One Item Usually Found Only in Alaska

Each of the fifty states in the USA has its own identity that sets it apart from the other forty-nine. Alaska, the Last Frontier, is no different. For everyone who has lived in this state, nothing comes as a surprise. We have seen many odd things happen in the nation’s largest state. But, what is really fun to see is the newcomer being introduced to Alaska like the rest of us were many years ago, especially to the world of tires.

Studded tires to some Alaska drivers are a necessity. To those who don’t drive and get tired of seeing so many tires around this state, studded tires are a nuisance. They are only used in the winter months.

In the lower 48, people use chains on their tires, or they use snow tires, or all-season tires. What do a lot of Alaskans get for the winter monthes? They are called studded tires. Yes, tires with metal studs to better grip the hard ice on the road to improve traction. These are not cheap tires. You have to pay for those pieces of metal in those tires, and you get ticketed for keeping them on into the summer months. That’s because, just like chains, the studs damage the pavement.

So, what do drivers do at the end of winter? When studs first came out, motorists were expected to have eight tires. Four studded tires would be for the winter. The other four tires would be for the summer. But, almost all Alaskans are penny pinchers. “What…buy new tires without studs? Nope.” Alaskans started taking the studs out for the summer months. Then, when winter would come, it would be time to buy four more studded tires. You can’t put studs back in the old tires.

Years have now passed. So, all of the people in Alaska now have old tires in their backyards being used for planters in gardens, as tree swings, and stairs. Others are still trying to come up with more things to do with all of their old tires. Then, there are those who will sell almost anything for any price, including that very popular price of “$1….just come pick it up.”

So, what do people do who buy these worn out studded tires? These are the drivers with the 20-year-old cars, that have 200,000 miles on them, and worn out tires that were bought for $1 apiece. These cars can usually be found abandoned on the side of the highway in the winter after having a couple of flat tires. Welcome to wintertime in Alaska!

Healthy Snacks To Try Between Meals

Whether I am on the go, or working around the home, I am always taking a quick break to fill up with some food for a little energy. One snack that I really enjoy has always been raisins. They hit the spot when mixed in with some nuts for a quick energy boost. Other types of nuts to try for the health benefits include: unsalted peanuts, brazil nuts, walnuts and pecans. Watch the numbers, though. Some are high in calories.

Another healthy snack is any homemade trail mix that omits the sweet milk chocolate. Instead, go with dark baking chocolate that is not sweetened if a chocolate fix is needed in the mix. It isn’t as damaging. Other items to try in the mix include nuts for protein, cranberries, raisins and sunflower seeds.

Another quick energy boost is two pieces of whole wheat bread with a little bit of honey and nuts in the middle. Don’t use white bread. Make sure it is whole wheat. If you want this to be a warm snack, stick it in the microwave for a few seconds.

Fruit has always been a great snack for me. I try to get at least 4 servings a day, if not more. I usually start with breakfast. Apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, and pears all are great snacks in my book. Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries are also good snacks. For the berries, sometimes it is best to go frozen. Make certain there has been no sugar added to the frozen fruit to help with taste. I always grab honeycrisp apples when they go on sale. Bananas usually have to be eaten pretty quick in my neck of the woods. Our selection of oranges also is not very good, either. But, it is still a good snack when you can get it.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Take a few breaks when you can. And, energize your body with some water and food from time to time. Have a good one.

It Isn’t About Dieting. It’s about Eating Healthy.

With this new year comes the usual talk about diets. It’s time to diet because it is January. Well, if you want to live the rest of your life on a diet, I guess you should listen to the people selling those fad diets, low-calorie meals, and promises.

But, the truth is anyone will lose weight after they eliminate processed food, sugar, salt, fast-food, restaurant food, sugary drinks, and grocery store desserts and candy from their diet. All this food does to the body is destroy it. Think of it this way. What does your cat eat. Does his system handle the catfood pretty well? After you eat all of the food I listed above, what might happen to your system? I think the cat has a better diet.

Go back in time…..when many people were skinny. It was because they walked more. They had to walk to the bus, the train, their wagon, to get to work. How often are people sitting down in a chair or couch in a western movie or a photo from the 1800’s. What did these people eat? It wasn’t fast-food that’s for sure. What did they drink? I would guess tea, coffee, alcohol, or water.

When I started losing weight, I first eliminated what I knew caused my weight gain. I got rid of doughnuts in the morning. Then, I got rid of my cappuccino, and went back to straight coffee. When I had to eat away from home, I chose salads. I stopped my attraction to soda pop. I started drinking more water and tea. Then, my sugar fix became fruit instead of candy and sweets.

No, it wasn’t that easy. It took several years. It took a commitment and a determination that I would return to my college-time weight. With exercise everyday, a completely different menu for the food I eat daily, and by finding ways to stay busy, the weight has stayed off, so far.

For those who struggle with this issue…here’s two words: Stay positive!

January is Definately Winter Time

Now that the holidays have passed, its time for those cold winter months of January and February. It’s time to avoid those bitter cold days of winter by staying warm by the fireplace or stove inside. This is always my reading time.

However, sitting for too long is bad for your bones. So, the physical therapists and others say to get up for a few minutes before an hour passes. Here are some tips to help achieve that exercise time.

It’s Saturday morning. You have dishes to do. The dishwasher is running with yesterday’s dishes. So, you still have some more to do. But, you don’t want to use all of the hot water. Guess what you can do. Make hot water by heating it up in a pan. Then, pour the warm to hot water in your sink. Put some of the dirty dishes in the water to soak with some dishwashing soap for about an hour. That will make the cleaning easier.

While you are up, check the laundry. Do any clothes need put away or put in the dryer. Check the hamper. If the washer is empty, do some laundry that can be washed in cold water.

Do you have pets? Check their food and water. Just like humans, animals need quite a bit of water, too.

These are just a few of the many things that could be part of a “TO DO” list that a person can make to keep those bones active from time to time. It does help.

Other ideas that help with staying active include:

1) Don’t use the living room area as the dining room area.

2) Put all magazines and books in shelves that are away from the seats.

3) Take all dishes and glasses back to the kitchen sink area.

4) Put dirty clothes hampers or bags in every bedroom, and use them.

5) Put a broom in every room; and, teach everyone how to sweep.

6) Pick up your trash.

7) In this age of home deliveries, get a container for cardboard. Break the cardboard down everyday.

8) If you have kids, work with them on “Pick Up, Clean Up.” There are plenty of resources like PBSKids, Sesame Street, etc…. to help them learn.

9) Shoe racks and shoe warmers are great for the cold states. If you get snow in the winter time, you will want them.

These are just a few ideas to help someone stay active during the cold months, and still get in some exercise.

Ways to De-Winterize

For some of us in this world, the winter season after the holidays can be a long period. Where I live everyday, I have to bring in some extra light to help with short days. That is also true for most of the people around me.

Another big negative to winter is staying inside on the couch too much. During winter, just like the summer, everyone must get out and about. One of my greatest exercises is shoveling a little snow every day. Another option is to take a walk with a friend or your dog. Just get up and get out there! Your bones and muscles will thank you.

Then there is the d-word…….depression. I am not an expert on this one. I just know what others say. People need to talk about their feelings to other people. Find a friend, find religion that is comfortable for you, find a companion, find a pet, find a hobby, and then start finding positives to replace the negatives. Remember….you are in control of you……..

Another way to “de-winterize” is to leave the cold by taking a winter vacation. If you go to a warm spot for a week, or two, winter just got shorter. But this usually only works for people who don’t have school-age kids.

Whatever you do to make the next few monthes shorter, have fun doing it. April isn’t far away. And, soon, it will be May.

Inhale…..Hold……Exhale……Repeat, If Necessary.

When you buy a bottle of shampoo, the instructions on the back say, “Lather, Rinse, and Repeat.”

After you have had kids, and all of that loud noise is created by those playful children within the once-quiet rooms of your home, remember the shampoo instructions…..but replace them with the words, “Inhale……Hold……Exhale…..Repeat.”

Continue repeating this process until the stress level goes down. Then, and, only then, should you approach the young ones and quietly remind them to use their indoor voices during their playtime inside. Also, remember, you need to use YOUR indoor voice, too.

Other times where this stress-relieving process can be helpful is when other types of events are beyond your control. There are many examples of these, including:

1. driving in heavy traffic with the kids in the back seat not wanting to stay in their seats

“Hey, let’s play with this frisbee I left under the seat.”

2. waiting in long lines outside without an umbrella while it rains

“So these portable buildings save the state some money.”

3. being put on hold by your electric company during a power outage

“Are there any humans working today?”

4. waiting to see the only doctor-on-call at the Emergency Room

“The doctor will be able to look at your bleeding head in about one hour.”

5. getting stopped for a traffic violation in front of a friend or relative’s home

“Hi, Dad! Yeah, I remember what you told me about speeding.”

6. running out of money at the laundromat while all of your clothes are in the washer

“Do you have a big bag I can carry my wet clothes in until I get more change.”

7. learning that you forgot your wallet after eating out at a restaurant

“How many hours of dishwashing do I have to do?”

8. being invited to a Halloween costume party on October 31st without a costume

“Don’t you have any costumes left for men?”

9. being flagged by TSA, as suspicious, while going through airport security

“No, I have never left the United States.”

10. learning that your window seat on the airplane is next to one man who has brought

his collection of polka songs to listen to during the six-hour flight, and a woman,

who was allowed to keep her loud chihuahua with her on the plane.

“Hello, stewardess, are there any empty seats available on the plane?”

Whenever possible, the use of relaxing portable music to go along with this breathing process can be helpful. If this doesn’t help, you might try the bottle of shampoo. Have a good one!

Welcome to the New Year

Welcome to 2019! Say good-bye to 2018! A new year means new ways to live and play throughout each day.

Everyone comes up with resolutions for the new year to get a fresh start on the new calendar.

However, the hard part has always been hanging on to those resolutions as the days get longer.

I always come up with a few resolutions for a new year. Some I can keep. Some I have failed at in the worst ways. I have been good at weight loss, quitting smoking, saving money and managing my time a little better. However, other resolutions, like home projects, outdoor projects, items that cost more money, etc…., those usually hit the back-burner every year on the priority list.

For this year, one of my resolutions is to continue working on my well-being. I figure the better I feel, the better everyone around me will feel. When I smile, the people around me will smile. When I laugh, the people around me will laugh. When I am happy, those around me will be happy. So, as we say hello to 2019, feel optimistic this year will be better than last year, and put on a smile.