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Mary's Brownies
   
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup butter, melted
4 large eggs
1 ½ cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375. Grease and flour 9 x 9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cocoa, and butter. Add eggs one at a time.

Add flour, vanilla, salt and walnuts. Stir until blended, do not overmix.

Transfer to prepared pan.
Bake 30 minutes.



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Your Brain on Nature  
A growing body of research shows that people who spend time outside in sunny, green and natural spaces tend to be happier, healthier and live longer than those who don't. Evidence for the benefits of nature is pouring in at a time when disconnection from it is pervasive. We love our state parks, but per capita visits have been declining since the dawn of email. American adults spend less time outdoors than they do inside vehicles, less than 5 percent of their day. The average American child now spends half as much time outside as compared to only 20 years ago. HALF. Only 6% of children will play outside on their own in a typical week. Kids are now spending almost 8 hours per day watching television, playing video games, using a computer, tablet, or iPhone. People underestimate the "happiness effect" of being outdoors. We think other things will bring us joy, like shopping or TV. We evolved in nature. Our senses have evolved to interpret information about plants, and rivers, not traffic and asphalt.  
  • Workers who were provided with a view of nature experienced a 20% reduction in sick leave from their employer.
  • In a recent study, some 70% of mothers reported that they played outside every day as children; only 31% of their children do.
  • A large June 2016 study found that nearly 10% of people with high blood pressure could get their hypertension under control if they spent just 30 minutes or more in a park each week.
  • A University of Michigan study found that people improved their short-term memory by 20% after a nature walk but had no changes after walking through city streets.
  • One widely-cited study of people recovering from abdominal surgery found that those with tree-lined views were released faster from the hospital, experienced fewer complications and required less pain medication than people whose rooms faced a brick wall.
  • Forest walks can decrease the stress hormone cortisol by as much as 16%.
  • Those living on blocks with more trees showed a boost in heart and metabolic health equivalent of what one would experience from a $20,000 gain in income.
  • Lower mortality has been connected to living close to green space and trees.
  • Lower incidence of 15 diseases including depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and migraines occur in people who live within about a half mile from green space.
A growing body of research points to the stress relief, and increased creativity of giving employees access to nature. Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon are all way ahead on using the benefits of nature to increase their competitive advantage. Apple Campus 2 in California is planting 7,000 trees to recreate an oak savanna woodland for employees. Facebook's new campus in Menlo Park has a green roof the size of 7 football fields. Google's new GooglePlex has office buildings contained within dome shaped greenhouses . Amazon's new headquarters in Seattle is building high tech greenhouses called Spheres for its employees.

In designing our work spaces, neighborhoods and homes, it's important to factor in parks, greenspaces, trees, nature pathways, gardens and other elements of nature. It's not only nice to look at and beneficial to our fellow creatures but also improves our lives in little ways that really add up.

 
Accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.


Nature gives the part of the brain that is used in effortful concentration a rest.



Plants and trees release compounds that protect them from pests; when humans inhale those compounds, it promotes healthy and measurable biological changes.
   
For more information on why living around nature can be a great thing for health and wellness.
One Huge Crabgrass Party
People may be surprised to learn that crabgrass was intentionally introduced into this country. Crabgrass is a forage crop, a form of millet and in 1849 the U.S. Patent Office imported it to help feed livestock. Crabgrass grew rapidly and produced bumper yields, with a single plant generating as many as 150,000 seeds. Soon the plant's virtues as a prolific food and forage crop became the bane of suburbanites everywhere. Crabgrass is known as a warm-season plant because it flourishes in hot weather. And it is far better adapted than cool season Kentucky bluegrass in the dog days of summer because it is has a more efficient metabolic system.

Crabgrass is an annual, which means it grows, sets seed and dies in one season. Lawn aficionados tear their hair out over crabgrass because it grows under the mower blade. As a result, large mats of ugly purplish brown patches dot the otherwise perfect yard. Resist the temptation to yank out those crabgrass plants as the seeds are already in the soil for next year.

The best way to tackle crabgrass is to raise the mower height to 3 ½ inches. In order to germinate the crabgrass seed must be exposed to sunlight. The shorter the grass the more that is likely to happen. That's why crabgrass often shows up on lawn edges or bare spots where the grass is scalped and weak.

Pre-emergent herbicides can be a pre-emptive strike on public enemy #1, but timing is critical. Too early and the herbicide degrades before seed germination, too late and germination has already begun. Timing generally coincides with the blooming of landscape plants, such as forsythia and lilac in April and May. 


As the leaf blades spread out, they often make angular turns. They can take on the appearance of crab legs, hence the name.


Crabgrass likes sunny, bare spots. The best way to encourage an infestation of crab grass in your lawn is to allow thin or open areas to develop.

For more information on getting rid of crabgrass. 

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    

Faith

Faith Appelquist

President & Founder

 

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