What’s your “emotional intelligence”?

Look closely.

Photo by Fanny Schertzer via Wikimedia Commons

What do you suppose this dairy darling is thinking? Perhaps more to the point, how is she feeling?

Your guess is as good as mine, but I will tell you that I just scored pretty high on a quiz to determine emotional intelligence. Not that I’m bragging.

Interested?

Play along …

According to The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, “Facial expressions are a universal language of emotion, instantly conveying happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and much more. Reading these expressions is essential to compassion and empathy.”

So, they came up with a quickie quiz to measure emotional intelligence.

Are you yawning … or laughing?

Photo by why 137 via Wikimedia Commons

Anyway …

Visit the quiz site and try to identify the emotion conveyed in each photo (there are 20). “Each answer will pinpoint the exact muscles involved in that emotion and explain the subtle differences between expressions,” explain the authors. “Some emotions appear more than once.”

This guy isn’t in any of the photos, but he looks pretty happy to me! What do you think?

Photo by Sam Photos8.com via Wikimedia Commons

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red eye

While red eyes are desirable in some cases …

say, in the world of the red-eyed tree frog,

654px-Red-eyed_Tree_Frog_-_Litoria_chloris_edit1

tree frog by LiquidGhoul edited by Muhammad via Wikimedia Commons

they’re not very desirable in humans.

We’ve all seen those photos that make sweet little Sammy look like the spawn of the devil.

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Most cameras now have built-in features to avoid the dreaded “red eye effect.” And if you do end up with red-eyed monsters when you’re snapping pics of your sweet darlings, you can always use a photo-editing program to fix it after the fact.

But you might be intrigued to find out, like I did, why that particular eerie effect happens in the first place …

When you take a photo of a person who’s looking directly at the camera, the flash reflects off the person’s retina, located at the back of the eye. Because the retina has many blood vessels, the camera picks up the red color.

Who knew?

But what about those scary animal eyes you see at night or even sometimes in a photo taken in the middle of the day? Sweet little pup all of a sudden turns into the Hound of the Baskervilles …

photo by Jazzjohnn via Wikimedia Commons

No, he’s not possessed … you’ve just picked up something called “eyeshine.” Many animals (especially those with good night vision) have a layer of tissue in their eyes called tapetum lucidum. It also reflects light back through the retina, which appears to make the animals’ eyes glow. Cats and dogs with blue eyes can reflect both eyeshine and red-eye.

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photo by Una Smith via Wikimedia Commons

Thank goodness for Photoshop. Continue reading

Yoga for Kids

Jodi the Yogi aims to set children on the path of a positive and healthy lifestyle through yoga. Her programs and videos, made for children 2-6, engage kids through song, dance, and movement with the help of her “bestie,” Downward the Dog. With original songs and age-appropriate interpretations of yoga sequences and postures, Jodi’s videos engages tiny tots while targeting gross motor skills and promoting social/emotional learning using humor, playfulness, and a sense of wonder.

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photo, JodiTheYogi.com

Jodi and Downward the Dog are based in New York City, where they visit schools, teach classes, and even book parties and events, but you can get your little ones interested by watching her 8-minute video below. Then stay tuned for more videos on her website.

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International Moment of Laughter Day

April 14 is International Moment of Laughter Day. The holiday was created by “humorologist” Izzy Gesell to encourage people to laugh. Izzy, a professional speaker, trainer, author, and “humor consultant,” suggests celebrating by:

  • calling a friend to share a funny story
  • thinking up your own way to get someone else to laugh with you
  • or just laughing for no apparent reason at all

Fragment of Juan Muñoz’ series of sculptures, “Thirteen Laughing at Each Other” (2001), Jardim da Cordoaria, Porto, Portugal via Wikimedia Commons

 

We’ve all heard the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine.” According to HelpGuide.org, “a guide for improving your mental and emotional health,”

  • Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
  • Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  • Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
  • Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Lachender_Bauernbursche, 1839 via Wikimedia Commons.

“I believe that if people can get more laughter in their lives, they are a lot better off,” says Steve Wilson, MA, CSP, psychologist and laugh therapist, according to WebMD.com. “They might be healthier too.”

Humor consultant??? Laugh therapist??? Don’t those both sound like delightful jobs?! LOL!

However you celebrate International Moment of Laughter Day, have a good laugh … your body, mind, and spirit will all thank you. Continue reading

Bee City USA

Does your community deserve the designation of “Bee City USA”?

Image courtesy of via Bee City USA via Center for Honeybee Research, Asheville, NC

Founded in 2012 by the members of the Buncombe County Chapter of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association, this certification “encourages city leaders to collaborate with their local beekeeping chapters to celebrate and raise awareness of the contribution honeybees and other pollinators make to our world.”

Photo by Ricks at the German language Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons

Asheville, located in Buncombe County, was the inaugural Bee City USA, followed by Talent, Oregon, in 2014. Ashland, Oregon, as well as Carborro and Mathews, North Carolina, soon followed suit, and now Bee City USA is seeking more communities to certify.

Photo by Natubico via Wikimedia Commons

“We encourage city leaders across the nation to explore joining the Bee City USA movement by completing the application process,” explains the Bee City USA website. “As cities and towns across America become attuned to the universe of creatures that make the planet bloom, we will become more conscientious about what we plant and how we maintain our green spaces. There is much we can teach one another—both city to city and species to species.”

Photo by Kimberly Vardeman via Flickr

Bee City USA stresses that their designation is both an honor and a responsibility. “The program endorses a set of standards, defined in a resolution, for creating sustainable habitats for pollinators, which are vital to feeding the planet. Cities, towns, and communities across America are invited to adopt these standards and become a Bee City USA affiliate.”

Learn how your community can earn certification at BeeCityUSA.org. Continue reading

Odd couples

You’ve heard the term “strange bedfellows,” right? Well, here are some downright s-t-r-a-n-g-e, but adorable bedfellows, for sure.

 Do you have any cross-species odd couples on your farm? Continue reading

seed libraries

Have you ever visited your local library to check out …

Photo by Craig Dietrich via Flickr

seeds?

It’s a new trend that’s “going fungal,” according to Rebecca Newburn, who started the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library in California in 2010.

When Newburn launched her library in collaboration with the Richmond Public Library, there were about five such seed lenders in the nation—now there are over 300.

“You may be asking, ‘How can you borrow seeds?’ The basic is idea is that you take seeds home (for free), plant them, let some go to seed, then return some of these next-generation seeds to the library for others to borrow,” Newburn explains. “Don’t worry. We don’t have fines if you don’t return seeds.”

Photo by Jonathan McIntosh via Wikimedia Commons

It makes perfect sense to merge seed-lending with book-lending, don’t you think?

“[It] is such a lovely fit because public libraries are about providing access, and they are a commons of the community,” said Newburn. “Our mission and their mission just seemed like they dovetail beautifully together.”

Plus, she says that the document storage conditions within libraries (dark, cool, and dry) are also conducive to seed preservation.

Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to serving the community of Richmond, the library is excited about helping others establish their own seed-lending services. They offer detailed start-up ideas on their Create a Library page and support in the form of a Seed Libraries Social Network.

Here’s a little video that illuminates more about seed-lending and borrowing. But before you watch, take a minute to sign the Protect Seed Libraries petition to prevent seed libraries from being “regulated out of existence due to misapplication of seed laws by several state departments of agriculture.”

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Winner!!! Giveaway: MaryJane’s Ideabook

And the winner of MaryJane’s Ideabook giveaway is:

Jenny Binus, who said: “I love the Earth. I love being outside, and when I was a kid, my favorite place to go to was my Mimi and GFR’s cabin in the woods. We built it, the whole family, from the ground up. We cut the logs, my dad put on the roof, I helped find the stones for the hearth. It gave me a love of working with my hands and being outdoors. I live in a small town in Pennsylvania now, far from Western Washington, but this taught me an appreciation for the outdoors. I love making quilts for my children, teaching them to bake (both boys), I homeschool, we have a garden that we grow a good deal of our veggies in, and I am looking forward to being outside watching caveman TV (fire) near the creek this summer. I enjoy the feel of bread dough and working with my hands. I teach art classes that focus around using recycled materials and I volunteer filling backpacks with food for kids who don’t have it over the weekend because I didn’t always have food when I was little. My sons come with me, ages 5 and 7, because I want them to learn to care about others for no other reason than it makes them feel good and it’s the right thing to do.”

And the original post for the GIVEAWAY was (thank you to all who participated):

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Allspice Demystified

Allspice … we know it helps give our pumpkin pies that delicious, unmistakable taste. I even used it in my Pumpkin Refrigerator Pickles. But what the heck is allspice, anyway?

Photo by jeffreyw via Wikimedia Commons

 

Take a poll of people in most any setting, and I’ll venture to guess that the most common opinion would be that allspice is a mixture of spices—perhaps cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. But when you look for allspice on the spices shelf at your local grocery, you might notice that one option is to buy allspice berries. So there goes the mixture theory …

Allspice—also known as Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, pimento, English pepper, and newspice—actually got its name as early as the 1600s because it tasted like a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. But those berries you saw on the shelf were actually the dried fruit of the P. dioica plant. And in addition to its use in baked goods, sausages, and curries, allspice has also had an interesting history of non-culinary uses—including one in Napolean’s army. Check out this video from the American Chemical Society to find out more. (Spoiler alert: you’re either going to find the narrator endearingly adorable … or annoying. :) )

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Need a Bathroom?

In our busy world of travel and errands, there’s a universal question that we all must eventually face, especially if we’re the parent of little ones: Where’s the bathroom? Pulling over for a little “hike” in the woods is fine for many of us, but what if there are no woods nearby or your stop requires a little more, ahem, pampering?

Well, if your smartphone accompanies you on your jaunts, there’s an app for that! Airpnp uses your geographic location to give you a list of places to potty, from freebies at coffee shops and stores to private homes that rent out their bathrooms. Private homes that rent out their bathrooms?!

graphic, Airpnp

Yes, that’s right, people actually rent out their bathrooms. Listings on the site include photos, hours of service, and fees, and many boast family-friendly atmospheres or luxurious soaps. The founders, natives of New Orleans, created the app when they realized they could help frustrated revelers find a bathroom during the city’s annual Mardi Gras festivities. Co-founder and “PEO” Max Gaudin says, “You can use Airpnp on your phone via the browser, on your computer, or download our iOS app.” Their playful tagline reads “Urine good hands.” For those of us who sometimes have to really, really GO, this app could turn out to be ….? What would you end the sentence with? Dashing? Continue reading