Disclaimer: this is not what I would consider "healthy" but it sure is yummy and EASY! I got it from a co-worker years ago and it has been a favorite ever since.
1 - 2 pounds stew beef
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 packed Lipton onion soup mix (or mushroom/onion)
1 can sliced mushrooms with the juice
Mix everything together, throw in a crockpot, cook on low all day. Serve over noodles, with a colorful veggie on the side.
If you want to use fresh mushrooms, add 1/4 cup water to the mixture in the morning, and then throw the fresh mushrooms in right at the end for about 20-30 minutes. (I think this would be good with onions too, but my husband dislikes them).
It's a boring time of the year.....no holidays or big events in sight, and I'm starting to get restless! Time to plan a vacation!!
My husband and I are fortunate in that we usually take at least two vacations each year. The first is always to the same place where we honeymooned 20 years ago.
The second trip is always in the Fall, for a Cleveland Browns road game. But I can't start planning that trip until the NFL schedule comes out in April.
Which leaves me with nothing.to.plan.right.now. That just won't do.
So I need to figure out a quick little get-away for March or April, just to give me something to work on and get us out of the house.
A 2010 study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, showed that many people experience a large boost in happiness (for 8 weeks!) just from planning the vacation. It makes perfect sense to me....I know I always enjoy figuring out where to go, where to stay, and what to see. The anticipation is almost as fun as the actual vacation!
My favorite trip-planning website is tripadvisor.com. It has tons of reviews and suggestions and advice, and I find it easy to use. I usually pick a destination and check out the hotel rankings. I read the forums to find out the best area to stay, then narrow my hotel choices down to 2 or 3.
Then I hop on to expedia.com to get prices. Next, I go to each hotel's website (often they are the cheapest!). I always check for Entertainment card or AAA discounts, plus I plug in my hotel rewards card number to see if that gets me extra savings. I have even used priceline.com when we weren't picky about where to stay---it worked out great in Nashville!!
After I have booked the hotel, I start to plan what we want to do while we're there. TripAdvisor is great for that, or you can get travel guides from the library (or AAA if you're a member). I usually have Dave look through what I've gathered and tell me some of the things he's interested in seeing, and then go from there. A lot of cities have passes for several tourist attractions at a discounted price, as well as passes for public transportation. I also check viator.com for discounts on tours. It's fun to figure out what we can squeeze into each day, how we'll get to each attraction, and which restaurants are nearby for us to try.
If we're flying, I start checking prices several times per day. There is a lot of talk that prices often are best about 2 months out, and go down on Tuesdays; I have found that to be true (although after I purchase the tickets, I stop checking). There have been times when I have had the hotel booked but the flights never worked out, so I just cancelled the hotel. I rarely pay in advance for a hotel...the savings don't justify the risk of having to cancel and lose the deposit.
So anyway, it's time for me to plan a mini vacay. You know, for that boost of happiness!! Any ideas where we should go??
February is a month dedicated to hearts, both the symbolic one from Valentine’s Day, but more importantly the less advertised recognition of heart disease in women. There is a “Go Red for Women” campaign that is well known among health care providers, but less known to the general public. This campaign is most known for wear red day and red dress campaign hosted in February, but more importantly, Go Red stands for:
· Get Your Numbers: Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure and cholesterol.
· Own Your Lifestyle: Stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, and eat healthy.
· Realize Your Risk: We think it won’t happen to us, but heart disease kills 1 in 3 women.
· Educate Your Family: Make healthy food choices for yourself and your family. Teach your kids the importance of staying active.
· Don’t Be Silent: Tell every woman you know that heart disease is the number one killer.
Ladies, your heart health is of utmost importance. We get so busy with work, life, and everyday responsibilities that we often put this very important information aside and tend not to lead the healthiest lifestyle. These are not minor fixes or quick results, but a healthy lifestyle will reduce your risk of being a 1 in 3 statistic. February is our reminder, but it’s very important to think about your heart health on a daily basis!
Liza and I went shopping yesterday. In itself that wasn't a strange occurrence. LOL. However, we stopped at a Bath and Body Works and stocked up on scents. We both have allergies but still needed a "good smell fix." It got me thinking about aromatherapy and so I did a bit of research.
Aromatherapy uses scents to alter our moods and enhance our well-being. Scientists have found it can reduce pain, decrease anxiety, and increase energy levels in patients. They believe it stimulates the limbic system in our brain which deals with emotions.
When you think about it, that makes sense. Certain smells have a tendency to trigger memories in people, which in turn can trigger emotions. My mom has been gone for almost 20 years, but when I smell her perfume I immediately picture her laughing. This in turn either makes me smile or gets me a bit teary-eyed, depending on the situation.
Our sense of smell is more important than people realize. It contributes to the taste of food, can protect us from dangerous situations, and is the last sense (no pun intended) to fade away as someone is dying. I urge you to think about what scents make you happy. For me they include brewing coffee, fresh baked cookies, the air immediately after a good rain, a burning fire, and crisp fall air. I also love the smell of chlorinated water, which is a reminder of many happy summers spent swimming as a child.
There is quite a science to aromatherapy and people can put a lot of time and money into developing the perfect scents. If you're lazy, like I am, then you can whip up a quick batch of cookies or light a candle to get the job done. I urge you to have fun with aromatherpy and find what works for you. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to light my new lavender and vanilla scented candle and eat a cookie!
Organic food is anything grown on a farm that follows strict regulations and does not use chemicals, hormones, pesticides, etc. The belief is that buying organic foods not only promotes your own health, but also that of the planet.
While this sounds great the reality is that organic food usually is not as big as chemically grown food. It can also be quite expensive. If you think you might like to try eating organically, start with the "dirty dozen." These are the top 12 food items that nutritionists recommend you purchase organically because they are the most heavily doused with chemicals. They include:
Shop around for good deals. Some stores offer organic produce at a much lower price than others. You may also find a good food co-op in your area. I am fortunate to live in Amish country and therefore have access to several good, organically-grown farm stands in the summer.
For those who simply cannot afford to purchase organic foods, take heart. You can still thoroughly wash your produce to eliminate most of the chemicals.
Recently, I was rushing out the door, slipped, caught my toe and fell down my garage steps. When I was able to get up, I had horrible pain in my right big toe. I took a deep breath, hobbled to my car, and drove to my appointment. My toe hurt even worse driving! When I got home, I took off my boot to evaluate. It wasn’t horribly swollen or bruised, but boy did it hurt to walk on it.
I work in the medical world, but I do not have X-ray vision. Sometimes it is very difficult to discern between a bruise, sprain and fracture. Regardless of what you have, it hurts and here are some tips.
1. It’s not an emergency. You do not have to go to the emergency room unless there is an obvious displacement/disfigurement.
2. Rest. Stay off of it as much as you can.
3. Ice. Make an ice pack and put in on the area that hurts separated by a cloth (don’t put ice directly on skin-it can cause a skin injury). Keep ice on for 10Ouchie minutes, then remove for 10 minutes, then repeat.
4. Do not heat! Heat causes the vessels in the area to dilate causing more swelling.
5. Elevate it above the level of your heart (Recliners do not work to elevate above the level of the heart! I recommend laying on the couch and putting your foot over the back of your couch.)
6. If there are no contraindications (ie kidney or liver disease or high risk of bleeding) take 800 mg of ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) every 8 hours with a large glass of water and take 1000 mg of acetaminophen (pain) every 6 hours with a large glass of water. Space them out so that you have pain relief around the clock.
7. Make an appointment with a podiatrist. They take specialty X-rays to evaluate to bones of the feet to see if there is a fracture.
8. Once evaluated, follow your podiatrist’s recommendations!
I initially went to my primary care physician who ordered X-rays. The report said there was no fracture. But because I was having difficulty walking on it, he immediately sent me to a podiatrist. The podiatrist did his own X-rays and found a pretty significant fracture. He prescribed steroids, buddy taped my toe to the one next to it for additional support, and gave me a special shoe with a non-flexible sole to wear. I have to return in a week for follow up X-rays to make sure my fracture is healing appropriately. He was also very helpful in giving me tips to get through an upcoming trip for a destination wedding. Foot injuries happen often and hopefully you now know what to do to recover from them!
Are you a "glass is half full" type of person? I try to be, but I'll admit that it's easy to get sucked in by the "half empty" personalities. They're all around us, and they can zap the fun out of any situation. Before you know it, you'll be feeding off of each other and griping all day long!
So what should we do?
The obvious first step is to try to avoid the negativity. We all have people in our lives who have certain topics that they continuously gripe about, so try to avoid those topics. If a Negative Nelly starts in on her favorite grumpy topic, direct the conversation to more neutral subjects or things that the person enjoys.
If that doesn't work and you truly care about the person, you can try putting yourself in her shoes; if her complaints are justified, express empathy and maybe make a few suggestions on how she can improve her situation. Keep in mind, though, that Debbie Downers probably won't want to hear your opinion. They are too far entrenched in their victim mentality and have lost all self-awareness and don't want to entertain any views other than their own. They just want an audience. Even worse, they often don't take an interest in you---it's a completely one-sided relationship in which they drone on and on and on about all of the rotten things that the world inflicted on them, and never have time for you unless you're complaining as well.
If you want to salvage the relationship, you can try to be blunt and point out the constant negativity. Let the person know (nicely) that you are very aware of her complaints and you have nothing new to add to the topic and would like to discuss something else.
If that doesn't work, you simply have to limit all contact. Why spend your valuable time with someone so toxic?
I know everyone goes through rough times and needs to vent. That's normal. And some situations never change, so the complaints are probably well-founded. But if that is ALL someone focuses on, it can be very draining and a huge waste of time. Life is way too short!!
It seems to me that more and more of my friends are complaining about back pain. I did some research and discovered that at least 80% of Americans will face this issue at some point in their lives. While most of us will not suffer long, it is still the most common reason to call off sick. What's worse, back pain is the leading cause of disability in this country and costs over 50 billion a year. Don't let this happen to you! Remember PSS to fight back pain: posture, stretching, and strengthening.
Most back pain is caused by overly tight muscles or poor alignment while lifting objects. That is why your first line of defense is always going to be good posture. Your shoulders should line up over your hips and there should be a natural curve in your spine. This is important even when you are sitting down. Make sure you are not leaning forward and try to avoid crossing your legs or ankles.
Stretching is the next thing you can do to prevent back pain. You will want to stretch your back, gluteal, hip flexor, and hamstring muscles. These tend to get very tight and short when you sit for a long time each day. When they are tight they pull your back out of alignment which can lead to pain and injury.
Finally, strengthening will go a long way to avoid back pain. Strong muscles work better and are able to carry heavier loads. They also help with your balance and prevent slip-ups and falls that can do damage. Remember, a strong back is a healthy back!
As Valentine’s Day nears, everyone in a relationship scrambles to buy something to show their love on this mandated day of the year. Those of you living in Ohio may also purchase an obligatory gift for Sweetest Day in the fall. I urge you to not forget the remaining days in between. There are many ways to give gifts in a relationship.
Gift of being present-genuinely be present. Put your electronics away. Focus on each other. Make eye contact. Communicate with each other.
Gift of partnership-marriage is a partnership. Try to see things from each other’s point of view, make lists of common goals and work on them together. Be sensitive and supportive of each other’s needs.
Gift of respect-You may disagree with each other, but remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion and feelings and you should respect them.
Gift of compromise-you may each have a different thought or expectation. Have a civil discussion and negotiate a compromise that is agreeable to both of you.
Gift of trust-be open and honest with your partner. Have nothing to hide. Be completely open with your partner without restrictions. Don’t keep secrets or have private conversations that would make the other suspicious.
Gift of freedom-as much as we love spending time with each other, partners need space to do things with their friends or their own hobbies. Allow that personal time apart and appreciate the time you do have together.
Gift of helpfulness-give each other a break when you can. Help them out with the chores they typically do, especially if they are not feeling well or are having a stressful week.
Gift of frugality-sometimes spending in a marriage can be off balance. Often one sacrifices while the other spends. Work together on a budget and monthly allowance that is fair to both of you.
Gift of sexuality-sometimes when you have been in a long term relationship, you fall into routines and often sexual activity gets pushed aside. Most often, even if you are not in the mood, engaging in sexual activity with your partner results in a good experience for both of you.
Physical gifts-thoughtful gifts are wonderful in a relationship. They should not be given out of obligation or an expectation, but because you really felt the item your purchased would make your partner happy.
A few months ago I wrote about simple ways to add more movement to our lives. None of the information was new, but it never hurts to re-hash the importance of taking care of our bodies with healthy habits. By now, EVERYONE should be well aware that we need to keep our bodies in motion to ward off heart disease, diabetes, obesity, etc.
The expression "Move It or Lose It" is spot on. And yet, so many of us remain sedentary and slowly allow our bodies to become soft and weak. Why??
Did you know that there is actually a condition known as "Sitting Disease"? And, no shocker here, it is getting more and more common. Think about it: we spend large parts of our days sitting down. On our commute, at our desks, on the couch, at the table eating, in the doctor's office, etc. Some studies estimate that the average American spends 7.7 hours/day sitting, while others are sitting up to 15 hours/day. Yikes!
That is why is is so important to find ways to add movement throughout our day. Rather than rattle off 5 excuses why you CAN'T move more, this time come up with a couple of things that I haven't listed and actually make them part of your day!
**Stand when you can: it increases blood flow, improves posture, and increases energy
**Rearrange your work area so you have to get up to walk to the garbage can, files, etc.
**Stand while talking on the phone
**Take a walk at lunch
**Park farther away or get off at a different bus stop so you have to walk more
**Get up at least once per hour to walk: to the restroom, water fountain, to ask a colleague a question, etc.
**Multitask while watching TV: get up and move during commercials, or clean while the show is on
**March in place while brushing your teeth
Come on, get up, you can do it. MOVE!!
For more info on sitting disease, check out this link: http://www.juststand.org/tabid/674/language/en-US/default.aspx
We are already one month into the new year and I am sure several of you have wavering New Year’s resolutions, especially about healthy eating and weight loss. If it was easy, it would not be such a frequent struggle or the most common resolution. I’m just as guilty, so I won’t stand on my soap box; rather, I will provide you with some suggestions to help make you more successful. It is not too late to try again.
I just made this yesterday--it was cold and snowy outside, and I wanted something warm and filling. I used a George Foreman grill to cook the chicken (sprinkled with chicken seasoning), then chopped it into small pieces. Total prep time was less than 20 minutes. I like this version because I don't have to roll out dough for the crust.
Easy Chicken Pot Pie
1/3 C butter or margarine
1/3 C chopped onion (optional)
1/3 C flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 and 3/4 C chicken broth
1/2 C milk
2.5 C cubed chicken
2 C veggies (peas, carrots, green beans--whatever you like, and frozen works fine too)
1 tube biscuits or dinner rolls
Heat oven to 375.
In large saucepan, melt butter or medium heat. Add onion, cook until tender.
Stir in flour, salt, and pepper and blend well.
Gradually stir in broth and milk. Stir frequently, cook until bubbly and thickened.
Add chicken and veggies, stir well.
Spoon chicken mixture into individual ramekins or bowls, about 3/4 of the way full.
Spread biscuit dough over the top. Cut a few slits in the dough.
Place on cookie sheet and bake about 15 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
Makes 6 small ramekins, or 3-4 larger bowls.
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