Monday, March 30, 2015

Quote of the Week

Yesterday's future is tomorrow's past. - unknown

Time is always marching forward. Today is both your past and your future. Use it to make a memorable past and a hopeful future.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Quote of the Week

Look not at the days gone by with a forlorn heart. They were simply the dots we can now connect with our present, to help us draw the outline of a beautiful tomorrow. - Dodinsky

It is now Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, and with Spring comes renewal both in nature and humanity. With the onset of warmer weather, more daylight and the blossoming of the trees and flowers comes a sense of anticipation and rejuvenation. This is often accompanied by the occasional bout of Spring fever and/or allergies. 

Today's quote reminds to look back, not with sadness, but with the knowledge that the past led to the present and both help us prepare for the future. Unlike the game we played as children where all the dots were numbered and everyone got from the beginning to the end along the same path, there are many different ways to get from where we've been to where we are going.

Let's pause for a moment of reflection and make the connections that will lead to our beautiful tomorrow.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

8 Ways to Improve Your Memory

Do you keep misplacing your keys? Do you go upstairs to get or do something and can't remember what? Did you forget the name of the person you just met?  

Even if you think your memory is too bad or it's too late to change, know this, the brain has an enormous capacity to adapt and change - even into your senior years.  Your brain is part of your body so it stands to reason that what keeps your body happy and healthy would do the same for your brain.  Here are some tips to keep your faculties at their best.

Sleep. Get plenty of sleep.  Sleep deprivation compromises all mental function, including key memory enhancing activity.

Physical Exercise.  Exercise increases oxygen to the brain, reducing the risk of diseases that can lead to memory loss and enhancing the effect of helpful brain chemicals like serotonin, noradrenalin, and dopamine.  Each of these chemicals is vital to a physically, emotionally and mentally healthy body.

Focus.  Pay attention and be patient.  It takes about 8 seconds to process a piece of information into memory.  It helps to make a connection between new information and previously stored information. I think this one could make the most difference because in our fast-paced lives we are just moving from one thing to another so quickly we are not absorbing the information.

Mental exercise is also essential for a healthy brain.  Like our bodies, our brain becomes used to the same exercises, so keep your mental exercises new, challenging and fun. Try working the Sunday crossword puzzle or play memory games, such as Lumosity, on the computer.

Nutrition.  We all know that eating a healthy, balanced diet with less fat, carbs and fewer processed foods, is supposed to keep our bodies healthy. The same applies to our brain health as well.  Try adding more whole foods to your diet including fatty fish (omega 3), colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains and wine (in moderation, of course).

De-Stress.  Stress plays a large part in short-term memory loss. For improved mental function, try some form of meditation.  Meditation means awareness, so anything done with a single focus, blocking out all other distractions, is effective meditation. Notice that there is only a one-letter difference between meditation and medication.

Friend Therapy. Humans, being highly social animals, do not thrive in isolation. We need meaningful relationships for both emotional and mental health. Research has shown that the more active your social life, the slower your memory decline.  To stay socially active consider volunteering, join a club or church, get together with friends more often, and don't overlook the value of having a pet - animals are very therapeutic. 

Laughter. Laughter is the best medicine for brain and body alike.  It engages multiple areas across the whole brain. Focus on finding the funny in everyday life, hang out with fun, happy people, and surround yourself with things that evoke good memories and make you smile.

Keep in mind that there is a boatload of information and tips for healthy brain function and better memory. These are just few ideas to get you thinking, reading and becoming invested in yourself. 

How to Improve Your Memory
Brain Chemical Messengers
Memory Loss

Disclaimer:  For information purposes only and not to be taken as medical advice.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Quote of the Week

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

- Irish Blessing

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Any celebrations planned for tomorrow?

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Golden Fungi

Not being a connoisseur of mushrooms and rarely cooking with anything more elaborate than the grocery store white buttons, I had no idea what had sprouted in my yard. I was taking the garbage to the street when they caught my eye, almost golden in the late afternoon sun. I grabbed my camera to photograph yet another fungal find. To identify them, I searched on gold mushrooms on logs. As best as I could determine from the pictures and descriptions, my golden fungi were oyster mushrooms.

Most mushrooms seem to have a short life and are withered and gone within a few days or a week.
January 20, 2015
These, although past their prime, are still hanging on nearly a month later.
February 17, 2015

Having survived through a vicious winter cold spell with snow, ice and single-digit temperatures, this is what is left nearly two months after I first spotted them.
March 11, 2015
These mushrooms, being edible goodies, bring people out in the Fall to forage for them. While they can be found at any time, they are most prevalent in the Fall, growing on dead hardwood trees or logs in temperate areas all around the world, with the exception of the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. 

Here you can see how they grow in the woods from someone out on a rainy November day in search of them. If you can't see the video, click here.

The Oyster Mushroom is often used in Asian cooking, and sometimes made into a sauce similar to oyster sauce. They have a soft, chewy texture with somewhat of a seafood taste, making them perfect for seafood dishes and stock. They are best harvested when young because as they age they become tough and unpleasant tasting.  

Oyster mushroom trivia:
  • Now cultivated around the world, they were first cultivated in Germany during WWI as subsistence food.
  • They are one of the few carnivorous mushrooms; they actually devour the nematodes residing on the host log. They hit them with a toxin then suck out their juices.  
  • Oyster refers to the shape of the cap which is similar to that of an oyster shell.

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