How to declutter your life and reduce stress – Part One
Excessive clutter can be a symptom of too much stress. It can affect every aspect of your life and interfere with how long it takes to do simple tasks to your overall enjoyment of life. It is distracting and feels like it weighs you down. Tackling clutter can feel insurmountable and you may not know where or how to start. If you devote a little time each day to de-cluttering and maintaining a clutter-free environment and lifestyle, you can reap the rewards of a simplified, pleasing living space, reduced stress and more organized and productive existence. Here are some ideas on how to start:
- DESK: Start small by cleaning off your desk. Remove everything, give the desk a good clean and sort through all your stuff. Keep only what is important and keep as much as you can in drawers. Keep a designated spot for every item. Your desk should only have a computer, a phone, an in-box and a file drawer (and perhaps a framed photo). When new papers come in, sort them right away – either shred, take action or file right away.
- YOUR HOME: Simplify each room. Sell, donate or throw away any unused items. Keep the floor and any flat surface clear of clutter. Organize what you decide to keep into cupboards, drawers or closets, so it is out of sight. Do this one room at a time.
- CLOSETS & DRAWERS: Even though items in your closets are out of sight doesn’t mean you can shove more stuff in there. Donate as much as you can and keep specific spaces for specific items so you know where to find them. Keep only the things you love and use/wear frequently. Keep only the things you’ve used within the past year.
Stay tuned for How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress – Part 2…
How to Declutter Your Life – Part 3 of 3
How to Declutter Your Life – Part 2 of 3
How to Declutter Your Life – Part 1 of 3
Declutter and Simplify Your Life
Recently one of my daughters moved out. In fact, it was my youngest that moved out first! Both my girls are in their early 20’s and very close in age. The oldest is almost finished her Master’s degree and my youngest is just starting her Master’s.
I knew this day would come and I’m immensely proud of who they have become. But it still feels strange that the nest is starting to empty. I feel a bit of sadness, but also excitement, and I hope each of my daughters will be ok on their own. I want them to be safe and prepared for every situation. But the reality is they won’t. And I wasn’t either at their age. I guess my husband and I have done our job right if they grow up to become independent, self-sufficient individuals. My wish is that they keep growing as individuals while contributing to society and through it all fulfill their desires and remain happy! And I hope we can be friends. I have to get out of that mindset of “mother” and transition to “friend”.
Part of me is already enjoying the freedom. We will see less spent on food bills and utilities – those long showers and use of Internet!!! These things aside, I think communication is the key. I need to give her space to become independent and enjoy her new life, but also stay in touch and finding out how she is doing. I think that’s how a healthy relationship should work in this case.
Lucky for me, my daughter moved within the same city to be closer to her Master’s workplace and university. So we can easily visit if she doesn’t mind. I imagine it must be more difficult for parents whose adult children move far away.
Regardless of how far they move, they will still do more “growing up” as they learn how to care for themselves. If we think back to when we left home ourselves, we probably just wanted our own space without parents telling us what to do. We took things for granted until we had to live without them. I don’t think we all realized how good/easy we had it until we left our parents’ home.
The fact that my daughter is living with a roommate will also help her see things from a new perspective and appreciate the little things. They will have to work together to be responsible for their shared space and respect each other’s privacy. I’m glad they have a similar mindset and the same work ethic.
As the parent “left behind”, I will definitely miss having the day-to-day contact, but I think it is easier since I am busy with full-time work and other activities to keep me busy.
I know my daughter will succeed. So far she’s been gone for a week and we’re both doing ok!
How to Trap Fruit Flies
In the summer, those annoying little fruit flies land on everything in your kitchen. They don’t like the cold so you won’t find them on food that’s kept in the fridge. I don’t know about you, but I can’t fit all our food in the fridge. I have to keep most of the fruit in a bowl on my kitchen counter. In the warmer summer months, the fruit flies can be a pest! Here is the solution: make a fruit fly trap!
What you need:
- A small bowl
- A piece of old sweet fruit
- Strong smelling liquid like balsamic vinegar or red wine
- Plastic wrap
- Toothpick or something to make holes
First keep an old piece of fruit. If you happen to cut off a bad piece from some fruit your eating, then keep it for the trap – especially if it’s starting to go bad, like a bruised piece of banana. The fruit flies love this!
Place the fruit in the small bowl and pour 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and add a little warm water so it covers the bottom of the bowl. The fruit may even float slightly. You want to make sure the fruit is not covered by the liquid because the flies will want to land on the fruit. You could even add a bit of honey or jam to help entice those pesky flies.
Next cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap so it is smooth with no wrinkles. Carefully poke holes evenly all over the plastic wrap. This is how the flies will enter your trap. They need to be big enough for the flies to enter but small enough so they can’t escape.
Why should I simplify? What’s wrong with clutter you ask? Nothing at all… if that’s the way you like it. Everyone lives differently but there may be some benefits to decluttering that you appreciate. It doesn’t mean becoming a minimalist, but rather being more thoughtful and efficient.
- Less stress – Clutter is visually distracting and is a constant reminder of things you have to do like paying bills, doing laundry, washing dishes, etc. This can weigh you down and create distress.
- More efficient – I think we can all agree that if everything has it’s place (at least most of the time), day-to-day life becomes simpler and more efficient. You can find things when you look for them!
- More peaceful – Without clutter and distractions, it’s easier to relax. Life is more serene.
- More attractive – What’s the first thing you do when you invite friends over? You tidy up and declutter to make your home more attractive. When you list your home for sale, your real estate agent will suggest you declutter. No matter how far you move, the less stuff you own, the easier it is.
- Saves time – How much time have you wasted looking for something? Your phone, your keys, sports equipment, etc. When everything has its place, it’s much easier to find things. Being organized will save you time when you try to find it.
- Saves money – You need a bigger home to store all your stuff. More clutter needs more space. Also you’re less likely to duplicate an item if you can actually find it in the first place.
- Frees up space – Ever notice how many people park on their driveway because their garage is full of stuff? Imagine if they decluttered? They might even be able to park inside the garage… very important in a cold climate! When you go to downsize, it will be so much easier to sort through, move or dispose of the things you don’t need.
- Kinder to Mother Earth – By learning to control how much you own, you will put less in the garbage and save how much ends up in the dump.
Stay tuned for how to simplify and declutter…
How to Declutter Your Life – Part 3 of 3
How to Declutter Your Life – Part 2 of 3
How to Declutter Your Life – Part 1 of 3
Declutter and Simplify Your Life
- 1 (15oz) can of pinto (or black) beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp warm water
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup finely chopped red or yellow onion
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted if preferred
- 1-1/4 cups quick oats, processed into flour
- ½ Tbsp canola oil
- 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp fine-grain sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine ground flax and water in small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, mash the beans into a paste, leaving a few beans intact for texture. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Adjust seasonings to taste if desired. Mix well until combined.
With slightly wet hands, shape the dough into 8 patties. Pack the dough tightly to help it hold together during cooking and place the patties on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake the patties for 15 minutes, gently flip them and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the patties are firm and golden. Serve with toasted buns with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, non-dairy cheese and any other toppings of choice.
Based on a recipe from OhSheGlows.com
Why drink water?
Did you know that your body is 60% water? It’s something we need to survive and here are more reasons you should drink water:
- Feed your body: Water is essential for circulating blood around the body, transporting nutrients, regulating body temperature and digesting food, amongst other things.
- Lose weight: Try drinking water before you eat. It makes you feel full so you eat less and consume less calories. Also eat foods high in water content to make you feel full. These foods usually have a low caloric density (such as fruit, veggies, broth-based soups, beans). Dieters have used this method for years. Instead of using this as a diet, use it as a lifestyle change and make it a habit.
- Energize your muscles: Drink water to replace what you lose when you exercise and sweat. Muscles need to be supple and hydrated, so make sure to drink a little water while you work out to prevent muscle cramps. But make sure to drink plenty of water after a workout to replace the fluid you sweat out.
- Help your skin glow: Our skin, the largest organ in the body, contains plenty of water and provides a protective barrier to prevent excess fluid loss. Someone who is dehydrated may look more dry and wrinkled. Drinking water will help but don’t expect to get rid of wrinkles. Use moisturizer to help lock moisture in.
- Keep your kidneys functioning: As long as our intake of water is sufficient, our kidneys do an amazing job of cleansing and ridding the body of toxins. When you get enough fluids, urine flows freely, is light in colour and low odour. When the body does not get enough water, urine becomes more concentrated, darker and with more odour because the kidneys trap extra fluid for bodily functions. People who are chronically dehydrated are at risk for kidney stones.
- Maintain proper bowel function: Water feeds the colon and helps keep things moving to prevent constipation. Adequate fluid and fibre is the perfect combination to keep things working properly.
- Stay alert: Dehydration can make you feel tired and cranky. It can even lead to headaches. Instead of drinking coffee, try water to keep alert, think more clearly and perform better.
How to drink more water:
- Have water with every snack and meal.
- Add a squeeze of lemon or lime into your water for flavour.
- Keep a bottle with you (at your desk, in your car, in your bag)
- Eat more foods with higher water content like fruits and veggies. About 20% of our water intake comes from food.
- Drink as soon as you are thirsty to avoid dehydration.
- 1 package of vegan puffed pastry such as Tenderflake Puff Pastry
- ½ cup walnuts
- 1 cup oats
- 350g firm tofu (patted dry and cubed)
- 1-1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- ½ medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 veggie bouillon cube + 3 Tbsp water
- 3 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs (GF if desired)
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp onion salt
- 1 Tbsp roasted garlic & pepper seasoning
- 1 Tbsp Mrs Dash no-salt seasoning
- flour for dusting
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- sesame seeds
The day before, remove puffed pastry from freezer and allow to thaw in fridge until ready to use.
To prepare sausage filling:
In food processor, add walnuts and oats and mix to combine to a fine texture. Next add firm tofu and soy sauce, process. Remove and place into large bowl.
In medium pan, saute onion and garlic on medium heat until softened (about 2-3 minutes). Next add mushrooms and some of the balsamic vinegar so it doesn’t stick. Stir and cook for 10 minutes until mushrooms have cooked down. Add a little more balsamic vinegar as needed if required. Mix bouillon cube with water to dissolve and add to mushrooms. Add mushroom mixture, green onions, bread crumbs, black pepper, onion salt, roasted garlic & pepper seasoning, and Mrs. Dash seasoning to bowl and stir well. Mixture will be thick and sausage-like. (This sausage filling can be prepared the day prior and stored in a sealed container in the fridge.)
Preheat oven to 425 F degrees (or as instructed on puffed pastry package).
Tenderflake comes in 2 squares. Lightly flour the working surface. Make sure pastry is coated with more flour as well as the roller itself to stop it sticking. Roll each square of pastry into a flat rectangle about 12 inches x 15 inches. I cut each rectangle into 3 sections 5 inches x 12 inches or so. Keeping in mind with both pastry squares, you have a total of 6 pieces of pastry approx. 5 x 12 each. Place 1/6 of the filling evenly lengthwise along the middle of the pastry. Brush one long edge of the pastry with almond milk. Roll the pastry and seal along the edge. Cut into 8 sausages and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all pastry is used. (This makes 48 small rolls total)
Brush the tops with a little more almond milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or as directed by puffed-pastry package. Serve immediately. Allow to cool completely before storing in sealed container in the fridge.
- corn tortilla chips
- mango-lime salsa
- 2 cups chopped baby spinach
- 2-3 tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup non-dairy shredded cheese (such as Daiya)
- ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 avocado, chopped or equivalent in guacamole
On a large dinner plate, lay out the tortilla chips so that they cover the whole plate. Using a spoon, drizzle a little salsa on each chip. Next, using scissors, chop the baby spinach so there is a layer all over the chips. This will shrink as it cooks so be generous! Add chopped tomatoes and shredded cheese. Cook in microwave for approximately one minute or until cheese begins to melt. Remove and add freshly cut avocado. This makes a nice appetizer and is very quick to prepare.
Just like your body, your eyes and vision change over time. Beginning at around the age of 40, many adults start to have problems seeing up close especially for reading or working at the computer. This is a normal change in the eye’s focussing ability and will progress over time. Losing your ability to focus for near vision is called presbyopia. At first it causes people to start holding reading material farther away to see clearly. For those people who don’t wear glasses for distance, they may need readers (or cheaters) to be able to read. You may notice it more in a restaurant while trying to read the menu in dim light. For those people who already wear glasses for distance, you may find you take your glasses off to read or you may start to wear bifocal or progressive lenses. For people who wear contact lenses, you could wear readers (while still wearing contact lenses) to help with up close vision. Alternately, those people could try multi-focal contact lenses. As you continue to age, presbyopia becomes more advanced. This should stop around the age of 60.
Warning Signs of other eye health problems:
- Fluctuating vision – The tiny blood vessels in the retina can be affected by chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertention which may cause frequent changes in how you see clearly. Your vision may also flucuate due to cataracts developing. This can cause frequent change in prescription, but also more blurred or yellowed vision.
- Seeing floaters and flashes of light – Seeing spots or floaters in your vision may be normal. Although they can be bothersome, they are normally not harmful. However, if you suddenly see more floaters than normal and/or bright flashing lights, see your optometrist immediately. This could be a sign of retinal detachment and could cause permanent vision loss unless treated immediately.
- Loss of side vision – Loss of your peripheral vision could be a sign of glaucoma. This usually happens gradually, in fact, you may not even notice it happening. There are no symptoms so it may go unnoticed for a long time.
- Seeing distorted images – Straight lines that appear wavy or distorted could be a sign of age-related macular degeneration. The disease affects your central vision and as it progresses causes a blind spot right in the middle of your vision.
Regular eye exams and early detection can slow or prevent most of these conditions. Adults should see their optometrist every 2 years unless advised otherwise.
How long we live is not only determined by our genes passed on by our parents, but it is also dependent on our lifestyle and choices we make every day. Some of these factors may surprise you. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Do you smoke?
- Do you consume alcohol, and if so how much?
- What do you eat? Do you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables? How often do you eat salads? Do you eat meat?
- Are you active or sedentary? Do you get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day? Does your activity include intense, moderate and or light exercise?
- Where do you live? Is there much polution?
- Do you have a lot of stress in your life? How stressful is your job?
- Do you get enough sleep? Do you have any down time?
- Do you take vacations?
- Do you have family or friends who support you?
- Do you have any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes heart disease, stroke, hypertension or cancer?
Below is a link to an interesting survey which may open your eyes to areas of your life where you could make changes that might change your life expectancy.
You can play around with the answers to see how it affects your life span. How long will you live? Will you make any changes to your lifestyle?