Happy Birthday, Sarah-Lynda


I always laugh when I see this picture.  Ingrid had just awakened from a nap and wasn’t sure what was going on. Her mom, Sarah, was showing us Ingrid’s new dress, a gift from Lindsay, my daughter’s best friend.  Sarah has flown to Texas with Ingrid today to attend her reunion with all of her friends from the High School for the Visual and Performing Arts.  Lindsay is among those friends, and I am so happy that she could go.

Sometimes I think I must be the luckiest mother in the world.   Sarah, proves this to me every day. SHE is a perfect example of what a mother should be, and has joyfully shared little Ingrid with us, including us in everything that has gone on,  and given us important roles in her life knowing that together we will build a strong, secure sense of family for Ingrid.   I am amazed by her’s and Nathan’s  incredible parenting skills. I am amazed by her intelligence and quick wit.  I could not have asked for a better person as my daughter.  She has never given anyone any grief and is a joy to be around.

Sarah is one of the smartest and kindest women I know, but she is no pushover. She has strong, good ideals and  an excellent education.  She is beautiful inside and out, and I am so proud to say that she is my daughter.  She is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a college professor, a talented landscape photographer, a librarian, a homemaker, a friend. She is my daughter, and I am so proud of that fact.

Happy birthday, Sarah.  I love you with my whole heart.  Enjoy your trip, and have lots of fun.  See you guys next week.  xoxoxoo   Ma

Some Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee


Health Benefits

On his nutrition-focused website, Nutritionfacts.org, physician and New York Times bestselling author, Michael Greger, cites growing evidence that supports the many health benefits of coffee consumption. For instance, an analysis performed earlier this year, of the best studies published to date, indicates that coffee consumption may lead to a modest reduction in overall cancer incidences.

Coffee is loaded with all kinds of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that can contribute toward improving one’s overall health. It also contains caffeine, which can impart energy and improve one’s mood.

When people consume coffee, the caffeine blocks the adenosine, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. When this happens, other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine increase, and enhances the brain’s firing of neurons. This can lead to marked improvements in memory, energy levels, mood and general cognitive function.


Weight Loss

Coffee can also be useful for weight loss. A number of recent studies suggest that caffeine can help burn fat in the body. The beverage has also been shown to boost the body’s metabolic rate. Coffee has also been shown to increase the body’s adrenaline levels by releasing the fatty acids found in fat tissues. This can lead to improvements in physical performance.


Many people are unaware of the fact that coffee contains many beneficial nutrients. A single cup of the beverage contains 2% of the recommended daily allowance of Magnesium and Niacin and 3% of the daily recommended dosage of Manganese and Potassium. It also contains Pantothenic Acid, which is used to metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins in the body. Coffee also contains as much as 11% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin.


Type II. Diabetes

Recent observational studies suggest that people who consume coffee regularly have less chances of contracting type II. diabetes. Currently, approximately 300 million people are afflicted with this serious disease worldwide.

Overall, coffee is a healthful beverage for the general population. However, like any other food or beverage, the consumption of coffee has some caveats for certain individuals. People with insomnia, heartburn, anxiety, high blood pressure and specific heart-related rhythm irregularities should consult with their physicians to determine the safest levels to drink. Certain compounds found in coffee have been shown, in some cases, to increase cholesterol levels. However, Dr. Greger cites evidence suggesting that these compounds can be effectively removed when the coffee is filtered through paper filters. Therefore, drip coffee is the preferred brewing method over French press, boiled or espresso. Coffee should be limited to two cups per day for women who are pregnant.

Brain Training & Other Ways to Improve Brain Function by Stacy Alexander


Human health depends largely on the brain’s ability to function properly. The brain is the most important organ in the body, as it controls all functions, including the ability to heal. However, when it comes to health, the brain is largely ignored. There are certain things one can do to help improve brain function, including nutritional intake, brain training, meditation and other brain exercises.


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According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, what one eats directly affects the function and structure of the brain and, ultimately, one’s mood.

Like a precision-built luxury car, the human brain functions optimally when it gets only the best, high-powered fuel. Consuming high-quality foods that contain a lot of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, serves to nourish the brain and protect it from oxidative stress.

Just as that precision-built luxury car will not run well on inferior fuel, the brain can actually be damaged if one ingests anything other than premium fuel. Eating refined sugars and highly processed foods can harm the brain. In addition to harming the body’s ability to regulate insulin, they promote oxidative stress and inflammation.

Multiple scientific studies have found a relationship between a diet high in refined sugar and negatively impaired brain function. Additionally, there has been a worsening of the symptoms of certain mood disorders, such as depression.



Exercise prompts the human brain to work at optimum capacity by prompting nerve cells to multiply, which strengthens their interconnections and protects them from damage. When one exercises, his or her nerve cells release neurotrophic factors, which are types of proteins. One of these proteins in particular, triggers numerous other chemicals that promote brain health and that positively benefit cognitive functions, including one’s ability to learn.

Exercise also results in:

  • The production compounds that protect the brain’s nerves
  • Increased blood flow to the brain
  • Improved development and survival of neurons
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke



Sleep is essential for creativity and problem solving. Another study conducted by Harvard Medical School suggests that people are as much as 33% more likely to infer connections between distantly related ideas after sleep, but that most people do not realize their performance has improved. Sleep can enhance memory and help improve brain function with regard to challenging skills. The study found that one night’s sleep lasting from 4 to 6 hours can positively impact one’s ability to think clearly the following day.

Brain Training


One of the easiest ways to boost brain function is to continually strive to learn new things. The structure and size of neurons, as well as the connections between them change as one learns.

Learning is not limited to things one necessarily learns from books. It can also include such activities as traveling to new places, learning how to play, write or sing music, learning to speak a language other than one’s own or becoming a part of community and other social activities.

Challenging the brain with various mind training activities and exercises can keep the brain fit as one ages. These exercises do not have to be elaborate. They can be as simple as trying to recall the names of all of the states, or attempting to recall as many names as possible that begin with a certain letter of the alphabet. Crossword puzzles are great ways to exercise the brain, as are playing the types of board games, such as chess, that require contemplation.

Research suggests that even surfing the Internet activates specific regions in the brain that are related to complex reasoning and decision-making. Unlike passively viewing television, surfing the web is more engaging and can actually help improve one’s brainpower.

Stacy Alexander

MS Psychology

Arrive as Friends – Leave as Famly – Casa Mia


Casa Mia

The Detour coffee shop was a popular landmark at 3035 Division Street, but its owners decided to move on, and now we are graced with a fabulous new replacement, Casa Mia. This is the Italian restaurant the Richmond neighborhood has needed for a long time. It is quaint, cozy, and lacks the corporate vibe that so many of the new neighborhood restaurants have. What it lacks in the hip and cool area, it makes up for in its genuine charm,  pleasant atmosphere and friendly service.


The interior has been completely revamped since the cramped days of the Detour in a pristine solid wood and black metal decor.  Fresh roses grace each table, sleek silver mirrors reflect the soothing pale gray interior, framed, Italian-themed posters add to the decor, all tempered by the rustic cement floor.   The place looks nice!


Chef Benito Omana, originally from the Mexico City area, loves Italian food. His humble restauranteur beginnings were that of a dishwasher who keenly observed the chefs in the restaurants where he worked, learning bit-by-bit as he observed, and who gradually worked his way up through the ranks by demonstrating his own talent as a chef. In 1992, he began cooking at popular Portland restaurants, such as Pazzo, Piazza Italia, Southpark, Wildwood, El Gaucho and ElGuero.  In 2014, Benito opened Bellino Pasta & Cafe in Hillsboro, but he lives here in my neighborhood, and when the opportunity arose to open Casa Mia, he jumped on it.

I stopped by for lunch and immediately felt a little wary, because no one else was there. I was further dismayed to note that there were few, if any, vegetarian entrees on the menu.  However, when I expressed this to Benito, he told me he could whip something up off menu, the sign of a truly good restaurant, if you ask me……and he did!  He said that he plans to add more vegetarian options at some point.

I was first greeted by a plate of delicious house made foccacia bread with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  I was starving, so this tasted really good.  I was half way through my first piece when my husband, John, decided to stroll over and meet me. He polished off the rest with great enthusiasm.


Benito served us a moderately priced Italian wine made from  Nebbiolo, Nascetta, Eau-de-Vie, Pelaverga, and Dolcetto grapes, which went perfectly with our entrees.

Benio whipped up a delicious penne dish for me that had outstanding fresh tomatoes, lots of garlic, basil and some of the best parm I have ever eaten.  It was simple, and quite delicious.  I loved the fact that it was served at a very hot temperature, too.  Great mouthfeel.  Teriffic flavor that made me smile.


John had the fresh minnestroni, right off the stove.  Every ingredient was fresh and delicious, and it went beautifully with the wine and bread.

We had cappuccinos and some of the best tiramisu we had ever eaten for dessert.  We’re talking some serious dessert here, folks. It was out of this world delicious!


The entire meal cost less than $30, and we made a new friend in Benito, so I’d say we made out pretty well.  Wouldn’t you?

Because of its location along Division street, and the manner in which it is set back from the street, Casa Mia is easy to miss….which is why  I am writing this blog article to urge people in the Clinton-Division-Richmond neighborhood to stop by and check it out.  Benito has big plans for weekend brunch, and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner all week long.  This is a call to action to stop in and introduce yourself to the chef and delight in the wonderful food that John and I experienced at Casa Mia!


Casa Mia – Affordable fine dining in a quaint, friendly atmosphere.



Tonebridge Guitar Effects App for iPad


I am practicing my guitars more and more and getting better and better, with my focus on the blues.  I have been thinking a lot about guitar pedals as I progress.  I don’t buy them (for myself), but today, I did buy this amazing app that has over 1,000 pedal effects.  It is impressive!   Ultimate Guitar makes it possible with its new Tonebridge Guitar Effects app for iPad. The app is free and makes it easy to recreate classic guitar tones on demand. You use it with an iRig or other guitar-to-app connector.

“The main idea here is to make your practice hours more fun and efficient,” Ultimate Guitar explains. “Hopefully, getting the exact tone of the tune you’d like to jam will keep you more focused on the guitar itself and make you eager to spend more time with it.”

Once you’ve downloaded Tonebridge to your iPad, connect your guitar via iRig or any other audio interface, select the desired tone and jam away.

The tones range from the crystal clear notes of “Get Lucky” to the crunch and punch of “”Master of Puppets” and “Spirit Crusher.”

Each preset tells you which pickup to use and which part of the song to play.

Tonebridge also works as an add-on to Ultimate Guitar’s Tabs HD app.

Tonebridge Features:

• 1000+ presets for popular songs of different genres
• 500+ demo samples for effect preview
• Collections of presets handpicked by Ultimate Guitar editors
• Intelligent feedback and noise reduction system for a clear sound
• Low latency for real-time playing
• Information about pickup settings

Compatible Devices:

• Ampkit Link
• Apogee JAM, Line 6 Mobile In, Line 6 SonicPort, iRiffPort, Alesis IO Dock
• iRig, iRig HD

Check out the video below for more information. To download Tonebridge, visit the iTunes app store.