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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

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Thanks to LST (2014)

The ORIGINAL post showed up with the Avast logo & link [due to newest version?]; my ISP has suggested AVG…been meaning to get to it;
I guess it’s time!

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httpS://sites.google.com/site/ontheriver09/holidays/christmas/three-wise-women

FOR MORE Christmas Past, see httpS://sites.google.com/site/ontheriver09/holidays/christmas

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/30/mindfulness-holiday-stress_n_6396112.html

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Christmas tree needle shedding prompts scientific action

The presents are unwrapped. The children’s shrieks of delight are just a memory. Now it’s time for another Yuletide tradition: cleaning up the needles that are falling off your Christmas tree.

“I’m not particularly worried about it … I’ll just sweep it up,” said Lisa Smith-Hansford of New York, who bought a small tree at a Manhattan sidewalk stand early this week. She likes the smell of a real tree, she said, comparing it to comfort food.

But others do mind. Consumers consistently cite messiness as one of the most common reasons they don’t have a real tree, says the National Christmas Tree Association.

Keeping a tree well-watered goes a long way toward minimizing the needle problem. But beyond that, scientists are trying to find ways to make trees less messy and keep them fresh through the holidays.

It’s in the genes

Some kinds of trees, like the noble fir or Fraser fir, are better than others at maintaining moisture and keeping their needles once they’re in your house, says Gary Chastagner of Washington State University. But even within a given species, some trees are better than others, he said. Needle retention is an inherited trait: if a tree does well, so will the offspring that grow from the seeds in its cones.

At a research station in Puyallup, Washington, Chastagner works to identify individual trees that hold onto their needles best. He tests branches cut early in the fall, which encourages needle loss because they haven’t experienced cold weather. He lets them dry out and his team evaluates them after about 10 days, looking for branches that do not shed any needles. Needles start to fall off branches from some trees within three to five days when the branch is gently rubbed, even if they aren’t dry and brittle. A poor performer may lose all of them within a week.

Test a branch

If a branch does well, it means the tree has good genetics for keeping needles. So growers can seek out seeds from those trees to produce seedlings for future planting. These progeny should do well, too. With a federal grant, Chastagner is also working with others to identify genetic markers that indicate whether a tree will resist needle shedding. That would make the tree-screening process much faster and perhaps lead to breeding experiments to produce superior trees.

Trees that experience warm autumns tend to have more needle loss later, Chastagner said. So if global warming leads to warmer falls in the future, it could be bad news for Christmas trees, he said. But since his studies focus on tree branches harvested before cold autumn weather sets in, they may identify trees that will do well in a warming world, he said.

More water will help

Chastagner emphasizes that homeowners can minimize needle shedding by keeping their displayed trees well-supplied with water. In fact, when he has set up trees for research in early December and kept them watered, some species, like noble and Nordmann fir, have gone even three months with only minimal shedding. “The potential is phenomenal,” he said.

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5 Remarkable Ways Peppermint Can Boost Your Health

We’re forced to turn down a number of snacks and treats during the holiday season for the sake of our health, but there’s at least one wintertime snack we can rely on to keep us fit, both mentally and physically: peppermint. Don’t put down those candy canes just yet, because this natural ingredient offers health benefits that every one of us can use.

Read on to learn five surprising health benefits of peppermint. Here’s to a guiltless holiday season!

1. It aids indigestion

Peppermint can help cure health issues in the abdominals and digestive tract, reports Harvard Medical School’s HEALTHbeat newsletter. Multiple studies have pointed to the ingredient’s effectiveness in treating and relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which include cramping, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. One 2007 experiment found that 75% of patients who took peppermint oil capsules for four weeks saw a major decline in IBS symptoms, compared with just 38% of patients who took a placebo pill.

2. It may help clear a stuffy nose

Menthol, one of the biggest active ingredients in peppermint, has not been proven to clear the nasal passages, but a 2008 study published in Pediatric Pulmonology found that the substance does increase subjects’ perception of nasal airflow. Menthol is frequently used in over-the-counter decongestants, such as topical ointments, to lend a feeling of greater nasal airflow to patients — when you’re feeling under the weather, a little psychological pick-me-up can go a long way!

3. It curbs appetite

Having trouble resisting the holiday season’s many decadent dishes? Try sniffing a bit of peppermint to curb those cravings! The Chicago Tribune reports on a study in which half the volunteers sniffed the scent of peppermint every two hours. The volunteers who sniffed the scent ate, on average, 2,800 fewer calories per week than the non-sniffing group. As the Tribune notes, that’s enough to lose a full pound!

4. It boosts concentration

If you’re struggling with alertness and concentration, another sniff of peppermint might be in order. A study at Wheeling Jesuit University monitored subjects during driving under three different odor conditions: peppermint, cinnamon, and non-odor (the control group). Subjects in each test condition were monitored for wakefulness, cognitive performance, and mood. The results indicated that subjects exposed to the scent of peppermint experienced a decrease in anxiety, fatigue, and frustration levels while driving, while also becoming more alert. Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, who led the study, noted that the periodic release of these scents over long-term driving could abate the threats of road rage and highway traffic accidents.

5. It eases tension headaches

A 1996 study published in Der Nervenarzt, translated by the National Institutes of Health, found that a 10% peppermint oil in ethanol solution effectively alleviated tension headaches, making the substance a natural, well-tolerated, and cost-efficient alternative to therapies such as acetaminophen. If you can’t seem to manage the stress of the holiday season, you’ll be shocked at how much better you’ll feel after you polish off a candy cane!

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Americans love getting guns for Christmas

http://mashable.com/2014/12/25/guns-for-christmas/

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