Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Little Chef - Homemade Play Dough

My four-year-old loves to help in the kitchen.  I can't remember the last egg I cracked, because that's one of her favorite jobs.  She also loves measuring, mixing, touching, smelling, and tasting ingredients.  I think she has the makings of a good cook.  I think it's important to involve her in the kitchen and garden so she is invested in what we grow and create.

We make play dough several times a year.  It keeps well and I like that I know exactly what's in it.  I've never liked the smell of commercial play dough.  I usually toss it once it has attracted too many bits of dirt/hair/crumbs.  We get hours and hours of fun out of a batch, and part of the fun is making it.

This recipe makes enough dough to split into 4.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
food coloring

Combine first five ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.  It will look like a sticky wet mess, but I promise it will become the right consistency.

Continue to stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes until mixture forms a ball in the center of the saucepan.

Dump the dough out onto a cutting board or clean countertop and knead.  Separate into 4 pieces and add several drops of food coloring to each piece.  Knead until the color is well distributed.

Store in an airtight container so it doesn't dry out.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Book Review - This House Needs A Mouse

I'm trying to raise a bookworm, and in this age of smartphones and tablets it's hard to compete for a toddler's attention.  I'm lucky though, my four-year-old loves to cuddle up with me and listen to stories, so when I was asked to review a children's book I requested a hard copy instead of a digital one.  I want Ebi to experience books the way I did as a child, and still do, the sound and feel of pages turning, the weight of the book in her hands.  We read several books each day and often go back to the same favorites over and over again.

As soon as our copy of This House Needs A Mouse by C. Jeffrey Nunnally arrived, we sat down and read it.  Ebi loves rhyming words, so the repetition and rhyming throughout the story were very appealing to her.  There are a few key components to story books that make them more compelling to a child; rhythm, repetition, a familiar setting, character development, an obstacle to overcome, and appealing artwork, and this book nails them.  We've read it at least a half a dozen times now and she claims that it is her new favorite.  The illustrations are delightful, and make it easy for Ebi to pretend read the story on her own.

This House Needs A Mouse by C. Jeffrey Nunnally

Below is a photo of Ebi sharing the book with her Grandpa.  She is very lucky to have grandparents who love to read.

The story is very entertaining.  It's about a family that buys a mouse at the pet shop to keep their floors cleared of "cwacker" crumbs.  The mouse loves his job, and the family is happy with the relationship, but things go awry when the family needs to relocate to a bigger house.  They forget to mention to the new family moving in that there is a terrific crumb cleaning mouse in residence.  The new family tries everything to get rid of the mouse.

This House Needs A Mouse is available now on the book's websiteAmazonBarnes and Noble, and Big Tent Books.  It's not too late to get a copy in time for Christmas.

Disclaimer. I received a copy of This House Needs A Mouse to assist in my review. No other compensation was received.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Turns out you can't quit adrenaline cold turkey.

Lizzie Lau skydivingThis news according to my new chiropractor who I saw for the first time a few days ago.  I told him that I was suffering from anxiety and headaches, then we went through my background so I could tell him about my many sports injuries:
  • Whiplash during a hard opening on a skydive.  I've done over 400 jumps.
  • Another whiplash when I was clotheslined off a dirt bike on a trail in Mexico resulting in herniated discs, scars, and a concussion.
Lizzie Lau Cozumel dirt bike accident

  • Repeated spinal trauma from years of racing motocross and riding offroad. A neurosurgeon once suggested, after viewing my MRI images, that I needed to stop falling on my head.
Lizzie Lau Cozumel Motocross Track

    Lizzie Lau Florida to Alaska on a BMW
  • Trauma to my back when we hit a bump on the way to Alaska on the back of the BMW and I didn't have my weight on the foot pegs because I was leaning out to take a photo.
  • Plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis in both feet from years of running.

So after telling him about all the ways I have abused this body over the years the doctor asked, "Would it be safe to say that you're an adrenaline junkie?"  I laughed and told him that reformed adrenaline junkie is part of my bio on all my social media.  He told me that my body was used to producing all this adrenaline and that my activities released it, so now that I wasn't releasing it the adrenaline was building up and causing anxiety and what I described as a fight or flight feeling in my collarbone area.  He told me that I need to get active again, and let him fix the trouble spots in my spine.  

The Gonstead Technique

I've been seeing chiropractors since I was in my late teens because I've always had back and hip pain.  It wasn't until I had my skydiving injury at age 27 that I found out I have scoliosis.  I was really shocked when the doctor showed me the x-ray and I saw the curvature.  It made me queasy.  In over 25 years of treatment by different doctors, this is the first time I've encountered a Gonstead practice.  My Mom's chiropractor up in Canada recommended the clinic I'm at now, and I'm really impressed with their thoroughness.  The initial consultation included x-rays, a scan that measures heat, and another scan that measures muscle strength.  They were able to show me on the film and the computer screen exactly where the problems are.  The doctor also felt along my spine to find swelling, abnormal muscle tone, alignment and mobility issues.

I'm going back on Monday for another adjustment and I have high hopes that the adjustments, combined with the Medical Chi Gong treatment I had recently, will help me to feel better.  I literally knock on wood every time I say this out loud, but I've already noticed improvements.  My posture feels better, my neck and shoulders are more relaxed, and headaches are less frequent.  The Medical Chi Gong treatment left me feeling energized and optimistic.  

Next I need to get back into an exercise routine to release all the pent up energy and add some running endorphins back into my life.  I'd also love to have massage therapy more often; acupuncture would be great; reflexology couldn't hurt.  If I'm being brutally honest, my wellness wish list would also include sex.  The last time I had any was with X3 at the end of our relationship, so yeah, it's been a while.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I Don't Have A Pet Right Now

I had the best cat, I can't imagine ever having another that comes close.  I adored her, and one of my few regrets in life are leaving her in Guatemala in 2010 when I came to California to have my baby.  She disappeared shortly after I left, and I'll never know what happened to her.  To this day I feel so guilty that I don't think I deserve another pet.

Boogers Are Yucky - kitty 1X2 and I adopted Boca Negra Brown aka "Kitty" on the dock in Cozumel.  We were based there for five years, and just before we moved she showed up and joined us as crew on the M/Y Aries.  She moved with us to Isla Mujeres, and then a year later to Roatan, Honduras.  She was not a good seagoing cat, she got terribly sick and was miserable every time the yacht left the dock, lucky for her it didn't happen that often.  She was a perfect yacht princess though, spoiled rotten, imperious, and demanding.

She was a dumpster diver when we found her, but in no time she got used to the finer things in life, fresh fish, lobster, shrimp, and filet mignon.  If I yelled "fish" she would come running.

Boogers Are Yucky - kitty 2

She slept with us at night, and spent afternoons up on the boat deck lounging in the shade of one of the dinghies.  In Isla Mujeres she once spent 40 minutes staring down Tiger Woods as he pedalled a stationary bike on the back deck of his yacht, "Privacy" when it was tied up at the dock behind us.  She deigned to climb aboard and help herself to a full tour of his yacht as well, until one of the crew members escorted her back to the dock.

Boogers Are Yucky - kitty 5
Bottom left image is a mirror selfie taken in the reflection of one of the yacht's horns.
When X2 and I split up, he wanted the kitty to stay with him and I didn't argue.  I felt bad enough that I was ending our 10 year marriage, I wasn't going to take the princess too.  Later though, he called and asked if I could pick her up in Roatan because he was leaving the yacht and the island and couldn't take her.  I was living in Antigua, Guatemala at the time, so X3 and I drove nearly 10 hours to La Ceiba, Honduras and took the ferry over to Roatan to fetch her.  I knew she'd hate the ferry ride, so I flew back to La Ceiba with her, and then we drove home to Antigua with her moaning in the back seat the whole way.

In 2009, we moved from Antigua to Guatemala City, and opened a motorcycle accessory store.  Kitty enjoyed Guatemala, and the freedom of living in the land of eternal spring.  Houses there are built inside high walls and razor wire, but they are often open at the top and as soon as she figured out that she could, she started hopping rooftop to rooftop exploring.  She had to be rescued several times when she got into a neighbor's yard and couldn't get out.

Boogers Are Yucky - kitty 3
She had one terrible habit that used to drive X3 crazy.  She loved to sleep at the foot of the bed, but if she got jostled she would jump off and head downstairs to find something to bring up.  I have no idea what this behavior means, but she would bring a glove, a toy, or a piece of paper and then start yowling at us.  If we didn't acknowledge her immediately, she'd start jumping around, flipping whatever it was in the air before setting it down beside the bed and yowling some more.  If it was a piece of paper, she would put a paw on it, grab it with her teeth and begin tearing it to shreds.  X3 suffered from insomnia, so this noise in the middle of the night was never welcome.

Boogers Are Yucky - kitty 4

That wasn't really the only thing that bugged X3.  Not long after we moved into the city, Kitty joined a gang.  They partied on rooftops, and every so often she brought them home to our roof and the racket they made was really out of order.  She got into trouble too.  One night she came home with a deep slash in her back that looked like she had gotten into some razor wire.  She needed a bunch of stitches.  The truth is that even though she had a good safe life on the yacht, she was a slug.  She really came alive when she had the freedom to roam.  At least that's what I tell myself so I can sleep at night.

When I flew to California to give birth I planned to return to Guatemala with the baby immediately, but I never went back.  X3 took care of Kitty until she left one night and never came home.

I miss my sweet Kitty girl.