Month: July 2017

Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Citizens and Governments Working Together to Save Caribbean Reefs

By Jeff McCord   Citizens and Governments Working Together to Save Caribbean Reefs   For years we have been “loving to death” a marvelous life form. The good news is that we are learning the errors of our ways in time to make a difference. Coral reefs are constructed by clusters of simple marine animals called cnidaria. Like their jelly fish and anemone cousins, the cnidaria species known as coral have mouths surrounded by small tentacles used to catch and eat tiny prey the size of planktons. To compensate for their lack of  bones, cnidaria live in organized colonies and secrete calcium to build a protective exoskeleton known as coral reefs. Like many creatures, coral requires sunlight found in clear, relatively shallow waters. Corals’ shallow water habitats are shared by many other creatures that have grown to depend upon the nutrients and small prey attracted to reefs. Reef fish have evolved and adapted to this unique environment in part through colorful camouflage hiding them from even larger prey. In the tropics, clear shallow waters and colorful coral and reef fish are attracting increasing numbers of terrestrial animals, aka us. Marveling at their otherworldly beauty, we swim and snorkel among the coral colonies and fish. Few realize, though, that our very acts of appreciation threaten the marine communities’ survival. It should be obvious that we shouldn’t stand or sit on coral reefs. And, we must be mindful that the fins we wear when snorkeling can slice off or knock down delicate coral structures. Sadly, though, we are unknowingly killing the defenseless cnidaria themselves through chemical attacks. Who among us has not seen an oily slick floating on the surface of otherwise pristine water? At least four chemicals commonly used in sunscreens can kill coral, according to numerous environmental and public interest…

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From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Sittin’ Style

Sittin’ Style by Molly Winans One thing you do not hear sailors say is: “I can’t wait to go sailing on Saturday and spend six hours on my rear end.” That they are excited to get some fresh air, yes. Sun and wind on the face, definitely. Some solid sitting time? Sailors tend to skip that part. It might be denial. Unless you are a dinghy racer on a windy day, in which case you work your leg and core muscles with hiking straps and trapezes, you are probably spending most of your sailing hours sitting, and in August, waiting. Even in windy months, phrases such as “butt cleat” and “rail meat,” the widespread usage of padded shorts, and the hefty price for marine cushions are further proof that we sailors spend serious time on our duffs. We don’t advertise how often we sit around, as it is not terribly adventurous; but it is inevitable, especially in a season known for slow sailing. When the Chesapeake Bay’s dog days arrive, some sailors opt for alternate activities, such as a day at the beach, a camping trip, a lawn concert. What may enhance such activities? Cool chairs, of course. One summer, when a bank sign en route to Rehoboth Beach read 97 degrees by 11 a.m., we tested our new Sport-Brella Chair DLX for the first time in the hot sand. What initially appealed to me about the chair was the swiveling umbrella. The sun has been my friend for long enough for us to act like siblings; we have our battles. I am losing, but I have befriended wide-brimmed hats, biminis, and my new 50 SPF Sunbrella sun shade that can be rotated 360 degrees and tilted as the sun and breeze shift. The umbrella is smart, but the bells…

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Featured Post, Master's of Cuisine, Wining & Dining

Chef Jan Farka

By Chester Simpson Chef Jan Farka Santini Garden Jánský vršek 323/13 Prague 1 – Malá Strana 118 00 Czech Republic Tel:+420 603 766 779 This month the profile is a bit different. While traveling to Prague last month I encountered this wonderful place. It was recommended by the staff at our Hotel Neruda. The ambiance is very relaxing and perfect for unwinding after a busy day. A very romantic setting as well. The Santini Garden Restaurant is situated in a quiet yet central location below the Prague Castle. They serve delicious modern Czech cuisine. During the summer days, there is a lovely Santini Garden seating area with beautiful views of the old Prague houses. The history of the building dates to the Middle Ages when it was reconstructed from the church and an adjacent guildhall. Visit the place that J. B. Santini Aichel (1677 – 1723) chose for his final rest. Santini was a brilliant Czech architect of Italian origin who created his own unique architectural style – the Baroque Gothic style. Enjoy moments of pleasure with good food in the heart of Prague, near the U.S. Embassy. When did you first become interested in cooking and what made you choose a culinary career? I started cooking with my grandmother at the age of 7. And since then, I did not let go, and the cooking was a clear choice for me. Who or what has been your biggest inspirations during your career? They were the two biggest gastronomic icons – Heston Blumenthal and Gordon Ramsay. What dish on your menu are you most curious to see how it’s received? Rigatoni with basil pesto and seared chicken breast, decorated with Parmesan cheese. What do you feel sets your cuisine apart from others in your field? The quality of…

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Beauty & Health, Featured Post, First Blush

DYI Summer Beauty!

By Kim Putens During the “dog days of summer”, most of us need a pick me up to our beauty routines.  Forget the spa and save some money by giving yourself an at home facial.  Here are some easy steps on how to get a spa-worthy facial in the privacy of your own home and at a fraction of the cost. Step 1 – Get Your Face Squeaky Clean Use a good facial cleanser to rid your face of make-up and debris from the environment.  Be sure to use the right cleanser for your skin type.  If you are dry or sensitive, avoid cleansers with too many active ingredients, glycolic or alpha hydroxy acids.  If you are oily, be sure to use a cleanser that gets your skin and pores clean without stripping it. Step 2 – Scub a Dub Dub Get rid of dead skin and rid pores of the gunk.  Find a physical exfoliant – one with some grit to get rid of the ick.  Beware of physical scrubs that use nutty ingredients as their scrubbing agent.  These can superficially scar the skin and cause problems during your not so youthful years.  Look for scrubs that use perfectly round spheres to ensure a safe exfoliating experience.  Examples of such are those with ingredients of diathomous earth or jojoba beads. Some tips on using a scrub: 1. If you use on dry skin, you’ll get a deeper exfoliation 2. For a good scrub, but not too deep, use on damp skin after you cleanse. 3. For a mild exfoliation, mix the exfoliant with your cleanser. Step 3 – Put on a Mask Even Though It’s Not Halloween Now that you’ve cleansed and scrubbed away the dead skin, apply a facial mask.  Masks come in many forms and have different…

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Arts & Entertainment, Events

Alexandria Events August 2017

First Thursdays Del Ray 6-9 p.m. Admission: Free; pets welcome   Mt. Vernon Avenue Del Ray   First Thursdays is a series of free outdoor street festivals along Mt. Vernon Avenue in the spring and summer. Every first Thursday of the months of April, May, June, July, August and September the Del Ray Business Association features businesses along Mt. Vernon Avenue, special events, food and music. Each month has a different theme with activities for children, live music and a festive atmosphere.   Friday Night on the Square Fridays at 7:30 p.m. Admission: Free   Market Square 301 King St.   City concert series with Friday night performances throughout the summer. Feel free to bring a picnic and chairs or sit around the fountain or bench seating in front of City Hall.   Family Tours at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Sundays through Labor Day 2:00-5:00 p.m. Admission: $5 adults ($4 with AAA); $3 children ages 5-12; free for kids 4 and under   Gadsby’s Tavern Museum 134 N. Royal St. 703-746-4242   Special family tours led by junior docents grades 4-7 and ending with hands-on activities in the ballroom will be offered at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Thanks to stationed guides, families will be able to start a tour as soon as they arrive and move through the museum at their own pace, and children will be able to connect with the museum through their peer tour guides.   5th   Friendship Firehouse Festival 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Admission: Free   Friendship Firehouse Museum 107 S. Alfred St.   Enjoy the annual Friendship Firehouse Festival in the 100 Block of S. Alfred Street. Visit historic Friendship Firehouse and get a free fire hat! Be sure to see the old hose reel, as well as the suction pumper fire engine, both pulled by hand….

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

The Beach Books of August

The Beach Books of August   Miriam Kramer   In August the DC metropolitan area creaks to a halt as lazy days arrive for workaholic Washingtonians. Many wend their way to the beach or to the mountains. Some take a couple of days for a staycation. So peruse an admittedly incomplete list of beloved “beach books.” While I find it enjoyable to read a trashy new bestseller stained with my suntan-lotioned fingerprints, I also have vacation-ready favorites that vigorously promote armchair travel, great writing, and fun, no matter where you happen to unwind. Put down your smart phones and pick up a hard copy or a Kindle version. I’ll leave you to it!   The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I just finished re-reading this recent romantic comic novel about a socially unskilled science professor who embarks on a Wife Project, in which he endeavors to find a suitable spouse with the help of professor friends and a carefully weighted academic questionnaire. Although there are some typical rom-com elements to the story, it is unusually original, charming, and hilarious. I hope it becomes a classic comedy with great actors who could carry the story. Don’t miss it.           Red Sparrow and Palace of Thieves by Jason Matthews. Matthews, a former CIA station chief, has written two electrifying spy thrillers, revealing current spy tradecraft that will enthrall readers. His books feature a beautiful, ballet-trained Russian intelligence officer named Dominika Egorova, who must navigate the post-Soviet intelligence network in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Forced to become a “Sparrow,” a woman trained to seduce targets and flip them over to Russian intelligence, she struggles to survive among a world of post-Soviet bureaucrats. When she is assigned to seduce Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who is managing his own mole…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

Save Those Seeds!!

By Jimmy Deaton   Save Those Seeds!! You can save vegetable seeds from your garden produce to plant next year. Seed saving involves selecting suitable plants from which to save seed, harvesting seeds at the right time, and storing them properly over the winter. Plant selection Tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas are good choices for seed saving. These plants have flowers that are self-pollinating, and seeds that require little or no special treatment before storage. Seeds from biennial crops such as carrots or beets are harder to save, since the plants need two growing seasons to set seed.   Plants with separate male and female flowers, like corn and vine crops, may cross-pollinate, so it is difficult to keep the seed strain pure. A stand of sweet corn can be pollinated by popcorn from a nearby garden on a windy day. The flavor of the current sweet corn crop will be affected, and a crop grown from these seeds will be neither good sweet corn nor good popcorn.   Cucumbers, melons, squash, pumpkins, and gourds can all be cross-pollinated by insects. Although the quality of the current crop will not be affected, seeds from such a cross will grow into vines with fruit unlike that of the parent plant–often inferior in flavor and other characteristics.   When saving seed, chose open-pollinated varieties rather than hybrids. If open-pollinated varieties self-pollinate or are cross-pollinated by other plants of the same variety, they set seed which grows into plants that are still very similar to the parent plant, bearing similar fruit and setting seeds that will produce more similar plants. Open-pollinated varieties may be “heirlooms,” varieties that have been passed down from one generation of gardeners to the next, or they may be more recent selections.   Hybrid vegetable plants are products of…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

Will He (or She) Come Back to Me?

By Peggie Arvidson Will He (or She) Come Back to Me? If I had a dollar for every single time I’ve been asked “Will my Ex come back to me?” – I would be George and Amal’s (as in Clooney) neighbor on that Italian island, with enough left over to jet set to the Galapagos every time I needed a fix of wild nature! Seriously y’all. Why do you keep bemoaning the situation between you and the ex? Why are you mooning over him and wanting him (or her) to come back to you? There was a perfectly good reason you broke it off and there’s an equally great reason for you to learn the joy of being single and unattached.   Now let me tell you the truth. I’ve been there a few times myself. Mostly I was the breaker-upper – because – attachment and trust issues. Sometimes though, I was left staring into the broken shards of my imaginary perfect life with Mr. not-so-Perfect-but-I-was-going-to-make-him-so. It hurt and it stung to be left and my Ego was really in a tizzy. I hated finding out that the person that I’d covered with my love and kisses was out and about town with one (or three) others, all the while promising me that we’d buy that adorable house on the corner together so we could raise kids and get old and gray together.   I have love in my heart for you when you ask this question, even while I’m internally groaning. I’m groaning because I see myself and so many of my friends when we were in that same position. I’m smiling because we all came out of it as better, more joyful people and empowered people who eventually found bliss on our own terms. Some of us with…

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Featured Post

Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days of Summer By Wanda Lou Willis Early July begins the “dog days of summer” which lasts until early September. Depending on latitude and climate, the actual dates vary greatly from region to region. Nearly everyone has heard this expression and knows that it refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. Some of the popular beliefs or claims connected with this period are that it is an evil time, there’ll be droughts and plagues, wine will turn sour, and humans will suffer from heat hysterics or go mad. The Ancient Greeks believed that the “dog days” weakened men and women became aroused. The phrase took on an ominous meaning by the 19th century. It was believed that dogs would most likely contract rabies during this period. Today it’s a time to be laid back and carefree while sipping iced tea in sleepy contemplation. The term seems a natural expression since dogs pant and lie as flat on the ground as they can to avoid the heat; however, it has nothing to do with dogs. Where does the expression “dog days of summer” come from? What does it really mean? The “dog” in this saying refers to Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky which rises and sets with the Sun. The ancient Egyptians named the star Sirius after their God Osirus, whose head resembled that of a dog. Both ancient Egyptians and Romans believed that the combination of the brightest luminary of the day (the sun) and the brightest star of night (Sirius) was responsible for the extreme heat experienced during the middle of summer. In ancient Egypt, the New Year began with the return of Sirius. When it appeared they knew that the “Nile Days” were at hand. It was a warning to the people…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Helping Lost Pets Find Their Way Home

Helping Lost Pets Find Their Way Home   By Laura Harris   Animal lovers may believe that only irresponsible humans could “lose” a beloved cat or dog. But accidents happen. If you see a lost dog or cat, your actions could make all the difference in helping a pet finds its way safely home.   Think “Lost”, Not “Stray”   Losing a pet is surprisingly common. An ASPCA survey found that 15% of pet lovers reported losing a dog or cat in the past 5 years. Yet many assume that any dog or cat on its own outdoors—particularly without a collar or ID tag—is homeless. Too often, we believe that these animals are feral or abandoned.   One reason why we assume that lost animals are strays is that lost pets may appear shy or fearful. Many dogs are just, well, scaredy cats. Some breeds may be more skittish, and a dog on his own outside who seems anxious or scared may just be timid. And depending on how long the dog has been lost, he may even “look” like a stray and be thinner, with matted or dirty fur.   That’s why the Missing Pet Partnership, a nonprofit organization that helps families track down their lost pets, advises people to “think lost, not stray.” By treating that cat or dog as someone’s lost pet, rather than as abandoned, you may significantly increase the odds of reuniting them with family.   “Someone who believes that a dog was dumped is more likely to self-adopt that dog rather than attempt to find its owner,” reports the Missing Pet Partnership. “In reality, we have many people showing up at our animal shelters every day to report that their dog escaped and is lost.”   Outdoor Cats: Lost, Stray, or Feral?   When…

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