Vintage industrial and science glass
Some of the non-Pyrex vintage industrial and science glass I've collected.

10 Things I Learned June 2021

I’m trying out a new monthly feature where I describe things I’ve learned this month. These will be anecdotes about new things I’ve discovered, TV shows I’m watching, books I’m reading, or general revelations about life. This month I have 10 things on my list; that may not always be the case, though.

Let’s get started with this month’s list!

1. Oats are my new favorite grain

I discovered oat milk and my life had been changed for the better. How did I not know how tasty it was? It makes your coffee even more amazing! It also has a more milk-like consistency than almond milk. Plus, I’m finding that oak milk generally uses Gellan Gum for a binder rather than locust bean or guar gum which means it’s easier for me to find to use than almond milk. It also tastes better to me.

I also have been making smoothies on weekend mornings with it. It makes things super nummy. I frequently make a pumpkin bread recipe that I found that calls for it too which is absolutely delightful. And now I want pumpkin bread.

2. I still don’t like raisins

Raisins are a thing I’ve never really liked. I’ve tried to like them. They used to give them out with school lunches and was never a fan. This is weird because I like grapes. Well, I like red seedless and cotton candy grapes. All other grapes are merely tolerable. I’m not a big wine fan either although I’ll drink Riesling or Moscato on occasion. Red wine gives me a headache. But I digress….

I bought some raisins to try in my breakfast cookies that I make. I figured, it’s been awhile since I’ve had some and my tastes have changed a bit so, why not? Because they’re nasty little dried up bits of awful is why not. They are still not to my liking and that’s ok. Other people can eat raisins. I like dried cranberries much better so I’ll stick with those.

3. I’m a much bigger science nerd than I originally thought

I’m really enjoying the research and experimentation aspect of making my own beauty and cleaning products at home. My pantry is starting to look like a storage cupboard in a chemistry lab and I love it.

I mean, I sort of knew I was a science nerd but sometimes confirmation is required to solidify you personally identify with. This external confirmation can come in many forms: your family and friends telling you that you are a science nerd or when you order products for homemaking your own products and they elicit way too much squee.

Let me explain…I like glass. I like to make glass things and collect glass things, especially glass made by Pyrex. Pyrex was created by Corning, the company that got its start making glass for Edison’s lightbulbs and borosilicate glass that could withstand the rapid changes in heat like a railroad lantern or the fire of a Bunsen burner. The wife of an engineer at Corning was frustrate by dishes breaking in the oven asked if she could try a sample from the lab the Pyrex for the home was born. The first dish was a pie plate, hence the name.

They also make lab and industrial glass equipment. I have a few vintage pieces that say “not for scientific use” which amuses me. I purchased one for making soap and I will use it for that in defiance of the glass gods. Technically, it IS for home use since I’m making soap in it at home, I suppose. I also have a vintage beaker too that is handblown. #sciencenerd

This Pyrex piece I bought at Goodwill recently was likely made in the 1950s based on the configuration of the trademark and the low model number. Notice it says “For household use only.” On second thought, maybe I SHOULDN’T make soap in this though it’s not in awesome condition to be fair.

That’s not the really nerdy thing though. As part of the soap making process, many professional test the pH of their product. I read this with great interest and then great enthusiasm because I realized I would have a reason to buy litmus test strips.

All of us science nerdy people probably remember testing the pH of a variety of things in chemistry class with great nostalgic feels. Maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I quickly hopped on Amazon to find myself some litmus strips and they are CHEAP. So I bought some and I tested my pH level promptly with much nerdy glee. I’m happy to say that my pH is a nice neutral 8. Hopefully, the soap I make will be just as neutral.

4. The book really is better than the movie

I like to listen to audiobooks while I’m driving. My commute isn’t long but I enjoy the 30 minutes or so each day I get to listen to an audiobook. The book I’m listening to right now is Andy Weir’s “The Martian”. I saw the movie and, while I enjoyed it because I’m a huge Ridley Scott fan, it didn’t knock me off my feet. Also, the book was included with my Audible membership so I thought, “Free is good. It’s science fiction and that’s my jam. Might as well.”

I’m so glad that I did! The audiobook is another story entirely. Like, literally–there was something lost in translation, clearly. The book is structured like log entries, as you would expect for someone lost on Mars. FYI, I’m not worried about spoiling this for anyone because the book came out in 2014 and the movie the year after that. Six years is enough time.

Maybe it’s Wil Wheaton’s enthusiastic reading but I didn’t get the same feel from the movie. Then again the same could be said for Blade Runner, a movie I will never tire of watching. It’s vastly different then the source material and once again I’m glad I saw the movie first because it would have colored my experience with the book.

I’m taking the same take on this one as with “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”: they are similar but stand in their own right. Check the book out. I’m really looking forward to Weir’s newest novel, “Project Hail Mary”, now too which is being made into a movie with Ryan Gosling, who interestingly enough was in “Blade Runner 2049”. Huh, maybe all roads do lead back to Blade Runner for me.

5. Sometimes you have to know how to make the most of your money by knowing yourself

Some good things did come out of the pandemic, like grocery delivery and pick up. We live in an instant gratification society and I fall victim to a cleverly placed end cap along with the best of ‘em. I discovered that I spend WAAAAYYYY more money if I physically go to the grocery store and peruse the aisles. Doesn’t matter if I have a list or not; if I see something on sale I’ll buy it because it’s a good bargain, not because I need it. This got me into trouble when I discovered my food and chemical allergies early this month. I had a surplus of products because I bought stuff in bulk that I can no longer use. I’ve been paying it forward for weeks now and I’M STILL FINDING THINGS tucked in my pantry and cabinets.

Clearly, I have a problem. It’s all about the battle between “want” and “need” as well as tempering the fear of running out. Granted that during the pandemic we experienced that for real. If you plan accordingly by paying attention to how often you actually use something it should be fine.

I am ok with doing pickup or even getting delivery if it means I save time and money. These are two things that are finite…although time is the real clincher there. You can make more money but you can’t make more time. If I contribute to someone else’s ability to feed their family by tipping them for THEIR time then I’m contributing to the circle of life. I’ll save more money in the long run this way.

6. Cooking isn’t so bad

I’m not a culinary genius by any stretch of the imagination. I can follow a recipe but I’m sort of a rebel and like to find the best way to do things, so sometimes following a recipe to a “T” is boring for me. I thought that’s what the problem is, and why I don’t enjoy cooking. It’s part of it, probably. One of my favorite things to do lately is throwing a bunch of veggies and chicken in my Instant Pot with some spices and see how it comes out. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, but I do enjoy it, so cooking isn’t the entire problem.

I made this Honeydew Melon Chia Pudding that was amazeballs that fit perfectly in my Pyrex mini casserole dishes.

I figured out what it is though: I don’t like the washing-up part. Doing dishes is time-consuming, boring, and this time of year, HOT. Nevada is hot enough. Standing over a hot sink is not my idea of good use of my time. I also can’t seem to wash dishes without getting water all over my shirt. It’s a thing that I find annoying. So, cooking is A-OK.

7. Excessive heat warnings should be heeded

Speaking of hot and Nevada, I am descended from people of northern climes and I do not do well in heat. I know this about myself but I ignored it and the very spot on excessive heat warning from the National Weather Service. I went to a baseball game the other day on one of the hottest days this year so far. It was a work event, which is the only reason I went, and I regret the decision. It was 114 degrees Fahrenheit that day and at 7pm the barometer still read 111.

I got heat stroke despite drinking water all day in preparation and drinking two bottles of water while there. I spent the next day sick as a dog and further three days feeling icky while my body healed itself.

Moral of the story is, if you know yourself then do what’s right for you. Nothing is worth making yourself sick over.

8. I’m not a morning person, I’ve just been faking it

I get up each weekday morning at 5:35 am to scoop the kitty litter boxes, get ready for work, feed the cats, gather my lunch and hop out the door with enough time to drop off packages at the post office if need be. I don’t enjoy getting up that early and I naturally wake up about 7 on the weekends but I’m not fully awake until about 10 am.

Case in point, I was making my breakfast cookies for the week ahead first thing Sunday morning while I was waiting for my coffee to brew. I didn’t realize how important the elixir of life is to my ability to function in the morning. I used two tablespoons of vanilla extract instead of two teaspoons. There is a vast difference between these two things. My cookies came out oily and crumbly, but at least they taste good.

Lesson learned–like any good Gilmore Girl, first I drink the coffee then I do the things.

I need coffee in an IV - Gilmore Girls
It’s a jumbo coffee morning every morning.

9. We have been trading our health for convenience

Everything I’m going through in my complete life-changing effort to reclaim my health has got me thinking. We didn’t use to have as many chemicals in our food and products. Genetically modified food didn’t come to market until the mid-90s (https://www.fda.gov/food/agricultural-biotechnology/science-and-history-gmos-and-other-food-modification-processes). This means, kids born before 1990 knew life without GMOs, but the rest of them do not.

Poison in our food is nothing new; it’s been happening since the late 19th Century. The Environmental Health and Safety Online site has a sobering chronography of food additives history on its website. It’s a terrifying read, really. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 was enacted to ensure that “tolerances be set for unavoidable poisonous substances in food”. The use of specific artificial preservatives wasn’t approved by the FDA until 1954.

While, the use of chemicals is regulated in food but it still isn’t regulated in cosmetics despite that 1938 Act having cosmetics in the name. (https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/80-years-later-cosmetics-chemicals-still-unregulated) This means they can put whatever they want in the things your putting on your face, ladies, as long as it’s not “putrefied”. I still question the safety and use of some chemicals now in food and products anyway, with good reason. That which the FDA deems generally safe for most isn’t safe for all of us.

So, I came to the conclusion that the reason our products are filled with harmful chemicals is that we were willing to trade our health for the convenience of a longer shelf-life.

And speaking of cosmetics…last but not least….

10. Cinnamon is not a good ingredient for eye shadow tinting

I learned this the hard way this morning. It’s probably ok if you don’t have a rash on your eyelids from using products you’re allergic to, hence the need for homemade eyeshadow in the first place. Needless to say I made the rash a little worse but on a positive note I finally figured out how to make pressed eye shadow so, yay! I still have some experimenting to do but I’ll share my formula once I perfect it.

That’s all for now. Enjoy your Independence Day holiday, my fellow Americans! To my non-American friends please enjoy your week and weekend. ☺️

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