Archive for February, 2013

First off, I apologize to my readers for not having posted a blog for a couple of days.  I have been spending some quality time with my husband, Scott and reviewing my coupons for a VERY small budget trip this coming weekend (if I’m not still snowed in).

The hubby and I have been playing “Sacred 2: Fallen Angel” on the Playstation 3 (PS3).  We love having two player console games, but have very few right now. If my readers have any suggestions, let me know. We have an Xbox 360 with Kinect, too…with even fewer games.  Some of our quality time has been enforced by bad road conditions due to the snow storm we had yesterday and still snowing today.  The hubby’s Durango has bald tires, so for safety reasons we are not driving any place far.  My Impala has expired plate stickers, so I refuse to risk getting a $120 ticket for it…damn thing costs $99…over $100 with late fee (which looks like I will paying).  The part of our enforced quality time is due to lack of jobs for both of us.  Blah. We are working on finding new jobs, while waiting to hear from unemployment for my hubby and more LINK benefits from the state.  See…REAL tight budget for a family of 3 with 3 cats.

Cabin fever has set in…majorly…and this idiot snow fall has made it worse.  We go through most of winter with barely any snow, then…BAM…decides to laugh at us for a few days. Even so it has been entertaining to some degree. Scott has picked up his acoustic guitar again and practicing.  He uses the computer to look up tabs and has “Rockstar” guitar game for PS3…he can plug his actual guitar into the console and play.  It shows him techniques and other guitar things. Plus, it has a bunch of songs he can learn on it.  Only real issue with it is that his acoustic is really too fat to play comfortably with this game.

Our cats…Charlie, Marble, and Star Baby…have been providing us with endless love (too much at times) and good laughs.  Earlier Marble was drinking water out the bowl we have sitting on bottom shelf of an old television stand we use as a cat feeding center.  There happened to be a marker sitting on the shelf above her.  Charlie jumped off the cat tower sitting right next to the feeding center and knocked the marker off on Marble’s head.  She instantly went psycho and attacked the marker, knocked it up under the old TV stand, and spent 5 minutes on her side trying to get it.  Charlie spent the entire time just looking down at her like “Haha, sis, gotcha, dummy!”  (They are brother and sister from same litter).

Star Baby has been her usual standoffish, weird self.  This cat refuses to be picked up for lovings and will meow at you all day (talking…yes, will respond to you when you talk).  YET, she has a major foot fetish!  She LOVES to rub on feet, especially the big toe.  My hubby’s feet are her favorite since he has bigger toes then I do.  She’ll cram her ear down on his big toes so deeply we joke we can feel her brain.  Now, try to scratch that ear with your hand and she’ll run off meowing you out!

Charlie (aka Buns aka Fat-fat)

Charlie (aka Buns aka Fat-fat)

Marble (aka Princess)...Charlie's baby sister from same litter.

Marble (aka Princess)…Charlie’s baby sister from same litter.

Star Baby (aka Little Girl)

Star Baby (aka Little Girl)

I love my fur babies! I’m SO a cat lady…there is no doubt.

I plan to have another post later today on some other topic…possibly coupons because that is what is on my mind right now.

Thank you for reading.  Hope enjoyed the pictures of my furry kids!

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Vitamin packets…vitamins period…are a staple in the majority of people who are on the healthier life journey.  Typically people will just buy prepackaged vitamin packets that come in a box of so many like 30-40 packets.  You can buy them at places like GNC or other health/vitamin stores, Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, and probably any other large chain of stores.

If you’re not sure what I mean by vitamin packets, I’m talking about these little pockets or envelopes that hold about 10 or vitamin and mineral pills.  They are often well-rounded out including pills for immunity, energy, weight loss, etc.  Plus, they are often expensive. My husband buys a box from GNC…Physioburn, I think.  It can cost around $50 with no sales, specials, or coupons.

I think the vitamin packets are great, I really do.  It’s a great way to have all your vitamin and minerals in one spot to just snatch up and go.  You can toss it your purse or pant pocket on the way out the door to take when ever you plan to.  My only issue is the cost of the store-bought boxes of these packets.  I have been saving conscious for months now, even more so since both my husband and I lost our jobs.

I hit upon the idea of making my own packets using snack size sandwich bags and from a variety of vitamin and mineral bottles of pills. The baggies cost me about $1.  Each bottle of pills cost me from $1 to $3…about average of $1.25 a bottle.  I have a 11 pills in my bags from 9 bottles.  I purchased my vitamins and minerals from either dollar type stores or using coupons with sales.

The 11 pills I have are:

  • 1 Prenatal/multi-vitamin (trying to get pregnant, helps build up my reserves for IF it happens…been trying for years now. Besides always good to take a well-rounded out multivitamin daily).
  • 3 Papaya extract pills (digestive tract health)
  • 1 Omega-3 Fish Oil (heart health)
  • 1 Green Coffee Bean extract (weight management)
  • 1 Magnesium (nerve & muscle health, also helps combat end of period headaches for me )
  • 1 Ginseng (stamina and energy)
  • 1 Zinc (immune health)
  • 1 B12 (energy & metabolism)
  • 1 Cinnamon (sugar metabolism…diabetes runs in my family…typically in older ages, I don’t have now, but did have gestational diabetes which makes me more prone to early onset).

 

The best thing about making my own vitamin packets is that I can adjust them to my personal needs.  For an instance some prepackaged ones have iron pills in them. I can’t have too much iron or it causes me serious digestive issues; so in my packets I don’t include one.  Another example is the magnesium, this mineral pill may not be in the store-bought packages, but it’s very helpful to me with headaches especially at end of my menstrual cycle.  I need to add a pill or two that promote eye health.  I have a history of macular degeneration of the eyes in my family via my dad’s side….basicaly I could blind in one or both eyes in my old age.

I use snack baggies, but you could use anything that works for you.  A pill reminder tray with Sunday through Saturday marked on them…this would be good for those who can only take certain vitamins on specific days because of medication being taken.  Empty and CLEANED Chapstick tubes or those “to-go” aspirin tubes.  Those tiny bags you can get in craft stores to put beads and such in.  Tic-tac containers.  Use your imagination…any item that will hold all the pills you want for one packet and can be secured tightly will work.

I must warn you, this is not a very healthy recipe…so adjust if you want.

This was a poor person’s, extremely tight budget, make do with what’s in the house chili.  Every item in this meal I had in the house. I just tossed them together and hoped for the best.

ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground veal (gotten from local food pantry…free)
  • 1 lb of ground hamburger (part of a 5 lb roll I split up into freezer bags a few weeks back…about $9)
  • 2 cans of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup (part of my coupon stock pile…about $70 each)
  • 1 can of chili beans (about .90 cents)
  • 1 can of pinto beans (about .90 cents)
  • 1 small can of mushroom pieces (about .50 cents)
  • half of a large onion (about $1 for the whole onion)
  • 2 large stalks of celery (about $1.80 for whole celery bunch)
  • Seasonings for flavoring (stuff I had on hand…spent about $1 each for the 5-6 I sprinkled from).

 

First started to brown up meats from frozen. I just set to low heat in the skillet, flipping and scrapping meat off as it thaws. I usually cover with a lid or cookie sheet to contain the heat in and let cook faster.  While the meat was cooking I dumped into a large pot my 2 cans of beans (drained of the liquid first) and 2 cans of soup (as is, no water).

I drained the mushrooms and tossed into my manual food processor (from Pampered Chef) and chopped up fine, and tossed into the bean and soup mix.  Next I whacked of big chunks of onion and put in my food processor to chop up fine…did the same with the celery. Tossed both celery and onion into the bean and soup mix.  I turned the heat on for this pot on low-medium heat and tossed in seasoning (chili powder, curry, dry mustard, garlic salt, and onion powder). I don’t add salt to my dishes until I taste it. I often leave it out when cooking with canned foods since they often have a lot of salt in the first place. In my house we add salt to individual dishes for personal preference.

After the meat is fully cooked I drained off any grease.  I use a strainer/colander in a Glad plastic bowl (let the grease get solid then scrape into the garbage later). Toss the meat in to the pot and stir in.  Do a taste test and see if you want more seasonings.  I tend to let my chilis and soups simmer for about 10 minutes before eating to let the flavors infuse together.

You could adjust this recipe to fit with whatever you have on hand.  Sausage only…have it!  Tomato paste or sauce only…go for it.  Garlic cloves…toss a couple in.  No celery, but got corn…toss it in.

My concoction made enough for us for a few meals. I happen to have frozen chicken hot dogs in the freezer (from food pantry) and hot dog buns leftover from a few days ago…easily make chili dogs.  I got hash browns, I could cook those up and toss chili on top…same with the 2 boxes of scalloped potatoes I have.  I could flesh the chili out with some corn & carrots to make it more of a “stew”.

Never be afraid to experiment with whatever is your cupboard…trust your test buds.

MOTIVATION…the one thing that can make or break your journey to a healthier life.  All other issues are just an annoying itch to compared to this bad boy.  Every person who starts on the path to being more healthy always has good intentions and idea in their mind to do it, but motivation is the key to actually DOING it…your personal willpower to keep going in face of any obstacles that arise.  I have for many years looked at different motivation factors, advice, and tips for various aspects of my life…not just living healthier…but cleaning my home, being a better mom and wife, combating depression in different stages, completely personal projects, and so forth.

It dawned on me one day that in order for me to be motivated in ALL aspects of my life, I need to be motivated and stick with a healthier life.  My thought was if I feel better about myself…mind, body, and soul…then I will be more motivated to keep up with and improve upon other areas of my life.  Yes, it’s true…the quality of your life begins and ends with YOU.

I am going to discuss several motivators that have worked for me over the years and that I still bring out of the closet use from time to time.  I tend to get bored with the same method continuously, so having a few other ideas stockpiled for use helps.

The first one I will start with is one that has worked not only for me, but also for my husband (I like to think so anyways).  I originally called the “Healthy Lifestyle Wall” because my intentions was to just use a wall space we often go by in a high traffic area of my house.  I added a dresser to store health stuff in so it became “Healthy Lifestyle Center”.  This Center has multiple parts to it, so I think I’ll just make a list (by the way…I’m “list” person).

Healthy Lifestyle Center:

  • Dresser: I use this to put health stuff into like vitamin bottles, magazines, first aid, and even workout clothes. I also have writing utensils, small notepads, push-pins, etc in a drawer. On the top I keep a tray to put drop off stuff for the gym like membership passes, mp3 players, etc.  You could use any piece of furniture really…bookshelf, tv stand, etc.  You could also use it to lay out your healthy snacks, protein mixes, etc for the day or week.
  • Cork boards: I have 2 small square ones for tacking up notes for reminders of stuff like appointments, recipes, menus, etc.  Even tack up motivational quotes, pictures, etc.
  • Wipe-off boards: I WANT 2 small ones for my Center. One for daily use…daily goals, food reminders, etc.  Second one to layout the week’s goals.
  • Clipboards or picture frames: These I will have at least 2…one to layout goals to meet during a year’s time and another with goals by the month.
  • Calender: Must to keep track of appointments and events like 5k’s, mud runs, etc that you have signed up for.
  • Visual aid: These can be anything like pictures of clothes you want, a shadow box of something to reward yourself with, doctor reports, photos of yourself, etc. I have to word collage visual aids up…one is called “YES” and has words of healthy foods to eat and the other is the opposite “NO”.

 

I mentioned visual aids for my Center, but you could use these at any time and any place…even your cell phone or in your car. They can be any thing you want…just something that keeps you going.  One I want to try is taking 2 glass jars of any kind; label one with “Pounds to Lose” and the other “Pounds Lost”. You put in those little glass stones in the first jar.  You could use any color and size.  Possibly designate a color or size per poundage like a large stone could equal 10 pounds and small stones 1 pound each; or blue stones for 10 pounds, red stones for 5 pounds, and clear stones for 1 pound.

I have a couple visual aids that work well for me that I recently started using in last couple weeks.  I have on my desktop computer monitor screen a slide show background of clothes I like.  I selected them from a photo file I have on my computer called “Virtual Closet”.  Clothes, I have discovered, is one the main motivators for me.  I want to be able to purchase clothes without worry about how it will fit across my bulging stomach.  My other visual aide is very similar but I do it in the gym! I take a magazine along or use one from the gym. I open the magazine to a picture or article that is motivational to me at that time and place on the display screen of whatever machine I’m using…treadmill, bike, and so for.  This method has a double punch! It not only gives me a visual aide, but by hiding the display I am not distracted by the time and numbers that tick away on the screen.  I don’t start getting bored because I see how much time I have left or get discouraged because the screen tells me I only burned 80 calories.

Photographs of yourself as a motivator. This is one that works well for many people and one I hope to utilize once I have a better camera (my current one makes pictures slightly blurry due to being an underwater camera).  My method with self photos and one I used with my hubby (he loves this method) is to take 3 separate photos…front, back, and side (or both sides if you want).  It’s best to have somebody take the photos for you and to wear minimal clothing to see as much of your natural body as possible.  The next step is to retake the photos every 30 days.  This is a great method (and the reason why my husband loves it) is that you can compare the different sets of photos in chronological order to see the progress you have made! You will also be able to easier which parts of your body you might want to increase focus on.

Diaries and journals are another motivator for many people. I often put this one off because I could never find a method I liked or just plain for get about it. I recently decided to try again. My current journal is very basic…weight, waist measurement, food, and workout.  That’s it! I don’t include calorie counting or nothing like that. I might include my sleep schedule or put the times I ate or worked out.  If you choose to keep a healthy diary, just experiment with what works for you…information to include, on paper, on the computer, blogging about it, Facebook page/group, etc.

Support groups are another good motivator.  You can form your own with friends or find one on the internet or check your local gym.  These are great, especially if you don’t have a support system at home or with friends.  You can find a group on the internet or social media and post about what health things you did or didn’t do, issues you’re having, etc.  Even if nobody responds, you can still post because it might feel like your being held accountable for your actions.

Let’s not forget the most important motivators that are around you daily…your family, children, friends, pets, and even co-workers.  YOURSELF and your health…period.  If it helps, have these people in your life…you, too…write down positive things about you and keep in a diary or tack up some place to view or put in a jar to randomly choose when feeling unmotivated.

There are SO many motivation tips and advice out there I can never touch upon them…and for motivator the various aspects of your life, too…not just a healthier lifestyle.  I know some other motivation techniques are music, books, and meditation. My only advice when it comes to finding ways to keep your willpower going is to do research with some trial and error until you find a couple that work.

I just started, seriously started, my adventure of living a healthy lifestyle only about 6 weeks ago.  I’m still learning and adjusting to what works for me.

My biggest issue is food.  I don’t eat a whole lot, but when I do eat, it’s BAD foods.  I’ve been looking for and learning alternatives to my favorite foods, like pizza. Mmmmm…pizzzaaaa!  I’ve learned how to make my own crust! Fresh made pizza is SO much tastier than frozen, store bought and WAY healthier…definitely tastier and healthier over take-out pizza.  Even if I choose not to make a crust I use multi-grain or wheat English muffins to make mini-pizzas…better portion control there, too!

I degress…rambling on pizza…no need to wander off in my head there.

Besides learning to wrestle my food into better options, I have been looking at workouts and exercises that I want to do.  I like having a variety so I don’t get bored.  I’m also working on moving my body more often, not just in the gym, but at home.

Motivation…MOTIVATION…one of the hugest obstacles that I and many others deal with daily to keep going on our healthier lifestyles. I have over the years come across several ways to keep one motivated and created a few of my own…photographs, charts, diaries, healthy lifestyle wall/centers, music, visual aids, etc.  In fact, I think in the category on my blog, “Healthy Lifestyle”, I may write a few articles on some different motivators.  Some have worked for me in the past, work for me currently, and some I haven’t tried.  Maybe one of them will work for my readers!

All I can say is trying to live a healthier life in today’s society acceptance and economy can be difficult…BUT…it is doable.  Heck, even with a budget, you can still do it with little or no money.  Any money you do put into it, remind yourself it’s a long-term investment…your combating future health problems that could send you to doctors, emergency room, surgeries, etc.  A little money spent now to eat healthier and move that body is MUCH cheaper than spending thousands of dollars later for health concerns that could have been prevented with living healthier.

Last night my husband, Scott, decided to cook for around 10 o’clock P.M. because I said I was hungry. He can be so sweet at the strangest times (LOL).  He was so intent on this, he would not allow me in the kitchen to see what he cooked up.  It was very good, but I gave one suggestion on it to make it better and healthier; and he agreed with it.

Scott’s Corn Shrimp Stir Fry

ingredients:

  • 1 bag of frozen shrimp (medium-large size)
  • 1 can of sweet corn kernels
  • 1 small can of mushroom pieces
  • 2-3 sticks of celery
  • 1 hot dog (this was my suggestion change…remove it! Left that hot dog taste over all the flavors and not healthy).
  • Bit of butter (substitute with a healthy oil like canola or olive)
  • Seasoning of choice (onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, etc…your choice)

Thaw out the shrimp…we tend to just put in hot water or boil in a pot.  Chop or dice up the celery sticks.  Dice up the mushroom pieces in a food processor or leave as is (your choice).  If using hot dog…chop up in small pieces.

Use a wok or large skillet…heat it up and put in the oil or butter…about a tablespoon or so.  Toss in all ingredients, season it up, and cook until shrimp begins to brown.

Put on plate and enjoy.  Could make some rice to go with it, if want to.

 

My dish had the corn even browned like they had been grilled.  I will NOT be making it in the future with the hot dog.  It just overpowered the other flavors and made the dish unhealthy.  This is such a simple recipe it can be adjusted to individual tastes.  Use a sauce for flavor like teriakyi or substitute peas for the corn…pretty much whatever works best for you.  That is the beauty of home cooking…you can adjust recipes to suit your needs (baking may be the one exception…it’s more of science then just plain cooking).

Earlier today I went to over to Oregon, IL and the local mini-mall there, Conover Square, to check out the food pantry there (which I can not use because I don’t live in Oregon). Conover Square also has my favorite non-franchise coffee shop called Conover Coffee and Chocolates!

While browsing about I came across the free magazine and book bin table they have set up and grab like a dozen bring home. Free is ALWAYS good! In the collection I picked up these 10 booklets on household items and the many uses for them. I am sure you’ve seen books like this or seen websites…how to use salt to keep frost from forming on your windshield over night or using baking soda and vinegar to unclog a drain.

These booklets are all by Betsy Rossen Elliot, published by Publications International, Ltd. in Lincolnwood, IL 60712.

The titles of the booklets I got are:

  • Aluminum Foil: Removing Rust and Other Household Hints
  • Baking Soda: Brighten Your Smile and Other Amazing Advice
  • Bleach: Saying Good-bye to Bacteria and So Much More
  • Corn Starch: Buff and Shine Your Car and Other Incredible Uses
  • Lemon Juice: Lighten Your Hair and Solve Household Problems
  • Paper Bags/Plastic Bags: Unclog Showerheads and Other Simple Solutions
  • Salt: Clean Coffee Cup Stains and Other Best-Kept Secrets
  • Toothpaste: Take the Bite Out of Burns and Itches and Other Amazing Uses
  • Vegetable Oil: Unstick Frozen Car Doors, Solving Pesky Household Problems
  • Vinegar: Making Odors Vanish and Other Household Tips

I have only glanced through these booklets at the moment. I want to read and try some of the tips out and possibly write up a review blog here on the Happy Spin Gazette for my readers.

I noticed there is isn’t one on ammonia. I did a quick EBay search for the author, only found the set I have up for auction. Quick Amazon search, same results. Hmmm…if I decide to find tips and tricks using ammonia, I will have to use the internet or check in another book I have, Joey Green’s Magic Brands: 1,185 Brand-New Uses for Brand Name Products.

I love informative books like this for many reasons, but mainly because these household items are often cheap and can be used several times for many purposes before having to replace it, therefore saving hundreds…yes, hundreds…of dollars a year.  Another wonderful reason I like using these basic household items for various stuff is that they are often MUCH more safe to use then the brand products with a dozen different chemicals in them that are extremely harmful to your health, your family’s health, and your pets’ health.

What gets me is on the internet I see many people who get all “shocked” by using these basic items to clean like it’s some wild, new idea.  These basic household item uses have been around for decades, if not centuries.  Mainstream products like Lysol, Tide, etc have not always been there.  People…society today…has become so used to convienance, quick use stuff, and taking for granted what commericals, mainstream media tell them to use to keep their home clean.

If your looking for a good place to find tips and tricks for everyday household items, try Pinterest …  http://pinterest.com/.  You can search for what you like and make a board (file) to save them on.  One of my favorite websites to visit!  My page is http://pinterest.com/ladydawn1/.

Don’t be afraid to try this things out…you’ll be amazed at the results for many of them and the savings you’ll have when you do.  It’s okay to go back to the old school ways like our grandparents. After trying some of these things myself…I swear I even save more on TIME.