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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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Rooftop Gardens & Urban Farmers

A great way to bring a bit of nature into city living is having a rooftop garden. People usually think of rooftop city gardens as only being in New York City. Usually places used to hold cocktail parties. But rooftop gardening is nothing new, it has been seen in the Hanging Garden of Babylon to the Kensington Roof Garden in London , England.

The popularity of roof gardens have grown in many other cities in the United States as well. Even people in Vancouver, B.C. are joining in on rooftop gardening too. From hotels, restaurants to local organizations. I think that is a great use of extra space and a way to add a bit of green space. It may even help clean the air too.

englandrtgarden2Photo credit: Risc’s Rooftop Garden.

Another successful rooftop garden comes from England. The one pictured here is of Risc’s edible roof garden. The garden is complete with over 120 species of edible and medicinal trees, shrubs, vines and plants from around the globe. You can read more about the place here.

Rooftop gardens are usually seen as ornamental gardens, but the idea of growing your own food is gaining popularity. A great organization based out of Vancouver, B.C. by the name of City Farmer’s has a collection of stories about their work in Vancouver, Canada, and about urban farmers from around the world.

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Best Skin Care Supplements

Beauty magazines are always talking about the latest skin cream that will take away the wrinkles or soothe the occasional skin problems. But little do we realize that taking supplements can also improve our skin from the inside out. A healthy diet can also do wonders for you skin. Since we don’t usually get our vitamins from the everyday food, it’s fine to add supplements.

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A diet consisting of fish is very good. But watch out for the high levels of mercury, especially found in tuna. Wild salmon such as the one pictured here is one of the better pick.

Here is my list of what I think is the best skin care supplements to use daily.  Please click here to see the list.

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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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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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