Recently there has been a lot of talk about low grade inflammation in the body. It has been linked to all kinds of health problems including osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, dental issues, and multiple sclerosis.
The longer your body remains inflamed, the greater your risk of developing these diseases.
So what causes low grade inflammation? Stress is definitely a factor. You should do all you can to reduce or eliminate your stress. Great ways to do this are to exercise, meditate, get plenty of rest, and avoid difficult situations whenever possible.
Diet is another extremely important factor and is the main cause of low grade inflammation. Certain foods will increase the acidity of your blood, making your body work harder. These foods include soda, artificial sweeteners, processed foods, fast foods, meat, and dairy products. If most of your diet consists of these items then you probably have low grade inflammation.
Now I know what you're thinking. How on earth can you cut these food items out? They are the mainstay of the American diet. The good news is you don't have to. Instead, you just need to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables along with these items. Fruits and vegetables are very alkaline and will neutralize the acid in your blood. That is why our government is pushing at least 5 servings a day (and ultimately 9) for good health.
If you're not a fruit and veggie eater you can start out slowly. Have a salad with a meal or make a fresh juice to sip with that cheese and cracker plate. Eventually increase your servings of the healthy stuff. You will find that you get full quicker due to the fiber content of fruits and vegetables. You will also likely lose some weight. Best of all, you will go a long way in preventing disease.
Recently, several of my close friends lost love ones. There is little we can do to help alleviate the pain of a loved one that has passed. We often send flowers or food with our condolences. But then I found a great craft idea that offers encouragement.
Pennies from Heaven is a concept that someone that has passed is thinking about you. So when you find a penny, you pick it up and keep it in a jar to remind yourself of your loved one that has passed. I made several and handed them out to my friends. They still comment about how much they and their families appreciate the comfort they get from them. ~Liza
Everyone always wants the best for their kids, but parties tend to get expensive. Some birthday parties tend to have more significance than others; the 1st, 10th, 13th, 16th & 18th. It’s understandable that you may spend a little more money on those celebrations. Here are some birthday ideas to keep it easy on your wallet.
Try to Keep it at Home to Avoid Rental Fees
o Try a slumber party--indoor fort or outdoor tents
o Movies--outdoors on garage or screen, or indoors
o Craft party--pick one or two fun crafts for the kids to allow them to take home in lieu of party favors
o Create a fun scavenger hunt indoors or outdoors or combo of both
o Have a pampered party--nails, hair, mud masks
o Play board games you already have or have kids bring their favorite game to play
o Have a teddy bear and tea party
o Have a lego party and build a city
o Have a story book party and have children come dressed as their favorite character. They can even tell the story or read the book associated with it.
o Have a home dance party
DIY the Decorations
o Make your own themed decorations
o Use solid color plates and napkins that match the scheme instead of patterns
o Buy table clothes and balloons from a dollar store
o Use what you have at home instead of buying new
o See if family or friends have decorations you can borrow
o Play music from TV, Ipod, home playlist
Make as much food as possible yourself. Kids are simple and tend to like simple food choices presented in a unique way.
o Fruit kabobs (bite sizes pieces of fruit on a wooded skewer)
o Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes
o Make deviled eggs and use a tooth pick to wedge a piece of cheese to look like a sailboat
o Make cupcakes or a homemade cake. If you don’t have baking talents consider using your local grocery store instead of a specialty store. Consider substituting cake with donuts, pie, or ice cream.
Share with us some of your ideas or a favorite party you attended!
Spring is here! We have waited a long time for it and now you look outside with dread at the amount of work to do in your garden, lawn, decks and patios! Do not fear, you can manage it! First, make a list of what you want to do and space it out. This strategy will help your back and your budget!
Try to do as much as you can yourself. Labor is expensive. If you cannot physically handle spring clean-up tasks, consider hiring local teenagers to assist, they are more affordable than professional services. Or if you have nice neighbors, maybe you can make them dinner in exchange for their labor services.
Lawn fertilizer can be purchased at your local stores (price compare) and apply it yourself to keep costs down.
Consider repainting winter worn furniture or purchasing affordable cushions or pillows to hide wear. It is more affordable than replacing them. Many people replace their furniture in the spring, so keep an eye out for furniture that can be easily repaired on the curb or in local resale ads.
Spring is time to split many over-sized plants. Consider forming a neighborhood swap of available cuttings to keep the cost of new plants down.
Go to local outlet stores to purchase perennial plants. Perennial plants typically come back the following year and make your investment last longer. Avoid annual plants as they will only last this year before they die.
Buy seed packets and plant flowers and plants in repurposed containers that you have stored in the garage and basement. Not only is it more affordable, but it is fun to see the process of plants sprouting and growing.
Consider planting fruits and vegetables so that you not only have green plants, but profit from the fruits and vegetables that will grow all summer and fall.
Read online tips for common problems with your yard (brown grass, dying plants, pest control, etc.) Often they will have home remedies that are very affordable.
If you buy mulch or firewood to be delivered, consider including your neighbors to split only one delivery fee.
Please share with us any budget friendly tips that we didn't mention! Happy Spring!
I've written about volunteering before. It's a great way to give back to the community. It also takes your mind off of your own problems and gives you a fresh perspective on life. There are many volunteer opportunities in your community. Some are as simple as giving money or stuffing envelopes for an hour. Others require much more time and emotion. One such "emotionally charged" volunteer opportunity is helping out at your local hospice.
Hospice is a medical organization dedicated to improving the lives of those with a terminal illness. Its primary goal is to provide comfort care and resources to make this last stage of life as painless as possible. That includes sending in doctors, nurses, home health aids, and volunteers to assist the patient and the family.
Volunteers can take on many roles with hospice. They can sit with the patient, read to them, pray with them, and do crafts. They can provide respite for family members who need to get out of the house or take a nap. Volunteers can do shopping, light housekeeping, and even drive patients to appointments. Most importantly, they can sit with someone so that they don't have to die alone (if they don't want to).
I started volunteering for a local hospice agency 6 weeks ago. I have not regretted it for a single moment! People ask me how I can stand being around those who are dying. I don't look at it that way. Instead I see it as being around those who need some comfort, however small, before they move on to the next chapter of their lives.
It may seem like a silly word, but once you discover it, you will love it! Uber (EW-brr) is an on-demand car service offered in larger metropolitan areas using a smart phone. It uses a dispatch software to send the nearest driver to your location. If it is not currently in your area, it may be coming soon. Additionally, it is great for areas in which you travel. Uber contracts drivers who use their own vehicle, and the drivers work on whatever schedule they are available; a portion of their earnings are provided to Uber. When you request a car service through the app, you will be notified of who your driver is with a picture and what kind of vehicle they are driving.
One perk of using Uber is that you request a car using your smart phone. It will tell you exactly when your car will arrive and the route it is coming to you. No more waiting in bad weather to hail a taxi. No cash is exchanged between you and the driver. All transactions are completed via the credit card you put on file when you registered.
You can sign up for Uber on their website, or download the app to your smartphone. After you download then free app to your smart phone, you can sign in with your username and password. When you tap the app, it will have you choose the type of car service you want to pick you up. There are 5 types of car services, but not all are available in every area:
· Black Car – This is Uber’s original service. Choosing Black Car will send a high-end sedan to your location, with seating for up to 4 people.
· Taxi – This calls a taxi that has an agreement with Uber. These taxis are much like any normal taxi, except that you can pay through the app.
· UberX – This sends an everyday car to your location with seating for up to four people. This is Uber’s budget option.
· SUV – This will send an SUV to your location with seating for up to 6 people. This is significantly more expensive than the Black Car service.
· LUX – This will send a high-end luxury car to your location with seating for up to four people. This is Uber’s most expensive service.
The next step is to tap the map to show where you would like to be picked up, or enter the address into “pickup location” space. You then enter the address or name of your destination. The app will tell you how long until a driver is available and the estimated cost of travel.
Once you confirm your ride, you are sent a photo and name of driver and the type of vehicle. Your ride will arrive to pick you up and take you to your destination. If you change your mind and cancel after five minutes, you will be charged a fee. Once you reach your destination, you simply say “thank you” and get out of the car. All transactions are handled through the app, so no cash is necessary. There is no need to tip, although it is appreciated. If you use the taxi service, a 20% tip is automatically added, but can be changed in the billing section on the website.
My husband and I have used this service on many occasions in several different cities and have had no problems. We appreciate the convenience and service!
We have made several recommendations on how to keep up with our New Year’s healthy resolutions. Most of us start out with that ambition of a new year’s resolution and then our focus dissipates. Many of us need some motivation to continue with our workout goals. Right now we are approaching summer; the thought of putting on shorts or a swimming suit should aid in that motivation.
My work group formed a 12 week weight loss competition. It starts right after we over indulge in Easter candy! Each person contributes $25. You start with a baseline weight. Then you exercise and diet without the use of diet supplements. Each week you check in with the leader for a private weigh in. Personal weights are never disclosed to anyone but the leader. At the end of 12 weeks each member of the group is ranked by percentage of weight lost rather than actual weight loss to keep it fair. You can divide the winnings by 1st, 2nd and 3rd place or go all in for one winner to take it all.
The success behind this method is that you have a group of supporters who are all trying to attain a common goal. You’ll see a reduction in the amount of junk food and desserts brought in. You’ll see healthier lunches and snacks. You’ll see different workout plans and ideas. You’ll even see an improvement in moral and self-confidence as people improve their body image. But best of all is that the competition with a monetary reward tends to perk up your personal motivation resulting in greater success.
You can keep it fun and encouraging, bring in healthy snacks and recipes to share, plan a day or two each week to do a group work out after work. Take a brisk walk on your lunch breaks. Encourage people to use the stairs instead of the elevator. Negotiate with a local gym for a group discount for membership. Provide members with encouraging notes. Have an additional competition for cutest workout outfit or fun shoes.
I encourage you to lead your own work group weight loss competition. Keep it fun and hope that everyone has success, but strive to win the competition!
I was talking to my brother-in-law the other day about tea. He is trying to give up soda pop and is using tea as a substitute. So far he has not been successful because he hates the taste of tea. This surprised me. I drink a ton of tea in the winter months and have always found it to be quite tasty. Like most things, it is probably an acquired taste.
There are many health benefits to drinking tea that might get you motivated to sip a cup:
In our culture tea tends to be the beverage folks turn to during times of stress or illness. It can be so much more than that, though. I urge you to give tea a chance. You may find a new and healthy drink!!
I recently injured my back and my doctor suggested I try some water therapy to help with the pain. So I shopped around and found an affordable local pool that also had a lovely hot tub. Three weeks later and I am starting to feel human again!
Why is water so good for you? Because it cuts down on the gravitational pull. When you move in water, there is less strain on your muscles and joints. That means you can move more freely with less pain. In my case, walking on land really hurt my back. But I could get in a pool and walk laps with ease. I then followed it up with 10 minutes in the hot tub to further relax the muscles. Heavenly!
If exercising is not your thing, you may find that a water workout is the answer. Shop around and see if there is an affordable pool in your area. Many of them will offer water aerobics classes that are fun and a good way to meet people. Or, you can opt for a solitary workout such as walking laps or doing leg lifts on the side of the pool. If you know how to swim then swimming laps, particularly the front crawl and back stroke, will strengthen your core while also giving you a great cardiovascular workout.
Don't be shy. Dive right in for a fun a healthy workout!
I recently took a required customer service course for my place of employment. At first I thought it was silly, everyone knows customer service. Our parents raised us to be polite, smile, say please and thank you, and don’t gossip. But when you look around your workplace and your home life, how often are those old fashioned manners being used? I realized that even I had horrible manners, especially when it came to interactions with those closest to me. Appreciation and pleasantries are often overlooked. So I thought I would share with you a few highlights of what I took away from my day of training.
First, when communicating with people, the words you use are actually only 7% effective. What is most important to people is showing how much you care. Therefore our body language and our tone make up 93% of how people interpret our message. Effective communication includes words, attitudes, and emotions.
Second, people want to trust you. So qualities such as integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence come into play. You can talk all you want, but your actions have to back up your words in order for people to trust what you say.
Third, actively listening is essential in a conversation. Sit down when possible, make direct eye contact, ask questions and most importantly, don’t interrupt when someone is talking to you. Often we are too busy thinking of a response or trying to find a solution to the problem that we forget the most important thing to help someone feel better is to simply listen.
Fourth, when someone comes to you with a problem, they may not be expecting you to resolve it for them. They may simply want to vent. Furthermore, you may not be in a position to help them with their problem. It is important to actively listen, express your feelings “I’m sorry that you are going through this”, and show empathy “I can understand why that is upsetting you”.
Fifth, keep in mind there are behavior styles, cultural styles, and generational styles of communicating and be careful not to jump to conclusions or judge. Understanding personality types and behavior styles of other people will really improve communication.
Sixth, find the good in people. There is always something to compliment someone on. People appreciate positive feedback and appreciation for the work that they do. This applies to both the workplace and home. Try to acknowledge positive actions around you. Reinforce good behavior and deeds.
Finally, don’t gossip. It just creates a mess! When someone comes to you to gossip or complain about someone, first listen, second direct them back to the person they are having a problem with to communicate with them directly, and third don’t talk to anyone else about the conversation!
I gotta say, I'm loving my Spirelli. We have had zucchini more often, and less pasta noodles.
My latest kick is to make a stir-fry with whatever veggies I have on hand.
I saute the veggies (and chicken if we want meat) in a smidge of olive oil. After they are nice and soft, I add some "sauce"....this time I was lazy and used a Campbell's Skillet Sauce (toasted sesame). You could make your own sauce, or use one of those dry packets where you add water/oil. Whatever works best for you!
I stir the sauce and veggies until everything is coated and warm, and then throw in my zoodles and heat through. I use 1-3 zucchinis, depending on whether or not I want leftovers.
Note: the zoodles are very water-dense, so it's better to use a thicker sauce so the zoodles will thin it out a bit.
The result is a delicious, colorful, nutrient-dense meal that gets me a couple of servings of veggies. You can't beat that!
These zucchini nutritional facts are worth repeating:
A cup of chopped zucchini contains 22 milligrams of vitamin C, which is 24 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 29 percent for women, and only 21 calories. Zucchini has been shown to help regulate blood sugar due to its high amounts of B-complex vitamins. Zucchini also contains zinc, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids which are also important for blood sugar regulation.
I did try a carrot in the Spirelli and it didn't work very well. I'll give it another shot and report back. I'm also going to try a sweet potato.
We all know that Easter is a Christian holiday. So how did the Easter bunny come about? And what about those colored eggs? I did some research and here is what I discovered:
So there you have it! I hope you've been good and receive all the eggs, toys, and candy that you desire.
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