source: Gioconda Beekman
My doctor is always telling me to walk more. He says I should be doing 10,000 steps, spread out through the day.
Easier said than done.
What he fails to understand, is that even short walks hurt. After just a few minutes my back burns, my hips flare up and my feet start to ache. Even the slightest exercise is quite difficult for me.
This used to make me very depressed. I felt like I could never get healthy.
However, I have come up with an effective solution that really fits my needs. It isn’t a long term exercise plan, but it works great as a way to ease into exercise.
What makes my method so useful?
- I can do it indoors. There is no need to leave the house in bad weather.
- I can walk when it’s convenient for me.
- I can start off very slowly and gradually increase the length of time I work out.
If this sounds good, read on, because this may be the perfect exercise plan for you too.
Here’s What I Do:
1) I don’t schedule a specific time to exercise. Instead, every time I get up for any reason, that action “triggers” a walking session. In that way, I wind up with many irregularly timed walks, spread out throughout the day.
For instance, when I get up to get a drink of water, I immediately walk in place before resuming my seat.
Since I get up often (bathroom break, snack break, door bell, phone call, etc) I automatically get at least 10-15 mini walks daily without any planning involved.
If on occasion, I find I’m not getting up enough naturally, I do things to purposely increase my walking sessions. I may only eat half a snack at a time so hunger forces me up again in another hour. Or, I might make sure that tools I’ll need later in the day are in another room, instead of sitting on my desk.
2) To make it easy to get motivated, I only require myself to do 10 steps. That is such a quick and easy amount of exercise, that I am rarely reluctant to go through with it. However, I find that once I get started I’m usually willing to do a lot more.
I generally do between 100 and 300 steps. This is about 1-3 minutes worth of walking, which is the perfect amount to stretch out my back and hip muscles and refresh me.
However, as long as I do even the minimum 10 steps, I thank myself and congratulate myself for doing a good job.
3) My usual choice of activity is to walk in place. I don’t try to power walk or to race. I just do a simple, leisurely walk.
However, to avoid boredom, I sometimes vary my routine.
- Every four steps do a small kick
- Every four steps do a short grapevine routine
- Incorporate some salsa steps
- Every ten steps add four quick claps
- Every ten steps add a right side step and then a left side step
4) When the walk is over, I then go back to my original activity and wait for the next naturally occurring break to arise. I continue to do this until I have done at least ten walking sessions throughout the course of the day.
Using this method I can do as many as 3,000 steps in a day.
This isn’t as much as my doctor is requesting, but through practice, I hope to get to the point that I can do a full walk around the neighborhood.
Already, I can walk from my apartment to the bus stop without much difficulty. This is a massive improvement for me.
Disclaimer: It’s important to check with your doctor before starting this, or any other, exercise routine.
source: anna carol
It’s been close to two years since I last did a Favorite Reads post.
My online time has changed dramatically during that time. I used to read a lot of specialty blogs, like Crafty Pod, Meggie Cat and How About Orange. Since my last update, many of these sites have stopped publishing.
Now, instead, I read mostly websites, with a few blogs sprinkled in.
Here are the websites at which I spend 80% of my (non-working) online time.
- Pinterest – Why? Constant flood of ideas for every kind of craft and recycling project.
- Make Something 365 – Why? I purchased the 365 book and I love to read the website for inspiration.
- Keri Smith – Why? I own almost everything Keri Smith has written. She is my guru.
- Procrastination Research Group – Why? This site, plus the accompanying book, has helped me to overcome my procrastination problems.
- Class Central – Why? List of almost 2000 free classes each month. Most are given by well respected colleges and universities.
- Ted – Why? Short, high quality talks on a variety of subjects.
- Talks At Google – Why? Longish talks, often on best selling books.
- Allrecipes – Why? Most recipes have been tested and rated, and include comments and changes.
- Chowhound – Why? Great group discussions on many food related topics. I especially enjoy cookbook posts.
- reddit – Why? When I have a question, I love to get multiple opinions on the subject. I also love to read answers to others folks questions.
- MetaFilter – Why? See above.
- ProBlogger – Why? Perpetual favorite of mine. Lots of guest bloggers.
- Moz – Why? Quality information, backed by research.
- KeyWord Tool – Why? My favorite keyword tool. Free and very easy to use.
- flickr – Why? Practically unlimited supply of free photos.
- PicMonkey – Why? Online photo editor. I usually use the free version but there is a paid version with more options.
- Houzz – Why? I get their newsletter. Every time I open it there is always something new to peruse.
- LibriVox – Why? Who wouldn’t love hundreds of free audiobooks?
- goodreads – Why? I enjoy the entire site but I especially love to browse Listopia.
- Better World Books – Why? Good place to purchase used books for readers living outside the US. Free shipping.
- Amazon – Why? Great resource for book reviews.
- Book Depository – Why? Thousands of new books for sale for readers outside the US. Free shipping.
I’ve been a fan of the Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn, for ten years.
Over the last decade, this book has helped me to save thousands of dollars on our housing, transportation, food and clothes. Almost every sentence, in the massive 788 page tome, is a gem.
Recently, I’ve started rereading tightwad gazette with an eye to crafting and cooking. Though these aren’t the main topics of the book, Amy has included some surprisingly good ideas on saving money in these areas. To varying degrees, the Tightwad Gazette touches on sewing, quilting, decorating, woodworking, baking and creating gifts of food. Though these sections are short, they are packed with great ideas.
My favorite story is a detailed accounting of how Amy made a $1.00 quilt for her daughter’s room. Amy designed her own pattern, gathered coordinating fabrics from free or inexpensive sources and set about making a simple but lovely quilt. All done, in her usual frugal way.
Here are 50 takeaways from Tightwad Gazette……
« 1 »
If you own a set of tools, consider building twig furniture for your porch. Rustic furniture is both free and attractive. Use the library to find a book of how-tos.
« 2 »
Try to avoid purchasing wood. Wood can be recycled from curbside throwaways. Use it to create smaller items like wall shelves, children’s chairs, etc.
« 3 »
Sew with the fabrics you already have on hand. Rather than running to the store for new fabrics, use what you already have in your stash. Nothing in your stash? See what your mom has in hers.
« 4 »
Cut down adult size clothing to make clothes for kids. Skirts generally provide the most yardage, but dresses and oversize tops can also be recycled. Cut apart as close to the seams as possible, to insure the maximum fabric.
« 5 »
« 6 »
Make your own patterns from ready made clothing or locate some freebies online. To start, try simple items of clothing like skirts. Eventually work your way up to vests and more complicated garments.
« 7 »
Refurbish clothes the easy way. Just remove dated, damaged and garish elements such as broken beading or yellowed lace. Other things to take off are out of style collars, appliques and buttons.
« 8 »
Skip the eggs for baking. Instead, substitute one tablespoon of water and a heaping tablespoon of soy flour. Stir together to make an egg substitute for cakes, cookies and breads.
« 9 »
Use lightly toasted breadcrumbs as a cheap substitute for Parmesan cheese. Toss them in olive oil and toast in a pan till golden brown.
« 10 »
Make up your own tv dinner trays to deal with leftovers. Fill each tray with one main course and several side dishes. Freeze till needed. Tv dinner trays can be bought at camping stores or online.
« 11 »
Have what Amy calls Smorgasbord Night as another way of getting rid of leftovers. Heat up a bunch of leftovers, place them on the table, and have everyone take what they want.
« 12 »
To get a used “something” for a cheap price, let friends and family know you are searching. Eventually, someone will hear of a “something” going for a great price, or even for free.
« 13 »
Get into the habit of buying items used and then reselling them on Craig’s List when their no longer needed. Just make sure your initial purchase is a great bargain.
« 14 »
Buy fluorescent lights. Fluorescent light fixtures and bulbs may be more expensive in the short run, but you will remake your money back fast, fast, fast.
« 15 »
Buy yeast from bakeries or warehouse stores in bulk. It will cost a fraction of the grocery store price. Just be sure to use it fast so it doesn’t lose it’s effectiveness. Or alternatively, split with a friend.
« 16 »
Don’t use soda or sticky soft drinks to make pops. Yogurt, ice tea mix and leftover jello can all be used for making popsicles. Fruit juice and pureed fruit can also be used.
« 17 »
If you’re sick of spending money on new socks when you have tons of mateless ones in your drawer, start buying identical socks only. You will always be able to match up your socks.
« 18 »
To save burnt cookies, scrape off their bottoms with a course grater. The cookies will taste as good as if they hadn’t burnt.
« 19 »
Never automatically follow the manufacturer’s instructions when deciding how much laundry detergent, shampoo, or dish detergent to use. Experiment. You often need much less than they say.
« 20 »
Don’t always assume warehouse stores are the cheapest source for groceries. Sale foods, coupon foods and loss-leaders can often be found cheaper at the supermarket.
« 21 »
If you don’t feel like paying to have your bulky item hauled away to the trash, place it front of your house with a sign saying “Free. Please take.” Often someone will come by and relieve you of your burden.
« 22 »
If you want your child to have encyclopedias, buy a slightly used edition. Most of the information will still be up to date, but you will save at least 90%.
« 23 »
Use coupons carefully. Coupons aren’t always money savers. They are often offered for items that were over-priced to begin with. You may be able to find another brand of the same item for less than the coupon price. Be sure to take a look.
« 24 »
Collect gifts all year round. When you see an exceptional bargain, purchase it for birthdays and holidays. If you wait to buy gifts till you need them, you may not find them on sale.
« 25 »
Make a new quilt for just a couple dollars. Reuse an old comforter or blanket for batting and used clothing for fabric. If you don’t have a machine, just sew the quilt by hand.
« 26 »
Lose weight and save money by walking to nearby errands instead of taking the car. This works best if you live within a mile from a large commercial area.
« 27 »
Don’t always assume fresh vegetables are the cheapest. Also check out the prices on canned and frozen vegetables before making a purchase.
« 28 »
Next time you want a vacation, consider borrowing a tent and going camping. You’ll save almost a $100.00 a night on motel fees. Look the site up online to make sure it has all the amenities you’ll need.
« 29 »
To refurbish an old sofa, cover the cushions as you would wrap a gift box. Use heavy duty safety pins to secure their backs.
« 30 »
Make a price book. Use a notebook to keep track of the prices of all the groceries you purchase on a regular basis. Note the prices at each of the stores your frequent.
« 31 »
If you are really poor, ditch the cable TV. Get a money saving hobby instead. Some good ideas or sewing, gardening and baking.
« 32 »
Always check out the scratch and dent section of your grocery store. You can find some big bargains. Not all stores have scratch and dent sections so you may have to do some research first.
« 33 »
Pick up craft supplies like yarn and embroidery floss very cheaply at yard sales. Also keep an eye out for sports equipment, books, clothes, cookware, small appliances and kids toys. In general, the nicer the neighborhood, the nicer the sale.
« 34 »
Ask your local bakery if they have a “day old” section. Or, better yet, learn to bake your own bread and save even more.
« 35 »
Purchase used tvs at repair shops. Repair shops sometimes sell abandoned televisions for no more than the cost of the repair.
« 36 »
Make two banana desserts. For banana ice cream, blend frozen bananas with just a little orange juice. Top with granola. Or, make banana pops by inserting a popsicle stick into a peeled and halved banana. Spread with yogurt, roll in cookie crumbs and freeze.
« 37 »
Purchase aluminum foil, plastic wrap and other kitchen items in restaurant supply stores. You’ll save a lot of money, but you may need to buy in large quantities.
« 38 »
Simmer fruit peels and cinnamon in a little water. Your house will smell great and you’ll avoid the cost and chemicals of commercial sprays.
« 39 »
Have your kids make gifts for friends and relatives using the newspaper. Collections of comics, crossword puzzles, word games or chess problems cut out from newspapers over several months make a fun and thoughtful gift.
« 40 »
Go ahead and garden, even if you live in the city. If you live in an apartment or house with a small lot, call your local city hall and find out if there are any lots available for gardens.
« 41 »
Buy used furniture from auctions. Inspect the furniture before the auction begins. Also, make sure you set an upper bidding limit before you attend.
« 42 »
Use the food pyramid as a guide for eating. Not only is the food pyramid a healthy way to eat, it is also a cheap way to eat. Emphasize the grains and produce, and go lightly on the meats, dairy and sweets.
« 43 »
Consider renting rarely used tools instead of purchasing them. Tools like floor sanders and hoists come under this category.
« 44 »
If you don’t have good prescription insurance, ask your doctor for free samples. Most doctors have an abundance of them.
« 45 »
Make your own cheap versions of Snapple. Just mix homemade ice tea with fruit juice. Try out grape juice, mango, apple and orange flavors.
« 46 »
Consider purchasing a used ten-speed bike as an alternate form of transportation. Even if you only use it occasionally, you will save money on gas while improving your health at the same time.
« 47 »
If you own an inexpensive used car, purchase a second car of the exact same model for parts. Most older cars need a lot of repairs, and a second car is a much cheaper source for parts than the car dealership or your mechanic.
« 48 »
When furnishing a new home, put out the word that you will take anything, as long as it is free. Then sit back and wait for the avalanche of furniture coming your way, as everyone gets rid of their “clutter”.
« 49 »
Give homemade candies as birthday and holiday gifts. Package in Chinese takeout containers, decorated with markers and stickers.
« 50 »
When purchasing groceries on sale, try to stock up sufficiently so that you can avoid buying the item again till the next sale occurs. For instance, if peanut butter only goes on sale twice a year, get six months worth at a time.
These tips, plus plenty more, make Tightwad Gazette a very worthwhile read.
Note: There are several versions of the Tightwad Gazette. Be sure to pick up the last and most comprehensive volume, The Complete Tightwad Gazette.
source: Moyan Brenn
I read a quite a lot of forgettable novels in 2016.
They consisted mostly of mysteries, thrillers and spy novels. These books tend to have both interchangeable titles and plot lines. However, I do find them gripping, which is what I usually look for in a book.
Somewhere in the mix, though, I did manage to read a couple of exceptional books this year. These books contained standout plots, memorable characters and interesting dialogue. A few even had an important message to deliver.
Here is a list of my favorite books of the year.
The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R. Carey
Melanie is a very special girl. Dr Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”
You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.
Folks living in wealthier countries often believe that owning a car is essential to a comfortable way of life. We, in less civilized parts of the world, know that that’s just not true. Yes, you need transportation. No, owning a car is not necessary.
How We Live Without A Car
1. Walking. We live live close to schools, shopping and work, so a car is largely unnecessary. Instead, we walk to most places. Groceries are bought home in a shopping cart we bought for that purpose.
Actionable Idea: Next time you move, consider finding a place convenient to where you do most of your errands.
2. Bicycle. My husband has been nagging me about purchasing a bike for years. The only reason I don’t agree is that our neighborhood is known for its poor drivers. If you live in a less accident prone area, why not give it a try?
Actionable Idea: Consider purchasing a bike. Besides saving money, they are a terrific form of exercise.
3. Buses. Usually, when I need to travel further than 1/2 mile, I go by bus. For about $1.00 US, I can get virtually anywhere. Many buses even have storage spaces for purchases. Most have child safety straps.
Actionable Idea: Plan your next errand day on the bus. Be sure to inquire ahead of time about schedules and location of bus stops.
4. Cab. Once in a blue moon, I take a cab. Most often it’s when I’m sick, going to someplace new, or the weather is unbearable. I figured out that even if I take 60 cabs a month (I don’t) it would still be cheaper than owning a car.
Actionable Idea: Try out the cab service are in your neighborhood. Determine the cost and reliability.
5. Train. For city-to-city travel I take the train. It’s convenient and extremely comfortable. I love having access to a bathroom and a food station.
Actionable Idea: Locate a schedule and map of nearby trains. Try the train out on a non-urgent trip.
6. Motorcycle. We have never owned a motorcycle, and I hope we never will. But for braver souls than I, a motorcycle makes cheap and convenient transportation for longer distances.
Actionable Idea: Look into the cost of motorcycle lessons, purchasing a motorcycle and insurance.
7. Ride Sharing. My husband’s boss gives him a ride to work most days. My husband has tried repeatedly to pay him, but he refuses money. Instead, he just asks that my husband engage him in conversation, rather than reading a book or using his laptop.
Actionable Idea: Ask a co-worker if he or she who would be willing to trade rides for gas money.
8. Mooching Favors. My brother-in-law’s sister used to always do her shopping on the same day as her car-owning parents. Her parents enjoyed the company and she got a ride back and forth to the store.
Actionable Idea: Speak to friends, relatives and neighbors. Offer to barter gas money, help carrying groceries, or help putting them away in exchange for a ride.
9. Renting A Car. Occasionally a friend of mine rents a car. They’ve used a rental car for vacations, moving and major shopping sprees. Rental cars seem to work well for them.
Actionable Idea: Find out how much car rentals are in your neighborhood. Make sure to ask if the price includes insurance and gas. Also find out when the car needs to be picked up and returned. Be cautious to avoid being ripped off.
10. Google Lists. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone, but in a close-knit neighborhood, with active email lists, rides can frequently be found via the internet. I’ve never done this myself, but I know plenty of people who have. To be safe, only go with someone you already know or a friend of a friend.
Actionable Idea: Sign up for a local email list where subscribers can offer or request rides.
If anyone knows of another car-free methods of transportation, please send me an email or a comment. I’d love to hear about it.
source: Quinn Dombrowski
I use a lot of garlic. My favorite recipe calls for an entire head of garlic per person.
Therefore, when I came across an easy way to peel garlic I was thrilled.
The tip came from the book Brilliant by David Joachim. According to Brilliant, all you need to do is microwave one head of garlic for 60 seconds at the highest setting. The skins will practically come off by themselves.
I have tried this method many times since reading this wonderful tip and it really does work. However, the tip also works (at least in my microwave) if you only heat the garlic for 30 or 40 seconds. I prefer this adjustment, as the garlic doesn’t come out as “cooked” and still works very well for sauteing.
Try both times and see which works best for you.