Health and Safety

Winter Readiness Checklist

Posted by on Oct 4, 2015 in Health and Safety, Product Information | 39 comments

Winter Readiness Checklist

This post – Winter Readiness Checklist – was actually going to be about cleaning up the Herb garden, but then I thought “Who will care?” Real gardeners have their own methods and non-gardeners will see the topic and leave. Therefore with my original plan shot down I decided to still focus on Fall chores, but include all the tasks that need to be done to be ready for winter. Yes, there is the yard cleanup – failing to tend to flower-beds and herb/vegetables gardens at this time is just asking for bug and weed problems in the Spring – so that must be done. If you live in an area with deciduous trees, like we do with having four huge maples surrounding the house, the leaves do need to be cleaned up. There is also the matter of cleaning the lawn and garden tools/equipment and draining the gas out of any power equipment before putting them away for the winter. But there’s more to Winter Readiness. As a matter of fact, there always seems to be so much to do that it’s easy enough to overlook some tasks. This Winter Readiness Checklist was designed to overcome that by listing the things that need attention, preferably before snow and ice hamper our movements. Winter Readiness Checklist For In the Home: Stock Up: If you don’t have a garden then this is the time to stock up on fruits and vegetables at the very best prices. With a little bit of planning, freezing fruits and vegetables could supply healthy produce all winter long without having to pay inflated costs; Heating Check: Check the heating source, make sure the oil or propane tanks are filled and filters replaced. If wood is the heating source, get it now and store it inside if at all possible – have the chimney and stove-pipes cleaned. Make sure there is a safe place – like a metal barrel – to dump the  ashes. Never assume they’re all burned out because there are usually a few hot coals left. If there are supplementary heat sources – electric, propane, gas-fired heaters – check them over or have them checked to make sure they are in safe operating condition;  Keep the Heat in: Check for any drafts from windows or doors. Using an incense stick helps with this – if there is draft you’ll see the smoke moving. If there are drafts, now is the time to caulk or add/replace weather-stripping. Insulated drapes are an additional option; Humidifier Check: If you use a humidifier over winter, check the manual for the recommended annual inspection – replace worn parts to keep it operating the way it should; Home Safety Check: Check your Smoke and Carbon Dioxide Detectors. Are there enough of them to alert your family no matter where they are in the house? Do they need new batteries? Is the CO detector installed properly? I was surprised to discover ours had to be 20 feet away from a heat source. (Amazing what you learn when you read the instructions.)  Always keep an extra supply of batteries on hand. Do you have a Fire Extinguisher near the exits. There’s no sense having one if you can’t reach it when there is a fire. Do you have a Fire Escape Plan? Is there a way to escape from every room in the house?; Are there secure locks on all your doors and windows?  Winter Readiness Checklist for the Exterior of the Home: The Foundation: Take some time and carefully walk around the house checking for cracks in the foundation, gaps where...

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Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 50 comments

Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

This is the time of year when herbs really come into their own and I consider myself fortunate to be able to harvest them straight from my garden. But it’s not necessary to have a backyard garden to benefit from the bounty. Right now you’ll find a great selection of the freshest herbs at the best prices at Farmers’ Markets, Roadside stands and even Supermarkets. Herbs are the most useful plants. For the longest time we thought using herbs was to add a basil leaf to tomato soup or to sprinkle chives on a baked potato. We have now become much more aware and accepting of herbs contribution to healthy living. Many of the herbs we use everyday have multiple uses – culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal. In this post I’m sharing just a few of the many ways to use Basil, Chives, Dill and Parsley. If you have no allergic reaction when using herbs in cooking or drinking, you should be fine using them for FIRST AID or cosmetic purposes. Unless you are trained to do so, NEVER use herbs to replace medical diagnosis or treatment. FOUR EVERYDAY HERBS. BASIL. This is one of the herbs that everyone knows and loves. It’s a pretty plant that grows equally well in the flower bed, the window box, the vegetable/herb garden or indoors during the winter. It’s also a must have plant for the pollinator garden. It is one of the most versatile plants with many uses – culinary, beverage, medicinal, cosmetic and even as insect repellant. Culinary Uses: Try basil with beans; pasta; chicken; fish; meatloaf; Italian cooking of all kinds; anything with tomato; and of course, to make pesto or boursin. Try the Mozzarella Basil Bread, below, with a salad for a fantastic low-cost summer meal. Mozzarella Basil Bread: 1 tsp. olive oil 1 large loaf unsliced French bread 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature 2 Tbsp. olive oil 2 + 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped 1/2 lb (225g) Mozzarella cheese, sliced 2 Tbsp. Mozzarella cheese, grated Directions: Brush 1 tsp. olive oil over the dull side of aluminum foil – large enough to wrap around bread. Slice bread partway into 1/2 inch/1cm slices, making sure not to cut all the way through. Mix together the ¼ cup butter, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and 2 Tbsp. chopped basil – remove and set aside one Tbsp. of the butter mix and spread the rest between the slices. Place the cheese between the bread slices, spread the top of the bread with the reserved butter mix, then sprinkle with the grated mozzarella and the remaining 2 Tbsp. basil. Wrap in the foil and bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes. More Uses: I wrote an earlier post about basil and rather than repeat the information, I’m simply adding the link: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHIVES. We grow garlic chives that have the pretty purple flower balls, like little lollipops, that the bees go crazy about. They are extremely easy to grow, indoors or out, and act as an aphid repellant (unfortunately not as eliminator) for our roses. Chives are used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Culinary Uses: Chives are great added to butters, cheese dishes, dips, eggs/omelets, potatoes, salads, sauces, seafood, soups and vegetables. We enjoy the mild taste so much that we have completely replaced green onions with chives. Medicinal Uses: Chives are loaded with vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, Vitamin A and C and a host of other nutrients. Because of the high Vitamin C content, chives give chicken soup an extra boost when dealing with a cold. Added to...

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Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie

Posted by on Jul 12, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health, Recipes | 34 comments

Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie

Enjoy a Powerhouse Smoothie was originally written by Erica Mesirov. As part of my 31 day #ProBlogger blogging challenge I needed to link to another blog post. For that I had the pleasure to choose one of Erica’s. The reason I chose this post is that it fit in well with my blog plus I found her directions for transforming a regular smoothie into a  powerhouse smoothie just too good not to share. Erica is a food and weight loss coach and she blogs about following a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. I’ve been following her blog for quite a while now and enjoy her posts tremendously. They are always full of good, practical advice as this post will demonstrate. I’ll now let Erica’s post speak for itself. Amazing Add-Ins to Transform Your Smoothie Into a Nutrient Filled Powerhouse (By Erica Mesirov) We think of smoothies as a healthy breakfast or a protein rich snack. Yet your smoothie is only as healthy as what you put in it. Here are six things you need to be doing to assure that your smoothie is a lean, mean nutrient rich, nutrient filled powerhouse. Freshly grind your seeds – Throwing in flax seeds, chia seeds or pumpkins seeds can be a good way to supply your body with additional omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and protein. It is popular to purchase packaged ground seeds for use in such things as smoothies. The problem is that once seeds are ground, the oils are easily oxidized which diminishes their nutrient value. Freshly grinding seeds keeps the oils fresh. You can grind them in a small coffee grinder or in a power blender. Just make sure the seeds are fully ground into a powder or you won’t be able to absorb their nutrients. Avoid Using Fruit Juice – Fruit juice seems like it should be a source of vitamins and minerals for your smoothie. In reality, fruit juice is made by isolating the sugar from the fruit while leaving out any of the fiber and vitamins that make fruit nutritious. The sweetness from fruit juice is enough to upset your blood sugar balance and lead to sugar cravings later in the day. Stick to some form of milk as your base and leave the sweetness to your fresh fruit. Check for hidden sugars – While we are talking about the sweet stuff, many smoothie ingredients are full of added sugars. This might be in your non-dairy milk, your protein powder or any add-ins like peanut butter. Read all ingredients carefully before using. Nothing detracts from a smoothie’s health potential than lots of sugar. There are plenty of unsweetened or naturally sweet options, so pick those instead. Add Greens – Hate kale? Cool, throw it in anyway. If you do a smoothie right, you will have such a mix of flavors that you won’t even taste the veggies. This is perfect for a little kid (or big adult) who won’t eat their vegetables. One handful of greens is usually just perfect. Choose Antioxidants – Think beyond just the banana when choosing fruit for your smoothie. Berries like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are not only really satisfying in smoothies; they are a great source of antioxidants. Some of the many benefits of antioxidants are better skin, improved immunity and increased overall health. Go ahead and use frozen. Once they are blended your smoothie will by cold and refreshing. Support Healthy Gut Bacteria – So many people have taken multiple courses of antibiotics or years of birth control pills (which both help destroy the much needed healthy bacteria in the gut.) For that...

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Blogging – Relationships Matter

Posted by on Jul 5, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Health and Safety | 39 comments

Blogging – Relationships Matter

Taking a break from blogging for the month gave me the opportunity to look at my blogging progress and also see how much I’ve learned. Before the social media days I was just blogging away but not really going anywhere. That has been changing even though there is still a long, long way to go. More readers are coming on board every week and that`s exciting. This post is to share what I’ve learned – where to find free or low-cost  training/tutorials; learning new ways to communicate online (and some cautions); showing how strong relationships can lead to better blogging; and how fascinating and fun it all can be. Possibly it may even interest you enough to start your own blog. A bit of trivia. No post was published at all during June yet there were an average of 30-40 visitors to my site every day. Know which post drew them there? The Avon Bubble Bath one. (If you google ‘Use for Avon Bubble Bath` you’ll find me right at the top – pretty neat huh?) Forming strong relationships has been a big part of why my blog has started moving in the right direction. I discovered a while ago that you can’t blog alone. To have a chance of becoming a successful blogger you need to build solid relationships, not only with readers but also with other bloggers. You need to join blogging groups and actively participate. You must read other blogger’s posts, leave comments and share the good stuff on social media. You can also not forget your readers but communicate with them by appreciating and responding to their comments. Blogging – How Relationships Matter: When it comes to blogging, one of the smartest things I did was to join the LinkedIn Group Bloggers Helping Bloggers. This very supportive group has kept me on track and helped me avoid many social media no-no’s. BHB is a small, sociable group and, while I may never meet them in person, quite a few of the members have become genuine friends. The biggest unexpected benefit from building relationships is the willingness of other bloggers to reach out to help and support you. You may remember my recent guest posts on Susan Cooper’s Blog, one of the BHB managers. While being accepted to guest post may not seem like a big deal to the non-blogger, to me it was huge. It felt like getting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, validating my blogging efforts. Susan also taught me about Google Hangouts so she could show me how to improve my images. That was a terrific way of learning as Susan and I were talking face to face and I could ask questions throughout the sessions. Loved that. Thank you Susan. BTW, many comments about the improved images have been received. Caution: Shortly after my first session with Susan, I received a request from a total stranger to hangout. Make sure you know how to set your privacy settings before signing on. Patricia Weber, another manager from my LinkedIn Blogging Group, recently wrote a post about MyBlogU. I checked the site out and decided it wasn’t for me. WRONG. Patricia would not accept that and, to prove her point, offered to give me a run-through via Skype. Of course that meant I first had to learn how to use Skype. For that training I found GCF Learn Free, a site that offers easy to follow instructions about quite a few basic Computer/Internet subjects. It had a simple Skype tutorial to follow, including how to screenshare. That’s a great feature because it allowed Patricia to...

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Salad Dressing Doesn’t Require Chemicals

Posted by on May 17, 2015 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Health and Safety, Product Information, Recipes | 39 comments

Salad Dressing Doesn’t Require Chemicals

Salad without salad dressing is pretty blah, but have you looked at the list of ingredients on the dressings you buy? It’s enough to make you want to eat your salads plain. Most of the ingredients listed are either synthetic or chemical based. Check your bottled dressing against the list at the end of this post and see for yourself. Fortunately it isn’t necessary to consume these chemical-laden products. Salad dressings are easy to make using ingredients found in most kitchens. Homemade dressings also tastes way better and cost a whole lot less. TO MAKE: Basic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing: 3/4 cup light pure olive oil 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1/8 tsp. dry mustard (optional) Salt and pepper to taste. Blend all together until smooth. Pour into a glass jar with tight fitting lid and refrigerate overnight before using. Shake well before serving.  Balsamic Vinaigrette: Replace the apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar and the mustard with 1 garlic clove, minced. To make any of the variations below start with ½ cup of the basic dressing and add: Italian Salad Dressing: Blend in 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/8 tsp. each: garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, optional 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, optional 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes. French Salad Dressing: Blend in 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes, and ¼ tsp. each: onion powder, paprika, sugar, garlic powder. French Dressing Variation: Blend in 1/2 Tbsp. catsup, ¼ tsp each: sugar, onion powder, paprika..  Russian Salad Dressing: Blend in 1 Tbsp. chili sauce. Catalina Salad Dressing: Blend in ¼ cup catsup, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, ½ tsp. onion powder, pinch of paprika. Ranch Style Salad Dressing: ¾ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup milk 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar 1 ½ Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional) 1 ½ tbsp. fresh chives, cut fine 1 ½ tbsp. fresh parsley, cut fine Salt and pepper to taste Blend the first four ingredients together, when well blended stir in the herbs, salt and pepper. Refrigerate overnight before using. NOTE: Since homemade salad dressings contain no preservatives, it is best to make them up in small batches. They should be kept refrigerated for no longer than a week. See how easy this is? It almost takes less time to make salad dressing than it does to read all the ingredients on the commercial products. Common ingredients found in commercial salad dressing: Soybean, canola or corn oil – GMO products – will increase cholesterol Glucose –throws blood sugar levels out of whack and drains nutrients from the body Flavour or Artificial Flavour – made in a lab and may contain chemicals and preservatives known to be toxic Monosodium glutamate – can cause headaches, pain, nausea and asthma-like symptoms; severe allergic reactions in some people Phosphoric acid – several studies have shown a link to decreased bone density Propylene glycol – this is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water – it is used as a solvent for food colours and flavours Potassium sorbate – an easy to make chemical preservative Sodium benzoate – a synthetic preservative that may be linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and premature aging Polysorbate 60 – common contamination with 1,4 dioxane has linked this product to cancer in lab studies Calcium disodium EDTA – currently being studied for possible link to reproductive problems, birth defects, and cancer along with a host of other health related issues. Who wants to eat that stuff? Much better to head to the kitchen to make up a fresh batch of salad dressing – better tasting, lesser cost, no chemicals. Works for me....

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GMO – A Follow-Up

Posted by on Apr 12, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Health and Safety, Product Information | 48 comments

GMO – A Follow-Up

I decided to do a follow-up to last week’s post on GMO. Most of the commenters were against but very few really knew why. After reading literally hundreds of pages – both for and against GMO – I admit that I am firmly in the ‘THUMBS DOWN’ camp. One of my big issues is the lack of labeling. The large companies involved – Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and BASF – spend huge amounts of money to stop labeling regulations. Why don’t they want us to know what products are genetically modified? What is it they are afraid we will discover? Doesn’t this lack of transparency bother you? Organisms are implanted with other organisms – with no labeling how do we know if we are allergic to any of those organisms? After everything I’ve read I don’t believe it’s the miracle means by which world hunger will be alleviated as claimed.  I do believe it will – or already does – create a great many health problems. Since GM foods first appeared, there has been a steady increase in childhood chronic conditions. While factors such as environment and lifestyle do contribute to this increase, I believe that GMO, bGH (bovine growth hormone) and synthetic antibiotics added to animal feed play a very large role. Childhood Chronic Disease on the Rise – Coincidence? 1994: 13% of children had chronic health conditions. By 2006 this had more than doubled with 27% of children having chronic health problems. (in 1964 less than 2% of children had chronic illnesses); Allergies: There has been a 50% increase in food allergies – It has only been in the last 15 years or so that lactose intolerance and gluten-free have become commonplace terms; Asthma : 10% of children live with asthma. This has doubled since the 1980s; Attention Deficit Disorder: ADHD diagnosis increased by 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and by 5% per year from 2003 to 2011; Autism: In 1980, one child per 2,000 was diagnosed with autism. Today that figure is one in 150; Bipolar Disorder: In 1994, 25 children out of 100,000 were diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. This figure has increased to more than 1000 out of 100,000; Cancer: Childhood cancer has seen an increase of 24%; Diabetes, type 2, steadily increasing; Stroke: From 1995 to 2008 there has been a 46% increase in 15-34 year old males diagnosed with stroke while females in the same age group saw an increase of 23%. In addition, mental health issues – depression and suicide – especially among young people, are increasing at an alarming rate. Adults are also seeing an increase in a number of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, ischemic heart disease, liver cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke. Things that are impacted by GMO: The soil is being depleted by producing super crops. Example: Farmers used to get 60 bushels of corn to the acre, the figure now is close to 190 bushels. That’s a whole lot of nutrients being sucked out of the soil which need to be replenished by expensive chemical fertilizers, produced by guess who – the big six GMO companies. Farmers in poorer countries will not be able to afford that and will start leaving land sit idle which will increase world hunger, not decrease it; Greater resistance to herbicides and pesticides creates superweeds requiring stronger weedkillers and superbugs requiring stronger pesticides; Farmers are held hostage since they can only buy those stronger products from GMO producers and consumers pay the price, both in the financial and health sense; Some seeds are implanted with toxic herbicides/pesticides...

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