It’s cold and flu season! Tips to keep you healthy this winter

It's cold and flu season! Tips to keep you healthy this winter

Image credit: Blowing my nose by superhua, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

Well, I’ve been an early victim of the 2014-2015 cold and flu season. Despite my frequent hand washing and liberal use of hand sanitizer, I have a cold. My research indicates that flu season peaks in December so in an effort to spare you, dear reader, from a miserable experience, I’m sharing some tips to help you avoid the invisible nasties.

Tips for avoiding and spreading cold and flu viruses

  • Get your flu shot. If your insurance doesn’t cover it, it’s pretty affordable to get one. Many chain pharmacies carry it and some local organizations may offer free or low-cost flu shot clinics. If you Google flu shot clinics and your city name, you are likely to find something. I found several in my area. If you can’t find anything online, check with your local health department.
  • Wash your hands frequently.  Use warm water and soap and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (saying the alphabet or singing “Happy Birthday”–in your head, of course–is a good measure that you’ve washed long enough). If you can’t get to the sink to wash, use hand sanitizer. (I keep a bottle at my desk and in my purse.)
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. Ideally with a facial tissue and washing your hands after. No tissue handy? Remember to cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.
  • Avoid touching your face. Especially your eyes, nose and mouth. Since we touch a lot of things throughout the day, we are potentially exposed to germs when we touch the common points of entry for viruses. It’s pretty amazing how much we touch our face without realizing it. I’ve caught myself doing it several times while writing this post!
  • Stay home if you’re sick. Working in a cubicle farm with hundreds of other people, it’s not surprising I lost the battle. But if you can, stay home. Your co-workers will thank you. If you’re not sure if you should stay home when you have a virus, check out Web MD’s tips for deciding if you’re too sick to go to work.

After all your efforts, you still got sick. What can you do now?

That’s all I have in me to share. Now back to my couch and comfiest pillow, box of lotion-loaded facial tissues and Colin Firth marathon on standby for my waking hours.

What are your tips for surviving a cold or the flu? Since I’m still in the throes of this virus, I’m VERY interested in anything you have to share. 

Keep smiling

Keep smiling

Image credit: Smile! by Kenny Louie, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

The other day while I was out running some errands, I used the time in my car to ruminate over some of life’s speed bumps that had come my way. I began to feel annoyed that I was letting these thoughts ruin the day and made a plan to turn my mood around.

I decided to treat everyone I met with the feelings I wanted to cultivate in myself: kindness, patience and gratitude. What I didn’t know was that The Universe was going to send me a clear message that this was the perfect choice.

As I got out of the car and headed to my next destination, I walked through the parking lot behind two twenty-something women who just couldn’t find anything to be happy about. In the two minutes I was behind them, they crabbed at the adorable little boy who was with them, cussed at a person they felt was not driving safely (by my observation, the driver was perfectly acceptable) and then completely ignored an elderly man who was trying to exit the store and almost ploughed him over.

As I approached the door, I could see the old man staring at them gobsmacked as they passed by them. The look on his face said it all: “You’re in the prime of your life. You’re young and beautiful; why are you so hard and angry? Appreciate this time, it will pass before you know it.”

I held the door open for the old man. I was determined to make eye contact to let him know he was not invisible to the world, say hello and give him the best smile I could muster.

He looked at me, slid a glance at the grouchy young ladies and shook head. When he got close enough, he thanked me, touched my arm, looked me in the eye and said, “Keep smiling.”

I kept smiling all day.

Editor’s note: Feeling invisible is a common complaint of the elderly, and can add to feelings of depression, uselessness and loneliness. It’s a simple act to smile and say hello to someone. Try it while you’re out and about. It doesn’t take much effort and you never know what a big impact it can make. 

Pausing for a little restorative time…

Some big news is coming soon, so we’re taking a little restorative time to prepare. In the meantime, enjoy this TED talk by one of my personal heroes Susan Cain!

 

Quench your thirst with water infused with cucumber, lime and mint! Easy infused water DIY

A few weeks ago I told you about a luscious cucumber, avocado and wheatgrass soap that I made with the juice of cucumbers I picked in my garden. An inevitable byproduct of juicing is vegetable pulp. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see wasting perfectly good vegetables just because they are smashed beyond recognition. I usually give the pulp to the McWormerson’s to compost, but this time around I decided to try something different.

I love cucumber-infused water in the summer but just slicing up a cucumber doesn’t flavor the water as strongly as I would like. So I decided to use the cucumber pulp to make a super-infused water. My juicer, and I’m assuming most juicers out there, comes with a handy cup that catches the pulp. The cup has a strainer at the bottom that allows excess juice to run out into a larger cup.

I left the pulp in the cup and poured filtered water over it, allowing the water to drip into a pot.

Making cucumber water

After a few minutes, I was left with delicious, light green cucumbery water. Next, I added slices of lime and a few sprigs of mint and allowed the water to chill for several hours. The result was a light and refreshing beverage to sip while hanging out in my yard.

cucumber lime and mint infused water

Coming up in the next few weeks, I’ll tell you about the soothing cucumber and yogurt face mask I made with the rest of the pulp. It’s an easy way to pamper yourself!

Have you used the pulp from your juicer to make something delicious or useful? Tell us all about it in the comments!

It’s salad. In a jar.

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.

I’m at the age where I don’t completely understand social media or why it’s so popular but being a business owner, I appreciate that it is an effective way to communicate with fans and customers. When I first started using Pinterest, I did it grudgingly.

I pinned and pinned, all the while saying to myself, “This is such a waste of time.” Then I started to come across things that seemed useful. I found inspiration for soap, yummy recipes, decorating ideas and cute animals. I found myself hitting the “Pin It” button and occasionally saying, “Wow, that’s so cool,” instead of lamenting about the time suck that Pinterest can be.

The turning point that made me a fan was finding something called, “salad in a jar.” I’ve looked at so many sites and photos of salads in jars that I can’t remember where I first saw it. But I can tell you, the concept rocked my world. My day job is in an office; I would love to bring more salads for lunch, but I always run into problems with the dressing. Mixing the dressing with the salad the night before causes wilted and soggy lettuce. Bringing the dressing in a separate container is messy. My dressing container regularly tips over in my lunch box, leaks and causes a greasy mess. And forget about making a week of salads in advance. Lettuce just doesn’t hold up that long!

Storing your salad in a jar solves all of these problems and turns a healthy salad into an easily transported lunch option. The concept is simple; layer your salad ingredients in a jar, starting with the dressing, followed by hardy vegetables that are able to withstand a soak in the dressing and topped with the most delicate ingredients. The lettuce doesn’t get soggy because it doesn’t touch the dressing until you are ready to eat. The dressing is sequestered at the bottom of the jar and, as long as you don’t prematurely tip your jar, it never leaks out. And, the preserving nature of glass jars helps keep the ingredients fresh and crispy for several days.

Making salad in a jar

So, on a rainy Sunday a couple of weeks ago, I headed of to the farmers market to buy salad ingredients. I bought enough ingredients to make five days worth of salads for Matt and me. I had a ton of fun experimenting with different combinations and using different items in the bottom layer.

The key to success is picking the hardiest vegetables to use in the bottom layer. I can’t overstate the importance of selecting vegetables that will hold up to being soaked in dressing. My favorite is mushrooms. They almost seem to pickle in the dressing after a couple of days. If you are a mushroom hater, onions are another good choice. The dressing leaches out the heat and leaves a sweeter version of this sometimes overwhelming vegetable. Tomatoes, green beans, red peppers and cucumbers are great choices for the first layer, too.

After you’ve set up your dressing barrier, anything goes. I used different combinations of sprouts, berries, and proteins like beans and hard-boiled eggs. I topped all the jars off with spinach, watercress and baby greens.

DSC02958

On Monday, I loaded up my lunch box with my salad, being careful to keep the jar upright, and a bowl to dump the salad into. At lunch, I simply popped the top off my jar, dumped the goodies into my bowl, mixed it up and ate.

Eating salad in a jar

I was impressed with how fresh everything tasted on the first day. Day two and three yielded surprisingly tasty results, as well. I only work in the office three days a week, but Matt reported that the salad he ate on day four was still pleasant. By day five, however, we noticed the lettuce had wilted just a bit. It was still edible but we had the sense that five days would be the limit. And, we were right. By day six the lettuce in the remaining jars was completely wilted and smelled a bit off. Still, being able to eat a salad made five days ago is a pretty impressive feat.

Have you tried making salad, or other food, in a jar? Share your experiences in the comments section. I could use some new ideas to make my lunches more exciting. Oh, and if you love this idea, don’t forget to click that “Pin It” button (or share on Facebook and Twitter)!