A Tip To Ease Low Back Pain

I incurred a back injury last year and had to go through many weeks of physical therapy to try to correct the problem. While going through therapy, I realized it was the combination of many small tips they gave me that yielded the best results throughout my recovery.

One tip that was so simple and easy, but has made such a difference in my pain relief was to use something for low back support when I was sitting in my office chair at work and home.  If you research on-line you will see many expensive options for special chairs and cushions for lower back support. My physical therapist suggested an inexpensive, small exercise ball for support.  You can find them at any sporting good or discount store.  I am a fan of on-line shopping and I found mine here .  This is what is looks like:

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To use for low back support you partially inflate the ball and then place between your lower back and the chair.  It helps you maintain good posture when sitting and it makes your back feel supported.  It immediately relieved the pain I had when sitting in a chair.  Here is what it looks like partially inflated:

IMG_0151I know it looks kind of weird, but it really worked for me!  I hope you do not deal with lower back pain, but if you do, this a very inexpensive piece of equipment to try.  How about you?  Does anyone have any tips for low back pain relief they would like to share?  We would love to hear from you!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

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I usually try to wash my hands with plain old soap and water to get rid of icky germs and try to avoid illness, but it is not always possible.  In an effort to try to avoid harsh chemicals, I decided to give this recipe for homemade hand sanitizer a go!  I’m not sure what magazine I clipped it out of, but the article references Kate Snow, a green-living expert and author.  It contains 4 simple ingredients, the aloe vera and witch hazel I found at a discount store and the essential oils at I picked up at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market.  It was a super easy project and took me less than 10 minutes to whip up a batch.

1/2 cup pure aloe vera gel

1 1/2 tsp witch hazel

15 drops tea tree oil

5 drops lavender essential oil

I mixed it up in a glass bowl and then used a small funnel to fill one three ounce container.  It took a little tapping on the counter but it went in pretty easily.  I have to be honest, I wasn’t  in love with the smell at first.  I think the tea tree oil has a strong scent, but the lavender balances it out.  However, I’m willing to put up with the smell in order to avoid harsh chemicals.  The smell of the oils did seem to dissipate after a few minutes.  When I tested it out, it felt a little sticky at first, but I kept rubbing for a few seconds and it evaporated on my hands.

How about you?  Do you have any natural recipes you love?   I’m always looking for more natural chemical-free ideas.  We would love to hear from you!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

 

5 Simple Exercises

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As I was going through some things in my exercise room the other day, I came across a paper with these exercises written on it.  I can’t remember exactly what I copied it from, but I decided to give it a try because it looked quick and easy.

Do 20 reps 6 times each:

  • squats
  • sit-ups
  • push-ups
  • couch dips (tricep)
  • planks (20 seconds)

It wasn’t quite as “easy” as I thought, especially the tricep dips!  I made it through 3 out of 6 sets and it took me about 12 minutes.  You can modify these exercises to meet your current fitness level, such as doing traditional push-ups or on your knees, adjusting how low you go for squats or dips or varying the sit-up position .  Also, I think this would be a great set of exercises for travel since there is no need for any special equipment.  To compensate for my poor memory skills, I moved 6 little rocks  from one pile to another to count down my 6 sets. (or 3 sets! :))

What do you think?  Why not download some tunes from this list of Christian work-out songs, crank up the music and give it a try!   Do you have any quick and easy exercise routines you enjoy?  As always, we would love to hear any feedback in the comments section!

Wishing you a happy, healthy weekend!

~Blessings,

Jen

Low-Fat Potato Soup Recipe

These cold winter days have had me on the search for some healthy alternatives to classic “comfort food” recipes. I did a search for potato soup and found this recipe.  It was a hit with the whole family, which hardly ever happens!  It was rich, creamy and very filling!  I doubled the recipe and it was enough for two dinners for my family of four.

The first time I made it, I did not have fat-free evaporated milk, so I used whole. I was curious if it would taste the same using  fat free.  The second time I made it, I used 2%  evaporated milk, which did not affect the taste at all. It still got a thumbs up from the family.  Next time, I will go for the fat free version.  The calorie count is the same, but why not save fat grams where you can!

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Hubby chose to garnish his with soy bacon and broccoli. (I’m sure he would have preferred real ham or bacon but that was all we had on hand!)

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Low Fat Potato Soup Recipe

From: Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups diced peeled potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 can (12 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk, divided
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Directions

  • In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, onion, celery, broth and
  • pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-18
  • minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Combine cornstarch and 1/4 cup milk until smooth; stir into potato
  • mixture. Add the remaining milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for
  • 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in cheese
  • until melted. Yield: 5 servings.
Nutritional Facts: 1 cup equals 178 calories, 2 g fat (0 saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 274 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 0 fiber, 14 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 medium-fat meat.
© Taste of Home 2014
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family!
Stay warm!
~Blessings,
Jen

Power Granola

My family loves granola!.  They eat it in yogurt, with milk or just plain in a bowl for a snack.  I found this recipe for homemade granola and tried it out this week.  It was a hit with the family and of course I was very happy because it contains some super healthy ingredients!  It makes a mama’s heart sing when I see my family enjoying “good for you” food!

This recipe was very simple and easy!

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Power Granola- from my recipes.com

Ingredients

2 cups regular oats

1/3 cup ground flaxseed

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cooking spray

1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300°.
  2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine orange juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in oil and vanilla.
  4. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 10 minutes; stir well. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon granola into a bowl; stir in dried cranberries. Cool completely.
  5. Note: Store completely cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

*I have an electric oven and cooked it for the time listed above.  It turned out a little chewy so for crunchier granola I would probably add about 10 minutes to the cooking time.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 196
  • Calories from fat: 31%
  • Fat: 6.8g
  • Saturated fat: 0.7g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.2g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 3.3g
  • Protein: 4.1g
  • Carbohydrate: 32.5g
  • Fiber: 3.6g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
  • Iron: 1.5mg
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Calcium: 38mg

How are you starting off the year in a healthy way?  We would love to hear from you!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

 

How To Organize Your “To Do” List

Does anyone else ever feel overwhelmed by your “To Do” list?  Here is a quick and simple way to organize your  list.  This list will help you to prioritize the most important items and hopefully let some things go too!  If you are trying to get yourself organized for the New Year, this idea might help you out.

All you need is a blank sheet of copy paper and a pencil or pen.

Here is what is looks like:

This is the front-

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This is the back-

IMG_3799Directions:

1.Fold the paper in fourths.

2. You can personalize this list by choosing categories that work for you.  On the front, I labeled each fourth with Personal, Home, Family and Need Help (Things I need Hubby to help with).  The Back side of the list is labeled Daily Must Do’s for Me, Big Projects and Things to Shop For.  I found dividing the list into these categories helped me mentally organize my list, but you could also just make one list with all categories combined.

3. In each fourth of the paper I made three columns labeled-“Must Do”, “Would Be Nice” and “Could Live Without”.

4. Finally, I fill in each section with the millions of things that are always floating around in my head.

Now I have to admit something about this system.  When I made my first draft of the list, the “Must Do” side was very full and the “Could Live Without” did not have any items.  I have been using this system for about two years and I am happy to say I have finally moved some things to the “Can Live Without” column and I am learning to be okay with that! (Paint the inside of my closet-probably not going to happen-too many shelves to take down!)  I do tend to have a lot of things/ideas constantly pop in my head during the day and night and it is nice to have a place to jot them down so I can free my mind for more important things (like sleep!).

I like this system because it is simple and combines a lot of information onto just one page.  Now I’m sure there is probably a more high tech way to do this, but I still can’t let go of paper and pencil for some things.

How about you?  If you are a list person, how do you organize your “To Do” list?  I would love to hear from you!  I’m always looking for new ways to simplify my life and get organized!

~Blessings,

Jen