Found a den!

Mystery person with a hat

Mystery person with a hat

Love everything about this place. Chandeliers, wine and jazz at night, chansons and sweets by day.
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What’s cool about Singapore?

Arch2o-Singapore-University-of-Technology-and-Design-UNStudio-+-DP-Architects-2

Singapore University of Technology and Design, what makes a visually attractive city?

 

My husband and I used to entertain Japanese friends quite a bit in Singapore, but I am now taking my daughter back home to visit Singapore. She was a wee littler thing when she last visited, and doesn’t have many memories of the country. What’s changed is that  I now have to accommodate a teenager’s tastes. So it’s time to consider – what’s hip and cool about Singapore, when I show her (as well as my other foreign visitor-friends) around Singapore. Trying to outdo STB now, I will try to sell Singapore in this blog. (Any suggestions on what to do and where to shop for the hip, cool, kids?)

So first off, where are the best places in Singapore for taking great SELFIEs???

Turning my thoughts to what’s GREAT about Singapore,  I will try now to enumerate plusses of a country the size of one tatami-mat compared to Japan, here’s what I come up with

City views

City views

THE BEST THINGS ABOUT SINGAPORE

The City VIEW!!! Bird’s-eye views

Central Business District SKYSCRAPERs photographed from Elgin Bridge.

What’s great about Singapore – like all cities, I really appreciate that as a modern city, there are plenty of places that are visually pleasingly when you try to take a 360-degree panoramic selfie.

***

And then there’s all the visually great Design and Architecture… see the Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Who doesn’t want a pic. of the most expensive hotel building in the world? & of the cascading Infinity Pool at the top? See more pixes

It can be a heck of a walk on a hot day at the Esplanade(above), so use the Segway to get about; Resort World Singapore, Sentosa below.

File:Resorts World Sentosa viewed from the Tiger Sky Tower, Sentosa, Singapore - 20110131.jpg

The view from Tiger Sky Tower, Sentosa. (Visit to just brag you know who is Michael Graves and for the Michael Graves experienc

***

It’s about a rich colonial and immigrant HERITAGE & HISTORY

Nobody passes up visiting the Raffle’s Hotel their first time.

Photo: Raffles Hotel

 ChiJmes is about the Old juxtaposed with the Modern.

(Chijmes is a national heritage site situated in the compound of an old girl’s convent school, Chijmes is now a popular dining, shopping and entertainment site. Chijmes is popular amongst expats, tourists and young professionals. )

Inside ChiJmes Chapel Hall (above). Must tell! about this grim bit of  trivia – Gate of Hope special door, “The Gate of Hope”. In the historical years, due to poverty, many babies were abandoned here for the Catholic nuns to look after.

Another grand one to visit would be the St Andrew’s Cathedral (below) or Armenian Street Church

Singapore's Old Colonial District Walking Tour

And then next, you can do the museum thing that all tourists do. Combine the Asian Civilizations Museum with the Singapore riverside walk.

Or the rotunda and dome of the National Museum of Singapore are worth a peek, and its exhibits too if visitors have time.


Yes, we sell our HERITAGE & HISTORY!

Raffles Evening

Desperate for a dash of colonial history and a taste of colonial luxury and decadence? (Raffles Hotel below left).

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Local heritage is also about the kitsche-ky kodak kolor and tacky and not-so-tacky souvenirs.

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Peranakan culture souvenirs and perhaps a trip to the Asian Civilizations Museum  or the Peranakan Museum(see below)

Peranakan Trail

Koon Seng Road shophouses

***

Some friends ask to see night views, if you get lucky, fireworks displays or National Day are great times for lightups. [These times are also terrible for the traffic crush]. Generally the city never sleeps, but here are some things to look out for …

The city SKYLINE

The NIGHTviews by the Singapore River or by the Marina Bay!

No doubt the reason why so many Hong Kongers are here, is that they want a nightview that reminds them of Tsim Sha Tsui!

A metropoliscape must have the neons.

***

What’s a trip without a RIDE of some kind?

Themepark rides at Universal Studios for the young and  bold.

Singapore Flyer, world’s largest observation wheel for all. See the NationalGeo’s fabulous photo.

Monorail, cable-car ride and a go-back-in-time-Singapore River bumboat cruise for the older and more stately …

Heartlands and durian(substitute for apple-pie!) I sometimes recommend riding the MRT to the heartlands, housing estates, eat at a hawker centre, and then back to the hotel! Just don’t ride the train during rush hour.

The “Durian” at the Esplanade, Marina Bay (above), and the real deal below.

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Time for a mention of the Merlion, be sure to warn whoever you recommend to visit it, that it is really really small for a symbol of Singapore. Umpteen times it’s been mentioned on TV shows in Japan, that it is the most disappointing thing about visiting Singapore, everyone thinks it is as large as the Liberty Statue of the US of A or close to it.  The calendars and tourist boards do “lie” with their posters!

***

But what’s a vacation for my kids/friends without souvenir shopping (for their friends back home), and a trip to the “kitschky” places (China Town and Chinese templesArab Quarter & Sultan Street mosque, Kampong Glam or Little India:

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What else do we usually say Singapore’s got to offer? It’s got lots of SUN, SAND (OK, not that much sand, compared to Japan or Hawaii) and SEA…mostly at World Resort Sentosa for the tourist, for longer-term stayers, see this page but they are never as clean or idyllic as depicted on that page!  (By the way, STB if you’re reading this, Wikipedia’s Sentosa article and photos needs upgrading desperately, the photos are so so sad, I wouldn’t want to visit it just looking at them!)

Sigh, watch the $ dollar sign flash and disappear from my purse as I take my daughter to the themepark, Universal Studios.

A trip to the outer islands, is in order, particularly to Turtle Island, for DD who loves turtles

I took my son to see the crocodiles last time!

 ***

Not forgetting FOOD, which is usually no 1 on the kids’ list. For visiting adults, it’s a question of where to feast like the natives, but with ambience!

Raffles Hotel Kopi tiam or

 Singapore Sling at the Long Bar

Pushcart restaurants like the Red Star Restaurant or Jade Keppel Club restaurant are always a big hit for the kids and guests for the fun of ordering from 90 types of dim sum on its menu from the old-fashioned pushcart trolleys! Pushcart dimsun a MUST for first-time Japanese visitors!

See other recommendations here | Dim Sum Guide |

Jumbo restaurant for Black Pepper Crab – Black Pepper Crab is usually more suited to the taste-buds of Japanese than Chilli Pepper Crab.(see Singapore’s Restaurants dot com for more recommendations of seafood eateries)

Chatterbox for Hainan Chicken Rice at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel (mostly because of its central location), expensive though. Ground floor (1st floor to Japanese) Mandarin Orchard Hotel, Orchard Road.

Desserts to try:  mango pudding and and (kakigori) ice shavings called ice kachang, see 5 local desserts to chill out with 

Raw fruits and raw juices are expensive in Japan, but they are everywhere to be found in Singapore foodcourts, and on the streets. My husband swears by the banana and orange juice. I prefer my pineapple-orange one or a fresh coconut juice (which DH says Japanese won’t care for).

For fine Chinese dining, try the Lei Garden restaurant at Chijmes and/the Jade restaurant at Fullerton Hotel especially if you wish to try Peking Duck. Or for quality Viking buffet-fare (why are buffets called Vikings in Japan?)

**

Though there are lots of places to recommend, but access and centrally located places are usually key for time-strapped visiting friends.

What’s a trip to Singapore without a huge dose of the tropical air?  My favourite most restful place to take people is to the Halia for Laksa, it never fails to impress… Besides, the Botanic Gardens is free …

… though if you’re feeling pinched, the Food-For-Thought foodcourt there is good as well.  Besides the Botanic Gardens is free …

And the Gardens by the Bay is not!  But a touristy must-see as one of the top 10 indoor garden parks of the world.

Gardens by the BayStay for the evening show.

And for a girlie getaway, I always recommend they have lunch or dine at the Beaufort Hotel and try its So Spa packages especially the volcanic Mud Pool one.

Singapore is the playground of the rich, so they say, so a visit to Singapore usually involves major luxury mall shopping preferably during the Great Singapore Sale, but expect to see a big hole in your wallet if you do.

Just one really important advice to my Japanese visitors to Singapore, don’t get caught without a foldable umbrella with all those frequent unpredictable convection rains, and try not to find yourself at rush hour or on a rainy day nowhere near an MRT subway station, because it will be pretty impossible to catch a cab then.

If all that’s not enough, see 10 best things to do in Singapore

 

[Most of the pictures used in this article are from Wikimedia Commons]

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Recipes for making the most of your sakana grill* (Japanese fish grill)

How to use your Japanese fish grill (* the sakana grill in case you don’t know is a grill fixture located on the underside of a gas or electric stove. It is a standard feature of most Japanese homes, and is called a fish grill, because it is most commonly used kitchen device for grilling fish, the most common main protein served with rice in the traditional Japanese breakfast. After so many years of living in Japan, I couldn’t survive without it anymore!

The sakana grill grills at 400 degree celsius, the conventional oven at 180 degrees and the frying pan at 220 degrees.
According to BBQ experts, with just a few pointers to avoid burning, the Japanese fish grill produces the best effect in cooking while being the fastest cooking and crisping tool. It also produces superior texture when reheating your tempura food, compared with the microwave oven.

Here’s how you cook a complete meal on a Japanese kitchen grill at one go!

Recipe 1:

Fork holes all over your slice of chicken chop
Add honey and mix well to chicken in a plastic bag (soy sauce, op: garlic flakes/chopped finely)
Lay out in the middle of the grill

Next…
Wrap in an aluminium foil, layered inside with a sheet of cookie paper, chopped cabbage, making sure the paper doesn’t emerge from the foil.

Line Zucchini in a row on the side edge of grill and on the opposite edge with sliced Paprika

Grill all in about 4 mins.

An easy complete meal all at one go.

….

Recipe 2

Section nagaimo potatoes into cyclindrical slices. Sit them on the grill and drizzle some Tomato sauce or ketchup and cheese on top of nagaimo

Lay out a few slices of Tofu blocks (hard frying type) … Drizzle with olive or sesame oil. Salt and pepper or soy sauce to taste

In a sheet of aluminium foil, fold up edges to make a boat for the chopped Avocado, sprinkle salt and pepper. Serve and drizzle with shoyu condiment to taste.

Grill all in about 3 mins.

Recipe 3

On an aluminium foil, lay out cherry tomatoes – and at the same time, in the spare space toast baguette bread topped with cheese.

Grill all for 4 mins.

Mash the cherry potatoes with a fork in glass bowl and add olive oil top with chopped basil, serve on top of boiled somen noodles
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Boiled egg in the grill!

Wet fully a sheet of kitchen paper towel, wrap around a raw egg. Then wrap a large sheet of aluminium foil around the egg firecracker (or candy) style, and grill for 4 mins.

This next recipe was prepared by an Italian chef:

Make your pizza dough in the usual way using a regular pizza recipe.

In a small tin tray, line with a sheet of aluminium foil.

Lay or spread out the pizza dough on the sheet of foil to the edges of the tray. Fork holes all over the dough.

Spoon tomato sauce liberally over the spread out dough, and then top with liberal layer of parmesan cheese.

Grill for 3 mins. Open the grill and add blobs of mozzarella cheese and basil leaves, return to grill for 2 1/2 mins

Where is the best spot for laying out the fish for grilling?

Along either sides of the grill, lay the length of the fish across the grill (going northwards of you with you at the center of an imaginary compass) with the head at the furthest corner of the grill, this causes the head portion to grill faster, as the head is generally slower to cook.

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Disguised eggplant and eggplant soup recipe that kids will love

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Recipe 1

1. Add 75 ml milk to Pancake mix 150 ml to a glass bowl
Add 1egg,
Bacon, chopped
11/2 TBKetchup
3 TB powered Cheese
1/3 tsp Curry spice
All in sequence and mix well

2. Flour lengthwise quartered eggplant (slash diagonals on skin) with katakuriko flour
Skewer and Make a kebab-stick of the the eggplant using bamboo skewers. Should be small ones, so they can sit flat in the frypan (if you are using a frying pan instead of deep fryer)
Add the above pancake mixture to form a patty or sausage-like- shape around the eggplant kebab.
3. Use a paper towel to mop up any excess mixture from your kebab, flour lightly with katakuri flour (this will create a crunchy texture)
4. In a frypan deepfry the kebabs till brown (about 3-4 mins) in oil heated to 180degrees Celcius remove and serve

Serves 4. Lay out Dips: Maple syrup / mustard to taste /Ketchup

….
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Recipe 2

1. Skin the eggplant and cut into thick chunks, microwave

2. Fry onions till transparent, add eggplant
–>Add cubes of raw chicken 100 g
–>Add 2 cups of soymilk
–>2 TB. Cream or more to taste
–>Salt and pepper

3. Put it all to boil gently.
Blend the mixture and serve adter dribbling some olive oil over it.

…..

・なす・・・2本
・水・・・1リットル
・塩・・・小さじ2

<A>
—————
・ホットケーキミックス・・・150グラム
・卵・・・1コ
・牛乳・・・75ミリリットル
—————

<B>
—————
・粉チーズ・・・大さじ3
・ベーコン(みじん切り)・・・40グラム
・トマトケチャップ・・・大さじ2分の1
・カレー粉・・・小さじ3分の1
—————

・かたくり粉・・・適量
・揚げ油・・・適量

・トマトケチャップ、マスタード、メープルシロップ、シナモン

作り方

なすはヘタを取り、縦に4等分に切る。皮に隠し包丁を入れて塩水に10分間つける。
ボウルにAを入れて混ぜる。よく混ざったらBを加えてさらに混ぜ、固めの生地を作る。
(1)のなすは紙タオルで水けを取り、串に刺す。かたくり粉を薄くまぶし、(2)の生地をつけて、160度の揚げ油でじっくりと揚げる。
トマトケチャップやマスタード、またはメープルシロップをつけてシナモンをふる。

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The living room and command centre of the house

This is my seventh post on house makeover and organization.

Everyone's lounging and congregating space. The living area is a busy space.

Everyone’s lounging and congregating space. The living area is a busy space.

This post is about function, flow interweaving with form and interfaces…and it focuses on managing school scheduling and household documentation and bills and record-keeping.

Today, I tackle my living room to make some changes. In the light of forthcoming major exams, work-from-home and intensive sports tournament scheduling, we needed to streamline the way we communicated as a family to improve efficiency and productivity, as well as to avoid interpersonal friction. This room takes heavy traffic, everybody congregates here and in the adjoining dining area,  several times a day. It also tends to get awfully messy and to become everybody’s dumping ground for clothes, books, homework, empty snack plates etc.

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A closet by the door serves to collect all the jackets, caps, gloves, scarves, etc., as people walk through the door.  Being rather small, everybody is allowed one at most two jackets in the closet’s hanging space.

The living room is the nerve and command centre of the home, it is where we share and coordinate information, so we have house rules for the kids…for everyone, which have been negotiated and drafted in consultation with the children. Below are the major areas of central control:

Landphone line and stationery station

Landphone line and stationery station

Around this space, we have our communication board and calendar schedule where major events are marker-penned for all to see, where day-to-day routines of bento, and school schedule are indicated, and a phone contacts and emergency numbers are instantly accessible.

Everybody's calendar schedule

Everybody’s calendar schedule

School bento and activity schedule noticeboard, school letters go straight in there after school

School bento and activity schedule noticeboard, school letters go straight in there after school

And next to our TV and music & media entertainment station, here is our central station for all our communications and social media devices, this is the charging station as well as depository for all electronic devices – phones, smartphones, iPad, iTouch, iPods and DS’ have to be returned by a certain time,  and during the Golden Hour of study time (8-10 pm) is no-screen time.  They also have to be returned here just before bedtime. Blinking lights and social media bleeps are terribly distracting for study concentration, and disturb the formation of deep sleep for our children.

Beside the media station (TV, DVD player, etc) is our social media, mobile phone and game center)

Beside the media station (TV, DVD player, etc) is our social media, mobile phone and game center)

One of the hardest aspects of school life and scheduling to keep under control, is the constant stream of letters and communication from school. The other equally huge minefield is the constant stream of mail and household matters that require our attention such as bills, some urgent, some not, but most require some kind of action or record-keeping.

I like to keep it simple. These “color-box” shelving are the cheapest standard book shelves you can find in any furniture shop. We have been using them since the kids were born, and they are easily adaptable for a great many purposes. We turned them on their side, slotted in baskets. In two of them, we keep vitamins, earbuds, and daily use skin-lotions and medical items (not first aid which is kept separately). School documents are filed in accordion type file folders that cost only a few cents/yen and that fit perfectly into the standard cubby holes, and a nifty black slide-out multiple pocket file-cum-brief document carrier will hold all types of bills and banking documents. Throw out and shred old statements, keeping most current two, and that will keep your filing system portable and manageable. Portability and compactness is also vital for us living here in the event of fire or earthquake disaster. A simple all-purpose basket can hold you latest magazines, start discarding old issues just before it starts to bulge. Accordion folders are useful or stationery such as envelopes, as well as for odds and ends and keepsake cards or souvenirs.

Accordion filing system fits into basket and cubbyhole of bookcase

Accordion filing system (perfect for school communication, notes and schedules, contact numbers) fits into basket-drawer and cubbyhole of bookcase

Left: household management notes folder with pockets and tab dividers. Right: Slide-out multiple pocket-system in a black document carrier.

Left: household management notes folder with pockets and tab dividers. Right: Slide-out multiple pocket-system in a black document carrier.

The document carrier, house-management-foler fit into the drawer

The document carrier, house-management-foler fit into the drawer

Our set-up is now more efficient, serious and work-and-activity-oriented in the light of our high schooler’s college-going goals, but most of our ideas can easily be adapted for any family’s goals and purposes.

Finally, I decided to remove the fussy, lace curtains, to let in more light into living area, and to remind us that we have a view and that there is a world outside to be explored.
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My girl’s bedroom – reorganization

imageimage My twelve year old’s room organizes itself. This is ‘cuz DD has always been hands on with her own room, and hands off to Mum. And she does a nifty job, it is up for the prize of nicest room in the house, even though it is the smallest.

She threw out a whole lot of stuffed toys and kept only these...

She threw out a whole lot of stuffed toys and kept only these…

DD re-arranged her books and study-table, she likes it busy, but unlike me she has a near photographic memory and remembers where everything is and what’s in each drawer. Above is what’s left of her stuffed collection, others washed and off to charity shops (see below)

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So the re-organizing job here is all done by DD herself, which really makes my job super-easy! She’s always been this way, self-organizing. On her very first day of school, she wouldn’t let herself out the door, till she had packed and repacked her schoolbag ten times!

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Dream-space makeover

I admit to being a real sloth in my bedroom, I don’t do any housework in this room except for changing and washing the sheets and linen often. More often than not, the moment my head touches the pillow, I’m out like a light.

Aiming for a restful but happy dream haven

Aiming for a restful but happy dream haven

For the Japanese, a good energy and a good start to the day begins in the kitchen, so the kitchen should be spick and span to start day off on a good footing.

But according to the “Perfect Housewife” Anthea Turner, leaving the bedroom with the bed done and the room neat sets the right tone for the day. Well that won’t work for me, for one thing, I rise at five in the morning when hubby is still a sleeping log in bed, and I traipse downstairs in a zombie state with eyes half closed. My only goal is to get the breakfast out on the table and two bento lunchboxes out for the kids. No amount of persuasion is going to get me to do my beds on top of those goals.

I bought new sunny cushions to match the blanket covers, and that was it. No fussy bedfooters for me, because I like to vacuum under the beds to make sure I get all the dust. Keep the bedroom simple and uncluttered. Cleaning takes all of 5 mins of vacuuming or floor-mopping…and the once-a-month wipe down of windows and blinds.

The Laundry on wet rainy days gets taken into this room from the bedroom balcony, so it can get messy, all the more important to keep the room clear all the time.

Bedroom mission accomplished, next goal, the kids’ bedrooms.

P.S. Dear hubby of mine promises to build me a headboard for the bed, but the bed will have to do as it is for now.

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Library makeover

I have to make a start in the library-study. This room drives me nuts…this is a room I have been dreading because it involves the throwing out books – but it has to be done. My son has university entrance exams in half a year, and it takes hours to find a single title because this room is too disorganized. I have let it go for way too long. Our library-study is just bursting at the seams, and you can’t get in without stepping on books or pushing over piles of books, so here goes my best efforts. I start by removing every book wiping down the shelf and replacing books sorted.

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Books can kill … in this country they can become lethal weapons. Yep, when an earthquake hits, we all run out of this room. The chandelier shakes, big fat books could come falling from the top shelves and give you the whack on the head that could be your undoing. During the 3/11 Fukushima disaster, the study lamp and white board crashed to the floor giving me a fright. So top shelves have to be secured, or stuffed so full they don’t budge.

Top shelves secured with string

Top shelves secured with string

Next task … to carve out a cozy study nook.
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Oops, just noticed … I ought to fix up those loose wires under the PC!
And as always, the piece de resistance…is the window dressing.
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The dish ran away with the spoon … so we need crock solutions

That’s how it sometimes feels like when the stored crockery and cutlery are in disarray…and it can be an embarrassing affair when you are entertaining, to be missing a dessert spoon or saucer. So I learnt to find them all a special home. I also learnt how to stack my teacups and saucers, Martha Stewart-style. image

It also pays to make a date to remove old shelving paper, replace them with new ones, wash and wipe down all the dishes, plates and teacups… image

A butch cupboard with transparent glass makes you want to display your stuff in style, and to take care of your sets, since multiples always look better.

Cutlery, spoons, forks and knives can be wheeled out in this butler-on-wheels, along with seasonings, and special dish for that special person, adding a touch of resort luxury style!

Cutlery, spoons, forks and knives can be wheeled out in this butler-on-wheels, along with seasonings, and special dish for that special person, adding a touch of resort luxury style!

But what do you do with all the rarely used crockery, or odds-and-ends, or eyesore items that you want to keep out of sight? Well, you keep them sorted, but out of sight.

Wineglasses are specially kept in a dedicated case bubble-wrapped

Wineglasses are specially kept in a dedicated case bubble-wrapped 300¥ Case

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The great frequency with which earthquakes happen, it makes sense to keep wineglasses tucked away in protection. I stapled bubblewrap to cardboard partitions to separate the wineglasses, and then wrapped one large sheet of bubblewrap around all the glasses to create a nest.  The two makeshift yellow floral print cases cost about 300 ¥ each only.

Other stuff that went into storage…the odd party salad bowl…ice-shaving-maker..

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The cleaning cloths, cleansers and gloves all need a proper dedicated home too…these are used daily.

imageimageimageimage Underfoot deep storage is used to store emergency water and the home-pickled bottles with red lids.

Underfoot small cellar stores water rations

Underfoot small cellar stores water rations

With the kitchen appliances and countertop and all surfaces given a good cleanup, the makeover is almost complete.

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The finishing touch is dressing the window. A cozy window makes washing up more fun, well..less of a chore anyway, and a few decorative touches make the home look cared for and thought about.

Before: messy mug collection line the sill

Before: messy mug collection line the sill

After: Cat themed pieces decorate the sill

After: Cat themed pieces decorate the sill

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Task Three – Storage’s the thing

Having all the storage space in the world ain’t no good if it ain’t organized, and you can’t find nuthin’.  Forgotten food that gets old and has to be tossed, is money wasted. So task three in the kitchen is to get the pantry sorted and food labelled.

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My twelve year-old got into the act and helped me do the labels…

Labels save time searching for what you need and keep things tidy

Labels save time searching for what you need and keep things tidy

A pull-out shelf-on-rollers is a nifty and convenient hing to have…

Pullout comdiment-shelving beside the stove is one of the most convenient forms of storage

Pullout comdiment-shelving beside the stove is one of the most convenient forms of storage

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Kitchen makeover – Task Two – addressing the Bento Bane

Today, the big job for me is the re-organization of the drawers…especially the bento- and tupperware drawers.

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Bento-making uses stuff that come in tiny parts, different shapes and sizes and materials, and are apt to get lost and to look real untidy, so they have to be classed according to function or stages of bento prep, and in receptacles of the same type to create the illusion of a unifying theme of color, texture or shape.

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Now they are finally all in one cupboard top to bottom, above and below the microwave oven used for defrosting food before bento making. Lost tupper-lids have found their mates. All in one place. Nice.
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Above: utensils organized according to cutting and chopping implements, measuring tools and bowls.

Kitchen utensils and tools have to be within easy reach. I just realized this: the first time you organize the kitchen, if you are the primer user, you need to be the one to organize it, to rationalize and streamline where things go. Or it usually doesn’t work.
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When I first got married, my husband organized the kitchen – that was because he worked in an Italian kitchen for several years, and considered the kitchen and cooking his favourite domain and past-time.

But the system was a pain for me for too long. Not only did I have to learn and memorize where things were kept, my style of cooking differed from his, and daily bento-making was my priority, so the kitchen just didn’t work for me… I found myself traipsing in trails from different cupboards, shelves, drawers in a haphazard way all over the kitchen most of the time.

And forget model kitchens, they’re not always practical, which model kitchen or magazine features all the non-matching nitty-gritty utensils and containers you need for bento-making”???  You ned to think of your busiest routine day and retrace your tasks, path from storage to worktop counter…and store your items accordingly to nix unnecessary movement.

For example, it only needed a little tweak like switching the breadmaker with the waterpot, but it saved a whole lot of extra-walking and time on busy mornings, besides avoiding people bumping into each other trying to get past each other in all the wrong stations.

Now, since the breadmachine is now beside the baskets where the breadmixes, cereal and napkins and coasters are kept, while the hotwater is right next to the tea and coffee, which makes a whole lot more sense than before, and it looks nicer having a proper breakfast, and coffee-and-tea-station.

A tea and coffee station at last!

A tea and coffee station at last!

All things bread related

All things bread related

Now that all the utensils have been washed, dried and re-arranged and proper homes found for them, the kitchen is in half-working order.

The next step will be to organize the crockery, baking ware, teacups, and then the larder….work for another day. Stay tuned.

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Seven-Year-Household-Itch: Time for reorganization

DAY ONE

Goal: A sanitized fridge and easier navigation and efficient use of kitchen

Goal: A sanitized fridge and easier navigation and efficient use of kitchen

I’ve got the seven-year itch. An itch to shake things up in the household department. We’ve had our own home for seven years now and it’s time to take stock of things, reorganize our living spaces, and shake up the dust, before we get too comfortable, old and crusty. It feels like the nesting instinct and no, I’m not pregnant.

A periodic shakeup in any area of our life is healthy…even if it’s only in the form of the re-organization of the household.

Research shows student academic performance and worker productivity and general well-being can improve measurably with a redesign of our living, working and studying spaces, so this is an experiment towards the same end.

Japanese “Super Housewives” recommend beginning in the kitchen, the Stomach-Gut of the Home being sort of a Fountain or Dispenser of Well-being of the Home.

So here goes, a photo essay of my re-organization efforts, as it goes.

1. Beginning with the fridge, gave it a good wash, inside and out, removing shelves, drawers and ice-box too.

2. Instituted a Golden Zone, where all soon-to-expire items are placed.

3. Use see-through receptacles for like items like jam jars and mustard. Just pull-down and remove.

 

Dispenser of well-being, the Fridge

Dispenser of well-being, the Fridge

Wipe up spills on the handle-bar, organize dressing and condiments bottles, milk, etc.

The handle-bar niche is always caked with dried up spilt milk, juices or soy sauce.

The handle-bar niche is always caked with dried up spilt milk, juices or soy sauce.


Freezers need cleanouts too. Resealable ziplocks make light work of cleaning

Freezers need cleanouts too. Resealable ziplocks make light work of cleaning

Don’t forget the top of the fridge too. Eeek, layers of dust. Learnt years ago what a pain it is to wipe off oily surfaces in the kitchen, so I now layer the roof of the fridge with newspaper (nobody looks there anyway) and just chuck the papers out and replace them with fresh sheets.

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NHK ASAICHI stain removal tips

These tips by the Super Housewives’ Tomokai Friendship Circle were featured on NHK TV this morning. Decade-old yellowed shirts looked impressively newer than new shirts after treatment in the show.

Taking notes for myself, and for posterity:

Stains

Getting rid of food stains – use dish detergent

Gum – put ice on top to stiffen gum, then peel off

Blood stained items (and stains by organic fluids) – use grated daikon (daikon oroshi) rub directly onto the stain or spot.

Foundation, makeup – wet a rolled-up and tied with a rubber band handtowel, hit the stain/spot, pound the stained area

….

Dull blackened socks and other yellowed clothing items

White shirt – make a paste of purin sekkin 50g with 500 ml water, roll up microfiber cloth and pound on the neck or othee stains, then wipe off, use also on white socks. And use also on gas stove stains

Fill a Spray bottle of PVA purinjo senzai. Treat spots by spraying directly onto the spot. From 100 yen shop purinjo solution. Coat stained section, wash in the washing machine as usual

Additional effective washing tips

Use a large net for each person’s clothes, clothes that get entangled leave stained spots in trapped clothes untreated.

Yellowed underwear

“Te-iron” (hand iron) method:
(After washing as above) – fold wet yellowed shitagi undershirts and other underwear- fold sleeves and shirt into quarter and slap and pound to remove wrinkles, then hang to dry

….
Pillow-covers “otou no niyoyi” can be classified into four thpes of smells – sweaty, oily, dusty, green usui-ame (slightly sickly sweet)
Kareishu occurs in men in their forties onwards.
Method: Use sekisui soda (it contains natrium) For stubborn smells, use quensan (citric acid) after first sekisui soda wash. Quensan is most powerful there is for oil and smells.

Coffee and tea stains
Fill a basin with 40 degree C. water. Place stained clothing item in the lukewarm water, pour sekisui soda directly all over the water, the warm water will remove about half of stains, and the soda the rest. This works for textile color that washed off from colored clothing items.

For the most effective treatment of stubborn stains, use:

Katansan natrium. Add katansan natrium to a basin of lukewarm water water, and dilute with water in a basin with the clothing item in it, wash gently.

….
Washing the washing machine

In warm water with katan-san natrium soda, wash the washing machine in one cycle, the dirt that has been stuck in the washer will surface with the washwater.

Washing white shirts

Items needed: Nylon net and wooden scrubbing washboard.
Scrub the collar using the “nylon net” wool stocking cloth.
Turn the shirt pocket inside out, use a toothbrush and scrub out the lint
In a washing machine wash white shirt for 3 minutes before other other load. Remove while soaking wet and hang to dry immediately. This is called daraboshi method.

Frequent daily household work clothes, and summer “one-piece” dresses:

Hang sweaty daily-use one-piece clothes on shower rails and shower sweat off the clothes, then quickly hang to drio dry.

Missed the suggested treatment for ballpen stains ….
Ballpen – will have to get back to this one later.

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Recipe for Eggs Benedict

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In a pot of boiling water with a pinch of salt, on medium heat crack and drop an egg from a ladle gently into the pot of boiling water.

Do the same for another egg, drop it in gently wihout touching other egg.

Lower heat and cook eggs for 4- 5 mins. Lift eggs and pkace on paper towels to drain eggs.

Toast two halves of muffin bread and serve eggs benedict on top of bread and with or bacon and washed and torn into bite-size lettuce leaves on the side.

Alternative recipe

Method

Bring a deep saucepan of water to the boil (at least 2 litres) and add the vinegar. Break the eggs into 4 separate coffee cups or ramekins. Split the muffins, toast them and warm some plates.
Swirl the vinegared water briskly to form a vortex and slide in an egg. It will curl round and set to a neat round shape. Cook for 2-3 mins, then remove with a slotted spoon.
Repeat with the other eggs, one at a time, re-swirling the water as you slide in the eggs. Spread some sauce on each muffin, scrunch a slice of ham on top, then top with an egg. Spoon over the remaining hollandaise and serve at once.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, September 2005

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Quickie breakfasts

Sprinkle pork well with Roasted panko add salt, garlic, egg

Wrap pork around Avocado and tomato and fry

Alternatively, use Takenoko bamboo shoots ingen French peas

Onion soup

Sliced carrots, lettuce, boiled snappeas, strawberries, parmesan

Sliced cabbage beside pork cutlets.

580 cal

…..

German breakfast

White wine over chicken to remove semll. Salt and peopper the chicken

Slice potato, maitake, carrots, red and green bell peppers into chunks

Heat olive oil, garlic in a pan, add bacon chopped slices, when fragrant, add chicken then add green bell piman peppers, next other veggies.
Lastly, salt and pepper again
240 cal.

Fry in olive oil, eggplant and lotus root, salt pepper.

Boil Eggplant or zucchini.
Mix Canned tuna, add chopped onions, mayonnaise, miso, salt and pepper and aoijiso mint chopped finely. *** secret umami ingredient aoijiso. Combine all
Pop zucchini mixture in oven toaster

夢の3シェフ競演。きょうのテーマは「朝食」でした。短時間で準備ができて、栄養もバッチリ、そして、おいしくて幸せな気持ちになれる朝食を、3シェフの皆さんに披露していただきました。

イタリアン・落合務さんの「とろーり卵とトマトのサラダ」

落合さんの朝食は、朝からガッツリ食べたい日にピッタリ。半熟卵とトマトを崩しながら食べるサラダは、落合さんの最近いちばんのお気に入りです。

材料・2人分

・トマト・・・1コ
・卵・・・2コ
・オリーブ油・・・少々
・たまねぎ・・・8分の1コ
・レタス、レモン・・・各2分の1コ

<仕上げ用>
—————
・オリーブ油・・・大さじ2
・塩、黒こしょう(粗びき)・・・各適量
・パルメザンチーズ・・・10グラム
—————

作り方

トマトは半分に切り、真ん中の部分をくりぬいてトマトの器をつくる。
(くりぬいた中心部分は、フレンチトーストのソースに使うので取っておく。)
冷たいフライパンに、オリーブ油(少々)・(1)のトマトの器を入れ、その中に卵を割り入れてふたをし、中火で半熟になるまで焼く。
皿に食べやすい大きさに切ったレタス、薄切りにしたたまねぎ、(2)の卵入りのトマトを盛り、パルメザンチーズ・黒こしょう・塩をふり、オリーブ油を回しかけ、レモンを添える。
イタリアン・落合務さんの「イタリアンフレンチトースト」

甘くない、落合さんオリジナルのフレンチトーストです。たっぷり卵の染みこんだパンに、アンチョビの塩気が決め手のソースがベストマッチ。

材料・2人分

・食パン(6枚切り)・・・2枚

・卵・・・1コ
・牛乳・・・50ミリリットル
・塩・・・小さじ2分の1

・オリーブ油・・・小さじ1
・バター・・・10グラム

<ソース>
—————
アンチョビフィレ・・・2枚
バター・・・40グラム
黒こしょう(粗びき)・・・少々
トマトの中心部分・・・1コ分
—————

作り方

食パンのみみを落とし、三角形に切る。
ボウルに卵・牛乳・塩を入れてよく溶きほぐして卵液をつくる。
(2)のボウルに(1)の食パンを入れ、パンを押しつけるようにしてしっかり卵液を吸わせる。
フライパンにバターと(3)の食パンを入れ、きれいなキツネ色がつくまで中火で2分ほど焼き、裏返して同じように焼く。これを皿に盛る。
(4)のフライパンに、包丁で粗くたたいたアンチョビフィレを入れ、中火で15秒ほど炒め、仕上げ用のバター(40グラム)を溶かす。
火を止めて、黒こしょうとくりぬいたトマトの中心部分を入れてひと混ぜする。
(4)のフレンチトーストに(5)のソースをかける。

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Recipe for homemade Chinese breakfast

日本料理・中嶋貞治さんの「ハリハリ風にゅうめん」

中嶋さんは、胃にやさしい朝食です。たっぷりの水菜に油揚げのうまみがマッチしたハリハリ風にゅうめん。のど越しよく、食欲のないときにも食べやすいひと品です。

材料・2人分

・そうめん(乾)・・・2ワ
・だし・・・800ミリリットル
・しょうゆ・・・大さじ2分の1
・酒・・・小さじ2
・水菜・・・100グラム
・油揚げ・・・2枚
・しょうゆ・・・大さじ2分の1
・水溶きかたくり粉・・・大さじ2
(水1:かたくり粉1)

作り方

油揚げは細切りにし、サッと湯にくぐらせて油抜きする。
水菜は4センチの長さに切る。
鍋にだしを沸かし、しょうゆ(大さじ1)・酒を入れる。
(3)の200ミリリットルを別の鍋に移し、しょうゆ(大さじ2分の1)を入れ、(1)の油揚げと(2)の水菜を加えてひと煮立ちさせ、水溶きかたくり粉でとろみをつける。
(3)の残りのだしを沸かしてそうめんを入れ、1分ほど煮る。
(5)を汁ごと器に移し、(4)のあんをかける。
日本料理・中嶋貞治さんの「キウイの白あえ」

意外な組み合わせに思えるキウイの白あえは、おいしくって、消化もよいメニューです。「朝から白和えなんてー」という心配はご無用。重し無し、裏ごしなしのスピード白和えの技、必見です。

材料・2人分

・キウイ・・・1コ
・木綿豆腐・・・2分の1丁(150グラム)
・砂糖、練りごま・・・各大さじ1
・しょうゆ・・・小さじ1

作り方

キウイの皮をむき、1センチの角切りにする。
小鍋に水(分量外:400ミリリットル)と木綿豆腐を入れ、豆腐を手で粗く潰す。強火にかけ、豆腐がユラユラと揺れたら、布巾を敷いたザルでこす。
(2)の豆腐の粗熱がとれたら、布巾ごと軽く絞る。
ボウルに(3)の豆腐と砂糖・練りごま・しょうゆを加えてよく混ぜ、白あえの衣をつくる。
(4)の衣に(1)のキウイを加えてざっくりと混ぜ、器に盛る。
中国料理・孫成順さんの「中国風きゅうりのクレープ」

孫さんの朝ごはんは、ダイエット中の方にオススメ。子どもの頃に、お母さんがよく作ってくれたという「きゅうり入りのクレープ」は、さわやかな初夏の味わいです。

材料・2人分

・きゅうり・・・1本
・小麦粉・・・100グラム
・卵・・・2コ
・水・・・50ミリリットル
・塩・・・小さじ2分の1
・サラダ油・・・大さじ1

作り方

きゅうりは斜め薄切りにしてから細切りにする。
ボウルに小麦粉・卵を入れてよく混ぜる。水を2回に分けて加えてよく混ぜ、塩を加えてさらに混ぜて生地をつくる。
フライパンにサラダ油を入れて温める。
(2)の生地に(1)のきゅうりを入れてよく混ぜる。
(3)のフライパンに(4)の生地の半分を入れ、直径15センチほどに丸く広げて焼く。きれいなキツネ色がつくまで中火で1分半ほど焼き、裏側して同じように焼く。これを2枚焼く。
食べやすい大きさに切って器に盛る。
中国料理・孫成順さんの「豆苗(とうみょう)と豆腐のスープ」

豆苗たっぷりの豆腐スープはシンプルで優しい味。カロリーが低くて野菜たっぷりのスープは、朝食にぜひ取り入れたいメニューです。

材料・2人分

・豆苗・・・50グラム
・絹ごし豆腐・・・2分の1丁(150グラム)
・鶏がらスープ・・・600ミリリットル
・塩・・・小さじ2分の1
・こしょう・・・少々
・水溶きかたくり粉・・・大さじ2
(水1:かたくり粉1)

作り方

豆苗は、小口切りにする。
絹ごし豆腐は、5ミリ角に切る。
鶏がらスープを沸かし、塩・こしょうを入れ、水溶きかたくり粉でとろみをつける。
(3)のスープに、豆苗・豆腐を入れてひと煮立ちさせる。
器に盛る。

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Preventing MCI and early onset of dementia – start prevention in your forties

Today’s Asaichi NHK TV programme highlighted the topic of MCI and suggested strategies for its prevention. According to the doctors, MCI starts manifesting from age forties, and we should take steps to be aware of the symptoms and to prevent MCI decline and descent into dementia. Japan has the largest (one of the largest) numbers of seniors and centenarians in the world, and this area of research is in a relatively advanced stage compared to the rest of the world.

What is MCI?

MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) causes a slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills. A person with MCI is at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Experts classify mild cognitive impairment based on the thinking skills affected:

MCI that primarily affects memory is known as “amnestic MCI.” A person may start to forget important information that he or she would previously have recalled easily, such as appointments, conversations or recent events.

MCI that affects thinking skills other than memory is known as “nonamnestic MCI.” Thinking skills that may be affected include the ability to make sound decisions, judge the time or sequence of steps needed to complete a complex task, or visual perception.

MCI increases the risk of later developing dementia, but with preventative measures taken early enough, some people may never develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.

In diagnosing MCI, the first 6 items are your top clues of the onset of MCI, according to the Asaichi programme:

  • However many times someone repeats an instruction or something to you, you seem to forget it (no.1)
  • Forgetting your promises made to someone, and insisting otherwise when reminded (no. 2)
  • Inability to recall recent events (no. 3)
  • Forgetting to relay phone messages to family members or other people (no. 4)
  • Forgetting umbrellas, glasses, keys, but an important clue is losing especially large or important items ( no. 5)
  • Not being able to remember how to take your medicine (no. 6)
  • Forgetting where commonly placed things are in your home
  • Forgetting faces and places introduced
  • Confusion over time and spatial locational challenges
  • Verbal confusion in mid-sentence

If you manifest one of more of the above symptoms, you probably have nothing to worry about, beyond that, you should start exercising preventative measures to avoid further decline of your cognitive faculties. If you are manifesting all of the above symptoms, you should have yourself checked at a specialist clinic and possibly have a brain scan.

I’ve found more info at the Alzheimer’s website: http://m.alz.org/10-warning-signs.asp

1) MEMORY LOSS THAT DISRUPTS DAILY LIFE

One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over, Increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g. remider notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

2) CHALLENGES IN PLANNING OR SOLVING PROBLEMS

Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

3) DIFFICULTY COMPLETING FAMILIAR TASKS AT HOME, AT WORK OR AT LEISURE

People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

4) CONFUSION WITH TIME OR PLACE

People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

5) TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING VISUAL IMAGES AND SPATIAL RELATIONSHIPS

For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Vision changes related to cataracts.

6) NEW PROBLEMS WITH WORDS IN SPEAKING OR WRITING

People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

7) MISPLACING THINGS AND LOSING THE ABILITY TO RETRACE STEPS

A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Misplacing things from time to time and retracing steps to find them.

8) DECREASED OR POOR JUDGMENT

People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Making a bad decision once in a while.

9) WITHDRAWAL FROM WORK OR SOCIAL ACTIVITIES

A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

10) CHANGES IN MOOD AND PERSONALITY

The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

A Typical Age-Related Change

Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

According to Asaichi, the key impact areas upon our lives are:

Loss of key “kuku-kaka” (mnemonic aid) areas show up  dangers, esp. :

Ku-suri – MEDICINE admin. dangers
Ku-ruma – CAR control dangers…need to stop driving altogether
Kane – Money control, administration)
Kaji (disaster causation … Forgetting to turn off the firestove, gas heaters, etc., and to lock the door)

(can you recall all the 4 Ks ???)

According to Japanese research, some effective strategies to prevent MCI deterioration of cognitive faculties and dementia include the following:

  • Keep a 2-day diary recording all events up till 2 days ago without aids or others’ assistance. Record mistakes made too.
  • Walking strategies, increase stride and pick up heels by 5cm – This is expected to increase substances that promote the growth of nerve cells due to slightly challenging aerobics exercise. Increase walking activities or take up vigorous aerobic heart-pumping exercise for at least 5 min daily (exercise increases blood pumped to your heart but the blood also nourishes the brain)
  • Step aerobics, dance or other exercise all the while thinking, introducing new elements just before consolidating old memories
  • Practise Memory Recall Games – try to recall 10 items (average proper functioning capability, you should be able to recall around 8-10 items). At one experimental centre, an effective strategy with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients was to have patients look at and repeat and recall the random sequence of color-coded color charts. (This is very similar to Dr Shichida’s method of training children in perfect recall and retrieval and especially their Mandala colour-coded geometric charts)

ABOUT MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT

Mild cognitive impairment causes cognitive changes that are serious enough to be noticed by the individuals experiencing them or to other people, but the changes are not severe enough to interfere with daily life or independent function. Because the changes caused by MCI are not severe enough to affect daily life, a person with MCI does not meet diagnostic guidelines for dementia.

Learn more:
WHAT IS ALZHEIMER’S?

DIAGNOSIS

Mild cognitive impairment is a “clinical” diagnosis representing a doctor’s best professional judgment about the reason for a person’s symptoms.

Early diagnosis is essential according to the TV programme, it is best to prepare yourself as well as family members for the eventuality that one descends into dementia or Alzheimer’s. See: http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_disease_why_get_checked.asp
A medical workup for MCI includes the following core elements:

Thorough medical history, where the physician documents current symptoms, previous illnesses and medical conditions, and any family history of significant memory problems or dementia

Assessment of independent function and daily activities, which focuses on any changes from a person’s usual level of function

Input from a family member or trusted friend to provide additional perspective on how function may have changed

Assessment of mental status using brief tests designed to evaluate memory, planning, judgment, ability to understand visual information and other key thinking skills

In-office neurological examination to assess the function of nerves and reflexes, movement, coordination, balance and senses

Evaluation of mood to detect depression; symptoms may include problems with memory or feeling “foggy”

Laboratory tests including blood tests and imaging of the brain’s structure

If the workup doesn’t create a clear clinical picture, the doctor may recommend neuropsychological testing, which involves a series of written or computerized tests to evaluate specific thinking skills.

CAUSES AND RISKS

The causes of mild cognitive impairment are not yet completely understood. Experts believe that many cases result from brain changes occurring in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. The risk factors most strongly linked to MCI are the same as those for dementia: advancing age, family history of Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and conditions that raise risk for cardiovascular disease.

TREATMENT AND OUTCOMES

No medications are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat mild cognitive impairment. Drugs approved to treat symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease have not shown any lasting benefit in delaying or preventing progression of MCI to dementia. See above…plus:

Coping Strategies:

  • Exercise on a regular basis to benefit your heart and blood vessels, including those that nourish your brain
  • Control cardiovascular risk factors to protect your heart and blood vessels, including those that support brain function
  • Participate in mentally stimulating and socially engaging activities

MCI increases the risk of later developing dementia, but some people with MCI never get worse. Others with MCI later have test results that return to normal for their age and education. Experts recommend that a person disgnosed with MCI be re-evaluated every six months to determine if symptoms are staying the same, improving or growing worse.

Researchers hope to increase the power to predict MCI outcomes by developing new diagnostic tools to identify and measure underlying brain changes linked to specific types of dementia.

The above information is based on today’s broadcast NHK TV Asaichi programme    <“もの忘れ”が気になるあなたへ 最新!認知症対策> URL: www1.nhk.or.jp/asaichi/2014/05/12/01.html as well as the Alzheimer Association Alz.Org. Webpages URLs: http://m.alz.org/mild-cognitive-impairment.asp and http://m.alz.org/causes-and-risk-factors.asp

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Try the easiest no-fuss roast potatoes today

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Balsamic-glazed potatoes

All you need to is combine the following ingredients in an ovenproof dish and pop it in the oven!

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, halved or quartered if large
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
8 garlic cloves, smashed
5 sprigs thyme
Coarse salt and ground pepper
DIRECTIONS

STEP 1
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In an 8-inch square baking dish, combine potatoes, broth, vinegar, garlic, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Bake until potatoes are tender and liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 1 1/4 hours, tossing twice.

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How to adapt to hot bath temperatures, and how hot should baths really be?

Guidebook to Hakone from 1811

Onsen, Guidebook to Hakone from 1811

The onsen baths in Japan are usually between 38 degrees to 42 degrees Celsius, adults here like temperatures in the forties, with usually only one or two with temperatures around 38 to 39 for children or those with weaker constitutions. Our home bath is automatically set to run at the press of a button at forty-two degrees Celsius. These hotbaths used to be excruciatingly painful for me initially when I first settled in Japan. Onsens were not relaxing affairs at all. Eventually, I learnt a way to cope and adapt. I found that by thinking and being preoccupied in thought about something other than the bath as I plopped inside the bath fullon, My body would get used to the water temperature in something like 5 seconds. Sort of like the reverse of plunging into a cold swimming pool. More than a decade after living in Japan, I am today totally at home with a forty-two degree bath, and look forward to onsen spas as relaxing social events with my daughter or mother-in-law.

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Research, however, while showing numerous benefits of hot baths, has also shown though that hotbaths can be dangerous for those with heart conditions. Well, I can testify to that. My mother-in-law found her mother-in-law dead of a heart attack in her tub with a forty-two degree bathwater. She was a few days shy of her eighty-eighth birthday.

According to this news article posted below, around thirty-five degrees is optimum for health, so I am going to bear this in mind as we age…

……

The good bath guide
by PAT HAGAN, Evening Standard

It’s been a long, hard day at the office and your feet are killing you.

As soon as you get home, the first thing you want to do is run yourself a soothing, hot bath.

Now, the latest research shows that baths are not only great for unwinding and soaking away the stresses of the day, they can also play an important role in boosting your immune system, help skin conditions like eczema and even alleviate serious medical disorders.

One study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that diabetics who spent just half an hour in a hot tub could reduce their blood sugar levels by around 13 per cent – as the heat dilated their blood vessels, blood-flow improved and the body made better use of its insulin, the hormone that converts blood sugar into energy.

A separate Japanese study showed that 10 minutes in a warm bath improved cardiovascular health in elderly men and women, helping them to cope better in exercise tests and reducing pain.

Previous research had suggested that hot baths could be dangerous for heart disease patients, because they temporarily increase blood pressure.

Now a new book, 48 Hours to a Healthier Life, claims baths can be used as a simple-form of hydrotherapy to keep the body in mint condition and reduce the risk of illness.

‘I heartily recommend bathing,’ says the book’s author, Suzi Grant, a member of the British Association of Nutritional Therapists.

‘It can prevent colds and viruses, reduce stress, improve sleep, strengthen blood circulation, boost the immune system and detoxify the body.’

So what’s the best bath for you and how long should you spend in it? Find out with our guide below.

Detoxing

Warm baths – 90-95F or 32-35C – open the pores and encourage sweating, which helps to release toxins. They are good for mild detoxing and slight colds. Warm baths can also help lower blood sugar levels, relieve painful joints and muscles, and help to keep your bowels working properly.
Soak time: 10-20 minutes.

Stress

If you’re really stressed out, a cold bath can be the perfect answer – but they’re only for the very brave and those in robust health. The temperature needs to be 55-65F, or 12-18C, says Grant. ‘Cold baths are fantastic if you’re full of tension. They do the opposite of hot baths as they thin the blood and increase blood sugar levels.’
Soak time: a quick dip – between six and 30 seconds at the most.

Eczema

For skin conditions such as eczema, hives or rashes, adding some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your bath can make a big difference. It acts as a mild antiseptic, {3}opens the pores and relieves itching and skin irritation. Fill the bath with lukewarm water, add about a pound of baking soda and mix well.
Soak time: 10-20 minutes.

Infections

Yeast infections such as thrush can be helped by adding three or four cups of cider vinegar, preferably organic, to your bath. It’s also very good for detoxifying the body, according to Grant, as the vinegar helps to restore its acid/alkaline balance. Add to a full bath of warm water.
Soak time: 15-20 minutes.

Relaxation

Sprinkle 3-5lb of sea salt into the water and mix in well for a thoroughly relaxing bath. The cooler the water and the shorter the time spent in the bath, the more it acts as a tonic, says Grant.
Soak time: 10-20 minutes.

Colds and headaches

Hot foot baths can help with colds and headaches as well as refreshing tired feet. Pour enough hot water into the bath or a bowl to cover your feet and ankles and add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender, peppermint, thyme or lemon. Finish by rinsing your feet with cold water.
Soak time: 10-20 minutes.

Insomnia

“A cold foot bath is absolutely brilliant if you’re insomniac or just sometimes have trouble sleeping,” says Grant. Soak your feet until they start to feel uncomfortably cold. This treatment is also useful for constipation, nose bleeds, tired feet and colds.
Soak time: as long as you can bear.

Circulation

Try alternating between hot and cold foot baths if you suffer from circulatory problems or varicose veins. Start by soaking your feet for one to two minutes in hot water, followed by 30 seconds in cold. Keep alternating between the two for 15 minutes, finishing with cold water.
Soak time: 15 minutes.

48 Hours to a Healthier Life is published by Penguin, price £6.99.

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Megaquake more likely now than ever? Oh dear

Slow-motion tremors make Tokyo megaquake more likely

14:00 16 April 2014 by Jeff Hecht
The people of Tokyo have long lived in fear of another great earthquake, and those fears are increasingly justified. Slow-motion earthquakes have become more common beneath the city in the last few years, causing tectonic stresses to build up. The after-effects of the 2011 Tōhoku megaquake are also prodding the area in the direction of a big quake, but seismologists cannot predict when it might occur, nor which part of the region’s complex fault system will break.

Shinzaburo Ozawa of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan in Tsukuba used GPS sensors to track the surface motion of the Bōsō peninsula, the eastern side of Tokyo Bay. Between 28 December 2013 and 10 January 2014, he detected centimetre-scale shifts. These were caused by two tectonic plates, kilometres below the surface, slipping by about 10 centimetres. The motion released as much energy as a magnitude-6.5 earthquake, but it caused no damage because it was spread over two weeks.

Seismographs do not record such slow slips, so they went unnoticed until GPS came along, says Heidi Houston of the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the research.

The concern is that the slow-slip quakes seem to be coming more frequently, a sign of increasing tectonic stress in the region. The latest slip came only 2.2 years after the previous one, a month-long slip in October and November 2011. The first slips detected, beginning in 1996, were 6.4 years apart.

The earlier-than-expected Bōsō slip is a reminder that “it is essential to keep a close eye on the deformation and seismicity in this region,” says Roland Burgmann of the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study.

Shifting plates

Ozawa’s research adds to the evidence that a big Tokyo quake is on the way. After the 2011 Tōhoku quake, seismicity in the Tokyo area initially jumped tenfold, then levelled off at three times the earlier rate.

Based on that increase, a study last year estimated a 17 per cent probability of a large shock under Tokyo between March 2013 and March 2018. That is two-and-a-half-times higher than if the Tōhoku quake had not happened (Geophysical Research Letters, doi.org/scz).

The events after the Tōhoku quake have “completely rearranged the whole system in north-east Japan”, says Burgmann. “They definitely point to the very complicated area around Tokyo becoming a zone of greater hazard.”

Four tectonic plates meet in the Tokyo area, and as a result it has suffered several quakes above magnitude 7 in the past four centuries. The largest in the past 1000 years was the Genroku quake, estimated to have been magnitude 8.2, that killed 2300 people on 31 December 1703 and produced a tsunami that killed several thousand more.

However, the deadliest was the magnitude-7.9 Great Kantō earthquake of 1 September 1923 (pictured, above right), which killed 100,000 people – with some help from a typhoon. Since 1960, 1 September has been Disaster Prevention Day across Japan.

Journal reference: Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2014GL060072
If you would like to reuse any content from New Scientist, either in print or online, please contact the syndication department first for permission. New Scientist does not own rights to photos, but there are a variety of licensing options available for use of articles and graphics we own the copyright to.

 

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Day one – kitchen clearout bootcamp

Goal: To achieve the luxurious feeling of being served by a butler, and/ having breakfast at a resort!

BEFORE photos

I had to make room, so started by throwing stuff out of four cutlery and bento drawers, and two utensil drawers, followed by shelves of a steel rack.

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Because I had my cutlery in so many different places, to re-organize them I ended up clearing out and throwing out the contents of eight drawers, and two cupboards. Here are the AFTER PHOTOS Below…

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imageimageimageimageimageMoved the mugs from the window sill to the bottom shelf where the cutlery had been formerly.imageimageBreadmaker, tea caddies, coffee on shelves 1-3 and cleaning sheets kitchen roll and bento bags on the lowest shelf.

FINALLY, I bought a “butler wagon” for under 3000 yen, got rid of cutlery drawers altogether, they will now be wheeled out by the “butler” at every meal to the table! I have wanted one for a very long time…tadaaaa….

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Do you like the arrangement A above or B below? Cutlery on top of trolley, in the middle basket are jam, honey, parmesan, and in the bottom basket are nori and furikake toppings for Japanese dishes.

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My winter mums

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A surprising corner of Machida city, Tokyo

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Swear for the moment there I thought I had walked through a travel portal transporting me to Rome or Florence

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Winter potting options

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Chawanmushi

Was really glad today that I ‘d brought in my kitchen garden this winter, so I had some cilantro on hand for the chawanmushi I made for dinner.

passed the taste test,  but failed on the “looks” end, as egg custard did not come out totally smooth. I have made this many times,  and by now I have figured that a number of  points are to be noted if you want a beautiful chawanmushi dish..

a. Remember the 3:1 DashI stock to 1 egg proportion

b. Remember to strain, for smooth mixture

c. Remember to mix egg into dashi stock, NOT whip because you don’t want to introduce bubble air

d. Remember to wrap each receptacle you use

e. Remember to steam on medium low heat NOT high heat

f. Don’t over cook!

NOT as easy as it looks …is it?

Miss these points, and you’ll likely end up with pock-marked “eggy” looking mixture, that will fail the custard  appearance test.

Chawan Mushi Recipe adapted from foodandwine.com

2 cups of dashi
3 large eggs
8 large cooked prawns (I shelled, de-viened and boiled them gently until cooked)
4 small shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and very thinly sliced
1 green onion cut into matchsticks

In a medium bowl, using chopsticks, very gently stir the eggs until blended, without incorporating too much air. Stir in the dashi, then strain the mixture into a measuring cup.

Divide the egg mixture between 4 shallow 1-cup bowls and wrap each bowl in plastic. Preheat a steamer. Add the bowls to the steamer and turn the heat down to medium low. The water should be at a gentle simmer. Steam for 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are set.

Immediately transfer the bowls to the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Unwrap the custards. Top with the prawns, shiitakes and green onions and serve.

 

Source of recipe: momofor site

 

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Easy natural lipcare and repair

Apply Vaseline first thing in the morning and at night

Before applying a layer of Vaseline, apply with brush lipcolor or lipstick mixing well onto VaseLine layer

To remove lipstick, apply olive oil.

Chapped lips will recover after three days

For a natural cheap lipspa:

Apply a layer of Vaseline, and then a liberal application of honey over it, and saranwrap over and take a nap or  remove after 5 to 10 minutes

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For the love of a golden pear …

Our pears are now almost ripe for the picking …

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When I was a little girl, one of my favourite nursery rhymes was “I had a Little Nut Tree” which bore “a silver nutmeg and a golden pear” and so I now grow pear trees in my garden. The rhyme, in case you’ve forgotten, goes like this (for origin and history, see this page):

I had a Little Nut Tree
Nursery Rhyme lyrics, origins and history

I had a little nut tree,
Nothing would it bear
But a silver nutmeg,
And a golden pear;
The King of Spain’s daughter
Came to visit me,
And all for the sake
Of my little nut tree.

This is, by the way, what the pear trees looked like in spring, they are quite lovely, though not colourful… I grow both the Asian and the European pear espaliered against our fence. So you see …you never know the kind of fruit, the kind of nursery rhymes you read your kids will bear …

Pears in flower

Pear trees in flower

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Mum’s tropical garden

There are almost always bananas in Mom's garden

There are almost always bananas in Mom’s garden

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Inside the banana grove

Inside the banana grove

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Papaya tree

Papaya tree

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Mom's gigantic sweet potatoes, the tiny one in the middle is the average-sized one sold in the supermarkets

Mom’s gigantic sweet potatoes, the tiny one in the middle is the average-sized one sold in the supermarkets

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There aren't many flowers, but Mum is partial to orchids

There aren’t many flowers, but Mum is partial to orchidsphoto (41)

Mom the gardener, is on the left in the shade (refusing to be photographed closeup)

Mom the gardener, is on the left in the shade (refusing to be photographed closeup)

There’s lots more fruit .., pineapples, jackfruit, mangos and mangosteens and more…

Growing watermelons

Growing watermelons

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Ikuta Rose Park is a labor of love…

…by Volunteers of the local community.
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Making hay while the sun shines…and before the mosquitoes come out….

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I am loving this year’s unseasonally many cool days which has meant we have not seen mosquitoes in the garden yet. those Japanese mosquitoes are really vicious and relenting and biting compared to the tropical ones that come out at certain times of the day… so taking the opportunity to enjoy gardening more than usual…

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The health benefits of Wakame seaweed / Wakame (and mekabu) recipes

Boiled Wakame

Boiled Wakame

Wakame, according to MindBodyGreen is:

“is an edible brown seaweed or kelp common in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisines.” According to the same source, wakame is…

“a good source of the following:

 
1. Magnesium. This mineral is critical in the contraction and relaxation of muscles, function of certain enzymes in the body, production and transport of energy, and the production of protein.
 
2. Iodine. Iodine is needed for strong metabolism of cells – the process of converting food into energy. It also maintains the balance of the thyroid gland and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones.
 
3. Calcium. Wakame easily allows for the absorption of calcium into the human body. Each 100 grams of raw wakame contains 150 milligrams of calcium. Calcium is needed for strong healthy bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
 
4. Iron. We need iron because it is essential for the production of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia.
 
5. Vitamins!
  • Vitamins A, C, E, and K. These vitamins are all amazing for skin health and repair as well as immunology.
  • Vitamin D. Promotes the absorption of calcium for healthy bones and enhances the nerve, muscle, and immune systems.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2). We need riboflavin to use the carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in the foods we eat. Riboflavin helps us use these nutrients for energy in our bodies for growth and is also necessary for red blood cell production. Riboflavin functions as an antioxidant and works in the body with other vitamins such as niacin, folate, and vitaminB6. 
6. Folate. Helps the body make new cells and is especially important for pregnant women.
 
7. Lignans. Thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

Nutritionist Gillian McKeith, PhD, author of the You Are What You Eat Cookbook, calls wakame the woman’s seaweed because it is loaded with osteoporosis-preventing calcium and magnesium and acts as a diuretic (which helps reduce bloating). Wakame’s pigment, fucoxanthin, is known to improve insulin resistance, and a 2010 animal study found that fucoxanthin burns fatty tissue. —  Oprah.com

Today’s NHK Asaichi programme looked at the ways in which Iwate people eat wakame, given that Iwate Prefecture i the no. 1 largest producer of wakame, we could thought to take a few notes here.  We learned that:

  • Wakame improves the taste of and makes boiled rice delicious, hence, making rice-balls with wakame enhances their taste considerably.
  • Secondly, fresh wakame doesn’t keep more than a week, however, an easy way to store wakame, is to add mentsuyu, wakame soaked in mentsuyu will keep for about a month. The wakame is surrounded by calcium minerals, which helps keep the wakame in prime condition.
  • 3rdly, wakame and mekabu have health benefits for preventing or ameliorating stroke symptoms.
  • Animal research (published 2003) conducted at Mukogawa Women’s University, Japan, showed that, despite being fed a high-salt diet, rats that were fed wakame had increased resistance to stroke and higher survival rate after stroke than animals in the control group. Researchers found a carotenoid compound called fucoxanthin to have protective brain effect and to contribute to the stroke or cerebral thrombosis prevention or resistance effect. Other research showed health effects of mekabu diet for high blood pressure  in a 1999 study on rats as well as for reducing systolic blood pressure in humans in a 7 week 2002 study.  Other research show benefits for cancer patients and especially reducing mammary tumors. — Better Nutrition, May 2004

わかめごはん(4~5人分) Wakame Rice (Serves 4-5 people)

<材料>Ingredients
・米・・・2合 2 Cups rice
・わかめ・・・50グラム 50g wakame
・しらす(乾燥)・・・30グラム 30 g shirasu whitebait/anchovy

(A)
・水・・・2分の1カップ  1/2 C. rice
・薄口しょうゆ・・・大さじ2 Tsp light soy sauce
・みりん・・・大さじ2 Tsp mirin
・砂糖・・・小さじ3と3分の1 1/3 sugar
・酒・・・少々 A little sake wine

<作り方> How to(method):

  1. ごはんを炊き、わかめは塩抜きして水気をよくきって細かく刻んでおく。   Cooked rice. Use unsalted drained Wakame , mince finely
  2. (A)の調味料を全て鍋にいれ、ひと煮立ちさせる。Add all the seasonings of (A) to a pan and bring to a boil.
  3. (2)に、しらすをいれ味を染み込ませたら、わかめを入れてさっと(20秒程度)混ぜる。Add shirasu to 2) till taste penetrates through, then add wakame seaweed and mix  quickly (about 20 seconds).
  4. わかめは煮込まず、すぐに火をとめ、炊けたご飯に混ぜれば完成。Wakame does not do well when boiled, so stop fire of the pan quickly, and add wakame mixture with the boiled rice, mix and serve.

***

生わかめ保存法 The way to store Wakame

●わかめのめんつゆ漬け

<材料>Ingredients
・生わかめ・・・100グラム 100 g fresh raw wakame
・めんつゆ・・・大さじ1と3分の1 1/3 TB mentsuyu sauce
・みりん・・・小さじ1 1  tsp
・酒・・・小さじ1 1 tsp sake wine
・刻みしょうが・・・5グラム 5 g myoga ginger
・一味とうがらし・・・適量 Dash of chilli
※めんつゆは、かつお節や昆布などが含まれているものを使用して下さい。

<作り方> Method

  1. 生わかめは湯通しし、水でもみ洗いしながら冷ました後、ザルにあけて水分を切っておく。Run hot water over the raw seaweed, then wash over with cold water to clean the wakame and drain well in a sieve.
    Raw wakame ※最後に、水分を絞るようにしてきるとよりよい。Finally, cut when most of the moisture has been drained or wrung out of the wakame.
  2. 調味料を全てボールにいれ、わかめを加え、味がしみこむように混ぜる。Add all of the condiments and ingredients to a bowl, and then wakame and mix well till sauce and other ingredients penetrate the seaweed well.
  3. 落としぶたとおもしをのせ、ひと晩寝かせれば完成。Use a lid with a weight over the wakame and leave overnight.
    タッパーなどに移しかえ冷蔵庫で保管すると、1週間程度食べられる。 Remove to a Tupperware and store in a refrigerator, serve and eat in about one week.

***

Wakame tempura recipe

わかめの天ぷら(4~5人分)

<材料>Ingredients
・塩蔵わかめ・・・50グラム 50 g salt-preserved wakame
・玉ねぎ・・・2分の1個(120グラム) 120 g / 1/2 onion
・にんじん・・・4分の1本(50グラム) 50 g carrots (1/4 carrot)
・ごぼう・・・5分の1本(50グラム) 50 g burdock (1/5 stick)
・天ぷら粉・・・120グラム 120 g tempura flour
・水・・・カップ1 1 Cup water

<作り方> Method

  1. わかめは塩抜きして水気をよくきって荒く刻み、玉ねぎ・にんじん・ごぼうは千切りに、水にさらしておく。Soak Wakame seawed in water, then drain well and  julienne the onion, carrot that has been pre-soaked in water
  2. 水(少なめ)でとかした天ぷら粉に、(1)の材料を全ていれ、揚げる。Add a small amount of water to dissolve the tempura flour, then add (1) to the tempura mixture and fry in oil (watch how to make vegetable tempura video).

***

Finally, adding raw mekabu to any wakame increases the health benefits  as well texture and taste …well, to the Japanese anyway (an acquired taste and texture), the neba-neba “sliminess” makes the food more delicious. Mekabu is the budding root portion of wakame seaweed.

Below is the local fisherman’s recipe:

<Material (2 persons)> Ingredients

<材料(2人分)>
・生のめかぶ(千切りにしたもの)・・・200グラム200 g Raw finely  julienned mekabu
・沸騰したお湯・・・カップ6 6 Cups of boiling water
・水・・・カップ1 1 cup of water

<作り方>Preparation Method

  1. 生のめかぶの芯を抜き、それ以外の部分を1~2ミリ程度に千切りにする。Extract the core of the raw mekabu, and julienne the other portion
    ※切る前に風にあてて少し乾かすと切りやすくなる。Tip: Wind-dry slightly before cutting, will make it easier to cut finely.
  2. 沸騰したお湯に水を加え、80度程度に温度を下げる。Bring water to a  boil and then lower to about  80 degrees Celcius
  3. ザルに千切りにしためかぶを入れて、鍋のお湯に1秒つけたら引き上げ、全体を均一にかき混ぜる。これを4回程度くりかえし、めかぶの色が緑色になったら、お皿にだし2分程度混ぜると、粘りがでてくる。Place the julienned mekabu into a sieve and drop into the water for 1 second then lift and mix well the mekabu all over (but don’t over-stir)
    ※ザルではかき混ぜすぎないこと。粘りがザルから出てしまうため  as the mekabu turns green, the mekabu will, after 2 minutes, have the right “sticky” texture.

* Serve according to your liking (with soy sauce or without) and locals like eating mekabu with boiled rice or topping noodles

Recipes are my translation of the NHK Asaichi TV programme

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Happy inhabitants of our garden

Happy inhabitants of our garden
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This bird has been ever so chirpy for he past two days. We watch it from our living room window, a great observation viewpoint.

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April 19, 2013 · 4:15 am

I luv spring

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imageEnjoy the views from my garden!

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Welcome to my spring garden!

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Daisy and azaleas dazzle in the garden…

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April 19, 2013 · 1:05 am

Erica Heath’s magnificent show…

 

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April 19, 2013 · 12:21 am

In my spring garden this week..

towering tulips among the grasses

towering tulips among the grasses

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tulips are captivating swaying in the wind, like translucent colored stained-glass chalices in the sun…

 

 

 

 

 

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April 18, 2013 · 11:36 pm

Beekeeping on the rooftops of Tokyo’s GINZA district!

This morning’s NHK Asaichi programme featured a really interesting experimental activity by an NPO. A group consisting of a diverse group of volunteers, who have taken to beekeeping on the skyscraper rooftops of GINZA district. You would think that this is a highly unlikely place to keep bees, but the bees thrive on the many cherry blossom trees that line the streets of Tokyo, and the honey produced is a rich thick cherry-flavored honey (or so the taster says on TV). The volunteers include a motley group of unrelated people but not surprisingly, include sweets or confectioners, department store staff, and a French restaurant chef.

For more see the NPO’s website HP:  http://www.gin-pachi.jp/

See also:

Tokyo bees make honey on rooftops of Ginza (Daily Onigiri, MARCH 11, 2010)

We are living in turbulent times where bees are dying rapidly in large numbers because of profitable pesticides and pollution. If this trend keeps going on, one day we’ll be filling up our plates with artificial food, compressed in colorful Pfizer tablets with chemical taste of green salad, beans, strawberries, blueberries and other natural goods that we’ll know only from pictures and ballads.

Science says that about one third of all food we eat depends on pollination from bees, and about 40 percent of all bee population in the world has vanished in the past decade.

The Ginza Bee Project

Well-aware that those numbers can’t mean anything good, are the members of a very successful project called Ginza Hachimitsu Project (The Ginza Bee Project). Five years ago, the group set itself a task of creating a bee-friendly space on top of a building in Tokyo’s Ginza district where bees will be able to produce honey.

On top of the 11-story Pulp & Paper Building in Ginza, this glitzy area of luxurious boutiques and department stores, members of the Ginza Bee Project take care of 300,000 Western and Japanese bees.

Every morning the bees take off into the sky from their wooden hives in search of flowers for pollination and nectar. Because there are many parks in Tokyo, the bees can find a lot of greenery in the area of just 2 kms (1.2 miles), like the Hibiya Park, Hamarikyu Gardens and the vast parks of the Imperial Palace. The roadside trees are also a good source of nectar, as are small flower and vegetable gardens that many Japanese grow on balconies of their apartment buildings.

The amount of produced honey increases every year. The Ginpachi bees — as locals named these bees in Ginza — produced over 760 kgs (1675 lbs) of honey in 2009 alone. The honey is then sold to local stores and pattiseries in limited numbers as a final product or as an ingredient for sweets and cake-making.

But there’s more to the project than just making honey. Ever since they brought bees to Ginza, the local cherry trees began to produce cherries which wasn’t happening before when the blossoms were not pollinated. Birds began eating the cherries and the amount of small insects, beneficial to the environment, increased in the area.

At the start of the project some people were concerned about safety as they thought that keeping so many bees in such a densely populated area could be dangerous for people. After the group thoroughly explained the behavior of bees to the tenants of the building, they successfully agreed to place three beehives on the rooftop.

According to the group, the bees are very gentle creatures and would attack only if suddenly surprised. Ever since the project was launched, there was never a case where anyone would be attacked by the bees, even though there are masses of people walking on the streets near the building every day. Quite the contrary — the Ginpachi bees have become some sort of a mascot for Ginza.

According to one of the beekeepers, Fujiwara, the Ginza bees are even healthier than those in the countryside where farmers often use pesticides. He explains that pesticides — not exhaust fumes — are the biggest threat to the bee population because a bee’s lifespan is only about 30 days and therefore any toxins they might get from the air don’t accumulate to any considerable extent in their bodies. Fujiwara adds that bees fly in the air only for about a week to ten days and they spend the rest of their lives cleaning their hives.

A project for the future

“Our future vision for Ginza is not a place where buildings compete for height but a place where people and small insects could live in harmony with nature,” says Atsuo Tanaka, co-founder of the project. “We believe that bees and people’s appreciation for them will help build an urban environment, full of greenery in the spirit of satoyama (satoyama is a Japanese word that means a traditional environment where people coexist in harmony with nature and its resources). We will be happy if our project could in some way help in the future urban planning in Japan.”

The Ginza Bee Project has received support from the city government and has gained attention from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, students and people who live in the area. In an effort to create an even friendlier environment for the bees, the Ginza Green Projectwas launched in 2007 with aim of growing flower and vegetable gardens on the rooftops of other buildings in the district. The project also looks to create green spaces that would help lower the heat retained in roads and concrete, to promote the principle of “grow local, eat local” and to encourage interpersonal relationships among people who help with the project and who may have otherwise been complete strangers.

The Ginza Green Project started out on the rooftop of the Matsuya department store where today 30 employees voluntarily take care of the gardens after they finish their regular job. The customers are also interested in the activities on the roof, so the gardens are open to the public. Matsuya sells bread and various sweets that use the ingredients they grow on the roof of their store.

In this article for The Japan Times Atsuo Tanaka says: “A bee’s average lifespan is 30 days. In this short period, a bee produces only half of a spoon of honey. This tells us how precious are their lives.”

UPDATE: Some of our readers were curious if this type of beekeeping takes place in any other cities around the world. According to this article at MSNBC, some other beekeeping cities are Paris, Berlin, London and Washington D.C. Urban beekeeping is also encouraged in San Francisco. What makes The Ginza Bee Project in Tokyo so distinct is the fact it is carried out by a large group of people who have a long-term vision that makes it possible for the project to expand and give birth to new ideas, useful to people and the environment without being limited only to beekeeping, for example, The Ginza Green Project. On the other hand, some other world metropolitan areas have banned beekeeping. In New York City, for instance, this type of illegal beekeeping is punishable with a $2000 fine (the ban has been in effect since 1999).

What do you think? Could other cities around the world benefit in a long run from a project like The Ginza Bee Project? Write your thoughts in the comments!

—–
Sources:

- The Japan Times: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090816x1.html
– Japan for Sustainability: http://www.japanfs.org/en/mailmagazine/newsletter/pages/029489.html
– TreeHugger: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/urban-beekeepers-lift-ban.php
– The Ginza Bee Project: http://www.gin-pachi.jp

銀座のミツバチが町を元気にする!

リポーター:篠山輝信さん(俳優)

銀座でミツバチを育て、町の活性化につなげようという取り組みが始まっています。東銀座にある紙パルプ会館の屋上で養蜂をしているのです。活動の中心は、紙パルプ会館専務・田中淳夫さん。再開発でも発展していかない銀座の姿を目にし、起爆剤になるものをと養蜂家・藤原誠太さんたちと活動を始めました。田中さんが活動を始めると、クラブのママやフレンチレストランのシェフ、化粧品店のオーナー、バーテンダーなど、さまざまな職業の人が養蜂に加わりました。そして5年目には約800キログラムの蜂蜜の採取に成功。とれた蜂蜜を使って、養蜂に加わった人たちが、蜂蜜のカクテルやハンドクリーム、ビール、ロールケーキなどを開発。「銀座ブランド」を武器に売り始めたところ、大評判。さらに田中さんは、ミツバチの蜜源を増やすため、銀座の店主に呼びかけ、屋上緑化を推進しています。中には、屋上で米を植える建物も登場。ミツバチからスタートした取り組みが、地域活性化だけでなく、環境保護にもつながっています。これまでの銀座のイメージが変わりつつあるのです。

中継場所:紙パルプ会館(東京都中央区)

住所:東京都中央区銀座3-9-11
電話:03-3543-8201
ファックス:03-3543-8201
ホームページ:http://www.gin-pachi.jp/ (銀座ミツバチプロジェクト)

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Getting over my anchovy prejudices: Shirasu-Chirimenjako whitebait-anchovy recipes for calcium-rich meals

Baby sardines shirasu. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Growing up, I didn’t like anchovy much whether in the Japanese loose-fishes style or European oily fillet style (some people’s reaction to anchovy are said to border upon this spoofy reaction), but then they weren’t served with much imagination in my home. Here, in Japan, anchovy appears in such a variety of ways and in delightful combinations with other foods, that my prejudice against the humble anchovy-fry has largely disappeared.

In the local supermarket here, a fish staple that is bought and consumed in practically every Japanese family’s daily menu is either Shirasu or Chirimenjako.  Shirasu/シラス in Japanese means “whitebait”, although it normally applies only to the Japanese Anchovy/Katakuchiiwashi/片口鰯 (Engraulis japonica ). Whitebait, according to Wikipedia, is a collective term for the immature fry of fish (consisting of many important food species (such as herringsprat,sardinesmackerelbass and many others).

Shirasu and Chirimenjako are both rich in calcium and it is said 100g Chirimenjako contains 500mg calcium and you can consume calcium necessary for a day with 100g Chirimenjako.  The difference between whitebait and “Chirimenjako” is its method of processing. Those which are boiled and contain much moisture are called whitebaits and those which are properly dried in the sun are called “Chirimenjako”…although technically, “Chirimenjako”, should refer to young sardine since jako means sardine fry.

In actual fact, anchovy, pilchard and round herring are often used but it depends on a fishing season. (Note: In Kyoto, chirimenjako and sansho are usually paired together over steamed rice, and considered an everyday food of Kyoto).

Today’s recipes (nearly all taken from this morning’s NHK Asaichi TV programme) combine calcium rich ingredients and other vitamins and minerals needed to facilitate the absorption of calcium, for healthy strong bone growth.

The recipe below is perfect for preparing healthy calcium-rich bento-ready patties…

しらすのフリッテッレ(8コ分) Chirasu-patties

<材料>
・しらす・・・100グラム Chirasu 100 g
・小麦粉・・・75グラム 75 g flour
・粉チーズ・・・30グラム 30g powdered cheese
・卵・・・1個 1 Egg
・塩、こしょう・・・各適量 Salt and pepper (a little of each)
・イタリアンパセリ・・・少々 Italian parsley (small amount of~)

<作り方>Method

    1. ふるった薄力粉、粉チーズ、卵の順にボウルに入れる。 Add to a bowl, the flour and powdered cheese and egg.
    2. しらすを加え、こねる。Add chirasu and knead.
    3. イタリアンパセリと塩・こしょうを入れてこねたら、手で形を作る。Add Italian parsley, salt and pepper, and form patties.
    4. 多めのオリーブ油を熱して、弱火で片面を5分程度焼き、ひっくり返して3分程度焼く。Add liberal amounts of olive oil to pan, heat and over a weak fire, cook the patties for 5 minutes, turn over and cook for another 3 minutes.

Cooking chirimenjako stir-fried with vegetables いいことずくめのじゃこ菜っぱ

<材料>Ingredients
・しらす・・・一握り Chirasu
・ごま油・・・適量 Sesame oil
・にんじん、小松菜・・・適量Garlic, komatsuna greens (small portions)
・酒・・・少々Sake wine – small amount
・いりごま・・・適量 Ground sesame
・しょうゆ・・・小さじ1弱 Soya sauce 1 tsp

<作り方>Method

  1. フライパンにごま油を熱して、しらすを炒める。 Fry the chirasu in sesame oil in a frying-pan.
  2. 細切りにしたにんじんを加える。Finely chop the garlic.
  3. しらすがきつね色に変わって香ばしくなったら、刻んだ小松菜の葉と5ミリメートルの長さに切った小松菜の軸を加える。When the chirasu turns to a (fox-coloured) brown and has become fragrant, add 5mm-cut-lengths of komatsuna greens to the pan.
  4. 酒少々を加え、水分がほとんどなくなるまで炒める。Add a little sake wine, and water and keeping frying.
  5. いりごまとしょうゆを加える。 Add sesame powder grinds and soya sauce.

Preserved shirasu-garlic condiment dish (served as a topping over rice, tofu, salads, etc.)

***

しらすとスナップえんどうのトマトクリームパスタ(2人分) Shirasu snappea and tomato cream pasta.(Serves 2)

<材料>
・しらす・・・30グラム Shirasu
・スパゲッティ・・・100グラム 100g spaghetti
・牛乳・・・90ミリリットル 90ml milk
・生クリーム・・・30ミリリットル 30 ml fresh cream
・トマトソース・・・30ミリリットル Tomato sauce 30 ml
・スナップえんどう・・・2~3本 2-3 snappeas
・イタリアンパセリ・・・適量 Italian parsley

<作り方>Method

  1. 塩一つまみが入った熱湯でスパゲッティをゆでる。Salt – add a lump of salt into the boiling water and spaghetti.
  2. オリーブオイル適量を熱したフライパンでしらすを炒める。Olive oil – small amount to oil the pan
  3. 牛乳と生クリームを加え、沸騰させる。Milk and fresh cream – Add until boiling frothily
  4. 沸騰したら火を弱め、トマトソースを加える。Once boiling, reduce heat on weak fire, add tomatoes.
  5. ゆであがったスパゲッティとサッとゆでたスナップえんどうをフライパンに加え、ソースとからめる。Add boiled spaghetti and blanched snappeas to the frying pan until the sauce caramelizes.
  6. 盛りつけてイタリアンパセリをまぶす。Remove to dish and scatter Italian parsley on top.

***

3 great simple chirasu-calcium-rich breakfast recipes follow below:

カルシウムとビタミンKたっぷり!しらす丼(1人分) Calcium and vitamin K-rich chirasu-don dish

<材料>
・しらす・・・20グラム 20 g Chirasu
・ご飯・・・150グラム 150g rice
・ひきわり納豆・・・30グラム 30g natto
・温泉卵・・・1個 1 Onsen tamago [lit. hotspring egg) but note that onsen tamago or slow-poached egg* (Watch this video on how to make onsen tamago) or soft-boiled egg
・焼きのり・・・2分の1枚Yaki-nori BBQ nori seaweed
・青じそ・・・5枚 Aojiso green shiso mint leaves – 5

<作り方>Method
丼に盛ったご飯の上にしらす、納豆、温泉卵、ちぎった焼きのり、せん切りにした青じそをのせる。 Just lay them all out in “sectors” of your rice bowl on top of piping hot steamed rice and serve for a nutritious Japanese-style breakfast.

* Cheatsheet notes: Chef Rio’s easy technique: Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and add 4 eggs. Leave the eggs in the water for about 30 minutes. Remove the eggs, crack them open and — viola! — you’ll have nicely poached onsen tamago. (For those of you who demand perfection, maintain the water temperature at exactly 145 degrees F (or 65 degrees C), which will yield an impeccably spherical poached egg.)

しらす野菜トースト(2人分) Chirasu and vegetable toast (2 persons)

<材料>Ingredients
・「カリカリしらす」・・・40グラム 40 g Savory chirasu
・食パン(6枚切り)・・・2枚 2 slices of loafbread slices [Baker's Loafbread cut into 6]
・小松菜・・・50グラム 50g komatsuna greens
・パプリカ(赤)・・・10グラム 10g green paprika capsicum
・マヨネーズ・・・大さじ1 1 Tb mayonnaise
・オリーブ油・・・小さじ1  1 tsp olive oil
・溶けるチーズ・・・40グラム 4-g cooking cheese

<作り方>Method

  1. 5ミリ程度の長さに切った小松菜と薄切りにしたパプリカ、マヨネーズ、オリーブ油を混ぜる。Chop into 5 mm lengths of komatsuna and sliced paprika, mix with olive oil and mayonnaise
  2. 食パンに(1)をのせ、カリカリしらすとチーズをトッピングする。 Over each slice of bread, layer (1) the bowl’s ingredients, and then over it a layer of savory chirasu, and finally top with cheese
  3. オーブントースターで5分間焼く。 Toast in an oventoaster for about 5 minutes.

Another breakfast idea is anchovy pizza. Now the Japanese anchovy pizza is easier on most palettes, especially kids’… than the European-or-French style anchovy fillet pizza, largely because the fish are savory and lighter, and emerge less fishy on pizza than the European version…unless you prefer the more flavorful French anchovy pizza(watch this video).

Last but not least, a breakfast dish I have actually been serving up for years on our breakfast table is either the shirasu-whitebait omelet(see photo above, and Nana Hanah’s recipe or Radio NZ’s recipe) or whitebait fritters. Visit Carol’s Whitebait Fritter’s page for her egg-white recipe or visit the Classic NZ whitebait fritters recipe page posted below.

Classic Whitebait Fritters

Ready In: 15 minutes Serves: 4Ingredients
250g Whitebait (drained & gently washed)
1 Tbsp Flour Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Eggs (Lightly beaten) Butter for frying
Lemon Juice
Method:
Sieve flour onto beaten eggs and lightly whisk together. Stir in Whitebait and season.Heat a small amount of butter in a heavy fry pan and using a teaspoon drop fritter mix into pan.Fry quickly on one side, or until egg mixture sets. Turn fritter and quickly brown other side. Drain fritters on paper towels and serve with squeezed lemon and season with salt & pepper.

***

しらすガーリックオイル(つくりやすい分量) Chirasu-in-Garlic Oil

<材料>Ingredients
・しらす・・・100グラム 100 g chirasu
・にんにく・・・1~2かけ Garlic 1-2 cloves
・オリーブ油、サラダ油・・・各大さじ2  2 Tb each of Olive Oil, Salad Oil
・しょうゆ、みりん・・・各大さじ1  1 Tb each of  soy sauce and mirin

<作り方> Method

  1. しらす、薄切りしたにんにく、オリーブ油、サラダ油、しょうゆ、みりんを清潔な瓶に入れて混ぜる。 Add to a heat-proof glass jar and mix together chirasu, finely chopped garlic, olive oil, salad oil, soy sauce, and mirin
  2. 鍋に沸かした熱湯に瓶を入れ、鍋にふたをして15分間加熱する。 Place glass-jar and added 1. in a pot of boiling water, cover for 15 minutes.

※瓶にはふたをしない。
※時々、瓶の中身を混ぜるとなじみやすい。

Other notes:

Cooking with olive oil, or cheese, or tomato sauce or spices such as sansho helps get rid of the fishiness of the chirimenjako/chirasu.

 

カルシウム吸収率UPの食材】To increase absorption of calcium from food, combine the following:
カルシウム・・・しらす、卵、小松菜 Calcium=shirasu, egg, komatsuna greens
ビタミンD(血液への吸収)・・・しらす、卵Vitamin D=shirasu, egg
ビタミンK(骨への沈着)・・・小松菜、納豆、焼きのり、青じそVitamin K (bone-building) Komatsuna greens, natto beans, BBQ nori seaweed, Aojiso green shiso mint leaves.

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Sledspotting!

A new way to do the groceries

A new way to do the groceries

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Putting your affairs in order: Lasting Power of Attorney

Despite the popular belief, your spouse or another family member cannot automatically take over your responsibilities unless you expressly authorize them to do so in the event of your incapacitation. Securing an Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) ensures that simple decisions, such as paying the bills, as well as more complicated decisions, such as selling your home, are made according to your wishes.

You will need to specify what type of Lasting Power of Attorney you want (there are different types of powers of attorney).

‘Lasting’ simply means the agent is mandated to continue making decisions for the principal especially if the latter becomes incapacitated. However, the law states that the agent should be obliged to act only in the best interest of the principal. Thus, the money and properties involved must only be used for the benefit of the principal.

A Property and Affairs LPA allows the attorney of your choice to handle your financial affair while a Personal Welfare LPA allows the donee to handle your medical care or other personal health issues.

You may assign the above two broad areas to the same donee and you may also add or give specific powers according to your needs.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney? click here.

Make sure to appoint an LPA when you are of completely sound mind because this is a requirement when you write a will. If you do not do this when you are healthy, an LPA to manage your affairs will be court appointed. In this case, you could end up with someone you do not like.

If you do not appoint an LPA and become incapacitated, your spouse or another family member will have to apply to control your assets or access your bank accounts. This is a complicated and expensive process. It can also feel like a violation of your privacy because your private matters will be in the hands of a stranger until your application is processed.

Anyone of legal age can be asked to handle your affairs. If you choose to hire an LPA, however, the LPA must be registered and it should be done sooner rather than later. Even in an emergency situation, registration can take a long time.

Accidents or long illnesses are never planned. This is why many people appoint an LPA to protect themselves and their loved ones.

It is a good idea to start appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney Singapore now to help your loved ones avoid a stressful situation later.

Using a Lasting Power of Attorney

The chart below presents a generic overview of key procedures to use a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). The LPA should only be used when the donor loses capacity and has been certified to be incapable of managing his own affairs. Should the donor regain his capacity again, the donee should step aside to allow the donor to manage his own affairs again. The LPA remains valid.

What is required, see this page at Family Law.com or the Office of Public Guardian

Criteria to make an Lasting Power of Attorney:

The requirements for making an LPA are:

  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You must have the mental capacity to make the LPA
  • You must not be an undischarged bankrupt.
  • For the LPA to be valid, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

NB: You can, at any time when you have the mental capacity, cancel (revoke) your LPA.

How Can I Make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

You will need to do the following:

a. Complete the Lasting Power of Attorney1 (LPA OPG Form 1 or LPA OPG Form 2).

There are two versions of LPA available to cater to the different needs of individuals:

LPA-Form 1 contains mostly checkboxes for donors to grant general powers to their donees with the option to select basic conditions or restrictions to these powers. This form can be self-completed by the donors.

LPA-Form 2 contains mostly free text spaces where individuals can give specific powers to their needs. This form is to be drafted by a lawyer.

b. Bring the LPA form to a certificate issuer who must be either one of the following:

  • A practising lawyer
  • A psychiatrist
  • An accredited medical practitioner

The certificate issuer will sign on the LPA Form as a witness for the donor, to certify that the donor understands the purpose of the LPA and the scope of the authority conferred under it, that there is no fraud or undue pressure used to induce the donor to create an LPA and nothing else that would prevent an LPA from being created.

c. If there are person(s) you wish to notify that you are registering an LPA, send to each named person the Notice to a Named Person of Intention to Apply for Registration of an instrument as a Lasting Power of Attorney (OPG Form N1).

d. Complete the LPA Application Form.
e. Book an appointment to submit the application to the Office of the Public Guardian and bring along the following documents:

Completed LPA Form
Completed LPA Application Form
NRIC of donor (original)
NRIC of donees and/or replacement donees (photocopy of front & back of NRIC)
One passport-sized photograph of each donee
f. Pay the application fee. The application fee is S$50.00 for Form 1 for Singapore citizens and permanent residents, and S$200.00 for other cases and for Form 2. You may pay by cash, NETS, Credit Card (Visa or Master) or cheque in local currency made payable to the “AG/MSF”.
Who can apply to register an LPA?

The person who can apply to register an LPA can be the:

Donor
Donee or donees (if the LPA appoints them to act jointly), or
Any of the donees if the LPA appoints the donees to act jointly and severally.

Who can submit the LPA application at the Office of the Public Guardian?

The application forms and documents can be submitted by the:

Applicants mentioned above
3rd party as authorised by applicant in the application form
Submitter must produce his original NRIC to verify his identity.

To allow us to serve you better, please book an appointment with us to register your LPA.
>> View instructional video on the procedure to make an LPA.

1 Please refer to “Guide to Filling Up the Lasting Power of Attorney

Where to Find a Certificate Issuer

If you are making an LPA, Part D and Part E of the LPA Form will have to be witnessed and certified by a certificate issuer. Any one of the following can be the certificate issuer for a instrument to be registered as a Lasting Power of Attorney:

a. an accredited medical practitioner
b. a practising lawyer
c. psychiatrists

Kindly note that a professional fee is payable to the certificate issuer. Please note that our Office does not prescribe the quantum of the fees charged by the certificate issuers? Where to find certificate issuers?

More info at the Office of the Public Guardian Q & A also here at this page.

Form  and Cost for Power of Attorney

Who can apply to register an LPA?

The person who can apply to register an LPA can be the:

Donor
Donee or donees (if the LPA appoints them to act jointly), or
Any of the donees if the LPA appoints the donees to act jointly and severally.

Who can submit the LPA application at the Office of the Public Guardian?

The application forms and documents can be submitted by the:

Applicants mentioned above

  • 3rd party as authorised by applicant in the application form
  • Submitter must produce his original NRIC to verify his identity.

To allow us to serve you better, please book an appointment with us to register your LPA.

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Toe-freezing foray to Hokkaido’s ski slopes

Here’s our photo montage of our favourite slopes from Sapporo — the Kokusai Ski Resort (click on any photo for slideshow or closeup):


Note: The bottom three pictures are photos of Mt. Moiwa

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Notes on Updating Java…

I learned something new today …  it has taken the “analog-old-world-me” too long to check on this, but better late than never!

The java popup has always bugged and nagged me … sometimes I updated it and sometimes I didn’t. I know, I know, I play Russian Roulette with my PC and treat PC stuff like my cooking .. going with my mood and hunches, only hunches of course, don’t always play out well in the PC world. Only now did  I decide to settle the question once and for all and checked up on this issue. This is what I found out:

Either update Java, or remove it. Do not refuse the updates. That gives you the worst of all possible worlds: a buggy old version of Java that might be exploited by maliciously coded web pages.

What Java Is

Some computer programs are written in a language called Java. The advantage of Java is that a program written in Java will work on many different kinds of computers, such as PCs and Macs. Java programs can appear both as standalone “applications,” like the Azureus file sharing program, and as in-the-web-page “applets.” The latter is increasingly rare, because Flash is much more popular for this job.
What Java Isn’t

Java is NOT JavaScript. They are completely different. They share a name only because of a marketing decision made by Netscape and Sun years and years ago. Whether you decide to keep Java or remove it, your web browser will still support JavaScript. And that is a good thing, because many web pages rely on JavaScript for important features you want.
Why Java Needs Updating

Java sounds pretty useful. So what’s the catch? Well, to run programs written in Java, you need a Java “runtime environment.” So if your computer is nagging you to “update Java,” then your computer has a Java runtime environment already— and it is out of date.
What You Should Do

You have two reasonable choices:

1. Update Java whenver you are asked to. This is safe— the Java runtime environment is a product of Sun Microsystems, a very respectable company. And it is already on your computer. Updates are usually intended to fix security problems, which makes your computer safer. When you refuse to update Java (or Windows, or MacOS…) you are often taking a very big risk by refusing to fix security problems.

2. Uninstall Java completely. Yes, you can do this and it is safe. The negative consequence is that if you are using any programs or websites that rely on Java, you will not be able to use those programs or websites correctly any more unless you install Java again. However, most people do not have Java applications on their computers these days, and most websites use Flash instead of Java for the interactive features that used to be commonly written in Java. And if you do turn out to have Java programs or applets that you depend on, you can always reinstall Java later by visiting java.sun.com.

How To Uninstall Java

Windows users can follow these steps:
1. Click on the “Start” menu

2. Click on “Control Panel”

3. Double-click “Add or Remove Programs”

4. Look for entries beginning with “Java(TM)” or “J2SE”

5. One at a time, select them, click “Remove,” and follow the prompts to remove them.

Removing Java on MacOS X

Removing Java on MacOS X is not recommended as Apple has made Java a standard part of the operating system and may rely on it to a greater degree than a typical Windows system.

SOURCE: Boutell.com

And from the bob rankin website:

Should You Allow Java on Your Computer?
If you encounter a website with an embedded Java app, and you don’t have Java installed (or enabled), you’ll just see an empty space where the program should be displaying. Many sites will provide a helpful link to where you can download the Java runtime environment from Sun Microsystems, the developer of Java. Even cell phones commonly push Java at users. But what is Java, and why should you install or enable it?

Java is a both a programming language and a platform for development of applications that work on multiple operating systems, such as Windows or Mac OS or Linux. Java consists of many software components that work together to provide a “cross-platform environment”. Essentially, that means a program written in the Java programming language will run on any type of computing platform, not just on an Intel or Apple or Nokia piece of hardware; provided, of course, that the essential Java operating components are present. That’s where the Java runtime environment becomes necessary.

Java is handy for programmers; they need only write a program once and not worry about whether the user has a PC or a Mac computer, or be concerned with which browser is being used. Java applications can be embedded in web pages, cell phones, industrial controls, household thermostats, even coffee makers. So you will run into Java often.

Yes, you do need the Java runtime environment, or you will be frustrated quite often. That online game or mortgage calculator you’ve been looking for all day won’t run without Java. So go ahead and install the Java runtime. It won’t hurt, if you have sufficient computing resources.

Is Java Safe?
Java is touted as a secure computing environment, one that makes it difficult for bad guys to snoop, cripple, or take over your computer. The Java runtime forces all Java programs to run in what’s called a “sandbox”, a portion of computer memory to which they are strictly confined. In the sandbox, a program cannot do certain things without the user’s explicit permission – like read your email or format your hard drive. But a sandbox takes up space.

Java sets up this sandbox in a “virtual machine” which consumes considerable computing resources. The amount of resources required varies according to the needs of a given Java application. A mortgage calculator won’t slow your overall computing down noticeably. A 3D animated game might, if your computer is short on memory and/or processor power.

Java applications are often encountered on Web sites, and you may want to disable them sometimes. Firefox, Internet Explorer, and most other Web browsers let you enable and disable Java at will in their “Options” settings.

In Firefox, click on the Tools button on the main toolbar. Then select Options. Click on the “Content” tab and check or uncheck the “Enable Java” checkbox.

In Internet Explorer, click on Tools, then Internet Options. Select the Programs tab and click the Manage Add-ons button. Find “Sun Microsystems – Java plug-in” and enable or disable it.

When the Java runtime is running in memory, you may see a “steaming coffee cup” icon in the system tray. It may persist after you close your browser or otherwise stop using a Java application. Don’t worry, the Java runtime will end itself and the icon will go away after a short while…

Read more: http://askbobrankin.com/what_is_java_and_do_i_need_it.html#ixzz2Ciq14hgV

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For sharp fashion sense – Miranda Kerr’s my favorite go-to-pinupgal!

This reminded me of my college-days, post-college years, the look to pull-together that never goes wrong for the young girl going out into the career world, is that of the sharp French girl look… Time to get  back to “that look”.  Oh but those to-die-for shoes…

This also very Frenchy style, throw on a scarf accessory…

It’s been such a very long time, since the humble white Tee has looked this good! But see a close runnerup for the terrific Tee-contender below (from the 2013 NY spring collection)…

New York Fashion Week Spring 2013 Models

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Comfy casual looks so cool on her … for the rest of us, some earrings and a sailor scarf might distract from less-than-perfect faces

I want to be seen shopping in Nice or Paris in the summer dressed like this!

An entirely flawless ensemble of picture-perfect photo shoots …and an utterly inspired and workable wardrobe  from Style Bistro — check the rest out:

15 Reasons to Love Miranda Kerr’s Style
From funky footwear to darling dresses, find out why we can’t help but adore Miranda’s look!

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Study: Eating dinner late leads to obesity

The vicious circle … of modern late-night lifestyle, late-night hunger leads to snacking or late-night-meals, the path to obesity. Abstaining from food doesn’t help either, if one gets too hungry to sleep and loses sleep as a result …  The only alternative is to adopt the healthy habit of sleeping early as man was evolved to do …

Study: Eating dinner late leads to obesity (Oct.9)
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Eating late dinners can disrupt the biological clock that determines a person’s daily circadian rhythm, leading to obesity and diabetes, according to a Waseda University research team.

The team is led by Prof. Shigenobu Shibata, who specializes in pharmaceutical science.

Its findings were based on experiments with mice.

It had been known that disruption of the internal body clock can cause obesity and diabetes, but Shibata’s team discovered the mechanism behind these problems, Shibata said.

The biological clock of living things is controlled by “clock genes” in cells. The internal body clock controls functions such as sleep, wakefulness, body temperature and hormonal secretion on a cycle that is about 24 hours long.

Although a day consists of 24 hours, the biological cycle varies somewhat depending on the species. The human cycle is about 24-1/2 hours while that of mice is between about 23-1/2 and 24 hours.

People’s circadian rhythm is adjusted by daylight and the intervals between meals.

The researchers examined the rhythm of body clocks by feeding mice three times a day on different schedules and measuring the functions of clock genes in their kidneys and livers.

They found that mice’s body clocks were properly reset to begin a new daily cycle when breakfast was eaten after a relatively long interval since the last meal of the previous day. The feeding schedule that seemed to work best was 7 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.

Feeding the mice the last meal of the day at 10 p.m. threw their body clocks out of sync by two or three hours, the team found.

The researchers concluded that the rhythm of body clock becomes the most disrupted as the intervals between lunch and dinner and between dinner and breakfast become almost the same.

When the mice’s last meal of the day was divided into two eatings, one at 7 p.m. and the other at 10 p.m., the disruption of their circadian rhythm was was limited to between 1-1/2 and two hours, the team found.

“Regular eating habits will help prevent obesity,” Shibata said.

(Yomiuri, Oct. 9, 2012)

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Dried enoki mushroom – contains powerful metabolizer and natural weight-enhancing active enzyme called renol

A 25 year-long piece of research found that enoki mushrooms contain renol a highly effective enzyme that can contribute to effective metabolism, production of adrenaline and therefore, is an effective natural weight-loss enhancer (10%)…according to NHK Asaichi  TV programme.

Dried enoki is best, drying the enoki in the sun for 2 hours  or more, increases, releases or concentrates the active enoki enzyme 「エノキタケリノール酸」 renol(?).

干しえのきの作り方 How to dry enoki mushrooms

Important:  Dry the enoki mushroom in a netting cage where rain will not get it wet. Find a well-ventilated spot. 2 hours of drying is sufficient, no more benefit will be obtained from drying beyond that. Calcium and Vitamin D are also produced(?) released(?) in the drying process.
ポイント:雨が当たらない、風通しのよい場所で干します。2時間天日干しをして紫外線にあてると、カルシウムを吸収しやすくするビタミンDが2倍に増えます。
2時間干しても湿り気が残っていることが多いので、フライパンで7~8分、からいりして、完全に水分を飛ばします。こうして乾かすことで、かたい細胞壁が壊れ、中に含まれている栄養素が吸収しやすくなります。

Move the dried enoki to the frying -pan and over dry heat cook for 7-8 minutes, till all the water content has evaporated. You may store the enoki indefinitely from this point onwards. (But refrigerate the dried enoki for extra long shelf life)

:::

エノキタケリノール酸を効果的にとる『えのき茶』の作り方 Effective way to extract enoki enzyme or essence:

1. 天日干ししたえのきたけを細かく切ります。 Sun/air-dried cut enoki mushroom

2. 水を沸騰させたあと数分そのままおき、95度程度になるのを待ちます。 Place the enoki into boiling water that is 95 degrees Celsius (i.e. cooled slightly from boiling point) see above picture.

3. 保温ポットに干しえのき5グラム、お湯500ミリリットルを入れ、ふたをします。

5 grams of enoki is all you need daily (do not exceed this amount), to 500 ml of water. Cover the pot.

4. 30分そのまま置くと、「エノキタケリノール酸」がたっぷり溶け出したお茶のできあがり。

Allow to steep for 30 minutes
5. これを1日かけて飲みます。その際、中に入っている干しえのきをそのまま食べるか、しっかり絞って栄養成分を取り出して飲むか、どちらかをしてください。

The remnant enoki may be eaten, add to soups or other dishes.

:::

かにと干しえのきたけのスープ
【材料・4人分】
・かにの殻(ゆでたもの。身は取り出しておく)・・・150グラム
・干しえのき・・・およそ25グラム
・昆布だし・・・600ミリリットル
・チキンスープ・・・120ミリリットル
・水溶きコーンスターチ・・・適量

【作り方】

かにの殻、キッチンペーパーで包み縛った干しえのき、昆布だし、チキンスープを鍋に入れて弱火にかけます。
ふたをずらして蒸気を逃がしつつ、沸騰させないようにして2時間煮ます。途中で水分が少なくなったら水を足します。
スープをこしてかにの殻を取り除き、干しえのきはキッチンペーパーに包んだまま絞ってスープを取り出します。
さらに半量に煮詰めたあと、水溶きコーンスターチで軽くとろみをつけ、塩で味を調えます。
煮たエノキはキッチンペーパーから出しておき、温めたかにのスープ、そしてかにの身とともにスープ皿に盛ります。

:::

牛ばら肉と干しエノキタケの煮込み
【材料・4人分】
・牛ばら肉・・・400グラム
・たまねぎ・・・2分の1個
・セロリ・・・2分の1本
・にんにく・・・2分の1玉
・チキンブイヨン・・・250ミリリットル
・トマトピューレ・・・250グラム
・白ワイン・・・125ミリリットル
・ブーケガルニ(タイム、ローリエ、コリアンダー)・・・適量
・干しえのきたけ・・・2パック分
・コーンスターチ・・・適量

【作り方】

牛ばら肉は塩をして一晩おき、ひもで縛って形を整える。野菜は大きめに切る。
にんにくの皮をむく。ブーケガルニは布で包み、縛っておく。
牛ばら肉をフライパンで焼き、軽く焼き色が全体についたら鍋に入れる。
白ワインを入れて沸かし、チキンスープ、トマトピューレ、野菜も入れて、柔らかくなるまで弱火で煮る。
そのまま冷ましてから肉を取り出し、煮汁をこす。再度沸かして味を調え、水溶きのコーンスターチ(または片栗粉)で少しとろみをつける。
肉を4等分し、煮汁に戻す。干しえのきも加えて軽く煮る。
バター少々加えて仕上げる。(付き合わせの野菜や種無しオリーブも加えました

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Tips for starting my day better…

Avoid caffeine
Avoid caffeine. It may be through habit that one of the first things we do when we get up is go straight for the caffeine hit, but this should be avoided if possible. Since your body has been several hours without fluid, what you need is a proper rehydrating drink such as freshly squeezed orange juice. A cup of hot water with a touch of lemon and honey is also a good way to start the day. If you can, add some ginger—this acts as an extra boost to your circulatory system

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Take a deep breath. There is often a sense of anxiety ahead of a stressful day and sometimes we are far from relaxed when we get up. To get your body into a state of relaxation, it is important to control the functions of the body, like the beating of the heart and breathing properly. A good method is to try 2:1 breathing, this is easy and really effective—you gently slow the rate of exhalation so that you are exhaling twice as long as you are inhaling

:::
Your morning ritual is something which shapes how you feel for the rest of the day. If you’re someone who constantly reaches for the snooze button again and again, then chances are you end up prizing yourself out of bed, only to feel rushed and frantic because you’re running late.
Okay, some of us are just not ‘morning’ people, but you can make yourself go some way to becoming one just by modifying your morning routine. The following tips focus on how to improve how you feel from the very moment you wake. less
Move your alarm clock. You may want to have you alarm clock close to hand so you can constantly keep leaning over and pressing it for a few extra minutes of snooze time. The reality is it doesn’t really help. Place your alarm just that bit farther away so that you really have to stretch or even get up to reach it—any stretching movement stimulates the waking part of the brain.
Move your alarm clock. You may want to have you alarm clock close to hand so you can constantly keep leaning over and pressing it for a few extra minutes of snooze time. The reality is it doesn’t really help. Place your alarm just that bit farther away so that you really have to stretch or even get up to reach it—any stretching movement stimulates the waking part of the brain.
Avoid caffeine. It may be through habit that one of the first things we do when we get up is go straight for the caffeine hit, but this should be avoided if possible. Since your body has been several hours without fluid, what you need is a proper rehydrating drink such as freshly squeezed orange juice. A cup of hot water with a touch of lemon and honey is also a good way to start the day. If you can, add some ginger—this acts as an extra boost to your circulatory system. less
Exercising in the morning. Although many of us probably don’t feel like it, a bit of morning exercise will help. We are not talking about a full-on several-mile run, just some activity to increase your body temperature, and get your metabolism and enzyme activity kick-started. This could involve just doing a few basic stretches or even jogging on the spot. If you do fancy taking on something more energetic in the morning, then ensure that you have thoroughly warmed-up. less
Take a deep breath. There is often a sense of anxiety ahead of a stressful day and sometimes we are far from relaxed when we get up. To get your body into a state of relaxation, it is important to control the functions of the body, like the beating of the heart and breathing properly. A good method is to try 2:1 breathing, this is easy and really effective—you gently slow the rate of exhalation so that you are exhaling twice as long as you are inhaling. less
Surroundings. Your surroundings can have an impact on your mood from the moment you wake. If you wake up surrounded by clutter, then that is hardly going to get you off to the right start. Keep your bedroom as clutter free as possible. You can also pay attention to your décor—certain colors can be good for your mood, choose something that uplifts you. If possible have some green plants in your bedroom—a little bit of greenery can do wonders to enhance your mood and positivity

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After a long sleep, breakfast is responsible for replacing your liver glycogen, which helps you stay focused and switched-on throughout the morning. Choose your breakfast carefully—sugary breakfast cereals only give you a quick hit and can rapidly wear off. The best bet is to eat some protein combined with carbohydrate to help maintain your alertness throughout the morning

:::

Source: How to start your day better

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Isn’t it time to stop throwing eggs in the face of egg-lovers?

Image: Wikipedia

How complicated can an egg get? Pretty complicated it seems.

This report No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? (Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2012) has the effect of an egg in the face of this egg-lover and stirring up controversy over the humble egg and whether-an-egg-is-good-for-your-health issues.

I sure wish researchers and medical people would get their facts straight about eggs. Every few decades, the tide swings the other way about whether or not we should eat eggs.

Growing up in the sixties, they told our parents it was bad to eat eggs, that eggs were high in cholesterol and that eating eggs gave you heart disease and all…

And then when I was getting rolling on my career path, they were telling us that only egg yolks are bad (a still influential view), so a whole generation went yolk-less and women followed the example of models who stayed think by eating egg-whites only.

And then while I began raising my own kids and wondering how much egg to serve and how to serve egg to my husband and kids, the word came out that the key to eggs was to avoid hydrogenated oils, … with the egg association’s advice to avoid cooking eggs with hydrogenated cooking oils (the egg association has at least a dozen tips on how to cook your eggs).

More recently, the experts encouraged us parents to take eggs off the naughty list, telling us that egg food is brain food, a key to success and better test scores,  and that the choline in an egg is important for our kids’ (and adults’) brain development and protects their eyes, and what loving parent with their best intentions could resist avoid heeding advice like that?

Only last year, the health world gave us greater licence with the egg in the kitchen and told us to eat more eggs, not fewer. The new word out yet again was that eating more eggs could increase the amount of cholesterol in high-density lipoproteins (HDLs)—the good cholesterol. They reported a Michigan State University study involving more than 27,000 people that found that cholesterol was lower in people who ate more than four eggs per week than among people who eschewed eggs. Also fairly recent news … new research that tells us eggs help those of us who hard and long hours to stay awake and alert during the working day.

But now this? No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? is like a slap in the face for the well-meaning parents who have been putting lots of “wholesome eggs” on the home menu. In short, we egg-lovers get buffeted about, (as far as I can see in the course of my short life-time) swinging like a pendulum between the good news and the bad news about eggs. I seriously feel deprived over, and defensive about my right to eat and enjoy an egg, without getting jerked around and having my mind messed up and having to go on a guilt trip.

How can there be so much controversy about the one most innocent, simple, basic and primal food that’s so loaded with life and nutrition in the world? The egg has been so revered by many ancient civilizations, judging by the number of egg-related creation myths (think Cosmic Egg, World Egg, Easter Egg traditions) in the world. I mean the egg features big on the breakfast palette of just about every civilization, so how can something so full of goodness and life, also be so downright bad for us?

I mean …look at the Japanese, they consume more eggs than anybody else in the world…300 eggs per person, and still more Japanese live to a ripe old age than just about anybody else in the world (except that the Fukushima disaster set Japanese females behind to second place in this year’s life expectancy statistics, behind Hong Kongers). Heck, in Japan, if you go to Hakone which is near where I live, the locals stubbornly have it that if you eat one of its volcanically brewed black eggs (called the Owakudani Black Egg), you prolong your life by 7 years, and two, 14 years and so forth…  Doesn’t it really get you wondering what the experts are getting wrong with their big picture of eggs and the health of mankind?

Just when I’ve got used to the idea of enjoying my eggs whole again … there is only more confusing research to make us hold back from serving up the most convenient and neat nutritional package that is called the egg. Steven Novella in Eggs and Atherosclerosis points out the flaws in this most recent report challenging the health benefits of eggs, and writes:

“The weaknesses of this study include the fact that it is retrospective and based on survey data, which is notoriously inaccurate. Further, it is an observational study and therefore there are many confounding factors that are not controlled for. Perhaps people who eat more egg yolks also eat more bacon, or have a generally poorer diet, or don’t exercise as much. The authors acknowledge this in their last line about needed a prospective study that controls for possible confounding factors.

But the data in the study is even more problematic, in my opinion. The article itself is behind a paywall, but here is table two containing the key data. … The table does indeed show a significant increase in carotid plague, the build up of cholesterol on the inner lining of the main arteries that feed the brain, with increase in egg yolk years. There are significant confounders and contradictions in the data as well, however. The most glaring to me is that total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL and LDL do not vary significantly across the egg yolk years columns. Apparently what the authors have shown (which is consistent with previous data) is that eating lots of eggs does not increase total cholesterol or bad cholesterol (LDL) nor does it decrease good cholesterol (HDL). In my mind this leaves the authors completely without a mechanism to explain a causal relationship between egg consumption and carotid plaque. This strongly suggests the association is not causal but is incidental or spurious … Overall the data are not very compelling. The lack of correlation with cholesterol is most damning, in my opinion.”

 

I hope he is right and the report is flawed.  Seriously, pretty please, will somebody please get the facts right and set the record straight once and for all???

***

Source reference article: No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking? By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles TimesAugust 14, 2012

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The best thing about milk …

Glowing skin! Healthy bones and teeth! Build good eyesight, muscles and lose weight (Surprised?)! De-Stress (ever heard of milk and cookies for Santa?)  Lower high blood pressure and risk of strokes. Milk is anti-ageing and gives you a beauty boost (healthy hair, reduces acne skin flare-ups! Reduce the liver’s production of cholesterol. Reduces PMS symptoms. Stop or slow osteoporosis, loss of bone mass. Protect from type 2 diabetes and colon cancer, read on…

While a 2004 National Cancer study Dairy Foods, Calcium and Colorectal Cancer: A Pooled Analysis of 10 Cohort Studies” concluded that ” Higher consumption of milk and calcium is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer”, research published in the journal Evidence-Based Nursing determined that calcium supplements specifically calcium carbonate forms (more absorbable untested forms like calcium citrate might still work) didn’t reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in postmenopausal women.

An old wives’ tale was that milk could make acne breakouts  (associations with more fat). But … according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, certain nutrients may help reduce the severity of frequency of acne. An 8-oz. glass of 2-percent milk provides you with about 10 percent of recommended daily value, or DV, of zinc, which improved acne in some clinical trial. The serving of 2-percent milk also provides about 15 percent DV for vitamin A. Vitamin A is a milder version of the synthetic topical versions of the vitamin, known as retinoids, that are sometimes prescribed for acne. According to UMMC, consuming more vitamin A delivers some of the same pimple-fighting benefits of retinoids, including unclogging pores and lessening skin inflammation. (Source: Livestrong.com)

Oprah.com writes about the nutrition found in your daily glass of milk:

According to the National Dairy Council, milk is filled with nine essential nutrients that benefit our health:

  • Calcium: Builds healthy bones and teeth; maintains bone mass
  • Protein: Serves as a source of energy; builds/repairs muscle tissue
  • Potassium: Helps maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Phosphorus: Helps strengthen bones and generate energy
  • Vitamin D: Helps maintain bones
  • Vitamin B12: Maintains healthy red blood cells and nerve tissue
  • Vitamin A: Maintains the immune system; helps maintain normal vision and skin
  • Riboflavin (B2): Converts food into energy
  • Niacin: Metabolizes sugars and fatty acids

In other words, milk packs quite a punch when it comes to nutrition—and you don’t have to drink a gallon to reap the benefits, the National Dairy Council says. In fact, the council says that just one 8-ounce glass of milk provides the same amount of vitamin D you’d get from 3.5 ounces of cooked salmon, as much calcium as 2 1/4 cups of broccoli, as much potassium as a small banana, as much vitamin A as two baby carrots and as much phosphorus as a cup of kidney beans!

Read more: here

The only downside is if you are lactose-intolerant, which a lot of Asians tend to be. But in such cases, reducing the amount of milk drunk to half a cup at a time, or drinking it along with other foods, would be better than not drinking at all.

From my point of view, the best thing about milk for the busy mom is … you can serve it to your kids without no effort at all!

Sources:

Benefits of Milk Fitday.com

Milk the Facts and the Fallacies

The Benefits of Milk for Skin and 11 Beauty Benefits of Milk 

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Homemade Blueberry Egg Tart — a variation on the Chinese egg tart

My two kids tried out a variation on the Chinese or Asian egg tart recipe (from the Instructables) today all by themselves. We happened to have a lot of leftover blueberries (we’ve having a large crop of blueberries in our garden right now) so they added fresh blueberries … which is the only variation to the recipe (posted below), and somehow it made it less “eggy” …and voila! it was the most marvelous egg tart I have ever had! I am so proud of them!

Blueberry egg tart

Ingredients:

A) Crust ( 8 tarts)

· 1 ½ unsalted butter stick(1 cup)

· 2 cups flour

· 1 egg

· 150ml powdered sugar

· ½ tsp salt

B) Egg Custard (10-12 tarts)

· 5 small eggs/ 4 medium eggs/ 3 large eggs

· 290ml milk

· 75ml water

· 190ml sugar or less (1.5cups)

· 1 pinch salt

Equipments needed:

· Electric mixer(optional)

· 2 large bowls

· Measuring cup

· Whisk

· Tart tins or disposable muffin tins

· toothpicks

Step 1 Melt the butter

Set the butter into microwave and heat it up for a minute or two until the butter dissolve completely.

Note: You can either melt or use electric mixer to beat the butter until it is soft and fluffy.

Step 2Add flour, powdered sugar, egg and salt together into the butter

After adding those ingredients, use your hand to knead the dough. You can stop kneading if it turns soft, pliable dough.

Note : Electric mixer might not work well in kneading dough because it will spill flour all over the place and make a mess to your kitchen.

Step 3 Form small balls of dough and place them on tart tins (or disposable muffin tins)

Start forming the base using your fingers to push the dough into the mould. You can trim away excess dough on the mould.

Tip : This method is considered to be the toughest among others. A delicious egg tart depends on how thick your crust is. If the crust is too thick, you tend to consume more crust and less custard which leaves you unsatisfactory feeling. If it is too thin, the egg tart will fall apart easily.

Step 4 Mix all the ingredients for making egg custard

You have to beat the ingredients gently for a minute or two with a whisk. The egg yolk should blend together with other ingredients. In the end, the mixture will become light yellow in color.

Note: It is all right if you happened to find some visible yellow patches or the egg white that does not dissolve completely in the mixture. They do not affect the taste of the custard.
Step 5 Pour the egg custard mixture into a measuring cup

After that, start by filling the crust with egg custard. Please do not pour until it is completely full because it will spill out easily. If it is full, the filling will expand because of the heat in the oven and spill all over the place. This will create a mess in your oven.
Step 6Preheat the oven to 350 �F /180 degrees C and bake them for 40 to 50 minutes

You have to monitor the conditions of the egg tarts from time to time. This is because the crust will get burned easily. Remove them from the oven when they turned golden brown.

Warning: Please handle with care while you are working with oven. If you happened to burn yourself, seek medical help immediately.

Step 7 Insert a toothpick into the custard

Before this, leave the egg tarts to cool down for a minute or two. Do not take them off right away because the crusts are still soft and will break easily.

Warning: Be very careful while removing the egg tarts from the hot tins because you might scale yourself if you do not handle them cautiously.
Step 9  Serve the egg tarts!

Finally, the egg tarts are ready to be served! It is advisable to serve the egg tarts while they are piping hot from the oven. You will able to taste the crunchy crust with the soft moist egg custard fresh from the oven. The egg tarts can be kept in refrigerator up to 3 days. This is a simplified version of an egg tart recipe. You can search more recipes and compare with others if you wish to produce tastier egg tarts. Enjoy!

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At last! Odour-free and pristine shoes…shoecare tips that don’t cost an arm and a leg and that actually work!

Uwabaki (上履き)

A number of useful tips to be garnered from this morning’s NHK Asaichi TV programme:

  • Use alum (みょうばん myouban in Japanese) to get rid of smells and especially to kill the germs in shoes. Use a spray-bottle containing a mixture of 6g of alum powder and 100 ml of water, and spray onto the insides of shoes. Alum has been used as a deodorant by various cultures, and notably by the Romans in antiquity(see Pliny the Elder’s “The Natural History, Chap 52″).
  • To maintain shoes in clean and smell-free condition, create your own teru teru bozu with a cotton square clean rag or remnant textile, stuff with alum powder, and tie into a teru-teru bozu form. Stuff the teru teru bozu, head first into the toe area of the shoe.

teru teru bozu

  • To keep canvas shoes white as new, dip into baby powder and powder liberally and coat well with powder puff all over the new canvas shoes, paying attention to the seams, edges and cotton straps, which get dirty easily. The baby powder will plug the pores in the cotton so that soil and dirt will remain on the surface which can be brushed off easily. This keeps the canvas whites whiter and newer than if you use industrial canvas cleaners. Those notoriously difficult-to-maintain–in-a-white-state school canvas shoes Uwabaki (上履き) can finally be kept in pristine condition!
  • To maintain your working leather shoes for longer life and cleaner shoes, here’s the easy TOP SECRET tip. Use an ordinary clean cotton ragcloth, wet it well (but not dripping) and press into the surface of the shoe all over, then wipe off the grime and dirt. It will all come off easily. Water will work better than any storebought shoe-cleaner. Then use your usual store-bought leather waxes or creams to protect and maintain the life of your leathers.
  • To keep your working leathers or other shoes in shape and to avoid sag, crush a sheet of newspaper and roll up into small balls, wrap each ball in one sheet of tissue, then stuff into your shoe till full.
  • To be rid of mold growing on your shoes, scrub and wipe off the mold from the surface of the shoes. Then with a store-bought ethanol cleaning solution in spray-bottle, spray liberally all over the affected shoe surface, and wipe off with a clean cotton rag.
  • To avoid peeling and poorly fitted foam cushion insole pads, cut to accurately fit your shoe shape, and then spread a layer of dedicated-for-shoe-glue onto both the inside sole area of the shoe and a layer on the back of the shoe insole cushion pad. Important: Wait till the glue nearly dry (to the point that the glue does not stick to your fingers), then press the shoe insole cushion pad to the insole of the shoe into position. Press well with your thumb the entire area of the insole. This will prevent the problem of shifting and peeling shoe cushion pads.
  • To mend your worn out heels of your shoes, this is what you do. Cut a rectangular strip from any old clear plastic folder.  Tape with duct-tape the strip of plastic to the heel of the shoe, squeeze from a tube of store-bought shoe repairer rubber mix (chip type) onto the heel area to be refurbished. Then with a tongue-depressor (used ice-cream stick), level off the shoe-repairer mix. Wait for it to set and dry for 24 hours. Your shoe will be as good as new.

Repairing the heel of your wornout shoes

How I love the ever-practical Asaichi TV programme!

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Summer fruit from the garden

image

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