21 December 2011

5 Useful iOS Apps

Devices that use iOS – iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad – are useful for many reasons. Haters can disagree all they like, but Apple has the corner on function and usefulness – with a whole lot of style thrown into the mix. The fabulous user-interface, effortless multi-touch technology, and thousands of apps available for download are just three reasons to use an iOS device.

Here, in no particular order, are five generally-useful iOS apps.
Cost: Your first 2 GB of storage is free, subsequent storage space costs, starting at $9.99 a month. You can get extra storage space through referrals and by completing a few easy steps as set out by Dropbox.
Dropbox is a web-based storage options that uses the cloud to store files and folders. You can share those files and folders with people, or keep them to yourself. Because all data is stored in the cloud, you can access your photos and files from any device, be it your computer or iOS device. The only downside to this app is the lack of ability to sort your files by date.

Cost: Basic is free, upgrade to a paid account is optional, which gives you more storage space and added features.
Evernote is a great app that allows you to write notes, store photos, save voice notes, copy snippets of text or even whole screenshots and save them in the cloud. Your info syncs automatically across all of your devices. Anyone who relies on notes for their day-to-day lives – students, writers, admin assistants, etcetera – this app is a must-have.

Cost: Basic Skype is free. If you want to make calls to landlines or cell phones, you need to buy a subscription or purchase credits.
Skype is a great app that lets you make calls over the internet to other computers (people who have Skype accounts), cell phones, and landlines. The messaging service also works great. You can also make video calls to other Skype users.

Cost: Free (there are free books available, too – but most have a purchase price).
Kindle has more books available for purchase or download compared to iBooks. If you want to stick with Apple apps only, that’s fine. But if you’re a reader, and you want access to tons of books, download Kindle. It’s free. Bonuses include different font selections, different colorations (black background with white text, white background with black text, or dark text on a sepia background.) You can also adjust the brightness manually with a slider. If you like to read in bed, and don’t sleep alone, the white-text-on-a-black-background is a great feature.

Cost: Free.
iPad owners rejoice! Facebook has finally come out with a version specifically designed for the iPad’s larger screen. The iPhone/iPod touch versions of FB are really quite cramped and not very user-friendly. The iPad version, on the other hand, is a joy: side-bars hold the nav bar (on the left side) and information bars (on the right side) take advantage of all the extra space. You can look at photos full-screen, and you can also zoom and navigate using multi-touch gestures. Facebook for iPad is a must for FB users.
Well, readers, that’s the first five on our favorites list. What are your favorite apps for iOS?

28 March 2011

Why you should consider Sucanat

Do you have a sweet tooth? Are you aware of all of the health issues associated with using refined sugar? How about the dangers of artificial sweeteners? When you spend a bit of time to look into those issues, you'll be amazed at the health risks you subject yourself to when you eat chemical sweeteners OR refined sugar on a regular basis. I'm going to talk about the unsafe options vs Sucanat, a healthy substitute for both.

Refined Sugar
White sugar, or any processed sugar (including brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, or icing sugar) is a highly-processed food item. Sugar canes (or sugar beets) are harvested and the syrup is evaporated, heated, and the molasses has been removed. In doing so, all of the minerals and vitamins of the plant are removed. Brown sugar has some of the molasses added back in, but even that molasses has been highly processed in that most of the nutrition is removed for other uses.

Because all of the nutrition is removed from sugar during this process, what is left is pure carbohydrates, which the body stores as fat. Even worse, the daily consumption of sugar puts the body in an inbalance, which causes many illnesses, vitamin deficiencies, and tooth decay. Excess sugar stored in the body can also lead to diabetes.

I'm not even going to go into high-fructose corn syrup and its dangers, because that's a whole article worth of badness.

Chemical Sweeteners
There are several different types of chemical sweeteners, but the most common are aspartame and sucralose (Splenda). 

Aspartame, like MSG, is an excitotoxin. That means it excites parts of the brain and eventually cause cell death if it is eaten too much. Even though many studies show that aspartame causes cancer and infertility in rats, it was approved for human consumption and remains common in every day foods. Cancers associated with consumption are testes, thyroid, pancreas, breast, prostate, and brain.

What is most unfortunate is that aspartame is found in many food items consumed by children. As they age, their exposure to this harmful substance will accumulate and many could develop cancers or increase the liklihood that their offspring will be infertile.

In addition to cancers and infertility, aspartame also triggers sensitivities in millions of people. Dizziness, headache, nausea, seizures, and other brain function issues have all been reported after consuming aspartame.

Sucralose (Splenda)
The company that produces Splenda is very quick to say it's made from sugar, but so what? Sugar isn't even healthy for you. Even worse, sucralose is made by chlorinating the sugar. Yum. While likely not quite as dangerous as aspartame (originally made by Monsanto, by the way – BOO!), it still is not a “safe” alternative. Pre-approval studies showed sucralose was associated with shrunken thymus glands and enlarged kidneys and livers.

Sucanat (a trademarked name) is made by harvesting organic sugar cane plants. The syrup from those plants is removed and then dried. The resulting dried product, which is light brown/golden in colour and looks grainy, is packaged and sold as Sucanat. That's it. So what does that tell you? It's a whole food, contains all its original vitamins and minerals, and is actually GOOD for you. One teaspoon contains 15 calories, but it also has iron, calcium, B6, chromium, and potassium.

Because Sucanat contains less sucrose than refined sugar, it tastes less sweet, which can take some getting used to, but it has a natural flavour and no aftertaste. It tastes a lot like brown sugar, with a lovely molasses smell. A further pro is that Sucanat is made from organic cane sugar, and the company that makes it (Wholesome Sweeteners) is certified fair trade.

Each bag of Sucanat (it comes in a 16 oz or 32 oz size) includes a recipe for using the product. You can buy sucanat at most health food stores, or in the organic/health food section of your local grocery store.

Natural cane sugar products have been linked to positive dental health, as well. It is thought that several components of Sucanat inhibits dental caries (cavities) and can promote a healthy mouth.

So – are you convinced yet? Switch to Sucanat and eat a whole food rather than a highly-processed or chemical sweetener, and reap the benefits.

**I have no association with the company that produces Sucanat.**


21 March 2011

Article - Why Does My Blood Sugar Rise After Exercise?

Blood sugar level, also called blood glucose level or blood sugar concentration, is the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Sugar, called glucose by the medical community, is the main fuel source for a body's cells. The hormone called insulin makes the glucose available for use by the cells. Too much glucose in the bloodstream is called hyperglycemia. One cause of hyperglycemia is Diabetes mellitus. A person with Diabetes does not produce enough insulin and therefore cannot control the amount of sugar in his or her bloodstream. Both long-term hyperglycemia as well as fluctuating blood sugar levels are dangerous and can cause severe side effects and shortened life span.

In some people, especially those who have high blood sugar levels before exercise, their blood sugars will rise after exercise. Normally, exercise causes blood sugar to drop, but in cases where the glucose levels are already high, the stress caused by strenuous exercise causes the liver to release excess glucose into the bloodstream.

It is very important for diabetics to consistently monitor their blood sugar levels. To make sure exercise is safe, they should test before, during, and after exercise. This will help determine when the best time of day is for exercise on an individual basis, plus it will help prevent dangerous glucose level fluctuations. The best time to test is thirty minutes before exercise and then immediately before exercise begins to make sure no major change has occurred.

Sugar Levels
The Mayo Clinic says that when the blood sugar level is between 5.6 mmol/L and 13.9 mmol/L (100 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL), exercise is safe. If the sugar level is more than 16.7 mmol/L (300 mg/dL), then levels could rise after exercise and cause an unsafe blood glucose level. In this scenario, exercise should be avoided. To prevent dangerously low levels, test every thirty minutes during extended exercise situations. If levels drop to 3.9 mmol/L (70 mg/dL) or lower, stop exercising immediately and take measures to raise blood sugar levels.

Never exercise right before bedtime, since exercise usually causes blood sugar levels to drop, and this could result in hypoglycemic levels occurring sleep. Consult your doctor to determine what type of exercise is best for your situation, and how to design an exercise program for you if you've been inactive recently.



22 December 2010

German Traditions of the Spider Christmas Tree Ornament

By Rebecca MacLary

The history of the Christmas tree as we know it today is said to have started in Germany.  There is conflicting information about its origins but most agree that the first decorated Christmas tree was erected some time in the 15th or 16th century century.  Traditions have evolved since then and many different cultures have their own customs.  One fascinating Christmas tree tradition is the German tradition of the spider ornament.

Many years ago, on Christmas Eve, the woman of the house tidied her home in preparation of the upcoming festivities.  She swept the house spotless, and all of the spiders ran and hid in the attic.  The family erected their Christmas tree and spent the evening decorating it.  When the adornment was complete, the family went to bed while the woman stayed up to do more cleaning.  She was the last to go to bed.

In the middle of the night, the spiders crept out from the attic and went back to the living room.  Behold, there was a beautiful Christmas tree!  The spiders leaped from branch to branch in joy, inspecting the tree and all its ornaments.  The spiders´ activity covered the tree in a thick gray web, hiding all the ornaments.

Weihnachtsmann, or Father Christmas, arrived soon after, and saw what the spiders had done.  He was pleased that the spiders had so enjoyed themselves, but knew the family would be heartbroken to come down to a tree covered in thick spider webs.  Father Christmas touched the webs, and they magically turned into strands of silver and gold. 

When the family came downstairs in the morning, they gasped with surprise.  The woman of the house knew that the new decorations were a Christmas miracle.  They so enjoyed the look of the tree, they adopted the tradition of adorning Christmas trees with tinsel.  Some families even began the custom of placing a small spider ornament hidden somewhere among the branches.

Many cultures follow the custom of decorating a Christmas tree for the Yuletide season.  Many households, in Germany and elsewhere, also hang a spider ornament from the branches to represent that Christmas miracle from long ago.  Decorate your tree with tinsel, and remember the story of its origin.

13 December 2010

Win a Rosetta Stone course!

Now is the perfect time to give your child the gift of possibilities for the holidays with Rosetta Stone Homeschool — and you can WIN a Level 1 Homeschool program, language of your choice (valued at $249)!

Right now Rosetta Stone is having a special Holiday promotion on our Homeschool Edition program and we’d like you to help spread the word! Everyone can save up to $150 on Rosetta Stone Homeschool by visiting our website at http://www.RosettaStone.com/hsw1110.

By helping us spread the word you can win a Rosetta Stone Homeschool Edition Level 1 program, language of your choice, valued at $249.

This is a computer based curriculum and Rosetta Stone will also include a headset with microphone, and a supplementary “Audio Companion” CD so you can practice lessons in the car, on the go, or where-ever!

Students participate in life-like conversations and actually produce language to advance through the program. Rosetta Stone incorporates listening, reading, grammar, vocabulary and writing along with speaking and pronunciation lessons. For parents, the new Parent Administrative Tools are integrated into the program to allow parents to easily enroll up to ten students in any of 12 predetermined lesson plans, monitor student progress, grade completed work (the program grades the work automatically as the students progress), and you can view and print reports for transcripts. Homeschooling a lot of kids at your house? This program is designed to enroll and track up to ten students (five users on two computers) and will work for nearly all ages — from beginning readers up to college students.

To win this program, copy these paragraphs and post them in (or as) your next blog post, and/OR post about this contest on your facebook page. Then go to the original page at
and leave a comment saying that you’ve posted about, or have linked to, the contest. Please make sure the link works to get back to the original contest page when you post, and good luck!


***Open to U.S. Residents ONLY.

06 September 2010

Happy Labour Day!

From Wikipedia:

Labour Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in Canada since the 1880s. The origins of Labour Day in Canada can be traced back to April 14, 1872 when a parade was staged in support of the Toronto Typographical Union's strike for a 58-hour work-week.[1] The Toronto Trades Assembly (TTA) called its 27 unions to demonstrate in support of the Typographical Union who had been on strike since March 25.[1] George Brown, Canadian politician and editor of the Toronto Globe hit back at his striking employees, pressing police to charge the Typographical Union with "conspiracy."[1] Although the laws criminalising union activity were outdated and had already been abolished in Great Britain, they were still on books in Canada and police arrested 24 leaders of the Typographical Union. Labour leaders decided to call another similar demonstration on September 3 to protest the arrests. Seven unions marched in Ottawa, prompting a promise by Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to repeal the "barbarous" anti-union laws.[1] Parliament passed the Trade Union Act on June 14 the following year, and soon all unions were demanding a 54-hour work-week.

The Toronto Trades and Labour Council (successor to the TTA) held similar celebrations every spring. American Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was asked to speak at a labour festival in Toronto, Canada on July 22, 1882. Returning to the United States, McGuire and the Knights of Labor organised a similar parade based on the Canadian event on September 5, 1882 in New York City, USA. On July 23, 1894, Canadian Prime Minister John Thompson and his government made Labour Day, to be held in September, an official holiday. In the United States, the New York parade became an annual event that year, and in 1894 was adopted by American president Grover Cleveland to compete with International Workers' Day (May Day).

While Labour Day parades and picnics are organised by unions, many Canadians regard Labour Day as the Monday of the last long weekend of summer. Non-union celebrations include picnics, fireworks displays, water activities, and public art events. Since the new school year generally starts right after Labour Day, families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer.

An old custom prohibits the wearing of white after Labour Day. The explanations for this tradition range from the fact that white clothes are worse protection against cold weather in the winter to the fact that the rule was intended as a status symbol for new members of the middle class in the late 19th century and early 20th century.[1][2]

A Labour Day tradition in Atlantic Canada would be the Wharf Rat Rally, while the rest of Canada is watching Labour Day Classic, Canadian Football League event where rivals like Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts, and Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers play on Labour Day weekend. Before the demise of the Ottawa Renegades after the 2005 season, that team played the nearby Montreal Alouettes on Labour Day weekend. Since then, the Alouettes have played the remaining team in the league, the BC Lions.

Labour Day parade in Grand Falls-Windsor Newfoundland started in 1910 and still continues today, over 100 years later. The celebrations go on for three days with the parade on Labour Day Monday.

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