Barbie Doll Cakes in Japan

The dolls shown below were made by a custom cakes bakery in Hokaido, Japan.

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Practice Doesn’t Always Make Perfect

Practice is an essential part of gaining excellence in a specific skill, but to become truly great other qualities must come into play, such as IQ or working memory, according to researchers who studied how practice affects the success of chess players.

For the study, published in the Current Directions in Psychological Science, the researchers also considered earlier research and noted that practicing harder or longer doesn’t compensate for the lack of other important traits relevant to a certain activity.


Muscle Loss For Older Men with Low Testosterone

Lowered testosterone levels are associated with the loss of lean muscle mass and lower body strength in older men, a new study finds.

Loss of muscle mass and strength contributes to frailty and is associated with mobility problems, falls and bone fractures, the study’s authors say, and men lose more muscle mass and strength than women as they age.

That suggests that levels of sex hormones, particularly testosterone, could influence age-related changes in body composition and physical function, according to researchers led by Dr. Erin LeBlanc, of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Ore.

Their study included almost 1,200 men aged 65 who had their levels of sex steroids measured and were then followed for an average of 4.5 years. Their body composition was checked using high-tech scans, and their physical abilities were evaluated through exercises that assessed lower extremity power, grip strength, walking speed and the ability to rise from a chair without the use of arms.

“Our study finds that men, aged 65 years and older, with higher testosterone levels lost less muscle mass, especially in their arms and legs, than men this age who had lower testosterone levels,” LeBlanc said in an Endocrine Society news release.

“Men who had higher testosterone levels before they lost weight also lost less leg function and could stand up more easily from a chair than men who had lower testosterone levels before they lost weight,” she noted.

“The amount of testosterone men have in their bodies may contribute to how much muscle and strength they lose as they get older,” LeBlanc concluded.

Despite the link, one expert says that’s no reason to urge older men towards supplemental testosterone.

The study, funded by grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is slated to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.


A Creamy Soup with Pumpkin and Apple


1-1/4 lb sugar pumpkin or butternut squash, halved and seeded
2 onions, quartered
1 large McIntosh apple, halved and cored
1 clove garlic
4 tsp olive oil
2 cups sodium-reduced vegetable broth
4 slices bacon, diced
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp salt
pinch white pepper


  1. Peel and cut pumpkin into 1½-inch cubes; place in roasting pan. Add onions, apple and garlic; drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Roast in 425°F oven, stirring once, until pumpkin is browned and tender, about 40 minutes.
  2. Peel apple; transfer along with roasted mixture to food processor.
  3. Heat roasting pan over medium-high heat; pour in 1 cup of the broth and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Add to food processor; purée until smooth.
  4. In Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crispy, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel–lined plate.
  5. Remove all but 1 tbsp fat from Dutch oven. Stir in vegetable purée, remaining vegetable broth, 2 cups water, caraway seeds, salt and pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with bacon.

Source: Canadian Living