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.