Is a Programmable Thermostat for You?

Posted on Oct 29, 2014 by 1 Comment

Summer is over, and winter isn’t far off. I like summer, but I don’t like being uncomfortably hot. Even more, I don’t like high energy bills that result from my quest for being comfortable. And depending on what part of the country you live in, staying warm this winter may require more energy than usual if the winter forecasts are correct.

This year, I’ve considered changing out my thermostat for a model that promises to keep me comfortable and to control my energy usage. Sounds like a win-win, but I had no idea there were so many options.

Remote Controlled Thermostat

Some thermostats let you manage your thermostat from your smartphone or tablet. I’m not going this route for a couple of reasons.

First of all, it requires a hub which is sold separately that connects to your home broadband network. While this might be a great option for those who are away most of the day, as a freelance writer, I’m home most of the time. So there is no reason to spend extra money for a hub which is also another thing that can break.

Programmable vs. Learning Thermostat

I was leaning between a programmable model or what is known as a “learning” thermostat. The programmable type thermostats are said to make the most efficient use of heating and cooling systems by automatically adjusting the set temperature throughout the day.

Our house is well insulated but in the afternoon it gets warm enough that I kick the thermostat down a degree and it usually takes about an hour to cool down. A programmable thermostat changes the thermostat before the house gets warm (or cold). It remembers for you.

A learning thermostat features benefits of a programmable thermostat but it doesn’t require programming. Instead, it learns as we use them. They create a schedule based on our use.

These thermostats have the ability to turn themselves down while you’re away, and direct users to the most energy efficient settings for their home. It can even provide monthly energy reports and can be monitored and managed remotely via Wi-Fi from computer, smartphone and tablet.

Manual Thermostat

While all this sounds great, I’m not sure I want to tie my thermostat into my Wi-fi. It’s bad enough when Wi-fi is glitchy already. It effects TV, phone, and of course computer. As my stress levels rise when I can’t get online to do my research, I certainly don’t want to deal with an unforeseen problem with my thermostat.

I think I might just count myself blessed to be home, and make my own schedule to get up and manually change the thermostat an hour before I usually do, and a couple hours later to change it back.

My non-programmable digital thermostat works find, and for me is the best choice. It lets me manually-control settings to keep my home comfortable without connecting to the Internet. Most of the day my house stays at the same pre-set temperature.

I’ll just rough it and remember to do it for myself and count it as a brain exercise.

Photo credits: Amazon

Are Those Fruits and Veggies Making You Fat?

Posted on Oct 27, 2014 by No Comments

Eating fruits and vegetables is part of a healthy diet, right? We’ve been told this for years, and it is true. They are chock full of phytonutrients that are good for us.

However, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that if we eat more fruits and vegetables without reducing the number of calories we’re taking in from other foods, then we may gain weight or be unable to shed those unwanted pounds.

While this makes logical sense, it also shines a light on how many of us think we can eat as much of a food as we want when it is deemed healthy.

For this study, researchers took a closer look at data on more than 1,200 people based on earlier research on weight loss and increased fruit and vegetable intake.

According to the study’s author, Kathryn Kaiser, an instructor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, “Across the board, all studies we reviewed showed a near-zero effect on weight loss.”

The bottom line is that while fruits and vegetables offer many benefits, we need to remember they also provide calories. If we aren’t careful, a fruit smoothie may taste great, but can easily provide as many calories as a milk shake. So even though the smoothie is a healthier option, it is not necessarily a good choice for weight loss unless we plan to cut that amount of calories elsewhere in our diet for the day.

Fruits and vegetables do include fiber and macronutrients which are beneficial for health. So we can’t blame them for stagnant weight loss. The real problem is the amount of food we eat, so it goes back to portion control. We know we shouldn’t overeat, but I think the real problem is that we don’t recognize what that means.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Boost Your Metabolism in 12 Minutes a Day

Posted on Oct 24, 2014 by No Comments

When I stepped on the scale and it was stuck after I’d done all the right things, it got to be a bit discouraging. I was even walking hilly terrain for an hour 5 days a week, and in six months my weight just bounced back and forth a pound or two.

I had heard about how we lose muscle mass as we age, and that’s why weight loss and maintenance can be more of a challenge with each decade. I needed to get back to building muscle, plus work on flexibility, and aerobic exercise.

It started to feel like I would have to exercise 8 hours a day, but then I remembered the Royal Canadian Air Force Exercises I use to do 20 years ago. One of the reasons I liked them was that they worked my entire body and only took 12 minutes.

The plan includes 10 exercises and a couple more optional exercises and features charts that offer 12 levels that include stretching, toning, and modified pushups which I count as my weight-bearing exercise. It finishes up with some aerobic running in place and then a couple of stretching exercises as you cool down.

When you can do a level in 12 minutes or less you can move up to the next level the following day. The difficulty and number of exercises increased with your fitness level, and you know when it is time to move to the next level when you can meet the 12 minute challenge. It’s not complicated, and at first it is very easy.

Last month I decided to add this routine back into my day. After all, if you can’t find 12 minutes there is something wrong. Of course, I couldn’t find my copy of the book, and it is now out of print, but the exercise plan is now online.

I’ve been back at it for 2 weeks, and already feel a difference in my energy level. I took my measurements and weighed in so I can really track my progress. As I build and tone muscle, it will boost my metabolism and that should make a difference in my weight. I’m continuing to walk at least 30 minutes 5 days a week, too.

If you’re looking for an exercise routine that works and you don’t have much time, check it out. Of course, be sure to talk with your doctor before you get started.

Photo credits: Helga Weber

Top 4 Lies Wives Tell Their Husbands

Posted on Oct 15, 2014 by No Comments

I don’t know about you but, for me, having an honest and open relationship is important. In fact, dishonesty is the thing that bothers me most about politicians who promise one thing while running for office and who do another once they are elected.

So when I saw a study that says people admitted misleading their significant other a third of the time it surprised me. That means one out of every three things could be a lie!

However, after they got married that number dropped to one in 10. After one in three that sounds good right? But really that would mean women are still lying to their husbands almost every day.

Sometimes a wife may be dishonest because she’s trying to please or placate her husband. I guess that can go both ways. I don’t really want my husband telling me I “look fat in those pants” before we go out. However, since I know how I look I don’t ask!

When you look at the top 4 lies told by wives to their husbands, they aren’t that type of lie — accept for maybe number 2.

Top 4 Lies

  1.  “This dress was on sale” – Lying about money is never a good thing. Hopefully both parties learn to live on a budget and spend within their limitations. As long as you do that, there’s no need to lie! I mean, you don’t want to be like a politician do you? While there’s all kinds of reasons people may lie about this, the fact is they are excuses.
  2. “You have the biggest penis I’ve ever seen” – This one falls within the compassion department, but really why do we have to say we are comparing his size to anybody else? Again, don’t ask; don’t tell!
  3. “I’ve only slept with two men.” – It seems the “average” is closer to 4 but we don’t want our men to think we slept around all that much. According to the study, women tend to minimize the number of sexual partners they’ve had. I guess this could be another compassionate lie, but I’d suggest the past is the past and just leave it there rather than lie about it.
  4. “I don’t want anything for our anniversary.” – If you’re saying you don’t want something for your anniversary and don’t mean it then you certainly can’t get upset with your guy when he believes you! Let him get you something! After all staying married these days is a huge accomplishment! But if you’re on a limited budget, don’t be asking for something like a diamond tennis bracelet. Work together…let him get you something even if it’s little and you’ll make memories together.

The truth is best in the long run because if you lie, over time it can be awful tricky keeping your fictional life straight. Again just look at our politicians!

Photo credits: Personal photo used with permission

Nick Cannon Covers Mariah Tattoo with New Ink

Posted on Oct 14, 2014 by No Comments

Since Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey’s separation became public, Nick Cannon has found himself in the spotlight.

Everyone wants details, and in a recent interview Cannon admits that he understands that, but finds the way some people judge how you deal with personal life is a little harsh, but that along with that he says he knows it’s what he has signed up for.

Nick Cannon tattoo

Nick Cannons new ink in process

Personally, he deals with it better than most. The separation is not easy, and he admits he’s not the type to ignore people or to say nothing. So that makes him a prime target for reporters digging for the juicy details.

On top of that, he admits it’s hard listening to people dissect his personal life.

I love him as the host of America’s Got Talent…his sense of humor, his interaction with both contestants and judges, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s good looking. But this past season of AGT I could see he was a little troubled, though he covered it well.

In a recent interview with Huffington Post, he put it this way. “I’m not Kanye. I’m not going to be wrestling at the airport. And I’m also not somebody who’s gonna keep silent.”

When Extra asked him how he’d dealing with all of it he said, “I’m just trying to be the best person I can be.” I love that answer. It shows he cares how things are handled and wants to do things the right way for all involved, but at the same time, he’s moving on.

His Mariah tattoo is gone. He used to have a large tat of her name across his back which was actually a wedding present for her. Now that tat is being transformed into a new piece of body art – a crucifixion tattoo.

It’s still in the process, and he was a little upset when paparazzi caught him with his shirt off before it is done. It’s going to take over 40 hours in the chair, plus he’s getting a sleeve done. We’ll have to wait and see what he walks away with.

His kids are currently on tour with Mommy, and Nick says that it is all good. They are in constant contact, and he wishes Mariah all the best.

When the media doesn’t have details, they like to make up stories based on the little they know. Breakups are hard enough. I wish both Nick and Mariah all the best as they try to move forward.

Photo credits: The Talk

Caveat to High-Fiber’s Protection Against Colon Cancer

Posted on Oct 9, 2014 by No Comments

For decades we’ve been hearing about the benefits of high fiber in our diet. Fiber protects against colon cancer, right? Well, would you believe, it depends. According to a new study, to really reap the benefits of fiber we must also have the right gut bacteria.

This study was conducted using mice, so further research is needed, however the results certainly hold merit. The mice were either fed a low- or high-fiber diet. Some had a type of bacteria in their gut that ferments fiber into a chemical called butyrate and the other mice didn’t have this bacteria.

All the mice were introduced to a cancer-causing chemical to encourage the development of colon tumors. The results found that the mice who were fed the high-fiber diet AND had the right bacteria had 75 percent less tumors. However, the high-fiber alone and the low fiber diets did not afford the same beneficial results.

The findings of this study were presented by Scott Bultman, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine at the meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research. He said,

“Our study shows that it’s not the high fiber in and of itself that has a protective effect against cancer, but it’s a combination of the fiber plus having the right types of bacteria.”

I thought the benefit of fiber and colon health was a given, but upon closer look, the findings of various studies disagree on this.

However, Bultman pointed out the fact that many of these studies don’t look at gut bacteria which seems to be the key in the fight against color cancer. Plus other studies that do look at gut bacteria show that healthy people have higher levels of butyrate-producing bacteria than people with colon cancer.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions with that.

It leads to the question…how do we get the butyrate-producing bacteria? For most of us, eating high-fiber diets naturally increases butyrate-producing bacteria, but some of us genetically produce less of this bacteria even with a high-fiber diet.

The next step in the minds of some is to fortify foods with butyrate or butyrate-producing bacteria. That’s a challenge though. It seems that it involves a compound that stinks…literally.

Photo credits: Frapestaartje

Joan Lunden Hopes to Empower Others with Cancer

Posted on Oct 7, 2014 by 1 Comment

At 64 years of age, former Good Morning America host, Joan Lunden, has undergone chemotherapy and a lumpectomy since her diagnosis with triple negative breast cancer three months ago.

The mother of seven went public about this aggressive form of cancer while speaking with cancer survivor Robin Roberts and told People magazine, “I was handed an opportunity to learn everything that I can about this and try to help others.”

Lunden received some valuable advice from Roberts who shared that waiting for your hair to fall out is excruciating. So Lunden decided not to wait.

Instead she owned it and took matters into her own hands one week after her first chemo treatment. She voluntarily shaved offer her beautiful blond hair and when she did she realized how much it affected her.

“I’m almost reluctant to say it because it sounds superficial. But when you lose your hair, it just affects the way that you look at yourself in the mirror. You feel less feminine, pretty or desirable, and it’s not an easy thing to go through.” – Joan Lunden

When she had the opportunity to make the cover of People, she had a decision to make. To wear her wig or pose without it. She decided going without the wig might be a way to help others and show women that losing your hair  ”isn’t the end of the world.” She found the experience empowering in a big way.

Joan Lunden Tweens
Lunden hopes to be a voice for the quarter of a million women diagnosed with breast cancer every year. She said, “I wanted to show that your health is more important than your hair.” She will continue her fight against cancer as a special correspondent for the Today show next week as they kick off their Breast Cancer Awareness month coverage.

Lunden believes many women don’t get breast exams because they are afraid of losing their hair. During her own experience, she says, “Your hair grows back after you stop chemo…and then you have your life.”

Photo credits: Amazon, Twitter

Is a Smart Bed with Interactive Computer Right for Me?

Posted on Oct 3, 2014 by No Comments

I’m in the market for a new bed. One of the challenges for married people is finding a mattress you both like.

In my search for beds that might work I came across the Balluga Smart Bed. It’s equipped with an interactive onboard computer. It really addresses every issue but one for me.

Adjustable Firmness and Temperature Control

Adjustable firmness levels: It supports you and your partner with an advanced air-filled ball support system. I’ve never seen the likes of it before. It conforms to your body shape individually and can be adjusted with a simple touch of a button.

Plus this modular ball system is allergen and infestation free, so none of those little invisible mites crawling around. As a bonus, it can also provide a relaxing massage!

The firmness issue is a big one, but another thing about this smart bed is that it offers climate control. It keeps you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In my case it could keep me cool year round and I would sleep better.

It keeps each person comfortable. Right now I try to accomplish that with the ceiling fan and an extra blanket on my husband’s side of the bed.

Interactive Sleep Aids

Other benefits of this bed include low lighting just above the drawers that comes on with night-level lighting if you have to get up during the night. These light panels can also be used to create ambient colored light synchronized to music to aid sleep.

It also has an optional system that can be connected to a tablet or smart phone. It lets you lay on your back to read, watch TV, or enjoy a movie. You can even project what you’re viewing onto the wall. When you fall asleep, the bed knows it and automatically retracts the console.

Balluga Smart Bed

Projects movies on the wall.

That addresses all the sleeping-related issues on my list. It also has under-bed storage, which my current bed has. So with all these positives, what are the negatives?

For one, you open the drawers under the bed remotely. You adjust the temperature and firmness remotely. After all it is a smart bed. My concern is when the remote stops working what am I left with?

The bed itself runs around $1600. How much does it cost to replace the remote? Sorry but visions of the $5,000 batteries for electric cars comes to mind. My concern is personal. Without a remote, the bed would just be…well dumb.  Could I afford to make it smart again?

Photo credits: Balluga

Grandma’s Secret Stain Remover an Eco-Friendly Solution

Posted on Oct 2, 2014 by No Comments

I’ve never been great at removing stains, and when my favorite white cotton sweater ended up with chocolate on the cuff, it became a permanent stain. Or so I thought.

I still wore the sweater around the house, but that stain bugged me. I had pretreated it, but it didn’t come out all the way. And when I switched the load to the dryer I’d forgotten about it. The result was a set-in stain.

A couple of weeks later I made a stop at Hobby Lobby to have a picture matted and framed and while I waited I wandered around the store and gravitated to the sewing section. On the counter was a decorative bucket filled with small bottles labeled, Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover.

I plucked a bottle from the container and read the label. Terms like “environmentally safe, bio-degradable, non-toxic” kept me reading. Plus it contained no chlorine or phosphates. All that and it was on sale and reasonably priced.

It promised to remove oil, grease, blood, grass, tar, ink, make-up, baby formula, coffee, spaghetti sauce…any kind of stain. You know that old saying, “If it sounds to good to be true it probably is?” Well, I decided to buy it anyway and give it a try on my sweater stain, even though I doubted it could work since I’d already dried and set it into the fabric.

I couldn’t wait to try it and came home and decided to do laundry. I used a couple of drops on the stain and rubbed it into the fabric. Then I applied a couple more drops to the underside of the fabric and did the same. I stuffed my sweater into the washer and hoped for the best.

When I heard the final spin click off, I pulled the sweater out and guess what? No stain. Not even a hint of discoloration. I couldn’t believe it. I haven’t tried it on anything else as yet, but I’d say Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover works, and I couldn’t keep it to myself.

Photo credits: Amazon