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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Reading Bingo For Kids

Create a checklist of fun reading “assignments” on a bingo card and offer rewards for completing it. Here are a few ideas for the boxes: • Read something written the year you were born. • Read a poem. • Read every article in one magazine. • Read a few pages to your parents from your favorite book. • Read while wearing a swimsuit. • Read on the floor of your local library. Read something a favorite teacher read when he/she was your age

Monday, March 25, 2019

What You Eat Can Profoundly Affect Your Sleep!

Your daily diet can have a great impact on your night’s sleep. First, be sure you are getting enough calcium and magnesium. You can get it by eating milk, yogurt, beans, dark green vegetables, or a taking vitamin supplement (1,000 mg. to 1,300 mg. are recommended as a daily target for calcium consumption). Along with calcium, pay attention to consumption of these foods before bedtime:  Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Of course caffeine is a stimulant and even though alcohol is a relaxant, it will switch gears in the middle night and wake you up when it wears off.  Choose a good evening snack. These would be yogurt, bananas, figs, nuts, turkey, tuna, and whole-grain crackers. These foods are rich in trytophan, an amino acid the brain uses to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is critical for a normal night’s sleep.  Evening snacks you definitely should avoid. Bacon, cheese, chocolate, ham, potatoes, sugar, sausage, tomatoes, and wine are the foods to skip if you want a restful night’s sleep. They all contain high levels of tyramine, which increases release of the stimulant norepinephrine into the brain. If diet changes don’t work, try an occasional herbal sleep aid like Valerian or the excellent homeopathic sleep remedy Calms Forte – formulated from safe minerals and herbs.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Alternatives to Bottled Water

You’ve likely heard that bottled water has major environmental consequences, but how bad is the problem? Here are a few facts from thewaterproject.org that illustrate the severity of the situation: • Approximately 80% of single-use water bottles in the U.S. become “litter,” and one bottle takes more than 1,000 years to bio-degrade. • U.S. landfills have two million tons of discarded water bottles in them. • It takes three liters of water to package one liter of bottled water. In response to the bottled water problem, some cities and businesses have banned it, but what can you do? • Skip the single-use water bottle, and invest in a reusable water bottle. If you forget it, buy multiples to keep in vehicles, the office, and your gym bag. • Drink tap water. Several studies have been done to show municipal tap water is usually just as safe as bottled water. • Refrigerate water. Cooling tap water helps remove the chlorine taste many people feel is in tap water. • Boil water if you are concerned water might be contaminated.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Detecting “Unwanted” Visitors

Could you be sharing your home with uninvited visitors – like mice, squirrels, birds, or even termites? Pests are a common problem for everyone, so here are a few tips to spot them and what to do: Where you might find them. Look for animal droppings, signs of chewing, and odor in your kitchen, basement, closets, and attic. Check any moist areas like around air conditioning units. In the case of termites, look for “dirt tubes” around your home’s perimeter. What to do. You know how to trap mice in the kitchen. After you trap them, be sure to clean up crumbs and keep food sealed up. When it comes to larger animals, like squirrels, birds, or snakes, don’t try to remove them yourself. They can be dangerous when cornered. If you suspect you have the larger visitors or tiny bugs like termites, hire a professional animal catcher or pest control company.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Overcoming Retirement Financial Fears

You’ve worked tirelessly your entire life, and retirement is your time to finally and fully enjoy that hard-earned rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, not being able to afford retirement is a fear many people have. Get ahead of the game so you can rest easy.  Start saving now, at your current age. Establish a monthly budget that includes tucking money away for retirement.  Stick to the retirement plan. Do not withdraw money early for expenses if you have any other options.  Avoid borrowing money, and keep debt to a minimum.  Use a 401(k) plan to boost retirement savings. These plans allow funds to be invested directly from a paycheck before they’re subject to taxes.  Take advantage of company matching opportunities for retirement contributions.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Passport Facts

How much do you know about your passport? The International Civil Aviation Organization has outlined the following rules about these little books:  Made of a material that bends rather than creases.  Stable in temperatures between 14F-122F degrees.  Readable in humidity conditions between 5%-95%. However, there are no stipulations about typeface, type size, font, and cover color, yet all countries have chosen shades of red, blue, green, and black for cover colors.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Easy Ways To Add Curb Appeal

The first impression of your house is from the street. If you want to sell or just add some new style, try these ideas: Focus on your front door with a new color, updated light fixtures and easy-to-read house numbers. For more charm, add window flower boxes or shutters around the windows. Learn to build a window box on YouTube.com. Clean out the clutter, and trim the overgrown bushes and trees (this also makes your home safer). For quick color, add container gardens. You can buy them pre-planted. Add lighting accents to trees or to illuminate the pathway (another safety feature). You can go solar to eliminate wires. Pressure-wash the exterior. If it doesn’t look better, consider new paint or siding. Don’t forget the garage door. Repair it, paint it or replace it to make your house look like new.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

4 Tips When Booking a Cruise

Planning a cruise trip involves more research than you might think. Here are some important things to know before you book your cruise. 1. Pick the Right Cruise Line – Know which cruise lines have a party atmosphere, and which are more geared to peace and quiet. (Depending on your preference!) Try a site like www.cruisecritic.com to help you decide. 2. Read the Fine Print – It might be boring, but the fine print could have information about what’s non-refundable, what’s included in the beverage package, if your cabin is chosen for you, and more. 3. Choose the Right Cabin – An interior cabin might make you feel claustrophobic. A cabin next to a nightclub, an elevator shaft, or the anchor means noise at potentially odd hours. A cabin near the front or back of the ship, or higher up on the ship, are where seasickness is most likely. 4. Look at a Detailed Itinerary – Know how long you’ve got in each port, and how long it takes to get from the port to the areas you want to visit. Just because it indicates that you have “one day” in port doesn’t mean you’ve got 12 hours to explore.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Detergent Secret…

Detergent makers recommend that consumers use more of their product than necessary. Here’s a quick tip: Use only half as much detergent in your laundry and dishwasher. You’ll save money and your clothes and dishes will be just as clean – maybe even cleaner!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Help Your Pet Live A Long And Healthy Life

Most pet owners would say that pets are important members of the family. We welcome them into our lives knowing we’ll most likely outlive them- but we can help them have the best possible life. Here are some tips for giving your critter a long, happy life:  Maintain a healthy weight. Feed pets the proper type and amount of food. Avoid feeding fatty human foods to your furry friends.  Exercise regularly. Dogs need regular walks every day, and time to run around. Indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats, but they should have stimulating toys and room to play and exercise too.  Schedule regular vet visits. Regular health screenings (at least once a year for healthy adult animals) allow vets to detect and manage diseases early. Keep vaccinations updated.  Keep teeth clean. Tartar, gingivitis, plaque, and other problems with teeth and gums can lead to other health problems. Brush dogs’ teeth at least a couple times a week. Try making your own toothpaste with coconut oil and baking soda, and your dog will enjoy his brushing time. The Veterinary Oral Health Council publishes a list of accepted oral health products to help with dental care as well (http://www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm).  Note behavioral changes. If pets aren’t following their normal routines, this may be a sign that something isn’t right. Don’t wait too long before checking with a vet about abnormal behavior.  Chill out. Even pets need time and space on their own, so make sure they have at least a couple hours a day to relax.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Sleep On it: Dreams May Help You Solve Problems

Did you know Paul McCartney composed “Yesterday” in a dream? Studies show that when you dream, you’re more open-minded and may see things from a different perspective. Here are two different approaches you might try to solve a problem or increase your creativity: 1. Clear your mind before you go to sleep. Read a book, talk about something else, go to sleep, and trust your subconscious. 2. Focus on the problem you want to resolve. Form it into a question (for example, “What should I say to have a successful meeting?”), write it down, and visualize a positive outcome. With either method, write down what you remember about your dreams when you wake up. They may be illogical, but the imagery or events could be a metaphor for a solution that relates to your problem. These techniques require a positive attitude and lots of practice, but they can help you! For further information, look up the work of dream psychologists, such as author Deirdre Barrett.

Monday, February 25, 2019

You Might Be Fitter Than You Think

Blame the media, Photoshop, the feats of professional athletes, or your own unrealistic expectations, but the truth is you’re probably not that out of shape. In fact, you may just be fitter than you think – and I can prove it! You stand and sit. Active people feel the need to get up and move around throughout the day. Getting in and out of a car involves basic squat movements, and you should be able to do this without pain. You constantly carry stuff. Whether you’re picking up and carrying children or shouldering a massive bag to and from work, those pounds add up to a healthy dose of weightlifting! You recover quickly. Take a short jog, try a few squat exercises, or just walk at a steady pace for a while. Are you tired and worn out, or could you endure a bit more? A healthy recovery time is a good indicator of physical fitness. You do household chores. Carrying laundry down the stairs requires balance. Navigating several tasks in the kitchen while avoiding dropping, burning, or falling is proof of coordination and dexterity. You take the stairs. If you can walk or run up and down stairs without feeling lightheaded or out of breath, you’re probably in decent aerobic shape. You crave healthy habits. It’s a good sign if you seek out exercise simply because it makes you feel good. Ditto if you prefer to eat healthily as well just because you want to not because you feel guilty.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Negotiating On The Job

Would you like to improve your job negotiation skills? A recent survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources Management and CareerJournal.com, found that both employees and HR specialists are willing to talk about salary, but they differ on other issues. Employees focus on bonuses, incentives, and time off, while HR specialists may be more willing to talk about flex schedules and relocation costs. (The survey indicated employees may have more negotiating power on non-salary issues.) Here are six valuable tips you can use for better negotiating on your job: • Make sure to show your enthusiasm for the job at hand. • Know your strengths and skills and explain why you’re the best person for the new job or raise. • Use the right words and cite facts, “I’ve done the research, and the market reflects this salary.” • Ask for what you want, and explain why you deserve it. • Be open to what is presented and remain objective. • Avoid talking about specific salary figures until the end the interview process; otherwise you may limit your options.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Teaching Kids Life Skills

Teaching kids how to approach and solve life’s challenges is one of the biggest jobs parents face. Here are a few tips to help your children (or grandchildren) grow into self-sufficient and responsible adults: • Teach Kids To Look For Solutions. When kids are faced with a problem, have them identify several options and solutions. Then you can help them choose which solution works best. • Teach Kids Responsibility: Let kids know they are responsible for their actions. They have to do their homework, but you can offer them two “positive choice” options: Do you want to do it in 15 minutes or 30 minutes? Teach them how to organize, and give them the tools to stay organized (calendar, palm pilot, notebook). • Teach Kids How To Make Good Choices. Giving kids choices empowers them to make their own decisions. Have them weigh the pros and cons of their choice, and let them make the decisions. • Teach Kids How To Deal with Failure. Teach your children that failure is not personal, permanent, or pervasive (i.e. losing a soccer game doesn’t mean you’re bad at other things as well). Developing a positive explanatory style early in life will help your children live a happier, healthier and more successful adult life.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Make Your Emails More Effective

Estimates are that 269 billion emails are sent every day worldwide, many by professionals in a working environment. While you may know proper email etiquette, follow these tips to make sure your business emails aren’t deleted.  Use a concise, compelling subject line. “More information” and “new program” only ask the recipient to say “about what?” Better to say “Action Items On Project XYZ.” Say “urgent” if necessary.  Don’t use long lists of email addresses if the subject only pertains to some of them. Type the relevant addresses into the address line ("To" line) and use the BCC line for the others.  Keep your message to the point. Say why you’re writing within the first two lines and try to limit yourself to one topic. Using bullet points helps you organize your thoughts. Re-read or print your email out (if you have time) before you send it.  Be careful with humor and irony. Emails aren’t good at conveying emotions, and humor, inside jokes or over-used phrases don’t really build a dynamic business relationship. Avoid phrases like “can I pick your brain” (what are you offering in return?); or “please advise” (better to say “can we discuss this further?”).  Respect confidentiality. Should everyone read this?  As a recipient, do not “reply all” unless everyone needs to know. You know this but people still do it, sometimes accidentally.  Respond promptly. Don’t leave people hanging. Include your signature and phone number for follow-up.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Microwaving Zaps Critical Nutritional Benefits From Foods

Researchers have found certain methods of preparation and cooking, such as microwaving, can cause vegetables to lose many key nutritional benefits. Researchers found microwaved broccoli had lost almost 90% of three major antioxidant compounds - flavonoids, sinapics and caffeoyl-quinic derivatives, which are thought to have cancer-fighting properties. In contrast, steamed broccoli had lost only 10% of the same health-promoting compounds. Veggies should be cooked in a minimal amount of water to retain nutritional benefits.

Monday, February 11, 2019

How To Find More Free Time

Where does the time go? Even if you work a normal schedule and get a full night’s sleep, you still have about 50 free hours during the week – but most people say they still can’t find free time for hobbies and passions. Take these steps to find more time for YOU: 1. Map your current time use. First track how you use your time. Keep a log for a week or two to get a good representation of how you spend your time now. Try the app Chronos for Android and iPhone for an easy-to-use and comprehensive time log. 2. Create a list of things you really want to do. Try to come up with a list of 50-75 things. Make some of them easy one-day things (visit a museum) that you can quickly accomplish and others things you tend to put off (practicing guitar). 3. Cut out unnecessary time-wasters and replace with something from your list. Cut out the time spent watching TV, surfing the internet, or attending too many functions. Start a new schedule and prioritize things that make you happy instead of time-wasters.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Walk Your Way To Excellent Health and Long Life!

According the U.S. Centers for Disease Control the most beneficial exercise we can do on a regular basis is…walking! All you need is a good pair of shoes and few hours a week to do a simple aerobic conditioning activity that really works. The benefits are substantial – walking helps your heart, lungs, circulatory system, and controls body weight. The positive impact of walking is similar to that of running or jogging without stressful wear and tear on your joints, knees, and shins. If you don’t follow any other exercise program, just simple outdoor walking could add many healthy years to your life.  A Brisk Walk Is Best. You should be able to carry on a conversation and have your breathing slightly elevated.  It’s Easy—Just Walk 20 Minutes A Day. Start slowly, and then build up to longer, faster paced walks. Stretch your muscles (especially the calves and hamstring muscles) before and after you walk. For the best benefit, make a commitment to walk everyday. A recent study in Germany found that walking just two hours a week can cut your risk of heart disease in half!  Walking Relieves Stress And Invigorates Your Mind And Body. Walking will make your heart stronger, improve your lung capacity, and the efficiency of your breathing. Walking circulates more oxygen through your body and is very effective in lowering your blood pressure. A regular walking routine can be your best preventative medicine – greatly lowering your risk of stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and even depression.  People Who Walk Live Longer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted an 11-year study of 2,896 adults in their late 50’s who had been diagnosed with diabetes. Researchers found those subjects who walked just two hours a week had a 39 percent lower death rate from all causes! They speculate that if every healthy person in the United States walked briskly just 30 minutes a day, the incidence of many chronic diseases would go down 30 to 40 percent. So grab your shoes and get walking…your body will be glad you did!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Dynamic Duos: Combine Foods To Boost Your Health

Some foods, like ham and eggs, just go together, but did you know that if you intentionally combine certain nutrients, you can help protect your body from disease? Check out these examples of foods that work together to bring out the best in each other.  Yogurt + granola. Yogurt contains probiotics, and whole grains act as prebiotics. Eating both together helps your digestion.  Tomatoes + olive oil. The olive oil improves absorption of the tomato’s lycopene, which helps lower risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Cook the tomatoes with the peel on, add some broccoli and you’ll be a synergy superstar.  Salmon + garlic or turmeric. Garlic (which prevents the release of “bad cholesterol”) or turmeric (which contains the antioxidant curcumin) are perfect pairings with salmon, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. The result could lower your total cholesterol.  Kale + almonds. Vitamins K and E in kale need a source of fat to improve absorption. Add almonds, which are full of unsaturated fat.  Dark chocolate + unpeeled apples. Dip apple slices, which contain quercetin (an anti-inflammatory) in dark chocolate (whose cocoa is rich in antioxidants) to improve your cardiovascular health.  Beans + greens. Beans are a plant-based source of iron. Adding vitamin C in the form of dark greens will amp up iron absorption.  Green tea and (yes) black pepper. Green tea boosts metabolism but the piperine in black pepper makes it work more efficiently.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Friends—The Key To A Longer Life

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, men who have lots of friends, social contacts, and relatives live longer, more satisfying lives. In a study of 28,000 men in their early 40s to late 70s, researchers found that men who were socially isolated loners were 20 percent more likely to die prematurely. The socially isolated group also was 53 percent more likely to die from heart related diseases and stroke. Unmarried men included in the study had markedly higher death rates than married men with a strong family support system did. It appears that making friends and nurturing social relationships not only will make you healthier, but it could make you a lot happier too!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

7 Secrets for Conquering Stress in Your Life...

Are you a harried mom? Overworked dad? Stressed out professional? Stress is considered one of the top three contributors to heart disease and other serious illnesses. Don’t let daily stress get the best of you. Here are seven steps you can take right now to reduce your stress level, and get back to feeling more balanced and energized in your daily life... 1. Master Your Thoughts. Stress and anxiety are actually a choice. You have the power to choose how you feel at any given moment. When you are feeling stressed out, take a moment to pause and close your eyes. Ask yourself, “Is there another choice I can make that will make me feel more at peace with myself or this situation?” 2. Breathe. It sounds so simple, but breathing has a tremendous affect on your mind, body, and your mood. Focus on your breathing when you find yourself feeling stress. If you put your finger on your belly button, you’ll begin to breathe from your belly and relax. 3. Exercise. Regular exercise can release stress and make you feel more in control of your life. Try a 30-minute brisk walk, bike ride, or play a game of tennis or racquetball. 4. Take Up A Hobby. Hobbies give our body and mind a place to relax. Whether it’s painting, woodworking, gardening, or playing a musical instrument, hobbies can give us that feeling of a vacation without having to go anywhere to get away. 5. Pace Yourself. Many of us have a tendency to over schedule ourselves or our family, and then become stressed when we can’t meet the demands. Prioritize your workload and concentrate on one task at a time. 6. Lighten Up And Take The Long View. If you’re feeling anxious and tense...take a moment and ask yourself, “will this really matter tomorrow, next week, or even five years from now?” 7. Strive For Peace of Mind. You can get more out of your life by actually doing less. Happiness comes not from the number of activities things we collect, but from the opportunity to enjoy our experiences. Doing less may actually make you happier...it’s your choice.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Credit Card Perks - Check Your Points

Credit cards are usually known for high interest rates and extra fees, but did you know they also have some hidden benefits? Policies vary by company, but here are five perks your credit card may provide: • Rental car insurance. One-third of drivers tend to buy extra collision insurance when they rent a car. Most credit cards include collision insurance. You could save $140 on a week’s rental, but it may not apply to trucks, campers, and SUVs. • Cell phone replacement. If your phone gets damaged or stolen (loss may not be included), certain cards such as Citi will pay for a new cell phone, although you’ll have a $50 co-pay. • Trip cancellation. A Discover card may give you up to $2,500 if you have to cancel your trip due to illness. It has to be a serious illness with a doctor’s note or an event like death in the family. Also, American Express cards usually offer travel perks, such as double reward points to use on hotel and airfares. • Price (or return) protection. If you buy an item and find the same one advertised for a lower price elsewhere within 30 to 60 days, your card might refund the difference. Exclusions could include cars, cell phones, online sales, and purchases on eBay. Plus, most cards let you dispute a purchase if your merchandise isn’t delivered. • Extended warranties. Visa and AmEx cards automatically double the length of any manufacturer’s warranty. You need documentation and some products aren’t covered but it can save you money. See page 2 for more information on extended warranties. Don't forget to check your points! Most credit and debit cards include point incentives you may not even be aware of. Cash in your points before they expire. Read your credit card agreement to find perks you may be missing!

Monday, January 14, 2019

6 Ways To Improve Your Work Relationships

If you are like most Americans, you’ll spend about one-third of your life working. And if you’re going to spend so much time at work, wouldn’t it be ideal if you liked your colleagues? There is good reason to get along with co-workers: Liking other employees consistently ranks among the highest factors in determining job satisfaction. This isn’t always easy, however. If some of your work relationships could use a little sprucing up, try these tips: 1. Respect time. Avoid hovering around your colleagues’ work areas if they’re on the phone or speaking with someone else, and respect their professional/personal life balance by keeping work issues at work. 2. Avoid gossip. Office politics and the rumor mill can run rampant, and the best thing you can do is to avoid any conversation that is irrelevant to your job. You never know whom you will have to work with – or for – in the future, so do your best to remain professional to everyone. 3. Be polite. The Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you goes a long way in a professional setting. Say hello and thank you, smile, hold doors open for others, and clean up after yourself. 4. Show concern. It is not your job to solve personal problems, but keep in mind your co-workers are people too. Be mindful that others may be having a bad day or issues beyond the boardroom. If you feel comfortable, it’s okay to check in to make sure everything is alright. 5. Welcome the newcomers. Do you remember your first awkward day of work? Make someone else’s first day on the job easier by smiling and introducing yourself. 6. Follow up and communicate. Simple communication goes a long way in helping to facilitate good relations and clear up misunderstandings. Make yourself approachable so others feel they can discuss work-related projects with you. Managers need to set clear expectations with their employees so there is no question about what is expected from each person.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Find a Hidden Gem at Schmitz Preserve Park

Have you ever wondered what the Seattle forests looked like? Well the last of our untouched old growth forest is located in West Seattle! Former parks commissioner Ferdinand Schmitz was watching our forest rapidly disappear and decided to act. Ferdinand was a German immigrant who moved to Seattle in 1887. His 1908 donation allowed a small piece of it to remain as nature intended. It is only 53.1 acres / about 15 city blocks but in a city like Seattle very welcomed. In 1949 a preservation policy was applied so only foot trails are allowed and there are no interior signs in the park. The latest addition to the park occurred in January of 2018 adding a 5,000 ft lot to the park. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

How To Protect Yourself And Others On The Road

Could you pass a written driver’s test – today? The results of an online GMAC Insurance survey showed that nearly 1 in 5 licensed drivers – 38 million Americans – probably wouldn’t! Here’s what you should do to brush up on the Rules of the Road and make yourself safer.  Take the National Drivers Test. Go to www.nationaldriverstest.com. Answer the 20 questions from state exams and study up on the ones you missed. You also can download it to Facebook and challenge your friends.  Review Local Traffic Laws. Many states post them on a .gov website.  Avoid these top driving mistakes that cause crashes: • Multi-tasking while driving. Say “no” to: texting, phone calls and eating! • Following too closely. Leave 2 seconds between you and the car ahead. • Failure to yield on a left turn. Check for cars or people in your path. • Incorrect merging. Merge carefully but don’t stop. • Backing up. Don’t rely on the mirrors. Look over your shoulder.  Consider a refresher course. AARP offers an online Driver Safety Course geared to drivers 50 and older. Plus, taking it may qualify you for a car insurance discount.  Keep your brain sharp by subscribing to a computer driving program. CogniFit sells a Senior Driver program that starts with an assessment of 10 cognitive abilities essential for safe driving, including visual scanning and response time. It’s probably good for everyone!  Get help from your car. The next time you’re car shopping, look for a model that offers new “smart” technologies such as Distance Control Assist (which applies the brakes when you’re following another car too closely); Blind-Spot Detection (which alerts you about vehicles in your blind spots); and Night Vision Systems (which give you a vision of the road ahead with a infrared beam).

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Time To Organize Your Home For The New Year

Need quick tips for organizing your home this New Year? Let’s focus on the living room for now:  Remove everything on the floor that doesn’t belong there. Kids’ toys go back to their rooms.  Return food items (half-eaten snacks?) to the kitchen.  De-clutter the coffee table and other flat surfaces.  Group your framed photos. Consider a creative wall display.  Put similar objects (like TV remotes) in one place.  Purge the magazines and assorted papers. Place relevant items on a rack or in a bin.  Add an attractive wastebasket.  Cut your favorite collectible collection by at least half. Put the rest in storage and rotate the items to keep it fresh.