Thursday, November 26, 2015

Baklava: Recipe

I've been making baklava since 1982. 
The first time I made baklava--three decades ago--it was a disaster.

Having recently returned from six months studying in Jerusalem (Jan-June 1982), I decided to tackle this Mediterranean treat.

As a novice, I accidentally added the syrup before baking the butter-layered pastry filled with nuts and spices.


I assembled it at my apartment but baked it at a reunion--held at one of our teacher's home, David K. Ogden aka DKO.

When others asked me about the progress of this dessert, I remember looking in the oven and then shouting back over my shoulder, "It's swimming in so much butter and syrup that it's doing the backstroke!"

I've had three more decades to practice making baklava.  May you benefit from my slow learning curve!

Gathering ingredients. 

1 pound of nuts* (4 cups of halves)
1 teaspoon cinnamon and/or nutmeg

3/4 cup of melted butter
1 pkg (16 oz) phyllo dough aka fillo, thawed

2/3 cup of water
1 cup of granulated sugar

3/4 cup of honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

*I prefer pecans, but others use pistachios, walnuts or even mixed nuts.  If they are already chopped, you only need 3.5 cups.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Books about the Death Care Industry

Photo by Tim Green.
Over the last year, I have been reading books about the death care industry: the goods and services that people use after a person dies.

Goods include coffins, headstones, cremation jars, and so forth.  I haven't read much about death care industry goods.

Mainly, I have read about services.

These range from body removers, organ donation surgeons, coroners, medical examiner, funeral home directors, cremation employees, and researchers.

I realize that this is a grim topic.

In an attempt to face my fears about dying and death, I choose to read.   I hope that by learning more about the fate of bodies postmortem, I can have greater courage when the time comes.

Fortunately, no one close to me has died who required me to make final arrangements.  However, the older I get, the more likely I will be working with employees in the death care industry.

Here are the books that I have read on this topic so far, arranged by reverse chronology.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Measure of Maturity: Quote

Click to enlarge photo by Kelley Boone modified by KDA.
Currently, I'm experiencing a lot of conflict and change in my life.

My previous responses to similar situations have been to rant, complain, throw things, or feed addictions such as shopping and eating.

I've had enough experience now that I can see that these responses will just expend a lot of energy and produce no results.

Or even worst, these responses will just create additional problems.

Consequently, I am adopting self-soothing practices that are more productive: moderate exercise, devotional reading, meditation, deep cleaning, and even just losing myself in my day-to-day responsibilities.

While looking through my cache of age-related quotes, I found the following served me at this time:

"Maturity is the ability to think, speak and act your feelings within the bounds of dignity. The measure of your maturity is how spiritual you become during the midst of your frustrations."

Samuel Ullman (1840-1924), American businessman, poet, and humanitarian.

I currently live in Kansas, so I'm using this image: I hope to survive like a country church endures on a stormy prairie.


Books on Aging and Spiritual Growth
Quantifying Wisdom
Am I Old or Am I Young? Quote

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Medicare Plan Finder

Photo by nirbhao.
Did you know that every year those who are enrolled in a Medicare Drug Plan (Part D) can compare costs for the upcoming year and SWITCH during Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment takes place every year from October 15th through December 7th.

During this time, smart consumers look at their plan's cost projections for the next calendar year and compare those costs with other plans.

$$$ Switching often saves people hundreds of dollars over a year. $$$

I have witnessed this first hand. I helped beneficiaries during three Open Enrollment periods (2011, 2012, and 2013).  I learned a great deal about Part D when I was a volunteer counselor working with SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas, Sedgwick County EO location).

Even if you are not on Medicare Part D at this time, learn a little about the program so that you can help an aging parent and so that you can be better informed of the process before you eventually enroll.

If you have never compared plans, you can get help in a couple of ways.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November: National Diabetes Month 2015

Participate on November 17th
Visit for more info. 
National Diabetes Month's theme for 2015 is


Join the American Diabetes Association's campaign on November 17th by taking a photo of a healthy lunch and using the above hashtag.

If you search on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with #EatWellAmerica or #MyHealthyLunch or #HealthyLunchDay you can see some early bird examples.

Go to this link to sign up ahead of time for a Thunderclap--a coordinated social media event. 

Although diabetes affects people of all ages, the prevalence of diabetes among older adults is 25.9% or 1 in 4. 

Some older adults have been living with Type 1 for decades, but the overwhelming majority are Type 2.

[Note: This post does not offer medical advice. It's purpose is to raise awareness. If you are concerned about your body's ability to produce insulin or process glucose, please see a licensed medical professional.]

The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include the following:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train: Book Review

Published 16 October 2012.
The novel Mrs. Queen Takes the Train (2012) offers a great mix of humor, adventure, romance and social commentary.

The title and jacket flap let the readers know they will be following Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926) on an unscheduled trip to Scotland.

This expectation of a humorous adventure tale is a bit misleading.

Yes, we get to see the Queen travel in disguise among common British subjects as she journeys from the palace to Scotland. However, the majority of the book focuses on the six palace affiliates who are trying to locate her.

The novel has an "ensemble cast" of seven characters.

Because four of these characters are 50 plus (and the author is in midlife himself), I found this book has some interesting explorations of age-related concerns.

In an interview, Kuhn explains that part of interest was to imagine Elizabeth working through age-related concerns. The author's own father was born the same year as the Queen, which led Kuhn to draw parallels. Watching his father manage age-related concerns made him wonder how the Queen might be doing the same.

In the novel, the Queen is in her mid 80s and reviewing her life events and life meaning. Her lady in waiting Anne Bevil is in her 70s and wondering how long she can keep working. The same is true for the queen's dresser, Shirley McDonald. And the senior Butler, William de Morgan, is at midlife and wondering if his major identity should be so strongly tied to his career.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Iris (Apfel): Film Review

Released 28 April 2015.
Director Albert Maysles aims his camera at that rare bird of fashion, Iris Apfel and the result is the documentary Iris (2015).

Born in 1921, Iris received an education in art history and then went on to work in interior decorating with her husband Carl Apfel. They traveled the world to design fabrics and to purchase unique items for their clientele.

Over the decades and often while traveling, Iris purchased many unique clothing items and pieces of costume jewelry.

Because she had well-healed clients and attended socialized with the rich and famous, word got out to museums about her sense of style. Her outfits were featured in museums, and she has been a model for MAC cosmetics.

She's in high demand these days, which is a bit tricky for a nonagenarian.

Thankfully, we have access to Iris through this documentary, which runs 1 hour and 23 minute.  We get a close look at her clothes, jewelry, home furnishings, work, marriage, and travels.

While it would be impractical for most women to imitate Iris--given people's limitations of money and space--I found her inspiring. She encourages me to embrace color, to accessorize, and to exhibit confidence.


Advanced Style: Film Review

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Religion and Spirituality Influences Geriatric Medicine

Photo by Phil Warren.
I was interested to read a scholarly article on the influence of religion and spirituality on aging.

The academic journal Gerontologist published this an article in 2013 by a team of researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University.

These researchers reviewed several articles that explained the implications to a broad range of professions and academic disciplines: geriatric medicine, geriatric psychiatry, psychology in gerontology, sociology, theology and religious community practices,

Their entire article interests me, but it's too much to discuss in one post.

Consequently, I chose the most practical findings, the benefits of religion and spirituality to physical health or the section on geriatric medicine. 

The researchers looked at the effects of religion and spirituality on 1) mental health 2) health behaviors and lifestyle choices, and 3) attitudes towards illness.