How To Compost Without Using Bio-Bags

In San Francisco, we are required, by law, to compost. We are required to have three bins - black, blue, and green. The black bin is for non-organic garbage that goes to landfill. The blue bin is for all recyclable stuff. The green bin is for biodegradable wastes like foods, plants, and paper. Every Wednesday morning, we haul all three bins outside for the garbage collector and compost collector.

The city has a pretty audacious goal - to reduce 75% of garbage wastes that go to landfill by this year and eliminate 100% of garbage waste by 2020. It's a goal the city will aggressively work towards to achieve because it's projected that we will max out the capacity at our current landfill by 2014. I'm not sure how we will achieve the zero waste goal by 2020. I guess in a year or two, they'll take away the black bin so we might be required to sort everything. In the meantime, if we don't comply with the composting law, the fine is $100 for single homes and small businesses and up to $1,000 for large businesses, condos and apartment buildings. If the garbage collectors find that you put, say food, in the black bin, you'll get a note reminding you to compost. If they find again that you're not sorting your garbage properly, you get a letter then a phone call. After the phone call is a fine for repeat offenders.

While I support the city's goals to reduce wastes going to landfills, it is not cheap to compost! We were given these green compost baskets last year by the city. You need to use biodegradable bags with the basket. A box of  25 bags costs about $5.50. A bag holds two days worth of kitchen scraps for me.

I was at family dinner with relatives recently and I saw my aunt wrapping her kitchen scraps with newspapers. She uses a brown paper bag instead of the compost basket. I didn't know you could do that! So all this time, I'm spending money buying bags when I could have just wrapped my food garbage with newspapers or paper grocery bags. I had just begun wrapping my compost garbage with newspaper and brown bags.

Just curious, does your city require residences to recycle and compost?

Sources: New Rules Project, SF Examiner
Photo credit: SF Recology

Kids Duke It Out

We all have said it ourselves when we were kids (and maybe still now). Our kids are quick to use it as their first line of defense when they get in trouble. The infamous line, "He/she started it!". In my family, my son always fights with his middle sister, and my daughters always get into at least one argument per day. So it was such a big surprise when I heard my son arguing with his youngest sister over the weekend. A 15 year-old vs. a 5 year-old. 

Daughter: Uh-huh, my magic is superpower.
Son: OMG! You don't know what you're talking about.
Daughter: You don't know magic. 
Son: At least I know what's 10x10
Daughter: 10
Son: (Laughing at his sister's response) See, you don't know. I'm so much smarter than you. 
Daughter: You don't know what's 6373628+3837494 (can't remember the set of random numbers she blurted out)
Son: Repeat the numbers again. I bet you can't repeat the numbers again.

Ok, you can see who was having the upper hand in the argument. Of course, my little one couldn't recite the numbers again. She blurted some other random numbers and I stopped the argument. I asked my son what in the world was he trying to prove to his sister and his response? "She started it!". For some reasons, right then and there, hearing that response made me realized my typical response, "I don't care who started it.." was out dated. Kids nowadays need to be explained in their own language, their reality. I told my son I will record his next argument with his youngest sister, show it to him, and then I'm going to upload it on Youtube, and title it "I'm So Smart, A 5-Year-Old Can't Beat Me!". I told him how I wish I had recorded his last battle of the nerd with his middle sister. They were just going at it.

Son: What's the sun made out of? 
Daughter: Fire! 
Son: Wrong! It's helium....(I can't remember what he said)
Daughter: Whatever, what's 579x789? 
Son: I bet you don't even know the answer yourself!
Daughter: I do!
Son: What is it then?
Daughter: See, you don't know. I'm not telling you. 

My son laughed as I was telling him this. It sure didn't sound ridiculous to him at the time but after he heard my reenactment of the argument, he laughed at himself. I told him he was so determined to prove his superior intelligence, he was throwing biology, chemistry, math, and all the good stuff at his sister. He says "okay, okay. It was stupid". I haven't heard him argue with neither of his sisters today. Let's see how it turns out this week.

A Tangled Mess

When you have two kids playing and laughing and they become suddenly quiet followed by a "shhh" and a whimpering sound, it's never a good thing. Have I ever told you the awful truth about being a parent is having to think fast on your feet when your child presents you with one of those "OMG" problems? You also find yourself repeating this same question to your child a million time: What in the world were you thinking?! 

Last night, my eldest daughter decided to style her little sister's hair. They have this "hair salon" game that they play all the time. I could hear laughter coming out from their bedroom while I was watching my TV show. I thought I heard a gasp and then my girls were quiet. Too quiet as a matter of fact. I lowered the TV volume and listened to whatever sound that was coming from their bedroom. I heard a whimper and the whimper got a little louder. The bedroom door swung open and my youngest daughter walked out and showed me this tangled mess. I had already untangled some of the hair from the comb before this picture was taken.

The hair was so tightly secured onto the comb, it stayed put on top of her head. I spent about 30 minutes slowly pulling a bit of hair at a time from the comb but it was just stuck! All the while, my youngest daughter asked if I was going to cut off the tangled hair. She was scared. I felt helpless. Finally, my husband broke the comb in half to loosen the tangle from the center. Phew! Our other option was to cut some hair out. Glad we didn't end  up needing to do that! I hope this will help any parents out there who find themselves in this tangled mess.

Summer & Sunset In San Francisco

Summer in San Francisco does not feel like summer at all. It's mostly cold, windy, overcast, and foggy. No sun. Just gray sky and clouds. Some parts of the city are blessed with some sun and are much warmer but overall, it's just cold. Tourists to San Francisco should be aware of the city's not-so-summer friendly weather. When I was working, I used to walk pass a heavily tourist populated area with tour buses and cabs parked in front of the hotels. On any given day in the summer, I'd see our under dressed tourists shivering in their shorts and t-shirts.

The most beautiful day so far this year was on March 19. The weather was pleasantly warm. There was no clouds in the sky and while driving home that evening, I captured this rare beauty. As the sun was setting, the ocean was glistening so brightly, it was hard to look at it. There was not a single cloud to distort the beautiful sunset.

Two days later, the weather cooled down but the ocean view was still beautiful. There was a few clouds in the sky and look at the difference in the sunset. 

Old Couple Reminds Me of Debeers Commercial


After driving back and forth at a supermarket parking lot, my husband and I finally spotted a couple walking towards their car. We backed up and waited. As we were waiting, I realized it was an elderly couple, probably in their 80's. They only had one grocery bag and the husband was holding it. He walked his wife over to the passenger side of the car and then he slowly walked around to the driver side. I turned and said to my husband, "I wish we could be like them when we're old". He agreed.

I wish to be healthy and capable when I'm old just like that couple. My maternal and paternal grandparents have long passed but my husband's maternal grandparents are still here with us. The grandmother is in a nursing home. She has partial dementia and is quite immobile. When I visit her, I also see other elderlies there and how lifeless they are just laying in bed. It's really a sad sight and I wonder if I would be like them one day. Seeing that couple at the parking lot reminds me of this Debeers commercial. It's so warming and beautiful.

Paraben and Sulfate Free Shampoo and Conditioner

Picture Courtesy:

I bought a kids' 2 in1 shampoo and conditioner a few weeks ago none other because my daughters loved the fruity smell of it. A few days after using the shampoo, I noticed both of the girls scratching their heads quite frequently. I knew right away it was the shampoo that caused the scalp irritation. I try to buy organic shampoos for my family but sometimes even I get tempted by the nice scent of some of the conventional ones. My husband bought an organic shampoo and conditioner a few days ago for the girls and their scalp stopped itching. 

If you've ever used or are using organic shampoos and conditioners, you'll notice that they are "Paraben and Sulfate Free". You'll also find that they don't smell that great. The ones that I'm using smell somewhat like grass. It took me a while to get used to the smell. The texture of organic shampoo is not smooth but rather jelly-like or watery. I sometimes forget how easily the liquid plops out rather than running smooth out like conventional shampoos when I squeeze the bottle. The biggest difference I notice immediately is how little my hair fall out while washing my hair with organic shampoo versus regular shampoo. Ok, so back to paraben and sulfate. Sulfate is a chemical used to produce a good sudsy lather and paraben is a preservative used to inhibit bacterial growth in shampoos. Sulfate is also used in toothpaste as a foaming agent. Now because organic shampoos don't contain sulfate, you're not going to have a fantastic lather when you wash your hair. Conventional shampoos and conditioners contain chemicals, added fragrance and colors, additives, and preservatives. All of these ingredients can be drying and harsh to the scalp that cause scalp irritation. Despite knowing about this, I still went ahead and bought the kids 2-1 shampoo for my daughters which contained a bunch of ingredients that I can't even pronounce. Luckily, I bought a small bottle. Well, it didn't take long before I threw away that bottle and reverted back to the organic bottle.

Protect Yourself From Copyright Infringement

A while back I wrote an article on how to protect your published content from being plagiarized. Just recently, I read from Mary Moh at Keep Learning Keep Smiling that two of her recipes were copied and posted on two different blogs. One of the blogs is a new blog with 400 posts in one month. Must be a really hard-working blogger! Mary contacted the blogger to remove the copied content (which included her signature), the blogger removed hers as well as the entire 400 posts. There are some really great tips Mary highlighted in her post.

Working 15 years in the corporate world taught me one very important thing and that is document, document, document! Winning a frivolous lawsuit that lasted over a year taught me another valuable lesson, evidence! You can use plagiarism monitoring softwares such as Copyscape which also has a variety of banners for you to choose from to add to your site or alerts like Google alerts to monitor your published contents. If you caught someone plagiarizing your web content, make sure you document everything! Record when you discovered the plagiarized content and copies of communication between you and the other website or blog owner. You also want to be able to prove that the content was copied. Make a screenshot or print the copied page. This will help you tremendously if you are dealing with a repeated offender. The next step is to notify the infringer and demand the content to be removed. This usually takes care of the problem.

Copyright infringement can result in legal actions especially if there is loss of profit to the rightful author. If this is the case, then of course, you should seek legal counsel.  Google takes copyright infringement seriously. In their adsense page, Google defines copyright infringement as "making a copy of someone's work without their permission". You can contact Google if you believe someone has copied your work here which outlines their policy and steps you can take to contact them.

Allergic Reaction Subsided

It was truly a relief to see no more nasty bumps on my daughter's face the next morning. Her face was only slightly puffy on one cheek but the itchiness went away. (Previous post). I didn't give her any allergy medicine but had her drink plenty of water to flush her system. I only applied anti-itchy cream on her face. Of course when her face broke out in bumps, I was watching to see if she had difficulty breathing and if she felt pain. Thanks to everyone who commented. I learned a lot from your responses. CVmom was the first to comment and her comment resonated with what I also heard about deadly food combo. As soon as I read Gwei Mui's response on fruit latex syndrome, I immediately did a quick research about it before retiring to bed. Gina and Lazy Pineapple's responses about the danger of the mango skin sap was alarming. I read on and was very surprised to learn that the mango fruit belongs to the family of plant to which poison sumac and poison ivy also belong. There's a chemical called urshiol which is present in the peel of the mango fruit. This very same chemical  is also an active compound in poison oak leaves and is the cause of rashes from poison ivy. The amount of urshiol in mangoes is much less than poison ivy which is why the symptoms are much less severe.

I'm going to make sure that I wash the mango very thoroughly before and after peeling the skin before serving it to my daughter and I won't be letting her eat mango and banana on the same day.

Mango and Banana Allergy

I'm still not exactly sure what caused my daughter to have an allergic skin reaction but I think it's from eating mango and banana together. I know she's not allergic to neither because she's eaten them without any problem in the past. As a matter of fact, one of her favorite fruits is mango. I went over everything she ate and did that day and nothing strike as out of the ordinary. The only thing she ate that she never had before was a bowl of sliced mango and banana. I only ate the mango because it was too much for my daughter to finish. When her face broke out in bumps or bubbles (not sure how to describe it), I immediately applied hydrocortisone cream around the area and the lumps subsided.

I reapplied hydrocortisone cream continuously as the lumps kept coming back. My poor little girl tried so hard not to scratch her face. I padded her face with a cold towel to help alleviate the itchiness. I googled online and found that another mom wrote about her son getting hives after eating a mango and banana on the same day. This is just very strange. Does anyone have a clue why would these two fruits create an allergic reaction? 

Drinking 17 Teaspoons of Sugar

School is officially out for my kids. As I was helping my daughter clean out her bins of school work and whatever that ended up in those containers, I came across a very interesting nutritional fact sheet about how much sugar is in a 20-ounce soda. On average, there's 65 grams of sugar in a 20 ounce bottle of soda. 65 grams equals to about 17 teaspoons. So you're consuming 17 teaspoons of sugar from drinking a 20 ounce bottle of soda. Ewwww..and yike! How do you convert grams into teaspoons? Just divide it by 4. For sugar, 1 US teaspoon = 4.2 grams.

Here are the common names for sugar in disguises:
  • Barley malt
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane juice
  • Dextrose
  • Glucose
  • Sucrose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Malodextrin
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
I have to admit, when I think about the weight of a gram, I never imagined it to be worth so much. Now that I know in terms of sugar because grams converted to the U.S weight metric is different for butter, flour, liquid and so forth, 1 teaspoon = 4.2 grams, I do very quick calculations in my head whenever I buy stuff now.  I hope this information will help everyone rethink the amount of sugar that's in their drinks and food.

Fighting Question

I'm dressing my youngest daughter after bathing her and she asks...

"Mommy, if my classmate picks on me, what should I do? Tell the teacher or fight back?"

"Fight back, of course". No, that's not what I said to my daughter but in my head. I want my daughter to be able to stand up for yourself but only when the problem persists and not at the first comment the other student says to her that she feels is mean.

My daughter will be starting school this fall. I ask her what does she think is the right thing to do and she takes a swing and says "I fight them!". I chuckled and she says she's not afraid. I ask her what makes her think about this situation and she says her sister told her that kindergarteners often get picked on because they are so small. I asked my eldest daughter if she witnessed younger children being picked on by older kids at her school and she said no; she was just preparing her little sister in case it happens to her.

"If you fight in school, you will get in trouble. You can not hit anyone. You tell the teacher and you tell mommy." My daughter nods her head and asks if the student picking on her will get in trouble in which I tell her yes. My little one is very anxious to start school. She's such a petite little girl and hearing her initial response gives me assurance that she will be a tough cookie in school.

When Things Go Wrong, They Go On Getting Worse


My brother's high school graduation is today and my...

Original Plan:
Sister arrives at my house 11:30AM
Go to party store to buy balloons and graduation teddy bears
Pick up eldest daughter from school at 1:30PM
Meet up with parents at 1:45PM in front of brother's school
Get good seats
Graduation ceremony begins at 2:00PM

How it really turned out...

Sister arrived at 12:45PM (1.5 hours late!)
Went to a random party store closer to home instead of the planned one because didn't have enough time. Not much balloon selections and no graduation teddy bears. 
Dad had to help pick up daughter because there was a ridiculously long line at the store and each customer was buying a dozen helium inflated balloons
Met up with parents at 2:15PM (late - 30 minutes)
Got awful seats, all the way on the top of the bleachers basking in the hot sun :(
All of us got sunburned except my two daughters who were wearing sunblock. 

                                The View (with camera zooming in too)

Because we were sitting so far away, I couldn't tell which graduate was my brother. We cheered for the wrong guy who had the same name as my brother. When I showed my brother some of the pictures I took, he said I took pictures of the wrong guy. He walked on the left side of the stage to get his diploma.  The student that I took pictures of walked on the right side. Here's the stage.


It was foggy and I didn't expect the weather to be so HOT! Not only did I get sunburned, I was dehydrated and for the remaining of the day, I had a massive headache. Even though I drank a glass of water as soon as I got home and took a short nap, my headache didnt' go away and instead I started feeling somewhat dizzy. I thought I was alright so I went to the graduation dinner and (sigh) had to apologize and left 15 minutes into the meal because I was nauseous and dizzy with a throbbing headache. My sister drove me home and returned back to the restaurant. Good thing we dined at a restaurant only a few minutes away from my house. When I got home, I drank half a cup of coke and started to feel better. It has been 3 hours now, no more headache, no more dizziness, and no more nausea . 
       Here's the fog covering our famous Golden Gate Bridge

                                The sun slowly burning the fog away

The Good and The Bad About Custom Domain On Blogger

I'd like to thank everyone for your well wishes on getting my own domain. As you can see, I also changed my template. Most of you asked the same questions in your comment or private emails. Here's the answer to some of the questions.

Who's the new domain host? I bought my domain through Blogger for $10 per year. In case you didn't know, Google partnered with domain registrars like eNom and GoDaddy to offer web domain names. I didn't want to register with GoDaddy or any other domain registrars because there's a relatively complicated process to redirect visitors and search engines to my custom domain, and then point my domain to Blogger. All of these require quite a bit of HTML knowledge and I'm not too HTML literate to do it. 

I didn't buy a hosting service for my domain and instead opted to have it hosted by Google on the Blogger platform which is free. There are some really good concerns about the disadvantages of hosting your blog on free hosting services like Blogger or Wordpress. The most repeated one is content and information control. If your blog is hosted by Blogger, then Google owns your blog. They have the right to the content and information of your blog as well as the ability to terminate or suspend your account. I've also read about blogs being terminated or disabled for no legitimate reasons. In my opinion, I think there are reasons why a blog is suspended by Google. That's just my opinion. 

If you are interested in buying a custom domain from Blogger, click here. The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and it's from Google Support. I didn't have to do any redirecting when I bought my domain from Blogger. Everything was automatically reconfigured. It took a couple of hours before it went into effect. You can buy a domain from Google Apps for $10 per year and not have your blog hosted on Blogger if you want full control of your blog. Here's a list of 2010 Best Web Hosts that I looked at before I went ahead with Blogger.

Why have I decided to get my own domain?

Sorry folks, I didn't get my own domain for any ranking, monetary, or SEO reasons. I decided to get my own domain simply out of pure annoyance of entering "blogspot" for my blog URL. Some of my readers are my ex-coworkers and occasionally, I'll get a phone call from them asking if my site was down because they couldn't access it. The first time I got the call, I was baffled because when I checked, it worked. Then I found it was because they didn't enter "blogspot" in the URL. Some of my friends don't understand what is "blogspot" and the need for it to be part of the URL. Well, since it annoys me to key "blogspot" and it confuses some of my readers, why not just get rid of it? And so I did last Wednesday :)

Losing all my comments...
The only bad thing that happened is I lost all of my comments prior to buying my domain. I checked on Google Support Forum and found that many people are having the same issues and it's a known issue in which Google is working on. One lead moderator said the comments should reappear from 48-72 hours and when that didn't happen, I found out that many people have either lost all their comments permanently or they got it back months later.