Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day 2009!

Each year millions of people celebrate Earth Day. It is a time to learn more about our impact on the environment and ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Ideally, we all take what we learn, implement it, and practice it through the entire year as well as spread the word to help someone else do the same. Our family tries to live by the 3Rs and this year, we are working on replacing all our light bulbs to CFLs (compact florescent lamp or light bulb). To help everyone else do the same, I have found a cool widget to calculate your energy cost savings by switching to CFLs. Scroll to the bottom of this page to try it out and then start changing those bulbs! Pretty hard to resist once you see how much you can save.

In the same vein, as a writer for Xomba I have created a “Xomba Writers and Readers Group” aka “Xombies” on “One Billion Bulbs”. Through the “Energy Trek Initiative”, the web site is striving to track how many people are changing to CFL’s and the energy savings impact on the environment. Their goal is to reach one billion bulbs changed in the world. They are currently at about 160K recorded bulb changes.

I know we have many environmentally conscious members at Xomba. We not only write about the topic regularly but we do so electronically, saving 1000’s of trees and paper waste each year. Hopefully, most of us are writing and reading by the light of a CFL too! Let’s join together and show everyone how many bulbs have been changed by the Xombie community. Record the bulbs you have already changed and the bulbs you change from today forward. Celebrate Earth Day everyday!

You do not need to be a member of Xomba to join this One Billion Bulbs group but would like it to encompass the community of readers on Xomba as well as authors.

Visit the Xomba Writers and Readers Group page

One Billion Bulbs Xomba Writers and Readers Bulbs Change Statistics

Join Xomba and Earn for Your Articles and Website Bookmarks with Google Adsense

Or Visit My Profile and Writing on Xomba

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The First Dandelion Has Bloomed – I am So Excited !!

I hear many of you groaning at the thought of the Dandelions invading your lawn but not me! I am dancing with excitement! You probably think I am a little crazy gushing over a “weed”. However, what is a weed other than an unwanted plant growing in an unwanted location? News flash – I have these delicate looking flowers exactly where I want them. Matter of fact, I wish I had a bigger lawn with MORE dandelions taking root in the chemical-free habitat.

Okay, I will explain my insanity. Dandelion greens, roots, and flowers are edible and are a FREE food source in your yard! The leaves add a nice variety and zip to any salad. Many people like them cooked liked spinach or collard greens. Raw or cooked, they are high in vitamins and minerals and have little or no fat and cholesterol.
Nutritional Information of Raw Dandelion Greens
Nutritional Information of Cooked Dandelion Greens

I have not tried the root yet but a google search will lead you to sites describing many medicinal properties and recipes. The blossoms also have medicinal properties and contain vitamins.

Several years ago, I made Dandelion Wine which is a white wine made with the blossoms. I had never made wine before. It was a fun and tasty experience. Here is the Dandelion Wine Recipe if you would like to try it.

I recently saw a recipe for Dandelion Jelly posted by a wonderful writer, Gail Martin, on eHow. Gail writes about how things were done in “the old days” and a pioneer ancestor in her family passed down this recipe for Dandelion Jelly. The blossoms are used to make the jelly and I decided I absolutely have to try it this year! That is why I was so excited to see the first dandelion blooming in my yard today.

I have also seen some other recipes and I hope I will have enough Dandelions to try those too! There is something intriguing about the idea of Dandelion Cookies or Cream of Dandelion Soup. Comfort food from a weed?

So this year, why not let your Dandelions grow? Save money on weed killers and your food bill. Take advantage of the health benefits. Oh, and stop by my blog to share your Dandelion experiences or recipes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Persistent Hyacinths

We moved into our existing home about 20 years ago in January. The Hyacinths that popped up near our doorstep as the first sign of Spring were like a surprise house warming gift. Every year I anxiously watch for them to peek up through the soil to convince me that Spring is just around the corner. Every year they make me pause in amazement that they come up at all! I do not know which previous owner planted them but they could be 50 years old or more.

They emerge to greet the first mild weather, only to be assaulted by cold and snow several times before the warm days stay long enough for them to bloom. After their flowers and foliage are gone, we forget they are there and are constantly stomped on as we access the nearby water faucet all Summer and I never think to fertilize them.

I cannot explain how they survive so much abuse and neglect. There are many mysteries of life in nature and I believe that my persistent Hyacinths must be one of them.

Where Does the Time Go?

Seems like Christmas was just here and now Easter has come and gone. It does not seem possible. Perhaps it has something to do with all the snow and cold we have still been getting in April. I am more than ready for Spring weather!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and other holidays you might celebrate at this time of year. If your family received Easter cards, consider creating magnetic bookmarks with them. I wrote instructions at Christmas but Easter cards are also fantastic with beautiful religious scenes, crosses or cute little bunnies and chicks.

See how easy the bookmarks are to make with these instructions.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Recycle Valentine Cards into Magnetic Bookmarks

Wow, another holiday behind us! If you need an idea for what to do with those Valentine’s cards you received, consider turning them into magnetic bookmarks. I published instructions on at Christmas, but any greeting cards work well. In fact, the small Valentine cards that kids give to each other are perfect to use for a young child’s project. The cards require little or no cutting and only take seconds to fold and add the magnet. So quick to make, they work well for groups of young kids too. They will need very little help (if any) and be so proud of their accomplishment.

Also, this would be a good time to recycle the leftover Valentine cards from earlier years sitting in the closet. How many of you saved the cards with the idea of using them the following year but forgot all about them and bought more? Dig them out now. See how many have plain hearts and Valentine words you can creatively trim away. Turn them into magnetic bookmarks for Mother’s Day.

Ready to get started? See the instructions HERE

These magnetic bookmarks were made with Christmas cards

Saturday, February 7, 2009

New Thalidomide Blog

When I first decided to write about thalidomide, I never expected to find so much information. I subscribed to a Google keyword alert for thalidomide. I figured I would receive information on a new article, website or news every couple of weeks or more. Wow! Was I mistaken! There is a lot more currently going on with thalidomide than I ever expected. I am receiving alerts several times a week and they do not have only one new reference. The average is about six. A few have simply been articles that mention the 1950’s incident but most are of current news.

For this reason, I decided to create a separate blog just to monitor and share the progress of thalidomide present and future, as well as special interest stories of the Thalidomide Babies of the past. I will also continue writing here soon. If you want to follow information on thalidomide, visit my new blog – Prism’s Thalidomide Watch

Friday, January 30, 2009

Thalidomide – A Haunt From the Past

When I was a young teen, I went to the county fair with a group of friends like most kids do. I remember the tent we walked by several times advertising “freaks”. My curiosity peaked, I wanted to check it out but my friends said, “Don’t waste your money. It’s all fake stuff, a hoax, and a rip off.” They went on some rides and I decided I had to see for myself. What I saw that day changed my life forever. There was the 2-headed cow and the little person about three feet tall. Both behind ropes so you could not get too close to see if they were fake. But, that is not what grabbed my attention. Up close, I saw an unborn fetus in a jar of formaldehyde with no arms and legs, big posters describing the thalidomide caused birth defects, and pictures of babies who had indeed been born with no arms and legs. Okay, if this was a hoax someone sure had a sick sense of how to make a buck. If it was real, then how could anyone let something like this happen? How could they not know this drug would cause these horrific birth defects? Reality or hoax, the shock factor lived in my subconscious for years.

Fast-forward nearly 30 years. Pregnant with mild morning sickness, my doctor offered a prescription to alleviate the symptoms. I shuddered although I was not sure why the suggestion prompted such intense feelings. Fast-forward about five more years. I stumbled upon an article on the Internet regarding the approval of thalidomide by the FDA (for a different use). Suddenly, it all came flooding back to me. The images of unborn deformed babies and Thalidomide Babies born with no arms and legs. No, it was not a hoax. The thalidomide caused birth defects was a very real and tragic situation that occurred back in the 1950’s and 60’s. It unsettled me for a few days as I thought of how crazy this must be. I soon put all the thoughts aside after several thankful prayers for my healthy son. Now, a few years later more news seems to be regularly cropping up about thalidomide. More applications are being discovered all the time and more countries around the world are approving it for many new uses. This time, I find I cannot put the thoughts aside. We all have an obligation to our subsequent generations to pass on our knowledge and wisdom to them. That is why I have vowed to do what I can to increase awareness of the potential consequences of this drug when taken by the wrong person at the wrong time.

For starters, I have written two articles:

The Thalidomide Tragedy – Will History Repeat Itself?

Help Avoid More Thalidomide Baby Births

I feel like we are watching a big snowball rolling downhill, gaining momentum before it finally hits the huge boulder at the bottom of the hill smashing it to bits. Let’s all work together to change the path of that snowball before it hits the boulder.