Super Berry Wednesday, Jan 9 2019 

elderberryStep aside blueberries. You have some competition as a super food. The elderberry is rapidly gaining in on you.

My daughter, Erin, has me hooked on elderberry syrup, pills, and tea after reading some credible studies. As a nurse, Erin, seeks the scientific findings such as this one before jumping on the home-remedy bandwagon. Another study reported in The National Center for Biotechnology in 2016 found elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travelers.

Rich in flavonoids, consuming elderberries is thought to offer numerous health benefits. In addition to reducing colds and flu symptoms, elderberries are believed to offer some prevention and reduction in allergies, urinary tract and bladder infections, headaches, constipation, epilepsy, scarlet fever, and measles. The purplish-black berries may also improve digestive health, rheumatism, and sinus, back, leg (sciatica), and nerve pain (neuralgia) in addition to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Some positive effects even have been seen on markers of the heart and blood vessels, as well, with a reduction of the level of fat in the blood and a decrease in cholesterol. Elderberry may even increase insulin secretion and improve blood sugar levels.

The American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a deciduous shrub native to areas of the Midwest and Eastern North America. Fragrant white clusters of blossoms bloom each summer. In warmer areas, blossoms may appear throughout the year.

Raw berries should not be eaten as they can cause nausea and vomiting. And the bark, seeds, stems, leaves, and roots are inedible. They contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside, which in large quantities, is toxic.

Elderberries are safe when cooked. They may be consumed in pies, jams, juices, gummiessyrups, and wine. At this time, there is no standard dosage of elderberry to take when suffering from colds or flu but some suggest one tablespoon of syrup extract four times a day. It’s also unknown as to whether or not consuming elderberry products daily is beneficial.

(Did you see my post, “The Magician’s Escape Plan,” on my blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

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Sweet Twisted History Wednesday, Dec 12 2018 

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With the progression of the seasons comes the move from everything pumpkin to everything peppermint. But if the iconic Christmas peppermint candy canes aren’t your thing, you can appease your sweet tooth with your choice of an array of other flavors. Sour Patch, Jolly Ranchers, Orange Crush, and A&W are some, as well as–believe it or not–rotisserie chicken and pickle.

Legends about the origins of candy canes link a preacher and his lessons on Christianity to the candy. The story is that candy canes were designed with red to represent Jesus’ blood, white for the Resurrection, and the J-shape for the name, Jesus.

None of this is true, but it didn’t stop an elementary school principle in Nebraska from banning candy canes for these reasons. Most likely, the basis of the legend came from someone who indeed did use candy canes to teach about Jesus, but artwork shows images of candy canes long before these stories first circulated.

White, straight candy sticks date to the 17th century and came in several flavors, including mint. The twist of red and white began showing up around the turn of the 20th century. And the hook shape may have begun as a means to hang them on decorated Christmas trees, a German custom that became more popular when Queen Victoria and her German husband displayed them in their home in the mid-1800s.

What’s your favorite flavor? I’m still a traditionalist and like the peppermint, especially  when it’s crushed and mixed with white chocolate.

(Have you seen my latest posts on my other blog including: Save it For Those Who Listen, Soulful Connections, and The Alzheimer’s Teacher?)

Remembering a Life of Integrity Wednesday, Dec 5 2018 

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Today in the United States we celebrated the life of one of our most remarkable presidents, our 41st, George Herbert Walker Bush. President Bush was noted throughout the ceremonies for his achievements not only as our country’s leader but as a US Navy war hero, former Vice President, philanthropist, friend and father.

It was President Bush’s character that was recognized most of all. He was a fine, honorable man who served his country, family, and the world community with dignity, integrity, compassion, and honesty in addition to a great sense of humor.

Death reminds us of our vulnerability. No one lives forever. It also serves as a reminder of how we will be remembered. We ask ourselves, “How have we made our mark on this world? Who have we touched, and how have we done that?”

In the end, there will be no one else to blame or point the finger at. We will have to stand on our own failures and achievements.

If we honestly can review our lives and realize where we can do better, it’s not too late to change our course, to leave behind a better us.

(Do you follow my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books?)

Pause Tuesday, Oct 16 2018 

DSCN2232My friend, Sister Chris, worked at The Blessed Trinity Shrine Retreat House in Fort Mitchell, Alabama for many years. She points out that we don’t know how to retreat. We don’t take time to “stop and smell the roses,” to enjoy the gifts before us.

Our noisy world is full of distractions. We are always on the run. Busy, busy, busy.

Retreats offer opportunities to relax and renew. The quiet time supports our spiritual, emotional, and physical health and helps us to increase in wisdom and concentration. We leave happier, clearer minded, and better able to meet the challenges of the future.

Retreat centers are typically found in tranquil locations surrounded in simple beauty. They can be anything from exotic and luxurious to a yoga mat in your bedroom but offer a safe place to clear your mind and recharge.

Many retreat centers focus on a particular intent such spiritual retreats for building relationships with God, retreats for victims of domestic violence to regain a sense of empowerment, and ones for overall relaxing of body, mind, and spirit.

We don’t have to spend 40 days in the desert praying and fasting as Jesus did. But his example teaches us that it is necessary to clear our minds in order to grow. If you are unable to get away, you can practice a moment of pause within each day. Sip a cup of coffee or tea alone on your front porch. Soak in the tub or enjoy a fragrant shower. Go for a massage. Listen to classical or relaxation music. Take a yoga class where you can stretch and breathe deeply.

For our own good and the peace of the world, let’s stop. The quiet time is an important investment in our well being.

(Follow me on Facebook and see my other blog, Mary K Doyle Books.)

Marshall Brodien Day Tuesday, Jul 10 2018 

Moving Along Monday, Apr 30 2018 

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On the first anniversary of moving into my townhome, I’m acutely aware of my blessings. I’m rich in what matters most in life.

The past year has been relatively peaceful. Marshall continues to do well. My children, grandchildren, step-children, and step-grandchildren are healthy. And I’m enjoying meaningful work to pay my bills.

For many years, my stress level was at a peak. The years previous to this move were intense caring for Marshall 24/7 at home for ten years and then transitioning him to managed care, working through a few disturbing issues with relationships, clearing out the house in preparation for sale, the intrusion of showing the home for two years, negotiating the home sale/purchase, packing to move, and then unpacking in my new home all while overseeing Marshall’s care and working. Countless times I believed I was close to the breaking point.

But here I am, and I’m so very grateful! I’m blessed with a home I can manage and afford. I love the space and my kind neighbors.

Marshall, although always on a decline due to Alzheimer’s disease, calls me by name and tells me he loves me every day. Our time together is typically very tender.

I am greatly blessed with an extensive group of family and friends. They are supportive, attentive, and carry me with their love and kindness. My children and grandchildren especially bring me great joy.

And to top it off, I have work opportunities that allow me to use the gifts God gave me in ways that minister and connect with people dear to my heart. I’ve written two books in my new home, one of which is under contract, and beginning a new one. In addition, I’m speaking regularly, predominately on caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

When we are traveling through the dark tunnel, the journey can feel endless. The rays that do shine through are difficult to see and the number of steps into the sunshine is so uncertain.

The only way out of that tunnel is to keep going. Most often, we enter the light wiser and stronger.

(Do you follow my posts on Mary K Doyle Books?)

“Sew,” What’s Your Hobby? Thursday, Apr 12 2018 

Stamp collecting, flower arranging, gardening, playing a musical instrument, woodworking, gourmet cooking, bead working, antiquing, knitting, reading, painting, jewelry making, singing, writing, athletics, magic, playing chess or bridge, learning a new language.

If I had my way, I’d engage in one hobby after another. Currently, I’m hand quilting a massive bedspread for my bed. It’s the first quilt I’ve worked on in several years. Although the sewing leaves my hands in tremendous pain due to fibromyalgia and arthritis, I’m loving every minute of it.

The word, hobby, relates to an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation. Strangely, the word evolved from hobby-horse. The reasoning behind the shift is that the activity is like a favorite pastime, such as riding a hobby-horse, that doesn’t go anywhere. In fact, this is not so at all. Studies show numerous benefits from participating in a hobby.

Our hobbies often are what some people do professionally. We aren’t at that level or don’t have the time to pursue it to that extent, but the activity brings us pleasure and distraction from the tough stuff in our lives. Hobbies are our “time out” from obligations and promote a sense of calm and purpose. The activities help us structure our time. They offer an incentive to get our work done. We’re more efficient overall. And engaging in hobbies is more constructive than staring blankly at the TV.

In addition, hobbies create opportunities to make new social connections with like-minded individuals. And those social connections are an important key to happiness and longevity.

Here are a few more benefits of delving into hobbies.

Hobbies

  • Help us cope with stress, which is very important to our health
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Relax the mind
  • Stimulate the brain with new challenges
  • Help us to build self-confidence
  • Offer us a sense of purpose
  • Ward off depression by bringing joy to our spirit
  • Promote a sense of the present as we focus on what we are doing at that moment
  • Can reduce mindless eating as our hands are preoccupied
  • Assist us in discovering talents we didn’t know we had
  • Promote productivity in other areas of our life because we are happier and more focused
  • Can provide additional income
    Help us transition to retirement
  • Prevent boredom and filling time with bad habits
  • Improve brain health and memory
  • Increase good stress known as eustress
  • Assist us with improved sleep
  • Offer opportunities to mentor and share our gifts produced from these hobbies
  • Make us more patient

If you are seeking a new hobby, look at local junior college and park district listings of classes and inquire what your friends enjoy. If you do have a hobby, please tell us! We’d love to hear from you.

(Do you follow my posts on Mary K Doyle Books?)

 

 

Taste That Shape Monday, Jun 26 2017 

Food is one of the pleasures of life. Most of us look forward to times of day and seasons that present our favorite dishes. But why we like those foods is complicated. All of our senses—sight, smell, sound, touch, in addition to taste—play a role. So does our memory and perceptions.

Marketers and chefs know the significance of visual presentation whether the food is packaged or plated. We are drawn into restaurants or the family table due to the aroma of what’s cooking. And that sound of the sizzle on the grill attracts us along with that smell.

The feel of foods is also important. Some like cold or hot dishes or foods we can hold in our hands. We also have our preferences of crispy, crunchy, or creamy. And how much we enjoy any of it is based on past experience. Comfort foods are linked to memories of earlier days.

I’m not a big fan of farfalle, also known as bow-tie pasta. As pretty as they are to look at, I prefer the firmer, tubular shapes of macaroni or penne. The texture, how the sauce sticks to the pasta, and the familiarity of childhood family dinners are only a few of the reasons these types of pasta top my list.

Scientists state that shape does in fact alter the flavor of foods. Molecules reach the tongue and nose at different speed and order with the change of shape.

A few years ago, the British company Cadbury updated the shape of their chocolates called Dairy Milk. The public strongly reacted claiming that in doing so the flavor changed. Cadbury responded that the recipe and preparation process remained identical. The only change was the shape of the angular chunks to ones that were curved.

Their goal was to allow the chocolates to fit into the mouth easier. But this also changed how quickly the chocolate melted and molecules were released on the tongue. The oils in the chocolate now are released quicker resulting in an oily taste.

When preparing foods, shape is even more significant. Dice vegetables and their texture changes, varying the taste, or at least our perception. Think of how differently raw, whole carrots taste from diced or sliced and also how they taste when cooked. And the more surface area of the ingredient, the greater the change. For example, we increase the browning or charring on a vegetable or piece of meat with elongated shapes of food.

The shape also affects aroma. The smaller something is cut, the greater the aroma, and as we know, smell is an important aspect of taste. Chop broccoli or cabbage and the smell of the sulfur can be offensive. Slice onions or mince garlic and we can almost taste them.

(Follow my posts on Mary K Doyle Books or my author Facebook page.)

 

 

Rant on Comcast/Xfinity Wednesday, May 24 2017 

I’m cool as a cucumber, calm as a gentle stream. I don’t get road rage—I’m the most patient driver on the road. I rarely get rattled caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s or rambunctious grandchildren. I really am typically easy-going.

Until I had to deal with Comcast/Xfinity.

Working with them after my recent move turned me into an angry person I didn’t recognize. One day, I even lost my temper and was nasty with reps. My blood pressure rises just thinking about them.

There were problems with the cable. A second TV didn’t work, and I was repeatedly told there was something wrong with my equipment. All of it magically failed overnight while moving. Actually, after a visit, the technician said the error was on their end.

Most frustrating were all the phone issues.

  • Comcast said I’d have the same phone number I’ve had for 30 plus years. It was originally issued by Illinois Bell, so that tells you how long I’ve had it. After several HOURS on the phone with Comcast, and a week later, I was told the temporary number they issued me will be my permanent one. It happens, they say. Even moving only 2-3 miles from my last home. Had I been told of the possibility from the beginning, I wouldn’t have wasted so many hours dealing with reps who repeatedly told me it would be another 24-48 hours. I would have waited to print “Just Moved” postcards to include my new phone number.
  • It took ten days and multiple calls to get a rep to update my online info so that I could see my account online.
  • I had no voice mail for 16 days. The prompt said my number was unavailable.
  • Caller ID continues to identify me by someone else’s name. Yesterday Comcast said they aren’t responsible for that. It is the slow processing of the providers of those I call, such as AT&T.

No doubt, all this rambling and ranting sounds familiar to many of you as you’ve had the same experience with carriers. They aren’t life-threatening problems but still, intensely irritating, particularly because of the waste of time. I lost countless hours that cost me work and pay.

And it’s been unnecessarily stressful. All reps were pleasant as they read their scripts but few could reason beyond their prescribed steps. It took multiple contacts before anything was resolved.

I guess it is the sign of the times. I moved 8 times with my previous number with AT&T and it was as simple as lifting up the phone in my new home to find it all working. But today we deal with too much technology, too little employee training, and the fact that these providers are so much in demand they needn’t care how the consumer feels.

I apologize for the rant. As you know, I strive to write positive posts, so perhaps I can assist you with your next move by warning you. Perhaps if I’d known all of this was likely, I would have taken it more in stride.

Direct Sales: Your Business Your Way Monday, Apr 3 2017 

My husband, Marshall, used to say that sales is the one business that has no limits. You control your amount of income and the number of hours you want to put into your career.

When my children were young, I sold Avon and Tupperware. These companies allowed me to make some good money with the flexibility needed while caring for three little ones.

Today we have many home-based direct sales businesses to choose from. Along with some personal contact, such as home parties, most lean more toward the utilization of social media than door-to-door sales as Avon once did. But they all offer an opportunity to own a business, be your own boss, and make it as successful as you want it to be.

Every company has their own twist in this very competitive market. For example, Beautycounter offers safer cosmetics and personal care products. Pampered Chef is known for quality kitchen items. And my favorite, Young Living, carries a wide-range of pure essential oils. I promote Young Living while also pursuing my writing career, public speaking, and working as a trade rep for my publisher.  (If you decide to purchase or join Young Living, please use my full name as a reference – Mary Doyle Brodien)

Other home-based direct sales companies include Scentsy, Jamberry, Younique, tastefullysimple, 31 Bags, Norwex, Shaklee, Damsel in Defense, Stella & Dot, Rodan & Fields, Origami Owl, Lilla Rose, and Mary Kay.

Self-employment comes with as many challenges as there are rewards. If you’re interested in following the direct-sales path, here are some points to consider:

  • Will you be selling a product you personally use and value?
  • Is there a start-up fee or requirement?
  • Must you meet a certain quota?
  • Do you have friends, family members, and neighbors who you believe will be interested in what you sell?
  • Are you comfortable reaching out and talking up the products you sell?
  • Are you disciplined enough to market, sell, collect, and maintain records for tax purposes?
  • Do you want to work this business as your part-time or full-time employment?
  • If this is your sole income, can you support yourself when sales are low or non-existent?
  • Can you afford your own medical insurance?
  • Are the hours you hope to work this job doable with your current family/employment situation?

(To see my posts on topics relating to my book, go to Mary K Doyle Books.)

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