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Archive for October, 2010

Winter Weight Gain – How to Avoid It

October 18, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

It is something many people contend with each year; once the winter months arrive, so do the extra pounds. It’s frustrating, but how do you avoid it? The following ideas may give you the information you need to avoid gaining weight this winter.

Stay Active

One way to avoid winter weight gain is to stay active. Normally people slow down and get sedentary during the colder months. They don’t want to go out in the weather and therefore spend much of their time watching television. The fact they’re not active means they’re not burning as many calories, which makes the scale’s numbers creep up.

Rather than spending the entire winter on your bottom in front of a television or computer screen, try to find activities you can do inside which will burn calories. Get some aerobics videos and work out to them. Jump rope, do calisthenics or choose something else which will keep you active.

Choose Food Wisely

The fall and winter months have the major food-eating holidays, which make choosing food wisely more difficult. First there is Halloween and its candy, Thanksgiving with all of that scrumptious food and then Christmas with a whole new batch of goodies to try.

Look over what foods are being offered. Select mainly healthy foods but allow yourself one or two small servings of higher calorie items so you don’t feel deprived. You can try eating on a smaller plate so the portions won’t be as large. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids which will help fill you up so you don’t eat too much.

Avoid Overeating

You may also find that being indoors all winter means you have ready access to food. Many people tend to overeat during the winter, which compounds the problem of not being active. You don’t have to put locks on the food pantry or refrigerator but you may want to eat only during planned meal or snack times.

Learn a new skill or start a new hobby. Try to find things which will keep your hands and mind active so you’re not as likely to reach for food out of boredom. When your mind and hands are busy learning or doing something new you won’t be tempted to overeat.

Get Enough Sleep

Scientists have determined that not getting a full night’s sleep can lead to added weight. Try to get the same amount of sleep (at least eight hours) per night and it may help you avoid winter weight gain. How can not sleeping enough cause weight gain? The body has a multitude of hormones coursing through it at any time. Not getting enough sleep means the hormones which tell you you’re hungry aren’t in balance, which in turn can lead to overeating.

You don’t have to be someone who has winter weight gain. Avoid it by following these simple tips. Remember to be more active, get plenty of rest, choose your foods wisely and avoid overeating. You’ll be able to greet spring without having to diet to remove any excess weight you added during the winter months.

Easy Pumpkin Pie Recipe

October 15, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Turkey and the trimmings will soon be gracing the tables of families all across the country. When it comes time for dessert, what is your family’s favorite? Some people love pecan pie but others are looking for delicious easy pumpkin pie recipes to share with their loved ones.

You can find traditional recipes in cookbooks or even on the back of canned pumpkin. However, you may be looking for a different and easy pumpkin pie recipe to try this year.
Homemade Pie Shell

If you have the time and are comfortable making your own pie shell, here’s a simple recipe to make one 9 or 10-inch shell:

* 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
* ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
* ¼ cup cold vegetable shortening cut into small bits
* 1 ½ teaspoon sugar
* 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Combine all of the ingredients except the ice water in a bowl with your fingertips until everything is mixed well and resembles meal. Add the ice water and mix it until the water is thoroughly integrated. Form this into a ball and then knead it lightly on a floured surface.

Wrap this in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least one hour and up to two days. When you’re ready to make the pie, roll the shell out and place into a pie pan. Bake it for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Remove it and set it aside as the filling is being prepared.
Easy Pumpkin Pie Filling

This pumpkin pie filling isn’t traditional, but it is delicious:

* ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
* ¼ cup granulated sugar
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* 2 cups canned pumpkin puree
* 3 lightly beaten large eggs
* 1 ¾ cups whipping cream

Combine all ingredients up to and including the salt in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the pumpkin puree and then add the eggs and whipping cream. Pour this mixture into the pre-baked shell and bake it for 40 minutes in the middle of a 350 degree F oven.
Pumpkin and Pecan Pie

What do you do when you can only make one type of pie? This combined pumpkin and pecan pie may be one your family loves. To make this pie easier, use a pre-made pie crust:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the pie shell for about 10 minutes while you mix the filling ingredients:

* 1 egg
* 1 cup canned solid pack pumpkin
* 1/3 cup sugar
* ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
* ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
* Dash of salt

* 2 eggs
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 2/3 cup light or dark corn syrup
* 2 tablespoons melted butter
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Begin by combining the first set of ingredients which are traditionally used for pumpkin pie in a small bowl. Spoon this into the pie crust and set it aside.

Beat the remaining eggs in a medium bowl. Stir in the corn syrup and remaining sugar with the rest of the ingredients and blend it well. Stir in the pecans and carefully spoon this over the pumpkin mixture which is in the pie shell.

Bake the pie for 50 to 60 minutes or until the filling is set and pulls away slightly from the edge of the crust. Cool the pie completely before serving.

These two delicious easy pumpkin pie recipes are variations of the traditional pie but are sure to be enjoyed by everyone.

Fire Escape Plan Saves Live

October 13, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Children, Healthy Living No Comments →

Every year nearly two million homes are destroyed by fire. In fact, fire departments are called every 90 seconds to respond to a home fire. Since fires are so destructive, do you have a fire escape plan in case the unthinkable happens in your home?

A small fire can quickly get out of control, and therefore it is important to have a fire escape plan. You want to create a plan which will enable everyone in your family to escape as quickly as possible. But what does a fire escape plan include?

Begin by drawing a basic diagram of your house including where all sleeping areas, windows and doors are located. On the drawing, show each floor of your home and where access to each one is located. When you have the drawing completed, make several copies of it so you can determine the best escape plan.

Create two plans of escape from each room of your home. Escape routes may include windows or doors. For second story rooms, you’ll want to have roll-out ladders which will enable someone to safely escape through the second story room, or plan for them to get to the lower level and escape.

Once you have the fire escape plan routes outlined for each room, practice leaving from each one as if there were a fire. This will enable you to see if there are problems with the escape routes and give you an opportunity to find a route which works best while there isn’t a fire to contend with.

Experts recommend practicing your fire escape plan a minimum of every six months, but suggest once a month is better. The more often you practice escaping from your home, pretending the fire is located in a different area each time, the better prepared you will be if the unthinkable should happen. You’ll also want to be sure everyone in the family is involved in the drills – even very young children.

Post the escape plan for each floor of your home in a location where it will be easily seen. When you have guests or caretakers in your home, be sure to point the escape plan out to them so they are aware of what has already been planned.

Have a specific place outside of the home where everyone will meet. This enables adults to know if everyone has made it out of the home. Teaching children never to go back into a house for any reason is also important.

Other things to talk about when doing fire drills with your family include:

* Teaching children that they should never hide from fire fighters. Even though they might look scary, fire fighters are there to rescue them.

* Talk about the importance of remaining close to the ground to avoid the chance of smoke inhalation.

* Touch the door before trying to leave through it to ensure the door is not hot. Touching the door handle could result in a burn since the handle is metal and will conduct heat.

Do everything you can to avoid having a fire in your home. If one should start, having a fire escape plan is the first step to keeping your family safe in the case of a house fire. However, it won’t do you any good if you don’t practice it. Practice it often to ensure your entire family knows what to do and where to go if there is a fire so they will have a better chance of avoiding injury.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

October 11, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

More and more people these days are turning to a vegetarian lifestyle. This can be a problem when Thanksgiving rolls around, because what is the holiday without a turkey? These vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner ideas will enable those who choose to abstain from eating meat to enjoy the meal and stay true to their convictions.

Before you begin trying to think of vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner ideas, it is important to know what foods your guest doesn’t eat. Some people won’t eat flesh of an animal but they will eat eggs or dairy products. Others won’t eat anything from an animal. By finding out what your guest will eat, you’ll have a better idea of what dishes you can prepare for them.

Despite what some might think, many vegetarians do enjoy the flavors of turkey and dressing – they simply don’t want to eat flesh any longer. One alternative to turkey you may want to consider for vegetarian family members is Tofurky. What is Tofurky? It is a turkey alternative made from tofu and wheat protein. It can be prepared much the same way as turkey and is said to taste very similar. If you aren’t able to find the Tofurky brand, there are other brands which have comparable items.

An alternative entrée for vegetarians could be a stuffed acorn squash. Fill it with wild rice and cranberry pilaf which will be similar to traditional stuffing only sweeter. Lentil rice loaf would be another option if you can’t find or make Tofurky.

It’s a good chance you’ll have some dishes a vegetarian would be comfortable eating even if you can’t find an alternative for turkey. Here are some traditional Thanksgiving dishes you may be planning to prepare which would be acceptable for those who don’t eat meat:

* A large tossed salad would be appreciated. Rather than having merely lettuce and tomato, why not add broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and other vegetables? You can also add fresh pineapple or apples, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, and olives to make it chock full of vegetarian goodness.

* Mashed potatoes could be something a vegetarian would eat unless they don’t eat butter. In this case, you could use a vegetable bouillon cube to moisten the potatoes.

* Candied sweet potatoes would be another vegetable dish you could serve.

* Cranberry sauce is a side dish many people associate with Thanksgiving. Plan on having both jellied and whole berry cranberry sauce available.

* Fresh baked rolls are normally also something vegetarians will enjoy.

If you’re concerned that vegetarians attending your Thanksgiving dinner won’t have enough food to choose from, ask them to bring a dish to share. You can also ask them to arrive early so they can show you how to make a vegetarian dish. This is one way to ensure any vegetarian attending will have plenty to eat.

When you ask someone who is a vegetarian to join you for Thanksgiving, you want to be sure to provide enough for them to eat. Vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner ideas aren’t difficult, but they do take a different mindset. If you’re unsure, the easiest thing to do is ask a vegetarian what foods they will eat or what they can bring to share. Then you’ll know everyone who joins you will be more than satisfied after the dinner is over.

Paper Pile Up

October 06, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Whether it is the mail being delivered to your door, paperwork brought home from school and work, medical forms, magazines, receipts and more, paper piles continue to grow on a daily basis. Here are a few ideas to lessen that pileup of paper and keep it manageable before it gets the better of you.

1. Include it in your schedule and set aside a certain amount of time each day to process paperwork. Open and sort mail on a daily basis. Immediately recycle anything you do not need. Keep and handle all important documents in one designated area. Divide the papers into main categories of action whether it is to Read, Pay, File or simply Do.

2. Make decisions when it comes to your paperwork. Do not put papers into a big pile and say you will deal with it later. Decide to do something with it now and take action, whether it is to read it, pay it, file it, do it or toss it.

3. Computers have not lessened the amount of paper clutter. In fact, in many cases, they have increased it. People are printing out a lot of things that do not have to be printed. If it is not critical, do not print it out. That newspaper_pile1information will more than likely still be online to reference again.

4. Use a binder system, such as the Get Organized Now! Easy Organizer. This organizer holds all the important information you need to keep on hand in one handy location. Binders are a great way to organize many types of paperwork that you regularly need to reference. Tabs and sheet protectors are just two of the items used in conjunction with binders that help to organize all your information making it easy to locate.

5. Create a message taking system. Instead of having scraps of paper and Post-it notes all over the place, use a spiral notebook for posting messages. Even if you do scribble a note or number somewhere else, you can transfer it directly to the notebook.

6. Check with the IRS, as well as your accountant and attorney, to find out how long to keep certain documents. Before you put the documents into storage, mark them with an expiration date, if they have one. There are some documents you do need to keep permanently, like deeds for one. When you go through your files in the future to purge documents, you can then toss the documents that have expired.

7. Evaluate your current magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Consider keeping only the subscriptions that you read on a regular basis. Donate old magazines to senior centers, shelters or doctors offices after you have read them. Keep in mind that more and more magazines these days carry many of their articles, if not the whole issue, online.

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Fall Organizing For Your Home

October 01, 2010 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

When the cooler weather hits and the days get shorter, many of us instinctually head indoors to hibernate for the winter months. Trained from years of “spring cleaning”–this is the time of year when we may actually let the house fill up with clutter and dust. Before settling in for a long winter’s nap (or movie fest, book-reading, etc.) consider giving the house a dose of fall organizing. Clear clutter with the winter months (and holidays) in mind and you just may find you enjoy the indoor season even more!

It is possible to organize the house with the Winter months in mind–keeping things like weather, holidays, entertaining, and winter activities in mind can help you to set the house up in such a way to facilitate these realities and keep necessary items on hand (while tucking away those things you will not really need until the Spring and/or Summer comes around again.)

Pack away summer shoes, toys, and gear to clear space for winter ones. Keep in mind that muddy boots and wet coats will need to be dealt with during the winter months so as you clear away the summer clutter and get rid of unnecessary items by the front and/or back doors, set up efficient stations for dealing with cold weather outerwear. A place for boots and shoes to drain without tracking dirt and mud into the house is a good idea, as are plenty of hooks or hangers for coats, hats and scarves. Providing space will keep things from collecting all over the house. Additionally, this will keep items handy for household members to grab right before walking out the door and save time wasted hunting for the appropriate winter outerwear.

In addition to coats, boots and scarves, colder temperatures can mean the need for blankets, throws and warmer items indoors. Provide a basket, chest or other designated area for their storage in order to prevent the clutter of blankets and throws draped all over the living or family rooms. Washing all the blankets, throws and pillows can also ensure that you are starting out the cozy season with clean snuggly items. It is also a good idea to wash these items periodically to ensure their freshness and to prevent passing illnesses and germs by jointly shared family items.

elegent_holiday1In preparation for the holiday season, consider putting away summer-inspired art, dishes, etc. Many of us find that when we pull out the Holiday decorations, we are just putting them over the top of our existing decor and this can make things feel cramped and cluttered. Instead, create some blank walls and spaces that can be decorated with Autumn and Winter themes. Your home will look much more cohesive and put together, and there will be less mess and clutter to contend with. As the holiday ends or passes, clean, pack and store things away to keep from contributing to even more clutter.

Winter entertaining generally means indoor entertaining. This is not the season for picnics and barbeques. Arrange furniture in conversation groupings or to facilitate movie nights, Superbowl parties or other forms of Winter entertaining that you are likely to do. Arranging the house with entertaining in mind early in the Fall can set the stage for some worry-free and spontaneous cold weather gatherings.

Get Organized Now – An amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

Kori Rodley Irons – Kori is a freelance writer, public relations and nonprofit management specialist living in the Pacific Northwest.