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Fun Gathering Ideas for Spring  


Spring has sprung! And with it comes the need to awaken from the daze of the cold and dark of winter and enjoy some time with friends. Here are a few fun ideas for your spring celebrations with family and friends:


  1. Bon Fire. Nothing is better on a cool spring night than a bonfire, some s’mores supplies, and good company.
  2. Garden Party. Got a green thumb? Show off your skills by having some friends for afternoon cocktails in your garden.
  3. Wine and Dine. If you don’t have the outdoor space to enjoy a spring night, try having company over for a bite and a bottle of wine at your apartment. Cheers to spring!
  4. March Madness Bash. March Madness is here, so why not have a basketball-themed celebration of chips, dip, and game-watching?
  5. Game Night. There is no better way to spark some friendly competition between friends than board game night.


Healthy Musts for your Day










Everyone knows what it feels like to get so bogged down in work, social events, and day-to-day activities that you can’t imagine fitting one more thing into your schedule. However, as important as it is to stay busy, it is essential for good health to maintain balance. Here’s four essentials worth finding time for in your day to maintain the best version of you:


  1. Getting sleep. An overwhelming lack of sleep can become dangerous for your health. Making sure you get a healthy amount of sleep every night will keep you feeling good and energized enough to take on whatever comes your way, so be sure to catch some shut eye.
  2. Exercise. It probably isn’t shocking to be reminded that working out is good for your health. However, the importance of exercise can often be overlooked. Getting your heart rate up is important for staying fit, increasing your brain function and keeping your heart muscle strong, and can even help reduce depression and anxiety.
  3. Social time. Be sure to carve out time for spending with friends and family. Making a concerted effort to socialize throughout the week can increase your happiness while also keeping relationships with those you care about healthy despite your hectic schedule.
  4. Alone time. Having time to decompress and do a mental self-check is hugely important, whether in the car in the morning on the way to work, or before you go to bed. Me-time is just as important as social time, so don’t forget to make time for you!


Try to incorporate these health musts into your day and let me know how it goes!

Tips for Raising a Friendly Dog


Dogs have a reputation as man’s best friend that is undeniably true. They lower our blood pressure with their cute looks, make us laugh with their funny behavior, and, most importantly, shower us with puppy love that brightens our day. As cute as they can be, raising a well-behaved puppy is no easy feat. As an animal lover myself, I have a few tips for fostering good behavior that will make your dog a better friend to you and anyone you encounter together.

  1. Exercise often. A dog without exercise is a dog with pent-up energy. Excess energy is a breeding ground for bad behavior, whether it be demolishing your couch, chewing your favorite loafers, or jumping on passersby. To help your dog let off some steam, try taking him or her on a walk before work in the morning and after you get home in the afternoon.
  2. Socialize with other dogs. If you have a little extra time on your hands, the dog park is another great place to let your puppy run out some energy while also imparting another vital skill: socialization. Isolated dogs can be difficult to deal with and, in some cases, dangerous. By bringing your dog to the dog park, he or she will become more comfortable around unknown canines while also letting out some steam.
  3. Socialize with humans. To ensure that your puppy grows up to be people-friendly, it is vital that you take them at a young age into public to encounter folks of all shapes and sizes. By spending some time around those they don’t know, your puppy is learning that not every stranger is a threat, while also becoming more comfortable with children and adults approaching them. Next time you go to the coffee shop, bring your furry friend along for the ride!
  4. Teach basic commands. Teaching basic commands like sit and stay is an important element of good puppy behavior. No dog is perfect, and occasionally your dog might attempt to eat something it shouldn’t or try jumping on someone in a fit of excitement. Having the ability to command your dog to sit or lay down is to be capable of redirecting them from bad behavior quickly.

I hope these tips are helpful to you in your dog training ventures. The most important thing to remember when training a dog is patience and not taking bad behavior personally. With good tricks for better behavior like these up your sleeve, you will end up with a better puppy and a happier you!

Veggies for Dessert? Try these fun Baked Goods


Image result for baked goods

I love dessert, but am always trying to think healthy. This is a dilemma that many foodies face when their sweet tooth demands to be satisfied. But what if you could include some vegetables into your next cake or cookie? Incorporating everyday fruits and vegetables into your favorite sweets and treats is actually a lot easier, and more delicious, than you may think.

For a healthier twist on traditional baked goods, try some of these (almost) guilt-free recipes:

Chocolate cake. Any chocolate fan understands the value of a decadent chocolate cake. But chocolate cake made with black beans? That’s thinking outside the box.

Brownies. If brownies are more your speed, try this delicious avocado brownie recipe.

Cookie dough. The only thing better than a cookie is cookie dough. For a cookie dough recipe that avoids the dangers of raw egg while adding a veggie flare, try making chickpea cookie dough.

Mint chocolate chip ice cream. Ice cream is delicious, but isn’t widely considered a healthy option. Mint chocolate chip ice cream made with spinach tastes good and leaves you feeling guilt-free.

I hope you enjoy these non-traditional and delicious sweets! I’d love to know which one ends up being you’re go-to recipe for a healthier dessert.

Going Grayscale: Cutting the Cord on Phone Addiction

Like most, I must admit that I am on my phone(s) too much. I’m one of those people that is the first on their cellphone when I step into an elevator or am waiting in line for lunch. My phone is chalked full of videos of my dog, texts from friends, and constantly buzzing emails and calendar events.

Hence my New Year’s Resolution: to cut the cord. I didn’t want to continue to fill my empty moments with more screen time, but it was going to be hard to stop when pulling out my phone had become a practically programmed response.

It was then that I discovered “going grayscale.”

Grayscale is a mode on most smartphones that turns everything on your screen black, white and gray. This may seem like a little thing, but altering your phone from being an interface full of vibrant colors to one duller than everything in your surroundings takes away a lot of the temptation to flip to an app in a free moment.

I decided to try it out, and it worked. No longer as drawn to photos, apps, and other mobile distractions in their new state, I found myself much more present in interactions with strangers and aware of little things I was missing in my surroundings like a cute dog walking by or a lucky penny on the street. My phone is still a necessary part of coordinating my work and private life, but now, it is no longer the go-to use of my free time.

So if you are thinking you might like to try some separation from your cell phone, try switching to grayscale. Making your phone look as boring as the time you waste on it is makes it much easier to pass up.

The Benefits of Reading

You can admit it: reading doesn’t always seem like the easiest thing to do at night. Maybe your time-wasting weakness involves playing the latest farm simulation game on your phone. Maybe you have a TV show you like to binge watch or you’re a movie buff. Whatever it is, I find I often push my books to the side.

In case some extra motivation could help, however, I recently discovered this Real Simple article on the benefits of reading – from an actual book, not a Kindle or e-book – which are even greater than I knew.

It can boost your brain power. Similar to the way going for a jog exercises your cardiovascular system, reading can improve memory function and may help slow the aging process, keeping minds sharper longer, according to research published in Neurology.

Reading can make you more empathetic. According to a study in Science, a good book has been proven to make it easier for people to relate to others. And, what’s more, the effect is more significant on those who read literary fiction as opposed to those who read nonfiction. “Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies,” researchers David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano wrote.

Lastly, reading a book before bed can help you sleep. Bedtime rituals tell your body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. Reading a real book helps you relax more than zoning out in front of a screen before bed. Screens like e-readers and tablets have been proven to actually keep you awake longer and even hurt your sleep.

If you need an enlightening and inspiring book, I always recommend Simon Sinek’s Start With Why to friends. Let me know what books you recommend or are currently reading!

Battle of the Leafy Greens: Spinach vs. Kale

Leafy greens are perhaps the superstars of the vegetable family: they contain myriad health benefits, they’re tasty, and they’re versatile. Those of us who grew up watching Popeye are familiar with the merits of spinach, but in the last few years a new leafy green has taken over the limelight: kale. The two look similar, taste similar, and are often used in similar ways. So, just how similar are they?

Calories: While the number of calories should never be a concern while munching veggies, a cup of kale has double the calories that a cup of spinach does.

Magnesium: Magnesium contributes to strong bones, and spinach contains a quarter of your daily magnesium. This might be why Popeye was such a tough guy!

Vitamin C: Kale takes the lead here. Kale has four times the amount of Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, than spinach.

Calcium: While it’s a close call, kale edges out spinach in its amount of calcium.

Protein: Kale has 15 percent more protein than spinach. (Maybe Popeye should have switched!)

The bottom line is that, with either kale or spinach, you can’t go wrong! In terms of benefits, spinach may be the better option for pregnant women because of its rich amounts of the nutrients folate and iron, whereas vegans may choose kale in order to get a calcium and protein fix. Happy munching!

Puerto Rico Needs Our Help

By now, you have seen the heartbreaking images from Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. This event touches particularly close to home for the more than 2,000 MMM and MSO of Puerto Rico employees who help us meet the healthcare needs of the island. Over 80 employees lost their homes and possessions and many are still living without basic essentials like food, electricity and water. Hundreds more had family members impacted by the category 5 storm. Despite these hardships, more than 90 percent of MMM and MSO employees are reporting to work to help our beneficiaries get the care they need.

In partnership with our sister company, Care-One, we are undertaking an ambitious fundraising effort to show our commitment to these employees, their communities and the more than 450,000 Puerto Rican beneficiaries who turn to us to keep them well. We’re calling it “Caminamos Juntos” which means “We Walk Together.”

As part of this effort, we are hosting a fundraiser in New York City on Thursday, October 19. We hope you can attend. Detailed information, including ticket purchase and sponsorship information, can be found at Please click this link to learn more about how you can help make a difference.

To maximize the speed and impact of your donation, the proceeds will be directed by the Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Charitable Fund to the recovery and rebuilding of Puerto Rico. This will ensure 100 percent of the proceeds are distributed effectively and without delay.

For those who are unable to attend but would still like to contribute, please click on the tickets/donation button here. Please “walk together” with us now by showing the generosity that Puerto Rico so badly needs.

Breathing Easy: Tips for Autumn Allergy Relief

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 40 million Americans suffer from autumn allergies, making it one of the worst times of the year for those of us who deal with seasonal allergies. The biggest villain is ragweed, a plant that covers the southeast part of the country. Another is pollen, which is sent into the air as the weather cools and foliage changes. These allergens can cause itchy eyes, runny noses, excessive sneezing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, hives, and dry skin. Symptoms that really affect your quality of life!

However, there are a few tricks to manage even the most severe of allergies. Try these out and enjoy autumn instead of sneezing your way through it.

  1. Find out exactly what you’re allergic to. An allergist can run a quick skin-prick text to figure this out. Once you identify the culprit, customize your treatment to what will work best to fight your specific allergy.
  2. Buy a dehumidifier. Not only can this help with breathing, but it can also help if you are sensitive to mold or dust, allergens that flourish in humid environments.
  3. Check pollen levels. If pollen is really aggravating you, you can check pollen levels in your area at If you’re in a high pollen zone, try to avoid spending a lot of time outdoors.
  4. Take an antihistamine. This is one of the easiest steps you can take, and most over-the-counter allergy drugs now are non-drowsy!
  5. Shower. Washing your body and clothes right after spending time outside will prevent pollen from following you around inside and transferring to your furniture.

If these don’t help a bit and your allergies seem to be getting worse, don’t hesitate to visit a doctor to make sure something else isn’t amiss in your immune system! No one wants to spend their autumn sneezing.

Save the Date: Brooklyn Tech’s 95th Anniversary

Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation will celebrate the “Titans of Tech” Award and the 95th Anniversary of Brooklyn Tech High School on November 28th in New York City.  As a proud graduate of “Tech” and member of the Alumni Foundation’s Dinner Committee, I urge your support of this outstanding school by attending the reception, placing an advertisement in the Event Journal or contributing any amount you can to the school.

Brooklyn Tech is the country’s premier STEM School (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The school’s alumni include inventors, top scientists, CEOs, high-ranking diplomats, scholars in academia, literary figures, Olympians, National Medal recipients and Nobel Laureates.

Tech is committed to preparing students for tomorrow’s cutting edge professions and careers.  The cost to maintain Tech’s level of educational excellence is enormous and involves building and equipping modern science and technology labs for 5,800+ students.  As the rate of change in technology accelerates, so does the cost of delivering such excellence.  New York City provides substantial support, but it is not enough. One of the Alumni Foundation’s goals is to close this monetary gap by relying on contributions raised from this annual dinner.

As a graduate of Brooklyn Tech, I cannot begin to describe the impact the school has had on my education, career trajectory and personal growth. Brooklyn Tech afforded me an outstanding education and laid a solid foundation for me for years to come. I attribute a good part of my success to Brooklyn Tech.  Supporting Brooklyn Tech is a commitment I have made in order to give back and provide an opportunity for others to benefit as well.

I am reaching out to you to help me fulfill this commitment and support this school in all it does to provide opportunities for other young people.

All the “Titans of Tech” Committee members are proud graduates of the school and happen to be connected through the worlds of architecture, human resources, health care, law, actuarial science and finance.   We are united in the mission to preserve Tech’s excellence–  it will surely be a positive factor in educating tomorrow’s leaders.

Please support. Many thanks.

Penelope Kokkinides ‘87
Brooklyn Tech Alumni Board Member
Journal Co-Chair