The Diet That Reduces Brain Health Decline And Combats Dementia

Written By Eva Crabtree, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine 

What is the MIND diet?

In 2015, a dedicated team of researchers from Rush University, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and the National Institute on Aging came together to conduct a study into the impact of diet on brain health decline.

They combined elements of the Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) to create the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet. The reason DASH and the Mediterranean diet was selected is because several scientific studies have determined that both these diets already benefit both physical and mental health.

The MIND diet study involved testing over 600 participants of all different heights and weights over the course of a three year period. Researchers then assessed the impact on their brain health and analysed the results.

What’s the purpose of the MIND diet study?

The purpose of the MIND diet study was to encourage people to eat a selection of foods that have been found to prevent a decline in brain health and reduce the chance of developing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers were keen to find out whether eating large quantities of some foods and reduced quantities of others had a significant or minor effect on brain health.

The results

Upon completion of the study, it was found that following the MIND diet had a significant impact on the participants’ brain health – the exact result the researchers we hoping for.

Participants that closely followed the diet were found to have reduced their chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease by an average of 53% compared to those that followed it the least. However, it was also concluded that even participants that only moderately followed the MIND diet over the 3 year period also saw their chances of developing dementia reduced by 35%.

Although all studies that have been conducted around the MIND diet so far have had similar positive results, more research is yet to be carried out.

To eat or not to eat

As with any diet, there are certain foods that are encouraged on the MIND diet because of their beneficial impact on brain health – there are also foods that should be limited.

So, here are the foods you should be eating:

  • Fish:  Oily fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines should be eaten a minimum of once per week.
  • Poultry: Turkey and chicken are 2 of the leanest meats available. Try to eat them at least twice per week.
  • Wine: It’s also recommended that you consume a small glass of red wine everyday because it contains the compound resveratrol which has been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Green leafy vegetables: Aim to eat 6 or more servings of green leafy vegetables each week including spinach, kale, cooked greens and salad.
  • Other vegetables: Non-starchy vegetables should also be eaten once a day, as well as the green leafy vegetables.
  • Olive oil: Instead of using butter, margarine and other oils, try to use olive oil as your main cooking oil.
  • Nuts: Five or more servings of a variety of plain nuts is recommended 5 or more times per week when following the MIND diet.
  • Whole grains: Whole grains, like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa, should be eaten 3 times a day.
  • Beans: 4 meals each week should contain a form of beans such as lentils, beans and pulses and soybeans.
  • Berries: Berries contain antioxidants that are beneficial for both physical and mental health. Try to eat them at least 2 times per week.

Here are the foods you should avoid eating too often because they contain high amounts of saturated fat – evidence has shown that saturated fat has a negative effect on brain health.

  • Cheese
  • Red meat
  • Butter and margarine
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Fried food

How does the MIND diet reduce the possibility of brain health decline and dementia?

Unstable molecules, known also as free radicals, gather in large quantities in the body which can cause cell damage. The brain is most vulnerable to this damage. Additionally, even though inflammation is one of the many ways the body heals injury and infection, if not regulated, it can do more damage than good – especially in the brain.

Following the MIND diet decreases oxidative stress and inflammation in the body and brain, hence, reducing the possibility of brain health decline and neurod

Introducing Galactic Glosses and More Hot Summer Picks by Puckerd

Introducing the latest bold and bright, liquid lipstick by Puckerd! Haute Nights represents the newest collection.  Just what the summer ordered! This lipstick has a matte finish for long lasting wear and a comfortable feel. You’ve reached the entire rainbow with this collection.

The names are just as provocative as the colors, embodying power and demanding attention. This line is made for the exceptional girl who likes to walk on the bold and trendy side. Four colors to start with and a new color added each week in the month June. These lippies will leave you kissable and won’t dry out the lips. Also, just released is the Galactic Gloss.

This super lustrous gloss leaves lips lush, full and sparkling like precious gems. The doe foot applicator delivers even more coverage and extraordinary shine. Preservative-free and paraben-free lip plumping peptide complex maxi-lip helps to stimulate collagen and glycosaminoglycan synthesis, leaving lips looking voluptuous. Marine-Filling Collagen Micro-Spheres instantly plumps and hydrates lips, making them smoother and fuller. Mango, Kokam and Shea Butter hydrates and conditions lips. Vitamins A, C and E antioxidant vitamins help to protect cells from free radical damage.


  • Hydra gloss $15
  • Liquid matte lipstick $19
  • Matttastic matte lipstick $16.50 (haute nights summer collection)
  • Mattastic metals $21.00
  • Galactic gloss $18.50

View all new names here.

Check out the new commercial here.

“PUCKERD” is a line of cosmetics that celebrates the beauty in every woman and empowers women of color, and of different ethnicities, to create the life they want.  Founded by female brainchild and powerhouse, Sylvia Russell,  the brand encompasses the flirty vivaciousness and ability that females emit, and the celebration of all things “girlie.” “PUCKERD” is a lifestyle exuding strength, and the imagination to create things that  transform dreams into reality.

Facts about the product: 

  • Vegan and Gluten Free
  • Hours of kiss proof wear
  • Soft silk texture with a flexible feel
  • Paraben,  and sulfite free
  • Made in the USA
  • Cruelty Free

Russell states, “After years of selling cosmetics in my own salons, it has always been a dream of mine to create and build a business focused solely on cosmetics, while educating and motivating  women. I finally decided to take a leap of faith and do it.” The line currently carries over 20 products, with an online-only ecommerce structure, and plans to expand to retail and is dabbling in pop ups everywhere. Selections include liquid mattes, mattetastic metals, hydrating lip glosses, line and define lip liners, lip kits and more ranging from $12-$21. Visit for more.

More about Sylvia Russell

Sylvia Russell has been working in entertainment and with celebrities for over 25 years. She was the key makeup artist for the Tampa Bay cheerleaders and worked on various celebrities, ranging  from Hulk Hogan and family to foodie Adam Richman and HSN show hosts. Russell has been a beauty and lifestyle expert host for 10 years in Tampa at WFLA, Channel 8 @ The Daytime Show and Channel 10 @studio10. She has also worked for NBC Dateline, TLC Network, The Travel Channel and has been an educator in the classroom for top beauty companies, as well as owned and managed salon start ups. Russell founded the business in August 2017 in St. Petersburg Florida and is a proud mother of 3.

Raise a Toast

Eye-popping recipes worth sharing

It seems that taking pictures of mouthwatering food to share online is all the rage for social media users. Food is art, and toast and its trimmings can be the perfect canvas. Creating a social media-worthy slice requires a bit of creativity, some patience, quality and, of course, aesthetically pleasing ingredients.

The versatility and distinct flavor profile of California Ripe Olives make them an ideal ingredient to fuel your imagination and add an extra bit of finesse to your edible creation.

California farmers are responsible for producing more than 95 percent of the ripe olives consumed in the United States. From planting, pruning, harvesting and processing, they make sure the highest quality olives come from their farm to your table – one can at a time. Adding olives to any dish helps bring California sunshine into each bite.

Put your creativity to the test with these delicious designs. For more delightful and artistic recipes with California Ripe Olives, visit

Toast Like a Butterfly

  • 2          slices wheat bread
  • large butterfly cookie cutter
  • 1/2       avocado, mashed
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1          cheese stick
  • 2          slices orange bell pepper
  • 2          thin slices red bell pepper
  • 6          black California Ripe Olives
  • 3          green California Ripe Olives
  • 1          sugar snap pea
  1. Lightly toast wheat bread and use cookie cutter to cut one wing from each slice.
  2. Mash avocado and mix with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread on both wings.
  3. Slice cheese stick to fit between wings and act as body of butterfly.
  4. Slice orange bell pepper into antenna and red bell pepper into thin slices to line body of butterfly.
  5. Slice black olives in half, lengthwise, and place on upper and lower portions of each wing. Slice green olives into rounds and place on middle of each wing.
  6. Decorate plate with quartered olives and place sugar snap pea in center.

Pro Tips for Creating Shareable Slices:

These pro tips can take you from toast trainee to skillful slice creator.

  1. Have a vision. Don’t be afraid to sketch it out.
  2. The base of your toast is everything. Pick a sturdy variety.
  3. Consider your ingredients and play with flavors, textures and colors. For example, try to incorporate both green and black California Ripe Olives for greater versatility.
  4. Shapes, colors and textures can add excitement.
  5. Toast is a small canvas, so consider the tools you’re working with and get creative.

A Toast to Summer

  • 2          slices white bread, toasted
  • 4          tablespoons cream cheese
  • 3          crackers, crushed
  • 1/4       cup sliced almonds
  • handful leafy greens of choice (green onions, parsley, cilantro or chives)
  • 2          black California Ripe Olives
  • 1          green California Ripe Olive
  1. Slice each piece of toast into a square and place one above other on plate.
  2. Spread layer of cream cheese on bottom third of lower piece of toast and cover spread with crushed crackers.
  3. Spread layer of cream cheese from lower-right corner to upper-left corner and, starting at bottom, layer sliced almonds on top of each other to create trunk spreading across both pieces of bread.
  4. Arrange greens into palm fronds at top of trunk. Use cream cheese as glue if they begin to slip.
  5. Arrange black olives and green olive as coconuts between top of trunk and base of leaves, covering bottom of leaves.

Singing in the Grain

  • 1/4       avocado, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1          slice sourdough bread, toasted
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • handful of green California Ripe Olives, sliced into rounds
  • 1          orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1          red bell pepper, sliced
  • handful of black California Ripe Olives, sliced into raindrop shapes
  • 1          large sugar snap pea
  1. Arrange sliced avocado on toasted sourdough bread and top with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Slice green olive rounds in half and arrange in line beneath toast.
  3. Place one slice orange bell pepper below bread as handle and one small piece orange bell pepper above bread.
  4. Place one straight slice of red bell pepper on bottom edge of toast.
  5. Arrange black olive slices and sugar snap peas around toast as raindrops.

Walking in a Toasty Wonderland

  • 2          slices white bread, toasted
  • 2          tablespoons cream cheese, divided
  • 5          slices red bell pepper
  • 1          orange bell pepper, sliced small
  • 2          black California Ripe Olives, 1 jumbo and 1 medium
  • 5          small sugar snap peas, divided
  • 1          pretzel stick, cut in half
  • 3          green California Ripe Olive rounds
  • small snowflake cookie cutter
  • large snowflake cookie cutter
  • 4          slices gouda or white cheddar cheese
  • 8          cilantro or parsley leaves
  1. Slice one piece of toast into circle with 4-inch diameter.
  2. Slice second piece of toast into half-circle with 4-inch diameter, which will act as base of snow globe.
  3. Spread 1 tablespoon cream cheese onto bottom fifth of circular toast.
  4. Cover base of snow globe with slices of bell pepper, cut to correct width.
  5. Stack medium black olive on top of jumbo black olive and affix to toast with cream cheese.
  6. Add decorations to olive snowman by affixing two small sugar snap peas to body of snowman, pretzel stick arms to sides, small piece orange bell pepper for nose and two small dots cream cheese for eyes.
  7. Decorate base with green olive rounds and three sugar snap peas in center.
  8. Use cookie cutters to cut four small snowflakes and four large snowflakes out of slices of cheese. Arrange snowflakes around outside of plate and place cilantro leaves between each snowflake.
  9. Place remaining cream cheese in small plastic bag and cut small hole in corner. Pipe small dots on circular toast around snowman. (Family Features)

California Ripe Olive Committee

Where to Catch Your Favorite Stars this Summer

New and classic shows and movies available in June

Many of your favorite shows are airing season finales, and soon many will start searching for ways to fill the entertainment void this summer. With a plan in mind, you won’t have to wait for the next big blockbuster to hit theaters or stay glued to reruns on TV to spend some quality time watching your favorite stars.

Some of the biggest names in entertainment can be found on streaming services like Netflix, and one of the best parts is there is no offseason. Everything is available on-demand, so you can watch on your schedule without disrupting your summer fun.

The classics are in full force this month, including some on-ice action that celebrates the United States Men’s National Ice Hockey Team’s classic 1980 Olympic victory with Kurt Russell in Miracle; searching the globe for lost treasure hidden by the United States’ forefathers with Nicholas Cage and Jon Voight in National Treasure; or even King George VI, played by Colin Firth, overcoming his struggles with a stutter to deliver one of the most iconic addresses in history in the award-winning film The King’s Speech.

These are just a sample of the titles you can find that are new to Netflix this June. New shows and movies are added to the service every day, so whether you’re into comedy, suspense, drama or anything in-between, you can find those genres and more on your smartphone, tablet or TV. Sign-up is easy; simply visit, choose a plan and provide payment information and your zip code.

Here’s a look at other shows and movies coming this month:

Explained: Season 1

This docuseries spotlights a wide range of topical and timely issues that impact lives on a daily basis, such as the gender wage gap, geopolitical politics, the rise of cryptocurrency and why diets fail. (Episodes available June 6, 13, 20 and 27)

The Staircase

This documentary series offers an inside look at the high-profile murder case of author Michael Peterson, accused of killing his wife in 2001. (Available June 6)

The Ranch: Part 5

Being a pro athlete didn’t pan out for Colt (Ashton Kutcher). Now he’s helping his dad (Sam Elliott) and brother keep the ranch afloat while figuring out how he fits into the family. (Available June 15)

Set It Up

In this romantic comedy, two overworked and underpaid assistants concoct a plan to get their insufferable bosses off their backs by setting them up with each other. (Available June 22)

Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order. (Available June 26) (Family Features)


Eight Common “Flow Breakers” Leaders Face—and How to Defuse Them 

Constant disruptions at work prevent managers from achieving flow, the state of concentration that allows them to do their best work. The authors of Mind Tools for Managers highlight the most common flow breakers at work and offer tips for eliminating them.

Sometimes it seems like the workplace is designed to keep you doing anything besides, well…working. If you’re a manager, this is a serious problem because everything at work hinges on your ability to effectively lead your team. Still, distractions abound in most offices, from buzzing phones to watercooler chit-chat to the endless lure of surfing the web. With all this chaos, it’s difficult to achieve the intense state of concentration known as flow, where employees of all levels do their best work.

“Flow is a state of mind that occurs when all your conscious thought is focused on what you are doing,” says Julian Birkinshaw, coauthor along with James Manktelow of Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss (Wiley, April 2018, ISBN: 978-1-119-37447-3, $28.00). “Unfortunately, in the modern workplace, flow can be difficult to achieve and maintain. As a result, you are a less productive manager and stay stressed out at work. But by weeding out typical office distractions and interruptions, you can improve your focus, get more done, and become a more effective manager.”

Mind Tools for Managers identifies the 100 skills that a manager can master to become a better leader. They were identified in a survey of 15,242 managers and professionals worldwide. This research was conducted by James Manktelow, founder and CEO of, and Professor Julian Birkinshaw, deputy dean for programs at London Business School. The authors provide practical advice for each of these skills—one of which is the ability to stay focused—and direct the reader to the MindTools website for a deeper dive into specific skill-building articles, worksheets, videos, and more.

Even if you’re one of the many managers struggling to maintain focus at work, you can achieve a state of flow—which was first described in detail by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi—by managing or eliminating the distractions that pull you out of concentration. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common distractions managers and employees typically face at work (and how to deal with them), excerpted from the article “Minimizing Distractions: 10 Ways to Take Control of Your Day.” For more information, please refer to Mind Tool 12-1:

FLOW BREAKER 1: The relentless presence of personal technology. Smartphones and now smartwatches have blurred the line between personal and professional communication. Now you can receive work emails and calls on the same device as private Facebook comments, Instagram photos, and an array of other personal information. The good news is, this is a challenge that you and your colleagues can effectively manage yourselves. When focusing on a particular piece of work, choose to put away your phones for a certain amount of time. That way you can devote your attention entirely to the project at hand.

FLOW BREAKER 2: Email, email, and more email. Many emails in your inbox are probably not particularly important, and yet you may feel you must look at them when they arrive. Instead, try these tactics:

  • Schedule checking time. Turn off the alert that appears on your computer screen when you receive an email, and check and respond to messages at set times instead. This helps you manage your coworkers’, managers’, and customers’ expectations about how and when you will reply to them.
  • Choose “low-productivity” times. There are likely certain times of the day when you do your best work, like first thing in the morning or maybe late at night. Schedule email check-ins for your less-productive times and save your peak hours for high-value work.
  • Turn emails into actions. If you need more than a few minutes to read an email, add it to your to-do list.

FLOW BREAKER 3: Social media and web browsing. Both are major productivity killers. Trouble is, organizations can no longer block people’s access to websites that aren’t work-related—smartphones can easily get around this. So it’s up to you to use social media and the rest of the web responsibly. If it is acceptable within your organization, use a brief personal browsing session as a reward for an hour or two of high-quality, focused work.

FLOW BREAKER 4: Nerve-jangling phone calls. The ring of a phone often prompts an intense need to answer, even when you’re in deep concentration. To minimize this source of distraction for you and your team, consider arranging a rotation so that team members can take calls for one another. Also be sure to let friends and family know that you will be available for calls only at lunchtime or in the evening.

FLOW BREAKER 5: Distractions in your work environment. Rather than trying to ignore such distractions as strong cooking smells or loud colleagues, get away from the problem. Set yourself up in an empty meeting room to regain your focus. Or wear noise-canceling headphones or play “white noise” to blank out anything that would otherwise grab your attention.

FLOW BREAKER 6: Confusion due to overwhelming workload. Always try to have a manageable to-do list, because having one that’s too long can lead to procrastination, as you wonder which task to tackle next. Each day, commit to accomplishing the two most important tasks on your list, and put the rest on hold until tomorrow.

“In our study we found that 79.5 percent of managers view prioritizing tasks effectively as one of the most important planning and time management skills,” says Manktelow. “It is so important!”

FLOW BREAKER 7: Other people. Colleagues visiting your desk can be a big source of distraction, but you’re also a manager who wants to be available for your team members. So, if you don’t want to be disturbed at times when you need to focus on a task, consider either working at home or in a conference room. If you have your own office, close the door and tell your team that you need to be left alone to concentrate for a while.

FLOW BREAKER 8: Shortfalls in your own well-being. It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to juggle your priorities, manage visitors, and have the discipline to control your use of technology. So, it’s vital that you take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep and make sure you drink enough water, as dehydration can make you feel tired and impact your thinking. It’s also important to get some fresh air and take a brisk walk during the day—this will energize you. And try to avoid heavy lunches and sugar-laden snacks, as they can lead to a slump in concentration later in the day.

“It’s easier than ever to lose track of what you should be doing at work, but you can still take steps to avoid distractions and improve flow,” concludes Birkinshaw. “Learning to better manage these ‘flow breakers’ is a valuable skill that can be practiced and sharpened over time. And when you can achieve flow more easily, you will not only become a better manager, but you’ll set a great example for your team as well.”

About the Authors:

James Manktelow

James Manktelow

James Manktelow and Julian Birkinshaw are coauthors of Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss (Wiley, April 2018, ISBN: 978-1-119-37447-3, $28.00).

James Manktelow is founder and CEO of He has written, edited, and contributed to more than 1,000 articles, more than sixty workbooks, and seven books and e-books on management and leadership, including Manage Your Time and Manage Stress.

Julian Birkinshaw

Julian Birkinshaw

Julian Birkinshaw is professor of strategy and entrepreneurship, deputy dean for programs, and academic director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the London Business School. He is the author of fourteen books, including Fast/ForwardBecoming a Better Boss, and Reinventing Management.

About the Book:

Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss (Wiley, April 2018, ISBN: 978-1-119-37447-3, $28.00) is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and direct from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797. For more information, please visit the book’s page on

The Surprising Summer Style Staple on Everyone’s Hot List 

West Coast street style meets vintage comfort with sts blue’s latest denim release

Fresh from the fashion world’s hottest So Cal denim label comes a new fan favorite: the distressed Oversized Boyfriend jacket from sts blue ( For denim that embodies the effortless West Coast-inspired street style you love, sts blue is without a doubt the one-stop shop for top-trending denim that flawlessly fits your everyday lifestyle (and your budget). Hot on the heels of go-to spring picks like the cropped skinny and frayed hem styles, this fast fashion brand brings you the latest must-have denim accessory on everyone’s hot list.

Cool summer nights call for a flawlessly understated jacket, and the Oversized Denim Boyfriend does not disappoint. Classic copper hardware, clean cut pockets, and wide stitching give old-school flair to a modern summertime staple, available now in the light bleached out “Jensen” wash and a dark blue distressed “Alaska” wash. For added options to suit any girls night out or date night, grab a denim jacket with feminine flare like the Amanda Ruffle or Alexis Ruffle. For the fashionista try the Andrea Color Block, or the Avery light wash, all in the subtly oversized fit you crave.

Grab yours today starting at just $59, and make it your own with free custom embroidery, available for a limited time at

Dressed up or down, the Oversized Boyfriend Denim Jacket is sure to be your summer essential accessory. This lightweight piece is the perfect topper for your sophisti-casual denim on denim ensembles, paired with an sts blue high-rise short or straight skinny jean. Wear it around your waist with a boxy logo tee for an Instagram worthy pic! Authentically deconstructed fabric with that signature sts blue softness makes this versatile piece a summer essential for your day-to-day wardrobe.

Your favorite Oversized Boyfriend Denim Jacket is waiting for you at select Nordstrom stores, or online at  Use code SUMMERTIME30 for an extra 30% discount on the hottest summer items, and while you’re there, sign up for sts blue email updates to stay ahead of the season’s top trends and earn points toward all of your favorite styles. Follow @sts_blue and #DenimDolls on Instagram for ideas on how to rock your denim every single day.

About STS Blue:
At sts blue, our muse is trendy, sexy and fun. She looks to celeb street style for her fashion influence. She considers her social life when selecting what jeans to wear, and whether it’s brunch with friends or date night, denim is always where her outfit begins. Her style is anything but basic. The latest “it” jean, jean short, or denim jacket are the foundation of her wardrobe. She’s never afraid to rock her favorite styles – from denim on denim to frayed and deconstructed fabrics. As long as it flawlessly fits her figure and her budget, she’s game. Find your inner sts blue muse at Nordstrom, Macy’s, Dillard’s, and Von Maur, or online at Follow the latest trends and our exclusive #DenimDolls on Instagram @sts_blue.

Sex and the City Dining Guide Celebrates Series’ 20th Anniversary

To celebrate Sex and the City‘s 20th anniversary on June 6th, the folks at have created a specialty dining guide highlighting many novelty locations chosen throughout the show’s seasons.


Check it out here:

This guide features 28 original restaurants from the series and seven locations that have become new eateries, as well as an easy-to-browse, interactive map of Manhattan. Take a chance to participate in celebrating the anniversary fun!

If You’ve Got a Lawn, You’ve Got a Playground! And So Much More

If you’ve got a lawn, you’ve got a playground for kids and pets to enjoy. A lawn offers a sturdy place for children and animals to play. In fact, our yards and green spaces offer amazing benefits for your family and community.

Now that summer is here and we will spend more time outdoors, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) shares a few reasons why our lawns are awesome.

Reason #1: Your lawn offers a safe place for kids and pets to play. A useable outdoor area providing a spacious living area for the entire family, including when it’s time to play! Turfgrass can handle the pounding of little feet and paws, while providing a soft landing pad for tumbles and fun.

Reason #2: Your lawn can help kids get into shape while having fun. Outdoor play is an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit. It increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies. Research also shows that children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.

Reason #3: Your lawn can make you happier. Research shows that knowing and experiencing nature, including green space, makes us generally happier, healthier people. Just looking out a window at green spaces can lower adult stress levels. Walking or running in green spaces, instead of synthetic environments, can lead to decreased anger, fatigue and feelings of depression, while increasing attention levels.

Reason #4: Your grass cools down your community and the area around your home. This is especially important in cities, where asphalt and hardscape radiate heat. Grass dissipates this radiant heat through a process called evapotranspiration, which combats the heat island effect.

Reason #5: Your lawn helps control water runoff and erosion. Grass acts like a sponge and prevents water from “running off” into area sewer drains and carrying anything it collects along the way – like motor oil or dirt. Grass cleans the water it collects and breaks down harmful microbes and pollutants, keeping them out of groundwater supplies. The natural filtration system in your lawn is so effective that rain water filtered through a healthy lawn is often as much as 10 times less acidic than water running off a hard surface like a sidewalk or hardscape. It also prevents flooding and soil erosion by “hanging on” to soil.

To get more information and tips on maintaining your lawn, visit

It Was a Perfect Afternoon for Tea Hosted by Ballet Austin Guild!

Photography courtesy of Sarah Siller of Sarah Siller Photography.

The beautiful and historic Driskill Hotel hosted the lovely event.

A gorgeous, sunny day heralded the arrival of excited guests at Ballet Austin Guild’s second annual spring fundraiser tea, “An Afternoon in Neverland”, so named in a nod of support to Ballet Austin’s grand season finale, Peter Pan.  This year’s highly successful sold out event was held inside the gorgeous Driskill hotel, an Austin icon and key event sponsor.

Lovely guests who happen to be a wonderful family of aunts and cousins.

Lovely guests.

Lovely guests.

Guests of all ages arrived in their best tea finery, with beautiful hats and outfits taking center stage. They were ushered in by a cast of costumed characters portrayed by the Hill Country Players, drama students from Hill Country Middle School, much to the delight of the youngest attendees.  Tables beckoned partygoers with exquisite centerpieces provided by Mandarin Design Lab along with towers of luscious treats and an assortment of lovely teas. Adult guests enjoyed a bit of celebratory bubbly as they strolled among the many enticing raffle baskets.

Cookie Ruiz, Executive Director of Ballet Austin and Lorrie Garcia, VP of Communications of Ballet Austin Guild.

Once all were seated, Ballet Austin Sarah & Ernest Family Fund Artistic Director Stephen Mills introduced and spoke a bit about featured speaker, company dancer Chelsea Marie Renner, who danced the role of Wendy in two performances of Peter Pan.

Wonderful guests.

Wonderful guests.

Lovely guests.

Lovely guests.

Wonderful guests.

Wonderful guests.

Chelsea shared that her dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer would not have been realized had there not been vital scholarship opportunities along the way.  She spoke of her family’s many struggles to keep her dancing. Her father owned a small print shop in Bozeman, Montana, and often traded printing jobs for the dance academy in exchange for her tuition.  As Chelsea’s talent and passion for ballet developed and greater but more distant opportunities came along, scholarships were her only hope to continue her training. Chelsea was the very first recipient of the Butler Fellowship Scholarship in 2006, allowing her to join Ballet Austin II prior to moving up to the company.

Brianna McKinney, William Jackson, and lovely guest.

Brianna McKinney, William Jackson, and lovely guest.

William Jackson, long-time attendee, proud supporter of Ballet Austin Guild and Ballet Austin and chief business officer for InFluential Magazine, Spanish InFluential, and Teen InFluential says, “I’m honored to support Ballet Austin Guild.  I’ve have the pleasure to see first hand how hard this amazing group of individuals works to ensure the longevity of the programs offered by Ballet Austin and the availability of the arts throughout the Austin community.   My heart is touched deeply to see beautiful families celebrate together with great laughter, excitement, and love.  It’s also an honor to help to increase awareness through partnerships with InFluential Magazine and Teen InFluential.  I wish these wonderful organizations much continued success and will do my part to ensure their continued successes”.  

Lovely guests.

Lovely guests.

Ballet Austin Guild President Suzanne Mackowiak thanked those in attendance and reminded the audience that all tea proceeds go to Ballet Austin’s Academy Youth Scholarship Fund, making classical ballet training available to any child with a passion and desire to learn, regardless of his or her family’s economic situation.

Learn how you can support Ballet Austin Guild by visiting here.

Wedding Ring Shopping Trends: In-home/On-line With a Twist

When it comes to choosing wedding rings, a new trend is poised to start challenging the traditional in-store shopping method.

The information below details a new wedding ring selection service called Hayden Cudworth.

It could be considered the Warby Parker “home try-on” version of wedding jewelry shopping for couples.



It’s a hassle-free, cost-free shopping service where the entire ring choosing process happens in the comfort and convenience of the home with no pushy store salesperson.

How it works:

  1. Hayden Cudworth allows clients to select and try on five engagement rings and/or wedding bands from their home.
  2. Replicas of the chosen rings are delivered to the home letting couples make the selection by themselves or consult family and friends to find the perfect ring outside the high-pressure environment of a jewelry store.
  3. Once the final ring is chosen, it will be custom made in the ideal size and choice of metal finish: yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and platinum. Pricing is also very competitive as Hayden Cudworth is direct to consumer, with no middleman involved, which keeps costs low.
  4. Instead of a traditional engagement ring purchase experience which can seem male-driven, Hayden Cudworth offers a modern, joint shopping experience and promotes involvement by both partners in a collaborative, thoughtful way.

Learn more by visiting