Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Comfortable Outdoor Living

Making the most of your outdoor living space gives you more space for relaxing and entertaining. Here are some ideas to create your own welcoming areas for outdoor living.  Add visual interest to an outdoor space with brightly-painted planters or colorful throw pillows. They’re easy to update when your favorite color changes, and small enough to add more whenever you like.  Dual-purpose furniture is useful in a small outdoor space. For instance, bench seating that’s also storage and a table that has a planter underneath reduce the furniture footprint without sacrificing utility.  Walkways invite exploration into a larger yard, and keep guests from accidentally stepping on seedlings. Curving walkways through trees or bushes can also create more intimate spaces for entertaining without overcrowding in one spot.  Your indoor fireplace is probably a focal point, so why not give your backyard a similar treatment? Digging a fire pit into your lawn is an inexpensive option. If you don’t want to give up that space in your yard permanently, there are also movable fire pit units you can buy, allowing you to store them when they’re not in use.  Creative outdoor lighting not only provides a warm glow, it also means you can use your outdoor space into the night. Simple DIY solutions include strings of outdoor globe string lights around the porch, small white fairy lights wrapped around tree trunks, or candles in Mason jars twinkling on tables. For an even bigger “wow” factor, wire a chandelier over an outdoor dining table.  Combine outdoor lighting and pest control in one. Fill mason jars with fresh rosemary sprigs, slices of limes or lemons, and about 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Add water and a floating candle to the top. Mosquitos don’t like the smell, but you will.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Many Uses for Lemons

Lemons might be the most useful – and inexpensive – ingredient you have at home! Here are just a few of the ways to use lemons that you might not know.  Get rid of garbage disposal odors by adding a couple of lemon chunks.  Polish stainless steel or banish ants with lemon juice.  Drink a little lemon juice to bump up your metabolism or relieve throat pain.  Keep apples and guacamole from turning brown with lemon juice.  Remove stains on fingernails by sticking your fingers in a lemon for a few minutes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How to Say No (Nicely)

Saying “no” to friends, family, and coworkers often means you get to say “yes” to your own needs. Doing so politely means people still like you! Here are ways to say no that won’t alienate others:  When your boss gives you a new assignment: “That project sounds interesting. I already have a lot on my plate, what should I put on the back burner to accommodate this?”  When you’re asked to give to a charity: “I’ve already donated my planned amount this month (or year), but tell me more about this charity for my next charitable round of giving.”  When you’re asked to lend your truck for a move: “I’m sorry, I don’t loan out my vehicle, but let’s talk about the date – maybe I can do the driving myself.”  When you’re asked to run the school bake sale – again: “You know, I think I’ve done the last two. Why don’t we see if someone else can take a turn?”

Monday, April 15, 2019

Road Safety: Defensive Driving

Being a safe driver is about more than just obeying the speed limit. There are skills known as “defensive driving tactics” that can help keep you out of trouble on the road. Here are a few defensive driving techniques anyone can do:  Pay Attention to Your Surroundings – You might think you already do this, but driving is something most of us do by motor memory (especially on a boring commute). It’s easy to get distracted by a song on the radio or a bird flying by. Stay alert and you’ll be more prepared if something appears in front of you on the road. This also means putting down the phone. If you need to take a call or send a text, pull over (please!).  The 2-Second Rule – In order to maintain a safe following distance behind the car in front of you, choose a roadside landmark (like a tree or a road sign). When the car in front of you passes it, start counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi.” It should take you two seconds or more to reach the same landmark. If you get there sooner, you’re following too closely.  Avoid Blind Spots – You probably know where the blind spots are in your own car, and you’re accustomed to compensating when you need to back up or change lanes. You can’t count on everyone else to do the same in their own cars, however, so to be on the safe side you should avoid driving in another car’s blind spots. If you can’t see the other car’s side mirrors, assume that they can’t see you.  Expect the Unexpected – Even when you have a green light, make sure there isn’t someone running a red coming the other way. Even if the car in front of you doesn’t have a blinker on, be prepared in case they make a sudden lane change. Even if you assume the car behind you will slow down as traffic is building, keep an eye on your rearview mirror just in case.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Five Warning Signs You’re In Over Your Head!

Most of us carry some type of debt: mortgage, car payments, credit cards, or educational loans. How do you know when you’re carrying too much debt? Most people fall into debt trouble with impulse buying. Here are five warning signs that you may be in dangerous debt trouble, and what you can do about it: 1. You’re unable to pay more than the minimum payments on your credit cards. 2. You have more than three major credit cards and they’re near the credit limit. 3. You use your credit cards to pay other bills. 4. You hide your bills from your spouse. 5. You don’t have a savings account. If you answered “yes” to any of the above warning signs you may want examine your debt load and set up a realistic budget. If you are carrying credit card debt, begin by paying down the highest interest credit cards bills first. Resolve to not use credit cards unless you have the cash to pay your bill off when the bill arrives; otherwise, the first step to financial health is to remove the temptation and cut up your credit cards.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Spring Day Trip - Whidbey Island

Looking for a fun outing this spring or have out of town guests you want to entertain? Whidbey is close enough you can see a lot and get back the same day. My dad has lived in Freeland for almost 20yrs so I have had a chance to explore a lot of the main sites. I like to drive up to see Deception Pass and then take the Clinton ferry back. Deception Pass is worth checking out! Take a short hike and snap a few pictures of the bridge. Driving south you can stop and see the Penn Cove Mussel farms. Make a quick detour to see Fort Casey State Park and Ebey’s Landing historic district. How about having lunch at Greenbank Farm! Greenbank Farm was once the world’s leading producer of Loganberry’s. Now they are a popular tourist stop and have a lot of local organic foods, local wines and several art galleries to enjoy. Freeland also has some nice shops and has a great waterfront park to relax at and take in beautiful Holmes Harbor. Double Bluff Beach isn’t far so you might as well head over there too. Next on the tour has to be a drive into Langley! Langley is a postcard perfect small town with amazing views overlooking Saratoga Passage. Makes for a full day but worth the effort!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Reduce Your Diabetes Risk

You may not be able to totally prevent type 2 diabetes, but there are steps you can take to lower your chances of getting the disease. • Talk to your doctor about your personal risk factors, such as age, weight, cholesterol level, blood pressure and family history. Make a personal lifestyle plan. • Choose healthier foods. Add these foods to your diet: broccoli, fish, blueberries, olive oil, spinach, walnuts, and dairy. For details, search for “Top 10 Super-foods For Type 2 Diabetes” at www.webmd.com. • Avoid sugary beverages, including soda and energy drinks. One 12-ounce can of regular soda has 150 calories and 40 grams of carbs. That’s the same amount of carbs in 10 teaspoons of sugar! • Exercise every day. Everything counts: walking, swimming, gardening. Just keep moving.