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Yes, You Can Eat Healthy While on Vacation!

Guest Post:  Cole Millen – Cole is an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life’s best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate “experiences.”

Eating on the Road

Yes, You Can Eat Healthy While on Vacation!

As much as most people enjoy vacation, some people view their vacations with considerable anxiety. Those who are focusing on eating right and staying in shape, in particular, may view vacation as a time when gaining weight is unavoidable. However, a small amount of planning can go a long way when preparing for a vacation, and there is no reason to sabotage your diet while away from home. Here are a few tips and guidelines for travelers to consider.

Eat Right While in Transit

It can be difficult to eat right while traveling by vehicle or airplane. Those traveling by vehicle can help themselves by bringing along a cooler filled with healthy snacks and drinks. Fast food is notoriously unhealthy, and a trip or two to a fast food restaurant can make it difficult to stay within your caloric threshold. Those traveling by airplane can help themselves by eating a meal before heading to the airport; in the rush to get to the airport on time, many people neglect to eat beforehand. A bit of restraint can help tremendously so make sure to avoid those restaurants that offer high fat and greasy food. Try and find a meal of grilled chicken or perhaps even a salad. Make sure to bring with you some dried fruits or nuts to snack on while on the plane of on a layover. For some reason or another we tend to want to fill our stomachs while in airports so ensuring you have these snacks will allow you to resist the urge.

Eat Healthy at Hotels

Finding the appropriate hotel and area that can cater to your healthy lifestyle is extremely important for your vacation. Doing a little research before hand to ensure that you have the amenities necessary can go a long way. I have found that review sites containing unbiased, honest information from other travelers are the best way to go. I was recently traveling out west and managed to find a hotel in Las Vegas with a gluten free restaurant from the tips in the reviews I found. Once at the hotel, many travelers find themselves overeating. One technique many travelers are using is bringing along a small crock pot or other cooking tool. A quick trip to a grocery store or health store can allow travelers to eat at least some of their meals away from restaurants. This technique can also lead to significant savings while on vacation. Travelers will also want to avoid minibars at all costs; minibars are filled with high-calorie items that can make it difficult to stay under a certain caloric limit.

Enjoy Restaurants Without Anxiety

Eating out is a crucial component of vacation, and no traveler will want to avoid restaurants entirely. One of the best ways to prepare for a trip to a restaurant is to load its menu online or to pick it up early. By determining what you will order before entering the restaurant, you can ensure that you do not go over your daily caloric intake. If you have difficulty determining how many calories are contained within particular meals, try to avoid items that contain the following words: buttered, battered, bottomless and stuffed. Restaurants are offering healthier meals than ever before, and a bit of research can help you enjoy restaurants without feeling guilty.

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Whole House Detox: Starting the Kitchen

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I’m finally decluttering and organizing my kitchen.  Click the images to see them up close and personal.

Give awaysI’ve only just begun, but look at what I’ve already gotten rid of from just two cabinets.  It’s clear what I have attachments to – lunch sacks (3) stainless steel coffee mugs (4), and glass and plastic food containers (infinite)!  I’m recycling, regifting, and adding this stuff to a pile for a possible garage sale this summer.  A friend of mine is cleaning out her basement in July – says it will change her life.  So I’m going to buddy up with her and clean mine out as well (oh the horrors).

My main goal with the Whole House Detox project is to clear out space.  Even if things are neat, unnecessary items take up space and, in my case, drain my energy.

Full kitchen cabinetCase in point.  Here’s an organized cabinet….with just too much stuff in it.  It’s going to look really different once I get finished with it!  That cabinet is going to feature my spices – they will be so easy to access.  Watch me!

I didn’t always know how to let go of perfectly good things.  My friend Brenda taught me.  I’ll share some of what I learned from her as we go along.

But for now, woohoo!  I love the empty spaces in my cabinets already.  Anybody want to join me?

 

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Chemical Pollution: What We Can Do

Chemical SprayingLast night while walking my dogs on the Kansas levee, I turned back early because a farmer was spraying his fields.  Even though there was very little breeze, the chemicals wafted over a large area.  I’ve been taking daily walks on the levee for 20 years, and I feel a personal kind of ownership over it.  Even though the area looks clean and green, is remote and quiet, I was reminded that it is an agricultural zone and chemicals are unfortunately part of the unseen picture.

What is the answer to so much chemical use?  Living in an agricultural state, I understand the challenges of the farmer.  It’s a darned hard business.

Still, I’m concerned about the amount of chemicals pollutants in our environment.  Even if you think you’re drinking clean water, breathing clean air, and walking on a natural path, there are unseen chemical pollutants every step along the way.

I don’t know what the ultimate solutions are, but I do know that we as individuals can make a difference in our own backyards and communities.

What YOU (and I) can do to reduce chemical pollution: 

Alice Walker Quote

  1. Buy organic produce and free-range, grass fed animal products – we need to create a strong market for clean foods so that farmers have sustainable income for their hard work.  Support farmers at farmers’ markets.
  2. Be an informed consumer and support positive efforts – ask farmers at the market how they grow their food.  Let them know you’re willing to pay more for cleaner food.
  3. Speak up – let the farmers and grocers know you want to purchase non-GMO, non-irradiated, organic, free-range, grass fed food.  And you want to buy products with minimal packaging.  We want to be able to see and feel the products we are buying and we want to minimize the tremendous waste that over packaging creates.
  4. Make your own natural household cleaners – we can make 99% of what we need with natural ingredients.  See my recent post on how to make these cleaners.  If we leave the chemical cleaners on the market shelves, the supply and demand equation will be changed in favor of reduced chemical production.
  5. Eat real food – limit or eliminate consumption of fake chemicalized foods offered at the grocery store and fast food restaurants.  We need to upset the conventional supply/demand equation that supports increasing production of toxic products.  Remember, we drive demand.  Let’s demand clean, real, safe, wholesome.
  6. Reduce, Reuse, Refuse, Recycle – again, your buying choices drive the supply/demand train.  Let’s put that train on different tracks—the sustainable track.
  7. Let your state representatives know that you want your state to be clean and green – as much as possible.  Chemicals are here to stay, but they needn’t play such a pervasive role and be so ubiquitous.  We need to wake up and speak up.

We must change the supply/demand curve and not be hypnotized by lower prices for unhealthy, chemicalized products.  We need to be willing to do a little more work and pay a little more for healthier, cleaner options.   What ideas do you have to add to the list?

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Are Pet Rescue Efforts Enough?

SophieI’ve been seeing a lot of Facebook posts and articles about rescue pets lately.  I’m glad so many people understand the importance of adopting these pets in need.  I’ve had three rescue dogs and they’re the best.  Here’s Sophie, my latest rescue.  She’s a Chihuahua from a busted puppy mill in Kansas.  Kansas has a lot of puppy mills.  Shame on Kansas.

On my way home from running errands today it occurred to me that we may be trying to use a bucket to empty a sinking boat without patching the hole first.

When I worked for the State of Kansas, I had a long discussion with someone who worked in the state office responsible for inspecting breeding operations.  They were under staffed and under funded.  And under appreciated.  This individual described horrific situations faced when their small staff  went into a puppy mill to close it down.  I will spare you the details.

They worked long hours and still couldn’t get the work done–it was just too big for their limited resources.  I’m reminded of the story of Sisyphus.  His punishment in hell was to push an immense boulder up a hill just to have it come crashing down on him again and again forever.  That must be how these inspectors feel.

As well as adopting a rescue pet, let’s also contact our state animal inspection offices (often called the Animal Health Office within the Department of Agriculture) and do some research.  These are some of the questions you might ask:

  • How many animal breeders are in the state and how often are they inspected
  • How many full and part-time staff are in the animal health inspection program
  • How many breeders are cited for deficiencies each year and how do inspectors follow up to be sure corrections are made
  • If found to be deficient or operating in a cruel manner, what is the penalty and how is it administered
  • Other questions?
Once armed with this information, contact your Governor’s office and your state legislators and tell them of any concerns you have  for animal welfare in breeding operations in your state.   Be sure to commend them for any positive and proactive measures they are taking as well.

Here’s an informative article that will give you a sense of the challenges at hand:

A Scathing Assessment of Missouri’s Puppy Mill Inspection Program

Comments Please.  What wisdom can you add to this situation?  How can we make a greater impact in patching the hole in the sinking boats we have in so many states?

 

 

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Whole House Detox: Nontoxic Homemade Cleaning Products

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spray bottleNatural  Homemade Cleaning Products (safe enough to drink!)  No need for rubber gloves (or a gas mask!)

Many people would like to make their own nontoxic cleaning products but they don’t know how.  They’re also concerned about whether they’ll clean  as well as the store-bought variety.   After reading this post, you will have all the information you’ll need to make your own natural, effective  homemade cleaners.

I’ve been using my own homemade cleaning products for years.  They’re easy and inexpensive  to make and they’re safe to use.  Don’t wait one more day without making your own!   And don’t worry about proportions of ingredients you see on the internet.  The recipes do not need to be exact to work.  In fact, you could use straight vinegar and have all the cleaning power you need for 90% of your cleaning needs.

More good news.   One all-purpose cleaner will take the place of most of the cleaning products under your bathroom and kitchen sinks so you’ll have more empty space.  The recipe I use for my all-purpose clean is the one I describe below for cleaning glass and mirrors.

Vinegar is the secret ingredient.   Vinegar is nontoxic, inexpensive, and a workhorse when it comes to degreasing, declogging, and demineralizing toilets, showers, tubs, and sinks.  Not only is it gentle on all surfaces, but it’s also a disinfectant.  What’s not to like about vinegar?  Vinegar is the king of cleaners and baking soda is the queen.

My natural cleaner go-to person is Annie B. Bond.  She’s an authority on natural homemade cleaners and has written several books and articles on the subject.  You’ll find a lot of great information on her website.

Vinegar is the new smell of clean.  We’ve been trained to think that clean smells like chemicals.  Did you ever notice when you walk down the cleaning aisle that you sneeze or get a runny nose?  I either hold my breath on that aisle or avoid it altogether because I don’t want to inhale the toxic fumes .  When buying vinegar, Annie recommends Heinz white distilled vinegar because it is made of vegetables, not petroleum.

Conventional cleaning products no longer smell like clean to me.  They smell like what they are—chemicals masked by lemon scents.  While you’re getting used to the smell of vinegar-based cleaners, know that the smell dissipates quickly.  If the smell of vinegar bothers you, hang in there while you change your paradigm about what clean should smell like.  Again, it smells like vinegar!

At one point I thought I’d have to buy a new toilet because mine looked so disgusting and wouldn’t come clean.  Then I remembered that vinegar is the best at removing mineral deposits.

Vinegar Cleaning Recipes

Revitalize an old, mineral stained toilet,  sink, shower, or tub with virtually no effort.  Here’s how.

  • For the toilet:  Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the toilet and let sit overnight. Add a few tablespoons of baking soda for extra whitening power.  In the morning, scrub with a scrubbie or toilet brush, then flush.  What could be easier than that!   If the mineral deposits are thick, you may need to do this for a few nights, but you will be amazed that your toilet will look like new.  Vinegar naturally deodorizes and kills germs too!
  • For the sink or tub:  You can partially fill the sink or tub and add vinegar or you can soak a wash cloth in vinegar and place it over any places you want to demineralize.

Unclog the sink or tub drain:   Pour ½ cup of baking soda down a clogged drain.  Then pour ½ cup of vinegar into the drain and cover for a few minutes until the fizzing stops.  Then pour a liter or two of boiling water into the drain.  For very clogged drains, you may need to “snake” the drain and repeat the process.

Clean Mirrors or Glass (also for an all-purpose cleaner):   Combine 2 cups water, ¼ cup vinegar and ½ teaspoon of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle to make a fantastic natural window cleaner.   For a streak-free mirror or window, use a microfiber cloth.   I also use this recipe for my all-purpose cleaner. 

Disinfect Surfaces. Vinegar is your go-to natural disinfectant for use in the bathroom or kitchen. Mix 1 part vinegar with four parts water for an all-purpose cleaning solution that will disinfect anything from shower stalls to tubs to counter tops to doorknobs.

Greasy Kitchen Surfaces:  Dip a sponge in vinegar and wipe down the greasy surfaces (stove, countertop, pots and pans, and fan covers).

Be sure to label your spray bottles of homemade cleaning solutions.  I always think I’ll remember what’s in the bottle, but I never do.

So have I sold you on the idea that vinegar is one of the very best cleaners around?  If you’re eager to read more, here’s an article about the top 10 uses for vinegar.

Learn to love the smell of vinegar in your home – it says clean and disinfected!  Clear out the toxic cleaners under your bathroom and kitchen sinks and make way for one or two  spray bottles of cleaners–so safe you can drink them!

Please Comment:  Do you make natural cleaners?  What are your recipes and cleaning secrets?

 

 

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Whole House Detox: How to Declutter, Organize, & Clean the Bathroom

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Bathroomclick to enlarge images

After a thorough decluttering, organizing, and cleaning, my bathroom doesn’t look much different than it did before I started the clean out….until you open one of the drawers or cabinet.  You’ll see what I mean with the before and after pictures below.  Big difference.

Don’t expect perfect photos like you’d find in Real Simple because real people live here and we actually use all these things.  The point of this Whole House Detox blog series isn’t to showcase a designer home.  It’s to show how the average person can clean, organize, and declutter every room in their home.

I always start projects with a vision for what I want to achieve.  In this case I wanted my bathroom to have these attributes:  clean, decluttered, and organized.  I wanted to have a spa feeling when I entered the room.

For me, it’s also helpful to tune into the biggest challenges with a project.  In this case, the challenges were too much stuff in a small space and too many abandoned health and beauty products creating a jumbled mess.  Even an organized bathroom can get disorganized and crowded over time.  Periodic decluttering is the solution.  It was definitely time!

My Detoxing Process

Here a simple process I always use to declutter, organize, and clean something–no matter the space.  It works beautifully in every room, cabinet, drawer and closet.

messy cabinetStep 1:  Take everything out.  It’s always amazing how much stuff is behind closed doors and drawers.  Utterly amazing.  Here’s a picture of my bathroom cabinet before I detoxed it!

The benefit of creating an empty space is that it’s much easier to envision organizing things in a different, more efficient way when you have a clean “canvas” so to speak.  My middle name is efficiency, so I love this step.

Step 2:  Clean all surfaces: shelves, cabinet doors and all other woodwork, walls, floor, ceiling, baseboards, mirror and windows.  I use a soft scrubby for challenging dirt and my natural homemade all-purpose cleaner.   Here are the recipes for the natural homemade cleaners I use.

Because the bathroom is a small room, I like to experience the feeling of cleaning on my hands and knees.  It’s a great way to stretch while I get up close and personal with all the surfaces.

Containers and ZonesStep 3:  Set up zones in your drawers and cabinets and gather containers so you can containerize everything.  I divide my stuff into conventional OTC products, dogs, heat/cold/ace Band-Aids stuff, natural medicines, soaps, spa stuff, teeth, lotion, etc.

Obviously the size of the container is determined by the number of items I’m putting into it.  For containers you can use bins (plastic, woven, wood) repurposed dishes, short glasses/mugs, or colorful boxes.

organizing OTC productsAs you can see from the pictures, I use containers of all sizes.  Inside the tub for conventional medicine, I separate over-the-counter medications for colds, allergies, wounds, etc. with plastic baggies so I don’t have to dig through everything to find what I want.  You could also use short glasses or jelly jars for this.

Step 4:  After gathering your containers, put back only the essentials—this is a key element because we tend to want to keep everything.  Resist that temptation.

organized drawerGive the items you use most often prime real estate.  Follow the one-move retrieval rule in every drawer or cabinet.  In other words don’t put anything in front of or on top of anything else.  For the most efficient organization, you should be able to retrieve what you want with one movement–no need to move anything out of the way before getting what you need.

Be sure to leave empty space in all drawers and cabinets.  There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to put something away when there’s no space.  Make space by getting rid of the nonessentials–the things you don’t really use.

What to do with the excess:

Do not flush medication.  It’s toxic to our water supply.  See if your city has a toxic waste disposal day.

Bite the bullet and let go of health and beauty products you tried, thought you’d like, but don’t use—even if they were expensive.  They take up valuable space in your cabinet.  Give them away to a homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter, FreeCycle.org, or friend who might enjoy using them.

Consider not purchasing any more toxic household cleaners (which includes almost everything in the cleaning aisle of your super market).  You can make your own cleaners, and you can use the all-purpose cleaner on almost everything so you won’t need as many different kinds of cleaners.  Natural cleaners are safe, inexpensive, and easy to make.

I gradually made the shift to natural homemade cleaners, and it pleases me a great deal to know that there are no toxic cleaners in the cabinet under my sink. 

My next post will go into detail about making your own natural cleaners to clean, deodorize, disinfect, and unclog slow drains.

Please leave a comment.  What are your challenges or secrets for a clean, well-organized bathroom?

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Whole House Detox: Clean and Organize Your Car, Truck, or Van

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Click on images to enlarge.

I like to have a clean, tidy car.  I don’t always have a clean car, but it’s an on-going goal.  My car is never grimy or full of trash, but it can get messy.  Any day of the week I’d like to be able to say “hey, I’ll take you, hop in” and never be embarrassed by trash in my car.

Pontiac VibeThe condition of our vehicles says a lot about how we travel through life.  Mine says “she works at it and usually succeeds.”  My goal is for my vehicle to say, “it’s a done deal, a non-issue.”

What does the inside of your car look like?  What does it say about you?

I’ve never owned a new car.  I prefer to buy a used car in good condition.  I’m frugal and a utilitarian.  Even though my car is a 2003, it looks good, well taken care of.  We live in such a throw-away society, some people never learn how to take care of things.  They “stomp” all over their cars so they look worn out and broken down well before they should.

If you’d like to take better care of your car, van, or truck, I have a three step solution:

  1. Clear out the junk
  2. Contain and organize it
  3. Clean it

Step 1:  Clear out the junk

Most people have some kind of junk in their car.  It’s inevitable because we spend so much time in our cars and use them for so many purposes.  Here are some kinds of junk we have in our cars:

  • Stuff from errands we didn’t finish (e.g., bags that need to go to Goodwill, recycling, returns for the hardware store,  paint chips we need to match at Pier1 or World Market)
  • Fast food wrappers and associated trash (e.g., coffee cups, plastic silverware, napkins, straws and lids)
  • Chock full compartments (e.g., glove box, console, side pockets, behind seat pockets
  • Paper trash (e.g., bills, mail, invoices, books and magazines, homework assignments, class notes, kids’ creative projects, directions, etc.)

Clear out all the trash and throw it away or recycle it.  Complete the errands (recycling, returns, donations).  If there’s anything left that doesn’t belong in your car, put it where it belongs.

Step 2:  Contain and organize it

Our cars help us transport a lot of stuff.  And because we’re in them while we’re in transition from place to place, it’s easy to see a mess and think “I’ll deal with that later” and then forget about it until we get in the car the next day and the cycle starts again.  My experience tells me that the longer a mess stays around, the easier it gets to ignore because we stop seeing it.  It becomes a part of the background.

The main challenge we face is that most things don’t have a place in our cars.  If they did, we’d probably put them where they belong.  So here’s how I’ve found places for things in my car. 

  • Maps go in the passenger side door pocket – how handy, there they are!
  • Trash goes in the driver’s side door pocket – emptied when I get gas
  • The glove box contains the owner’s manual, proof of registration and insurance, directions to places I can’t seem to remember how to get to, $20 underneath everything in case I get stuck somewhere and need cash.  (I just need to remember TJMaxx Bagto put it back after I’ve spend it)
  • Because I don’t have a trunk, I keep a TJMaxx bag with handles behind my seat that contains grocery sacks, a freezer bag if it’s hot and I want to keep frozen foods cold, basic car cleaning supplies, a windbreaker, umbrella, and ball cap in case the levee is cold and I’m underdressed for my walk.  If I need to carry passengers in the back seat, I can easily grab the bag and in one motion put it in the back in Toby’s area without having to scrambling to gather up random things messing up the back seat.  This “container” system really works for me.
  • Car maintenance and repair– I never seem able to keep repair and gas receipts in an organized fashion, so I bought a small spiral lined notepad to keep behind the passenger side visor.  I reserve a page for each month and write the date, # of gallons of gas purchased, cost per gallon, and total sale.  At a glance I can see how much I’m spending on gas every month.  I also make notes of any car maintenance or repairs that month.  This is great info to plug into my budget (when I get around to creating one!)
  • I walk the dogs every day so my car needs to be “stocked” with everything I need because I’m all about efficiency.  In Toby’s area there’s a Toy Story comforter, leash, water bowl with a nonslip base, water container that I fill every couple of days, and a treat bag that I stash in one of the rear compartments.  Toby used to keep romping and digging when it was time to go home so I got smart and reward him a treat when he comes dutifully to the car.  He’ll do anything for food.  It’s the little things….

I keep working on my systems and they get better over time.  Life is easier with systems.  If you don’t have any systems, borrow some of mine and make revisions when you get a bright idea.

Step 3:  Clean it

Toby's DomainThings just get dirty and dusty….and streaked.  That’s life.

I used to struggle with dog hair and dog smeared dirty windows—it’s the only thing about my dogs that isn’t cute.  I got tired of vacuuming the back seat so I bought a Pontiac Vibe – Toby gets the entire back hatch area.   Sophie gets a wee dog bed on the floor of the passenger side which is safer in case I need to stop quickly.

I don’t like to climb in the back seat to vacuum and clean windows so I take it to a full service car wash and pay them $13 plus a tip to clean the windows inside and out, wipe the dash and console and vacuum everything out.  There’s nothing more pleasant that driving out of the car wash with a clean car, clean windows, and no dog hair on the floor.  It’s satisfying in a special way.  I visit this car wash at least quarterly and more often if it needs it.  I also visit the do-it-yourself carwash whenever it needs it and am on that side of town.  I keep several dollars worth of quarters in one of the little drawers on the dash.

After cleaning out my glove box and freeing up space, there was room for a microfiber dust cloth.  Now I can easily wipe off the dash and console when I get stopped by a train or red light.  I drive in the country a lot and the dash gets really dusty.

Lots of people eat in their cars so caked on food can become a problem.  To clean my upholstery I use a spray bottle of my own cleaning mixture and a rag.  I lightly scrub the upholstery when it needs it.  This just takes a second if you do it before it’s totally trashed.

My systems have evolved over time.  When I experience a problem or something that doesn’t work, I think of ways to solve the problem and then tweak my systems.

I’ve shared some of the ones that are working well for me to keep my car clean and organized.  What solutions and systems do you use to keep your car, truck, or van clean and organized?  If you’ve got challenges, what are they?  Maybe we can help.  Please comment at the link below.

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Wellness Weekend: People, Pets, and Pho

I was going to write a post about my fabulous dinner and then realized I had a bigger story to tell–my wellness weekend of people, pets, and Pho.  Wellness is so much more than diet, exercise, and stress management.  Wellness includes all things that nourish your body, mind and soul.    Here are a few highlights of what nourished me this weekend.

Addie and SylviademolitionFriday afternoon I got a chance to hang out with my godchildren Addie and Sylvia.  First we watched the demolition for their school charity event and then set out to play.  What a treat it is to watch children play and to play with them.  They realized that the slide their dad rigged for them would go so much faster if they sat on a cushion and slid down together.

Cindy & TriciaFriday evening I attended a wonderful concert  featuring my friend Cindy Novelo & Tricia Spencer and Darrell Lea & Megan Hurt at the Lied Center in Lawrence, KS.  Amazing local musicians.

Saturday, I met my friend Brenda in Kansas City for outings to the anitique mall, Trader Joe’s, Stein Mart, the Blue Moose Bar & GrillBlue Moose for lunch, and back to Brenda’s for a great conversation about life.  Also had a great phone conversation with my friend Lena.   I couldn’t make the gathering of my family in Chelsea, Michigan,  but I got to talk with my dad, sister, brother, and sister-in-law.

Sunday  morning  I slept in, had a Chihuahua playdate with my friend Nora’s and her new Chihuahua, Rosie, Rosieand Sophie, my rescue Chihuahua, and of course Toby but he’s a little harder for them to play with  (8 vs 70 pounds).

After a long walk along the levee with Toby and Sophie….and a little shuffling of papers, I made the very best Pho.  Here’s what went into it:

PhoPho (Vietnamese Soup)

  • Box of Organic Pho broth
  • Carrots
  • Green onions
  • Zucchini
  • Bean sprouts
  • Rice noodles
  • Cilantro
  • Fresh basil
  • Hoisen sauce
  • Hot pepper flakes
  • 1/2 fresh lime squeezed in at the last minute

What did you do this weekend?  Was it nourishing?

 

 

 

 

 

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Whole House Detox: Entryway to Your Home Sweet Home

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When you walk up to your home, you want to feel “Ah, I’m home!”  You want to feel happy and welcomed not overwhelmed and embarrassed by junk in the yard and on the porch.  You don’t want to see unfinished projects wherever you look.  You want to feel….now I can loosen my belt, take off my shoes, and relax into the pleasure that awaits me in my home sweet home.

The entryway says a lot about who we are and what we value.  As you walk or drive through your neighborhood, you can’t help but notice how all of the homes appear–some messy, some totally overgrown, some tidy, and some spectacular.  Occupants of these homes obviously value different things.

What do you value?  On the value spectrum I’m not on either end.  I’m not a slob and I’m not a neat-nick.  I like to have a tidy home and yard, but sometimes I get engrossed in other things and the yard work sneaks up on me.  Usually the fix is pretty quick because I don’t have abandoned furniture or other junk to clear away.  I just have weeds and trash that blows into the bushes.

I enter my home from the back so I don’t often see the front walkway.  Sometimes it gets messy and out of hand without my knowing it.   Oops!  Now that I’m working in my hard more regularly, I should be able to stay on top of it.

So let’s roll up or sleeves, get on our gardening gloves and spiff up the front entryway.

Good times to weed and trim

  • after a rain
  • before weeds get really large
  • on a cool day
  • whenever it needs it
  • before scheduled city pickup days
  • whenever you have time or the spirit moves you

"Before" EntrywayIt felt great to get on top of my front yard.  Here are some before and after pictures (click the pictures to enlarge).

After weeding the sidewalk and retaining walls and weeding and trimming the raised bed, here’s the mess I created.

I used to dread this front walkway project because I’d get started before I had gathered all the tools I’d need for the job.  I’d constantly have to stop and get the right shovel, the hedge trimmer, a trash can to collect the debris, etc.  Now before I dig in, I gather up all the tools I need so I can just work, clean it up, and get it done as efficiently as possible.  Then I can stand back and admire my handiwork.

"After" entryway

 

Speaking of admiring my handiwork, here’s an “after” picture.

You can see how much better the sidewalk and raised beds look after a little effort.

Notice how much more light is shining too – the whole area is brighter (the camera angle and time of day helped too).

 

Home Sweet Home

Now when I walk up to my home, I smile and feel more on top of my life!  This happy home says welcome!

Home Sweet Home

 How does your entryway look?  Does it need some spiffing up?

 

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Stir Fried Veggies and Quinoa in a Peanut Sauce

Stir Fry with Quinoa and Peanut Sauce

I made the most fantastic stir fry with quinoa.  I wanted something different from what I’ve been eating and my business coach and social media strategist, Lena West, suggested something with a peanut sauce. 

I did a quick search and found a fantastic  recipe.  I made a few minor adjustments (used green curry instead of red curry, didn’t measure the peanut butter, and  added cayenne pepper).   I could eat that stuff by the spoonful!  Try the recipe here from SheSimmers.com.

Here are the veggies I included:

  • asparagus
  • carrot
  • green onion
  • celery
  • spinach
  • green beans

 You could add meat, chicken, shrimp, or tofu.  You cook quinoa much like you cook rice (1.5 to 2 cups water to 1 cup whole grain quinoa) and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

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