February is All About Hearts

Instead of treating your sweetheart to a steak dinner this Valentine’s Day, be good to your loved one’s heart by offering nuts and fish!
Why Nuts and Fish Are Good For Your Heart
What makes nuts and fish so great? There are several contributing factors. Fish is delicious and an excellent source of lean protein. Nuts are filling, portable, tasty, and so nutritious that recent studies showed people who ate nuts lived longer, healthier lives than those who didn’t. A report from the November 2013 issue of New England Journal of Medicine showed that daily nut-eaters were less likely to die of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. This report also included the peanut, which is actually classified as a legume.
The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The big bonus of eating nuts and fish is that those foods can be excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
In most individuals, dietary intake of Omega-3 fats is way too low. Eating more Omega-3s is important because the body uses them to form special, unique molecules. These molecules perform functions within cells that lead to improved health.
It’s widely known that Omega-3s are great for the heart and cardiovascular system. They keep the heartbeat stable, decrease blood clots, keep arteries open and lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Consuming omega-3s are beneficial for cancer patients because they can slow tumor development. In addition, studies show chemotherapy is more effective, and patients have fewer side effects and lose less weight if Omega-3s are included in their diet.
Omega-3s are also effective at stabilizing moods, which has proven helpful in treating bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The omega-3 nuts include: walnuts, butternuts, Brazil Nuts.
While omega-3 nuts are special, all nuts are unique in their own right. Collectively, all nuts are a good sources of fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and protein, and all of them can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels (the bad “loser” cholesterol). Individually, each variety boasts its own balance of unique benefits:
Almonds
• Typically characterized as a sweet nut, a one-ounce serving of almonds provides 35% daily value of vitamin E, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of protein and 8% daily value of calcium. The nutrients in almonds are comparable to those in broccoli or a cup of green tea. Studies show that vitamin E may help stop plaque development in the arteries. Excess plaque in the arteries can lead to cardiovascular disease.
Hazelnuts
• These nuts have an earthy sweet flavor profile. They are low in saturated fat and rich in antioxidants, dietary fiber and phytochemicals. They are an excellent source of vitamin E and can help alter plasma lipids to reduce coronary heart disease risks.
Pecans
• Pecans have a rich buttery flavor and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. A one-ounce serving has about the same amount of fiber as a medium apple. Adding fiber to your diet is a great idea because it lowers cholesterol, aids in digestion, and helps you feel full faster so you’ll eat less. Fiber also plays a role in preventing diabetes.
Pistachios
• Pistachios have a pungent earthy flavor; some even say they taste like hot dogs! These tiny green nuts contain around 10% of the daily value of dietary fiber per one-ounce serving as well as vitamin B-6, thiamin, phosphorus and copper. Pistachios, along with sunflower kernels, are a rich source of phyosterols (a healthy fat) that helps to lower cholesterol.
Adding Nuts to Your Diet
To gain the maximum nutritional benefits, try mixed nuts, but avoid salted and flavored varieties which can add sugar and thus quickly become an unhealthy snack.
If you’re new to nuts, try these suggestions for adding nuts to your diet:
• spread nut butter on your morning toast instead of butter or cream cheese
• sprinkle chopped nuts on cereal or yogurt
• toss nuts into a salad or stir-fry
• top fruit or crackers with nut butter
• try nut-encrusted fish or chicken, such as pecan-encrusted trout
Don’t Know How to Prepare Fish?
To learn more about the nutritional benefits of fish and how to prepare it, check out the “Fish for Beginners” classes online or go to Recipes.com.

What of Fall Pleasures?

One of life’s yearly challenges is raking the leaves that cover the lawn. It used to be that we thought nothing of raking them up, filling trash bag after trash bag and sending them off to the landfill. In today’s politically correct society, we should look for ways to avoid sending this bulky yard waste to the landfill and leave valuable space for other trash.
Alternatives for leaf disposal

There are several alternatives for getting rid of fall’s leaves. Not all of these solutions will work for everyone, but with a little thought, we can all do our part to keep the leaves out of the waste stream.
Composting Fall Leaves
Composting is one option for disposal. Leaves alone are difficult to decompose, but when mixed with a few grass clippings, composted manure or generous amounts of fertilizer, the leaves will be reduced to wonderful organic matter usable in the garden. If space is available, the leaves can be stockpiled and left to rot on their own. However, this will take quite a bit of time.
Fall Leaves as Mulch
Another option for leaf disposal is to use the leaves as mulch material. Using fallen leaves as mulch is easy and saves money.
The best way to collect the leaves is to use the lawn mower bagging attachment. Collecting the leaves with the mower helps to shred and greatly reduces the bulk. Once collected, the leaves can be spread around the bases of young trees or shrubs, or used to cover bare soil areas in the flower garden. The leaf layer will provide additional organic matter as they decompose and help conserve moisture and control weed growth.
Try this. Mow the leaves twice; this decreases the bulk even more. First mow the lawn without the bagger attachment. Then on the second pass, collect the leaves. The result is finely chopped material that resembles some of the expensive mulching materials. Leaves break down quickly as a mulch layer, which means additional mulch will need to be applied.
Stockpile Leaves and Use Later
The leaves can also be stockpiled over winter and used the following spring. Fill large compost bins with shredded leaves and mulch the vegetable garden the following spring. At the end of the season, simply till them into the soil for added organic matter.
Put Fall Leaves into the Garden to Increase Organic Matter
Finally, the leaves can be incorporated into the garden this fall. Spread a couple inches over the garden and work into the soil. Mother Nature will compost them over the winter.
Disposing of leaves requires you to be creative and proactive so they do not end up in the landfill. We have enough trash and waste to dispose of without adding tree leaves. We can also keep on wishing for that Midwest windstorm that blows all the leaves off our yard, without giving us someone else’s. Oh, aren’t wishes wonderful?

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Birdie Bird and Ferdinand

Birdie Bird and Ferdinand

A year in the life of two Mockingbird brothers… lessons for children.

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Kat Tales Chronicles

Kat Tales Chronicles

Growing up in Kansas City

Time May Be Running Out

Time May Run Out/So Let’s Talk October

Not all have escaped the need to over-seed their lawn. The best time to plant new tall fescue and bluegrass seed is in early to mid-September. Heading into October, people often wonder if it is too late to plant new seed. The seedling grass does need sufficient time to germinate and establish before winter conditions arrive.

October 15 Cutoff Date for Reseeding Kansas City Lawns

Although September is the best time, often we can still plant grass seed up to October 15 with good results. The problem with late-season seeding is that Mother Nature is working against us. Shorter days and cooler temperatures prolong the germination of the seed and its establishment.
Establishment of the tender grass is a must for it to survive the winter. Grass that is seeded late can die as a result of the cold, harsh conditions, or due to drying out. Freezing and thawing of the soil, coupled with a lack of moisture, leaves the tender roots and crowns susceptible to desiccation.

Follow Correct Seeding Steps

Soil Prep: Seeding late into the season still requires the same steps. Proper soil preparation is a must. This is best accomplished by either verticutting the lawn or through core aeration. These machines open up the soil surface and allow the seed to come in contact with the soil.
Irrigate: Timely irrigation is also very important. Once the seed is sown, the upper surface of the soil should remain damp at all times. This may require daily, light applications, as it all depends on the amount of sun and wind. Be prepared to water when needed, as lack of water will slow establishment.

Fertilize: An application of fertilizer at the time of seeding is also a good idea. This will help nourish not only the new seedlings, but will give the existing turf a much needed boost. Pushing the establishing grass with ample nutrients will also help speed up the process and increase winter hardiness.
Mow: Mow the lawn at the normal height, which is between 2 and 3 inches. Avoid the mistake of letting it grow too long, as this reduces the seedling’s ability to develop a nice crown. Clippings do not need to be caught as long as they do not shade out the new seed. Fallen leaves should be picked up to prevent suffocation.

No Herbicides: Do not worry about weeds at this time. No chemical applications can be applied during this process. As a general rule of thumb, no herbicides should be applied until the new grass has been mowed at least twice. Check the product label for specific information.

Time to Think Green!

088We are approaching September and it is time to step out of my garden and offer a word about fertilizing and reseeding. Even with a cooler summer and more rainfall this year, most of us have areas in our lawn that did not survive. Dead patches may be present throughout the lawn. Re-seeding may be necessary to bring your lawn back to top-notch standards.

Best Time to Overseed Kansas City Lawns
The ideal time to seed bluegrass and tall fescue lawns in the Kansas City area is early to mid-September. At this time of the year, the soil temperatures are still high, nighttime temperatures start to fall, and more rainfall is usually received. This combination makes almost perfect conditions for quick germination and establishment of turf from seed.

Good Soil Preparation Key to Success
•Verticutting
Besides the correct timing, proper soil preparation is vital for success. The best method for preparing the soil for overseeding is by verticutting. A verticut slices grooves in the soil creating an area for the small grass seed to fall and wash when seeding. It is this contact with the soil that is so important. Simply spreading the seed on the crusted soil will result in poor germination and an uneven stand.
•Core aeration
Core aeration is also available for seedbed preparation. It is not as highly recommended for overseeding. Aeration is good for the overall health and maintenance of a lawn, but results in a less uniform stand of grass and lengthens the time it takes for the bare areas to fill in.

Purchase High Quality Seed
High quality seed is also a must for success. Avoid seed mixes that do not contain a high percentage of the recommended bluegrass and tall fescue varieties. Avoid inexpensive seed that contains species such as creeping red fescue, fine leaf fescue, perennial and annual rye and annual bluegrass. These species may look good quickly after seeding but they are sure to fail under stressful summer conditions.

Use a Starter Fertilizer
Fertilizer is the other needed product for seeding. New seed should be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer such as 13-13-13 or a high phosphorus product such as 10-20-10. Do not be fearful to fertilize at seeding because the young seedlings need the added boost to quickly develop and establish. The existing grass will also benefit.

The better prepared you are when it comes to overseeding, the greater the likelihood of success.

The most important time to fertilize and reseed is fall.

Mesmerized by Mimosa

DSCN2527My backyard includes Mimosa trees, bursts of color more glorious than last year. No doubt the moisture has added to the vivid pinks giving me pause to focus and get in tune to my muse.

My back yard includes the species usually called “silk tree” or “mimosa” in the United States, This is misleading – the former name can refer to any species of Albizia which is most common in any one locale. And, although once included in Mimosa, neither is it very close to the Mimoseae. To add to the confusion, several species of Acacia, notably Acacia baileyana and Acacia dealbata, are also known as “mimosa” (especially in floristry), and many Fabaceae trees with highly divided leaves are called this in horticulture.

Its leaves slowly close during the night and during periods of rain, the leaflets bow downward; its modern Persian name is shabkhosb  which means “night sleeper” (from shab — “night” and -khosb — “sleeper”). In Japan its common names are nemunoki, nemurinoki and nenenoki which all mean “sleeping tree”. Nemu tree is a partial translation of nemunoki.

The typical variety, which I am sure I have, is a small deciduous tree growing to 5–12 m tall, with a broad crown of level or arching branches. The bark is dark greenish grey in color and striped vertically as it gets older. The leaves are bipinnate, 20–45 cm long and 12–25 cm broad, divided into 6–12 pairs of pinnae, each with 20–30 pairs of leaflets; the leaflets are oblong, 1–1.5 cm long and 2–4 mm broad. The flowers are produced throughout the summer in dense inflorescences, the individual flowers with no petals but a tight cluster of stamens 2–3 cm long, white or pink with a white base, looking like silky threads. They have been observed to be attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The fruit is a flat brown pod 10–20 cm long and 2–2.5 cm broad, containing several seeds inside.

It is called a  julibrissin  and is widely planted as an ornamental plant in parks and gardens, grown for its leaf texture and flowers. The broad crown of a mature tree makes it useful for providing dappled shade. The flower color varies from white to rich red-tipped flowers. Variants with cream or pale yellow flowers are also plentiful.  ‘Summer Chocolate’ has red foliage ageing to dark bronze, with pale pink flowers; ‘Ishii Weeping’ (or ‘Pendula’) has a drooping growth habit.

In the wild, the tree tends to grow in dry plains, sandy valleys, and uplands. It has become an invasive species in Japan; and in the United States it has spread from southern New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, west to Missouri and Illinois, and south to Florida and Texas. It is cultivated in California and Oregon, but is not invasive there. Breeding work is currently under way in the United States to produce ornamental plants which will not set seed and can therefore be planted without risk.

Personally, I enjoy the bursts of color and the visits of hummingbirds, butterflys, and even the bees as they carry tales. My muse allows me time  to gaze and deeply reflect.  I have yet to suffer from invasiveness.