Even in the coldest months, we relish the refreshing, icy taste of peppermint — in seasonal treats like peppermint bark, peppermint schnapps, even peppermint beer.

We have the chemical menthol to thank for that deliciously cool mouth-feel of peppermint. And scientists now know that menthol actually tricks our brains and mouths into the cool sensation because menthol activates the same receptor on nerve endings that’s involved in sensing cold, says David McKemy, a neurobiologist at the University of Southern California.

As McKemy explains in a video about peppermint out this month from USC, thanks to this neat trick of nature, researchers were able to use menthol to better understand how our nervous system senses and reacts to cold. His team found a protein which is “a trigger on cold sensing nerve fibers to send an electrical signal to the brain to let you know that you’re feeling cold.”

How Peppermint Tricks Us Into Feeling (Deliciously) Cold

Video credit: USC College

Art, Interesting

The History of the Christmas Tree

Smithsonian Gardens

What is the history of the Christmas tree? As far as common historical accounts are concerned, it all started with customs of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Scandinavians and other cultures that displayed evergreen trees, boughs and garlands during the winter. These decorations were symbols of everlasting life and reminders of the growth of spring, and they were also believed to ward off evil spirits, ghosts and illness.

The Christmas tree tradition as we now know it is thought to have begun in Germany in the 16th century when devout Christians began bringing trees into their homes and decorating them. Early decorations included nuts, fruits, baked goods and paper flowers. It is a widely held belief that Martin Luther was the first person to add lights to the tree. During a walk home one evening, he was struck by the twinkling stars through the evergreen trees and decided to recreate that…

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Art, Interesting, Photography

the holly and the ivy

the paris apartment


good morning and happy sunday! it seems most of the country is snowy this weekend so i’m a little out of the loop being in florida. when i started seeing images of winter this morning, i couldn’t help but get into the spirit of holiday decorating. my place has a little sprig here and there…

CMSnot much but the rosemary tree is fragrant and the berries are festive. i couldn’t go too far since i’m heading up north again on thursday. i had to do something though, because somehow it never quite feels like the holidays here the way it did up north.

photo 1

even though i don’t decorate much, it got me thinking about how simple it is to get the holiday vibe with just a touch of green. below are some of the shots creative bloggers all over the net have shared. if you’re not in the mood to…

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Snow Christmas Illustration

ART - Children's Books Illustration

When I think of Christmas, this image of a snowman instantly comes to mind. It probably resonates with my childhood memory. A sound of the snow falling silently and steadily, the bell ringing afar and the scenery of silver snow forest with layer upon layer of silver trees.

I’m still dreaming of a white Christmas…in a land where Christmas comes in the middle of summer holidays and Santa goes out surfing to cool down. 🙂

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