Habits to a Cleaner House

Posted on Apr 17, 2015 by 2 Comments

Ages ago, I read a book by Sandra Felton titled The Messies Manual. The book gave me practical ideas that worked for helping keep my house cleaner. Chores that often overtook me, like laundry, were broken down with helpful steps that I use to this day.

For instance, I use separate bins that allow me to sort laundry by color instead of one hamper. When one of those bins is full, it’s a load.

My biggest challenge though was getting clean laundry folded and put away. For some reason it tended to stay in the clothes basket.

By the time the kids were digging through the clean clothes for the shirt they needed, I had to refold. And the basket of clean clothes caused the next load to stay in the dryer. To break that habit, I got rid of the basket. It eliminated the problem.

Developing small habits like that can make the difference between a clean or messy house for me. Over the years I’ve developed several and have found that taking a little time on the front end makes a big difference when unexpected company shows up at my door. But even better, it makes a difference in how I feel each day. I’m less stressed and overwhelmed. My house is lived in, but it isn’t out of control.

In Felton’s book she talked about people who were natural “cleanies.” She also talked about 7 kinds of messies, and I was four of them rolled into one.

Natural cleanies will see something on the floor and pick it up. Some messies will step over it and think, “I will pick that up later.” And some don’t even see it is there.

For those of us who tend to be messier, it helps to develop habits to combat our natural tendencies. Make your bed when you get up, don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, empty your dishwasher each morning, take 15 minutes to clean up clutter every day.

For those of us who don’t come by these habits naturally, they can be developed. It takes a little extra effort, but the reward is worth it.

Photo credits: My So Called Home

What Happens to Panties Returned to Victoria’s Secret?

Posted on Apr 17, 2015 by No Comments

If you buy your panties in a package of six all sealed up in plastic packaging you may not really think about whether or not someone else has worn them before you.

But what about those sexy pairs of panties sold individually? You know, like you see at Victoria Secret. It turns out that a Victoria’s Secret manager answered that question when participating in a Reddit Ask Me Anything and talked about what happens to returned merchandise.

Victoria Secret’s is a high end lingerie retailer that controls 35 percent of the lingerie market. Over the years they’ve built both their brand and their reputation.

Until I saw the question asked, I really hadn’t given it any thought about returned panties, but once the question was voiced my brain went…ewww!

The 22-year-old manager said, “Every returned pair of panties have to get damaged out, regardless of whether the tags are still on them or not. Then we shred them and throw them out after.”

I’d say they take their product quality assurance quite serious, and while it seems extreme, it is one way to make sure they aren’t passing on intimate clothing that someone has already worn.

Let’s face it, there are people who wear stuff for special occasions and then return it saying they didn’t use it.

It turns out that Victoria’s Secret isn’t the only store with a clothing shredder. According to Clear Returns CEO, Vicky Brock, “…by the time it’s been sent back to distribution, repackaged, if it’s in a condition for sale, it could have been discontinued or discounted. In some cases, it’ll just get shredded.”

It makes me wonder how often things are returned and how much stores have to write off each year based on returned merchandise being destroyed.

Victoria’s Secret takes the shredding approach even if you return the items with tags still intact, and I think it is a wise choice.

Photo credits: wikipedia

Young Mom Partially Paralyzed From Bacteria on Friend’s Makeup Brush

Posted on Apr 16, 2015 by 1 Comment

A young Australian mom by the name of Jo Gilchrist is struggling to recover following a virulent staff infection that threatened her life and has left her partially paralyzed. How did it happen? She used her friend’s makeup brush.

According the Daily Mail Australia she started having symptoms on Valentine’s Day which started with pain in her back. It grew worse quickly and according to Ghilchrist, the pain was “worse than childbirth.”

She ended up losing all feeling in her legs and lower body, which resulted in her being airlifted to the hospital in Brisbane for emergency surgery.

Doctors found the problem to be a drug-resistant strain of staph (MRSA) called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. She had gotten it from the friend’s makeup brush she used to hide a pimple. It turns out her friend had had a staph infection on her face.

Ghilchrist said, “I had no idea that could even happen. I used to share with my friends all the time.”

Now Gilchrist who is 27 may never walk again because the infection damaged her spine. But she’s a fighter and working hard to get back on her feet with physical therapy.

In a post on Facebook she said:

“It’s been the hardest struggle I’ve ever faced. There’s been lots of sleepless nights and days spent sleeping. There’s been vomiting, tremendous pain. Tears for the unknown and tears for all the accidents. As hard as it has been I’m so lucky to have muscle power and no feeling than the other way around!”

With her hard work and right attitude, the doctors are saying her prognosis looks better. They say she might be able to walk for an hour or two a day in the future, which is better than not walking at all.

Gilchirsit agrees and has said, “I’m happy with that. I honestly didn’t even expect that.”

Photo credits: MixVideo

Which Blood Type Is Best for Your Health?

Posted on Apr 15, 2015 by 2 Comments

Does your blood type increase your risk for certain cancers or heart disease? In recent years, we’ve learned a lot about genetics and the risk factors associated with them.

For instance, when Angelina Jolie learned she had the BRCA gene, she elected to have a double mastectomy. Now emerging research is suggesting our blood type may also be linked with our overall health, and of the four blood types, A, B, AB, or O it looks like one gets the award as best. Blood type O.

According to this research, people with type O blood have a lower risk for cardiovascular health issues like stroke and heart attack, and other research shows that O blood types are less likely to end up with certain types of cancers including pancreatic and gastric cancers.

Our blood type is determined by the presence or absence of antigens on red blood cells. These antigens trigger an immune response. Blood type A has the A antigen, and type B has the B antigen, while AB types have both and type O people have neither.

According to Arash Etemadi, MD, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute, “Blood group antigens play different roles in different places of the body. Depending on where they are, they may exert a different effect on different diseases — and depending on the disease, there are different theories.”

The current assumption is that blood type O is protective against cardiovascular disease. Another study Etemadi took part in took a close look at mortality rates and found people with type O blood lived longer than those with non-O types.

The repercussions of all this reach further, too, because our cardiovascular health influences our mental risk factors. In a study published in the journal Neurology, people with AB blood are at increased risk for cognitive problems when they are older.

While findings like this can be a bit discouraging since we have no control over our blood type, we are not necessarily doomed by it.

Those of us not lucky enough to have O blood do have a 10 to 12 percent increased risk for cardiovascular disease, but we can beat those odds with lifestyle changes in our weight, diet, and exercise.

Photo credits: wikimedia

All Six Star Wars Movies Soon Available as HD Downloads

Posted on Apr 15, 2015 by No Comments

Starting on April 10, Star Wars fans will now be able to buy the original six movies in HD Digital format. This includes “A New Hope” (1977), “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), “Jedi” (1983) and the prequels: “Phantom Menace” (1999), “Episode II – Attack of the Clones” (2002), and “Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” (2005).

This bundle comes with an assortment of behind-the-scenes bits and pieces and other extras, and for those who purchase it through Xbox Video an R2-D2 avatar companion and some digital pinball tables can also be picked up.

Each movie comes with its own bonus material, some of which brings the saga’s rich history to light and includes new and never-before-released conversations between renowned Star Wars artists who helped George Lucas breathe life into his iconic universe.

Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy said, “We’re thrilled that fans will be able to enjoy the Star Wars saga on their digital devices wherever they go.”

According to The Walt Disney Studios’ president, Alan Bergman, “Since the debut of the first film nearly 40 years ago, Star Wars has become a worldwide phenomenon with legions of fans from every generation. It’s only fitting that audiences enjoy this legendary saga and its many fascinating behind the scenes stories on a wide variety of platforms, and we’re very excited to finally bring all six films to Digital HD for the first time.”

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Star Wars on the big screen at a drive-in theater. They broke new ground in so many ways – sound, visual effects, technology – they were special then and they continue to be special today.

I’m looking forward to the Star Wars movie collection downloads with extras which include lost interviews, conversations, “Discoveries from Inside” including info on weapons and the first lightsaber, and of course deleted scenes.

For those of us who are avid Star Wars fans, it’s like have a slice of Eopie cream pie for dessert and relishing every bite.

Photo credits: Star Wars

Dad Must Take Down Cardboard Fort or Pay Fine

Posted on Apr 14, 2015 by 2 Comments

Remember the days when you played outside, knew your neighbors, and people in the neighborhood actually talked to each other?

If you didn’t like something your neighbor was doing you’d talk to them about it, or if they saw your kids doing something they shouldn’t be doing, they’d talk to you.

Today that’s become more and more rare. Many places have enacted deed restrictions and homeowner’s associations to keep people in line – without neighbors even talking to each other personally.

A good example of this came up in Ogden, Utah, this past week. A father of two by the name of Jeremy Trentelman decided to build an elaborate cardboard-box fort in the yard for his kids.

It looked somewhat like a castle – something I would have thought fantastic as a kid. His kids thought it great as well and the project gave Trentelman the pleasure of seeing the kids crawl in and through all the little passageways and doors.

That is until the city of Ogden warned him that the fort must be disassembled by April 13.

Why such a fuss over a cardboard fort? The “structure” was in violation of building codes. If he didn’t take it down, he’d be facing fines for the violation.

Does this seem absurd to any other common-sense people? It seems like a structure that rain can “bring down” would not really be considered a true structure that could be in violation of code.

Trentelman agrees. He said, “The whole thing is just ridiculous. I thought I was just building a fort out of cardboard, tape and a little love, but apparently it’s making a statement.”

Trentleman’s children are 3 ½ and 2 years old. He had collected several five-foot-by four-foot boxes, which were used to ship botanical trees at the home and garden center where he works.

He built the fort as a diversion from TV for his kids, but shortly after the project was finished Ogden delivered a warning. It wasn’t a citation, but an official letter letting him know he was in violation for having “waste materials or junk” in his yard.

While we can all blame the city, I have to wonder how the officials knew about the fort so quickly. I imagine a nosy neighbor peeking through drawn curtains mumbling about a neighbor building a fort of cardboard boxes.

If it really made them so unhappy why not go out and talk to Trentleman? Probably because they knew they’d look like a fool. Instead, they sent the city officials to do the dirty work. And if Trentleman didn’t comply he would have to pay a $125 fee.

He also had the option of paying $25 to contest it. He did consider doing that, but changed his mind. I can’t blame him. These types of things often do not side with common sense.

Photo credits: Sandy Miller

Now Research Shows Saccharin May Fight Cancer

Posted on Apr 13, 2015 by No Comments

Researchers have long looked for a safe artificial sweetener. For years saccharin was the sweetener of choice for those avoiding sugar.

It was discovered all the way back in 1879, but its use as an artificial sweetener didn’t really take hold until the sugar shortages during World War I. Then in the 60s and 70s dieters picked up on it as a calorie-free sweetener, with the little pick packets of “Sweet ‘n Low” becoming the most popular brand.

Dieters were willing to put up with the bitter after taste to cut calories, but then scientists found a link between saccharin and bladder cancer in lab rats. This led to warning labels, and a stigma that saccharin could cause cancer.

Subsequent research eventually found that rats have high pH levels, high calcium phosphate, and high protein levels in their urine – humans do not. Turns out that these proteins bind to the saccharin, and produce tiny microcrystals that harm the bladder lining — in rats.

By the late 1990s, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, took a look at all available research related to saccharin and decided it is not a human carcinogen. In 2010, it was removed the Environmental Protection Agency’s “hazardous substances” list.

While it no longer carries a warning, it does still carry the stigma, but it looks like some of the newest research may actually undo some of that damage.

Turns out, that saccharin may be able to help treat or at least hamper some of the most aggressive types of cancer, according to Robert McKenna, PhD, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida. His research has taken a closer look at how saccharin binds to and shuts down a protein called carbonic anhydrase IX.

Time will tell the full story of saccharin. When it comes to cancer, it may actually turn out to be something good. For now it is a reminder that findings based on research performed soley on animals does not always reflect health consequences for humans.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Toxic Behaviors that Kill a Relationship

Posted on Apr 13, 2015 by No Comments

Today it seems we have experts on every topic you can think of from politics, to religion, to love. Often when I hear an expert’s opinion, I am amazed at what I’m listening to.

Most often, it’s either common sense that’s been handed down for generations, or some nonsensical blather that sounds like it belongs in a work of fiction. But every once in a while, being reminded that common sense still has a place in the world is a bit comforting.

For instance, Peter Pearson, the cofounder of the Couples Institute in Menlo Park, California, recently talked about “relationship killers” he sees in his practice. There were no surprises. I agree with the traits he points to as toxic to a relationship.

Holding on to a “why should I have to change” attitude

Healthy relationships grow. It requires give and take, and that means change for both parties. Sometimes it might be something as small as which way you put the toilet paper on the dispenser.

When someone in the relationship refuses to change, it leads to frustrations. The person making all the concessions tends to get fed up and turns into what their partner perceives as demanding — or a nag. Not being willing to change is toxic to a relationship because it handicaps the relationship process and leaves both people unsatisfied.

Withdrawing to avoid showing vulnerability

Change isn’t easy, but it is part of a healthy relationship as two people grow together. When one person withdraws into their own little protective bubble to avoid showing any vulnerability this, too, can be toxic.

Pearson says, “The price for leaving your bubble is the risk that you might get rejected, and that it takes effort to manage your emotional reactions. You pay a price if you stay hunkered down, since the partner then has their rationale for not changing.” That means neither person should withdraw, and both should be willing to change.

Living with a stranger in a withered relationship

How many times have you heard about couples who fall in love, have a family, build a career, and when the kids leave home they discover they are living with a stranger? It’s like they’ve lived two separate lives while being in the same house.

Pearson admits such a situation is ripe for an affair when one or both people meet someone who makes them feel alive again. To avoid falling into this pit, it is important to be conscientious in your relationship. Don’t assume your partner knows what you want, and don’t take them for granted. Stay connected and do things together.

Adapting too much

While healthy relationships are made up of two people who do things together, it doesn’t mean you have to do everything together. We do have different preferences, and habits.

It takes some adaptation, like when I join my husband at a baseball game but bring a book to read while I’m there. The problem comes in when someone feels like they are the only one doing the adapting, and according to Pearson that happens based on three assumptions:

  • “I have to please my partner in order to be accepted.”
  • “We can’t want different things, because if we want different things, the relationship won’t last.”
  • “If I speak up, I’ll be criticized. The consequences will be too negative.”

These types of assumptions lead to toxic dynamics where one person dominates the other, where no one talks about anything that matters, and where at least one of the people do whatever they can just to avoid conflict.

Once any of these mindsets take hold, it takes work to overcome them, and communication is the place to start.

Photo credits: BuzzFeedYellow

Cauliflower Not Just a Side Vegetable Anymore

Posted on Apr 10, 2015 by No Comments

For those of us who count carbs, those of us who eat low-fat, and even those of us who try to combine the two for a low-carb, low-fat diet, cauliflower is a go-to vegetable.

I’ve always enjoyed it steamed as a side vegetable or in stir-fry dishes, and ate it with dip when I had the craving for something crunchy. But it is more versatile than that.

When I started to seriously count carbs I learned to make faux rice, a low carb rice alternative, by chopping the cauliflower in my food processor until it was the size of rice grains.

It’s an easy dish that can be made in the microwave just by adding a couple tablespoons of water. It turns out fluffy, and can be eaten as a side dish, or as a base for stir fry. This is a dish my whole family actually looks forward to.

Popcorn cauliflower
But recently, I learned another way to eat cauliflower pulled from the Paleo diet’s list of tricks. They call it ‘popcorn.’ It caught my attention because corn isn’t allowed on the paleo diet.

Turns out it wasn’t corn at all. It’s cauliflower, and it’s made by seasoning the cauliflower and roasting it. It’s a crunchy snack without all the fat and salt we eat with theater or microwave popcorn.

And whether you’re counting carbs or calories, it is low! I mean a whole head of cooked cauliflower is only 145 calories and 29 carbs. Compare that to popcorn served at the Regal Cinemas which weighs in at 670 for a small and 1,200 for a medium and never mind the large.

My Fitness Pal cites 28 carbs for a small bag. When you compare that to a whole head of cauliflower at 29 and you can see a clear benefit.

For a flavorful snack that’s still good for you, choose healthy toppings, such as garlic, Italian seasoning and, if you like, some sea salt, or try one of the many cauliflower popcorn recipes found online.

Photo credits: dara