Friday, April 15, 2016

A Tub Would Feel Nice About Now

We've taken on several projects since we moved to this house a couple years ago.  We took down the wallpaper in the dining room and repainted most of the downstairs.  We ripped out the carpet in the family room, living room, and dining room and put hardwood floors down.  On a side note - have you ever wondered why in the world people put carpet in the dining room?  Or put an area rug down under the table if they've got hardwood or tile in the dining room?  I'm of a mind that if food gets dropped on the floor, the hard surface is a lot easier to clean than a rug.

Another project that we think about is re-doing our bathroom.  Unfortunately, we haven't figured out how we would make that work yet.  The master bath was the one thing that worried Jeffrey when he looked at this house.  The rest of it was perfect - except for those things we wanted to change - but the master bath is quite small.  We'd looked at houses with larger bathrooms, with the double-bowl sinks that Jeffrey has always wanted, and some with large whirlpool tubs that would be so nice to soak in after a day like today.  I mowed the yard, and the warm jetted water would be great for my tired muscles.

But, for now we make do with a single sink and just a shower - no tub.  One suggestion for a small bathroom is to get a corner tub, but we don't have even that much room.  Of course, you can search by style and size online to pick the perfect one, so maybe I should go measure...

Our shower does have two shower heads, and both can be set to massage, so that's something.  Eventually we want to find a whirlpool tub we can put outside on the patio, where we have plenty of room.  It's not quite the same as having a luxurious bathroom, but it will be nice.

Do you have a whirlpool tub in your bathroom?  Do you like it and use it often?

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Bit of Luxury for Your Pooch

When we went on vacation, we used to take our dog to a nice little boarding facility just up the road from home.  It was run by a nice couple who had dogs of their own and treated our dog, and the other dogs that boarded there, practically like part of the family.  Our dog didn't get to stay in the house and sit on the furniture, but she did get more attention and time to run around in the yard than she would have at a regular kennel.Week 1/52 - 10 weeks She still missed us, but she was much happier there than she would have been otherwise.

Nowadays you can get luxury dog boarding for your favorite pet.  These facilities aren't just for vacation, either.  Some people drop their dogs off for "doggie daycare" while they are at work so their dog doesn't have to be bored at home.  Dogs are given snacks and naps and play time and socialization with others of their own size, or extra attention by the staff, which could even include a massage.  Extra time outside?  A game of fetch?  They will make sure your dog is as comfortable as possible.

Dogs are given plush beds, the best food, and sometimes even televisions.  Some facilities even have someone to read a story to the dogs before bed and tuck them in.  They get all the comforts of home, and then some!  And, if you want to check in on your dog during the day or while you're away, there is usually a video system that will enable you to do just that.

The only question I have is - will a dog want to go home after all that pampering?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Homemade Hairspray

In my last post I mentioned that a good way to save money is to make your own beauty supplies.  Here's one that I found on Pinterest and just recently started making and using.  It's a very inexpensive and easy-to-make hairspray.  I am very pleased with how well it works.  I really wasn't sure what to expect the first time I made it.
 
Homemade Alcohol-Free Hairspray
found on whole new mom

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 5-6 drops essential oils (I used a combination orange and peppermint oils)
Directions:
  1. Heat water to boiling
  2. Remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved
  3. Allow to cool and use a funnel to pour it into an empty hairspray bottle.  Add essential oils, screw lid on and shake well to combine.
  4. Use as you'd normally use hairspray.

That's it!  Simple, cheap, and I'm hoping that no longer using hairspray full of alcohol will be much better for my hair.  I'm not sure about that yet; I just made my second batch of this, and I'm still using regular shampoo and gel in my hair, so I know that's a factor.  I do have a couple recipes for hair gel pinned, but I haven't gotten around to trying them yet.

I'm really liking the scent of the orange and peppermint oils, but you can use the essential oils you like.  The scent is subtle but nice, and a huge improvement over the overpowering scents of most hairsprays you can buy, unless you buy the unscented.  Why do the people who make hairsprays, shampoos, conditioners and the like think they need to have a strong annoying scent? 

Ideally, this should also be stored in a glass bottle instead of any old hairspray bottle, but I am currently using what I had on hand.  Good thing I don't always throw empty bottles into the recycle bin because I 'might need them' someday!  If I continue to make this - and I see no reason not to - I will probably look for a glass spray bottle to use.

Are there any DIY beauty products you make and use?  Do they work as well or better than the products you used to buy?

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Frugal Living Tips For Improving Your Financial Situation Fast

It's not easy nowadays to be where you want to be financially. It seems there are always debts to pay, making it feel impossible to achieve your goals. However, there are several simple things that can be done to improve your situation considerably.  If you're willing to invest a little of your time to follow the tips mentioned below, you'll soon find you'll have more money than before.  With the same cash inflow. Save Money
  1. Start putting some money out of your reach
    It’s a proven fact that when you have easily accessible cash in your pocket or in the bank, you tend to spend more on unnecessary things. So it's high time you start putting some money in an account that you can access in case of emergency, but which would require you to jump through hoops to withdraw any. This will help you spend money only when absolutely necessary.
  2. Use Coupons
    Almost all businesses use coupons as a part of their marketing strategy. So, why not check for a coupon in the newspapers or on the Internet before you make your next purchase? Be it groceries, transportation, apparel, furniture or services like doctor’s appointment and electronics repair, coupons are available for anything nowadays. Just take a look at Discountrue.com and all the deals for such popular stores as Nordstrom or Target. If you are lucky enough, you might just hit the right coupon at the right time.  Combine a coupon with a sale price, and you're really saving money!
  3. Do It Yourself
    Start doing some simple things yourself, instead of paying others to do it. You can bake your own bread (here's one of my favorite recipes), grow some of your own food in a backyard garden, eat meals at home, and brew your own coffee instead of paying for that fancy coffee place. You can even make your own DIY beauty products! The possibilities are endless, as anyone who has ever visited Pinterest can tell you, and you'll be surprised how fast the savings add up.
  4. Join a Customer Rewards Program (or several)
    If you happen to shop fairly regularly at any one particular store, don't forget to sign up for their loyalty rewards program. They keep on giving back in the form of credits and promo codes, which help you in cutting down the costs on your future purchases. Whenever there's an opportunity you need to take advantage of it.
There are many other little things that you can do to improve your financial condition, like replacing light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs or adjusting your thermostat by a few degrees to save on energy costs, reviewing your insurance policies, using the library more often instead of buying new books, having your devices serviced on time, and the list goes on.

Helping Your Money Last... After Your Last Paycheck
It all boils down to this -
Whenever you spend, ask yourself if there’s an alternative which costs you less and provides the same benefits.  And then save that difference in cost or apply it to your debt, and you will soon see an improvement in your financial situation.  Just by doing these few simple things!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

You Waste Some; You Use Some

Right after I posted saying that I rarely throw away any of the food I buy, I ended up having to throw away a whole bunch of limes.  AND half of one of my home-grown butternut squashes.

That's almost as bad as having someone come into my garden and steal one.  Only this time it was completely my fault.  I just didn't get around to using it and expected it to wait around as long as I needed it to. 

Oh, well, I got to use half of it in a wonderful Butternut and Potato Bake.  I really need to update that recipe.  I usually end up stirring the canned tomatoes into the browned hamburger and cooking that for a bit while I cut up potatoes and squash, and then I add it all at once.  That probably doesn't make a huge difference, but the other night we were working in the garage - Jeffrey cleaning the cars and me cleaning out the freezer and refrigerator - so it ended up being in the oven at 400° for about 2 hours.  And it was so good.  The longer it cooks, the better it is.


The asparagus was pretty well done, too.  No, it wasn't in there the whole 2 hours; I just tossed it in at the end.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I don't know why I didn't just toss it on top of the squash and potato dish, but I used a separate baking dish.  The asparagus was kind of an after thought.  It was one of those things that was in my fridge and needed to be used.  So I used it before it went bad.  (WIN!)

Unlike those limes.  All I had to do was throw them in the freezer.  In the bag with those other two limes that are already in there.  I kept meaning to, but I just didn't get around to it.  So, yes, even with the best of intentions, things still do go to waste.

Friday, March 11, 2016

I Did 50 Push-Ups!

My friend Jennifer posted this 50 Push-Up challenge on Facebook.  She had decided to do it and challenged the rest of us to do it too.  I have never felt that I could do push-ups, even modified 'girly' push-ups.  But, hey - why not?

The plan is simple - start slowly and work up to doing 50 push-ups in 30 days.  Honestly, I was kind of surprised that I could do the 5 push-ups called for on the first couple days.  But, as the number increased, the confidence and knowledge that I indeed could do these push-ups also increased.

In the past, every time I tried to do push-ups, I was trying to lower myself all the way down to the floor and then somehow push back up.  While I realize some people can do that, that wasn't happening for me.  And since my right shoulder occasionally bothers me, I really just can't do that even if I wanted to - not without asking for some serious pain, and not the good kind.  But these push-ups?  These I can do.

I didn't follow the plan exactly, because sometimes I took a rest day when it wasn't scheduled, based on my schedule, and my shoulder started bothering me partway in, so I took some extra rest days letting that improve.  Magnesium oil is pretty great stuff for that.  So, it may have taken me a bit longer than 30 days, but this morning I did 50 push-ups - all in one go.  (on the day I was supposed to do 38, I actually did 30 and stopped because my nose was stuffed up, and I wasn't breathing properly.  So I stopped for about 30 seconds to blow my nose and then went back to do the remaining 8 - and just kept going.  I did 20 more, so I actually did 50 that day - just with a short break.  Let me tell you, my arms and legs were shaking that day!) 

My arms weren't shaking quite so badly this morning, but I could definitely tell I did something.  Though the challenge says that it will "transform your  body in 30 days" I'm not really noticing any big transformation.  All I know is that it feels good, and I plan to continue doing my push-ups.  (I haven't quite decided how many and how often.  Yet.)

What now?  Well, I'm kind of glad Jennifer didn't find the One Hundred Push-up Plan first, because if I thought 50 push-ups sounded intimidating, imagine the sound of 100.  But, since we're up to 50 already, we can start with Week 3 of the 6-week plan, and it should only take another 3 weeks to get to 100.  I'm seriously thinking about it...

How about you?  Are you in?

Tips for Improving Your Dental Routine

ToothbrushesYour dental health is important. You only get one set of teeth in your life, and even if there have been improvements in dentures and dental implants, these aren’t things you should be relying on in your old age.  Instead, take the time to care for your teeth now, no matter how old you are. A better dental care routine, like this one sanctioned by a Brooklyn NY dentist, is your best bet.

Here are some tips to make sure you’re taking care of all of the basics the right way. Just doing these things can help keep your teeth in much better shape for years to come.
  • Brush Often
    Everybody knows that brushing is not optional. However, most people really don’t brush as often as they should.  To keep your teeth clean and healthy, you should be brushing after every meal and snack. This might seem like a lot, but for the most part, it’s easy once you get in the habit of brushing after you eat.  However, when you eat acidic foods you should wait about 30 minutes before brushing because the acidity can attack your enamel and brushing can actually do some damage. In the meantime, simply rinse with water. 
  • Carry Dental Floss
    A lot of people brush their teeth after they eat, but many people neglect the dental floss entirely. If you ask a dentist, they’ll tell you that only brushing your teeth, even if you do it regularly, is still an incomplete dental routine. Carry dental floss with you and use it after you eat. Obviously you don’t need to do this in a restaurant if you’re going home, but having floss in your car and office can help you keep those pearly whites cavity free.
  • Chew the Right Gum
    Gum with xylitol helps to clean your teeth, and if you can’t get to floss and a toothbrush right away, it is your best bet, along with rinsing with clean water. Keep sugar free gum with xylitol nearby when you’re on the go.
  • Visit Your Dentist Regularly
    Taking care of your teeth at home is all well and good, but you need to be visiting the dentist regularly if you want a healthy mouth. Make an appointment for a checkup and cleaning every six months.  By doing this, your dentist will be able to catch any problems before they become serious and painful. 
Are there any other tips you'd like to share?

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Global Food Waste

I really hate wasting anything, so I find it very hard to believe when I read something like these numbers on global food waste.


Seriously?  45% of all fruit and vegetables is wasted? 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, and 20% of both dairy products and meat?  I know we don't waste or throw away anywhere close to that much of anything.  How about you and your household?

My main reason is that, if I spent good money on something, I had better get my money's worth.  Oh, occasionally something gets away from me, and I have to toss it, but most of the time I make sure I use what I have.  That means sometimes (often) what I make for dinner includes the things I have in the fridge that need to be used.  I don't always have a recipe in mind, but it's amazing the things you can come up with when you Google for a recipe including the ingredients you have on hand!  And, yes, we eat leftovers.

If I do find I just can't use something, I throw it in the freezer.  I'd rather do that than throw it away, and then I can use it later.


I never really thought about the environmental impact of food waste until I read through this information recently.  And, even though I really don't throw away that much food - because I'm cheap - I'm thinking I need to do even better.  The biggest thing, I think, is to start composting what food waste we do have.  You know, things like carrot and potato peels, egg shells, etc.  Those things that aren't edible.  Since I just started my new garden last year, it is definitely time to do some research on composting.

How about you?  What do you do to control and prevent food waste and the environmental impact?

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Teaching Children to Reduce Carbon Footprints

In the last two centuries, Earth has seen a drastic increase in pollution and waste by the human race. One of the biggest contributors has been industrialization: the process that has resulted in a technological society with electricity and machinery. Kids are generally oblivious to the tolls that today's way of life takes on the Earth, making it important to educate children to live green and be aware of their daily activities.
Fork it Again

Never Use Disposable Dishes or Cutlery
One modern day convenience that has plagued developed nations is the prevalence of paper and plastic dishes, cutlery, food wrappers, and containers. These disposable dishes might make for an easy cleanup, but their manufacture and disposable nature leaves a negative mark on the environment. As children grow up into teenagers and adults, they might see this disposable option as a great alternative to washing dishes. Teaching them the consequences of disposable food containers and utensils might help them to avoid using plastic and paper in the future.

Water Use Awareness with Daily Journals
Instead of simply showing kids what excessive water use can cause, kids should keep a journal of their water use throughout the month. Brushing teeth, taking baths or showers, using the toilet, and playing with the hose are all great activities to track. At the end of the month, the journals can be calculated with a water conservation calculator to see just how much water the child has used throughout the month. This amount can then be demonstrated with a comparable example, such as a swimming pool.

Solar PowerOpting for Solar Powered Items
With increasing awareness among the general population regarding excessive energy consumption and pollution, many manufacturing companies have stepped up to the plate to offer a wide array of solar power options. From solar powered phone chargers to solar panels and batteries that can power an entire home, there are conservation solutions for every budget. The child can start off with solar powered chargers, batteries for toys, solar powered remote control cars, and solar powered lighting. Solar power is becoming one of the most popular sources of renewable energy with wind close behind. Since solar energy is easier to harvest with simple panels, it is much more feasible for everyday items.

Energy and water consumption continues to increase as developing countries move forward and human populations explode. The demand for manufactured modern day conveniences takes a large toll as well, but it requires a great deal of concern from the next generation in order to reduce human kind's footprint on Earth.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Book Review: Guardians by Josi Russell


Guardians is the 2nd book in the Caretaker Chronicles by Josi Russell, published by Future House Publishing.  (#FutureHousePub)

As with the first book Caretaker, I had a hard time putting this one down. The book picks up 4 years after the ship reaches Minea, and the passengers have found out that things aren't exactly as they'd been led to believe before they left Earth. The city has been carefully planned, and their ship was never supposed to arrive. Because of this, most of the passengers are finding it hard to fit in and find a place for themselves on their new planet.

Because of his part in saving the passengers from slavery as they slept through the stars (as chronicles in Caretaker), Ethan Bryant (Caretaker) has been given a government position, and he and his family do what they can to help their fellow passengers. More often than not, they feel helpless to do anything of real value.

Even those colonists who were supposed to be there have found that things aren't as rosy as they'd expected. They find themselves deeply in debt and barely able to feed their own families. And then people start getting sick and the food supply begins to dry up. What is going on, and will someone figure it out before more people die? And what do the aliens who have suddenly appeared above the planet want?

As noted on the About the Author page at the end of the book - "Josi Russell's science fiction novels explore familiar human relationships in unfamiliar contexts." She definitely does a good job of that in this book. The book explores themes of family, friendship, love, and redemption a midst the darker human traits of greed, selfishness, and betrayal. All while the colonists face new challenges and new setbacks on their adopted planet. This book will definitely keep you reading until the very end.  I enjoyed it very much.

You can grab your copy of Guardians on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Guardians from Future House Publishing in exchange for review.