driveChoosing to embark on a journey of self-improvement is the best gift you can give yourself. One of the many ways you can do this is by starting a new hobby or craft. Depending on who you are, you might want to create something or maybe you want to learn a new skill. Regardless, you will experience quite the array of emotions throughout the process… but that’s half the fun; isn’t it?

As the leaves change and the air becomes crisp, I tend to get inspired. I find myself looking at the fall foliage and wanting to create something. I’ll breathe in the chilly air and suddenly need to sit down and pick up my out-of-tune guitar. However, staying motivated can be tough in between life chores and scheduled meals. I feel that the excuse, “I’m too busy” is used quite a bit in our hectic world. I know that I am definitely guilty of this.

When making a change in your life, you have to be mentally prepared. When it comes to adding in a new hobby, learning to manage your time and set realistic goals become vital pieces of the motivation puzzle. Letting something you love be the first thing dropped when time is an issue, will only hurt you in the long run. It is important to do things that bring you happiness and joy. Developing time-management skills is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I experienced a crash course on the topic while taking a particular college class. My professor gave us enough work for a lifetime and expected nothing but the best. I was forced to figure out how to complete all of his work to the best of my ability while still passing my other classes. The skills I gained (though at an accelerated speed) have stuck with me and are put into action on a regular basis. Making a desired skill or hobby a part of your schedule is very fulfilling.

beadsSetting realistic goals will save you from a lot of stress. If you want to learn how to make jewelry, don’t try to make an entire set in one week. Instead, try to learn a certain technique and keep building on that foundation in the following weeks. If you want to write a book, don’t try to write a chapter a day, just be sure to write something (one sentence counts). The last thing you want is for your new found interest to become a chore or stressful task. You will feel a great sense of joy upon meeting these goals instead of being disappointed that you won’t have enough pieces for the jewelry show next weekend.

Everyone deserves a fun and rewarding way to relax. Start baking, go buy a saxophone, or take up glass-blowing. Whatever your “I’d love to know how to…” or “I wish I could make…” dream is, turn it into reality. Learn how to best manage your time and set goals that are realistic and achievable. The combination of the two will help you to stay motivated as you witness your progress and gained knowledge over time. Change color with the leaves and add a new dimension to your life.

Laci Radford is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch (while her home branch, in Savage, is being renovated). She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.

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baked goods

Stone House Cakery & Cafe

Because everyone loves dessert!

My husband, Dean, and I have a long line of bakers on both sides of the family, so starting Stone House Cakery & Café was a natural. We actually started the bakery in 2009, out of necessity, after he had an accident and I lost my job. I had to find something to do to keep my sanity.

Everyone seems to be health conscious these days, but sometimes they still want to treat themselves to a delicious dessert. When they do, they want it made with the best and most natural ingredients. That’s what we try to offer at Stone House Cakery & Café with our cakes, pies, sweet breads, cupcakes, jams, jellies, rolls, bars, donuts and brownies. We use unbleached flour with no processing chemicals and pure vanilla in our baked goods. We bake everything fresh every day. If you have a special party, birthday or wedding, we can also make and decorate the cake.

Our business has grown, and we now participate in four farmers markets each week and operate a store-front bakery in Taneytown. We’ve recently hired several employees – one to help with baking, one to make sandwiches and one to decorate cakes for weddings and parties. The sandwiches are something new and we make them out of our own bread and with high quality meat.

I love unusual old recipes and some of ours date back to the 1800s. Our ‘creeping crust’ cobbler came from Dean’s great-grandmother. We changed the name because people didn’t seem to like it, but it came from the way the cobbler is made with the batter on the bottom and fruit on top and the crust creeping up over the sides. Dean’s mom used a family recipe for real minced pie, which isn’t at all like the stuff you buy in a jar. Hers was made from real meat, suet, spices, fruit and lots of liquor. Most people use bourbon but she liked to use port wine. I also have my mom’s recipes for peanut butter fudge and pound cake that came from her great-grandmother. When Dean’s mom passed, she left two huge boxes of recipes that I’m still trying to go through. Sometimes customers tell us about an old family favorite recipe and we’ll try to recreate it.

I hope our business is about more than just selling a product. We feel a commitment to our community and try to support other sustainable farmers, buying our fruit, milk, buttermilk and cream (from grass-fed cows using no hormones) and cage-free eggs from local farms. And we supported the Carroll County Economic Development mentoring program this summer, bringing in three students who wanted to learn about baking. We want to keep the tradition going into the future.

If you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, stop by to see Lois at the HCGH Farmers Market on Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m.

Lois Trout is co-owner of the Stone House Cakery & Café.

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Reserve this title at Howard County Library SystemThe Farmers’ Market Chef wants to be “well” and “wise” at the Farmers’ Market—and after I bring my fresh produce home! Luckily, the Glenwood Branch just had a visit from Karen Basinger, an educator with University of Maryland Extension. She taught a class on home food preservation to a group of about 14.

This is a great time of year to buy and enjoy fresh local vegetables and fruits. With good, safe food preservation practices it is possible to enjoy your produce long into the winter months. Karen was here to teach us the why and the how of canning, freezing, and drying. She explained how microorganisms that cause illness—like listeriosis and botulism—can grow if food is stored improperly. And the quality of your food will be compromised if you don’t destroy the enzymes that cause spoilage.

It’s important to use the appropriate preserving method. Low acid foods like green beans and corn require the high temperatures of a pressure canner while high acid foods like pickles can be processed in a boiling water bath. It is important to have the right equipment and to be sure it is in good working condition. At Karen’s office in Ellicott City she can test your pressure canner to assure you it is safe to use.

Maybe you don’t want to heat up your kitchen with the canning process. Freezing veggies and fruits usually requires only a quick dip in boiling water to destroy enzymes and the food is ready to chill and freeze. Be sure to use bags, boxes or wrap that is designed to keep the air out of your frozen food. You don’t want to be disappointed in January!

Drying may be the oldest method of food preservation. With a dehydrator (or your oven if you don’t mind wasting a lot of heat) you can make bright colored, chewy fruit leathers, meat jerky, dried tomatoes, and many other space-saving treats.

This is only an overview—a teaser to make you curious. To learn more, attend some of the University of Maryland Extension “Grow It, Eat It, Preserve It” workshops. The food preservation workshops are offered through the summer—if you miss this year’s watch for announcements about next year’s workshops. You can contact Karen Basinger at or call 410-313-1908.

Karen also had a list of “Farmers’ Market Dos and Don’ts” – some of my favorites are:

  • Do bring a cooler with ice to help keep your produce fresh while you run your other errands

  • Do keep control of your kids and pets

  • Do go early in the day

  • Do get to know your vendors

  • Don’t sample anything that isn’t labeled as a sample

  • Don’t pinch, squeeze, drop, or peel anything you aren’t going to buy

  • Don’t buy more than you can use, and

  • Don’t forget you can always come back next week!

See you at the Farmers’ Markets!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch. Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

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appsIncreasingly technology can be used for supporting health, even at the personal health management level. I’m not a technology early adapter, but even I am using it to help track and manage aspects of my health.

Here’s a simple example. When I came home from knee replacement surgery and orthopedic rehab last year I had a complex regimen of medications, physical therapy, and other appointments. To keep it all straight, I drafted a daily schedule using a spreadsheet to track my medications and appointments. I’d update it every week as my schedule shifted and I was taken off medications during my recovery.

Sounds kind of basic—but this tool was so helpful for making sure I kept up with my therapy and didn’t miss any of my medications. After I returned back to work and ‘normal’ life, I didn’t need such a detailed tool anymore, but I did install some reminders in my calendar for certain health tasks (like taking weekly or month medications) so that I’d have a backup system in place.

I’ve barely delved into the tech world for health management and already I’m impressed by the usefulness of the tools. For a number of months I’ve been tracking my nutrition and exercise with “My Fitness Pal,” an app on my phone (or accessible through the web). This has helped me to look at another aspect of my health and reach some goals.

There are apps for monitoring health conditions, checking symptoms, and more. The only downside of having so many options is that we need to choose carefully what tools we can trust and use beneficially. My decisions have been influenced by word of mouth and researching reviews about apps. It’s also a good idea to consider with whom you want to share your personal information.

Another handy trend is the increasing frequency of health providers creating online portals for patient access to records, messaging with doctors, and other health tools. This can make it easier for sending a question or note to your doctor on a non-urgent matter. I like being able to see my test results and looking at them over time for any changes.

Patients can use technology to track and manage health conditions, interact with providers, and even basic research for background on questions or concerns. Now is a time ripe with opportunities to harness technology for the benefit of health.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.

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Please tell me you’ve seen the videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves (or others) on TV or all over social media. If you haven’t, I’m talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. These viral videos saturated the web and local and national television for most of August 2014. The videos encouraged participants to dump buckets of ice water on themselves and challenge others do to the same in an effort to raise awareness and funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

In fact, Well & Wise participated too!
Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine challenged Howard County Library System just this week! Here’s the proof!

So, what is ALS again? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” “is a terminal neurological disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain…it is one of the most devastating of the disorders that affects the function of nerves and muscles. ALS does not affect mental functioning or the senses (such as seeing or hearing), and it is not contagious. Currently, there is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There are three variations of ALS: sporadic, familial, and Guamanian.” (

While the excitement over the challenge may have waned as the campaign ended and the ALS Association’s (ALSA) bid to trademark the challenge (recently rescinded), the videos are still coming in from around the world. People are still taking and making challenges today.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was an ingenious idea that came out at just the right time and with the right approach. Fun, accessible, and packed with great storytelling. A personal story and a direct call to action makes all the difference when it comes to bringing about change. I’m sure other organizations and causes will be hoping for some of that ice bucket luck as they craft their newest fundraising campaigns. ALSA’s brilliant August campaign raised over $111,000,000.

But where is all this change (money) going? Well, toward the ALSA mission. Research, trials, operating budgets, outreach, and patient navigation are important aspects of their mission that require funding. According to their site, ALSA is the only national non-profit fighting ASL on every front. That’s a pretty big claim and I’m certain $111 million can do a lot of good.

If you’re curious about ALS research and the importance of collaboration check out what the CDC has compiled concerning the National ALS Registry. And if you’d like to get involved with ALSA (ice bucket or not) visit

Also, if you are so inclined, you can see my personal #ALSIceBucketChallenge video here (taken on Aug. 21, 2014). Remember, if you participate use #ALSIceBucketChallenge!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.


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You know how hamsters spend countless hours on that little wheel in their cage? Ever feel like this on the treadmill or elliptical, getting nowhere, minute after boring minute?  If you find yourself stuck focusing on training in that “fat burn” zone, seeing very little progress, welcome to the club. To top it off, you spend all this time and see little progress.

Let’s examine the animal kingdom for a minute or so. Think about the body of an elephant vs. the body of a cheetah. Pretty sure the body fat of an elephant far outweighs the body fat of a cheetah. Why and how do these two animals move differently? Well, elephants walk and wander, cheetah’s sprint and pant. That walk and wander resembles those hours on the cardio machine while the sprint and pant resembles interval training at its best.

For years, we conditioned women to believe doing cardio for endless minutes in that enjoyable fat burn heart rate zone resulted in success. Instilling the fear of “getting big and bulky like a man” if we lifted weights. How about a show of hands on who enjoys those countless, boring minutes? Well, consider this your permission to get off the treadmill for hours on end and shorten your workouts with interval training. Keep in mind, this does not mean using the “fat burn” or “cardio” workout options on that same treadmill or elliptical. This may require a little pushing of buttons and paying attention on your part! It’s okay, keep reading, I provided you with some guidelines.

First, let’s define interval training a little better. Interval training uses specific periods of higher intensity exercise mixed with lower intensity recovery time. You can use the very same machines or you can take it outside. Start with a defined time for each interval, even though it may feel easy in the beginning. Set your higher intensity interval at a level you can only maintain for a short period of time (to be defined later!). Your lower intensity allows you to recover your breathing and heart rate. You may need to play around with the exact level to find your right intensity. On a scale of 1 – 10, you want to feel like your intensity falls around 7-8 on the higher intervals and a 4 – 5 on the recovery.

Now, on to the nitty-gritty details. An interval workout last about 30 – 40 minutes… Yes, that’s all you need on the interval training days! Use your first 5 minutes to warm up at a level around 2 – 3 on the 1 – 10 scale. For the next 20 – 25 minutes, start with a 1 minute work and 90 second recovery. Maintain this for the entire 20 – 25 minute workout. Your increased intensity could be faster speed or higher incline/level depending on the type of exercise.

Editor’s Note: This post is for informational purposes only.  Please consult your primary care physician before undertaking any exercise regime or diet program.

Lisa Martin founded the Girls on the Run program in Howard County in 2009. Lisa is AFAA & NSCA certified, has more than 15 years of personal training experience, and practices a multidimensional wellness approach at her studio, Salvere Health & Fitness. Lisa says that one of the best things about being in the health and fitness industry is watching people accomplish things they never thought possible.

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