Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Summer Delights

Greetings LIFEers! This week we were thrilled to have Librarians Jill Vu and Tracy Williams, and staffer Huyen Doan teach us how to make Vietnamese summer salad and lemon sorbet. We were thrilled, first, because we got to eat delicious food, and second, because these brave ladies filled in for us at the last minute when two other presenters canceled. Thank you Jill, Tracy, and Huyen. The recipe for lemon sorbet is below, and the recipe for Vietnamese chicken salad is in the power point. Enjoy!

Lemon Sorbet

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons)
1 tsp lemon zest

1) Make simple syrup by heating sugar and water in saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
2) Mix lemon juice, zest and simple syrup and chill in the refrigerator or in an ice bath.
3) After mixture has chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
4) After frozen, store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Note: If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can still make sorbet. Just place the sorbet mixture in a shallow pan in the freezer and occasionally stir with a fork until the mixture is frozen. If the mixture is still chunky, you can place it in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Secrets of the Bible

What a class we had this week, LIFEers! Professor Shawn Miller joined us to talk about creationism; the belief that the universe, the earth, and all life came into being as stated in the Bible. Is the earth 4.5 billion years old, like many scientists believe; or is it younger, like some evidence states? Did life evolve as Darwin put forth in his theory of evolution, or can the variety of life on earth be explained in Genesis?

While a controversial subject to some, Professor Miller did raise the valid point that science does not have all the answers to basic questions: how did the universe unfold, how old is the earth, how did mankind arise, etc... Scientists might counter that not knowing is the point of science: a theory is put forth until evidence disputes it. Creationists might respond that the Bible is historical evidence and should be taken into account when explaining our origins. Whether or not you agree with creationism, the topic is a fascinating one, and this was without a doubt one of the most dynamic and engaging LIFE classes we've had in a while.

Check out Professor Miller's presentation, and we'll see you next week!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beyond The Foot Massage - The Feet Don't Lie

Greetings LIFEers! Those of you who missed this week's class might be jealous, because everyone who attended got a foot massage! Okay, I'm exaggerating, but one lucky LIFEer got a foot massage. This week were joined by Susie Kruse, who taught us about the ancient art of reflexology.

Reflexology is an ancient practice that massages specific areas of the feet and hands to relieve ailments throughout the body. Beginning in China roughly 5,000 years ago, reflexology has been practiced by many cultures ever since. Acupuncture is an off-shoot of reflexology as acupressure gave way to acupuncture, replacing fingers with needles.

Although a popular practice around the globe, reflexology is not considered a science or reliable method of treating illnesses by the medical community, due mainly to lack evidence of its perceived benefits. If you are suffering from a serious illness, it is always best to see a licensed medical doctor. But if you are trying to stimulate your thyroid gland or relieve back pain, you may wish to give reflexology a try. See Susie's power point slides below as a guide for where to begin.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Read A Book About L.I.F.E.

Interested in L.I.F.E.? Find out what makes our classes so fascinating, and check out Claire Gunnels' book, L.I.F.E. in the Library. Learning, inspiration, fellowship and enrichment are what our classes are all about. See you next class!

Details at

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In Harmony With Wildlife

Greetings LIFEers! We were joined this week by Virginia Kennedy from the TWRC: Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, a great non-profit organization that helps rehabilitate wildlife and educate the public.

Quick, put this number on your refrigerator or list of emergency phone numbers. 713-468-8972. The next time you come across an injured animal or find an abandoned nest, call the TWRC. They will talk you through the situation and tell you what to do, and usually, what not to do, when encountering wildlife.

Some interesting facts we learned; opossums are awesome! And they are also technically called opossums, not possums, but either is okay. Did you know opossums don't carry rabies and have fewer germs and diseases than your average cat and dog? Did you also know that opossums are great for getting rid of vermin, since they eat mice, snakes, roaches, rats and other creatures you usually don't want in/near your house? They also cause very little damage to property and gardens; they just root around looking for a little snack. Opossums are not attack animals, they only defend themselves by hissing and biting. They also can't jump, so if one gets in your trashcan, turn the trashcan on its side so the opossum can get out. They are the only marsupials in North America and are great creatures to have in your neighborhood. We were lucky enough to meet Frodo, the TWRC's resident training opossum. He was a little agitated at being awake in the daytime in a small cage, and he moved about erratically (hence the blurry photo below) but he was super cute.

A few more tidbits we learned in class:
1) Leave the wildlife outside in its natural habitat. Don't bring turtles, snakes and other creatures into your home to keep in terrariums. It stresses them out and they don't live long.
2) Many baby animals don't need to be rescued. Baby rabbits 4-5 inches long, and baby opossums 7-8 inches long (not including the tail) are old enough to live on their own.
3) If you find a baby bird, put it back in the nest if it is uninjured. Birds have a lousy sense of smell, so don't worry about the parents rejecting it because it smells like a human. If the nest is destroyed, make a new nest out of a basket or planter.
4) For all injured or abandoned animals, don't feed or water them! Put them in a big box or container they can't get out of (with air holes!) in a quiet, dry, warm place. You can put the box on a heating pad set on low. Then bring the animal to the TWRC as quickly as possible.

The TWRC is located near the intersection of I-10 and Sam Houston Toll road. They have give tours, speak to schools, and are always looking for volunteers.

Visit their website at

Check out this SlideShare Presentation: