Friday, October 24, 2014

How to Deal with the Halloween Candy Dilemma

Well it's that time of year again: Halloween, the fulfillment of a child's dream, and the realization of a parent's nightmare. Well, maybe that's exaggerating a bit, but knowing that your little one has three pounds of candy sitting on the dresser in his or her bedroom along with dozens of wrappers scattered throughout the house can be a little disheartening. Not to mention the inevitable stomachaches, sugar highs, and then the sugar crashes.
 
How can parents prevent such unpleasant aftereffects of trick or treating? You don't want to be the Grinch, and make them throw all of their hard work away, but you also can't let them consume it from morning till night either. There has to be a better option.
 
Some parents opt for a rationing strategy. This way they control how many sweets kids consume every day. In reality, we're just postponing the inevitable by dragging out the adverse results over several months instead of a few weeks.
 
The Candy Exchange
It's possible to become creative and look for a win-win scenario. I call it the Candy Exchange. The Candy Exchange involves exchanging pieces of candy for tickets. The tickets can then be redeemed for a variety of things, including going to the movies, buying their favorite toy or video game, a visit to an amusement park, or any other number of activities or items that kids want. All it takes is a little creativity on your part.
 
1. Start by going to local crafts store and buying a roll of tickets. Explain the concept to your child, and bring him or her along to buy the tickets. Getting kids involved in the process is always better than simply presenting new rules.
 
2. Determine with your child the value of the candy. Kids love this part, because it allows them to negotiate. For example, a candy bar might be assigned a value of 5 tickets, while a single wrapped piece of hard candy might only be worth 1 ticket.  
 
3. Have your child make a wish list of reasonable "wants." Have your child come up with three items he or she wants--e.g., a new toy or game; a new accessory such as a handbag or cap; or tickets to the skating rink.
 
4. Figure out the point values for each wish list item. Discuss with your children the number of tickets that seems right to acquire any particular item or event they want.
 
5. Give them the opportunity to earn additional tickets. You can also take this opportunity to make it a learning experience for your child. For example, there may be an item they want that exceeds the value of tickets they possess. Give them the option of earning additional tickets through doing chores around the house or even demonstrating improvement in a particular subject at school.
 
The benefits of The Candy Exchange are many. You're taking something that started out as unhealthy consumption and turning it into positive reinforcement with goal-oriented behaviors. You're teaching your child the value of waiting, budgeting, and planning. And doing this simple activity with your child may even result in some more quality time together.
 
Most important, when parents learn how to turn a difficult situation--I want candy!--into a positive outcome, it teaches everyone in the family that there's a constructive way to get what one wants and to forgo short-term gratification for something more satisfying.

by Jay Scott Fitter LMFT

---------------------------------------------------
 Jay Scott Fitter MFT has two decades' experience as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and is a popular parenting workshop leader, speaker, and the author of a new book, Respect Your Children: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting (familyanswerman.com).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Christmas Tradition

Smell is one of our most powerful senses...  Think about it - ever catch a whiff of something and all of a sudden a memory of long ago is triggered in your mind??  Happens to me all the time, a certain perfume can remind me of a summer filled with fun or the smell of the forest conjures up thoughts of camping in the woods with my family as a child.  And oh, the smell of gingerbread - well, we all know what kinds of wonderful Christmas memories that can retrieve from the depths of your mind.

Chimney Sweep
Photo Credit:  Joshua Ets-Hokin
There's one more smell though, that can snap images of Christmastimes past into my  head faster than anything....  The smell, that wonderful, glorious smell that weaves its way throughout the Cow Palace in San Francisco each and every Christmas season.... the luscious smell of spiced, roasted nuts, chestnuts roasting, cinnamon and a bevvy of foods too numerous to mention.... the smell that greets you when you enter... The Great Dickens Christmas Fair.


The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
is fun for the whole family!
Photo credit: Raymond Van Tassel
A beloved Bay Area tradition since 1970, the Great Dickens Christmas Fair features over three acres of exhibition halls magically transformed into an old-world English Christmas card.  Imagine a lovingly re-created slice of Charles Dickens’ London, warmly lit and gaily decorated, with streets, shops, pubs, tea rooms, lecture halls, theatres, a grand Music Hall, the London Dockside and more than 700 costumed players who bring the city to life. 

The opportunity to applaud, carouse, dance, and mingle in a festive Victorian world is an enchanting alternative to the typical commercial fare of the season and makes the Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party the perfect event for the entire family to enjoy.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria
Photo Credit:  Joshua Ets-Hokin
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair brings back the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel of the times that have made Yuletide the most beloved holiday of the year,” says Kevin Patterson, director of the Fair. “Everything good about traditional holiday celebrations is here, and it’s all driven by our passion for authenticity in theatrical presentation, history and handcrafts.”

Manly men vie for audience applause
in the infamous Broadside Music Hall Revue.
Photo credit: Rich Yee
New entertainment this year includes Richardson's Empire of Wondersa Victorian sideshow filled with whimsical wonders and curious conundrums; a sprightly production of the perennial favorite Pinocchio; and a new “Christmas Carol” environmental theater.

Fairgoers of all ages will meet the characters of Charles Dickens’ London face-to-face, as more than 700 costumed players combine their talents to create an authentic Victorian holiday experience. You might behold the great Queen Victoria herself, along with her dashing Prince Albert. Or
Will Ebenezer Scrooge have a change of
heart, and partake of Yuletide cheer?
Or will he share the fate of Jacob Marley?
Photo credit: Raymond Van Tassel
discover the daring female writer George Sand dressed in trousers and strolling with Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, or Lewis Carroll.  A multitude of fictional characters, like Ebenezer Scrooge, Sherlock Holmes, Tiny Tim, and the Mad Hatter mingle with colorful street
characters of the periodroving chimney sweeps, musicians, carolers, London bobbies, magicians, and saucy dance hall girls. If you can, get there before they open to watch the opening scene of each day's fair where Charles Dickens, himself opens the day by introducing many of his literary characters who have come to life including Mr. Scrooge himself. 


A maid prepares for High Tea at Cuthbert's
Tea Shoppe, where patrons may enjoy
exquisite scones and tasty tea sandwiches
(reservations required for High Tea).
Photo credit: Raymond Van Tassel
The Dickens Christmas Fair also offers a variety of toothsome treats and delectable dishes to tempt all palates. When hunger strikes, fairgoers may refresh themselves with traditional holiday goodies, including a feast of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, goose or quail, fish & chips, duck a l’orange, hot meat pies, plum pudding, mulled cider and scones, hot roasted chestnuts, Ambrosia truffles, or Mrs. Bumble’s Sugar Plums.  This year’s newest delectables include Confounding Confections – delightful candies that are vegan, all-natural, and free of gluten and common allergens. The Fair features five authentic English pubs serving libations for all ages, including champagne, hot chocolate, hot buttered rum, or a pint of stout or ale on draft.

The Gingerbread Man may have met his
match in the wild and wooly Christmas
Pantomime!
Photo Credit: Raymond Van Tassel
Holiday entertainment opportunities abound for both the young and the young at heart. For the little ones, there are visits with Father Christmas, a hand-powered Adventure Carousel, Punch & Judy puppet shows, a parade with Mother Goose, a children’s painting garden, as well as the chance to meet characters from A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby.

Proper young ladies have their hair
beautifully braided at the Great Dickens
Christmas Fair.
Photo credit: Rich Yee
Youngsters can also try their hand at being “printer’s devils” with an actual 1860s printing press, learn to tie intricate knots and sing sea chanteys at the Paddy West School of Seamanship, become adorned with temporary tattoos or French braiding, or create their own holiday gifts such as rolled beeswax candles and hand-painted ceramic ornaments. They can also create their own miniature Fairy house, or learn to play darts at the Cat ‘n Bull Dart & Gaming Parlour.

A young shopkeeper offers Victorian
reproductions and other unique gifts at the
Great Dickens Christmas Fair.
Photo credit: Rich Yee
Bid farewell to the frenetic shopping malls of the 21st century and find that perfect one-of-a-kind holiday gift in the shops of Victorian London.  Each year, more than 100 costumed vendors offer their artisan wares, including Victorian reproductions, fine art, romantic clothing, handsome drinkware, unusual ceramics, dazzling jewelry and accessories, even an overstocked antiquarian bookseller.

More raffish patrons may enjoy the "high
life" to be found at Mad Sal's Dockside Ale
House, at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.
Photo credit: Rich Yee
Adult patrons love to gather at Mad Sal’s Dockside Ale House to sing rowdy favorites and watch high-kicking dancers take to the stage for the wicked Can-Can Bijou. The immensely popular and roguish “Saucy French Postcard Tableaux Revue,” with all new tableaux vivants, returns to the Victoria & Albert Bijou Music Hall.  This Twilight Hour entertainment is sure to beguile and delight the adults in the audience. Admission to this attraction is free, but you must request tickets upon arrival at the Fair; they go quickly and guests must be 18 or older to gain admission.

Old Father Christmas carefully attends to
the heartfelt holiday wishes of all good girls
and boys, daily on the Father Christmas Stage.
Photo credit: Raymond Van Tassel
Celebrate the holidays at the 36th annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party.  The world’s most elaborate and authentic Victorian Christmas event kicks off on November 22 (the Friday after Thanksgiving) and continues for FIVE weekends through Sunday, December 21, 2014 at San Francisco’s historic Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Ave.

General Admission tickets are available at the Box Office for $25 (Adults), $21 (Seniors/Students/Military with photo ID), $12 (Children ages 5-12), and wee ones under 5 are free. Tickets are not date-specific (admission is good any one day of the Fair), and are fully transferable.

Mr Scrooge
Photo Credit:  Joshua Ets-Hokin
A Tip from Scrooge: For the very best-priced tickets, print-at-home discount tickets are made available at www.dickensfair.com; Season Passes are also available online for $80; and Twilight Special tickets (good after 4:00 pm daily, available only at the box office) are half-price for Adults ($12.50) and $8 for children ages 5-12.

Parking is $10 per vehicle (charged by the Cow Palace). The Fair offers a free shuttle from the Glen Park BART station. Group rates are available for parties of 15 or more; contact Terry Rosenstock, tickets@gggrouptickets.com, 415-668-0525.

For more information, please call (800) 510-1558 x 114 or visit www.dickensfair.com.

And by all means, while you're there, take a few minutes to stop and smell the smells - before you know it, you too, will come to think of those smells as a Christmastime favorite (I admit, I try every year to mix together the right combination of goodness to re-create those smells in my home - I often come close, but I've never yet hit it on the head).

Disclosure:  Yes, the Dickens Fair people asked me to write an article for them, but I would have done it even if they hadn't - I love this event that much!!  It's a don't miss for the holiday season - after 17 years of visiting, it's just not Christmas without it!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday - Do You Have a Sugar Addiction?

Welcome to another installment for Weight Loss Wednesdays. I was watching Dr. Oz the other day and his guest was a woman with a major sugar addiction. Through the foods she consumed, she was ingesting about 84 tablespoons of sugar daily. Can you believe it? With Halloween and other holidays on the horizon, I want to be sure to control my own sugar intake.
 
How about you? What are your eating habits when it comes to sugar? Do you read labels? Do you realize how much sugar is actually in items that we don't consider "sweet"? Take pasta sauce for example; one serving can have 11 grams of sugar or more. Even the breads we eat often contain sugar. I just checked a bag of sandwich rolls and they contain 7 grams each. So, while we may feel that a few cookies or ice cream is not that bad, we need to consider our sugar intake for the entire day before we splurge on dessert.

Many of us tend to have a sweet tooth in the late afternoon or after dinner. Try to track the amount of sugar that your are eating the rest of the day so that a small treat is not putting you over the edge. While there is no RDA (recommended daily allowance) for sugar, the Department of Agriculture does recommend that sugar intake not exceed 8% of our daily diet. For an average woman, that is approximately 40 grams.

It can be cumbersome to spend your entire day reading labels; and if you get food on the run, there is often no label for reference. Keep the following tips in mind to help reduce your overall sugar intake:

Skip the soda!
This is a sugar bomb! Drink water with a little lemon or lime for flavor.

Eat healthy foods first.
Load up on the healthy stuff containing fiber and complex carbohydrates. Nuts and proteins are a great option. You'll feel full and satisfied and have fewer cravings.

Try a low-sugar sweet like dark chocolate.
A good dark chocolate does not have sugar as the first ingredient. It also contains healthy antioxidants. Remember that a small piece goes a long way. Savor each bite.

I hope this article has helped you to consider your daily sugar intake. Take some steps to modify your diet. Let us know what other ideas you have to help reduce sugar in your diet and combat cravings.

Until next week, have a safe, happy and healthy week ahead.


-Coach Jenn
Posted by Jenn

of PersonalFitCoach.com
 

Monday, October 20, 2014

10 Minute Organizing Tricks

Whoever thought you'd be able to get organized in just 10 minutes?! Here are a few simple ideas.

10 MINUTE CHORE BOX: Rather than spending hours organizing, and doing it all yourself, create a 10 minute Chore Box for yourself--and one for each family member, if applicable.

Each person's box would contain specific chores or tasks that need to be completed. The chores are written on slips of paper, and take a maximum of 10 minutes each to accomplish.

You can gear the tasks towards the person's abilities (e.g. while older kids can help out with vacuuming, a 3 year old may instead be responsible for putting away his/her toys.)

Each day, as a chore is completed, that slip of paper is placed in a holding envelope until the Chore Box is empty. Then, when empty, the boxes are refilled, and the system starts over again. This also works well at the office!

10 MINUTE PICK-UP: Control the chaos. Schedule a consistent, '10 minute Pick-up' each night. Set a timer to sound an alarm in 10 minutes.

While the clock is ticking, all family members are responsible for clearing out and putting away their belongings from the main family area.

When the timer sounds, you're all done. Give yourselves a warm round of applause for all you've accomplished.

10 MINUTE 'WHEN I HAVE TIME' GOALS: One of the oldest phrases in the book is, 'I'll do that, when I have the time.' Problem is, that time never seems to come.

If you REALLY want to do something, the time can generally be found pretty easily. For example, if you just won an all-expenses paid trip to the land of your dreams, you'd probably find time to fit it into your busy schedule without much of a problem.

So, it's time to begin fitting in those things you want to do, and 10 Minute Goals can help. Schedule 10 minutes a day to catch up on your reading, or to begin learning that foreign language, or to simply spend having fun with your children. Then, work on those goals when the schedule date and time rolls around.

10 MINUTE LUXURIES: Don't forget to schedule a few 10 Minutes Luxuries per day to do something nice for yourself.

Sometimes the day is so rushed and chaotic, that it's easy to forget the really important things like family, health, spirituality, personal time and so on.


 By Maria Gracia

Get Organized Now!™ Want to get organized? Get your FREE Get Organized Now!™ Idea- Pak, filled with tips and ideas to help you organize your home, your office and your life, at the Get Organized Now!™ Web site http://www.getorganizednow.com

Dinner Diva: Fall in Love with Honeycrisp Apples

Apples are one of my favorite snack foods, because they're delicious and a low-maintenance fruit to bring wherever you go. No peeling, all you have to do is pick them up and bite into them. But I'm going to talk about one type of apple in particular: Honeycrisp apples, my very favorite. Even the name of this apple sounds yummy, but what's even more enticing are the health perks!

These refreshing fruits have a full flavor of sweet and tart and a lot of juice packed into one bite. The benefits of biting into one of these produce gems is the fiber and vitamin C, even in the skin, so don't disregard the peel! According to livestrong.com there's just as much fiber in one of these apples as there is in a bowl of bran cereal; which is great because it'll fill you up, satisfying your hunger for a reasonable period of time!

Remember though, organic apples are the way to go! You don't need all those pesticides!

Here's Today's TRICK:
This year, when you make apple pie, try using half Honeycrisp and half the traditional Granny Smith and you'll use less sugar!

Here's a TIP:
To keep apples from browning after cutting into them, rub the flesh of the fruit with lemon juice.

And Your RECIPE:
Apple Autumn Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 large Honeycrisp apples, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
6 large carrots, peeled and sliced
4-5 cups organic chicken broth (measurement pending on your desired thickness)

First heat oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat and cook onion and celery until onion is transparent.

Add seasoning (curry, salt, pepper), and apples, bay leaf, and carrots. Stir for about 3 minutes and then add broth. Bring to boil, then allow to simmer for nearly 30 minutes or until carrots and apple are soft.

Remove bay leaf, and puree the soup in a food processor to give it a clean and smooth texture and taste. If you really want to explore your taste buds, try garnishing with a dash of cinnamon!

Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Your Dinner Diva at your service on http://savingdinner.com/


Copyright (C) 2010 www.savingdinner.com Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

All you need is love?

by Maryanne Comaroto

Dear Maryanne:

One of my best friends has been unhealthily obsessed with the same guy for almost four years (we're now seniors in college). They have hooked up intermittently over this time but have never been on a date or spent any platonic time together. He has never displayed any actual interest in her or her feelings despite it being incredibly obvious that she is very attached. She refuses to show interest in any other person.

My friend responds to this guy's booty call messages every single time, running over to his place even at 3am in the pouring rain. She is obsessed to the point of letting it completely control her mood. We're at a breaking point and have no idea what to do. Please help!
-A, J, and S


Ladies,


First of all, thanks for writing. It's very moving to hear from people who are genuinely concerned about the welfare of their friends and are willing to do anything they can to help. I want to help give you the strength to do what comes next by clarifying some things about what causes people to behave this way, in hopes that you can see your friend's situation from her perspective.

There are always two sides to every story, and in this case there's the way that you look at what is happening, and then there's the way that she looks at. You see a wonderful young woman who is wasting her time devoting herself to someone who couldn't care less about her and is just using her. She, on the other hand, may have very deep psychological reasons for doing this, and often this kind of behavior can be traced to a similar dynamic that was imprinted in early childhood.

If she has confided in one or all of you about any of the relationships she had or observed when she was growing up, for example within her family, you can look for clues there and try to spot things from that time that she might be recreating now. If she's not very forthcoming talking about these things, you might have to use gentle persuasion to get her to open up.

If and when you learn the truth about what sort of past dynamic she might be recreating, the next step is to help her see a way out of that by showing her the pattern and giving her the tools to break the cycle. There are plenty of books to be read on the subject; you can start with my own book, Hindsight: What You Need to Know Before You Drop Your Drawers.

But while books might get the message across, all the words in the world cannot make her take good advice until she is ready to wake up and start healing herself from these self-destructive and self-sabotaging patterns. It can be frustrating to you to watch as you wait for her to come to her senses, but the best you can do you is be sympathetic, empathetic, and encourage her in the right direction as much as you can without putting yourself in emotional harm. Your support can make a huge difference in helping her see the light.

If at any point you become concerned about your girlfriend's safety, or she mentions anything about harming herself, always take that seriously and find out immediately where you can get professional help on campus. You can never be too careful when someone's life is at stake.


To get an idea of a healthy, mutual respectful relationship, check out my interview on Spiritual Partnership with Gary Zukav and Linka Francis: http://www.youtube.com/maryannelive11#p/a/u/1/Fk8i9vFpuMs


- Maryanne


by Maryanne Comaroto of Maryanne Live

October Ultimate Cash GIVEAWAY!!! (Enter Daily)



My blogger friends and I have teamed up to bring you one of our biggest giveaways ever! One lucky winner will win a $750 cash prize (via Paypal) and it just might be you!

If you want a chance to be the lucky winner, here’s what you need to do - bookmark this page and come back every day to enter and earn bonus entries by sharing the giveaway with your friends on social media. Good luck!

GIVEAWAY

Prize: $750 cash (via Paypal)
Organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!




Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Besides the mandatory blog comment entry, all other entries are optional. Giveaway ends 11/13 and is open worldwide.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Weight Loss Wednesday - Top 10 Reasons to Exercise

The number one reason that most people are out-of-shape is that they don't exercise enough. Do yourself a favor and print this list and post it where you'll see it every day. When you need motivation or encouragement simply read over this list and feel your motivation soar.

1. You'll reset your body: Exercise has been described as a giant reset button. A good workout will block appetite swings, improve your mood and even help you sleep.

2. Your clothes will fit better: Consistent exercise will tone and tighten your body, causing your clothes to not only fit better but to also look nicer. Also exercise ensures that soon you'll be trading your clothes in for smaller sizes.

3. You'll be less stressed: You have enough stress in your life - it's time for a break. A good workout invigorates your muscles, leaving you relaxed and less stressed.

4. You'll have more energy: Research studies show exercise increases energy levels in sedentary patients. Next time you feel fatigued, fight it with the most powerful tool available: exercise.

5. You'll be stronger: Exercise improves muscle strength and endurance, two things that you use throughout each day. When you exercise consistently you'll be pleasantly surprised when difficult tasks begin to seem easy.

6. You'll be more confident: Who doesn't wish they walked and talked with more confidence? A consistent exercise program will do just that. As your body becomes more fit, watch as your confidence sky-rockets.

7. You'll reduce your blood pressure: Exercise has been proven more effective than medication in reducing blood pressure to normal levels. A single workout has been shown to reduce blood pressure for the day and regular exercise reduces overall blood pressure in the long run.

8. You'll sleep better: Do you toss and turn for hours before falling asleep? Exercise is a powerful sleep aid. Your tired muscles encourage your body to quickly fall asleep so they can get their overnight repair work done.

9. You'll increase your endurance: Do you ever get out of breath when walking up stairs or through the mall? Regular exercise builds your endurance for everyday activities.

10. You'll feel great: Vigorous exercise releases natural endorphins (happy hormones) into your blood stream that dissolve pain and anxiety. You've probably heard of ‘runner's high', this can be achieved by any great workout.

What are you waiting for? Lace up your shoes and get moving!

Until next time, have a happy, healthy and safe week ahead.

Coach Jenn

of PersonalFitCoach.com

Monday, October 13, 2014

10 Ideas to Help You Remember

You are busy and you have tons of things to do. How can you possibly remember it all?

Having a sharp memory recall can be as simple as finding ways to help jog your memory throughout the day.

Here are 10 quick ideas:

WRITE IT DOWN. With the amount of things you have to remember in any given day, why should you try to stuff it all into your memory bank? When you want to remember something, the very best thing to do is write it down. Then, when you need to recall it, it will be there for you in an instant.

KEEP IT TOGETHER. When you write down things you want to remember, keep them in one consistent place. Otherwise, you're going to spend a lot of time looking for your notes.

MAINTAIN GOOD HEALTH. Eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, and exercise. These are all important for your memory, staying focused and being alert.

RECORD YOUR THOUGHTS. Sometimes you might want to remember something, but it's impossible for you to write it down, such as when you're driving. A little hand held tape recorder is a wonderful gadget to carry around with you and record your thoughts, or your parking space number, or a phone number you see on a billboard.

CALL YOURSELF. If you're at the office, and you want to do something when you arrive home, call your answering machine and leave yourself a message. When you get home, you'll listen to your message and remember exactly what you wanted to do.

BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. If you keep saying you have a bad memory, you'll probably continue to have a bad memory. It's important to have a motivated, I CAN remember attitude.

SEND YOURSELF E-MAIL REMINDERS. There are many free e- mail reminder services available. You simply type in what you want to remember, such as a birthday, anniversary or event, and you then receive an e-mail reminder when the date is approaching.

POST STICKY NOTES. Those wonderful, little sticky notes can be amazing memory helpers. Want to remember something before you leave the house? Jot it down on a Post-It Note and stick it on the inside of your door. You'll be sure to see it as you're getting ready to walk out. Have to make an urgent call first thing in the morning? Leave a Post-It Note on your telephone.

SET TIMERS AND ALARMS. Take advantage of alarm clocks and timers throughout the day. Have to take the clothes out of the wash at 3:00? Set your alarm clock to remind you. Want to leave for the basketball game by 6:15? Set your timer to beep a few minutes before.

USE VISUAL REMINDERS. Visual reminders can help you remember and focus. I especially like visual reminders for remembering your goals. If your goal is to take a trip to a beautiful island in a few years, keep a magazine photograph of the island right on your desk. If your goal is to own your own business one day, find a picture or ornament that will help remind you of this goal each day.


By Maria Gracia

Get Organized Now!™ Want to get organized? Get your FREE Get Organized Now!™ Idea- Pak, filled with tips and ideas to help you organize your home, your office and your life, at the Get Organized Now!™ Web site http://www.getorganizednow.com

Dinner Diva: Finding Balance as an Empty Nester

For all intents and purposes, I am an empty nester-my children aren't at home full time anymore. Things have changed dramatically at my house and I didn't fully realize this until after I did my whole Two Week Kitchen Makeover with Rubbermaid awhile back; the need to fill up all the spaces in my kitchen is no longer an issue.

I recognized something even more profound as I was chatting with dear friend on the phone today. When my children were younger, I used to eat the leftovers off their plates after we had eaten lunch together. It was unconscious; it was because I didn't want to see that food go to waste. Talk about piling on the Body Clutter!

When we wrote Body Clutter, I talked about that from a been there/done that perspective. My kids have grown up over the last ten years. And yes, I stopped eating off their plates.

But I've noticed I have this tendency to shop and cook like I still had two hungry teenagers at home to feed. But because they're not here, I'm eating more because once again, I don't want the food to go to waste! It's that same unconscious choice! I might not be eating off their plates anymore but guess what? Yep, the Body Clutter has been inching back with a vengeance!

Do you see the correlation? Unconscious eating will definitely make food go to WAIST!

I was cooking and eating good food, but my portion distortion both in how many I was cooking for and how much I was eating, was the issue. But as Dr. Oz wisely says portion control starts at the grocery store. I was buying and cooking like I was feeding a tribe of ravenous teenagers!

Your mindset has to change with your situation. You need to ask yourself the obvious questions you might not see even though things have obviously changed (it's the old forest through the trees mentality). Where are you in life? Are you cooking for a family or is it just yourself? Is it time to make an adjustment to your shopping and cooking habits? Do you need to find a balance in your kitchen?

Making an adjustment means taking into account a lot of things not just how many you're really cooking for, but how much you want to eat one particular meal and asking yourself another important question: do I want to eat this again (and again and again...)? Can you tell I'm sick of chicken and black beans? I just finished it off, 5 meals later, good grief.

There is an exception to every rule however-and that is when you're cooking something in the crockpot. That can be justified because everything you make via the crockpot can be frozen and eaten later with no problem. That's when you pull out the plastic freezer  bags to make quality, no brainer frozen meals.

I've moved the enormous soup pot, roaster and large saucepans that used to make big family meals because now they aren't being utilized as much. I've scaled down my pantry, pared my grocery list and cut my recipes in half. There's freedom in this type of cooking! I no longer have to use super-sized anythings-no big cans or packages, no big box stores requiring membership cards containing everything HUGE to feed a small village, with bigger-than-Dallas grocery carts... it's DIFFERENT now and it's smaller! With smaller comes less money, less food, less space taken up by all the food, less cooking implements and serving pieces. I can relax! WOW, how about THAT?

Just because children have left the nest it doesn't mean your cooking has to stop. It just has to CHANGE is all. Get that mindset going, move stuff around, buy less, cook less and (in my case) eat less! Meals still need to be made, food still needs to be purchased and you're still the one standing over the stove, right?

Welcome me to your world, empty nesters! I'm glad to be here. And while I will still be writing and focusing on family cooking, I'm not forgetting you in that equation. Like I said, we still have to eat (and cook!)


Our Menu-Mailer subscription takes into account empty nesters like you and me! We have recipes for TWO! Check it out!

Leanne Ely, C.N.C.

Your Dinner Diva at your service on http://savingdinner.com/


Copyright (C) 2010 www.savingdinner.com Leanne Ely, CNC All rights reserved.