s the bit that gets the most dirty – well, obviously)!  There is, of course no lather so I was a bit skeptical.  (Here’s an interesting, but relevant aside: Did you know that manufacturers actually put a bubble-making agent into washing-up liquid?  It’s pretty much unnecessary but market research has shown that we consumers didn’t trust the liquid to work without those bubbles.  Humans …such simple creatures). 

Anyhoo, I left the bicarb solution in my hair for a few minutes whilst I got on with washing my bod and then I rinsed my hair.  I was genuinely surprised at how much styling gunk came out – impressive.  I finished by conditioning the ends with a solution of 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar to 1 cup of water.  Leave for a minute, then rinse. 

All very New Age.  All very Hippy Dippy Mother Earth and importantly, good for the body and good for the environment.  No sodium lauryl sulphate [SLS] – which makes those highly desired bubbles.   (Whether or not you believe the links between SLS and cancer, this substance does seem to commonly cause scalp irritation so may actually be causing or contributing to your dandruff, if you have it).

So what’s the verdict on today’s experiment?

Surprisingly, my hair doesn’t look half bad.  It appears pretty clean and is less fly-away than usual.  I’m not converted yet however because the poo gives a nice smell and there is, of course, no perfume in this simple bicarb mix.  BUT, maybe I can remedy that with a herbal rinse – rosemary water is good for red/brunette hair.

As my hair is less fly-away, this suggests that some oil still remains.  In all fairness that makes for a healthier scalp, but will it mean that my hair needs washing more often than the every 2-3 days it gets now?  If that’s the case, I’d be using the curling tongs more often – bad news for luscious locks and more time-consuming in the styling department. (Make no mistake, styling my hair is a given if I want to avoid looking like I’ve just been connected up to the electrical supply).

So there we are – an interesting experiment.  We’ll see how it pans out over the next few days.

Anyone had any experience with this poo-less life?  How did you get on?

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This article also appears at my other WordPress site.

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Bugbear 1 (who knows, there could be a series of these)

Walking caneI’ve just got back from a mission into town to deliver a package to our town museum, one thatI didn’t want to trust to the post.  I tried to do the same yesterday but had to give up.  I have a disabled parking permit so I’d thought that it wouldn’t be a problem – I’d just park outside as I have always done and drop off my package.  I need the permit and I need these parking spaces.  The issue with me is less to do with distances involved (although that is still an issue), more to do with getting in and out of the car.  In the good old U.S. of A., a.k.a. ‘The Land of Plenty’, the regular car parking spaces are the size of a planet.  Over here, a.k.a. ‘Munchkinland’, the car parking spaces are so tight that if you’re unfortunate enough to end up parked next to a behemoth you find it hard to get in and out of your car.  So hard in fact that you have to perform a weird and unusual snaking limbo along the side of the vehicle and ooze, like jelly, into the driver’s Monster truckseat.  (There are, by the way, lots of behemoths here.  All are driven by blondes with their sunglasses on the top of their heads, worn like Alice bands to hold back that perfectly bleached coiffed hair, and they are all so doll-like, and the vehicle so huge, that they can barely see over the steering wheel).  I can’t do that snake limbo any more.  Post stroke I have to effectively get into the car like Lady Diana:  open door wide, park posterior onto car seat, swing both legs into foot well (knees together if you’re a lady).  I need the space of the disabled bays in order to do that.

Well, yesterday, there I was, heading down to the waterfront and I tried to turn into the road that runs in front of the museum, the way I have been able to do since time immemorial.  Except I can’t any more. There is now a line of pretty bollards in the way.   I knew that the area had been re-developed and a lot of it paved over with cobbles.  What I hadn’t realised is that it had all been given that treatment.  Not one to be put off, I drove the mile circuit (because it’s all the town planner’s dream of one-way systems around here) and I tried again, this time entering the cobbled area from the other side and driving to the front of the museum.  I was quite sure that in any reasonable community the disabled spaces would still exist.  Wrong!  Silly me.  The closest spaces are now some distance away and having gone around the one-way system four more times I gave up – they were full and no one was leaving.  By the way, that’s another thing here – there are no fines for parking in disabled spaces so able but lazy people do it all the time. (Selfish bastards ….Oops, did I say that out loud)?

ClimbersI phoned the museum this morning and asked where the closest disabled parking was.  Answer: Most of it is up the [1:3 gradient] hill which runs behind the building, with access to the building being down a steep set of granite steps.  Er…Do you think we’re misunderstanding something here?  Anyway, to cut this long story short, today I got into town early enough to park in the spaces I’d seen yesterday.  I reckon the walk to the museum and back was probably 300 to 400 yards and I was creased by the end of it.  One of the questions on the application form for a disabled permit is: Can you walk 75 yards?  I think you can see where I’m going with this.  The sad fact is that disabled spaces are being moved further and further away from shops and attractions as town planners pave over everything in sight.  I can’t tell you how much this frustrates me and as one of the fighters in life I’m left feeling quite helpless.  I know that any representation I might make to the authorities would fall on deaf ears because I’ve tried before and the attitude is that they simply don’t want to know.  …Doesn’t affect them, so why worry?  It’s no consolation but I know that one day these very same people will know exactly what people like me were so bothered about.  In fact, if they’re as unlucky as me, it may be a whole lot sooner than they think.  By then, of course, it will be too late.

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Not for wimps

Road Runner 3Anyone notice how much 0ld people talk about illness and death?  It’s depressing because clearly there comes a time when it’s a subject close to the heart.

Last weekend an elderly Aunt joined us when we went out to dinner and she seemed to be having a whale of a time, laughing and joking along with the rest of us.  The very next day she phoned me to ask what is wrong with my brother.  Is he ill?  Because she’s worried that he looks ill.   Awfully tired….  And he’s lost so much weight.  I explained that he’s very tired from his current heavy workload and that the weight loss was planned, but still she probed, clearly expecting me to reveal the hidden truth.  It actually upset me and when I put the phone down I burst into tears.  The last time someone did this to me they were proved right – my Dad had passed away within the year – and I suddenly started to worry whether my brother is actually ill and is trying to hide it from me.  As my husband put it however, if you talk enough about illness and death, statistically you will be occasionally proved right.

Then this weekend we were out to dinner again with more elderly relatives.  They weren’t such happy bunnies, understandably because both have bad aches and pains that our health care system can’t, or is dragging its heels about sorting out.  A fair proportion of the conversation therefore centred around those health worries so the evening wasn’t quite as jolly as I might have hoped, but then, the coup de grace came when they started to run through a list of young friends that we have lost.

The thing is, I know exactly why the subjects of poor health and death occupy so much of their minds but I  absolutely dread getting to the stage when my conversation is peppered with who has died, or will die next. I often have to remind myself of ‘the cup is half full’ scenario and I like to think that most of the time it works and that I stay positive.  Will this all change in years to come and will I just become morose, miserable and therefore not so grand to be around?

Someone once said: Getting old is not for wimps.  They were right.

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Who wants to live forever?

The results of a long-term study on monkeys into the effects of a restricted diet seem to back up the theory that limiting calorie intake may delay ageing, increase mobility in the elderly, aid memory and reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes.   Studies on calore restriction have been published over the last 70 years but this latest one is of particular significance because it was conducted on one of mankind’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom.

The picture below graphically shows the difference between two elderly monkeys of the same age – the one on the right having been on a restricted diet for years.  

Monk_restrdiet

I’m sorry to say that I know which one I’m more likely to end up resembling. 

As humans we’re continually fascinated by extending our lifespans but how many of us are willing to forego the simple pleasures of [naughty] food and drink along the way?  Yes, I could do with shifting my butt away from this computer more often, yes, I could do with losing weight, but if I was continually pounding the roads, sweating cobs in the process, or endlessly on the ‘jogerlator’ in the gym with only a bottle of water to keep me company, I might well live to 103, but I’d be a right misery.  I also know what a complete C.O.W. I can be when continually hungry on diets, so I suspect I’d make myself so insufferable that no one would want to know me.

If you’re interested in learning a bit more about this study you can head on over to the BBC website here.  In the meantime, who’s for tea and biccies?

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Hoo~Doo Voodoo

Ad_lardThere now follows a Public Health Announcement:

What is mentioned here are old ‘wisdoms’ that have now been roundly debunked and should not, under any circumstances, be followed!

Have you ever heard an old wives’ tale and thought: How on earth did they come to that conclusion? / How cruel / How stupid / Were they mad? 

Last night my husband and I were discussing cats (as you do) and he told me that when he was little the other French people in the community in which he lived had advised his parents to cut off the tip of their kittens’ tails to prevent them from getting worms.  That’s a special kind of weird and horrible, now isn’t it?  How did anyone first draw that conclusion?  I’m sorry to say that they apparently followed the advice and duly sent the little bairns off to the local ‘witch doctor’ (for want of a better description).  It was, mercifully, the first and only time they did this, as presumably said kitties got worms anyway and a visit to the vets provided them with the information that they should ideally have been privy to all along.

This started me thinking of some of the other little madnesses that I’ve come across over the years. 

For instance, my mother once told me that when she had her first baby my French great grandmother told her to squeeze the baby’s head in order to close the gap (the fontenelle).  (If you see a pattern emerging here by the way, you’d be correct.  It’s not that the French have wacky ideas, [certainly not that I’m aware of!]  it’s that the French community here at that time were poor, ill-educated immigrants who were only faithfully passing on what they had traditionally been told). 

Then I remembered the special kind of crazy that was apparently happening in the first part of the 20th century – selling radioactive drinks as ‘health giving’.  Seriously!

And you must have heard the one about doctors for years promoting smoking as healthy?  No?  It’s true. If you don’t believe me, just go and Google it.

I’ve often wondered what we are doing, or being told to do now, that in years to come will be seen as completely and utterly bonkers.  We may like to think we are modern, sophisticated, wise and pretty much know it all, but the reality is that we undoubtedly still have much to learn.  Makes you think, doesn’t it?

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The Yin and Yang balance

YinYangThere is a yin and yang balance to life, if you choose to look for it.  Just lately I’ve been in pain – a finger joint on my left hand has finally succumbed to arthritis.  It’s been on the move for the last year or more, the joint slowly swelling, but in the last week has begun to painfully throb. 

Under the weather

Under the weather

Do you have arthritis?  If not, count yourself lucky.  Rather unfairly at my age, I think, I now have two points in my body that are affected: in my left foot – the searing arthritic pain of which is currently on several years’ sabbatical, thank the Lord (but the effect of which has left me with a misshapen foot), and now my left hand.  What is particularly frustratring me is that it would be my left hand, wouldn’t it?  That’s my fully functioning hand.  If it was my right hand it would rarely be used and so the swollen joint wouldn’t be accidentally and continually knocked, and I wouldn’t be noticing how it now hurts every time I even bend my fingers (which, in the case of my left hand is, not surprisingly, very often). 

Still, I count myself lucky that it’s merely a finger joint and not a hip or an entire arm that is in arthritic agony (that would be a real stinker).  

I’d just managed to again painfully bash my hand against the furniture while cleaning yesterday when the phone rang.  The caller purported to be from the company that I tend to buy my shoes from.   (I say ‘purported’ because I don’t see Shoe shoppinga scam here but you never can tell nowadays) . They said that as a subscriber to their newsletter my name had been entered into a competition to win shoes for the next year and that my name had been drawn as the winner. Winging its’ way to me shortly via Recorded Delivery will be hundreds of Pounds worth of vouchers to cover shoes for every season – from January through to December.  How cool is that?  Of course I am not a shoe fettishist like other members of my family, and it just so happens that I have only just bought enough shoes to last me for the next year (at least) but, hey, I’m not complaining!  I’m on the winning side!  I was seriously thinking that this year would be marked only by one ‘money out’ situation after another yet the other day I won £25 on the Premium Bonds [woohoo] and now I’ve won a whole load of shoe vouchers.  Could this be a turn in the financial tide?  That would be nice.

So there.  The yin and the yang balance at work:  I am in physical pain but at least I’ll have plenty of pretty new shoes to distract me and with my current winning streak, who knows?  Perhaps I’m in line for a big lottery win!

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All about butter

Butter CurlsI don’t think anything compares to the taste of real butter in cooking. Butter-based spreads have come into existence to try to provide healthier alternatives but they are not always ideal for cooking.  Here is a quick low-down on the basic versions of butter available, plus a few facts and hints:

Salted butter – Salt is a preservative so that the addition of salt to butter gives it a longer ‘shelf-life’.  Salted butter will last about a month in the fridge, six months in the freezer.

Unsalted (or ‘sweet’) butter is the freshest butter available, with an accordingly fresher taste – largely because the natural sweetness of the product isn’t masked by salt.  However, without that extra preservative it will not last as long.

Given the above, good traditional bakers usually opt for unsalted butter in recipes – the flavour is better, there is the option to decide just how much salt should be added, and too much salt tends to produce a tougher dough.  At a pinch (no pun intended), ready salted butter can be substituted in baking recipes, but remember to reduce, or cut out entirely, any extra salt noted separately in the ingredients list.  (If you have to use salted butter in a recipe because that’s all you have, the rule of thumb would be to cut salt by 1/4 tsp for every 4 ounces, or half a cup of butter that is in the recipe).

Light / reduced calorie butter is made with half the fat of regular butter and in order to approximate the consistency of the full fat version, water, skimmed milk and gelatin are added.   As a consequence, it will give different results when used for baking and frying and is therefore not recommended.

In some countries whipped butter is also available.  Its’ whipped texture makes it lighter and more spreadable but the process of whipping means that it is actually 30 – 45% air.  For this reason it also is not generally  recommended for baking.

When frying and sauteing,  it is better to use unsalted butter.  If you wish, the addition of just a teaspoon of oil will allow you to heat the oil to a slightly higher temperature before it begins to burn but both salted and unsalted butter have low smoke points (the point at which the butter burns).

Clarified butter is used widely in fine cuisine as the basis for sauces and, as most of the milk solids and water is removed during preparation, allows for cooking at higher temperatures without burning (useful for frying and sauteing) . 

To clarify: gently melt a quantity of butter in a pan and, using a metal spoon, skim off the solids that begin to foam up on the surface.  Be careful not to allow the butter to burn. When you feel you’ve removed as much as you can, pour the melted butter through a sieve which has been lined with cheesecloth or muslin, into a bowl beneath.  (These solids can be thrown away but are also considered a delicacy in Northern Indian cuisine, being eaten with unleavened bread). The clarified butter in the bowl will last in the fridge for up to a month.

Ghee is very similar to clarified butter, the differences being that all the water content has been evaporated off, all the milk solids removed and the remaining butter has been allowed to brown slightly, giving the ghee a nutty flavour.  Pure ghee will keep at room temperature for months and, as with clarified butter, can be heated to high temperatures.  The process of preparation has removed casein, lactose protein (often a problem to those with allergies) and oxidised cholesterol, whilst still retaining valuable vitamins.  Its’ more intense, nutty flavour also means that you will probably use less of it in cooking.  Ghee is available in Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stores, as well as in some supermarkets.

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  • Butter absorbs the flavours around it so is best stored in an airtight container or wrapped carefully in foil.
  • Store in the coolest part of the fridge (which is generally not the door)
  • To soften butter quickly for baking, cut into small cubes and leave at room temperature.
  • Frozen unsalted butter can be grated into pastry mix for a nice, light and flaky crust

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