Wednesday, May 23, 2018

9 Tips for Organizing your Trip

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Ever start packing your suitcase to go on a trip, and find yourself packing everything but the kitchen sink?  Been there, and done that!  If it's one time you really need organization, it's before going on a trip.  Organizing your trip will help cut your stress level as you travel.  So plan well, and get yourself organized with 13 Tips for Organizing Your Trip.

#1 Make sure you start with a handy checklist

So where in the world do I start?

Take a seat and think about where you are traveling to, and from there make a list of things you will need to do before leaving for your trip.  A handy dandy checklist will lessen your stress by a lot.  And in organizing your trip, you are less apt to forget anything you need to do.  This list should have on it things such as reserving your flights, and your hotels.  And don't forget to add researching your sight-seeing adventures as well.

#2  Set up an Itinerary for your trip

What type of things should go on this itinerary?

Usually, once you've decided where you're going to travel, the first thing will be your flight itinerary.  Being organized means having this itinerary at your fingertips.  Believe me, it will be less stressful once you get to the airport to have this handy so you'll know where you need to be before your flight takes off.   Next, add the sight-seeing trips you have planned out with dates of trips, cost, et cetera.   You can either set this up with the concierge at your hotel or do your own research online and set up some sight-seeing yourself.

#3  Look up the TSA Rules so you know what to expect

How do I go about doing this?

If you fly with a particular airline, looking it up online is a cinch!  Once you've found the airline you're flying with, look for a link to the TSA Rules.  Read through this, and it will explain what is expected of you for security purposes while going through the security line.  It will also give you any costs you may acquire when checking in.

#4  Practice packing a small carry-on bag

Why is it necessary to do this?

Because learning to vacation, even for a week, with a small carry-on bag will be less of a headache than trying to check a larger bag in before going through the security line.  Life will be so much easier on your flight!  Not having to go to the luggage pick up after your flight lands, will save you a lot of time in the long run.  A suggestion for packing a small carry-on bag?  Choose a few pieces of clothing that you can interchange with during your vacation.  Maybe a couple pairs of pants, and 5-7 shirts, in addition to a couple pairs of shoes that will be versatile with everything you pack.  And if you roll each piece of clothing up, it not only fits better in a small bag, but also prevents your clothing from wrinkling while being packed in your suitcase!

#5  Share your itinerary with family or a friend

Is it really necessary to do this?

Yes, definitely!  It's always wise to let a trusted family member or friend know your itinerary so that someone knows where you're going to be.  Share with them your flight itinerary, and where you will be staying.  Give them a phone number where you can be reached in case of emergency.

#6  Pack yourself a "comfort" bag for the flight

What is a "comfort" bag?

Pack this carry-on bag (it can be a small backpack or bag) that contains small comfort items such a couple of good magazines and/or a favorite book to read, some snacks such as nuts, fruit bars, et cetera, and something I like to bring for my comfort is a small hand-held fan in case the plane feels stuffy and you need air! (No judging here, we all have creature comforts we prefer, lol).

#7  Don't post about your trip on Social Media

Why can't I share my vacation as it's happening?

Sharing your vacation adventures with your social media friends is nice to do while it's happening.  (I am guilty of this).  But do you really want a lot of people to know that you're not home?  Sharing your adventures and pictures after you get back home is a much safer thing to do, and will help you to recount those great memories again once you return.

#8  Bring along a memorabilia book for organizing your trip

What kinds of things would I store in there?

A nice book or picture book is a great way to store your memories from your trip.  You could also make notes as you go on sight-seeing trips.  For example, you could write details about something you've seen so you can remember it later.  You can store things such as paper napkins from a favorite restaurant you've visited.  Or picture postcards of the scenery on your trip.  These will be great memories to share or look back on at a later time.

#9  Unpack as soon as you return from your trip

Is this really necessary?

This is one thing you do not want to procrastinate on believe me.  Unpacking as soon as possible is best, even if you're too tired to do it.  That way you don't get stressed out later if it's not done.  Get those things put away as soon as possible, and you can relax and recoup from your adventure!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Staying Healthy While Eating Chocolate

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Ever have a chocolate craving you just can't satisfy without indulging?  I'm right there with you friend!  Sometimes you just have to have something sweet!  So what can you eat to satisfy your sweet tooth, and still stay healthy?  Find out by reading on to, Staying Healthy While Eating Chocolate.

What inspires you to stay healthy? 

Each one of us have different motivations when working on staying healthy.  Some exercise to ward off their cravings.  Some drink lots of water, which helps ward off cravings and keeps you feeling full as well.  There is also the motivation to look and feel your best.  But the best way to stay healthy is to choose healthy food options.  Chocolate is no exception.  Research healthy chocolate recipes to try.  You may find one that tastes great and really satisfies that craving!

 So how do you satisfy that chocolate craving and stay healthy?

By eating healthy dark chocolate in small amounts.  Not being able to have chocolate when trying to eat healthily, is really the pits.  I am a full-fledged chocolate lover myself and sometimes it's not an easy task.  But I'm here to tell you, there is an alternative that will help you stick to your healthy eating, and satisfy your chocolate craving.  There are healthy chocolate recipes out there that you can try.  Be sure to try out a few of them.  Once you find that healthy chocolate recipe that will tantalize your taste buds, it will be a great alternative to any other chocolate with sugar in it.  You will definitely notice that you are still feeling good afterward as well.

What type of chocolate is the best chocolate to use?

The best chocolate I would recommend is a dark chocolate cocoa powder with at least 70% of cocoa or higher.  This should only be consumed in small amounts, but adding it to a cookie recipe or cupcake recipe is the best way to use it.  Using it in a healthy cookie recipe I have found, tastes really good with the addition of adding small amounts of both honey and almond butter.

What are the dark chocolate benefits for good health?

Healthy dark chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants for your body.  Studies have shown that dark chocolate can improve your health and lower your risk for heart disease.  Dark chocolate can not only fuel your weight loss, but it is also known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well.

So what's the bottom line to staying healthy while eating chocolate?

Moderation is the key, even while eating healthy chocolate recipes.  Don't deprive yourself of chocolate entirely.  Always allow yourself to eat your favorite chocolate treats in moderation.  That way you're more apt to stay on track with your healthy eating habits.

What will you decide to do?

Whatever you decide, if you are trying to eat more healthy, sweets of any kind in moderation is a more healthful way to go, if you want to maintain good health.  And who knows?  You may find a healthy favorite chocolate recipe that you can make over and over again to continually ward off that chocolate craving and conquer it once and for all!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

9 Tips for Successful Weight Loss

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Have you ever thought about eating more healthful for successful weight loss?  This is not an easy task, but with determination, and the right kind of strategy it can be done.  Check out the 9 Tips for Successful Weight Loss.

#1 Getting Started for Successful Weight Loss

So, where do I begin?

The first thing you need to do for successful weight loss is make a concrete decision that you are going to eat healthier and lose weight in the process.  This is the beginning of any well-laid plan.  Having tried so many "diets" throughout my lifetime, I find that determination is the key.  The determination is inside of you.  You just have to reach down, grab it, and run with it!

#2 Clean out your pantry

What foods do I need to get rid of?

Once your determination kicks in, get in that kitchen and clean out all the bad stuff in your pantry.  Bad stuff to start with would be anything with salt and preservatives in it.  Sugar, salt, flour, etc.  You'd be surprised at how much better you will feel once you start cutting some of this stuff out of your diet.

#3 Take these foods out of your diet initially

What foods do I need to eliminate from my diet initially?

Once you decide to eat healthier and lose weight, cut out dairy (milk, cheese), processed flour, and processed sugar, bread (sliced bread, rice, pasta).  Cut out any boxed things with preservatives in them (hamburger helper, mac n cheese, et cetera).  Don't panic!  You don't have to do this forever.  Just initially, to get your system back in order.  You can slowly start introducing these foods back into your diet in once you get your system into a healthier mode.  This way, as you re-introduce these foods back into your diet, you'll be able to tell what may bother your stomach when eating it.  You will notice that a lot of these are carbs, so I guess you can call it a temporary low carb diet.  Mentally, a good way to look at this is to call it a lifestyle, not a diet.  That way it becomes the best way to lose weight, and not a permanent deprivation of your favorite foods.

#4 Make healthy substitutions

What foods can I substitute for the bad stuff?

You can make healthier substitutions for some of the food items you've had to ditch for a while.  Unsweetened Almond Milk is a pretty good substitution for regular milk.  Once you get used to it, it tastes pretty good.  You can also use unsalted butter, instead of regular butter.  Cook your food without a lot of salt on it as well, and use either Olive Oil or Coconut Oil to cook your food items, as these are what are called "good fats".

#5  Use spices that promote successful weight-loss

Which spices can I use to help me lose weight?

You can use a few spices that will be healthier and promote weight-loss.  Using cinnamon in your coffee, as well as Silk Almond Creamer which is soy-free, and dairy-free is a good way to start the day.  Another spice that helps with weight-loss is Cayenne Pepper.  If you sprinkle that over your meat as you're cooking it, this will help rev up your metabolism.  It's a little bit spicy, but worth it if you're looking for extra help in your weight-loss journey.

#6  Exercise of course!

What kind of exercise can I do to help with successful weight loss?

As with any weight-loss effort, exercise is an important part of that.  Any exercise is good for you.  It doesn't have to be strenuous either.  A  10-minute spurt of exercise 2-3 times a day, will help kick up your metabolism.  Try doing leg lifts a few times a day.  That will definitely give your metabolism a little boost.  Walking is also good for weight-loss and can be done in any time increments you can manage.  And what an advantage if you're walking outside!  You can get your daily exercise, and enjoy the nature around you as well!

#7 Chart your progress in order to stay on track

How do I go about charting my progress?

As with any one thing you wish to accomplish, staying on track for successful weight loss will definitely help you get there!  Make yourself a chart with weekly dates.  Every 30 days you should weigh yourself, and do your measurements.  If you are following a healthful diet, you should have noticeable success after 30 days, whether it be losing some weight, or perhaps a few inches.  A successful and safe weight loss is usually 1-2 pounds a week, which will help you keep the weight off easier when you have accomplished your goal.  However, this can vary by individual.

#8 Drink lots of water

How much water is enough for me?

Your water intake in ounces should be about half of your weight.  For instance, if your weight is 160 pounds, you would need to drink at least 80 ounces of water each day.  I know this sounds like a lot of water, but this will not only help keep you full but will help with flushing out your system each day as well.  Water is one of the best things you can give your body each day, so make sure and make the effort to get your ounces in.  This is a great start for your successful weight loss journey.

#9 Start your morning with 8 oz of lemon water before coffee

What do I need to drink lemon water?

A great suggestion (and one that I personally do each morning before coffee or anything else) is to drink 8 oz of lemon water.  This will help boost your energy level, and help to clean your system out as well.  The mixture of ingredients that will last you for four days is as follows:  Mix 32 oz of Water, 2 Tblspns of Olive Oil,  1 Whole Lemon, and for a better taste you can add 1 Tblspn Honey and a dash of Vanilla.  Mix them together in your blender for about 30 seconds.  Pour into at least a 32 oz container, and refrigerate.  This will last up to 7 days.  If you want to make a bigger batch that will last for 8 days, by all means, go for it and double the mixture!  Losing weight can be both healthful and an adventure as well.  Determination and perseverance is the key to successful weight loss!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

9 Tips for Navigating in New York

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My husband and I recently took our dream trip to New York.  We have been talking about going for several years, and finally made it happen.  While navigating in New York, we learned a few tips for future reference.  Check it them out below in my 9 tips for Navigating in New York.

 #1 When taking a cab in New York, occupy yourself with a task during the ride

Why take this advice?

Because, I kid you not, the cab drivers, drive around the city very quickly.  If you are paying close attention, it will stress you out if you're not used to it, lol.  They don't mess around.  They just want to get you from point A to point B, collect the fare, and move on to the next customer.  The positive in this is that they know where they're going.  They will definitely get you to your Broadway Show on time, even if you're running late!

#2 If you're walking around town, stay to the side of the walk

What is the reason behind this?

The people that live in New York, live very fast-paced lives.  They are always in a hurry it seems, to get wherever they're going.  Therefore, if you are a visitor, it behooves you to stay to the side of the walk.  Especially if you are walking at a slow or moderate pace.  We must have walked at least nearly 20 miles in the week we were there!  It was great exercise though, in the long run!

#3 Take the subway only if you must

Why not take the subway while navigating in New York?

While it is true that the NYC subway will definitely get you to your destination a lot quicker, I personally don't recommend it.  It is definitely faster than other modes of transportation.  My niece came in on the train for the day and made a great effort to show us where the NYC subways were located.  She showed us how to pay for, hop on, and ride the NYC subway while we were navigating in New York.  It's a pretty wild ride for sure!  Again, people in New York are very busy and hurried people.  So much rushing around in the subways, can really make a visit to the city a very nerve-wracking event!

#4 Ride the Double-decker Bus through the City

Why spend the money on a bus pass?

This pass covers a lot of area without doing a lot of walking.  The double-decker bus ride is definitely a great way to see the city.  We rode this bus on one of our outings and we saw Brooklyn, as well as Time Square, Madison Square Garden, Battery Park and several other points of interest.  It's definitely a great choice if you're looking to see a lot of the city without having to hoof it! You can always purchase a "Hop on/Hop Off Bus Pass" for 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7 days, and you'll definitely see a lot.

#5 Make sure you find some great places to eat

Why do this?

Because walking around while navigating in New York, you will find that there are many small delicatessens to chose from.  We visited several different spots that had self-serve deli's, such as Cafe Hestia on 2nd Street.  They offered a self-serve area with both breakfast and lunch.  Great food, and great coffee!  Another great place we visited for lunch, was a restaurant in Time Square called Juniors.  Upon recommendation from my sister-in-law, their cheesecake is to die for!  And it was!  I recommend the Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake.  The slices are very generous and can be enjoyed with black coffee.

#6 Visit all the touristy sites first

Will being choosy get you some good deals?

Yes, it will!  Check with the concierge at the hotel or resort you're staying at, and they will provide you with a list of things to do.  Our hotel concierge emailed us two or three packages ahead of time that we could buy, that covered many great attractions.  We did all of the touristy things the first four days we were there.  The best tourist attractions we made sure to visit were Top of the Rock, which is the Rockefeller Center.  The observation decks were very picturesque with views of Central Park, the Empire State Building, and a great view of New York in general!  Also in our itinerary were the Statue of Liberty Ferry Tour and the 911 Memorial.  Both were spectacular in meaning and emotion, in relation to being an American.

#7 Do not forget to take a carriage ride in Central Park

Is it expensive?

Just a little bit.  But well worth the money.  A carriage ride in Central Park is a great thing to do while navigating in New York!  I highly recommend this.  The scenery is a beauty to behold.  You will see many picturesque views of the park, including the condos of the celebrities such as Lady Gaga, and the late John Lennon and Yoko Ono to name a few.  Your driver will point out certain places of interest inside of the park, and even stop for you to take pictures.  Our driver was even kind enough to stop, and took several pictures of us in front of one of the fountains!  Expensive?  Maybe a bit, but really worth putting out the money to experience it.  After all, you only live once right!

#8 Definitely make a point to see a Broadway Show

Why see a Broadway Show?

While navigating in New York, seeing a Broadway Show or two is a must!  We were able to see two Broadway Shows while in New York, Jersey Boys, and Wicked.  Both were great shows that I highly recommend seeing.  Jersey Boys is the story of Frankie Valli, and how he became famous.  Wicked is a backstory of how the Wicked Witch of the West became so wicked.  Trust me, you will not regret it!

#9 Walking while navigating in New York is your best bet

Why walk while navigating in New York you ask?

Mostly because we saved on cab fare, lol!  We got around by walking most of the time while in New York.  It can get pretty expensive if you're using a cab to get around all the time.  Once you navigate around in New York, you learn which order the street names are in.  This aids in getting you both to your destination and back to your hotel without a problem.  Otherwise, if you find on Google, that your destination is quite a ways to get to, a cab is definitely in order.  But overall, if you are able to get to your destination on foot, I recommend walking.  You will find that while walking in New York, pedestrians rule!