January 20, 2006

Gardening Tip: Check the Locals Online

Gardeners at whatever their level of mastery know that it's all location, location, location. What works on the coast doesn't work inland, what works in the North doesn't jive with the climate of the South, etc. The best advice and information has to be from your local experts. So, search for their sites online - nurseries, master gardeners, botanical societies, gardening clubs. For example, in San Antonio, we have WOAI-TV's gardening show site, the San Antonio Botanical Garden's Gardening Guide, Dave's Garden, and Jerry Parsons of the Texas A&M Cooperative Extension Service.

Growing Herbs from Seeds

Fresh herbs are available in most markets now - at a price. Nurseries offer plants for your garden, but better yet - you can grow your herbs from seeds. A great beginner's site is offered by the West Virginia University Extension Service; it includes advice on starting your garden from seed. Others offering good information are the folk at the North Carolina State University Extension Service, and Connie Krochmal in a great article over at Suite 101.

Where to buy seeds? Check out the list of organic seed offerings at Sustainable Life.

Stop Osteoporosis With Sunshine

Your body will create enough Vitamin D for itself, if you will give it 15 minutes of sunshine, three times a week. Without sufficient Vitamin D, you risk osteoporosis if you're an adult, and rickets if you're a child. In America, many people can't (read that won't) get themselves outdoors to even meet this minimal need - so practitioners like Dr. Andrew Weil are recommending supplements at 1000 mg or more of Vitamin D to meet the insufficiency. Sunshine is free.

Source: MedlinePlus, Dr.Weil.Com.

Exercise Stops Alzheimer's Disease

Evidence is mounting that exercise prevents Alzheimer's as well as other types of senile dementia. In a recent study, healthy seniors exercising for fifteen minutes, three times a week, lowered their Alzheimer's risk by as much as 30 percent.

Reports USA Today, quoting Eric Larson, the study's lead researcher:

"The study, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that even a short, brisk walk every day might ward off the disease.

"'We don't know if exercise makes the disease go away,' Larson says, and the study doesn't provide direct proof that exercise will ward off dementia. Still, 'this is the best evidence you're going to get short of a clinical trial,' Larson says. To get hard proof, researchers will need to assign people to an exercise group or a control group and then keep track of them for many years."

Source: USA Today article appearing on January 17, 2006, written by Kathleen Fackelmann.


Buying gold online has been made easy by sites such as BuillionVault, and GoldMoney.

For more information on how to invest in gold, visit WorldGoldCouncil, and for beginners, check out Gary North's article. It's excellent.

How to PIF the Mortgage ASAP

Lots of the Simplicity books (as well as those folk over at the Daily Reckoning) think renting is better than buying - but if you're already in a mortgage and want to stay there, at least pay it off as fast as you can.

How? You can make an additional payment each year, either lump sum (think bonus time, or refund time) or by paying an extra 1/12th of your monthly payment each month. If your payment is $1000, pay $1083.33 each month ($1000 divided by 12 = $83.33). At year end, you will have paid that extra month's payment. Or, you can calculate an amount to pay against principal, so you can pay the loan off in X years, and you decide the X.

Why? You save a ton of money by cutting off the interest. For details on all this math, go HERE or HERE.

Big Rocks in the Pickle Jar

Stephen Covey calls it the "Big Rocks" story, Jeremy Wright calls it the "Pickle Jar Theory." Either way, here's the idea in a nutshell: Stop and think about your week. List those things that must be done, however distasteful. The trash must be taken out, the tax return must be filed. Those are your rocks. Schedule them first, and do them first. Maximizes your energy, and your time. And lessens your stress, to boot. For detail, go read the jumps.

Franklin Covey Goes To Target

Franklin Covey stores can be found in malls - or you can save time and trouble by visiting their online shop. For time management, FC sets itself about by incorporating the techniques made famous by Stephen Covey in his set of books. You know them: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, The Eighth Habit, First Things First.

The site itself has some nice freebies: helping to create your own mission statement, for example. Once that's determined, you build upon it - establishing your roles in life, and your goals within them. Each day, what will you accomplish to move you toward accomplishing these goals?

It's an excellent system with many loyal followers, personally and professionally. However, in the Simple Way, you can forego the high cost of the FC stores and get yourself over to Target.

Through an alliance with FP, Target offers time management products that are cute, complete, offered in various sizes, and with all the bells and whistles you need to be an FC-er. Cost at Target: $20, comparable cost at FC: $100+.

Couldn't locate them online at target.com, looks like you have to visit the calendar/office supply section of the store to get the deal. And the Covey books to master your new purchase? Free, at the library, of course.

Cooking From the Hip 1: Good Recipe Site

Cooking from the hip occurs when you stand in the pantry door, pondering what you can put together without going to the store. A helpful "hip" site is The World's Healthiest Foods. There, you can choose ingredients you want to include, those you want to exclude, click the mouse, and voila! Recipes abound - and especially nice, a separate vegetarian section. Cool.

Cabbage w/o Gas Masks

By placing a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of salt into a pot of rapidly boiling water, stirring till dissolved, and then adding your shredded green cabbage, you can cook your cabbage without the notorious cabbage aroma wafting through the house. The salt boosts the heating/cooking power, and the sugar helps with the green coloring, as well. Key: cooking that cabbage fast. The water needs to be very hot, and the shredding maximizes your surface area.

Source: Alton Brown, Good Eats, Episode EA1C10.
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