Places to Party

Friday, May 31, 2013

Spring Cleaning... The Spring Detox #1

I'm big into alternative healing and when it comes to Spring Cleaning, I start from the inside out. Obviously you can't be there for other people if you don't take care of yourself first. That being said, today I'm going to talk about a controversial subject that I personally practice at least once a year and that is Ear Candling.

Now, I'm a firm believer in taking care of one's health and that while allopathic doctors are a definite necessity, we don't have to drug ourselves for any and every problem. I'm a firm believer in personal responsibility when it comes to my health. I assess the risks and benefits and for me, I believe ear candling helps loosen the ear wax that we constantly compact in our ear canal every time we shove a cotton swab on a stick in there to clean our ears after our showers. There are many others that claim what we see inside the candle is simply wax...honestly I don't believe that. That being said,  if you choose to do ear candling, I suggest you read the information that is out there and assess the risks and benefits for yourself. Ear candling does present some dangers and if you choose to try it, you do so at your own risk. (Common sense tells you anything with an open flame near your body does.) You know your body better than anyone and it is your choice what to do with it but like anything, you need to be informed and know the dangers prior to engaging in it.

 I am simply presenting the way I do it as I've made the decision that it is right for me.

Ear Candling 101


1 helping assistant to monitor the candle
                      (hopefully not too mocking!)   
1 wetted washcloth
1 pie plate
1 pair of scissors
2 ear candles (one for each ear). These can be found online or at most health food stores.

I personally do not do ear candling when I am currently having issues with my ear. I choose to do it when my ear is not compromised with a ear infection or swimmers ear. Also, I choose to do it in the spring or fall when there is less chance of a windy day that could cause a problem with my ears. You are effectively, cleaning out wax and wax generally has a purpose, just not impacted wax, so I don't want to strip that coating  and then go out in a windstorm when I need that wax to protect my ears. You wouldn't walk outside in the middle of winter without a coat. Don't ear candle and then go out into a windstorm.

Cut a hole only slightly bigger than your ear candle.

I believe in safety so my first step is to cut a hole in the pie plate big
enough for the "candle" to go through. An "ear candle" is actually
a rolled up cone with one end smaller than the other that you put in
your ear. It is typically made out of waxed linen.

I wet a washcloth to
help extinguish the fire
if it comes to close to the ear.

The next step is designed to prevent the candle from getting too close to your ear. You should also have someone around that is monitoring this for you as well but I like to make sure I'm doubly safe. Also, should any ash actually fall, conceivably the wetted washcloth would put it out.

Prepared pie plate with wetted cloth.

I put wetted washcloth around the hole cut in the pie plate like so.

Then I insert my ear candle.

The complete package.

My final step is to find a quiet place to lie down or at least have my head tilted at an angle. The candle is lit and the helper watches it so it doesn't get too close to your head or light your hair on fire! The candle will smoke a bit and with the candle inserted gently in the ear, a gentle vacuum is created. Its a very soothing feeling. I generally hear a bit of a quiet whooshing sound (I think of it like putting a shell to your ear) and some quite pops and snaps. Amazingly it is quite a peaceful feeling even though there is a flame above one's head. When the flame gets as just as close as I feel comfortable with, I remove it from my ear and blow it out. After it cools I inspect the inside. (It's gross so I'll spare you). Today there was about 1/2 inch of wax that was extracted.

Spring cleaning!

I enjoy doing ear candling at least once a year. I've done it for many years and have never had any issues. There are many out there that don't believe in it or state that it is dangerous. I only know that it works for me. Like anything, read up before you try anything. You only have one body. Namaste!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Planting the Spring Garden for the Fall's Pantry

So beautiful!

It's SPRING! The lilacs are in bloom. The Rochester Lilac festival just ended. One of these years I'm actually going to go to it.
Lilacs are my second favorite "flower" in the whole world. They have such a wonderful scent and are here for such a fleeting time.I just love them as my yard here shows...

After blooming, remember to prune 1/3 of the bush away.
This is the only time you get a chance to do it.

But it is spring and it is time to get down to the business of what are we going to plant now to fill the pantry in the fall. My gameplan this year involves the usual suspects, LOTS of tomatoes (I typically put up about 72 cans of tomatoes alone, not to mention pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, summer sauce, bbq sauce, etc.), some peppers, lettuce and beans. This year I also planted corn for the first time in a long while. I planted four rubbarb plants and it looks like two of them have survived. Additionally this year,  I put 100 strawberry plants. When I plant my garden, I general think about what I can get around here cheaply from the farm markets and the pick your own orchards. I then figure out what is still going to cost me an arm and a leg even there. Strawberries will still run you at minimum $2.50/pint and $3.25 at a pick your own and $3.50 if they pick them. 100 plants cost me about $14.00 so the cost savings are excellent and as I still have volunteers sprouting up where my old bed was, I know they will take well even in my clay based soil. This year I think we will try to make strawberry ice cream for the first time as I still have a massive amount of strawberry jam left. (Athough it doesn't get any better than warm strawberry jam over vanilla ice cream!)

 In addition to the garden, it is time to start looking at the fruit trees and the berry bushes. I have a sour cherry tree that I keep hoping one of these years to get a decent harvest (last year it got black spot and I lost many of the cherries). It has a lot of cherries budding so here's hoping.

Cherry tree blossoms and emerging fruit

It also looks like the raspberries made it through the winter. Raspberries have been a bit difficult for me to grow for some odd reason. I have this wild blackberry bramble that causes havoc everywhere it touches down (even the roots have thorns) but after years of trying to irradicating it, one year it produced over three gallon bags of berries. I  have a love/mostly hate relationship with it as it doesn't produce berries every year. But it's the raspberries I've lost in the past when we've had rainy springs but it appeared that they weathered it through. The blueberries are still hanging in there. I didn't expect them to make it after last year's dry summer. The grape vines also came alive! I thought I lost those as well but they are back. Yeah! I still have the two gooseberry plants. Hopefully I can get two more and maybe have enough of a harvest to actually make jelly this year.


The herbs are going gangbusters in the herb garden. I've had an herb garden since I was about 15 years old and I just love them. In addition to the typical herbs, I've also grown lemon verbena, salad burnett and hops. After five years, it appears that my "annual" salad burnett that has come up every year has finally given up the ghost as it was there earlier this spring but the frost we had seem to have done it in.
The oregano is my garden bully and as much as I give it away, it keeps coming back. I'll do a separate blog on the herb garden itself. It's my pride and joy.

What I can't grow on the "farm", I will go to one of the many orchards around here to pick my own.
Pick your own is a great way of filling the freezer with wonderful cherries, blueberries, plums, raspberries and apples if you don't have the space to grow these in your garden or your garden's supply isn't adequate.
Below is a listing of when these things are available in the Rochester/Niagara area of western NY. This is totally lifted from one of my local pick your own. Locate any pick your own on the web for dates for your area:

May 5th-June 10th

June 10th-30th

Sweet Cherries
July 4th-August 1st

Sour Cherries
(The best pie cherries ever!)
July 15th-August 10th

July 4th-Sept. 1st

Red Raspberries
July 4th-October 10th

Black Raspberries
Early July

Red, White & Black
July 5th-August 5th

Peaches (Yellow & White) 
Mid July-Early Sept.


Late August-Early September

Late August and September

Sept 1st-Nov. 1st


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Vacation that Almost Wasn't... Or, When Vacations Attack!

So sorry for the hiatus.... we are finally recovering from going on vacation...

My family doesn't take many vacations, in fact, in fifteen years, we've taken all of three. In this case we had decided to go to Florida, to visit Legoland for the first time. We had decided to drive to save the money on airfare and a rental car as that expense can be ridiculously high... little did we know how expensive the trip would become because of this decision....

Our 2004 Vibe was in good condition. We had taken it in to have it checked out before the trip and were all set. AAA had set our course to go through several states and little did I know, through several mountaneous states. I hate heights... seriously, if I see a video of people riding a rollercoaster, my feet begin to tingle. And three states of hills and mountains were not my idea of fun.

Well all was good when we set out that Friday morning until we hit what Pennsylvania ubiquitously calls "hills". All of a sudden, this car behind us jettisons up behind us and my husband quickly speeds up and swerves us into the next lane to avoid getting our back end bashed in. (We think the guy's car just suddenly clicked into gear and he couldn't slow it down fast enough). That was the death blow to the Vibe.

Down but not out in Pennylvania.

Suddenly the "check engine" light came on and we rushed to find the nearest gas station. We poured four quarts of oil into the car (saw nothing coming out) and were able to get the check engine light to go off but only for a moment. We called the nearest gas station that was open and on a wing and a prayer attempted to make it there.

We didn't.

On an entrance ramp in the middle of Washington, PA our car began to buck like a bronco in heat.
It was over and in one last gasp she died.

We called AAA and were told it would be half an hour until they could get a tow truck that could take the three of us to the dealership...this was at four o'clock on a Friday. An hour later when it still hadn't arrived we called back only to be told by a snotty clerk that it could be HOURS until they could get a tow truck to us that would house all three of us. It was now five o'clock on a Friday. Not good odds at gettingour car fixed at all. My husband made a quick call to the dealership who kindly agreed to pick up at least my son and myself, but luckly that wasn't required as the tow truck showed up immediately after that call. (Clearly the second agent had no idea what she was talking about thank goodness.)

So, now we are in another state, far from home and our car was dead. They couldn't fix it so what do we do? We could rent a car and go back home, but then we have to pay for the tow to have the car sent home and we still have to look for a car. Or, we can buy a car that we had no intention of doing at this point.
Well, we bought a car. The car is very nice and Washington Chevrolet is a phenomenal dealership that I would do business with again in a heartbeat. They truly went over and above for us and because of them we were able to continue our vacation and have a safe car to do it in. When we set out we had no idea we'd be putting ourselves back into debt for another six years... but then it could have died anywhere... it just choose the exotic vacation land of Pennsylvania to do it in.


I'm going to die... I'm going to die..OMG!

You see, West Virginia and Virginia surprises you with their come around a curve it's like, "yep, here it is"... so while you know you are are in the mountains, it kind of sneaks up on you so you don't have the anticipation omnipresent...

Not Pennyslvania... Pennyslvania lays it all out for you so if you have a fear of heights it shows you the 5000 mile view to say, "You could die could fall of a cliff there....Just look how deep that ravine is...

" Eeeeiiik!

Couple that with a brand new car you know nothing about and my husband, being a typical man,  wanting to explore all the new features ......while driving around death taunting curves.

I was white knuckling it all the way.

White knuckling it all the way...

We finally made it through to our first night in Winston-Salem, NC. There was a famous BBQ place there that was within walking distance of the hotel. The doorman assured us it was a safe walk even at 8pm at night. So, we made the walk and got there just fine, but the walk home was a bit more frightening. As we were walking back to the hotel, we passed a bunch of older youths outside a church yard discussing how one of their friends had just went to jail. We walked up further and passed a street that had been blocked off and this menacing looking guy came out and started to follow us. Our car dyng and now we get to be mugged too? Wow, what life experiences we were having....

Luckly we speeded up our trek and got back to the hotel.


But it's not the alarm in the room... it's the hotel alarm...going off... at six am.... and we are on the seventeenth floor....what do we do? Visions of "Towering Inferno" start going through my head...

There is no directions from the alarm other than they will tell us what to do when it's over. I looked out out window to see the fire engine coming down the road. It reaches the hotel, stops, turns off the lights... and drives away..... I'm hoping that is a good sign...

Then the announcement comes over the loud speaker that the emergency is over and we can go back to our previous activities... um..SLEEPING... highly doubtful at this point and right before a ten hour drive...

Anyway, we did reach our destination and had a good time and luckly the rest of the trip was uneventful (in a bad way I mean). We got to stay in Mt. Airy on the way back. Mt. Airy Life is the birthplace of Andy Griffin and the town he based his mythical town of Mayberry on. We didn't get a chance to tour it as we we had to get home to go back to work, but it looked like a great place.

So, our vacation wasn't as restful as we'd hope but we did have many interesting experiences. We did have fun and we got a good story out of it.