Category Archives: Lifestyle

The Great Aloe Vera Experiment

The Great Aloe Vera Experiment

aloe vera plant

While trolling my way around the web, I found an old article on using Aloe Vera gel for healing the teeth and gums. This seemed interesting, and I read and then searched for a few others. Imagine my surprise when not one but several of these articles firmly declared that using aloe gel as a substitute for toothpaste was every bit as effective as those aforementioned toothpastes!

Yup, the stuff from inside the aloe leaves was as good as toothpaste. Fights germs and everything, according to the article. Here’s the link to the study I found which gives all the details of the 15 person study they did, using aloe gel directly injected into disease pockets of gums in the test subjects.

I am more used to using aloe gel on my skin for sun burn and the like, but since like most folks I do have a bit of an issue with my teeth and no dental coverage, I figured it couldn’t hurt. So I am going to give it a try.

First and foremost let me state firmly that I am not a doctor! I am just trying this on my own, so if you want to try it, I’d suggest talking to your doctor first. Now that we have that clearly established, let’s proceed.

Since I have a HUGE Aloe Vera plant with lots and lots of little plants cropping up, I took several of  the larger older plants and stripped the biggest leaves. The instructions for processing aloe at home advocated using a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin and leaving just the clear interior gel.

That wasn’t exactly a success, I have to admit. I did my best to scrape the gel from their interior before giving up and simply whirring them into submission in my blender. The result was a thick, sticky green goo. Since I mean to carry out this experiment for at least the next couple of months, I will try to have pictures of the process for you at a later date.

I then put the sticky goo into a mesh colander and set that in a large bowl to catch the drips. I wasn’t aiming to remove all the outer skin of the leaves, just the biggest portion of it. The saponins in the skin have a mild laxative effect, but with the current trend for colon cleansing that is only another plus, right?

Now while my delightful alien slime was settling out, I headed back to the computer to do a little more research.

Apparently Aloe Vera gel has a lot of vitamins. Mike Adams, editor of has a very detailed article on the benefits of using Aloe Vera. He also has included links to studies and analyses of the plant and its effects. Here’s the link: .

Once the gel had more or less separated from the gunk in the colander, I poured it into a sterilized glass bottle, labeled it and put it in my fridge. Using a shot glass, I poured a one ounce amount and swished around my mouth for several minutes. I can’t say I’m fond of the texture, but the taste wasn’t too bad. Kind of hard to describe, but the best way to say it would be that it tastes very ‘green’—like a mix of celery and kiwi, if you can imagine that. When I was done swishing it, I swallowed the stuff; no sense letting it go to waste, right?

I even used the leftover green gunk as a facial mask, since aloe has such significant benefits for the skin. I just smeared it onto my face and let it sit for twenty minutes while writing this post. My skin is feeling nice and smooth and fresh and my mouth feels pretty good too.

I’ll keep you guys updated as to the results of my Aloe experiment. So far things are in the very early stages, but if it has even half the effects that are claimed for it, this could be a very good thing. Who knew a little houseplant was so good for you? If you have ever experimented with Aloe Vera, I’d love to hear your results as well. Please leave a comment and let me know, or if you have any advice on a better way to process the leaves, it would be great if you would share!

Find your peace, friends.
Rev. Zita.
All pictures and images on this page are courtesy of Microsoft Free clipart

What’s the most important book you ever read?

What is the most important book you ever read?

off kilter library

I’m not talking about religious books like the Bible, the Quran or the Talmud; we all know those are important, so let’s leave them aside for the sake of this discussion.

What are the most useful books you have ever read? Which book was it that you read and actually put to work in your daily life? How did it influence you?

Was it something like the ‘7 habits of highly successful people’ or was it possibly Internet for Dummies? Did Hints from Heloise change the way you live?   How to win friends and influence people is a classic on the art of communication and has helped thousands in their daily lives.

So what has helped you to live your life? What made you change for the better?

For me these are a few of the most influential books I have ever read. I’m sure that someday I will add more to this list, but these are the ones that really hit me hard and made me think.

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. This play taught me at a very young age that you need to really think before taking drastic action. If Ol’ Mac had asked more questions when he met those three ladies, he may not have put a disaster into motion.

The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris. I went to a Catholic High School and found this in the restricted section of the library one day. A study of humans as biological entities, it made me really think about my place in the world. It had the added benefit of really upsetting my teachers. Hey, I was sixteen at the time.

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. This book made physics less mysterious and more accessible for me. I loved it.

The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort. First, I found the pun of his name amusing, and the truly practical and un-embarrassed attitude was just what I needed at the time. I can’t say I’ve been able to put everything into practice, but the clear, rational tone was wonderful.

Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality and the Catholic Church by Uta Ranke-Heineman and Peter Heinegg. Ranke-Heineman was a chair of theology and used Roman Catholic Canon Law as her source material. It made me angry that as a female I was being so devalued on so many levels. Yeah, this was a huge influence on the way I thought about the world.

Chess for beginners by Israel A. Horowitz and Sol Horowitz. Hours of fun!

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. It’s still the basic primer for the art of politics.

The Art of War by Sun-Tzu. The ultimate strategy guide, written by a man who lived it every day.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Yeah, this is a weird one to have in here, but as much as I dislike Scarlet O’Hara, she knew how to survive. She also wasn’t willing to hide her abilities behind a folded fan, even if she had no clue about how to manage her personal life.

These are not the only important books I have ever read, of course. My personal library has several hundred books in it, not counting the ones I have sold or donated when I was done with them. I have read books on everything from cooking to car repair (if only that one had taken root) and philosophy, religion and politics, fashion and art. I like science fiction and crafts, how-to books and fantasy fiction.

In the midst of all the millions of words I have read over the decades of my life, the books that have actually helped or hindered are few. I’d like to know what books you consider the most influential in your life. Take a moment to think about it, and use the comment box to let me know: what was your most important reading experience?

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita.

(Image courtesy of free clip art

Planning for my next millennium.

Rev. Zita and Rev. Kelly


There are a lot of very embarrassed people out there right now. Well, that or they have already shut down the phones and websites, grabbed the money and run. Given the amount of media hype over the last twenty years, I’d say it is probably the latter.

I’m talking about all the interesting people who have been hawking books, websites, survival kits, bugout bags, videos, classes and spare toothbrushes over the last couple of decades. They’ve made a lot of money by claiming the world was ending and they could get you what you needed to survive. If they were scamming us, they have vanished by now. If they were sincere, then they are either very surprised or are trying to figure out what went ‘wrong’.

Oddly, I have a problem with the continuation of the world being ‘wrong’, but then I didn’t buy a generator, learn to make candles or stock up on baked beans. Since I have survived the apocalypse, I have decided to make the best of my next 1,000 years. I even have ideas.

Rev. Zita’s top ten list of ways to spend the next Millennium:

  1. Read everything that Warren Buffet has ever written. For a billionaire, he seems like a pretty cool guy.
  2. Vote Independent. The regular parties are just so last eon.
  3. Finally decide on a hair color.
  4. Invent my own religion based on sacred sarcasm and the Zen of lifting the perfect sardonic eyebrow. Groucho Marx will be our prophet.
  5. Create the perfect hot sauce. I’m actually well on my way with this one.
  6. Learn to dance without beer. Need I say more?
  7. Write a manual on how to live the perfect individual life. Including references and diagrams.
  8. Learn to use technology correctly. Seriously, I’m so far behind that it’s sad.
  9. Help people to see that the world can be a very good place if you want it to be one.
  10. Learn to enjoy the life I’ve been given without freaking out at every little thing Chicken Little says.

I’m going to get out of my life the things I put into it, and I intend to put some very good things into my life. You should too. Make a list for your next thousand years, and we can share them. If we get enough responses, we can put up the best suggestions and goals for everyone to enjoy. What will you do for the next Millennium? Tell me, I want to know. We all could use some good ideas.

Find your peace and have some fun.

Rev. Zita.

Diaries and Journals: Creating a record of your own life.

Creating a diary or journal used to be an everyday kind of thing. You went about your day, working, eating, cleaning, socializing and shopping. At the end of the day you would take a few moments and use the simple task of writing to clear your mind. The entry might just be a recitation of facts and events, or you may include the latest gossip, your descriptions of what one of your friends wore during a lunch date, the reprimand you got from your boss for slacking off, or the bonus you got for doing a good job. Maybe you saw a movie and want to mention your impressions of it or you ate at a really good restaurant and the food was wonderful.

Whatever it was, you wrote it down and it became the record of your superbly ordinary life. It meant that you were here, and not because you carved your initials into a tree somewhere. The creation of a journal puts your life into context; it shows how you interact with the world around you and lets those who come later know the real you, even if they can’t meet you personally.

One of my co-workers is very interested in history, especially local history. She once made the comment that it was interesting to read excerpts from her ancestor’s diaries, and how it made them more ‘real’ to her. Reading their own accounts of their lives brought them back to life in a sense. It turned history from a dry collection of facts to an intimate experience of daily life for her.

I mentioned this to another friend, who told me that when she was pregnant she kept a daily journal for each of her soon-to-be children so they would know what was going on in the time before they were born. She said she wrote the entries as if they were letters to the child, detailing each and every test result, including things like morning sickness, the first time she felt them move in her womb, the first ultrasound, adventures in decorating their nursery, and reactions from relatives and friends. When her kids are older, she plans to gift them with the diaries so they will see what an impact they had made even before they were born.

Still another friend does what is called ‘Art Journaling’. She uses not only words, but paint, ink, pens, collages, and a host of other techniques as well as the written word to create very lovely and expressive records of her impressions of life. Her sketchbooks are fascinating individual creations that truly blur the lines between personal recording and artistic expression.

It really doesn’t matter what form your diary or journal takes. It could be online in a blog, on computer in a private file or on paper with ink and paint. You might set up a camera and make a video diary to be saved to DVD. The important thing is that you take a moment to record your life for yourself. Use it to clear your mind of those nagging worries by putting them down to be looked at later. Make lists of the things you want to do with your loved ones or plot world domination in your favorite MMORPG. It’s your diary—use it to save what’s important to you, about you and for you.

I think I’ll grab some of the blank books I’ve been buying all these years and put them to use. I may write bad poetry, create new wedding ceremonies, religious rituals, bad limericks or draw a few pictures. I may create scurrilous tales about fictional adversaries. Or not. No matter what, it will be my journal and it will be fun!

Find your Peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

Carry a Little Good Luck with You as You Go

How many people carry a good luck charm? Here we are in the age of computers and rationality and I know lots of people who own a certain ‘lucky’ item that they will carry when needed. Sports fans especially will speak of wearing their lucky jersey to help their team with that big win on game day.

I wanted to take a look at some of the more popular good luck charms just for the fun of it.

The Rabbit’s Foot Charm: this is a very old charm that harks back to the idea that carrying a part of an animal would give you some of that animal’s attributes. In this case the rabbit or hare was believed to be clever enough to survive any misfortune, as well as extremely fertile and sexually potent.

The Horseshoe: It was a reminder of the horse-goddess Epona; the material was the height of high-tech back in the day, and if it protected a valuable animal like a horse, it should protect your home. Placed over a door with the points up meant it was gathering blessings and goodwill. Placed points down was generally done over a forge to pass energy back to the ironworker who made the original.

The Hand of Fatima: This represents fertility, faith, and protection, as well as the five major virtues of Islam. To wear it or have it displayed is to invoke blessings, strength, good luck and family. It is very popular throughout the Middle east, southern Europe and with any number of celebrities.

The Four-Leaf Clover: Finding a fourth leaf on a clover is relatively unusual and makes it more effective as a talisman. The leaves represent wealth, love, health and blessings for the finder. It should be carefully dried and preserved to keep the leaves from falling off the stem. Giving them away is frowned upon, since who would be stupid enough to give away their good luck?

Frogs: The symbol of a frog or toad is a popular symbol in the Asian world. It is especially powerful for prosperity, fertility and protection among Feng Shui practitioners. In Egyptian symbolism it represents the Goddess Hekt, protectors of mothers, newborn children and goddess of magic.

There are literally dozens of talismans used to bring good fortune. Many are very personal, such as the kid who always wears a necklace given them by a favorite relative, the pretty stone you picked up while hiking, or a photo of a loved one you feel protects you.

If you are looking for a charm of your own, I suggest that you follow an old folk magic method. Go somewhere you don’t normally go, such as a park or walking trail you don’t normally frequent, or a public event such as a concert. Just make sure it is outdoors and a place relatively new to you.

Once there, keep your eyes open for anything that attracts you. It may be a penny on the ground, an odd-colored pebble, a piece of broken jewelry you find, or maybe the hot dog vendor gives you a strange coin with your change. You might even find it in a souvenir stall!

That said, I want to point out that good things happen to people who believe they are worthy of them. If you believe you are a lucky person, then you are lucky. A good attitude will go farther to change your life than any rabbit’s foot! Leave a comment and tell us what your good luck charm is: is it one of the classics or do you have something more unique? We’d love to hear about it!

Find your piece, friends!

Rev. Zita

Survive the Winter!

Winter has actually showed up here in Central Wisconsin and being forced indoors creates its own challenges. ‘Cabin fever’ is a real hazard and can lead to frayed nerves and tempers. We all miss the sunny days of summer, and not all of us enjoy winter sports. Personally, I am one of those people who are more inclined to curl up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate than to go ice fishing. In the spirit of surviving the snowy months, I offer up a list of things we can do to make the winter more enjoyable.

  1. Join a book club. This is great because it gives you literature and socialization in one. If you can’t find one, talk to a few of your co-workers and see about setting one up.  You can even choose a theme such as romance books, novels, or non-fiction. You can even devote the club to a person such as JFK or Abraham Lincoln. You could also combine this with the recipe club below and learn about the foods mentioned in the books you read.


  1. Start a recipe club! Meet friends to share a potluck dinner of new and old favorites. Make copies of the recipes for each member. Or each person can bring a dish for each course of the meal: one for the appetizers, one brings the main dish, another brings the side dish, and the last brings the dessert. What variations can the club come up with for future meetings? The possibilities are huge!


  1. 3.       Exercise. EEEEWWW! Yeah, but you’ll feel better, look better and it keeps those winter blues to a manageable level. Hmm, I should take my own advice. Get a few DVD’s and find someone to work out with and keep you on track.


  1. 4.       Take up a hobby. Make fishing lures, beaded jewelry, sew clothes or stuffed animals, research your family history, knit, crochet, make birdhouses to put up in your yard, sculpt little clay figurines, etc. Lots of possibilities out there so google it and see what you might like.


  1. 5.       Start a blog. is free and you can write anything you like. Share your politics, religion, personal philosophy or your experiences with UFO’s. It’s all good.


  1. 6.       Home repair. Since you’re in there anyway, it might be a good time to fix those little things like loose cupboard or closet doors, sticky drawers, that squeaky floorboard or stair tread. Save the huge remodeling projects for warmer weather, though.


  1. 7.       Start spring cleaning early. Wash the walls, scrub the floors, clean out the attic and tell stories to the kids about the things you find. Save the garage for summer unless it’s heated.


  1. 8.       Plan a trip, even if you don’t go. Have the kids pick any spot in the world and plan a trip there. Learn about the locations, the climate, what there is to see, the language and the customs. Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Russia, central and south America are all great places to learn about and even better to dream about seeing.


  1. 9.       Game night! Once a week invite friends over to play games. Board games, card games, video games, it doesn’t matter. Bring food and beverages and have a good time!


  1. 10.   Movie night! Pick a theme for each week and make lots of popcorn. Horror movies, thrillers, chick flicks, Viking week or bad monster night. For a totally camp experience, try running a few of the 1950’s drive-in movies. So bad even MSTK 3000 would have problems watching.


Winter can be a trying time for everyone and I hope this list gives you some ideas. I’d love to hear any and all suggestion you may have for winter activities or if you can help us expand our own lists, so leave us a comment below. In the meantime, stay warm and enjoy the snow!

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

The Parable of Virtual vs. Reality

Back in the days of the dinosaurs, when I was in high school, my family had one TV. That’s right, just one, and we didn’t have cable either. Still, we spent a lot of time around that massive cathode tube; time we could have spent on other things. The house wasn’t dirty, but it certainly wasn’t ready for a photo shoot. We ate in front of the tube, talked in front of the tube, paid more attention to the tube than each other.

Then disaster struck—the TV died. Yep, it belched smoke and went to that big electronics dump in the sky.

Ooooh nooooo! What would we do? We didn’t have a lot of money, so it would be a while before we could replace it. My mother flatly refused to use her credit card for a Television, so we would have to save up for a replacement. How awful; and it was in the middle of the Summer Rerun season, too!

It was days before my sister and I stopped whining about having nothing to do. If we whined too loud, Mom would keep us busy, I can tell you that. Oddly, we began to find things to do on our own. We actually started splitting the chores. Reading became a popular sport for us. My sister learned to crochet and I learned to garden. We vacuumed; sometimes we even dusted!

Without TV, our lives changed dramatically. We were forced to live in reality, not vicariously. We were not bound to a broadcast schedule or worrying about what we had missed last night. We hadn’t missed anything and we knew it. We even lost weight. Without the constant barrage of food commercials, we weren’t headed to the fridge every fifteen minutes.

I enjoyed that summer. We had memories of things done instead of just what shows we had watched. We were participating, not observing and it was good.

Still, Mom missed the evening news, and finally bought a new TV.  Once again that flickering blue light ruled our lives. All the benefits we gained over the quiet time were lost. We grazed during commercials and let the chores fall away. We forgot to do things for ourselves. We observed instead of living. All because we didn’t have the strength to turn the box off.

That was twenty five years ago. I don’t have a TV at all now, but I have something even more insidious: the Internet. Having always been an avid reader, I am mesmerized by the sheer volume of information to be explored and it is all at my fingertips. If I run out of topics Google will find something to amuse me.

I am soft and round and seldom out of my armchair for very long. While I am not a geek by any means, I can surf for hours, and I don’t mean waves at Waikiki.  I seem to have forgotten the feeling that being in the real world gave me. I need to be truly interactive and not with a keyboard.

Perhaps the addiction to visual stimulation is one that can be controlled. With hard work I can learnt o limit my time surfing and spend more time actually doing something. I am smart; I can build stuff, make stuff, plant and grow stuff, paint, sing, talk and do things. I am more than a data interface. There is more in life than pixels on a 10” by 17” screen. I can do that.

The Wayseers

I know that I have written two other posts on this book, The Wayseers by Garret John LoPorto, and that those posts may be a bit confusing. That is probably because I was confused, which to be honest is not that difficult to do to me lately.

I do like the book and would recommend that you read it if you are into alternative theories on psychology and spirituality. LoPorto starts out with the study of a mutation to the DRD4, something, something gene. It is one of those long scientific names that seems to always throw me for a loop. So anyway, I did some searching and while I do not find Wikipedia to always be a great source of information, in this case it was one of the few that I could actually understand. LoPorto appears to be quoting old studies that gave this gene mutation credit for the thrill seeking personality. There may be a gene out there that determines thrill seeking traits, this gene is not it. What this gene does tell us is the likelihood that the person with it will have a serious mental illness like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or ADHD. Which LoPorto makes some link between these mental illnesses and the repressed thrill seeking impulses.

LoPorto also quotes Otto Rank quite often, who started out as Freud’s assistant in Vienna, but gained his own popularity through writing alternatives to the mainstream psychology of the time. Admittedly, I have not read Rank’s work so can not agree with or criticize LoPorto’s use or evaluation of it.

Where I did find the confusion is that the link to God or Heart, as LoPorto put it. I am all for a God centered life, whatever that God may be, and living your life as you see fit as well. LoPorto most of the time seems to say that same thought, but at times takes it further by stating that we should follow our impulses. OK, that would be fine if all our impulses were pure, kind, and loving, but we all know that there are darker impulses that if expressed would make our own hell on earth.

Later in the book, LoPorto talks about following those impulses that come not from ego but from the deeper heart. I am not sure that the ego can create impulses, since this is supposed to be the thinking part of us, not the emotional part. Anything from the ego should be thought out and calculated, not impulsive. But those things from the emotions are impulsive.

Granted I am not a psychologist, nor am I well read on most of the supporting materials LoPorto used to hold his theory up. That being said, most of the book was interesting and kept the mind busy examining his thoughts.

Since the mind is still a mysterious landscape for science and the rest of us, I have to stand in support of the fact that until absolutely proven otherwise, LoPorto’s theories are just as valid as anyone’s. And if nothing else, does give us a more positive approach to ourselves than many other ones available to us.

How Much is Enough?

We live in a consumer society. We buy everything we see and listen to advertisements that tell us we need the latest gadget, the latest fashions, the newest movies and websites, all of it. And then, of course, we have to have the biggest house to store it all, the best cars and trucks to move it all and the most popular blog to brag about it all.

What purpose does all of it serve? There is a saying: ‘you can’t have everything—where would you put it?’ Funny in a sort of wry way, but it illustrates a point. There comes a time when no matter what, you have to say that it’s too much.

Some of the things we need are a given, such as food, shelter, water, etc. Those are pretty basic. When you get into the needs imposed by societies we live in, the list expands somewhat. Now we need such things as work, transportation, medical care, education, entertainment, technology, communications, information, and a slew of extra stuff our ancestors wouldn’t even recognize.

I wonder how different life would be if we just decided to pick and choose what we actually needed and perhaps only a few of the extras, rather than gobbling up everything the advertisers threw at us like greedy ducks in a pond. What if you just chose a few things, rather than tried to keep up with everything? Would your Facebook page really suffer all that much? Who are you trying to impress, anyway? Does anybody really care if you have the latest android or PS3?

Do you really need the biggest house on the block, or are you just grandstanding? Would it really kill your kids to have to share a room? Your parents and grandparents most likely did it for years. Heck, they probably had only one bathroom for the entire house and they did just fine. They may even have had to learn to actually compromise and think about the rest of the folks they lived with.

While technology has become a necessity, how much is really useful to you and the way you live? Upgrading your phone every six months when something new comes out is wasteful and expensive. So you can’t play ‘Angry Birds’ all afternoon, so what? You can’t think of something better to do with your time? Your computer and the internet are modern necessities, but does that mean that you can do without cable? I don’t even own a television set any more and I haven’t missed it in almost two years.

If chosen wisely, the many advances available to us could result in a lessening of the burden of sheer stuff we have to deal with on a daily basis. The paperless office has been touted for years and might even be a reality some day. Our photos, music, records and entertainment are now stored in a hundredth of the space used by our predecessors.

I buy what I need, and try to limit buying what I want. I’ve had my favorite jeans for years, and still wear them often, despite the change in fashion. No one even blinks at them. I choose the look that I want, not one dictated by some oddly dressed “Designer” whose aim is to be memorable, not tasteful. I once read a statement by the 19th century artist and designer, William Morris: “Have nothing in your house that you do not find both beautiful and useful.”

What terrific advice!

Find your peace, friends.

Rev. Zita

Wayseers are more than an attitude, maybe

As you all know, we purchased the book The Wayseers by Garret John Loporto because it seemed interesting, applicable to how we think, and might help explain my children since many times I find myself at a lack of understanding when it comes to some of their behaviors.

Admittedly, I think that I am a non-conformist, even if I am not a thrill seeker. According to Loporto’s list of attributes, I am one of what he terms the wayseers, and so are my children. While he claims that the wayseers are only about 10% of the population, the list of attributes and their widespread appearance in society could mean that his theory is more widespread than he states. Anyway, Loporto theorizes that this particular group of individuals all have the DRD4 exon III 7-repeat allele (DRD4 7) and this causes them to be thrill seekers and dreamers.

I have no clue if I have that quirk physically, and I am not much of a thrill seeker, but I do tend to think outside the box and take chances that others may not (heck I started a business that I had no clue about success or failure, but it worked). I also tend to be a day dreamer and like my alone time to think, let my mind wander, and meditate, which are states that Loporto claims are the normal state of being for the wayseer.

In addition to reading Loporto’s book, I did my own research about that DRD4 7 quirk and found that it is a real thing that scientists and psychologists are studying. Some studies are stating that there is a link between the thrill seeking tendencies in some people and this gene and others say there is no link.

What are your thoughts? Is there a physical reason for seeking that adrenalin rush?

Be Blessed.
Rev. Kelly