So much for an early spring!

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The groundhog that predicted an early spring when he did not see his shadow in February must have lied.  It is freezing out today; minus 6 degrees Celcius (21F) here in Ottawa   I bet that darned groundhog is hiding somewhere warm!

 

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Enough already!

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Snoopy’s got it right: Enough snow already!

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No more March Break

I am feeling old this week as our family reaches another milestone; no more March Break!  This is the first time in 23 years that March Break (spring break in the USA) has not had any effect on my life.  No extra people (kids) at home, no asking for the same week off as everyone else at work and no paying exorbitant prices for vacation packages just because it’s March Break.

Bring on April!

Image result for march clipart banner

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What your urine can tell you

 

 

A previous post talked about your POOP; this one discusses what your urine can tell you.

I was taught in chemistry courses that normal human urine should be “straw colored” or very pale yellow, clear (not cloudy) and fairly odorless.  Any deviation from that color, clearness and odor is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong…

For example:

If your urine is cloudy or murky instead of clear, it could mean you have too much protein in your urine.  Too much protein in your urine indicates that your kidneys are not functioning properly due to kidney stones, a tumor, or other disease states.  Cloudy urine can also indicate a bladder, vaginal or urinary tract infection.  Urine that is so cloudy that it is almost milky can indicate the presence of fat or mucus.

Urine that is dark yellow usually indicates dehydration.  Although your first urine output of the day is typically darker yellow and  more concentrated, especially if you have had a good night’s sleep, it should not stay that way throughout the day.

Although some medications may cause orange urine, extremely dark orange urine can indicate impaired liver function caused by a blockage or obstruction, infection, cirrhosis or hepatitis.

Urine that deviates from the yellow color to pink, red or dark brown often means there is blood in the urine.  This can indicate a urinary tract or bladder infection, an enlarged prostate gland, or the presence of a tumor.

Some foods and supplements or vitamins can cause your urine to be discolored and or exhibit a pungent odor.  Examples include curry, garlic, beets, berries, asparagus and B vitamins.  Synthetic dyes in medications, vitamins, and some food can result in blue or green tinged urine.  Urine that smells like sulfur or just funny is usually food related.  Urine with an ammonia-like smell usually indicates dehydration.  Foul smelling urine usually indicates infection.  Sweet smelling urine usually indicates diabetes.

The frequency of your need to urinate is also significant.  If you cannot go almost four hours without the need to find a bathroom you should investigate this need.  The reason could be temporary like pregnancy or excessive water, caffeine or alcohol  consumption.  It can also indicate weak pelvic floor muscles, or more critically,  a bladder infection, stones, or tumors.

Remember that anything you eat, drink, swallow, breathe in or even ingest through your skin is removed from your body through your kidneys and liver into your urine.  The moral of this post is to convince you to keep an eye on what your urine is telling you.  Keep these variations in mind.  If drinking more water does not fix the variation by rehydrating your body or helping the filtration process of your kidneys and liver by diluting the offending source, be sure to seek medical advice.

 

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Gardens4u creation thriving in Texas

In January, I visited my sister in Corpus Christi, Texas for her birthday.  While I was there, the nice weather and the search for a unique birthday gift inspired  me to get creative with my green thumbs.  My design included a small garden in her front yard, with drought tolerant plants in pots to add color to her patio.  Gardens4u working in January; that’s a first!

My sister is a mother of three and grandmother of three, working full-time as a nurse.  Gardening is low on her priority list, so she wanted something easy to look after that would thrive in the Texas heat and drought. Succulents were perfect for the garden and patio pots.  Here are a few pictures of my creations, including updates taken two months later…

 

patio planters with a dwarf bottle brush shrub and succulents:

 

garden plantings of succulents, with rocks and mulch:

 

Although it is always tricky working in a climate zone very different than the one you are accustomed to, I am thrilled to see that these plantings are thriving.   The garden plants should be established by now so will require very little extra watering.  However, soil and plant roots in pots dry out very quickly, so these will have to be watered when the soil feels dry.

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Battery tester

lorieb

I read this recently; a simple battery tester.   It says to test if a battery still has life in it  drop it onto a hard floor from a height of six inches.  If the battery bounces more than once it is empty or dead.  If it bounces once and rolls over, it is good.

I just had to test the test using a few batteries that have been lying around the house.  For some reason, people in my household keep batteries when they suspect they are dead.  For quality control purposes (I did work in a laboratory for 30 years you know) I also tested some brand new batteries right out of the package.

The verdict?   This battery tester seems to work well.  The batteries I suspected were dead bounced a few times so did not pass the test. They  are now in the electronic recycle bin. (batteries should not go into the garbage)  The new batteries bounced once and rolled over as the picture indicates.

I hope you are all now looking for batteries to test in your home!  Give it a try and let me know your results…

 

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Songs that trigger memories

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Do you have songs that trigger memories from different stages of your life?  I think most everyone does, just different songs for different stages in different lives.  This is my list of songs that trigger my memories…

  • I’ve got you Babe by Sonny and Cher, 1965
  • Downtown by Petulia Clark, 1965
  • Help me Rhonda by the Beachboys, 1965
  • King of the Road by Roger Miller, 1965
  • California Girls by the Beachboys, 1965
  • Eight Days a Week by the Beatles, 1965
  • These Boots are Made for Walking by Nancy Sinatra, 1966
  • Barbara Ann by the Beachboys, 1966
  • Yellow Submarine by the Beatles, 1966
  • Daydream Believer by the Monkees, 1967
  • Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, 1967
  • Green Green Grass of Home by Tom Jones, 1967
  • Hey Jude by the Beatles, 1968
  • I’m on the Top of the World by the Carpenters, 1969
  • Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond, 1969
  • Sugar Sugar by the Archies, 1969
  • Jerimiah was a Bullfrog, by Three Dog Night, 1970
  • Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkle, 1970
  • Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin, 1971
  • For Baby For Bobbie, John Denver, 1972
  • Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, 1972
  • Song Sung Blue by Neil Diamond, 1972
  • Sweet City Woman by the Stampeders, 1973
  • Sister Golden Hair, Tin Man, Lonely People, I Need You and most others on the America album by America, 1975
  • Two out of Three ain’t Bad,  Paradise by the Dashboard Lights and most of the others on the Bat out of Hell album by Meatloaf, 1977
  • The Gambler and Lucille by Kenny Rogers,  1978 and 1977 respectively.
  • Forever in Blue Jeans by Neil Diamond, 1978
  • Magnet and Steel by Walter Egan, 1978
  •  Take the Long Way Home, Give a Little Bit, Bloody well Right,  Goodbye Stranger,  and Breakfast in America  from the  Breakfast in America album by Supertramp,  1979
  • Can I Have this Dance by Anne Murray, 1980
  • Centerfold and Freezeframe by the J. Geils Band,  1981
  • Turn around Bright Eyes by Bonnie Tyler,  1983
  • Footloose by Kenny Loggins, 1984
  • Jump by Van Halen, 1984
  • Bring me a  Higher love by Steve Winwood, 1986
  • Nothing’s Gonna Stop us now by Jefferson Starship, 1987
  • Wind Beneath my Wings by Bette Midler, 1989
  • She Drives me Crazy by Fine Young Cannibals, 1989
  • Eternal Flame by the Bangles, 1989
  • Black and White by Michael Jackson, 1991
  • Everything I do by Bryan Adams, 1991
  • Show me the Way by Styx, 1991
  • Hero by Mariah Carey, 1994
  • Can you Feel the Love Tonight by Elton John, 1994
  • Candle in the Wind by Elton John, 1997
  • I get Knocked Down by Chumbawamba, 1997
  • I Believe I can Fly by R. Kelly, 1997
  • Five people in my Family from Sesame Street, 1970 sung in 90s
  • I Love Trash by Oscar on Sesame Street, 1970 sung in 90s
  • Raise a Little Hell, Girl in the bright white sportscar, Here for a good time not a long time, Santa Maria, Janine, Baby woncha please come home and most of the other Trooper songs, 70s and 80s.  sung in boat at cottage
  • Crazy by Gnarls Barkley, 2006
  • Sexy Back by Justin Timberlake, 2006
  • Photograph by Nickleback, 2006
  • Umbrella by Rhianna, 2007   Derek
  • I Need you Now by Lady Antebellum, 2010, trip to and from Florida

Growing up in the 60s, even though my mother had six kids to look after and raise, I have fond memories of her singing to her favorite songs.  Her favorites included Sonny and Cher’s “I’ve got you Babe”, Petulia Clark’s “Downtown”, Roger Miller’s “King of the road”, Tom Jones’ “Green Green Grass of Home”, and Kenny Rogers’ “Lucille” and “Gambler.”   Anything by Neil Diamond was also a favourite of hers.

My earliest recollection of singing my own favorites included “Help me Rhonda”, “Barbara Ann” and “California Girls” by the Beachboys,  “Eight Days a Week”, ” Hey Jude” and “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, and “Jerimiah was a Bullfrog” by Three Dog Night.

In my early teens, I loved “These Boots are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra and “Cecilia” by  Simon and Garfunkle, in fact, I had a friend named Cecilia Boots in grade seven that I used to tease with those two songs.   Around the same time, my eldest brother got an electric guitar.  “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple was the only song he could play, so that became annoying quite quickly.

In my mid teens I loved anything by America with “Lonely People”, “Tin Man” and “Sister Golden Hair” my top picks.   My eldest sister was old enough to purchase the album, so I was able to listen to the songs over and over.  “Sister Golden Hair” by the Stampeders was another favourite at that time of my life.

In my late teens, during my dating years, songs like “Magnet and the Steel” by Walter Egan and most of the tunes from Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell album were my favorites.  Supertramp’s Breakfast in America album was also a favourite with songs like “Take the Long Way Home”, “Give a Little Bit”, “Goodbye Stranger” the lyrics to which my friend Leslee and I would belt out while she was driving us around in her baby blue Camaro.

“Centerfold” and “Freeze Frame” by J. Geils Band and “Turn Around Bright Eyes”  by Bonnie Tyler were popular in my early twenties.  I particularly remember my niece singing “Turn around Jedi” when she was about three and Return of the Jedi, a sequel to Star Wars, had just come out at the theatre.

“Can I Have This Dance” by Anne Murray was the song we chose for the first dance at our wedding in 1984.  Also popular that summer and played at our wedding as well as several of our friends’ weddings was “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins, “Jump” by Van Halen, “Dancing in the Dark” by Bruce Springsteen, and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper.

“Bring me a Higher Love” by Steve Windwood, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop us Now” by Jefferson Starship and “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles bring back memories of a trip to Texas in the late 80s.   I can still picture a staff member of a restaurant in Ohio dancing around the salad bar to Bring me a Higher Love.

Around the time my first son was born in December of 1989, “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins and “When I see you Smile” by Bad English were my favourites at the top of the charts.  After my pregnancy problems preceeding this birth, this last song was very symbolic to me.

Although they were released much earlier, songs like “Five People in my Family” and “I love Trash” from Sesame Street bring back memories of trips with our young boys in the early 90s.  Other songs popular that remind me of those years are from the Lion King soundtrack by Elton John, including “Can you Feel the Love Tonight?”, “Hakuna Matata” and “The Circle of Life.”   Michael Jackson’s “Black and White” brings back a picture of my eldest son marching around the house behind my husband as he warmed up for his curling games with our middle son in a snuggly on his back.

When I was very pregnant with my youngest son in the summer of 1997, his two older brothers and I loved to belt out the words of Chumbawamba’s “I get Knocked Down” while driving in the car with me barely fitting behind the steering wheel.  Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” brings back a sadder memory of the same summer when Princess Diana was tragically killed in a car accident.

On the same sad note, “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison and “Lady in Red” by Chris de Burgh remind me of my dear friend Suzanne who died of cancer in 2001. These two songs were her favorites.  “Angel” by Shaggy invokes a picture of her young son singing with my sons as we rode in my van.  They could not believe I knew all the words because the song was a remake of a much older song.

Shortly after the turn of the century we purchased a cottage followed by a new boat. Trooper’s greatest hits were favourites (still are actually) in the CD player as we cruised the lake in the boat.  All five of us know all the words to “Raise a Little Hell”, “The Girls in the Bright White Sportscar”, “Here for a Good Time, not a Long Time”, “Janine”, “Two for the Show” and most of the other songs on that album.

Later in that first decade of the new millenium songs like  “Photograph” by Nickleback and “Umbrella” by Rhianna were popular tunes my sons (and their mother) loved to sing.  The songs “Crazy” by Gnarles Barkley and “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake were at the top of the charts as I drove back and forth to visit my father when he was in the final stages of pulmonary fibrosis in 2006.

“I Need you Now” by Lady Antebellum reminds me of a trip to Florida in 2010 and merengue, bachata, reggae, salsa and latin tunes (unfortunately I cannot remember the names of the songs, but would remember them if I heard them) bring back memories of family trips to Cuba and Dominican Republic.

I hope I haven’t bored you with my trip down memory lane.  So many songs, so many treasured memories…

 

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Power naps

Research has shown that naps are beneficial for boosting energy, increasing creativity and even improving short term memory.  Parents know children that nap during the day can maintain better behaviour and energy levels until bed time at night.  Apparently adults can benefit from naps too; the question is how long should adults nap for maximum productivity…

 

lorieb 3

 

This diagram suggests that a mere 20-minute nap can boost energy levels without feeling groggy upon waking.   After 30 minutes grogginess is a factor when waking up.  At one hour grogginess is reduced but short term memory can improve.  One hour and thirty minutes of sleep allow for a full REM (rapid eye movement) cycle,  and improved creativity upon waking.

To sum it up, it appears that a 20 minutes power nap is the way to go for adults.  Almost everyone, including me, should be able to fit twenty minutes into their day. Children, on the other hand, probably benefit more from a minimum of 90 minutes of napping.   Parents probably benefit most from their children taking longer naps too, creating a win-win situation.

Humans and animals can nap just about anywhere as depicted by these pictures…

pictures from Google Search, labelled for reuse

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My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone

“My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone” is a popular line of lyrics in Justin Bieber’s latest hit entitled Love Yourself.  My youngest son pointed out these lyrics to me recently as we were driving somewhere together.  I’m not sure if this was meant to be a compliment or criticism…

I do tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, try not to judge, and look for the best in people.  I think that is a good way to be though and find it very unattractive and demoralizing when someone is judgemental, excessively negative or critical.

As a mother of three boys, I confess to not liking all of their previous choices in girlfriends. In truth, I would not say I didn’t like them as individuals but didn’t like them for my son.  I  felt it best not to share my opinion at the time, preferring to let the boys figure it out on their own.  I guess I am a better actor than I thought!

 

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Himalayan salt

Himalayan salt consists of pink crystals from the sea salt beds within the pristine conditions of the Himalayan mountain range in Asia, reportedly the purest salt available in the world.  The absence of toxins and contaminants plus the presence of numerous trace elements makes Himalayan salt much healthier than highly processed, bleached and chemically cleaned table salt.  The 84 minerals and elements present in Himalayan salt, including magnesium, potassium, sulfate, calcium and sodium chloride, are already naturally occurring in our bodies, meaning their consumption does not expose our organs to unwanted, unnatural and potentially dangerous ingredients.  These elements and minerals within Himalayan salt are present in colloidal form which means they are easily absorbed by our bodies.

Some of the numerous health benefits of Himalayan salt include:

  • prevents muscle cramps, cellulite, arthritis, kidney or gallstones and gout
  • improves lung and vascular function (circulation) as well as sleep patterns
  • increases hydration and libido
  • reduces blood pressure and signs of aging
  • creates a healthy cellular pH
  • eliminates heavy metals and other toxins
  • strengthens bones

The only minerals that table salt contains are chloride and sodium; all others are stripped in processing.  The iodine added to table salt is synthetic or unnatural so our bodies cannot absorb it properly.  Table salt also contains chemical agents to prevent the product from caking in the container it is packaged in.  Unfortunately, these chemical agents also prevent table salt from being absorbed efficiently in our bodies so the chemicals deposit and build up, creating potentially dangerous conditions within our organs.  Our cells then have to use up to twenty times the amount of water to neutralize the sodium chloride within the table salt.

Sea salt from elsewhere in the world is healthier than regular table salt, but our oceans are becoming increasingly polluted from oil spills and chemical dumping. Sea salt is now also processed heavily as well.

The crystals of Himalayan salt are also beneficial as a bath soak, promoting relaxation and rejuvenation of the skin.

Himalayan salt is by far the healthiest salt available to us today and readily available in most grocery stores.   If you love the taste of salt added to your food, try it soon to take advantage of the many health benefits Himalayan salt can add to your life.

 

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