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Displaying items by tag: holidays
Thursday, 26 September 2013 21:40

Christmas Budget Tips & Planner

We would all love to buy gifts for our family and friends without considering (and sticking to) a budget, but alas, budgeting is a must.

After all, you don’t want to be paying for your Christmas indulgences well into the following year, but you don’t have to be a scrooge either.   Here some easy tips to help you get something special for everyone on your “been good” list this year without going broke!

Published in Organized Living
Sunday, 15 March 2015 12:09

St. Patrick's Day Recipe Tips

St. Patrick's Day Recipe Tips by Coco Peate

Happy St. Patricks' Day!

St. Patrick's Day FoodsI love that you don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, that’s for sure! It’s a great holiday for fun and games.  It's one of those days that everyone can enjoy and be a little green!

I've been thinking about healthy snack and recipe ideas for celebrating this holiday with your family, check them out below.

Tip 1: Start with Green-Colored Ingredients

  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Green Apples
  • Green Beans
  • Green Chiles
  • Green Grapes
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kiwis
  • Peas
  • Spinach Pasta
  • Spinach Tortillas
  • Zucchini

Tip 2:  Plan a green meal. Just add a dab of green food coloring to some your favorite soft-textured foods.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Cake Frosting (white/light colored)
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cream Cheese
  • Deviled Eggs (add green dye to yolk mixture)
  • Low Fat Vanilla Pudding
  • Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
  • Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
  • Mac & Cheese (with a white cheddar sauce)
  • Milk
  • Vanilla or Banana Milkshakes
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Pasta Salad
  • Pesto Sauce
  • Potato Salad
  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Sour Cream (for garnishes)
  • White Gravy
  • Whipped Cream (low fat)

Green SmoothieTip 3:  Serve Green-Colored Recipes/Foods

  • Guacamole
  • Leafy Salads
  • Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • Spinach Ravioli (with a cheese sauce)
  • Spinach Dip (with green veggies)
  • Spinach Soup
  • Spinach Tortillas (as wraps)
  • Green Fruit Pops
  • Green Colored Smoothies or Shakes. This site has some great ideas.
  • Whip up a batch of sugar cookies, adding a couple of drops of green food coloring to the dough.  Try substituting 1/2 of the white flour with wheat flour.
  • For a healthier alternative to corned beef and cabbage, try these two recipes at Healthyrecipeoftheweek.com and www.dailyspark.com.
Published in Healthy & Green Living
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 22:39

Top Christmas Budget Tips

Top Christmas Budget Tips

We would all love to buy gifts for our family and friends without considering (and sticking to) a budget, but alas, budgeting is a must, otherwise the joys of the Christmas season can be hard to enjoy.

After all, you don’t want to be paying for your Christmas indulgences well into the following year, but you don’t have to be a scrooge either.   Here some easy tips to help you get something special for everyone on your “been good” list this year without going broke!

1Establish an Overall Budget

It is very important that you have an overall budget in place prior to beginning your Christmas shopping. This way, you are less likely to end up overspending and regretting any shopping debt.  When considering your budget, keep these things in mind:

  • How much did I spend last year?   How did I feel about that amount?
  • Consider what you already have that can be reused.  Do you really need new decorations or can you simply update a few key items?
  • Make a complete list of everything you need to buy this season.
  • Factor in the “extras” – the ribbon, gift tags, stocking stuffers, tape, greeting cards, and party supplies all add up!
  • Make sure to leave a small safety net for unexpected expenses.
  • Consider saving for your shopping with anticipation.
  • Try saving throughout the year so you don’t feel the financial burden of the season in a few short weeks or get tempted to use credit cards.  Many people like to shop throughout the year too, buying gifts when they find a great deal.
  • The smart folks over at Practicalmoneyskills.com suggest that you spend only 1.5% of you annual income on your Christmas budget.  That means that if your family income is $40,000 year you can allocate $600 for your budget; with a  $50,000 income, $750; with a $75,000 income, $1,125.
  • Remember that the hard part is not in making your budget, but sticking to it!

2Make a Gift List, and Check It Twice

Decide whom you want or need to buy gifts for and how much you will spend on each person on your list, keeping your overall bottom line in mind.  Without a gift list, we end up spending money on people we really don’t need to buy for or want to buy for – it’s ok to not buy everyone a gift.

  • When deciding how much to spend on each person, use personal judgment, but stick to your pre-determined amount once out shopping.
  • It’s ok to discuss gift expectations with family members and close friends.  If you can’t or don’t want to spend as much as you have in past years on gifts, let those close to you know that you would like to scale back.
  • This way you won’t find yourself giving a small gift to someone and feeling awkward that they gifted you something expensive.
  • Instead of buying each child in your extended family a gift, consider buying the family one gift they can all enjoy, like a yearly membership to their local zoo or children’s museum.  If the children are close in age, they may enjoy one larger gift to share, like a movie theater gift card.
  • Keep non-family and friend gifts to a minimum. For your co-workers and some groups of friends, consider organizing a gift exchange with a price limit.  Then you only have to get one gift instead of a few.  If your co-workers are simply acquaintances, then make or pick up your favorite edible holiday treat to share with the group.

3Shop On Your Time

While some of us may enjoy the thrill of getting all our Christmas shopping done in one big mall trip, it’s wiser to spread your shopping over a period time.

  • Consider that retail stores tend to hold sales on product categories.  So, electronics may be cheaper one week versus home goods the following week.   By spreading your shopping over time you can keep an eye put for great sales!
  • Giving yourself more time to shop will allow you to take advantage of any layaway plans at many popular stores.  You can skip using your credit card and make smaller cash or debit card payments for an item until it’s paid off and you can take it home.
  • But don’t procrastinate!  You will more stressed out, anxious and overspend it you do.
  • It’s better to shop alone than with a group of people.  There is no pressure to outdo each other on gifts purchased, you are on your own schedule and won’t be pressured to buy unnecessary gifts.
  • It’s ok to shop AFTER Christmas.  Are you going to see relatives or friends after Christmas?  Then why not wait to hit the great after Christmas sales for their gifts?  The Christmas season doesn’t necessarily end on the 25th; after all, in the Latino community it’s a common tradition to celebrate the season until The Feast of the Three Kings on January 6th!

4Leave The Plastic At Home

Make it your motto to not go into debt this Christmas season.  It’s safe to say that the majority of us have been watching how much we spend more closely the past few years, but the Christmas season is an easy temptation to blow off budgets and say “just charge it.”

  • Remember to use your credit card as least as possible or not all.  You may regret that credit card bill come January!
  • Use cash if you can to pay for gifts – it helps keep you on budget and reminds you how much you have actually spent.  Spending $50 on a gift versus $100 when you use a credit feels almost the same, but if you pay with cash or your debit card you will notice the price difference immediately
  • Try taking out ONLY the cash that you need for a shopping trip from the ATM.  When it’s gone, you know that you’re done.

5Empower Yourself - Resist Impulse Buying

For many of us, this is one of the hardest things to do!  Have a plan on what you want to buy before you hit the mall or your favorite store and stick to it.  Remember a few rules:

  • As cute as the cheap stocking stuffers at the check out counter may be, those purchases add up!
  • Stores are designed so that you leave your hard earned money at the store, not in your wallet.   Remind yourself that stores want you to buy that one extra and unplanned item that will add to your budget and their profit!
  • Remember your budget for each person or item on our list and stick to it, no matter how much better a more expensive gift or item may seem.

6Give Warmly, Not Opulently

Think about how many Christmas gifts you’ve received that you didn’t use or even like.  We can all benefit from the “less is more” motto when it comes to gift giving.   Try these tips when planning your gift list:

  • Gift Exchanges are great!   If you can, make a no gifts for adults rule and just buy presents for the little believers.   If you want to include adults, then try drawing names from a hat and then every adult can receive just one nice gift. 
    Do you have a talent or skill that you can share?   Maybe you can offer your family member or friend an hour’s worth of your time/trade/talent.
  • Encourage the teenagers in your life to give of their talents and time too – maybe they can mow their grandparents or neighbor’s lawn? Can they babysit for a new mom in the family that lives nearby or offer to run some errands for an older family member?
  • DIY gifts are great.   How about making a DVD with your favorite Christmas music? All you need are the appropriate blank CDs, labels and downloaded music.    Last year, my daughters and I made small gift packages of handmade soaps and stationary.  The total cost for the materials for all 10 gifts, including wrapping supplies, was less than $80.  These types of gifts are great for children’s teachers, car pool friends and even colleagues.

7Keep Décor Simple

While many of us would love for our homes to look like the picture perfect decorated ones in magazines this Christmas season, remember that you can keep your decorations simple and tasteful without spending a fortune. Try a few of our tips:

  • A simple pinecone arrangement spray painted with very inexpensive gold paint from the craft store and arranged on a mantle is perfect or use it as stylish centerpiece.
  • A metallic sash tied around your chairs with simple accent accessories on your dining room table makes for a chic and lovely look.
  • Don’t forget the kids - they tend to love doing arts and crafts and that’s a great and simple way to add seasonal flare to your home.
  • After the Christmas season, store your decorative items for next year in recycled plastic containers over cardboard boxes. They will help your decorations safe and you won’t have to buy more decorations next year.

8Finally, Avoid Easy Money Drainers

  • Just say “no thank you” when the cashier asks you “Would you like to save an extra x% today by signing up for our store credit card?”  Store credit cards usually have higher rates than other credit cards and they all tend to have strict late fees.
  • Remember to be Internet savvy, compare prices and look for coupons on sites like Bizrate and CouponCabin.   A simple Google search for those “promo codes” at checkout time can save you a few dollars.
  • Most online orders will tag on extra shipping charges after a certain date, so place your order accordingly.
  • Before you place your Christmas card order, think about how many you are ordering.  Do you really that many?  Take some time to organize and update your address list this season so you know how many cards to buy, most of us buy too many and they end up getting tossed in the garage.   Choose standard-sized envelopes for your cards, the unique sizes will require extra postage.
  • Business related clients and eco-conscious friends might appreciate an e-card rather than a card in the mail.
  • Always check if a store offers complimentary gift-wrapping, you’ll be surprised how much you can save!
Published in La Oficina
Saturday, 11 December 2010 02:17

The Holiday Races

The Holiday RacesTip of the Week

The Holiday season – oh the turkey, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, the ham, the cookies, and the apple pie.

Maybe the tamales, pozole y pan dulce too!   Along with all the delicious treats come a lot of local communities’ Holiday races: 1K, 5K or 10K…everyone can become the town’s favorite athlete.

Usually, such races are a lot of fun, and they are a great opportunity to promote healthy choices and overall wellness to all the members of the community. These events are rarely intimidating and you can often spot Grandmas and grandkids, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, moms and dads pushing a stroller, and even the usually moody family teenagers all striving to cross the finish line…yes, the family that runs together stays together.

Holiday RacesHowever, in order to get the full benefit from such friendly competitions, a little bit of preparation is necessary. Do not attempt to run a distance that you are not familiar with, “cold turkey.”  We have put together an easy to follow running training plan to help you compete in your first 5K. Compare notes with your training regimen so far, adjust your last week of workouts, and keep it in mind for your next race.

5k Training Schedule

Week 1

Day 1 — Begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 5 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 5 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 5 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 5 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 5 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 6 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 4 — 30 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 30 alternating lunges and 3 sets of 20 squats

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 7 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 6 rest

Day 7 45 minute walk

Week 2

Day 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 7 intervals of  5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 7 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 8 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 4 — 45 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 30 alternating lunges and 3 sets of 30 squats

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 7 intervals of 5 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 6 — Rest

Day 7 — 45 minute walk

Week 3

Day 1 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 9 intervals of  4 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 10 intervals of 4 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk 

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 11 intervals of 4 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 4 — 45 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 40 alternating lunges and 3 sets of 30 squats

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 11 intervals of 3 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 6 — Rest

Day 7 — 45 minute walk

Week 4

Day 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 12 intervals of  3 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 13 intervals of 3 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk 

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 14 intervals of 2 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 4 — 45 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 40 alternating lunges, 3 sets of 40 squats, and 20 push-ups

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 15 intervals of 2 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk

Day 6 — Rest

Day 7 — 45 minute walk

Week 5

Day 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 16 intervals of  2 minutes run alternating with 1 minute walk  , followed by a 10 minutes run-only

Day 2 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 18 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 10 minutes run-only

Day 3 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 20 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 12 minutes run-only

Day 4 — 45 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 50 alternating lunges, 3 sets of 50 squats, and 20 push-ups

Day 5 — begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 20 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 12 minutes run-only

Day 6 — Rest

Day 7 — 45 minute walk

Week 6

Day 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 22 intervals of  1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk  , followed by a 10 minutes run-only

Day 2 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 23 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 10 minutes run-only

Day 3 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 24 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 12 minutes run-only

Day 445 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 50 alternating lunges, 3 sets of 50 squats, and 20 push-ups

Day 5begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up continue into 25 intervals of 1 minute run alternating with 1 minute walk, followed by a 5 minutes run-only

Day 6 Rest

Day 7 45 minute walk

Week 7

Day 1warm-up for 10 minutes lightly jogging then run for 26 minutes

Day 2warm-up for 10 minutes lightly jogging then run for 28 minutes

Day 3warm-up for 10 minutes lightly jogging then run for 30 minutes

Day 445 minutes of biking, swimming, fast walking, followed by 3 sets of 50 alternating lunges, 3 sets of 50 squats, and 20 push-ups

Day 5warm-up for 10 minutes lightly jogging then run for 30 minutes

Day 6 — Rest

Day 745 minute walk

Week 8

Since your first 5K is going to be this week your training will be a slightly lighter not to over-fatigue your body. It is important that you eat a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, drink plenty of water, get 7/8 hrs of sleep per night and get to your race well rested and properly nourished.

The Holiday RacesDay 1 begin by warming up, lightly jogging for 10 minutes at an easy pace. After warm-up run-only for 25 minutes

Day 2 40 minutes of biking, swimming, or fast walking

Day 3begin by warming up, lightly jogging for about 10 minutes, then continue running for 30 minutes

Day 4 — day before the race… Rest

Day 5 — Race Day…compete and Have Fun!

Published in Tip of the Week
Wednesday, 05 November 2014 12:26

Eating Healthy on Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Card

Are you thinking about consuming too much of all the delicious food on Thanksgiving? Are you trying to watch your calorie intake or just trying to be healthy? Can you stay on track with your health goals this Thanksgiving?

Yes, by following s few simple tips you can enjoy all the wonderful foods and still be good to your health.

Healthy Tips:

Try some of these suggestions:

  1. Don't arrive hungry: We are more likely to overeat and indulge at our Thanksgiving meal if we arrive hungry.  Have a healthy snack before you leave and start your morning off right with a nutritious breakfast.
  2. Smart appetizers: Use a fruit platter or a veggie platter with a low-calorie dip.  How about a shrimp platter with a low-calorie cocktail sauce?   Offer to bring a healthy appetizer dish that you can enjoy.
  3. Good sides: Breads and other biscuits are plentiful on Thanksgiving, but try picking up a whole grain alternative.   Whole grain bread products contain fiber that helps lower bad cholesterol and helps prevent gastrointestinal diseases.   Pick vegetables that are deep in color and high in nutrients, like broccoli or green beans instead of mashed potatoes or creamed corn.  You can sample all the different foods, just remember to go for smaller portions.  Limit those sides that are high in fat too.  While it's not super important to count the calories, just remember that moderation is key.
  4. Red wine versus white wine? The darker the color, the more antioxidants.
  5. Check out your plate: Follow the power plate rule:  1/2 of your plate should be fruits or veggies, 1/4 should be whole grains or starch and 1/4 should be your lean protein - gotta love that good for you turkey! Eat slowly too.
  6. Drink lots of water! Alcohol and coffee can dehydrate you, so drink lots of water to stay hydrated and full.
  7. And let’s not forget dessert! Make a dessert that includes lots of fruit.  Check out our delicious suggestions.   We love the Very Berry Parfait and Kristine Lopez's Great Pumpkin Cookies. If you are going for pie, stick to your lower calorie options like pumpkin or fruit pie and skip pecan and chocolate pies.
  8. Leftovers!  Try making turkey soup with leftovers instead of high calorie sandwiches.

Host tips:

If you are hosting this wonderful get together, follow some of these tips to give your guests some healthy options at your meal.

    • Have lots of veggies and fruit as part of your appetizers.
    • Make healthy substitutions in your meals.   Try adding chicken broth, garlic and herbs into your mashed potatoes instead of butter.  For dips use greek yogurt instead of sour cream because it has less fat and has a very similar consistency.
    • Use low fat ingredients.
    • Start with a large salad as your entree.
    • Serve whole grain breads.
    • Serve a fruit based dessert.

Last Minute Recipes - healthy and tasty!

Still planning out your meal?  No problem, we've done the leg work for you!  The following websites have posted a wide selection of recipes that are waist friendly and good too.

Whether you are hosting the big meal at your home or traveling across town or across the country, we hope that you have a wonderful time with your family & friends!
Published in Healthy & Green Living
Sunday, 07 October 2012 04:01

Halloween Memories

Halloween trick-or-treaters

Halloween is just around the corner  and my kids are excited!  We moved from a neighborhood with a few trick-or-treaters to a very family friendly area where (we hear from neighbors) we have lots of kids.  I have to admit that my lack of Halloween decorations is a little embarrassing but  I am doing a little more each year :)

I enjoy getting the kids dressed up and going out trick-or-treating.  It's an easy way for me to relive being a kid!  I have funny memories of celebrating Halloween when I was growing up. First, my mom made it a point to never spend too much money on the day. She always said that Halloween was once a year and costumes were too expensive, so my brother and sisters and I learned early on to come up with our own homemade costumes on most years. My younger sister was a witch on many many occasions because it was such an easy costume to make. Often the youngest kid’s face was transformed into a cute lion or bunny face with an application of my mom’s makeup.  Case in point - see picture below - I am not sure what my younger brother and sister were supposed to be this Halloween!Halloween Kids

I remember that the dicey Chicago weather at the end of October somehow always played a factor in our trick-or-treating efforts.  It seemed that it was always cold or raining.   Then there were the teenagers that went out later in the evening and egged the whole neighborhood (including trick-or-treaters) that were out too late.

The most prominent Halloween memory?  It’s a tie….I must have been 4 or 5 years olds when my mom made my sister and I masks out of a cardboard box (from the new bathroom carpet set)!   It was cold that day, so my mom and dad made my sister and I get into the car and they told us to roar loudly out of the window! That still makes me laugh, what were they thinking?!   And then there was the time that one of our family friends invited us to go trick-or-treating in a Chicago suburb.  That was exciting because we didn’t really know anyone who lived outside the inner city, so to go to the suburbs was a big deal.  I was more excited about being in the suburbs than the trick-or-treating, but the large amount of candy was nice too!

The best part of Halloween as a kid was that my parents always let us fill up on the candy! The day was always exciting, no matter how budget friendly our costumes were or how bad the weather may have been. Hope that you have a fun day too! Secretly, the REAL reason I am excited about Halloween is because the day after my mind can shift to planning Christmas! This week I had to fight the urge to head over to the Holiday aisles that were starting to be stocked and stick to looking through the dwindling Halloween aisles!

Published in Family & Culture