Thursday, May 26, 2016

Do You Have a Dangerous Toxin Hidden in Your Home?

Chances are if you live in a home built before 1970 and it has not undergone renovations, you could have asbestos in your home. When the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center contacted me to help them bring attention to the dangers of asbestos, I knew I had to talk about it. I have a personal awareness to asbestos and its exposure risks. For 7-8 years, Errol worked for a company that, among doing other things, performed asbestos abatement. Because of this, I have some knowledge about how dangerous asbestos can be and in how many numerous places it can be found. Without it, I'd probably be like most of the population and know asbestos is bad (but not really why) and that it causes Mesothelioma based on some tv commercial.

Asbestos is a fiber mineral that is heat resistant and very durable. Due to these properties, asbestos was used for many years in many industries. The strength of asbestos, combined with its resistance to heat, allowed it to become the material of choice in a variety of products, including, but not limited to, roofing shingles, floor tiles, ceiling materials, cement compounds, textile products and automotive parts. The fiberous particles are microscopic and easily inhaled. Upon inhalation, these fibers cling to your lungs. The particles are spiked and adhere to your lung lining and don't leave. The problem with asbestos expsoure is kind of like if you were a long term smoker, you don't know/see the effects until years later. In the case of asbestos exposure, it might be 20-50 years. Since 1970, asbestos has been listed as a carcinogen and is closely monitored by the EPA.

While there is no safe level of exposure, not all asbestos products are immediately harmful; you must breathe in the particles for it to be hazardous. More stable items like tile or house siding are not as dangerous, while piping can have lots of particles being shed off. These particles, when inhaled, can lead to a mesothelioma diagnosis after that 20-50 year latency period. The fibers lodge into the mesothelial tissue which can cause tumors eventually. This is a extremely rare cancer but also 100% preventable!

A few years ago, Errol and I went to look at a house to rent. When we were touring the house, the landlord brought us into the basement. Like most basements, it had piping on the ceiling. It wasn't a completely finished basement but the washer/dryer was located down there and you can tell it was previously used as some sort of play or rec area. Errol immediately noticed the asbestos piping and that it was all over the ground where the pipes were. The pipes were over the washing machine and you could see a layer of the material on and around the area. He mentioned it to the lady and she pretty much blew it off. She acknowledged that it was asbestos but tried to act like it was no big deal. I was shocked that someone would put other people's health at risk, especially as it looked to the case, young children. And the thing is, if Errol hadn't had that knowledge, we would never have really known just how bad that situation was. Could you tell if the pipes in your basement contain asbestos?

The next time you go to buy a house or start a home renovation project, make sure you are aware of what your house actually contains.

I found the MAAC site to be a good resource of where asbestos could potentially be hiding in your home.

Common asbestos-containing products that can be found in the home include:
  • Insulation materials for pipes and furnaces, and attic insulation
  • Asbestos and cement shingles
  • Siding and roofing tiles
  • Soundproofing applications
  • Plaster and joint compounds
  • Some plastics, including paints and adhesives
  • Casings for electrical wires
  • Some floor tiles and flooring adhesives

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What I'm Lovin' Lately

Bai Molokai Coconut Drink//
You've probably heard me say this already but I love coconut. Can't get enough of it, obsessed with coconut. If coconut is one of the flavor options, you can bet I'm picking it. I've been drinking this as an afternoon pick me up at work. It's refreshing and has a good coconut flavor. While searching for this image, I also found that there is a coconut lime and coconut raspberry option. I'm on an active search for the lime one now.
Spring Weather//
We finally cleared the winter stuff off the porch and set our sitting area back up. It seems like in the last week everything just started turning green and blooming. I love it. Without a doubt Spring is my favorite season. Everything just has this fresh, happy smell. There's nothing better than coming out of a winter coma and feeling that extra pep in your step again. I bought that owl at TJ Maxx the other day and I'm in love. He instantly found a home in my cart. My flowers are starting to come in. My double daffodils bloomed and now it's my peonies and hostas turn.

I'm sure you seasoned gardeners can point out some weeds but I'm so far removed from a green thumb that I'm basically letting it go until I can determine if something else is going to happen and it's not just a weed.

Summer Clothes//
Hideous trash can aside, this is my new summer work uniform. I own two of this same jumpsuit. I wore it a lot last year and I can tell it's going to be on heavy rotation again this year. I'd like to be on the romper wagon too but I haven't found a romper that is long enough yet. Every one I've tried on is too short in the torso. Does anyone else feel awkward using the restroom in these things though? I have to take off my cardigan and then pretty much undress. Even though I'm in the bathroom, I still feel like it's a little too much nakedness for work. And wearing this thing after having a few drinks, well that's just foolish. I wouldn't know or anything....

I just purchased this jumpsuit from Loft. I've been stalking it and it finally went on sale for 40% off.

I've been on a bit of a reading streak. I finished Inside the O'Briens this weekend (same author as Still Alice), along with another book. O'Briens made me cry and broke my heart. I just started The Nightingale. I'm not far in but it has the makings of a really good book.

I love a good BLT. It's probably one of my favorite sandwiches, right after turkey but before egg salad. There's a pizza place near where I work that makes a really good BLT grinder that I've been getting once a week. Oops!


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Never Ever Before

// Broke a bone or sprained anything

// Seen an episode of The Bachelor

// Had anything pierced besides my ears

// Met someone that I'm biologically related to

// Wanted to go to outer space

// Surfed

// Sung karaoke

// Gotten a tattoo

// Suffered from allergies

// Fainted

// Had bangs

// Hosted one of those at home party things

// Been able to hula hoop

// Sleepwalked

// Got car sick 

// Been on a blind date

// Played a game of golf

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

April 2016 Book Review

Rating System
5- Loved it! All the feels and flails. New favorite
4- Really liked it. Would recommend
3- Decent/solid read.
2- Would not recommend. Barely finished
1-Didn't like, DNF. Gave book away.

Songs for the Missing by Stewart O'Nan

Rating: 3

Songs for the Missing begins with the suspenseful pace of a thriller, following an Ohio community's efforts to locate a young woman who has gone missing. It soon deepens into an affecting portrait of a family trying desperately to hold onto itself and the memory of a daughter whose return becomes increasingly unlikely. Stark and honest, this is an intimate account of what happens behind the headlines of a very American tragedy.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It started out really strong and I was super into it. I was trying to figure out whodunit and then about halfway through, the book totally lost momentum. The last half of the book kind of reminded me of Everything I Never Told You, which I also had pretty meh feeling about. Without giving too much away, I was pretty disappointed with the conclusion of the disappearance. 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Rating: 2
Classic 2/5

Robert Louis Stevenson’s masterpiece of the duality of good and evil in man’s nature sprang from the darkest recesses of his own unconscious—during a nightmare from which his wife awakened him, alerted by his screams. More than a hundred years later, this tale of the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll and the drug that unleashes his evil, inner persona—the loathsome, twisted Mr. Hyde—has lost none of its ability to shock. Its realistic police-style narrative chillingly relates Jekyll’s desperation as Hyde gains control of his soul—and gives voice to our own fears of the violence and evil within us. Written before Freud’s naming of the ego and the id, Stevenson’s enduring classic demonstrates a remarkable understanding of the personality’s inner conflicts—and remains the irresistibly terrifying stuff of our worst nightmares. 

Even though this book was pretty slim, it dragged. I actually had high hopes for Jekyll and Hyde but I just couldn't get into it. I was interested to learn more background of the Jekyll and Hyde story and the whole persona thing that goes along with it is a distant cousin to the actual story. I can see how this could have come from a dream. I think I'm going to try and listen to my next classic on audio.

The Night Eternal (Strain Trilogy Book 3) Guillermo Del Toro

Rating: 3.5

The Night Eternal begins where The Strain and The Fall left off: with the last remnants of humankind enslaved by the vampire masters in a world forever shrouded by nuclear winter.  Still, a small band of the living fights on in the shadows, in the final book of the ingenious dark fantasy trilogy that Newsweek says is, “good enough to make us break that vow to swear off vampire stories.” 

I thought The Night Eternal was a great conclusion to the trilogy. I liked how this one was two years after where The Fall ended. Read my reviews for the first two books here and here.  There was a particular section of the book dealing with a zoo that was pretty emotional because of the animal stuff. Sometimes I like when books wrap up with a nice little bow at the end and this one did. The ending was sad but there was no other way for it to end. There was a nice epilogue and you weren't left with questions. I would have liked to have seen a chapter from The Master at the end. I think that would have added a nice alternate pov.

First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Rating: 4
It's October in Bascom, North Carolina, and autumn will not go quietly. As temperatures drop and leaves begin to turn, the Waverley women are made restless by the whims of their mischievous apple tree... and all the magic that swirls around it. But this year, first frost has much more in store.
Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley's Candies. Though her handcrafted confections-rose to recall lost love, lavender to promote happiness and lemon verbena to soothe throats and minds-are singularly effective, the business of selling them is costing her the everyday joys of her family, and her belief in her own precious gifts.
Sydney Waverley, too, is losing her balance. With each passing day she longs more for a baby- a namesake for her wonderful Henry. Yet the longer she tries, the more her desire becomes an unquenchable thirst, stealing the pleasure out of the life she already has.
Sydney's daughter, Bay, has lost her heart to the boy she knows it belongs to...if only he could see it, too. But how can he, when he is so far outside her grasp that he appears to her as little more than a puff of smoke?
When a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of their family, each of them must make choices they have never confronted before. And through it all, the Waverley sisters must search for a way to hold their family together through their troublesome season of change, waiting for that extraordinary event that is First Frost.

I've been a fan of Addison Allen since her first book, Garden Spells. Her books tend to be on the lighter side, chick lit if you will (even though I hate that term). I love the magical and enchanting world she builds. This was a loose sequel to Garden Spells but you could totally read them separately and it not be an issue. I read Garden Spells quite a few years ago and vaguely remember what happened and it didn't effect my experience with First Frost. In a world of the Waverley's where magic blends with reality, you can't help but want to experience a magical talent of your own.

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

Rating: 2.5

An eleven-year-old heroine tells her unforgettable story with honesty, perceptivity, humor, and unselfconscious heroism.

Even though this is a pretty popular and loved book, I found it hard to really get into. The writing style combined with the young girls thoughts, plus switching back and forth between past and present was just too much for me. I thought Gibbons did well capturing a young person's understanding but there was just too many conflicting things going on. I related to Ellen Foster's optimism and her resistance to letting life get in the way. She had a lot of shitty things happen to her in her life and most people would have played the victim but not her. I think that was one of the positive things to take away from this book.

Beneath the Bonfire by Nickolas Butler

Rating: 3.5

 Young couples gather to participate in an annual "chainsaw party," cutting down trees for firewood in anticipation of the winter. A group of men spend a weekend hunting for mushrooms in the wilderness where they grew up and where some still find themselves trapped. An aging environmentalist takes out his frustration and anger on a singular, unsuspecting target. One woman helps another get revenge against a man whose crime extends far beyond him to an entire community. Together, the ten stories in this dazzling, surprising collection evoke a landscape that will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has traveled the back roads and blue highways of America, and they completely capture the memorable characters who call it home.

I think we can all agree that Butler is a master storyteller. I didn't love this as much as Shotgun Lovesongs but for a short story collection, I thought it was a pretty solid read. I noticed a strong fire theme running throughout the stories. I think it says a lot when you finish a story and want to know more. My favorite story was Chainsaw Soiree. I also liked Morels. My least favorite story was Western Counties. Again, things with animals bother me way more than human abuse. Also for those that have read this, do you think the guy really did untie the rope in the title Beneath the Bonfire story?

The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

Rating: 1.5
Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember what’s happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais’s school uniform is covered in blood.
Raised in foster care from birth and moved through twenty-three placements before she even turned seven, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counter-culture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade of horrors visited upon her early life, she greets the world with the witty, fierce insight of a survivor.  
Anais finds a sense of belonging among the residents of the Panopticon – they form intense bonds, and she soon becomes part of an ad hoc family. Together, they struggle against the adults that keep them confined. When she looks up at the watchtower that looms over the residents though, Anais knows her fate: she is an anonymous part of an experiment, and she always was. Now it seems that the experiment is closing in.

When I read the summary of this book, I figured it was right up my alley but omg, this book was written in phonetic, English/Irish slang and it was so annoying. I had to keep "fixing" it in my head so I could understand what the people were saying. Words like didnae, intae and urnay were common. For this reason alone, I found it hard to engage and gave up about half way through. I just didn't care.  

Love It: First Frost & Beneath the Bonfire
Leave It:The Panopticon

Life According to Steph

Monday, May 2, 2016

Letters Vol 1

Dear Mother Nature let's make the snow last Tuesday the last snow we see until December. 65 and sunny, please and thank you. Dear Errol thanks for all you do. Working hard, pushing me to be motivated and treating me well. Dear Reading I'm jonesing for a blow me away, up until 2 am book. Send one my way won't you? Dear Bai Coconut I think I love you. I hated coconut until a year or two ago and now I can't get enough of it. Gimme all the coconut anything. Dear Overnight Oats you da bomb. Quick, simple and delicious. I've been making mine with coconut almond milk, raspberries and a smidge of honey. I prefer them warm over cold. Dear Selena Gomez Hands to Myself is constantly stuck in my head. Dear Chitty thank you for finally getting over your potty training delinquency. It makes my life more pleasant when I don't have to pick up poop. Dear The Affair I'm three episodes into the first season and you are the right kind of hate to love you. Plus I've had a crush on Joshua Jackson since The Mighty Ducks, so you can say we go way back. Dear Bernie so sad it didn't work out for you. Dear Monday you're not my favorite day of the week but you do set the tone for the week. I try to start it off right and get to work early. Dear May welcome!