The Search for the Best Vegetable Varieties to Grow: Veg Seed Thoughts

Best Vegetable Varieties to Grow
I’ve been growing vegetables for the past few years in my London garden in the South of the UK, and thought it could be useful to keep track of my thoughts on all the vegetable seed varieties I’ve grown so far, to see which veggie variety I thought is the best out of all the ones I have experience with. I often turn to grower forums for info like this, so in case you’re on the lookout for a similar forum post about good varieties to grow, here’s my post about it.

Without further ado, here are my thoughts on different vegetable varieties to grow in the United Kingdom. I’ve put stars next to the better varieties I’ve grown.

(Note: I imagine experiences may vary slightly depending on weather, where you got your seeds from, how strong the seeds and plants were etc.)

Greens

Leafy Greens Spinach Swiss Chard Varieties
Perpetual Spinach:
Where I bought the seeds from: sowseeds.co.uk
Thoughts: Very ordinary tasting Swiss Chard / Greens, tasting the same as (or even a little less tasty than) Swiss chard or greens bought from the supermarket. Easy to grow but not tasty enough to grow again.

Green Bean Varieties

favourite best green bean varieties for climbing pole beans

Climbing Beans:

purple climbing pole beans blauhilde varietyA Cosse Violette:
Where I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts:  Purple round pods that become green upon cooking. Taste exactly like normal french beans. Not particularly extraordinary in any way; neither in taste nor prolificness. I would probably not grow again.

Blauhilde:
Where I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts:  Purple flat, shiny silky smooth beans. The feel of them when picking was nice because they’re so silky. In terms of taste, they tasted like any other french bean. Not extraordinary in terms of prolificness nor taste so probably would not grow again.

best most prolific high yielding climbing pole bean variety cobra and blue lake

☆ ☆ Blue Lake:
Where I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts: Very similar to Cobra with round green pods. Not sure I noticed a discernable difference between Cobra & Blue Lake in terms of taste. Taste like ordinary French Beans, not spectacular, similar to supermarket-grade produce but fresher. Very prolific with really good yields. Compared to other bean plants, these appeared to be much less less fussy about getting watering perfect: more resilient and hardy to variable conditions.

☆ ☆ Cobra:
Where I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts: Rounded green pods. Taste like ordinary French Beans, not spectacular, similar to supermarket but fresher. Very prolific with really good yields. Compared to other beans, less fussy about getting watering perfect.

☆ ☆ Kentucky Wonder Wax:
Where I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts: Rounded yellow pods. Taste, ordinary. Prolific good yields.

☆ ☆ ☆ Marvel of Venice:
most tasty delicious best tasting wax yellow pole beans climbing bean marvel of veniceWhere I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts: Flat yellow wax beans. Taste: These were the only French Beans I grew that tasted significantly tastier than supermarket french beans. These were sweeter, butterier and more delicious than supermarket varieties. Unfortunately the plant was also quite sensitive to overwatering / underwatering with leaves yellowing and falling off if the watering wasn’t just right. When conditions were perfect, the beans were delicious and stringless. But when conditions weren’t just right (too hot / too cold / too wet / too dry) they were more likely to create bumpy uneven and stringy beans that lacked the optimal flavour. Because of my watering errors these were not very prolific for me and yields were quite low.

☆ Musica:
Where I bought the seeds from: nickys-nursery.co.uk
Thoughts: Flat long freen pods. Very prolific with really good yields. Taste like ordinary French Beans but because they’re flat the texture and mouth-feel is a little different; less meaty and fleshy. A little fussy about getting watering just right. Leaves yellow, brown and fall off with slight overwatering or underwatering.

☆ ☆ Neckargold:
Where I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts: Semi-rounded, semi-flat yellow wax beans. Taste very ordinary; not extraordinary. Very prolific and abundant (similar to Cobra, Blue Lake and Kentucky Wonder Wax). Not as fussy to water and temperature irregularities as other bean plants.

Dwarf Beans

Dragon Tongue Beans (aka Merveille de Piemonte)
coolest looking crops to grow cool awesome purple dragon tongue beansWhere I bought the seeds from: chilternseeds.co.uk
Thoughts: Flattened but meaty, long beans. In terms of appearance these are exceptionally attractive when mature, with a cream colour and lots of dark purple flecks. Taste very similar to ordinary french beans. Possibly a miniscule difference in taste for the better but it’s so subtle and tiny that I’m not even sure if it’s there. Not very prolific compared to climbing beans so you need a lot of plants to get enough for a meal. Because they’re not so prolific, would probably not grow again despite how pretty they are.

Runner Beans:

Firestorm:
favorite favourite runner bean varieties to grow moonlight vs firestormWhere I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts: Long velvety bean with red-brown markings along edge as they mature and pink beans inside. Become very stringy if left a little too long on the plant or if conditions are a little stressful. Taste like ordinary runner beans; meaty and fleshy, but not particularly extraordinary or extraordinarily tasty.

☆ Moonlight:
Where I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts: Long velvety green bean. Taste was extraordinary because it had an interesting floral flavour which was lovely. Due to watering errors on my part the yield was very very low but may be worth growing again with better watering habits to give these another go.

Courgettes / Zucchini Varieties

Courgette Defender F1
Where I bought the seeds from: sowseeds.co.uk
Thoughts: Tasted exactly like supermarket courgettes, so not special enough for me to grow again.

most recommended vegetable varieties for zucchini and courgettes atena polka ☆ ☆ Courgette Atena Polka F1
Where I bought the seeds from: sowseeds.co.uk
Thoughts: Tasty yellow courgettes, tastier than supermarket ones, feeling more delicate in texture and sweeter.

Trieste White Cousa Courgette
Where I bought the seeds from: realseeds.co.uk
Thoughts: I bought these after hearing lots of good things about “cousa” Lebanese courgettes but I’m not sure these “Trieste” version of “Cousa” were the variety people rave about because there’s not much I liked about these courgettes. They grow small and fat so you don’t get the fun of growing them to a large size. The taste was very ordinary; not very sweet or extraordinary in any way. The texture was very squeaky on the teeth when you chew it, and the skin was a little tough. Would not grow again.

Squash Varieties

Early Prolific Straightneck Squash
Where I bought the seeds from: realseeds.co.uk
Thoughts: Yellow pear-shaped squash. In the photos I’ve seen two versions of these: some appear bumpy and deep mustard yellow in colour. Others are pale yellow and smooth. I got the pale smooth kind. Taste very very similar to normal courgettes in cooked dishes. Very mild flavour. A nice sweetness when roasted but the tough skins became tougher when cooked this way. Overall, not different enough from ordinary courgettes to grow again. The taste was not better than ordinary courgettes in my opinion, and the tough skin was not to my liking.

gem squash - most recommended vegetables to grow - best tasting squash for home grown gardening

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Gem Squash:
Where I bought the seeds from: premierseedsdirect.com
Thoughts: I could not recommend these highly enough! This is the tastiest thing I’ve grown to date. Delicate, sweet, nutty and delicious when left to grow for about 25-30 days on the vine. Definilyte would grow again!

☆ ☆ ☆ Tromboncino d’Albenga
tromboncino squash interesting unusual squash varieties to grow Where I bought the seeds from: chilternseeds.co.uk
Thoughts: A little tough to germinate initially, but once they got going, this was the strongest, most sturdy, vibrant plant I’ve grown. Big beautiful dark green leaves, large flowers, and strong thick stems. The fruits were delicate and tasty; different enough from ordinary courgettes that I would grow these again. The whole experience of growing them is fun from the beautiful plant to seeing the huge tasty fruits grow and lengthen to incredible sizes.

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Heavy metals in fertilizer? Is fertilizer toxic to humans?

I recently saw a youtube video by “Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens” called “Top 6 Worst and 6 Best Garden Fertilizers” (posted in October 2015). In this video, the presenter, John, says:
“In 2002 the EPA started allowing companies to basically put in toxic heavy metals into fertilizers without telling you guys and without any kind of labelling.”

Until seeing this video, I’d never considered that fertilizer could contain heavy metals which are known to be toxic to humans, dogs, cats and lots of animals.

I wanted to investigate this for myself, and to find out if in the UK and EU where I live, there is risk of heavy metals in fertiliser.

I discovered that there are heavy metal limits in fertilizer in the UK and EU. The EU Fertiliser Regulation from 2019 were transposed into UK Law.

The allowed limits are:

Contaminants in an organic fertiliser must not exceed the following limit values:
(a) cadmium (Cd): 1,5 mg/kg dry matter,
(b) hexavalent chromium (Cr VI): 2 mg/kg dry matter,
(c) mercury (Hg): 1 mg/kg dry matter,
(d) nickel (Ni): 50 mg/kg dry matter,
(e) lead (Pb): 120 mg/kg dry matter, and
(f) inorganic arsenic (As): 40 mg/kg dry matter

(For those wanting to see it in the original source, you can see the original document at this link, and this specific data can be found under the heading “PFC 1(A): ORGANIC FERTILISER” within Annex I.)

At first glance, I thought “120mg lead is allowed in 1kg fertilizer! I don’t want to grow my food in this much lead!” But if you think about it, you don’t grow your plants in 1 kg of pure fertilize: you grow them in soil and only add a handful or two of fertilizer.

Say you use 2 handfuls of fertilizer in a big pot: they say 1 handful is about 35g, so 2 handfuls equates to about 70g of fertilizer.

70g of fertilizer, containing the maxmimum allowed toxic elements, would contain:

(a) cadmium (Cd): 0.1mg / 70g fertilizer
(b) hexavalent chromium (Cr VI): 0.14 mg/ 70g fertilizer
(c) mercury (Hg): 0.07 mg/ 70g fertilizer
(d) nickel (Ni): 3.5 mg/ 70g fertilizer
(e) lead (Pb): 8.4 mg/ 70g fertilizer
(f) inorganic arsenic (As): 2.8mg/ 70g fertilizer

Then, you would be spreading this amount in your big pot, diluting it in, say, 30kg of soil, so the amount per kg of dry matter of soil would be quite small.

Say, 70g fertilizer in 30kg soil, so you’ now have 8.4mg lead, in 30.07kg of soil, which works out to 0.28mg lead per 1kg soil.

Then the plants don’t take up all the amount of heavy metal in the soil so the total amount getting into the plant is a small fraction of the total amount of heavy metals in the soil.

I looked up studies checking how much heavy metals potato plants take up from the soil and deposit in the edible tuber and found one study (Setiyo et al 2020) that the following uptake levels:

Metal Heavy metal in the root zone Metal content in potato tubers % absorbed into tuber out of amount in soil (roughly, using midpoints)
Fe (iron) 120.5 ± 3.2 ppm, 0.1-0.3 ppm,midpoint: 0.2 0.17%
Pb (lead) 0.82 ± 0.17 ppm, 0.07-0.21 ppm,midpoint: 0.14 17.1%(at min: 8.5%at max: 25.6%)
Cd (cadmium) 0.4 ± 0.1 ppm, 0.03-0.06 ppm,midpoint: 0.045 11.3%
Cr (chromium) 0.59 ± 0, 2 ppm 0.03-0.07 ppm,midpoint: 0.05 8.5%

 Extrapolated from source: Setiyo et al. 2020, The concentration of heavy metals in the potato tubers of the basic seed groups examined by the variation of fertilizers, pesticides and the period of cultivation,  AIMS Agriculture and Food 2020, Volume 5, Issue 4: 882-895. https://www.aimspress.com/article/doi/10.3934/agrfood.2020.4.882?viewType=HTML

In another study by Zeliha et al 2017, the absorption levels were as follows:

 

Metal Heavy metal in the root zone Metal content in potato tubers % absorbed into tuber out of amount in soil (roughly, using midpoints)
Pb (lead) 0.52-13.86 µgg-1 dwmidpoint: 7.19 0.02-1.08 µgg-1 dwmidpoint: 0.55 7.6%
Cd (cadmium) 0.01-1.08 µgg-1 dwmidpoint: 0.545 0.01-1.90 µgg-1 dwmidpoint: 0.955 (There seems to be more in the potatoes than in the ground!?)
Ni (nickel) 1.29-63.41 µgg-1 dwmidpoint: 32.35 0.02-5.35 µgg-1 dwmidpoint: 2.685 8.3%

Extrapolated from Source: Leblebici Zeliha et al. 2017, Accumulation and effects of heavy metals on potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) in the Nevsehir, Turkey, Fresenius Environmental Bulletin 26(12):7083-7090 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320558572_Accumulation_and_effects_of_heavy_metals_on_potatoes_Solanum_tuberosum_L_in_the_Nevsehir_Turkey

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So, say you use 70g fertilizer containing the maxmimum allowed toxic elements in your 30kg of soil ; Based on the above absorption percentages, your tuber would at most absorb the following amounts of heavy metals from the fertilizer used:

  • cadmium (Cd): 0.1mg (per 70g fertilizer) x 11,3% absorption = 0.01mg cadmium
  • lead (Pb): 8.4 mg (per 70g fertilizer) x 17.1% absorption = 1.4mg lead.

And that’s the amount spread out between all the plant and all its tubers, so I’m not sure how much would be found in a single tuber. Maybe if one plant has 10 tubers, it would be 1.4 / 10, so that’s 0.14mg per tuber? or 140mcg.

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Now, let’s see if these levels are safe and to determine: is fertilizer toxic to humans?

For lead (Pb), the FDA suggests a limit of 3 µg per day for children and 12.5 µg per day for adults. (Source: https://www.fda.gov/food/metals-and-your-food/lead-food-foodwares-and-dietary-supplements under heading: “FDA Monitoring and Testing of Lead in Food”)

So 1.4mg lead in potatoes (grown with 70g fertilizer) would contain 1,400µg of lead, (or 140mcg per single potato) which would be pretty high and well above the recommended 3-12.5mcg limit.

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So for Lead: unless I made an error in my calculations (which is entirely possible since math is not my strongest subject, and please let me know in the comments if there’s something I miscalculated), based on this, it seems that it probably is NOT safe to add fertilizers to the soil if they are at the maximum allowed lead levels for UK & EU fertilizers :/

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I should mention that different plants have different tendencies of uptake of heavy metals.

One study I saw showed that tomatoes seemed to exclude uptake of heavy metals much more than other vegetables.  For example, Arsenic concentrations were highest in lettuce and green beans, lower in carrots, and much lower in tomato fruit, in this study: McBride 2013, Arsenic and Lead Uptake by Vegetable Crops Grown on Historically Contaminated Orchard Soils, Appl Environ Soil Sci.2013; 2013: 283472.  (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4776765/)  

In another study by Zhou et al 2016, they concluded that  leafy vegetables  are most susceptible to heavy metals and contaminated soils whereas melon vegetables absorb the least. (ref: Zhou et al 2016, Accumulation of Heavy Metals in Vegetable Species Planted in Contaminated Soils and the Health Risk Assessment,  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808952/)

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I’m not certain, but it’s possible that the safest fertilizers to go for, less likely to have high levels of hevy metals, are ones made entirely from decomposed plants rather than those made from artifcial chemicals. One such example is the Organic Bronte range of fertilisers (Link: https://www.bronteheritage.com/) (Not sponsored to name them by the way).

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RDA Testing for Toothpaste

measuring toothpaste abrasive value with RDA Relative Dentine Abrasivity

I’ve recently been on a quest to find a laboratory that does RDA tests for toothpaste to find the Relative Dentin Abrasivity of different brands of toothpaste. This was my second port of call after writing emails to companies asking for their RDAs, but discovering they have not conducting this test for their product.

Searching the web has shown me that information about how to find a lab that has an RDA testing service is not at all easy to find, which is why I wanted to share my findings here.

I used Google to search for scientific papers that involved measuring toothpaste RDAs, and then I wrote to the researchers to ask them if they could help me with finding where I could get this test done.

I received three helpful responses from labs who perform this test. Here is the information I have been provided with:

  • Places that do the tests: Some universities and some clinical labs
  • Cost: It depends on the lab:
    - One clinical research lab gave an informal quote for £1,600 (approx $2,100)
    - Two university labs gave a quote of upwards of £4,000 (GBP) or $5,300 (USD) per toothpaste test.
    Because of the high cost, often legal contracts are required to be signed in order to do the test.
  • Timeframe:
    The timeframe of testing is lengthy:
    - Contracts need to be signed months before tests can be run;
    - Many labs run tests at a particular time of year, so only do tests in, say, September-to-December, so if you want a test done in May, you would have to wait to the next run of tests the following September.
    - Sending and preparing the samples for testing can also take a few months;
    - And then the results of the test will only be available several months after testing too.In all, between asking for the test and getting the results it can take many months and up to a year.

In case you’re curious, this is what the toothbrushing machine used for RDA tests looks like (seen from about 20 seconds into the video):

For citizens like me who are interested in dental health and want to confirm the abrasiveness abrasive level of their toothpastes for healthy, happy teeth, if shelling out over £1000 is outside your budget, I would suggest: it is definitely easier to email the toothpaste company and ask for their RDA values rather than get the testing done yourself, and if the company does not have an RDA value, using a different brand that can provide you with this information would definitely be the easiest path to take.

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There is also another way to estimate RDA / REA, or at least a way to get a feel for abrasiveness levels of a toothpaste, without getting the official test done, and that involves 3 magic words:

Mohs Hardness Scale.

Mohs Scale of Hardness is a scale of 1-10; where 1 is soft like candle wax (well, almost: The official Mohs scale figure for candle wax is actually: 0.5-0.6), and 10 is the hardest material, diamond. If you know the hardness level of tooth enamel and dentine, and the hardness level of the abrasive ingredients in your toothpaste, you can get a rough idea of how abrasive your toothpaste formula is. Because when a material is harder than teeth, it can scratch, abrade and damage them, and materials softer than teeth will be far less likely to abrade them (though they can still abrade away the softer plaque, which is what abrasives in toothpaste are there to do).

Here’s the all-important data for you:

Material Mohs Hardness Number
Tooth enamel 4.0 – 5.0
(rarer, some sources say 3.5)
Tooth dentine 3.0 – 4.0
(rarer, some sources say 2.0-2.5)

(side note: I wonder if the hardness value of teeth varies depending on how healthy your Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Calcium, Magnesium and Collagen levels are)

Common abrasives in toothpaste:
Salt 2.0 – 3.0
Sodium Bicarbonate 2.5
Dicalcium phosphate dehydrate 2.5
Calcium Carbonate 3.0
Ground seashells 3.0
Hydroxyapatite 4.0 – 5.0
Zinc oxide 4.0
Zinc carbonate 4.5
Hydrated silica Figures variable:
2.5 – 5.0
5.0 – 7.0
depending on source
(Titanium dioxide, sometimes listed as CI 77891 – a carcinogen often found in toothpastes as a whitening agent rather than as an abrasive) 5.5
Silica 6.0-7.0
Alumina
(Side note: possible increased risk of Alzheimer’s with use of aluminium salts like this one)
9.0-9.5

From this table we can understand that Silica is a lot more abrasive on teeth and can absolutely scratch and strongly abrade the tooth surfaces because it’s harder than enamel and harder than dentin.

On the other hand, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate and Sea Salt have a lower hardness than teeth so these would not be able to strongly abrade the tooth surfaces (although it’s possible that if you look closely at a microscopic level, they may have some microscopic abrasive effect). Particle size does affect abrasiveness, but even large sized particles that feel crunchy and gritty, if they’re made of a material that’s softer than teeth, they may potentially still be gentler on your teeth than finely ground-up, smooth-feeling Silica. (Note: I’m not 100% sure on this particle-size vs particle-hardness issue – can large soft particles be more abrasive than small hard particles? please let me know in the comments below : ) )

Toothpaste RDA Testing lab test for dental health
From the time I spent examining RDAs and ingredients lists I observed a trend where toothpastes containing Silica tended to have an RDA over 80, and toothpastes without Silica, containing only Calcium Carbonate and/or Sodium Bicarbonate tended to have RDAs lower than 70.  This is not a hard and fast rule, just what I observed from the handful of toothpastes I looked at.

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So if you can’t afford an RDA test, look at the ingredients list, and the order in which the abrasives are presented on the list. The items at the beginning of the list are found in largest amounts, and at the end of the list are the ingredients found in small amounts. So if the first ingredient is Silica, that toothpaste is likely pretty abrasive, but if Silica is the last thing on the list, it’s likely the Silica is in such small amounts that the toothpaste is less abrasive. If you want a toothpaste with ingredients that are least likely to abrade teeth, then perhaps avoiding Silica altogether and going for abrasives that are softer on Mohs scale than teeth is a pretty safe way to go.

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Shana Tova! Rosh HaShanah Greeting Cards

Every year around September time it’s the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. If you’re looking for Rosh HaShanah cards with which to say “Shana Tova!” (= Happy New Year / Have a good year!), here are some of the Rosh Hashanah greeting cards currently available online:

(Note: The links below are affiliate links for Amazon.com and Zazzle, which means that if an item is purchased after clicking through my links, I receive a small commission of that sale)

Shana Tova Greeting Cards

shana tova rosh hashanah card with sweet cute kawaii cartoon

NB The above greeting print card is by the artist & youtuber who made this electronic e-card video greeting card for the Jewish New Year:

Same pretty flowery design in Hebrew letters & in English Letters
modern girly beautiful Shana Tova in Hebrew letters with pretty flower design pretty shana tova greeting card for rosh hashanah with flower design

colorful rainbow shana tova greeting card for jewish new year

minimalistic minimal black and white simple Shana Tova Happy Jewish New Year greeting card

Rosh Hashannah | Jewish New Year Greeting Cards

L'Shanah Tova Jewish Holiday Greeting Cards

Shanah Tovah Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year Holiday Card

Rosh HaShanah Greeting Cards

Floral Rosh Hashana Greeting Card in Hebrew letters

Colorful Rosh Hashanah Card

Personalized Jewish New Year Cards from Zazzle

For these, find the “Personalize” button on Zazzle to change the print to your own:

Sweet Apple Rosh Hashanah Flat Card

Personalized photo Rosh Hashanah Greeting Card

Apple Honey Rosh Hashanah Photo Card - customizable personalizable - customize & personalize it with your own family photo

Pomegranate Florals Rosh Hashanah Photo Card

add your own customized custom personal personalized photo Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year Greeting Card

Shiny Metallic Gold Foil Rosh Hashanah Greeting Cards from Zazzle

metal foil Metallic Shiny Gold Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year Greeting Cards

Gold Foil Shofar Stylish L'Shana Tova Rosh Hashanah Jewish New Year Greeting Card

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Aside from greeting cards, you can also find lots of other Rosh Hashanah goodies both on Amazon and on Zazzle:
- Rosh Hashanah products on Amazon
- Rosh Hashanah products on Zazzle

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Naturopathic Tips for Heartburn Relief

Things to decrease or avoid:
Milk
Chocolate
Fat & fatty foods (eg fried & deep-fried things)
Processed foods (eg crisps)
Large space of time between meals / Lots of hours between meals
Very large meals
Stress
Irritation
Anger
Tight clothing

Things to increase:
Oats
Fennel
Chamommile
Zinc
Magnesium
Ginger
Vegetables & greens
Lentils
Light foods, boiled, steamed etc
Small meals, frequently
(Possibly: If caused by low stomach acid, apple cider vinegar can help: 1 tsp in a glass of water, sipped through straw)
Loose clothing
Activities and thoughts that relax & soothe you

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When you feel insulted when someone insults your hobby or interests…

Why we take it personally when someone doesn’t like something WE like and what we can do to not take it personally in the future

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“It’s not stupid, YOU are!”
This is a classic schoolyard retort to someone insulting a “thing” you like, and this retort shows that people can get offended when you offend something they care about. They can take it so personally, that accordingly their retort is a personal insult too.

But why do we sometimes take it personally and other times we don’t care?
When we take it personally it’s because in our minds We fill in the gaps and identify who we are personally with the “thing” we like. We fail to see the separate distinction between “who we are”, and “the thing” in question. We think:
If they’re saying the thing I like is stupid, they are saying *I* am stupid for liking it.
If they say the thing I like is boring, they are saying *I* must be boring or stupid for liking a boring thing.

But sometimes someone just finds something boring, and they don’t think any less about you for liking that thing.

Like, one person may find biomedical science boring to learn about themselves, but you can still be a genius scientific researcher who find that stuff very interesting and they can admire you for liking the very thing that they find boring. If THEY find it boring, it does not necessarily reflect negatively on you that you are interested in it. If you have it in your head that it’s a personal insult that they find it boring, it is more revealing about how YOU feel about this “thing” – are you proud of liking this thing?

If you’re proud of your interest in biomedical science, and are secure in knowing that it’s a good thing to learn about it, and it’s a field that can be helpful to the world- then no matter whether someone else finds it boring or not, it probably won’t matter to you, because YOU are secure in knowing it’s of value, no matter how anyone else feels about it.

But, if you’re not proud or secure in your interest, it’s a different story.
For example:
If the thing that’s insulted is your boyfriend, husband, friend, or your job, or a hobby you spend a lot of time on…
Say, if you have a hobby like watching a certain youtuber and you are an ardent fan who’s spent hundreds of hours watching their videos, following them on social media etc, but part of you thinks:
“There may be better ways to spend my time than watching these entertaining videos all day… I mean, it’s entertaining and fun, but I dont think I’m adding anything positive to the world by watching these.. I could be using my time more wisely in a way that has more value to myself and to the world…”,
THEN when someone tells you your interests (in this case your interest in your beloved youtuber and their videos) are boring, it resonates with your own self-judgement and your own uncertainty about this hobby, and so it feels more like an insult and hurts your feelings. But it only feels like an insult because of your own insecurity.

So what can we do about it when someone insults a THING we like, and we get offended personally by it?

1.) In the moment, if you feel hurt, recognise that there is a belief or thought within youself that maybe is insecure about the “thing” in question. Are you proud of this interest you have? This is an opportunity for self-reflection. The judgemental person can be a catalyst to helping you realise something important about yourself and about how you spend your time.

2.) If you know you’re insecure about the “thing” in question – you can work on improving how you feel.

You can either:

(a.) Pivot your thoughts to show yourself why the thing you like is a good thing to like. Build up your own feelings of security and certainty and sureness about it so that you get to a mental head-space of believing that it IS absolutely the right thing for you. List all the good you get out of it – show yourself why it IS valuable, why it IS a good use of your time. And practice these kinds of thoughts until you feel more secure about it. Sometimes it can take some practice to nurture this positive-feeling belief and can take repeated self-reminders over some time (especially if you’ve been getting a feeling of doubt and uncertainty about it building momentum for a long while). Nurturing a new belief & sense of security in something is often not an instant thing so be patient with yourself as you build your sense of security.

For example, in the case of someone who spends a lot of time watching a youtuber: if their videos bring you joy, that’s a good use of your time, because being happy and feeling good is super valuable! And sometimes you learn about new interesting stuff from their videos, or get inspiration maybe to do fun things – that’s valuable too.

(b.) Let this be a chance to re-examine: maybe this “thing” really isn’t the best for you? Is there something else you’d rather be doing with yoru time? What’s stopping you from doing that other thing that you want to do?

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Japanese Hiragana character letters memory aids

Based on Japanesepod101′s videos, here is a helpful list of memory aids for all the Japanese Hiragana characters / symbols:

Hiragana mnemonics

あ a – looks like an apple
い i – 2 “i”s side by side
う u – like a boxer getting punched in the stomach, saying “uu!”
え e – looks like an Energetic ninja
お o – looks like a ufO, or like a mouth saying “oh” with x ‘ eyes

か ka – blade cutting a stick
き ki – looks like a key
く ku – kuku’s beak / cuckoo’s beak
け ke – looks like a keg (ke has a cane as the first stroke)
こ ko – like 2 koi fish swimming, or like a cockerel with a comb on his head

さ sa – sa-neaky grin face
し shi – looks like a fiSHIng hook
す su – like curly SUe, or like a su-piral / spiral straw
せ se – mouth about to Se-y say something / or a Sensei saying something
そ So – zigzag sewing stitch – it looks like a fraction / if something is 50/50 it’s so-so

た ta – looks like the lettera t+a “ta!”
ち chi – shouting chi-eer leader – cheerleader, angry at “sa” for copying her. It looks like the number 5 coz cheerleaders come in groups (eg of 5) 5 cheerleaders.
つ tsu – looks like a tsunami wave, or like a sideways u
て te – looks like a te-il tail and like the letter T
と to – looks like a tornado, also it has sa funny stalk on TOp

な na – cross X for “nah” and sticking out tongue – or a complicated “kna-t” knot
に ni- looks like an elongated n (h) + a sideways i: ni. Or looks like a knee cap
ぬ nu – chopsticks holding NOOdles – also you can see the “n” and the chopsticks liike like an angular “u”
ね ne – sNAIl hiding behind a NAIl – looks like Re but with an extra hoop – if it has a Hoop it’s NE not Re.
の no – looks like a “no” sign, and looks like an n + an “o” put together

は ha – looks like a capital H with a little “a”. Looks similar to ke, but “Ha” has a hoop, whereas Ke does not.
ひ hi – like a smiling mouth going “hihihi!”
ふ hu / fu – looks like mount Fuji, or like a nose blowing air going foooo
へ he – He, like an arrow pointing up to Heaven
ほ ho – like a HOrse face with mane. Looks similar to Ha but with double line. Unlike “ke”, “H” ones have a “hoop”. Ho has 2 HOrizontal lines wherehas ha only has one (Ha has HAlf the number of lines as Ho).

ま ma – like musical note on stave ma for ma-usic – or a MAn with a MAsk on his eyes
み Mi – it looks like a capital “I” and a small “i” joined together “Mi and mi”. Or like a musical quaver note for “do-re-MI”)
む Mu – looks like a cow, or like a weird clown who makes fun by imitating animals and saying moooo
め Me – Me looks like a pretzel which is MEtzuyan. Me looks like Nu (chopsticks & noodles) – how do you differentiate? When the chopsticks drop the noodle hoop, they make a MEss
も Mo – looks like a sailboat Moshit, or like a Monitor lizard with a tail

ら ra – 5 cheerleaders go rah rah rah! Or like a rabbit sitting on its hind legs. Ra looks like Chi, but Chi (cheerleader) has it all connected coz it’s a person, and Rah is a sound so is more spread out.
り or リ ri – (the second one is used most often). The second one looks like a River. Looks similar to “i” but with Ri the RIGHT stroke is longer; river is long too.
る Ru – hand holding a ruby
れ Re – Reindeer
ろ Ro – Row row row your boat – 3 rows, looks like a 3. (Or it’s a Ru hand holding a ruby, without a ruby, Ru got RObbed and became Ro)

や Ya – yaaa it looks like a YAk or a giraffe!
ゆ Yu – looks like a unicorn or like a finger pointing at you
よ Yo – looks like a y without the cup on top, or it looks like a yoyo dangling from a finger.

わ Wa – like a dog WAgging his tail, (or as a W white sWAn). Looks similar to “ne” and “re”. Reindeer is happiest with happy tail for Xmas. Wa’s WAggy tail is more subdued, and Ne’s tail is swirly coz it’s a SNAIL.
を wo – “woah” it’s a complicated one that looks like a crack in the Wall (wo-ll). Wo is never used in a word; only used as a particle to indicate a word is an object of the sentence.
(wi ゐ)
(we ゑ)

ん n – looks like an elongated n.

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Japanese Katakana character letters memory aids

Based on Japanesepod101′s videos, here is a helpful list of memory aids for all the Japanese katakana characters / symbols:

ア a – looks like an Axe
イ i – looks like i-sel / easel
ウ u – looks like an angular-connected version of hiragana u う (like a beret hat – bu-ret?) U+” = Vu
エ e – elevator doors
オ o – opera singer

カ ka – looks like hiragana ka か but more angular
キ ki – looks like hiragana ki き without bottom bit
ク ku – kuku’s tail (cookoo bird tail)
ケ ke – like a sideways K (it can be seen as a T but if you think “I don’t recognise this T.. what T sound is this?” think – ahh it must be ke!)
コ ko – korner / corner

サ sa – saddle
シ shi – SInking SHIp smiley
ス su – su-kiing figure (like a figure skiing)  like a gimmel
セ se – looks like hiragana se せ (eg sensei)
ソ so – smiley with one eye (looks like n [ン], but “so” [ソ] is “s”limmer. It also looks like a SOftserve ice cream and “n” does not.

タ ta – person holding a tablet
チ chi – chicken that looks nothing like a chicken :D – chi looks like an energetic (chi-filled) man with spread out arms and looking upwards, running. [similar to ki キ.. if it's not ki, it's chi チ - Chi looks more like it's in the T series coz if its T-shape]
ツ tsu – smiley – like a smiling Tsu-na (tuna) face – looks like “shi” but if you trace the lines into curves, it shows the hiragana hint for which is which: つ or し
テ Te – telephone pole
ト To – totem pole side

ナ na – na-if (knife) or sword with cross at top
ニ ni – like 2 lines ni = 2
ヌ nu – like nu / noo / noose
ネ ne – nest
ノ no – no sign crossing out

ハ ha – ha-us – house
ヒ hi – heel (like a small t – a small tea is what women in heels drink)
フ hu or fu – tip of a foot “foo” – looks like a u on its side
ヘ he – looks like hiragana he へ
ホ ho – holy cross, shining

マ ma – mantaray wing
ミ mi – middle – 3 lines with a middle one
ム mu – mu-se – moose antlers
メ me – me-il – mail letter
モ mo – looks like hiragana mo も

ラ ra – rack or ra-cking chair
リ ri – looks like hiragana ri (not the print one: り but the other, handwritten one: ㇼ )
ル ru – looks like a ru-t root of a tree
レ re – Re-zor blade Edge / razor, or Edge of  Rectangle
ロ ro – robot mouth square

ヤ ya – looks like hiragana ya や only more angular
ユ yu – looks like a U-boat’s periscope (or like a bet) – or like a sideways U
ヨ yo – looks like a backwards E – if you have an Egg, it contains a YOke. E for egg YOlk.

ワ Wa – like a Wain / wine glass
ヲ Wo – like wain glass but with extra line – like a world trophy or olympic torch
(ヰ wi)
(ヱ we)

ン n – smiley with one eye – or like space craft ENtering the earth’s atmosphere. Looks similar to “so” (but “so” is Slimmer)

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Rampage of Appreciation for Sport

When you use your body physically in sport, there are so many good things you can gain from sports:

You feel the aliveness in your body as the fresh air rushes through your body and fills your body with aliveness!

For many sports you get to interact with the fresh air – to be outside, maybe appreciating the feeling of the grass beneath your feet, or the feeling of the sunshine shining down on you, lighting up the world around you with its golden beams.

How great it feels to USE your body!

How great it feels to acomplish results with your physical body and with your physical strength!

How much appreciation it gives you for your body and strength!

You learn to go beyond what you thought your limits were.
You see yourself improving and getting better with practice which is so satisfying!

You learn that practice, and patience to allow yourself the time and space to get better and better – gets results.

You learn what it feels like to use your body in a way which feels like you’re using all your muscles to the max; using your body to the max – utilising your full potenetial – which is a wonderful feeling to know that you’re using your talent and potential to the fullest that you can!

You learn to look after your body and respect it so that it will help you to function optimally – to achieve that satisfying fullest potential.

You learn teamwork; because for many sports in order to win, you need the team to win.

You learn the satisfaction of how great it feels when you are able to succeed even when conditions are challenging.

You learn to keep going and not to give up.

And sport can even be a kind of meditation. When you play, you’re not thinking about taxes and politics – no! you’re focused! you’re focused on the sport! And for that time that your focus is on the sport, your thoughts are free of the normal baggage – and you are lighter; freer.. no wonder engaging in sport feels good!

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What miracles are according to Abraham Hicks

Desire in the absence of resistance
accomplishes what humans wanna call miracles.
We wanna call it desire, in the absence of resistance!

Source: Phoenix, Dec. 2013.

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