July 27, 2006

See It Free: the Movie "Super Size Me"

The award-winning documentary "SuperSize Me," is available online now for free viewing. Takes one hour, and it is definitely worth your time.

An Academy Award Nominee, the film takes you along side Morgan Spurlock as he commits to eating nothing except food from McDonald's for 30 days. One additional rule: if they ask him if he wants his meal super-sized, he must say yes. And, they do. A lot.

Watch how his health is impacted, along with his attitude, his lifestyle, his waistband. See the doctors panic, the girlfriend worry, and listen to all the additional data the film provides about fast food in our society today.

For more information about the film, visit its site: supersizeme.com. To see the movie for free, visit iklipz.com.

July 16, 2006

Sunlight and Darkness: Simple and Necessary

Your body needs complete darkness in order to produce melatonin, and even then, this will occur only after it has enjoyed some quality sunlight during the day. Melatonin is one of the most powerful antioxidants and has been found key to the prevention of certain cancers - including those attacking the breast and prostrate.

Even the tinest bit of light (a nightlight, a streetlight casting a glow through the window) will prevent melatonin production. Sleep in darkness - like everyone did until the last century or so.

As for sunshine, you need it. Not only do the UV rays lessen stress but sunlight acts to reduce blood pressure. Sunlight also acts to reduce death by Multiple Sclerosis by 76% as well as fighting against rheumatoid arthritis and tuberulosis. How? Sunlight causes your body to create Vitamin D, and this nutrient is very important for an effective immune system.

Bottom line: Get one hour of sunlight a day; you can set in the shade on a bright day and this will work. Sleep in total darkness for 8 hours. Simple, free, needed.

Sources: ThomasJeffersonUniversityStudy, Earthtimes.org, mercola.com, AmericanHeartAssociation, mercola.com [citing Lancet].

July 15, 2006

Plant Your Avocado Seeds

Those avocado seeds can be your own avocado trees without much effort.

Start by holding the seed with its pointed end up, and the little bumpie-thing side-down, and push three or four toothpicks around the sides (NSEW). Then, fill a clear-glass jar with water, and balance the toothpicks on its sides so the bumpie-thing is totally immersed. Some people put a bit of charcoal or a penny in the bottom of the water, but you don't have to do this.

Keep that water refilled, right up the brim - this keeps oxygen running through there. (Clear glass containers help you monitor the water level.) Soon, the bottom of the seed will crack open, and a root will emerge.

In about six weeks, you will have a nice little plant, with big. long roots and nice leaves. Now it's time to move your tiny tree to a soil home. It won't live forever in this water world you've created.

As an option, you can forego the water method, and just plant the seed in a 5-inch pot of good soil, with its pointy top just above the soil line. Keep the soil moist, and the temperature around 72 degrees, and a little tree should pop up.

Either way, once your baby reaches a foot in height, prune it back to about 6 inches. This makes for a nice, full tree and not a stringy, ugly one.

Your avocado tree will grow inside or out. It will need sun. If you are using pots, check for root growth and give it a bigger pot when necessary. Feed and water it regularly.

Here in San Antonio, there are several families that have backyards filled with their own home-grown avocado trees - how nice to have guacamole made with your own fruit.

4 ripe avocadoes, seeded and peeled
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup chopped roma tomatoes (they have less juice)
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion (Vidalia, Texas 1018)
1/4 cup chopped, fresh cilantro
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of Tobasco or 1 small, seeded, finely chopped serano pepper
salt to taste
Serve with chips, or make chapulas, tacos, etc.

July 12, 2006

Smithsonian Podcasts

The Smithsonian Institution has a growing collection of podcasts worthy of your time at its website. There's lots of interesting stuff here, like storytelling and interviews and curator talks. Storytelling, for example, includes the following this month:

"Silk Road Stories
The Freer and Sackler Galleries' Silk Road Storytelling group is made up of volunteers from the Washington DC community who have cultural ties to various sites along the ancient Silk Road. They trained with professional storyteller Louise Omoto Kessel to learn to tell stories from their homelands, including Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan. Here is a sample of their stories. We trust that listeners will experience the many ways that appreciation for family, meaningful work, truth, beauty, and mystery are expressed through these unique voices from along the ancient trading route.

Listen now:
Dilber, the Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Filfilled (Turkey, 11:16)
How Asanga Came to See the Future Buddha (Tibet, 11:43)
Jade (Taiwan, 10:17)
Malik and the King (Bangladesh, 7:43)
Peach Boy (Japan, 8:10)
The Cow Boy and the Weaving Lady (China, 11:01)
The Discovery of Silk (China, 1:06)
The Ruti Eaters (Bangladesh, 5:34

July 10, 2006

Homemade Dishwasher Soap Recipes

There are several recipes for homemade dishwasher soap. Why bother? It's much more economical than buying the stuff, even if you're at DollarTree -- plus you know what you're using here, chemically.

For each load:
1 Tablespoon Borax
1 Tablespoon Baking soda
2 Tablespoons of the following - 1 cup baking soda combined with 1 cup borax, and 2-3 tablespoons Fruit Fresh

For the rinse:
1 cup white vinegar, either poured into the JetDry vessel or placed into a cup securely placed into the top rack.

What's borax? It's a salt, naturally occurring in some parts of the USA as well as China, and it's used not only as a cleansing agent but also as a water softener and a preservative. Remember Twenty Mule Team Borax? It sponsored quite a few TV Westerns in the 1960s.

Sources: thriftyfun.com, naturalhomemadecleaners.com, answers.com.

Food as Medicine -4: Herbs & Spices

Using the following herbs or spices, either in your cooking or by making teas, will help with various ailments:

Stomach trouble? Heartburn, gas, indigestion? Caraway, cardamom, cayenne, ginger, peppermint, and thyme help relax stomach muscles, which helps food move through your digestive system. Less heartburn, better digestion, less bloating (i.e., gas). Peppermint tea will soothe nausea, as well.

Sore throat? Drink hot tea made of a combination of sage and thyme. This is also good for your gums, or any kind of mouth infections. Sage tea is also supposed to help menopausal symptoms.

Heart disease? Both ginger and garlic fight heart disease. While many drink ginger tea, garlic is usually dispensed through food or the cloves are swallowed like pills.

For more information, please refer to the sites shown below.

Sources: arthritispaintreatments.com, naturalherbguide.com, holisticonline.com.

Site to See: The Ultimate Cheapskate

For those of you who don't watch the Today show, this will be news: a man named Jeff Yeager appears there regularly, dispensing frugal living tips under the nickname of the "Ultimate Cheapskate." He's also just landed a book deal with Broadway (to be published in Fall 2007), entitled "Laugh Your Assets Off: How to Spend Less and Enjoy Life More by America's Ultimate Cheapskate."

His website is HERE if you want to check him out.
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