Women’s Hairstyles of the 1960s

Women’s hairstyles of the 1960s are by far my favorite. The decade of the 1960s was an exciting time for fashion, as many of us know. But have you ever thought about the cool hairdos that were in style during that time? When I get my hair cut these days, my stylist gives me the classic Vidal Sassoon asymmetric bob, which has never gone out of style and is as flattering as ever. Here are some of my favorite style icons and the classic women’s hairstyles of the 1960s that I associate with them.

Women's hairstyles of the 1960s, asymmetrical short hairstyle
Asymmetric short hairstyle, photo of Nancy Kwan by Terence Donovan

The featured photo is of actress Nancy Kwan (“Flower Drum Song,” 1961; “The World of Suzie Wong,” 1960) , modeling the Vidal Sassoon asymmetric bob, my favorite women’s hairdo of the 1960s. Vidal Sassoon became a household name in hair care products, but how many of us realize that he also designed hair for so many stars of the 1960s?

Which is the Best Cat Litter For Indoor Cats?

Which is the Best Cat Litter For Indoor Cats?

Which Cat Litter is Best?

My Search for the Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats

To find the best cat litter for indoor cats, I first needed to test it on my two cats. I live in an apartment and last year my friend gave me two of his cats to take care of. They were very shy and afraid when they got here but now they are happy and comfortable and feel very much at home in my little apartment.

best cat litter for indoor cats mylifebanquet.com
We’re the Best Indoor Cat Litter Testers!


Now I’m not used to having cats who are indoors all the time but where I live they don’t allow outdoor cats. So, I had to figure how I can stand to live with two cats AND a litter box in the house. I want to discuss the types of cat litter I have tried and my opinions of those. I’m still comparing to find out the best cat litter for multiple cats who are indoors.



Different Kinds of Cat Litter

What Should You Look For in Cat Litter?

That’s not a joke. We all know “What to Look For in Cat Litter.” Haha. Ahem. But seriously folks, there are important features to be aware of when selecting the best cat litter for your indoor cats.

Obviously, you don’t want the house to smell like cat poop. Ugh! So, you look for cat litter that masks the smell and dries up the cat droppings.

Secondly, you want no litter dust floating in the air or litter tracking through the house.

Thirdly, you want your cat to USE the litter box, since some cats are fussy about the cat litter box they will use.

Basically, I’ve decided that the best cat litter review is my experience with my own cats. I’ve given my opinion of the types of cat litter I have used as a comparison below.


Pine Cat Litter

Pine Cat Litter Finding Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats
Pine Cat Litter

My friend recommended me to use Feline Pine cat litter to start, since the cats were used to it. Since this is cat litter made from pine wood compressed into hard little pellets, when you put it into the litter box, it smells like pine trees! As time goes by, the pine smell is not as noticeable but it does a good job to mask the smell of cat urine and feces pretty well.

One thing, though: pine litter dissolves into powder as the cats use it, and pine litter works well to absorb wetness and dry out the cat poop. My only issue is that the pine powder sticks to the cats’ paws and they track it around the house, and I’m always finding traces of pine litter anyplace the cats have walked. I’m constantly needing to vacuum up wherever the cats have tracked the pine litter.

A large bag of Feline Pine can last three weeks or so, divided into thirds, so it’s economical. I find that the pellets are completely dissolved by the end of the week and I have to throw it out. Feline Pine is safe to flush in the toilet in small amounts.

Walnut Shells Cat Litter

Walnut based Cat Litter Finding Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats
Walnut based Cat Litter

I wanted to try the walnut shells cat litter because I was tired of the cats tracking the pine litter all over the house. When I found cat litter made from walnut shells, I thought that this is a perfect renewable resource for cat litter, so I bought a bag of Blue Buffalo Naturally Fresh cat litter.

The walnut smell at first seems a bit strong and it took some getting used to but it wasn’t bad. The walnut pellets are almost exactly like the pine pellets but they are dark brown; they dissolve into powder just like the pine pellets and get tracked around the house in the same manner. The problem is that now, instead of yellow powder on my carpet and furniture, and smudged in the bathtub, now there are BROWN pawprints everywhere! Because the cats use their box in my bathroom, the floor and white throw rugs always looked dirty. For this reason alone, I haven’t tried walnut shells cat litter since.

Although–I do like the idea of using a renewable resource cat litter made from something that would otherwise be thrown away. Hmm.

Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats
Cute picture of Test Subject #1


Clay Clumping Litter

Last Christmas, I was in a shop in West Hollywood to buy a nice scented candle for my bathroom. I was chatting with the salesgirl and told her I have cats and want to make my house smell nice again. She commented that she kept candles around to mask the scent of her cats, but that she also had changed her brand of litter from pine litter to clumping clay litter.

Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract is the brand that was recommended to me, and I bought a bag as soon as I got home.

Cat Attract Litter Finding Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats
Cat Attract Litter

So what are the pros and cons of Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract litter? Well, the clay litter is very effective at trapping the moisture so that it turns it into a small chunk sort of like hard concrete, and it is very good to dry up the cat poops so they can be shoveled out. As for the negatives, I just found out the hard way that YOU CAN’T PUT CLAY CAT LITTER IN THE TOILET! I had been shoveling out the little turds and dumping them in the toilet, while the big chunks with the dried cat pee went into the trash. I feel silly about this, but I personally don’t like putting turds in the trash when there is a toilet nearby.


What I learned: Never, ever put clay cat litter in the toilet!


The tracking of Cat Attract litter is not so bad as the pine or walnut varieties, but you still have little pebbles around the sides of the litter box. My cats don’t like gravel on their paws so they often wash it off in the bathtub or in their water bowl, leaving gray smears.

Crystal Cat Litter

Fresh Step Crystal Cat Litter: Finding Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats
“Fresh Step” cat litter removes moisture

To be honest, I haven’t used crystal cat litter since I moved into an apartment. I used it exclusively when I had a house and an indoor-outdoor cat. The primary reason was that I needed something that would absorb the odor from my cat’s infrequent trips to her covered litter box, which we kept in a closet in a spare bedroom, out of the way of our two dachshunds. The dogs had a nasty habit of digging for nuggets in the litter box and leaving the droppings around the house. Total yuck!

If you don’t have to worry about other pets getting into it or you keep the litter box in an enclosed space, I’d definitely recommend Fresh Step Crystals cat litter.

Crystal cat litter is made from silica dioxide, which is a drying agent that is commonly used in packing material. It works very well and is good at absorbing smells as well as completely drying out the cat deposits. This is good in litter boxes that aren’t tended or used often.

Warning! Cat litter made with silica dioxide can cause intestinal obstruction if it is eaten


Cat litter made from corn

Corn cat litter: Finding Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats
Wow! Corn cat litter?

When Nature’s Miracle Brand cat litter was on sale instead of Feline Pine, I thought why not try it? Corn-based cat litter has a consistency like regular cat litter so you can use the strainer scoop to take out the chunks. At first, it smells pleasantly like pine, so what could possibly go wrong with something made by Nature’s Miracle? I mean, Nature’s Miracle company is known for all those odor eliminator products to clean up pet urine smells, right?

Well, one problem I found, is towards the end of the week, even with regular cleaning, the box smells like AMMONIA. It’s been six days since I put in new litter, and I can’t bear the smell any more. Now it’s more like pungent cat urine reminiscent of pine. Maybe I won’t be buying this one again, or maybe I’ll mix it up with another type of cat litter.

You never know, because I really like the renewable resource cat litter idea. Your experience might be different.


Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats
Cute pic of Test Subject #2


Health Concerns of Cat Litter

Dangers to humans and pets

There are important things to keep in mind when you have cats that use a litter box.

Pregnant women should never clean or change cat litter because of the danger of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease transmitted by cat feces. The litter box should be kept away from small children for the same reason.

Keep the cat litter box out of the reach of other pets. Some dogs like to ingest cat’s poo, and especially in the case of crystal or clumping litter, there is the danger of intestinal blockage.

Purchase a low-dust variety of cat litter to prevent inhaling the dust. This is especially important if someone in your family has existing respiratory problems such as asthma.

Cat Litter Precautions

  • Pregnant women and toddlers should avoid litter boxes.
  • Keep dogs and other pets away from clumping cat litter.
  • Use low-dust litter whenever possible to avoid making respiratory problems worse.


An Alternative to the Litter Box

Can cats be trained to use the toilet?

I personally know of a few people who successfully trained their kitties to sit on the toilet to do their business. This takes time and patience, and preferably a second toilet so you’re not constantly having to move the training seat aside when you need to use the john!

A popular type of training tool is the CitiKitty Cat Training Kit, which starts out as a shallow bowl insert with removable rings that you set on top of the toilet. You first fill the insert with your favorite brand of cat litter and as your cat becomes accustomed to jumping on the toilet seat to do his thing, you remove the inserts one at a time so he makes his deposit right into the toilet. A-may-zing!

I would love to train my cats to use the toilet but since I only have one bathroom, I’m not going to be able to try it out any time soon. Here’s a cute pic of my daughter’s Abyssinian cat, Lisa using the CitiKitty training insert. Isn’t that soooo adorable?

Finding Best Cat Litter for Indoor Cats: CitiKitty alternative to cat litter
It can be done! Lisa-cat using the potty


So How Do You Get Your Cat to Use the Litter Box?

The Best Rated Cat Litter Can’t Do it All!

Now that we’ve talked about the best rated cat litter, you still have to get the cat to use the litter box!

My cats are already established cat box users, so I discussed which cat litter a cat owner like me prefers but there are a lot of other factors to consider. Many cat owners are training your kitties for the first time, or trying to get them on track if they’ve stopped using their litter boxes for some reason. Because, if kitty’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy!

My cats don’t seem to care if I change up the kind of litter in the box–that being said, many cats are fussy about their cat litter.

Here is some information that might help.

  • Select a product the cats will like (more on that below).
  • Be sure to keep the litter box clean! Cats are naturally clean animals and if you don’t provide fresh litter, they will likely go potty elsewhere, like in your closet or in your shoes! Scoop out the clumps a few times a day and dispose of them. If using pine or walnut litter, change the litter once it all turns to powder. A good guideline is to change the litter weekly if your cats are using the box on a regular basis.
  • Use the proper cat litter scooper: for pellets, you will need a shovel like a scoop; for regular litter, use a litter strainer or sieve.
  • Put the litter box in an accessible but low-traffic area. Most cats are shy and want to go potty away from the public eye.

Buy All-in-One Litter Tray Poop Sieve & Scooper Shovel

Things to think about when looking for a cat litter your cat will like:

  • Start with a litter that is known to attract cats. Dr. Elsey’s alternate name is “Cat-Attract.” My good friend adopted a cat that used to come to her back door for food. The cat was not used to doing his thing in a box so he did it anywhere he felt like it. My friend tells me that she ended up using Dr. Elsey’s Cat-Attract cat litter and that is how she got her cat to use the box.
  • Find a low-odor cat litter like pine pellets if possible, and see how the cats take to it. I would have thought that cats may not like the feel of the large pellets on their paws, but I have no evidence to support this. Your cat may disagree. *grin*
  • Try one of the scented cat litter varieties such as Fresh Scent to mask smells.

As I said, my cats are not fussy, but yours might be. I’d suggest to try various kinds of cat litter to see what your cat likes best. 


Which Kind of Cat Litter Does Your Cat Like?
  • Pine cat litter
  • Clumping cat litter
  • Renewable like corn or walnuts
  • Crystal cat litter
  • Other

Try These Products for Your Cat

Pawkin Phthalate Free Cat Litter Mat - Patented Design with Litter Lock Mesh - Extra Large - Durable - Repels Liquids and Odors - Easy to Clean - Soft - Fits Under Litter Box - Litter Free FloorsPawkin Phthalate Free Cat Litter MatModkat Litter Box - WhiteModkat Litter Box – WhiteCatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat BoxCatGenie Self Washing Self Flushing Cat BoxLitter Genie Plus Ultimate Cat Litter Odor Control PailLitter Genie Plus Ultimate Cat Litter Odor Control PailPurina Tidy Cats Starter Kit Cat Litter Box - (1) BoxPurina Tidy Cats Starter Kit Cat Litter Box – (1) Box


How To Become a More Positive Person

How To Become a More Positive Person

How I Got Out of a Negative Mindset to Become a More Positive Person

How to Become a More Positive Person MyLifeBanquet


Just like a lot of people, I tend to be a pretty cynical person, and I had no interest in learning how to become a more positive person at all. The best comedians make jokes about the little things that go wrong in life and that seem funnier in retrospect. I always felt that being cynical was more genuine and made me more interesting. I’d have to say I identified with the “nihilists” more than the “idealists” when it came to their philosophy.

When I was a child, there was a lot of negative energy in our home. I had to deal with negative parents who used discouraging self-talk to us all the time: phrases like “just another day down the rat hole,” “everybody’s out to get you.” Ours was the opposite of the “Home on the Range” song, because we heard all kinds of discouraging words on a daily basis! Of course I fit right in, since I was a quiet and introspective child who preferred reading and taking solitary walks in the woods. I remember some of my favorite books were tragedies: “Forever Amber” and “Wuthering Heights.” Even the Grimm’s Fairy Tale stories I loved were frightening and did not end well (unlike the happy endings in the Disney movies!).

Scarcity vs Abundance Mentality

I grew up in a feast or famine existence when it came to thinking about money. Most days, my father was doing well and things were fine—we took vacations and had new cars; other times, we had to scrape by or Dad was out exploring wild speculations to strike it rich. I never realized that money is NOT scarce and NOT a rare commodity that only the “power brokers” could get a hold of. I mistakenly believed that there was only so much to go around, and you had to be “lucky” or well-connected to become well-off.

I never realized that money is NOT scarce and NOT a rare commodity. . .I mistakenly believed that there was only so much to go around

From habit and example, I retained this scarcity mindset for the majority of my life.


At various stages in my life, I felt that:

  • If I'm not "good enough," everything I value can be taken from me in an instant,
  • There are not enough good men to go around so I had to settle,
  • I need to find a good job and stick with it in order to be a "responsible" person,
  • I am a bad person if I want to spend money on myself,
  • Starting my own business and becoming an "entrepreneur" is a big gamble.


Can you relate? The most useful lessons that I have learned about money, love, and abundance are those that I wish I had been ready to receive much earlier in life. But there is a right time for everything.

How to See the World a New Way

Ways to Stop Negative Thinking Patterns

To be fair, my parents did read a good amount of literature about ways to stop their negative thinking. I remember we had the book, “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale, about how positive thinking changes your life for the better, and “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, and books by Dale Carnegie, such as “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I truly believe that my parents did read these books and had every intention of putting them into practice but the problem, I believe, was that they never learned to reprogram the self-defeating words they used or overcame the early conditioning that they themselves had learned.

My parents didn’t know how to reprogram or overcome their early conditioning; as a result, neither did I

Although it is a good plan to read and inform oneself about positive thinking and attitude change, I don’t believe that my father and mother really knew how to move beyond this point. They didn’t know how to get rid of negative energy in the home because of how they were raised to think. After my experiences over the last few years, such as a divorce and subsequent relationship breakup, not to mention financial troubles, I was finally at a point where something had to change.



Related Reading on Amazon:


 Achieve Anything In Just One Year: Be Inspired Daily to Live Your Dreams and Accomplish Your Goals Get Out of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior Your Erroneous Zones: Escaping the Trap of Negative Thinking and Taking Control of Your Life

Learning to Trust: Belief in a Higher Power


How To Become a More Positive Person Belief in a Higher Power MyLifeBanquet
La Purisima, Mission Dolores, SF; Photo by author

For one thing, I had to learn to trust that God, the Universe, The Force, or whatever you would like to call it is benevolent and not something to fear. In my religious upbringing, I saw God as an angry father figure who couldn’t wait to punish me if I stepped out of line. Over time, I realized that this was not the case. It was like learning to trust again after a relationship. Though tragedy and pain do exist in the world, I do not believe that is a result of people being “bad” or evil, but are random events that can happen to the good and saintly just as much as to anyone else.

Going one step further, it seems to me that “saints,” as we refer to them, are ordinary people who do encounter difficult events or circumstances but have decided to approach them with a different outlook, using pain or tragedy in their lives and finding purpose in it. Rather than allowing themselves to be a victim of events, these extraordinary people learn from their experience and then reach out to help and guide others.

Seeing Failures as Opportunities

Taking a Leap of Faith

My first challenge was believing that I could be single, self-supporting, and independent and I would not end up out in the street, homeless. That was the biggest fear I had to confront when moving out of my home after 30 years and into an apartment by myself. I’m happy to say that, in spite of having not such good credit, I got a nice apartment in the city where I wanted to live, and even though my job was eliminated six months after moving into my new place, I got another job in the same department that paid nearly as much.

I’d like to add that, in retrospect, whenever I have lost a job or found a work situation intolerable, there has ALWAYS been something better waiting for me. Having had that experience has shown me that I am always provided for, which brings me to the next point.


Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

Being Content with What You Have


Nothing is more important for a healthy outlook than cultivating a thankful attitude. Focusing on good things as they happen helps to bring those to the forefront of your consciousness. It’s easy to bitch and moan about little setbacks or annoyances, and I often have to consciously pull myself back to the present moment and notice things that are good and beautiful. One way to do that is to learn to be present in the moment.

How to Become a More Positive Person Be Content MyLifeBanquet

What it Means to Be “In the Moment”

This is a tough one for me, but I am learning. While I never live in the past or get too far ahead thinking of the future, one challenge for me is being just a few steps of the present moment in my head. This creates a sense of anxiety for me, and I’ll find myself visualizing scenarios in my head of “if I do or say this or that, how will that person react?” It took me some time to unlearn this behavior and what helps me is being present in my body. What does that mean exactly? I will try and explain how it was for me.

We inhabit, live, and breathe right now, this instant. Savor it!

Being an introspective person, I spend a LOT of time in my head. That means I often find myself daydreaming about things I’d like to do someday or about somebody I was interested in and what kind of conversation I imagined us having, picturing the whole imaginary conversation in my head. Only over time did I realize that I was wasting my life, because LIFE EXISTS IN THE PRESENT MOMENT, and not anywhere in the past or even a few seconds into the future. We inhabit, live, and breathe right now, this instant. Savor it!


How To Become a More Positive Person Learning to Just Be MyLifeBanquet

Using The Five Senses: Learning to “Just Be”

My method for learning to get out of my head and living in the present moment is pretty simple: I pay attention. For example, when going on a nature walk or anyplace I happened to be, I would practice using all of my senses to bring myself out of a daydream or when I realize I’m expending energy on worrying about nothing in particular.

(1) Listen. I stop and try to identify sounds around me–even in a seemingly quiet environment, I hear the whistling of wind through branches, the distinct tweets and whistles of birds, the rushing and gurgling of a stream over rocks.

(2) See. Other than the obvious, such as whether it’s sunny or cloudy outside, I take the time to notice the exact color of the sky, the motion of a flock of birds flying in the distance, or an unusual pattern of shadows on the trail.

Learning to get out of your head and living in the present moment is pretty simple: Pay attention

(3) Smell.This one is a little tougher to conjure up, but when walking in a redwood grove or near the seashore, it’s simple to stop to bask in the experience of scent. Try to distinguish one smell out of many and put a name to it.

(4) Taste. Being a foodie, I love to eat but now I consciously try to slow down and taste individual flavors in the food. It’s important to chew your food slowly and enjoy every bite: try and imagine how your taste buds are experiencing each flavor.

(5) Touch. This sense is often overlooked when focusing on the present moment. Sometimes, it helps to just STOP and hold onto the nearest object or anything you are already holding in your hand, and feel the texture, the temperature against your skin, and the sheer weight of an object in your hand. Sometimes, it helps to be aware of how the soles of your feet feel—pressing against the earth—helping you feel “grounded.”


How to Respect Money

Lessons from a Financial Guru

How To Become a More Positive Person How to Respect Money MyLifeBanquet

A few years ago, I found some of the best books on financial success I’d ever read. Several of Suze Orman’s books were on sale, and so I bought two of them. One thing I learned from Suze Orman’s book is that money has “energy,” and somehow responds to how well we “respect” that energy. One of the first things I did upon reading Ms. Orman’s books was to find all the money that was laying around, unused. I cashed in a few old silver dollars I had been hoarding and started putting unused change, bills, or uncashed refund checks into action! No longer did I let anything stagnate, I made the promise to pay bills when due and open all those “class action suit” letters to see whether I qualified.

Now, this book doesn’t say you need to be a penny-pincher but that every person can release the logjam of financial energy that most of us have by paying attention to where you have been neglectful of your money. In that way, you learn to treat even small amounts of money with respect.

This is such a valuable lesson that I recommend these books to anyone who needs to reprogram their ideas about money.




Related Reading on Amazon

 The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom: Practical and Spiritual Steps So You Can Stop Worrying Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life: Keep What You Have and Create What You Deserve

Confronting Your Fears and Beliefs

Reprogramming A Subconscious Mindset

Confront fears and negative beliefs by naming them

The best way to reprogram your subconscious mind is to confront fears and negative beliefs by naming them. Some common fears about money (as well as love, friendship, or happiness) that I have encountered are:

(1) There is not enough to go around. This is another example of scarcity mindset, meaning a “zero sum game.” Zero sum means that if somebody has more, another person will have to go without. This is a very common way of thinking, and as a result, many people don’t believe that money actually grows and expands when it’s being put to use—but it does.

(2) People won’t like me if I’m successful (or am happy in my relationship, or have a nice house or car). I don’t want to draw attention to myself or want people to think I’m trying to act “better” than them, so I’d rather stay in my present situation, rather than attract their envy.

(3) I don’t deserve it. Often, we think that we’ve haven’t earned success, money, or happiness because of what we’ve been told about ourselves, or because we have made mistakes or done things we’re not proud of in the past. If you think you are the only one who has regrets about what they’ve done, you are very mistaken. We are fallible human beings, and need to learn to forgive ourselves first!

(4) It’s who you know, not what you know. That is a self-limiting belief and just doesn’t have to be true. Of course, it’s important to learn from those who are wise teachers but learning to trust your own voice is just as valuable.

And there are many, many more!

I admit that the first 3 were BIG obstacles to me, because I’m not a showy or ostentatious person and didn’t want to “show up” my friends by acting better than them. Also, I didn’t think I had the ability to handle much money very well so I had a fear of getting too successful. These are common misconceptions. But there is actually way to reprogram the subsconscious mind by getting rid of these limiting beliefs.


What is EFT (Tapping)?

Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT, is also known as tapping. It sounds weird, but EFT is a proven method to bring to the conscious mind fears and issues you have with success and money. Naming these aloud while “tapping” with your fingers at various energy points of the body is one way of doing this. Once these fears are brought to light by naming, the next step in the process is to accept and affirm oneself in spite of the fears. The final step is to reprogram, or to substitute new beliefs, in the place of the old subconscious limiting beliefs.

VIDEO: Jessica Ortner explains EFT Tapping

While I am no expert in EFT, HBR, or “tapping,” I would like to acknowledge the help that this method has been for me in unlearning my old ways of thinking about success and money. I directly credit EFT for helping me take the leap to begin writing on a regular basis and helping me to become a more positive person.

You can easily find more information about reprogramming limiting beliefs. EFT Tapping is actually quite easy to learn, so I’ve provided link to a few additional resources below.


Learn More About EFT Tapping

 The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living Tapping: Learn EFT in 5 Min – The Effective Tapping Solution De-Stress, Re-Energize and Overcome Emotional Problems Using Emotional Freedom Technique


photo by:

The Mystery of Pasquale’s Tower

The Mystery of Pasquale’s Tower

The Mystery of “Pasquale’s Tower”

If you are strolling the Broadway block between Columbus Avenue and the steep slope of Montgomery Street, look up the hill and your eye might alight upon an unusual structure. A white tower, four stories tall, topped with a Mediterranean blue dome, sits among the jumble of apartments and houses clinging to the hillside. If you are not looking for it, this tower is easy to miss.

Mystery of Pasquales tower MyLifeBanquet
Pasquale’s Tower Dome (Instagram by author)

On foot, “Pasquale’s Tower” is accessible only from Dunnes Alley, a short stretch of pavement that juts off from Kearny Street. If you walk down the alley a bit, you approach a set of intricate gates with ironwork forming the letters,”GOGNA.” The original tower has a set of apartments at the base, probably added at a later date.


 Pasquale’s Tower Legend

Mystery of Pasquales tower Gogna gates MyLifeBanquet
Pasquale’s Tower Gogna gates (Instagram by author)

Local legend has it that Pasquale Gogna came from Italy to work at some manner of trade, perhaps at the nearby Produce Market. He bought an undesirable lot for a cheap price and built a 4-story tower with one room on each level. It is said that Pasquale sent to Italy for his wife after the house was finished, but she didn’t like it. She left, and Pasquale was heartbroken.

That’s the legend, anyway. It’s undoubtedly a interesting theory but who knows?


Ti Penso Sempre

Mystery of Pasquales tower Ti Penso Sempre MyLifeBanquet
Pasquale’s Tower Ti Penso Sempre (Instagram by author)

When I first walked up Dunnes Alley toward the tower, on the retaining wall someone had painted a tricolor Italian flag design with the words: “Ti Penso Sempre” underneath. Translated from Italian, this means “I Think of You Always.” Was this Pasquale’s tribute to his lost love? I can’t find anything to support this romantic theory, but it is nice to contemplate. Sadly, on my last visit, the bittersweet sentiment had been painted over now and replaced with “Pasquale’s Tower.”

Who Really Built Pasquale’s Tower?

Based on my reading, the building of the tower is attributed to a Pasquale “Pete” Gogna. In her book, “San Francisco’s North Beach and Telegraph Hill” Catherine A. Accardi writes, “In 1930, Pasquale Gogna built his romantic tower dwelling overlooking Broadway.”

I continued with the SFMOMA site, where one photo is captioned with the following: “…Pasquale’s Tower, built in 1930 by baker/hotelier Pasquale Gogna. One of the legendary structures of Telegraph Hill, this tower located at the end of Dunnes Alley consists of four small square rooms stacked together and topped with a dome in a supposedly Genoese manner.” An excerpt from the National Trust Guide, San Francisco claims “Pasquale Gogna, a baker who owned several hotels in the neighborhood built the odd tower at the end of the alley in 1930 for his residence.”

Why the Mystery?

The problem comes when you compare dates. The tower was built in 1930, but records available from that time show Pasquale Gogna living in Stockton that year. The June 1917 Crocker-Langley San Francisco city directory shows Pasquale Gogna’s residence at 548 Green Street, quite a few blocks away on the north side of Telegraph Hill. Another record from 1920 shows Pasquale Gogna, again with a San Francisco residence. Marriage records, however, show that Pasquale Gogna married a Rose Lagomarsino in January of 1920, in Stockton.

The only pertinent record I could locate after 1920 is an annual report from the Superintendent of Banks of the State of California, showing a Pasquale Gogna with an address of 26 Dulles. This is possibly a misprint, maybe referring to the addresses of 2-6 Dunnes Alley, and which he may have still have owned in 1948, the date of the publication.

Looking a little further into Pasquale Gogna’s history, I found census records that showed he was born in Mongiardino, Alessandria, Italy in 1892. Mongiardino is a municipality located in the province of Alessandria and the region of Piemonte. Alessandria is located in the northwest corner of Italy, not far from the seacoast and the city of Genoa. During the early part of the 20th century, there was a large influx of Italians into San Francisco from the regions of Piemonte and Liguria. It would seem logical then that Pasquale would construct a building in the Genoese style, far from his birthplace but in a predominantly Italian district of San Francisco, North Beach.

Aerial photo cropped 1938
Crop of aerial map. (From a historical map collection DavidRumsey.com, author Harrison Ryker)

I found no evidence to show that Pasquale ever came back to live in San Francisco. He lived in Stockton until his death in 1981. We will probably never know why and for whom this mysterious tower was built.

Helping to Solve the Mystery of Pasquale’s Tower

In the time since I first wrote this article, several people came forward to add to my research and to provide corrected information about Pasquale Gogna. I am most grateful to each and every person who helped to contribute. Their comments are reproduced below.

November 18, 2014

By David

Great write up! I’ve always wondered about this building and it is awesome to see that others are curious as well. I recently found a book called “San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill”, by David F. Myrick (1972) that may help shed more light on this mystery. The following was on page 117:


“Pasquale Gogna built the house in 1930. Arriving in San Francisco in 1907, he worked as a baker and through frugality he was able to join his brother in purchasing several small hotels in the city. The tower consists of four square rooms directly above each other, with access provided by an enclosed stairway on the west side of the building. In the northern corners of each room are two alcoves which collectively house the usual appurtenances found in kitchens and bathrooms. With the sink in one corner, the stove in another and so on, this arrangement offered some inconveniences, but the spectacular view offset these minor annoyances. Mr. Gogna must have enjoyed the house, for he lived there comfortably—with all utilities—until January 1956, when his arthritic condition caused him to move into his brother’s home on Russian Hill, after which the tower was rented. As the tower attracts much attention, a wrought-iron gate—with the name GOGNA in black metal letters on the top of the grill—has been erected to keep out trespassers.”


It looks like perhaps Pasquale went by “Pete” most frequently, because in the 1956 & 1961 City Directories, a “Pete Gogna” lived at 1657 Mason with Eugenio and Emily Gogna (perhaps his brother and sister-in-law?). Eugenio was listed as the manager of the Italian-American Hotel at 838 Sansome (about a block away from the tower, on Sansome between Broadway and Pacific). Interestingly, the Italian-American Hotel is still in business as a residential hotel. I found some different pages showing Eugenio was born May 22, 1893 and died in San Francisco in November 1971.


December 8, 2014

By Saybrina

My Great Grandfather was Pasquale Gogna from Stockton, Ca. and My Great Grandmother was Rosa Lagomarsino who lived in San Francisco with her Mother Maria Lagomarsino. After the death of Maria, Rosa and her half brother Leo Arrigoni moved to Stockton and some time around 1919-1920 she married Pasquale Gogna. You can find the family information on Ancestry.com along with photo’s and more family information. I’m not sure if this Tower has anything to do with my Great Grandfather but I sure would enjoy finding out more about the history behind Pasquale’s Tower.


January 5, 2015

By Sabrina

I have some info. on Pasquale Gogna who was born 1883 lived in San Francisco. He never married and built the tower for himself. I also have census records and Immigration record from Ancestry.com. You can find it on facebook I also found a a death record for Pasquale Gogna Sept. 16, 1958 in Colma, Ca. Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery. I can’t prove it is the same Pasquale but it’s the only record I can find on this Pasquale Gogna. In his Immigration it shows father name as Francesco Gogna and again who knows if this is true.

March 26, 2015

By David

Saybrina, great info! I did a little more research (censuses, city directories, etc.) and found more information. It looks like there were two Pasquale Gognas—one in San Francisco and your Great-Grandfather in Stockton. Given that they both lived in Northern California and were born around the same time, I’m not surprised to find several sources that mixed the information for both together. However, in looking at several sources over a span of years, below is what I found:


#1) Pasquale Gogna Family in San Francisco

Born: 7/15/1885 (or 1883—depending on source), Montjardino, Italy

Death: 9/12/1958, San Francisco



Brother: Eugenio Gogna (b. 1893)

Sister-in-Law: Armida (b. 1900)

Niece: Rona (b. 1922)

Nephew: Alnado (b. 1929)


Throughout the 1930s and ‘40s, city directories list this family living at the Italian-American Hotel at 838 Sansome, with Pasquale periodically listed as being the manager. By the late ‘40s, the family moved to 1657 Mason while continuing to manage the hotel. Meanwhile, Pasquale was listed as living at the tower property as early as 1925. The family also started managing the Cavour Hotel at 379 Broadway a block down the street from the tower.


#2) Pasquale Gogna Family in Stockton

Born: 3/17/1890 (or 1892—depending on source), San Lorenzo, Italy

Death: July 1981



Wife: Rosie







On a side note, I discovered that separate parties originally owned the original three lots that make up the tower property. Pasquale Gogna originally purchased the land directly under the tower in 1920 and adjacent land (that I believe mainly encompasses the cliff in front of the tower) in 1933. Interestingly, the land under which the current apartment building, that is attached to the left of the tower, was still owned by someone else in 1944, but was owned by the Gogna family by 1960. That apartment building was built in 1957 after Pasquale moved out. To see a picture of what the tower originally looked like (in 1953), see this link:




June 20, 2015

by Saybrina

David, My grandfather is William Gogna who is the oldest of the five boys that my Great Grandparents had Roy and Ray are twins and the youngest is Uncle Ernie. Thanks for sharing this information and I will keep up on the search.


I welcome your comments or additional information about Pasquale’s Tower. It has been quite an adventure learning about this remarkable building. Thanks to those who have provided me with more insight into Pasquale Gogna’s history! 


North Beach and Telegraph Hill History on Amazon


 Italians of the Bay Area: Gino Sbrana San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill, David F. Myrick North Beach: The Italian Heart of San Francisco San Francisco’s North Beach and Telegraph Hill 


All photos by author except where indicated




The Storybook Houses of Belvedere

The Storybook Houses of Belvedere

The Storybook Houses of Belvedere

The storybook houses of Belvedere are little known outside of this wealthy island enclave at the southern tip of Marin County, California. There is very little information available on them but I was fortunate to have once been provided a tour by the owner of one of these charming cottages. I live only a few miles away, in San Francisco, so these magical places are there to see anytime I choose to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge—I feel very lucky indeed!

Storybook Houses of Belvedere

The Story Behind the Storybook Houses

The story goes that the storybook houses were built sometime in the 30s by a business executive by the name of Heidelberg, who tired of his humdrum office job and would often escape to work on his labor of love, the storybook cottages of Beach Road. In all, there are three cottages on the steep slope above the bay, one of which was used as a location for an obscure film noir called, “Sudden Fear,” starring the notorious Joan Crawford with Jack Palance playing her mysterious suitor. Of course, a murder plot is in the works as Mr. Palance woos Ms. Crawford in the hopes of making away with her fortune. What would film noir be without intrigue?

Read the article from ReelSF

Another notable resident was said to be Vivian Vance, who played Lucy Ricardo’s sidekick Ethel Mertz in the “I Love Lucy” television show. Ms. Vance used to come up to enjoy the cool summers of the San Francisco Bay Area and to visit her sister who lived in Belvedere, and she would stay in one of the Beach Road storybook cottages, eventually retiring from Hollywood to a home on Beach Road. Vivian Vance lived in Belvedere until her death in 1979.

The Storybook Houses of Belvedere top

Storybook cottages came into favor in the early Hollywood era of the teens and 20s of the 20th century. One of the most well-known examples of the time is the Spadena House of Beverly Hills, designed by art director and set director, Harry Oliver. This house is popularly known as “The Witches’ House” because of the resemblance to the gingerbread house in the Hansel and Gretel tale. Others who became known for the storybook cottage architectural style were: Carr Jones, W.W. Dixon, and William Yelland of the San Francisco Bay Area; and Ben Sherman. Ben Sherman is most known for his “Snow White house” in Hollywood.

Spadena Witch House by Kafziel
“Spadena Witch House” by Kafziel (Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikipedia)

The chief characteristic of storybook architectural design is a whimsical style derived from fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel: crooked chimneys, odd elements such as round doors and circular windows, heavy timber, and use of natural elements such as stone and wood, all combined to look like a dilapidated cabin in the woods. Looking at these, I almost expect to see gumdrops embedded in the brick walls!

In the Belvedere storybook cottages, which seem to teeter on the brink of falling over the cliff and down into the bay, you will find winding staircases, and the timbers which jut out from the exterior walls with carved rustic figures and faces at their ends. Colored glass plates of varying sizes have been inserted in place of windows at different levels of the walls. The brickwork curves and slopes in a dizzying fashion, as do the oddly overlapped wooden shingles of the rooftop. All in all, delightful and quaint—I wouldn’t be surprised to see a wizard or a gnome emerging at any time!


 Storybook Style: America’s Whimsical Homes of the Twenties Carmel’s Fairy Tale Cottages (Hardcover, 2011) Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet

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Photos by author except where noted

Arts and Crafts Home Decor

Arts and Crafts Home Decor

Arts and Crafts Influences in the Home

The Arts & Crafts Movement began in the late 1800’s in England in response to industrialization—factory assembled and cheaply made furniture was flooding the market. The founders of the movement wanted to return to the craftsman sensibilities of the past, particularly the Medieval period, where furniture was built with quality materials and made to last a lifetime.

I’ve included some examples of Arts & Crafts Influences in the home and vintage Arts and Crafts home decor and furnishings that I find particularly appealing. Some of the information and accompanying photos have been excerpted from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Unique Arts and Crafts Home Decor

Vintage Arts and Crafts Pottery

A number of women in the Arts and Crafts Period came to be recognized for their skill and dedication to this emerging movement. One example was in the realm of Arts and Crafts pottery and ceramics.

Tyg 3 handled cup by Leona Nicholson, c. 1908, Metropolitan Museum of Art mylifebanquet
Tyg 3 handled cup by Leona Nicholson, c. 1908, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA2000)

Where women in Victorian times had previously been tied down to homemaking and cooking, the Modern Arts and Crafts Movement provided an opportunity for women to prove their worth in the creative endeavors. Although not many women, with the exception of the noted architect Julia Morgan, are mentioned in connection with the Movement, I found many examples in the works cited on the Metropolitan Museum of Art home page.

The example pictured is a Tyg, or three-handled cup, with an iris motif and plain lettering typical of the Arts & Crafts period. The cup was crafted by Leona Nicholson (1875-1966), pottery artist and teacher, who was the first woman to receive the designation of  “Master Craftsman,” awarded to her by the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts.



Vintage Arts and Crafts Jewelry

Other notable craftswomen of the period included Florence Koehler (1861-1944), jewelry maker and enamelist, and Marie Zimmerman (1879-1972), metalcraft and jewelry. The photos show Florence Koehler’s enameled brooch and comb set as well as an elaborate wood box inset with silver alloy, ivory, amethyst, and quartz crafted by Marie Zimmerman. The attention to detail in these pieces is amazing. (Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.)

Read more about the contributions of women artists to the Arts and Crafts Movement.


Arts and Crafts Movement Lighting


Copper and mica table lamp Dirk van Erp The Arts and Crafts Movement MyLifeBanquet
Copper and mica table lamp Dirk van Erp, (c. 1912-1915) Metropolitan Museum of Art



Of the many aspects of the Arts and Crafts Movement lighting has proven to be the most enduring. Whether it’s a Prairie style table lamp in the Frank Lloyd Wright design or a beautiful copper and mica lamp by Dirk van Erp, you would swear they were modern design and not over 100 years old.

I have always been drawn to these Arts and Crafts style lamps for as long as I can remember; they are the perfect adornment for my Craftsman bungalow dream home.




Vintage Arts and Crafts Furniture

Gustav Stickley library table The Arts and Crafts Movement MyLifeBanquet.com
Gustav Stickley commemorative library table (Ontaria.de Timeless Furniture Design)

One of the foremost promoters of the early 20th Century Arts and Crafts Movement in America was Gustav Stickley, a furniture manufacturer and publisher. In his publication “The Craftsman,” Stickley brought widespread recognition to the American Craftsman style of furniture making. The works produced by Stickley reflected the Craftsman artisan’s ideal of simplicity, honesty in construction, and truth in materials.

(Pictured: Gustav Stickley commemorative design for a library table by Ontaria Timeless Furniture Design.)

Adjustable-Back Chair No. 2342, Gustav Stickley, 1902, exhibited in the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Stickley chair, Arts and Crafts Furniture MyLifeBanquet
Adjustable-Back Chair No. 2342, Gustav Stickley, 1902, exhibited in the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Licensed under Public Domain via Commons (Photo Credit: Daderot)



The popular Stickley “Mission” chair is pictured and, though often referred to as Mission Style furniture, Gustav Stickley preferred the term “Craftsman.” In fact, he named his company the Craftsman Workshops and went on to produce not only beautifully crafted furniture, but also textiles and metalwork.

I’m sure there are very few who have not seen a replica of this chair and admired its beauty and simplicity.








Arts & Crafts Designs Available on Amazon

Elk Deer Mica Swag Lamp Pendant Lights Rustic Vintage Arts Crafts Dirk Van ErpCoat Rack 18 Inch 3 Shaker Peg Mortise and Tenon Coat Rack Arts and Crafts / Mission styleMini Stickley No Solicitors Plaque 8×2 Inches in Raised Bronze Patina CoatedDale Tiffany Edmund Mission Style Table Lamp, Antique BronzeCoaster Mission Style Rocking Wood and Leather Chair Rocker

Vintage Arts and Crafts Style Wallpaper

William Morris trellis design for wallpaper Designs of the Arts and Crafts Movement mylifebanquet
William Morris trellis design for wallpaper, c. 1862 (Wikimedia Commons)

As more people are deciding to restore rather than renovate their Arts and Crafts or Craftsman style homes, they are interested in finding wallpaper appropriate to the period.

The inset demonstrates an example of the design of William Morris, one of the founders of the early Arts and Crafts Movement in England.

William Morris wallpaper designs are popular today more than ever, and his patterns have been licensed and are available on household items such as shower curtains, and even 21st Century amenities like iPad covers which are available through Zazzle.


Featured Image: Front entry door, Gamble House, Pasadena, Greene & Greene, architects (Photo by author)


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 The Craftsman Bungalow House Lone Tree Residential Design Homes of the Arts & Crafts Movement


The Craftsman Bungalow House

The Craftsman Bungalow House

The Craftsman Bungalow House

The American Arts & Crafts movement emphasized pride of craft, simplicity and substance rather than the over-embellished pretentiousness of the Victorian era and eventually led to the popularization of the “Craftsman” style of architecture, giving rise to the popular Craftsman bungalow house. This familiar style of house is often referred to as the American bungalow or the Craftsman house. The bungalow style house is distinguished by a low, horizontal structure with overhanging eaves, an imposing front porch, banks of windows, often with a central picture window, as well as large square (“elephantine”) columns supporting the porch. The Craftsman bungalow evolved as a more affordable version of the Arts & Crafts home, typically offered for sale in the Sears & Roebuck catalog, to be assembled on the lot. Because this was the house that “everyman” could afford, Craftsman bungalows are ubiquitous almost everywhere throughout the Continental United States.

sears craftsman bungalow plans-brookside mylifebanquet
Sears Craftsman Bungalow, Brookside Plan

Craftsman bungalow houses can be found all over the United States, since anyone who could afford it could order a house from the Sears catalog using any number of available craftsman bungalow floor plans and have it shipped, usually by railroad, and then have their very own Craftsman bungalow assembled on a lot and move right in. Because of the proximity of many cities and towns to railroad routes, entire neighborhoods of bungalows sprang up across the country. As you can see from the illustrations, available designs ranged from the simple and inexpensive to bigger and more elaborate for a little more money.

sears craftsman bungalow plans-avalon mylifebanquet
Sears Craftsman Bungalow, The Avalon Plan

Natural and Reclaimed Materials Used in Craftsman Homes

The unique features as well as materials used in the construction of Craftsman homes were often dependent upon the availability of local resources, in many cases natural materials like river rock or reclaimed products like “clinker” bricks. Clinker brinks are the irregularly shaped and often burnt pieces that are left after the better formed bricks have been removed from the kiln. After the earthquake and great fire of 1907 in San Francisco, reclaimed bricks were commonly scavenged and used in construction of foundations and for siding in many houses, not just Craftsman style bungalows, and those are evident to this day in many neighborhoods of the City. River rock is a common natural building material in homes built in prairie towns and in the West, wherever rocks are easy to transport to a building site.

river rock chimney craftsman bungalow mylifebanquet
River rock chimney base, Pasadena, CA
clinker brick robson-harrington house mylifebanquet
Clinker brick post, Robson-Harrington House, San Anselmo, CA

















Craftsman Homes History

airplane bungalow pasadena craftsman bungalows mylifebanquet
Airplane bungalow, Bungalow Heaven, Pasadena (Instagram by author)












The popularity of the Craftsman bungalow house spanned from about 1905 to the early 1930s; however, the heyday of the American bungalow appears to have been from 1915 to the late 1920s, so this comparatively modern style of house is already about 100 years old today. Since in later decades these beautiful homes were looked down upon as old fashioned and low class, many bungalows were destroyed or subjected to misguided renovations. You would be fortunate indeed to find a historic Craftsman bungalow today that still has its original unpainted woodwork and functional built-ins intact.

There are as many styles of bungalows as you can imagine: the typical Prairie-style low horizontal model with a broad porch along its front, simple and built with wood; the Spanish bungalow with stucco and enclosed cactus gardens; the Japanese influenced bungalow with dark paint and red accents; and one of my very favorites, the airplane bungalow. The airplane bungalow got its name from the jutting second story that sits astride the first floor like an airplane cockpit.


Best Historical Places to Visit to See Bungalows

bungalow heaven sign mylifebanquet
National Register of Historic Places, Bungalow Heaven, design Toni Devereaux.

I personally have had a soft spot in my heart for these historic American bungalows. To me, they represent family dinners and warm nights sitting on the front porch; truly a home rather than a house. A few years ago, I learned about an area in Southern California called the Bungalow Heaven Historic District, a small neighborhood in Pasadena with a large concentration of Craftsman bungalows within a 16-block area. We of course signed up for the annual Bungalow Heaven tour scheduled for the coming April, and drove to Pasadena to visit the bungalows that were going to be featured that year.

If you love bungalows, Bungalow Heaven is the place to see! Many of the Craftsman bungalows date back a century or so, and most are modestly maintained but there are a large number of bungalows that have been lovingly and accurately restored back to original Arts and Crafts style, with paint colors and furnishings to match.

Now that I’ve seen Bungalow Heaven in Pasadena, I am interested in visiting the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Portland, Oregon to see the magnificent Craftsman bungalows that I have only seen in pictures. But that’s for another blog!


Bungalow Heaven Tour

A few photos I took of the nice Craftsman bungalows that we saw on our trip to Bungalow Heaven.





The Craftsman Bungalow on Amazon

Inside the Bungalow: America’s Arts and Crafts InteriorBungalow Colors: ExteriorsBungalow The Ultimate Arts & Crafts HomeCraftsman Collection: 170 Home Plans in the Craftsman & Bungalow StylePasadena’s Bungalow Heaven (Imag

Featured Image: Asian influenced Craftsman bungalow, Pasadena’s Bungalow Heaven neighborhood (Photo by author)

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Unique Retirement Gifts for Women

Unique Retirement Gifts for Women

 A New Generation of Retirees

unique retirement gifts for women 2015

When you’re thinking of unique retirement gifts for women to look for this year, remember that gifts for baby boomers generation that we would like to receive or buy for ourselves are not your typical grandmother’s retirement gift. Our generation is unique: we are more independent and active than ever before, with a zest for life that keeps us feeling young. You’re going to have to use your imagination to find the best gift ideas for baby boomers these days. Finding unique retirement gifts for women may not as easy as you would imagine, but I’ve included some gift ideas for baby boomers based on what my friends say they’d like to get, and what I myself would love to receive!

Our Generation is More Active

When you are preparing to retire, you’re probably going to hear this question a LOT: “So what are you going to do with all that free time?” In fact, every retired person I know who has been asked this question responds: “what free time?!” It’s my impression that retired people these days expect to be busy and involved with life for a very long time.

Gifts for Active Women

Fitbit Activity and Sleep Monitor

If you are an active woman or one who is working on improving her activity level, you will certainly appreciate the Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep Wristband. The sleek wristband tracks your steps and distance, and even how many calories burned while exercising. The data is recorded and synced with your computer or smartphone so you can measure and track your goals. Also included is a sleep monitor. Replacement bands are available. This is the perfect gift for an active working woman who wants to stay in shape after she retires.

 Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband, Slate DigiHero 3 pcs Small Size Replacement Bands for Fitbit FLEX Only

A Good Pair of Shoes

I don’t know about you, but once I retire, I am going to throw out or donate all those uncomfortable shoes that I had to wear at the office! Once your lifestyle changes, perhaps you also want to add some athletic pursuits to your schedule, so finding the shoe to fit your new life is important.

Finding Just the Right Walking Shoe

Nothing is an important as a well-made pair of shoes to provide support and comfort. Whether walking with the grandkids around the neighborhood or participating in a marathon, the proper shoe is essential for an active retired woman.

Merrell is a recognized name in quality active footwear. The Merrell Women’s All Out Soar Walking Shoe is light but also sturdy enough to provide comfort and durability.

 Merrell Women’s All Out Soar Walking Shoe, Dragonfly, 9 M US

A New Type of Running Shoe

Whether for a triathlete or a woman who enjoys running laps around the football field, Altra has the right shoe for an active woman. You will clock many miles on these Altra Women’s Intuition 1.5 Running Shoes. This is a fully cushioned Zero Drop shoe for road racing and a more efficient stride. A caution, however, the Zero Drop shoe does not have the customary arch support some runners may be accustomed to, but is made for those who desire a more natural “barefoot” run.

 Altra Women’s The Intuition 1.5 Running Shoe,Raspberry/Charcoal,5.5 M US

Shoes for Problem Feet

The Saucony Women’s Progrid Echelon 2 running shoe is recommended by Fitness magazine for those who have high arches, and is just right for those who supinate (their foot turns outward while striking) or who have a neutral gait.

For those women who tend to pronate (foot turns inward and arch flattens) when they run, the New Balance Women’s W1260v4 Running Shoe is a good choice.

Whatever level of activity or particular need the active retired woman has, there is a shoe to help her achieve her goals. The chart below by Saucony explains what “drop” means in reference to athletic footwear. 

So…What Is “Drop”?

The newest buzzword for running sneakers is drop, or the height difference in millimeters between the shoe’s heel and forefoot.

0 to 4 mm: A lower drop encourages a more natural midfoot strike. Some “zero drop” (aka no-rise) styles are supercushioned, while others leave you almost barefoot. Neutral runners, this range is for you.

4 to 8 mm: This range still helps you adjust to a natural stride while providing plump cushioning for high-arched runners or a little stability for those who overpronate.

8 to 12 mm: The bigger the drop, the more likely you are to strike the ground with your heel. This range is best for runners who instinctively tend to land heel to toe and moderate to severe overpronators who need extra stability.

Source: Saucony

Sometime You Like to Take it Easy

Kick Back, Relax, and Read!

Not every retired woman is a marathoner or fitness freak, and she may prefer to spend quiet time reading or pursuing her hobbies at home. I personally love to read when I’m at home or out and about. What better gift for yourself or your favorite retiree than an e-reader when you don’t happen to have your favorite book along?

One of the most popular e-readers is the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite with a built-in light and nonglare screen so it’s easy to read outdoors. Let’s go one step further and imagine you’re on vacation, lying in a hammock between two palm trees: the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is the perfect travel companion.

 All-New Kindle Paperwhite, 6

Cool Gifts for the Crafty Retiree

It may seem a cliché as a ladies’ retirement gift, but knitting is very cool right now. What better gift than a how-to kit and accessories for the woman who has always wanted to make her own handcrafted items? I’m actually planning on taking a class myself once I’m retired. There are some really beautiful clothing items that can be fashioned with knitting, and there are many knitting groups you can attend to help you with more advanced techniques.

The Knitting Crash Course is available on Amazon for no cost if you order the Kindle version. This course promises to be able to knit in 12 hours or less! Of course, you will need supplies, such as yarn and knitting needles. This starter kit will get you on your way to creating beautiful knitted articles. To complete the set, why not choose a simple pattern to start, such as an infinity scarf for yourself or easy knitted hats for the grandkids?

 Knitting: Crash Course – The Ultimate Beginner’s Course Ostart 22pcs Mixed Aluminum Handle Crochet Hook Yarn Set How to Knit an Infinity Scarf + 9 Fashionable Cowl Patterns Knitting Hats: How to Knit Hats Easily and Quickly


Cool Electronic Gifts

Best start planning now to find cool gifts for the tech-savvy retired woman in your life. She is probably already inseparable from her new iPad and what would make her happier than a drawing and sketching tool that works just like a real pencil? Check it out! No artistic talent necessary.


 Pencil by FiftyThree Digital Stylus for iPad and iPhone – Walnut

Pencil Stylus by Fifty-Three Digital

Looks like a pencil, acts like a pencil. Is it a pencil? Well…yes and no. Pencil by Fifty Three Digital is a stylus device like nothing you’ve ever seen. Acts so much like a real pencil you could swear you’re writing on paper and not on your iPad or iPhone screen.

The Pencil digital stylus responds to the pressure of your fingers on the writing surface to create different sizes of lines; you can use your finger to blend lines as if you were using lead pencil; and the Pencil stylus even has a built-in eraser to get of any stray strokes so you can create a real masterpiece. Connects to a number of apps, including Paper by Fifty Three.

Just the thing to get those brainstorms onto “paper” while still fresh in your mind. Whether you’re the artistic type or just want to be, Pencil by Fifth Three is the hottest accessory for that new iPad. Works with iPhone, too. Software sold separately.

Can CT Scans Affect Your Thyroid? CT Contrast Side Effects

Can CT Scans Affect Your Thyroid? CT Contrast Side Effects
Photo by Edusoft @Pixabay

My Experience with CT Scan and Thyroid Issues

Can CT scans affect your thyroid? This is not a question I would have given any thought to until recently. I had gone to my doctor because of some sharp abdominal pains that I had been having for a couple of days. My doctor suspected that I had appendicitis so I was whisked away to the emergency department for possible emergency appendectomy. Once the emergency doctors saw me, they advised that I have a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis as soon as possible. After being administered some intravenous contrast dye, I subsequently had the CT performed. When the contrast was being injected into my veins, I could feel my heart begin to beat faster and my throat got a strange hot feeling that moved down my chest and then disappeared. I had been warned that this was how I would feel, so I got comfortable and went through with the CT thyroid scan.

The radiologist who looked at the CT images asked for repeated images in order to get a better look at the urinary tract to rule out any problems with the bladder or kidneys. Fortunately, nothing showed up to be abnormal, and I was told that only the urine test had come back with signs of a UTI (urinary tract infection).

Follow-up Tests Show a Problem

A few weeks later, I was contacted by the Nuclear Medicine department to schedule me for a radioactive iodine scan of the thyroid because my thyroid function blood tests were abnormal. The endocrinologist had set up the scan to find out if my thyroid was functioning properly.

Now, I am not one to take too many medications and I always ask questions about my treatments. Before going through with the nuclear medicine scan, I read about the link between CT scans and abnormal thyroid levels. I found out a lot of information, which I want to share here.

Test Results

thyroid tests #1
Thyroid tests, photo by author

How did I know my thyroid was abnormal? First of all, my doctor had ordered a thyroid panel of blood tests: a TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and a free T4. At first the free T4 was a little high. The TSH, however, had dropped since the 2011 levels, to 0.04 (normal > 0.10). At the same time, my weight jumped up 10 pounds practically overnight, even though I had been good about avoiding gluten, and now I was even heavier than before I stopped eating wheat gluten!

I also started to notice that I was always tired, even after a good night’s sleep and in spite of taking my usual multivitamin every night. Apparently, these are some classic signs of thyroid dysfunction.


Hyper- vs. Hypothyroidism

According to the blood tests, which showed a low TSH and a mildly elevated free T4, I had begin manifesting hyperthyroid symptoms the month right after the CT scan. However, when I got repeat blood tests two months later in March, the opposite was true: the TSH was sky-high and the free T4 had dropped below normal. This was an indication of hypothyroidism, meaning that the thyroid was not producing thyroid hormone (measured by free T4) and so the pituitary gland was working overtime to produce TSH to stimulate thyroid hormone. This meant that the iodine from the CT scan had affected my thyroid so it couldn’t produce its own thyroid hormone!

Not wanting to add any more toxins to my system, I decided not to have the radioactive thyroid uptake scan. Besides, I had read that the iodine from the CT contrast would eventually clear from my system by itself. The nuclear medicine doctor agreed, canceled the scan, and said I could just wait and have another blood test in a month to monitor the thyroid function.

My reading shows the TSH has leveled off a bit and gone down slightly, though still abnormal at 30.6. The free T4 still has not recovered, at 0.6. The only changes I have made are to replace iodized with non-iodized salt in my diet, avoid shellfish (even though iodine content is minimal in seafood), and to drink distilled water rather than fluoridated tap water (even if it’s filtered, fluoride is nearly impossible to remove from water). I had been using a Brita filter, but now I always make an effort to only use distilled bottled water for drinking. I believed that distilled water would help clear toxins more quickly from the kidneys since there are less impurities for the kidneys to process. I have since found out that drinking only distilled water is NOT good for you and iodine can be good in some circumstances of hypothyroidism.


Related on Amazon

I am not a health professional, so I always advise that you contact your own medical practitioner to monitor your health. In addition, to provide more information on thyroid issues and thyroid health, below are some helpful resources available on Amazon.

 Living Well with Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You… That You Need to Know (Revised Edition)Check Price Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? when My Lab Tests Are Normal: a Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Hashimoto’s Disease and HypothyroidismCheck Price Stop the Thyroid Madness: A Patient Revolution Against Decades of Inferior TreatmentCheck Price The Thyroid Solution Diet: Boost Your Sluggish Metabolism to Lose WeightCheck Price

Underactive Thyroid Problems: Is There a Solution?

thyroid disorders symptoms
Photo, Geralt @Pixabay

Synthetic vs. “Armour” Thyroid

Though this may be a long time before my thyroid normalizes, I have chosen not to go with the synthetic thyroid that the endocrinology doctor recommends. I inquired about the natural “Armour” thyroid but he replied that desiccated animal thyroid is not consistently manufactured and not shown to be effective in clinical trials. I understand his concern, because I have read that the T3 to T4 ratio is not always the same in these formulations, and too much T3 can result in hyperthyroidism, which is very difficult to control. I have heard so much bad about synthetic thyroid, however, that I can’t in good conscience take a chance on using that, either.

The next step is to visit my health practitioner as I continue to wait for my thyroid to go back to normal. If the symptoms become too bothersome to wait the 9 to 12 months’ time that this could take, I will ask her advice about taking Armour thyroid.

Even though I am a strong advocate of natural medicine and holistic therapies, I have to caution anyone who is thinking about self-prescribing any kind of thyroid NOT to do that without the advice and counsel of a licensed medical practitioner! There is just too much margin for error and a very strong possibility you might ruin your health. These are strong hormones and definitely nothing to take without medical supervision.


Never self-prescribe! Always be under the care of a licensed health practitioner to administer thyroid 
medication or supplements, and to measure thyroid hormone levels.


How Long Will the Symptoms Last?

I have read that it takes up to a year for thyroid disorder symptoms of hypothyroidism to correct after a CT scan. Even though I feel I had a valid reason to get the scan (family history of aneurysm is one reason), I don’t think I personally will be having a contrast study again, because of these side effects. However, each person must make his or her own decision, and I think this article may be helpful for you to see how CT scans with contrast might affect your thyroid health and to ask your doctor for advice if you are concerned.

Not everyone’s situation will be the same as mine; please work with your health care provider to advise about the risks of a CT scan and the reason you are having the scan done. A CT scan can be done with contrast or without contrast, but with contrast, a doctor can see more detail on the images. That being said, if you have ever had an allergic reaction to iodine or a bad  reaction to contrast dye, please inform your provider so he or she can request to have the scan done without the contrast.

A CT scan is a wonderful invention that can detect abnormalities in the body that are not visible with traditional x-ray studies; even so, ALWAYS be informed about any studies or therapies a doctor recommends for you.

Please Read!!

If you have ever had an allergic reaction to iodine or a bad 
reaction to contrast dye, be sure to inform your 
provider ahead of time. He or she can then help you decide 
the best test for your condition.


Always Be Your Own Advocate

Remember, it always pays to be your own health advocate: always ask questions if you have any doubts about treatment you are receiving and if you don’t understand the answers or don’t get cooperation from your health provider, ask again or change doctors. You don’t have to agree with any doctor, nurse, or other medical professional who blames your symptoms solely on (1) your age, (2) your gender, or (3) your weight, or tries to tell you “it’s all in your head.” To me, this means they don’t want to dig any deeper or admit they don’t have the answer. A good health provider will always see you as an individual rather than a statistic,and be willing to listen to your concerns instead of sloughing them off.

It’s understandable that many traditional doctors don’t know more about nutritional or holistic therapy, because they usually haven’t received more than a few hours’ training in medical school about nutrition and probably little or no training about alternative therapies. That is beginning to change, and now most doctors won’t put you down if you are helped by acupuncture or chiropractic, or vitamin therapy. If you have access to a holistic health practitioner or naturopath, you are very fortunate because you can then receive a full spectrum of care.

Whoever provides your health care, I’ve learned it is always a good idea to do your own research first before accepting anything that someone else tells you as the whole truth. (That includes this article, since it is based on my personal experience alone.) Do your homework!

More Thyroid Help


 Beat Hypothyroidism Naturally: Proven 3-Step Guide to Healthy Thyroid FunctionCheck Price Pure Encapsulations – Thyroid Support Complex 120cCheck Price

Update on My Thyroid Condition

What I’ve Learned

Looking back, I can now understand that my lab tests viewed over the long term show: hyperthyroid right after the CT scan, then a sudden change to HYPO-thyroid. In other words, my thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone. The good news for me is that my TSH lab values are now one-third of what they were, although the free T4 is only marginally improved.

In order to aid in the production of thyroid hormone, I have reintroduced iodized salt and seafood back into my diet. Also, after being cautioned about the dangers of distilled water for drinking, I asked my doctor about using a reverse osmosis water filter. She said that there is no good way to filter out fluoride from water without also filtering out essential minerals like calcium. She advised me either to continue using filtered tap water (I use a Brita filter), purchase a carbon block filter system, or add mineral supplements (if I were to continue to drink distilled or reverse osmosis filtered water). For now, I’m sticking with my Brita filter until I find a better system.

Also, since my thyroid values are improving, my doctor did not feel I needed to take thyroid hormone (Armour thyroid) right now. She provided me with a thyroid support supplement to take in the morning.

In addition, because I have a family history of thyroid disease (my mother was diagnosed with Graves’ disease), my doctor suggested that I request a full thyroid lab panel from my primary physician. This consists of: TPO (thyroid peroxidase antibody screen), thyroglobulin antibody, and TSI (Graves specific thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin) to see if I am predisposed to thyroid problems. She said that not everyone will have the same reaction to iodine contrast with a CT scan, so a hereditary tendency might be the reason.

which foods are good for your thyroid
Photo by author


Which Foods are Good for Your Thyroid?

There are some foods which can lead to goiter (an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid), and which are referred to as “goitrogenic” foods.

which foods are good for my thyroid
Photo, Gadini @Pixabay

Although she stated that you’d have to eat these foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to cause a problem, my doctor did say that there are some foods that can promote goiter: those foods include soy, raw kale, cabbage, and broccoli. Again, you’d have to eat a LOT of these foods, but it’s something to keep in mind when you have thyroid issues.

Foods that help support the thyroid are: Brazil nuts (they contain selenium), sea vegetables like kombu and wakami (contain iodine), chicken and fish (contain protein),and oysters. Kale, cabbage, spinach, and broccoli are good, as long as they are cooked and not raw. Iodized salt is also beneficial in small amounts. I’ve been drinking coconut water for hydration and for the added minerals.

In general, it’s always smart to use good judgment about what you eat and don’t go overboard eating too much of any one thing. Maintain good health habits of getting out for fresh air and exercise, staying well-hydrated, and avoiding sugary and fatty foods. Stress can be a factor in many cases, too.

I hope this post has been helpful to those who are going through similar issues.

Important Note

Please do not consider any of this as medical or health advice: 
I caution that this is my experience only; your situation may be
different. Always consult your health practitioner for this 
and any other health concerns.


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