Archive Page 2


Why You Should Start Keeping a Gratitude Journal

The concept of gratitude once might have been considered “touchy-feely” or “new-agey.” But when researchers started to study it, they were able to scientifically tie it to a variety of benefits, including feelings of hopefulness and optimism, better coping mechanisms for dealing with adversity, fewer instances of depression and addiction, and even exercising more and sleeping better.

Researchers have found evidence that when we feel appreciation for someone or something, it results in a calming effect on the heart’s electromagnetic patterns, which can, in turn, relieve hypertension and reduce the risk of sudden death from heart disease.

Further, practicing gratitude in a way such as helping someone who has helped you activates the regions of the brain that produce dopamine and serotonin – the body’s feel-good chemicals that promote feelings of happiness and well-being.

“In short,” says Dr. Blair Justice of the University of Texas School of Public Health, “feeling gratitude and appreciation on a regular basis helps heal us at every level of our being.”

Luckily, there is a simple way to start practicing gratitude in your life — write a gratitude list. This simple and powerful tool is the key to inducing feelings of gratefulness. Follow these steps and get started today.

1. Decide where you want to keep your list – on your computer, a spreadsheet, on your phone, or handwritten in a notebook or journal.
2. Set a realistic goal. Start with writing down five things you are grateful for. If you want to write more, you can, but work to always get at least five each day.
3. Write down specific things (your favorite flower blooming in your garden) and abstract (the innocence of children).
4. Settle for simple on a bad day. When everything is going wrong, you might have to focus on the basics – gratitude for a car that runs, a roof over your head, a spouse or pet who loves you.
5. Remember to make your list when you are facing challenges. This is perhaps the most important time to think about what you are grateful for.

Lightning Bug Fun Facts

Nothing says “summer evening” like lightning bugs, also known as fireflies. These flashy little beetles can bring out the kid in all of us, but as we get older, we might start to wonder about our glowing friends. Here a few facts you might not have known:   1. There are more than 2,000 species of firefly, but not all species glow.2. Fireflies are bioluminescent throughout their lifespan — even their eggs glow.
3. Light patterns are unique to each subspecies of firefly.
4. Flashing is communication between males and females.
5. Firefly larvae live in the soil and feed off snails.
6. Luciferase, an enzyme in firefly light production, is useful in scientific research as well as forensic and food safety testing. (It can now be produced synthetically.)
7. Fireflies are efficient light-producers. Nearly 100 percent of the energy produced is light (the typical light bulb gives off just 10 percent light, and 90 percent heat).


Cool Pool Toys

Summer is officially here! Time to break out the water toys! In addition to the always-popular beach balls and noodles, here are some other fun choices:

Waterproof playing cards – Play cards while you’re lounging in the pool with decks of floating, waterproof playing cards.

Floating bean bag toss – Take the yard game into the water with an inflatable version that comes with floating “bean bags.”

Water paddle ball – Sets come with rackets and squishy balls that can be played with either wet or dry, in the pool or in the yard.

Sand stamps – Stamps can be attached to kids’ feet or hands to make pictures in the sand.

Floating pong games – These come in a variety of styles, but offer kids and adults the chance to test their accuracy with throwing ping-pong size balls into cups or through small rings.


Drive-in to Something New

Summer is in full swing, and you might be looking for something new to try. Why not take in a movie at a drive-in? The nostalgic summer-night entertainment venue has faced a tough road — at its peak in the 1950s there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in operation; today there are about 350. But owners have fought hard to keep them going, and they offer more than you’d expect.

Most drive-ins have converted to digital projection, so the quality of the picture is nearly as good as you get at a multiplex theater. The sound is broadcast through FM signals, enabling you to have control over the volume. Many drive-ins offer double-features, allowing you to see two first-run movies for the price of one. And the atmosphere is fun and relaxed.

Keep these tips in mind for your next trip to the drive-in:

  • Search the database at to find a drive-in near you.
  • Before you go, check the theater’s policies, such as whether pets or outside food and drink are allowed.
  • Bring lawn chairs, blankets, pillows, and a portable radio if you want to sit outside your car.
  • Arrive early to get a good spot.
  • When driving in the lot, use your parking lights instead of headlights and drive slowly.
  • Give the concession stand a try. Drive-ins depend on concession sales to stay in business.

Take a Hike and Try Geocaching

If you like the outdoors, geocaching might be the next adventure for you. This free treasure-hunting game is played by more than 6 million people in more than 180 countries. Individuals and organizations create “caches” and then list the cache coordinates on a geocaching website. You search the website for a cache in your area (or use one of a variety of smartphone apps), then use a GPS-enabled device to navigate to the coordinates and attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at the location.

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where you enter the date you found it and sign it with your established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where you found it. Larger containers can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little financial value.

After finding and returning the cache, you can go back onto the website and share your adventure with the person who created the cache and others who’ve found it. It is a fun way to spend time with friends and family, get exercise, have an adventure, and connect with people online. And it’s easy.

Chances are you are within a few miles of a cache right now. Jeremy Irish, the founder of, says it’s about exploration. “We all have this nature to explore. It’s in all of us. [Geocaching] is like finding these adventures in your own backyard.”


Coffee Flour: The Next Superfood?

A new product is set to hit the market in 2015, and it could be the buzz of the baking industry — coffee flour. Made from byproducts of coffee production, this new ingredient can help farmers bring home more profit and give consumers a new option in healthy cooking.

Coffee beans are actually the seeds of a fruit called the coffee cherry. When the seeds are extracted to make coffee, they leave behind edible and nutrient-rich fruit pulp that is usually discarded. A former director at Starbucks saw the amount of waste created in the production process and set out to find a way to use it. He discovered that the leftover fruit could be dried and milled into flour, which could then be used in baking.

The flour, which tastes more like dried fruit than coffee, provides a host of nutritional benefits:

  • Gluten-free
  • 3 times more iron than spinach
  • 3 times more protein than kale
  • 5 times more fiber than whole-grain flour

Producing the flour helps coffee farmers as well. The start-up company developing the process estimates that farmers could take home 30 to 50 percent more profits with just 25 percent more effort.

All that and a little kick of caffeine in your cookie — what’s not to love?


How are real estate agents paid?

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, you’ll probably work with a real estate professional during the transaction. If you’re a seller, the REALTOR® that you work with will offer expert advice about the community and competition, provide marketing and advertising, and handle schedules for all the transactions that must occur. For buyers, the agent will help them identify properties that fit their needs, handle negotiations and also help with the paperwork and scheduling.

For all that they do, agents are paid by commission, rather than on an hourly rate. The commission they receive is based on the sale price and only after the completion of the sale. If they do not sell the home, or if they are unable to locate a home for a buyer, they aren’t paid.

How much is the commission?

The typical commission is about 6 percent of the sale price, and it is usually split between the buyer’s agent and the listing agent. The commission percentage that the seller agrees to pay is negotiable.

Who pays the commission?

The fee for the transaction is subtracted from the proceeds of the sale. It’s important to note that the fee comes out of the cost of the house and is not tacked on in addition to the sale price.