Monthly Archives

June 2016

How to Sleep Better as We Age

By | Lifestyle | No Comments

There’s no “right” amount of sleep. What you consider a good amount can be entirely different than what your neighbor needs. Still experts recommend adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

As with other bodily functions, the efficiency of the brain in carrying out its sleep-related duties begins to decline over time, and this may lead to sleep problems. Such a decline in normal sleep probably begins in our 40s, though it may not be until years later, when we reach our 50s or 60s, that we finally become aware of a problem.

The brain produces less and less melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep at night and alertness during the day. As adults enter their senior years, sleep patterns may naturally shift to earlier in the day. If you feel rundown because of it, here are some ways to get better rest.

Tips to Sleep Tight

  • Stick to a regular bedtime. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Your body will get used to the routine.
  • Take a warm bath. When you get out of the tub, the drop in body temperature may help you feel tired. It can also help you relax and slow down, so you’re more ready to go to bed.
  • Take time to calm down before you turn out the lights. Turn off your electronic devices and TV an hour before bedtime. You can read a book, listen to music — whatever helps you unwind.
  • Make the bedroom a sleep zone. If you’re still awake 20 minutes after you hit the sack, get up. Train yourself to think of the bed as a place for sleeping only.
  • Avoid afternoon naps. If you sleep during the day, you’re more likely to stay awake at night.
  • Don’t drink alcohol close to bedtime. Even small amounts can make it harder to stay asleep. It can make you wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of alcohol have worn off.
  • Drink less fluid at night. Trips to the bathroom break up your sleep.
  • Wear yourself out. Exercise at regular times each day, but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.

If you still find you are having problems sleeping at night, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she may be able to help narrow down the reasons why you’re having problems getting a good night’s rest. Your doctor can check any medications you’re taking to see if they’re interfering with your zzz’s. If need be, you can get a referral to a sleep specialist.

Clean it Up and Toss It Out

By | Lifestyle | No Comments

The stylish formal cocktail dress you wore in 1987. That growing stack of Christmas, birthday and thank you notes that, well, keeps growing. Those Beanie Babies, comic books and dolls your children played with twenty-five years ago. Yes, there are some things that we hate to part with, and, frankly, they really do need to go. If you are downsizing or moving out-of-state, it’s time to take stock of those things gathering dust.

Most individual’s favorite things are most often aligned with special memories and moments. I am one of those people who has been guilty of keeping holiday cards and birthday cards, year in and year out, to remember a special gift or note from someone close to me. Truth is, I put them in a container and didn’t touch them again. I moved them from one house to another. As I look ahead to my next home, somewhere in a little sleepy beach town, I have been on a mission to clean things up and toss them out, and simplify my stacks.

What are the common items people keep? One of the biggest keepsakes for women is their wedding dress. Many have them dry-cleaned and professionally stored. Question: are you going to wear it again? Probably not. Will your daughter? Highly unlikely. Some ideas to keep the memory alive: have the dress made into a christening dress for your grandchild or into a special pillow, or as a piece of something “old” that you can use to wrap a gift for your child’s wedding.

Love letters. Yes, I admit I have some of those along with cards from old boyfriends. My mother still has a stack from my father when he was traveling. If they are yours, keep them. If they belonged to your parents, think about doing something sentimental, such as burn them and distribute those ashes in their favorite place. Send that love into the atmosphere!

Photos. No, boxes of old photos. We all have them. I found a group on photos my father took of a lake. Lots of lake pictures.  They do not mean a thing to me. They found the trash can. If there are duplicates, share them with your siblings. Save the ones that are unique, memorable, and personal: your parents’ wedding picture, a group shot of a family reunion, that photo of your grandma at Ellis Island. The rest you can pick and choose and put into an online document or photo album.

Do you still have many of your kids’ toys stored in the attic? Do what my mother did: she told us to pick what we wanted or she was sending to charity. It worked. Some things were favorites. Others we decided were in bad shape and not what any of our kids wanted to play with.

Books. Okay, so I still have a library stored at my mother’s house. I collected books. First editions and a complete library of Nancy Drew Mysteries, along with classics. Plowing through those and moving them is a monumental task. Many local libraries are happy to take books off of your hands and there is always EBay and Craig’s List. Sell your heart out.

I think everyone I graduated from high school with received a full set of luggage. I did…baby blue, heavy, cumbersome and now out-of-date. I have donated mine to Goodwill and Faith Mission. Everything was in good shape, but not conducive to how I travel now. I need those rollers!

Other items, such as fine china (who uses this anymore), antiques, various appliances, and even your wardrobe, can all be taking up excess space. It’s time to clean house and live simply and efficiently. Think of it in the grand scheme of things: less is definitely more! Happy Cleaning!

Home Remedies to Try

By | Health and Wellness | No Comments

As the popularity rises for home remedies, it’s becoming more evident that your local drug store isn’t the only place providing comfort and relief for the common illness. Take a look in your cupboard, even your garden, to create a one-of-a-kind remedy.

I’ve always been one to create cool beauty remedies for my face, but recently I have discovered there are numerous at-home items I can use to cure things such as a common cold, body aches, and even stain removal. Before heading out to grab medicine or a body rub, try out some of these at-home remedies. Below I have listed a few ideas to try:

Sore Feet Soother: Get your green intake up while soothing your sore feet. Steam asparagus and it will act as a natural diuretic, helping to flush excess fluid out of your system, thereby reducing inflammation. Epsom salt in warm water is also amazing for your feet and whole body aches. Fill your bathtub with warm water and add ½ cup of Epsom salt. Light a candle, play relaxing music and soak for about 20 minutes.

Bug Removal: Summertime is approaching rapidly and so will gnats and fruit flies. Try filling a mason jar or a recycled jelly jar with apple cider vinegar, covering the top with its original lid and poking tiny holes with a toothpick.  (Alternate Lid: try saran wrap sealed off with a rubber band). As the days go by check the jar to see how many gnats you have collected.

Stain Removal: Baby Powder works wonders on stains like curry or oil spills. Sprinkle a sufficient amount of the powder onto the stain (preferably immediately) and wait for the powder to soak up the oil. Once the stain reaches the surface of the fabric, it’s much easier to remove.

Lemon is also a great stain remover for stains on white items. Simply squeeze lemon juice on the stain and place item out in direct sun light. Let sit for about 30 minutes and wash as usual.

Sore Throat: Got a scratchy throat from the weather change or allergies? You may be able to skip the antibiotics. Honey mixed in tea or simply taken straight up has long been a home remedy for a sore throat.   In a study done on 139 children, it was proven more effective then the common cough suppressants. Warm salt water has always been a family go to. Gargle at least once each hour with 1 tsp. (5 g) of salt dissolved in 8 fl oz. (240 mL) of warm water.

Allergies: Spice cabinet friendly. Turmeric contains curcumin that acts as a decongestant and hence helps reduce allergy symptoms. Also, turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance. Try adding turmeric into your liquids, including tea, water, and juice. Want a little stronger remedy? Try six tablespoons of turmeric mixed with raw honey.

Skin Rash: Itchy skin getting out of control? Reach in your cupboard and pull out the extra virgin olive oil ( great for moisturizer during those skin drying months also). Rub the olive oil and honey on your rash a few times a day until the rash is gone completely. Also try castor oil or coconut oil.

The above remedies can be created from items pulled from your home. If your symptoms are not lifting, I suggest reaching out to your doctor or pharmacist.

How To Be A Good Grandparent

By | Lifestyle | No Comments

There are as many different roles for grandparents today as there are different family configurations and needs. In no particular order, being a grandparent is an opportunity to play, to love someone new, to appreciate the magic of a developing mind, and to be needed by someone again. Usually grandparents have the benefit of interacting on a level that is once removed from the day-to-day responsibilities of parents. This can make it easier to develop a close bond with grandchildren.

Whatever your specific circumstances, by expressing love, showing concern for your grandchild’s safety and wellbeing, and being consistent in your behavior, you are already doing a good job of grandparenting. Here are things you want to avoid as a grandparent so you can continue a healthy relationship with your children while winning as a grandparent.

  1. Don’t tell your kids how to raise their children. Avoid judging their parenting style. Children don’t arrive with instruction booklets, so we do our best, and we have to let them do the same. Offering advice without being pushy is important to your relationship with your children.
  2. Don’t forget how to say no. Never commit to babysitting or ongoing childcare if you really don’t want to do it. You will end up feeling resentment. Remember, you are entitled to a life too, and you should not feel guilty if you need to say no.
  3. Don’t compete. Many grandparents fall into the deep dark “I’m the best grandma or grandpa” abyss. Competing grandparents only alienate their children and can ultimately make their grandchildren feel pressured and uncomfortable.
  4. Don’t disregard parental rules. Ideas about discipline, snack foods and TV time can be hot button issues. Be careful not to stretch the limits. Talk over non-negotiable rules that are important to your children.
  5. Don’t be too pushy. Resist the urge to see your grandchildren all the time. Instead, let your kids, and later your grandkids, come to you. Always communicate your availability, but don’t insist on unwanted or inconvenient get-togethers. Understand that you won’t always be a top priority for your grandkids. They will inevitably go through times when they are more interested in their activities and friends than in spending time with you.

All grandparents begin with the best intentions, yet no relationship is without its mistakes. Understand the arrival of a grandchild makes one a new person with a new place within the family. Identify relationships and role shifts. People sometimes fail to realize there’s a major difference between parenting and grandparenting. When this happens, family conflict is sure to follow. Failure to listen is a common grandparenting mistake. Remember on-going, open lines of communication are important for the grandchild-grandparent relationship.

A good grandparent is devoted to the family and has a vision of the family as extending from the past into the future. Share the commonality between the two worlds. Although their generation may seem vastly different from your own, you have more in common than you realize. Children of every generation want to absorb their grandparents’ essence and legacy.

Spice Up Your Taste Buds!

By | Lifestyle | No Comments

Salt and pepper — the two seasoning staples at our kitchen table. I am partial to black pepper myself. Since I am not a big salt person (and I know many of you are), I decided to go on a quest to find other spices that may add a little extra zest to some of my favorite dishes. Plus, I am trying to reduce the amount of sodium that can be found in some processed foods we eat and expand my flavor palate.

One of my favorites — crushed red pepper flakes. I started adding this to my pizza, but thought about adding to my pasta sauce and even my chili. Depending on your taste, it can break you into a little sweat, but is one spice that increases your metabolism (who doesn’t like that!) and helps your immune system.

Another favorite is cinnamon. I have always loved the smell of this spice because my grandmother and mother baked with it. My mother even throws a pinch into her spaghetti sauce. Delish! Cinnamon is a spice that helps control your blood sugar as well as reduces your triglycerides. Try adding some to your morning oatmeal toast or add some to that barbeque sauce. So good on pork.

Rosemary — ahhh, yes. One of my favorite ways to use this spice is to sprinkle it with olive oil over roasted red potatoes. Or you can add to steak, fish or chicken.  It also helps with mental focus. No wonder I am thinking better!

Have muscle pain? Try a little ginger tea, add some to your stir-fry, or serve with sushi. This ancient Chinese secret needs to be shared more!

We talked about rosemary. How about thyme? Adding this spice, especially to soups, helps lower blood pressure and protects against food-borne bacteria. Always a good thing.

In addition, did you ever wonder why lemon is served with seafood? A little splash of citrus –lemon, lime or vinegar – can replace salt in many diets while providing some needed flavor and giving a boost of Vitamin C.

There are many spices and condiments infused in menus today. While you are dining out, take note of the use of sriracha (very popular now), pesto, Tabasco, etc. Let your taste buds take a journey and enjoy.

Have you uncovered a favorite use for a spice? Share it (and your recipe!) with us!