Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life-Changing Habits for the New Year

Have you made your New Year's resolutions yet? Do you plan to? Maybe you're into "goals" instead? Or do you forgo the whole resolution process beings it's usually doomed to failure anyway?

Well, have I got an alternative for you! Marcus Sheridan over at The Sales Lion recently posted about 20 Life-Changing Habits That Will Make 2012 Your Best Year Ever. Instead of listing things you SHOULD do, Marcus highlighted 20 things to STOP doing. I read them through and I have to say - it's brilliant! What a way to think outside the box - well done, Marcus!

Of the 20, I've already stopped doing some, such as watching the news. But is it cheating if you don't even have television? Well, I used to spend way too much time with the news online and it was a huge benefit when I quit filling my time and head with a bunch of negatives. Truthfully, when I'm away from home and get exposed to tv news, I'm appalled. I mean, really, how many times can they run the same bad news over and over and over and . . . Isn't there any good news? I know the answer is yes but you certainly can't tell by watching the news on tv. Ok, enough of that rant.

The main thing on Marcus' list that I want to stop doing is:

"19. Stop Consuming So Much Information without Doing Anything

Seriously, do you really think that next eBook for $27.99 is going to tell you way more than you already know? It amazes me how many people would rather ‘consume’ all day than actually apply the teachings they’ve been reading and hearing again and again and again.

The fact is most of us don’t need any more information, we just need to actually do something."

Was he thinking of me when he wrote this? Seriously. I think he was! I have several folders on my computer filled with eBooks telling me how to do this and how to do that. And today I almost bought yet another "get organized and get it all done" eBook. I really DO need to stop consuming info and TAKE ACTION instead!

So there you have it - my New Year's resolution. Now why don't you head on over to The Sales Lion and read about the other 18 things to stop doing in 2012?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Yes, YOU CAN Lose Weight After 50

How to lose weight after 50.

Who wants to lose weight in 2012? Or, even if you don’t want to lose weight, who wants to be less flabby in 2012? Yep, that’s what I thought - YOU do. Me, too! While I don’t actually need to lose weight any more (been there, done that plenty over the past 40 years), I sure would like what I have to be firmer (and positioned a little higher up would be nice, too - gravity can be so unkind!).

But is it even possible to lose weight after 50? Or does the 50+ metabolism slow to a snail’s pace and prevent you from shedding even a few pounds? Actually, the answer to the first question is YES. In fact, losing weight after 50 (or at any age) is simple. Not easy, but simple. Losing weight is a matter of consuming fewer calories than you use. Period. See? It is simple. But I know from personal experience that it is anything but easy!

How to Lose Weight After 50

Josh Farrell is a regular 50+ guy who shares his weight loss experience and advice in The Over-50's Guide to Losing Weight and Keeping it Off. Full of tips and nuggets of wisdom, Josh’s guide gave me a lot of food for thought. Keep in mind that I have dieted off and on for over 40 years. I’ve counted calories, I’ve counted carbs, I’ve done liquids, I’ve eaten just certain foods or at just certain times - if there’s a weight loss diet out there, I’m sure I’ve tried a rendition of it at some point. But what I found in the Over-50s Guide was refreshing. Not new, necessarily, but refreshing.

You see, Josh’s approach to weight loss is more about attitude than rules. And yes, what I have learned over the years is that losing weight, and then maintaining your ideal weight, requires a change in your attitude toward food. Or maybe your relationship with food is more accurate. But anyways, Josh has it covered.

What I Like About the Over-50s Guide

First off, the Over-50s Guide has a nice layout - landscape orientation for reader-friendly column width and easy-to-read font size, which I especially appreciate with my aging eyes. Secondly, Josh clearly presents his no-nonsense, doable approach to weight loss. Third on my list of things to like about the guide is that it is concise - no fluff or filler to pad the page count and waste my time. And fourth, the guide is reasonably priced at just $9.98. Good job, Josh!

What You Won’t Find in the Over-50s Guide

If you’re looking for the latest fad or some magic trick to lose weight, then this guide is NOT for you. Josh presents simple, practical info and tips that will work for anyone, even you. But there is no magic, no gimmicks, no strict diet.

So what are you waiting for? If losing weight is one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2012, grab a copy of The Over-50's Guide to Losing Weight and Keeping it Off!

Please note: Josh was kind enough to send me a review copy of the guide and I liked it enough to sign up as an affiliate. So if you click on a link and buy the guide, a portion of your purchase will go to me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Blessings to All

May you have a blessed Christmas filled with love and laughter.

(BTW, who let the elves out?)

Monday, December 19, 2011

DIY 7 Minutes to Whiter Teeth!

You all know that I'm totally into DIY, right? Well, I just found out about the easiest, most inexpensive way to whiten your teeth at home. Are you ready? Plain old hydrogen peroxide. You know - the stuff you can buy at any grocery store or pharmacy for about a dollar? All you do is swish it around your teeth, spit it out, and then rinse your mouth with water. Takes about one minute each morning and I noticed results in one week. Seriously. Noticeable results in just 7 days!

But is it Safe?

I was going to get all complicated and do a ton of research into this very question. But after reading some info from the American Dental Association and a few other websites, I went to check to make sure exactly which product I had. Guess what? Right on the label it recommends using hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse. So I guess that pretty much answers the safety question. Also, my dental hygienist told me a couple of years ago that I could swish with hydrogen peroxide daily as needed for gum health - she just didn't tell me it would whiten my teeth, as well, so I did it only a few times.

So how white are my teeth now? Not blindingly white, but I don't want them that bright! I'd just like to keep ahead of the tea stains that build up between my annual cleanings and this is definitely a way to do that. So far, I've had no negatives other than the stuff tastes nasty so I avoid getting it on my tongue as much as possible. Anyway, if you want whiter teeth for mere pennies, give hydrogen peroxide a try.

PS - I was too lazy to go take a picture of my peroxide bottle so the image is an Amazon affiliate link. But seriously, unless you're housebound or just prefer to have items delivered to your door, go to a grocery store or pharmacy. And for REALLY frugal teeth whitening, wait to buy until the hydrogen peroxide comes on sale.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Got any last minute gift ideas?
Yikes! Christmas Eve is only 10 days away! Are you ready? Well, I should be but I'm not. Although my daughter got me started in August, do you think I could finish up my gift shopping without a last minute crisis? NO! I've still got two neices left on my list.

So what to do? Well, I'm taking a really easy way out - it's called delegation. After brainstorming all the possible options to get me out of my pickle, I called my daughter and cried the blues. Well, it worked. She's going to do my shopping for me. And better yet, our shopping trip to Kohl's last weekend netted us $40 in Kohl's cash, which has to be spent by the 18th, so I may not even be out much money.

Wait a minute - how does this encourage me to get it together better next year? Hmm. I guess it doesn't. But anyway . . .

Last-Minute and Consumable Gifts

For those of you who are in a panic and don't have a willing love-to-shop daughter (and who don't know my daughter's phone number), there are several other last minute gift options. For a few ideas I've used each year, check out the following articles I wrote at Suite 101 two years ago.

What are your favorite last minute gift suggestions?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Homemade Fudge, Anyone?

I've been making homemade fudge every Christmas since 1974. I know some may think it's cheating but I like the kind made with chocolate chips and marshmallow cream. Why? Because it's easy and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. Not that marshmallow cream is a common kitchen staple but I buy enough when it's on sale each year to get me through.

Easy Homemade Fudge

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
2 cups chocolate chips (12 oz package)
7 oz jar marshmallow cream
1 tsp vanilla
1cup chopped walnuts

  1. Combine the sugar, butter and milk in a sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted.
  4. Stir in marshmallow cream and vanilla, then beat with an electric mixer for a few minutes.
  5. Stir in chopped walnuts and pour into a lightly greased pan.
  6. Let set until firm, then cut and enjoy!

That's it! And you'll have about 3 pounds of delicious homemade fudge for gifts or to enjoy at home. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Affordable Christmas Shopping with Kids

I’m taking the local grandkids Christmas shopping at the dollar store this coming weekend. Although there are four of them now, one just turned a year old so I think I’ll have big sister shop for her. My daughter comes along so we’ll have two adults and only three kids, ages 3, 8 and 10. The 10-year old can also help the 3-year old so each child will be able to find appropriate gifts for everyone on their lists, including my daughter and me, without spoiling any surprises.

Our Christmas shopping goal is threefold:
  • Allow the kids to experience the joy of giving.
  • Teach the kids to be wise shoppers.
  • Provide enough guidance that the gift recipients don’t end up with junk.

Can we meet this goal at a dollar store? Absolutely! Although there is a lot of junk at dollar stores, there are also many nice items. The trick is to pick the treasures from the trash, which is a valuable skill for consumers of any age.

Last year, for instance, the 2-year old picked out a dishtowel for his aunt. He was going for color only but coincidentally chose one that seemed the best of the lot. Well, I saw the thing in auntie’s kitchen last week and it looks just about as good as when he bought it last Christmas. I know it’s been washed repeatedly and used this whole time so there’s a firsthand testimonial for decent quality finds at the dollar store.

Also, there’s usually a nice selection of:
  • Coloring/activity/puzzle books for all ages
  • “Consumable” gifts, such as stickers, note pads, kitchen scrubbies, etc.
  • Colorful calendars

An Early Christmas Memory

I remember shopping as a very young child. My parents took the three of us to the dime store. Remember dime stores? I guess they were the dollar stores of the 60s. Anyway, we’d each have some change in our pocket and off we’d go, up and down every aisle looking for treasures, in search of just the right gift for each other and our parents. What a treat! Well, at least for us - how my poor mother survived taking three kids under the age of five or six Christmas shopping is beyond me. But she did and it started a tradition that I continue 50 years later with my grandkids.

How to Shop with Kids

To make your dollar store shopping trip a success instead of a nightmare (I’ve had both), follow these tips:
  • Help each child make a list of everyone they are shopping for. This is best done in advance, like the night before. Limit the number of gifts to buy (we go with 10 because that’s how many quarters are in a roll) and start with parents and siblings. Then let the child fill the remaining slots on the list with anyone they want but help them remember close family and friends, teachers, etc. If they have more than 10 (or whatever your limit is), they need to cut back the list. Provide guidance but let them have the final say (with the exception of parents and siblings, although they could buy one gift for the parents to share) - after all, it is their list.
  • Make sure everyone is well fed and has used the potty before leaving home. And I mean everyone. Go shopping in the morning for best results (less crowded store, less cranky kids) and plan around naptime, if necessary.
  • Hold on to their money for the little ones. Trust me, they will lose it. Then give them their money when they check out so that they can have the grownup fun of paying.
  • Postpone your own shopping until another time - this trip is just for the kids. Do buy some Christmas gift bags if you want, to make wrapping easy for the little ones.
  • Have a little extra cash for sales tax, if applicable. If you live in a state that collects sales tax, pay it out of your own pocket when each child checks out. The kids need to focus on selecting gifts. At the dollar store, they should be able to get one item for each person on their list without having to worry about setting aside extra money for sales tax, too. There’s nothing to spoil holiday shopping like getting to the register and being a tad bit short of funds so pay their tax for them.
  • Pair an adult with each child under eight or so. Put anyone under four or so in the shopping cart. Have older kids pick an adult with whom to shop. Take the little ones around the store to the areas you know are most appropriate given the people for whom they are shopping. This helps them focus and avoid getting completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. Let older kids take you around the store and help them make wise decisions, as needed. Your job is to educate them as consumers while letting them have the final say.
  • Swap kids with another adult, if needed, so that each child can shop for each adult without spoiling the surprise.
  • Limit your trip to just an hour or so. You want this to still be fun when it’s done!

Gift Wrapping - the Fun Continues!

Take the kidlets straight home and have some lunch or a snack. Then help them wrap and label all their gifts. If you bought gift bags, this part should be easy. If not, be sure to have blunt scissors and LOTS of paper and tape!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Can You Avoid Holiday Weight Gain?

We spent the four-day Thanksgiving weekend with kids and grands. In addition to the turkey day food-fest, we also celebrated a birthday on Saturday. What all this means is food . . . LOTS of food. In fact, according to my daughter's digital scale, I gained 2.4 pounds on Thanksgiving alone!

Now, I know that isn't even possible. In order to gain that much weight, I would have to consume over 8,000 more calories than I burned. Even if I did nothing but lie on the couch and eat ALL DAY, I don't think I could possibly gain 2+ pounds overnight. But it got me to thinking about how easy it is to gain weight after 50 and especially over the holidays.

Holiday Weight Maintenance Secret

So how can you avoid holiday weight gain? Portion control. That’s right, control your portions. I know, I know . . . easy to say but hard to do. But yes, it really is that simple.
  • Eat what you want but in moderation.
  • Enjoy each meal but leave room for desserts.
  • Use a small plate.
  • Take small helpings of your favorite foods.
  • Decline foods that you don’t absolutely love.
  • Forego second helpings.
  • Limit your indulgence to just one day, not every day between Thanksgiving and January 1st.

Ok, so who am I to give advice? After all, I’m the one with the 2.4 pound overnight weight increase, right? Well, yes and no. The scale did show the increase but there are many things that can cause overnight weight gain, such as excess sodium, different clothes, etc. - pigging out on just one day won’t really do it. Pigging out day after day, however, is another story . . .