Monthly Archives: November 2013

Enjoy Your Food, But Eat Less: Keep Your Balance!

Balance is the key to success in many aspects of our lives. We strive to achieve work-life balance and balance our family budgets. We’re painfully aware of the risks of losing our balance on an icy sidewalk. When it comes to a healthy body weight, there’s another very important type of balance known as energy balance.

What is Energy Balance?

Over time, you maintain a healthy weight by balancing the energy you consume (from foods and beverages) with the energy your body uses (in normal body functions, daily activities, and exercise).

Energy balance is a simple equation:

–   Energy In = Energy Out = Maintain Weight

–   Energy In < Energy Out = Lose Weight

–   Energy In > Energy Out = Gain Weight

A calorie is the unit of measure we use to quantify the energy supplied by food. A calorie is a calorie, regardless of whether it comes from carbohydrates, fats or proteins.

To lose one pound of body fat, you need to adjust your energy balance by about 3,500 calories—either by consuming fewer calories or by exercising more.1

The bottom line is – calories count!

Tracking Your Energy Balance

Many studies have shown that the simple act of writing down what you eat is a very effective weight loss strategy.

–   Write down what and how much you eat. Don’t forget to include drinks, sauces, spreads and snacks.

–   Write down the physical activities you do and how long you spend doing them. Include each activity that you do for at least 10 minutes at a time.

–   Find a tracking method that works for you. Keep a food and exercise journal, log your intake and activities on your calendar or phone, use an online calculator such as the USDA’s SuperTracker

or a mobile app such as MyFitnessPal.

–   Compare calories in to calories out. Online calculators make this easy, but if you’re doing it manually, here are a few guides that will help you to determine how many calories you need and how many calories you are burning.


By Sue Gonzalez, Master Food Volunteer

Plant spring-flowering bulbs over the holidays!

You can plant spring-flowering bulbs outdoors over the holidays.
Here’s some tips from Master Gardener,  Christa Watters: 

Procrastinators rejoice! Though those of us who grew up in colder climes may think it’s too late to plant our bulbs for spring bloom, it’s really not – at least not for all bulbs. Tulips, for example, can rot in the ground in our heavy Virginia soil during warm, wet falls. Some sources say that waiting until about first frost is better for tulip bulbs, which like colder climates. Plus, it gives the squirrels less time to dig them up before frost hardens the ground. Still, you need to get them in before the ground really freezes.

So November, and sometimes even early December is still fine. It’s also fine for planting daffodils and narcissus bulbs, hyacinths, crocuses, even grape hyacinths.

Grape Hyacinths

Grape Hyacinths

Be generous – color massing is the most effective way to create an impressive and heart-lifting display next spring. So cluster the bulbs in drifts that complement the rest of your borders or beds.

2 - Glossy Tulip Perfection

Cluster complementary colors in your borders for maximum effect.

In our area, most hybrid tulips don’t successfully come back in succeeding years, and should thus be treated like annuals. If you do leave them for a second year, choose Darwin varieties, some authorities recommend. Alternatively, choose species tulips that generally perennialize better and naturalize well in rock garden clusters, as in this photo of Kaufmanniana tulips at the Simpson Waterwise Garden.

3 - Kaufmanniana Tulips Closeup

Kaufmanniana Tulips

Daffodils and narcissi are much more reliable at coming back year after year and even multiplying in the ground. Choose some bulbs for their massing effect, yes. But also consider choosing some for their individual beauty, like these gracefully winged white and yellow Cyclamineus narcissi.

4 - White and Yellow

Cyclamineus narcissi

For fall crocus and colchicums, the fall-blooming relatives of our spring bulbs, it is, unfortunately too late this year, but while you peruse the catalogs, make a note on your calendar to order the bulbs in a timely manner next year. Spend some time this winter researching the best times for those . Here are a few photos of fall blooming bulbs to set you dreaming:

5 - Autumn Crocus

Autumn Crocus


Purple White Colchicum

Sternbergia Lutea

Lavender Colchicum

Lavender Colchicum
Reposted from Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia:

New Master Financial Education Volunteers

On October 26 twelve new Master Financial Education Volunteers completed their training and are ready to begin helping with financial education programs in Arlington County and the City of Alexandria. Bill, Christy, Dana, Dave, David, Evelyn, Michelle, Patrick, Shauna, Tiffany, Vera, and Ximena join more than 200 trained financial volunteers who provide one-on-one financial counseling to individuals and families, help to teach classes on budgeting, debt management, and saving strategies, and help with the youth financial simulations that we do in the elementary, middle, and high schools.

The new volunteers have already leapt into their volunteer roles. Shauna and Evelyn taught a class on budgeting and saving to a group at the Nauck Community Center. Bill and Patrick will be teaching a class on Nov. 16 about credit and debt at the same location. Many of the volunteers have signed up to help with the Kids Marketplace and Reality Store events that we’ll be doing at Carlin Springs Elementary School and Arlington Mill High School Continuation Program in the coming weeks. Christy is working on setting up a series of classes on money management for recently divorced individuals. Vera is working on a program for veterans. Dave and Dana are going to be working with a previously trained volunteer—Janet—to put together a financial education program for teens who are about to complete high school and head to college.

We are grateful to have this new cohort of volunteers and are excited about their level of enthusiasm. If you are interested in becoming a Master Financial Education Volunteer or know someone who would be, please have them contact The next training for new volunteers will be held in April.