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Grab Bag Green Machine:

Tossing out some salad tips here… the healthiest salad greens are listed, in order of worthiness.

Click “full screen” icon, lower right corner, to more easily read the slides.

from EverydayHealth.com

Grab Bag Cool Pool:

I’m probably late waking up to this, but I am completely captivated by the thought of Natural Swimming Pools (NSPs), and had no idea it was already so widely done, albeit mostly in Europe. Next time I’m in the market for a pool, or a pool re-do, this is DEFINITELY worth considering.

Natural Swimming Pools, Swim Ponds, whatever you want to call them are a growing phenomenon, and a welcome one at that.

Basics rules are this:

1. Pools have two zones: one deep for swimming, diving and playing, and one shallow for rock filtration and plant life.

2. The water is constantly cleaned and recirculated by means of a pump, pulling water through the natural filter beds, sometimes aided by a UV filter, depending on conditions. A waterfall is often added as a mechanism of reintroducing water back into the pool.

3. Plants in the shallow portion are a must, and establish the bacterial equilibrium needed to achieve clean water.

4. ZERO chemicals are used to keep the water clean. Yes… I said ZERO, nada, zilch chemicals.

5. Natural Swimming Pools can be heated if desired.

6. NSPs can be constructed from scratch or converted from an existing swimming pool.

Below are links for North American natural pool designers/contractors, and a slide show of NSPs from all over the world to provide   inspiration….

Click “full screen” icon, lower right corner, to more easily see the slides.

totalhabitat.com Bonner Springs, Kansas

swimpond.com Vancouver, Canada

bionovanaturalpools.com Rochester, Minnesota

expandinghorizons.biz Vista, California

Grab Bag Wow Moment:

Hilarious mind bender….

Mindbender

Grab Bag Bang-for-Your-Buck:

OK… first to admit it… I have been to the Dollar Tree…. and it is good.

I have scored everything from loads of colorful baskets and tubs for the grandson’s birthday party to everyday drinking glasses for myself.

This blog post clues you in to some of the great finds that you can discover at a dollar store…. and what to stay away from:

Dollar store finds

Grab Bag Re-Veg:

16 Foods That’ll Re-Grow from Kitchen Scraps

celery_chopped

By Andy Whiteley

Co- Founder of Wake Up World

Looking for a healthy way to get more from your garden? Like to know your food is free of the pesticides and other nasties that are often sprayed on commercial crops? Re-growing food from your kitchen scraps is a good way to do it!

There’s nothing like eating your own home- grown vegies, and there are heaps of different foods that will re- grow from the scrap pieces that you’d normally throw out or put into your compost bin.

It’s fun. And very simple … if you know how to do it.

Just remember … the quality of the “parent” vegetable scrap will help to determine the quality of the re-growth. So, wherever possible, I recommend buying local organic produce, so you know your re-grown plants are fresh, healthy and free of chemical and genetic meddling.

Leeks, Scallions, Spring Onions and Fennel

You can either use the white root end of a vegetable that you have already cut, or buy a handful of new vegetables to use specifically for growing.

Simply place the white root end in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position. I keep mine in the kitchen window. The green leafy part of the plant will continue to shoot. When it’s time to cook, just snip off what you need from the green growth and leave the white root end in water to keep growing. Freshen up the water each week or so, and you’ll never have to buy them again.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass grows just like any other grass. To propagate it, place the root end (after you’ve cut the rest off) in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position.

Within a week or so, new growth will start to appear. Transplant your lemongrass into a pot and leave it in a sunny outdoor position. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot tall – just cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.

Celery, Bok Choi, Romaine Lettuce & Cabbage

Similar to leeks, these vegetables will re-grow from the white root end. Cut the stalks off as you normally would, and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water – enough to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting. Place it in a sunny window position, occasionally spraying your cutting with water to keep the top moist.

After a few days, you should start to see roots and new leaves appear. After a week or so, transplant it into soil with just the leaves showing above the level of the soil. The plant will continue to grow, and within a few weeks it will sprout a whole new head.

Alternatively you can plant your cutting directly into soil (without starting the process in water) but you will need to keep the soil very moist for the first week until the new shoots start to appear. 

Ginger

Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward. Ginger enjoys filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment.

Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.

Ginger also makes a very attractive house-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant between harvests.

Potatoes

Re-growing potatoes is a great way to avoid waste, as you can re-grow potatoes from any old potato that has ‘eyes’ growing on it. Pick a potato that has robust eyes, and cut it into pieces around 2 inches square, ensuring each piece has at least one or two eyes. Leave the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two, which allows the cut areas to dry and callous over. This prevents the potato piece from rotting after you plant it, ensuring that the new shoots get the maximum nutrition from each potato piece.

Potato plants enjoy a high-nutrient environment, so it is best to turn compost through your soil before you plant them. Plant your potato pieces around 8 inches deep with the eye facing upward, and cover it with around 4 inches of soil, leaving the other 4 inches empty. As your plant begins to grow and more roots appear, add more soil. If your plant really takes off, mound more soil around the base of the plant to help support its growth.

Garlic

You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove – just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.

Onions

Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.

As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never need to buy onions again.

Sweet Potatoes

When planted, sweet potato will produce eye-shoots much like a potato. Bury all or part of a sweet potato under a thin layer of soil in a moist sunny location. New shoots will start to appear through the soil in a week or so. Once the shoots reach around four inches in height, remove them and re-plant them, allowing about 12 inches space between each plant. It will take around 4 months for your sweet potatoes to be ready. In the meantime, keep an eye out for slugs… they love sweet potatoes.

To propagate sweet potatoes, it is essential to use an organic source since most commercial growers spray their sweet potatoes to prevent them from shooting.

Mushroom

Mushrooms can be propagated from cuttings, but they’re one of the more difficult vegies to re-grow. They enjoy warm humidity and nutrient-rich soil, but have to compete with other fungus for survival in that environment. Although it is not their preferred climate, cooler environments give mushrooms a better chance of winning the race against other fungi.

Prepare a mix of soil and compost in a pot (not in the ground) so your re-growth is portable and you can control the temperature of your mushroom. I have found most success with a warm filtered light during the day and a cool temperature at night. Just remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil, leaving just the top exposed. In the right conditions, the base will grow a whole new head. (In my experience, you’ll know fairly quickly if your mushroom has taken to the soil as it will either start to grow or start to rot in the first few days).

Pineapple

To re-grow pineapples, you need to remove the green leafy piece at the top and ensure that no fruit remains attached. Either hold the crown firmly by the leaves and twist the stalk out, or you can cut the top off the pineapple and remove the remaining fruit flesh with a knife (otherwise it will rot after planting and may kill your plant). Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the bottom of the crown until you see root buds (the small circles on the flat base of the stalk). Remove the bottom few layers of leaves leaving about an inch base at the bottom of the stalk.

Plant your pineapple crown in a warm and well drained environment. Water your plant regularly at first, reducing to weekly watering once the plant is established. You will see growth in the first few months but it will take around 2-3 years before you are eating your own home-grown pineapples.

And one for the kids….. ‘Pet’ Carrot Tops!!

I call this a ‘pet’ because the plant that re-grows from planting a carrot top will NOT produce edible carrots, only a new carrot plant. The vegetable itself is a taproot which can’t re-grow once it has been removed from the plant. But it makes an attractive flowering plant for the kitchen, and they’re easy and lots of fun to grow…. for kids of all ages!

Cut the top off your carrot, leaving about an inch of vegetable at the root. Stick toothpicks into the sides of the carrot stump and balance it in a glass or jar. Fill the glass with water so that the level reaches the bottom of the cutting. Leave the glass in filtered, not direct, sunlight and ensure water is topped up to keep the bottom of your cutting wet. You’ll see roots sprout in a few days, and you can transplant your ‘pet’ carrot into soil after a week or so.

Your success re-growing lovely fresh vegies from scrap may vary, depending on your climate, the season, soil quality and sunlight available in your home or garden. And some vegies just propagate easier than others do. In my experience, a bit of trial and error is required, so don’t be afraid to do some experimenting. Get your hands dirty. It’s lots of fun! And there’s nothing like eating your own home-grown vegies.

Grab Bag New-Kid-On-The-(sun)Block:

A local California company has just introduced what looks to be a natural, clean and effective sunblock. I’ve been using Avasol for the past month or so and I must say I like it.

I am using both the stick ($15, free shipping) and the the cream ($29, free shipping). Click on the pictures to link to the site.

stick-L cream-L

Grab Bag Brain Game:

I think we’ve done this before, but it has been a long time, and this bears repeating. A couple of different ways, this puzzle asks you to look at a layered, complex image and identify the individual images that comprise the total.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 12.20.37 PM

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

1043965_619173454770336_1441042938_n 49a37a7d9a2c7656ec2eb00b0d31eedb 8686e0c0f7b4df1ca28ccfd2dcabe883 760288a3136594af26df16247173504f e72dfca413bad539c52f22d1eee69ed1 5f833ac8a1ea34fdd2adcf8d379590c7 fad8b4bb1db23639f766b620638d3c36 c321a2fa46130c245ebfae710e2aa3f0

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It’s coming… December 31st, 2012…

it’s the end of something…

and the beginning of something else…

… just like any other day 🙂

new-years-resolution

Sorry, but I am a total Scrooge when it comes to fixing hopes and dreams and goals and plans and change and all the rest of it onto the rollover of this man-made, cliff-pushing, tax-ending, device we so religiously cower to called the calendar.

The things that matter the most; our loved ones, our health, our happiness… these things have no use for calendars. No… these things of which life is truly made need love, common sense, focus, commitment, forgiveness and understanding. I don’t think those can hold more meaning because they are freshly penciled in next week.

So let’s play the calendar game only where we must, but let’s not serve ourselves the injustice of tying a shift in our soul, a surge forward in our lifestyle choices, or an elevation of our consciousness to the turn of a page.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

~Unknown (inaccurately attributed to Goethe)

Or…. in the words of Nike, Goddess of Oregon sporting goods,

“Just do it”

Grab Bag Beauty at Any Age:

Gorgeous women, all over 50… a breath of fresh air 🙂

Grab Bag Hubbie Hubris:

Gotta love this guy’s candor... a single dad who feels he had his share of screw ups that led to the end of his marriage. He’s laying them out for all to see… and learn from… his mistakes.

Grab Bag Interval Training:

Yes… I know… you really want to lose weight… and/or get fit…..starting in a few days…. just happens to be the New Year. OK… I’m calling your bluff. I’m a big fan of all 3 methods described in this brilliant little info graphic by Greatistgive these a try:

Interval Training

Grab Bag New Years Solution:

Should you imbibe a touch too much on New Years Eve, here are Greatist.com’s lists of food and drink that will both hurt and help. Better yet? Moderate 🙂 In case that doesn’t occur….

the-hangover-5-1280

Drinks that Help:
  • Water. The elixir of life should be your number-one priority after waking up with a pounding head. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it pushes liquids out of the body. When nothing’s left in the tank, the body will draw water from any available source, including the brain — hello, headache. Drinking some H20 before heading to bed can help prevent some painful hangover symptoms, but grabbing the water bottle in the morning doesn’t hurt either.
  • Sports drinks and coconut water. Sugary sports drinks can do a workout more harm than good, but such is not the case with a killer hangover. Reach for a Gatorade or similar beverage to restore liquids and electrolytes stat. Even better, pop open a juice box of coconut water, which has five of the electrolytes found in human blood, while most sports drinks only have two.
  • Ginger or peppermint tea. For a soothing brew, look no further than granny’s favorite herbal tea. Studies show that ginger tea can reduce nausea and motion sickness[2]. Peppermint tea (a common morning sickness cure for pregnant ladies) can also ease stomach pain and decrease nausea[3].
  • Fruit juice. Pour a glass of apple or cranberry juice to kick start the recovery process. The fructose in sweet fruity drinks gives the body some instant energy, and may even help boost metabolism to get rid of those gnarly alcohol toxins. Juice also contains vitamins and plenty of water to get the body rehydrated.
  • Pickle juice. This hangover remedy is so weird that it must be true! The sour liquid contains vinegar, salt, and water, which can help rehydrate and replenish electrolyte and sodium levels. To make the most of it, sip 2 ounces (measure it out in a standard shotglass) before hitting the bars and another 2 oz in the morning.
Foods That Help:
  • Bananas, kiwi, and spinach. These brightly colored fruits and veggies are loaded with potassium, an important electrolyte that is often depleted due to alcohol’s diuretic effect. Not feeling a salad first thing in the morning? Add some yogurt and blend these bad boys into a hangover-fighting smoothie.
  • Eggs. This breakfast staple is a brunch all-star for a reason. Eggs are chock full of hardworkingamino acids like cysteine and taurine. Taurine boosts liver function and can help prevent against liver disease[4]. Cysteine breaks down acetaldehyde, the yucky headache-causing chemical that’s left over when the liver breaks down ethanol.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup. Nothing says “wild night out” like a bowl of mom’s chicken and rice soup, right? It might not be the most conventional hangover food, but a cup o noodles can restock sodium and water levels in the body. Chicken and some vegetables contain cysteine, which give the liver a much-needed boost.
  • Miso Soup. Sushi is the last thing most people want to eat with a hangover, but there’s no reason to eschew all Japanese food. Like traditional chicken noodle, miso soup is a great morning remedy — the broth rehydrates and restocks sodium levels while the fermented miso can help aid digestion[5].
  • Crackers or Toast with Honey. Crackers can be loaded with preservatives, so pick a healthier option like Wasa or a 100 percent whole-wheat variety. Crackers and toast are both simple, bland carbs thatraise blood sugar without upsetting the stomach. Add a drizzle of fructose-laden honey to help the body burn off alcohol quicker.
  • Oats. Take this superfood for a spin when you’re feeling less than stellar in the morning. A hot bowl of oatmeal has plenty of essential nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron. Oats can help neutralize acids in the body and raise blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost.
  • Tomatoes. Leave the Bloody Mary, take the tomato juice. Tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation in the body[6]. Tomatoes also contain fructose and vitamin C to give the liver a boost.
Foods and Drinks to Avoid:
  • Greasy food. Contrary to popular knowledge, heading to the local greasy spoon is not a great hangover cure. A large, fatty meal is better at preventing a hangover than curing one. Chowing down on a big burger before the liquor starts flowing can help insulate the stomach, preventing alcohol from being absorbed into the stomach lining and bloodstream[7]. A fried feast the morning after can actually irritate a sensitive stomach, so leave the basket of fries for later.

  • Hair of the dog. This wacky expression comes from a Norwegian folk saying that claims the best cure incorporates the substance that did the damage in the first place. Scandinavian wisdom aside, boozing in the morning is not the solution to a hangover. An alcoholic beverage can help take the edge off in the morning, but it will further dehydrate the body and lead to even worse hangover symptoms later in the day.

  • Coffee. Zero energy, pounding head… sounds like the right time for a cup of Joe. Nope! Like alcohol,coffee is a diuretic, so that latte will only dehydrate the body even more. Coffee is a vasoconstrictor — a substance that causes blood cells to swell — so a morning espresso will only take a headache to the next level. To feel better, stick to caffeine-free options like herbal tea, juice, or plain old H20.

  • Orange juice. A glass of this mellow drink may help you rise and shine during the week, but lay off the OJ after a night on the town. Sour citrus like orange and grapefruit can irritate an already sensitive stomach.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Looking at the entangled figures, try to select the individual layers that make up the complete picture:

ENTANGLED FIGURES

Entangled Figures

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Shark/Uterus

Research now shows that, starting in the New Year,

your period can officially be referred to as “Shark Week”.

Out of the crayons of babes….

What Mommy does...

A fluffy....

…. Oh stop it…. look again…..it’s a DOG…lying down 🙂

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