Friday, October 31, 2008

An Extraordinary Life

This season of life has been filled with personal challenges. We face a lot of battles in life but some times too many at one time. In fighting the battle for my health, every other battle is more of an irritation since stress doesn't provide any benefit to my natural health program. We're fighting in our community to save the deer from being killed because 5% of the community has complained about them eating their landscapes. Where does the majority rules take place? Not here when the Board votes for personal reasons, rather than community good.

It's hard to live with a passion and love for wildlife when people in the community are wanting it destroyed. Aligning who I am with where I live has almost equaled the challenge of getting well, and most certainly has been a major factor in the results I'm getting.

So .. I've been spending some time in evaluations lately. It's part of my program. There's a time to get of the merry-go-round (usual routines) and step outside to see what needs to be painted and fixed.

One of the articles that I'm currently working on is from the Nightengale Conant website. These are some of the questions posed for mental processing:

The best place to begin living an extraordinary life is to honestly look at where you are now. This is not about judging yourself or making yourself wrong; it’s just a simple truth-telling from you, to you, about your current reality. That honest look at yourself will be part of the foundation for making some quantum leaps in effectiveness and in personal satisfaction.

How are you doing in the major areas of your life?

How are you doing with your relationships?

How about your career?

Your health and fitness?

Your connection to spirit?

Take an honest, direct, and nonjudgmental look at where you are. Beating yourself up is counterproductive. Glossing over real problems and having your ego speak is also counterproductive.

The following questions are for you to answer and only for you. It’s through the resulting awareness that you can create an authentic opening for the rest of your ability to living an extraordinary life. You can just mentally make notes of your answers, or for maximum value, you can write them down. Read the entire article.

Chronic Fatigue and Stress

Chronic Fatigue with its debilitating constant tiredness, is a condition of our times, affecting teenagers, as well as men and women of all ages. But have you ever wondered what its real cause might be?

Part 1 and 2 of an article at examines the hidden causes of Chronic Fatigue. It might surprise some of you to learn stress is the culprit.

5 major stress categories are mentioned:

1. Physical survival or basic life needs:
enough food, shelter, clothing, money to get by. Very basic survival needs.

2. Biochemical stress:
sleep deprivation, hormone imbalances, malnutrition and malabsorption, drugs and too much caffeine or stimulants.

3. Mental:
work commitments, deadlines, constant work pressure, running away or avoiding work related confrontations, dealing with bosses and executives or study/exam pressure, over thinking, over analyzing. Many people experience this stress all the time.

4. Environmental stress:
noise pollution and chemical toxicity from environment or sudden chemical toxicity such as mercury leakage from amalgam fillings or inhaling paint fumes.

5. Emotional stress:
anything to do with any relationship, human connectedness, family, self worth etc., love and bonding.

Out of all the stress categories, the Mental and Emotional stresses create the most havoc in your mind/body system with debilitating symptoms particularly if the stress is prolonged.

Read the entire article.
Read Part 2 on Chronic Fatigue.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prevent Canine Ear Infections

Many, perhaps most, dog owners go happily through their lives without ever thinking about their dogs’ ears. And some of us know the endless frustration of having a dog who spends half her time shaking her head, digging into her ears, and, worst of all, suffering from pain, itching, and discharge — smelly discharge.

While any dog can get a single ear infection, chronic ear infections are something else entirely. Get tips for prevention. from School of Veterinary Medicine professor.

Video: Deer In Backyard

We're blessed with a lot of wildlife entertainment since our home backs up to acres of forest. We see deer daily and enjoy the antics of raccoons, skunks, and opossums at night with our motion-activated lights.

It's fun to watch the fawns grow up. This year the fawn that has returned the most is a young buck and now he's looking quite mature with 6-point antlers. View video of deer in our yard. For better picture, click on "watch in high quality" beneath the picture.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trans Fats And Colon Cancer

Increased intakes of trans fatty acids may increase the risk of colorectal tumours by about 86 per cent, suggests new research from the US.

The study followed almost 622 North Carolinians who underwent complete colon exams between 2001 and 2002 and found significant colorectal cancer risk increases for higher intakes of trans fatty acids.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, looks set to heap more pressure on the food industry to remove and reformulate products without trans fats, one of the industry’s bêtes noires. Read the entire article.

Edible Landscaping

Why plant just any plant in your landscaping when you can plant something edible and accomplish the same goal, whether it be shade, privacy, color, focus, erosion control, or design. There is an edible plant that will fit every situation! The trick is in learning which plants will work for you, and in your area. This really isn’t as hard as it sounds. See Planning Your Garden and for ways to find freebies for your garden, check out Landscaping The Frugal Way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wash Jar and Recycle or Trash It?


If I’m trying to do the eco-friendly thing, should I wash out a spaghetti jar and recycle it or just throw it in the trash? Is there any chance that, by using hot water to rinse it out, I’m un-doing the environmental benefits of recycling? has a great answer to this question with calculations provided in this article.

Do You Get Stressed Over Animals Suffering

This is something that I've always wanted to believe in my spirit ... that animals don't suffer like we do. That they are more connected with the Creator and handle life a lot better than humans do. Now, I have some confirmation of it as I read this. It may not cover all the situations that I think about ... but if this is true in this kind of circumstance, then I am more sure that it's true in all others.

Here, medical missionary Dr. David Livingstone speaks to us from his diary, written in 1872. He tells about God’s mercy as he experienced being the intended victim of a lion, “red in tooth and claw.”

“I heard a shout. Starting and looking half around, I saw the lion just in the act of springing upon me. I was on a little height; he caught my shoulder as he sprang and we both came to the ground below together.

Growling horribly close to my ear, he shook me as a terrier does a rat. The shock produced a stupor similar to that which seems to be felt by a mouse after the first shake by a cat. It caused a sort of dreaminess in which there was no sense of pain or feeling of terror, though quite conscious of all that was happening.

It was like what patients partially under the influence of chloroform describe, who see all the operation but feel not the knife. This singular condition was not the result of any mental process. The shake annihilated fear, and allowed no sense of horror in looking around at the beast.

The peculiar state is probably produced in all animals killed by carnivora; and if so, is a merciful provision by our benevolent Creator for lessening the pain of death.”

References: Livingstone, David, 1872. Adventures and Discoveries in the Interior of Africa

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recall On Halloween Candy

I see no reason to celebrate Halloween, but many people participate in this holiday that is focused on evil and death for pets and children being reported after each year's celebration.

Here's the information I just received on contaminated candy:

Sherwood brand Pirate's Gold Milk Chocolate Coins are being recalled due to the fact that they contain Melamine, the ingredient in milk product that has caused many infant (and dog) deaths in China.

These candies are sold at Costco, as well as many bulk and Dollar Stores. Please make sure to check your children's candy and DO NOT LET THEM EAT THE PIRATE COINS - the ones wrapped in the shiny gold foil.

Please let other parents know about this! Verified on

Make Your Home Office Comfortable

I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be ‘happy.” I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” – Leo C. Rosten

Why do so many of us have inadequate and inconvenient work spaces in our homes? Too often we have home offices, laundries, studies, and project rooms that are shut off in a cramped and ugly corner of an otherwise pretty space. What a shame, when you enjoy the fruits of your labor so much, to create a space for it that makes success more difficult rather than as easy as possible!

Just as a healthy lifestyle integrates work and play into a balanced whole, a well-designed house weaves work stations and living spaces together. Why stick your desk against a blank wall in the guest bedroom when you can set up a lovely spot in the living room next to the window onto the garden? Read the entire article.

Silk Makers In Nature

Caterpillars, centipedes, worms, and scorpions all make silk but spiders are the only species that depend on silk for catching their prey.

Depending on the species, spiders have up to seven silk making glands that produce a large number of different kinds of silk for different purposes.

Silk from one gland may be used to wrap prey, while silk from another gland may be used to spin scaffolding. The female spider even has a special silk she uses for covering her eggs. The silk flows to the spinnerets out of each gland as a liquid.

These organs, on the rear part of the spider's abdomen, are movable and have nozzles at the end. The nozzles on the spinnerets can be used alone, or combined in order to make a blend of different silks.

The spider then draws the silk from the spinneret. The faster the spider draws the silk, the thinner and stronger it is. As you can see, the spider has been given a lot of versatility in making silk.

Source: Creation Moments.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Silver To Fight The Germ War

Antibiotics are becoming more potent and dangerous as their failure rate increases. They are also the cause of new strains of superbugs, like MRSA. Health care costs are rocketing out of control and bioterrorism is a real threat. We've stocked up on this item because of it's effective for many health ailments.

With a variety of viral flu outbreaks, e-coli contamination, and a host of other potential pandemics that create a strain on health in America, the new Silver Shield solution and gel offers a fighting chance in germ warfare.
"Silver has undergone rigorous testing and has been found to kill anthrax, bubonic plague, hospital staph and SARS. This product is EPA approved ... In short, we currently do not have anything with such a wide spectrum of efficacy in our inventory." General P.K. Carlton, M.D., Director of Integrative Center for Homeland Security
Silver provides a simpler and more economical solution for many health issues besides fighting any invaders that would challenge your immune system.

Silver products have been used safely as antimicrobial agents for many years. Silver is mentioned in the Egyptian writings. Greek and Romans used silver vessels for water purification. In the early plagues, the wealthy used silverware to protect themselves.

Doctors have used silver sutures in surgical wounds and to combat wound infections during WWI. Silver is used widely in hospitals and even commercial airlines use silver water filters.

Not all silver is alike, so it's important to know what to look for in colloidal silver. There is now technology that makes it safe and non-toxic. The product, Silver Shield, has EPA designation as non-toxic (EPA# K043106) and a US patent (#7,135,195) for safe technology. The fine particle-size colloids ensure maximum efficiency.

Silver Shield has a long shelf life and is a great item to include in your emergency preparedness supplies. With winter on our heels, it's time to get prepared for the first signs of colds and flu so you can ward off any real symptoms and lost work and living time. Get current information on colloidal silver.

Omega-3's Weight Loss and Improved Memory

Australian researchers say that daily doses of fish oil containing Omega-3 fatty acids, when combined with moderate exercise, helped obese people burn off excess weight.

The researchers at the University of South Australia say that the Omega-3 found in fish oil increases the body's fat-burning ability by improving the flow of blood to muscles during exercise.

Researcher Alison Hill says it was a surprise to find that those who took the fish oil doses and exercised lost an average of 2 kg (4.5 lb.) over the three months, especially since they were still eating whatever they wanted.

The groups that took sunflower oil, which does not contain Omega-3 fatty acids, and exercised did not lose any weight.

The two groups that did not exercise also lost no weight, the study found.

Meanwhile South African researchers say that primary school children who were given daily doses of fish oil rich in Omega-3, as part of a study, showed improved learning and memory.

Read the entire article.
Nature's Sunshine Omega-3 EPA Fish Oils.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Love Breeds Health

Adapted from Peace Is the Way (Harmony Books, 2005), from

The body at peace is stronger than the body at war. When you can free yourself of the random, uncontrollable stress that is always present, your body will start to be at peace.

Modern medicine has already discovered that love increases the human immune response. An experimenter who showed random subjects a movie of Mother Teresa found that their immune systems responded immediately. The rise of an immunoglobulin called IGA proved that exposure to love actually increased the body’s defenses. This happened regardless of whether the subjects approved of Mother Teresa or not.

People who feel loved live longer; have fewer colds, lower blood pressure, and lower cancer rates; and have fewer heart attacks. Widowers who lose a spouse and begin to feel unloved and lonely suffer higher rates of all these afflictions, as well as a shorter life span.

You cannot use stress, in the form of constant reminders about terror, to create peace in the body. The mechanisms simply aren’t there.

Don’t dwell on stressful events. Avoid becoming addicted to bad news. Put fear in perspective. Realize that positive outcomes are possible. Discuss how you feel with others; work together to change the stress. Be in control where you can. Don’t let chaos dominate. Stay centered, and whenever you are thrown off center, take time to return there. Find an outlet for your anger and anxiety.

California, Vote Yes On Prop. 2

This November 4, Californians should vote YES! on Prop 2 - a modest measure that stops cruel and inhumane treatment of animals, ending the practice of cramming farm animals into cages so small the animals can't even turn around, lie down or extend their limbs.

Voting YES! on Prop 2 ...

• Prevents cruelty to animals.

• Improves health and food safety.

• Supports family farmers.

• Protects air and water and safeguards the environment.

Get more details here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Video: Dying Butterfly

I was in the garden one day and saw a Monarch Butterfly fluttering on the ground. When I went to look at it a large bee or wasp was attacking its body. I struggled with whether to let nature do it's thing, but couldn't stand it for very long, so I interfered and rescued the butterfly.

When I picked it up it's blood got on my finger. It was yellow. I thought how beautiful for a Monarch to have yellow blood. It seemed so color coordinated.

I realized it was not going to live since it was fluttering in my hand. A response of the nervous system I suppose. It flung its wings back in the opposite direction of how they sit with their wings closed. I didn't know they could do that. It kept fluttering as I laid it in the flower bed, so I took a video of this dying butterfly to remind me of how precious life is.

Here's the video:

The Monarch's Last Dance

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photos on this article are copyrighted by other websites and may not be used. You may forward or use the copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
Link URL is:

Make Your Own Building Bricks

GreenMachine producing tongue & groove TerraBricks on construction site at a rate of 4-5/minute, ready for immediate use in the wall system of houses and other structures. TerraBricks are structural, made from subsoil, or 92% subsoil and 8% cement, with a compressive strength of 2,240 psi.

A properly engineered TerraBuilt wall significantly out performs an equivalent wood frame wall system. This is due to the inherent thermal mass benefit of a soil block wall and varies by geographic region.

• Superior energy efficiency due to thermal mass benefits.
• Fireproof, non-combustible and waterproof.
• Bullet proof to small arms fire such as AK-47.
• Excellent resistance to hurricane winds and seismic tremors.

TerraBuilt housing in El Salvador has resisted seismic tremors of 5 on the Richter scale of 1-10 without structural failure.

The construction industry is faced with depleting resources, heightened environmental concerns, high costs, and deteriorating product quality. The United Nations estimates that worldwide housing shortfall exceeds one billion units and is growing.

This system enables construction of high quality, low cost structures made of long lasting materials that save life cycle energy costs, are durable, fire and disaster resistant as well as environmentally sustainable. In 20-24 hours you can make enough bricks for 1,000 sq. ft. house shell.

Get more info.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bottled Water Contains Fertilizers and Medications

The bottled water industry promotes an image of purity, but comprehensive testing by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals a surprising array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed.

Cancer-causing contaminants in bottled water purchased in 5 states (North Carolina, California, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland) and the District of Columbia substantially exceeded the voluntary standards established by the bottled water industry.

Unlike tap water, where consumers are provided with test results every year, the bottled water industry does not disclose the results of any contaminant testing that it conducts. With promotional campaigns saturated with images of mountain springs, and prices 1,900 times the price of tap water, consumers are clearly led to believe that they are buying a product that has been purified to a level beyond the water that comes out of the garden hose.

To the contrary, our tests strongly indicate that the purity of bottled water cannot be trusted. Given the industry's refusal to make available data to support their claims of superiority, consumer confidence in the purity of bottled water is simply not justified.

Laboratory tests conducted for EWG at one of the country’s leading water quality laboratories found that 10 popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia, contained 38 chemical pollutants altogether.

Four brands were also contaminated with bacteria. Two of 10 brands tested, Walmart's and Giant's store brands, bore the chemical signature of standard municipal water treatment — a cocktail of chlorine disinfection byproducts, and for Giant water, even fluoride. In other words, this bottled water was chemically indistinguishable from tap water. The only striking difference: the price tag.

In both brands levels of disinfection byproducts exceeded safety standards established by the state of California and the bottled water industry. Walmart’s Sam’s Choice bottled water was polluted with disinfection byproducts called trihalomethanes at levels that exceed the state’s legal limit for bottled water (CDPR 2008). These byproducts are linked to cancer and reproductive problems.

Read the entire article and see the charts.

You need to drink water, so please don't switch to sodas and other beverages. They contain contaminates also. Read The Importance of Water.

Purify your own water for much less money and a great peace of mind that you're drinking clean water. Consider Nature's Spring Reverse-Osmosis

MSG Making You Fat

New research from China says yes. In fact, of the study participants, those who ate the most MSG were three times more likely to be overweight than those who ate no MSG. The study was controlled for physical activity and total calorie intake, and still MSG proved to be an overwhelming culprit for extra weight.

Previous research had suggested MSG’s role in nerve damage, and some researchers claim it may worsen the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Read the entire article.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Faith Gets Answers

I've been reading some devotions in "The Word For You Today" about hindrances to answered prayer. There were things mentioned that I will list with my own comments about what they mean to me:

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Carolina Wren Seeking Garden Wisdom
1) Prayerlessness - Sometimes we are so busy thinking about circumstances and problems and whining, that we don't take time to actually pray. God is waiting for us to make requests of Him, and is willing to act on our behalf, if we only pray.

2) Lack of Confidence - Often we know that God can do something, but do not believe that He will do it for us. We don't believe we are worthy.

3) Sin - Unconfessed sin shuts the door to God. We must ask him to reveal any sin and we must confess it to make the pathway clear to His throne.

4) Praying Outside Of God's Will - We need to spend time in the Word so we know what God's promises are. If you're not sure, pray for something if it's God's will. St Augustine said that the sweetest lesson he ever learned in God's school was to let the Lord choose for him.

5) Wrong Motives - A motive is the why behind the what. We must purify our hearts and get out of the "it's all about me" mode. Examine motives for your prayers.

God longs to be believed!

I love that phrase from the devotion book. I love to read about God's promises to Abraham. God has given us access to so much and all we have to do is believe to receive it. Doubt brings distraction and inability to focus on the Truth and to stand in Faith.

Don't spend time thinking about the problem, picture and believe for the results and desires of your heart. Delight in Him and He will give you the desire of your heart (Psalm 37:4). Delight in knowing His love for you and don't give Him a time line. Picture and prepare for the answer.

James 1 says, "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord."

It's so exciting to know that if we focus on that fact and truly believe we can have all of God's best in our lives. Sometimes we want what's not God's best and the devil uses that to discourage us and make us think that prayers don't work.

Be anchored to what God says and do not drift!

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photos on this article are copyrighted by other websites and may not be used. You may forward or use the copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
Link URL is:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Exotic Pets Risky for Kids

Parents considering getting a "nontraditional" pet, such as an iguana, chick, or monkey, should weigh the risks those pets may pose to kids.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC issued that advice.

The AAP recommends that kids younger than 5 avoid contact with reptiles, amphibians, rodents, ferrets, chicks, and ducklings. And the CDC urges parents to talk to a veterinarian or pediatrician to ensure that kids have "safe and enjoyable" experiences with pets, either at home or at petting zoos.

Nontraditional pets are becoming increasingly popular, and they can carry health risks, including these noted in the AAP's journal, Pediatrics:

* Salmonella from reptiles and baby chicks. Salmonella are bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Life-threatening complications from salmonella infection are rare, but the risk is higher for kids, elders, and people with weak immune systems.

* Herpes B virus, which macaque monkeys can carry

* Bacteria in fish tank water

* E. coli bacteria from animals such as cattle, sheep, and goats at petting zoos. Like salmonella, E. coli bacteria can cause diarrhea and are particularly risky for kids, older adults, and people with weak immune systems.

Then there's the risk of getting bitten or injured, especially if an animal grows up to be bigger and more aggressive than the family expected.

"For example, iguanas sold shortly after birth measure less than 8 inches but grow to several feet in two to three years," states the AAP.


Ginkgo Trees For Garden and Health

It's time to plant trees!

The ginkgo tree is deemed biologically to be the oldest tree in the world. The genus dates back to 165 million years in China. Most of the trees, accustomed from the beginning to moderate climate were destroyed by the ice age, with surviving members left only in the Orient.

Individual ginkgo trees also compete for the title of oldest living specimens of life on earth. Surveys done in China have revealed that there are some ginkgo trees that are as much as 3,000 years old, with a total of about 180 trees exceeding 500 years of age. The largest grove of old ginkgos is in the Tian Mu Shan (Heaven's Eyes Mountain) Nature Reserve in Jiangsu Province.

The Chinese may have begun their medicinal use of the tree with the nuts, as the practice of finding medicine among foods is common there, but they soon added the leaves and even the roots to their list of valuable medicinal materials. The leaves were the plant part first put into practical use in the Western world, in Germany during the past decade.

According to the European research, which now includes over 300 published articles on the chemistry, pharmacology, and clinical applications of ginkgo, the leaves contain substances that promote blood circulation, alleviate allergy reactions, and have antioxidant properties.

Probably the most dramatic claim is that it helps improve circulation to the brain and alleviates memory problems that are characteristic of Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.

The ginkgo tree is a good tree to grow because it's very resistant to disease, pests and pollution. Young ginkgo trees have a gangly, clumsy appearance, but as they grow, they become widespread with large, picturesque branches. The trees will grow 50 to 80 feet tall and spread between 30 to 40 feet. They're hardy in Zones 3 to 8.

As great as this tree is, there is a catch: the seeds, or nuts, produced by the female tree have a disagreeable odor when they begin decomposing and they will stain a sidewalk or patio. So if you buy a ginkgo tree, make sure you buy a male.

More info for ginkgo as herbal medicine.

More info on ginkgo trees in the garden.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Foods Get Country Of Origin Labels

Country of origin labels (COOL) on food products are commonplace around the world. On September 30, meat, poultry, produce and peanuts sold in the U.S. will require labeling stating the product's origin. (Seafood origin labeling became mandatory in 2002.)

But, rather than celebrating this as a coup for consumers, the new COOL rules are being greeted as half-measures by some and as downright confusing by others.

The Consumers Union lists some things they say are "not cool" about COOL. Butcher shops and fish markets that don't meet a minimum amount in annual sales are exempt. But a more grievous exemption is allowed for processed food. Read the entire article.

Bats and Insects

From Creation Moments

For many people bats bring to mind words like "creepy," "fangs," "rabies," and even "ugly." However, over 450 years ago Martin Luther marveled at the delicate beauty of the bat. He pronounced the creature an excellent witness to the skill and wisdom of the Creator.

God must also like bats. Almost one-fourth of all mammals He created are bats! The flying fox bat has a wingspan of nearly six feet. Bumblebee bats, native to Thailand, are the smallest mammals known, weighing less than a penny. There are brilliantly patterned tropical bats called butterfly bats. And hundreds of species of tropical plants depend on bats as pollinators.

Popular legend considers bats a serious part of the rabies problem. The truth is that raccoons, skunks, foxes, and even dogs and cats are more likely to have rabies. In fact, one study shows that in Pennsylvania you are more likely to find a rabid cow than a rabid bat.

In reality bats are delicate, helpful and intelligent creatures. A typical North American bat will eat about 600 mosquitoes an hour. Large colonies will consume between 250,000 and 500,000 pounds of insects per night! Bats can be trained, demonstrating their intelligence.

And finally, an important warning. If you find sleeping bats, don't disturb them. Even one such disturbance during sleep can be fatal, since stored nutrition may be consumed by the disturbance before the next feeding cycle.

So next time you see a bat, don't recoil in fear. Rather, say a prayer of thanksgiving to the Creator who made both of you.

References: Givens, K.T. 1990. Going batty. Modern Maturity, Oct.-Nov.p. 60.

Source: Creation Moments

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Olive Leaf - Hypertension

A study shows olive leaf extract is effective in lowering blood pressure. The ancient Egyptians revered the leaves. Ancient Greeks used them to clean wounds. The olive leaf is even mentioned in the Bible for its purported healing properties.

So it's no wonder that scientists today are looking at ways to use olive leaf, specifically for one of modern society's biggest and sneakiest health problems -- high blood pressure.

Germany and Switzerland have looked at how sets of identical human twins with borderline hypertension responded to taking olive leaf extract. Identical twins were used to help keep the data consistent, because genetic differences can make people respond differently to the same treatments.

Read the entire article.
More health info on Olive Leaf Extract.

Is Your Vet Clueless?

It’s been two years (2006) since the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) published revised vaccine guidelines calling for fewer vaccines, vaccinating less often and warning of adverse side effects. So, why are so many vets still not revising their protocols? This article will educate you so pet owners can remind their vets of what they should be doing. It also allows for you to make an informed decision for your own pet. Read this article.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Video: Squirrel Eating Plants

I've seen the squirrels eating many things around our property and have heard from others in our community about things they consume.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Squirrel Eating Leaves
We've had them eat bulbs, flowers and a variety of plant leaves. This year our surprises were green holly berries and the leaves of Black-eyed Susan (Rudebekia).

Because the community we live in has an on-going war with wildlife, I'm involved with others in trying to keep a deer killing program from being implemented here.

The people want them killed not because there are any accidents (none reported to the community police), or because of disease issues (none in deer or people with Lyme disease). The studies done do not show we have an overpopulation problem, but we have deer that keep doing what deer do. They eat plants and some people move to the woods not realizing that you can't plant city gardens amidst a wildlife ecosystem.

These people want to kill deer because they eat hosta, lilies and roses. It's not that you can't have a beautiful garden here ... ours has been called lush and jungle-like ... but to hear these angry people, their entire landscape has been consumed. If so, sadly, they didn't put much thought into their landscaping plan.

It's a great place to garden ... you just have to be wise about what you plant and to that end we've been trying to get an education program for many years, but the debate on the "culling" program continues.

Well ... that's my personal ongoing saga ... but for that reason I captured a video of a squirrel on our deck eating the plant leaves. The folks angry at deer don't seem to realize that deer are not the only ones that like plants. We have rabbits and squirrels that eat all day long, whereas deer browse for awhile and then rest.

View Squirrel Eating Plants and then leave comments on what the squirrels eat at your house. Maybe it will help me to fight the battle to save the deer here in our community.

Recycling Plastic Cards

Because of their ease of use, it’s no surprise that almost 17 billion plastic cards (library, video rental, gift and membership cards) were produced in 2006, according to the International Card Manufacturing Association.

Unfortunately, once they are used up these cards get trashed - not a friendly environmental practice since they often contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a known human carcinogen.

To keep cards out of the trash, Earthworks, an eco-friendly manufacturing and recycling company, recently launched its Retailer Gift Card Return Program. It allows retailers and consumers to send in cards for recycling so that the gift of these cards can live on and on.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Montpelier Restoration Celebration

We live in Central Virginia so we're only about 45 minutes to James and Dolley Madison's home called Montpelier in Orange County. What I love most about the place is the Old-Growth Forest, but this particular trip was on the day of reopening to the public after a major restoration process.

The beauty of the area and the idyllic setting takes your breath away, so while the others stayed on the grounds around the mansion to listen to the speakers, I wandered through the gardens and briefly into the woods. I knew if I were to go very far, I'd forget to head back for when everybody would be ready to go.

There's such a sense of something awesome to visit a place that has had such historical significance. I always think the trees would have stores to tell that would take our breath away. View photo album.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Monarch Tagging and Release

by Donna L. Watkins

We recently attended a Monarch workshop in Charlottesville, Virginia, at Ivy Creek Natural Area.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Monarch Butterfly On Upright Verbena

After learning more about Monarchs and listening to the answers given to the children present (who know how to ask great questions), we went outside to learn how to identify male and female Monarchs.

Then the fun part! We learned how to tag, record data and release Monarchs. This project helps the Monarchs. There have been 11,000+ Monarchs recovered since 1994 and the data is all online available to scientists and citizens alike. View Monarch Recovery Website.

Tagging kits can be ordered and anybody can join in on this fun project. I wish we'd ordered a kit before this year's migration through our habitat. We have determined we will be prepared for next year. It's already on the calendar. Get Info On Tagging Program.

It was a fun time and although there were excited children all around, I still managed to get a few good pictures of the step-by-step process. View Monarch Tagging and Release Workshop Photos.

Look At The Bright Side

By Jurriaan Kamp at

The stock exchange and the economic news seem to leave little room for optimism. People everywhere are under a continual onslaught of bad news. No wonder more and more people are getting depressed. Under these circumstances, how can you stay positive and optimistic? Well, this is the time to put “intelligent optimism” to the test.

I argue that optimism is a quality that anyone can learn. True optimism isn’t about denying reality against our better judgment. And optimism is not the same thing as idealism, which also reflects a tendency to push up against harsh realities. The idealist is chasing after a big ideal and runs the risk of big disappointment.

Intelligent optimists don’t deny problems, but adjust to them, while still seeking an opportunity for progress. Intelligent optimists don’t allow themselves to get carried away by circumstances they can’t change, but focus on things that are within their grasp and that they can enjoy. My favorite quote is from the diary of Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jew who wrote a journal describing her life in a Nazi death camp: “Today we walked along little German roads past lilacs and roses.”

You learn to become optimistic by concentrating on things that give you a sense of satisfaction, and you remain an optimist by feeding those things to make them grow. Intelligent optimists also know that for every problem there is (at least the beginning of) a solution and that the search for that solution can be inspirational in itself. They are also not afraid of negative thoughts, which they realize offer some protection and help them stay realistic. Read Jurriaan Kamp's entire article.

I especially like the affirmation that he includes in the article. I've always had high expectations, so I continually have to remind myself that "it's enough." I expect to accomplish too much in a day, so I have to makeover my idealistic nature to a more reasonable one. This is a short way to accomplish that detour.

What I have, is enough.
What I am, is enough.
What I do, is enough.
What I’ve achieved, is enough.

October Gardening Checklist

From Backyard Living Magazine.


* Cut back tall perennials before the first frost. Chopping down to a few inches above the soil seems brutal, but it does no harm and allows for spring's resurgence.

* Drain the hose and bring it in for winter. Wipe down with a rag, so there's no mud or moisture on it. Store it flat, letting it coil naturally, someplace dry and dark.

* Close the compost pile for the winter. Its activity has been slowing for a while, and adding kitchen scraps to it now only leads to a pile of frozen garbage. Give it one last stir, and then replace the lid or cover it with a tarp.


* It's not too late to get in one last edible crop, if the ground is still workable. You can plant perennial types of onions (bunching onions, shallots). They don't need special care; just give them a spot with decent soil. Water them deeply only if rainfall is sparse.

* Protect cold-sensitive or young plants in the yard if frost threatens by shielding the most vulnerable part of a plant, the growing tip. Just cover it with a large grocery store bag or old towel. Remove when danger is past.

* When you're cleaning up and chopping back your perennials, spare a few that have winter value. Birds may enjoy the dried flower heads, either as a place to alight or as a food source.


* Send broadleaf evergreens into winter in good shape. Water each deeply before the ground freezes. Once it does, you may choose to spray foliage with an antidesiccant product (follow label directions).

* It's time to put the veggie garden to bed. Pull out and compost remaining plants, with the exception of anything that is diseased or pest-ridden (bag that up and send it away with your household trash).

* Renew the organic matter in garden beds before the ground freezes. Well-rotted, homemade compost is perfect, or buy bagged. Dig and mix everything to a depth of 6 inches or so.


* Evaluate your veggie garden and make notes for next year. Do you need more space for ramblers like zucchini? Did you have too many tomato plants? Store these notes where you will find them next spring.

* Plant cool-weather herbs, like parsley and chives. They grow quickly in still-warm soil and are watered by late-season rains.

* Have mushrooms sprouted in your lawn? Your best bet is to take a rake to them. Knock off their tops, and cart them away.


* Small rodents and deer may nibble on young trees in your yard during the winter months. If they "girdle" a tree (strip away or destroy bark either part of or all the way around the trunk), it can die. Thwart these pests by putting a cylinder of hardware cloth around each tree and pressing it into the ground a few inches.

* Pick the last tomatoes, especially if frost threatens. Help partially ripe ones by placing them in a bowl with an apple. The ethylene gas that a ripe apple naturally emits hastens this process.

* Protect marginally hardy rosebushes. The grafted ones, in particular, have a hard time in cold weather and can die down to the rootstock. Shovel mulch over the base of each plant, up and over the bulging graft.

Visit the Backyard Living Magazine website for more gardening tips.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Health Benefits Of Probiotics

From Harvard Medical School

Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria.

Some digestive disease specialists are recommending them for disorders that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies have established that probiotic therapy can help treat many health issues.

Self-dosing with bacteria isn’t as outlandish as it might seem. An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.

Although studies are limited and data are inconsistent, two large reviews, taken together, suggest that probiotics reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60%, when compared with a placebo.

Probiotic therapy may also help people with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome and may also be of use in maintaining urogenital health. Probiotic treatment that restores the balance of microflora may be helpful for such common female urogenital problems as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, and urinary tract infection.

Read the entire Harvard Medical School article.
Get more information about probiotics
Purchase quality probiotic products

Pets Buckle Up

From Bandit's Buddies Pet Blog

For decades, seat belts have been protecting families throughout the world from a baby in a car seat, a trucker on the road or a passenger in a car. BUT what about our pets.

Bark Buckle UP campaign educates pet parents on how to put on and take off safety pet belts and the importance of securing their pet safely for travel.

Bark Buckle UP will educate nationally, USE a pet safety belt every time, day & night, 24/7, coast to coast, long or short trips because Safety Belts Do Save Lives.

Buckling up is an important safety precaution for pets. Many states and provinces now require that pets be restrained while in a moving vehicle and restraints have several advantages. They help protect pets in case of a collision and they keep pets from running loose and distracting the driver. They also keep pets from escaping the car through an open window or door.

Cats and smaller dogs are often most comfortable in pet carriers. Carriers give many animals a sense of security and familiar surroundings and can be secured to the car seat with a seat belt or a specially designed carrier restraint (like a child's seat).

There are also pet restraints available that can be used without carriers, including harnesses, seat belt attachments, specially designed pet car seats, as well as vehicle barriers, and truck/pickup restraint systems.

Read the entire article.
Visit Bandit's Buddies.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Being Grateful Promotes Health

Sometimes, or most of the time, this is true as man nowadays spend much of his time to satisfy himself, such as eating, going to the office or work, spending long hours in front of the TV or computer, and sleeping.

About 16 hours or more are spent daily for these mundane activities and grappling with life's challenges and problems. Counting the blessings received in a day? No time at all! Instead before going to bed, the things people will more likely remember are the common problems they have in life. Unknowingly, minding these things can develop stress, depression and anxiety.

This build-up of stress causes worry to people even with the simplest things. Oftentimes, depressed people carry heavy grudges on themselves and have greater tendencies to "freak out". Once they get anxious, they can never be satisfied. Eventually, they get sick. Unfortunately, most fatal ailments are those which stem from stress and depression. Western medicine and even alternative medicine cannot help if the problem is attitudinal in nature. How can this problem be intervened, with less effort, and at the least expense? Be Thou Grateful

Stop Junk Mail - Save Our Birds

There's not enough time in a day (or trees in the Boreal Forest) to put up with junk mail.

North America’s Boreal Forest supports some of the largest populations of wildlife such as grizzly bears, Woodland Caribou and wolves, and provides vital breeding grounds for up to 1/3 of North America’s land birds and 40% of its waterfowl.

The majority of the wood cut in the boreal forest is used to make paper, including catalogs. Each year, catalog retailers mail out about 17 billion catalogs (59 for every man, woman, and child in the US). This means that every year almost eight million tons of trees go straight into catalogs that are often unread and discarded.

We decided 10 years ago that we didn't want to waste the time or trees for 80% of what came into our mailbox. It worked! Many people I mention this to think it doesn't make a difference. Ask anybody who's done it. It certainly does!

Although we get personal and business mail, we get very little. When we do get a catalog or advertisement, I quickly call the toll-free number and ask to be removed from their mailing list.

Catalogs are a temptation for those with credit card debt, so it's a great technique to eliminate adding to it. After all, you can find anything you want online when you really have a need ... and not just a want created by a pretty picture.

Take this tutorial to stop junk mail.

Read more about the Boreal Forest and wildlife.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy or Unhappy?

by Donna L. Watkins

I've been enjoying a book by Zig Ziglar called, Better Than Good - Creating a Life You Can't Wait to Live.

Why is it that we drift from reading inspiring and motivational materials to just ordinary stuff? Have you noticed that when you get into one of these kinds of books or a tape series, that you get so charged up and you feel so much better. Why don't we just keep going from one book to another? Make our reading choices only those that will edify?

Zig says, "It's a mistaken notion to believe that happy people are those who experience just the opposite. Research shows that happy people and unhappy people tend to have very similar experiences in life. The difference is perspective: unhappy people spend more time thinking about life's unpleasant events; they become introspective and self-centered in their thinking, and thus in their living. Happy people, on the other hand, take life's events in stride. They have a positive worldview that allows room for disappointments and failures along the way."

I've noticed that those who expect the world to be negative aren't even happy when things go well and right. They'll use comments like, "sheer luck" or "no reason to get excited - something bad will be happening soon." Sad ... it's like they just don't quite know how to process good in their minds. They see the world as all bad and evil and wrong. There's no room for anything else.

For happy people, bad things are looked at as exceptions. They see life as an adventure full of possibilities and promise. Unhappy people see bad things as a way to prove their point of view. Life is disappointing with few reasons to be joyful.

Zig says, "Positive people don't react to life; they respond. Responding is positive; reacting is negative." As Christians we must focus on God's provision in Romans 8:28: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Love God and it will all work out for good.

Happy or Unhappy? It's really our choice!

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Sheep Sorrel Solution

© Photo:
If anybody is dealing with Sheep Sorrel in their yard, you know it's not an easy thing to eradicate. When I researched online to find a natural way to get rid of this plant, I found a lot of comments like, "nothing works" and that was among the chemical herbicides also.

Since it was growing right down in front of the property where it could be easily seen and complained about, we needed a natural solution. It grows faster than you can pull it since it sends out zillions of little rootlets.

Besides, it's not a pretty plant since the flower is too tiny to see without a magnifying glass. The photo to the left shows how much it seeds, so we knew we had a big problem that we couldn't ignore.

It's actually a great herb for medicinal purposes and you can use the leaves for salads (they have a zesty lemon flavor), but if you have Sheep Sorrel, you've got a lot of it because it seeds profusely and spreads by roots also.

These plants also contain oxalic acid that is not beneficial if too many plants are eaten raw since oxalic acid interferes with mineral absorption. Cooking seems to destroy this chemical property.

The plant is rarely more than a foot tall and has alternate leaves with arrow-like bases on the leaf. The plant is generally distributed in old fields and other disturbed areas of North America and Canada.

The most important thing I read was that they grow on nitrogen-deficient soils. Aha! So, why not put some nitrogen into the soil so it would not provide such a great habitat for it to grow and spread!? Would that be the solution?

© Photo:
The delight of it all was that we had moved a bunch of cedars and pines on that bank to provide a cover area for the birds since we had hardwoods on the property. So, adding nitrogen (ammonium sulfate) to the soil around these trees where the Sheep Sorrel was growing would only benefit the trees. It was worth a try.

We pulled out as much Sheep Sorrel as we could get our hands on above the soil and the roots below the soil and then spread the nitrogen, made sure it was dug into the dirt, and let it go. This year the area we did was totally free of Sheep Sorrel except for a few small babies which would've come up from seeds. We pulled those in the Spring and it stayed clear for the entire Summer. We are now working on another area where it's growing around forsythias.

How cool to find a solution that's natural and beneficial! If anybody else has tried this please make a comment. I would love to know that it's worked for others also.

Sheep Sorrel is considered an invasive plant which means it will crowd out other natives that are important for biodiversity and wildlife. The photo to the right shows you the shape of the leaf. Since it's pretty unique among plants, it's an easy one to identify.

Copyright and Reprint Information
The photos on this article are copyrighted by other websites and may not be used. You may forward or use the copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from
Link URL is:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Vinegar Uses for Pets

Vinegar is one of those kitchen cupboard wonders – it can do as much for a salad dressing as it can for a pet’s coat or neutralizing odors.

Here are a few clever ways to put vinegar to work for your pets for things such as Shine Enhancer, Skin Soother, Ear Helper, Skunk Spray Fixer, Cat Deterrent, Dog Shampoo and more in this article. There's also some great links to other pet articles below this one, so be sure to check those over.

Invest In Your Health

Most of us spend a great deal of time and energy looking out for our financial well-being. We take out insurance policies to protect ourselves from accidents and unforeseen difficulties. We may save or invest for a “rainy day” or start a retirement account to provide for our old age. Unfortunately, many people fail to invest in their most important asset—their own health and well-being.

What good will it do to save and invest for retirement if you die of a heart attack at age 55? What good will it do to have a million dollar retirement account, but suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia at age 65?

Living longer doesn’t necessarily mean living better. Quality of life is more important than quantity of life, but investing in our health can improve both the quality and the quantity (length) of our lives. Read the entire article.

All products mentioned are available from The Herbs Place at wholesale prices.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

MS Linked To Vitamin D Deficiency

Children later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis had far lower levels of vitamin D than other youngsters, Canadian researchers reported on Friday in studies showing more links between the "sunshine" vitamin and disease.

These were the first studies to show the effects in children, although others have shown that adults who live in northern latitudes, who get less sun exposure, may have a higher risk of MS.

They also support a growing body of studies that link low vitamin D levels with disease, including breast and colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes and tuberculosis.

"Vitamin D acts as an immune modulator. On our immune cells there are what are known as receptors, a docking mechanism, for vitamin D," Dr. Brenda Banwell said. "In MS, there are many lines of evidence that immune cells are not regulated properly. One of the things that influences that balance is vitamin D."

Canadians have one of the highest rates of MS in the world, according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Six months of the year there the sun is not intense enough to benefit from Vitamin D. Read the entire article.

Note: I use Vitamin D for rheumatoid arthritis because of the research I've read linking it to autoimmune diseases and also for the many preventative benefits. Although I get some Vitamin D in my calcium and multivitamin, research is now showing a need of much more. Read Vitamin D Minimum To Be Increased. My choice for a quality supplement is Nature's Sunshine Vitamin D3.

Bamboo and Pandas

Many people are concerned about all the bamboo being harvested for green products when pandas do not have enough food to eat. There are a thousand different species of bamboo and the pandas eat a different species of bamboo, with short, thin stems and low-hanging leaves that the Pandas can easily reach. The bamboo that's being harvested for green products is commercially grown in various places, but not in areas where the pandas' natural habitat occurs.

Here's some information about bamboo and its green uses.

Even cooler is new science which has cloned a bamboo that can save the planet. Bamboo sequesters carbon dioxide at far higher rates than an equivalent stand of trees and releases up to three times the amount of oxygen. More here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Be The Best

by Donna L. Watkins

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Morning Aerobics - Eastern Phoebe
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry.

Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.

If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can't be a tree. If you can't be a highway, just be a trail. If you can't be a sun, be a star.

For it isn't by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.

— From the estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This really fits in with the article I wrote, Should You Take That Job. What we do with our lives is so important, and the job we do takes up a large portion of our life ... so we need to be doing it well. If it's doing something that doesn't fit your skills and talents and passions ... it will be extremely hard to do it well.

Consider the importance of finding your "sweet spot" as Max Lucado calls it in his book, Cure For The Common Life. We were put on this earth for a purpose and those natural abilities and talents that God created in you are there for that purpose. Why is it we so often think if something comes easy, it's not of value.

Life doesn't have to be hard and we don't prove anything to anybody by staying stuck in a place that ruins our health and relationships. Move towards your dreams. Don't accept any less of yourself!

Bayer Pesticide Caused Death Of Bees

German government researchers have concluded that a bestselling Bayer pesticide is responsible for the recent massive die-off of honeybees across the country's Baden-Württemberg region. In response, the government has banned an entire family of pesticides, fueling accusations that pesticides may be responsible for the current worldwide epidemic of honeybee die-offs.

Researchers found buildup of the pesticide clothianidin in the tissues of 99 percent of dead bees in Baden-Württemberg state. The German Research Center for Cultivated Plants concluded that nearly 97 percent of honeybee deaths had been caused directly by contact with the insecticide. Read the entire article.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Energy Drinks - Caffeine Intoxication

Caffeine intoxication is a recognized clinical syndrome. It is described as nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, tremors, rapid heartbeat, restlessness and pacing. In rare cases, caffeine intoxication can cause death.

The authors of the study have called for labeling on energy drinks to inform consumers of what they are getting. Advertising for energy drinks is aimed at teens and young adults and promotes the drinks as performance enhancers. Recently, however, some manufacturers have applied a harder edge to their marketing. One product is named Cocaine, and another product, a powdered energy drink sold in a vial, is named Blow. The makers of both products have received warning letters from the FDA about misleading advertising.

But occasional hand-slaps from the FDA are not enough. Besides caffeine intoxication, the use of energy drinks along with alcohol can be dangerous, the Johns Hopkins researchers say. A recent survey found that 27% of college students said they had mixed energy drinks and alcohol at least once a month. There is even some evidence that energy drinks may serve as a "gateway" product leading to more serious drug abuse. Read more.

Pet Concerns With Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A or BPA is an ingredient used to make hard, clear plastics and is also found in the lining of many canned products including pet foods. BPA is known to seep into food or liquids. The FDA, in typical fashion has waffled on its stance regarding the safety of BPA but recently the National Toxicology Program of the National Institutes of Health concluded that there is "some concern" that BPA may cause "problems in fetuses, babies and children, including breast or prostate cancer, early onset of female puberty, attention deficit disorder and other problems of the reproductive and neurological systems."

Every day new information is coming to light regarding the effects of BPA, found in the plastics we use in our food. Exposure to a chemical commonly used in food packaging materials may be putting millions at an increased risk for cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and liver abnormalities.

Previously accumulated information relating more to pets can be found in the following:

BPA is primarily used to make polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers, plastic food wrap, and epoxy resins that are used to line metal cans for food, such as cans of soup. Polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers that contain BPA will be labeled recycling symbol #7. However, not all recycling symbol #7 containers will be made with BPA.

Needless to say there is no research for the effects of BPA on pets. However, a pet owner can only conclude that BPA is just as risky for their pet as it is for themselves. Many canned pet foods contain BPA in the lining. The current stance AAFCO and the FDA have on BPA is that the small amount of seepage into the food is not harmful to pets. Perhaps this new stance by the National Toxicology Program will nudge the FDA to change its current position.

Truth About Pet Food

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Hospital Death Rates Now Online - Compare

How well thousands of individual U.S. hospitals do on the ultimate test of hospital competence - whether very sick patients live or die - is now revealed on the Web for all to see, in hard numbers.

The Hospital Compare page maintained by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) this week began displaying actual hospital death rates for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia patients.

Until now, only relative performance had been shown—whether mortality for such patients at a particular hospital was about the same as the national average, better than average, or worse than average.

Hospitals with high death rates will be held more accountable than when they could hide behind "worse than average," which is simply too vague to carry much impact. Read the entire article.

You Don't Need A Man

by Donna L. Watkins

Many times the self-worth of a female is tied up in whether she's got a man. The Bible tells the story of Jesus meeting a woman at a well that had five husbands and was now living with another man. Jesus saw her wounds. Wounds that drove her to believe that a relationship with a man would make life good ... if she could only find the right man.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Female Red-bellied Woodpecker
When we are wounded we attract wounded relationships and as we know, wounded people can't help much in healing the wounds of others since they're so focused on their own. So, people go from one relationship to another looking for love in all the wrong places.

There is a man that will heal all those wounds, but it's not a man, it's The Man, Jesus. He told this Samaritan women, "whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Living water! Never thirsty for something that "a man" cannot provide. It's being renewed to walk in newness of life, according to the image of Christ's example. If you're sick of the way your life is going, change it. First you need The Man who died for you that you might have power to walk in this renewed life. You will put off the "old man" and put on the new. One that is not attached to relationships for acceptance and self-worth. One who is created in the image of God, uniquely designed for a passion and purpose.

Then when your mind is healthier and when God chooses, you'll get a man that will also be emotionally healthy and together you can serve God as each of you is called to glorify God with your own skills, talents and abilities that lead you to your destinies.

First fill your cup with Christ. Soak up His love until it's overflowing into other lives and you won't need "a man" to make life worth living.

"A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ, that a man should have to seek Christ first to find her." Unknown

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our Giant Silkmoth

by Donna L. Watkins

Early one morning I opened the garage pedestrian door to find a huge moth on the side trim. Right away I considered him "ours" since he'd slept overnight in our doorway.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Male Cecropia Moth
What a beauty! He didn't seem to care that I was within inches of him, so after getting a few pictures, I put my finger out to see if he would crawl on it. He did! How lovely!

Photos are great to have when you want to remember all the details of some critter so you can check the field guides to figure out what it is that has been visiting us here at Bluebird Cove. It's amazing how many things are similar so without photos I would not have much hope of knowing what I saw.

My books (see below) helped me determine that was a Cecropia Moth which is 4-6.3 inches across, the largest moth found in North America. You can see why it was such a beauty at that size.

Since the female lays 200-300 eggs, only a few at a time in one place, you would think you'd see more of these huge moths, but they fly only at night. You can attract them by leaving on an outside light against a wall that they can rest on. Set your timer and check every 15 minutes to see what you attract. We also see tree frogs when we do that.

You will need to have some of the plants that the larvae (caterpillar) stage of this moth requires since that will be where the female lays her eggs and where the caterpillar will eat, spin a cocoon and emerge as an adult. The preferred trees are cherry, plum, elderberry, poplar, oak, sassafras, dogwood, apple, box-elder, maple, walnut, birch and willow. Our property includes half of those.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Male Cecropia Moth
The moth in its adult form shown here does not eat, so it only has two weeks to live. It's sole purpose is to find a mate and lay eggs. I loved getting the side view of the abdomen when Randal later went out the door for a walk and had the moth fly on his arm. He seemed to enjoy the ride, or maybe since it was light, he was just too sleepy from his night's work to care.

This appears to be a male because they have larger feathery antennae than females. These are sense organs for the male, enabling him to detect chemicals given off by the female who emits pheromones. In this way, males locate females in the dark of night. Males can fly for miles in order to reach a female. After mating, the female spends the remainder of her life laying eggs, while the male mates several times.

Found east of the Rocky Mountains and in southern Canada, it's also known as the 'Robin Moth.'

My Field Guides:
Butterflies and Moths
Peterson First Guides - Caterpillars

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Fluorescent Bulb Cleanup

From Consumer Reports Greener Choices

Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL's) contain small amounts of mercury, a neurotoxin. Exposure to a broken bulb can pose a health risk, especially to a developing fetus or young child. So be careful where you install CFLs, especially in carpeted areas, which cannot be completely cleaned of mercury unless the carpeting is removed.

If a bulb does break, don’t panic. Follow these instructions, adapted from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection:

First, open the windows, shut off central A/C or forced-air heating, and have people and pets leave the room for at least 15 minutes, and don't let them walk through the breakage on the way out; continue ventilating the room for several hours.


• Wear disposable rubber gloves for maximum protection.

• Don’t vacuum or sweep the mess. Doing so will spread the mercury vapor and dust throughout the area, and potentially contaminate the vacuum.

• Carefully remove the broken glass. First remove larger pieces by hand and scoop up smaller ones using stiff pieces of cardboard or paper (e.g. index cards). Then use sticky tape (e.g. duct, packing or masking tape) to clean up still smaller fragments and dust. Finally, use a disposable damp cloth to wipe up the finest particles.

• Place all breakage and clean-up materials in a secure container, preferably a glass one with a lid, such as an empty food or canning jar. Otherwise, use a double-sealed plastic bag and immediately dispose of all waste per the instructions below.


• Consider disposing of throw rugs or removing the carpet area where the breakage occurred as a precaution, particularly if the rug is in an area where infants, small children or pregnant women spend time. This is the only way to help ensure you get rid of all of the mercury.

• If the carpet is not removed, carefully remove the broken glass. Put on disposable rubber gloves for maximum protection and remove larger pieces by hand. Then use sticky tape (e.g. duct, packing or masking tape) to clean up smaller fragments and dust. This will get rid of a lot, but not all of the mercury.

• Place all waste and clean-up materials in a secure container, preferably a glass one with a lid, such as an empty food or canning jar. Otherwise, use a double-sealed plastic bag and immediately dispose of all waste per the instructions below.


• Immediately place all contained breakage and clean-up materials outdoors in a trash container or other secure location until you can bring it to a household hazardous waste handler. Check the Environmental Protection Agency's From lightbulb recycling site for drop-off sites in your area (note that retailers such as Ikea and Home Depot that take back CFLs won’t accept broken ones for recycling).

We strongly discourage disposing of CFLs in the trash, and in some states and municipalities, it’s against the law to do so. You can ask your local or state government about disposal requirements in your area.

• As a last resort, dispose of contained broken CFLs in the trash outside for pick-up if your area allows it, and no other disposal or recycling options exist.

• Wash your hands and face thoroughly after clean-up and disposal.

CFL Safety [Video]
CFL Saving energy [Video]

Monday, October 6, 2008

Ginkgo Biloba - Memory, FMS, Circulation, Depression

Ginkgo Biloba Extract (GBE) has been shown to have multiple benefits for memory and depression. These include:

• Decreasing the breast tenderness and mood shifts of PMS (Tamborini, A, et. al; Rev Fr Gynecol Obstet [France] 88-57; 1993).

• Helping to settle down dysequilibrium and vertigo (Haguenauer, J.P., et. al.; "Treatment Of Equilibrium Disturbances w/Ginkgo Biloba-A Multicenter, Placebo Controlled Study;" Presse Med 15:1569-72; 1986 and Smith, P.F., et al; "Can Vestibular Compensation be Enhanced by Drug Treatment: A Review of Recent Evidence;" J Vestib Res 4:169-179; 1994).

• Improving memory in healthy young volunteers and in the elderly. This has been shown in many placebo-controlled studies (e.g., Grassel, E.; "Effect of Ginkgo Biloba Extract on Mental Performance," Fortschr Med 110:73-6; 1992 and Hopfenmuller, W.; "Proof of the Therapeutic Effectiveness of a Ginkgo Biloba Extract - A Meta Analysis of 11 [Placebo Controlled] Trials in Aged Patients With Cerebral Insufficiency;" Arzneim-Forsch (Germany); 44:1005-1010; 1994 and Hindmarch, L.; "Activity of GBE on Short Term Memory," E.W. Fungfeld (ed) Op Cit; pp.321-326; 1988).

Many CFIDS/FMS patients also find that Ginkgo helps their memory. In 12 healthy males, 120-240mg GBE improved EEG alpha brain wave activity in a way supporting improved cognitive function (vs. placebo).

• In general, Ginkgo improves circulation in the brain and legs (in over 40 controlled studies). By improving circulation, Ginkgo may also decrease ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and headaches, as well as the finger artery spasm sometimes seen in SCIFDS (Raynaud's Syndrome). Ginkgo may also lower cholesterol and help angina.

• Treatment of asthma and bronchitis. In China, Ginkgo is made into a tea for this purpose.

• Helping depression (at 80mg 3 times a day). [Editor's Note: This European study was done with elderly patients.]

The Ginkgo you buy should be a 50:1 extract standardized to have 24% Glycosides (it will say this in the label). For most purposes, 40mg three times a day is the standard dose. Treating depression, however, requires 80mg, three times a day. It takes six weeks to see the effect of treatment. No serious side effects have been reported and there are no known drug interactions (side effects with Ginkgo were often actually less than the side effects seen with placebo).


Read about Ginkgo and Memory at their website. Keep in mind that Ginkgo decreases platelet aggregation (or acts as a natural blood thinner), so it should not be used by people taking blood-thinning drugs without the supervision of a doctor.

I personally use Ginkgo since one of the things associated with rheumatoid arthritis is poor memory and foggy thinking. I didn't realize how much it was going to help me with energy though. From the first day I used Ginkgo Biloba Time-Release I had extra energy in the afternoon. I'd been dragging from about 2 PM until bedtime. But what was really exciting was getting that 'sharp mind' feeling again. I noticed how much quicker I could process and how much clearer my thinking was.

Thinking Your Way To Destiny

by Donna L. Watkins

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny!
-- Frank Outlaw

© Donna L. Watkins - Violaceous Trogon - La Selva
You see it so often on the positive end. Somebody that grew up in the slums or was terribly abused as a child ... and they read biographies, listen to a mentor, or focus on motivational materials and what happens is they begin to believe in themselves.

What you think becomes what you believe and what you believe becomes who you are.

Many people can't get out of their past. Zig Ziglar tells of a young woman who moved beyond her past by focusing on three things he had said in a Sunday School class:

Failure is an event, not a person.
Yesterday really did end last night.
God not only permits U-turns in life, He encourages them.

Simple words, profound impact because she took them to heart and renewed her mind by changing her choice of thoughts. That opened many windows of opportunity because how we view our world is what it becomes.

What about those who never seem to get their head above water? Don't you wish you could see into their minds to see what they are thinking and believing? Don't you wish you could change their tape like you do in a VCR to watch a different movie?

Do we really have that much power in our lives? When you check into speaking with those who have "found" success and prosperity, you will find that their stories always drift towards what they believed.

If words have that big of an impact on our life and destiny, why don't we also focus on what we are filling our minds with and change it to what the Bible recommends in Philippians 4:8 which tells us to "meditate on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise."

What a difference this makes upon our health. As my pastor said in a sermon last week, "Your body follows where your mind goes." Some call it the Mind-Body Connection. In the Bible, Jesus said, "Your faith has made you whole." What is faith? What we believe in. Jesus also said, "Only believe!" He told us that if we had the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains. Many of us have many mountains in our lives ... so isn't it time to get started?

What do you listen to? What do you read? What are the words to the music you hear? How much time do you feed The Word into your soul each day?

Are there any deposits you're putting into your mind that you need to eliminate? How do you think your world would change if you began to implement this information today?

Some of you have already done this ... PLEASE share your story in the comments section below. You can alter a life with only a few words of encouragement.

Copyright and Reprint Information
All photos remain the property of Donna L. Watkins and may not be republished without written permission. You may forward or use this copyrighted article on a website if you include the following credit and an active link back to this site:
© 2000-2008 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission. Visit the author's website, for more articles and free email subscription.
Link URL:

Share This Post