Oceans — and the major impact they have on birds

One of my friends (who knows I’m a bird-mom) sent me a link to an article about albatrosses:
The “magnificent ocean wanderers.”

Did you know albatrosses can live over 70 years!?
I didn’t.

Reading the article was an eye-opening experience.
The things we humans do — without realizing the harm done to other species.

Our way of life, with so many single-use plastic items (including food wrappers and grocery bags)
All of these ending up in the trash found on coastlines around the world.

The article gives us the top three of the most deadly (to birds) plastics:

*plastic drink bottles
*disposable utensils

Think of those bird-parents
Doing what parents do — wanting to take care of their little ones.
And see them grow up

But, because of what we humans have done (and keep doing), these birds now live in a world full of trash/plastics.

The results?
These bird-parents end up feeding their little ones with plastic
And never get to see them grow up…

Where do we go from here?
There are simple things we can all do.
We can start by taking shopping bags from home when we go grocery shopping
This way less plastic bags are being thrown in the trash.

The balloons? We really don’t need them.
We can celebrate life events — and have fun — without them.

Think of all the good we can do with just these two simple changes
Think how it would be living in a kinder world
A world kind to all its creatures

“You cannot do kindness too soon,
for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

> > > > > >
Here’s the link to the article my friend sent me


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Happy Thanksgiving

TV newscasters (and numerous posts on social media)
give lots of suggestions on how to have a
“non-political” discussion at the Thanksgiving table.

Some suggestions are silly.
Like talking about potato texture.
And clouds.


But then, I don’t know.
Maybe that does make sense.
For some.

Sunny and Flipper

Sunny and Flipper

The way I’m looking at it:
if we can empathize with each other;
listen and be respectful of one another,
then we should be able to discuss any topic.

On the other hand, garlicky mashed potatoes are yummy;
so I wouldn’t mind talking about it : )
And I love a blue sky with fluffy clouds.

Wishing you all

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Information vs Money — which one wields more power?

Giving people the right information is empowering, right?
And being informed will help in making the right decisions.
Sounds great but in reality things are different.
Much different.

Take the sugar consumption.
We’ve been touting the harmful effect it has on children and adults alike.
(As evidenced by a steady increase in diabetes and obesity.)
Yet the purchase of sugar beverages has remained high.

Sugar tax
If information alone doesn’t seem to work, then what else needs to be done?
People in Berkley, California, seem to have come up with something that works.
In 2014, Berkley’s residents voted to enact a, “sugar-tax” of a penny-per-ounce on soda and other sugary beverages.
It produced results: the low-income neighborhoods cut their consumption by more than a fifth.
(I suppose this could be called a, “pocketbook intervention.”)

Information vs money
As to whether one wields more power than the other: they seem to work best when used concurrently — at least in this case.

Speaking of money and pocketbooks: the soda industry has spent millions of dollars.
Just to keep things the way they are.
And not have the extra tax levied on sugary drinks.

The movement for the, “sugar-tax” is gaining momentum.
Philadelphia will start taxing sodas this coming January.
And soon two other cities may do the same — San Francisco (CA) and Boulder (CO).
The voters in these cities will decide his November on enacting a soda tax (or not).

My thoughts
I don’t think soda industry is the “villain” here.
Or at least not the only one.
Yes, we like to consume sugar in its many forms.
(I should know — given the “industrial” quantities of chocolate I eat every day.)

But sugar is not the only culprit that causes the rise in diabetes and obesity.
We lead such sedentary lives.
We are glued to our technological devices for hours on end.

Does it help having the sugar-tax?
I can’t argue with the data — it did lower the sugary-drinks consumption by a fifth.

If the sugar-tax works so well then what type of tax do we need to get off the couch?
Leading a more active lifestyle would do wonders for our health.

(Hmm. What would happen then with the pharmaceutical industry?)

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OBI Blog changes

Beginning this month, new blog postings will be once a week.
The new day and time: Wednesdays at noon (EST)

In November we’ll also start, “Stories or people that have influenced me” series.
To lead us on this new path is OBI’s new guest-writer, Chris Mott.
With her compelling story, “Never be defined by your past.”
Come back and visit with us tomorrow.

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Thanks for visiting.

10 Easy Steps to Eat Healthier

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. It is also preventable and reversible. Just by changing your eating habits you can improve very quickly. The following are 10 easy steps you can do to improve your diet starting today! Remember, what you eat today, makes tomorrow’s blood!

Greek Couscous Salad

  1. No Cheese please: When making or ordering a salad, sandwich or even a burger, forgo the cheese. It is filled with saturated fat, cholesterol and salt and you will save a lot of calories;
  2. Substitute mustard or mashed avocado for mayo: Instead of mayo, use mustard or mashed avocado. When eating at a Mexican restaurant, substitute guacamole for the sour cream that comes with your dish;
  3. Choose a vinaigrette or oil and vinegar instead of Ranch or Thousand Island dressing: Salad can contain more fat and calories than a burger with fries and it is mostly due to the dressing! So, order a vinaigrette or just oil and vinegar instead of Ranch or Thousand Island dressings. Also, order it on the side and use it sparingly. One way is to dip your fork into the dressing and then take a bite. You use less that way.
  4. Substitute beans instead of meat: Beans are a great source of protein and fiber without the saturated fat and cholesterol. Start incorporating them into dishes you would normally use meat such as burritos or Shepherd’s Pie. Meatless Monday’s are a great way to start!
  5. Size of your animal protein: Eat only a side-dish size of meat, chicken or pork for your meals. When dining out, eat half and take the rest home for another meal. Balance your meat with salad, whole grains, vegetables or soup;
  6. Choose lean meats instead of cold cuts: Cold cuts contain preservatives, nitrates and sodium. Use only lean, unprocessed meats, chicken, tuna or turkey;
  7. Add veggies when you can: When making or ordering a sandwich, pasta or entrée, always look on the menu to see what other vegetables they are offering and add them to your dish or meal. Restaurants are so accommodating today.
  8. Add fiber to your diet: Always choose brown rice over white rice, whole-wheat pasta over regular pasta and whole-grain or whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients and make sure it contains wheat or whole grains and not molasses or caramel coloring to make the bread appear brown;
  9. Use Sesame, Olive or Safflower oils: Use healthier oils instead of butter, lard or bacon fat;
  10. Substitute vegetable broth for chicken or beef broth: This is a very easy substitution and you do not lose any flavor. You can make your own vegetable broth or buy an organic one.

These steps seem easy but can make a real difference. Read the labels on all the products you buy. If you need a science degree to understand the ingredients listed on the box or can, don’t buy it! The fewer the ingredients the better.


/Comments/in Living Well/by Guest Writer: Jill Skeem

A beautiful snowy day

I’m looking outside – it’s snowing.
Children from up the street are walking their dog.
And playing with snowballs.

It looks like a painting – a winter painting coming alive in front of my eyes.
I grab the camera and go outside to take a picture.

When I come back inside both Flipper and Sunny are looking at me.
They want to go outside.
Especially Flipper. She starts her “pleading dance”.

She normally gets her way – but not this time.
No playing in the snow. Too cold for them.

I’ll take them for a car ride later.
(Actually Flipper loves car rides even more than walks.
So much so that I’m thinking she must’ve been born in a car : )

For now I’ll put them by the window.
They can watch the snowflakes dancing in the air.

On this thanks-giving-week I’m thinking of all I’m grateful for.
Family. Good friends. My two feathered trouble-makers : )

And I’m grateful to experience this beautiful, snowy day.


/Comments/in Fun,Living Well/by Mariana Fieraru

Food, Good Friends, and Fun

I’ve been to birthday parties where I went, had a slice of cake and two hours later I was back home with my feet on the couch.

And I’ve been to birthday parties where everyone had a great time well into the night.
Then the host family arranged for us to sleep there for few hours.
In the morning, we got up to the smell of freshly prepared food.
And we would start all over again.
Sometime in the afternoon I would finally make it home.

Different cultures. Different people. Different ways of celebrating.
Which one I like?
I’m fine with either one.
(Except the second one I prefer to be the guest. For obvious reasons : )

How people celebrate milestones in their lives (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries) it’s like a window in their lives.
By seeing the way they celebrate we can understand where they are coming from.
What kind of people they are.
We can understand and appreciate long-standing traditions that are important to them.

Many ethnic foods are now part of the American eating. No need to go far away to experience Chinese, Italian or Mexican food. And many others are just as familiar to our palates.
Migration to the States has brought food flavors from around the world in our backyard.

We all enjoy celebrations. The food, the people, the fun.
Imagine going to a party with an international menu.  The colors, the aroma, the taste!
My ideal party menu (for today anyway : ) would have: pastries (Romanians or French); stuffed grape leaves (Greek); antipasti (Italian); tamales (Mexican); aged cheese, fresh salads and San Francisco or Seattle sourdough bread.
For desert I’ll have Tiramisu or German chocolate cake.
(Can’t make up my mind, so I’ll have both : )

What would you have on your international party menu?

Food plays an important role in our celebrations. In our lives.
If you are part of a multicultural team then make the most of it.
With summer almost here, your company can have great potluck picnics.
We can look at food as an ambassador that helps us in strengthening our friendships across cultures.
Happy eating and celebrating!

/Comments/in Living Well,Multicultural Work Team/by Mariana Fieraru

Christmas, Gift Giving and Smart Spending

christmasWhat kind of gift-giver are you?

Are you the kind that spends lavishly on your friends and family?
Then comes January… and with it the shockingly high credit card bills…

Worst offenders, sometimes, are parents. Do kids really need ALL of those toys?

I have friends that have bought so many toys for their son and they keep buying.

When I say many I mean the kid’s room could be packed with toys up to the ceiling and there would still be some toys left. These are not bad parents. They are well intentioned and they want their only son to have the best.

There is now research data to support what many of us knew all along:

How we spend our money DOES MATTER and there is such thing as SMART SPENDING.
(Read more about smart spending and money strategies in OBI Report.)

What if we teach our children what really matters is not what we buy but what we build?
What if we teach our children what really matters is not what we have but what we share?

Building their character on a solid foundation will assure a brighter future for all children, no matter their socioeconomic upbringing or class.

Perhaps you are thinking, “I agree with all of that BUT I still need to go out shopping”.

In that case here are some tips to keep those January bills low on the “shocking meter”:

  • Create a spending budget, keeping in mind what you can REALLY afford.
  • Be a creative gift giver.  Buy in bulk – or consider homemade gifts.
  • For family and close friends remember to focus on giving (not on gifts)

Throughout the season remember what’s truly important: to connect with those you love (and enjoy good food : )
Your thoughts?

/Comments/in Living Well,Money/by Mariana Fieraru