Entry bubble National Whole Grains Month

By: Colleen | September 17, 2008 | Category: Health

I was once a white-bread eater. As a kid, anything with the word "grain" in it made me cringe. Now, whole grainever older and wiser, chowing down on white bread is the equivalent of eating paste.

As a reformed eater of refined grains, I am pleased to report that September is National Whole Grains Month. A whole grain is one that still has its covering, which contains the grain's fiber and many of its vitamins and minerals.

Whole grains are a great source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also a major supply of fiber, help decrease the risk of heart disease, and can aid in weight loss.

The USDA suggests that adults get between three and five portions of whole grains per day. What are some easy ways to sneak some more whole grains into your daily diet?

  • Make sure your bread label reads, "100% whole grain" or "100% whole wheat." Otherwise, it may just be a mix of refined and whole grain.
  • Use whole grain pastas when cooking. You'll never notice the difference. (Trust me, I had a dinner party with a whole grain baked ziti- none of my guests were the wiser.)
  • Bake with whole-wheat flour. The coloring of your famous cookies may be slightly different, but the taste remains the same.
  • Order your Friday night pizza with whole grain dough. Many national chains, like Papa John's, are offering this.
  • Substitute brown rice for white with your meals.

Whole grains are also essential for those who have celiac disease and need to maintain a gluten-free diet.

Does anyone have any tasty whole-grain recipes to share? Any suggestions for packing more whole-grains into your diet?

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Entry bubble Hurricane Ike Survivors: Find Family & Friends

By: Joanne | September 16, 2008 | Category: Home and Family

Did you evacuate to get out of the path of Hurricane Ike? Do you need to find friends or family who were displaced by Ike? If you answered yes to either of these questions, read on.

There are websites you can register with to help you connect with your loved ones to let them know that you’re safe and well after the storm. I’m going to give you links to a few registries – if you were displaced by the storm or if you’re looking for someone, I suggest you visit them all.

  • FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, operates the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System
  • The Red Cross operates the Safe and Well List. The Safe and Well List even lets you to post a message (from a list of standard messages) so you can give your loved ones a little more information. For those without internet access, call 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) to register.
  • Next of Kin National Registry is a free tool for daily emergencies and national disasters. The system gives emergency response agencies the information they need to contact your loved ones if you’re ever missing, hurt badly or worse.
  • If you’re a tourist or other foreign national affected by a disaster in the U.S., contact your consulate.

And do remember that there are many ways that you can help the people impacted by Hurricane Ike by volunteering or donating. There are volunteer opportunities for kids, seniors, teens and groups and many reputable organizations you can support through donations to bring relief to hurricane survivors.

No matter what charity you chose to support, always be on the watch for identity theft and other scams and fraud schemes  that try to take advantage of your good will and desire to help those in need.

| Comments [2] | envelope Email This Entry | Tags: disaster   flood   hurricane   ike   joanne   locator   shelter   storm   survivor  


Entry bubble Save on Heating Bills!

By: Jake | September 15, 2008 | Category: Home and Family

ThermostatFall begins next week and winter will be here before you know it. Joanne showed us last week the cost of heating oil is rising and there are sure to be other high heating costs this winter no matter what fuel you use to heat your humble abode.

A good place to learn about how you can save on heating costs is the new Energy Savers blog. The blog was launched by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the (surprise!) U.S. Department of Energy this month as a way to communicate with citizen's about consumer-related energy topics.

In September and October the Energy Savers bloggers are writing about "winterization"—topics to get you ready for the upcoming heating season. In one of their first posts on "winterization," they recommend that you conduct an energy audit where you inspect your house for drafts, correct insulation levels and heating unit filters.

Also, the Federal Trade Commission offers a website that shows you how to save on energy costs in every room of your house. What do you plan to do this winter to save on heating bills?

| Comments [1] | envelope Email This Entry | Tags: energy_audit   heating_costs   heating_fuel   jake   winter   winterization  


Entry bubble Space, My Final Frontier

By: Ginger | September 12, 2008 | Category: Fun

Hi, my name is Ginger and I am your new Friday blogger. Nicole took a position at another agency. She is a wonderful writer and a lovely person. We will all miss her.

I am one of our older bloggers on the team. When I turn 50, instead of joining the Red Hat Society, I want to start my own “quirky-gals-over-50” society. We will wear yellow rain boots and speak in Klingon (“Grutnik juju mani kerplaw!” Translation…“These hot flashes are killing me. Turn on the air conditioning and pass the estrogen!”)

Asrtonaut floating in spaceAs you have probably gathered from my Klingon remark, I am a SciFi fan. In fact, I like all things science, including astronomy. My secret dream is to be in space for my 50th birthday, so I began contemplating how to make that happen in the next 4 years. I decided to visit the Science Topics page on USA.gov to help me locate information on NASA’s astronaut selection process.

I found out that you don’t have to be a pilot or in the military to become an astronaut. Science teachers (K-12 included) may qualify on the Basic Qualification Requirements. My 3 years of science teaching in the late 80’s probably isn’t what they had in mind, but heck, you never know. Unfortunately, NASA recently finished an application selection cycle, so my application will have to wait until the next cycle… stay tuned.

If you think you may have the right stuff, here is some interesting astronaut information to get you started. Also, read how the candidates from the astronaut program class of 2004 got into the program.

If you know of any junior “astronaut wannabes”, or just some kids who are interested in space, have them visit NASA's For Students page or these other space resources.

Are you interested in space? Let me hear about it!

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Entry bubble Remembering Together

By: Nancy | September 11, 2008 | Category: Home and Family

Seven years ago today, most of my coworkers and I huddled around the office television, trying to make sense of what we pentagon flag were seeing on the screen: New York City. The World Trade Center. Gone. A couple other colleagues went onto the roof of our building, looked into that bright, blue sky and saw a plume of smoke rising from the Pentagon, three miles away.

September 11, 2001 immediately changed daily life, from what was covered on the evening news, to the way we traveled to how we marked history.

It stirred us as a nation. We hung flags from highway overpasses and front porches, car windows and our lapels. We stopped to thank those who served and protected us.

And it drew us closer as people. We were nicer to each other on the subway and in the line at the supermarket. And we found ways to help those who were hurting and those left behind. Our shared experience helped us understand a little better about the price of freedom, and what it meant to love our neighbor.

Where were you on that morning, seven years ago today?

| Comments [11] | envelope Email This Entry | Tags: nancy   pentagon   september   terrorism   world_trade