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Pansy Flowers

Pansy Flowers

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made and forgot to put a soul into. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

In fact, a flower is one the most precious miracles that God has ever created. It is Mother Nature’s wonderful gift to mankind. Life can’t be as beautiful as it is without flowers. Flowers are a part and parcel of life, since time immemorial. We have been using flowers for many reasons - in beautifying our surroundings, in expressing our sympathy and also as a source of food.

Pansy or pansy violets are one of the earliest spring blossoming plants. In warm regions, pansies flower in late winter and spring, whereas in cool regions, they flower in summer. They are biennials, but mostly planted as annuals. Pansy originally came from the French word pensie, which means, ‘thought’ or ‘remembrance’. According to floriography (the practice of assigning symbolic meaning to flowers), ‘pansy’ stands for ‘loving thoughts’. Pansy flowers have wide range of bright and brilliant colors. They also have light fragrance. They have three basic petal color patterns - first is single uniform color pattern, second is single color pattern with black line radiating from the center (the black line is called penciling) and the third pattern is flower with a dark center inside. Some people describe the dark inner region of pansy flowers, as ‘faces’. Among the three patterns, the pansy flowers with faces, are most commonly grown. Pansy plants are mostly cultivated as garden flowers.

Growing Pansy Flowers

Besides their dazzling colors, the popularity of pansies is partly due to the fact that they are easy to grow. They are regarded as a ‘plant for all seasons’. Pansies grow well in full sun or semi-shade, but can tolerate cool weather. They grow 6-10 inches high and spread up to 10-12 inches wide. Some of the tips for growing pansy plants are as follows:

  • Pansies propagate by means of seeds. It is better to sow seeds in early season, so that the flower will bloom in time. After sowing seeds, cover the bed lightly with soil, so as to enhance seed germination.
  • Thorough watering should be done once after sowing. Germination time varies according to the weather condition, but normally they germinate slowly.
  • When the seedlings reach to a certain height, transplant them into your garden or in flowerpots according to your wish. After transplantation, care should be taken in order to protect the young plants from frost.
  • Planting should be done with a gap of about 6 inches in between each plant. However, they will stand a little crowding.
  • In order to create a good color contrast pattern, you can always choose mixed varieties. Flowering time differs according to the variety. Some species flower as early as nine weeks after sowing and some may flower within the first year.

Uses of Pansy Flowers

Many of the florists are not aware about the edibility of pansies. Usually, they plant pansies for their garden value. People use pansies in flower arrangements, as wedding flowers and some of the silk varieties are used as bridal flowers. But the fact is that, in addition to these, pansy plants can be used for a variety of other purposes. Let’s take a look at some of the uses of a pansy plant.

  • Both the pansy leaves and flowers are edible and have a mild, minty taste. They are a rich source of vitamin A and C.
  • Mostly, the leaves and flowers are used as garnishes in cakes, fruit salads, green salads, desserts and soups. Many people freeze the petals in ice cube trays and use in drinks.
  • Pansy flowers are used to make syrup, honey and salad because of its strong flavor.
  • Wide range of dyes are prepared from pansy flowers.
  • It has been found out that pansy plants can be used for herbal medicinal purposes.

Taking Care of Pansy Flowers

Pansies rarely have problems with diseases and pests. However, it is always better to buy healthy and resistant varieties. Diseases to watch out for include leaf spot, stem rot and mildew. Pests like aphids, snails and slugs can attack the pansy flower. One of the causes of diseases may be due to nutrient imbalance. If any of the diseases occur, the following care can be taken.

  • If there are diseases such as leaf spot, stem rot or mildew, treat the plants with fungicide. You can also use a mild organic or chemical insecticide. For pests, use mild pest repellent. Also, remove and destroy the fallen, diseased leaves regularly.
  • Water the plants regularly. Watering should be sufficient and uniform, otherwise it will attract diseases.
  • It is recommended to water the soil deeply; watering should not be done in the plant leaves but should be done entirely in the soil.
  • Try to avoid using chemical fertilizers, instead you can apply organic compost for better aeration and moisture conservation.

Pansies are such a wonderful flower, with several values. So, the next time, when you decide to make a change to your garden, do think of planting pansy flowers. You will really enjoy the view.

Major Cities of India

Major Cities of India

India, a country in South Asia, the seventh largest and the second most populated and guarded by the Himalayas on the North and enormous bodies of water on the other three sides has a rich cultural heritage. India is known for its fastest growing economy and a large purchasing power. It is a federal republic that is divided into twenty-eight states and seven Union Territories. The states are further divided into districts, which form the basic units of the nation’s administration. Let us look at some of the major cities of this multifaceted country, India.

Major Cities of India

New Delhi: New Delhi, or simply Delhi, the second largest metropolis of India, is its national capital. Located on the banks of the Yamuna River, it is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. The archaeological remains in Delhi stand testimony to the ancientness of this city. It has a rich history of being a capital of many Indian empires of the medieval period. Delhi is the proud home of many important government offices, most importantly, the Parliament of India. In the recent years, Delhi has attracted many immigrants, thus emerging as a cosmopolitan city. Today, it is a prominent political and commercial center of India. The Delhi-Agra highway joins Delhi to the beautiful city of Agra, which is a major tourist attraction. The world-famous Taj Mahal and many other great historical monuments like the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri and Sikandara are located in Agra. In the epic, Mahabharata, it was mentioned as Paradise.

Mumbai: Capital city of the state of Maharashtra, Mumbai is the financial capital of India. Housing around thirteen million people, it is the second most populous city in the world. Mumbai houses the world-famous Hindi film and television industry, Bollywood. Important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India and the National Stock Exchange of India are located in Mumbai. It houses the headquarters of several multinational companies and has thus become an important commercial and entertainment center of India.

Pune: Pune, the second largest city of Maharashtra, at a relatively shorter distance from Mumbai, is also one of the major cities of India. It houses some of India’s famous historical landmarks. Pune is renowned for its educational facilities and career opportunities in the information technology industry. Proud of a rich past and with a potential of shaping a bright future, Pune finds a place in the list of the major cities of India.

Chennai: Located on the Coromandel Coast of Bay of Bengal, this capital city of Tamil Nadu is the home of around 7 million people. It was established in the 17th century by the British and formerly known as Madras. Its economy is based on the automobile, hardware manufacturing, healthcare and the IT industry. Chennai hosts an international airport, two major ports and five national highways stretching to other parts of the India. Its contribution to India’s exports of automotive products has conferred upon Chennai, the title, ‘Detroit of India’.

Kolkata: Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal and one of the very important cities in India. It has been a center of education, industry and culture. However, it has undergone economic stagnation that continued till the recent times. It was after 2000 that the city witnessed economic growth. It houses the Salt Lake Stadium that is largest in Asia and the second largest in the world. The Indian Institute of Management, one of India’s most prestigious management schools is also located in Kolkata. Victoria Memorial, located in Kolkata, is now a museum and remains a popular tourist attraction.

Bangalore: Officially known as Bengaluru, it is the capital city of Karnataka state and the third most populous city of India. Bangalore houses some of the most recognized educational and research institutes of India. Numerous public sector industries, software, telecommunication and aerospace industries are located in Bangalore. Its remarkable contribution to the Indian IT sector has made it the Silicon Valley of India.

This was a glimpse of some of the major cities of India. India’s major cities, each hosting a different culture and housing a variety of people, make the Indians proud of their wonderful nation.

Tips on Growing Sweet Corn

Tips on Growing Sweet Corn

Very often, we found out that sweet corn bought from market didn’t taste up to our expectations. They don’t taste sweet as much as we expect. The fact behind this is that as soon as corns are picked up, the sugar from the corn flesh starts converting into starch. If you really long to test garden fresh, juicy sweet corn, you can give a try and plant sweet corn in your garden!

Tips on Growing Sweet Corn

Planting sweet corn and managing them are quite easy. The most important things in growing sweet corn are proper planting, healthy soil and picking at the right time. Let’s see some of the important tips on growing sweet corn, which will assist you in successful maintaining and harvesting of sweet corn.

Preparation of Soil

Fertile soil with humus and enough moisture is a must for growing sweet corn plants. There should be proper drainage, as sweet corn plants can’t tolerate waterlogged soil. Preparation of soil is usually done at least one month prior to sowing corn. Soil should be plowed deeply and should be left for drying. This is done to prevent spreading of soil-borne pathogens from any of the previous crops planted at that particular site. This will also prevent nematodes if present. If given an option, prefer sites where crop rotation has been followed, as these sites have less chances of disease occurrence. Also, if possible, plant leguminous plants such as peas and beans prior to planting corns to have more nitrogen in the soil (leguminous plants enrich the soil with nitrogen with the help of their legumes).

Sowing and Plantation of Sweet Corn

For a sweet corn plant to be healthy and have a good harvest, it is necessary to grow healthy and disease-free corn seedlings. So, care should be taken right from the sowing phase. The soil that is utilized for sowing sweet corn should be rich in nutrients, otherwise supplement it with farmyard manure and multi-purpose compost. First thing to be taken care is sowing the right variety of corn, since for each corn type, the requirements are different, for example, “sugar-enhanced” and “super-sweet” corn can’t tolerate cold temperatures, so they should be planted only after frost when temperature is around 17ºC, whereas normal “sweet corn” can be grown early even when the atmospheric temperature is around 10ºC. Also make sure that the corn seeds are fungicide-treated and are of resistant variety.

Sowing can be done outdoors or in a greenhouse. But sowing in greenhouse is advantageous as it is easy to maintain the optimum plant requirements. Sowing should be done preferably in late April. Sow corn seeds at about 3-4 cm deep and cover them with soil. Watering should be done thoroughly once after sowing. When the seedlings reach a height of about 2 cm, choose the healthy seedlings for transplantation. Before planting in the exact site, acclimatize the seedlings in outdoors by keeping in shade. Now the acclimatized seedlings can be transplanted in garden soil.

Growing sweet corn can also be achieved by planting the seeds directly into the soil. Planting by seeds or seedlings should be done about 20-30 cm apart and 50-60 cm between rows. Since corn is wind-pollinated, there should be at least 100 plants per block to enhance the fertilization process. Less corn plants per block hampers the pollination and results in short cornstalks and fewer cobs. Watering should be done regularly. Too less or too excess watering always leads to disease problems.

Taking Care of Sweet Corn

Sweet corn need less maintenance as compared to other crops. However, it is important to take care of certain things such as keeping the soil moist and removing weeds regularly. If soil is dry, you will notice curling of leaves. These should be taken care of by watering at regular intervals. When the corn plants reach a height of 50 cm, watering frequency should be once in a week. Also, this is the time to apply external nutrients in order to have a good harvest. Usually chemical fertilizers are not preferred since they have side effects in the long run. Therefore, instead of using chemical fertilizers to your garden sweet corn, you can add eco-friendly organic fertilizers by composting kitchen garbage and food leftovers. Depending upon the cultivars, ear (female inflorescence) and tassel (male inflorescence) will develop at a certain time and pollination will take place. Gentle shaking of the plants will increase the chances of fertilization and help in uniform development of the kernel.

Harvesting of Sweet Corn

Allow the corncobs to grow for about 20 days after the first silk strands appear. When the cob attains a certain length, you can check whether the corncobs are ready for harvesting or not. If the kernels produce a white milky juice when being punctured, it is confirmed that the corncobs are ripe. Harvest the ripe cobs until it becomes too late. Normally corncobs are harvested within 70-100 days of plantation time, depending upon the variety and the weather conditions.

Diseases and Pests of Sweet Corn

As long as there is a practice of crop rotation, nutrient balance and proper watering, sweet corn are rarely damaged by diseases and pests. However, diseases affect the sweet corn when any of the practices has been disturbed. Let’s see some of the commonly occurring sweet corn diseases.

Important fungal diseases of sweet corn include rust, smut, leaf blight, root and stalk rot, seed rot and seedling diseases. Rust is one of the common diseases developed due to less moisture and cold temperature, whereas smut disease is developed due to excess water and high temperature. Corn leaf blight disease is developed mostly due to monoculture of corn for subsequent years. Overcrowding and poor drainage may result into root and stalk rot disease. Seed rot and seedling disease spread through poor quality seeds. In addition, there are nematode diseases, viral diseases and bacterial diseases whose exact causes are not known. The common sweet corn pests are wireworm and white grub. Other pests include flea and sap beetles, cutworms, corn borer and corn earworm.

Diseases and pests of sweet corn can be controlled by following cultural practices such as planting improved and suitable varieties of the particular area, regular removal of weeds and affected plant parts, proper irrigation and avoiding monoculture as far as possible.

In fact, it is worth to face hurdles while growing sweet corn because the real taste of garden fresh corn is amazing. Experience of picking up ripe corn right from our garden is really satisfying. Also, one can try on many of the mouth-watering corn recipes with the freshly picked sweet corn. Let me mention some of the corn recipes, which you can try and explore: cornbread salad, corn cobbler, corn patties, corn casserole, corn salsa, corn salad, scalloped corn, corn fritters, corn pudding… and what about popping corn????

Types of Dementia

Types of Dementia

The World Health Organization defines mental health as a “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

Dementia is one of the prevalent mental illnesses, which is more common in the elderly. Dementia, characterized by a decline in the functioning of the brain is an illness that results in the loss of mental functions like thinking, memory, reasoning and overall cognitive abilities. Some of the common symptoms of dementia include loss of memory, changes in personality, mood, and behavior.

Types of Dementia

Based on the portion of the brain affected - dementia is categorized into two main types, which are cortical dementia and sub-cortical dementia.

Cortical Dementias

These are dementias which are a result of a disorder in the cerebral cortex. The Alzheimer’s disease is one of the common types of cortical dementias.

However before you move on to read about cortical dementias, you need to know the functions of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is a structure within the brain, which is plays an important role in memory, perceptual awareness, language, thought, consciousness and attention. The cerebral cortex is comprised of three important parts, which are sensory, motor, and association areas. The sensory areas receive and process information from the senses, while the association areas function to produce a meaningful perceptual experience, process languages and thoughts and help us to interact effectively. The motor areas on the other hand help to execute and select voluntary movements.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Alzheimer’s disease, also known as Senile Dementia of the Alzheimer Type (SDAT) is an incurable, degenerative disorder and is one of the common types of dementia. Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist was the first one to describe this disorder. During Alzheimer’s disease, the brain of the affected person shows characteristically abnormal behavior. The brain cells produce reduced amounts of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals required for communication between nerves. Some of the common symptoms or signs of Alzheimer’s disease include serious memory problems, which can affect everyday activities. Early diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment of the Alzheimer’s disease.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies(DLB): The dementia with Lewy bodies is characterized by the presence of Lewy bodies. The Lewy bodies are abnormal aggregates of protein, which develop inside nerve cells. Although the causes of this type of dementia are not well understood a locus at a gene called PARK11 is supposed to be associated with the disease. Several symptoms and pathology of DLB are similar to Alzheimer’s disease and the Parkinson’s disease. The diagnosis often involves detection of Lewy bodies, loss of dopamine-producing neurons and a loss of acetylcholine-producing neurons. People suffering from DLB exhibit fluctuating cognition with variation in attention and alertness, accompanied by hallucinations, syncope, transient loss of consciousness and hypersensitivity to neuroleptic medications.

Vascular Dementia: Vascular dementia, also known as multi-infarct dementia is a degenerative cerebro-vascular which is marked by a decline in the brain functions. Often, it is caused by a series of small strokes that damage the cerebral cortex and hamper understanding of language, instructions and the memory. Some of the early symptoms of vascular dementia also include mild weakness in the limbs, slurred speech, dizziness and impairment in the short-term memory. More prominent symptoms include prominent loss in memory, loss of control over bladder and bowel movements, difficulty in following instructions, lack of verbal fluency, a slowing of the processing ability and hampered abstract thinking.

Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration(FTLD): Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration refers to the group of disorders associated with atrophy in the frontal lobe and the temporal lobe of the brain. It is the fourth most common type of dementia. Clinically there are three subtypes of Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration, which are frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia and progressive nonfluent aphasia. Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) is caused by degeneration of the frontal lobe of the brain and may extend to the temporal lobe. Semantic dementia (SD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder marked by loss of semantic memory. Progressive nonfluent Aphasia is marked by progressive difficulties with the production of speech.

Alcohol Induced Persisting Dementia: Also known as Alcohol Dementia, this disorder is associated with dementia resulting from excessive continuous consumption of alcohol. The common types of disorders in this category include the Korsakoff’s syndrome, Wernicke’s encephalopathy or the Wernicke-Karsakoff’s syndrome, which is a combined manifestation of first two disorders. Prominent symptoms of Korsakoff’s syndrome include anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia, confabulation, lack of insight and apathy, which are caused by thiamine deficiency. The onset of Wernicke’s encephalopathy is usually abrupt and is marked by gait ataxia, confusion, short-term memory loss, confabulation and several eye movement disorders. The Wernicke-Karsakoff’s syndrome exhibits combined symptoms of both the disorders. Some of the common signs include memory loss, difficulty performing familiar tasks, impaired judgment, problems with language and changes in personality. Unlike other forms of dementia, which are common only in elderly people, anyone (regardless of age) who is a regular heavy drinker is at risk for succumbing to alcohol related dementia.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a fatal degenerative neurological disorder. Known to be related to the mad cow disease, the symptoms of CJD are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, the only difference being that CJD progresses much faster. There are three types or variants, which are sporadic, hereditary and acquired. Sporadic form is the most common in which disease appears without exhibition of any risk factors. The hereditary case is the one in which person has a family history of CJD and tests positive for the genetic mutation that is associated with CJD. The acquired CJD is transmitted by exposure of brain or nervous system tissue. Initial symptoms include speech impairment, blurred vision, insomnia, personality changes, anxiety, and memory loss, impaired thinking and impaired muscle coordination as well. The symptoms aggravate as the disease progresses and in many cases the patient may lapse into coma. The disease becomes fatal and most common causes of death include heart failure, respiratory failure, pneumonia or other infections.

Dementia Pugilistica: Harrison S. Martland was the first to describe Dementia pugilistica in the year 1928. Dementia Pugilistica is also known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (STE) or Boxer’s Dementia or the Punch-drunk syndrome. This is a neurological disorder, which is common in boxers and wrestlers owing to the repeated concussions during the matches. The most common symptoms include declining mental abilities, memory loss, tremors, lack of coordination, speech problems and pathological paranoia. The patient’s brain tends to lose neurons and the pyramidal tract in the brain becomes dysfunctional. Common causes that lead to this disorder are loss of neurons, hydrocephalus, collection of proteinacious and senile plaques, diffuse axonal injury, attenuation of corpus callosum, neurofibrillary tangles and damages to the cerebellum.

MoyaMoya Syndrome: The angiographic image for a person suffering from this disease looks like the “puff of smoke” which is how Moyamoya loosely translates from Japanese, and hence the name of the disorder. Moaymoya syndrome is a progressive neurological disorder, which affects the blood vessels in the brain. Moyamoya disease is characterized by the narrowing and/or closing of the carotid artery. Inadequate blood supply leads to decrease in the oxygen supply to the brain and remains to be the prominent causes of the Moyamoya syndrome. This disorder can either be congenital or acquired. Patients suffering from down syndrome, neurofibromatosis or sickle cell disease are vulnerable to Moyamoya syndrome. Diagnosis is usually done with the help of Computed tomography (CT), Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or an angiogram.

Benson’s Syndrome: Also known as the Posterior Cortical Atrophy, this syndrome is the visual variant of the Alzheimer’s disease and was first described by Franck Benson in 1988. This syndrome causes shrinkage of the cortex (which is the posterior part of the brain). The early symptoms of this disease usually start appearing after the age of fifty. Some of the early symptoms include blurred vision, problems with depth perception and difficulties in reading. As the disease progresses, the condition aggravates and the person might show mis-recognition of familiar faces and object or even suffer from hallucinations.

Sub-cortical Dementias

The second category of dementias is the sub cortical dementias, which are a result of dysfunction in the parts of the brain, which are beneath the cortex. The symptoms and signs of sub-cortical dementias differ largely from the cortical dementia disorders.

Huntington’s Disease: The Huntington’s disease is named after the American Physician George Huntington, who first described this disease in the year 1872. Huntington’s disease is a genetic neurological disorder, which affects the nerve cells in the brain and results in uncontrolled and uncoordinated body movements (called chorea), emotional disturbance and decline in overall cognitive abilities. Huntington’s disease is a trinucleaotide repeat disorder, which means that it is caused owing to the length of a repeated sequence of a gene, which exceeds the normal gene. The normal gene is called the Huntingtin gene and is referred to as HTT, while the mutant gene is referred to as mHTT. The symptoms for Huntington’s disease include chorea, slurred speech, and other psychological symptoms of dementia.

Dementia Due to Metabolic Abnormalities: In addition to several other reasons, there are a few metabolic abnormalities which can lead to dementia. Decreased thyroid function, which is medically termed as hypothyroidism results in depression that is similar to dementia. Hypoglycemia, which is a medical condition in which there is a lack of adequate sugar in the bloodstream, can cause confusion or personality changes. Pernicious anemia, which is caused by failure to absorb vitamin B-12 also can cause cognitive changes and lead to dementia. A condition called the beriberi disease, which is marked by deficiency of Vitamin B1 or Thiamine can also cause dementia. Folate deficiency can also lead to dementia.

Dementia Due to Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s Disease is also known as Primary Parkinsonism or Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative disorder, which affects the central nervous system (CNS) and results in impairment of the patient’s motor skills as well as other functions, which are controlled by the CNS. Parkinson’s disease is characterized by muscle rigidity, bradykinesia, tremor, and in some cases akinesia, which means loss of physical movement. All the symptoms in the Parkinson’s disease are a result of the degeneration of brain cells that produce dopamine, particularly those located in the locus coeruleus and the substantia nigra.

Dementia Due to Subdural Hematoma: Subdural Hematoma is a form of brain injury in which blood gathers between the outer protective covering of the brain (dura) and the middle layer of the meninges (Arachnoid). The bleeding separates the dura and the arachnoid layers and may cause a rise in the intracranial pressure (ICP), which can cause compression and damage to the delicate brain tissues. Signs and symptoms of subdural hematoma include history of recent head injury, loss of consciousness, amnesia, nausea, vomiting, numbness, dizziness, disorientation, blurred vision, Ataxia, personality changes, slurred speech, seizures and constant or fluctuating pain.

AIDS Dementia Complex: AIDS Dementia complex is a neurological disorder that is associated with HIV infection and AIDS. It is a metabolic encephalopathy, which is induced by HIV infection and caused by the immune activation of brain macrophages and microglia. AIDS Dementia Complex is characterized by impaired cognitive abilities, motor dysfunction, behavioral changes and speech problems. The cognitive disabilities usually include mental slowness, poor concentration and mild loss of memory. The motor symptoms include clumsiness, poor balance and tremors. The behavioral changes include lethargy, diminished emotional response and apathy. Dementia is diagnosed in the AIDS Dementia complex usually when the cognitive impairment in the patient is severe enough to hamper the routine day-to-day functions. The severity of the symptoms increases as the disease progresses. The normal, sub clinical and mild stages lead to moderate and severe cases and reach the severe stage in which the intellectual and social comprehension and responses are at a rudimentary level and the person becomes paraparetic pr paraplegic with urinary and/or fecal incontinence.

PsuedoDementia: Psuedodementia is a severe form of depression, which results from a progressive brain disorder in which cognitive symptoms mimic those of dementia. It is usually seen in older people in which the symptoms are similar to dementia but the cause is a pre-existing psychiatric illness and not a degenerative one. The history of disturbance in this disorder is short and abrupt onset unlike in dementia where it is more dangerous. Clinically, people with pseudodementia can be differentiated from those with dementia when their memory is tested since people with psuedodementia will often answer that they don’t know the answer to a question, and their attention and concentration are intact, and they appear upset or distressed. On the other hand people suffering form Dementia will often give wrong answers, have poor concentration, and will appear indifferent.

Freezing Vegetables

Freezing Vegetables

Freezing vegetables is one of the best methods for preserving food. With this method, you can be rest assured, you enjoy your favorite veggies throughout the year even during the off-season time. Fresh vegetables are best frozen after harvesting. Freezing vegetables in the refrigerator helps to preserve their freshness till the time they can be used for the actual preparation. The quality of the frozen vegetables would also depend upon the handling of the same at the time of harvest. There are many techniques that are involved for appropriate storage of the same.

Freezing Vegetables: Methods to be used
It is best to choose fresh vegetables for freezing as soon as they are harvested. It is also very essential that veggies be blanched before they are frozen. Blanching involves few methods, which are used to treat the vegetables before they are stored. Blanching helps to slow down the enzymes that are present in the vegetables. These enzymes are responsible in causing the veggies to ripen. By slowing down the action of these enzymes, the nutritional value and the color of the vegetables are preserved.

Blanching can be done in different ways. Many vegetables can be blanched in boiling water. Steam blanching is also another process that can be used. One point that would be worth remembering is that these vegetables would need to be cooled thoroughly after the blanching process. The packaging is also equally important in this case. The containers to be used for freezing have to be the ones that are designed specifically for freezer storage.

While freezing vegetables, you must also note that it should never be overloaded. This can affect the condition of the freezer as well as the food that is stored in it.

Freezing Vegetables: Tips to store common vegetables
This method is applicable for many types of vegetables however, there are few for which you would need to avoid this technique. These veggies include green onions, cucumbers, radishes and tomatoes.

Asparagus:
Begin by washing the same and sort it out by size. Always snap off the ends and cut the stalks in 2-inch length. Once blanched, cool and dry to pack it. The small stalks may require 2 minutes in boiling water where as the large stalks would require around 4 minutes.

Beets:
Wash the beets and remove the top portion of the beet. Leave the taproot and cook in boiling water. Small sized beets would take half an hour for blanching where as medium sized beets would take 50 minutes at least.

Carrots:
Wash the carrots, trim and peel them. You can even cut large sized carrots. For water blanching, you would need 4 minutes for the process.

Potatoes:
The potatoes would need to be cut or grated as per your requirement. Then you would need to either cook it in water or sauté it in oil. Whole potatoes would need 5 minutes for blanching where as the pieces would require around 2-3 minutes.

Broccoli:
Use only the dark green stalks and wash and peel the same. Trim stalks and remove the heads. You might also need to soak it in saltwater solution to remove the insects. Then split them lengthwise and blanch. Once cooled, drain the same. It would require 3 minutes for water blanching.

These were some of the common tips and techniques used for freezing vegetables. These basic instructions should help you to begin with this process with some ease.

Characteristics of Horoscope Signs

Characteristics of Horoscope Signs

It is a fact, each and every person has heard about the zodiac signs - the moon signs and sun signs. There are 12 sun signs and the Sun’s movement in each sign lasts for thirty days. The zodiac sign cycle or the chart of the zodiac signs starts with “Aries”.

A ‘horoscope‘ is a diagrammatic representation of the positions of the planets, moon and the sun at the time of birth of a person. The term horoscope is derived from the Greek word “horoskopos” meaning “a look at the hours”. An astrologer interprets and writes the horoscope based on the date of birth and the time of birth. A few common names for horoscope are “Astro-chart”, “Star-chart” and “Cosmogram”. Horoscope is an integral part of astrology - Western or Asian.

Personality of Zodiac Signs

The characteristics and the traits of each and every zodiac sign are different. If you know the zodiac signs of the people with whom you are closely associated with, it would be easy to establish an amicable relationship (in personal and professional life). Here we look at the characteristics of the twelve zodiac signs.

Aries (21 March - 20 April): Fire is the element of this zodiac sign. Aries is ruled by the planet Mars. The lucky colors of this horoscope sign are shades of red including scarlet and carmine. Shades of color green help to promote social harmony and romance. The best day of the week for an Arian is Tuesday; the numbers 1, 2, 4 are the lucky numbers. The animal symbol of this horoscope sign is “Ram”. Diamond, Ruby and Amethyst are the lucky stones. An Arian by nature is active, straightforward and energetic. The other qualities of this star include honesty, independence, impetuousness and aggressiveness. An Arian is said to be incompatible with Capricorn, Libra and Cancer. This sun sign is compatible with Leo and Sagittarius.

Taurus (21 April - 21 May): Taurus is ruled by the planet Venus and controlled by the element Earth. The shades of green, cream, yellow and orange are the colors, which bring luck. Romance and social harmony could be balanced by using the shades of red and violet. Numbers 4, 6, 7 and 8 are the lucky numbers; while the best day of the week for a Taurean is Friday. Emerald, Coral and Jade are the gems that bring luck. The animal symbol of Taurus is “Bull”. One of the major characteristics of Taurus is reliability and loyalty. People belonging to this star are stable and possessive about their relationships. The other qualities of this star are affection, endurance and lack of flexibility. The compatible sun signs with Taurus are Capricorn and Virgo, while they are incompatible with Aquarius, Leo and Scorpio.

Gemini (22 May - 21 June): The element of Gemini is Air and the planet is Mercury. The lucky colors are shades of yellow, blue, white and black. The shades of blue promote social harmony and romance. The lucky numbers are 3, 5 and 8. Wednesday is the lucky day of the week. Gems such as Agate, Aquamarine and Tiger’s eye are the lucky stones for a Geminian. “Monkey” is the animal sign of this star. A person who is born under this star is agile, quick learner and has great communication skills (verbal and non-verbal). The other characteristics of Gemini are optimism, intellectual and flexibility. A Gemini is most compatible with Libra and Aquarius and least compatible with Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces.

Cancer (22 June - 22 July): Water is the element and the ruling planet is the Moon of the sun sign Cancer. The shades of pastels, blue and silver are the lucky colors while the colors indigo and black help in promoting love affairs and establishes social harmony. The numbers 2, 3, 5, and 9 are the lucky numbers. Monday is the best day of the week for a Cancerian. “Crab” is the animal sign of this star. One of the virtues of this star is perfectionism and nurturing. The other qualities include secretiveness, emotional and over-sensitiveness. Scorpio and Pisces are the most compatible sun signs while Libra, Aries and Capricorn are least compatible with Cancer zodiac sign.

Leo (23 July - 22 August): Fire is the element and the ruling planet of Leo is Sun. The lucky colors are shades of orange, red and gold. The colors indigo, black and shades of blue helps to establish harmony and promote love. The lucky numbers are 1,3, and 9. Sunday is the luckiest day. Gems such as Yellow Diamond, Amber and Chrysolite are the lucky stones. Qualities such as leadership and confidence are associated with the sign Leo. They are generous and caring people. However, they could also be arrogant and self-centered. A Leo is compatible with Aries and Sagittarius. They are not compatible with Taurus, Scorpio and Aquarius. The animal symbol is “Lion”.

Virgo (23 August - 21 September): Mercury is the ruling planet and the element is Earth. The shades of green, yellow, orange and brown are the colors that bring luck, while the shades of blue promote romance and harmony. Numbers 1, 3, 4, 6 and 8 are the lucky numbers. Wednesday is the best day of the week for a Virgo. The animal symbol is “Magpie”. Agate and Hyacinth are the lucky stones. A person born under this sign has an active and analytical mind. They are very observant and organized by nature. Virgo is compatible with Taurus and Capricorn. However, they are least compatible with Gemini, Pisces and Sagittarius.

Libra (22 September - 22 October): Air is the element and Venus is the ruling planet of Libra. Colors such as pale and jade green and shades of pink and blue are the lucky colors. The shades of the color red such as carmine and scarlet help to promote love and romance. Libra is sensitive to the problems of others. They are well-balanced in their personal and official life. They are diplomatic, charming and graceful by nature. A “Dove” is the animal sign for Libra. The numbers 1, 7, 8 and 9 are the lucky numbers, while Friday is the luckiest day. Coral, Jade, Emerald and Quartz are the gems for this sun sign. Libra is compatible with Gemini and Aquarius and incompatible with Aries, Capricorn and Cancer.

Scorpio (23 October - 21 November): Pluto is the ruling planet and Water is the element of this sun sign. The shades of red, brown and violet are the lucky colors; green is the color for love and harmony. The numbers 2, 5 and 7 are the lucky numbers, while Tuesday is the luckiest day of the week. Bloodstone, Jasper and Topaz are the lucky gems for Scorpio. The animal symbol of Scorpio is “Scorpion”. By nature, a Scorpio is jealous, possessive, courageous and determinant. They are also loyal to their loved ones. They are best compatible with Cancer and Pisces, and least compatible with Leo, Aquarius and Taurus.

Sagittarius (22 November - 21 December): Jupiter is the ruling planet while Fire is the element. The shade of purple, blue, red and orange are the lucky colors. The colors that promote harmony and love are yellow and orange. The numbers 1, 3, 5 and 9 are the lucky numbers. Thursday is the luckiest day of the week. The lucky stones are Amethyst, Turquoise and Carbuncle. “Horse” is the animal symbol. The strongest virtues of Sagittarius are innovativeness, optimism and generosity. They make good administrators. The other qualities of this sun sign are self-reliance, practicality and straightforwardness. Aries and Leo are the most compatible signs. Gemini, Pisces and Virgo are incompatible with Sagittarius.

Capricorn (22 December - 20 January): Earth is the element and Saturn is the ruling planet. The lucky colors are brown, black and indigo. The colors that promote love and establish harmony are the shades of silver, brown and purple. The lucky numbers are 1, 2 and 8. Saturday is the best day of the week and the animal is “Goat”. Lucky gems are Black Onyx and Jet. A Capricorn by nature is introvert, reserved and patient. The other virtues of this horoscope sign include conservativeness, sense of humor and spontaneity. Taurus and Virgo are the most compatible sun signs, while Aries, Cancer and Libra are the incompatible signs.

Aquarius (21 January - 19 February): Uranus is the ruling planet and the element is Air. The shades of blue, gray and pink are the lucky colors. A shade of orange promotes love and romance. The numbers 1, 2 and 4 are the lucky numbers and the best day of the week is Saturday. Opal, Garnet, Sapphire and Black Pearl are the lucky stones. “Fox” is the animal symbol of this sign. One of the virtues of an Aquarian is the critical thinking ability. They are independent and emotional by nature. The characteristics that an Aquarian should avoid include fixed ideas, inflexibility and rebelliousness. An Aquarian is most compatible with Gemini and Libra and least with Taurus, Leo and Scorpio.

Pisces (20 February - 20 March): Water is the element and Neptune is the ruling planet of Pisces. All shades of aqua green, blue and gray are considered as the lucky colors. Earth tones, yellow and orange are the colors that promote love, harmony and romance of people born under this star. The numbers that are lucky are 2, 4, 5 and 6. “Fish” is animal symbol and the lucky day of Pisces is Thursday. The gems associated with Pisces are Diamond and Camelian. Pisceans are creative, emotional and intuitive in nature. They are sensitive to the needs of others. Pisces are compatible with Scorpio and Cancer. Gemini, Sagittarius and Virgo are the least compatible sun signs.

What are the Most Exciting Jobs in the World

What are the Most Exciting Jobs in the World

It was 4 p.m in the afternoon and Tom just couldn’t stop thinking about how incredibly boring his job was. As he stared at the blank computer screen in front of him, he wondered whether data processing was really what he wanted to do with his life…He thought about all the other jobs in the world, which seemed far more exciting and fun! “It is time I should change my profession”, he thought…”maybe a soccer player waving at the huge crowd of fans after I’m all sweaty and tired after the match…maybe a fashion photographer amidst skimpily clad models…oh, what a life it would have been,” he said as he sighed and got back to what he was good at – data processing!

Most Exciting Jobs in the World

If you are hunting for some of the most exciting jobs in the world, here are some really cool options for you to choose from. But before you pick an exciting job, remember that there goes a lot of effort and determination into every job that you take up!

Food Critic

If you are an absolute foodie, then what better job for you than to get paid for eating!!! If you think this is a joke, you obviously haven’t heard of food critics who sample and critique the food or wine tasters who savor and decide some of the finest wines in the world! Trying out interesting recipes and giving your opinion about it, is one of the most exciting jobs for food lovers. In addition to that, as a food critic, you will get to try a wide variety of cuisines around the world as well. Since you would be sampling food across the world – there is obviously a lot of traveling involved too!

How Can I Become a Food Critic?

If you are planning to become a food critic, then the first thing that you need to do is study the art of cooking, because if you want to judge other people’s culinary skills, you need to be good at it, yourself! You need to build you culinary vocabulary, have background knowledge about food nutrition and need to study the nuances of different cuisines. Sound understanding of the restaurant business can help you a lot as well. A cuisine is a vital part of the culture and information about various cultures of the world might help you in the long run. In addition, to all these prerequisites, you need to have good communication skills, in order to interact with different people and also, to write or present your reviews.

Instructor for Extreme Sports

If you thought scuba diving was cool and skydiving was thrilling, then how about doing it for a living? Yes! This is no joke; there are people who are enjoying extreme sports as a full-time profession. Instructors for adventure sports have the most exciting and adventurous jobs in the world – truly! This profession is however supposed to be solely for the bravehearts – it is no child’s play to risk your life every single day!

How Can I be a Professional Instructor for Extreme Sports?

In order to become a professional instructor for extreme sports, there exist a number of professional training classes and courses, which help you become a trainer or an instructor. Several institutes that hire adventure sports trainers have their own training sessions and courses for the instructors. In addition to this professional training, you need to be physically fit enough to qualify for such heavy-duty action! A love for adventure would, of course, be one of the essential qualities as well.

Actress/Actor

If being a starlet in Hollywood seems like the most happening job to you, then you might want to consider this option! Of course, not everyone can be a Julia Roberts and not every other guy will turn out to be Brad Pitt, but then for what its worth, you might want to give it a try! You never know, you might get lucky and make it big! Hollywood is a place of dreams and aspirations and although most of them die an early death, there are many who are enjoying the peaks of success! Give it a shot!

How Can I Become a Professional Actor/Actress?

Ever since, Hollywood became such a hit, and movies, the hottest profession, acting schools have been mushrooming around the world. Training at a good acting school will definitely get you started. Many acting schools make it a point to teach the students all the aspects of the film-making process. In addition to that, you will need good communication skills and a lot of self-confidence to survive in this industry.

Professional Sportsman/Athlete

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting. ~ George Orwell

If you envy David Beckham for his super-cool profession, then you might want to consider the option of being a professional sportsman. There are a wide variety of sports to choose from – cricket, baseball, football or even tennis.

How Can I Become a Professional Sportsman?

There are several coaching institutes as well as personal trainers and instructors who help you to achieve complete physical fitness and master the nuances of the sport. However, in addition to joining a coaching institute you need to have a lot of endurance, dedication and strong will to be good at what you do. You need to have the ability to remain humble, in spite of the victories and an ability to take the defeat in your own stride!

Video Game Tester

If you are one of those people who are always being yelled at for being hooked to your videogames, then this profession is like your dream job! A game tester is supposed to analyze video games to detect software errors and ensure quality control. Video game testers are employed by video game development companies and are paid to review and test the newly developed games.

How Can I Become a Professional Video Game Tester?

Being a video game tester is no cakewalk. You need to be aware of the game development process, since you are supposed to detect the bugs or glitches in the game. In addition to computing skills, you will also need strategic thinking abilities and a lot of patience! So, if you think you have all this and are ready to work continuously with gaming consoles and animations, this is your thing!

Model

The world of fashion has always fascinated millions! The glamor, the glitz, the swanky runways and the slender models on the ramp – the whole show is simple mesmerizing! If you think trying on different designer clothing and cat walking in front of the audience is an exciting job – you might want to take up modeling as a full time profession. A professional model needs to walk runways, shoot ads as well as be a part of various photo shoots. However, there are a lot of other issues involved – like having the perfect body structure and the right looks!

How Can I Become a Professional Model?

In addition to the existing grooming institutes for models, there also exist several talent hunts on television, which are a great platform for aspiring models. In addition to professional grooming for their walk, make-up, wardrobe and their fitness and overall toning, models need to have good public relation skills, in order to make new contacts and get assignments.

In addition to this, you might want to have a look at the list of careers for additional suggestions. Although, people say that the grass is always greener on the other side, it is a fact that some people are just plain lucky! Often when we look at some professions, we wonder how amazing and adventurous life would be! However, at the end of the day, every profession is unique and challenging in its own way, be it a software engineer or even a housemaid…