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Sunday, March 27, 2011

12 Powerful Life Lessons

1. It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.
2. Support your children in pursuit of their dreams.
3. There is nothing to hold you back, except yourself.
4. There is only one way to learn, and that is through action.
5. Trust your gut 
6. Follow your dreams.
7. Know what you want.
8. Make a decision and dive in with massive action.
9. Move on – always look forward.
10. You will encounter obstacles and take detours while realizing your dreams.
11. Don’t fear the unknown.
12. Learn to understand the universal language – the language without words.

Green Living: 10 Eco-Friendly Materials For Your Home

sustainable materials eco-friendly wicker bamboo banana leaf abaca bamboo jute rattan

Living green is more than just a passing fad and there’s no better way to truly embrace an eco-friendly lifestyle than at the most basic foundation of our society. Yes, sustainability should start at home!
Here are a few eco-materials you can incorporate into your home:
1. Abaca: Fiber Strength
Similar to bamboo, abaca is grown widely in many tropical countries. It is one of the many species of banana native to the Philippines, and it is also extensively grown in Borneo and Sumatra.  The strong fiber is also known as “Manila hemp” and is used to make currency bills, twines, ropes and clothing.
A home can enjoy this eco-friendly material in the form of woven cloth, place mats and curtains to small furniture such as center and side tables.
2. Bamboo: The Versatile Grass
Strong, resilient, beautiful, abundant and affordable, this humble grass is one of the best materials that one can explore when it comes to achieving sustainability at home. From its roots to its infamous stalk, bamboo has plenty to offer. It is one of the best eco-friendly materials, not only because it is renewable and biodegradable, but also because bamboo helps its surrounding habitats, as their roots hold soil and water, preventing erosions or landslides. Further, Bamboo groves have been found to release 30%-40% more oxygen, compared to hardwood forests with the same volume.
Bamboo shoots or the young bamboo can be made into condiments or pickles and its stalk are extensively used in construction, furniture-making and even clothing. Bamboo can be made into virtually anything, from bathroom mats to blinds, window shades, wall and floor panels.
3. Banana Leaves: A Delectable Choice
Bananas are abundant in Southeast Asia and South America and are typically grown in large plantations. The leaves are used for decoration and also to serve and prepare food in countries like India, Malaysia, Philippines and even in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Mexico. Excess dried banana leaves removed from plantations are unfortunately either made into fertilizers or burned, when they can be put to other practical uses.
Dried, weaved banana leaves make beautiful baskets, candle holders, magazine racks, trays, mirror and picture frames and a lot more.
4. Coconut Products: A Cool Alternative
Grown in tropical and subtropical countries, coconut is another great source of eco-friendly materials. Almost every part of the palm can be used, from its leaves down to its roots. The materials can be used to create household items, such as curtains, wall decors, bowls, ladles and baskets. The Coconut coir fibers are great for making door mats, carpets and rugs.
5. Cogon Grass: The Japanese Bloodgrass
Also known as Japanese bloodgrass, kunai grass in the U.S. or blady grass in Australia, the cogon grass is a weed that damages crops.  Farmers typically spend a lot of time, labor and money clearing the invasive plant, usually burning them or using herbicides.
There are many ingenious ways of utilizing Cogon grass that can help minimize the use of harmful herbicides and reduce the damage to local crops at the same time. Cogon grass can be used to create place mats, carpets, magazine holders and other useful items. Although the production of cogon grass as furniture and décor is still in its earliest stage, it may have a potential global market, as the demand for sustainable materials grows.
6. Corn: More than Just a Meal
Infamous corn has nearly an unlimited number of uses and is widely cultivated throughout the world. Although everyone uses numerous food products that are made of corn or include it as an ingredient, very few people are aware of the dangers that the crop actually brings. Corn produces a tremendous volume of  farm waste with every harvest, which is often left in the field to emit CO2 as it decomposes.
Discarded corn husks can be incorporated into furniture and as home décor, which can be equally beautiful and durable as bamboo, seagrass and other natural materials. A company called Corn Board Manufacturing, Inc has gone even further by developing a proprietary corn-based composite board that can be used instead of particle board, plywood or fiberboard for furniture and home construction!
7. Jute: The Golden Fiber
As the second most consumed and produced vegetable fiber after cotton, jute has now taken a spotlight in sustainable interior designs. Beautifully made jute rugs, curtains, sacks, rugs, chair upholstery and even linoleum backing are just a few of the many options that one can have at home. Jute fiber is labeled as the golden fiber because of its golden to silky shine hue. It’s 100% biodegradable making it another great option for your home.
8. Seagrass: Uniquely Beautiful
Known to be ecosystem engineers, seagrasses are a crucial food source for many marine organisms. Seagrass furniture is now making waves in homes as well as interiors of various establishments. This is because furniture made from seagrass has continuously proven its strength, opulence and durability, three qualities that every homeowner would always be delighted to have in their furniture pieces. Probably the best feature of seagrass furniture is that it is stain resistant, simply because the fibers of the flowering plant are not able to absorb any type of liquid. This is a huge advantage, since furniture are prone to liquid stains.
Beautifully crafted living rooms sets, cabinets, beds, baskets and other types of furniture are available in the market today. They are inexpensive, biodegradable, exquisite and are a must in every green home.
9. Utilizing the Willow Tree
Probably the most well known of the 400 species of the willow is the weeping willow, which can be seen planted along parks, river banks and borders of streams. These trees were supposedly planted to control and protect banks from the strong action of water, but are now regarded as an invasive weed. The roots of the weeping willow tree are known to clog drainage and sewer lines, particularly in Australia.
Aside from replacing native trees along banks, willows have been used to make furniture and decorative items. Surprisingly, willow furniture has been around since the early 1900’s, in the form of chairs, sofas, tables, plant stands and beds. The twigs of the willow tree can be made into durable and beautiful woven baskets, magazine racks, vases and frames.
10. Rattan and Wicker
An abundance of rattan and wicker in forest areas provides a viable source of income to local people and could help curb logging in certain regions. Rattan and wicker grows faster than forest trees and harvesting and transport of rattan canes and wickers are much easier compared to logging, making it an economically and environmentally sensible choice.
Rattan and wicker can be used for a range of household furniture, from couches, dining sets and beds to magazine racks, side tables, lamps, vases and a lot more.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

4 Tips For A Relaxing Space

Since the world has become so fast paced, it’s nice to come home to a relaxing, pleasing space. Calmer energy, a sense of “presence”, and balance can easily begin there, just by creating your ideal living space to fit your budget.
Releasing our minds will open the door to amazing things, so follow these simple tips to “redesign” your life:
Set the Stage
First things first, go through your surroundings and take inventory. Is there a room that you aren’t crazy about? wallpaper that’s screaming 2 decades ago? a light bulb that just doesn’t seem bright enough, or maybe a bit too bright? a hole in the wall? a squeaky door?
It doesn’t cost much to put on a fresh coat of paint, fill holes, fix a squeak, or replace bulbs and batteries for a clean, updated look, and you’ll feel so much better. And, if design isn’t your thing, flip through a magazine to find a picture if a room you’ll love. Recreate the look yourself, and you’ll save tons!
Choose Colors Carefully
Keep in mind colors affect us more than we think. Pick colors that are conducive to what you want your space to be. If you want a serene room, stray away from red! Red is an energizer and may even stimulate your appetite! Greens are calming colors, perfect for a spa-inspired setting. Or, if you want a cross between calm and amped up, choose a shade of blue.
Tackle Your To-Do List
We all have mental to-do lists, but now’s the time to put it on paper and check it off. Make a list of the things that have been on your mind, like organizing a closet, filing cabinet, or drawer. Tackle the items one by one. Clearing clutter clears your mind, too.
Store No More
Our closets, garages, and basements are havens for hidden treasures we may have written off too soon. You can go green and save green by refurbishing old furniture (it’s amazing what furniture treatment and new hardware can do), using bottles as decorative details – glass is said to be relaxing just to look through. Get creative, and you can design a whole new space with items you already own. Then, cleanse your home and storage areas from what’s not in use and no longer serves a purpose in your life.
Organize to Organize
If you’re trying to get organized, it may be overwhelming at first. Start simply by getting 3 bins together: “Use, Donate, Shred.”
Items in the “Use” bin should be put to use now!
Donate unwanted items by picking an organization of your choice. Many even offer free same-day pick up services, as long as you pick up the phone to call them!!
The only items we should be tossing are paper such as non-essential paperwork. Shred private information and recycle it!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home Decorating Ideas for Cutting Your Energy Bill

A few warm throws scattered around the room can keep everyone cozy while cutting your energy bill.
One day last year I got tired of freezing every time I went down into the basement of my split level home. No matter how much I heated the house, the lower floor always felt like a refrigerator. I decided to implement home decorating ideas that will keep my basement warm while cutting my energy bill. And—surprise, surprise! The decorating ideas worked so well that I soon adopted them in my upstairs bedrooms too. So here they are, my home decorating ideas that will cut your energy bill. I hope you find them helpful.
#1. Heavy Drapes
To prevent your windows from cooling the air around them, hang beautiful heavy drapes over them. If you already have curtains, just add the heavy drapes as a top layer, using a second curtain rod that extends farther from the wall. I found my beautiful drapes on sale, but you can also turn heavy blankets into drapes by using curtain clip rings that hang the blankets from the rod. The most important part of this decorating tip relates to how you hang the drapes in the corners. Pull 2 inches of fabric off the rod, then use a curtain clip ring to connect them to the base of the curtain rod support attached to the wall. This will cause your drapes to wrap around the corners and reach all the way to the wall. Finally, cut a hole in at the top of the drape where the rod needs to slip out again. Then connect the decorative rod end as you normally would.
#2. Fireplace Screen
Despite keeping my chimney flap (damper) closed when the fireplace wasn't being used, cold air would still come down my chimney. I looked for a fireplace screen in dimensions that are close to the size of my fireplace and found a wide selection on sale through different internet stores. I chose a screen that had glass to provide complete insulation of the room from the chimney. It also had doors so I could access the logs when the fire was burning. The screen added a beautiful decorative focal point to the room, which also happened to cut my energy bill by shutting the cold air out.
#3. Outlet Covers
My outlet covers in walls that faced the exterior let in cold wind. I decided to change them with new, larger covers that will attach firmly to the wall and seal any gaps. I bought decorative covers with flower patterns that matched my decor. Finally, I inserted Child Safety Plastic Outlet Covers into the outlets that were not in use to prevent cold air from blowing through them.
#4. Electric Freestanding Stove
To warm up the room without having to turn up the heating system of the entire home, I bought an inexpensive electric stove that I can turn on and off with a remote. You can see similar stoves at on-line stores that sell electric fireplaces. Despite its small size and price, my electric freestanding stove produces as much heat as a large electric fireplace. The stove is situated in a corner with the bookcases behind it. The fake flames in the stove really add decorative warmth to the room while cutting my energy bill.
#5. Decorative Throws
Lack of activity, like sitting down to read a book, typically makes me feel cold. Instead of turning on the stove to heat in the room, I keep a beautiful throw spread over the back of my sofa so I can snuggle up when I want to. For my arm chairs, I fold matching throws on the arms. I even have an earth-toned throw on my wood rocking chair. You too can have fun with this decorating idea by adding decorative throws to your rooms, which will keep you warm while cutting your energy bill.
#6. Low Voltage Decorative Table Lamps
Instead of using the bright overhead lights constantly, I installed a dimmer for them, and you can find this simple dimmer at your favorite home improvement store (some dimmers even come with a remote). Next I bought decorative lamps that run on low voltage. I placed the lamps on side tables, to give us soothing, soft illumination, which we just love. Not only did I decorate my room with the lamps, but I cut on my energy bill because we now spend much more time using the dimmed illuminations than the overhead, glaring lights.

10 Simple Decorating Ideas for Renters

Despite or the rules and regulations, there are simple ways to decorate a rental on a budget.
Decorating a rented space is not as easy as it sounds. Most landlords don't want you to make major changes to your living space. In many cases, you can only paint the walls if you promise to paint them back to their original color before you leave. If you hang photos on the walls and make holes, that's just more stuff to fix when your lease expires. So here are simple decorating ideas for renters, which won't cost you a fortune or give your landlord a fit.
#1. Accent Wall
Don't paint your whole rental space! Instead, paint one accent wall in every room. Choose the wall directly opposite the entrance and paint it in a bright color that goes well with your furniture. This can be purple, blue, red, orange, yellow—in short, for a modern look, create a chic accent wall that makes a statement.
#2. Lighting
Lighting is very important in modern decor. For a simple decorating idea for renters consider visiting IKEA or another discount furniture store and buying large, see-through white lamps or lampshades reminiscent of Japanese lanterns. These make beautiful illuminated focal points in every room.
#3. Mantle Alternative
Many rental places have no fireplace and, hence, no mantle to form a decorative focal point. The simple decorating idea for renters is to place a console table against the wall with a decorative mirror hanging over it. Decorate the table with candles, pictures, a bowl of acorns, flower vases, or anything else that strikes your fancy.
#4. Wicker Baskets
Organize your stuff without crowding your rental place by using some colored wicker baskets. Buy cheap wicker baskets at a craft store, then spray paint them in a zesty color like lime green, orange or red, which will really spice up your decor. Next, you'll want an open bookcase to stack your baskets and decorate your space. I find that the most affordable bookcases are the DIY ones, which you have to put together yourself. You can find these at affordable department stores.
#5. Pillows
Perhaps the simplest decorating idea for renters involves pillows. And you don't have to invest in a whole bunch of new pillows. I recommend buying beautiful bright fabrics at a fabric store like JoAnn's and sewing new pillow cases for your old pillows. Just be sure you choose colors that go with the rest of your decor.
#6. Window Treatments
Curtains or beautiful blinds are important for any room because they decorate it vertically, which is the area least decorated. The simplest window decorating idea for renters is to hang curtains. I like hanging a wooden pole over a row of windows using ornate shelf brackets. It's cheaper than buying a separate curtain rod for each window. You can find ornate wooden poles and brackets at home improvement stores, where they can cut your pole down to size. As for the curtains, you can sew your own to match your pillows, or just buy curtains on sale. If you wish to turn a sheet or tablecloth into a curtain, use clip curtain rings to hang it.
#7. Rug
Especially in smaller rental apartments or homes, a rug will help define the space in each room and add harmony to your decor. For a simple decorating idea for renters consider buying a rug at a home improvement store or cheap department store, where prices are affordable. Consider buying a single-toned rug but one that has a dominant color that will brighten the room. If your pillows and curtains match this color, your rug will bring everything together.
#8. Glassware
See-through things that allow light to flow through them make a space look beautiful. You can tie thick silk ribbons to ordinary drinking glasses and turn them into beautiful small vases. Save your wine bottles (or apple cider bottles) and display them in a cluster on window sills or your living room table. Beautiful glass jars like the honey bear ones are also beautiful to display.
#9. Homemade Fabric Art
You don't want to stud your rental walls with holes, so clustered art displays are out of the question. Therefore, be sure to select one or two dominant pieces for the entire room. Personally, I prefer mirrors in small rooms because they increase the visual space. If you can't afford expensive art, consider buying one yard of beautiful sturdy silk fabric at a craft store. Stretch the fabric on a frame built from 2x4 lumber, then hang your homemade fabric art on the wall.
#10. Plants
Greenery and flowers have a calming effect on us. My simple decorating idea for renters is to display live plants (not silk or plastic) somewhere in each room. I like to cut branches from my trees and bushes to create live bouquets throughout my home. You can also weave a few silk flowers through this greenery and get away with the impression that the whole bouquet is real.

8 Tips for Exercising While Overweight

Tips for Exercising While Overweight
Losing weight is more than just lowering your calories. Exercise is an essential part of weight loss, but can be difficult if you have several pounds to shed. In some cases, it can even be dangerous. There are tips you can follow to make exercise easier when you're overweight. Best of all, these tips will help ensure that you stick to an exercise plan and lose more weight.
#1 Consult Your Physician
As mentioned above, exercise can be dangerous if you are overweight. Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician to make sure you are healthy enough to handle the program. If you're not, your doctor may still be able to point you in the right direction to a program that is right for your weight.
#2 Drink Plenty of Water
Even before the exercise begins, you need to make sure your body is well hydrated. It is recommended that you drink up to four cups of water before your workout, spaced out in a period beginning one to two hours before your workout. It is also recommended that you have 4 ounces after every 15 minutes of exercise. Lastly, it is recommended that you weigh and drink 1-2 glasses of water per pound lost during your workout.
#3 Start Slow
While it is recommended that people get at least 30 minutes of exercise, that doesn't mean you have to start at that point. The key is to simply get started. You may only be able to do 5 minutes of exercise at once, but you can always add more time to workout every one to two weeks.
#4 Break Up Your Workouts
A 30 minute workout does not have to be done all at once. You can spread the time out throughout your day. For example, take a 10 minute walk during your lunch break and then walk another 10 minutes after you get off work. Once you get home, you can then fit in 10 minutes of cycling.
#5 Take Breaks
There are some exercises that seem easy, such as working out on an elliptical, but you still need to take breaks. Too much exercise, while you're overweight, can be dangerous. You want to make sure to take breaks so that you don't overwork your body.
#6 Don't Overwork Yourself
Many people talk about pushing yourself while exercising. While pushing your body can be a good thing, you should never overdo it. If your body starts to hurt, your breathing becomes too labored or you start to feel sick or lightheaded, you need to stop. Overworking your body can be dangerous and can prevent you from doing future workouts for several days.
#7 Choose Workouts That Are Right for Your Body
Being overweight can cause stress on the joints. If you find that your joints are not in the shape you'd like them to be, you may want to choose low impact exercises. Low impact exercises still help you burn calories, but they are less likely to cause you pain.
#8 Keep Going
You may find yourself getting frustrated because you can't do as much as you would like or that exercise isn't as easy as you thought it would be. The important thing is to not give up. The fact that you're making an effort is important. As time goes on, it will get it easier. Just don't give up.

Seven Signs He's Marriage Material

Is he marriage material?
Thinking about settling down sometime soon? Hoping a husband and kids are just around the corner? If this is the case, you may need to evaluate the man you're dating to see whether he's the right one to build that life with. Some guys are just not ready to even consider the transition into married life. If you are anxious and ready to begin the next phase of your life, make sure your relationship has the potential to lead to marriage, so that you are not wasting your time. Here are seven signs that will show you that your boyfriend is "marriage material":
1. He keeps a tidy home.
If you go over to your boyfriend's apartment and there are clothes everywhere, dirty dishes piled as high as the ceiling, and a giant health code violation for a bathroom, he might not be ready for the demands of keeping up a home. He may just need a little motivation to clean up, but if it's like pulling teeth to get him to run a vacuum, he may not be marriage material quite yet.
2. He is financially responsible.
Starting a life together takes a lot of money, from paying for a wedding to buying a house, and you need to know he'll be able to budget for all the upcoming expenses. A man who is marriage material should have savings and a plan for paying off his debt, avoid excessive frivolous spending, and have a solid idea of where his money is going each month.
3. He has mentioned his future children.
I'll never forget when I was just getting to know my husband and he made the comment, "My kids will never..." I don't even know what the end of the sentence was, but what mattered to me was that he saw kids in his future. If your boyfriend has never even mentioned future children, but you want to have kids, he might not be the right man for you to marry.
4. He has made sacrifices for you.
Marriage is all about selfless sacrifice. A great sign that your man is marriage material is that he has, at some point, chosen you over something else. Whether that means he went to your drama production instead of his poker night, or he got up on Sunday morning to go to church with you when he was battling a hangover, he needs to show that he is willing to compromise and give of himself in your marriage.
5. He is not too attached to the "bachelor lifestyle."
If you feel like your boyfriend spends an inordinate time at the bar with friends, littering the floor of his living room with beer cans, and engrossed in video games, he might not be ready to give up his bachelor lifestyle. On the other hand, if he doesn't have a problem giving up a Saturday night to help you fix your garbage disposal, he might be marriage material.
6. He treats his mom well.
Growing up, my mom always told me to watch how my boyfriend treated his mother and that would show how he would treat his wife. If your husband is patient with, considerate of, and kind to his mom (assuming she is a caring mother who is still in his life), he will probably be the same with you.
7. You can trust him to do what he says he'll do.
You've got to be able to count on your man to do the things he agrees to—especially when you throw things like paying bills and caring for children into the mix. If he seems to consistently "forget" to do the things you ask, he might not be marriage material.
Even if your boyfriend doesn't meet all of these criteria, you need to know that your he at least believes he will get married someday, that he's on track to leaving bachelorhood behind, and that he can see his future wife being you. Evaluating him based on these seven signs is a good place to start, but initiating an open, honest, and ongoing conversation about your future would be an even better way to find out whether he's "marriage material" for you.

Four Surprising Truths About 'Bad Boys'

The edgy, brooding artist you just met might seem mysterious. But the real mystery lies in just how 'normal' he really is...

We all love bad boys. Men with sleeve tattoos and lip piercings. Edgy guys with intimidating stares and dark pasts. They come in all sorts of packages. But they all represent the same thing: the challenge of taming a wild soul. Perhaps it's the idea of having something you're not supposed to have. It's the ultimate hand-in-the-cookie-jar sensation that comes along with capturing the attention of an enigmatic man. But if you've happened to get up and close and personal with one, you'll be amazed by a few discoveries ...
They're not so tough.
You might be surprised to find that the tough guy you've started seeing is deathly afraid of mice. This may not seem like such a big deal. But if you don't know Mr. Tough Guy so well yet, you might wonder whether his machismo is just an act. It is at this point that you discern between quirks and true character flaws. Sure, your guy probably has exactly what it takes to protect you in your hour of need. But that doesn't mean you won't first be shocked by his intense fear of spiders.
They like romance, too.
Your hunky roughneck might seem like the type to fling you over his shoulders like a Neanderthal. But your rough and tumble guy just might surprise you with slow caresses and tender pillow talk. When the two of you are alone, he knows that no audiences exist (one hopes)—and he can fully embrace the affectionate aspect of your relationship. We might have programmed our brains to believe that tough guys don't have feelings. But when you discover how deeply some of those feelings run, it's hard not to be smitten.
They weren't always bad boys.
Guess what? The man candy with the ripped abs and bad boy attitude might have been the school bullies' prime target in ninth grade. And that edgy drummer you met last weekend? Oh yeah, he was a "band nerd." (Not that there's anything wrong with band nerds.) It's kind of hard to say exactly how these oft-overlooked boys turned into such brooding male muses. But dig a little deeper into your stud's past, and you'll discover the little nugget of innocence that lies beneath his rugged exterior.
They marry nice girls.
Have you ever thumbed through a gossip magazine, only to stumble upon your favorite hunky actor—on the arm of his amazingly innocent-looking wife? Sure, she's cute. But she's not exactly whom you imagined your man of steel to claim as his soul mate. This is perhaps the thought that any of Jesse James' exes had when they realized he was marrying Sandra Bullock. (The same sentiment might have existed when Valerie Bertinelli married Eddie Van Halen in the 80s.) It is true that edgy, brooding men do hook up with sexy, mysterious women; they also marry them. But there is something about that counterbalance that makes settling down that much sweeter.


5 Things You Should Be Able to Openly Discuss with Your Partner

Relationships aren't always about hearts and flowers. Sometimes things get tough. Can you and your partner talk about what really matters?

It would probably be fair to say that every couple has a secret or two that they don't want to divulge to their partner. In some cases, this isn't such a bad thing. However, in a relationship there are some issues you shouldn't shy away from. Topics which are awkward or hard to handle are usually the most important ones and they should be dealt with as a partnership or it could lead to trouble. The ability to talk openly about these important aspects of your life together is the only way you can truly hope to be happy.
Your future goals
Before you get too serious about your relationship, you must determine whether you both have similar plans for the future. Taking a big step like moving in together would be a huge mistake if you don't want the same things. Imagine how heartbreaking it would be to find out that your boyfriend doesn't want children while you are planning to turn the second bedroom into a nursery. I have seen relationships blown to pieces because the couple didn't talk openly about what they wanted out of life before they bought a house together. A lot of pain could have been avoided if they had just stopped to discuss their future beforehand.
In these times of financial crisis it is more important than ever to openly discuss money with your partner. The money you and your partner earn is money for both of you to live on, so there shouldn't be any secrets about the size of your wage packets. I used to date someone who refused to tell me how much he earned even after we had been together for three years! This kind of secret can be toxic in a relationship. Not only is it harder to stay within a budget if you don't know how much money you both earn, it also raises questions about what other secrets might be hidden from you.
We all know that sex isn't the most important thing in a relationship. But it is definitely important. If something isn't working for one of you, it needs to be discussed. It is always more embarrassing to talk about sex than to do it, but you need to get over that because issues in the bedroom will quickly spill into other aspects of your lives. It's not just problems that should be discussed either. You should also be able to openly discuss new ideas and fantasies to stop your sex life becoming stagnant. Talking about sex should never be uncomfortable. It's supposed to be fun!
The stresses of work nearly always follow you home. Even if you don't want it to happen, a bad day at the office can result in bad moods and lashing out. You should both be willing to talk and listen to each other's work issues because keeping the problems bottled up only makes them worse. Holding on to stress is as damaging for a couple as it is for an individual, so don't let it eat away at you.
Bad habits
I'm sure you've heard people say that it's the little things that count in a relationship. Well, a large number of little bad habits can drive a person crazy. You should be able to openly tell your boyfriend if his bad habits are annoying you. Likewise, you must be prepared to hear the things he would like you to change too Don't let small things like him folding his underpants before sex (yep, it happened to me!) or leaving toe nail clippings all over the bathroom floor ruin what you have. If you can't tell each other what you find unacceptable, you will annoy each other right out of the relationship.
If you can't openly discuss all of these things with your partner, you may have problems in the future. All of these issues are things which won't just go away if you ignore them. They fester and eat away at a relationship until it is too late to fix them. Don't let it happen to you.


6 Surprising Super Foods

Do you feel like you can't get all of your vitamins and minerals into your diet without overeating? Here are a few super foods that will help.

Calcium: Poppy seeds

Cheese and milk aren't the only calcium-rich foods. One tablespoon of poppy seeds contains 13 percent of your recommended daily calcium requirement. These delicious little seeds can perk up your yogurt, and are delicious with strawberries. Are you getting enough calcium?

Omega 3: Mayonnaise
Hellman's mayonnaise is naturally rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The recipe below will give you two healthy doses with the addition of canned salmon.

Iron and Vitamin B12: Clams
Three ounces of
clams provides 100 percent of your daily iron requirement and a whopping 1400 percent of your B12 needs. Both iron and B12 contribute to energy production and can help stave off anemia. B12 is great for your heart and has been shown to ease symptoms of depression.

Vitamin D: Canned salmon
A three-ounce serving of canned salmon will give you 133 percent of your daily allowance of this essential vitamin. Use it as you would canned tuna.

Vitamins C and A: Red pepper
One large red pepper provides more than 300 percent of your daily need for Vitamin C and 100 percent for Vitamin A.

B12 and Zinc: Oysters
A half-dozen oysters contains 272 percent of your daily B12 needs, and 500 percent of your zinc requirements. Pop some oysters when you feel an illness coming on.

Chocolate Stout Shake

A great adult chocolate treat. A stout is an ale traditionally made with roasted malt or barley and typically one of the stronger beers. A good chocolate stout's flavor is really brought out and celebrated in this dessert shake. Find a quality chocolate stout at a local fine wine or liquor store.


  • 1/4 cup chocolate stout beer or stout beer
  • 1/2 cup prepared chocolate fudge ice cream topping
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 purchased chocolate-and-nut-covered pretzel rods (optional)


  1. In a small saucepan heat beer and chocolate topping until warm and combined. Cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender combine ice cream and milk, half at a time. Cover and blend until combined. Divide ice cream mixture among 8 glasses. Drizzle with chocolate sauce and, if desired, serve with chocolate-covered pretzel rods. Makes 8 servings.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 Ways to Get Your Energy Up in 5 Minutes or Less

1. Step Outside
Sure, the last thing you probably want to do when you're feeling a little blah is bundle up and go walk around aimlessly in the freezing cold. Well, do it anyway. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh, crisp air — and away from your desk — will work wonders on your energy and mood. Obviously, this trick works well on a warm, sunny day, too. It's the gift that keeps on giving all year round.

2. Flirt
It's fun, it's harmless (or, at least, it should be), and it's effective. Nothing gets the heart pumping and the brain working like a little flirtin' action, just don't do anything stupid. Keep it to conversation — thinking on your feet, cracking jokes, and intellectual banter will energize you plenty.

3. Drink Tea
Better than coffee, tea is the beverage of choice for an energy boost. (Notice we didn't say to get a six-pack of crash-inducing 5-Hour Energy drinks). Studies have shown that drinking a cup of black tea four to six times a day reduces stress hormone levels in your body.

4. Take a Cold Shower
Katharine Hepburn swore by cold showers, and she had an epic energy level. If you can't commit to an all-together cold one, take your usual shower but turn off the hot water completely for the last two minutes to invigorate you. If you still can't handle it (come on, try it!), or if you want a mid-day alternative, splash some ultra-cold water on your face. We recommend keeping a spritz bottle in the fridge for moments such as these.

5. Listen to Music
It's no surprise why our brain's pleasure centers light up when we hear music. (The same brain structures that are active during euphoria-inducing stimuli like sex and drugs are clicked on with a good Glee mashup, too!) So, plug those headphones in and work along to your favorite jam.

6. Wear Bright Colors
Ironically, your current state is partially determined by the mood you project to others and the reciprocating mood they project back to you. Wearing dark, somber colors get you the same reaction. But, bright colors and fun, interesting patterns give you an equally bright, peppy response. We know, we know … black is so flattering! Just save those duds for days you don't have an energy deficiency.

7. Smell a Lemon
Vitamin C is a miracle worker. Not only does drinking it help, but even smelling the stuff can revitalize your senses and cure chronic fatigue. Citrus scents from oranges, lemons, and limes stimulate alertness. So grab the fruit, or a lemon-scented body lotion, and sniff away.

8. Take a Disco Nap
This one's tricky. If you don't keep it short — five to 10 minutes, max — the power nap could have the opposite effect. So, set a smoothing-but-stern alarm and jump up from your bed, couch, or chair (the most recommended location for your mini-snooze sesh) when time's up.

9. Eat a Piece of Chocolate

Like a nap, this one can present a challenge if willpower is something you are lacking in addition to energy. To help limit your intake to one piece, keep some individually wrapped chocolate squares on hand. Eating one will give you an endorphin buzz. Plus, the slight amount of caffeine chocolate contains — dark chocolate has more than milk chocolate — won't hurt, either.

10. Hit a Pressure Point
Acupressure techniques have long been used to cure migraines, stress, and tension. Although the ancient tradition isn't as popular as acupuncture, it's sans those pesky needles, and we like that. So, pinch the point between your thumb and forefinger for several minutes to give you a quick energy boost.