Archives for the month of: March, 2013

It’s understandable you would want to know how to get rid of poison oak plants when they invade your space, it’s a nasty little plant that can absolutely ruin your time outdoors. Poison oak is an allergen which secretes an oil called urushiol the same as poison ivy and sumac. Poison oak may appear in one of four forms, vines, bushes, creepers, or as individual plants. As soon as you spot it growing it is time to eradicate which takes some care and the proper equipment to minimize the odds you contact the urushiol oil and contract it’s well known itchy rash.

One of the most important things to remember when removing poison oak is to be prepared. Wear clothing which covers as much of your skin as possible, heavy gardening gloves are an absolute must. Just to be safe it is a good idea to buy Technu soap before you start. If you know your skin has come in contact with urushiol oil it takes about three minutes to an hour for it to bind with skin so you do have a chance to get it off your flesh. Technu soap is specifically designed to remove Toxicodendron oils and this is your best bet to avoid a breakout if you do come in contact with urushiol oil. Don’t bother trying to use gas, kerosene, or turpentine, these will do more harm than good.

Poison oak has a really strong root system so simply cutting away the portion you can see is not going to kill the plant, it’s just going to keep coming back time and again, and beware the root system has the oil as well so don’t handle it without gloves on. The least savory but only sure way to get rid of the plant is to dig it up and remove the root system. First you will want to cut the above ground portion of the plant away except for a small stub so it is easy to identify exactly where it is. Discard this is a thick plastic lawn and leaf bag. Next dig around the stub and then push deep and lift it from the ground with the shovel and toss it into the bag as well. Another method, although it is less preferred is to is to place a thick plastic bag over the plant and try to pull the plant out of the ground. More often than not I find I break the plant and have to dig it up anyway.

In case you have a poison oak vine climbing around a tree you need to use a different tactic. When they grow around trees their root system often weaves with the trees root system making it nearly impossible to remove in full. The best thing to do in this case is to remove the vine from the tree. I prefer snipping away sections to discard in my waste bag. Leave just a small section of a few leaves showing and liberally spray them with something like Roundup or Brush-B-Gone that is a non-selective herbicide. These will kill anything they come in contact with so as the leaves absorb this it will work down to the root system and eventually kill that as well. Multiple applications are sometimes needed so you should monitor the vines demise to determine when it needs another dose.

Some people who do not wish to use poisons to combat and kill poison oak maintain it can be killed with a saltwater and soap mixture (2 parts saltwater/1 part soap) but I have never tried this so I can’t say it would work. Still if you are totally against using poisonous herbicides it is worth a shot. Never dispose of poison oak clippings or root system in a compost pile as they will just reappear where you dumped them and never under any circumstances should you burn it. This can cause all sorts of respiratory problems.

Getting rid of poison oak isn’t a fun job, if possible it should be left to professional landscapers. If however you want to do it yourself follow the above steps as those are two ways to remove the plant/vine and root system. Please remember just removing what you see is not killing the plant and that you need to cover as much skin as possible when undertaking this task. Just to be extra safe keep Technu soap on hand and wash with it liberally as soon as you complete the job. It’s not a fun job, but if you are going to do it follow the above procedures and do it the safe correct way.

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One of the highlights of Hawaii is the many varieties of traditional Hawaiian food available. The states rich history of people from around the world adding culinary twists from wherever they departed before arriving on Hawaii’s shores makes their food truly unique. Over centuries what has been created is as diverse a dining experience as you will find anywhere. If your idea of Hawaiian food is pizza (Or anything for that matter) with a slice of pineapple on it, or just poi, which while traditional is not to everyone’s taste, hold on to your hats and get out your pens for some real authentic Hawaiian dining delights.

Something to remember when considering Hawaiian food is it’s role in society. Hawaii is known for it’s pineapples, mangoes, macadamia and kukui nuts, as well as it’s seafood. All are a part of most daily meals, however they are also integral industries that at one time supported the island prior to tourism, none more than pineapple. Also Hawaiians take their meals seriously. They view each meal as a gift and a time for sharing with family and friends. Arguments are to be left outside and aloha is the mood of the table. Oftentimes many of the senior Hawaiians do not even want to discuss business at the table and prefer instead to use the time to keep current with other aspects of the lives of the people sharing their table.

A particular favorite has always been Lau-Lau which never disappoints. The way it is prepared is by stuffing a pork shoulder with chicken and/or a vegetable filling. Sometimes butter-fish or whatever catch of the day you prefer is added to create a different flavor, and of course Hawaiian or kosher salt really tops it off well. The filling is then individually wrapped and tied in five taro leaves. The lau lau is then further wrapped and tied inside 2 ti-leaves. If you cannot get ti-leaves or just prefer not to use them as they are not edible, banana or spinach leaves work just as well and add a little bit of a flavor twist. The best, and only way to cook these according to traditionalists, are in an imu, which is an underground oven, hanging around in the backyard. Pressure cooking works almost as well as not everyone has an imu. The variety of natural flavors from the leaves and natural ingredients make this something that will dance on the tip of your tongue.

Perhaps the best known Hawaiian food is called Kalua pig or Kalua pork. This is usually the main course of all Hawaiian luau’s. Like Lau-Lau, it is best prepared in an imu, but you can prepare it other ways as well, just know that it won’t have that smoky flavor without an artificial additive. When preparing this it is good to remember to pierce the pork with a fork or knife to allow the flavor to seep in, and this should be cooked fat side up to allow the fat to drip down the sides of pork. It is tender and juicy and and melts in your mouth when properly prepared. Kalua pig has a distinct salty/smoky flavor that is hard to not fall in love with.

Lomi Salmon is a traditional, but not native Hawaiian seafood dish consisting of salted diced or cubed salmon with tomatoes, green onions, lemon juice, and crushed ice. If you like it spicy Tabasco sauce can certainly kick this up a notch without destroying the natural flavor. Lomi is a food that complements poi which makes it a mainstay at all luau’s. Usually it is served as a spread with crackers, however it is also excellent when stuffed in tomatoes or inside cherries. This is an addictive side that will keep you going back for more. Its great flavor and ease of preparation make this a very popular dish aside from it’s historical significance as a substitute for the fish kumu, which ancient Hawaiians used as an offering to the gods. Just be warned not to fill up on this, once you start diving into the Lomi it’s hard to stop.

Poi has been a staple food in Hawaii for countless years. It is made from the root of the taro plant. Poi is produced by mashing the cooked taro into a gluey thick fluid. While mashing this, you add water to achieve the desired consistency which can range from a paste like substance which is most common, or to something a bit more fluid and soupy which is a bit less popular. If it looks like grits you are probably doing it right. It is an acquired taste for most, one I honestly never did acquire. Many native Hawaiians believed the spirit of Ha-loa was a present in poi which makes it so special in addition to having been for some a main source of nourishment in past centuries. Kalo was the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people and was to be revered, so poi was therefore considered sacred.

Another delight is Poki. This is raw fish salad almost always made with ahi which is yellow-fin tuna. This dish is flavored with kukui nuts, seaweed, soy sauce, and sesame oil although most people enjoy variations of seasonings. I myself like a little Tabasco. In fact, there are probably well over a hundred or so variations of Poki served throughout the islands as most towns

and restaurants generally have their own style of making this dish. Raw fish isn’t for everyone, but one taste is usually enough to make a convert out of anybody. The good thing about this dish is if you don’t like one style it is prepared in you may find one you do like the next day as it is a very diverse dish. This dish is always a great starter with any meal, and being a lover of Poki I encourage everyone to try as many variations as possible. This is so good in fact you may find yourself requesting a large order to serve as your entree.

What discussion of Hawaiian food would be complete without bringing up a traditional dessert? Hawaiian banana bars are simple and tasty and a favorite of dessert lovers of all ages. This treat consists of mashed bananas, chopped walnuts, vanilla extract, brown sugar, lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon. Once this is mixed you just bake it for a half hour, let is cool, and cut it into bars or blocks as you would a brownie, you can’t make it much simpler than that. Some people enjoy adding other ingredients like a little coconut or macadamia nuts instead of walnuts which is what makes this so popular, it’s ease in preparation and versatility. If you need a quick and easy dessert Hawaiian Ambrosia is the ultimate. Ambrosia is prepared in a large bowl, preferably a punch bowl. First add in about eight ounces of pineapple and about ten ounces of mandarin oranges. Then add shredded coconut, mini marshmallows, cool-whip, milk, and cherries. Chill for an hour and garnish with cherries and you’re all set. It is as tasty as it is easy and goes over great with kids which is why this is a luau staple.

There is so much variety in traditional Hawaiian food you will find trying to sample a bit of everything a highlight of each meal. Keep an open mind as to trying new things. Don’t make meal time a rushed event, but rather look upon it as a reward and another part of your Hawaiian experience. You may go to Hawaii for the sun and sand, but the food will make you want to keep coming back!

Getting sexy looking eyes just got simpler! Current celebrity trends have opened up a whole new wave of ways to get sexy looking eyes anyone can pull off at home. Bold colors and multiple shades are in vogue again and for all those fans of blue  – it’s back! Follow some simple steps and you too can have sexy eyes no one can resist staring into.

For a playful sexy look purple is the only option. Purple works with any eye color and is sure to separate you from everyone with the old traditional boring black eyeliner. Start with a purple eyeliner pencil – the bigger the better. Make a nice wide strip on the top lash line first and then repeat on the bottom.  The reason for this is you want  a thick bold line to tart working with – and remember to work from the outer to inner corner of your eyes.

Your next step is to smear the color on the top lid – use your finger for this. You want to make sure you work the color into the creases. Before you move on – grab that pencil again and make a second line over the original. This is going to help redefine things and set a multi-tone look.

To finish up hit your lashes with a dash of black mascara and you’re done. It really is that simple, and you have a look that is going to draw a ton of attention.

For an evening out that looks runway glamorous you’ll need to work with two tones – green and gold. Don’t be scared off by those colors, when used together they look fabulous. To get started apply a line of olive green liner just below the lower inner rim of your eye. Blink a few times to see how the color transfers to the upper rim, and then reapply the liner one more time to fill in where any color may have been lost.

Next you want to apply another olive green line along the lower lash line, Be very precise with this step. Now you want to switch to the gold tone and repeat the steps working around the green lines. Go slightly heavier on the top than the bottom.

To finish it off smudge the lines with a small shadow brush and apply mascara to top it off. In just a few minutes you have eyes that would rival the biggest start at the most glamorous of events.

For fans of blue that were dying for it to come back you are in luck – and this is the easiest look to pull off as it is just a matter of working below the eye – the top lid is left nude. The hot color this year is indigo blue so all you likely need to buy is a pencil in that shade. Make one thick line that runs the full length of the lower inner rim.

Next do the same but now do it along your lower lash line. Make sure this is a bold thick line. Then widen it out and make one more line just below the one you finished. Next smudge the lower line upward to your lashes so that any areas that are under-filled are addressed and the color looks like a solid block of sorts. Apply mascara and the look is complete. Simple, sexy, and sure to get raves!

While these looks may sound a little bold for some, don’t be bashful about trying them. The worst thing that can happen is you try one out and don’t like it. If you do not try on the other hand you’ll never know.

Call me a traditionalist, overly narrow, or anything you want but great mockumentaries are the domain of one man and one man alone, Rob Reiner. Reiner brought to life something we had never really seen before with a cast of actors that was so star laden it could qualify as a galaxy. His follow up effort was just as strong in many regards. Number one on the list of great mockumentaries is and can only be the incomparable “This Is Spinal Tap.”

Released in 1984, This Is Spinal Tap became an instant underground sensation chronicling the decline of what was supposed to be the loudest heavy metal band in the world. The cast was assembled by picking out actors that were not just great comedic talents but actual musicians. No other mockumentary has ever spawned actual albums that sold, guest appearances as the Saturday Night Live band, The Simpsons, Hear N’ Aid, and been so convincing people actually believed this was a real band! Spinal Tap became a standard favorite on tour buses for most of the major bands of the era all the way through to today, each rolling their eyes always pointing out snafus they too experienced.

The band consisted of Michael Mckean (David St. Hubbins), Sir Christoper Guest (Nigel Tufnel), Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls), David Kaff (Viv Savage), and R.J. Parnell (Mick Shrimpton). The band manager Ian Faith was brilliantly played by Tony Hendra, and Rob Reiner, who to his credit encouraged ad-lib exchanges played the “mockumentarian” Marti Dibergi. The laundry list of stars hardly ends there though with appearances from Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Howard Hessman, Bruno Kirby, Fran Drescher, Ed Begley Jr., Vicki Blue, Paul Schafer, Fred Willard, and the always lovely Anjelica Huston just to name a few. That’s correct, just a few!

You’ll see the Tap embarking on their North American tour, in which everything simply goes wrong. Interviews give you a glimpse of the bands history along the way which are brilliant, and that’s an understatement. The performance clips and music are indescribable. Honestly, this has to be watched to be understood, and more than that you can honestly watch this dozens of times, laugh, find new things to laugh at, and then watch it another dozen times and still be entertained. You’ll see food problems, equipment problems, the challenge of fitting 9 people in a king leisure bed, makeup snafus, Stonehenge being trampled by dwarfs, and the ever puzzling deaths of drummers.

What made This Is Spinal so great is the wide spread impact it had on basically everyone. It’s catchphrase “But this one goes to eleven” was shortened to “up to eleven” and added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. “None Blacker” actually became a point scientists debated and worked on trying to see who could create a surface that was actually the blackest known! This is the grandfather of every mockumentary out there, it was so convincing people honestly believed they were real. It was so accurate real bands thought they had their horror stories from the road stolen. It was so entertaining it spawned albums, tours, and television appearances. Watch This is Spinal Tap and just laugh yourself silly. It goes to eleven.

The Return of Spinal Tap released in 1992 chronicles the Tap’s return after a decade of self imposed isolation. You’ll see the band as in tact as possible, don’t worry the big three return, and as soon as Sir Bob Geldolf utters the words “Live from hell it’s Spinal Tap” the Sir Albert Hall swings with “Tonight I’m gonna rock ya!” you know this is something special. See the band back at home giving you a glimpse at their roots the way only they can.

You’ll see clips of the Tap sandwiched in between their actual live performance of all their “hits.” Rob Reiner is again simply brilliant and seeing him discuss the rift between him and the band over the “hatchet job” he did portraying them in This Is Spinal Tap is priceless. You’ll see Lady Jamie Lee Curtis, Martin Short, and Robin Williams all making appearances to testify to the staying power of the Tap, in their own unique way of course. Don’t think for a second everything runs smooth, the band is still plagued by problems you’ll see at every turn, even a mini golf tragedy with singer Kenny Rogers and a major chakra ball problem that can’t be explained with words.

The appearance of so many gifted musicians like Graham Nash, Paul Shaffer, Jeff Beck, Mel Torme, and Les Claypool made even more new initiates to the Tap believe this was a real band! What is amazing about this is where most sequels get weaker this stays as strong as the predecessor. The manner the cast works employing a free flowing ad-lib style with only a minimal outline to follow makes this feel just as real as This Is Spinal Tap. The cinematography is vastly improved, the sound quality is top notch, and this looks like a major budget feature but still feels very indie. Any lover of comedy, especially if they are a music fan simply has to have this in their library.

What makes these in my opinion the two best mockumentaries ever made isn’t just that they are among the first ever, but their staying power. Here we are 24 and 14 years later respectively still discussing them. The band that began as a joke is still performing at major benefits to this day including such massive events as Live Earth. These mockumentaries set the standard for every one that has followed and they have yet to be knocked off their pedestal. You can walk up to almost anyone under the age of 45, spout a Spinal Tap line and it’s likely they not only know it, but know where it’s from. That’s as big a testament to the massive audience these reached globally as anything as to why these are the best mockumentaries ever.