By Angie Sutton, www.momsapronstrings.com
There are lots of ways to make your home healthy this spring! Make a checklist of annual health assessments and screenings you’ve been meaning to set appointments for. Tackle those cleaning chores you think about but never get to. Revisit that exercise goal you made for yourself in January.
Healthy snacking is certainly a great habit to form. Many foods good for your health don’t require a recipe. Peel an apple and add a smear of peanut butter for example. Bananas typically cost less than a dollar per pound and are perfect with a serving of yogurt. Oranges and pears are a good on-the-go snack. Spend the extra few dollars and get that tray of pre-cut up vegetables. Fill your cart with these items before you proceed through the store as you’ll be less apt to add packaged cookies and chips. Eggs, cheese, yogurt and whole-wheat English muffins are also found around the perimeter of the store and don’t require a recipe.
Walk for your health
“When you have worn out your shoes, the strength of the shoe leather has passed into the fiber of your body. I measure your health by the number of shoes and hats and clothes you have worn out.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Spring is a great time to tackle that list of items you want to clean around your home. But I would encourage you to also take time to cleanse your mind and your body with this new season upon us. It’s really okay to take a few minutes each day to do something for yourself. When you are strong, you are able to do more for your family.
Why do I suggest walking? The most important reason to exercise is to improve your overall health. Walking is free and you can do it anytime. But the key is to just do it.
I have a friend who made a resolution to get in shape this year. Her goal was lofty as she joined a gym and intended to hit the treadmill, lift weights and participate in that kickboxing class. A couple weeks later she missed a few days which became a few weeks and now she has all but given up on the idea of exercising. I asked her two simple questions. Do you like how you feel when you exercise? She emphatically answered that it reduced her stress level and was the source of her increased energy. I then asked her what the main reason she stopped exercising was. She replied that making the time was her biggest challenge.
We all have the same amount of time in a day. So really what she is saying is that making the time to exercise is not a priority. Driving to the gym, changing clothes, working out and then showering before returning took nearly two hours out of her day. If you have that much time, then I certainly encourage you to make the commitment to go three days a week.
If you don’t have two hours in a day to allocate for gym time, then walking is for you! All you really need is a pair of comfortable shoes and 30 minutes five days each week for a brisk walk. If you’re a speed walker or prefer jogging, then 20 minutes three days each week will work. There’s no special skill or lesson needed. No expensive equipment to buy.
I’m sure you are aware of the major health benefits of walking. Whether you walk in jeans or sweat pants, on a city street or country road, it’s still the same right, left, right for your health. It will get you away from the demanding routines of daily life and help you clear your mind. Listen to music or simply take in the sounds around you. Notice the flowers, the creatures or the color of the sky. Breathe deeply and remember that you are an intelligent, valuable and strong person.
Every parent knows that a child’s first step is a landmark event. So now it’s time for you to take that first step for yourself!
It’s time to pull on your gloves and get to work! In addition to your weekly cleaning chores, add a few of these items until you’ve tackled them all.
These three steps will ensure you’re off and running.
First, check to make sure you have an ample supply of cleaning products and your vacuum cleaner is in top running form. Change the bag and filters. If you have the bagless type, empty the collector and wash filters. Wipe the unit down with disinfectant wipes. Replace belts and check that the beater bar is running smoothly and free of tangled debris.
Second, create your own checklist of realistic items to tackle based on the time you have available. If you prefer to go room-by-room then choose one or two to complete in a day. If attacking specific chores like washing all the windows on one day is your thing then create a task list based on that.
Third, turn the music up and have fun!
Top 10 Checklist:
1. Ensure fire safety - Change batteries in your smoke detectors and test them.
2. Let the sunshine in - Wash windows inside and out. Remove screens and scrub them with mild dish detergent and a soft-bristled brush. Rinse thoroughly and let dry before reinstalling. Take down window treatments and clean them according to the label. Wipe blinds with a damp cloth to remove dust.
3. Dust those forgotten places - You know you look at them and think to yourself, “I’ll get to them next week.” Now is the time! Wipe down items like lamp shades, vents and baseboards with a clean, lint-free cloth and then vacuum the entire floor. If you have crown molding, this is a great time to wipe those down as well. There are several products on the market to make this chore easier and save your back. You can also use a clean, soft-bristled broom to sweep off baseboards, molding, corners, ceiling fans and the tops of your door frames. Why not wipe down framed artwork and the tops of clocks right now too?
4. Vacuum mattresses - On a warm day, throw open the windows in the bedrooms and strip the bedsheets off the beds. While the sheets are in the washing machine take a few minutes to use the upholstery and crevice tools on your vacuum the entire mattress. Spray a light mist of sanitizing spray over the top and let it dry before putting the sheets back on. Oh, and since you have the vacuum cleaner right there, go ahead and clean underneath the beds too!
5. Clean drains - Avoid chemicals and spend a few dollars on the long plastic drain cleaning tool that you work down into your drain and then pull up. A few minutes per drain and your pipes will be running clean again! Freshen them afterward by sprinkling 1/4 cup baking soda down the drain followed by one cup of white vinegar. Let it stand about 15 minutes and rinse down with hot tap water.
6. Clean the refrigerator - Toss expired items and wipe down shelves or remove and wash them with a mild detergent. Slide the unit out and vacuum the back, paying special attention to the vents and coils. Wipe off the top of the unit and then vacuum or mop the floor underneath. Pop a new baking soda container in the freezer and refrigerator today too!
7. Pantry review - Twice a year I go through my spice rack and pantry shelves to remove outdated products. When I purchase a new spice, I write the date I open it on the top. Any spices or mixes not used within a year I typically toss. Wipe down shelves and vacuum crumbs.
8. Organize your desk - Now that tax preparation season is over, you need to clean off and organize that desk. Use bins and trays to organize and keep handy those items you access often. Toss old paperwork, expired coupons and junk mail in the trash or paper shredder. Prepare new folders as needed. Wipe down computer monitors, keyboard and desktop.
9. Rugs - Toss rugs that are too far gone to clean. Demote bathroom rugs to the garage. Wash those that can be saved. Hit the dollar store for new sets for the bathrooms and the doors. Less expensive rugs are easier to replace more often than pricier ones.
10. Wash out trash cans - Not a fun job but a necessary job. I run the smaller trash cans through the dishwasher on a light cycle without a heated dry. You can also fill the bathtub with hot soapy water and scrub and rinse them easily. The large cans get a dose of hot soapy water with a dash of bleach in the driveway with a quick rinse from the hose. The car wash is a great place to line up your trash cans and wash them as well.
Chicken Salad Sandwich
This light and refreshing version of chicken salad is still hearty enough to be eaten sans bread.
3 c. diced grilled chicken (or canned white meat chicken works in a pinch)
1 (11-oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained and halved (blot with a paper towel)
1 c. halved seedless red grapes
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1/2 c. low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 c. sunflower seed kernals
2 Tbsp minced fresh dill or 2 tsp. dill weed
7 croissants, split (or mini-croissants for a luncheon or potluck)
In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Spoon onto croissants; replace tops.
Tuscan Bread Salad
Add cooked, cubed chicken or shrimp to make this a meal.
10 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 (5-oz.) pkg. seasoned croutons
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and croutons.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper; pour over vegetables and croutons.
Toss gently and serve immediately.