Spring Fever

shutterstock_101022454Spring has finally sprung. There’s something in the air, and it’s not just pollen, I can feel it, why is it that seasons can affect us so much. Spring break, spring vacation, spring weddings, prom day — spring fever. We want to get out, wear less, and mingle lots. Not only do the adults feel it, even the kids feel it, too. Talk to any teacher, you’ll likely hear there’s craziness in the classrooms as you will hear it in the adult environments. All of a sudden the whole world is alive, the twirping of birds, the humming of insects, the breath of fresh air, and patio time.

On a more scientific note, that energy surge, in whatever form it takes, is a function of longer days and lots more sunlight, says Michael Smolensky, PhD, professor at the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health. He is co-author of the book The Body Clock Guide to Better Health.

There’s a reason why we feel the way we do. In fact, many facets of everyday life are governed by seasonal patterns as well as circadian rhythms — our internal biological clock, Smolensky tells us.

“These are the rhythms of life, and we take them for granted,” he says. “People accept the fact that our bodies are organized in space — that our toes are at the end of our feet, and the hairs on our head stand up. But we give little thought to the fact that our bodies are structured in time.”

Spring Brings Changes in Hormones

Imagine that when seasons change, the retina — the inner layer of the eye that connects to the brain through the optic nerve — naturally reacts to the first subtle signs in the amount of daylight, says Sanford Auerbach, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Boston University. This reaction triggers hormonal changes, including an adjustment in melatonin, a hormone that affects sleep cycles and mood changes.

During the long darkness of winter months, the body naturally produces more melatonin. For people prone to seasonal affective disorder, all that melatonin triggers a winter depression. In spring, when melatonin production eases up, so does depression.  This explains why I use a high powered lamp in my home office. It always helped me to be so more productive and energetic – I knew that light and sunlight always affected how I felt.

“There’s more daylight, so people have more energy, sleep a little less,” Auerbach says. “People who have manic-depressive problems [bipolar disorder] may be more manic in springtime.”

Body image springs into our consciousness this time of year. All of a sudden were seeing runners and joggers all over. We’re shaking that craving for carbohydrates that makes us put on weight, says Smolensky. “It’s likely a carryover from our ancestors who had a hibernation-type biology. In the fall, they began putting on weight to get through the lean times of winter.”

Spring is the time for renewal, as seasons change so do we as humans.  Let us not forget that we are part of nature and its rhythms.

 

 

 

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35 Years Forward – Celebrating A Canadian Hero and A Legend

7551-6-terry-foxI was invited to attend the grand opening exhibition of Terry Fox – Running to the Heart of Canada at the Museum of History.  As I sat there and heard the speeches of the people who were part of Terry’s life and cause during his Marathon of Hope, it was quite emotional. I was totally in awe and inspired by Terry Fox’s actions, courage, strength, determination, perseverance, vision, hope, achievement, and his humbleness.  He did not let cancer defeat his spirit, instead he was inspired to help Canadians in their battle against cancer.

As I visited the exhibition, I saw the start of his journey, his personal thoughts, how he dealt with his challenges, how he inspired all Canadians by his actions of courage. He ran 5,373 kms in 143 days practically a marathon every day on a prosthetic leg and inspired people around the world to pay attention one kilometer at a time. The actual footage of seeing and hearing Terry Fox run made me realize the challenge and exertion it took to run with a prosthetic leg – the stride, hop, shuffle to move forward and finally the sound of that prosthetic leg hitting pavement made it somewhat emotional and surreal.

Terry Fox was born on July 28, 1958 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At the age of 19, he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and lost his right leg – an amputation above the knee. Terry had been through the scourge of cancer, he got chemotherapy at the children’s hospital and he’d seen families mourning for their little kids and it tore his heart out – he wanted to do something and was determined to make a difference even though he was going through cancer, struggling with losing his leg. He never lost his vision to help others.

The Marathon of Hope:  a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research by Terry Fox.

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When Terry dipped his artificial leg in the Atlantic Ocean in Newfoundland on April 12, 1980, he embarked on a journey that was fueled by a single dream: a world without cancer. Millions of children, youth and adults around the world have been moved by Terry’s determination and commitment. He was forced to end his run outside of Thunder Bay when the cancer spread to his lungs. His hopes of overcoming the disease and completing his marathon ended when he died nine months later. His spirit lives on.

Dedicated to funding research, The Terry Fox Foundation continues to share Fox’s remarkable story, inspiring the next generation to follow in his footsteps.

Here’s a look at how Terry Fox impacted the lives of many and how his legacy continues to live on.

  • 143 days that Terry Fox ran during the Marathon of Hope practically a marathon every day.
  • 5,373 total km he covered in 143 days.
  • February 1, 1981 –The day that Fox’s dream of raising a dollar for every Canadian was realized.
  • $24,117,000 raised by February 1, 1981.
  • 9 number of shoes Terry wore over his six month journey. Eight on his real foot. One on his prosthetic leg.
  • $3,500,000 raised during the first Terry Fox run held on September 13, 1981.
  • $650,000,000 raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry Fox’s name.
  • .84 cents on every dollar raised by the foundation goes to cancer research.
  • 524 average number of Canadians diagnosed with cancer every day.
  • 1,152 cancer research projects the Terry Fox Foundation has supported worldwide over the past 35 years.
  • 14 Canadian schools named after Terry Fox.
  • 15 roads named after Terry Fox.
  • 9,000 runs held in Terry Fox’s name.

KitchenSmart: New Ways to Spice Up Your Life

Spices are the variety of life!

Spices brinSpicesg so much variety in culinary dishes – why not use them to spice up your life?  Meals can get very boring quickly if you don’t adventure out and try recipes with exotic spices. They bring so much flavour, creativity, and new experiences in the kitchen.

In my early 30s, I was intimidated to use herbs and spices, I stuck to the regular ones that we are all so familiar with.  My life changed, I had kids and most meals were now eaten at home instead of the restaurant so I had to learn to cook those special dishes I enjoyed so much. In those first days, my recipes were trial and error, and I have to admit I hated having to clean all those dishes after a failed recipe. I increasingly was using different spices every time I tried a different dish. Today with the internet everything is right at our fingertips, it hmom cookingas changed so much my experience with cooking. I love searching new recipes on the internet and trying recipes that have been vetted and voted 5 stars by large audiences from different parts of the world. One of my favorite sites is AllRecipe.com. I have used this site for the last five years and I find their recipes accurate and easy to follow. Recently, they have added all the YouTube instructional videos. I have made main dishes and desserts to die for from this site. One of my favorites is the chicken cordon bleu and when you know it’s been given a 5 star by 4,000 people then you know you are not wasting your time slaving over the stove for nothing.  As a working mom with a career, being efficient with time was extremely important and failing recipes was a waste of time and money.

Now we all know that even though cooking can be fun, your kitchen can quickly become a war zone. My spice and seasoning drawer had suffered many battles and it was a disaster after so many years. It was full of all these odd sized bottles of spices and herbs including half empty bags with twist ties. I had a cupboard with two wicker baskets full of herbs and spices. After 30 years, you can imagine the legacy of spice and seasoning bottles I had. The problem is none of these containers were modular or stackable to maximize space.

After finding a systematic approach for my kitchen cupboards and refrigerator, it only made good kitchen sense to find a similar approach for my spices and seasonings. I did find that the Tupperware modular imagesspice and seasoning containers was the only modular systematic approach I could find on the market. They may not be as aesthetically appealing as I would have liked them to be but at this point I am looking for functionality and not a kitchen decor. They are modular, stackable, and keep spices fresh to help ensure that your recipes taste the way they should. As you know, as a kitchen smart advocate, I buy spices in bags to save money, however, my problem in the past was that most of the content would not fit in one bottle leaving me with the dilemma of what to do with the remainder of the bag. The Tupperware containers come in various sizes and sets. The set includes six stackable containers with seals. Each container features 1-oz. (30 mL), 1 1/2-oz. (45 mL), 2-oz. (60 mL), and you also have options to purchase larger size containers like I have done such as the 1/2 cup (125 ml) and 2 cups (250 ml) containers.

See what the stackable modular containers can do for your home!

Before and After pics

I have decluttered my spice and seasoning drawer as well as my cupboard. I can keep spices, candies, sprinkles and more in these incredibly versatile little containers. They’re also great for taking along with you in a packed lunch, tackle box, sewing kit, or backpack.  They are actually awesome but don’t just take my word for it, check out what other people are saying about this product on Amazon.com.

Now tell me about you and your experience with the spices of your life?  What have you done to organize your spices and seasonings?

The Heart and Soul of Costa Rica

The Heart and Soul of Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is an incredible country to visit due to its richness in biodiversity and its various micro-climates. We visited the Guanacaste province and fell in love with the views of the North Pacific coast and its incredible sunsets. I was there in July 2014 with a group of women of different age groups from 16 to 65. We stayed in a villa at the top of a mountain in Playa Hermosa and we had the most spectacular sunsets. We were able to travel the Guanacaste region freely without any worries about our security. Of course we had to be careful like all women should in any country. We all discovered that the heart and soul of Costa Rica is not only about the land but its people. The ”Pura Vida” is not just a ”cliché” but a way of life for the Costa Ricans. Costa Rica has amazing white…

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KitchenSmart: Should I Have Done This 20 Years Ago?

old-to-new-300x300I have to say after a few weeks using my Fridgesmart containers that they have been a lifesaver for our family and they do indeed keep produce crisp and fresh up to two weeks and more. Unbelievable but true. I have not thrown food out in the garbage in weeks. I no longer have to run to the superstore because my veggies are done and ready for the graveyard. I am saving not only money but time in this busy life of working and taking care of a family.

As promised, I mentioned in my last blog that I would tell you all about my project in reorganizing my pantry. Half the battle was won with the fresh produce department and now it was time to tackle the kitchen cupboards. My mission:  saving money, time, and finding a solution to remaining organized. I gave up a few years ago in trying to stay organized, however, I was finding bags of beans, spices, chocolate chips, baking goods all stacked one on top of the other in bins, baskets, and bags in my cupboards – no wonder I couldn’t find anything.  Does this sound like your home?  I don’t have time for a treasure hunt every time I need that special ingredient for a recipe. I knew had to do something and believe me I did try and failed in the past. Success is measured in how long it lasts. However, after seeing Tupperware’s various modular systems of containers that you could build from ten years ago well I was impressed. I had purchased rectangular containers and was able to build from that starting point – all a cost savings of course. Available are rectangular, oval, and round containers that are all modular and stackable containers.  Eureka!  Did I finally find the solution?

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So left with no more cupboard space, I decided to take the leap of faith and look into the modular containers.  The Fridgesmart modular containers proved successful and they were saving me money.  Why not try the only manufacturer that seemed to be providing us with solutions for our kitchen with their modular and systematic approach in organizing cupboard space. The representative came to my home and measured my cupboard space, all for free, and recommended various modular containers that would take full advantage of my cupboard’s real estate.

I ordered the Modular Mates containers and they were delivered directly to my home.  Truthfully, I was afraid to start the project as my cupboards were a mess. It actually took me only four hours to reorganize them and it was fun as I felt I was finally winning the battle  I found two to three bags of the same spices in my cupboards which I organized neatly into my new spice containers. After cleaning up and using the modular containers I now have lots of free cupboard space. Unbelievable!  I ask myself why I didn’t do this 20 years ago?  Why? I never thought it would be worth it or make such a difference.  You would not believe the difference it actually makes. Recently, my daughter made chocolate truffles for St-Valentine’s Day and we did not  have to spend a dime as we had all of the ingredients for once.  What a joy it has been to finally feel that after all of these efforts, my kitchen is organized!

Here are some pictures of my cupboards organized and ready to go.  How I love the Modular Mates and how much they truly save space.

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Modular Stackable Containers

KitchenSmart – Be Organized and Save Money

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Did  you ever wonder where your money goes?  Where you spend the most?   I found one major expense was in my kitchen –  grocery expenses. I spend an average of $200 to $300 per week for a family of four. Add that up over a month and you get a whopping $800 to $1,200 and what’s worst, if you are like most families, you end up throwing a lot of your fresh produce out in the garbage every week

I’ve tried several approaches in trying to reduce our weekly grocery expenses such as budgeting, keeping track of receipts, planning better, and I have had some success; however, I have to admit that what has made a big difference for our family has been the discovery of intelligent containers with an air-flow system which preserves fresh produce longer. I was introduced to it at a Tupperware home party. Don’t laugh, I know Tupperware was there in the days when I was a kid, my mother and aunts use to have them – they are like a household memory. I admit though I was rather skeptic until the lady who held the party showcased a container of vegetables which had been in the refrigerator for a week including the same type of vegetables in another container called “FridgeSmart”. I can tell you that after seeing the difference, and doing some research on the internet, I decided to purchase my first “FridgeSmart” containers. After using them for a few months, I have no regrets at all.

FridgeSmart intelligent containers have an air-flow system that creates the optimal environment for fruits and vegetables. These containers have a 3-way ventilation system that helps regulate the atmosphere inside the container by balancing the flow of oxygen coming in and carbon dioxide going out. The containers are modular, stackable, and maximize your refrigerator’s space. My refrigerator crisper drawers are now used to store meats, dairy products, and bottles.  Gone are the days of throwing out so much fresh produce in the garbage. My vegetables and fruits stay crisp and fresh now for weeks. All “FridgeSmart” containers have a reference chart with the recommended ventilation by produce groups and are also dishwasher safe.

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My Next Project:  Organizing my Pantry and Cupboards

I have been putting off for years purging my cupboards and pantry as I knew it would be a mighty task.  However, in my quest to save money, I knew that the disorganization in my kitchen was not helping. I’d be finding several bags of the same spices, coconut, chocolate chips, you name it. They were stacked one on top of the other in my cupboard as I had no more space. After being impressed with the “FridgeSmart” containers of Tupperware, I researched their stackable modular air tight containers which keeps dry foods fresh and lasting forever. I had the representative come in to my home, free of charge, to help me organize my kitchen with the right size modular containers that would fit and stack perfectly in my cupboards and pantry. I am awaiting for my containers shipment to arrive shortly directly to my home.

Check out my next blog this weekend, I will be writing on my experience in organizing my cupboards and pantry. In the meantime, I look forward to your comments and tell me what has worked for you in your kitchen and how you saved money.

Amazon’s client rating on “FridgeSmart” containers:  http://www.amazon.com/Tupperware-Fridgesmart-Container-Newest-Design/dp/B00DE1QUYC

Find out more on theintelligent “FridgeSmart” containers and visit:  http://order.tupperware.com/coe/app/prod_detail.show_detail?fv_item_number=p10048446000&fv_user=DIS