Monthly Archives: September 2013

What We Can Learn From Child’s Play

Dear Readers,

My son doesn’t really like swimming. I made him take 2 sessions of swimming lessons, because we have family who own a house at a lake, and I wanted him to be prepared to enjoy those visits and be safe from drowning. The lessons were stressful for him, and he didn’t get past the first level class after taking 2 sessions of them.

MonkeyBarsWhen we visited our family at their lake house and I saw something amazing happen. His two cousins swim well enough to not wear life jackets while jumping off the dock and paddling around in little inflatable boats.

We were all visiting at a nearby dock with a family of 4 other kids, and my son chose to sit on a large inflatable ring with a stretchy center. This enabled him to avoid getting into the water, but still be out with the other kids. His life jacket on and all the fun going on around him, he was still avoiding actually swimming. Then, quick as a blink, another boy jumped onto the same inflatable and bounced my son right into the water! He bounced off into the water as well and squealed with delight. My son could have freaked out, but among all those kids having fun in the water, he didn’t seem to mind, and was excited to tell me about it!What I saw was a new level of confidence and comfort with getting into the water to swim from playing with other kids. He wasn’t in the classroom setting of swim class, and that helped him get excited about playing in the water.

Now, we didn’t visit long enough to make bigger strides in his swimming skills, but I learned something new: playing is a powerful form of learning.

There are many things we can learn from child’s play, here are 3 of them:

  1. Try something new, something you admire others doing: all kids look up to older kids and try to emulate them until they learn the same skills.
  2. Keep trying: kids learn to walk after falling down hundreds of thousands of times! Sometimes we adults are afraid of failure and that keeps us from learning something new
  3. Make Play a part of your life: how many of us run around playing tag or roll down a grassy hill these days? Children love playing together and as a result learn from each other.
  4. So, go play soccer for the first time with friends and don’t worry about your skill level, you will only get better the longer you play!Even if you don’t have kids, you can learn a lot from child’s play. Don’t know how to get more playtime in your busy schedule? How about start by thinking about what you loved when you were 10 years old. Was it drawing? Baseball? Roller skating? Give yourself 30 minutes (or more) this week and go play like your 10-year-old self!

    Holli Margell, Editor

How Traditional Chinese Herbal Pills Are Made – Part 2

Preparation of the honey

Honey is commonly used as an ingredient in Traditional Chinese Herbal pills. One main reason is that it makes easy for the powder to bind together to form pills. Though it is entirely possible to form a pills without honey, it tends to fall apart very easily. Thus, it is not suited for the production in bigger quantities. In modern production methods used by large manufacturers, chemical binding agents and preservatives are commonly used to stabilize the pills for the sake of mass production, which in turn sacrifices the quality of the pills. We are of course strongly against using ingredients that may negatively impact our health. Another important reason why honey is preferred is that it is the best form of natural preservative which dissolves in the digestive tract very easily. And the efficiency of the pills remains intact. However, it must be properly processed before used as an ingredient. It is a very simple method to purify the honey, but again it is a time-consuming process.

Here is how:

1. Add raw honey and water (1 : 1 ratio) in the large pot.
2. Stir and dissolve the honey as you heat it up on the stove.
3. Skim off anything that floats to the surface as you simmer the mixture.
4. Add more water as the mixture is reduced from evaporation while skimming off continuously.

Raw honey and water are added to the pot.

Raw honey and water are added to the pot.


honey 3

Foamy scum floats to the surface.

5. The process above is repeated for about 5- 6 hours, until no scum surface to the top.
6. Continue simmering and let the mixture reduce to the half of the original amount. 1 :1 (honey:water ratio) becomes 1:0 (honey water ratio) after the evaporation of the water.
7. At the end of the process, you will notice that a part of the mixture solidifies like Jello.
8. Strain and remove it from the mixture.
9. The honey is now purified and ready to be used.

Darker foamy scum after several hours.

Gooey scum that has been removed.

How The Pills Are Formed…

Small amount (about 3 -4 cups) of ultra fine powder is put into a giant spinning ball (Pill machine – see the picture on the right). The mist of honey and water (about 1 : 20 ratio) mixture is then sprayed onto the powder while the machine spins around.

The baller machine.

The baller machine.

When the powder sticks to itself due to the moisture, it forms thousands of thousands of micro pellets as they twirl in the spinning ball. The mist is applied slowly and repeatedly at this beginning stage until the most of original powder absorb some moisture to form micro pellets.

Then the small amount of powder (about ½ teaspoon full) is added. When the powder stick to the micro pellets, they become slightly bigger at microscopic level, drier again because of the dry powder. Micro pellets are still too small to see with the naked eyes at this point. (To give you an idea of how long it takes for the micro pellets to become the size of the grain of sands, this process has to be repeated a several hundred times.)

The mist of honey, water and powder are applied alternately and repeatedly thousands of times to the twirling pellets until they become 1/16th inches in diameter (about the halfway through the entire process). Although it requires extraordinary skill and so many hours of patience to form decent size pellets, the whole process eventually becomes much easier and faster as they get bigger, just like a tiny snow ball growing exponentially bigger as it roll down the snowy hill.

Because of the nature of this hand making process, the pellets never grow uniform in size. So shifting is required several times during the process to separate smaller pellets from bigger ones. Once the all the pellets become uniform in size, the process is repeated again and again to produce final pills (about 1/8th of an inch). After the pills are dried in the drier for a several hours, slightly more concentrated mixture of honey and water is applied in the pill machine to polish and coat the pills.

Finding Harmony in the Change of Seasons

Portland_Holliwithani (2)How can we live in harmony through the changes of the season?

Here are a few tips for how to enjoy the end of Summer and Prepare of Autumn:

– Enjoy the harvest. With the abundance we have at the end of the growing season, we must be mindful of quality not quantity. It is a good rule of thumb to eat until you are 70% full, and eat regularly at the same time every day.

 Be conscious of the harvest in you life. Think about yourself, your relationships and your work. What parts of your life are bearing fruit? Where is the harvest rich? Where do you find it stunted? I’ve been taught by dad that work is alway longer then life. We must work hard and as well as play hard. Keep that balance. As we live in this computer age society, it is great to take the weekend and turn off all electronic. Feel alive again and make that effort to be human again.

– Consider what you need to do to make ready for the letting go of autumn. Holding your harvest in mind, ask what is overgrown or unneeded. What distracts you from your dearest concerns? What might you wish to simplify in yourself or in your life? Setting simple goals and having something to look forward to is important. You may want to ask yourself when was the last time you laughed and set aside all the worries. For sure you are so much more beautiful smiling. You are beautiful and you are strong.

– We are what we eat. Food is a source of digestive issues. We can use Taifu and Taifu Plus as a digestive aid. More people are having severe digestive problems, not because they temporarily indulged in eating too much sweets or too much fried foods. It is because their internal organs are affected by toxins and are no longer functioning properly. Constipation, indigestion and bloating are very common among these people, and as a result they need to take special attention to what they eat.

– Juli

Fall: The Earth Season

Late summer is a welcome relief from the intense heat and brightness of summer. With the coming of late summer, nature returns the fruits it has made, which are ripe and ready to be picked. It means autumn and winter can be survived without scarcity, and that energy can be conserved during the cold period when outer growth ceases.

Within the five elements, this season reflects as the Earth. In our bodies, the Earth is represented by the stomach and spleen, the organs that receive food and enable us to be nourished by its essence. As the process of digestion begins in the mouth, food should be chewed thoroughly and mixed with saliva, the bodily secretion of the Earth Element. Icy cold foods and drink should generally be avoided, as extreme cold strains our Fire Element (whose job it is to maintain a normal body temperature).

The other earth official, the spleen, according to Chinese Medicine, is the official of transport. As such, it takes what the stomach has prepared and moves it on to nourish the cells in the body. A healthy spleen not only nourishes us at the physical level, but also makes sure the nourishment reaches our minds and spirits.

We can see that if the Earth Element is out of balance, we may be prone to digestive disorders – as well as illness in any other organ or function of the body, for all are dependent on the stomach and spleen for nourishment.

In summary, the period of late summer is a time for slowing down and gathering in. To look at Chinese Medical Theory, we consider the patients internal and external condition, in order to balance the individual, harmonious balance equals good health.