The funny thing is that most of my frugality comes from the fact that I really just don’t want to walk to the store.

In turn, I end up saving a lot of money with these easy tips – like how to stretch that list bit of dish soap you have and/or make your own entirely!

There are a lot of different “recipes” for this out there – and I shouldn’t even call them recipes – more like “combinations”.

Bottom line, is you just want to make sure you are killing the germs.

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Here’s what I use:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure Castile Soap
  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Left over Dish Soap

 

Mix the Baking Soda and Castile Soap until you get a Paste Like substance

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Add in about 1/4 cup of water, or enough water to get to the consistency of “dish soap” (If you make it too watery, just add more baking soda)

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Add in 1 cap full of the white vinegar. The mixture will bubble and that is good!

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Use a funnel to transfer the soap into the container. (If you don’t have a funnel, you can just drop the ingredients right in the container and then shake it)

 

And voila! You have dish soap!!

 

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Recently I read the book, “The Japanese Art of Tidying Up” in which Marie Kondo discusses her methodology for the best way to tidy your home, and live clutter free.

I decided to go against her rules somewhat, and start with my pantry (rather than clothes). I have lived here for about three years, and have NEVER even TOUCHED the pantry. Could you tell??

The first thing I did was remove everything from it. I mean – everything. I cleaned it out, threw away everything I didn’t use, and examined what I had left.

I decided I was going to follow the Mason Jar Method of organizing the pantry. I chose this because 1) It looks nice and 2) It seems functional and a great way to make sure I’m eating a balanced diet. I also cleaned out under the sink area, so under my kitchen sink can now be used to store large bulk quantities of Grains, Pasta, Flours, and Beans/Legumes. I can refill the jars, or simply buy more of something when it runs out.

I also splurged and bought a label maker, and I am SO GLAD I did! It really makes the pantry feel professional, and is also keeping me on track to keep the same items in the same jars (which ensures I keep a balanced diet). For example, I will always have a mason jar for beans, a mason jar for granola, a mason jar for almonds/peanuts, and for pasta, etc.

So here is a quick road map of what the finished product entails:

  • The top two baskets are for to go drinks. The first basket holds all of the K-cups I rarely use or have for guests (i.e., coffee since I cut out coffee this year!) and the second basket is filled with teas for work, emergen-c packets, and crystal light packets which I use for company.
  • The two French chefs were a Christmas present and I am SO excited they fit so perfectly in here! One is for flour, and one is for sugar, and extra supplements are in the center. However, I may take out the middle jars of supplements considering I NEVER take supplements!
  • The fourth shelf has a really great level shelf I found at target. It is perfect for my canned goods, honeys (is honeys a word?), Vanilla Extract, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Witch Hazel, and other odds/ends for baking and cooking.
  • The fifth shelf is likely to change drastically very soon as the more I look at it, the less I have a need for almost all of the items. On this I have Mason Jars of Coffee grounds (light and dark) which again, I’m not drinking coffee! I also have Marsh mellows left over from my Christmas party’s hot chocolate bar, and popcorn, of course. The popcorn will probably be the quickest to go!

On the bottom I have all of my cooking oils, a large bucket of peanuts that I use to make peanut butter for granola bars, and some other extra items that were too large for the shelves.

The whole idea of the KonMari method is to throw away anything that “doesn’t bring you joy”. I know it sounds dumb, but what she is really saying is “throw out everything you don’t use on a daily basis” or “will need at different points in life” haha – like Baking Powder!

Another reason I love the mason jar method is that it is a great money saver. This method allows me to buy items in bulk and store them under my sink, and simply refill the mason jars as needed. I always make sure to have brown rice, some other protein packed grain, nuts, flour, pasta, granola, rolled oats, peas, and beans on hand so this is a great way to keep me on track and cut my monthly grocery bill by having bulk storage.

So, let’s recap:

Step 1) Remove EVERYTHING from the pantry. Make sure you collect EVERY ONE of one item (if you have olive oil in your pantry but also in your cabinet, take out the olive oil from the cabinet! Everything should be laid out on your floor together by category. If you have a cleaning spray in your pantry – put it with the other cleaning sprays in the house! Take it out of there! OR, take all the cleaning sprays and put them in the pantry – everything should have a place!)

Step 2) Sweep and Clean the Shelves of Your Pantry and Line them with Clean Liners

Step 3) Group Food Items Together, and Discard/Donate any Old, Unused items (DON’T FEEL BAD)

Step 4) Remove EVERYTHING from the store bought packaging and transfer to your own storage methodology (i.e., mason jars or Tupperware bins, etc.)

Step 5) Develop a System that You Know You Can Follow. Discarding Unused Items Helps This Process!!

Step 6) Place Items Back in Space, and Make the Space Cute & Inviting so You’re Inspired to Keep it Nice!

Step 7) Label Your Storage Options to Promote Consistency in the Future

And Voila! It’s been about 2 weeks that I’ve lived with this Pantry, Cooking every single night and weekend, and it’s working out BEAUTIFULLY. I have also used this method on my kitchen cabinets, linen closet, bathroom medicine cabinet/storage, under my bathroom/kitchen sinks, on my “Junk Closet” which has now become designated spaces, and on my bedroom closet/dresser. So let me know which spaces’ makeover you want to see next and I’ll be sure to show you more!!!

Spring Cleaning has never been more Life Changing!!!

I have been budgeting my money since I could walk. I consider budgets like a game, and like any other game, I love to win. So here is how YOU can create a budget (game) and stick to it (win).

Step 1) Track Your Expenses for 3 Months

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Simply go online, and export your credit card activity for 3 months. In the exported excel or csv file (whichever it exports to) begin highlighting/color coding groups of expenses. If you go to the same breakfast place every day, highlight that yellow. Do this for every credit card you have, as well as your bank account activity history to include any auto bill payments. I created a “Dummy” credit card statement and “Dummy” Budget for example purposes.

Activity Example

 

**QuickTip: If you see the same word showing up multiple times (i.e., starbucks) you can do a quick excel trick and type “Ctrl F” and then say “Find: STARBUCKS” and then click “Replace with” and choose a “fill color” and then click “replace all. This will automatically highlight every cell that has “STARBUCKS” in it. You can do this for all of your common expenses to get an idea of how much you spend at the same place in a given month.

REPLACE

Step 2) Create a Reasonable Budget Number Based on Your 3 Months

Let’s say every month you spend about $50.00 at the drug store. Some months it’s $60-80, other months it’s $40. $50 is somewhere in the middle, and is probably a good budgeted number for “drugstore” purchases every month. If you see yourself going to Starbucks every day for coffee, this can motivate you to make your own coffee at home before work. Too much work? Maybe you can buy your favorite coffee in bulk and keep some at work. Does work have coffee? Maybe you can just drink that! This is the step where you brainstorm ways to change your routine to save money – or – to budget for parts of your routine you know you can’t change/cut out.

Budgeted Amounts

Step 3) Download a “Budget App” on Your Phone

This is the reason I even wanted to make this blog today. For SO LONG I have budgeted in Excel on my computer. It’s been FUN for me (but I am also an accountant). Even back when I was 8 years old, I had a budget in a journal for the ice cream truck (neurotic or admirable? You can choose). Either way, one day I decided to just search “Budget App” in the app store on my phone and I was SO EXCITED to find that there are TONS of them out there! You can do a 2 week budget (if you want to budget by pay check) or monthly, or quarterly. If you buy things like rice, pasta, flour, and soap in bulk (like me) then you might be having larger lump sum expenses every couple months – and these apps allow you to account for that!

Ok ok, maybe I got a little too advanced there. Let’s say you just want to do a monthly budget. It’s very simple – and the app makes it even very fun YES FUN! You simply put in your income, and then allocate to different “envelopes” the amount you are allowed to spend on each aspect of your life. You can sync the app to your computer, email, or a partner’s phone, and automatically update it as you purchase things. You can add transactions as they occur – or whenever you look at your credit card statement. It automatically will update to tell you how much money is left in your envelope – so before you go out to lunch on the 3rd Friday of the month….. check the envelope. You can also transfer funds from envelope to envelope if you are spending more in one area vs. another.

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I have an android and now use the app “GoodBudget” you can also visit their website at https://goodbudget.com/  but there were tons out there, all for free, and all the same concept and bells and whistles. I personally do a 3 part budget – a budget app on my phone for individual allocations of money already allocated toward entertainment/food (broken up into: eating out at work, eating out – other, taxi work, taxi other, tickets/events, groceries, shopping, salon, etc.) , another budget for operational expenses (expenses I can’t avoid like rent, bills, etc.) and a third tier budget for investments, savings, and portfolio monitoring or as I like to call it my “Play Money”

 

Do none of these ideas sound flattering to you? Maybe not. But maybe this will – Excel already has tons of personal budgeting templates available FOR FREE on the Microsoft Office Excel application. Simply open up the excel application, and click “File => New” There, you can search for templates, or look at what pre populates as “Budget” is often one of the first ones you will see.

Excel Template

This is a great, comprehensive, home base for a monthly or annual budget. I think the app is great for bi-monthly day to day expenses (like cups of coffee in the morning or eating lunch out vs. bringing it) but the spreadsheets are great for a birds eye view of your monthly/annual cash flow. You can account for loans/mortgages, electricity, water, sewage, parking, transportation, groceries, medical, etc.)

Capture

 

Budgeting your money is one of the most important and impactful habits you can have. Here are some more quick tips on how to save throughout the month. For more Ideas you can check out my blog category “Money Saving Tips” to see how to make your own Clorox wipes!

  1. Buy Rice, Pasta, and other Grains in Bulk (If you live in the city you can have bulk items delivered to your building from distributors)
  2. Buy Soap in Bulk, and then re-fill your small soap dispensers (do this for body soap and for dish soap too! If you haven’t seen my blog on Dr. Bronner’s Soap click here – you can use this soap for dish washing, clothes washing, hand washing, and in the shower!)
  3. Buy Toilet Paper and Paper towels in Bulk (are you seeing a pattern yet?)
  4. Cook. Cook Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Restaurants are literally stealing from you without a gun. I mean please – do you know how much it costs to make soup? 90% of it is water. And they charge $10.00 for it at Zoup. Or pasta – how much is a pound of pasta? And HOW MUCH is it at a restaurant? I rest my case
  5. Go Shopping in Your Own Home (Think you need a new face mask? Need some new face wash or shampoo? What about a new shirt? You’d be amazed what is lurking in your closets at home! So go shopping whenever you feel like it – but do your browsing at home first)
  6. Set your bills to auto pay (Setting your bills to auto pay will automatically move the money from your direct deposit checking account and will leave you with the funds remaining. After you get a paycheck, immediately move “x” amount to your savings account, and set your auto pays to happen on the day after you receive funds, too.
  7. Buy Concentrated Cleaning Products (you can buy cleaning products in their concentrated form straight from the distributors. Paying $10-$20 for a cleaning spray you are practically paying for water. You can use Dr. Bronner’s soap and dilute that in an old spray bottle, or you can buy a concentrated liquid and dilute it.

 

There you have it. These budget apps are just SO COOL and so much fun – even for the psychology majors out there. I promise!

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Let’s start with the “Why?” I made a post earlier about canned beans where I discussed how much sodium they pack in those cans of supermarket beans. It is so easy to just buy regular beans and soak them over night but for some reason it is so hard for people to wrap their mind around cooking real beans vs. just buying the canned.

Other popular canned foods include canned vegetables. Canned corn, canned peas, canned tomatoes, etc. Here are some great articles to educate you on canned veggies. As one of them states, always try to choose fresh and/or frozen over canned. Frozen is a great alternative, because it lasts longer, and contains all the nutrients that existed at the time the vegetable was picked. I’m not saying not to eat canned foods, because I do on occasion. But, you should be sure to rinse them thoroughly and be very mindful when choosing which canned foods you want. Check the labels, check for a canned food that has LOW sodium and still thoroughly rinse them before consuming. Don’t add more salt when cooking canned veggies as they already contain so much. And of course, only eat on occasion. Make fresh and frozen your habit.

Must Watch YouTube on Canned Foods

3 Reasons to Avoid Canned Vegetables

 

Every year I go to the local farmers market and buy bushels and pecks of tomatoes to can for the winter. Not just the winter, but the spring and summer and fall as well! You can also can apples from your local apple orchard, or squash, or anything! Some non acidic items such as squash and apples you need to FREEZE. Not just can. So do your research before canning ANYTHING to make sure you are doing it correctly.

This post will be about tomatoes only because the process is easy, you don’t need to freeze them, and you can use these year round in salads, soups, sauces, etc.

Step 1)  Sterilize your Mason Jars

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2) Blanch Your Tomatoes

This means, put them in boiling water for about 30 seconds to 1 minute (until skin starts to peel off) and then put them in ice water.

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Step 3) Peel and de-seed your tomatoes

Just Peel the skin off which is already practically falling off, and then cut the tomato and use your fingers to scoop out the seeds and place the cut pieces of tomato in a fresh bowl.

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Step 4) Fill your mason jars with the de-seeded cut tomatoes

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Step 5) Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each can and a pinch of salt.

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Step 6) Use a spoon to trace around the edges of the tomato and can. This is to cut out any air pockets. Press the tomatoes into the jars, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top.

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Step 7) Place a towel in boiling water, and place the mason jars (sealed) on top of the towel. Top them with another towel, and boil for about 40 minutes.

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You’re done! After 40 minutes take them out of the boiling water and let cool. Now you have fresh organic tomatoes all year!

 

 

Fall is upon us! Pumpkins on the doorsteps, corn husks on the door, Comfy Sweaters & Leather Boots – I’m into all of it! All except – the yuppie problems that come along with transitioning from Summer to Winter.

If you live in an urban area, you can probably relate to these. Sometimes it seems I’ve got 99 problems, and they are all because of my location.

The majority of high rises in Chicago were built prior to the 1970’s, which means most of the heat for the buildings is generated via radiator or broiler. This means, the lucky tenants who live here, have no control over the heat in the fall/winter. The heat simply comes out of the walls at full blast, whether you like it or not.

This is great for times such as the polar vortex, or -30 degree weather, but there is that transition period between October and late December that can leave you with some very uncomfortable nights.

You could seal your windows, but then there will be a sunny 50 degree day, and suddenly your condo is 110 degrees, and the only way to bring it down is to open the windows. So no, sealing windows is not an option in my book.

I have to say, I think I have mastered the fall season and almost gotten this down to an art form.

These top 3 tricks are how to survive the fall by dealing with all of the buildings turning on their heat too soon.

Trick #1: Electric Blanket

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This electric blanket has saved my life. And no, I’m not being dramatic. I have two of these babies – one for the couch, and one for the bed. During the fall the temperature can get up to 75 during the day and drop to below 30’s at night. When I come home from work, my condo is SUPER hot, so I usually open up the windows and turn on the fan. By the time I’m ready for bed, it’s freezing. I close the windows but I’m still cold! Even if I don’t open the windows, there are days it can be 70+ outside, and then the next day its a windy 35. For those cold days before your heat is on, or for those hot days when the heat is on and you make it cold, come home from work, and just turn on that electric blanket. By the time you shower, make dinner, and watch your favorite show, the bed is just the temperature you want it! You can adjust the blanket settings for anywhere from “I can barely tell this was on” to “OUCH THAT’S HOT!”

Trick #2: Pre-Packaged Juice Items

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I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty basic white girl. In the summer, I live for fresh pressed juice. I would love those lunch time afternoons walking down the street to the juice store, or coming home and making my own. For some reason, once it turns to fall and the sun begins to set sooner, I start losing my motivation to get that burst of vitamins. I don’t want to walk to the juice store anymore, and I find myself buying peppermint tea over juice items.

After a couple weeks of that, I begin to get depressed and start craving those fresh juices again. I crave them, but I have no motivation to get them/make them. In combination with that, and the fact the buildings start turning on the heat and I’m sweating through my clothes, my craving turns from a want to a need. I NEED A FRESH COLD DRINK GREEN NOW!

So, to make sure I can get this without a) having to walk somewhere or b) have a whole ordeal making one after the sun has set , I have started making 4 or 5 zip lock bags on Sunday with everything I need for just one juice drink.

These one stop shops make it no hassle for me to collect ingredients, or think about what I’m putting in each drink. My juicer is an old fashioned super small one, so I have to cut them all up, but just placing the main prepared ingredients in a baggy can save you so much time making the drink, and will motivate you to make it when you get home, which in turn, will put a smile on your face.

(Warning: You’ll feel better, too!)

Trick #3: The Lasko Ceramic Heater Fan Combo

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I’m obsessed. My old college roommate introduced this invention to me our Junior year of college. She loved our small sorority room to be 89 degrees, while I liked it a cool 65. Our deal was that it would be cool during the day, and hot at night when we slept. I went to bed around 8:30pm and woke up around 4-5am, and she went to bed around 2am, so I could get a solid 5 or 6 hours in the cool temperature before she would come in and blast the Lasko Heater. (We even came up with nicknames for each other. She called me Birphin, combination of Bird and Dolphin, because I would wake up so early and made high pitch noises when happy – I called her Battile because she was a nocturnal mammal who like it very hot)

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Oops – that’s us ^^^^^ :) :) :) :)

Anyways, back on topic, this teeeeeeny tiny heater would heat up our room to a hard 85 within 10 minutes. Not joking. And the best part? It’s not just a heater. It’s an air conditioning fan as well. I bought one of these for my desk in the winter because I sat by the window at work and would be freezing cold. One day I turned it on, and realized the air was cold. That’s when I discovered it’s amazing cooling abilities. In the summer I use this as a fan, and in the winter as a heater!!

Not only has it saved me money on AC because it’s fan is so cold and powerful, but it’s perfect for those fall nights that are freezing cold before your condo/apartment building has turned on the heat.

As a side note – I also don’t have a microwave – so when I want to heat something up quickly I literally put it in front of this mini heater, and it’s completely heated in less than 5 minutes. When I say powerful, I mean powerful.

Voltage Issues? My space heater can be plugged into one wall by the window, and no other electronics can be plugged into that fuse area while it’s in use. Actually, I don’t think I can plug in anything anywhere when my space heater is on. Anyone who has blown a fuse from using a space heater can relate. This Lasko heater/fan has a 900 watt low setting and only a 1500 watt high (most are around 1500 I think). For some reason this Lasko can be on medium blast, and all my outlets can have things plugged in, and we’re fine. If I choose to run my large space heater, boom, instant fuse blow. (And my place has those old fuses that you have to physically unscrew and replace, so walking to the hardware store in the freezing cold at night = not fun).

The Lasko Heater is available on Amazon and can be found on Amazon, but I’m sure any other portable heating/cooling contraption could get the job done.

 

Well my dear friends, maybe one of these things gave you an idea you can apply in your own lives. Maybe not. But either way, I feel good that I’ve been able to share my life-saving tips.

Does anyone else have a tip/trick for dealing with these weird ups and downs of temperature???

 

SOAP

 

 

I’m so excited about this post, because I am so excited about this soap. I’m pretty much obsessed. And I don’t use that word lightly.

The love affair began when I was walking through the store looking for an all natural alternative to my go-to Dove soap. I saw a huge bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap – and sure, I had heard of it before, but after looking it up on my phone in the aisle – I was extremely surprised at all of the different things you can do with it.

Shampoo: In an old Shampoo bottle dilute 1/2 tablespoon of the soap to 1/2 cup of water until full.

Body: Just one squirt on your loofa will do it! (If you get the peppermint soap, be cautious around sensitive areas as you may get a little tingle/almost burning sensation)

Laundry: Use 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup in a large load – add in 1/2 cup of vinegar, too!

Mopping: 1/2 cup soap to 3 gallons of water (I just fill up my Swiffer Jet with a couple splashes of soap and then fill it up with water – i’m not very exact – and it works great! makes your apartment smell like peppermint, too :) )

Countertop Cleaning: 1/4 cup soap to a quart of water- (I just fill up a spray bottle to about an inch up from the bottom with the soap, and then fill the rest of the spray bottle with water)

There are so many more uses and cheat sheets out there – I’ll provide some helpful links at the bottom of this post!

These measurements certainly don’t have to be exact – but it gives you an idea of everything you can use this soap for. It’s an all natural, castile soap so you don’t have to worry about any harmful chemicals being soaked into your skin. I use this in the shower and then finish off with coconut oil as a moisturizer after.

Not only is this a great alternative to chemical-induced soaps – but it’s economical, too! Diluting the soap makes it last longer, and you can buy a 16 ounce bottle for about $6.00 at cvs. Typically, buying a separate shampoo, body wash, cleaner, and laundry detergent, will cost you a solid $15.00 or more.

What about conditioner you ask? Pure Organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Rub it in your hair after the soap, and let it sit for a minute or two, and then rinse. (You can Also use This In Your Laundry, too).

You’re welcome.

 

Helpful Links:

Great Blog Post on Dr. Bronner’s 18 uses!

Business Insider Article on the Magic of the Soap!

 

 

The BONGS Treatment

By ChristianaAlissa

 

Feel a flu coming on? Or perhaps you are already knee-deep in one? Take it from someone who used to be (and still sometimes am) a professional flu-getter. Remember, I am NOT a medical professional, and nothing I say here should be taken as medical advice. I am just a professional at getting sick and this combination is what works for me.

I used to have chronic sinusitis – and by that I mean I basically had a sinus infection non-stop and then every couple months or so it became extremely severe. I had my tonsils out, adenoids out, got rid of the cat, did the works, but nothing really worked until I changed all aspects of my life, and also adopted my own regimen that I call: the BONGS treatment.

B: Homemade Broth

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Ever hear mama say chicken soup will heal your cold? Well she’s right – but not the canned chicken soup you get in a store. What makes chicken soup so good for you is that it’s a home made broth, with real chicken. And forget the noodles – many noodles are made out of tons of chemicals that you really don’t need. If you really want to get better, make a home made broth FILLED with vegetables and chicken.

You can also drink your broth, add in some apple cider vinegar and honey, and heat it up for an immune boosting drink.

O: Oranges

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A big mistake other than canned chicken soup when sick, is bottled orange juice. Packaged orange juice contains tons of unnecessary sugars and artificial ingredients, that again, will not make you better, not now, not in the long run, not ever.

If you are sick, the best thing to do is freshly juice your oranges. There are several ways to do this, with a hand held juicer, or a juicing machine. I highly recommend getting a juicer, I got mine for $40.00 at Walmart and it was the best investment I ever made. Add an apple to every 2 oranges to naturally sweeten it, and nothing beats that burst of vitamin C. If you don’t have a juicer, and use a hand held juicer, just add a spoonful of sugar! (Helps fresh OJ go down 😉 )

Link to handheld orange juicers:  Click Here!

N: Nasal Rinses

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I usually do a nasal rinse several times a week, but like I said, I am prone to sinus infections. If you feel a stuffiness coming on, then a nasal rinse can certainly help you. However, if you are so stuffed up to the point you literally cannot breath – then don’t do a sinus rinse as these rinses should not hurt you when you do them they should feel good and allow loose green gunk to escape. I find that when I’m sick my nasal rinses do best after I have slept with a breath-rite strip, and taken a hot steamy shower which I cover my face with a hot wash cloth during. If I do not do those two things before I try to rinse, the rinse just never seems to go well.

Remember when you rinse to use distilled water and warm it up a bit before hand if you can, just to make the water luke warm. Do research before doing a nasal rinse, and see the best ways and methods, and negative side effects before doing them.

Click Here for My Favorite Nasal Rinse!

G: Ginger Tea

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I used to hate tea. When I was younger and would get sick, my mom would offer me tea, and I would actually get mad at her that she would suggest such a thing. But the truth is, nothing is better for you. The best tea when you’re sick or when you are getting sick is whole, fresh made, ginger tea. Ginger is an all natural anti-inflammatory and if you add it with a couple spoons of honey, you’re going to feel instantly better.

Another great addition or tea, is take an old pasta jar, or mason jar, slice up a bunch of lemons, and mince a bunch of cloves of garlic. Layer in the jar your lemon (no seeds by the way!) and garlic and then fill the jar with honey. Let the jar sit in your fridge over night, and throughout the week. Every morning take your boiling water and add a spoonful or pour a little bit of your lemon/garlic/honey mixture into the cup. It will cool off your boiling water enough to drink it, and adds the tremendous benefits of lemon and garlic, both natural detoxifiers.

My next G is Gargling. Gargling salt water or cayenne pepper mixed with water honestly does heal sore throats. You have to do it with warm water, and do a cup of it every hour. Doing it aggressively through the day is the only way it has ever helped me (and yes, this is a last resort for me too)

My Blog on Ginger Tea Benefits <<Click Here for my Blog on How to Make/Benefits of Ginger Tea

S: Steamers

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A couple years ago I invested in a Revlon Face Steamer. I got it from Amazon for about $20.00 and again, was an amazing investment. It has two attachments to steam either your whole face, or just your nasal area. You simply plug it into the wall, fill the little bowl with water and steam. It steams for about 20 minutes and is great while watching TV. Nothing loosens me up better, and this is a great exercise before a nasal rinse.

Humidifiers are also NECESSARY to keeping your nasal passages healthy. I have a humidifier that I use every single night in the winter.

Another great tool is an essential oil diffuser. You can use this in combination with your humidifier at night, and adding in some tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil will help your nasal passages clear and detox while staying lubricated and moist.

Some people recommend steam rooms at health clubs when you’re sick, and I have to say, I stay away from them. Air born illnesses such as flus thrive in water particles, and if your immune system is already compromised, going into a steam room which is a confined space with other people breathing heavily into the steam, in my opinion, can only worsen you, or get someone else sick. A better alternative is a steamer, or if you don’t have one, closing your bathroom door, putting a towel under the crack, and running a hot shower and holding a hot wash cloth over your face. (Be careful when you open the door if you live in a small apartment, because the steam CAN set off your fire alarm – learned that the hard way!)

 

Well that’s it those are the 5 exercises I do in the winter when I’m not sick to prevent getting sick, and especially kick up a knotch when I feel the onset of a cold or flu coming on.

Do you have any cold fighting remedies?? If you do I want to know about them!! Leave a comment below!

So I woke up this morning and realized I was pretty much flat out of food (probably the most common yuppie problem like – ever).

I was CRAVING a morning juice drink – so I rummaged through and was able to find 1 semi old apple, and 2 stalks of celery. Done.

I wasn’t completely sure how this would turn out considering I almost always will add cucumber/lemon to juices I use celery in – but I gave it a try (I mean, I was desperate!)

To my surprise this drink was actually extremely delicious. Just one large sweet apple, and two smaller stalks of celery – absolutely hit the spot!

Thought I’d share this emergency drink success with you – just in case you decide to forgo your typical juice drink in fear of failure – don’t! As long as there was that sweetness off-setting the celery I think I was clear.

Now I’m ready to start my day!!

What’s the word? The word is FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FOR IOWA!

In honor of this weekend being the kick off to a fantastic Iowa football season, I thought I’d do the world a favor and teach you how to make your own ketchup. At least something can be healthy at your tailgate, right??

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Making your own ketchup could not be easier. You will need the following ingredients:

  • Onion Powder
  • Water
  • Tomato Paste
  • Vinegar (any kind)
  • Clove (Optional)
  • Salt and Pepper

Step 1) Depending on how much you are making, mix anywhere from a splash of water/onion powder to a cup or two of water with a couple tablespoons of onion powder. Add enough onion powder that the water looks merky and is not clear anymore.

Step 2) In a pot, pour in your onion water mixture, cover, and bring to a strong simmer for about 4-6 minutes.

Step 3) In a bowl, put in anywhere from a spoonful, to a whole can of tomato paste (depending on how much you are making) Again, measurements are not extremely important here, because it depends on your own personal taste/use of this

Step 4) Pour in a little bit of onion powder water at a time. Do not pour it all in at once, as you just want to splash in a little at a time until you reach the consistency of ketchup you are comfortable with.

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Step 5) Put in a couple splashes of vinegar (Doesn’t matter what kind – any vinegar you have on hand will work). I just like to use a splash of it, if you are making a lot of ketchup use a couple splashes. Taste this as you go and add more/less as you see fit

Step 6) Season with Salt, Pepper, and a clove seasoning if you choose. (I’ve used it without cloves several times and it’s turned out fine!)

And you’re done! You can store this in an air tight container in your fridge for several days. I usually eat mine fresh with some freshly sliced jicama fruit that I top with a little bit of lime and cayenne pepper.

 

For more on jicama fruit: Click Here

 

 

 

Fondue Setting

 

So over the weekend, I transformed my tiny Chicago apartment into a fondue wonderland and had a fondue dinner party with friends, which was great, but subsequently left me with a lot of weird left overs.

We had a cheese dip made of white wine and three cheeses, with bread & cauliflower to dip. We also had tenderloin steak cooked in a home made vegetable broth, and then in infused with a little soy sauce, olive oil, and seasonings to dip the steak in.

So you can imagine when I went to cook for the week today, I certainly didn’t want to go grocery shopping because I had so many good foods already! So I decided to make a beautiful casserole with what was remaining.

I decided to keep the left over steak outside the casserole, and cut it into strips the size of bacon so I could cook some steak strips quickly in the morning for my breakfasts. (Steak Strips are a great breakfast option because the thin tenderloin steaks cook in about 3 minutes – just like bacon, and is extremely filling and a great morning boost)

So this left me with the cheese dip, steak sauce mixture, cauliflower, and bread. With some whole wheat pasta that I had in the pantry, and a can of tomatoes, I was able to create enough food for the entire week.

Just as a side note on pasta: Most people cook the pasta with the intent the pasta is the star of the dish and they are adding vegetables and other items TO the pasta. When I cook, I make the vegetables the star, and cook as if I’m adding pasta TO the veggies. This allows for less pasta in the diet, and is a simple mind set change that can lead you to a healthier cuisine.

Step 1) Make the Sauce

  • I sautéed some onions in a large sauce pan with garlic. Then, I added the fondu cheese dip to the pan, and let it cook out. It was very thick – so I added just enough of the steak sauce/broth mixture to the cheese to thin it out a bit. To slightly change the taste, I added some cumin, italian spies, and fresh herbs from my window sill.

 

Step 2) Cook the Starch

  • Casseroles need a starch, whether that be rice, grains, or pasta. I used some whole wheat pasta that I had in my pantry. Cook in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta before it is fully done as it will be going in the oven later.

 

Step 3) Choose Veggies

  • Casseroles need veggies! I just used whatever I had left in the fridge – some peppers, mushrooms, and onions. I also added a can of diced tomatoes, and sauteed for a short period of time on the stove. This would be a great time to add some diced cauliflower too – but I decided to cook my left over cauliflower separately for a second meal to get me through the week (See next blog post for my cauliflower stretch)

Step 4) Combine ingredients

  • I usually combine my ingredients in my pasta sauce pan after I’ve drained the pasta. Add in the sauce, and the veggies, and then pour them in a well oiled/buttered casserole dish.

 

Step 5) Top With Bread Crumbs

  • You didn’t think I forgot about the left over bread did you?? (Although in my case, I did save the bread for my cauliflower soup – if I hadn’t I would have used them here)
  • Just take your left over bread, put it in a food processor, and process until they are the consistency of bread crumbs
  • Top your casserole with the bread crumbs!

Step 6) Cook the Casserole

  • Cover your casserole dish with aluminum foil, or a lid. Cook in 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, uncovering it for the last 10 minutes or so.

 

Casseroles are great for a weeks meal because they are cheap, and last a long time. I usually let it chill in the fridge for several hours before dividing it into Tupperware for the week – that just makes it easier to cut.

Enjoy!