From Hoarding to Home Made Twinkies and Oreos – The NY Times Most Emailed List

If you want a window into the things that entertain us and worry us I think the most emailed list on the New York Times electronic edition makes interesting reading. Today I not only enjoyed reading the most emailed articles but I got a chuckle out of the mix of articles that we felt the need to email to a friend.

The first article on the most emailed list is Personal Health: It’s Time to Say Goodbye to All That Stuff. It is an article about a self help book that the reviewer says really helped her with what she called her "life long tendency to accumulate too much of nearly everything that I considered potentially useful to me or someone else sometime in the future."  I guess the fact that this is the number one most emailed article explains why the show Hoarders is so popular. Apparently everyone thinks they know someone who 'collects' too much stuff.

The second article on the list is Lives Restored: Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight. It is an article about "Marshe Linehan of the University of Washington, creator of a treatment used worldwide for severely suicidal people".  This is also a fascinating article. Surely it being on the most emailed list is a sign of how many of us worry about a  loved one who struggles with mental issues.

Number three on the list is  Vital Signs: Risks: More Red Meat, More Mortality I guess I'm not the only one who worries about what I can do to live a longer healthier life. I emailed this one to my husband!

Just in case you were worried that this insight into our collective consciousness is not very much fun the remaining six articles on the NY Times most emailed list are about food! Clearly healthy food is not as much fun as guilty pleasures. Number four is  Recipe: Homemade Twinkies, number five is Recipe: Chocolate Cupcakes With Cream Filling, and number six is Recipe: Homemade Fritos,  They make me want to start baking right now. Number seven is an entertaining article about the woman who researched and tested all these guilty pleasure recipes including number eight which sounds really good Recipe: Fauxreos. Numbers nine and ten are recipes for Korean Pork not nearly as fun as fake Oreos!

The Biology of Growing Food – A Class taught by my Son-in-Law

My daughter Allison and her husband Doug Bruce lives in Oakland. Doug teaches at a couple of different community colleges. Recently he has started to teach a new class called Biology 801 – The Biology of Growing Food. I know I am biased but I think this YouTube video about the class is very cool.

Here is a flyer about the class

Download Bio801_flyer_1_page

Tamarind to make Pad Thai

I subscribe to a  magazine called Cuisine at Home. A few days ago I decided to make the Pad Thai recipe out of the latest issue.


The recipe called for several food that are unusual to me. (sambal oelek, tamarind paste, fish sauce) I was able to find everything but the tamarind at my local grocery store. I had never heard of tamarind paste before and had no idea even what I was looking for. According to the recipe "Tamarind is a staple in Thai cuisine and gives the dish its sour note with a tangy, dried fruit flavor that tastes somewhat like raisins and lemon".

I tried  two grocery stores yesterday and had no luck, The staff I asked were no help at all. So I gave up. Today I went to our local Mexican grocery store.


Right away a man asked if he could help me and showed me where to find the tamarind paste.


Tonight I made the recipe. Although the paste said it was seedless I did have to take out a few seeds but other than that the recipe came out well.




Chapter by Chapter Reactions to The Longevity Prescription by M.D. Robert N. Butler.

I am participating in a chapter by chapter discussion of Dr. Robert Butler's Book The Longevity Prescription on Ronni Bennett's Blog Time Goes By. The Longevity Prescription has a chapter devoted to each of Dr Butler's nine longevity prescriptions. I discussed the introduction in my last blog post but I think I will put my reactions to each chapter in this one blog post, adding to it as I read.

In the introduction to The Longevity Prescription Butler quotes Jonathan Swift, "Every man desires to live long; but no man would be old." Butler says that the aim of his book is to "offer the best strategies to live long and to live well." I want to live a long life but I also wan to be healthy and vital for as long as possible.

Prescription I – Maintain Mental Vitality

The first encouraging thing I learned in  is that although mental decline is most people's biggest fear it may not happen as much as we think.

"A number of studies have demonstrated that this decline is neither inevitable nor as severe as many people think. About 80 percent of older people report memory loss – but testing has found that such subjective reports are overstated. It appears that our fear of a fading memory exaggerates real but minor memory loss"

For me maintaining mental vitality is the most important aspect of living not just a long life but a long life lived well. I was very encouraged to learn that the idea of use it or lose applies to the brain too.

"The message is clear: You can take responsibility for keeping your brain in optimal condition."

"Momentum is gathering behind the notion that the use-it-or-lose-it rule applies to the brain just as it does to the musculoskeletal system."

I was discussing this with Duke and some friends last night and they rightly pointed out that we know of several people who did all the right things to maintain mental vitality but they still succumbed to Alzheimer's .

"This ailment has become the fear of many aging people, not least because of its prevalence: Roughly one in twenty Americans over sixty-five is affected, and the number rises to more like one in three after age eighty."

Butler says that although there are promising avenues of research into treatment and avoidance of Alzheimer's.

"However, living a healthy lifestyle is the best we can do at present to decrease our odds of getting Alzheimer’s.

My take away from reading Prescription I is that I can look at many of my activities like learning Spanish, writing this blog, and creating a podcast as ""Cognitive Calisthenics to exercise the reserve
capacity of my brain and its ability to integrate newly acquired knowledge".

I also need to think about regularly connecting with other people to take me out of old patterns. Apparently this may even promote brain growth. It is easy to settle into the familiar and regular but I think I will make this more of conscious goal in the future.

Ronni Bennett who I mentioned above is having a meet up her blogging community on October 9 in Portland and Duke and I are planning to go. I suspect that in general traveling is a good way to get out of my old patterns and meet new people.

Prescription II – Nurture your Relationships

I recently overheard a conversation at the senior living facility where my Father lives about how certain people weren't getting enough interaction with other people. I don't think my Dad would mind me saying he has never been a joiner. He can be a very gregarious person but he really dislikes socializing being forced on him. I can appreciate this and would never want to be forced to socialize.

On the other hand making social interaction an important part of my life makes sense to me .I am fairly introverted but I do have a wonderful husband and some really wonderful friends. Butler says:

"In adults, it is much the same: To thrive throughout life, we benefit from attachments, whether you call it love, friendship, empathy, or bonding. Those connections can add great richness."

He also says:

"As a physician, I find it gratifying—and a little surprising—that it is a statistical fact that a good marriage at age fifty is a better predictor of good health at age eighty"

I really appreciate how precious my wonderful marriage is on many levels.There can be no doubt it is good for my health.

I also know how important my friends are. Although I already knew it the importance of nurturing my current friendship and of making new friends is always something that it is good to be reminded of.

Prescription III – Seek Essential Sleep

While it is  intuitively obvious that getting enough sleep is a good idea. I did not realize how important it is for good health. To quote Dr Butler "Poor sleeping habits have been linked to the genesis of disease."

Interestingly enough Butler also says "The old Dogma that poor sleep is an inevitable part of aging is simply not true: Age in itself is not a predictor of insomnia".

I am very lucky in that I have never had problems sleeping and I can pretty much correlate my occasional bad nights sleep with drinking.

Prescription IV – Set Stress Aside

As with getting enough sleep, I think it is obvious that stress is bad for one's health and even impacts one's ability to think clearly.

Being a worrier tends to run in my family but I think I am pretty good at defusing stress. There is no doubt that retiring has helped a a  lot. Sometimes I do have to remind myself that I don't need to try to make everyone happy.

One thing that Dr Butler discussed in this chapter was the restorative effect of contact with the natural world. I have often said that nature is good for the soul. I just feel better when I get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of my surroundings. I was really please to see this positive influence discussed.

Another suggestion that Dr Butler had was to "Keep flowers around". He says that "A study at Kansas State University gave women a five minute typing assignment; researchers found that those who worked with a bouquet of flowers at hand outperformed those with no flowers." I love flowers but I don't usually have them at home. I'm going to add that to my short list of things to change

One of the commenters on Ronni's post about this chapter of the Longevity Prescription mentioned "escape-reading" as a stress relieving strategy. It reminded me of how helpful reading has been at very high stress times in my life. It is amazing to me how much less reading I do now that my life is less stressful.

Prescription V – Connect with your Community

In Prescription II: Nurture Your Relationships Butler talked about our closest relationships like family and dear friends. In this chapter he discuss what he describes as "that larger sense of connectedness we get from relationships that are more distant."

I don't think I have ever really separated the two but I find this an interesting way to think about connections. Butler calls it a connection with life or a connection with the world.

Butler also says that "having a purpose in life is in itself life-giving. He talks about people who find retirement depressing. " His strategies to avoid this include a second career of volunteering, neither of which I want to do right now.

Butler does acknowledge "Not that traditional retirement is not the right model for many people. For people who are able to do what they genuinely enjoy doing on their terms, retirement can make them happy and occupied. There is nothing politically incorrect about saying Ï'm retired and having a ball." On the whole that's me. Although I do think that I should perhaps work more on this blog. I seem to have been letting it falter lately and I have been meaning to write a post about why I blog to help me think about it.

Butler also talks about the "Society of cyberspace"" . This is discussed at length by Ronnie Bennett in her Time Goes By Blog and in the comments on the post about this chapter. It is pretty amazing what a vibrant community Ronni has built at Time Goes By.

"Ronni says "Alone does not necessarily mean lonely and the degree to which we need others varies widely."I think that is very true.

This chapter has definitely given me something to think about.

Prescription VI – Live the Active Life

Prescription VII – Eat Your Way to Health

Prescription VIII – Practice Prevention

Prescription IX – Stay with the Strategy

As I started writing my reactions to each of Dr Butler's prescription I came up with the idea to create a short list of reminders to carry with me in my purse and on my iPod. Here is my list of resolutions so far. I'll add to it as I go along.


  1. Stimulate my brain
  2. Seek out new experiences
  3. make healthy life style choices – fruits and vegetables, exercise, no extra weight, limited alcohol
  4. nurture my friendships
  5. make new friends
  6. Keep flowers around

We Finally Visited the National Automobile Museum in Reno

Bill Harrah who built and owned Harrah's Casinos had a enormous car
collection (over 4000 cars). When he died in 1978 most of the cars were
sold. But 175 of them became the core of the National Automobile Museum
in Reno
. It is located right on the Truckee River downtown across from
the Reno Aces Baseball Stadium

Duke's brother Jim and his wife Marilyn were visiting last week. Their visit gave us the perfect excuse to finally visit the National Automobile Museum. We have lived in Reno for three years and this was our first visit to the car museum. We took a docent lead tour. The guide was fantastic. He knew a lot about the cars and he made the tour really interesting. I can't over emphasize how much I enjoyed the museum. I'm ready to go again.


I especially liked the early camping displays.


and this 1956 Corvette and matching pedal car.


After touring the Car museum we were hungry so we headed over to the Nugget Diner and shared a couple of Awful Awfuls the best hamburger and fries in Reno.


If you would like to see all my pictures from the National Automobile Museum and the Nugget Diner they are available on Flickr here.

El Tumi Peruvian Restaurant – Reno

Saturday night Duke and I tried El Tumi Peruvian Restaurant at 585 E. Moana Lane in Reno. The waitress said they have been open since August. El Tumi has a very appealing menu with quite a variety of dishes and lots of pictures. It was very hard to chose what to try.

We finally decided on fried yucca with a tangy green sauce for dipping as as an appetizer. It was very good. For our main course Duke had the fried fish special and I had the broiled Camarones (shrimp). I really liked the Cusquena Peruvian beer. The food was good and the atmosphere was friendly. I think we'll have to go back a few more times and try a variety of dishes to decide whether El Tumi will go onto our list of regular restaurants.


Todd Martin – Chief Chef, Owner and Founder of the Tucson Tamale Company – Episode 7 Marion Vermazen Podcast

Todd Martin, the founder, owner and chief chef of the Tucson Tamale Company is my guest for this episode of the Marion Vermazen Podcast. Todd started the Tucson Tamale Company in November of 2008. We talked about starting a business, about making tamales, about his plans to grow the company and much more.

To listen to the  podcast you can use the following link.



You can subscribe to the Marion Vermazen Podcast by clicking on the
link at
the top of the column to the right.

To subscribe in iTunes,
from the iTunes Advanced menu select Subscribe to Podcast and copy the
feed URL.  "

I love feedback so let me know what you think of the show.

A New Book and a Tamale contest

I see from the Tucson Tamale Company blog that they now ship tamales. I am ordering some today!!

And in  another post Todd has a very funny video about his friend's new book One True Theory of Love by Laura Fitzgerald with a contest for free tamales when you read the book. Watch the video here.

Todd is a friend. He was my boss at Intuit. I'll let you all know how the tamales are.

I’m passionate about using social networking to build your brand.

I follow Robert Scoble (scobelizer) on Twitter. I often learn new stuff or find new interesting people. At the Consumer Electronics Show Scoble was on a panel about blogging with Gary Vaynerchuk who does a really cool video blog called Wine Library TV and also has his own personal video blog. I love finding new people like this. If you want some great entertainment that will make you laugh watch the segment when Vaynerchuk was on Late Night with Conan O'Brien or if you want to branding and social media watch Gary's  latest segment on his personal website. The guy is just plain entertaining.

What Vaynerchuk does with WineLibraryTV is a great example of how to use social networking to help build your business. My friend Todd who just started The Tucson Tamale Company is in the early stages of doing the exact same thing. You can follow him on twitter (tucsontamales or cornartist) I haven't talked to him about this but I could see him doing 🙂 Todd is doing a great job of building the Tucson Tamale Company brand.

A side note: I haven't tried Tucson Tamale Company tamales yet but Todd says he is going to do mail order soon. I can't wait!

The River’s Edge

How many places are truly unique? So many restaurants, stores, homes and towns feel like they are just copies of one another. It is rare to find a place and a restaurant, especially in the San Francisco bay area that is not just like all the others. I think maybe homogenization comes with population density.

A few weeks ago Duke and I took a long weekend and went up to the California gold country. On our way we stopped for lunch in Isleton, a small town on the Sacramento river delta. Isleton feels unique. The shops and restaurants all have character. The restaurant we stopped at for lunch is well worth going out of your way to eat at. This trip was the third time we have eaten at the River’s edge. Every meal we have had there has been special. The cafe is in an old renovated building. The hardwood floors look original and are accented by purple tile. The eggplant green and purple walls are decorated  with geometric modern art. The result is a warm wonderful feeling before you even open the menu.

But the food…………  ah my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  All the sandwiches come with salads, mine had fresh, wonderful, room temperature greens with a tangy raspberry dressing. My sandwich was chicken meatloaf and Duke’s was the roast lamb. Both were on homemade facacia bread with homemade mayonnaise that brought out the flavor of the meat.

The breakfast menu had my mouth watering too. So last weekend we drove out to the River’s Edge for breakfast and then took tours of the Jelly Belly factory and the Budweiser factory which are in nearby Fairfield. With all the rain we have had and the concern about the integrity of California’s levees it was interesting to drive on top of one of the levee’s along the river. Isleton feels like it is way below the level of the river. Our breakfast at the River’s Edge didn’t disappoint me.

The River’s Edge is worth making a special trip to visit.  Next time you are driving down highway 80 from the Bay Area to Sacramento take a detour to Isleton and the River’s Edge. You won’t regret it.