Friday, November 29, 2013


When I was teaching elementary school five years ago, I made these little crochet "Gidgets" out of left-over yarn for my students as incentive to do good work. They loved them and very much enjoyed collecting them in different colors. At one point I was making elaborate creatures, too, such as octopuses, starfish, and assorted ornaments. It was Gidget-mania at that school! Kids started to haunt me for them. Each Gidget took me about 5 minutes to make, and after the crochet part was done, it's was matter of gluing any small size wiggly eyes, and drawing on the mouth with fabric paint-- and they loved doing that part. This was more engaging, more satisfying, and more fun for students than giving them candy and food to motivate them.

A couple of days ago, I started making Gidgets again for my four-year-old son, and he is just as delighted by them as my elementary students were. He puts them on his trains for a ride, and builds homes and cars for them with his Lego blocks. He is even sleeping with a couple in his bed while I type. You have to admit, they're kinda cute! So while making this one, I decided to film the process on my iPhone to share with all of you. You have to click on this link to see the demo of how to make one on Blogger kept giving me an error message when I tried to upload it. Perhaps it's too long? Please excuse the production quality, mumbling, and interruptions-- I also had to readjust the camera in the second half. I was literally holding the phone under my chin while filming this. And please hold all comments about my bulb-shaped thumbs and chipping nail polish!
Meanwhile, here's another tea cozy I just finished today.
Stay tuned..

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Beautiful Human of the Month: Scott Sonnon

Scott Sonnon is a highly respected name in martial arts, fitness, and yoga. He is considered by some to be somewhat of a guru, and he's also the founder of the new Prasara yoga style which is very focused on strength in poses and transitions. Many advanced yogis today could only dream of doing the kind of stuff he does. Scott is truly unique. Here's a short demo of this physical genius at art.

When you look at this, of course you see lots of physical beauty, but what made Scott Sonnon beautiful enough for me to inspire this monthly feature was watching him in raw human form on Youtube giving this TEDx Talk in Bellingham earlier this month. To me, Scott Sonnon is the ultimate picture of strength, confidence, intelligence and love. Imagine my shock to learn from watching this that his childhood and his school beginnings were the exact opposite-- weakness, crushed self-esteem, learning struggles, and violence. Like many men and women I admire, he defied his tormentors by feeding his internal and external powers and rising above the storm.

In this moving presentation, he credits his mother for inspiring him to break out and make drastic changes in himself and in his life. In spite of his institutionalized schooling, it is the home-lessons he received from his mother that really counted towards his success. Another living testament to the importance of 'home lessons' and the real presence of parents in children's lives. Scott has much to say about schools and his own learning disabilities, but he really nails it with his message to our modern right-brained-female-advantaged schools of today.

"We end learning disability when we stop disabling learning."

Here's Scott's talk on "How we suppress the genius and create learning disability," and here's a mini biography which tells a little more about him. Scott is also active on Facebook.

The world is full of beautiful humans like him, and I hope to feature some of them regularly on the Broo.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tea (Cozy) Time!

I haven't been blogging with regularity recently because,'s tea  cup has been full. We are still searching for a new home and new car, and caring for ourselves and a teen and 4-year-old. Many of the blog posts I draft in my head, seem to expire in the fog of my thoughts. So lately, at the end of each day, all I want to do is take a long bath or use my hands to read or to crochet. After finishing the holiday outfits for my friend's twins, I made them these two easy sweaters. I made them a little larger this time, so eventually, they will fit.

Last Saturday, a friend came over for dinner and afterwards I served tea in a teapot covered with one of my old crocheted cozies. I got so many compliments on it that I decided to start making cozies again, and maybe gifting some for Christmas. They're fun to make and they really keep the tea nice and hot. Here's the first prototype I made yesterday.

More to come, so stay tuned.

Who Doesn't Get Cold Sores?

I remember getting my first "cold sore" on my upper lip when I was an adolescent. In those days, the Middle Eastern folk medicine explanation I usually got for it was, "oh, your stomach must be in disorder." As a youth who shunned many things Old World and traditional, I laughed it off. As I got older, I continued to get these unsightly lip menaces on occasion. I never really found any other explanations for them until the birth of the internet and the information revolution. I finally was reassured by 'modern' medicine gurus that cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, and that once a person was infected, her or she would forever be damned with more of them...and blah blah blah. This explanation didn't make intuitive sense to me. I still wanted to know what exactly triggered the cold sores, because at times, I could go months without them, then suddenly I would get one. Eventually, I turned to my favorite website for alternative answers. Although I found much useful information and remedies (acetone!), I still couldn't find out why it happened. If it was really the so-called Herpes virus, what triggers it?  I couldn't be sure my sores were triggered by artificial sweeteners,  either, because I've diligently avoided that stuff for years. But hey, artificial sweeteners in food might add weight to the theory that it's indeed "stomach related."

Well, about nine months ago, I went through a period of getting one cold sore after the other. One would heal and another would pop out. It was so frustrating. But this time I noticed that it happened at a time when I had eaten a lot of seafood, and I felt like I might have had some kind of food intolerance since my stomach was also showing signs of disorder. Maybe there was some truth in the old Arab folk saying that cold sores are related to the state of the stomach. So I decided to have a food allergy test to see if it would reveal any food sensitivities. I had been meaning to do this test ever since my husband did a it year and a half ago. He used to suffer greatly from a mystery food-related reaction, but we never could figure out what it was until he did this blood test. To our shock, the culprit was eggs! And, boy was my husband a heavy egg eater at the time! Plus, eggs are in just about every baked good out there, and he's a big fan of those, too. Of course we found this out in the same summer when we ordered FOUR DOZEN eggs to be delivered with our weekly CSA. Anyway, once he started avoiding eggs, the symptoms went away, and now they only return when he consumes eggs. Could my cold sores be food related, too?

So we ordered and administered the blood test kit from The Life Extension Foundation, which is where we order all our blood tests (and many vitamins and supplements) without having to rely on a doctor's prescription. When the results arrived in the mail, only one food sensitivity stood out on my chart--not seafood, but CORN!  That explained a whole lot. No wonder popcorn (popped in corn oil!) made me feel so bad after eating it, even though I love it. Of course, corn is in just about everything these days. So many things are fried in corn oil. High Fructose Corn Syrup is also in  many commercial sweet foods, so is corn starch. I was doomed to a life without corn, but at least I might avoid a lifetime of cold sores if I stopped eating it. It was worth a try, so now I avoid this food and its extracts.

Since I started to watch out for corn, I stopped getting cold sores for a while, until a couple of weeks ago. Drat! I got another one. And this time I was even more convinced it was stomach-related because the week before it popped out I had been complaining about not moving smoothly, if you know what i mean.  So what happened? What might I have eaten?

In talking to my husband, we tried to put the pieces together of what I might have consumed that was outside my normal diet. He recalled that this last episode happened to me just after Halloween. Though I normally don't eat any chocolate except the organic dark variety, I had guiltily indulged in some of the junk chocolate my son had collected, specifically Snickers and M&Ms. Aha! The ingredients list clearly shows corn products and a lot of other garbage in those candies. Needless to say, I learned my lesson.

As I nurse what I hope to be one of the last cold sores I get, I want to encourage my dear Broo readers to consider getting a food intolerance test. Regardless of whether or not you get cold sores, you may have other unexplained ailments puzzling you and your doctors. This information can truly be life-changing. I believe that when something goes wrong in your body, the first thing to suspect is food, unless of course you're on some prescription drug and it's causing side effects. Either way, it's clear that most our sicknesses come from what goes into our bodies-- bad food, bad water, bad drugs, unclean air, etc. Even if one stays away from the processed foods, the additives are now sneaking into meats and produce without the consumer's knowledge. Have you had any pink salmon or a tasteless bright red apple lately? Be careful what you think you're eating.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." I'll bet he would have a change of heart (or a heart attack) if he saw the GMOs, ultra-processed, MSG-laden, artificially flavored/colored and highly sweetened garbage we consider "food" today. 

Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Makeup Freedom: Week 2

Last week I reported that my new "makeup freedom" has led to the habits of washing, splashing, and moisturizing my face much more frequently. So naturally as I do these things more often, I'm tending to give my face a little extra massage when I dab that Nivea cream on, applying some of the face yoga methods I'd already been doing. So I'm happy to report that another bonus I found to makeup freedom, is the ability to give the face more workouts, at any time of the day. No worries about messing up the mascara.

A dear friend and reader of this blog left me a concerned message about my decision to give up makeup. In typical trilingual Arabic that most of my Lebanese friends speak, she asked:

"Shou osset il maquillage ou wishshek? Kissikhta, yalli byisma3ek kaano kul yom bit7otti tonne foundation 3a wishshek. You only did your eyes, so shou hal maw'af yalli akhadtee dod il maquillage halla'?"

An online translator will probably explode if you tried to cut and paste this passage, so here's the translation:

"What's the story about the makeup and your face? (Expletive), listening to you it's as if every day you apply a ton of foundation on your face. You only did your eyes, so what's this stand that you've taken against makeup now?"

To answer my friend's question, I didn't really take a total stand against makeup, just the ritual of applying it every day. Luckily, I can get away with this because I don't have a corporate career or anything like that right now. I still plan to wear makeup for special outings and occasions. I especially look forward to flashing a tonne of eye makeup when the gray hair starts to crown my face!

Oh, on the subject of maquillage, I think you'll get a big kick out of these pictures of the magical power of a good makeup job. Unbelievable!

Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Makeup Freedom: Week 1

So far, I'm very much liking the feeling in my face without any makeup. As a result of not having any eye-liner or mascara to smudge, I've developed this new habit of splashing cold water on my face almost every time I'm near a sink. Ahhhhh...It's such a picker upper, and it gives the face a fresh (though temporary) glow. I'm finding it very liberating to be able to do this as often as I want, especially before and after yoga classes. I'm also enjoying squirting rosewater on my face more often now--something I've always liked to do for the cooling effect and other cosmetic benefits.

But this new face washing habit of mine can make my skin feel a little dry, so I'm reaching out more for one of the NIVEA cream jars I've always kept tucked in my bedroom, living room, kitchen, handbag, and car for moisturizing my hands. Now I 'm using just a spot on my face a couple of times a day. I've never really been much into facial moisturizers. Even when I was wearing makeup, I only used a few drops of sandalwood (with jojoba) or rose essential oils once a day, and that was that. But by the end of most days, my face looked and felt dry and dehydrated. But not anymore.

I recently read that NIVEA is better for the face than the ultra expensive Creme De La Mer, which I used to use about ten years ago, until I boycotted it for political reasons. Let's see if this new routine of mine might be helping control the wrinkles, too!

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It's All Coming Together....Naturally.

It should be clear by now that I've decided to take the "no Botox or cosmetic enhancement" route to approaching my fifties up ahead. I'm always talking the talk about natural food as medicine and stuff, so in order to be more true to myself and my personal beliefs, I wanted to expand this concept a little. One thing I've decided to do is to let my natural hair color grow out, and to stop using any kind of dyes, natural or not, on my hair. That's it. I'm done with the fuss.

I'm only about a month into the process and I can't wait to get enough growth to cut my hair short like this and then go from there. It's going to be interesting to have such a drastic change in hair length at first, since my hair has been on the long side for most of my adult life. But I can always grow it long again. Gray and long. Cool.

I'm a little nervous about the whole slow process, although I'm also totally up to it this time. You see, I tried to do this once before, but many people around me were very discouraging and not for the idea, especially because I have such a young son, some said. But this time I'm much more mentally strong and inspired because my 72-year-old mother is doing this, too, after a lifetime of coloring. And on that rare occasion when I have my mother on my side of an issue, it's like a home run!

Some of the greatest women I know and admire, personally and by celebrity, have never touched dye to their hair and they are all unique and BEAUTIFUL. They also inspired me.

I was also inspired by this TV anchor woman, who bravely chose to go gray before the eyes of her viewers on her daily newscast, in spite of the fact that in her profession of studio studs,  they do all kind of things to hold on to their faces' youth, or seriously risk losing their careers. Men and women do this, but you simply won't find any female white tops like CNNs Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper on your TV screens. It would be career suicide for most TV women.

So as my natural hair starts to creep out, I'm more curious about the color distribution underneath. Yes, it's like watching grass grow, but in a fun way. I simply can't wait for it to come out more. I want to see the gray shade that nature intended just for me. There must be more than just 50 shades out there! I also wonder how this hair revelation might change me on the inside, or affect the way people respond to me on the outside, if at all.

This new change I seek is in good timing because as I mentioned, my son is now enrolled in a Waldorf school, and I tell you, these people are all about letting nature take the lead, and I mean in everything. In health, living, clothing, food, and education.  Most teachers and parents in that school wear a lot of natural fiber and hand-made clothing. Many mothers are seen in modest long skirts and flat-heeled footwear. On many days, I'm the only person in jeans and maybe some makeup when dropping off or picking up my son. Still, that whole environment is fitting for me in many other ways, though. I like the old-fashioned style of community education and parent connectedness, craft and handwork activities for young and old, and other things that can be right up my alley.

I know I won't be wearing long skirts any time soon, nor will I give up nail polish and pedicures, but driving back from dropping my son off at school this morning, I got to thinking, why not stop wearing makeup daily? Just keep my face clean, healthy, and moisturized. What if I got to know my real face a little bit better, too?

So in my ongoing quest for freedom and liberty, I'm also going to try to embrace make-up freedom for a while to see how that feels.

Stay tuned...and I'll let you know.

Crochet Time!

As the short and cold days of winter fall upon us, I begin to gravitate back to my crochet needles when I find quiet evening time. I find working with colorful yarn and the repetitive act of hooking to be extremely calming and therapeutic...kinda like yoga.

So I thought I'd share this first project of festive baby clothing I just finished. These items were inspired by a dear childhood friend, who along with his partner were just blessed with twins through a surrogate birth. I'm very excited for my friend because I know at least he, will make an awesome father for the lucky boy and girl! Mabrouk Marwan and Rick.

Here they are.Very basic crochet, completely improvised and easy to copy, as all my project are. So stay tuned...