Natures Cottage

Blog for little known facts & helpful lifestyle and travel tips.

The Buzz of Life

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Gasoline prices went down by P1 today.. that’s equivalent to like.. say.. $5 cents USD? So it’s at about $.90 per liter now, or $3.20 per gallon. Prices for diesel is supposed to go down by about P9.

I’ve been so busy. Ridiculously busy, almost. But life is good. No time to stop and think sometimes, but maybe it’s better that way.

I read some articles a while ago about bees. Apis Mellifera

The fact is, I grew up around bees- and everything I’ve got I have because of bees. My dad’s a commercial beekeeper, and I’d say, I love the honey business. The bees smell good, you don’t have to work hard all year- and it’s great to be out in nature and just be around the bees. And well- I’m a workaholic, and so are bees, we fit together I think. I also have this rather strange fetish, I suppose, for drones- i.e., the male bees.
I mean, just look at that. Who can resist? These little guys don’t have stingers, have round bums, and hugely round eyes. They move around rather slowly and are just so totally cute! It’s really funny that one of the Philippine’s dialects has a name for these little guys- i.e, “mama lupar” which basically means “mama’s boy”.

The lives of drones are very simple. Since all the worker bees, and the queen- are female, – well, the only work of the drone is to basically mate queens. After having mated, these poor guys die. One other thing they are said to do is heat up the hive. Their bodies have a bit more fat than the regular worker bees, so they kinda help the heat going inside the hives. But once food is scarce, these guys are thrown out of the house! They are quite high maintenance, hence in the harsh months such as winter months or rainy season – it’s rare to see any drones around because first of all, they have big appetites and well- they kinda like the service, like you know, having worker bees come around and feed them. I guess, in nature’s law, you really can’t get everything you want.

Honeybee Wipeout May be Averted with Flower Recovery Zones

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) – Honey bees, whose numbers are falling, must be given flowery “recovery zones” in Europe’s farmlands to aid their survival, a leading EU lawmaker said Wednesday.

Bees pollinate numerous crops and scientists have expressed alarm over their mysterious and rapid decline. Experts have warned that a drop in the bee population could harm agriculture.

“If we continue to neglect the global bee population, then this will have a dramatic effect on our already strained world food supplies,” said Neil Parish, who chairs the European Parliament’s agriculture committee.

Parish, a British conservative, said vast swathes of single crops such as wheat often made it difficult for bees to find enough nectar.

But he said farmers could help bees by planting patches of bee-friendly flowers — including daisies, borage and lavender.

“We’re talking about less than one percent of the land for bee-friendly crops — in corners where farmers can’t get to with their machinery, round trees and under hedges.”

Genetically modified crops, climate change, pesticides and modern farming techniques have all been blamed for making bees vulnerable to parasites, viruses and other diseases.

More research is needed to pin down the exact cause of the declining number of bees, the European Parliament is expected to recommend in its vote Wednesday evening.

“The experts themselves are mystified,” said Parish. “A failure to act now could have catastrophic consequences.”

The EU parliament’s vote will carry no legal weight but is intended to nudge the European Commission and EU member states to take the matter seriously.



Written by naturescottage

November 20, 2008 at 11:38 am

A New Day, A New Accent, and School

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UP, aming minamahal.
Good ole oble. I study at the University of the Philippines. My course is major in social anthropology, minor in poli sci. I just started tho, because I shifted course. My original course was educ, – I do still intend to take educ units.

I just got back from classes a few minutes ago. My Pol Sci 14 teacher is a terror! Or at least he is quite intimidating. He’s huge, talks real fast, hits the board, the table, the chairs, talks real loud- as if almost yelling, and even just the way he looks at people is kinda scary, but at least I know he’s a genuine male specie! I don’t mean to offend anyone, but sometimes I wonder who’s truly male and who isn’t. Being of the supposed “female” specie, of course the males are quite intriguing. Speaking of intriguing, the “foreign language syndrome” is quite a story! Do check out these women who just woke up one day with a different accent!

In the meantime, kita kita nalang sa lobby!

Written by naturescottage

November 14, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Posted in cooking, lifestyle, sports, Travel

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TCM – Cooking and eating rules

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I just started reading the “Chinese System of Food Cures, Prevention & Remedies” by Henry C. Lu today. Here are some interesting excerpts from the book:

Five Flavors of Food
The five flavors of food include pungent (acrid), sweet, sour, bitter, and salty.

Pungent foods include green onion, chives, cloves, parsley, and coriander.
Sweet foods include sugar, cherry, chestnut, and banana.
Sour foods include lemon, pear, plum, and mango.
Bitter foods include hops, lettuce, radish leaf, and vinegar (I list vinegar as bitter because the Chinese call vinegar “bitter wine”. Vinegar tastes both sour and bitter; it is common for some foods to have two simultaneous flavors.)
Salty foods include salt, kept, and seaweed.

The flavors of food are important in Chinese diet, because different flavors have their respective important effects upon the internal organs. Food that have a pungent flavor can act on the lungs and large intestine; foods with a sweet flavor on the stomach and spleen; with sour flavor on the liver and gall bladder; with a bitter flavor on the heart and small intestine; foods that have a salty flavor can act on the kidneys and bladder.

At the beginning, some foods with obvious flavors found to act on some internal organs perform specific actions in the human body. The basic relationships between flavors and internal organs and the actions are studied and analyzed by a process in science called the inductive method. As time goes on, other foods whose flavors are more difficult to determine may be found capable of active upon some internal organs and performing some specific actions.

In general, the common action of foods in regard to their flavors are as follows:

Pungent foods (ginger, green onion, and peppermint) can induce perspiration and promote energy circulation.

Sweet foods (honey, sugar, and watermelon) can slow down the acute symptoms and neutralize the toxic effects of other foods.

Sour foods (lemon and plum) can obstruct the movements, and are useful, therefore, in checking diarrhea and excessive perspiration.

Bitter foods, reduce body heat, dry body fluids, and induce diarrhea (which is why many Chinese herbs recommended to reduce fever and induce diarrhea taste bitter)

Salty foods (kelp and seaweed) can soften hardness, which explains their usefulness in treating tuberculosis of the lymph nodes and other symptoms involving the hardening of muscles or glands.

Mmm… it’s nearly been exactly a year since I went to China. I loved the place we went to, and the food! I never ate so much street food in my life. If only I hadn’t accidentally deleted all the pictures we took of our trip. 😥 I just have a few left now.

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November 9, 2008 at 11:32 am

Picture of the day.

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Ahhh isn’t this a nice photo? It’s taken on a windless night in Whangamata.

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November 9, 2008 at 8:24 am

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Haiti School Collapse

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My heart goes out to these people, I hope things’ll be ok soon.

Crews search for survivors in Haiti school collapse

* Story Highlights
* Nearly 200 children remain trapped under rubble after Haiti school collapse
* At least 50 children have been confirmed dead, officials say
* Government official questions structural integrity of school
* Red Cross official calls for heavy search-and-rescue equipment

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CNN) — Rescue workers continued to search for survivors Saturday after a school collapse killed at least 50 children in Petionville near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
A fireman holds a child who was rescued from the rubble of a school collapse in Haiti on Friday.

Clarens Renois, a journalist with the Haiti Press Network, said nearly 200 children remained trapped under rubble as of midnight Friday.

As many as 700 children were inside when the building collapsed around 10 a.m. ET Friday, officials said. Some were in class and others were in a playground, Haitian media reported.

“We are looking at major casualties here,” said Alex Claudon, a Red Cross official on the scene.

President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis toured the disaster area. The Haiti Press Network quoted Preval as saying that he “heard and saw with my own eyes children appealing for help.”

At least one member of the Haitian Parliament has raised questions about whether the school was built for the number of students and teachers who were inside when the College La Promesse Evangelique collapsed, Renois said. The official described the building as “not quite solid” with “weak construction.” Video Watch rescuers pull students from the rubble »

Preval has since called for a review of building-construction guidelines.
Don’t Miss

* Dozens killed in Haiti school collapse

The Haitian Civil Protection Bureau said at least 100 people have been injured, but the death toll is expected to rise.

Most of the students at the school ranged in age from 10 to 20, officials said, but some are younger. Haitian press reports said kindergarten, primary and secondary students attended the school.

“We are taking all necessary steps. The government has mobilized to save those who can be saved,” Pierre-Louis said.

Preval asked residents to stay away from the area to allow police and rescue officials to do their work unimpeded.

Michaele Gedeon, president of Haiti’s Red Cross, said that, while she was on the phone with rescuers trying to coordinate their efforts, she could hear the voices of distraught children.

“On the phone you can hear so many children, you know, crying, crying, and saying, “This one is dead. that one is dead,'” she said.

Claudon said hundreds of bystanders and rescue workers were digging through the rubble with their hands and rudimentary tools, but “what we need right now is heavy search-and-rescue equipment.” Video Watch Red Cross official describe scene »

In a later interview, Claudon said, “Local authorities are doing their best.”

About 50 to 60 patients, 30 of them severely injured, were taken to Trinite Hospital in Port-au-Prince, said Isabelle Mouniaman Nara, the head of mission in the capital for Doctors Without Borders.

Another 150 patients were treated elsewhere, Nara said Friday night.

The situation at Trinite “is under control right now,” she said.

Trinite is the only hospital that is open in Port-au-Prince, Doctors Without Borders said. The other two — General Hospital and Hospital de la Paix — have been shut down due to worker strikes.

The school is in an extremely poor part of town and the roads are nearly impassable, Renois said. He also said an United Nations helicopter was unable to land.

“The school is poorly built,” said Amelia Shaw, a journalist with United Nations TV who visited the scene.

The two-story school had an addition built in the rear over a 200-foot ravine, Shaw told CNN by telephone. The steep hillside, she said, is covered with run-down houses and shacks on both sides.

The disaster occurred when the second floor crumbled onto the first, Shaw said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team, which arrived on the scene within hours of the collapse, the agency said in a news release.

After assessing the situation, USAID activated its partner, the Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team. That team will be composed of 38 personnel, four search-and-rescue dogs and 31,000 pounds of rescue equipment and is expected to arrive Saturday.

The Urban Search and Rescue Team will be accompanied by four additional USAID disaster experts.

U.S. Ambassador Janet Sanderson expressed her condolences in a note, the Haiti Press Network

Source: CNN

Written by naturescottage

November 8, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

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I read this article which is questioning whether kids should be encouraged to go to college by the time they’re 16. Here in the Philippines, almost all the kids are in college by the time they’re 16. Some people are in college at 14. There are pros and cons to this system. The pro of course is that you finish school much earlier. You can learn more faster- i.e., you could finish your masters by age 21 or 22, and take a doctorate degree if you’re really into it. Or go for a double degree. But for the most part, I find that there are more cons to this system.

First of all, here in the Philippines, once you get to college, you’ve still got a year or year and a half of math, chemistry, english, science, etcetera. How many times over do you have to study that stuff anyway? The Comm 3 course I took – I basically learned as a 12 year old when I had one of my aunt’s friends (a professor from La Salle) come and teach us. And for people like me who are hopeless at math, it’s just depressing to be faced with “Math 11” in college.

Anyhow, it can also be difficult for a person to decide what course to take. It’s fine if you’ve got parents around or active guidance counselors who can guide you well on what course to take according to your personal strengths or weaknesses, otherwise you’ll see a lot of course switching- and in short, time wasted. And in situations where the 16 year old students move to a totally different place, situation etc to do their schooling, especially if the student comes from a far away, simple province, a lot of people just get ruined that way. They’re unable to take or deal with the peer pressure, etc etc. It can be quite a headache. Nobody said anything in this world would be easy tho.

Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

High school sophomores should be ready for college by age 16. That’s the message from New Hampshire education officials, who announced plans Oct. 30 for a new rigorous state board of exams to be given to 10th graders. Students who pass will be prepared to move on to the state’s community or technical colleges, skipping the last two years of high school. (See pictures of teens and how they would vote.)

Once implemented, the new battery of tests is expected to guarantee higher competency in core school subjects, lower dropout rates and free up millions of education dollars. Students may take the exams – which are modeled on existing AP or International Baccalaureate tests – as many times as they need to pass. Or those who want to go to a prestigious university may stay and finish the final two years, taking a second, more difficult set of exams senior year. “We want students who are ready to be able to move on to their higher education,” says Lyonel Tracy, New Hampshire’s Commissioner for Education. “And then we can focus even more attention on those kids who need more help to get there.”

But can less schooling really lead to better-prepared students at an earlier age? Outside of the U.S., it’s actually a far less radical notion than it sounds. Dozens of industrialized countries expect students to be college-ready by age 16, and those teenagers consistently outperform their American peers on international standardized tests. (See pictures of the college dorm room’s evolution.)

With its new assessment system, New Hampshire is adopting a key recommendation of a blue-ribbon panel called the New Commission on Skills of the American Workforce. In 2006, the group issued a report called Tough Choices or Tough Times , a blueprint for how it believes the U.S. must dramatically overhaul education policies in order to maintain a globally competitive economy. “Forty years ago, the United States had the best… read full article

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November 8, 2008 at 8:29 am

Picture of the day

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This was taken in La Union, Philippines, soon after one of the big typhoons hit the area.

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November 7, 2008 at 11:32 am

Reaching out

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First of all, congratulations, President-elect Obama! I usually follow the US elections quite closely, but this year I only just started following the election news a few days before the election itself. I was not really eagerly wishing and praying either one would win. I do not exactly fancy Palin, although I am a republican, or maybe I should just start saying I’m an independent. Anyhow, Obama has made history, and I hope the best for him during his term(s).

Now for my day- I just finished enrolling this morning. The second semester starts next week. Yay. 😦 I love learning, but sometimes it is hard to keep up with all the different responsibilities, and some teachers are just down right terrors.

During the semester break I took advantage of the extra time I had to work on the projects I am working on. I come from a middle class family with an upper class background. My dad has done community service for the past 30+ years or so, and I think it’s rubbed off on me. I love working with people and know community service is definitely very fulfilling. As the old saying goes, “Good is the man who strives to do his best. Honorable is the man who lives not just for himself, but for others. Glorious is he who lives for the Lord, dedicated to His cause.” Not that I am saying I’m honorable or anything.

Yesterday, it was in our headlines that the Philippines is top 5 in the world for hunger. Knowing that, it is not surprising to know that there is a very high amount of malnourished people in the country. Just in the little elementary school that I volunteered my community service hours for school last semester, over 90% of the children are malnourished. The irony of it all is that these people live in farms and are farmers! Unfortunately the consumerism attitude has greatly influenced these people, and our politicians are no help either. Instead of growing food and eating it, they grow food and sell everything they grow then buy some “goods” wrapped in plastic from the store. What was common knowledge in the past has now been forgotten. People no longer know the herbs to take as medicine, nor do they know the basic foods to eat to keep their bodies strong and healthy. It is this that I want to change. I would like to make it so that my fellow people can have the basic needs and rights that all living beings deserve – at least a full belly, good health, and of course, real education. I have started out outlining my plans and am working with the mayor and other government officials and a big group of my friends and fellow volunteers to get this project to lessen hunger (and hopefully eliminate it) going. After all, how painful and difficult is it actually to reach out and help a fellow human being? A single smile of thanks from someone else can erase all personal sacrifices in such work.

With that, I leave you with some pictures. The first one is one is a picture of rice terraces, as you can see, that my friends took during our hike up to a beautiful waterfall I’ll post about tomorrow. The second one is a nice little river that is just about 200 meters away from the elementary school I teach in. The kids brought me there during their school break the other day, when I was walking around their school taking pictures. The following picture is a picture of the great garbage control system they’ve got going. I especially like how all the plastics and non-degradable wastes are thrown as near the water as possible. (In all the schools I’ve been to the situation is the same) And finally, pictures of my 1st grade students. Just look at those smiles! One thing I really like about working in the rural if not- provincial areas, and with children like these guys is that despite the fact that they’ve hardly got anything, their eyes seem to retain a clarity and the bright freshness like that of cool winds blowing through shady bamboo, and they are definitely much quicker to smile than city folk. As you can see tho, they need some major dental help. That’s another project I’d like to do to help the people around here.

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November 6, 2008 at 12:02 pm

Picture of the day.

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A little creek on the east coast.

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November 4, 2008 at 9:25 am

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Picture of the Day (with a story to go with it)

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This is a place called Piha on the wild west coast of New Zealand. It’s about 45mins from Auckland City. I grew up in Piha so I’ll probably be posting a lot of pics.
I almost died in Piha surfing. Theres a lot of jagged Rocks and caves all around the west coast. I was surfing with one of my friends just around the bay from this photo. I caught a big wave and ended going over the falls. I got smashed by a few waves and when I came up I was right against the rocks. A cave was about 5 meters away from me and the current was sucking me in there. That was about the freakiest time of my life because I couldn’t see what was in the cave. So I ended up getting sucked in the cave which was like a washing machine. Very freaky. I got stuck in there for over an hour until I managed to climb up onto a ledge then climb out of the cave. My board was smashed already. I climbed out of the cave and sat on a perch. I decided I wasn’t going anywhere until a helicopter came to save me haha. while I was in the cave my friend had gone to get the life guards so they ended up coming round in their IRB (rescue boat) to save me. I tell you that was the best sight of my life. I thanked the lord at that point because I thought that was it for me :D.

These pictures are taken of Lion Rock. From some angles it really looks like a lion sitting down but you can’t really tell from these pics.

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November 2, 2008 at 4:28 am

A Four Brained Killer, Jellyfish?

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Who would have thought.. 😦

Killers In Paradise

The tropics are home to the world’s most venomous creatures-jellyfish with 4 brains, 24 eyes and stingers that can kill you in a minute flat

The sky is an immense bowl of blue and the boiling-hot sun speckles the flat green waters gold as our boat edges out of Port Douglas, Australia, just north of the tropical resort town of Cairns. On board, tourists from around the world are heading for the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest natural structure—stretching for 1,400 miles along the continent’s northeastern coastline.

After a 90-minute journey, we arrive at Opal Reef, a chunk of the Great Barrier Reef five miles long and three miles wide, where frothy white waves break gently over shadowy outcrops of coral as big as houses. We throw on our snorkeling gear and slip quickly into the water, drifting over the shallow reef facedown, entranced by the multihued coral—some resembling giant brains, others massed like stag horns and mammoth fans—and the neon-colored small fish that dart in and out. Not one of the crew members has bothered to warn us that Opal Reef is where one of the planet’s deadliest creatures killed a visitor three years earlier.

Robert King, 44, from Columbus, Ohio, was snorkeling over the same underwater landscape when he felt a mild sting on his chest and came back onto the boat. Within 25 minutes his face flushed tomato-red as severe pain gripped his stomach, chest and back muscles. The skipper radioed for a medevac chopper, whose crew injected King with a massive dose of pethidine, an opiate-like painkiller, then winched him from the boat and rushed him to Cairns.

By the time he was wheeled into the emergency ward at CairnsBaseHospital, King’s speech was slurred. He was put on a ventilator, as doctors pumped him full of painkillers while racing to save his life. A local zoologist, Jamie Seymour, was called in to take a scraping of the sting site. While he worked, Seymour noticed that King’s blood pressure was spiking dramatically. King lost consciousness; then, Seymour says, “an artery or vein in his brain blew.” Blood flooded King’s brain tissues, and two days later he died.

After analyzing the shape and size of the stinging cells, which were about an inch long, Seymour blamed King’s death on a nearly transparent jellyfish the size of a thumbnail. Covered from the top of its head to the tip of its four tentacles with millions of microscopic spring-loaded harpoons filled with venom, it’s one of at least ten related species of small jellyfish whose sting can plunge victims into what doctors call the Irukandji syndrome. “The symptoms overwhelm you,” says Seymour, 40, who himself was stung by an irukandji on the lip, the only part of his body uncovered as he scuba-dived looking for specimens near an island off Cairns in late 2003. “On a pain scale of 1 to 10, it rated between 15 and 20,” he says, describing the vomiting, the cramps and the feeling of panic. “I was convinced I was going to die.” But he was lucky; not all species of irukandji administer fatal stings, and he recovered within a day.

So far, only King’s death—and perhaps that three months earlier of an Englishman, 58-year-old Richard Jordan, farther south on the Great Barrier Reef—can be attributed to irukandji venom, but Seymour cites research suggesting that because the symptoms may resemble strokes or decompression sickness, and can lead to drowning, countless more swimmers have probably fallen victim to Irukandji syndrome in offshore waters throughout the tropics. Stings from the irukandji species who live in waters closer to shore are rarely fatal but are still excruciatingly painful: for centuries before the tiny jellies were identified as the culprit, the local Aborigines at Cairns, the Irukandji tribe, knew that to swim in the shallows in the rainy season, from November to May, was to risk getting stung, although they didn’t know by what.

More ominously for residents of North America, doctors at the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School at Key West, Florida, have treated military divers suffering from symptoms similar to the syndrome; U.S. Navy divers have seen Irukandji-like jellyfish in the waters off Cuba’s GuantánamoBay; swimmers have been badly stung in Hawaii; and the Gulf of Mexico and the adjoining southern U.S. Atlantic coastline have seen an increase in people being sickened by stings that almost certainly come from an irukandji or a related jellyfish.

Most jellyfish are passive; they drift up and down in the water column, or are pulled to and fro by the tides and winds. They float through the oceans devouring tiny fish and microscopic creatures that bumble into their tentacles, and are no threat to humans.

Click here to read the rest of the story

Written by naturescottage

November 2, 2008 at 12:52 am

Life’s Best Lessons…

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It’s funny how life’s best lessons can be learned not in classrooms – not in the most expensive, most prestigous universities.. but right in our much-loved play grounds…

In life…
sometimes you’re up. Everything’s going well, going great! Nothing could be better… or – if things could be better- at least it’s all going quite well as it is.

Then, sometimes, you’re down.
When nothing’s going right. Everything just seems to be getting worse and worse and you’re thinking, “How could anything get any worse?” But they do. But, have faith, have patience.. soon you’ll be up again.. but then, don’t get your hopes too high. Every now and then you’ll have your downs too, and it’s just the way life is.

We all look for stability and peace, and it’s in a whole nother realm we can find that peace – that happiness, which is so deep that no ups or downs could possibly affect it.. it’s a place, once you go to- will give you the foundation and fulfillment you look for, so that the ups and downs that we inevitably experience in this world will not affect us any more than the passing clouds in the sky affect us. And there we’ll find rest.

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November 1, 2008 at 11:17 am

Picture of the Day

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A lonely man stands on a west coast beach.

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October 31, 2008 at 10:15 am

Picture of the day

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Heres the new pic of the day. It’s a cabbage tree. Ever heard of that? they’re pretty cool trees.

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October 30, 2008 at 8:58 am

Color Your Food, Get Healthier!

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Since time immemorial, people have been looking for ways to stay fit and healthy for as long as possible. The Chinese were definitely not left behind in this search for immortality.

For thousands of years, traditional Chinese medicine experts have taught that each day you should eat 5 different types of food. It’s not quite like our regular food pyramid- it’s more color based. It is said that the white foods (like radish/jikama), are good for the lungs, while red things (ex: radish/tomatoes) are good for the heart, green food (like veggies etc) are good for the gallbladder, yellow food (like Bananas, sweet potato, or squash) are good for the liver, and finally, black foods (Ex: black beans/seaweed) are good for the spleen. It’s a very interesting science of health.

This little article is quite a nice reminder of it:

Back in Black: Your Favorite Foods, Only Healthier
Tips and tricks from our resident dietitian, Julie Upton, RD

When it comes to plant-based foods, deep, vibrant colors are one of the best indicators of what’s healthiest. The pigments that give plants their color also provide the antioxidants that protect against heart disease, inflammation, and certain cancers. A simple swap can provide a big nutritional payoff, like choosing pink grapefruit over white, or dark greens over pale lettuce. So it may come as little surprise that black foods can pack a potent health benefit too. That’s exactly the case with the midnight-hued rice, beans, tea, and berries I can’t seem to get enough of lately. Here’s why:

Black rice
This grain—along with the red and purple varieties—is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, and has long been consumed throughout Asia. Black rice is a 100% whole grain food just like brown rice, but it is thought to have a higher anthocyanin content due to its deeper color. A study in China found that when people’s diets were supplemented with black-rice pigments, their risk factors for cardiovascular disease decreased–including levels of C-reactive protein in their blood, an indicator of inflammation.

Black beans
These high-fiber antioxidant powerhouses pack more disease-fighting power than lighter-colored beans. New research shows that the black skins contained 24 plant compounds including 12 terpenoids and 7 flavonoids. The researchers also found that these compounds halted the growth of colon, liver, and breast cancer cells.

Black tea
It comes from the same plant as green and oolong tea, but the dark stuff has a slew of good qualities all to its own. Numerous studies have shown that drinking several cups of flavonoid-rich black tea a day may provide heart-health benefits, offer protection against neurological decline as we age, and provide anticancer properties. Plus it’s got the added benefit of being calorie-free (as long as you don’t drink it with milk and sugar), and its caffeine may help improve your workout.

These tangy treats are rich in polyphenols that have been shown to have antioxidant activity. University of Kentucky researchers isolated blackberry extract in lab studies, and found that its chemicals stopped the growth of colon-cancer cells. They may also help prevent diseases related to chronic inflammation. Don’t like them on their own? Pair them with blueberries and ginger syrup in this light and fruity dessert.

Black mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, and many other specialty black crops are, well, cropping up these days. Let us know if you’ve seen any at your local farmers market and whether you’ve tried them.

By Julie Upton, RD


Written by naturescottage

October 30, 2008 at 1:27 am

Eat, And the World Eats With You

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Food, (pun not intended) is an all devouring topic and issue in our world today. Time has a very interesting photo gallery of what people from around the world eat. I posted some of those pictures here. It’s interesting that my diet is most similar to the people from Shingkhey Village- wherever that may be.

Here in the Philippines, as of the news report the other day, hunger has gone up by 18.74 percent. It is too bad that people have become so dependent on what has been referred to time and time again as the “colonial mentality”, and so they starve. In a tropical country like the Philippines, almost all the weeds that grow quite abundantly around are edible. Of course it is not just ignorance that has brought about hunger in my country, but also the corruption of our leaders. Of course the next question will be – “Then who put them in power?” And so it goes, the endless cycle.

In my own little ways I work to help educate the Filipinos about their previous way of life, when food that grew around them would be eaten, and not sold and exchanged for store bought foods wrapped in plastic or packed in cans.

What I find most ironic however, is that it seems sometimes, that the bigger problem in our planet is obesity and weight control rather than hunger! For the most part, there seem to be more people running around and trying to lose weight rather than gain weight. Then again, I suppose that is a good thing… but still points down to very basic yet deeper problems/questions that none of our educational systems tackle or even dare go near.

null from Time, Food we eat

Time- Food we eat- Italian FamilyBriedjing Family

Kuwait Family
North CarolinaBeijingTingoShinkhey

Written by naturescottage

October 29, 2008 at 6:24 am

The Ultimate Wonder Food

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Sweet potato.  Yep, you heard it.  Sweet potato’s not only high in fiber, antioxidants, potassium, glutathione, it also helps reduce and keep blood sugar levels and arthritis at bay.  My dad was right, – sweet potatoes, aka “Kamote” in Tagalog, is a wonder food.

My favorite Sweet potato variety
Sweet potatoes are the perfect food
Written by Erin M. Phelan
Sweet potatoes rate high in the list of foods that can help us achieve optimum heath -that state of physical and mental well being, accompanied by high levels of energy and a strong, perfectly balanced immune system- and you might wonder why. Wonder no more and read.


Sweet potatoes rate high in the list of foods that can help us achieve optimum heath -that state of physical and mental well being, accompanied by high levels of energy and a strong, perfectly balanced immune system- and you might wonder why. Wonder no more.


Sweet potatoes are high in fiber (4g – one medium sized sweet potato)And also fat free, therefore saturated fat free too, low in sodium, and low in cholesterol.

A sweet way to get good nutritionNot only are they a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Manganese, Vitamin B6, sweet potatoes are also a good way to get copper, iron, dietary fiber, and potassium.

They have proteins with potent antioxidant effectsThe latest research studies focused on two areas of health benefit. The unique root stores proteins that have been observed to have significant antioxidant capacities. In one study, the proteins had about one-third the antioxidant activity of glutathione – one of the body’s most impressive internally produced antioxidants. More research is needed.

“Anti-diabetic” foodRecently the sweet potato has been classified as an “anti-diabetic” food. They have been given this label because of some animal studies in which the potato helped in stabilizing blood sugar levels and lowered insulin resistance. Some of these blood sugar regulatory properties may come from the fact that sweet potatoes are concentrated in carotenoids. More research is needed in this area.

Antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory foodAs a wonderful source vitamin A -in the form of beta-carotene- and a good source of vitamin C, they have healing properties as an antioxidant food. Both beta-carotene and vitamin C are very powerful antioxidants. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin B6, which has been associated with decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Protection against emphysemaIf you smoke or are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, then making vitamin A-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes, part of your healthy way of eating, may save your life; as research conducted at Kansas State University suggests. A common carcinogen in cigarette smoke induces vitamin A deficiency, and a diet rich in vitamin A can help counter this effect, greatly reducing your chances of getting emphysema.

A nutritional powerhouseJust 4 ounces of cooked pulp supply 2 grams of protein, 24.6 mg of vitamin C, 3.4 grams of fiber, 20 mg of magnesium, 28 mg of calcium, 22.6 mcg of folic acid, 21822 I.U. of vitamin A, and 348 mg of potassium. And that’s for only a half cup serving. The skins, which are completely edible, add even more fiber.

They work well in some of the most popular dietsSouth Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, and Sugar busters Diet have all listed the sweet potato as a good carb. This is because among root vegetables, sweet potatoes have the lowest glycemic index rating. The sweet potato is slow to digest, causing a smooth and steady rise in blood sugar so you feel satisfied longer.

Taken from: All Natural Foods

For more information on the nutritional values of sweet potatoes, go here.

Even its vines are good to eat both on the level of taste and health.

A variation of sweet potato fries

A variation of sweet potato fries

There are endless ways to eat sweet potatoes- one way is to make them into fries.  If you’re making it into fries, cut it lengthwise or into thin circular slices.  The thinner the better.  Flavor with curry, salt, and cinnamon, or herbs and salt, or Korean pepper/Korean ketchup sprinkled with sugar is another great way- or go, the rather unhealthy but extremely delicious Filipino way, fry the sweet potatoes in melted sugar.

Another way is to just boil them and eat them- but because boiling brings out the high starch content, it makes it a bit fattening.  Personally I like eating sweet potatoes when they’re baked and coated with honey and/or maple syrup, butter, and cinnamon, or even just plain.  Sweet potatoes are good in pies, mixed in sweets with grated coconut meat, milk, and sugar, and even in savory dishes like another Filipino dish- pochero.

So well, here is, the wonder food.  It’s been recently found that sweet potatoes are also high in glutathion which is used to treat toxicity, acne, cancer, allergies, Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, diabetes, hepatitis, liver dysfunction, and more. I’m going to include this in the list of “must eat foods” for the nutrition project and I’ll eat more of this stuff for sure. 🙂 Sweet potato, the ultimate multivitamin.

Written by naturescottage

October 28, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Pic Of The Day

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Heres a little pic taken of the dunes in Whangamata.

Written by naturescottage

October 27, 2008 at 11:42 pm

Avocados: The Wonder Fruit

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I like avocados, but more importantly – Sam, my co-author, loves them.

Avocados grow quite abundantly where I live, in fact we’ve got at least 3 mother trees who all have totally different shaped avocados. One of the trees gives perfectly round avocados about the size of soft balls, the seeds are just a little smaller than a ping pong ball, and the meat is beautifully buttery and smooth. One of our other trees gives long avocados shaped quite like distorted balloons or something of the sort. Avocados grow so well around here that in some places, the fruits are just left for the monkeys and pigs to eat.

Avocado has surprisingly good effects, including helping with weight control!

Here’s a little snippet on avocados:

CHOLESTEROL-LOWERING AVOCADO: Healthy Fats, Lower Cholesterol

Avocados are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—a type of fat that may actually help to raise levels of HDL (“good” cholesterol) while lowering levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol). And these delectable green orbs pack more of the cholesterol-smashing beta-sitosterol (a beneficial plant-based fat) than any other fruit. Beta-sitosterol reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food. So the combination of beta-sitosterol and monounsaturated fat makes the avocado an excellent cholesterol buster.

Eat some today

Avocado is a bit high in calories. Your best strategy: Use this luscious veggie in place of another high-fat food or condiment.

Get this much

The American Heart Association recommends that you get up to 15 percent of your daily calories from monounsaturated fats like those contained in avocados, but some heart experts recommend an even greater percentage. (In an 1,800-calorie diet, 15 percent translates into 30 grams per day.) FYI: A whole avocado has about 300 calories and 30 g fat.

From: MSN

One of my favorite ways to eat avocado is in salad or in sandwiches. It’s especially good with Kimchi:

(I need to get myself a camera so that I can post some fuuud pix!) Since Kimchi is somewhat a salad/pickle, and contains high amounts of enzymes. Not only that, but it’s also got heaps of chili in it, making it a good way to keep off pounds. It’s great layered in with sandwiches – be it a nice little burger or just some sort of a tofu crumble or something of the sort. It actually goes real well with avocado, mustard, cheese, pickles, and the other usual ingredients of good sandwiches.

Avocado is an incredibly versatile ingredient to work with, good when salty, sweet, or even spicy. Just don’t ever bake it- it turns out horribly bitter, – or at least from my experience that’s what has happened!

This avocado tart recipe is another favorite of mine. It’s easy and fast to make, and is real enjoyable. The cashew milk blends in real well.

These pre-baked pastry cups filled with a custardlike cream will please your vegan friends. Best served freshly chilled. Cholesterol-free avocados are loaded with potassium, vitamins A and C, and niacin.

1 cup unbleached white flour
2 Tbsp. raw sugar
1/2 tsp. egg replacer powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. safflower oil
Water for binding

3/4 cup fresh cashew milk*
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups ripe avocado
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Fresh mint leaves for garnishing

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix the dry pastry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Rub in the oil with your fingertips until evenly crumbly. Carefully add just enough water to make a soft ball of dough.

2. Lightly oil 4 mini tart pans or custard cups, or a standard muffin tray with 6 cups. Divide the pastry into 4-6 pieces depending on the size and choice of pan. On a floured work surface, roll each piece into a circle about 1/8 inch thick.

3. Place the pastry into the pans and mold to fit. Prick the bottoms with a fork. Bake for 20-30 minutes until light golden. Cool and remove the shells from the pans. If you are using custard cups, bake first, then remove the pastry shells from the cups and bake on a tray, bottom side up, for another 5-10 minutes.

4. Prepare the cashew milk as directed below. Blend the cashew milk and the next 4 filling ingredients until smooth. Add the lemon juice and mix. Spoon the filling evenly into the cooled shells and chill briefly. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Makes 4-6 tarts

*Cashew milk: Blend 1/4 cup raw cashew pieces with 1 cup hot water until smooth. Strain through a fine strainer.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories: 293, Fat 15.3g (138 cal), Carbohydrate 34.7g (139 cal), Protein 3.8g (16 cal)
Added information: Saturated Fat 1.8g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 202mg, Dietary Fiber 2.7g

Written by naturescottage

October 27, 2008 at 9:47 am

Pic of the day

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This sweet little pic of the day was taken In northland. I won’t just keep posting waves I promise. But doesn’t it just look beautiful! 😀

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October 27, 2008 at 12:13 am

Picture of the Day: Port Waikato

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Here’s a sweet little picture of the day from Port Waikato, a little town just out of Auckland. It gets real good surf sometimes.

If your looking for nice places to check out in New Zealand ask me any questions of where to go or check out one of the tourism sites.

Written by naturescottage

October 26, 2008 at 9:23 am

A fun surf trip

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Well, Me and a few friends decided to go on a camping trip to Hotwater Beach on friday night. It’s about an hour away from where I live. It’s called Hotwater Beach because hot springs come out of the sand. You can literally see the sand boiling in spots. All you need to do is dig a hole in the sand at low tide and voila! You have a hot pool. Pretty cool yea?
Anyway we went up there because it has a really fun surf break. It turned out to be pumping! As you can tell by the pics. We actually went up there not expecting too much but it turned out to be so much fun. The wind was pretty hard offshore but then it died down. We camped there on the beach that night then got up at 4:00 am (low tide) and dug a hole. It was so nice to lie in a hot pool looking up at the stars feeling the cold wind sweep across your face. The surf break is just behind us in the pic. After we were too hot we went out and caught some more fun waves! It was an all around good camping trip topped off with good waves and really hot, hotpools.

Written by naturescottage

October 24, 2008 at 10:03 am


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Autumn pics. I took these last year. Just playing around.

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October 23, 2008 at 10:03 am

My work mates are getting me down :(

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What exactly is this world coming too? I work with about 5 people who have absolutely no life. They work all week so they can spend it all on alcohol and drugs. They don’t even like the work they do. They have absolutely no appreciation at all for nature or  the environment. They  are just totally locked into their little world. So many people are like that that I know. They are totally destroying their bodies with the toxins they throw into it everyday. I can smell the toxins on them everyday they come to work. It’s oozing out of them. I wish I could just slap them and tell them to wake up haha.   A few of them are actually really nice people but they just have no purpose for their life. Work, drugs and fishing is about it haha. I’m not trying to criticize them and put them down. They are free to do whatever they want but I would hate to live my live and then look back on it and think “damn, I lived for nothing”.

Written by naturescottage

October 23, 2008 at 9:13 am


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I went to Onemana today, a really nice little beach. It’s a perfect temperature out there lately.

I got a few nice pics. I like the artey little pics of nature if you can’t tell already.My favorite time of the day to go for a walk on the beach is when the sun is going down into the ocean. Unless it’s windy then I’ll stay inside.

It’s a very mode of goodness time to be with nature. Makes me feel good 🙂

Written by naturescottage

October 22, 2008 at 9:51 am

A New Beginning- Every Day

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Days are good in a sense that each day we’ve each got the choice to change.  Each day we’ve got a choice to make things better, keep them about the same, or make them worse.  I’m happy to have the chance to make things right after making so many wrongs, and I’m happy to have the guidance of family and friends which pushes me and makes me want to do better all the time.

The years have gone by so quickly.  It seems only just yesterday that I was a 12 year old, much affected by the influx of puberty, wanting friends, and wanting so much to be accepted.  Now, 10 years later, I’m still studying, but I’m also a teacher to many now.  It’s hard to believe my mom was a mom at this age.

Things change so much, and people change so much all the time.  The beautiful ocean is a great reminder of this.  From a young age I loved water, I loved the ocean- and it’s only in the past few years that I’ve finally lived right by it.  I just got back from a swim and it was so beautiful and clean out there- and no shark sightings again – so it was good.

As that saying goes, “the ocean of ever change” – ah, it’s so true.  Yet despite its changing all the time, in a sense it’s somehow calm.  I seem to find a sense of calmness in the ocean, a kind acceptance of its sometimes cruel, crashing waves- which on other days is so calm and unmoving that it seems to be more like a lake than the ocean.  Calmness.  Beauty.  Water is so powerful.  Nature is so full of beauty, splendor, wonder.  Yet not a speck of nature crows of arrogance.  It is all just like a manifestation of Supreme Beauty and Supreme Acceptance.

Written by naturescottage

October 20, 2008 at 2:03 am

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My side of things

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Sam just posted his first post, I’m not sure if he actually read the first one I put up, but he suggested I write about us.

To make the background short, I didn’t think I’d ever get married…. then Sam came along and now I’m engaged. On some occasions I wonder what in the world got into me- or perhaps, what I’ve gotten myself into. Here’s someone from a totally different culture and country, haven’t known for very long – but well, hey- my parents and family really like him and so do I.  While there are many things we both see eye to eye, I’m sure there are countless things we won’t be seeing eye to eye with.  Despite the major cultural and racial differences between us I think and hope we’ll be all right together.

It’ll be at least a few more years before we marry because we’re both basically working students.  And while I feel that there’s so much more to do before actually settling down and marrying – I’m happy and feel lucky knowing that I have him.  I’m involved in many humanitarian projects and am loving it.  I have many other things I’m trying to run but humanitarian work is my biggest priority.

Right now he’s back home in New Zealand and I’m here, home in the Philippines.  It’ll be a long time before I see him again.  Thank God for technology!  I’ll post some pictures of where I’m from sometime soon.

Written by naturescottage

October 19, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Mom! I may have HIV!

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Midwest high school copes with HIV scare

NORMANDY, Missouri (AP) — Students at a suburban St. Louis high school headed to the gymnasium for HIV testing this week after an infected person told health officials as many as 50 teenagers might have been exposed to the virus that causes AIDS.
Students at Normandy High School in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, are being tested for HIV.

Students at Normandy High School in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, are being tested for HIV.

Officials refused to give details on who the person was or how the students at Normandy High School might have been exposed, but the district is consulting with national AIDS organizations as it tries to minimize the fallout and prevent the infection — and misinformation — from spreading.

“There’s potential for stigma for all students regardless of whether they’re positive or negative,” Normandy School District spokesman Doug Hochstedler said Thursday. “The board wants to be sure all children are fully educated.”

A teacher in a neighboring district singled out a girl who dates someone at Normandy High and instructed her to get tested, Hochstedler said. A competing school’s football team initially balked at playing Normandy’s 8-0 team.

Jasmine Lane, a 16-year-old sophomore, said her boyfriend from a neighboring high school broke up with her on learning of the news — after she bought them tickets to homecoming.

“I cried so hard,” she said.

Hochstedler said that as far as he knows, no other district has had to handle a similar situation. Students at the school of 1,300 are being tested, and the district is getting advice on the best ways to support kids in crisis.
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Sophomore Tevin Baldwin said that many of his classmates in this working-class city of about 5,000 residents want to transfer out of the district, which encompasses other towns.

“Nobody knows what’s going on,” he said. The district declined to respond to his assertion.

Marcus Holman, a 14-year-old freshman, said he never imagined HIV would become such a widespread threat at school.

“I’m just trying to pass, get to the next grade, safely,” he said.

Normandy Superintendent Stanton Lawrence agreed that students remain focused on learning, despite concerns and distraction. There’s no hysteria or panic, and school is running routinely, he said.

“They recognize this situation is what it is, and doesn’t mean school is over,” he said. “Their concern is heightened, but we have to face it and do the responsible thing.”

The St. Louis County Health Department said last week that a positive HIV test raised concern that students at Normandy might have been exposed. The department is not saying whether the infected person was a student or connected with the school, only that the person indicated as many as 50 students may have been exposed.

The Health Department also will not say how any exposure might have occurred. Health Department spokesman Craig LeFebvre has said the possibilities include sexual activity, intravenous drug use, piercings and tattoos.

Hochstedler said the district doesn’t know the person’s identity, or even whether he or she is a student.
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“We do know there was some potential exposure between that person and students,” he said. “We don’t know the individual or the route of transmission.”

The district learned Oct. 9 of the potential exposure and within a business day worked out with the Health Department how to release the information and handle HIV testing, he said.

“They took a very proactive stance,” he said. “There’s no precedent for this.”

Students are being tested at six stations in the high school gymnasium, one class at a time. Only representatives from the Health Department are with the students, who are offered educational materials and a chance to ask questions before they are given an opportunity to be tested with a mouth swab, Hochstedler said. They may decline.

They exit through a separate door, and no one in the school would know who did or did not get tested.

“It’s entirely up to the student,” he said. “There’s a lot of stigma associated with this.”

The district will never know whether or how many of its students tested positive, he said.

“Once they’re tested,” he said, “it’s an issue between the department and the child and his family.”

So far, the district has met twice with parents and begun to ask ministers in the community to stress the importance of responsible behavior, Lawrence said.

Students in grades four through 12 already take classes that discuss the consequences of risky behavior, including HIV, he said.

What a scare! I hope they’ll all be all right. This should be a good lesson for many of them.

Written by naturescottage

October 15, 2008 at 4:23 am

A quick note

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I’ve been sitting here trying to think of something beautiful to post, but I just had too much lunch and can’t think properly, so I’m just going to put a simple introductory message here.

I’ve loved writing and had several journals before but I never kept an online one.. I’m quite excited about this blog.

I’m “Jocks” from the Philippines and I’ll be writing on health, pets/animals, nature, community work, posting about cooking, recipes, health related issues, and probably a few other things.  The other author, Sam, who is from New Zealand, will be posting about sports, pictures, and travel in and around New Zealand and probably other places too.

I hope you will enjoy reading our blog, which is one of our first joint ventures.

Written by naturescottage

October 10, 2008 at 7:17 am