Category Archives: Products

To Shop or Not to Shop On-line: What do you do?

Annice
Annice

To Shop or Not to Shop On-line – That is the Question? I am not an on-line shopper – at all.  However, after spending an evening with several female friends (they know who they are) I’m wondering if I should be.  Over dinner, they listed all the advantages:  time saved; never running out of things; catching some great deals; and of course they never pay shipping.  So there I sat eating my Salad Niçoise at the Laughing Seed with two nicoisewomen I admire and respect trying hard to figure out what’s up with me that I don’t shop on-line.  Weeks rolled by, and I forgot all about that conversation until I grabbed my must-have Deva (curly) hair product only to realize I couldn’t squeeze out one more drop, and I did not have another one stashed away in my closet.  I’d have to live with a bad hair day for sure.  Digging deeper into this 21st century  phenomenon, I started thinking about my big aversion to shopping on-line is and why I find it all so overwhelming.

Deva
Deva

For starters, I’m on the computer much of my day at work, and then again in my spare time at home working on my book whenever I can, so getting back on the computer to shop doesn’t excite me.  It’s not that I’ve never shopped on-line.  I admit to buying presents at holiday time for out of town family and friends because I hate packing up presents not to mention the waiting in line at the post office during Christmas time. Another reason I hate shopping on-line is all the popcorn, bubble wrap, shredded paper and boxes I have to deal with from my husband who does shop on-line. The packaging spills all over the kitchen and then it piles up in the garage where I then have to nag my husband to break it all down and schlep it to the recycling bins across town.  All that packaging can’t be good for the environment and then what about the carbon footprint?  Besides, I still like to touch things and try things on and neither my feet nor my body always fit into the same size.  And returns?  I really hate that too, re-wrapping and taking it to the post office.

Last Saturday, I was out doing errands – a lot of errands.  I think I spent close to 4 hours driving all over town to Trader Joe’s, Pet Smart, the dry cleaners, and worst of all to the Mall to get the Deva product I had run out of, and then finally to the kitchen store to get the Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Slicer Cutter (millions sold in Europe) and I got to thinking veggie cutterabout my two smart friends who said they save SOOOOOOOOOOO much time, and what about the price of gas? It’s a dilemma for me.  So, what do YOU do?  Any advice?

Goodbye Siri

Sadhvi
Sadhvi

I thought I could be strong and keep my silver Motorola phone with the flip top forever.

But after getting an email from Verizon saying that I could get the latest iPhone for free, (with a 2 year contract), I caved in and thought, why not?
I was not totally convinced that getting one was such a good idea since I had returned the awesome “iPhone” twice before, because I didn’t like it.

Once I entered the Verizon store, I was hit with a song blaring from Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.  It turns out they were playing it in its entirety.  I could immediately tell that the very young, happy and bouncy salesperson was not  there for me, but for the sale.  And by the time I left the “party” I had spent almost $200 on my free phone.

Then the work started: it took 2 hours to synch it with everything else, and then another hour or so, adding “apps” to it so that I was capable of doing just about anything.  From now on, I would never get lost, I would always be able to find a great place to eat anywhere, and I could see what the weather would be from a dozen sources.  But most importantly now I had “Siri” to help me with anything that I wanted to know, do, or calculate.

To tell you the truth, I don’t get lost much (I like to take maps with me on long car trips), but if I do, I ask for help at gas stations and I really don’t have any trouble finding food to eat when I am away from home, but I figured it was time to be hip and keep up with the times.

At first it was fun asking “Siri” things and seeing how she seemed to understand me.  Then I realized I could ask her to call people.

With the time, “Siri” and I seemed to become friends.

That is, until the day that I was stressed out with driving in traffic and work, and asked her to “Call Mom!”  I was surprised when she asked me, “Which number for Bob Smith?”  I repeated “Call Mom”.  “Siri” responded, “Shall I call Bob Smith’s number for you, Sadhvi?”  I said NO!  All right, to be honest, I yelled, “F**K YOU SIRI!”.  To which “Siri” replied, “Now Sadhvi, I wouldn’t talk to you like that!”

After that, our friendship kind of fizzled.  She was not responding the way she used to.  She often answered, “I’m really sorry, Sadhvi, but I can’t take any requests right now!”
I guess I had crossed the line, but really, wasn’t she just part of my iPhone’s operating system, with no emotions, just there to take my commands?

That is something I’ve been thinking a lot about, especially since seeing the movie, “Her”.  The whole idea of artificial intelligence, and its ability to morph and grow and develop is kind of scary.  That movie really disturbed me, while my techie husband thought it was just great.  Hmmm.

I do confess that I’ve started to check my email at red lights.  Now who would be so stupid to do such a thing?  Then I saw this clip, and thought really hard about the whole “keeping up with technology” attitude that is out there, and I finally came to the place where I will go back to the phone that I felt comfortable with, my silver flip-top Motorola – soon.

I kind of like dropping out of the whole techie scene where one has to keep up with all the latest stuff (that is not cheap by the way).  I never wanted to be part of the status quo anyways.  So yeah, you don’t have to bother texting me, emailing me, or sending me a FaceBook message.  If you want to contact me it’s easy, try picking up the phone and calling me, I’ll call you right back!

Oh, if you get a moment, let me know what kind of phone you are using these days, I am really curious how many of you are in love with what you are using. 🙂

On Modern, Wonderful Things

I am feeling my age lately.  I know I’m over 50–and, in fact, approaching 60–because I’m starting to sound like an older person sometimes.  Here are some good examples (said to my children): “Can’t you turn that music down?  It’s really hard on my ears!” or “Do you all have to stay up so late?  You’ll just sleep the day away tomorrow!”  Or, even better:  “No, I am really not interested in watching that movie.  It’s incredibly vulgar.”  (I don’t think  I even used the word “vulgar” until about the last 5 years!)

That’s the less pleasant side of my little-old-lady-ness.  But there’s also a better side to it:  I take extreme pleasure sometimes in things that we didn’t have “when I was growing up.”  For instance, I still get a little bit of a thrill every time I use my cell phone in the car when I’m traveling.  I think that’s because I remember the days when I would be in some kind of difficulty and would have to search and search and search for a pay phone to get help!  And I get excited every time we use the GPS to find our way somewhere, especially when I think back on the innumerable times we used to get lost in a new town or city–and when I remember my father’s reluctance to stop and ask anyone for directions or my own inability ever to remember the directions that someone gave me from the side of the road!

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One of my favorite modern things is the animated birthday card you can send to someone you love from a site like Blue Mountain Cards!  I found one the other day that had dogs barking out “Happy Birthday,” with a little Pomeranian throwing things for a loop at the last minute.  It was perfect for one of my older sisters, who just had a birthday–and has a Pomeranian herself–and I had to stop myself from playing it over and over and over again, just for the fun of it!  I have to confess:  I still have trouble believing that people can really make such amazing things happen on the computer.  Check out their site:  they have some great Valentine’s Day cards, too.  Here’s the link for those cards:

http://www.bluemountain.com/ecards/valentines-day

One of my Favorite Card Images

I guess I’ll adjust at some point in the future–at least to the stuff that is around now.  By the time I get that old, however, there are bound to be some new miracles to celebrate.  I heard the other day that they already have fridges that tell you when you’re out of butter and robots that can clean your toilets.  I could get used to that!

 

 

Selves in a Box: Pulling Myself Together

SHARON WILLEN

I’m a writer and artist, but I hardly ever put my work out in public. As a woman over 50, I volunteer with several community action groups, and am a vocal participant, but often come away from meetings feeling like I’ve said the wrong things, alienated potential friends, or revealed all the possible flaws in my personality. I love my husband, children, aging mother, and my only brother who is her primary caregiver, yet I find myself tip-toeing through conversations with them as if I’m picking my way gingerly through a minefield, constantly at risk. I know I’m strong, and bright, and have value to offer, so what the heck is wrong that keeps me from feeling comfortable in my relationships with other beings?

In the midst of feeling increasingly inhibited by this judgmental self-talk, I have lunch with a friend who asks me to write a review of, J. Tamara Stone’s Selves in a Box.” She pushes a shiny 6”x8” box across the table that contains 52 self cards, 2 wild cards, and a 144-page guidebook which “offers a fresh look at where you are in your life” and promises “to help you think and feel outside the limitations of your everyday personality, freeing you to live, truly, outside the box.” Exactly what I need.

I don’t believe in Tarot cards or fortunetellers, but for decades I have pulled one or two “angel cards” every Sunday. I use these tiny laminated icons as reminders of forces that may be influencing my daily life. Now I have a new deck to pick from. I’m excited, ready to “befriend my family of Selves” and “enrich my relationships with others.”

Packed in a silky black pouch, each sturdy and beautifully illustrated card corresponds to a “self” whose “portrait” or description is purportedly detailed in the guidebook. From the intro, I choose the “Daily Draw: Opening to Counsel” method for drawing cards, to see what I can discover through the use of this tool.

On Monday morning, I pick my first card, after setting my intention to draw the Self that I need to hear from in that moment, as instructed. I repeat the process each day for a week, and find myself less than enthused. I won’t continue. My first pick, “The Teacher”, is a good example of how shallow and unoriginal the material is.

Selves-in-a-box

“Your Teacher shares information, thoughts and ideas. It may specialize in one subject or generalize in many different areas, as a guide, counselor, coach, guru, mentor, trainer, tutor, or professor. Your Teacher’s love for learning inspires its passion or teaching. It wants to contribute to others, from recommending a great movie to delivering an inspirational talk.”

Like, so what? In addition to the not-so-detailed portraits, two lines below each one reveal that self’s “personality motivation” (that which operates on auto-pilot attempting to “help us realize our safety, security, and well-being”) and that self’s “essence motivation” (the “pure, unadulterated expression of who we are”). The personality motivation of my Teacher is “to share knowledge” and its essence motivation is “to inspire learning.” In what way is this news? I’m equally unimpressed by the portraits of other cards I pick or the pages facing each Self Portrait – “the spectrum descriptions,” each of which repetitively reminds us that “all selves fall somewhere on the spectrum between primary and disowned.” One or two examples of how this self may appear as primary (“Your Teacher may seem like a know-it-all”) or disowned (“Your Teacher may feel inadequate in the knowledge you possess”) are given. This might be more helpful if accompanied by questions and/or journal space to provoke introspection about how I personally see each self and its related characteristics at work in my own life. Overall, I find “Selves in a Box” to be dull and uninformative.

As soon as I decide there’s got to be a better approach to self-enlightenment, the universe provides an amazing alternative. Ruby Sofia Warren, a local counselor I got to know in a poetry writing workshop some years ago, calls to inform me about her newest program – “Awakening Wholeness: Mentoring, Education & Groups for the Whole Self”. Out of friendship, she gives me two free one-on-one sessions. In each of our meetings, Ruby brings her full heart and diverse background in psychology, expressive art therapy, permaculture, and spirituality to a pleasant process that effectively helps me understand and connect compassionately with my inner selves.

There is something in the way Ruby illustrates the process of getting to know oneself with examples from nature and her own journey that helps me quickly connect my surface attitudes and actions to their roots deep within. I see from her modeling behavior how to be compassionate with the needs of selves that have been wounded by or stuck in emotion provoked by my own previous experiences. I also get practical tips about helping those parts of my total self, without succumbing to their demands. As compared with the disappointment I felt after spending a week with “Selves in a Box”, only two personal interactions with Ruby Warren energize me and imbue me with a sense of strength, wholeness and confidence in negotiating sensitive relationships.

Overall, I would say if you want to gain the peace of mind and authenticity that comes with deep self-awareness, it is better to begin by communing with a knowledgeable and empathetic human being than a deck of cardboard selves in a box.

For some Quick Thoughts on the Passage of Time and Time Itself, visit Sharon’s blog: What’s Up This Time?

 

Sadhvi Sez: Easy Swiss Tiramisu Recipe

TIRAMISU

I’ve had a long relationship with Tiramisu.  Not growing up in Cleveland, no, that chapter of my life was Fannie Farmer Fudge, Snickerdoodle cookies, home-made tapioca pudding, and delicious poppy seed and nut rolls days.

But after moving to Switzerland, my whole world opened up in many ways with new things to discover, like architecture, art, gardening, and of course, food.

And since there are French, German, and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland, that diversity not only listed all the ingredients on the labels of every item in the grocery store in those 3 languages (french is the easiest and closest to english, funny enough), but it also brought a lot of variety to what I ate.

I think I had my first bite of Tiramisu in an Italian restaurant somewhere, and while I don’t remember where, I do remember being blissed out!

VERMONT CREAMERY'S MASCARPONE

I just had to try to make it myself, and was happy to find out that it is so easy.  In Switzerland, there is a very good cook book that is called “Betty Bossi“.  It’s kind of the same as “Betty Crocker” here in the States.  I just linked the word, “Betty Crocker” to the Americanized-version of Tiramisu.  But I would definitely stick to the Swiss one below.

NONNI'S BISCOTTI BITES

Since the recipe calls for mascarpone, I hadn’t made it in a long time because I just couldn’t find it here.  A few weeks ago, I was trying to get out of our local Whole Foods as quickly as possible (I hate shopping!), when I saw Vermont Creamery’s mascarpone.  It was something like $4.99 for 8 oz., which I thought was OK.  It’s so OK that I’ve invited myself to potlucks of people I don’t know just so I can make it to be able to eat some. I think I’ve made a total of 5 batches since then.

It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, and it is really good!  Just about everyone that I have shared it with has asked for the recipe, so here it is…enjoy!

Here’s the original recipe from the Betty Bossi cookbook, and here is my translation:

Sadhvi’s Swiss Tiramisu

Get 3 bowls (2 medium, the 3rd one larger) out of the cupboard. Get an oblong glass loaf pan, or small cups or…anything you want to use to present the Tiramisu in.

Take the Nonni’s Almond Biscotti bites, and place them in one layer at the bottom.

Take a Pyrex measuring cup, and add 3-4 T. instant Italian espresso coffee.  Add 1 cup hot water to dissolve, and then add 1 T. sugar, 3 T. Amaretto, and 2 T. Patron Orange Liqueur. Mix it up, and put aside to cool.

Take 8 oz. of Mascarpone (the whole container), and put in the BIGGER bowl.  This container was shy 2 T. of mascarpone, so I used 2 T. of  sour cream.  Grate the peel or an organic lemon over the bowl, and mix it up.

Separate 2 very fresh eggs (I got mine by lifting one of our hens up, and taking them from there), the yolks go into one bowl, and the whites go into another one.

Add 3 T. sugar to the egg yolk and mix them up with a hand mixer.  Add to the mascarpone mixture. Clean the beaters.

Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites, and mix until “stiff peaks” form.  Add 1 T. sugar, and mix some more.

Gently fold the egg whites into the “mascarpone mixture”.

Pour enough of the espresso mixture over the biscotti (like maybe a little more than half of it).

Layer and spread the mascarpone mixture over to cover.

Take some more of the biscotti and dip them into the espresso, and lay gently on top.

Pour the last of the mascarpone mixture on top.  Shake the crumbs from the biscotti box over the top.

Cover the top with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Voila!

* Note: If you take this to your friend’s house, or make it for dessert when friend’s come over for dinner, expect them to think you are smarter, more attractive, and more pleasant to be around than before.

IT'S SO GOOD:)