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Grab Bag Bottled Water Message:


Thanks to Pat M. for sending this along… we really need to get a handle on this bottled water habit…. here’s the facts:

Grab Bag Vitamin D Update:

If you’re not having your Vitamin D levels checked (and probably supplementing at this point), you’re behind the 8 ball. My husband just had his annual cardiology check up and, for the first time, the doc ordered Vitamin D levels to be added to the blood panels. The word “pandemic” (see video link below) has been tied to the concern of vitamin D deficiency for us all.


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If you need another reason to pay attention to your vitamin D levels…

University of Michigan School of Public Health reviewed data on over 550 women from records starting in 1992. Those that were running low on D back then were approximately THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO HAVE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE 15 years later. Get your vitamin D tested and, if low, supplement with 1,000 to 5,000 IUs per day. A rich resource of Vitamin D information can be found HERE. And I would encourage you to watch THIS VIDEO of “The Vitamin D Pandemic and Its Health Consequences”, an informative and entertaining lecture delivered by Michael Holick, PhD, MD, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics and director of the General Clinical Research Center at Boston University Medical Center.

Grab Bag Nutrition Shocker:

Published in the September, 2009 edition of Journal of Internal Medicine:

Researchers followed 1,169 non-diabetic patients who had been admitted with a confirmed first heart attack. Participants were asked about their chocolate consumption in the 12 months prior to admission, and were followed for the next 8 years. Bottom line: THOSE THAT ATE CHOCOLATE TWICE OR MORE PER WEEK HAD A 66% LOWER RISK OF DEATH FROM HEART DISEASE.

Good God…. force it down my throat already 🙂

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Grab Bag Credit Crunch:

When you cut up a credit card, make sure you do it the right way:

Grab Bag Stressed for Success:

Stress is emerging as a real All Star player in the health poker game. Most of us don’t even realize how much stress we actually deal with. RealAge.com offers not only a thorough inventory of stress assessment, but detailed action plans to help keep the stresses at bay. Click on the pic below and begin to put stress in its place.

Stress Test

Grab Bag Brain Game:

The old leather dice cup just some competition:

ZILCH

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Grab Bag Sweet Stuff:


Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Thanks to sis Tally D. for this. Be sure to read the Memo on the Verizon check.

HOW TO FAIL….. WITH FLAIR

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Grab Bag “Internet Savvy” Tip:

Look in the upper right hand corner of this page, just above the “blue brain” picture in the banner up there. See the little orange broadcast signal icon? rss1 There’s one for Posts and one for Comments. This, my friends, is RSS (Really Simple Syndication), and it can change your relationship with the internet. Think of it as your loyal dog, bounding down your driveway to pick up your mail and newspaper and bring it back to you, the moment mail is delivered and the second your paper touches the pavement. No wasted trips, no empty mailbox disappointment.

And if you read this blog, and any other, on a regular basis, you are a prime candidate for RSS…. you will be NOTIFIED when a new post is up…

By locating and clicking on that little icon (usually orange) on a page you like to visit regularly, it is the equivalent of training Rover to pick up all your newspapers and mail, whenever something new shows up.

RSS grabs the first few lines of an updated webpage and drops that little snippet in your RSS reader – mine is in my email window, as a separate “inbox”. If you have a mail reader on your computer (like Mac’s Mail, or Microsoft Outlook) just look for a Preferences menu item, and RSS options should be in there.

Or, I found this video, which makes training your new cyber-pooch just about as simple as it can get:

Grab Bag Nutrition Tips:

Recently I’ve found a plethora of nutritional nuggets from my favorite health mag, Men’s Health. Here’s a few:

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1. Tufts University scientists have discovered that drinking just 3 cups of hibiscus tea each day can lower systolic blood pressure
by as much as 13 points! Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger contains the same amount of hibiscus that was used in the study. Do speak to your doc about trying this, especially if you are using blood pressure meds.


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2. Habitually eating potato chips might just increase your cancer risk, scientists say. These yummy-but-nasty snacks contain high levels of acrylamide, a suspected carcinogen. Cut back on ALL fried foods to reduce your risk.


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3. The Sun Bella mushroom, available at Montereymushrooms.com, is a special portobello mushroom that contains 100% of a person’s RDA for vitamin D in every 3 oz. serving!! (Mind you, the RDA for vitamin D is WAY too low at the moment… are you reading this, FDA?) This was developed by a private California food company, in conjunction with the USDA. Just another indication that vitamin D is the hot button of nutritional wellness right now.

….. more next week.

Grab Bag Green Tip #1 (of 11):


I know… I’m probably sounding like a broken record here, but this just came into my inbox THIS WEEK, so this topic is still VERY much on the forefront of health and “green” awareness. This recent email from the EWG (Environmental Working Group) contained mention of a few key changes we all need to be making. The non-profit EWG are the same folks who are responsible for the news on plastic water bottles hitting mainstream media a few months ago, and the blessed souls who have compiled the Cosmetics Database I am so fond of referring to.
This is NUMBER ONE on their list of 11 healthy and green suggestions:

The EWG (and your friend, LK) is imploring you to choose better face and body care products.
Why? Your skin is the body’s biggest organ, and we NOW know it is NOT AT ALL the impermeable barrier we once thought it was. Many components of the things we put on our skin can be absorbed into our bloodstream. So cleaner, healthier products  are important for YOU, and the switch to more natural ingredients is important for THE PLANET 🙂

In addition to getting familiar with using the Cosmetics Database, EWG makes the following great suggestions:

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  1. Use our What Not To Buy list to avoid especially problematic ingredients — like mercury, lead, and placenta — and the products that contain them.
  2. Use fewer products. Is there something you can cut from your daily routine, or a product you can use less often? By cutting down on the number of chemicals contacting your skin every day, you will reduce any potential health risks associated with your products.
  3. Use the “Advanced Search” feature of Skin Deep to find products that have fewer potential health issues. Choose a product category and exclude the hazardous ingredients — carcinogens and neurotoxins, for instance — and Skin Deep will generate a custom shopping list for you.
  4. Read labels. Marketing claims on personal care products are not defined under the law, and can mean anything or nothing at all, including claims like organic, natural, hypoallergenic, animal cruelty free, and fragrance free. Read the ingredient label carefully to find evidence that the claims are true.
  5. Use milder soaps. Soap removes dirt and grease from the surface of your skin, but also strips away your body’s own natural skin oils. Choosing a milder soap may reduce skin dryness and your need for moisturizers to replace oils your skin can provide naturally.
  6. Minimize your use of dark hair dyes. Many contain coal tar ingredients that have been linked to cancer in some studies.
  7. Cut down on your use of powders; avoid the use of baby powder on newborns and infants. A number of ingredients common in powder have been linked to cancer and other lung problems when they are inhaled. FDA warns that powders may cause lung damage if inhaled regularly.
  8. Choose products that are “fragrance”-free. Fragrances can cause allergic reactions. Products that claim to be “fragrance free” on the packaging may not be. They could contain masking fragrances that give off a neutral odor. Read the ingredient label — in products truly free of fragrance, the word “fragrance” will not appear there. Find “fragrance”-free products with our advanced search.
  9. Reduce your use of nail polish. It’s one of the few types of products that routinely contains ingredients linked to birth defects. Paint your toenails and skip the fingernails. Paint nails in a well-ventilated room, or outside, or avoid using nail polish altogether, particularly when you are pregnant. Browse our custom shopping guide for advice on nail polishes that contain fewer ingredients of concern.

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And, in a few weeks (or months? :-}) I will add a section to this blog profiling “What I’m Using Now” (Thank you, Diana L. for that suggestion). I have been through PLENTY of trial and error in the last 2 years as I have shifted to low-chem/chem-free products on EVERY front, and I may be in a position to save you some time, trouble and money.

Footnote: In case you need any additional incentives to switch besides your HEALTH, let me say right here and now that my skin (face and body) has never been better, and my hair is GREAT. So, on ALL fronts, I am a very happy (and healthy) camper.

Grab Bag Summer Skin Saver:

Trust me on this one… if you spend time in, on or under the water, the sun exposure is intense, and sunscreens (even the super-duper chemical-free ones) are, at a minimum, a hassle to continually reapply as well as expensive.

Enter this fabulous and adorable SPF 50 mini dress. Throw this on, (comes in 3 colors) and then just sunblock your legs, hands and face. Torso and arms are fully protected. It is comfortable, effective and quite cute (not just my opinion… Roxie S., Lisa D., Sarah A., Debbie B., Jeannie P., Mel P., Lynette L., Lori S., and Jacques R. all loved it when they saw mine). Sides can be ruched up to make it shirt-length, or let all the way down for the mini-dress option.  Click on the picture below to go right to Athleta.com:

Ruched Guard

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Starts off really easy and then gets more tricky…

LIQUID MEASURE

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Grab Bag Funny Stuff Part A:

Don’t you love it when animals talk?

Grab Bag Funny Stuff Part B:

Don’t you just love it when young men make such good use of their time and energy?

(Click in the middle of the black screen below to begin. To lose the annoying ad that pops up on the bottom of the screen, click the X on the upper right corner of the ad space)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Grab Bag Health Changer:

Vitamin D Focus

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I have been gathering information for this post for months now. I think, at this point, it may be safe to say that when it comes to Vitamin D and recommended levels, we still don’t know everything we don’t know. BUT…. evidence has been building in the last three years that our RDA of Vitamin D is FAR too low. And it’s not as easy to get Vitamin D naturally as we thought. Not only that, but evidence is nearly undeniable now that the vast majority of us are Vitamin D deficient.

So what might THAT mean? Alarms are sounding in so many corners of the medical field that it’s making heads spin. From heart attacks to neurological function, from autoimmune diseases to bone strength, and overwhelmingly in the prevention of certain cancers, this nutrient seems to play a vital role and is drastically underrepresented in the general population.

TESTING

How do you know where you stand? Get tested. I did, and I am on the low end of the spectrum (32 mg/mL). I get pretty decent sun exposure, but usually early mornings, not mid-day.

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There are two tests for Vitamin D, and you want to make sure you are getting the 25(OH)D test. The confusion comes in assessing what is an adequate or optimal 25(OH)D level. So much is changing so quickly with all the research that is being done, and the “acceptable” range in your test results is probably still too low. The general consensus today is that 30-60 ng/mL is acceptable. Many sources are supporting the 50 ng/mL level as optimally healthy. While my 32 ng/mL result didn’t show I was “too low” according to the test result range, I feel I want to be “optimally healthy”, and closer to 50 ng/mL.

WHY DON’T WE GET ENOUGH?

For decades, Vitamin D was a nutrient that we were told not to supplement, as it came from the sun, and was added to milk, and that would be plenty. But with the industrial age came the shift to indoor factory and office jobs. And then we learned more about the dangers of  skin cancer, and along came lots of sunblocks, and fear of the sun, and the pendulum swung so far that many people now do not get enough sunlight on their skin to synthesize Vitamin D in adequate amounts. So how do we get enough?

THE SUN

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A Tufts University health newsletter outlines a sound, conservative approach to Vitamin D synthesis: Get 15-20 minutes of direct, MID-DAY(!) sun exposure 2-3 times a week on your body (if not torso, at least arms and legs… FYI… facial skin is not very good at synthesizing Vitamin D). Some sources say to get this amount EVERY day.  Darker skinned people need more, as will people who live farther north than Los Angeles. I’m pretty sure most adults I know do not get this amount of mid-day, sunblock-free, arms-and-legs sun exposure every week.

SUN LAMPS

This is another route to better Vitamin D levels, especially in winter. But the tanning beds in the tanning booths are probably not the kind of exposure you need. Vitamin D synthesis relies on UVB rays, and you will need to make sure that the sun lamp or tanning bed you use is broad-spectrum and includes UVB rays. 10-15 minutes of this light at least 2-3 times a week is the minimum recommendation.

SUPPLEMENTS

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For many who find themselves with lower levels, supplements are likely the easiest way to go. Certainly all of us should be considering this in the winter months. Forget the RDA of 400 IUs… it is ridiculously antiquated. General recommendations are now advising at least 1,000 IUs each day. Recent research shows no danger at levels of 4,000 IUs a day.

Or you could always go with a big spoonful of cod liver oil… it’ll give you about 1,500 IUs 🙂 Mmmmmm.

GET RETESTED

If you are on the low end, and feel you want to increase your Vitamin D levels for precautionary health benefits, increase your UVB exposure and/or take supplementary D for 3-6 months, and then re-test.

For further reading on the subject, check out this great link to this University of Washington site, which includes graphs, charts, and great information.


Grab Bag Sweet Treat Tip:

Admit it. There are those times when your imagination fills with the creamy cool delight of freshly scooped ice cream. The craving becomes nearly irresistible. The only realization that might halt the ice cream scoop is the awareness of what that much sugar and fat actually do in your system. Here is my favorite ice cream surrogate:

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Half a papaya (WELL refrigerated… gotta be cold to get the ice cream vibe) with a big dollop of low-fat cottage cheese in the hollow (there’s your creamy spin). Really yummy.

Grab Bag Matters:

From the Every Monday Matters book and website:

Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Identity


FACTS

In the world:

  • 8.4 million adults are victims of identity fraud annually.
  • Over $50 billion is stolen from victims of identity theft every year.
  • $5,720 is the average fraud amount per victim.
  • 25 hours per victim is the average time required to resolve identity theft and its consequences.
  • $6,270 is the average amount lost by people aged 25–34, the group that experiences the highest rate of identity fraud at 5.4%.
  • 63% of identity information is obtained through traditional methods, such as lost or stolen wallets; misappropriation by family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors; and stolen mail or trash.

TAKE ACTION TODAY

  • Use a paper shredder for important documents like credit applications, credit offers, insurance forms, physician statements, bank statements, and expired charge cards.
  • Deposit outgoing mail in collection boxes located inside the post office.
  • Promptly remove mail from your home or business mailbox.
  • Don’t carry your Social Security card with you.
  • Keep personal information in a safe and secure location at home.
  • Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or are sure you know with whom you are dealing.
  • Create passwords that are random combinations of numbers, symbols, and both upper- and lowercase letters.
  • Quiz your knowledge about identity theft.
  • Order a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Only access your report online via your own computer.
  • Check your online bank statement on a regular basis.

YOU MATTER

When someone steals your name, social security number, and credit, they steal YOU. Victims of identity theft may lose job opportunities, be refused loans for housing, cars, and education, and even get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. Taking simple measures to protect yourself could save you time, money, credit damage, frustration, anger, and possibly humiliation. You protect your personal belongings. Why not protect your identity?


Grab Bag “You’re Never Too Old” Moment:

Many thanks to Jeannie P. for sending this delightful clip along.

Fran & Marlo Cowan (married 62 years) play an impromptu recital together in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic. He turned 90 in February.

Grab Bag Squirrely Fascination:


Thanks to Pat M for sending this one a few months back. I’m thinking both squirrel and course-maker have too much time on their hands:

Grab Bag Brain Game:


Test your memory with Crime Scene Shuffle

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

Daily Thoughts:

• If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem.

• Remember –  Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.

• If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives. Then, you’ll be afraid to cough.

• A mousetrap placed on top of your alarm clock will prevent you from rolling over  and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.


… And, here are some wonderfully awkward family portraits. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to see these peeking out of next season’s greeting cards??

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Proud Papa


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So THAT’S how all this started…

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Merry Christmas from Mulletville


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Wow… speechless


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So very colorful and festive. What a lovely family.


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Sadly, the sweater isn’t distracting enough.


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He thought the pajama top would make him look silly….


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Does she know there’s some creepy guy who snuck into the picture?

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The power of genetics….

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New photo editing program: Sharpie 2.0

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Double the pleasure, double the fun.

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The girls will never forget their first Crossbow Christmas.



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