Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mielbio Organic Italian Honey (Review)

So you know that, not long ago, I told you about Dolcedi, the new sweetener from Rigoni di Asiago.  While I was looking at the company website, I noticed some organic Italian honeys, available in quite a few flavors.  I had the opportunity to try them, at no cost to me.

I chose three flavors of Mielbio Organic Italian Honey, all creamy.  These are slightly more spreadable than the honey I'm used to, though it still flows.

The Rigoni di Asiago website says this about all of the Mielbio varieties:
Rigoni di Asiago honey is collected from selected Italian beehives. A natural food par excellence, honey requires careful processing to maintain its toning, vitalizing and soothing properties. Defined as “raw” honey because it is cold-processed (patented by Rigoni di Asiago) it is rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes and organic acids as well as natural antibacterial and antibiotic properties. Regular in-house inspections and independent certification authorities check the honey to guarantee the entire line from collection to the jar.
I'll start with my least favorite, which was Lime Honey.  The label on my jar indicates that it's a Limited Edition, but the image on the Rigoni di Asiago website doesn't.  The lime flavor--which I usually like--just didn't work for me.  The sharp aftertaste reminded me of cough syrup.  But keep reading:  the other two flavors are far better!

My "medium favorite" (far above Lime and close to my favorite) was Orange Blossom Raw and Creamy Honey.  Of the three, this has the most subtle citrus flavor.  I tasted it straight from the jar and on my (sesame seed) bagel.  I'd describe the flavor as having more depth than typical honey.  The mild orange note--plus another that I can't identify--makes it more interesting than most other honeys.

And my favorite is the one pictured above:  Mandarin Honey.  This is produced by 26 bee colonies from pollen from Mandarin fruit, which we usually call Clementines.  (I never knew that Mandarin fruit and Clementines are the same thing!)  The orange flavor is more pronounced than in the Orange Blossom honey, but it's a more complex flavor than you'd get directly from the fruit.  And it's not at all like orange-flavored candies:  I'm a fan of orange jelly beans, but this is a completely different (more grown-up) taste!

I stirred a spoonful of this into my coffee (with milk) one morning ... then the next morning ... and the next.  The orange flavor combined with the coffee was something special, and somehow the honey cut the bitterness of the coffee in a way that sugar doesn't.  I also tried it straight from the jar and on my bagel, which were both very good.  But the result of the coffee experiment was more surprising, in the best way possible.

Mielbio Mandarin Honey is definitely a Limited Edition flavor (you can read its whole bio), and it's available only at Whole Foods Market.

For more information, see the Mielbo Organic Italian Honey website.

Friday, September 25, 2015

You Can Do Anything Better Than Me (Five Minute Friday)

I didn't think I'd have time to write for Five Minute Friday this week, which is amusing because it's just five minutes, right?  But when I saw that the prompt is doubt, I knew I had to go for it.


Do you know about the four temperaments?

I am undoubtedly classified as melancholic.  The short description is this:  "Melancholic people are emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic introverts."

That pretty much says it.  Both "emotionally sensitive" and "perfectionistic" play into self-doubt.  Last week, during an icebreaker exercise, group members were asked to list three things we're really good at.  Any idea how hard that is for someone with a melancholic temperament?

Well, I like to bake, but I know people who are better than I am.  I like to write, but I know a lot of people who are better than I am.

The leader of the activity changed the question to "List three things you like to do," and that I can answer.

But I am often doubting myself.  I second-guess my decisions and I question my abilities.  "Is it good enough?" is often in my mind, and it's hard to say Yes, it's good enough!

I forget which show it's from, but I know a show tune that goes, "Anything you can do, I can do better.  I can do anything better than you."  I don't think anyone with a melancholic temperament has ever said that!


If you feel like taking the Four Temperaments test and you're willing to share your result in the comments, I'd love to hear it!  Have a blessed weekend!

Five Minute Friday

photo credit: via photopin (license)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Hope is Always a Reason to Celebrate

Five Minute Friday!  This hasn't been the best week.  However, since the prompt for this five-minute free write is celebrate, I'm going to focus on our reasons to celebrate!


This week we have two reasons to celebrate.

First, I saw the breast surgeon and got a good report.  I don't need to see her again for a full year.  I'm about four years post-diagnosis, and every milestone is a reason to celebrate!

Second, I talked with another of my doctors this morning.  I have had pain in my jaw--all day, every day--for ... I don't know, but it's been more than five years.  Doctors have tried things, dentists have tried things, and the oral surgeon sees nothing wrong with the structure of my jaw.

Anyway, this doctor I talked with today has a new idea.  She recommended a doctor (who, of course, is not in-network with our insurance) who she thinks can help.  Just the possibility gives me hope, and hope is always a reason to celebrate!

Not even at the end of my five minutes, but anything else I would write would just be babbling.  So I'll

STOP here.

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Man Who Closed the Asylums (Book Review)

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes.  All opinions in this post are my own.

The Man Who Closed the Asylums:  Franco Basaglia and the Revolution in Mental Health Care, written by John Foot, is dramatically different from any book I've ever reviewed.  I don't quite know what to say about it.  First, though, the publisher's blurb:
When the wind of the 1960s blew through the world of psychiatry

In 1961, when Franco Basaglia arrived outside the grim walls of the Gorizia asylum, on the Italian border with Yugoslavia, it was a place of horror, a Bedlam for the mentally sick and excluded, redolent of Basaglia’s own wartime experience inside a fascist gaol. Patients were frequently restrained for long periods, and therapy was largely a matter of electric and insulin shocks. The corridors stank, and for many of the interned the doors were locked for life. This was a concentration camp, not a hospital. 
Basaglia, the new Director, was expected to practise all the skills of oppression in which he had been schooled, but he would have none of this. The place had to be closed down by opening it up from the inside, bringing freedom and democracy to the patients, the nurses and the psychiatrists working in that “total institution.” 
Inspired by the writings of authors such as Primo Levi, R.D. Laing, Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault and Frantz Fanon, and the practices of experimental therapeutic communities in the UK, Basaglia’s seminal work as a psychiatrist and campaigner in Gorizia, Parma and Trieste fed into and substantially contributed to the national and international movement of 1968. In 1978 a law was passed (the “Basaglia law”) which sanctioned the closure of the entire Italian asylum system.
The first comprehensive study of this revolutionary approach to mental health care, The Man Who Closed the Asylums is a gripping account of one of the most influential movements in twentieth-century psychiatry, which helped to transform the way we see mental illness. Basaglia’s work saved countless people from a miserable existence, and his legacy persists, as an object lesson in the struggle against the brutality and ignorance that the establishment peddles to the public as common sense.
The Man Who Closed the Asylums took me a long time to read.  It's nearly 400 pages long and quite detailed.  At first I was fascinated with the story; after a while I was overwhelmed with the length and level of detail.  I'm not at all saying that it's a bad book--I think the research and the writing are very good--but that it's probably suited for a small audience.

I expected to read more about the conditions within the asylums and how those were addressed directly before the institutions were closed.  Instead, this book is more about interactions among mental health professionals and politicians.  A lot of doctors and politicians:  after a while I couldn't keep track of their names, much less who were allies, who disagreed with whom, and who supported which solution.

The research is meticulous and impeccable.  References are provided in footnotes.  I'm inclined to think that this book is the most deeply researched and detailed account of Franco Basaglia and the movement to close the mental asylums in Italy.  So I can't make a clear-cut recommendation:  I think it's an excellent book, but it's not for everyone.

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