November Birth Flower: Chrysanthemum


Chrysanthemums or “mums” as they are more commonly known are one of the most widely cultivated flowers in the world, and the birthday flower for those born in the month of November. A native to Asia and northeastern Europe, their name comes from the Greek words “chrysos,” meaning gold, and “anthemon,” which means flower.  They are a member of the daisy family, which also includes asters, zinnias and coneflowers. Many varieties of chrysanthemums bloom during the fall months; however, you can also find chrysanthemums blooming just about any time of the year.

What makes these plants so interesting is the diversity of flower variations you can find. From puffy poms to the spindly spider and quill flowers, there is a chrysanthemum for every taste. Plants feature dark green leaves and relatively large flowers, with the most common colors being yellow, pink, red or white. Contrary to their appearance, the chrysanthemum’s pom blooms are not just one single large flower, but rather a grouping of many tiny flowers.

Chrysanthemums in History

As early as the 15th century BC, the chrysanthemum was cultivated as a flowering herb in China. It is also one of the four plants known in Chinese culture as “The Four Gentlemen,” which were depicted in much of the art beginning during the Song Dynasty, 960 to 1279. The chrysanthemum flower was used to represent autumn in this style of paintings.

Colors and Symbolism

  • The chrysanthemum is one of the most popular flowers, outshined only by the rose. It is a traditional flower to give on Mother’s Day. It symbolizes the qualities of optimism and joy.
  • Red flowers express true love, while yellow refers to a wounded heart, and white the virtue of honesty.
  • The official flower of the city of Chicago is the chrysanthemum.
  • In China chrysanthemums are considered a symbol of stateliness and is a popular topic of many of the country’s poets.
  • Chrysanthemums are the flower of choice to give on a 13th wedding anniversary.


Fun Facts about Chrysanthemums

  • Chrysanthemum tea is popular in parts of Asia. In China the leaves are eaten steamed and boiled. In Korea chrysanthemum flowers are use d to add flavor to wine known as gukhwaju.
  • A study by NASA found that chrysanthemum plants helped reduce indoor air pollution.

November Birthstone!

Through much of history, all yellow gems were considered topaz and all topaz was thought to be yellow. Topaz is actually available in many colors, and it’s likely not even related to the stones that first donned its name.

The name topaz derives from Topazios, the ancient Greek name for St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. Although the yellow stones famously mined there probably weren’t topaz, it soon became the name for most yellowish stones.

Pure topaz is colorless, but it can become tinted by impurities to take on any color of the rainbow. Precious topaz, ranging in color from brownish orange to yellow, is often mistaken for “smoky quartz” or “citrine quartz,” respectively—although quartz and topaz are unrelated minerals.

The most prized color is Imperial topaz, which features a vibrant orange hue with pink undertones. Blue topaz, although increasingly abundant in the market, very rarely occurs naturally and is often caused by irradiation treatment.

The largest producer of quality topaz is Brazil. Other sources include Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Australia, Nigeria, Germany, Mexico and the U.S., mainly California, Utah and New Hampshire.

Measuring 8 on the Mohs scale, topaz is a rather hard and durable gem. Its perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping or cracking, but when cut correctly, topaz makes very wearable jewelry.

Topaz is a soothing stone that has been said to calm tempers, cure madness and eliminate nightmares.


Fruits of Our Nature

  • Grapefruit -Besides being a good source of vitamins and minerals, it is known for its ability to aid weight loss and reduce insulin resistance.
  • Pineapple –  Pineapple also contains bromelain, a mixture of enzymes known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to digest protein.
  • Avocado – The majority of the fat in avocado is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat linked to reduced inflammation and better heart health.
  • Blueberries – The antioxidants in blueberries may reduce the risk of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
  •  Apples – Studies suggest that the antioxidants in apples can promote heart health and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s
  • Pomegranate – Studies have also shown that pomegranates have anti-inflammatory effects and may help reduce the risk of cancer
  • Mango – Additionally, mangoes have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce the risk of disease
  •  Strawberries – Compared to other fruits, strawberries have a relatively low glycemic index. Eating them shouldn’t cause a big blood sugar spike
  • Cranberries – What makes cranberries unique from other fruits is that their juices and extracts help prevent urinary tract infections. They also contain a significant amount of antioxidants called flavanol polyphenols, which can improve health.
  •  Lemons – They may be particularly helpful in promoting heart health due to their potential to lower blood lipids and blood pressure, researchers have also proposed that the plant compounds in lemons can help prevent weight gain.        


10 of the Best Stocks to Buy for 2019

10 of the Best Stocks to Buy for 2019


The 10 best stocks to buy for 2019.

With the market on the verge of a 10-year bull run entering the New Year, investors saw the return of volatility in late 2018 as tariffs, rising interest rates and China took center stage. The best stocks to buy for 2019 will need to be strong companies with solid underlying fundamentals, poised to grow regardless of what the future brings. A diverse array of growth and value stocks, ranging from small- to mega-cap names, all 10 of the best stocks to buy for 2019 look like attractive opportunities for the long-term investor. Here’s a rundown of the top selections for the coming year, and what makes each of them special.


Starbucks Corporation (ticker: SBUX)

While the running gag with Starbucks is there’s “one on every corner,” that punchline still rings hollow in some parts of the globe. The company’s biggest growth opportunity is in the China/Asia Pacific region, where it opened 278 new stores between July and September alone. Hedge fund titan Bill Ackman certainly believes SBUX is one of the best stocks to buy for 2019, having bet over $900 million on shares mere months ago. Even after a 10 percent rally on impressive results, shares trade for 20 times earnings. China sales grew 41 percent last quarter; even if overall growth is modest, Starbucks is a great company at a fair price.


NXP Semiconductors (NXPI)

For years, NXPI was more or less dead money. No longer. After the Chinese government failed to approve Qualcomm’s (QCOM) purchase of the large-cap chipmaker, known for its leadership in the automotive and internet of things markets, shareholders got clobbered. NXPI stock plunged from $125 to lows around $69 in late October. So what makes NXP Semiconductors one of the best stocks to buy for 2019? Well, it appears to have found its bottom, with shares surging after better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. Still miles away from prices Qualcomm would’ve paid, NXPI trades for 10 times forward earnings and is aggressively buying back stock with the $2 billion breakup penalty QCOM paid.


Facebook (FB)

Bold long-term investors should consider Facebook’s 2018 data/PR crisis a great entry opportunity: the time to buy, after all, is when there’s proverbial blood in the streets. With 2.2 billion monthly active users, FB’s network is impossible for competitors to replicate without Facebook seeing the threat a mile away. Look no further than Facebook-owned Instagram’s ruthless handling of Snapchat (SNAP), whose popular ephemeral messaging service was swiftly mimicked, destroying the young company’s momentum. Facebook’s plans to enter online datingand the potential to charge for Facebook Marketplace transactions are just two of many potential bullish catalysts that underline why FB is one of the best stocks to buy for 2019.


Stitch Fix (SFIX)

This innovative young company is a brilliant hybrid of megatrends in e-commerce, bespoke services, subscriptions, big data and the stay-at-home economy. An online service for those too busy or apathetic to routinely shop for clothes, Stitch Fix offers personal, virtual stylists to send you regular clothing installments based on your preferences. Whatever you don’t want you send back. Be forewarned that SFIX shares have been volatile since its 2017 IPO, but analysts foresee 20 percent growth for the next few years, and its September expansion into big-and-tall clothing boosts its potential. Like Netflix (NFLX), Stitch Fix harnesses user data to roll out new products under its own brand.


Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)

One of the best blue-chip stocks of the last century, Johnson & Johnson is built to last through whatever economic situation you can throw at it. Three multibillion-dollar divisions – pharmaceuticals, consumer goods and medical devices – give JNJ broad diversification and, combined, make the stock an absolute cash cow. A major reason JNJ remains one of the best stocks to buy for 2019 (and beyond) is its ability to weather the business cycle. Consumers don’t stop skinning their knees (Band-Aid), getting headaches (Tylenol), upsetting their stomachs (Imodium) or wanting to look their best (Neutrogena) when the economy slumps, and patents protect much of its roughly $40 billion pharma business.


Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.BBRK.A)

CEO Warren Buffett and vice chairman Charlie Munger have toiled for decades to create a remarkable, steady business like few others in existence. BRK recently bought back nearly $1 billion in stock, signaling Buffett believes shares trade below intrinsic value. The owner of timeless, entrenched companies in insurance, railroads, utilities and aerospace, these two old sages have built Berkshire into a company that can practically run on cruise control for the next century. While it’s regrettable Buffett and Munger can’t run the company forever, Berkshire’s famous liquidity, steady hand and impeccable reputation should allow it to take advantage of panics and acquisition opportunities for years to come.


Centene Corporation (CNC)

A beneficiary of the 2018 midterm elections, Centene is one of just a handful of publicly traded health insurers. The $29 billion St. Louis, Missouri-based CNC has savvily focused its business on a niche area: Medicaid. Because of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion requirements, CNC is enjoying steadily growing membership – up 17 percent last quarter – as well as revenue (36 percent) and earnings per share (33 percent). With a split Congress almost certainly unable to repeal the ACA, and Obamacare plans on sale in four more states in 2019, CNC may be the fastest-growing public health insurer, a valuable superlative in a consolidating industry.


Apple (AAPL)

Apple remains one of the best stocks to buy for 2019 and beyond, even after September earnings sent shares plunging. Apple’s earnings themselves weren’t bad at all in fact, beating both top- and bottom-line expectations. Still, a jittery market reading too much into guidance and flattening iPhone sales ultimately overreacted. AAPL may not be the growth dynamo it once was, but its ability to push higher prices on consumers shows no sign of slowing down. At just 17 times earnings, with a modest dividend, growing services revenue (from App Store, iTunes, iCloud, etc.) helping boost margins and Buffett as a shareholder, AAPL is about as safe as stocks get.


Sprouts Farmers Market (SFM)

A lovely combination of value, growth, and predictability, Sprouts Farmers Market is a grocery chain focused on healthy, fresh and organic food. This $3.5 billion company is on the right side of a secular trend toward more conscious consumption, with 315 stores (and growing) in 19 states through late 2018. In an industry of typically unimpressive growth, SFM practically doubled revenues from $2.44 billion to $4.67 billion between 2013 and 2017. Private label sales, a great source of margin expansion for grocers, grew from 7 percent to 13 percent of total sales between 2013 and 2018. Lastly, home delivery in over 200 stores shows it’s hip to tech’s incessant disruption.


DowDuPont (DWDP)

“Money is made by discounting the obvious and betting on the unexpected.” This phrase may best encapsulate the logic behind DWDP’s inclusion among 2019’s best stocks to buy. One of the “dogs of the Dow” through late 2018, DWDP is a somewhat contrarian pick, premised mainly on the fact that when the company spins into three separate businesses (by mid-2019, according to management), it should unlock value for shareholders of the original DWDP. The resultant standalone companies will be: Dow (materials science), DuPont (specialty products) and Corveta (agricultural seeds, weed killers). DWDP is targeting synergies of $3.6 billion and is repurchasing $3 billion of stock before the first company spins.

Fun Fact Friday!

The Bermuda Triangle is a mythical section of the Atlantic Ocean roughly bounded by Miami, Bermuda and Puerto Rico where dozens of ships and airplanes have disappeared. Unexplained circumstances surround some of these accidents, including one in which the pilots of a squadron of U.S. Navy bombers became disoriented while flying over the area; the planes were never found. Other boats and planes have seemingly vanished from the area in good weather without even radioing distress messages. But although myriad fanciful theories have been proposed regarding the Bermuda Triangle, none of them prove that mysterious disappearances occur more frequently there than in other well-traveled sections of the ocean. In fact, people navigate the area every day without incident.

The area referred to as the Bermuda Triangle, or Devil’s Triangle covers about 500,000 square miles of ocean off the southeastern tip of Florida. When Christopher Columbus sailed through the area on his first voyage to the New World, he reported that a great flame of fire (probably a meteor) crashed into the sea one night and that a strange light appeared in the distance a few weeks later. He also wrote about erratic compass readings, perhaps because at that time a sliver of the Bermuda Triangle was one of the few places on Earth where true north and magnetic north lined up.

William Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” which some scholars claim was based on a real-life Bermuda shipwreck, may have enhanced the area’s aura of mystery. Nonetheless, reports of unexplained disappearances did not really capture the public’s attention until the 20th century. An especially infamous tragedy occurred in March 1918 when the USS Cyclops, a 542-foot-long Navy cargo ship with over 300 men and 10,000 tons of manganese ore onboard, sank somewhere between Barbados and the Chesapeake Bay. The Cyclops never sent out an SOS distress call despite being equipped to do so, and an extensive search found no wreckage. “Only God and the sea know what happened to the great ship,” U.S. President Woodrow Wilson later said. In 1941 two of the Cyclops’ sister ships similarly vanished without a trace along nearly the same route.

A pattern allegedly began forming in which vessels traversing the Bermuda Triangle would either disappear or be found abandoned. Then, in December 1945, five Navy bombers carrying 14 men took off from a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airfield, in order to conduct practice bombing, runs over some nearby shoals. But with his compasses apparently malfunctioning, the leader of the mission, known as Flight 19, got severely lost. All five planes flew aimlessly until they ran low on fuel and were forced to ditch at sea. That same day, a rescue plane and its 13-man crew also disappeared. After a massive weeks-long search failed to turn up any evidence, the official Navy report declared that it was “as if they had flown to Mars.”


Now You See It Now You Dont

  • The DoDo Bird Oh, dodo. Poor dodo. The flightless bird, native to the island of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, was known to mankind for less than 100 years
  • Dinosaurs  They were gone long before the first human graced the planet, yet they’ve still managed to capture the hearts of school kids across the globe, thanks to the toys, cartoons, and museums full of skeletons extolling their prior existence.
  • Passenger Pigeon   While passenger pigeons were hunted as a crop nuisance for years, it wasn’t until pigeon meat got popular that things took a turn for the worst. It also sure didn’t help that westward-bound settlers were chopping down the birds’ habitat at an alarming pace.

Tasmanian Tiger  Native to Australia, the thylacine was last seen on that mainland over 2,000 years ago. The tiger was hunted to extinction by the indigenous population, but had a safe haven of sorts in the island of Tasmania … or at least it did until Europeans showed up.


  • Warrah   The warrah, or Falkland Islands wolf, was a unique species of wolf that was once the only mammal species native to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.


  • Golden Toad  The golden toad was once abundant in a small region of Costa Rica. The toad’s main habitat was on a cold, wet ridge called Brillante – where 1500 of them had been breeding since 1972. However, the last documented mating episode occurred in April of 1987, and now they are all gone.
  • Elephant Bird   Reaching a size of up to 880 pounds, the elephant bird was one of the world’s largest birds until it went extinct 1,000 years ago. It was not named for being the size of an elephant, but being big enough to carry off a baby one.
  • Delcourts Giant Gecko  Delcourt’s giant gecko was the largest of all known geckos – with a snout-to-vent length of 14.6 inches and an overall length of at least 23.6 inches. It was likely endemic to New Zealand and was also called kawekaweau. The only documented report of anyone ever seeing one of these animals alive was by a Māori chief in 1870. He killed it.
  • Sivatherium  An extinct genus of giraffid that ranged throughout Africa to the Indian subcontinent, sivatherium giganteum is the largest giraffid known, and also possibly the largest ruminant of all time. Remains have been recovered from the Himalayan foothills, dating around 1,000,000 B.C.
  • Opabinia  Opabinia were a stem group arthropod found in the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale Lagerstätte of British Columbia, Canada. The head shows unusual features: five eyes, a mouth under the head and facing backward, and a proboscis that probably passed food to the mouth.
  • Camelops  Camelops is an extinct genus of a camel that once roamed western North America, where it disappeared at the end of the Pleistocene about 10,000 years ago. Camelops’ extinction was part of a larger North American die-off in which native horses, mastodons, and other camelids also died out – possibly from global climate change and hunting by the Clovis people.


Cold Weather Tips

Bundle Up (and Swap Out the Leggings)

It might seem obvious, but piling on a few extra layers is a great way to stay warm, especially if you have to be outside. Keeping your core warm is especially important when temperatures dip below freezing, so try wearing an extra shirt or two under your coat.

Worried about looking bulky? Many sporting goods companies make cold-weather gear that is slim enough to be worn even under work clothes.

For ladies who love wearing leggings, try swapping them out for long underwear. Several hiking-gear companies make long underwear that has the same look as leggings and will help keep you warm. A bonus: Most long underwear is meant to dry quickly, so leftover snow and slush won’t leave your legs damp.

 Indulge in Foods That Help You Keep Warm

You already know that eating healthfully in the winter is important to fend off colds and the flu, but did you know it might help keep you warm, too? Eating extra healthy fats during the winter can help rev up metabolism, which in turn heats the body, according to Columbia Health.

If your New Year’s resolution was to drop a few pounds, don’t worry — you can always skip the extra fat and try eating warmer foods and drinks. Try soups, spicy foods, hot coffee and teas to fend off the chill!

 We’re Sorry: Alcohol Decreases Core Temperatures 

Although alcoholic beverages might make you feel warm, they actually decrease your core temperature and can be dangerous during winter months.

According to The New York Times and a study by Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, alcohol reverses some reflexes that control body temperature, especially the body’s ability to shiver. Alcohol can also make you sweat, even when it is cold, which can lower core temperatures even more.

 Keep Your Toes Toasty

Hypothermia is most likely to begin in extremities like your hands and feet, so keeping your toes warm is important. Whether you’re walking to work or just around the block, make sure to wear sturdy, insulated shoes that will help prevent slips on slick surfaces and keep your feet dry.

Looking for a pair? Try a good pair of hiking boots or, for the fashionista, this article from Glamour offers boots that are cozy and cute. Also, consider wearing an extra pair of socks.

 Sunglasses… Even in the Winter

If you’re walking in the snow during the day, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare.

If you are walking at night, make sure to dress in colors other than white and to wear something reflective on your person to alert drivers to your presence.

Avoid walking too close to roadways, especially near icy areas where drivers may lose control of their vehicle.

Remember the “Three-Feet Rule”

Space heaters are a great way to add extra heat to colder rooms, but always remember to keep anything flammable at least three feet away from the heater at all times.

Flammable items include clothing, rugs, bedding, and curtains. Also remember to place the heater on a hard, non-flammable, stable surface and to turn it off completely before leaving the house. Set a reminder on your phone if you’re afraid you’ll forget.

Don’t Warm Up Your Car While It’s Unattended

Although letting your car heat up before you hop in can be tempting, leaving your car running when you’re not around offers the perfect opportunity for thieves to steal it.

Instead, have a family member wait inside it while you finish getting ready, and then switch “shifts” with them when you have finished. Alternate who goes first to keep it fair.


12 Toasty Tips for Staying Warm in Cold Weather

12 Toasty Tips for Staying Warm in Cold Weather


Using these tips, you can stay warm no matter how frightful the weather outside gets.


Woman in a sweater holding a cup of tea


It’s easier to change your body temperature than room temperature, not to mention more eco-friendly. Instead of turning up the heat, put on another layer of clothing.


Girl wearing a Christmas winter hat


Your mom may have said that you lose 80 percent of your body heat through your head, but that’s not actually true. If you’re otherwise clothed, you’ll lose heat from any surface that’s exposed. So put on your hat, even if you’re inside.


Ceiling fan with spinning blades


Warm air rises to the ceiling. Run your fan on its lowest setting in a clockwise direction to push the warm air back down to where you can feel it.


Cold shower faucet


Hot showers immediately warm you up, but cold showers improve blood circulation between your skin and organs. Cold showers are also correlated with a stronger immune system.


Pool noodles


Keep heat in and cold out by cutting a pool noodle in half lengthwise, wrapping it in fabric, and sliding it under your door. It’ll stay put all winter, and you can re-use it at the pool come summer. (But we recommend you spring for a new one.)


A person adjusting a digital thermostat


Another two words: Obvious, right?Stay toasty on schedule, so you never go home to a living room that’s colder than outside. You can even do it with your smartphone.


A pile of ice cubes


Not everyone has access to adjust the thermostat in their apartment or office building. If that’s the case, you may need to outsmart the device by making it “think” the room is colder than it actually is. Putting ice near itoften does the trick.


A warm fireplace and Christmas tree in a rustic home


If you’re not wearing a tank top or going sleeveless, your windows shouldn’t, either. Replace thin curtains with heavier wool or fleece drapes in the winter. But be sure to open them on sunny days for free heat.


Dough recipe ingredients on vintage rural wood kitchen table


Using your oven heats up the whole house. You’ll feel even cozier if you invite friends—and all their body heat—over to eat four dozen cookies.


Woman composting organic kitchen waste


If you’re already interested in composting, here’s another reason to do it: The microbial breakdown of organic material produces heat. Some people use it to warm up showers and greenhouses, but even small-timers in studio apartments can feel a difference.


Dog laying under several layers of blankets


It’s intuitive, but fluffy blankets should be closer to your skin. Thin, dense blankets should be on top to prevent convective heat loss. Bonus tip: Don’t put your bed directly against an exterior wall. You’ll be warmer if you leave a little space.


Woman with hands in her coat pockets in a wintry landscape


You could just buy hand warmers, but you’ll radiate pride and self-sufficiency if you make them yourself. All it takes is two Ziploc bags, water, and calcium chloride ice melt pellets from the hardware store.

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, cook beef in oil over medium heat until brown. Dissolve bouillon in water and pour into pot. Stir in rosemary, parsley, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
  2. Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion into the pot. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 teaspoons cold water and stir into stew. Cover and simmer 1 hour more.


Self Appreciation!

Self-appreciation is a not a commonly used term. Most people confuse self-appreciation with self-esteem and self-confidence. But self-appreciation is actually very unlike the other two. Self-appreciation is the process of appreciating yourself. Appreciating yourself is about being grateful for yourself.

Self-esteem, on the other hand, is a personal evaluation of one’s self-worth. It’s a judgment. Esteem itself is defined as respect and admiration. If you value yourself as someone who’s worthy of respect and admiration, then you have high self-esteem. If you don’t, then you have low self-esteem.

People could have strengths in something, but they may not value them. The same strength could be valued differently by two people.

Take the introvert as an example again. One may think being quiet is good, while another may think it’s a bad trait to have. Self-appreciation is neither of those. You don’t judge your introverted nature as good or bad. Because a quality can be both a strength or a weakness under different circumstances. You are just grateful to have what you are given. Also, there’s nothing egoistic about self-appreciative. Some may think, “I can’t toot my own horn. I’ll be so conceited or arrogant. Praises and acknowledgment should come from someone else.”