Category: Advice

Tips for Family Camping Trips

For nature lovers, perhaps nothing is more enjoyable than packing up the camping gear, traveling to a favorite campsite and getting away from it all while sleeping under the stars. Such an experience can be transformative, turning first-time campers into lifelong enthusiasts.

The opportunity to turn youngsters into nature enthusiasts who can’t wait to spend time outside may be one reason why so many families go camping. A 2018 report Kampgrounds of America found that 52 percent of campers have children, making camping among the most popular and family-friendly ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Camping with youngsters can help families make lasting memories. Parents who have never before taken their children camping may benefit from employing a few strategies to make the trip as fun as possible.

• Make a trial run in the backyard. A night camping in the backyard won’t be exactly the same as a night in the woods, where wildlife, and particularly insects, may be less welcoming hosts. But a backyard camping night can acclimate children to their sleeping bags and their tents. A fun night sleeping under the stars in the backyard also may make kids more enthusiastic about an upcoming camping trip in the woods.

• Go over safety early and often. Use every opportunity to explain camping safety measures to youngsters in advance of your trip. Emphasize the importance of staying together in the woods, and teach youngsters how to identify potentially harmful plants like poison ivy, making sure they know to avoid coming into contact with these and other poisonous plants. Contact your local parks department, or the campground where you will be staying, for some additional advice on camping safety.

• Let kids help when choosing camping equipment. Youngsters may be more excited about camping if they’re allowed to choose certain equipment, including their sleeping bags and tents. Before visiting your nearby camping retailer, explain to kids that tents come in various styles because they’re designed to protect campers from certain elements that may be more common in certain areas than others. Such an explanation can make it easy to explain to youngsters why you’re purchasing certain items, even if those items weren’t kids’ top choices.

• Plan the family menu in advance. Plan the menu in advance so you can ensure everyone will continue to eat healthy. But make sure to include a few kid-friendly camping classics, like s’mores, in the meal plan as well.

• Prepare a camping-friendly first-aid kit. Bandages and topical antibiotic creams are part and parcel of any first-aid kit, regardless of where you’re going. But the elements pose a different set of challenges that require a more extensive first-aid kit. When designing a first-aid kit for your camping trip, be sure to include all the usual items but also over-the-counter medications that can treat pain, allergies, constipation, and diarrhea. An extra gallon or two of water also makes for a wise addition to campers’ first-aid kits.

Family camping trips can instill a lifelong love of the great outdoors in youngsters. A few simple strategies can help parents make such trips safe and memorable.

How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings

In an effort to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where it can be difficult to maintain social distancing measures. That means people are advised to wear cloth face coverings while shopping for groceries or in any other settings where it might be difficult to stay at least six feet away from other people. In recognition that the notion of wearing face coverings while in public is foreign to many people, the CDC issued instructions on how to wear such coverings to ensure they provide as much protection as possible.

How to wear cloth face coverings

The CDC notes that cloth face coverings should:

• fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face

• be secured with ties or ear loops • include multiple layers of fabric

• allow for breathing without restriction

Additional guidelines

The CDC says face coverings should be avoided by certain people. Such coverings should not be placed on children under age two. In addition, people who have trouble breathing, those who are incapacitated and people who cannot remove coverings without assistance should not wear them.

The CDC also notes that cloth face coverings does not refer to surgical masks or N-95 respirators. The CDC urges everyone to reserve such supplies for health care workers and other medical first responders. Cloth face coverings should be routinely washed. A washing machine should be enough to clean these coverings.

When removing cloth face coverings, do so carefully. The CDC urges people to avoid touching their eyes, nose and/or mouth when removing their face coverings. Once the coverings are removed, people should wash their hands immediately. Cloth face coverings can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While wearing such coverings is a simple gesture, it’s also one that can save lives. More information is available at www.cdc.gov.

Clever Ways to Use Leftovers

The spread of COVID-19 has upended many people’s lives. As with other virulent health crises, the practice of social distancing has been recommended to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 outbreak. One way to socially distance oneself is to avoid unnecessary trips to places where the public may congregate, such as grocery stores. Some people visit supermarkets and other food stores every day, especially if they don’t meal plan or shop for the week. According to the Time Use Institute, the average shopping trip takes 41 minutes and people go food shopping an average of 1.5 times per week. Any additional time spent at the grocery store increase the likelihood of contact with others, potentially increasing shoppers’ risk of contracting coronavirus as well. Therefore, people taking steps to stay at home may have to rethink the way they purchase and use food.

Being more mindful of food waste and putting leftovers and ingredients to use in new ways can help stretch food further and reduce the need to make frequent trips to the grocery store. Consider these ideas to make use of leftovers:

• Save those vegetables. It’s easy to scrape a half-portion of uneaten vegetables into the trash thinking it can’t be used. Instead, combine it with other vegetables accumulated throughout the week. Many play well together and can be mixed into casseroles, omelets, soups, and stir-fry recipes.

• Create new meals. Using leftovers does not mean eating the same exact meal a second time. Ingredients can be utilized in new ways. For example, a roast chicken can be broken down and the meat can be used for fajitas on another night. Leftover tomato sauce and meatballs from a Sunday dinner can be turned into an impromptu chili with the addition of beans and peppers.

• Think beyond dinner. Leftovers can be collected at any time of day and used later on. Cold cuts can be chopped and used to make a stromboli with some refrigerated pizza dough. Save Belgian waffles from breakfast and top with breaded chicken fingers for a delicious chicken-and-waffles meal for lunch or dinner. Leftover roasted potatoes and scraps of ham can be used in a breakfast hash.

• Stuck on starches. Turn extra rice from dinner into arancini (rice balls) for a snack on another day. A leftover sweet potato or two can be mixed with butternut squash to make a sweet and healthy mashed side dish. Mashed potatoes can be transformed into potato croquettes or potato pancakes.

Finding new ways to use leftovers means minimal waste and fewer trips to the supermarket.

Resolve to Read More and Reap the Benefits

It may be tempting to curl up on the couch and turn on the television to unwind, but research indicates that reading is one of the best workouts for the brain. The World Health Organization says that doctors diagnose nearly 10 million new cases of dementia each year. With so many people understandably concerned about any and all cognitive issues related to aging, the search is continually on to find ways to strengthen the mind’s muscle. It may be as simple as picking up a book.

People make New Year’s resolutions to improve their lives, and reading more can be a great way to do just that. According to the online health and wellness resource The Healthy (www.thehealthy.com), reading has been associated with language reception in the left temporal cortex of the brain. When this part of the brain processes written material, neurons begin working hard to transmit information. Research conducted by Stanford University indicated that MRI scans of people who are deep into a Jane Austen novel showed an increase in blood flowing to areas of the brain that control both cognitive and executive function.

When the brain is working efficiently, it may be less prone to some of the issues that can cause a decline in memory and brain function. Research published in the journal Neurology found frequent brain exercise through reading lowered mental decline by 32 percent. Of course, the benefits of reading extend beyond the physical. Literary fiction can help people be more empathetic. Getting lost in a book and the characters’ stories makes others more relatable. Reading has the potential to help a person understand what people are thinking, offers research published in the journal Science.

Picking up a good book also can help a person gain knowledge of new cultures, ideas and history and even improve vocabulary. Picking up a newspaper or magazine, joining a book club or reading with children are just a few of the many ways to improve the mind through reading.

10 Doctor-Recommended Health Tips for the New Year

Four in 10 adults in the U.S. have two or more chronic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While certain conditions and risk factors are beyond one’s control, the new year is the perfect time to consider the many lifestyle choices you can make for improved health.

“With too many holiday sweets and not enough exercise likely in the rearview mirror, now is the perfect time to consider your personal goals and how you can make positive health choices in the coming year,” says American Medical Association (AMA) President Patrice A. Harris, M.D. “The good news is that there are a few easy steps you can take that will set you on the right track for a healthier 2020.”

To get you started, the AMA is offering 10 wellness tips for the new year:

1. Steps you take now can help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Learn your risk by taking the self-screening test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org.

2. Be more physically active. Adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.

3. Visit LowerYourHBP.org to better understand blood pressure numbers and take necessary steps to get high blood pressure – also known as hypertension — under control. Doing so will reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.

4. Reduce your intake of processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar. Eat less red meat and processed meats, and add more plant-based foods, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds to your diet. Also reduce your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and drink more water instead. Drinking sugary beverages — even 100% fruit juices — is associated with a higher all-cause mortality risk, a new study published in JAMA Network Open suggests.

5. If your health care professional determines that you need antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed. Antibiotic resistance is a serious public health problem and antibiotics will not make you feel better if you have a virus, such as a cold or flu.

6. If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans — up to one drink daily for women and two drinks daily for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.

7. Talk with your doctor about tobacco and e-cigarette use (or vaping) and how to quit. Declare your home and car smoke- and aerosol-free to eliminate secondhand exposure.

8. Pain medication is personal. If you’re taking prescription opioids or other medications, follow your doctor’s instructions. Store them safely to prevent misuse and properly dispose of any leftover medication.

9. Make sure your family is up-to-date on vaccines, including the annual influenza vaccine for everyone age six months or older. If you’re pregnant, you can receive the flu vaccine during any trimester, but should receive the Tdap vaccine early in the third trimester to protect yourself against flu and whooping cough.

10. Manage stress. A good diet, sufficient sleep (at least 7.5 hours per night), daily exercise and wellness activities, like yoga and meditation, are key ingredients to maintaining and improving your mental health, but don’t hesitate to ask for help from a mental health professional when you need it.

Try New Experiences by Starting a Club

Shared interests are often the foundation of lasting relationships. Clubs can be a great way for people of all ages to connect with those who share their passions. Clubs are organizations that are dedicated to a particular interest or activity. Clubs can be academic-based, hobby-based, faith-based, or rooted in any subject that people share a passion for. While clubs are often associated with school-aged children, they’re also widely accessible and positive outlets for adults.

Adults interested in clubs can see if there are any in or around where they live, work or go to school. If nothing seems to fit the bill, adults can start a club. In fact, for people who resolve to try new activities and interests or meet new people, beginning a club can be an ideal outlet. Here’s how to get the ball rolling.

Pick an interest

Interests can include anything from sports to culinary arts to reading. Even activities that people do on their own, like reading, can be turned into activities for clubs. For example, book clubs encourage discussing a book together as opposed to reading the book together.

Encourage others to join

Adding members to a club can be a multitiered process. Post flyers and information in places where potential club members are likely to see it. If you’re interested in starting a cycling club, post flyers near popular trails and/or at bike shops. Turning to social media also can be a great way to get the word out. The bigger the reach, the more potential members you can attract.

Consider a sponsor

Campus-based clubs may require supervision of a faculty member. Sponsors also can be a good idea for private clubs, and they may provide a meeting space. Reach out to local businesses or houses of worship to see if they can sponsor a potential club.

Establish a mission statement

Put your goals for the club in writing. The mission statement needn’t be lengthy, but it can help set the tone for the club. For example, book clubs may aim to read and analyze one book per month. A club’s mission statement also can be as simple as having fun.

Grow the club

Once the club is established, encourage members to bring friends. This will help with recruitment and can further spread the word about your club.

Clubs are ideal places to make friends, pursue interests and have a good time with similarly minded people.

6 Ideas for a New You in the New Year

The new year is the perfect time to hit the reset button and get a fresh start. Here are six resolution ideas, plus tools and strategies for accomplishing each:

Read More: Want to read more but never seem to have an opportunity to curl up with a good book? Downloading audiobooks and listening to them during commutes and workouts can be the perfect way to “read” when you don’t have dedicated time in your day.

Get Fit: Working out more is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make. To get this one to stick, consider tools that will make reaching your goals more fun. The latest additions to the G-SHOCK Women’s lineup of sports watches are a good example of how wearable tech can support fitness goals. The GMAB800 Pro Trainer Watch connects to a phone app, which provides access to a number of health and fitness functions, including a three-axis accelerometer that keeps track of step counts, a timer that lets you create up to 20 combinations of five timers each, memory for up to 200 lap records and more.

Control Spending: It’s all too easy to spend more than one has or should in any given day, week or month. Use digital apps to create a budget and stick to it. Find one that will actually send you push notifications when you’ve exceeded your limits.

Make Music: Whether learning to play for the first time or resolving to create your own compositions, new tools can support your efforts. The CT-S300 keyboard from Casio not only connects to an app offering lessons in how to play your favorite songs, but the instrument’s dance music mode lets you create and remix electronic dance music tracks, as well as use the keys to trigger drum loops, basslines, synth parts, effects, transitions and more. Bonus benefits: learning to play keyboard will improve hand-eye coordination and stimulate cognitive brain activity.

Declutter: The act of decluttering your home is important, however it can seem daunting, making this one resolution that many people make but don’t keep. Rather than assume you need to dedicate an entire day or weekend to tidy up, block out just five to 10 minutes a day to clear out small areas. Before you know it, you’ll start to see some major improvements. You can even make it fun by putting on music and cleaning for three-song segments at a time.

Hone Your Math Skills: Whether you’re in school and looking to boost your grades or your formal math education is well behind you, it’s never too late to hone your skills. And a great calculator, such as the fx-9860 from Casio, can help you not only become a more efficient mathematician, but one who really understands the concepts behind his or her calculations.

This New Year, don’t get caught in a rut. New tools and fun strategies can help motivate you to try new hobbies, sharpen your skills and improve your life.

3 Strategies That Can Help You Achieve Your Goals in the Year Ahead

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, many people are living it up and toasting the dawn of a new year. Come the afternoon of January 1, those same people might have shifted their focus to the year ahead.

January is a great time to set professional and personal goals. Setting goals can have a greater impact than people may know. Studies examining the importance of setting goals are few and far between, and some have even been revealed as fallacies after being accepted as authentic for years. But a 1979 study that asked newly minted Harvard MBA graduates about setting goals found that 13 percent had set goals. When interviewers followed up with survey participants a decade later, they found that the 13 percent who had set goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent of participants who had set no specific goals at all.

While there’s no universal formula for success, successful people often cite the importance of setting goals and how doing so was integral to their success. The following are some strategies that may help people achieve their goals in the years ahead.

1. Make it a group effort.

A 2013 study from a University of Connecticut researcher found that there is a high level of correlation between users’ exercise activities and their participation in these digital health communities. Such communities served as motivating factors for people aiming to live healthier lives. Relying on others for support, insight and motivation can be a great way to achieve your goals, no matter what those goals are.

2. Set goals big and small.

No goal is too small, and no big goal should be considered beyond reach. In fact, achieving small goals can provide motivation and inspiration along the way to realizing your larger goals. Devise a one-month plan, a six-month plan and a 12-month plan for the year ahead. The one-year plan can serve as your big goal, while the one- and six-month plans can serve as small motivators and great ways to track your progress en route to achieving your larger goal.

3. Write down why you’re setting goals.

People set goals for various reasons, and writing down the reasons they’re pursuing their goals can serve as inspiration when challenges arise. For example, if you aspire to change careers to spend more time with your family, writing that down can provide motivation to keep looking for opportunities when a job search stalls or feels fruitless.

A new year is a great time to set goals. A handful of strategies can help people set their goals and keep them on track toward achieving them.

Learn How to Carve a Better Pumpkin

Toothy grins and a mesmerizing orange glow help make jack-o’-lanterns captivating sights come Halloween. Pumpkin carving is an autumn tradition and runs the gamut of simple designs to more intricate artwork worthy of any medium. Although anyone can grab a pumpkin and get started, when done correctly, jack-o’-lantern designs can last for several days.

• Start with a fresh pumpkin. Look for pumpkins that have a thick, green stem. These usually are fresh and haven’t been handled much. A thick stem also may indicate fleshier pumpkin walls that can be carved more easily. Avoid pumpkins that are soft or full of blemishes, or those that have dried, shriveled stems.

• Cut a hole in the back. Rather than impeding the structural integrity of the pumpkin by cutting off the top and the stem for interior access, cut a hole in the back of the pumpkin. This will still make it easy to reach inside and clean out the pumpkin.

• Scoop out the pulp and seeds. Be sure to thoroughly clean the inside of the pumpkin. Leaving the pulpy, stringy matter and seeds inside can cause the pumpkin to rot that much faster and produce a foul odor. Scoopers, spoons and even hand shovels can help.

• Keep it cool. Heat can adversely affect carved pumpkins, so work in a cool area and store the pumpkin in a cold garage or refrigerator if you need a few extra days before displaying it. Also, carving experts suggest using an electric light inside rather than a candle; by using a candle, you’re essentially cooking the pumpkin from the inside.

• Work in your lap. When carving faces or intricate designs, looking down onto the pumpkin provides more control.

• Don’t cut all the way through. Many pumpkin designers end up shaving or scraping off the outer rind of the pumpkin, but leave a delicate orange film underneath. Light can still shine through, but the design will not collapse on itself as easily if you were to cut straight through the pumpkin wall. Experiment with different tools to achieve the desired look.

• Maintain the freshness. Rubbing exposed areas of the pumpkin flesh with petroleum jelly may help keep the pumpkin moist. Some designs will last for a few days. However, since pumpkins are highly perishable, it’s wise to wait to carve until a day or two before putting a pumpkin on display.

How to Store Fresh Apples

Apples are a popular fruit that are grown in different places around the world. Come autumn, apples can be seen filling farm stands and supermarkets all over North America. Apples are available year-round, but many apple lovers insist there’s nothing better than plucking an apple directly off the tree in the fall. Apple orchards and pick-your-own farms are visited each autumn by apple lovers anxious for apples’ tart and juicy taste. Many people pick more apples than they can eat in a few days, so it pays to learn how to store apples properly so none of them go to waste.

Start by picking a variety of apple that won’t go bad too quickly. Apple growers can make suggestions, but Jonathan, Rome, Fuji, and Granny Smith varieties tend to last longer than other varieties. Choose apples that are free of blemishes or soft spots. The adage that “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” bears some truth. Apples give off ethylene gas as they decay, and a rotting apple can quickly affect nearby apples.

A good place to store apples in the short-term is in the refrigerator where it is cool. Put the apples in the crisper drawer. Do not store them with vegetables, as the apples may cause the veggies to ripen or rot prematurely. If you plan on long-term storage, a few extra steps are necessary. Apples need to be individually wrapped so they will not come in contact with other apples. Newsprint works great; just be sure to pick the pages that are done in black ink because colored ink may contain heavy metals. Once wrapped, place each apple in a container padded with more newspaper. Store this container in a cool place, such as a garage, root cellar or screened-in porch. Apples can last a couple of months if stored in this manner. Keep apples away from potatoes, as potatoes can cause the fruit to prematurely decay.

Another way to store apples is to turn them into preserves or apple sauce. By boiling the apples and sealing them shut in canning jars, that fresh apple taste can be enjoyed long after the apples are picked. Consult with a canning expert about the right way to begin the process. Fruits are generally canned using a boiling-water canner. However, some fruits, like apples, can be canned with a pressure canner. Because apples tend to discolor when the flesh meets the air, use a little lemon juice to prevent this while canning. Turning apples into candied apples also can help them keep longer. Apples can be dipped into a sugary coating, caramel or toffee to be enjoyed later on. Of course, you always can bake apples into a pie as well, then freeze the pie for another day.

Autumn would be incomplete without apples. Get ready for apple season by developing a storage plan before you visit the orchard.