Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cool Summer Foods

Greetings LIFEers! We had a tasty treat in store for us today. Claire Gunnels and her daughter Barbara joined our class to teach us how to make some cold summer foods: ice-cream and gazpacho soup. Check out the history of ice-cream and their recipes in the slide show below, and stay cool this summer my friends!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

175 Years of Texas History

Howdy LIFEers! Weeeeellll, I reckon this musta been one of THE most interestin' and thought provokin' LIFE classes we ever done had. Lotsa facts and history flyin' around the room, and folks just a scratchin' their heads tryin' to remember back to their grade school histry class. Yessir, it was a fascinatin' class: so fascinatin' that we ran over time and folks just stayed to keep learnin' more. But of course we all stayed, this class was about a subject near 'n dear to our hearts: Texas history.

Professor Thomas Kelly (a yankee, but we won't hold that against him) joined us to teach us all about the facts (and dispel some fictions) about the Lone Star State. Some interesting highlights:

  • The original Tejas (state of Mexico) encompassed the south-east portion of the current state. The Republic was much bigger in part because after the battle of San Jacinto, Santa Ana withdrew his troops to the south side of the Rio Grande. In the treaty of Velasco, Santa Anna agreed to withdraw his troops from Texas (Tejas he thought). But since he withdrew to the Rio Grande, the Rio Grande became the new boundary of Texas.

  • Texas was a Republic for 9 years, but it applied for US statehood each year of those 9 years, so one could argue it was a republic by default. The US rejected Texas' application for several reasons; possible war with Mexico, possible war with the Indians, and concerns about the massive debt Texas would enter the union with due to its recent war with Mexico.

  • True or false: Texas is the only state with the right to fly the state flag at the same height or above the national flag. False. There were no rules about flag flying at the time of the Republic, and the Lone Star flag wasn't made the official state flag until 1933. The official US flag code allows any state flag to fly at the same height as the national flag, provided the national flag is on the left side, from the viewer's perspective. The Texas flag code also states that when on a single flag pole, the national flag must be on top.

  • True or False: Texas has a treaty with the US that allows it to split into 5 states someday. Trick question. Texas has no treaty with the US. It was annexed by an act of Congress in 1845 (and we went to war with Mexico in 1846). The annexation allowed Texas to someday be broken up into 5 smaller states, mostly because of slavery. Other states (namely California) entering the union at the time were entering as free states, and southerners wanted to maintain the balance of slave states to non-slave states, so they reserved the right to create more (slave) states out of Texas, although most Texans were not slave owners. This was all settled with the Compromise of 1850 (where Texas got its current shape), and the entire topic was rendered moot by Article 4, Section 3 of the Constitution.

  • Does Texas have any special laws? Yes! Texas is the only state that was granted the right to own its public lands. This is huge and for some reason few people know about this. More than 225 million acres of land were public at the time of annexation, which didn't do much for the state at first until the discovery of..oil! Massive profits from the oil sales went into Texas educational funds, which are still being used today.

Please read Professor Kelly's slide show below, and check out the links to the Texas state web pages for more information on (or verification of) today's history lesson.

Ya'll come back now, ya' hear!

You can learn more Texas history at the state’s official website:
Narrative History of Annexation of Texas:
The actual annexation document:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cake Balls

Greetings LIFEers! Today we got a tasty treat as Librarian Krissy Conn joined us to share more of her cake making and decorating skills: this time with ...cake balls.

Cake balls are exactly like they sound: small balls of cake dipped in icing making for the perfect sized desert. The nice thing about cake balls is it lets your friends and family try several types of cake without having to eat an entire slice. So you can have a red velvet cake ball, chocolate cake ball, carrot cake ball, etc... and get a little taste of each one. Push a little stick inside the ball for a cake pop as a twist. These are great for parties, wedding receptions, or just a fun treat for guests. Check out Krissy's recipe below and enjoy this tasty, bite-sized treat!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Weight Loss

Greetings LIFEers! Dr. Chase Hayden returned after his fascinating lecture on omega 3 fatty acids to talk to us about weight loss, and why most of us are not having success with our diets and various weight loss programs. Statistically speaking, over two thirds of Americans are overweight and one third are obese. So weight loss is a big issue (no pun intended) for many of us. But why do we fail, and fail repeatedly? Dr. Chase gave us some answers today.

One issue surrounding weight loss and diets that we are beginning to hear more about is our blood type and our blood pH. These two factors are crucial in many of our bodies' functioning, and yet many people know little about it. A diet plan for a blood type A won't necessarily work for a type O, and vice versa. Our blood types developed over thousands of years due to people living in specific environment surrounded by different types of food sources. Eskimos have different blood types than Australian Aborigines, who differ from the ancient Maya who differ from Pygmies. Our blood types have mixed over time as humans crossed the globe, but we are still tied to our ancient DNA. Knowing your blood type can help you determine which foods to avoid and what foods to eat in your quest for health.

Another issue is your blood pH, or potential of hydrogen. Go back to high school chemistry. Remember the pH scale? The scale ranges from 0-14, with 1 being the most acidic, 7 being neutral and 14 being the most alkaline. Our blood wants to be about 7.2-7.4. But the western diet is heavily acidic, which lowers our pH. So our body has to pull alkaline minerals like calcium, iodine, potassium, magnesium and others out of our bones, organs and tissue to help balance our blood pH. As a result, our bones are more brittle and our organs function more poorly simply because of our diets. The answer is what you've been told all along: eat more fruits and vegetables (mostly vegetables) and very lean meat. Fruits and vegetables are alkaline, and don't require our bodies to sacrifice any nutrients to balance our blood pH. But wait, aren't lemons and limes and tomatoes acidic, you ask? In their natural, uneaten form, yes. But, once we've digested them, they function as alkaline in our bodies. Cut out processed foods, alcohol, dairy and grains and you will see a dramatic improvement in your health. Of course, you should never begin a weight loss program or diet without consulting your doctor, but if you went to your doctor and said you wanted to eat mostly veggies and lean meat, he or she will probably be thrilled.

Check out Dr. Chase's slide show below. Below that is a link to a YouTube video explaining more about our blood pH and how our foods impact our health. Stay happy and healthy my friends!

Organic Coop pick-up in Cypress

Greetings LIFEers! As an update to a previous post about Rawfully Organic, a member of our Cypress community is becoming a drop-off point for the Rawfully Organic coop. If you were interested in eating organic food, but didn't want to drive to any of the pick-up locations, you are in luck, because we will have one here soon! The location is

7826 Black Gap Drive, Cypress TX 77433
Pick up hours are 4-7PM

Go to the Rawfully Organic website, put in your order and choose the address above as your pick-up point. Rawfully Organic will email you when the delivery is made so you can pick up your food. See the link below.

Eat healthy my friends!