How to Treat Bed Bug Bites

Scientists have revealed the preliminary description of the bed bug’s sialome – proteins in the saliva that allows the bed bug to feed on humans without fatal retaliation.

Bed bugs belong to a group of parasitic insects that feed on blood. Their success in feeding undisturbed depends in part on the proteins in their saliva. These substances cause the host’s blood vessels to dilate to ease the flow of blood into its body, inhibit clotting and to prevent immediate pain and itching.

The immune system determines the host’s response to the proteins. Bed bugs can cause a number of health effects including psychological effects, allergic reactions and physical effects such as prominent blisters on the skin.

Common allergic reactions include the development of large wheal accompanied by itching and inflammation that can last for several days. Multiple bites may trigger blister-like eruptions. People with severe allergies may develop anaphylaxis. The allergens from bed bug bites are associated with asthmatic reactions.

Bite marks grouped in a linear pattern are suspected to be bed bug bites. Post-bite effect happens in 3 stages which include no reaction (development of few or no antibodies), delayed reaction; immediate and delayed reaction, immediate reaction only and no visible reaction.

Symptoms include raised and inflamed wheal at each bite site with intermittent itching for several days. Immediate reaction can happen within 24 hours of the bite and lasts for 1 – 2 days.

Delayed reaction to bed bug bites appear in 1 to 3 days followed by redness and periodic intense itching that may last up to 5 days. Delayed reactions may take up to 9 days before lesions appear.

Medical experts say people who receive frequent bites develop the sensitivity syndrome that includes nervousness, constant agitation and insomnia. Medical literature suggests a person may develop secondary infections from scratching the wheal and the bites can cause blister-like eruptions on the skin, anaemia and anaphylactic reactions and trigger or worsen asthma.

Sometimes bed bug bites develop into a hard whitish swelling that leaves a dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area. Bed bug bites usually fade after a while, but sometimes old bites flare up if the wound was not healed properly and the person keeps on scratching the wheal.

If you were bitten by bed bugs and you react adversely to the bite, you must take some steps to treat the wheal so they can heal. You should consult your physician immediately after you become aware of the bites, especially if you develop severe allergic reactions.

Home remedies and over-the-counter medications are available to treat the bites. People’s skin respond differently to treatments so please consult your doctor before using any home remedy.

Home remedies

(a) Treat the affected area with ice to soothe the wound

(b) Clean the affected area with an antiseptic soap (e.g. Dettol) before treating the wound. This prevents microbes from entering the wound. Rinse with cold water and apply a paste of coconut oil (1 tablespoon) and roasted turmeric powder (1 tablespoon). Leave the treatment on for 8 hours.

(c) Spray lavender oil on the wound for instant relief from itching. If you have an allergic reaction to the bites you can take corticosteroids. Please consult your doctor before doing so.

(d) Apply mint, garlic or cayenne pepper to the affected area after treating the wound.

(e) Black pepper, walnut and red pepper are useful herbs to treat the bites.

(f) Mix a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of baking powder and add water to make a paste and apply it to the wound.

(g) Apply a thick paste of cornstarch and water to the wound. Corn starch removes toxins in the affected area.

(h) Apply an astringent such as witch hazel, St John’s Wort or lemon juice to a cotton wool and dab at the wound to reduce itching.

(i) Apply rubbing alcohol to the affected area to relieve itching. Avoid scratching the wounds to prevent infections.

(j) Use a few drops of cedar wood oil with other medications (e.g. oral or topical corticosteroids and antihistamines) to treat the inflammation.

(k) Add concentrated peppermint oil, baking soda, oatmeal or Alka-Seltzer (only if you are not allergic to aspirin) to a warm bath and soak in it to reduce the itching.

(l) Honey and aloe vera can also treat the wound. The gel from the aloe vera plant has antifungal and antibiotic properties to treat the wounds.

(m) If you are not allergic to aspirin you can dip a cotton ball into Alka-Seltzer solution and apply it to the wound.

(n) Apply a light paste of aspirin mixed with water to the wound (if you are not allergic to aspirin).

(o) A hot wash cloth on the affected area can also relieve the itching.

Over the counter remedies

(a) Creams like cortisone ointment and calamine lotion reduce inflammation, itching and speed healing.

(b) Topical anaesthetics containing pramoxine relieves pain. Diphenhydramine soothes itching.

(c) Antihistamine such as Benadryl controls swelling.

(d) Hydrocortisone cream eliminates itching.

(e) Prednisone, an oral steroid, can treat itching. This medication needs a doctor’s prescription.

(f) Naproxen or Ibuprofen reduces swelling.

(g) Zyrtec and Claritin (oral antihistamines) are available over the counter to reduce allergic reactions.

(h) For systemic allergic reactions a doctor sometimes administers injections of antihistamines, corticosteroids or epinephrine.

(i) Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic ointments or oral antibiotics if secondary bacterial skin infection develops.

Bed bugs are not known to carry diseases, but they have significant public health importance. They carry at least 40 human pathogens including viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasitic worms. Researchers have confirmed that these pathogens are not transmitted to humans through the bite.

The 2016 Real Estate Forecast for Los Angeles

If you want to find a basket to live in, you’ll likely have more luck than finding a house in Los Angeles that meets your price. Prices in LA are skyrocketing – and are doomed to do so for the near future with relief nary in sight. Sure, if you’re a millionaire and want to invest, you’re in luck. Residential houses and commercial property are popping up all the time. But if you have a history of low credit rating, bankruptcy, or foreclosures and are looking to borrow conventional loans, you’re in trouble. Price tags are spinning out of control and few can afford them. Even traditionally cheaper locations in LA, such as San Fernando Valley, see rents climbing to record highs with prices in the Vally, for instance, witnessing a 7.4 percent increase!

As regards real estate prices in Los Angeles for the coming year: The most recent market report by Marcus & Millichap says that this year’s asking rents citywide were up 7.8 percent to an average of $1,873 per month and the company reports that 2016 will be no better with rents climbing to 4.8 percent overall.

And if you want to know how much median homes in Los Angeles cost? Here’s the shocker: The price of an LA single-family house has jumped 5.2 percent this year in contrast to median incomes that hover around 2.9 percent. Marcus & Millichap half-jokingly state that Los Angeles seems to want its residents to rent homes rather than own them. So it seems! Few Los Angelesians are going to own their own homes giving these gloomy statistics.

Unsurprisingly, apartments are the new market for real estate agents prowling the streets of Los Angeles. Real estate firm Douglas Elliman’s latest market reports show that apartment vacancy rates have fallen to 2.7 percent, even in hot development neighborhoods like Downtown LA, while more than 5,200 new rentals have come online in LA, and 2,700 of those were in the Downtown district. There are now more than 15,000 units under construction through 2017 and Marcus & Millichap say that every section of town will receive more than 1,000 units in 2016.

Here’s a breakdown of Los Angeles area by area so you can see how the real estate field lies.

1. San Fernando Valley

  • Rents are up an average of 7.4 percent.
  • Average asking rent price in the Northeast Valley is up 15.1 percent, coming in at $1,438 per month. Other areas in the Valley experienced smaller increases in average rents: the Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena area saw a 6.8 percent increase, to $2,016 per month, and the Sherman Oaks/North Hollywood/Encino markets experienced a 9.5 percent increase to $1,503 per month.
  • In the last 12 months, only about 980 new rental units were added to Valley’s stock, down from 2,250 the year before. 2016 should see an increase in new apartments though, as 3,100 are expected to be added to the market next year.

2. Central Los Angeles (Downtown, Hollywood, Mid-Wilshire

  • Rents in Central LA were up 6.2 percent on average over the past year
  • Downtown rents were up only 5.3 percent to an average of $2,158 per month. 2,800 new rental units were built in Central LA during the last year
  • Vacancy rates in Downtown came in at 3.7 percent compared to Hollywood’s 2.6 percent. As a result Downtown offered concessions on more than 10 percent of units to entice renters to sign a lease.

3. Westside Los Angeles

  • Rents were up 6.8 percent in the last quarter averaging $2,750 per month.
  • Average rents in Santa Monica/Marina Del Rey climbed above $3,000 for the first time ever, up 6.0 percent to hit $3,132 per month.
  • Only 460 new apartments were built on the Westside during the past year, with nearly half of those being built in and around Santa Monica
  • 2016 will see the completion of more than 1,000 new rental units in the area, with more than 700 of them built in Santa Monica and Marina Del Rey.

4. South Bay of Los Angeles

  • Rents along LA’s southern coast increased to 8.8 percent.
  • Beach rents increased 8.7 percent to an average of $1,620 per month.
  • 950 new units were added to the rental market during the past year
  • More than 820 of those rentals qualified as affordable housing.

The bottom line is this…

The Los Angeles housing market is hitting record levels of craziness with ever-rising housing – and rental – prices discouraging people from buying. The number of sales stays flat as prices rise. This doesn’t mean that agents have a rough time and are doomed to poverty. On the contrary, if you are a real estate agent in LA, you may want on focus on apartments and on rentals since these seem to be in demand.

Sellers, also, have a booming-for-sale market where everything is busting record high from condos and single-family houses to sales closed. Otherwise, you may want to focus on persuading people to live in baskets…

Cut Your Own Faceted Gemstones – It’s Not That Hard To Do

Step One: Selecting the Rough

If you are interested in cutting your own gemstones, the starting point for any gem cutting is, of course, the rough. There are places in the US where you can actually dig and mine your own gemstones, but for most folks, getting rough means buying it. Gemstone rough comes from small mines all around the world, and most goes to commercial cutters, but there are a few dealers who specialize in selling rough, and it is possible to buy gemstone rough and save money. Sometimes rough looks like a crystal and sometimes it just looks like a chunk of colored glass. For the example I used on my website, I choose a piece of amethyst from Brazil that I purchased some years ago. The amethyst miners actually take the rough crystals of amethyst and strike it with hammers to knock off the flawed portions of the stone. This produces a clean piece of rough that has broken edges as shown in the photo on my site.

Step Two: Making the Preform

The rough gem is then sawn with a diamond saw and ground into a shape close to that of the finished stone. The “shaped” rough is called a preform. A big key at this first step is to identify and remove any remaining flaws and then find the shape of the rough that will yield the largest stone out of what remains.

The preform is sawed in diamond grit saws and ground on coarse grinding wheels. One side of the stone is cut with a flat surface – this will eventually become the table or main flat facet on top of the stone. In the beginning, this main flat facet is used to orient the rest of the stone. At this stage the stone is called a preform, and you can see what the final shape will be.

Step Three: Dopping the Stone

In my example, a pear shaped preform is “glued” to the brass dop stick. The flat tops of these dops are matched to the flat table facet on the stone. The glue that is used is actually a special high temperature wax.

In my example, the dopped preform has was been glued flat side down on to the brass dop stick. The rough end of the stone will be cut away to form the pointed base of the stone. Contrary to what a lot of people think, faceting is NOT a process of chipping or cleaving with a little hammer. This process is used for diamonds only and then only in place of sawing to prepare them for cutting. Regular faceting is a process of grinding and polishing – this is true with both diamonds as well as colored stones. One or two different grit flat lap wheels are used to grind in the facets and a polishing lap is used to put a final polish on them. Diamonds are cut and polished on one lap.

Step Four: Cutting the Stone on the Faceting Machine

Here the preform is being cut and polished on a lap on my homemade faceting machine. The bottom part of the stone is cut first. Each flat facet is cut on a grinding lap, and then the lap is changed and each facet is polished on a polishing lap. The location of each is set by the toothed gear and angle protractor and the hand set. This is a polishing lap on the machine in the photo. My machine is partly home made. The mast and hand set are by Master Co., but the rest of the machine is home made. The mast set up is also old – it dates from the 1950s. In spite of that, it still works quite well. Twenty four facets on the cullet have now been individually cut and polished.

Step Five: Cut and Polish the Cullet, Transfer

The bottom part of the stone, (also called the cullet) has now been cut and polished – all the facets on the base are now polished and complete. Now it is time to flip it over and cut the upper portion of the stone, known as the crown. In order to do that, the stone must be transferred to another dop. The new dop will hold the base of the stone so that the top portion is exposed for cutting and polishing. As the first dop had a flat surface to match the table facet, the second dop has a “V” shaped notch to match the “V” shaped bottom of the stone.

Step Six: Polish the Table and the Crown

The stone has now been transferred from the first dop in order to turn it over for polishing the top side of the stone – called the crown. The first facet to be cut and polished on the crown side is the top flat or table facet. In order to do this, a special 45 degree dop holder is needed to allow us to reach the table. This photo shows the table facet complete and polished but none of the rest of the other top (or crown) facets cut in – they are to be cut and polished next.

After all the facets are cut in and polished, the stone is removed from the dop stick and cleaned to remove any remaining wax. The wax can be softened by gentile heat, and most of the wax removed. The rest of the wax used in this process washes off the stone when it is soaked in alcohol.

Step Seven: Set the Stone in Nice Jewelry

In my example, the finished Amethyst stone – with all facets complete and the stone removed from the dop sick, cleaned is shown set in fine jewelry. If you take a look at my website, you will see that it turned out very nice, didn’t it?

So there it is, the whole process from a lump of purple chunky glass like stone, to a beautiful gem.

Christmas Traditions – Christmas Oranges

Once in the history sugar was not such an everyday item it is today. It was the Arabs who brought in sugar from India to Europe in the 8th century current reckoning. It was still for only the very rich people for over 1000 years. It wasn’t before the Victorian times sugar become a common household item. Before that, people used honey and fruits to add sweetness to their lives. Most fruits were dried to survive over winter, and together with honey they were baked into sweets. Apples picked just before the first frost could manage over winter. It was a luxury to enjoy an apple in the middle of the winter, even though it might have been a bit wrinkled. It was still better than the leathery dried fruits, or the brown pieces cooked in water and honey to return some of the moisture to them.

Can you imagine, what a miracle an orange was, when it was imported to Europe in the 11th century from Iran. That variant, the Persian orange, was beautiful, moist and golden, but oh so bitter. Then in the 15th century they imported the Indian oranges, that were sweet. Also, these miraculous trees produced fruit in the middle of the winter. Of course it was God’s gift to the people, to celebrate the birth of His Son, and naturally made a Christmas treat. It doesn’t harm that the orange is such a beautiful, fire colored sphere, reminding of sun which in Europe is so very tired at Yuletide.

The Persian oranges might have been bitter, but they still have the lovely, fresh citrus scent. Back at 13th century, the people used to stuck cloves into oranges, roll them in cinnamon and other spices, and make pomanders – or “amber apples”, Pommes d’ambre, as they were originally called in French. Later they boiled a dough of lovely smelling things and rolled this into an “apple”, or a ball, and covered it with spices. Ladies used to carry these in the 16th and 17th century when the hygiene wasn’t too good, and smell at the lovely spice oranges when the smells of life surrounding them got too thick.

Later the Europe got to enjoy mandarin oranges, that are even sweeter, and that ripen in December. They are easily peeled and fit nicely in a child’s hand, and in the early 20th century, when the variant Clementines was introduced to the world, these were most often put into Christmas stockings. It is probably because of all these reasons, clementines are also called “Christmas Oranges”.

The Christian symbolism of oranges are purity, chastity and generosity. This is why brides are to carry orange flowers. Orange tree blossoms and bears fruit all year long, and so was given the virtue of generosity – and therefore also associated with the greatest feast of generosity, Christmas. Or was it perhaps the other way around? As orange bears fruit at Christmas time, it was given the Christmas symbolism as well?

In the late 19th century the railroads could transport oranges from California to all over United States, and at that time an orange in Christmas stocking was indeed a treat. Just remember how Laura Ingalls Wilder described her joy over Christmas Oranges in her book The Long Winter.

There are several stories about Christmas oranges. I like the one about St.Nicholas best. St.Nicholas was born in the Greek village Patara, in modern Turkey. He used to be a rich man, but after his parents died, he gave away everything, to the needy, the sick and the suffering. One of the most wellknown stories is about how he rescued a man’s three daughters from being sold into slavery. He left the house a bag of gold for each daughter, and the legend says that as he tossed the bag through a window or fireplace, they landed into the girls’ stockings that they had hanged to dry. In some versions the bag of gold is a golden ball, like the one the princess who kissed a frog was playing with. Some say these golden balls are symbolized by oranges, and this is the reason to why there is always an orange in the Christmas stocking.

Another explanation, not as romantic, is that oranges are healthy sweets and fill the stocking toe so well, that the stocking looks plump and nice even if one doesn’t have that much to fill it with.

The Impact of Power Over Ethernet (POE) on Data Cabling and Earthing

Power over Ethernet (POE) is a technology by which powered devices receive power and signal along a single Ethernet cable. The International Electrical and Electronics Engineers 802 working group is responsible for setting forth the standards governing power over Ethernet applications. The industry has standardized the use of power over Ethernet in order to ensure that devices all work properly together. Earthing, or bonding a piece of electrical equipment to ground, is considered essential to the proper installation of any type of electrical system but becomes even more important when Power over Ethernet enters the equation.

The POE Standards

There are currently two main standards in use for power over Ethernet devices. The first standard, IEEE 802.3af-2003, provides devices with up to 15.4watts of DC power for operation. This translates into approximately 44 volts delivered at 350 milliAmps. The next POE standard, IEEE 802.3at-2009 allows for up to 25.5 watts of power, with some manufacturers claiming as much as 51 watts of usable power can be delivered by their devices. Category 5e data cabling is usually specified for POE applications, and when the installation requires the cable to be run outside, the cable must be rated for outdoor use.


Earthing, or grounding, is defined as the intentional connecting, or bonding, of electrical equipment to earth ground. This is to protect equipment and personnel in case of transient or induced voltages in electrical equipment or wiring. The proper method of earthing an electrical system depends on the size of the system. However, with Power over Ethernet, earthing also protects the equipment from lightning strikes when surge protectors are used properly. POE equipment must be grounded to the same ground that is used by the power sourcing equipment and the building electrical system. The connection to ground needs to be as short and straight as possible, and must be made with a minimum ten gauge bare or insulated copper wire. A quick perusal of a number of POE-related technical support forums shows that improper grounding is one of the main causes of POE systems not working properly and from outdoor equipment receiving irreparable damage during storm activity.

Power Over Ethernet Uses

POE allows you to use powered devices in remote locations. Power over Ethernet allows you to mount parking lot surveillance cameras with pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities and not have to run a separate set of power lines. Wireless modems, access points, and routers can be located wherever needed, whether power is easily accessible or not. Many of the newer Voice over IP phones are powered using POE. Clocks that are synchronized to s central time system, more and more, are using this technology for power and receiving their time signal from the National Observatory Chronometer.


As with any new technology, this one comes with its own terminology. Power sourcing equipment supplies power to the Ethernet cable. The powered device receives power from the PSE through the Ethernet cable. These can be routers, cameras, modems, switches, wireless access points, or and of a number of other device types.

Correction Agreement – Limited Power Of Attorney – Just How ‘Limited’ Is It?

One of the documents that a borrower may be required to sign at closing is a Correction Agreement – Limited Power of Attorney.

It’s the kind of document that can evoke suspicion in any borrower. What kind of ‘Power of Attorney’ is this actually, and what is the lender going to do with this ‘power’? And what kind of ‘correction’ will the lender be empowered to make?

What I try to do is put the borrower at ease by explaining what this agreement is used for. First of all, it is a ‘limited’power of attorney, which means that there are limits to what powers it grants the lender. The document will read something like this:

The undersigned purchaser(s) (Borrower(s)), for and in consideration of XYZ Mortgage Company, agree that if requested by Lender or its agents, successors, or assigns, I/we will fully cooperate and adjust all TYPOGRAPHICAL OR CLERICAL ERRORS discovered in any or all of the closing documents presented at time of closing.

The undersigned hereby appoints as my/our attorney-in-fact to act for me/us in my/our name to correct any such errors, place my/our initials on documents where changes are made, and/or sign my/our name(s) to any document or form, and to perform any and every act required or necessary to effectuate the adjustment or correction of such errors. In the event this procedure is utilized, the borrower(s) shall be notified and receive a corrected copy of the changed document from the Lender: This power of attorney shall take effect upon the date of this agreement.

The power of attorney created herein is a durable power of attorney and shall not be affected by my subsequent disability or incapacity.__________________________________

I am a notary signing agent. I am not an attorney, and may not give legal advice. But one thing that I assure the borrower is that, this is an agreement to correct ‘clerical errors’. Also, this is a ‘correction’ agreement — not a ‘modification’ agreement. This means that the lender will not use this agreement to change the interest rate, or any other terms of their loan. A fixed rate will remain a fixed rate. If there is no prepayment penalty, it will stay that way. Etc.

Yes, but how long will the lender have this power?

That’s a good question, and one that the borrower should ask their loan officer. But typically a power of attorney ends when the granter dies. That could be a long time. But this type of power of attorney usually terminates in one year.

This is basically what the Correction Agreement – Limited Power of Attorney is about. It is used primarily as a convenience to the borrower.

And a convenience to the borrower is also the primary purpose of the notary signing agent.

Interior House Design – Designing the Interior of Your House for Maximum Effectiveness

There are few things in your life that are more important
than your interior house design. The reality is that you spend a good deal of
your life inside your home. If you do not like the style, it has a dramatic
effect on your mood and your overall health. Here are some great tips to help
you achieve the interior design you want on a budget.

First of all, before you begin the project, write down an
outline of everything you want to get accomplished during the home renovation.
Leave no stone unturned. This is by far the most important step to your
endeavor; before you even begin, you need to know what kind of design you want.
Choose a style that will match your personality.

Once you have the design picked out, determine your budget
and time frame you want to get the project accomplished. It's little secret
that redesigning your home's interior can cost a pretty penny.

If you are not careful, those expenses can really add up in
a hurry. Keep a careful eye on your costs and make sure that you stay within
your budget. Make all your decisions with the final budget target in mind.

It's much easier and cheaper to revise your plan at the
outset than it is to change your project once it's underway. If you begin a
project and realize that you want to change it midway through, it will have an
absolutely disastrous effect on your budget and your home in general.

Decide which rooms to start on first, and stick to that
plan. For instance, if you know that your kitchen, bathroom and living room
absolutely need to be re-done, and the bedrooms are less urgent, start with
those rooms.

Do not get sidetracked. Identify the most critical areas of
your home, get those done, and if you are still within your budget, you can then
take steps to renew the others.

Take this process one step at a time. Try not to overlook
any detail. While an interior design project may seem daunting at first, when
it is broken down into individual steps, it quickly becomes much more
manageable. As the popular saying goes, "Rome was not built in a day."

The most important part, once your outline is completed, is
to stay focused. Quite simply, during the course of the project other needs you
may have previously overlooked could arise, and cause you to get sidetracked.
It is impossible to foresee every area that might need to be changed beforehand,
and it's inevitable that complications will occur. Put them on the backburner until the more pressing needs of your home are attended to.

If you are thinking about embarking on renovating your home
(or a large part of it) it is absolutely vital that you have your own plan
from beginning to end in writing. All too many people overlook this incredibly
important step in their rush to get started, and the results are often
disastrous both to their homes and their wallets.

Take your time, decide where you want your home to be at
the end of the project, and then take steps to get there. Follow this advice,
and you will soon have the

interior house design you've always dreamed about at a cheaper price than
you ever imagined possible.

How to Effectively Clean an Electric Grill

Cooking on an electric grill during warm summer months is an excellent option for people who do not want to cook indoors. Electric grills are also a great alternative for individuals who do not want to deal with the aggravation of having to refill propane or gas tanks, or who do not want a bag of charcoal on their balcony, patio, or in their garage. Furthermore, an electric grill is practically effortless to clean. These characteristics allow people to enjoy good food and great company without worrying about costly energy bills, having to run to the store for fuel, or taking time out of enjoyable conversation to clean a kitchen or traditional barbecue.

Preparing Electric Grills For Years Of Enjoyment

There are important preparation tips for first time buyers of electric grills. The most basic of these is the importance of seasoning your new purchase before you use it for the first time. Seasoning, also known as curing, entails filling the pores and voids in the metal with grease or oil of some sort. This oil subsequently becomes a part of the metal, which provides a smooth, non-stick surface. To begin, take a clean cloth, moisten it with cooking oil or grease, and rub it on the top side of the searing plates and all over the grates.

Next, plug the machine into any outlet, turn the switch on, and place the temperature to sear for approximately 15 minutes. This will incorporate the grease or oil into the metal. After the first 15 minutes, turn the dial up to the highest possible temperature for another 15 minutes to complete the process. For the best results, turn it off after the last phase and let it cool down completely. Now your electric grill is properly seasoned and ready to use.

Keeping Your Electric Grill Clean For Safe, Flavorful Food

A clean barbeque is the most effective method for guaranteeing safe, flavorful food. Electrical grills are a breeze to clean and maintain. For most models, all the user needs to do is remove the drip tray, dispose of the tray if the model is equipped with disposable pans or simply dispose of the waste in the trash bin, then place the cooking grate in the dishwasher. For an electric grill that is not equipped with dishwasher-safe cooking grates, simply remove the grates and wash them in warm, soapy water. Clean up is that easy.

Traditional barbecues require a lot more effort to clean. Take gas or propane grills for example; remove the cooking grates and place them in warm sudsy water for several minutes. While they are soaking, remove briquettes, lava rocks, or the metal flame shield to expose the burner. Gently remove ash or other residue from around the burner, and then use a stiff wire brush along with warm soapy water to lightly scrub the inside surfaces of the grill. After the grates are cleaned and re-installed, coat them and the rest of the inside surfaces with cooking oil or spray.

Charcoal or wood burning grills require even more effort. First, remove the grilling grates and any other loose items from inside the grill. Place the grates on newspaper, spray them with oven cleaner, and let them sit for a few hours to help dislodge grime for cleaning efforts later on. While you are waiting for the oven cleaner to do its work, remove ash and old coals from the grill and place them in the trash bin. After this has been completed, wipe down the inside of the grill with soapy water and a thick cloth. Who has time for all that maintenance?

Electric Grills For Everyday Use

Traditional grills have earned their place in American nostalgia. Most of us carry memories of spending time with our family and friends during warm summer months and want to duplicate the experience in our own homes. But replicating the experience in a manner that is quick and easy is most appealing.In addition,, what if one lives in an apartment or condominium where there is little outside space, or where propane or charcoal grills are not allowed? Electric grills are the perfect solution to these restrictions.

Many electric grill models are compact, portable, and do not require an open flame to cook food. Simply plug the unit into a standard electrical outlet, turn it on, and begin cooking. Not only do they cook the food, but several units include dual-heating elements that sear in juices and flavor while also leaving traditional grill marks that complete our vision of what barbecued food should look like once it is ready to eat.

Keeping your electric grill clean is one of the best ways to guarantee tasty, well-cooked food. This healthy habit will ensure a safe, germ-free surface to cook on and will allow food to retain its natural flavor rather than incorporating the tastes of a dozen past meals.

The Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven is the Greatest Cooking Tool Since the Crock Pot

Recently I ask my daughter and family to move in with me. To my delight they said yes. In doing so I gain access to my grandsons, two lovely dogs and as a bonus her Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven.

I had never seen one, as I eat very little pizza unless someone else cooks it. The first night my grandson made a couple pizzas and I was hooked. Not only did the frozen pizza taste like take out, I loved the idea of what I could cook with the oven.

In the coming days I tried several of my grilling recipes. I had to do little or no adapting for them to be just as, or even better, tasting as before. Soon I was cooking full dinners on the Pizzazz Oven. If you have one of these amazing appliances, give this recipe a try.

Grilled Chicken Strips

1 lb uncooked Chicken Strips

1/4 cup of virgin olive oil

1 T Mrs Dash [flavor of your choice]

3 large potatoes [washed and cut in 6 wedges each]

2 med tomatoes [sliced]

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

6-8 basil leaves [opt]

There is no need to preheat but you can spray PAM on the surface of the oven.

Using two zip lock plastic bags, divide the olive oil into them. In the first one place your chicken. Zip it shut, using your hands, move the chicken around until each piece is lightly coated. Open the bag and pour in the Mrs Dash, shut and repeat until the chicken is covered in spices. Turn on Pizzazz Oven and begin to lay out your chicken.

In the other bag place your potato wedges and do the same as the chicken. Making sure each piece is coated in olive oil. Place them around the oven, skin side down. You might need some care when placing the food on the oven, you need to keep the surface balanced, to ensure even cooking. The potatoes and chicken will cook about the same time limit, 5-7 minutes depending on their thickness. There is no need to turn them over as the oven heats from both sides.

About two minutes before the first food item are done, you can place the tomatoes on the oven. You may have to move some of the other items around to make room. If you can not find the room for the tomatoes at this time, you can put them on the oven after the potatoes are done. You also might want to use a piece of foil under your tomato slices if they are juicy, it might make a little mess on your counter top.

Place one tomato slice with a couple basil leaves, then sprinkle the cheese on top. Once the cheese has melted the tomatoes are ready to be put on a plate. This meal serves 4 but can be adjusted easily.

All in all, with prep and cooking time, the meal took me about 30 minutes.


Building a New House – Initial Steps in Developing Plans in Florida and Other Areas

Building in Miami or any area of South Florida is completely different from building in any other area of the country. While most of the eastern seaboard of the United States, and much of the rest of the country, builds houses with wood framing and a finish of brick or wood siding, South Florida builds with concrete block and concrete.

Quality vs. price

Because of hurricane winds the structures in this area must be very strong. Where the rest of the country looks down on us because they only use concrete block in their basements, for my money, I really like concrete and block construction. Concrete blocks do not get termites and will not rot. Therefore, a concrete block structure will last for 100 years or more with almost no maintenance. Unfortunately, the vast majority of houses in Miami have wood trusses with plywood sheathing for the roof, then roofing paper and either shingles or concrete tiles on top. This type of construction is not particularly good at resisting hurricane wind conditions. Although the Florida Building Code has tried its best at improving the requirements for installing the roof sheathing and the roof finish, it cannot begin to compare to the strength that the roof would have if a concrete slab were used for the roof structure.

So why, if we know this, don’t we build with concrete slab roofs? Cost – the only reason is cost. It is much more expensive both to design and to install a concrete slab roof, especially on a slope to take a concrete tile finish.

So one of the first things the homeowner needs to establish at the beginning of the design process for a new house is how much the owner wants to spend on the construction. There is the cheap way to build a home and the expensive way. This is an issue that will come up many times during the design and construction process.

The program

But in order to determine a budget, the homeowner first needs to establish the square footage of the new house. To establish the total square footage, he will have to generate a program for the house. The program is a list of rooms with their corresponding sizes.

See the sample list as follows:

Living Room 240 square feet
Dining Room 120 square feet
Kitchen 170 square feet
Family Room 240 square feet
Master Bedroom 240 square feet
Master Bath 64 square feet
Bedroom No. 2 216 square feet
Bedroom No. 3 192 square feet
Bath No. 2 36 square feet
Laundry Room 100 square feet
Linen closet 9 square feet
A/C Closet 9 square feet

Total square feet = 1,636

Circulation and walls at 20% = 1,634 square feet = 327 square feet

Total = 1,634 + 327 = 1,961 square feet

So now we have a basic idea of the major spaces of the house and approximately how many square feet total homeowner will need for the house.

Also, this is a good time to decide whether there will be any outdoor spaces, such as covered terraces or pergolas. In Florida these are particularly good additions to the interior spaces. With wonderful temperatures during the winter there is no reason to spend all the time in air-conditioned interior spaces.

The budget

So what will a house that is just under 2000 square feet cost in South Florida? There is no magic formula to determine this. The cost of the house depends on many things that have to do with the design, such as: the type of roof, the ceiling height(s), the complexity of the design, the finishes, whether it is going to be on a septic tank or sewer, and the type of foundations. Then, there are those costs that have nothing to do with the design, like the location of the house, how busy are the contractors in the area, how well-known and reliable the contractor is, etc. Although the price of a house can vary wildly because of all the items discussed above, at this time a range of $150 to $250 per square foot could be used for a house that is not too elaborate with standard construction. So if we go back to the example. A 2,000 square foot house would cost between $300,000 and $500,000 excluding the land.

The design team

The Miami-Dade County Building Department does not require plans for a single-family residence to be signed and sealed by an architect or engineer. This is not true for all municipalities in the area. For example, Coral Gables does require all plans to be signed and sealed by an architect. But for all practical purposes the volume of information that has to be included in a set of plans in any municipality within Miami-Dade County, most of the time, there is a need to hire several professionals: an architect, an MEP engineer, and a structural engineer. MEP stands for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing. The mechanical engineer designs the air-conditioning, the electrical engineer designs the electrical, including the lighting, and the plumbing engineer designs the plumbing. The structural engineer designs the structure and provides the required structural calculations for the building envelope. The architect designs the entire house and coordinates everybody’s work. The coordination of all the disciplines is probably the architect’s most important role as without coordination there could be real conflicts in the construction phase. Although it is legal to produce plans on his own in some parts of the county, it will be an insurmountable task to produce construction drawings for permitting (unless the homeowner has a background in construction with actual experience and the knowledge of the Florida Building Code and the local zoning codes).

What do these design services cost the homeowner? They also vary greatly but there is also a range among good, established professionals. This range would be from 6% to 10% of construction cost for the permit plans for all the disciplines. The services during the construction phase are usually charged separately on an hourly basis or in a separate package.

Style of the house

Another important decision to be made early on is the style of the house. There are basically three styles popular for home design in South Florida – modern, Mediterranean, and Key West.

Once the homeowner decides what styles he wants, it is important to convey the style and the details to the architect. The best way to explain to an architect what he wants is through either images from magazines or actual photographs of other houses.

Choosing an architect

Now that you have the basic items together, the next step is to pick your architect. This is very important as this is the person with whom you will work very closely during the next year.

Take the survey from the existing land from the time you closed on your mortgage. If you have lost it or it’s too old or inaccurate, the architect will arrange for you to get it updated or have a new one done.

Ask to see photos of his/her work. Ask for references. Ask questions. Ask him/her how he would approach the project. Start to sense if this is someone you could work with. Do you like the predominant style of the architect’s work? Does his/her work appeal to you? Ask about the process. Ask what you should expect in the way of his/her services. Ask him to show you the plans for a similar project.

People are individuals and everyone is unique. I remember how many people have hired me because they liked my “Mediterranean” or “Spanish” style or my modern or post-modern style. One person told me that she hired me because I returned her phone calls promptly. Chemistry between people is meaningful. Do not discount your initial impressions.

The construction documents

Normally, construction documents entail several parts: the drawings, the specifications, the instructions to bidders, and the addenda. Normally, when the architect handles the construction bid phase for the owner, he selects the type of contract the owner will have with the contractor. This document is also part of the construction documents.

The drawings are the major part of the work, which along the specifications act as a step-by-step guide for the contractor to use during the construction. Sometimes on large jobs, the specifications are placed in a separate book and called the Project Manual. On most residential projects, the specifications are normally covered as notes right in the drawings. For elaborate interiors a separate package is done by the architect and charged separately.

The construction documents are generated in phases from the general to the detailed. I like to divide my projects into 4 phases: Preliminary design, design development, 50% construction documents, and 100% construction documents. Each phase builds on the previous phase until the architect feels that the drawings are all coordinated among the different disciplines and are ready to submit for permitting.

With careful planning and communication with your architect, his good drawings and coordination and the careful selection of a reputable contractor, your new house project should flow without major problems. Although there are often change orders due to unforeseen conditions or changes the owner wants to implement, most issues should be resolved prior to construction.

For more information on the role of the architect during construction, see my other article on the role of the architect during the construction process posted here.

Relaxation Meditation Techniques – Know the Key Difference Between Relaxation and Meditation

Relaxation is the foundation of meditation. It is the absence of body mind tension. Meditation is a receptive clear mind. It is the absence of all conditioning: social, cultural, and religious.

Tension and a conditioned mind have taken us away from our natural relaxed body and a clear mind; a mind that can see straight. So we must practice relaxation and meditation formally to remove body mind tension and the mental conditioning.

Relaxation Meditation Techniques

Relaxation techniques – These include progressive muscular relaxation, mental imagery, touch therapies like massage, polarity therapy and reiki. The sauna, stretches and movement also reduce body mind tension.

Depending on how in touch you are with your body, you may hear the body speaking. You might be completely deaf to your body’s messages as you go about your daily activities. Ever notice how when you have an opportunity to become quiet, oh my, suddenly you become aware of the tense shoulder, or the tight calf?

Meditation techniques – Two broad categories are outlined in Managing Stress by Brian Luke Seaward:

(1) Concentration or Exclusive

Thoughts focus inwards using mental repetition, visual concentration, repeated sounds, physical repetition, and tactile repetition. Eyes often closed.

(2) Inclusive

In detached observation, the conscious mind accepts whatever arises from the unconscious mind. One important point is that this must be done without judgment or analysis. This meditation is also called access meditation, insightful meditation and mindfulness. Eyes are usually open.

Reduce Stress

Relaxation – When you practice relaxation, the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest and recuperation is strengthened. Rest after work reduces stress and fosters health. Rest is not sleep. Relaxation reduces muscular tension and relaxes the conscious mind.

Meditation – Mind training increases stability in the constantly moving mind. The witness within comes alive, creating some distance between any potential volcanic activity of fears and desires. Natural qualities of joy and openness are experienced more and more. A meditation practice offers an opportunity to reduce incorrect perceptions of threat. Our world becomes safer.


Both relaxation and meditation reduce the impact of stress. While relaxation addresses the physical body and conscious mind, meditation transforms the content of the subconscious mind and reduces the frequency and intensity of stressors. Meditation brings fearlessness, as well as a greater sense of connectedness with our inner and outer world.

Practice relaxation meditation techniques to get back to the real you and a greater sense of well being.

How to Build a Garage: Save Thousands Building DIY Garage Vs Hiring a Contractor

Learning how to build a garage is not as daunting as one would expect, well, for detached structures at least. Homeowners who build their own garage can save thousands over hiring a builder who, in many cases, will subcontract to the same construction crews that you can hire. Or if feeling adventurous, or just downright thrifty, one can invite friends over for a few beers over the weekend and put them to work.

There are many items to consider while in the early planning stage such as:

Garage size: One car, two car, or even a three car garages can be designed with various sizes, but the lot and homeowner’s budget are generally the limiting factors. Local building codes vary, but typically a structure must not encroach within eight feet of property lines in rural areas and from zero to four feet in city limits. Detached garages must also be set back from other buildings by a minimum of eight feet, but this must be confirmed with local building offices as bodes vary. One important consideration is roof overhang. Eave and gable end overhangs are typically 12″ – 24″ (although less than 12″ is common in windy areas) and must be considered when determining building size and placement.

One method of determining the perfect size is to add 12′ to 15′ of width for each vehicle. If planning to use the interior walls on the sides for storage this will require another two feet of width per side. The length should be a minimum of 22′ and add four to ten feet for a work bench and storage. A two car garage could be calculated as 2 x 12′ +4′ for storage along each wall = 28′ x 22′ long without a work bench. Common sizes include:

1. One car: Common garage sizes include 12′ x 24′, 14′ x 24′, and 16′ x 24′. A length of twenty four feet is pretty much the minimum if you have a full size truck and even with a small or mid-size car there will be little wiggle room at twenty or twenty two feet.

2. Two car: The most common garage size in many states and provinces is 24′ x 24′ because many building codes required an engineered drawing and two inspections by a structural engineer for concrete floating slabs (monolithic) larger than this size. If space is scarce and the two cars are small to mid-size a 20′ wide may adequate, but certainly not comfortable.

3. Three car: There are many three car garage sizes due to more room for numerous designs and homeowners often have larger budgets when considering these larger construction projects. Common sizes are 36′ – 42′ wide by 26′ – 30′ long.

Foundation: floating slab (monolithic) and slab with frostwall are the two most common foundation options. The floating slab is less expensive and easier to build, but often require an engineered drawing and two inspections for larger concrete slabs (i.e. 24′ x 24′). In cold weather climates many contractors install 2.5″ foundation foam under the concrete to reduce heaving during freeze/thaw events. Engineered floating slabs in cold climates usually require this with an addition two feet extending out around the perimeter of the slab.

Adding 6′ x 6′ #10 wire mesh to the slab is an inexpensive method of increasing the floor strength and reducing cracking of the concrete. Most contractors install floating slabs with a thickened concrete perimeter 12″ – 16″ thick around the outer 16″ – 24″ of the perimeter. Adding two rows of #4 rebar will increase the edges. Concrete strength should be a minimum of 3,000psi and many contractors use 4,000 and 4,500 psi as the additional cost is minimal. Another consideration is ordering concrete with fibermesh, and macro-synthetic fiber used for secondary reinforcement of concrete. Local concrete suppliers can provide costs for adding this to concrete. Slab thickness is dependent on the concrete strength and reinforcement designs, however a good rule of thumb is to pour a 4″ or thicker slab.

Frostwall minimum depth is determined by local building codes and is typically 48″ in cold climates and 36″ in more moderate areas. Once the trench is excavated a footing approximately 12″ wide by 8″ thick is formed and poured and a keyway is etched the length of the footing to prevent movement of the concrete wall. The frostwall is formed and poured on the on the footing and anchor bolts are installed in the to attach the walls to the foundation. The concrete slab is then poured to designed thickness. Obviously this foundation system requires more time and expense.

Wall construction: If the garage is going to be insulated now or possibly any time in the future the wall studs size is important as 2″ x 6″ studs allow more insulation that can meet building code requirements (for garages with apartments) than 2″ x 4″ studs. Of course, 2″ x 6″ studs are stronger, which results in a more structurally sounds building.

Walls height: Walls are generally 8′, but 9′ and 10′ walls are common. In city downtown areas there is often a height restriction on structures, such as less than 16′ to the roof peak based on the average height from the four corners measuring at grade. This means that you can get a little extra height if the garage is nestled into a bank with a concrete curb or retaining wall on this end and backfilling to top of retaining wall. Another method to maximize height in these areas is to pour a 12″ concrete curb on the concrete slab perimeter and backfill earth up to the top of the curb and grade away from the structure. This method can gain 12″ of height while still meeting the height restrictions (confirm this will local building offices prior to implementing this strategy).

Garage door placement: The garage doors can be on the gable end or the eave side. A few things to consider:

1. Existing house design may dictate the direction of the roof line. A method to assist visualize this is to take a picture of the house and include the area where the garage will be built. Print two copies of the picture and hand draw in the garage using both the gable and eave options.

2. If the garage will be built in a cold climate the garage doors in the gable end is a better design as snow and ice will slide down the eave end.

3. Flexibility with the garage doors in the gable end allow height for a future car port.

Roof style: Often the roof style is dictated by the existing house, for example if the house has a hip roof this would be a good option for the garage. If this is a DIY project and the homeowner is building the garage it should be noted that a hip roof is more difficult to build than installing standard trusses. Roof pitch must be considered as well and often this should match the existing house. Roof pitch less than 4/12 (rises 4″ for every 12″ of run or length) is not recommended due to increased chance of water leaks. Higher pitch roofs with certain truss designs can allow for storage, loft, or even apartments above the main level. The most common roof trusses for garage roof design include:

1. Standard Fink: This is the most common residential truss.

2. Double fink: Designed to handle high weight loads for higher snow load requirements.

3. Attic: Common for designs that allow storage above the main floor. Access can be stairs or attic drop-down stairs and the option available may be dictated by local building codes.

4. Scissor: This options provides cathedral (vaulted) ceilings that provides more interior ceiling height. For example, a 24′ x 24′ garage with an 8/12 pitch may have a ceiling height of 12′ in the center and 8′ at the wall. This system is usually weighted against building with regular fink trusses and higher walls.

If this is a DIY garage project don’t forget to order two gable trusses for each gable end. Otherwise two regular trusses will require wood filling for attaching sheathing and siding (not too mention the building inspector may not pass the framing inspection. If insulating the ceiling consider ordering “raised heel” trusses to allow adequate insulation between the wall top plate and the roof sheathing. This is the only way to meet many attic insulation level requirements (i.e. R40).

Garage plans: Once decisions are made on the above items it is time to get the garage plans for the building permit application and the builder. It is important to obtain good quality garage plans that are easy to follow, accurate, and provide a materials list (well, a material list is not important, but it will certainly save a lot of time). There are several websites that offer garage plans create by dozens and hundreds of different company so consistency and quality control are something to keep in mind. There are a couple of companies that do their own in-house drafting and a search of the internet should find these companies. Another option is to hire a local draftsperson to create the garage plans.

Plot (plat) plan: The building compliance department will require a drawing showing (site plan) the lot with existing structures, proposed structure, and property lines with measurements indicating distances between property lines and structures. This can be a hand drawn diagram of a marked up copy of the plot/plat plan. The building department may require a survey to confirm accuracy of measurements for precise garage location requirements.

Building Permit: Make an appointment to meet with a building inspector to discuss the project and submit the garage plans, material list, and site plan to the building department. A building permit may be issued at this time or the building inspector will require a few days to a couple of weeks to review the documents.

Essential Minerals – A Critical Part of Your Body's Requirements

Minerals are inorganic substances which exist naturally in the earth, many of which are critical to the growth and production of bones, teeth, hair, blood, nerves and skin.

These minerals are known as "essential" nutrients, which are: calcium, chromium, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc .

We need significant quantities of essential macrominerals (such as calcium), such that they are typically measured in milligrams, and we require minute quantities of essential trace minerals (such as selenium), which are usually measured in micrograms.

A single mineral does not work in isolation, rather, they are necessary as synergistic elements to support physical health. They work best in association with all other minerals and trace minerals, the way they are found in unrefined whole foods.

Why Essential?

They are essential because they critical for the production of vitamins, enzymes and hormones in the body, as well as proper blood circulation, fluid regulation, nerve transmission, muscle contracting, cellular integrity, and energy production.

These minerals work synergistically with each other and with other nutrients, such that any deficiency or overabundance of any mineral can cause disease.

Essential minerals are found in fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, beans and dairy products, however, most of the soil in which our produce is grown has long been depleted of these nutritive minerals. Commercial fertilizer is well known to contain three primary minerals yet there are hundreds necessary for soil to be as fertilizer as to allow plant life to produce the minerals we need for optimum health.

Therefore, amounts of essential minerals in our produce may vary broadly, depending on local soil content and farming methods.

It is widely believed that organic farming methods preserve and replenish the necessary soil nutrients for healthy levels of these minerals in agricultural produce. Some minerals may be obtained from our water supply, but amounts there are also widely varied and often unknown.

The cooking and processing of food also compromises mineral availability and absorption, where many naturally occurring minerals are removed.

Macro Minerals:

Calcium is the most important mineral to add to our diets, since our bodies can not product it. Calcium, along with magnesium, vitamin D, phosphorus and fluoride strengthens the bone.

Although most calcium is found in the bone, the small amount found in the blood is essential to metabolic functions, and when depleted causes the bone's supply to be raised when the diet lacks sufficient calcium to maintain the metabolic process.

The National Institutes of Health recommends 1000-1500 mg of dietary calcium per day. Good sources include dairy products, oysters, salmon, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale), broccoli and oranges.

Iron is critical for the delivery of oxygen to the cells, is necessary for the production of energy, necessary for the synthesis of collagen and function of the immune system. Iron is typically deficient only among children and pre-menopausal women, but excess iron is more common in men and post-menopausal women.

Excess amounts adversely affect the immune system, cell growth and the heart. Meat, fish, beans, spinach, molasses, kelp, brewer's yeast, broccoli and seeds. Since iron from plant sources is not as easily absorbed as that from animal sources, vegetarians should supplement with, or eat foods high in, vitamin C to enhance iron absorption.

Magnesium is crucial for maintenance of the acid-alkaline balance in the body, healthy functioning of nerves and muscles, and the activation of enzymes to metabolize blood sugars, proteins and carbohydrates. It is also vital for proper bone growth and necessary for adequate calcium absorption. A 2: 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium is essential for the effectiveness of taking calcium supplements to maintain strong bones.

Magnesium deficiency is considered one of the most under-diagnosed deficits in the US today, suffered by approximately 70% of the US population.

Healing properties of magnesium rich foods include the calming of nervous system functions, mental and emotional imbalances including irritability, depression, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders and PMS. It is also helpful in relaxing the functioning of muscles, reduction in symptoms of migraine, cramps and digestion. The best sources of magnesium are legumes, whole grain, and seeds.

Phosphorus is stored in the bones at typically a 1: 2 ratio to calcium, and is also a component of soft tissue and cells, where it contributes to the body's chemical processes, for example to provide the energy necessary for metabolism.

Zinc is required to support the immune system, protein synthesis, and reproductive health, particularly in men. Deficiencies are common, and can adversely affect the ability to heal, physical growth, nerve health, and the skin.

Amounts of zinc in excess of 100 mg / day or more can have adverse effects such as lower HDL (good) cholesterol and poor copper retention. Sources of zinc include meats, fish, whole grains, brewer's yeast, mushrooms, and pumpkin seeds.

Trace Minerals:

Chromium is essential to several enzyme systems, including that which works with insulin in the processing of glucose (sugar). Insulin is necessary in the metabolism of triglycerides (the primary form of fat in the body). Therefore, chromium assists with maintaining triglycerides due to its control of insulin.

Chromium deficiency has been shown to be linked to blood sugar imbalance and improper metabolism. Widespread chromium deficiency is recognized by the US Department of Agriculture as being caused by insufficient food intake but also to excess sugar intake which in turn causes chromium levels to decrease. Chromium toxicity can result from taking levels greater than 800 mcg / day. The only common food source is brewer's yeast.

Copper is important for the health of the cardiovascular, immune and nervous systems, liver, skin joint and blood. It is most concentrated in the liver and brain, and a crucible component in the absorption and utilization of iron and zinc.

Any excess of copper or zinc causes the suppression and reduced utilization of the other. Copper deficiencies have been shown to be linked to the inadequate production of the critical antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and to red blood cell deficiency. Copper is easily obtained through whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, and shellfish.

Iodine is essential to the function and development of the thyroid gland. Deficiencies result in enlargement of the thyroid, and during pregnancy and infancy can cause brain development and growth issues in the child. The most common source of iodine is table salt.

Any more than 150 mcg / day is possibly a concern for those with thyroid abnormalities, but for most people 1000 mcg / day is a safe limit. However, such amounts may result in breathing difficulties or skin irritations for anyone with sensitivities.

Manganese is critical to the metabolism of bones, and is essential for enzyme reactions, and healthy brain, thyroid, and nervous systems. It is easily lost in processed foods. Deficiency may affect the health of these systems, including cartilage and skeletal formation, normal reproduction, and glucose tolerance. The best sources of manganese are legumes and whole grains.

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant which works in concert with vitamin E to support the operation of antioxidant enzymes, and may reduce the risk of abnormal cell growth, as will many other antioxidants. It supports cardiovascular health and supports the thyroid and nervous system. Thyroid disorders are a growing concern in the US, and obesity and low thyroid are directly related.

Toxic heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, can be bound up with selenium and rendered harmless. Sources of selenium are whole grains and vegetables, and seafood.

The dietary intake should be limited to 200 mcg daily to avoid toxicity. Excess amounts can compromise the enzyme functions and skeletal development in fetuses, and in amounts of as much as 75 / mg / day, it can cause nerve damage, nausea, hair loss and skin abnormalities.

Molybdenum is necessary for the proper function of important enzymes. Deficiencies occur most often in those with metabolic conditions, while excess amounts can cause poor copper retention. Sources include whole grains, beans and dairy products.

Fluoride protects tooth enamel from acid forming bacteria, and strengthens bone and tissue. Sources include fluoridated water, tea, and canned salmon and mackerel (because of the bones processed with the fish).

Non-Essential Trace Minerals:

There are other trace minerals not yet recognized by the health authorities, but which are believed essential for human health such as silicon, arsenic, boron, and vanadium.

Boron has been shown only recently (since the 1980s) to play an important role in the motabolism of other minerals, partcularly calcium and magnesium. It is also believed to play a part in regulating steroid hormones. Sources of boron are nuts, beans, soy, and prunes.

Silicon is involved in the formation of cartilage and skeletal system. It is common in most unrefined produce (grains, vegetables and fruits).

Vanadium has been found to be important for metabolizing fat, and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system by inhibiting cholesterol synthesis. Common sources are vegetables and seafood. Vanadium absorption is typically poor, less than 5% of dietary vanadium is absorbed by the body.


Electrolytes are essential to maintaining healthy electrochemical activity. Water, along with sodium, potassium and chloride. Sodium and potassium are positively charged, while chloride is negatively charged. Typically we get plenty of these minerals in our daily diet, but through exercise they are excreted through the sweat glands and must be replenished to avoid serious health risks.

Potassium , along with Sodium , is responsible for the regulation of fluids inside of the cells. Potassium is a crucible for a healthy nervous system in nerve impulses, muscle contracting, and blood pressure. Levels are controlled by water consumption and kidney function.

Deficiencies are not common in healthy people but are common in individuals who use chemical laxatives and diuretics, or who have had excessive vomiting, diarrhea of ​​kidney failure. Symptoms of deficiency include muscle weakness, intestinal issues, heart and respiratory problems.

Potassium is found in a wide variety of foods, although most abundantly in unprocessed foods, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables. It is only toxic if taken in excess of 18,000 mg / day.

15 Acne Scar Home Remedy Treatments

Acne scars are the marks which are left after the acne has occurred. These are more often occurred on the face and are a major problem for both men and women. There are various treatments for removing acne scars such as collagen injections, dermabrasion and laser treatment.

These treatments are very painful and expensive that one cannot afford so there are number of home remedies available for both men and women to get rid of acne scars and they are:-

  1. Make a sandalwood paste and add rose water or milk into it and apply on the acne scars. Keep it whole night and wash it with cold water in the morning.
  2. Cucumber juice can be applied on the face and wash it after 15 minutes as it will tighten the pores.
  3. Make a paste of sandalwood powder and black gram dal and apply on the acne scars, keep this the whole night and wash it with the cold water in the morning.
  4. Tomato can be rubbed on the scars and leave it for 15 minutes. This will reduce open pores and blackheads and good for oily skin.
  5. Ice cubes can be rubbed on the face for 10-15 minutes.
  6. An egg yolk can be applied on the scars and leave it for whole night or 20 minutes.
  7. Turmeric paste mixed with chana dal powder or wheat flour is the effective home remedy for removing scars. Haldi powder mixed with sugarcane juice can be applied on the scars to remove it.
  8. Multani Mitti Powder mixed with honey, carrot juice and garlic and make it a paste and apply on the acne scars for 20 minutes and wash it with luke warm water.
  9. The milky juice of unripe papaya can be applied on the scars.
  10. Lemon juice mixed with rose water can be applied on the scars for half an hour and wash it with fresh water.
  11. Garlic juice with three parts of water can be applied on the face to clear the spots, boils and scars.
  12. Toothpaste or Calamine lotion can be applied on the scars before going to bed.
  13. The lime juice mixed with milk and glycerine is an excellent home remedy for removing acne scars and black heads.
  14. Groundnut oil mixed with the lime juice can be applied daily on the acne scars.
  15. Vitamin E oil and various face washes can be applied on the acne scars.

One can apply these home remedies on the acne scars as these remedies are cheaper and safer and most effective natural treatment that cannot cause any harm to the person.

Come and read some of out whey protein shakes articles. The real way to stay healthy is through a quality diet and supplement plan. Find out more now.

Western Red Cedar Vs. Inland Red Cedar: How to Select the Right Product for Your Building Project

You need wood for your building project, and you’ve settled on cedar. You might think the buying process would be simple from here on out-go down to the building supply store and grab some cedar, right? Not so fast, friend. There’s actually more to cedar than you might realize.

Western Red Cedar and Inland Red Cedar are two similar but not identical wood products on the market. So if you’re a cedar beginner, here’s a Cedar 101 crash course for you.

1. Know your background

The scientific name for Western Red Cedar is Thuja plicata. It’s a variety of softwood that grows in the western U.S. and Canada, known for its extreme durability, natural preservatives, and of course, untreated beauty. The innate characteristics of Western Red Cedar make it well-suited for the best-quality cedar siding, decking, shakes and shingles.

Even once you’ve made up your mind that Thuja plicata is what you need for your building project, there are still a few things you should know. Most Western Red Cedar comes from British Columbia, western Washington and western Oregon. However, some Western Red Cedar also grows further inland. You’ll find it on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, in Idaho, Montana, as well as parts of Alberta and eastern British Columbia.

The cedars from the more eastern, higher-elevation forests are still Thuja plicata – the same botanical species as the cedars that grow to the west – but there are differences in the wood. In fact, the two varieties are sometimes processed, graded, and even labeled differently: the wood from trees grown in the coastal forests as “Western Red Cedar,” the wood from trees grown further east as “Inland Red Cedar.”

Now that you know the background on these woodland wonders, here are things to consider when you’re trying to determine which type to purchase.

2. Take a closer look

Paul Mackie is the western area manager of the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association, but he also answers to “Mr. Cedar” for his ability to answer cedar questions.

Mackie said that while botanists may not make a scientific distinction between the trees grown inland and trees grown on the coast, you will see a visual difference if you examine both types side by side.

“The inland fiber is different from the coastal materials,” he said. “The inland fiber will be lighter, striped in appearance, and the percentage of clear is much less.”

Cedar decking and siding specialists who look for the highest-grade products source their Western Red Cedar from trees grown in the coastal climate. These coastal trees are giants, growing up to 200 feet tall and more than 10 feet in diameter. Their native habitat is anywhere from sea level to about 4,000 or 5,000 feet in altitude, and in warmer, wetter conditions than the cedars grown on the other side of the mountains. They also offer a more diverse appearance.

“In the coastal fiber, you’ll see a wide range of color occurring in the tree,” said Mackie. “You’ll have everything from a dark chocolate to a light straw color, and all those colors might occur within the same piece.”

3. Does size matter?

The larger coastal cedars also tend to have a higher percentage of “clear” grade material that the best quality cedar siding, cedar shakes, and large beams are made from. In the higher altitude and drier climate regions, Inland Red Cedar just doesn’t get as big. If you need large-diameter beams or timbers, they’re going to have to come from Western Red Cedar that was grown in the coastal forests.

The smaller inland trees are better suited for different products than coastal trees, Mackie said. Split-rail fencing or smaller pieces of lumber are two common uses for Inland Red Cedar.

“There’s not nearly as wide of a product range for inland cedar,” Mackie said.

4. Making the grade

The two types of cedar are also processed and graded differently. Cedar is usually sorted into “clear” and “knotty” grades. “Clear” is the most visually perfect wood, while “knotty” is what it sounds like-it’s quality wood that’s structurally sound, but it has some knots or other visual imperfections. Within the “clear” designation, lumber is further sorted in grades from A through D, with “A and better clears” the highest grade, and “D” the lowest.

According to Mackie, Inland Red Cedar has a lower percentage of clear lumber – so small that most producers of Inland Red Cedar don’t even sell A-grade materials. “D and better clears” is usually the highest grade available for Inland Red Cedar. This is still quality wood, but it’s not as knot- and blemish-free as the “A” or better. Western Red Cedar producers have enough volume to offer a wide range of clear grades, all the way up to the very highest grades of clear vertical-grain heart.

What’s more, two different pieces of wood could be labeled similarly even though they were actually graded by different standards. According to Mackie, different lumber producers grade by different rules. Producers of Western Red Cedar grown in the coastal regions grade by cedar-specific rules-inland mills don’t.

“Many of the coastal mills only process cedar,” Mackie said. “The inland mills might do a run of ponderosa pine, then of white pine, then of cedar.”

Because cedar is just one of many products inland mills offer, they don’t go by the cedar-specific rules. Mackie said that in the “knotty” grades, inland cedar is often graded according to Ponderosa Pine grade rules. It all depends on where the wood was milled and what set of standards that particular producer was using.

5. Making the choice

So, just because two pieces of wood both look like cedar, smell like cedar, and may even be botanical brothers, doesn’t mean that they are identical. If you’re looking for a smaller piece of cedar where durability matters but appearance isn’t as crucial, Inland Red Cedar might fit your needs. If you’re looking for a really large beam or timber, and you need the highest-quality cedar available, Western Red Cedar is your best option.

Know your source, consider your project needs, and you’ll be sure of getting the kind of cedar that’s right for you.