Growing Flowers In Her Stomach

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While eating breakfast this morning, I noticed my little belle just licking the jam off her toast. I thought she was going to eat the toast afterward as sometimes she does that but no, she put her toast down and then said she was full. Perhaps she was full I thought because she finished all of her scrambled eggs. I looked at her toast and noticed that she pinched off some parts of it. I then asked her what was wrong with her toast and she said she didn't want flowers growing in her stomach. Flowers? She pointed to the seeds on her toast. It was flax seeds. We had flax seed whole grain bread. After telling my daughter that flax seeds are good for her and promised her that no flowers would grow in her tummy, she still wasn't convinced. Okay, maybe next time.


5 Pound Zucchini and Garden Pests

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My brother's boss gave him a 5 pound zucchini this past weekend. The thing is so huge! I placed a fork next to it to give you a good perspective of the sheer size of it. His boss says that when he came back from vacation, his zucchini quadrupled in size. He doesn't use fertilizer or anything to induce growth yet all of his vegies grow abnormally big. Every year, his garden yields a bounty of fruits and vegetables without fail. I think he has a combination of good sunlight and super soil. 


My garden on the other hand requires a lot of hard work and yields nothing edible. My cherry tomato plant grows nicely every year but none of  fruits are edible. There's just something weird about those tomatoes. They don't seem to progress to the ripe stage. I've had it for 3 or 4 years now and I'm thinking of just yanking the entire thing out because it has grown quite big and is taking up a big space. Aside from my tomato plant, I once had a zucchini plant. It did well for one growing cycle and then got infected by a disease or something. I don't know if it's my soil pH balance or if it's because there's simply not enough sun to grow stuff in my garden. It's mostly cloudy and foggy in my neighborhood. 



I'm most proud of my red rose bush since it is the only plant thriving while all the others have stagnant or no growth at all. The roses are very fragrant. I've had the rose bush for a year now and it has continuously blossomed. The only problem is pests eating on the leaves and the roses. I have to figure a way to get rid of those critters without the need to use insecticide. 

 

Do you know of a safe way to get rid of garden pests?


San Francisco Two Bridges

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San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
Length: 7 miles long. 
Links San Francisco to Marin County.
Opened on May 27, 1937
Toll in 1937: $0.50 USD
Toll in 2010: $6.00 USD


San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge
Length: 4.5 miles long
Opened on Novemeber 12, 1936.
Links San Francisco to Oakland.
Toll in 1936: $0.65 USD
Toll in 2010: $5.00 USD






Sources Credit:


Plastic Containers Danger and Safety

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This is a follow up to Wendy from Greenish Thumb comment on my last post "Teflon and Other Nonstick Health Danger" about the safety of plastic containers:

"...I've also recently thought about bringing lunch to work in plastic containers (like the ones you get with carry out). They were so nice, are free, basically leakproof, and can be washed in the dishwasher, but I think that stuff is horrible for you too - especially microwaved..."


I used to bring lunch in plastic containers up until 2008. Many, if not all of my coworkers, replaced their plastic containers with ceramics or glass ones. I think it started out when a bunch of them received spam emails about  the risk of getting cancer from eating microwaved foods in plastic containers. There were some paranoia. Many people stopped bringing lunch and bought lunch everyday. As for me, I think the breaking point was when I saw the melted corner of my boss's lunch box after she heated up her curry.

There are health concerns over heating foods in plastic containers because of the possibility of chemicals called plasticizers that can leach out and evaporate into the food. According to TCI America, plasticizers are "materials which are added to improve several properties of polymers such as workability, heat resistance, low-temperature resistance, weathering resistance, insulation properties and oil resistance etc". In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates plastic containers that come in contact with food. Manufacturers are required to test the plastic containers that come in contact with food to meet FDA standards and specifications. Only plastic containers that have passed the FDA stringent testings have the microwave-safe symbol or written instructions indicating the product is microwave-safe.


Here are some common U.S. microwave-safe or food-safe symbols
 Photo Credit: cgpbento.livejournal.com

Below is a list of microwave precautions from the Harvard Medical School:
  • Most takeout containers, water bottles, and plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yogurt, whipped topping, and foods such as cream cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard are not microwave-safe.
  • Microwavable takeout dinner trays are formulated for one-time use only and will say so on the package.
  • Don’t microwave plastic storage bags or plastic bags from the grocery store.
  • Before microwaving food, be sure to vent the container: Leave the lid ajar, or lift the edge of the cover.
  • Don’t allow plastic wrap to touch food during microwaving because it may melt. Wax paper, kitchen parchment paper, or white paper towels are alternatives.
  • If you’re concerned about plastic wraps or containers in the microwave, transfer food to glass or ceramic containers labeled for microwave oven use.
If you plan on replacing your plastic containers, make sure they are microwave safe and BPA-free. I think regardless of how microwave safe your plastic container is, if you are heating fatty foods in it, the hot oil can easily melt the plastic. The danger of ingesting plasticizers is still there. I've seen my plastic container deteriorate after just a few usages. So the best bet is to use microwave-safe glassware.

Sources Credit:

Teflon And Other Nonstick Health Danger

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My parents recently migrated to using only cast iron and stainless steal cookware and tossed out all of their non-stick ones. They had seen a special report on the toxicity of Teflon and nonstick cookware and how the chemicals used in the nonstick coatings of our pots and pans can break down and release harmful chemicals into our food if heated over the suggested temperature of 440°F. I have some Teflon cookware and appliances. My rice cooker also has a nonstick coating. I'm going to replace all of them. After reading about the toxic fumes emitted from Teflon products, the first thing the came to mind was the awful smell of my mini heater and the toaster oven when I first used them and sometimes thereafter.

Below are some of the findings I find while researching online about the danger of Teflon/nonstick cookware. The sources are listed under Sources Credit at the bottom of this post. Most of the test findings are preliminary but I'm not going to wait for a couple of more years of research to confirm that the chemicals used in my Teflon cookware, toaster oven, iron, heater, and food wrappers are indeed poisonous.

DANGER OF TEFLON AND OTHER NONSTICK COOKWARE:

- Lab studies suggest that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used in making nonstick coating, can cause cancer and birth defects in animals, and might pose a risk in humans. PFOA stays in the body for years and in the environment indefinitely. ~ Consumer Reports

- Teflon pans and pots, if heated above 500 degrees, will emit fumes that can lead to polymer fume fever in humans and kill birds which is why DuPont recommends keeping pet birds out of the kitchen if you cook with Teflon. ~ Straight Dope

- DuPont claims their products are safe under normal use; however, infared therometer that were used in tests to measure the temperature of various nonstick and Teflon pans showed the following: a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stove top burner reached 736°F in three minutes and 20 seconds, with temperatures still rising when the tests were terminated. A Teflon pan reached 721°F in just five minutes under the same test conditions. At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. ~ Ecomall

A study by Environmental Working Group, in collaboration with Commonweal in 2005 found chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of US-born infants including the Teflon chemical PFOA Similarly, researchers at John Hopkins Hospital, who released findings in 2006, found PFOA the Teflon chemical, in umbilical cord blood in 99% of 300 newborns tested. The Canadian government is introducing legislation to ban PFOA." ~ Lotus Foods Stainless



Sources Credit:
Consumer Reports
Straight Dope
Ecomall 
Lotus Foods Stainless

Raw Honey For Allergies

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My friend, who used to have airborne allergies, tells me to try raw honey as a natural allergy remedy for my daughter. She says she eats a teaspoon of raw honey every day in the spring and fall for the past 5 years and she has not had an allergy episode. I was not quite convinced because I didn't think raw honey was effective in treating or curbing allergies. When my daughter's allergy flared up a few months ago, my friend again suggested that I give raw honey a try. I didn't have raw honey but regular honey at that time so I gave a teaspoon to my daughter. This was the same allergy episode I wrote in my Allergy Tip post. I think the honey only soothed her throat because she was coughing less but she was still coughing for another week or so. I told my friend that the honey didn't work on my daughter and the first question she asked was "did you use raw honey?". I told her no and she said regular honey is not the same as raw honey.

I bought a jar of wildflower raw honey a few days ago after noticing that some people's allergies are flaring up lately because it's summer. Up until that day, I didn't know what was the difference between raw and regular honey. According to the jar label that I bought, raw honey is 'strained, unheated,, untreated, and non diluted' which contains 'only raw honey, pollen, propolis and live enzyme'. 
I found some very interesting health facts from researches conducted on raw honey. I suggest you check the entirety of the data at Really Raw Honey. According to Really Raw Honey:


"Much of the effectiveness of raw honey to help treat respiratory problems has been traced to the bee pollen and propolis suspended within it. According to a research report from Bulgria, they found the honey has anti-allergic, anti-imflammatory, and expectorant properties that insure the body has an immunobiological defense and give it the capacity to regenerate its attacked cells."


My daughter got the sniffles - itchy eyes and runny nose on Tuesday and I gave her a teaspoon of raw honey. I waited. I kept checking on her to see if she felt better and she said her runny nose had stopped and her eyes felt better. The next morning, she looked perfectly fine and again, I asked her how she was feeling and she said no more runny nose and her eyes were not itchy no more. WOW! was my first thought! Raw honey does work! A few days later, my daughter said her throat felt a little itchy. I gave her a teaspoon of raw honey and her itchy throat went away the next day. Normally, when my daughter gets the sniffles, it only gets worse. I'm really happy now. I hope raw honey is effective in preventing or even treating her allergies.

Day at The California Academy of Sciences

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I took the kids to the California Academy of Sciences this past Sunday. I was impressed by the architectural design of the world's greenest museum which took 10 years to build at a hefty $500 million dollar price tag. The Academy of Sciences is comprised of a natural history museum, a planetarium, an aquarium, and a 4-story rainforest which is encased in a dome inside the building. The planetarium and special exhibit require passes which are passed out on a first come first serve basis at the entrance of the exhibit or nearby cart of the planetarium. We didn't know this until we were in line for the Extreme Mammals exhibit and the pass collector told us we needed a pass to get inside. Bummer! We were in line for 15 minutes too! My son noticed that people were holding passes in the planetarium line so we went around looking for the stand to get our tickets. The only tickets left was for the last show which was no problem for us. When we were done exploring the rainforest, we went to the lower ground to check out the aquarium. I couldn't take much pictures because flash photography was not allowed. We went to get in line for the planetarium show soon afterward. While waiting in line, I just thought it was weird how the line was not moving at all. 5 minutes or so later, the lady in front asked if we had passes and we told her yes. She said we were in the wrong line. We were standing in the 'stand by' line. She told us the line for people with passes was on the other side. As we were trying to figure out which way to go to get in the correct line, we saw a worker walking out from the planetarium. My husband asked for the entrance and the worker said the show was starting and she lifted up the rope and let us through. It was dark inside but there was someone who walked us to our seats which was all the way on the top.

T-Rex right at the entrance:

The Giant Sequoia - the oldest living thing on the planet. This tree was 1700 years old when it was cut down in 1917.

The rainforest is inside this dome:

 Several areas didn't allow flash photography, video recording or taking picutures due to copyright policy and to protect the animals from the camera flashes. These are the Moon Jellyfishes.

On the roof is a terrace which allows visitors to view the beautiful 'Living Rooftop' which has 1.7 million native San Francisco plants and flowers.

In the forefront are some of the solar panels on the rooftop that provide 10% of the electricity for the building. The dark building in the background is our de Young Museum of Fine Arts. The exterior of the building is made out of copper and, in time, the color will change to green through the oxidation process of copper. 
 
Stingrays, sharks, and fishes

Elephant Bird, the world's largest bird. 
  




How To Pick Sweet White Nectarines

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I learned how to pick sweet white nectarines a few years back from a lady who was standing next to me picking I think peaches. I was picking the ones that were firm and unblemished. I think I had 3 or 4 fruits in my plastic bag when the lady turned to me and said the ones I was picking weren't sweet. She picked up one blemished nectarine and pointed to the dark yellow patches and said to buy those instead. I know I'm not a good fruit picker so I really had nothing to lose but more to gain from this lady. I put back the nectarines that were in my bag and started to look for the ones that the lady showed to me. I'm glad I listened to her. I'm passing this knowledge to all my readers since nectarines are in season right now.

Look for these..

Instead of these...

No Riot Please!

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In a nutshell, a guy started a fight on a train, got detained along with some other fellas. Some heated exchange of words between him and the officers, officers attempted to subdue him, one officer thought the guy was going for a gun in his pocket while nailing him to the ground, officer wanted to tase the guy but pulled out a gun and shot him. The guy died. This was months ago. There was a trial and today's verdict was involuntary manslaughter. Just the verdict. I think sentencing will be announced tomorrow, if not, then probably next week. Fearing that the verdict may invoke a riot, the judge gave a 2 hour window to let people prepare before the verdict was announced. Businesses closed and workers hurriedly left work. Downtown Oakland looks deserted. As anticipated, there's a big protest in Oakland - the city where the guy lived. As of now, there's looting and vandalism going on. Now normally, this wouldn't draw much attention. It's gotten as far as it got because the dead guy is black and the officer is white. This drama is labeled 'racism' and 'police brutality'. 


I pray there won't be any riot in San Francisco. Protest as you will, but peacefully! No need to cause chaos and harm. There are opportunists and troublemakers out there who look for the chance to break into stores and steal. I feel sorry for businesses who are damaged and vandalized especially the small mama and papa stores. They're going to have to pay for the damages to their businesses. I hope they have insurance!


My two cents on this is the officer will live with guilt that he killed someone. That's the torment he's going to deal with for the rest of his life. Based on what I read from the information presented during trial, I see a new officer handling his first unruly citizens scene. Inexperienced and nervous, he pulled out a gun instead of the taser. For the mom of the dead passenger, there's nothing more heartbreaking than to bury your own child. No parent ever wants to bury their child. I feel her pain and heartbreak. She seeks justice for her son and wishes for the guilty of murder verdict. There are others who share the same sentiment. I think before we wish that onto anyone, we should ask ourselves what if we're in the officer's shoes right now? What if we're the parents of a person's who's on trial for murder? I'm sure no one out there wants to be in this predicament. I just hope the violence stops and there'd be no riots tomorrow or in the coming days.

Why You Should Ask Before Throwing Things Away

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I like to clean around the house and keep things organized before they become big messes. Often times, I throw away, box up (for donation or storage), or recycle old stuff. I would say 99% of the time, my kids don't care what's been tossed out. That minuscule 1% of the time? Well, that 1% causes chaos in the house with unhappy kids. 

Incident #1 with son -

As I was folding laundry, I noticed a worn out tank top that, in my opinion, was too small for my son. So I threw it away. A few days later, my son asked if I'd seen a white tank while doing laundry. I told him where I put all his clean tanks. He came out and said he couldn't find the one his friend borrowed to him last week. Turns out, his best friend wears the same brand and color tank tops as my son but his friend wears a size smaller because he's shorter. I knew right away that tank top I threw away was his friend's and I got a big "WHAT??!!" when I told him what I did. So for the next half an hour, mother and son engaged in what and why questions.

Me: "Why were you wearing your friend's tank?"
       "Why didn't you tell me that your friend's tank top was in the laundry?"
       "Why did you borrow your friend's tank?"


Son: "What am I going to tell my friend?"
        "Why didn't you check with me?"

I ended up buying a new pack of tank tops to give back to the friend.

Incident #2 with eldest daughter -

I decided to clean out her drawers one day because there just too many things cluttered on her dresser. What I found in there drawers were mainly empty candy boxes, candy wrappers, broken crayons, dried out markers, and a bunch of other junk. I threw out practically everything and kept a few of the big items like her stationary set and pencil boxes. When my daughter came home from her outing with her aunt, she knew right away her room looked just a bit too orderly. She came rushing out and asked what happened to her stuff in the drawers. After I told her, her eyes welled up and all of a sudden, it started to pour.Yes, we ended up digging the trash bag so she could recover some of her stuff.

So now, I put things I want to throw away in a 'CHECK THIS' box so the kids and husband can look through it.

People Who Just Love To Brag

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I used to work with a bunch of gambling addicts. People who gambled away their hard earned paychecks at casinos. One coworker spent lunchtime buying and scratching lottery scratchers rather than eating her lunch.  Her desk color turned gray because it was filled with gray latex residues from the scratcher tickets. Another coworker would either eat peanuts or nothing for lunch because she always lost money gambling at casinos. The worst one was a coworker losing her house to foreclosure because her husband was addicted to football gambling. The marriage ended in divorce.


Then there were those who bragged and lied about their winnings. One lady boasted that she never lost money but always won at least $1,000 to $5,000 at casinos...every weekend. She didn't need to work if she won that much per week! Another gentleman told us the hundreds of thousands of dollars he made from day trading stocks. Everyday he talked about the stock market and during break time, people would come by and ask him for some stock tips. There were a few others who talked all the time about how much money they made from the stock market. The figures were always in the thousands to tens of thousands.


The announcement of the workplace closure popped a lot people's hot air bubbles. The entire workplace atmosphere changed. Suddenly, no one talked about how their gambling winnings or stock market gains. People started to open up about their financial truths; their fears and their money problems. Those who bragged about their gambling winnings and investment profits now talked candidly about their financial problems. There were a lot of fears in people's eyes on our last day at work. That was what I felt sad the most...seeing people vulnerable and afraid.


2 Year-Old Indonesian Smoking Cigarettes

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At 2 year-old, the boy smokes 2 packs a day. He began smoking at 18 months old. The parents of the boy said their son throws violent tantrums like hitting his head against the floor and throwing up whenever they tried to stop him from smoking. The mom smoked throughout her entire pregnancy but quit after giving birth to her son. Her husband smokes and, like most Indonesians, doesn't think there's anything wrong with his son smoking. The boy is currently in a government rehab facility after news about him made headlines.

This is really sad to watch. I can't understand how in the world as a mom, you would allow your baby to take up smoking in the first place. I watched some other videos and the truth is rather sickening. People in Asian countries aren't educated about the health risks and dangers of cigarettes and tobacco. This reminds me about another issue. In the U.S., new moms are encouraged to breastfeed their babies. I found out that in Asian countries, doctors encourage formula milk over breastfeeding. Tobacco and baby formula companies invest heavily in Asian countries promoting their products. I wonder if they stuff money into the pockets of doctors and politicians to get them to look the other way. I think the good thing that comes out after the news of the 2 year-old baby smoking is it sheds light on the smoking addiction in Indonesia and the government says they're working on ways to educate their people.