Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Tiny House Garden

Last spring frost (50% probability) date is January 21st.

Chive ~ Asparagales order
start the seeds indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost

Basil ~ Lamiales order
indoors 6 weeks before last frost date

Chamomile ~ Asterales order
start indoors about 4 to 6 weeks before the last average frost

Fennel ~ Apiales order
outdoors around last frost date

Radish ~ Brassicales order
1/21–29, 2/15–28

Spinach ~ Caryophyllales order
Swiss Chard ~ Caryophyllales order
2/7–14, 3/1–15

Lettuce (Romaine, Red Sails) ~ Asterales order

Pepper (Anaheim, Cayenne, Jalapeno, California Wonder) ~ Solanales order
Tomato ~ Solanales order

Summer squash (patty pan, wee bee little) ~ Cucurbitales order
Winter squash (Kabocha, Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Carnival) ~ Cucurbitales order
3/15–16, 3/30–4/15

Parsley ~ Apiales order
wait until all possibility of frost has passed, parsley seeds like warm soil

Roses ~ Rosales order
refrigerate seeds for about 6 weeks, plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep, provide no light for the first month, then give the tray 16 hours of light a day, germination should begin shortly and continue for 2 to 3 months

Sunday, September 21, 2014

exercise vs exorcise

Last night a DJ saved my life.  Sometimes I forget how easy it is to let go and set yourself free.  I felt like I was releasing all the tension and stress in a positive way.  All the artists who wrote those lyrics and melodies were singing MY song.  And my friends were there dancing with me.


In preparation for Halloween, I am thinking about the scariest movie I ever saw.  OK, it is a tie between Event Horizon and The Exorcist (and a close third is Nightmare on Elm Street).  But I felt like last night I was a woman possessed.  Like a revival tent, I shook and shouted and sang my way back to emotional stability.

An exorcism involves driving out (an evil spirit) from a person or place.  An exercise involves activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.  I would say that last night on the dance floor, amid swirling disco lights, I achived both.

There are many forms of dance, but the simplest way to start is tapping your toe. Nodding your head "Yes," is an affirmation. Shrugging your shoulders as if to say, "nobody's watching." Then start marching in place. Loosen up your torso. Roll your head. Wave your arms. Kick. Jump. Listen to the music.

"Lowered heart rate, better sleep and lower cortisol levels — a signifier of reduced stress — are all responses to listening to music. 'Accepting that compulsion to move, and not only that, but going with it and completing that cycle. Instead of just modelling it in your mind , you are actually … bringing that to life through your body.' "

Research in small studies has observed "positive effects from the music therapy, including positive trends in improved memory, lowered levels of stress hormones and improved caregiver reports for neuropsychiatric symptoms such as irritability and depression."

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) is only beginning to reveal how music and dance recruit our whole brain, which in turn rewards us with dopamine. Music "activates pleasure and reward-related regions of the brain" so go ahead and shake a tail feather.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

the Kaiser hot dog diet

This summer I tried an experimental diet: no cookies, no cake, and hot dogs are OK as long as you ride your bicycle to get one.  It became a joke and I feel like I lost some fat but I didn't lose any weight.  I would say I tried this diet for the entire months of July and August.  I also had a misconception in my head that eating a 4-4-9 ratio of carbs-protein-fat would be the best for a steady stream of energy.  This was a mis-association on my part.  It's more likely that ratio came from the fact that carbs and protein provide about 4 Calories per gram and fat provides about 9 Calories per gram.  It's difficult to look at your food and see how many grams of protein, carbs and fat it contributes, and even more difficult to do the calculation in your head before you eat a meal to be sure you're eating balanced ratios of carbs, protein and fat.

I used to assemble some nutritional information for some of the hot dogs I ate in my hot dog experiment.  Beginning with the USDA guidelines for the percentages of our diet that should come from fat, protein, and carbs and then assuming that a person consumes 2000 Calories per day, I arrived at the number of Calories that should be consumed from fat, protein, and carbs.  Then I used the 4-4-9 information regarding the Calorie density of carbs-protein-fat to calculate the grams of each that should be consumed per day by an average adult.  Then I looked up the grams of carbs, protein, and fat in various hot dogs and calculated how much of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) each hot dog provided in each category of macronutrient (fat, protein, carbs).

After all that, I got to thinking, "hot dogs are salty."  Many people have trouble with high levels of salt.  I wondered how much salt was in each hot dog.  It turns out the Costco hot dog is the saltiest by almost double the other hot dogs.  Although young people can process 2.3 g of sodium a day, older Americans (beyond age 50) are not recommended to exceed 1.5 grams of sodium.  Therefore the Costco hot dog should be off limits for older people.  The Costco hot dog is OK if you are only eating 2 meals a day, but although inexpensive, it is not a great source of energy compared with other choices like vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

So my misconception was that I thought 4-4-9 was the balance of carbs-protein-fat that people should consume.  I didn't know if that was in terms of grams or Calories.  What I learned is that 4-4-9 is the ratio in Calories if one is to consume energy equally in grams from all three energy sources, which is not what is recommended.  What might be possibly more useful is knowning that the USDA recommends a 6-3-11 ratio of fat-protein-carbs in terms of Calories.  I used to count calories using the Weight Watchers points system.  It simplifies the point value of each food and allows a participant a specific number of points per day.  You also get a credit in the formula for increased dietary fiber in your foods.

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan shown above seems better than a "crash" diet. The hot dog diet is also known as the Kaiser hot dog diet and the Navy diet or the 3-day diet. It promises you will lose 10 pounds in 3 days by eating ice cream and hot dogs (without the bun). Crash diets are NEVER recommended. DASH recommendations seem simple to follow. In a study of 810 participants, over the course of 18 months, participants lost weight and improved their blood pressure. It is never a good idea to strive for short-term weight loss. Giving yourself plenty of time to see results is a safer course of action.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

SoCal Running & Cycling Events 2014

5k Foam Fest: Southern California, Temecula Galway Downs, Price: $60 Registered!
Saturday, July 19th ~ Start time 9:00am
38801 Los Corralitos Rd, Temecula, CA

Salinas Valley Half Marathon, Price: $110
Saturday, August 2, 2014 ~ Start time: 8:00am
36641 Fort Romie Road, Soledad, CA

Tour de Big Bear, Price: $75 for 9 more days
Saturday, August 2, 2014
The Village" at Big Bear Lake - • Village Dr. & Pine Knot Ave.

Chula Vista Challenge Duathalon/Triathlon, Sprint Price: $75
Saturday, August 9, 2014 ~ 500Mtr Swim, 10Mi Bike, 5K Run ~ Start time TBA
999 Bayside Parkway, Chula Vista, CA
Registration closes Friday, August 8 @ 7:00 PM US/Pacific

Tour de Lake Arrowhead Century Ride, Price: $50 before Jul. 25
Saturday, August 23, 2014
2728 State Highway 189 Blue Jay, CA

Mariachi 5k, Price: $40 before Aug. 11th
Sunday, August 24, 2014 ~ Start time: 8:00am
1836 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA

Ventura Marathon bike 30/62/100 miles, Price: $45-120
Bike: Saturday, September 6th ~ Start time: 7:00am

Ventura Marathon 5k/half/full Price: $45-120
Run: Sunday, September 7th ~ Start time: 7:00am
Ventura Beachfront

10th Annual Spirit of LA 5k Run, Price: $30
Saturday, September 6, 2014 ~ Start time: 8:00am
Elysian Park 1880 Academy Dr. Los Angeles, CA

2k/5k Mutt Strut Los Angeles, Price: $30
Saturday, September 13, 2014 ~ Start time: 9:00am
3901 Dunsmore Ave, La Crescenta, CA

Girls on the Go Los Angeles 2014, 5k/10k/half, Price: $35-80
Sunday, September 21 ~ Start time 7:00am
120 Via Verde, San Dimas, CA

1st Annual LA Dodgers Foundation 5k Run, Price: $45 until Jul. 31
Sunday, September 21 ~ Start time: 8:30am
Dodger Stadium

Gran Fondo Italia Beverly Hills, Price: $190 (for a 2 rider team) through Jul. 14th
Sunday, September 28 ~ Start time: 7:00am
Beverly Canon Gardens, 241 Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA

CicLAvia: Heart of LA, Price: FREE
Sunday, October 5, 2014 ~ 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Echo Park and East Los Angeles, parts of downtown LA

Ride 2 Recovery California Challenge, Price: $75 (one day)
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Ventura to West Los Angeles

Run Long Beach Bike Tour
Sunday, October 12, 2014 ~ Start time: 6:00am
Long Beach Convention Center

30th Annual Run Long Beach 5k/half/marathon
Sunday, October 12, 2014 ~ Start time: 7:30am (half), 8:30am (5k)
Long Beach Convention Center

5k/10k Gladiator Rock & Run, Price: $60/$70 until Sept. 19th
Saturday, October 25, 2014 
Pasadena Rose Bowl

Hard Rock Cafe 5k, Price: $45 until Sept 15th
Saturday, November 8, 2014 ~ Start time: 7:00am
6801 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA

37th Annual Mission Inn Run, Price: $45 or $40 per person for a team of 5
Sunday, November 9, 2014 ~ 10k Start time: 8:30am
Market St, near the 2nd St intersection, Riverside, CA

CicLAvia: South LA, Price: FREE
Sunday, December 7, 2014 ~ 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
including connections to Metro Blue and Expo Lines

LA County Half Marathon, Price: $90 (half) or $35 (5k)
Sunday, December 14, 2014 ~ Start time: 7:30am
Fairplex, 1101 W McKinley Ave, Pomona, CA

Coming in 2015 More open streets events where you can run, walk, bike, or skate, totally CAR FREE!

I found the events listed here using and and through other social media outlets that I follow (and real-life friends).

Whether you "B on a Bike" or whether you prefer to "B Running" there are fitness events for everyone in Southern California at all fitness levels and for all prices.  Some of these events have the added benefit of music: the Mariachi 5k, The Gladiator Rock & Run, and the Hard Rock Cafe 5k.  Others have the added benefit of a bunch of mutts (see our post about pet therapy)!  Races highlighted in yellow are those I would like to do.  Hope to see you there~!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Self-diagnosis through Data Analysis

I've been pouring over data in a first-pass effort to make sense of any trends.  I have been keeping an Excel file with dates and weights since I started training at 24 Hour Fitness in Tempe, AZ.  The trainer I had there encouraged me to measure myself with a cloth tape.  I kept track of these readings: bust, waist, hips, thigh, calf.  I don't know why I didn't keep doing that.  I also looked for my records of success with Weight Watchers, which I did in 2001 and 2002, but they seem to have vanished into the cloud of data that will never be seen again.  The top panel shows simple weight versus time.  The panel at bottom left (pie charts) shows percentage of calories burned in various workout types.  The panel at bottom right shows distance (in miles, red) and Calories burned (green) with workouts that have been tracked using MapMyRide.  I marked some big milestones of my cycling adventures with arrows.

The pie charts were created by selecting regions of the top scatterplot where the weight trend was going down (success) or up (gains).  I calculated the number of workouts per month and divided that by the number of months included in the pie chart.  

In 2011, for example, I had a period of success in the summer months where I was working out almost every day.  I devoted about half of my calories burned to cycling and about 33% to running.  Less than half my workouts were cycling and about 40% were running.  

Another time I had success was in 2009 where 75% of my calories and workouts were cycling.  Here about 20% of calories and workouts were running.  About 5% of my workouts included yoga.  Even though I was not working out every day, I was getting rides in that were at a high level of intensity.  I was doing hill training and long distance rides on Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday.

One period where I gained weight in 2011, I was only cycling 70% of the time, which accounted for 58% of my weight loss.  This may mean that although I was riding regularly, it was at a lower intensity.  I was running 15% of the time, which accounted for 23% of calories burned.  About 5% of my workouts were devoted to toning and yoga, including adult ballet.  These two categories together accounted for 15% of my calories burned.  This was despite working out about 5 days a week.

In 2014 so far, 77% of my calories have been burned cycling, attributed to 67% of my workouts.  I have been burning 15% of calories in toning (Zumba) and only 1% of my workouts have been yoga.  Only 5% of my workouts have been running though, accounting for 5% of my calories burned.  I have been doing a larger percentage of walking, 5% of workouts, which has had a negligible impact on overall calories burned.  I have been working out only about every other day.

The conclusions that I can draw from this analysis is to get in more runs and work out more days per week.  I could also try to increase the intensity of my bike rides.  I could also try more long walks.  And it would be nice to return to bicycle commuting.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Please watch and share this video!  It is part of a competition to communicate science to the public.  Semifinalists will be awarded travel funding to the American Chemical Society national meeting in San Francisco (August 2014).  Judging criteria includes quality and number of views.  Thanks!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Garden Plans

I bought American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America on May 31, 2012. It contains garden plan drawings as well as photos from the gardens in different seasons. I was making sketches of my garden before I got the book, but I was inspired to keep doing it after I read Mrs. Obama's text.

Winter 2012

Spring 2012

Our back patio is brick with a thin strip of soil that has a star jasmine, a bougainvillea, and a lion's tail bush. Since the soil seemed nutrient-poor, and to prevent our dogs from digging, I put the containers on top of the strip of dirt. I also purchased a net for vines to climb, particularly squash and pumpkins. It gets hot in the late summer, so I wired a drip system across the top of it which really helped. I harvested the last of the squash in December just before the first (and only) frost.

backyard, May 2012

Fall 2012

Summer 2012

Winter 2013

Spring 2013

We live on a 1/16th acre lot. Our front yard is xeroscaped with a stoop and two permanent trees. You would think we are not able to grow very much, but the rock is a perfect surface to populate with containers. Some people think gardening is a lot of work. It is important to water the plants, but with a minimum of effort, you can have edible food right outside your door. We also get seeds from the Farmer's Market. The produce that we buy is already adapted to growing in our area. I save the seeds and replant them, keeping only plants that are fairly compact and fairly drought-tolerant.

front yard, March 2013

Summer 2013

Fall 2013

Winter 2014

Spring 2014

Some of the small containers (pictured below) were purchased at Cactus & Succulent Society of America’s annual plant sale at the Huntington Botanical Gardens on July 1, 2012. Others were cloned from a yard in Riverside, CA. And still others have been with me since college (1999 in Kearney, NE). I have been growing plants in plastic 2L soda bottles, paper soda and coffee cups (9-48 oz), and milk or detergent containers as a way of upcycling.

stoop, March 2014

When I met my husband, I thought the greatest idea in the world was to start a seed company. The stock reseeds itself and grows from one generation to the next. It's the free way to harness the sun's energy and make food and medicine right in your own yard. When I don't know what to eat (like last night) I went outside and cut leaves from the swiss chard, cooked them, and ate up.

Container gardening has gained attention as a way for city-dwellers to raise their own food. I know we couldn't live off the food we grow here, but it certainly makes meals easier when you just need a pinch of basil, chive, bell pepper, cherry tomato, or a few leaves of crisp lettuce to put on your sandwich. The seeds I have collected so far are catalogued here. I label the plants in my garden with popsicle sticks with the date planted so my neighbors can see what is growing and how long it takes to raise a plant to fruition. I also add QR codes that direct viewers to more information about each plant.

Super Sweet 100 and composter (at right)

We have a large composter in the backyard that we have been using to enrich the soil there. It was my dream to plant a "three sisters" mound but I worry that our dogs would dig it up. Maybe this summer the time is right to give it a try. I've got Silver Queen corn already sprouting as well as Kabocha and Delicata squash. There's Clemson okra sprouting, and Danvers carrots have germinated. So far the Romano beans have not emerged. The Easter Egg radish and Bonnie spinach are also seedlings now. I also have a LOT of Super Sweet 100 seedlings that are the offspring of the largest cherry tomato plant I have ever seen (above).

I hope this post encourages you to start growing something. Please contact if you are interested in free seeds or Super Sweet 100 cherry tomato starts.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fun & Fitness

New Year's Race Half and 5k Los Angeles
Jan 4, 2014 Los Angeles, CA *Night Race begins @ 7pm

Coastal 5k/10k - Pepperdine University
Jan 25, 2014, Playa Del Rey, CA

Beach Party 5k/10k/15k/half marathon
Jan 26, 2014 Santa Monica, CA

The Awesome 5k/10k/15k/half marathon
Feb 1, 2014 Santa Monica, CA

El Monte 5k Foot Pursuit
Feb 8, 2014 El Monte, CA

Cupid's Back 5k Valentine's Day
February 9, 2014 Pacific Palisades, CA

Bishop Alemany 5k Run/Walk
Feb 15, 2014 Mission Hills, CA

Valentine's Day 5k/10k/15k/half marathon
Feb 15, 2014 Van Nuys, CA

Rose Bowl Half Marathon
Feb 23, 2014 Pasadena, CA

The Fantastic 5k/10k/15k/half marathon
Feb 22, 2014 Santa Monica, CA

UCLA IronBruin Triathlon 2014
Mar 2, 2014 Los Angeles, CA

Spring Pier 2 Pier Run/Walk (5k)
Mar 8, 2014 Hermosa Beach, CA

Parker Mesa Overlook 10k Trail Run
Mar 8, 2013 Topanga, CA

LASAA Mug Run #10
Mar 8, 2014 Pasadena, CA

Pasadena Triathlon (5k run/15k bike/150m swim) or Duathlon (5k run/15k bike/5k run) or 5k run
Mar 15, 2014 Pasadena, CA

Natasha Watley 5k/10k
Mar 15, 2014 Van Nuys, CA
$30 *Advantage members eligible for up to $10 discount

The Rocket Launch 5k/10k/15k/half marathon/marathon
Mar 22, 2014 Van Nuys, CA

Every Child Matters 5k
Mar 23, 2014 Studio City, CA

Bad Prom Los Angeles 5k
Mar 28, 2014 Los Angeles, CA
$42-47 *Eligible for Advantage Member discount

Hollywood Half Marathon & 5k/10k
Apr 5, 2014 Hollywood, CA
$40-105 *Member discount applies to this activity

Lookout Peak 8-mile Trail Run
Apr 5, 2014 Tarzana, CA

Corporate Challenge 5k
Apr 9, 2014 Pasadena, CA

Victory for Victims 5k/10k
Apr 13, 2014 Encino, CA

Run Mt. SAC Road Race (5k)
Apr 19, 2014 Walnut, CA

Girls on the Run SoleMates 5k/10k/marathon
Apr 30, 2014 Los Angeles, CA

Cinco de Mayo Fun Run
May 3, 2014 Bell Gardens, CA

Volkswagen City of Angels Fun Ride
May 4, 2014 Los Angeles, CA

Run the Verdugos 4th Annual Trail Run & Hike
May 4, 2014 Glendale, CA

Mother's Day 5k/10k/15k/half marathon/marathon
May 11, 2014 Van Nuys, CA

Jewel City Fun & Fitness Ride
May 18, 2014 Glendale, CA

Father's Day 5k/10k/15k/half marathon/marathon
Jun 15, 2014 Van Nuys, CA