Archive for Animals

Cat Hotel in France

If you live in the south of France and need to find a cat hotel, you can go to Le Jardin des Chats. The hotel is located between Nimes and Montpellierare. The over night stay is $12 (U.S.) per cat. First time clients receive a 20% discount. There are other services such as grooming and an animal taxi service. You can also watch your cat while on vacation with webcams. It’s been noticed that the cats seem to enjoy their time at the hotel so much they don’t even want to leave.

Le Jardin des Chats was born out of necessity by Amandine and Arnaud. When they needed to travel, they didn’t want to put their cats in small caged kennels surrounded with barking dogs. That just wouldn’t be very comforting to cats. Amandine also didn’t like the ideas of asking friends or relatives to check on their cat too often.

These cats are from the homepage of Le Jardin des Chats. The one in the middle looks just like my cat!

The process took them five years to put together. They had to get permissions to build the cat hotel in their back garden.

Continue reading post here.

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Happy Chinese New Year

These are very beautiful paintings by Caroline R. Young. Caroline’s works can be seen at the permanent collection of the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, and the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. Chinese New Year is on January 26th. If you have a girl born in 2009 – she will be Year of the Ox. This one is funny, the ox is trying to eat her hair. Playful ox and girl. I also really like is the purple morning glory, one of my favorite climbing flowers. I think it would make great art wall for a child’s room too.

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There are more fine arts and selection from this website: “Zodiac Children’s Series Girl Year of the Rabbit. All the beauty, wonder and magic of childhood come alive in the paintings of the renowned Chinese painter, Caroline R. Young. This exquisite limited edition print is done on ceramic coated polyethylene paper using hand embellished giclee.” This one represents “Year of the Rabbit” which represents prosperity.

prosperousrabbit

I really like the varieties of flower arranged in the vase. This cute little girl and her black and white rabbit are very expressive. So if you have a little girl born in the year of the rabbit, I think this would make a really great framed gift.Each 9X12 print is signed and numbered and has been given some individual touch by the artist so that no two prints are exactly the same. The print run is limited to 88. But they are very expensive from about $200 to $700 each! Copyright © 2004, Caroline R. Young Studios, LLC

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The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

Sometimes there seem to be more charities out there then we knew existed. There are charities for children and abandoned animals. Even one for fruit trees, at least for growing more fruit trees. The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation from San Diego, Ca is one charity that is dedicated to planting fruitful trees and plants to benefit the environment around the world. I think this is a great idea as it helps teach people to be empowered by growing their own food and also sustain the environment too. The charity’s primary mission is to plant and help others plant a collective total of 18 billion organic fruit trees. These programs are aimed at enriching the environment, providing nutritious food sources for wild and rescued animals. And to improve human health by bringing delicious, fresh, locally grown raw fruits and vegetables in their area.

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Papaya tree planted in Kenya. Photo from FTPFoundation.

The charity has already planted trees in many locations throught the U.S., Africa, and India. My favorite part of the project is “Orchards for Animals” which provide rescued animals sanctuaries with fruit trees for shade, shelter, and healthy diets. As the trees mature, animals can then eat the fruits and forage for more. During times of extreme heat or precipitation, the animals can seek shade and shelter under the trees. Fruit trees allow for the most natural diet available to animals, plucked fresh off the tree with no chemicals or pesticides. One of the Farm Sanctuary is located in Orland, California. They planted 50 fruit trees. The trees will provide shade and foraging opportunities for rescued animals.

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Another sample of other neat things provided by the program took place in Florida.

Fruit Tree Workshop & Giveaway in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

“In November of 2008, FTPF partnered with the Fort Lauderdale Parks & Recreation Department, in a program made possible by Absolut, to implement a a free fruit tree give-away at three city parks and delivered a unique interactive workshop to teach fruit tree enthusiasts about proper planting and care. The program resulted in 671 fruit trees—including mangos, avocados, carambolas, grapefruits, oranges, and tangelos—being distributed to city residents. The effort trained nearly 100 workshop participants on how to plant trees and help restore an area that has lost countless trees in recent years due to hurricane damage—while fighting global warming and providing healthy nutrition at the same time.” Wow! What a great idea. I wish I lived in Florida with a huge backyard. Read the rest of this entry »

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Caring for Cashmere

If you have ever come across cashmere, you’ll notice the exceptional warmth and softness of this material. I always had an interest in fabrics and cashmere is one of my favorite natural fibers. So I thought I find out where they find this type of fiber. And also the best way to care for it. As my last cashmere sweater was attack by moths and I have not worn it again. It was a terrible loss for me, but luckily I have a new sweater that I hope to keep for as long as possible. I also have a cashmere shawl (pashmina) that has been holding up pretty well. But it’s very delicate and the knits can snag easily. So it’s not something you want to go hiking in.

cashmerepashmina1So what exactly is cashmere? It is the fiber found in the soft undercoat of a Cashmere goat. Cashmere wool is much lighter than sheep wool and is very warm. The name cashmere is derived from the area Kashmir, near India. The fiber has been traditionally produced in China, Mongolia, Nepal, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. In these countries, cashmere fiber is often a secondary consideration to the goats primary function of producing meat and milk.

Muccia Cashmere of Denmark also states that the fibers are highly adaptable and are easily construed into fine or thick yarn, and light to heavy-weight fabrics. So it is good to wear in all climates. The cashmere fibers are collected during molting seasons when the animals naturally shed their hairs. Goats molt during a several-week period in spring. In China, Nepal and Mongolia, the down is removed by hand with a coarse comb. The animals are sheared in Iran, Afghanistan, New Zealand and Australia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kudzu’s Good Side

There are these lush green vines that I have seen from many pictures and movies coming from the southeastern United States. They even have pretty purple flowers too. The plants are usually seen growing endlessly along highways and forests. What is the name of this interesting plant? It is kudzu ( scientific name: pueraria lobata), a Japanese native plant that has been labeled as “invasive” and is taking over the native plants of the area.

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Purdue University’s Photo of the nice kudzu with pretty purple flowers.

The plant first came to the US as an ornamental plant in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Then in 1935 to 1953, farmers in the South were encouraged by the United States to plant kudzu to reduce soil erosion. But in was declared as invasive by the US government by the mid 1950’s. The southeastern US has hot, humid summers, frequent rainfall, temperate winters and few hard freezes. So the conditions are almost perfect for the kudzus to keep on growing. In some ways, the plant reminds me of the end of the world when the vines start to take over cities and towns.

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Michael Jon Jensen, Director of Publishing Technologies of the National Academies Press took this picture of kudzus taking over this abandoned Honda Civic. Looks like it is just in the edge of town too. Watch out!

But in Japan, they love to eat kudzu. Kudzu is high in fiber and protein and is a good source of vitamin A and D.   Read more about Kudzu’s Good Side here.

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California Academy of Science

California Academy of Science had a huge re-opening on September 27th, 2008. So there was a big crowd that day. I’m actaully thinking of going when there is less of a crowd. Gives me a better chance to really absorb the place and I really don’t like going to museums when it’s too crowded. But of course, people watching is also the fun part too.

So if anyone is interested in visiting soon, here are the details:

55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 379-8000

Photo credit: California Academy of Science (Opening Day) via flickr. Notice the green roof, it’s suppose to have plants that are native to the area and helps with the green design of the building. Very cool!

General Admission
Adult $24.95
Senior (ages 65 and over) $19.99
Youth (ages12-17) $19.95
Child (ages 7-11) $14.95
Ages 6 and under FREE

Visit Free of Charge

There are numerous opportunities to visit the Academy free of charge, including:

  • Wachovia Wednesdays: Third Wednesday of every month.
  • Neighborhood Free Days: Open weekends for SF residents in each zip code.

And I can’t really say or describe it any better, so here is some highligths of CAS from their website:

“The California Academy of Sciences is a multifaceted scientific institution committed to leading-edge research, to educational outreach, and to finding new and innovative ways to engage and inspire the public.

The new Academy will not only be a museum for the 21st century and an icon for green building technology but a leading voice in the global effort to preserve natural habitats, prevent the loss of species and protect essential natural resources.

Eighty skylights in the roof, supplemented with metal halide lights, enable the growth of lush, tropical plants found in various rainforests around the world.

Living plants include numerous trees – such as the Brazilian beautyleaf and West Indies mahogany, dozens of shrubs – including Theobrama cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made, and hundreds of flowering plants – from begonias and philodendrons to orchids and bromeliads.”

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Save the Honeybees

My mom has a small garden in her backyard. She grows vegetables and flowers. She also has a pomegranate and peach tree too. But this year, the peaches were not as sweet and the pomegranate did not bear as much fruits either. Her zucchini plant was just leaves, unlike previous summers where we had endless supply of zucchinis. But the garden was not a total failure, the eggplants, tomatoes and flowers did pretty well.

So I wonder what happened to the other sad plants? But then I remember hearing about the disappearance of honeybees in California. I thought this could be one of the reasons behind them. Since bees are important in the pollination of our fruit and vegetables.

The disappearance of bees have been reported in other states such as Florida, Oklahoma and Texas too. Beekeepers noticed the disappearing bees back in 2006. It seem that healthy bees were just abandoning their hives to never return. Research is still being done at Penn State University and U.C. Davis. They have named this phenomenon, “Colony Collapse Disorder”. They have found some patterns, but no strong conclusion as to what is the cause of the bees disappearence.

At Burt’s Bees (the maker of a natural skincare company), they believed it is the forces like habitat destruction, misuse of pesticides, invasive species and global warming create risks to honeybees. Burts’ Bees also mention that the bee disappearance is so widespread that it is blamed for losses of up to 70% of the managed bee colonies in U.S. beekeeping operations. So what can we do about it? Burt’s Bees suggest we support local organic farmers and also plant bee friendly flowers. These wildflowers include Calendula, Shasta Daisy, Lance-Leaved Coreopsis, Plains Coreopsis, Purple Coneflower and Sweet William Catchfly.

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