8 Reasons to Fall in Love with a Country Guy

Nowadays women tend to underrate country guys. Most of them are trying to find a wealthy man and they don’t even think of dating a country man. Studies show that country guys make perfect boyfriends and husbands. They are not as brave and rich as most city guys, but they know how to treat a woman, surprise her and they are not self-interested. When you date a country boy, your dates are always interesting, healthy and fun. Check out a few undeniable reasons to fall in love with a country guy.


1. He can make fun happen out of nothing
With a country guy your life will never be boring and miserable. A country guy has a great ability to make fun happen out of nothing. He is funny and positive and knows how to enjoy every minute of life. I’m not telling that you will necessarily approve of or enjoy what he is doing, but you’ll always be entertained.

2. A country boy is a manly man
Country guys are probably the manliest men. Not all of them have huge biceps and not all of them are super brave, but they look and behave manly. They don’t afraid to get dirty, do a hard work, spend the whole day working in the field, and they really enjoy the outdoors! They can easily fix something without surfing the Internet. Ask any city guy to fix a dripping tap and he will spend the whole day looking for all possible tips online or calling his friends, and end up calling up a plumber. A country boy is Jack of all trades!

3. He will treat you like a princess
Country guys believe that every woman should be treated with love and respect, no matter her temper. When you date a country guy, he treats you very delicately and tries to cater to all your needs. While most women love bad guys, if you are tired of them, why not fall in love with a country man?

4. He can get ready quicker
Getting ready is not a big problem for a country guy. When going out he just needs to shower, put on a plaid shirt and ball cap and he is ready to go. There’s no waiting around for him to trim his beard or style his hair perfectly. Most country guys are old-fashioned: they can’t allow women to wait for them, instead they are ready to wait for you for two hours and they won’t tell you a word, except, “You are so beautiful!”

5. He can have a big house
It’s not a secret that money goes further in rural areas than in urban areas. A country guy can buy or build a big house for the same money that it’d cost to rent not so big apartment in the city. It’s so wonderful to wake up to the nice sound of birds and see a picturesque view of a river rather than to wake up to the terrible sound of traffic and the view of that concrete. Do you agree?

6. He can fix everything
As I mentioned above, a country man is Jack of all trades. I don’t know how they do this, but they can really fix everything! Most girls lack this skill and if you date a country boy, he can fill that void easily. He can fix your fridge, change your tires, and do anything you need. Most country guys are obsessed with work. They may not have a diploma, but it doesn’t mean that they are not smart.

7. There is more opportunity to relax
Most people who live in a rural environment know how to relax. With the hustle and bustle of the big city, it’s hard to find a healthy way to relax after a hard day. Most city guys tend to drink alcohol and smoke in order to relax, while country guys enjoy the surroundings and moonlit walks with their girlfriends.

8. Dates are more unique and romantic
Dating a country guy is beautifully romantic since all of the dates are unique and they can give you a better look at his personality. Boating, 4-wheeling, swimming, camping are only a few of many activities you and your country guy can engage in. Isn’t it a good reason to fall in love with a country guy?

Dating a country boy has many advantages. He is more creative and he will always treat you with love and respect. Sure, country guys are not perfect, but I think they are much better than city guys. Have you ever dated a country boy? Do you have any other reasons to fall in love with country guys? Share them with us!

7 Surprising Health Benefits of Dandelion

Many people think dandelion is only a humble garden weed, because they don’t know about these important health benefits of dandelion. Its leaves and flowers have healing and nutritional properties. Dandelion is found all over the world, so everybody can enjoy the beauty and health benefits of dandelion leaves. Dandelion is often used in salads and has more protein per serving than spinach. Its leaves are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese and vitamins A, C, E, K, B1, B2, and B6. Its root contains calcium, iron, potassium, sulphur, silicon, magnesium, chlorophyll and phosphorus. Read on to learn some of the most wonderful health benefits of dandelion.

1. Helps to treat skin conditions
Skin diseases caused by fungal or microbial infections can be treated with dandelion sap (dandelion milk). The sap has germicidal, insecticidal, and fungicidal properties and it’s also highly alkaline. All these make dandelion a good treat for ringworm, eczema and other itchy complaints.

2. Good for diabetes
Another great health benefit of dandelion is that it stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. Since dandelion is a natural diuretic it causes more frequent urination, which helps remove excess sugar from the body and lower sugar build up in the kidneys, preventing renal disease that most diabetics are susceptible to.

3. Helps to fight cancer
The world’s ancient traditional medicine systems, including the Native American, Arabian and Chinese, have long known about the health benefits of dandelion. One of the most important benefits is that dandelion has anti-cancer effects; it helps to fight breast and prostate cancers. Studies show that its root has a great impact on cancer cells (melanoma) that are resistant to chemotherapy, without harming the healthy cells.

4. Good for your bone health
Dandelion is rich in calcium, which is essential for the growth and strength of bones. It also has a high concentration of antioxidants such as Vitamin C and Luteolin, which protect bones from toxic free radicals that can cause general bone weakening, loss of density and premature aging.

5. Improves the function of the liver
Dandelion improves the function of the liver by stimulating the liver naturally and promoting digestion. The chemicals in dandelion eliminate toxins from the body and help to rebalance electrolytes and reestablish hydration. You don’t need to eat dandelion flowers or leaves, though. You can add some leaves to your green smoothie or vegetable salad. This way, you won’t notice its taste, but will reap all its benefits.

6. Improves your overall digestive health
Dandelion is a mild appetite stimulant, so if you are trying to lose weight, perhaps, it’s better to avoid it. But if you want to improve your digestive health, dandelion is something you need! The inulin and mucilage in the plant have soothing effects on the digestive tract and powerful antioxidants help with the absorption of the toxins from food and encourage the growth of friendly gut bacteria, and inhibit and discourage unfriendly gut bacteria and flora.

7. Promotes good urinary health
Due to its diuretic properties, dandelion promotes good urinary health. Yes, that’s true! The detoxification cleanses your kidneys as well as urinary tract, while microbiological growths in the entire urinary system are inhibited by the disinfectant properties of dandelion.

If you’re going to take advantage of these amazing properties, be sure to make a small research and learn how to use it. There are many different dandelion products available in drug stores and health food stores, but it’s better to harvest your own. Ask your doctor if you can incorporate dandelion into your diet to make sure you can eat it. Do you use dandelion in your diet? Do you know any other important health benefits of this fantastic plant? Please comment below and thanks for reading!

The Fake Watermelon Slice Salad Recipe

Many of us are sick and tired of all those boring salads like strawberry spinach salad and crave something more creative that no one has tried and made yet. Experimenting in the kitchen always leads to successful results. Today, I am going to share a super creative salad recipe that you will certainly love.

The watermelon salad that does not contain watermelon will wow your family, friends and guests. The ingredient list is rather affordable and simple.

Fake Watermelon Slice Salad Recipe
Ingredients:

1-2 onions, chopped
2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked, diced
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch green onions
1 bunch dill
1 pound mushrooms, diced
2-3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2-3 cucumbers, grated
4 tbsp cheese, grated
2-3 pitted black olives
butter
Directions:

Heat butter (or olive oil) in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms, and cook stirring until golden brown and soft.

Now that you have all the ingredients ready, start layering your salad. Begin with a good layer of cooked and diced chicken breasts on the bottom, followed by a layer of mayo, them mushrooms with onions, followed by a layer of mayo, then eggs, and again a layer of mayo. Make sure you create a watermelon slice.

Use chopped tomatoes, grated cheese, cucumbers and dill to decorate your salad. Slice the olives to create watermelon seeds. Voila! A quick, easy and creative salad that only dieters may hate.

DHS to Require Interviews for Over 100,000 Visa Holders

© A segment of a U.S. visa. Image: A segment of a US visa.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Homeland Security will begin requiring holders of employment-based visas to be interviewed in order to update their status, according to officials at the agency and a spokesman, a move critics say could jam the already backlogged visa application system.

An internal agency memo seen by NBC News estimated that more than 130,000 applicants annually would now be required to be interviewed before changing their status from one visa category, such as technical worker, to another category, such as agriculture worker. Carter Langston, a spokesman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, confirmed the memo.

The plan is a realization of Trump’s March executive order that called for heightened scrutiny of visa applicants, Langston said.

“This is the first stage of a multi-year expansion of interviews,” Langston said.

Related: Trump Backs Slashing Legal Immigration With ‘Merit-Based’ System

A DHS official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the new policy may be expanded to include other populations, such as students and green card holders, that do not currently require interviews to change status. The increase could expand the number of interviews conducted to more than one million a year, the official said.

Greg Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that kind of expansion would be “disastrous for the economy and the country.”

Related: Trump Signs New Immigration Executive Order

“The agency simply doesn’t have the infrastructure or personnel to interview one million people each year, and overnight American businesses and families would experience enormous delays for every kind of immigration visa or green cards,” Chen said.

Langston said the newly required interviews would be phased in over many months, giving the agency time to increase its staff.

Trump team nears decision on national monuments

 

As Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke approaches the 24 August deadline for his recommendations to President Donald Trump on whether to alter dozens of national monuments, conservation proponents say it remains all but impossible to predict which sites the administration could target for reductions or even wholesale elimination.

In recent months, Zinke has traveled from coast to coast as he conducted the review, which included 27 national monuments created since 1996, the majority of which are larger than 100,000 acres.

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But even as he visited states from Maine to Oregon and Utah to New Mexico, Zinke managed to touch down in only eight of those monuments over the 3.5-month review.

In the weeks before his final report recommending changes is due to the White House, Zinke has begun to roll out reprieves to some of the sites under review: As of late Wednesday, he had named six sites that will see no boundary adjustments or management changes.

But conservation advocates have largely panned those early decisions, arguing that the review process has proved opaque even as Zinke’s office asserts that the secretary has provided details about his schedule and meetings.

“The review process that the Trump administration has been undertaking has been fairly arbitrary, so it is honestly a guessing game as to which monuments are most at risk and how the review is being conducted and whose voices are being heard to drive Secretary Zinke’s decision,” the Wilderness Society’s vice president for conservation, Melyssa Watson, said in a news conference yesterday.

The six sites removed from review are Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho, Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington state, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona and Sand to Snow National Monument in California.

Notably, although Zinke has previously visited the Montana monument — he served as the Treasure State’s at-large House lawmaker before his appointment to the Trump Cabinet — he did not make official visits to any of the sites he has removed from the review to date.

An Interior spokesman could not confirm whether Zinke plans to excuse any other monuments before the final report is issued. Zinke was on vacation this week to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary; he appeared to be in the Mediterranean (Greenwire, Aug. 17). But Zinke acknowledged earlier this year that not every monument included in the report will receive the same level of scrutiny.

“I think we’re focusing on just a few,” Zinke told the natural resources committee of the House of Representatives, and he later told reporters: “We’re not taking a deep dive in all of them” (E&E News PM, June 22).

In the meantime, while conservationists continue to urge the Trump administration to refrain from trying to make changes to any of the nation’s monuments, some Western state GOP lawmakers have lobbied Zinke and Trump to rescind or sharply reduce the acreage of many of the remaining 21 monuments.

Zinke indicated in an interim report that he plans to call for significantly slashing the 1.35 million acres now included in Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah (E&E News PM, June 12).

Below is a summary of the 20 national monuments that remain under review:

Basin and Range National Monument, Nevada

The nearly 704,000-acre site created by President Obama in 2015 is among the handful Zinke visited personally in recent months.

In a letter to Zinke earlier this year, 15 members of the Congressional Western Caucus derided the monument as a “personal favor” to former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada ahead of his retirement from Congress.

Among their complaints, the lawmakers noted that the site surrounds artist Michael Heizer’s large installation “City,” which sits on private land.

During his visit to Basin and Range last month, Zinke met with officials from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which agreed to a conservation easement last year to grant the Bureau of Land Management rights to 1,300 acres of private land around the installation within the monument.

The Western Caucus letter urged Zinke to reduce the site to just 2,500 acres, or less than 1 percent of its current size.

Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, California

Both state and congressional lawmakers pushed for designation of this Northern California site before Obama agreed to set aside nearly 331,000 acres in 2015.

The area sits at the meeting point of two tectonic plates — giving it scientific importance — but it is considered a recreation hot spot for the populations of nearby San Francisco and Sacramento.

“Only a few places on the planet illustrate the scientific process as clearly as does the Berryessa region,” University of California, Davis, geologist Eldridge Moores told California state lawmakers at a hearing in 2015, California public radio station KQED reported at the time.

Although state lawmakers approved a resolution urging the creation of the monument, Western congressional lawmakers called for its “total rescission.”

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a former Democratic House lawmaker, has threatened to file suit against the Trump administration if it tries to alter the Berryessa site or any other of the state’s national monuments (Greenwire, June 9).

Carrizo Plain National Monument, California

In his final three days in the White House, President Clinton named seven new national monuments, including this 204,000-acre site in San Luis Obispo County.

Both proponents and opponents of the monument’s current boundaries have highlighted its potential for oil and gas production.

In their June letter, Western lawmakers noted that the monument counted 15 active oil wells in 2010 and that “giant fields with billions of barrels of reserves surround the monument.”

Greenpeace has similarly highlighted the area’s energy stores, noting that it is among the six national monuments with the largest potential energy development if its boundaries are reduced or eliminated (Greenwire, May 10).

Becerra also noted development in the area surrounding the monument, writing in June that the site “offers refuge to many animals and plants that are threatened, endangered or rare.”

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon and California

When Clinton set aside the then-53,000-acre site in 2000, it marked the first time a monument had been created with the sole intention of protecting biodiversity.

In his final weeks in office, Obama expanded the monument to its current 100,000 acres, asserting that the additional land would “increase habitat connectively, watershed protection and landscape-scale resilience for the area’s unique biological values” (Greenwire, Jan. 12).

But Oregon’s congressional delegation has split over the monument along party lines, with Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden advocating for the site and GOP Rep. Greg Walden vowing to help roll back the “midnight expansion.” Republicans have argued that the land should be open to timber harvesting.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) urged Zinke to retain the monument during his visit to the state last month but said he gave no indication about his plans (Greenwire, July 17).

Giant Sequoia National Monument, California

Opponents of the nearly 328,000-acre monument created by Clinton in early 2000 likewise say it should be open to timber harvesting, arguing that it is otherwise a safety hazard.

“This is a health and safety issue for us,” Tulare County Deputy Administrator Eric Coyne told the San Francisco Chronicle in June. “We need the flexibility to do responsible tree mitigation” (Greenwire, June 28).

But the monument was designated to protect the 33 groves of the largest trees on earth, allowing for removal of the trees only when there is a “clear need” for maintenance or public safety.

Environmentalists successfully challenged early management plans for the site that included predictions for the volume of timber that would be regularly removed from the monument (Greenwire, Sept. 5, 2012).

Gold Butte National Monument, Nevada

The 297,000-acre Gold Butte National Monument is home to rock art and cultural sites — and hundreds of illegally grazing cattle that belong to jailed Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, whose own 160-acre ranch is nearby.

While Zinke held a news conference in Bunkerville, Nev., during his visit to the area, he declined to discuss the animals that prompted a standoff between ranchers and federal officials in 2014. Bundy is expected to face trial in the case as soon as next month.

In its creation of the monument late last year, the Obama administration pointed to concern over vandalism in the area, much of which had previously been designated as areas of critical environmental concern for the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep.

While Nevada Republicans have called for a significant reduction to the monument’s size, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto have urged Zinke to retain the site.

“Apparently, the 2.7 million public comments submitted in favor of keeping these monuments were not enough to help Mr. Zinke make up his mind,” Cortez Masto said in a video released last month.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

The southwestern Utah monument marked its 20th anniversary last year, but debate over the site remains as heated as it was when Clinton announced the 1.9-million-acre monument in 1996.

Republicans have long criticized the monument status for blocking access to massive coal deposits in the area’s Kaiparowits Plateau and crippling potential economic growth for the region.

But environmentalists who have backed the monument — which Clinton had hoped would rally green voters to his bid for a second term as he preserved cliffs, slot canyons and sandstone arches — point out that the plateau has proved to be a paleontological jackpot since the monument’s establishment, producing tens of thousands of fossils.

Zinke acknowledged during a May visit to the area that he would like to balance those interests.

“I have some in my truck,” he said of the site’s coal at the time. “It’s there, and the creation of a monument was to protect and not to prevent” (Greenwire, May 11).

Utah’s all-GOP congressional delegation has rallied against the monument, and Western GOP lawmakers urged Zinke to rescind the site’s status in their June letter.

The Trump administration is expected to face legal challenges if it attempts to reduce or roll back any of the monuments under review, but Grand Staircase-Escalante is more complicated than most of the sites being assessed. That’s because Congress itself has twice adjusted the monument’s boundaries to exclude small towns and exchange state lands with Utah, as well as paid the state $50 million in the process (Greenwire, May 2).

Ironwood Forest National Monument, Arizona

In his proclamation designating this 129,000-acre site in mid-2000, Clinton said the Ironwood Forest presents a “quintessential view of the Sonoran Desert” and pointed to vegetation including its “ironwood, palo verde and saguaro.”

The monument, located southwest of Tucson, is also home to species including hawks, owls, desert bighorn sheep and tortoises.

While the Congressional Western Caucus has called for the site’s elimination — arguing that it has blocked access to state trust lands and hindered grazing in the area — the Friends of Ironwood Forest has disputed its criticisms.

“Monument designation had no impact on management of State Trust Land which, by law, is open only to holders of valid use permits,” Friends of Ironwood Forest board member William Thornton wrote in the Arizona Daily Star last month. He noted that ranchers can still graze their animals on state lands, while hunters and anglers can likewise access the land with licenses.

Unlike typical state parks, state trust lands are used by Western states to generate funds for education and public services and are not broadly available for public access.

“The monument has not resulted in one dime of lost revenue to K-12 education,” Thornton added.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is leading the charge to dismantle the state’s sole national monument, arguing that the public has seen a reduction in access to the nearly 88,000-acre site, largely made up of former working timberland.

Obama created the monument last year after Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby purchased the land, then donated it to the federal government via her family’s nonprofit foundation, Elliotsville Plantation Inc.

In opposition to LePage is Elliotsville Plantation President Lucas St. Clair, who is also Quimby’s son.

St. Clair has argued that the monument has increased access to the previously private lands. He has also touted the fact that the nonprofit has endowed a $40 million fund for upkeep of the monument.

Zinke traveled to Maine in June and at the time indicated he was leaning away from reducing the size of the monument.

“Scaling back I don’t think makes a lot of sense for here,” he told the Portland Press Herald during his visit. Still, Zinke would not commit to maintaining the site as a monument, suggesting he could seek to have Congress change the site’s status to a national park or other public land designation.

Marianas Trench, Rose Atoll and Pacific Remote Islands marine national monuments, Pacific Ocean

President George W. Bush created three marine monuments during his final days in office in early 2009, setting aside nearly 196,000 square miles of oceanic reserves intended to address overfishing and pollution and to help the ocean adapt to climate change.

At the time of their designation, the largest of the sites was the 95,000-square-mile Marianas Trench monument near the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, an area that has been compared to an underwater Yellowstone and Grand Canyon for its unique geology of hydrothermal vents, mud volcanoes and pools of boiling sulfur.

The Rose Atoll near American Samoa covers more than 13,000 square miles, including coral reefs and a lagoon that serves as a home to sea turtles, birds and giant clams.

Bush also set aside nearly 87,000 square miles for the Pacific Remote Islands monument, which likewise claims a wealth of biodiversity that includes sea turtles, manta rays, sharks and whales as well as birds like the masked boobies and red-footed boobies among its islands, reefs and atolls.

Obama then enlarged the Pacific Remote Islands site to nearly six times its original size in late 2014, to its current 490,000 square miles (Greenwire, Sept. 25, 2014).

Commercial fishing, deep-sea mining and other extraction activities are banned within the sites.

The five marine monuments included in the Interior review are also part of a Commerce Department study examining whether 11 marine national monuments and national marine sanctuaries should be opened to oil and gas development (Greenwire, Aug. 16).

That study was prompted by Trump’s executive order mandating a review of offshore energy policies.

Mojave Trails National Monument, California

This 1.6-million-acre site in Southern California is the largest of a trio of monuments Obama set aside in the Mojave Desert in early 2016.

Earlier this week, Zinke excused the 154,000-acre Sand to Snow National Monument from his review. Castle Mountains National Monument, at just 21,000 acres, was not large enough to qualify for automatic inclusion in the Interior review.

But the Mojave Desert site, with its lava flowers and sand dunes, is also involved in a debate over whether Cadiz Inc. will be able to build a proposed 43-mile-long pipeline to pump water from an aquifer under land its owns to 100,000 households in Southern California.

The Trump administration has placed it on a list of infrastructure priority projects, which raised questions for now-Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt, who briefly led the Trump transition team. Before his confirmation to the Trump administration, Bernhardt was chairman of the natural resources department at the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. The firm’s lobbying arm worked to advance the Cadiz project (Greenwire, April 6).

“Diverse communities across the desert fought for over a decade to designate all three of our California desert national monuments,” Mojave Desert Land Trust Executive Director Danielle Segura told the Highland Community News in California on Wednesday. “We encourage Secretary Zinke to recognize the public’s will and the unique ecological and historical significance of places like Mojave Trails National Monument in his forthcoming recommendations.”

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, Atlantic Ocean

Obama created the first Atlantic marine monument in 2016 when he designated nearly 5,000 square miles for preservation off the coast of Massachusetts.

But the decision — which barred oil and gas exploration in the area and restricted commercial fishing — drew a lawsuit from Northeastern fishermen, including the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, Rhode Island Fishermen’s Alliance and Garden State Seafood Association.

The case is pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, but a judge stayed action in the case in May to await the outcome of the Trump administration’s reviews (E&E News PM, May 12).

During his visit to the East Coast in June, Zinke stopped in Boston to meet with both fishermen’s groups and scientists about the monument.

The Boston Globe reported that Zinke appeared sympathetic while meeting with about 20 representatives of New England’s seafood industry.

“When your area of access continues to be reduced and reduced … it just makes us noncompetitive,” Zinke said at the time. “The president’s priority is jobs, and we need to make it clear that we have a long-term approach to make sure that fishing fleets are healthy.”

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico

New Mexico’s congressional delegation has split over the future of the 496,000-acre boundary of the site — with its Democratic senators pushing Zinke to retain the site, while New Mexico GOP Rep. Steve Pearce has argued for it to be cut to just 60,000 acres.

Obama created the monument in 2014, designating four separate areas in close proximity to Las Cruces, N.M.: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains and Doña Ana Mountains.

Obama’s proclamation notes that in addition to the geologic and biological resources of the region, the monument encompasses “hundreds of artifacts, rock art, dwellings, and other evidence of the Native peoples.”

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Hawaii

This site near Hawaii is the world’s largest marine protected area at nearly 600,000 square miles.

Bush first designated the site — originally named the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument — in 2006, then renamed it to Papahānaumokuākea in early 2007 in honor of Hawaiian gods Papahānaumoku and Wākea, whose mythology includes the creation of the Hawaiian archipelago and its people.

In 2016, Obama opted to quadruple the site’s size to protect the 7,000 species that live in the monument’s boundaries, as well as to extend prohibitions on commercial fishing and extractive activities (E&E Daily, Aug. 26, 2016).

The Trump administration could opt to try to roll back those prohibitions as well as the monument’s size.

Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, New Mexico

Although Zinke visited the Land of Enchantment last month, he didn’t include a trip to northern New Mexico to see this 243,000-acre monument Obama established in 2013.

The monument itself stretches from the Colorado border south to Pilar, N.M., following the Rio Grande through a deep gorge. In his proclamation designating the monument, Obama described the area as “an extraordinary landscape of extreme beauty and daunting harshness.”

The proclamation barred mineral and geothermal leasing in the area.

While Pearce has called for the site to be reduced by an unspecified amount, both the state’s Democratic senators have lobbied for its retention.

But in an exchange at a Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in June, Zinke would not indicate his position on either of the state’s monuments.

“In the case of New Mexico, I do not want to rip a Band-Aid off a monument that’s settled. … If it’s settled and people are happy with it, I find no reason to recommend any changes,” he said at the time (Greenwire, June 21).

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, California

The more-than-356,000-acre site is located between Los Angeles and San Bernardino, making it a popular area of respite for more than 15 million people who live within a 90-minute drive of the monument.

Although congressional Democrats in the region had pushed for a much larger 600,000-acre recreation area, Obama’s final proclamation in 2014 offered a smaller site, which is managed by the Forest Service.

The Congressional Western Caucus has raised complaints that the site includes nonwilderness Forest Service land, as well as a small mining operation, and has called for unspecified cuts to the site.

But environmentalists have urged for the monument to remain untouched, noting that it is among the most likely monuments to be opened to oil and gas production if its protections are eliminated.

Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona

The southern Arizona site is another of the seven monuments Clinton created in his final days in office, covering more than 486,000 acres near the Mexico border.

The site has long drawn the ire of conservatives, including a failed legal challenge by the Mountain States Legal Foundation. It argued that Clinton had exceeded his authority to create the Sonoran Desert monument as well as others like the Cascade-Siskiyou and Ironwood Forest (Greenwire, Oct. 21, 2002).

It has also been the focus of lawsuits over grazing rights in the area, after Clinton’s proclamation disallowed the practice in portions of the monument, as well as a long-running fight over recreational target shooting (E&E News PM, Dec. 16, 2016).

In addition, the Congressional Western Caucus has complained that the monument creates a hindrance to Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection agents, who must comply with environmental regulations on federal lands operated by the Interior and Agriculture departments.

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona

The nearly 280,000-acre site is located in northern Arizona near the Utah border, a remote area that BLM describes as a “geologic treasure.”

“Despite its arid climate and rugged isolation, the monument contains a wide variety of biological objects and has a long and rich human history,” Clinton wrote in his 2000 proclamation. “Full of natural splendor and a sense of solitude, this area remains remote and unspoiled, qualities that are essential to the protection of the scientific and historic objects it contains.”

Among the most popular locations in Vermilion Cliffs is the “Wave,” a sandstone formation located in the Coyote Buttes North. But visitation to the site is limited to 20 people per day, who must apply for permits in a lottery system.

Your kitchen sponge could have more bacteria than a toilet seat

It’s probably best to replace sponges like this weekly, especially if you live with children, sick people or old folks.

Pixabay

They are often damp, continuously introduced to new microbial cells, and are one of the biggest reservoirs of active bacteria in your whole house. And they aren’t even located in your bathroom.

We are talking about kitchen sponges.
The very thing that you use to “clean up” after a meal or snack contains the second highest load of coliform bacteria in the whole house, after your drain traps. A new study by researchers at several institutions in Germany investigates the role of kitchen sponges and their capability to collect and spread bacteria, even pathogens.

Study author Markus Egert of Furtwangen University says the group collected sponges donated from private households in the Villingen-Schwenningen region of Germany and analyzed the DNA and RNA of the microbes that made their homes in those common cleaning tools.

“We detected 362 different bacterial species in the 14 investigated sponges,” he told Popular Science in an e-mail. “Locally, the density of bacteria reached 54 billion per square centimeter of sponge tissue, which is similar to the microbial density of stool samples.”

Basically, he says, one square centimeter of sponge tissue contains seven or eight times more bacteria than the number of human beings living on earth. Two square centimeters of sponge tissue contain as many bacteria as the number of human beings that ever have lived on earth so far.

“Three trillion human beings put into Grand Canyon would create a similar concentration of ‘biomass’ as bacteria in a used kitchen sponge,” Egert says.

The study shows that five of the ten most abundant species detected are categorized as potential pathogens, meaning they could cause infections in humans, particularly in those with a weak immune system like old people, sick people, and children.

And to make things worse, cleaning your sponge might not be making anything better. The study reports that two of the ten dominant bacterias, which are closely related to potentially pathogenic species Chryseobacterium hominis and Moraxella osloensis, showed greater proportions in regularly sanitized sponges.

“We assume that typical sponge cleaning techniques do not kill all bacteria inside,” says Egert. “The remaining species, which are, for unknown reasons, more resistant to the cleaning methods than the ones that get killed, proliferate again and grow up to higher shares than before. It might be similar to the use of antibiotics, where some bacteria can survive due to resistance against the drug.”

One these abundant and cleaning-resistant species, Moraxella osloensis, is known to cause stinky laundry, which may be why sponges smell so gross after a while, Egert says. The study also shows that since these bacteria tend to multiply upon sanitizing, the more times the sponge is cleaned the more pungent it becomes.

Next steps for the researchers include investigating the actual pathogenicity of the kitchen sponge microbiome and looking into different sponge-cleaning techniques and their effects. For now, the moral of the story is replace your sponges regularly to avoid getting sick.

Egert recommends replacing your “dirty old friend” weekly, especially if you live or work in a hygiene-sensitive area, like a hospital or cafeteria, or if you have sick or older people in your home.

If you are having trouble parting ways with a yucky old sponge, he says that cleaned sponges could be used in a place that is less hygiene-sensitive, like a garden.

“Don’t be afraid of your sponge, but be aware that it contains billions of potentially pathogenic germs,” Egert says.

Compulsive Gambling and Anxiety

Gambling problems are related to other underlying issues such as anxiety, stress, and difficulties with impulse control or substance abuse. Easy-to-apply strategies can end the impulse to gamble, as well as avoid slips and relapses.
Gambling and anxiety

Many people gamble as a way of managing anxiety. As they gamble, people often report being separated from their anxious feelings or projecting their feelings of anxiety onto the excitement they feel when they partake in their gambling activity of choice. As a result, gambling can work its way into the fabric of their everyday life, and the impulse to gamble can overwhelm the rest of their lives.

Thus, for many gamblers, reducing anxiety is a prerequisite to making any changes in gambling behavior. Fortunately, there are several techniques that can make a tremendous difference in alleviating anxiety.

Learn to relax

Real relaxation is a physiological and psychological response that is the opposite of anxiety and panic. It’s accompanied by a slowing of the heart rate and lowering of blood pressure, deeper breathing, and a calm, even state of mind. When experienced on a regular basis, its effects are cumulative. One of the most powerful ways that people can counteract anxiety is by learning to relax. It isn’t possible to be relaxed and anxious at the same time. This means more than simply plopping down in front of a television or surfing the Internet, although on the surface, those activities can seem like they’re relaxing.

If the level of anxiety is so high that it makes people physically and psychologically uncomfortable, taking active steps to relax can offer them relief. Relaxation exercises, such as those outlined below, teach people to identify worry triggers, defuse them, and break the cycle of anxiety. It’s best for people to commit to daily practice, even if the exercises don’t appear to help at first, because the more people do these exercises, the more positive effect they will have.

Being able to relax is a skill, and like any other skill someone wants to develop, it gets better with practice. The more people practice, the more they will become aware of the ebb and flow of anxiety. That way, as soon as they feel its presence, they can target it. There are dozens of “mind and body” approaches like yoga, tai chi, and meditation. These practices blend deep breathing and relaxation strategies with body awareness techniques that help people recognize when they are becoming too tense. Many of these are ongoing practices people can try at a health club, a studio, or even at home.

Before people can learn to relax, it is helpful for them to get a handle on what is making them anxious in the first place. Greater awareness can help people anticipate these feelings, which in turn allows them to recognize the need to employ a relaxation strategy. It also helps to understand which relaxation strategies are the most effective. That’s why it may be helpful to keep a journal for at least one week. Individuals can use it to write down what makes them anxious and how they respond to that anxiety. After a week of making journal entries, people can usually identify anxiety triggers and patterns of response.

Then it’s time to identify other ways of responding that might alleviate rather than fuel anxiety. Here are three excellent relaxation exercises to get started.

Practice progressive muscle relaxation

The purpose of this exercise is for someone to learn body awareness and the difference between tense muscles and relaxed muscles. By slowly tensing and relaxing each muscle group in the body, people can teach themselves the difference between a relaxed muscle and a tense one. Once people learn this skill, they will have better body awareness in situations that make them tense. Over time, and with continued practice, they will learn to cope with tension by training their muscles to relax while calming the mind. After all, it is not possible to be tense and relaxed at the same time.

Someone can get started by setting aside 15 uninterrupted minutes in a quiet, distraction-free location. It may help to dim the lights, or to sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

The idea is to hold and squeeze each area of the body for 15 seconds (about 10 slow counts), feeling the tension build up. Then release the tension and completely relax, allowing the tension to flow out of that area and away from the body. For every muscle group, the person doing this exercise should take a moment to notice how different it feels when it’s tensed compared to when it’s relaxed. Repeat the exercise at least once, and as many as three times, before moving on to the next area of the body.

How to End the 2016 Year on a Festive Note

2016 has gone down in the annals of history as one of the craziest and terrifying years to date. A lot of people have been lost through horrible events. The world is in upheaval over politics and wars.

Most people have been praying for 2016 to come to a swift close, but I think the best thing to do during the final days of 2016 is to make the best of it. Check out how you can end the 2016 year on a festive note.

Ditch work during the holidays

The most important thing is spending time with family and friends during the holidays. 2016 is the year that should have proven to millions of people worldwide just how tenuous our person-to-person connections are…and how important it is to keep them.

Cherish every moment you have with everyone you are in contact with presently. Rekindle some relationships that might have died during the course of elections around the world or just simply faded because everyone is so busy trying to survive.

Good-natured reunions are incredible experiences. The best of friends and family are those who, even after not meeting for years, give you a hug, hold intriguing conversations, and genuinely appreciate your company. In that light, 2016 will go out with fireworks and cheer.

Invest in practicing the act of giving

Second to meeting with people, invest in practicing the act of giving. I’m talking truly picking gifts for the individual that you need to think about. That means put down those iTunes gift cards and actually select the music.

DIY some ornaments with your favorite quotes straight from that person’s mouth. Make edibles. You will notice that giving people something they can appreciate – as in valuing with all their senses your effort and significance – is so much better for you both than just going the easy route.

Money

I mentioned DIYing to ready you for a financial conversation. I am leery when it comes to the stock market in 2017. So I think the end of 2016 needs to be a time when your financial stability is addressed.

Get a low or 0% APR credit card. Refinance your house. Open a new savings account with zero maintenance fees. Take advantage of some amazing cash back deals. Make sure you plan for the future now.

Honestly, the future is so nebulous in terms of money that you can only count on what you have this instant. Wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry?

Also, the global economy is shifting away from the single, bread-winning career to remote work and side gigs. I recommend either plotting out your side gig during the end of 2016 or jumping right in. Around the holidays, you know you will have your work cut out for you. Why not take advantage of your talents and make some extra spending money?

Get healthy

2016 also exhumed the dangers of unhealthy diets, the truth about processed food, and how exercise is really the key to longevity and wellness. Use the end of 2016 to develop healthy habits, because no time is harder to stick to them than the holidays.

Form some unique but realistic goals that you know you can aim for, like not drinking all the eggnog or opting for a healthier breakfast on Christmas instead of the cookies Santa couldn’t eat the night before.

Better yet, use your vacation to go to some health and wellness workshops. Tag along with friends who have gym memberships (unless you have one too) and do some group exercise classes.

Blowing off the holiday-related stress will put you in a better mindset for 2017. You also get a hard start on everyone else who will, without a doubt, run to the gym after January 1st.

Make a new tradition

Whether you are single, have children, or are spending the holidays with extended family, do something new this year. Sometimes breaking away from routine can be chaotic and instill a lot of discontent in people, but it is also healthy to pull away from the normal way of doing things once in a while. Figure out ways to switch up the holidays. Examples include:

Changing the holiday menu to something more healthy (ever consider ditching turkey and trying seafood?)
Introduce new holiday games, like wrapping paper volleyball or nog-pong Go on vacation rather than staying home.
Invite more people into your home than usual, and ask them to do a Pollyanna.
Instead of buying gifts, buy materials to make ingredients, and let the kids help too.
Make new ornaments for your Christmas tree, and get everyone involved on Christmas Eve.
Start taking family photos.
Mail a family newsletter to those distant relatives and keep doing it every year.
2016 is not over yet, and no one can say what tomorrow will bring. However, if we spend our precious time with those who bring joy into lives, or if we give ourselves some self-care, this hectic year can end on a more positive and festive note. Not only will December 31st be dazzling, but you can wake up on January 1st with a smile.

Happy Holidays!

6 Benefits of Saying ‘I Am Okay’ Even When You Are Not

“I am fine.” “I am all right.” “I am okay.” We hear and use these phrases every single day when communicating with other people. So ubiquitous are these lines that some psychologists even call them a “conditioned response” to specific questions. People might even be telling you to stop saying, “I am okay,” so often, but there are some surprising benefits of self-affirmation.

1. When you are not sure how you feel

“Okay” is a relatively broad term, wouldn’t you say? It covers a large amount of meanings, and it does not necessarily have to mean “everything is hunky-dory.” That is a benefit.

Instead of trying to put into words how you are feeling at a certain moment, especially when you are a jumble of emotions, it is perfectly fine to say, “I am okay.” People can then infer from the nuance rather than the word.

2. Minimizing embarrassment

Does this sound familiar? You trip down some steps because you were not paying attention or your drop something. Everyone rushes over, asking if you are all right. Automatically you say, “I am okay!”

Sure, you might have tweaked your back or you are feeling really embarrassed, but unless you like being the center of attention, “I am okay” puts up a serious shield, saving you some face. “I am okay” is a buffer, a safety tube down a slippery soap of prying questions or difficult response.

3. When you are feeling low

Saying “I am fine” or “I am okay” when you are obviously struggling with personal dilemmas gets a bad rep for making you more depressed or ashamed or confused. But it can work in the opposite direction too – as reverse psychology.

If you struggle with a mood or mental health disorder, sometimes tricking yourself into thinking all is well is pivotal in getting through an episode. Some people think of “I am okay” as a mantra. When you start feeling panicked, anxious, or dismal, instead of dwelling in the darkness, you immediately begin telling yourself, “I am okay. I have got this.”

4. Improve your motivation

Beyond number 3, you know the benefits of a pep talk. Telling yourself “I am okay” can keep you motivated. Work and home responsibilities can leave you feeling frazzled, but grumbling and groaning and allowing your thoughts to meander are not going to help you.

“I am okay” is precise, succinct. You can focus on energies again on what you are doing. A study in 2012 found that self-directed speech increases concentration and productivity. In the case of the study, those who were directed to say the object’s name they were meant to find in a picture actually found the object much faster than those who remained silent.

5. You need time to process

Not to make people sound like automatons who need to have a constant stream of input/output data, but our brains do operate like this sometimes. For example, when starting a new job, or receiving new instructions, whoever is giving you that information often asks, “How we doing so far?” Obviously, you say, “I am okay.”

You might not be okay, but you are waiting to see if your questions will be answered down the road. Or you could simply need more time to truly register the info before addressing things not yet understood. There is nothing wrong with buying yourself a little more time to grasp what is happening, especially when you are stressed.

6. Mental time-out

Aside from taking the time to think about what is happening around you, saying “I am okay” is like a mental ten-second tap-out. When all else fails to give you reasons why you are feeling a certain way, or how you should handle something internal, “I am okay” jumpstarts the conference call with your feelings.

“I am okay.” “Am I really?” “Why am I not okay?” Feelings are difficult. A lot of people do not even like “the feels.” For kids, there is tears and irritability. Adults get to use vague phrases like “I am okay.” Because society demands that we keep it together, “I am okay” is a phrase that is a benefit in and of itself. And that is why it is perfectly fine to tell others you are okay.

Everyday Paleo Italian Cuisine Book Review

One of the most popular recipes I’ve created from scratch is my homemade Italian pasta sauce recipe. It took me a long time to get it right, as I married into an Italian family and my husband has pretty high standards when it comes to cuisine from “the boot.” Creating healthy, grain-free options of traditional Italian foods can be a challenge, so I have to admit, of all the cookbooks I’ve ever read over the years, Everyday Paleo Italian Cuisine by Sarah Fragoso is the one I wish I had created!

Sarah has a great blog where she documents her travels through other countries with her family as she learns to cook authentic cuisines from around the world.

I love that Everyday Paleo Italian Cuisine follows Sarah’s family’s trip to Italy (especially since pretty much every city in Italy is on my bucket list!). Not only are there beautiful pictures, stories and travel tips from the trip, but recipes by region as well.

Sarah even has a compilation of grain free pizza recipes, bruschetta sans bread, and 98 other great recipes. My favorite recipes to try so far have been those incorporating artichoke as this is one of my favorite foods but my most challenging to cook well!

After marrying in to an Italian family, I can say that many of the recipes are very authentic and include traditional Italian ingredients that we often miss out on here (like Calimari, which is delicious, inexpensive and easy to cook, but often overlooked in the US).

So far, I’ve tried eight of the recipes in Everyday Paleo Italian Cuisine and they have all been great (especially the sweet potato gnocchi and the risotto).

I’ve been experimenting more with making grain free versions of traditional Italian dishes lately, and hope to have an “Italian month” of recipes sometime soon, but in the meantime, I can’t recommend Sarah’s newest cookbook highly enough. Not only are the recipes amazing, but her incredible personality really shines through and reading it is like taking a trip with her and her family.

If you’ve been missing Italian favorites since going grain-free/paleo, Everyday Paleo Italian Cuisine is an excellent solution!

Do you have any healthy versions of Italian food favorites? Share below!