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Dragon Fruit Farm

The first time I found out about the dragon fruit was about two summers ago. I was talking to P, who had just came back from a biking trip across Vietnam. He kept talking about how much he enjoyed eating fresh dragonfruit or pitaya. I had never heard of such a fruit and wasn’t sure how it should look. All I can imagine was something with scales maybe? Then I saw pictures of the fruits and was immediately intrigued by how beautiful and strange it looked. There are three types of dragonfruit – red flesh, red fruit with white flesh and yellow fruit with white flesh.

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The photo above of dragonfruit farm taken by tk yeoh of flickr. Notice how the fruits are wrapped in bags. Possibly to protect them from birds, bats, and other natural elements. Dragonfruit farming has been very popular in Asia, from the Philippines to Malaysia. They seem to grow pretty easy and are also grown in San Diego greenhouses. The plants are also available for purchase from Florida. Some day I like to make a trip to these farm and see the real fruit tree. Preferably at harvesting time!

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$100 Free at Washington Mutual Bank

I’ve gotten several offers from Washington Mutual bank to open an account and receive $100 free. You can do this online, on the phone, or at the bank. But you have to have a designated code which can only be used once.

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Photo: Cute piggy bank from Marie Claire Publications.

I finally decided to sign up with them last week. It was very easy and the bank representative was very friendly. In order to get the $100, you have to deposit $100 first and keep your account open and active for 3 months. There are some really neat things offered by WAMU that I did not know of before.

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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.

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My SIMPLE ECO SNEAKER

My favorite classic suede Converse has seen better days and the side is starting to rip. With a little bit of Shoe Goo, it will not end up in the landfill just yet. I plan to use it as my dirty chores shoe now.

simplesustainSince it’s time to shop for another comfortable walking shoe, I’ve decided to get something made by Simple. They are an interesting green company that was started in Santa Barbara, CA back in 1991. Simple Shoe company is committed to making their product 100% sustainable. Finding materials and processes that make the products sustainable is a method called “Green Toe”. Some of the products found in their shoes are listed in the colorful bubble drawings here – from hemp to bamboo.

The company follows the Deckers Ethical Supply Chain Guidelines. I’ve never heard of it until I came across Simple’s website. It’s a good concept and more companies should strive to do the same. You can read more about it here. A little excerpt below:

“Deckers Outdoor Corporation respects internationally recognized human rights and environmental standards and places them at the core of our business practices. We believe that no business should ever be complicit in human rights abuses. We promote greater environmental responsibility and we encourage the development and use of environmentally friendly technologies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Agave Syrup

I don’t think of myself as having much of a sweet tooth as I enjoy eating fruits more then candy. But once in a while I can satisfy my need for sweets with a cup of fruit infusion tea and add a small teaspoon of agave syrup. I also like to add it to my cup of coffee too. It has a light sweetness to it. But I have not tried it with pancakes or baking yet.

Agave syrup is something new I’ve come across. I have noticed some fruit drinks use agave syrup as a sweetener too. It’s much sweeter then honey and it’s from the same plant used to make tequila. It’s made from the nectar of the blue agave plant, which is grown mostly in central Mexico. In Popular Science’s article, Agave Nectar, A Sweetener for Any Occasion, they described how the juices are expressed from the core of the plants and then processed to produce the nectar. Then after the juices are extracted, they are heated to break down the carbohydrates.

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larryn2009 of flickr.com took this nice picture of blue agave plants at the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens. They look like they are easy to grow in a sunny climate. I might have actually seen a few of these grown as landscaping in California.

Time magazine wrote in it’s June 2008 issue that the future of agave syrup does look promising. It’s interest has grown amongst heath conscious people. And popularity has grown in countries such as Germany, New Zealand, and Japan. And in the U.S. , many food manufacturers want to add it to drinks, ice cream, ketchup, amongst other recipes.

Cane sugar and honey are fine as natural sweeteners, they are better than high fructose corn syrup. But agave syrup surpasses them all. And you don’t need to use as much, as the sweetness is concentrated. And if you are diabetic, the The Chicago Tribune adds, “It scores around 20 on the glycemic index, a measure of how quickly carbohydrates break down during digestion. Cane or beet sugar scores around 70. Agave nectar’s score is so low on the scale that diabetics can use it as a sugar substitute.” Ingested sugar is still burned as energy or stored as fat, so you still have to be careful to not over indulge on agave syrup. It has plenty of calories and you can find yourself needing to exercise more!

products-agaveflavourMadhava Agave comes in different flavors too. Imagine adding this to your morning coffee! Sweet Cactus Farms also sells agave syrup. And Madhava Agave has a great photo gallery of the farm and these interesting looking plants.

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More Colorful Orchids

M was the first to spot this mocking purple orchid. I had to see for myself and it was true, the flower has character. So I took a snapshot of it from the orchid nursery in Half Moon Bay.

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This one below reminds me of a Japanese kimono.

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And here are more colorful orchids:  yellow, spotty, striped, all types.

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Winter’s Treat: Yuzu & Bergamot

I usually don’t obesses too much about body lotion, but since it is winter time I find a reason to enjoy them more. Especially the ones with an uplifting scent. I also prefer lotions that aren’t too greasy and has all natural ingredients.

Boots UK has a great lotion made with essential oils of citrus of bergamot and olive oil. Bergamot is of the citrus family and grown mainly in Southern Italy and parts of France. Essential oils are extracted from the rind of the fruit and used in soaps and lotions, as well as in aromatherapy.

Another new discovery I’ve found that is great in lotion is yuzu. It is also called Japanese grapefruit. In Japan, the fruit is very popular and has many uses. Nothing goes to waste! Yuzu is made into jams and the rinds are used to make tea. But the fragrance is most valued of them all.

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Photo from The New York Times by Tony Cenicola

The fruit is rare, and highly prized. The New York Times food writer also mention that it sells for $19 per pound and the juice are good squeezed on grilled or poached fish. From the look of the picture above, you would think the fruit isn’t fully ripe yet. But I guess it can be used green or yellow and a little bit probably goes a long way. Tradeswind Fruit described the fruit as yellow to orange skinned citrus, medium in size, with highly fragrant rind and flesh. The flavor is acidic and tart. Read the rest of this entry »

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