3 Steps to Help Adjust to Lifestyle Change

You come into the office after a great weekend and the boss tells you that your job is redundant due to down-sizing. Perhaps things are going well at work and the company wants you to move across the country to take over the east-coast office. Few things test a positive attitude more than making a lifestyle change.

While making such adjustments, the following suggestions can help:

  1. View change as an opportunity. The more you expect out of a new situation the more you will find. If you can move into a lifestyle transition with a positive attitude, the battle is half-won. The more you sustain your positive focus, the sooner you will move from transition to permanence.
  2. Stop and refocus. Not everything falls exactly in the right place when making major changes: “course corrections” are a necessary part of the process. You need to be able to periodically stop, assess the progress of the change and adjust.
  3. Accept setbacks as temporary. Often, after progress has been made, and you feel things are coming together, you encounter a roadblock. Such a set-back can be discouraging. It’s at times like that you need to keep your attitude at a positive level.

Each of us is free to select our most important personal possession. Some select money or material success; others place highest value on human relationships. Few consider personal attitude to be important.

This is unfortunate as you can accomplish much by starting with a positive attitude. A positive attitude can enhance your career and bring material success; build better human relationships; and bring you closer to reaching your life goals.

A good attitude is a win-win situation.

22 Energy Saving Tips for Your Home

I’m always amused by people who brush off energy-saving efforts as being part of some “global-warming” conspiracy. Then I show them how much we’ve saved on energy bills, by making simple changes; they change their tune quickly. Even if you believe the scientific community has it wrong on the environmental crisis we face, think of the money you can save by being more energy efficient at home.

There are many things we can do to use energy wisely. One of the easiest things to do is turning lights and other appliances off when we’re not using them. I’ve gathered a few tips to help you use energy wisely.

  1. Install motion sensors to turn lights on and off automatically.
  2. Use a programmable furnace thermostat to reduce energy use when you’re not at home.
  3. Install blinds or curtains on windows to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  4. On sunny winter days, keep curtains open to allow the sunshine to help warm your home.
  5. On sunny summer days, keep the curtains closed to keep the house cool.
  6. Use timers on Christmas lights and car block heaters instead of using power all night.
  7. Replace worn weatherstripping on doors and windows to reduce winter drafts.
  8. Use a ceiling fan: blowing down in the winter and up in the summer.
  9. Use energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs which are four times more efficient and last about eight times as long as incandescent bulbs.
  10. If you use incandescent bulbs, install a dimmer switch; a bulb dimmed by 25 per cent uses 10 per cent less energy.
  11. Save energy by using small appliances such as a microwave, a slow cooker, an electric kettle, or a toaster oven instead of the stove or oven.
  12. Run a dishwasher late at night and let your dishes air dry.
  13. Switch to cold when doing your laundry. 85 – 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes is used to heat the water. By turning the dial to cold on your washing machine, you help the environment, save energy, and save money.
  14. Use a clothes dryer late at night or hang clothes outside to dry on a sunny day.
  15. Clean or replace the furnace filter every 1-2 months – a dirty filter reduces the airflow and forces the furnace to run longer to heat your home.
  16. Use plastic window covers to help prevent heat loss in the winter.
  17. Install low-flow shower heads and faucets.
  18. Dripping taps can waste 9,000 litres of hot water each year. Replace leaky washers and save the hot water.
  19. Take short showers instead of baths. A five-minute shower uses about half as much water as a bath.
  20. Replace large-volume toilets with 6-litre-per-flush models, saving at least 70 percent of the water used.
  21. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth and save 7-12 litres of water per minute.
  22. Close the damper in a wood fireplace to prevent warm air from escaping through the chimney and ensure the damper fits properly.

What other suggestions would you make?

Tips for Reducing Household Water Consumption

Water conservation is important, even where there seems to be an abundance of water. In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers and local watersheds.

In 2004, the average Canadian daily domestic use of fresh water per capita was 329 litres (87 U.S. gallons). We can reduce water consumption in the home, and in business, by 40% or more, without having to make major lifestyle changes or invest in costly infrastructure.

Here are a few easy-to-implement suggestions for cutting back on water usage:

1. Check for leaks and fix them. A dripping faucet can allow up to two gallons per hour to be wasted. Toilets are also prime suspects. To check, simply drop some food coloring into the tank (not the bowl) and wait 15 minutes. If colored water shows up in the bowl, you have a leaker.

2. Use water-saving shower heads and faucets. High-flow shower heads spew water out at 6-10 gallons a minute. Flow restriction devices can cut the flow in half without reducing pressure. Take short showers – five minutes or less should do. If you prefer baths, fill the tub only one-quarter full.

3. Water your lawn and plants early in the day. This practice will reduce the loss of water due to evaporation. Late watering also reduces evaporation. During the summer, water your plants slowly and infrequently. Consider drip irrigation for garden areas, which help add water just where it is needed.

4. Use a pistol-grip nozzle on your hose. When washing your car, you can easily shut off the water after each hosing. Remember, a full-open hose can discharge upwards of 50 gallons of water in just 5 minutes. Better still, fill a bucket with water and use a sponge.

5. Don’t let faucets run continuously. This is especially true when shaving, brushing your teeth and rinsing the dishes. An open faucet allows 5 gallons to pass in as little as 2 minutes.

6. Review your toilets’ water consumption. Don’t use your toilets as an ashtray or wastebasket. Flushing gallons of water for these purposes is very wasteful. Old toilets use 3-5 gallons per flush; new toilets are low-flow (1.6 gallons per flush) models to help conserve water.

7. Run only full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher.

8. Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator rather than letting your tap run to get cold water when you want a drink. (Rinse the bottle every few days.)

22 Uses for Used Coffee Grounds

If you’re a coffee drinker, chances are you brew coffee each day. That leaves you with a load of used coffee grounds to dispose of. Here are 22 ways to make use of spent coffee grounds, culled from around the web. I haven’t tested all of these, so YMMV.

  1. Deodorizer: To remove unwanted food smells inside the fridge or freezer, dry the coffee grounds in the oven, on a cookie sheet and then put it in a bowl in your fridge. Fill old pantyhose with the dry grounds and tie off the ends. Hang this in closets and it will absorb odors.
  2. Plant food: Those plants that prefer acidic soil will benefit from coffee grounds sprinkled around the plant. Also, the grounds can add nutrients if you are composting plant waste.
  3. Grow your own mushrooms: One of the most interesting uses for used coffee grounds, as well as a technique you can enjoy indoors year-round. If you are a fan of mushrooms and coffee, you will be surprised at how easy it is to combine them and have your own mushrooms growing within days.
  4. Insect repellant: Coffee grounds are a good ant repellent. Sprinkle coffee grounds around ant hills. Coffee grounds also repel snails and slugs. Sprinkling coffee grounds around your garden eliminates cutworms and ants. To get rid of ants in the lawn, mix 1 pound of used grounds in 1 quart of hot water and pour on ant hills.
  5. Dye: By steeping coffee grounds in hot water, you can make brown dye for fabric, paper and even Easter eggs.
  6. Furniture scratch repair: Make a paste of coffee grounds and a little water and apply to furniture scratches with a Q-tip.
  7. Cleaning: If you have tough grease on dishes, or on floors, coffee grounds act as an abrasive and can be used as a scouring agent. Flush them down your drains to clean the pipes.
  8. Freezer deodorant. Put a bowl full of coffee grounds in the freezer overnight. For a flavored coffee scent, add a couple drops of vanilla to the grounds.
  9. Fireplace clean-up: The next time you go to shovel the ashes from your fireplace sprinkle wet coffee grounds on top of them first. The wet grounds will damp down dust from the ashes and make them easier to scoop up.
  10. Kitty repellent: To keep cats from using the garden as their personal toilet, sprinkle coffee grounds mixed with orange peels around your plants.
  11. Flea dip: Rid your pets of fleas with old coffee grounds. Shampoo your dog or cat as usual and while they are still wet, rub their fur with coffee grounds all the way to their skin. Rinse the coffee grounds away. This will make the pet’s fur soft and clean and fleas will disappear.
  12. Cellulite reducer: Here is the procedure: Mix 1/4 cup warm used coffee grounds and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. While standing over an old towel or newspaper, apply the mixture to your problem areas. Wrap the area with plastic wrap and leave on for several minutes. Unwind the wrap, brush loose grounds off your skin and then shower with warm water.
  13. Skin care: Used grounds make a good skin facial pack like a mud pack. They can be used for skin dermabrasion.
  14. Hair care: Brunettes can benefit from rinsing their hair in coffee. Darker redheads can also use coffee to rejuvenate the color of their hair. Steep used coffee grounds in two cups hot water for 15 minutes or so and then rinse through hair for a darker, more vibrant shine.
  15. Tanning: Here’s a cool way to rejuvenate your summer tan without damaging your skin with the sun’s harmful rays. Add a cup of water to the day’s old coffee grounds and boil. When it is cool to the touch rub it all over your body, you can even put it in a sprayer, get in the shower and soak yourself down that way. Let your skin absorb the coffee for about twenty minutes and then rinse in cool water. The coffee will stain your slightly to give your tan an extended life.
  16. Cooking: For cooking, don’t reach for those used coffee grounds. Instead, opt for your leftover coffee or fresh grounds. Rather than throwing away the leftover coffee in the bottom of the pot, use it as a meat tenderizer; marinate your steak to add a great new flavour. You can also add fresh grounds to chocolate cakes and brownies for a richer flavour.
  17. Trick or Treat: Beards for Halloween costumes can be made with a little honey and coffee grounds. Warm up a little bit of honey in the microwave until it is warm and runny, but not so hot that it burns the skin. Spread the warm honey over the face in the pattern of a mustache and beard. Spread coffee grounds that have been dried out over the honey.
  18. Children’s toy: Coffee grounds are great for making homemade play dough. Mix a bunch of old used coffee grounds with ½ cup of salt, 1 ½ cups of cornmeal and add enough water to moisten it into a dough. You decide how sticky and wet you want your play dough.
  19. Crafts and Hobbies: Make Treasure Stones for a children’s party.
  20. Tats: Fans of homemade tattoos sometimes mix coffee and henna to create a dye for permanent tattoos.
  21. Fireplace fuel: The Java Log fire log is made from used coffee grounds, wax, and molasses.
  22. Keep bait worms alive by mixing coffee grounds into the soil before you add worms

If you don’t have enough used grounds to meet your demands, local coffee shops often package their used grounds, and you can have them for free.

Build Stronger Intergenerational Connections

Grow old along with me!
The Best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith ‘A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all nor be afraid.’ —Robert Browning

There are few places today where people of different ages interact. With the demise of the extended family, the segregation between generations has gotten worse. As a result, younger generations don’t receive direction and advice from their elders.

Heritage, stories, and wisdom are not passed on. It’s no longer possible for every family to care for aging parents or grandparents at home. However, much can be done to bridge the gap and bring generations together.

To build stronger, healthier, and happier communities, we need to encourage more intergenerational interaction. The elderly may not be as productive as the younger people who have displaced them in the workplace, but they still have a lot to give.

Young people can benefit by caring for the elderly or simply spending time with them. The friendship and mentoring relationship that develop have the potential to transform a young person’s life. Children, youth, and young adults can break the loneliness, isolation, and boredom that so many seniors suffer. These bonds between young and old are the glue that hold communities and society together.

Here are a few ways to build intergenerational connections:

  • Intergenerational arts programs: uses the skills of the community’s older artists in schools and other community settings.
  • Community service programs: Youth serve the elderly in a variety of settings nursing homes, adult day care facilities, and individual residences.
  • Drug prevention programs for high-risk youth involving older people as mentors to students.
  • Intergenerational acting ensembles address social issues through improvisational theater.
  • Students provide respite to families caring for frail elders.
  • Older students help elders enhance their reading and writing skills.
  • Students provide language, literacy and citizenship tutoring for elderly immigrants and refugees.
  • Generation clubs facilitating long-term, one-on-one relationships between urban youth and isolated elders.
  • After school programs bringing a group of older adults into a school or community site to work one-on-one students reading below grade level or are academically at risk.
  • High school students are linked to homebound elderly to learn their life history.
  • Intergenerational language lessons from seniors who are native speakers of foreign languages help students improve their ability to speak and understand foreign languages.
  • Link with nursing homes and hospitals with the purpose of helping students clarify their career goals and to help recruit youth into the field of gerontology.

3 Simple Steps to a Healthy Home

We spend a substantial percentage of time indoors. Between the workplace, home, shopping, entertainment, etc., we can spend as much as 90% of our time in a building. On average, we spend 50% of our time at home.

Recent studies have shown that indoor environments can contain a range of harmful pollutants including mould, radon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and that old classic, cigarette smoke.

While there is not much you can do about air quality in most of the public buildings you frequent, you can easily make changes to improve the air quality in your home.

There are three steps you need to look at:

  1. Eliminate
    • products that give off gases: treated drapes, vinyl, plastic, composite wood, etc.
    • chemical cleaners
    • paint and solvents—store them in a shed or garage, away from the house.
    • Standard air fresheners
    • cigarette smoke
  2. Ventilate
    • make sure your home has adequate ventilation
    • make sure the fans exhaust to the outdoors and not into the attic or back into the room
    • run bathroom and kitchen fans for 20 minutes after showering or cooking
  3. Filter
    • Make sure you have good furnace filters and change them regularly
    • Use the kitchen exhaust fan while cooking to eliminate grease and clean the filters regularly
    • Regularly change or clean vacuum bags and filters