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Archive for November, 2011

Tips for Maintaining Energy all Day

November 28, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Feeling sluggish? Follow these three rules for maintaining energy throughout the day
 
(ARA) – As days become shorter and the weather cools, you may feel more sluggish than usual throughout the day. However, the busy nature of modern life leaves no time for hibernation. If you want to keep your health and energy levels up, some simple tricks can help keep you feeling your best no matter what life, or the weather, throws at you.Kathy Kaehler, celebrity trainer, fitness expert, author and mother of three, has devoted her life to helping people live happy, productive and healthy lives. Working with celebrities like Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston and Kim Kardashian, Kaehler knows how simple tricks can help keep you fit and energized. She suggests incorporating these three rules into your daily routine to begin feeling better every day:

Rule 1: Exercise anytime

Exercise isn’t just for the gym. The day is filled with moments where you can work your muscles and help energize your body. For example, almost everyone’s day includes time at the office and time in the car.At the office: A great way to grab some energy and get through the afternoon lull is to do a simple, yet effective exercise. Using a sturdy, non-rolling desk chair, practice standing up and then sitting back down. Focusing on your legs and keeping your arms to your side, this easy exercise is fast, effective and great for the lower body. Not only will it elevate your heart rate and increase your breathing, but you are sure to feel its overall energizing effects throughout the day. Complete two sets of 15 repetitions to provide the burn you need to feel good.

In the car: All the minutes wasted stuck in traffic or waiting in the carpool line at school are perfect opportunities to flex some muscle power. While seated, squeeze your glutes (buttock muscles) as hard as you can. This will cause your body to rise and fall a few inches. After a set of eight to 10 reps, repeat the exercise, but this time focus on one side at a time.

No matter where your day takes you, always remember to keep some fresh water or 100 percent fruit juice and healthy snacks like Snack Factory’s Pretzel Crisps(R) with you in the car. It will keep you fueled and hydrated and prevent you from loading up on carbs and fat at the nearest fast food restaurant.

Rule 2: Snack healthy

It’s important to keep your body fueled, but with the right kinds of foods, so skip the soda and chips. Instead, look for healthy foods that will keep you energized throughout the day. Pretzel Crisps are a great low-fat, low-calorie snack packed full of flavor and crunch, leaving you satisfied and ready to move on with your day. The flat-baked pretzel crackers have no trans fats, saturated fat or cholesterol, making it the perfect snack for at work or at home.You can even add some pizzazz to your Pretzel Crisps and increase the nutritional value by pairing it with some healthy toppings and low-fat dips. Combine your favorite flavor with fresh-sliced cucumbers, rich hummus, zesty salsa, crisp apples or sliced cheese. Don’t be afraid to challenge your taste buds and get creative with your pairings. The sky’s the limit when it comes to this satisfying, better-for-you snack. For additional pairing ideas and dip recipes, visit the company’s website at www.pretzelcrisps.com and look for this tasty snack in the deli section of your local grocery store.

Rule 3: Prioritize sleep

Sixty-three percent of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week, according to a 2011 poll by the National Sleep Foundation. For many people, sleep is the first thing to get cut when their day gets too busy.Getting enough sleep is crucial to losing weight, reducing stress levels and being more alert. Make time for at least seven hours of sleep each night. Don’t delay sleep by watching TV or playing on the computer. Turn everything off an hour before your bedtime. Practice deep breathing, meditation or do some light reading. Skip food and any drinks that contain caffeine. Water is your best bet, but the majority of your liquid intake should be kept to during the day.

These healthy, better-for-you snack ideas and other tips will help you maintain your energy throughout the day, allowing you to feel your best and live each day to the fullest.

Essential Winter Running Gear

November 21, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Running in the winter requires some special gear in order to stay safe and get the most out of your workout. Fitness companies will try to sell you lots of special, name-brand gear which may or may not be effective or useful. Here is some basic information on essential winter running gear for the upcoming season.

Hat- There are lots of fancy names and types of this basic piece of gear. A wool or fleece hat that is lightweight enough to stuff into your pocket if you get too cold should do fine.

Scarf- A simple wool or fleece scarf can be a versatile piece of running gear. It can warm your neck and prevent frostbite and chapping, but it can also act as an air-warmer if you pull it up over your mouth. It can act as an additional head or ear covering as well.

Be sure to use any or all of the above essential winter running gear to keep yourself as comfortable as possible during your winter runs.

Earmuffs- Depending on your hat’s size and style, you may or may not choose to wear earmuffs with your hat. But if you get too hot for your hat or otherwise don’t have it on during your run, earmuffs will keep your ears warm. It’s a good idea to keep your ears warm – earaches and even dizziness can result from cold wind on and in your ears.

Base Layer- As you dress in layers for your run, experts warn against cotton for a base layer. It tends to get wet with sweat and holds the sweat against your skin. Synthetic fabrics are best for the bottom layer.

Middle Layer- Consider a wicking fabric for your middle layer, like wool or fleece.

Outer Layer- Depending on the weather, your outer layer may need to be something waterproof. At other times, a fleece or wool jacket will do. Just make sure it’s not bulky and provides weather protection as well as mobility.

Shoes- If you run where there’s a lot of ice and snow on the ground, you might want grippers for the bottom of your shoes. These rope-like additions to your footwear help you get a better grip and prevent slipping.

Tights- Rather than bulky sweats, a lot of runners prefer tights instead. This helps prevent wind resistance and may be more effective at wicking moisture away from your skin.

Bras- For women who run in the winter, a good sports bra is helpful. Like your base layer, you sports bra should be made from a wicking material (not cotton), and should offer sufficient support without constriction.

Shorts or Boxers- Wearing an extra layer over your tights can help conserve warmth on your buttocks and upper thighs. Wool is a good material for this “outerwear.”

15 Minute Organizing

November 17, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Here are some organizing ideas that you can start and fininsh in just 15 minutes

In a perfect word we would put everything in its place as soon as it enters our home. But unfortunately that is not the way most days go–even when we really try. On a daily basis I try to do 15-minute organizing. Here are 10 things you can do in 15 minutes or less. You would be amazed at what a difference it makes.

1. Update Your File Cabinet There is always a new folder you need to add or one that needs to be deleted. It’s very easy to skim your files and pull out the unneeded ones. Be sure to have a recycle container nearby so you can ditch those unneeded contents instead of them going in a pile on your desk. After you weed out the unneeded ones re-purpose those folders for ones that really should have a more permanent home. File appropriate papers that have been living in the infamous ‘miscellaneous’ folder.

2. Organize Your Desk Storage. If your home is anything like mine, the desk is a ‘safe place’ for all those things no one wants to loose. Start by determining what types of things you need at your fingertips and designate a space for those items. Set up a file system with areas for mail going out in the next few days, library books, things that need to be handled soon but not immediately, current receipts, several slots for mail/paperwork for different groups that you are part of and other things that need to be in easy reach. Drop items into the appropriate space. You should also discard items that are no longer needed during this time. This also makes for a way to easily grab those important items and complete what needed to be done with them.

3. Zone in on the Laundry Area If you sort clothes as soon as you take them to the laundry room, it is much easier than cleaning up after. As you are putting a load into the washer, use a rag to wipe the shelves where your supplies are housed and the top of the washer and dryer. After taking the clothes out of the dryer, fold them immediately and sweep the floor picking up any dryer sheets or other trash that may have fallen.

4. Focus on the Bathroom Sink/Linen Closet When you are doing your nightly bathroom routine, take an extra few minutes and put away any hair brushes and accessories. Put sprays and other hygiene beauty products away. Straighten up towels, wash clothes and other linens. Arrange other products on the shelves in the linen closet. Replenish toiletries as needed. Wipe sinks, the toilet, and clean the mirror.

5. Organize the Fridge Start with the shelf of your choice, such as your staples shelf–the shelf where you keep things like drinks, butter and other things you use daily. Remove anything that shouldn’t be on that shelf to a counter. Go next to the top shelf and remove outdated items. Mark leftovers with dates so you know when something is expiring. After all the shelves are done, quickly look over the doors and drawers for any undesirables. Then wipe up any spills or accidents.

6. Straighten your DVD/Video Game Collection Start by determining about how many cases you can fit on each shelf and how much space you’ll need. Take the top shelf of cases off and put them in a close by place with spines up. Start pulling the letters you assume will now live on that shelf. Once you get all those pulled from your collection do the same with the remaining shelves one at a time. After the rough draft has been completed go back and clean up each letter. After all cases are organized with spines facing out, put all un-cased movies and games into piles on the couch. Start at the top of the pile and see how quickly you can put them into the appropriate case.

7. Sort Seasonal Items Move all clothes/shoes to the area you are putting them. Start by weeding out any items that are seasonally inappropriately. Move them to a storage or donation area. Next, eliminate anything that no longer fits by placing them in the donation area. Third remove any item that would be better stored somewhere else. Finally hang coats/jackets up, and place shoes on rack or in organizer.

8. Speed Clean Any Room The best way to do a 15 minute cleaning is a game of speed cleaning. Set the timer for 15 minutes, stand at the main entrance way, and see how many things you can pick up and put away before the bell rings. Set a rule that you don’t leave the room until the timer dings or everything is in its place. If there is something that belongs in another room set it next to the timer. Many times you will find that you are done cleaning before the timer goes off and then you can take those set aside items to their correct homes.

9. Update Your Drawers – When putting laundry away, take an extra minute to update your drawers. Start by removing all items in one drawer and place any ill-fitting or no-longer-worn clothes in a donation area and any off-season items in storage. Refold any remaining clothes and replace in the drawer. Continue through all drawers containing similar clothes until completed. Finish putting any original laundry away.

10. Organize Kitchen Counters After doing dishes or cleaning up after dinner, start at the entrance of the kitchen and walk around the perimeter picking up anything that isn’t in the right or most appropriate place. Once all items are moved off of counter tops, take a dishrag and all-purpose cleaner and wipe counters and all appliances.

Stop by Get Organized Now – and check out the 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!

Holiday Shopping Tips

November 14, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Uncategorized No Comments →

Here are some holiday shopping tips that will make your shopping trips a breeze this holiday season!
Weary of the hassle of holiday shopping? Many shoppers line up for hours on end to get a deal on the hottest toy of the season, or newest fashion craze, then there are those who dread shopping and just put it off until the last minute, or give gift certificates to get out of shopping altogether.

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a hassle. It can be quickly executed without so much stress and anxiety, if you plan ahead. Try these tips to make your holiday shopping a breeze this year:

1. Set a budget in place. Do you know how much money you can afford to spend on gifts? If not, sit down right now and make that budget. This will be a huge time-saver in the end.

2. Make your list; check it twice. Create a list of who you need to buy gifts for this year. Start with family first, then add friends, co-workers, etc. How does this list look, compared with your budget? Too long? Pare it down. Despite what you think, you don’t have to buy as many gifts as you think you do. Trim your list until you have it down to a reasonable number.

3. What do they like? Now that you know who you will be buying gifts for, start thinking about what these people like. You may already have a good idea of what kinds of things they like. If not, do some snooping and find out. Make a shopping list of these things for each person.

4. Shop early. If possible try to avoid the last minute rush and shop early. Another good option is to go late at night. Many department stores operate late hours during the holidays. It’s a good time to leave the kids with your spouse and do the shopping on your own without worrying about the crowds or the kids needing to be fed or changed.

5. Shop online. Now that you know exactly what you need to buy, start by shopping online. You can find lots of good deals on auction and discount sites. Many online shops such as Amazon.com give you the option of mailing out your gifts (gift wrap included) to relatives and friends, this could save you a lot of time wrapping presents and fighting the crowds at the post office. Shopping online could save you a lot more money than you’d think, and it will definitely save you the hassle of fighting those Christmas crowds!

By using the above holiday shopping tips, you are sure to save money, time and sanity!

An Organized Computer is a Happy One

November 10, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Organization No Comments →

How does your computer look? Can you find documents and email easily? Or do you have so many documents and email you don’t know where to start? Organizing your computer is an important part of making your life easier and more efficient. Here are some ideas to get your computer organized and keep it that way.

1. The best thing about filing documents on your computer may also be the biggest challenge. Set up broad-category folders within My Documents (in Windows) or on your hard drive (in a Mac). You can also set up subfolders within each category. Use the computer’s sorting function. An easy way to organize is by file types. Put ‘AAA’ (or a space) in front of the names of the most-used folders and ‘ZZZ’ (or a bullet) in front of the least used ones.

2. Name your files and folders with meaningful and recognizable names. Also, be specific and include dates if possible. The goal when naming files is to be able to tell what the file is about without having to open it and look.

3. Reserve your desktop for items that need immediate attention. When you are done with them, file them in the proper folder. Try not to store documents long-term on your desktop. You can also use the Desktop Cleanup Wizard. In the Windows program, you can use this automatic desktop cleanup tool. Go to ‘Start,’ ‘Control Panel’. In the ‘Desktop’ tab, click ‘Customize Desktop’. Then choose ‘Clean Desktop Now’. You can also choose to run this tool periodically. The wizard moves unused items from the desktop to an archive folder.

4. Back up your files often so they can be cleared from your computer. There are a number of affordable back- up options that will keep all your important files, media and photos saved if anything should happen to your computer. This is very important. It is better to be safe than sorry.

5. The most common type of computer files that creates clutter are music files. Music files have shrunk in size over the years, however, they add up fast and you can lose track of how many you have stored on your computer. You should regularly remove excess MP3s onto discs, flash drives or backup drives to keep your computer clear of clutter.

 6. An effective email system is easy to establish and maintain. Reserve your Inbox for action items. Set up email file folders. Set up individual folders for people with whom you communicate often. Create additional folders related to specific projects, events and companies, and a holding file for pending email that you plan to keep for a very brief time. Last, but not least, create a folder name ‘Important’ for high priority items.

7. Put complete information into the subject line of email so they will be easier to find later. You should also allot an amount of time each day to review and file email. Try to download and respond to email no more than twice a day. An important tool to use in Outlook is the Message Rules tool. You can set up your rules for the system to do certain things with different email messages automatically.

8. Other ways to tackle your email include avoiding subscriptions to online newsletters that don’t contain helpful information. Limit your receipt of jokes and chain letter type email. Not only are they time consuming, they can also contain computer-threatening viruses.

9. Is your Internet Explorer Favorites folder busting at the seams? It needs weeding out and organizing from time to time. To organize your Favorites in Internet Explorer, on the Favorites menu, click Organize Favorites. Also, there is additional clean up that is easy to do. Start Internet Explorer and on the Tools menu click Internet Options. In the General tab of the Internet Options dialog box, you have two choices: (1) In the Temporary Internet files section, click Delete Files to remove all temporary files, and (2) In the History section, click Clear History to remove the list of sites you’ve previously viewed.

10. Last, but not least, regularly clean your keyboard, monitor and peripherals. Use lint free cleaning cloths and a cleaner for electronics. Compressed air is also helpful for cleaning dirt and dust out of crevices and between keys.

Family Safety Tips

November 07, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

Here are some great family safety tips that will help to protect you and your family.

Ten tips for the active family to stay safe while on the go

(ARA) – Activities such as soccer practice, football games, student council meetings, volunteer events and parent-teacher conferences tend to fill family schedules in the fall, quickly replacing the lazy days of summer with extracurricular activities. While many find it refreshing for the family unit to get back into a routine, hectic schedules can often lead to miscommunication among family members and a relaxed attitude toward safety.

“Fall brings an abundance of schedule changes and families working to adapt to new routines,” says Rebecca Smith, vice president of marketing for Master Lock. “As each family member strives to balance various activities, it’s essential that families discuss security measures they should take to ensure they safely maintain their busy lifestyles.”

Here are some family safety tips:

1. Secure your home. With people coming and going at different times, each family member should understand the importance of locking all points of entry when leaving, including dead-bolting doors, windows, sliding glass doors and garage/shed doors to bolster your home’s safety.

2. Keep your home active. For periods of time where most members of the family will be away, schedule a dog walker to come over or ask a neighbor to retrieve your mail. This helps to ensure that your home still appears to have people coming and going regularly – a natural theft deterrent.

3. Utilize key safes. Whether you’re storing a house key for children to access after school or for your mother-in-law who baby-sits, a Master Lock key safe will allow them access to your home without the risk of losing a key in transit, allowing parties to enter safely, even if no one is home.

4. Establish a “home alone” routine. If your child gets home from school while you are at work, or if your family is involved in activities on weekends, it’s important to have guidelines for your children to follow when home alone. These include locking the door immediately behind them after entering the house, not spending time outside and not answering the door for any visitors.

5. No notes. Many families leave notes on their front doors to communicate a change in schedule. Communication this important should happen directly via phone call, text message or voicemail – not out in the open for everyone to see.

6. Share schedules. Be sure that your family is aware of each other’s schedules, including work, school and extracurricular activities. Keeping a calendar updated with everyone’s commitments in a common room such as the kitchen will prevent miscommunication about who will be home and when.

7. Create an emergency plan. Every family should have a plan that details what to do in case of an emergency. This should include a list of numbers to call and steps to follow should anything happen to the home while a member of the family is there alone.

8. Communicate with neighbors. Communicate your schedules with a friendly, watchful neighbor you trust and empower him or her as an extra set of eyes and ears, keeping watch on your home when you can’t be there.

9. Set social media rules. In today’s digital age, location-based services are growing in popularity with both kids and adults. Set a family social media policy to limit check-ins and location information being made too readily available online to ensure your family’s schedule does not become too predictable.

10. Secure items on-the-go. Whether you’re headed out for a walk or to a soccer game, odds are you are carrying several valuables including keys, a wallet and cell phone. Secure these items in a small, portable safe secured to a fixed item such as a fence, allowing you to relax and enjoy any activity.

For more security tips and solutions for families on the go, visit www.masterlock.com. Also be sure to apply the above family safety tips into your household

For more home safety tips, visit Real Life Solutions.

Traditional Thanksgiving Day Menu

November 03, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living, Organization No Comments →

It’s that time of year once again.   The leaves are beginning to change colors, Halloween is approaching quickly, the kids are in school and have adjusted, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  Creating a traditional Thanksgiving day menu is easier than you think, even for a novice cook. 

When you sit down to plan your traditional Thanksgiving Day menu be sure to start with a shopping list.  For a family of four, a smaller turkey will fit the bill, take less time to cook and still provide plenty of left overs for those delicious cold turkey sandwiches the next day.   A basic list will include the turkey, of course, cranberry sauce, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and for some families – green beans and French fried onions for a casserole.  Biscuits or crescent rolls with butter are a great addition as well.  Don’t forget the pumpkin pie and the whipped cream!

To be sure that you have all of your traditional Thanksgiving Day menu items on hand.  Plan your trip to the grocery store in advance.  This will give your turkey plenty of time to defrost if it is frozen and it will also give you time to visit other stores for price checking and bargain huntint.  Always allow the turkey to defrost over the course of a few days in the freezer, rather than sitting it out on the counter for hours.  This will prevent bacteria from developing, which can cause food poisoning.  No one wants food poisoning.  If the turkey is still slightly frozen on Thanksgiving, place the plastic wrapped turkey in the sink and run cold water over it for a while.  This will help speed defrosting. 

After the turkey is defrosted it is time to prep it for cooking.  Preheat the oven to the manufacturers recommended temperature.  Remove the plastic wrapper from the bird and discard it.  Remove the wrapped package that is in the turkey and place it to the side.  This is the innards and the neck and can be used later to make other things.  Rinse the turkey in cold water and remove any remaining feathers by pulling them out.  If they are hard to get out, grab a pair of pliers to remove them.  Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and throw them out.  Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a deep roasting pan.  For a crispy and delicious skin, melt a half stick of butter and brush it on the turkey, making sure to get all of the parts including the wings and legs.  After coating the turkey with the butter, sprinkle garlic powder and black pepper all over the bird, again getting the wings and legs.
 
After seasoning the turkey, place it in the preheated oven.  Checking it frequently, allow the turkey to bake for the correct amount of time as indicated by the label.  Once the skin begins to brown, pull the turkey out for a minute and baste it with 2 cups of turkey broth.  Cover the turkey with foil at this time and return it to the oven.  Baste it every 30 to 40 minutes with the juices from the pan, recover and return it to the oven.  You may be wondering about the stuffing.  Well, for safeties sake, and because crispy stuffing just tastes better, this guide calls for the stuffing to be prepared separately in a baking dish.  Stuffed turkeys can be havens for bacteria and can cause both the stuffing and the turkey to not cook thoroughly. 

Approximately 1 hour before the turkey is scheduled to be done, begin preparing the other dishes.  The stuffing can be made using chicken or turkey broth to add additional flavor.  After preparing the stuffing on the stove top, spread it out evenly in a baking dish and place it in the oven below the turkey.  This will give the stuffing a crispy top layer, with a softer layer underneath. 

If you traditional Thanksgiving Day menu doesn’t include the plain cranberry sause, a delicious alternative is to mix whole berry cranberry sauce with a can of drained pineapple tidbits.  The pineapple adds a unique flavor to the sauce and goes well with the turkey and stuffing.  Another great side dish is a string bean casserole, made with fresh string beans, cream of mushroom soup and topped with crunchy fried onion strings.
 
For the sweet potatoes, a casserole is another great way to go.  After cleaning and taking off any bad parts, take your sweet potatoes, cut them up into 1-2 inch chunks and place in a microwave safe bowl.  Add 3 tablespoons of butter, also in chunks, to the bowl.  Microwave on high for 4 minutes, then stir or mash the potatoes and butter together in the bowl.  Return it to the microwave for an additional 4 minutes, then remove and stir again.  To the sweet potato and butter mash, add cinnamon and sugar to taste, stirring to mix it thoroughly.  Once it is mixed, place the mixture into an oven safe baking dish.  Top with granola and miniature marshmallows and bake for 15 minutes, or until the marshmallows are melted and browned. 

By now, the turkey should be done.  Most turkeys come with a pop-up timer.  If it has not popped yet, keep checking every 5 minutes until it does.  Once the timer is popped, remove the turkey from the oven and put in the green bean casserole and biscuits.  Place the turkey on a safe surface and keep it covered for at least 20 minutes with aluminum foil.  This allows the turkey to rest, reach its maximum cooking temperature and gives the juices a chance to settle back into the meat.  Cutting into a turkey as soon as it is removed from the oven is a sure way to lose all of the juices and get a dry turkey.

After the turkey has rested, and the rest of the dishes have come out of the oven, it is time to carve the bird.  Start by removing the legs and wings.  After slicing with a sharp knife in the joint of each piece, using a bit of force, bend it backward until you hear a crack.  You can then slice through the rest of the way, creating clean cut pieces.  Once the parts are removed, you can begin slicing the breast meat.  Using a sharp knife, slice the meat into thin layers and stack onto a serving dish.  Surround the white meat with the legs and wings and serve. 

Everyone has different variations on their traditional Thanksgiving Day menu.  Any of the above recipes and ideas can be modified for your family’s preferences and dietary needs.  The most important part of preparing for any Holiday meal is not that you enjoy the prep work, the cooking and the eating but that you enjoy spending this important time with your family and friends. 

Visit the following link for a Stress Free Thanksgiving.