Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Check that product first 

If you want to find out about a skin care or comestic product before you buy it, go to There are tons of reviews on almost every beauty product out there. And the reviews are from beauty junkies so hopefully these women are experienced users who are demanding in their expectations. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Oops, we did it again 

OK, now it seems that we're really on a car buying/selling frenzy, thanks to the recently signed legislation whereby certain hybrid vehicles (getting >45 mph) can drive on HOV (carpool) lanes with only one passenger. So "of course" that means that we have another new car.

August 2005: 2005 Toyota Prius
Car Count: 6 (Prius, Audi, Golf, Porsche, Corvair, Jaguar)

Frankly, I think it's a dumb law because it encourages people to throw money at the problem, instead of improving public transportation, carrying more passengers in their current vehicles or finding creative options like telecommuting. When enough people buy hybrid vehicles, it will negate any benefits of the carpool lane. But, I do think that people are slow to adopt (just look at the Fastrak lane - I can't believe people don't get that, and it's free??!) so it will be a while before the carpool lane is clogged with Priuses. Until then, why not enjoy the advantages of early adoption?

The good news is that I believe that we have an ideal portfolio of cars now: a sensible familiy wagon, a fuel efficient commuter, and a fun (read: midlife crisis) convertible. So, I cannot foresee us changing our cars again anytime soon. Hopefully I didn't just jinx myself for saying that...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Feng shui for the baby's room 

Interesting feng shui tips for your baby's room. Couldn't hurt, right?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Good nutrition 

I thought this article from Babycenter was very helpful, for both kids and adults!

Your toddler needs 500 milligrams (mg.) of calcium a day. Calcium is key for building strong bones and teeth, for promoting nerve and muscle function, for helping blood clot, and for activating enzymes that convert food into energy. Some experts believe that many children are falling short of their calcium requirements, in part because juice and other nondairy drinks are so popular that kids are drinking less milk.

Here are some of the best sources of calcium:
• 1/2 cup yogurt: 190 mg.
• 1/2 cup calcium-fortified orange juice: 175 mg.
• 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses: 172 mg. (regular molasses: about 41 mg. per tablespoon)
• 1/2 ounce cheddar cheese: 153 mg. * 1/2 cup milk: about 150 mg. (1/2 cup chocolate milk: about 140 mg.)
• 1/2 cup fortified soy milk: 150 mg.
• 1/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese: 128 mg.
• 1/2 ounce jack cheese: 106 mg.
• 1/2 ounce Swiss cheese: 102 mg.
• 1/4 cup white beans: 80 mg.
• 1/4 cup cottage cheese: 68 mg.
• 1/2 ounce mozzarella: 75 mg.
• 1/2 slice cheese pizza: 59 mg.
• 1/2 cup calcium-fortified apple juice: 50 mg.
• 1/2 serving hot chocolate from mix prepared with water: 48 mg.
• 1/4 cup collard greens: 88 mg.
• 1/4 cup pudding (homemade from mix or scratch): 75 mg. (ready-to eat varieties: about 50 mg.)
• 1/3 cup O-shaped multigrain cereal: 32 mg.
• 1/4 cup spinach, cooked: 73 mg.
• 1/4 cup frozen yogurt: 52 mg.
• 1/4 cup cooked macaroni and cheese (from a packaged mix): 50 mg.
• 1/2 orange: 25 mg.
• 1/4 cup ice cream: 46 mg.
• 1/4 sweet potato, mashed: 17 mg.
• 1/4 cup tofu: 102 mg. (Note: Tofu varies in nutrients, depending on the type. This figure is for tofu made with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride.)
• 1/4 cup broccoli: 15 mg.

A few tips for maximizing calcium intake:
• Use milk instead of water when making cereals and soups.
• Use evaporated milk in place of regular milk in recipes — it has twice the calcium of regular milk.
• Add yogurt to fruit salads; nonfat milk powder to pancake batter, sauces, and smoothies; and cheese to vegetables, sauces, and mashed potatoes.
• Buy calcium-fortified juice, bread, and cereal.

Your toddler needs 7 mg. of iron every day. Iron is important for making hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red pigment in blood, and myoglobin, a pigment that stores oxygen in muscles. Lack of iron can cause anemia, which can result in fatigue, weakness, and irritability. Iron also affects brain development. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States.

Is there a difference between animal sources of iron and plant sources of iron?
Yes. Heme iron — the kind you get from animal sources such as meat, fish, shellfish, and poultry — is easily absorbed by the body. But the body needs help to absorb non-heme iron — the kind found in non-animal sources like dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, fortified breads and grains, and dried fruits. (Egg yolks also contain iron, mostly non-heme.)

You can increase the amount of non-heme iron the body absorbs by serving it with foods that contain heme iron, or with foods rich in vitamin C, such as orange juice, oranges, strawberries, red peppers, papaya, broccoli, grapefruit, cantaloupe, tomatoes, mangoes, and potatoes.

Here are some of the best sources of iron:
• 1/4 cup sea vegetables: 9 to 21 mg.
• 1/3 cup fortified, ready-to-eat cereal: 4.5 mg.
• 1/3 cup fortified oatmeal: 4 mg.
• 1/4 cup soybeans: 2.2 mg.
• 1/4 cup baked beans with pork and tomato sauce: 2 mg.
• 1/4 cup navy beans: 1.2 mg.
• 1 ounce steak: 1 mg.
• 1 ounce shrimp: .9 mg.
• 1/4 cup garbanzo beans: .8 mg.
• 1/2 medium-sized hamburger (1.5 oz.): .9 mg.
• 1/4 cup black beans: .9 mg.
• 1 tablespoon wheat germ: .5 mg. iron
• 1/4 cup tofu: .9 mg. (Note: Tofu varies in nutrients, depending on the type. This figure is for tofu made with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride.)
• 1/2 large egg: .3 mg.
• 1 ounce breast of chicken: .2 mg.

Your toddler needs 3 mg. of zinc a day. Zinc is needed in more than 70 enzymes that aid digestion and metabolism. And children who don't get enough zinc risk stunting their growth. Keep in mind, though, that zinc deficiencies are rare in this country.

Here are some of the best sources of zinc:
• 1/4 cup baked beans with pork and tomato sauce: 3.5 mg.
• 1/2 medium-sized hamburger: about 2 mg.
• 1 ounce steak: about 1.7 mg.
• 1 tablespoon wheat germ: about 1 mg.
• 1/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese: .7 mg.
• 1/3 cup bran flakes: between .8 mg. and 1.4 mg., depending on the brand * 1/4 cup tofu: .6 mg.
(Note: Tofu varies in nutrients, depending on the type. This figure is for tofu made with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride.)
• 1/4 cup garbanzo beans: about .6 mg.
• 1/4 cup lentils: about .6 mg.
• 1/4 cup limas: .4 mg.
• 1/4 cup corn: .2 mg.
• 1 large egg yolk or 1/2 whole large egg: .3 mg.

Vitamin D
Surprisingly, the requirement for vitamin D — 200 IUs or 5 micrograms per day — is the same from birth to age 50. Vitamin D helps the body absorb minerals like calcium and builds strong teeth and bones. It's called the "sunshine vitamin" because the body can make it when the skin is exposed to sunlight. But vitamin D production is prevented by smog, clouds, dark skin, and sunscreen with an SPF of 8 or more, so it's a good idea to make sure your child gets 200 IUs of vitamin D every day from food sources.

Here are some of the best sources of vitamin D:

Note: IUs will vary somewhat, depending on brand.
• 1 ounce salmon serving: 103 IUs
• 1 ounce tuna (canned in oil, drained): 200 IUs
• 1/2 cup fortified whole milk: 49 IUs
• 1 large egg yolk: 25 IUs
• 1/3 cup fortified, ready-to-eat cereal: 13 IUs
• 1/2 teaspoon fortified margarine: 10 IUs

Vitamin A
Your toddler needs 300 micrograms RAEs (retinol activity equivalents) of vitamin A daily. Vitamin A plays an important role in vision and bone growth, and helps protect the body from infections. Vitamin A also promotes the health and growth of cells and tissues in the body, particularly those in the hair, nails, and skin.

And about those rumors: Yes, carrots and other vitamin A-rich foods are essential for good eyesight. And while it's possible to get too much vitamin A from animal sources like liver, it's nearly impossible to overdose by getting "too many" carotenoids, the orange and yellow pigments in fruits and vegetables, like carrots. (Be sure to serve carrots cooked, as raw carrots are a choking hazard for toddlers.)

Here are some of the best sources of vitamin A:
Note: Micrograms will vary somewhat, depending on size of fruit or vegetable.
• 1/4 cup mashed sweet potato: 646 mcg. RAE
• 1/4 cup cooked carrots: 336 mcg. RAE
• 1/4 cup butternut squash (cubed): about 286 mcg. RAE
• 1/2 cup fortified milk: 72.5 mcg. RAE
• 1/2 large egg: 35 mcg. RAE
• 1/4 cup cooked broccoli: 26 mcg. RAE
• 1/4 cup sliced mango: 16 mcg. RAE

Vitamin C
Your toddler needs 15 milligrams of vitamin C a day. Vitamin C helps form and repair red blood cells, bones, and tissues. It helps keep your child's gums healthy and strengthens his blood vessels, minimizing bruising from falls and scrapes. Vitamin C helps heal cuts and wounds, boosts the immune system, and keeps infections at bay. And it helps the body absorb iron from plant-based foods. This vitamin is available in many foods, so deficiencies are rare.

Here are some of the best sources of vitamin C:
Note: Milligrams will vary somewhat, depending on size of fruit or vegetable.
• 1/4 cup guava: 82.5 mg.
• 1/4 cup papaya: 47.5 mg.
• 1/2 medium orange: 30 mg.
• 1/4 cup broccoli: 30 mg.
• 1/4 cup orange juice: 25 mg.
• 3 whole medium strawberries: 21 mg.
• 1/4 grapefruit: 21 mg.
• 1/4 cup cantaloupe: 17 mg.
• 1/2 tomato: 11 mg.
• 1/4 medium mango: 7.6 mg.
• 1/2 banana: 5 mg.
• 1/4 baking potato (such as Russet): 5 mg. without skin, 6.5 with skin
• 1/4 cup spinach: 4.5 mg.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Napa tourist info 

Here is a good list for tourists of some recommended wineries that someone shared. This list is restricted to wineries between Napa and Calistoga.

V Sattui: Good picnic spot, across the road from Dean & Deluca. Wide variety of wines, and a deli where you can buy picnic food
Clos Du Val: Demonstration vineyard tour, pétanque courts (bocce ball), picnic area. Great reds
Chateau Montelena: Gorgeous stone building with friendly tasting room. Distinguished as the Napa Valley winery that won the 1976 Paris Tasting for their '73 Chardonnay. This wine tasting was notable because Stag's Leap won in the Reds category, and for the first time California wineries had beat out the French in both categories to be named 'Best Wine In The World'. Features a great Zinfandel, and many other good reds.
Merryvale: Historic winery with graceful European fountain and formal gardens. Think 'pretty'. Great Cabs and Merlots
Silver Oak: Where 'Life is a Cabernet'. Need I really say more? THE Napa cab stop.
Far Niente: Features 'oldest bottle of California wine', historic grounds, pretty pretty gardens, cave tours, yadda yadda… but what's really cool about Far Niente is the car collection, which you get to see if you take a private tour ;) Oh yeah, good Chards and Cabs, too
Opus One: If you have to ask, you can't afford it. Just a TASTE of this stuff costs $25.
Beaulieu Vineyard: Nevermind that they sell some of the most quaffable reds available at your local Safeway, try the Georges de Latour Cabs.
Cakebread: Their 'Sensory Evaluation of Wine' experience will explain more about wine tasting than any other tour you've ever been on. They also do a nice Wine-Food Tasting (maybe a possibility for lunch?). Great whites, especially Chardonnay.
Acacia: Brilliant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Caymus: The Cab is King.
Stag's Leap: Hard place to get a tasting, but worth it. Voignier, a great Chardonnay, Merlot, Cab, Syrah, Merlot and a nice Petite Syrah called Ne Cede Malis
Grgich Hills: Grgich was the vitner who made the Chateau Montelena's award winning '73 Chardonnay. Wine tasting for serious wine tasters. Chards, Cabs, Zins and a smattering of Merlot and Violetta

(more commentary on other wineries to be added eventually)

Rich and I have taken a couple of day dates to Napa for lunch and a winery while the baby is in school. Here are a list of restaurants that we like going to or want to try:

Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen - same chef as Mustards, but homier and warmer
Bistro Don Giovanni
Tra Vigne
Martini House - St. Helena
Rutherford Grill
Culinary Institute
Auberge du Soleil
French Laundry - there is no other restaurant like this; this is a MUST GO at least once in your life, even if the meal costs the same as a plane ticket to France itself
Tony's Seafood in Marshall

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bye bye, Sweet Ride! 

Hello to wet hair on rainy days!

Car Count back to 5.
(See previous blogs on our car owning history here, here and here.)