Cool treats that won’t leave you feeling guilty

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself…I know there are  a few more cold days left before the summer heat rolls in but I wanted to catch you before you made “the cool treat trip” to the grocery store.

I’m a big fan of summer, especially of all the summer desserts, but I don’t like how the excess calories oftentimes takes up residency on the most conspicuous places on my body. So to prevent this awful phenomenon from happening to you too I thought I would offer some suggestions for treats that have sufficed my sweet tooth and not left me regretting my dessert decisions.

EdyspopsiclesEdy’s Fruit Bars, Variety Pack No Sugar Added (Strawberry, Tangerine & Raspberry), Calories per bar 30.  Visit Edy’s website for more tasty treat options!

slimabear

Klondike Slim a Bear, Vanilla & Chocolate Sandwich, 100 Calories .  Visit their website for  more options on Klondike treats!

products_mini_dark_icecream

Dove miniatures dark chocolate variety pack (French Vanilla and Double Chocolate Ice cream), Calories per bar 60. See Dove’s website for other chocolate icecream treats!

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Weeds: unwanted greens

Purpleloosestrife Photo by K. L. Kyde, 2006

Purple Loosestrife Photo by K. L. Kyde, 2006

The issue of weeds plagues every gardener, along with those conscientious about landscaping every growing season. There are so many ways those pesky, unwanted plants make their way into your yard; via wild animals, wind, and even some seeds can withstand a tumultuous trip downstream. Yet, did you know you can also be introducing invasive plants to your landscape?

One prized perennial that has created ecological havoc for wetlands is purple loosestrife, Lythrum salicaria. Despite its lovely, ever-bearing pinkish-purple flower, these invasive plants have exponentially spread, reproduced and devastated the natural fauna of many wetland environments.

What makes this plant hard to eradicate is that it re-sprouts from root fragments. So manual pulling and even digging up the plants oftentimes encourages spreading.

So what can be done to prevent invasive plants? Be educated planters and make sure you know what you are introducing. Secondly, know about the mystery plants that find their way amongst your strawberry patch or back lot. Oftentimes treatment is specific to each plant type. Many weeds have large tap roots or re-grow from roots so manual pulling is ineffective in eradication. Consult your local garden store for specific weed treatments (otherwise research on-line).

Here are a few resources to learn about the weeds where you live:

Federal and State Noxious weeds

The United States National Arboretum

Weed ID Lists by Region in North America

Purple Loosestrife

The birds are back in town!

Robin illustration from Sibley guide

Robin illustration from Sibley's guide

Some of you may be thinking the birds never really left where we live (if you live in a location close to the equator). However, living in the Midwest (United States) during late April and early May everything seems to be reborn after the long winter months and my beloved songbirds return from their winter homes.

This is the time where I open up my favorite birding reference, The Sibley Guide to Birds, and begin identifying my feathered friends.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to birds of North America look no further; Sibley’s guide is the best that I have found.

What makes this reference superior to other birding guides are its illustrations. Many birding guides prefer to use photographs, which I find more difficult to use, in identifying a particular bird. Sibley’s guide includes illustrations of not only a profile of a specific bird but also a reference of the bird in flight. Oftentimes it is difficult to see a bird at standstill, so Sibley’s multiple views are helpful. Also many birds have different color morphologies throughout the year, or have varied color among males and females of a particular species.

Whether you are an expert or novice this guide will aid you in your quest to put a name to the feathered beasts of your air and seas.

So get out and enjoy the spring weather and the birds that are back in town!

A Beautiful Mind

If you’re looking for a review of the movie starring Russel Crowe, look elsewhere. I’m dedicating this entry to the control center of our bodies – the brain!

The brain is an exceptional organ. Its appearance could be compared to a raisin or cauliflower due to its protruding gyri and indented sulci. Paired with its distinctive exterior are its remarkable functions – regulator of voluntary and involuntary movements and controller of emotion (just to name a few).

The part of the brain I’ve taken particular interest in lately is the limbic system, which controls our emotions. This system, located in the central part of the brain, consists of a set of structures (hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the amygdale, and few other surrounding structures), which have an overall impact on emotion and memory formation.

Many mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, are attributed to malfunctions of structures associated with or a part of the limbic system. These disturbances in brain function are generally associated with hereditary and environmental factors.

I hope you now have a deep respect for the brain and its many functions.Please keep safe your beautiful minds; they are what make you who you are!