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What You Need for Peaceful Walk Through the Woods

peaceful hiking

I’m not much of an exercise freak. In fact, I haven’t set foot in a gym in years. I find it really stressful to be surrounded by all those sweaty people with the music blasting while I’m struggling with 20lb weights. It’s just too much. For me exercise is about more than just trying to get in shape. It’s about reducing stress and clearing my mind. Going to the gym wasn’t doing either of those things for me so I quit. And let me tell you it felt great!

My conscience wouldn’t just let me quit without picking up something else to replace my gym time so I thought long and hard about what type of exercise I wanted to do. I wasn’t particularly interested in team sports. I thought about buying a fitness DVD so I could work out at home but honestly the thought of doing so just depressed me. I eventually settled on hiking. I love the quiet of the outdoors and the clean air always make me feel great. So hiking it was. Read More

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Keeping a Positive Attitude at Work

stress free

Whatever type of work you do there are going to be frustrations. You could have the best job in the world, puppy wrangler (well, this is my dream job anyhow), and there will be days where if you see one more puppy do their business in a place they’re not supposed to you’re going to use a stern voice when speaking to them. It’s unavoidable, some days are just worse than others. I certainly have my fair share of rough days and sometimes it can be tough to keep it together. But there a few things I do when I start feeling stressed and testy to make sure I don’t do anything I’ll regret later. Read More

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How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

Stay-Healthy while traveling

If you travel a lot, either for work or pleasure, staying healthy while you’re on the road is a must. There’s nothing worse than being away from your own home and feeling ill. It’s especially bad if you only get a week or so of vacation a year. You definitely don’t want to feel sick while you’re on holiday. There are a few things I always do leading up to, and during a vacation that have worked well to keep me healthy.

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Finding the Perfect Gift for My Pop

family reunionMy dad has his 65th birthday a few weeks ago and to celebrate we threw him a hug party. We had everyone there; brothers and sisters, cousins, and old friends. It was great time but putting it all together was exhausting. The good thing was that it wasn’t a surprise party so at least we didn’t have to try and keep the whole thing under wraps. While the days and weeks leading up to the big event were definitely stressful but it was totally worth it. I haven’t seen my old man look so happy in years.

While finding a space for 100+ people with a caterer was tough the hardest part was definitely finding the old man a gift. He’s not an easy person to shop for and we’ve had kind of a present detente over the past decade. We give each other cards and that’s about it. It’s just easier that way.

But this was a big birthday so I knew I had to come through like never before. I asked my mom for suggestions but she wasn’t much help. She kept telling me about his favorite knee cream. Nobody wants to be reminded of how old they are on their birthday.

For a while I considered getting him something from Jordan where he lived as a child before moving to the States with his family. His dad had been a baker so I thought that maybe something that reminded him of those childhood years could be good. Maybe a tajine or something else he would have seen while helping his dad in the bakery. I ran the idea by my mom and she immediately shot it down. She reminded me that there was a reason he had never been back to Jordan to visit. He didn’t like it there.

So then I was on to my second choice. My pop was a big Dick Tracy fan growing up and he always thought his radio watch was the coolest. I looked around for a replica but didn’t really have much luck. So I moved on to the next best thing and found the most technologically advanced watch on the marked.

It turns out the military has been producing amazingly advanced watches for decades. So I did some research and tracked down the best military watch which you can check out here. I knew I’d done well when I saw the look on his face when he opened at the party and his eyes went wider then I’d ever seen them. He put it on right there and showed it to everyone he met that night.

The party was a lot of work but I tell you I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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Clean Living at Home

organic cleaning

Here’s a sad story from 20+ years ago. I used to work with this wonderful woman, we’ll call her Nancy. One day she was cleaning her house and for some reason put bleach in a cup that she was using to disinfect her toilet. Well, she apparently forgot it was bleach and took a big gulp thinking it was a glass of water. It tore up her insides and after a few painful months in a hospital she passed away. I was devastated by what happened and so was her family and everyone at work.

I was about to become a father when this happened and it had a profound effect on me. I began to worry about my kids getting in to the cleaning cabinet and drinking something terrible. I put a lock on the cabinet door and made sure it was totally secure. But then I started thinking about why I was going through so much trouble. Why was I continuing to use such abrasive cleaners? Did my toilet really have to smell like bleach to be clean? No it didn’t!

So I set about doing my research by going to the library and looking for books on safe cleaning practices. Remember, this was pre-internet when you actually did have to go to the library for research. God, I don’t know how we did it! Anyhow, I found a book that no one had ever checked out about how to make your own cleaning supplies. I took it home, and even though the wife was a little skeptical we started making our own safe-for-the-earth-and-body cleaning supplies.

Now they took a little getting used to because they don’t smell like a cleaning product is supposed to smell like. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Mexico but a product there called Fabuloso is very popular and has a very distinct smell. People use it everywhere and when you smell it you know the place you’re in is clean.

Well, what if something smells like orange peel, ginger, and epsom salts? That’s a smell that takes a little getting used to. Honestly, it wasn’t the smell that was the hardest for us to get on board with it was the extra work required. Bleach makes everything white very quickly. Our cleaners took some elbow grease. A lot of elbow grease actually.

But we worked at it and tweaked the different formulas and are at a places we’re very comfortable with. We found the best way to improve the smell is to add some lavender. It doesn’t add any cleaning abilities but it sure does smell nice. We also use a disinfecting cleaner for our dishes especially since we don’t want any salmonella contamination from chicken or pork. And I’m happy to report that we’ve never had any food poisoning or any other illnesses from unclean conditions. If you didn’t know better you’d never guess we made our own cleaning products. In fact, the chrome looks so good you can see yourself in it!

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Puppy Training Techniques that Worked for Me

Puppy training

The wife and I got a new dog last year, an adorable little Cairn Terrier named Holly. If you’re familiar with the breed, it’s the same dog Dorothy had in the Wizard of Oz. She’s a spunky and independant and a bundle of energy. While Holly isn’t our first dog, she was definitely the most difficult to train. When I say she’s independant what I really mean is that she’s stubborn. It’s one of the strongest characteristics of her breed and which is really a double edged sword. On one hand she’s good at entertaining herself and staying busy and on the other hand she doesn’t like to do anything we ask her to do. But where there’s a will there’s a way and we’ve been continuing with her training regimen even though it seems like a lost cause at times.

We keep telling ourselves she’s still a puppy and will outgrow her wildness eventually. However, we have gotten her to  do her business outdoors, she comes about half the time when we call her name, she knows not to bark, and sometimes on the rare occasion she’ll even sit when you ask her to. Now to anyone who owns a herding dog this probably sounds pretty pathetic, but to any other terrier owners out there you know how difficult it was to get to this point.

I decided to put together a few tips for anyone else out there who might be struggling training their dog. Here’s what worked for us:

Establish a Routine

This is really important for a number of different behavioral issues. First, for potty training. Take your dog outside to do their business at the same time every day. Puppies need to go a lot more often that older dogs so plan on a lot of trips outdoors in the beginning. The first month we had Holly we took her out every two hours. We increased the time between walks to every three hours the next month and four hours the month after that. We stuck to schedule and rewarded her with a treat when she went outside. If she went inside she got a gentle tap on the nose. She was almost completely housetrained after 6 months. We also gave her a spot to go indoors in case she needed it at night. It’s a pee pad you can get at any pet store.

Routines are also good for meals. Holly knows she eats once in the afternoon and once in the evening. The same times every day. Having your doggy friend bug you about dinner four hours before they’re supposed to eat can get old fast. Develop a routine and stick with it.

Positive Reinforcement

Except for the gentle tap on the snout when Holly would have an accident indoors all the feedback we provided her was positive. She seems to really like treats so we made sure to always have a little kibble on hand when she did something good. So when she comes to us after we call her name she gets a snack or if she does a good job healing on our walks she’ll get a little treat.

Learning to Sit

This has been the most challenging of our training exercises. For some reason this dog just doesn’t want to sit when we ask her to. Everyone we talked to said that when teaching a dog to sit you don’t want to push their backside down but instead want to hold your hand above their head which will cause them to look up and sit down. This works sometimes with Holly but it’s still a work in progress. And when it does work she gets a treat for good behavior.

There are a lot of different books and videos out there that can help guide you when you get a new dog. I think it’s a good idea to check out different perspectives and see what sounds best for you and then give it a try.

 

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Juicing My Way to a Healthier Life

Juicing

Over the past few years I’ve become somewhat of a juice fanatic. I start every day with a glass or two of a murky green-brown concoction that makes me feel great! I know that description probably doesn’t sound all that appetizing but once you get over the looks you’ll be hooked on juicing just like I am. I like to combine both fruits and vegetables together into a really healthy beverage that gets my day started on the right foot.

By juicing I’m able to eat 5+ servings of vegetables at a time and I’ve seen some marked improvements in my blood pressure levels, cholesterol, and overall health. Before I started juicing I rarely ate more than 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. It took me a little while to fully embrace juicing for a couple of reasons. First, you need to have a juicer, which can be expensive. For a quality model you can expect to pay a couple hundred dollars. And I definitely recommend investing in quality because it will be less likely to break and easier to clean. Inexpensive models tend to have more parts that need servicing which can lead to breakdowns.

Second, when you make that first glass of juice it will look pretty gross, especially if you use any leafy greens. It will appear kind of cloudy and a strange brown-green color. You’ll get over it pretty quick once you take that first sip and realize it’s delicious. The third hurdle I had to overcome was the cleanup. Those of you who know me know that I haven’t always been the cleanest person in the world. In fact, I’ve been known to let plates of dishes soak for days at a time before giving them a proper wash. With a juicer, you have to wash it almost immediately after use. Dry fruits and vegetables are almost like cement and are really tough to clean. Believe me, I learned this one the hard way.

So if you’re serious about becoming a juicer here are a couple of recipes that have served me well and I’m sure will do the same for you:

  1. Orange-Carrot-Spinach-Cucumber-Ginger. This is one of my favorites. The orange and carrot add a nice sweetness while the cucumber is very refreshing. And don’t worry, you don’t even taste the spinach so you can be generous with it. Be stingy with the ginger though because it can be overpowering if you use too much. I start by washing everything, except the orange which I peel. Then run it all through the juicer, give it a quick stir, and then bottoms up!

  2. Beet-Spinach-Carrot-Basil-Apple. Another great one to get your day started right. With the apple, I cut it into chunks so it runs easily through the juicer but don’t worry about removing the step, seeds or core. Just shove it all through and enjoy the taste and health benefits or eating the entire fruit!

  3. Bell Pepper-Carrot-Apple-Orange-Kale: This one will get your day started right. Make sure to give everything a good wash and remove the seeds from the bell pepper before running it through the juicer. I tried using the seeds once but they added a bitterness I found unpleasant.

Hopefully you’ll consider give juicing a try and take a great first step in improving your health. If you have any favorite recipes you’d like to share be sure to leave them in the comments!