My baby girl turned six years old today. And, I have enjoyed planning a party for her with just a few of her friends at a nearby playground. It was going to be my easy, inexpensive way to have a party for her. However, the closer we have come to the day of her party, the higher the percentage of rain on that day has gotten. Yep, AccuWeather is saying that we have a 50-60 percent chance of rain right at the time that her party is due to start. Boo!
I knew it would be a possibility around this time of the year. So, I knew that we needed to think about a Plan B, but the time has come.
Here are just a few things that we will be adjusting as part of our Plan B.
1. Games. While I was at our local dollar store purchasing paper goods, birthday décor, and balloons, I picked up a “Pin the tail on the donkey” game. I was hoping for something cuter, like “Pin the crown on the princess.” But, that’s okay. I needed an inexpensive game and I got it.
2. Crafts. Tomorrow I’ll head out to pick up an inexpensive craft that will work for girls and boys ages 4 through 11. I’ll be looking for something they can design or create with as few accessories (like scissors, tape, glue, and paint) as possible. It’s a 2-hour party, not an all day art class, after all.
3. Utilize covered patios. Even if it does rain, because it won’t be cold, we plan to use our patio because it’s a covered area. This is a great way to still get outside and to increase space for your guests.
4. Snacks and Cake. Don’t forget that food is the main event. So, we will let them play and then let them eat. That’s our plan!
What do you think should be included in a Plan B for outdoor parties?
There are so many expensive products claiming to make your hair smooth, shiny, and healthy. These products may very well do just that. However, at this point in my life, I can’t see myself ever putting a lot of money into my hair. On a limited budget, putting food on the table takes precedence over shiny hair. But, did you know that putting certain foods on that table will give you strong, healthy, shiny hair? Talking about killing two birds with one stone.
Here are some of the foods that will nourish your body and your hair.
1. Fish. Salmon and tuna, in particular, are full of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. All of those are essential for healthy hair. If you’re not a big fish eater, taking some fish oil supplements every day sure can’t hurt!
2. Dark leafy greens. Aren’t they good for just about everything?! Well, they are full of vitamin A, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. It’s easy to make a salad out of spinach or kale; of course, sautéing spinach takes only about 5 minutes. So, include some of those dark leafy greens in your meals each day.
3. Nuts. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts, in particular, are full of protein, minerals, biotin, and vitamin E. All of which are necessary for healthy hair. Just sprinkle a few into your salad, onto your cooked vegetables, or into a little bowl for a snack.
4. Sweet potatoes. What a sweet way to take care of your hair…and to treat yourself! Sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A. You and your hair will also get vitamin C, iron, and calcium when you eat a sweet potato.
5. Eggs. Eggs have gotten a bad rep over the years. I think they have finally been redeemed as a good-for-you food. And because they are a great source of protein, iron, biotin and contain vitamins A and E, they are great for your hair, too!
These are some fun and tasty ways to take care of your hair, don’t you agree?
1. Quit smoking. Smoking irritates your airway and contributes to swelling. It is, thereby, directly related to snoring. So, if you or your loved one smokes and snores, you can easily identify the cause of the snoring. Reduce or quit smoking and you’ll see an improvement when you sleep.
2. Sleep on your side. Have you ever noticed that when you are sick, you have a harder time sleeping on your back? I do. I seem to cough so much more on my back than on my sides. Well, apparently, the same holds true if you snore. You will likely see much improvement in your snoring if you change positions and make a point to avoid sleeping on your back.
3. How about a little oil? Try taking a teaspoon of coconut oil or olive oil before going to bed. The idea is that the oil will lubricate your throat and reduce any irritation or inflammation that would otherwise cause you to snore.
4. Lose weight. If you are overweight, that is likely to be at least part of the reason that you snore. So, begin to focus on losing some weight. Take baby steps. Keep in mind that it’s not just about snoring. It’s your overall health that you are working to maintain.
5. Add an extra pillow. If you raise your head by 30 degrees, it’ll take that pressure off of your airway and make for a much more comfortable night’s sleep. If you have a bed that will adjust, that’ll make it that much easier. If not, just add on the pillows to increase the angle and alleviate that snoring. That’s an easy way to make life a little easier for you and your spouse!
Of course, there may be other issues related to your health or to your sleep patterns that may need to be addressed by a physician. So, if you have tried it all and still have no relief, call your doctor.
Do you snore? What have you done for relief?
Health trends come and go so often that it can actually be difficult to keep up! Some trends last long enough that we may not question their veracity. So, here are a few health tips for those of us who are watching our weight, trying to eat healthy, and aiming to live healthy lifestyles.
1. “Diet” Foods. You know what I mean. It’s usually in the frozen section with a big label telling you how much fat and how many calories are in the tiny box that contains an entire meal. Or, maybe it’s a protein bar that’s supposed to take the place of a meal. In either case, the “diet” food is supposed to sate your hunger with fewer calories than a non-diet meal. There are problems with this type of food. First, most people are left unsatisfied and hungry. Next, it’s normally full of additives and preservatives that are simply not healthy for your body, even if you are not trying to lose weight. Last, our bodies burn more calories from real, whole foods than they do processed foods (probably because of all those preservatives). Go with real food. Stay away from processed foods, regardless of their labels.
2. Fat. For decades, we were told to avoid fat. Foods were labeled “low fat” and “fat free.” And if you grew up in my era, you equated “low fat” and “fat free” with “healthy.” But, in reality, our bodies need good fats, like the fat we get in avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and flax seed. That fat helps increase our metabolism, thereby helping burn more calories. We also tend to be more satisfied eating real foods with real fat than we do “low fat” foods. As a result, we actually eat less when we eat real foods with good fat.
3. Moderation. Moderation is important even if you are eating good, healthy food. It’s possible to overeat anything, even good, nutritious, healthy, whole foods. Listening to our bodies is critical. It’s great to replace your processed cereal with oatmeal for breakfast. However, it’s possible to eat too much oatmeal. It’s great to have smoothies for lunch. However, it’s possible to have too much.
How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
This is right about the time when most people give up, if they haven’t already, on a new year’s resolution to lose weight or to start working out. If you are in this huge category of people, consider some of the important elements that go into weight loss that sticks. If you want to get off of the weight loss roller coaster, consider these important factors.
1. Exercise. Often, people begin jogging or going to a gym at the beginning of the year because activities like those seem to be synonymous with a healthy lifestyle and weight loss. But, one of the most critical factors that contributes to your consistency is whether you enjoy doing that exercise or activity. Since the key is to incorporate an activity that works your heart, strengthens your muscles, and burns calories, there is not just one exercise that can accomplish those goals. So, make sure you find one you enjoy! That will help you with what counts the most: to keep doing it!
2. Food. There’s no getting around being very thoughtful and intentional about what you eat. Exceptions need to be just that: exceptions to the norm. Some people recommend keeping a food journal. That can help quite a bit because we often don’t keep track of ALL that excess calories we take in. Keeping a food journal for a while can help you become more aware of all the little extra calories you allow yourself without even thinking about it.
3. Attitude. Another very important part of long term change is our attitude toward and understanding of the reasons for that change. What is the purpose of the weight loss in your life? Is it merely to look good? Or, do you actually want to be healthy? If you are just looking at the numbers, it’s easy to get side tracked. You can get discouraged when the scale doesn’t move; you can also get lazy if you see the numbers you like. However, if the goal is to be healthy, then there’s no stopping, regardless of what the scale tells you.
How are you doing with your new year’s weight loss goals?
There’s no missing the fact that February is the month in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day. But, did you know that February is also American Heart Month? That’s not the month in which we practice making heart shaped cookies, cakes, and brownies. Rather, it’s a time to step back and make sure you are taking care of the one heart you’ve got.
Here are a few heart healthy tips in honor of American Heart Month.
1. Get your omega-3 fatty acids. Your heart loves omega-3 fatty acids. You can get omega-3 fatty acids in a variety of ways. Eating fish is a great way to get it. However, there are quicker, easier, and less expensive ways to get it, too. Flax, walnuts, pistachios, grass-fed beef, and enriched eggs are all great sources of omega 3s.
2. Have a glass of wine. Research suggests that a glass of alcohol a day helps to increase our levels of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) to support a healthy heart. So, enjoy that glass of wine and know that you’re actually doing your heart some good!
3. Unplug. Take some time each day to de-stress. Turn off your phone, computer, iPad and do something relaxing. Doing that for just 15 minutes a day will go a long way to support your heart.
4. Sleep. Research shows that people who sleep more than seven hours a night have healthier blood pressure numbers and have lower levels of the hormone cortisol, the “stress hormone,” in their blood stream. Higher levels of cortisol make arteries more susceptible to plaque build up. So, go to bed early and sleep to your heart’s content, literally!
5. Watch your waist. It’s extra wait around your mid-section that can be an indicator of risk for heart disease. So, watch your waist. If you are a man and your waist measures more than 40″ or a woman whose waist measures more than 35,” begin target the source of excess calories. They are likely to be coming from sugar and/or white flour. That’s the easiest place to start.
What are you doing to show some love to your heart?
Maybe it’s the weather. Or the fact that the children have been sick. Or that I haven’t been sleeping well. There are a number of possible reasons (or combination of reasons) for having low energy. One worth considering is low iron intake. Iron is critical to transporting oxygen to the entire body. So, any deficiency in iron can cause fatigue. Serious deficiencies can cause serious problems.
You might think that making sure you have enough iron in your diet means that you are eating quite a bit of red meat. However, you can find iron in a wide variety of sources. Here are some of the most beneficial iron rich foods.
The body absorbs iron best from animal sources. Here are a few iron rich foods in that category.
Liver (both chicken and beef)
The body can also absorb iron from plant sources. However, these sources require a little extra help. So, eating something rich in vitamin C alongside these will help with the absorption. Some suggest eating these with a glass of orange juice. Otherwise, you may choose to eat them with citrus fruits, berries, peppers, peas, potatoes (including sweet potatoes), dark leafy greens, broccoli, melons, kiwi, and pineapple.
Beans (esp. kidney, lima and navy beans)
Nuts and Seeds
Some lists also place dark chocolate as a nice way to get a little iron into your system! So, if you’ve been told to increase your iron intake or if you think you could use a little more iron, you don’t have to go out for a steak dinner or buy a bunch of iron supplements. Consider many more delicious, nutritious, and even thrifty options to take care of that body.
What are you favorite iron rich foods?
I have been a bulk shopper for a while now. However, most of my “bulk” shopping had meant buying oatmeal, rice, flax, and beans from the bulk bins at my local grocery store. That way, I was getting a better deal and controlling exactly how much I wanted to buy with each purchase. I also purchased larger containers/jars of organic coconut oil and honey online, where I could get better deals. Recently, though, our family took bulk buying to a whole new level.
Bulk section at grocery store: Herbs
I used to buy bulk herbs on occasion when I only needed a little bit or when I couldn’t find a jar of what I wanted. When I started buying organic spices, I bought large bags online or generic store brands. Then, once when one of my favorite generic organic brands was out of bay leaves (in a jar), I bought some from that store’s bulk spices section… and have never gone back. I can pay about $0.60 for what costs $3.99 in a jar! Can you believe that?! That’s crazy savings! I just use put the newly bought spices into my old glass jars. Buy your spices in bulk!
Co-ops have become more popular over the years. Although buying through a co-op doesn’t guarantee savings (know your price points!), you can score if you buy the right stuff. What I look for are items that we already eat with a long shelf life. Here are the categories of items that make it worth being part of a co-op.
Grains. The best deal I can get on organic rolled oats at our local grocery stores is $1.49 per pound. Once in a while, I can get them on sale. But, even then, I can’t get them for the price I can get them with the co-op. If I purchase 25lbs, I can get the oats for $0.90 per pound. Obviously, deals vary from one co-op to another, but you get the idea!
Beans. It’s the same idea with beans. We love black beans and decided to get a 25lb bag of organic black beans at $1.48/lb. That’s unheard of for organic black beans.
Potatoes. How about 20lbs of organic Russet potatoes for $8.00?! Yes, I know! You just can’t get those kinds of deals at your local grocery stores!
Where do you buy your bulk foods?