Find a Donor. On Facebook!


Opening my browser this morning the headlining story was that Mark Zuckerburg has revealed a new Facebook option that allows you to search for Organ Donors.  112 – 113 million people in the United States alone are in need of a transplant. For them and their families the potential of this app to connect them with donors is an answered prayer. Others are more reserved about sharing their medical information so publicly and question the security of their records.

 

 

Myself? I am wondering if  similar applications will soon be functioning through social media. Adoption?

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Guest Blogger & Pick of the Week ~ Fine Frugality


 One of my favorite authors on WordPress and writer for Fine Frugality Living Life to the Fullest ~ Simply has been kind enough to create a wonderful read. More on the topic of organization with simple creative ways to motivate, maintain, and yes enjoy, cleaning!

Hi everyone! I’ve been asked by the wonderful folks here at The Shanty Town to do a guest post that will help cover a current topic, cleaning and organizing our homes. I absolutely loved the post “Women ~ The Quest for the Perfect Excuse”, and agree whole heartedly with the author’s point of view. Bottom line, it all boils down to the fact that we are humans and we drag our feet when it comes time to do something that isn’t “fun”. With that said, I’ll share some of the things that motivate me to stay organized and keep a semi-clean abode.

 

I don’t know about you, but one of the worst questions anyone in my household can ask me is “Do you know where my… is”. I find a huge bit of comfort in knowing what I have, where it is and how much of it is there. I value my time too much to be idly searching for misplaced boots, memory cards or electric bills. So even though it is next to impossible (I’m still giving it the old college try though!) to organize the other members of my household, as long as I can remain organized, I remain relatively sane.

 

Take Notes.

An overall general rule I have is to schedule the larger organizational or cleaning tasks. I like to do that when no one else is home. That way, there is no one coming up to me asking “Do you know where my…is” as I work. So send your spouse and kids somewhere and clean out that closet. Or garage. Or laundry room. Play some dance music loudly to keep you moving. Get rid of anything you no longer use. (I always have a box tucked away under a desk in the office where I put items that will be donated to the local thrift store) You are going to LOVE your new clean space when you’re done. Keep telling yourself that!

 

 I also have a weekly schedule for the routine cleaning processes. For instance: Monday = bedrooms. Tuesday = Living Room, etc. Let’s face it, it’s not time consuming or back-breaking-difficult to dust, run the vacuum and wipe down the window sills.

 

The smaller stuff…well, that should be taken care of as it happens. Don’t procrastinate doing the dishes. Do them immediately after the meal. You’re standing up anyway to walk away from the dinner table. It will only take you 5 more minutes. Teach the children to do the same. As soon as they’re done playing video games, the game system should get tucked away back into it’s home before they head for the next activity.

 

One of the main reasons that I love organization is that I believe organization IS frugal. Take for instance…well, my husband. Despite the fact that he is the most wonderful husband ever, he does not have the best brain when it comes to planning, methodology or composition. He is more like “Wet towel. Must put down. First available surface”. So yes, I have found wet towels on the bed, hanging over the door and even on the kitchen table. (Don’t ask) So, the time spent seeking out the wet towel of the day and then returning said towel to its rightful spot may only be three minutes, but if you do that ten times a day…well, that’s a half hour of your time completely wasted. (Unless you count the calories you burned walking from room to room looking for the lost objects)

 

Organization not only saves time, but saves money as well. Trust me. How many times have you bought something, knowing that you already have another one “somewhere”, but you just can’t find it? Or you go to the grocery store and you buy a jar of cumin for a recipe. You get the cumin home and put it away, only to find three more jars of cumin. Now come on. There is NO way you are going to use four jars of cumin. Ever. Money wasted. Keep a sheet of paper taped to the inside of cupboards and a pen on one of the shelves. When you are getting low on something, write it down. Before grocery shopping, check the cupboard doors and add the items to your list.

 

My last trick to staying organized is keeping a small notebook in your purse. Whenever I think of something that is needed or a project that I’d like to complete, I write it into my notebook. When I’m out shopping, I can take out the notebook and look through the pages, telling me exactly what I need. All of the important measurements for the house are in there such as window sizes, hallway lengths, etc because you never know when you’re going to run across those perfect curtains. This way, you won’t bring them home to find they only cover 3/4 of the window.

 

Anyone can be organized. And once you are, you’ll wonder how you ever got along in your prior chaos. Imagine it. Grabbing your keys, purse, coffee cup, umbrella and jacket all in one swift motion in the mornings without one second of “Where is my….”. It relaxes me just thinking about it. 

 

I urge you to stop by the Fine Frugality page which was recently featured on Passionate & Creative Homemaking for more on frugal living.

 

Eating Organic for less.


  My roommates and I used to say a blessing before our meals the went something like ” May this food nourish our bodies as it failed to do so for our wallets.”  It is no secret that food costs are on the rise especially if you opt for fresh and organic choices but it doesn’t have to. Try out these tips to eating organic for less.

1. Buy in Bulk – Many dry good items are much cheaper bought in bulk and have an amazingly long shelf life if stored properly.  Oatmeal, rice, beans, and flour are all good examples of items to buy in bulk and they are all easily kept.

Beans – Many food experts are of the opinion that dried beans can be kept without losing their nutritional value for up to thirty years.
Flour – The shelf life of flour really depends on what you are using if you use a particular kind not listed here let me know and I will track it down for you. All purpose flour will last in a cabinet sealed for up to eight months and twelve if kept refrigerated. Corn Flour is easily kept for up to a year and once again this is increased with refrigeration.
Rice – Properly sealed and stored, polished white rice will store well for 25 to 30 years after opening it should be used within 18 – 24 months.
Oatmeal – Processed oatmeal has a longer shelf-life than natural oatmeal because enzymes in the grain are destroyed by the heat of steaming and rolling. Processed oatmeal has a shelf life of about 18 months. Natural oatmeal can be stored in an airtight container for months, but once opened, it needs to be used as soon as possible (within weeks) because the enzymes breakdown.

 2. Find a local butcher – You may have to dig around but finding a local butcher and supplier can be a wonderful way to give yourself and your family with fresh organic meat at a fraction of the price. A couple of years ago my family purchased half a cow from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. It was grass-fed, locally butchered, and lasted us through the winter and then some for just a few hundred dollars. Pound for pound we saved money and you can really taste the difference.

3.  Casseroles – Pan dishes are great because you can divide the finished meal into portions to use later. One casserole can feed a family of four two or three times and can be sent to  school or work for a healthy homemade lunch.

4. Grow your own veggies – Starting your own garden may seem like a daunting task but it’s really very simple. There are thousands of articles online to help you get started and with the rise in interest of urban homesteading its easy to find ways to grow in little to no space. Think vertical gardens.

5. Check out your local farmers market – What could be better than supporting your local farmers while eating healthy at a fraction of the cost. Find out where your local farmers market is and take a day to look around. The produce varies with the season and you can usually haggle with the vendors for a price and amount that fits your household and wallet.

6. Raise your own – If its possible raising chickens is a great way to get your own organic eggs and in a pinch meat. Chickens are great composters, bug eaters, and fertilizers. Many areas are now allowing households to keep a limited amount of chickens inside city limits. Another idea is beekeeping if your up to it and I have heard you can get financial help in this area because of their declining numbers in the wild.

What ways do you and your family eat organic for less?

Eating Healthy on a budget.


Providing healthy nutritious food for ourselves and our families is something that we all strive to do.  With rising food costs it can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.  With that in mind I’ve researched some healthy and low-cost foods that you can feel  proud to set on the table.

 

 1. Bananas – Bananas make the top of my list because they have always been the cheapest good for you food that I can remember. In my area I have never seen them cost more than .89 cents a pound.  They are a great source of potassium, fiber, manganese and vitamin C all of this with only 105 calories!  Whats more is that once they’ve ripened beyond what you would want to eat alone they are in an excellent stage to make Banna Bread one of my childhood favorites. Nutrition Info per serving: 121 calories, 3.5 grams fiber, 14% Daily Value for potassium (487 mg), 20% Daily Value for vitamin C.

 

2. Old Fashioned Oats –  Oatmeal is another cheap healthy food that can be used to make various dishes from breakfast to desert even pet treats!  A 42 oz container usually costs around $4 and holds 30 servings adding up to an inspiring 13 cents a meal!Nutrition info per serving: 150 calories, 4 grams fiber, and 5 grams protein.

 

3. Canned Tuna – This is one of my household staples because it is cheap, quick, will  bulk up many recipes. At less than a dollar a can you really can’t beat this for a cheap reliable source of protein and Omega 3‘s.Nutrition info per serving: About 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (0.5 gram), 60 calories, and 13 grams of protein.

 

4. Potatoes – Russet potatoes can go a long way when your on a budget and you can get a five-pound bag for $4. They are used for breakfast lunch or dinner, are very filling, and can be cooked thousands of different ways.  Nutrition info per serving (one medium-size potato): 168 calories, 3 grams fiber, 5 grams protein, 20% of the Daily Value for vitamin C, 10% Daily Value for iron, and 25% Daily Value for potassium.

 

5. Whole wheat pasta –  Most types of pastas are cheap especially spaghetti or angel hair which I buy for just under a dollar at Harris Teeter.  With one box I feed three adults with  a bit left over so you could stretch a box into two meals. I usually make a traditional italian dinner with pasta $1, ground beef $2-3, canned mushrooms .89, and alfredo sauce $3.  I’m sure it could be done cheaper but it feeds my family twice for just under $10! Nutrition info per serving: About 200 calories, 7 grams protein, and 6 grams fiber.

Pediatricians turning away sick children. Immoral or a saftey measure?


 I recently read an article online about children essentially being denied medical care because their parents had not had them vaccinated.  The pediatricians have valid concerns about the non- immunized children potentially passing on illness to others. But the other side of the coin leaves the turned away children at risk of receiving sub par care or worse none at all.  This topic rightly stirs up  controversy among parents and health care professionals. 

I can see valid reasons from both parties but I must side with the children.  They cannot control the decisions of their parents or their doctors  and are ultimately the ones that suffer the consequences.  Instead of debating among ourselves who is right or wrong I believe we should focus on the health and well-being of children after all they are the future.

 

Where do you stand? Should pediatricians be allowed to turn away sick children or should the parents be held responsible for refusing to vaccinate?

New year new you


 Recently, one of my readers posted that they were going to  run a marathon. That, along with myriad of people wanting to lose weight as their new years resolution gave me the idea for todays prompt.  This article is filled with information on all aspects of running/working out from preparation to cool down and a link to my favorite go to work out site. Enjoy.

 

Your already past the hard part, you’ve made up your mind to lose weight, get in shape, and go for it. Congratulations! Why not set your goals for what you’d like to see in the next month. Wether its increasing your reps from ten to twenty or running that mile in less time, nows your opportunity to plan ahead. Set multiple small goals between now and your big event this will give you boosts of confidence along the way!

 

Most health care professionals recommend a good stretching before any workout that includes running! Ever wanted to try yoga or palates? Now would be a good time to start. Not only will you limber up your body but its said you’ll gain peace of mind as well. I’m still on the lookout for that perfect routine so if you use a particular site I’d love the link.

 

Motivation. Feeling a little lackluster? We all go through it, we are pumped up the first few times but then we start to lose interest or procrastinate and pretty soon those weight loss goals are once again next years resolution. Well I say NO MORE! Here are a few tips to keep you on the right path. What keeps you motivated?

  1. Keep a workout log – Workout logs are great because you can accurately measure how far you’ve come since you started your plan. Any spiral bound note-book will do. It’s amazing to look back after a few months at your progress.
  2. The buddy system – Having a partner is a great motivator, having another person working with you can help you push out those few extra reps. They can also spot you during more difficult exercises.
  3. Music – Music is great anytime! Why not make a playlist of songs that really get you pumped up and feeling good. Thats sure to add an extra kick to your routine.
  4. Change up your routine – Changing up your exercises is a great way to get out of a rut. The site link I will give has tons of workouts for the body or you can choose one particular area.

 

Nutrition. Getting the right nutrition is important all the time but, the right combination can really enhance your workouts. Lean protein, fresh fruits and veggies, and whey protein shakes are highly recommended. You should talk to your healthcare provider about any drastic changes and they can help you pinpoint your particular needs. Hydration is very important be sure to drink lots of water.

 

As with any strenuous activity running can have its hazards. I’ve provided a link from Runners World a website that is completely devoted to runners that offers tips on injury prevention and treatments.  http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-285–13413-0,00.html

 

 

Cool down. Whew! Are you out of breath yet? Cool down is an essential part of any training that allows your body time to rest, and return to its normal state. This is a good time to take your supplements, drink or eat your protein, and stretch out again to prevent aching muscles later.

 

 

Now, the link I promised. My favorite fitness site of all time is bodyrock.tv it is an amazing site filled with everything fitness that everyone can take something from.  What are your fitness goals for the New Year? 

 

 

 

Beach Bodies Workouts


 Summer is over your probably not going to be in a bikini for another four or five months.  During the cold winter months working out hardly seems worth it but i feel it is one of the most important times to do so. We are bombarded with candy at Halloween and tons of food and sweets  at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Staying fit year round is not only good for you but it will give you a head start next year and you can focus your new years resolutions on something other than diet and exercise. These are some of the workouts that I use. I urge you to join me throughout the winter in keeping our beach bodies strong and healthy. 

 

1. The Spartacus Challenge.  This routine has been getting a lot of attention lately.  I have completed the workout shown twice and can definitely say that you can feel it afterwords. Be sure to stretch out those muscles while your cooling down or your legs will hate you for a few days!

http://www.menshealth.com/spartacus/workouts/goblet.php

 

2. Body Rock.   This site follows one of my favorite fitness instructors Zuzana through new workouts each time.  Her body is amazing and she keeps it that way by doing only the workouts she shares on her site. Dont worry if the routines seem hard she often offers modifications of these steps for beginners. There are food recipes, and other support on the site as well.  This has been my go to page for a quick workout routine for the last couple of years. 

 http://www.bodyrock.tv/

 

3.  All about the six-pack .This is a routine I recently ran across while playing online that I thought was really fun and easy enough even for beginners. This is a quick 12 minute workout all you need is a couch and the will power. This is the routine I will be using along with The Spartacus Challenge and some of Zuzanas routines in the next two weeks. Enjoy. 

http://www.sixpackfactory.com/get-6-pack-abs-on-your-couch-cool-workout-video/