Tag Archives: Caring For Our Community

The Best Ways to Store Fruits and Veggies

How do you store veggies and fruits? What can stay out on the counter and what needs to go in the fridge

Guest post by Jennifer Tuohy

To keep your food fresh, it’s important to know how to use the crisper drawers of your refrigerator properly. Follow the tips below for the best way to store fruits and vegetables both inside and outside of your refrigerator.

In a Cool, Dark Place

Never store these items in the fridge. Your pantry is a great place for these fruits and veggies, which do best out of the sunlight:

Veggies:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

Fruit:

  • Melons

On the Counter

These items will do fine on the counter for three to five days, if you leave them whole. Put any produce that needs to ripen in a brown paper bag for a few days to speed up the process. For longer storage, transfer produce to your fridge’s low-humidity drawer.

Veggies:

  • Asparagus and celery —Stand these up in a shallow glass of water.
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Eggplant
  • Kale, collards, and chard — These also do well in a shallow glass of water.
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes

Fruit:

  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits — Keep these in a bowl with plenty of air circulation.
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Pineapples

 

In the Low-Humidity Drawer

Produce that can dry out a little should go in this drawer, with the humidity slider open. This drawer is one-step removed from the main fridge, slightly less chilled but still dry. Store any cut or sliced fruits and veggies here. Place these types of produce directly into the drawer:

Veggies:

  • Corn — Leave it in the husk.
  • Peppers — Store them in a plastic bag.

Fruit:

  • Apples — Store them here if you like them cold.
  • Ripe stone fruits, such as peaches and plums — Leave them in the drawer as-is.

In the High-Humidity Drawer

Produce that needs a moist environment goes in here, with the humidity slider closed so that water vapor is held in the drawer to keep things fresher for longer. Fruit does not keep well in a high-humidity drawer.

  • Beets — Cut off the tops, then store the beets in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Green beans — Keep these in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.
  • Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach — Wash and dry them thoroughly first.

In the Main Fridge Compartment

  • Fresh herbs — Store them wrapped in a damp paper towel in an airtight container.
  • Mushrooms — Keep them in their packaging or a brown paper bag.
  • Berries and grapes — Store them unwashed. Wash them just before you’re ready to eat them.

One of the best advantages of storing fruits and veggies in their proper place is that you are far less likely to end up with a crowded crisper drawer, which leads to soggy forgotten food. Your crisper drawers are indispensable for keeping produce fresh, but only if you use them correctly. Also, if you keep lots of produce sitting out on the counter, you could find yourself and your family reaching for it more often than bags of chips in the cupboard. #cbrmr

Smartest Home Improvements for 2018

Smart home improvements good for the body, mind and soul.

 

The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show was one for the books. This was my fourth year going and my biggest takeaway was that smart home tech is evolving at break neck speeds. The smart home show floor was massive and each category from security to entertainment is getting saturated with truly amazing concepts and products. Here were some of our absolute favorites in case you missed them…

In addition to all of the awesome items mentioned above, here were even more of our favorite smart home improvements…

Improving Your Smart Home’s “Brain”

What is the biggest downfall of smart home tech? To me, it is often the lack of one streamlined operating flow. With a ton of different apps and operating systems sometimes smart home tech can actually feel a little dumb.

The good news? At this year’s show it seemed like almost every single product integrated with Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Home product. So the first smart home improvement you should make is picking one of these systems and finding products that sync with them. Which one is better? According to Forbes, Amazon is winning the race.

Improving Your Garage (and mental health)

Did you shut it?

Did you?

I can’t remember.

I’m pretty sure you did.

I am turning around…I have to check.

Have you had this conversation with their significant other or perhaps even yourself about your garage door? We have it at a few times a month at my house. That is why the Roost Smart Garage Door Sensor made my list. With a combination of home protection and peace of mind, this WiFi connected door sensor sends you a notification telling you if your door in open or closed. The biggest drawback though? If you did leave it open there is nothing it can do for you. Still a great product for those who get open door anxiety like me! Roost also has some other cool smart home devices you can learn about here.

This will be available sometime in the spring and will be priced at $40.

Improving The Safety In An Elderly Person’s Home

I believe there is no price you can place on the safety of a loved one. Especially when it comes to the safety of an elderly parent. If you

Improving Your Home’s Cleanliness

Over the past few year’s robo vacuum cleaners have gained popularity with products like the Roomba. If you enjoy having one (or have one on your wishlist) I have a feeling you’re also going to love the Cop Rose Window Cleaning Robot. Window cleaning is a tedious task and if you have pets or small children, it can feel like a never ending chore with little hand and nose prints everywhere you turn. This smart window cleaner will keep windows, as well as other vertical surfaces, in tip top shape with a touch of a button from your smart phone. It can also be used floors and walls.

At $150, this product is a great way to avoid one of most dreaded household chores. More information here.

Improving Your Home Gym

Peloton has already built a cult like following around their bike product and and now they’re hoping to do the same around their new treadmill called the Peloton Tread. The fancy treadmill is equipped with a 32 inch touchscreen display that allows the runner to stream classes in a studio like setting from NYC’s best instructors.

The Peloton Tread comes with a hefty price tag at $4,000 PLUS an additional $39 monthly fee for live classes. It will start shipping this fall but you can reserve one now.

 

Bonus Product: Improving Your Kitchen Gadget Collection

While this isn’t technically a smart home improvement I couldn’t help but share one of my personal favorites from the show which was the Coravin Model 11.  Have you ever wanted to drink just one glass of wine but passed because you didn’t want to ruin the bottle? The model 11 allows you to enjoy a glass without ever removing the cork or damaging the wine itself. This “first ever” fully connected automatic wine preservation opener works by placing a super thing needle through the cork. Check it out:

Like the Peloton Treadmill, this item comes with a large price tag at $1,000 but if you are serious about your wine then this is totally worth it splurge. #cbrmr

Want even more smart home goodness? Check this out.

How to Winterize Your Bedroom for Cozy Comfort

Pile on fuzzy textures and transform your bedroom into a snowy sanctuary for naps and lounging.

By Michelle Lee, Houzz

Get ready to cuddle up in bed with your significant other, furry friend or a good book this month. Pile on fuzzy textures and transform your bedroom into a snowy sanctuary for naps and lounging. Stock up on these essentials for the warmest season yet.

Invest in High-Quality Bedding

Your choice of sheets and blankets will really matter in the dead of winter and can dramatically improve your quality of sleep by wrapping you in a warm embrace. Look for ones made of insulating wool, cashmere or flannel to ensure warmth all night long. If your budget allows, splurge on an electric blanket for the room too.

To add even more warmth, shop for a goose down duvet or quilt. This fill provides thermal protection against the cold while also being breathable for ultimate comfort. For those with allergies, cotton and microfiber options are comfortable, budget-friendly alternatives.

Gather a bunch of pillows and throws on top of your bedscape. A stack of fluffy pillows provide back support for reading in bed, while layers of throws make heat control easier. Go for fleece or velvet for an irresistible look and use this opportunity to experiment with color and pattern.

Warm up Your Palette

Swap summer blues and autumn reds for creamy neutrals this winter. White is not only a foolproof choice that pairs well with every color on the spectrum, but it also helps reflect and spread the scarce daylight we have this season. Dip your toes into the timeless Scandinavian style trend by testing out a bright white palette in your bedroom. Spring to life in milky white and soft yellow hues or pair pale blue and gray together for a relaxing look.

Accent a neutral palette with warm wood around the room. As seen in this Montreal bedroom, the paneled ceiling and trim lend a cozy cabin vibe amidst the bleak winter landscape outside. You can replicate the look in smaller doses with a wooden nightstand, stool or headboard.

If you’re willing to venture past your color comfort zone, use a bold hue or two sparingly for a much-needed mood and energy booster. Welcome a bright yellow, pink or teal through accessories like decorative pillows, bedside lamps or overhead artwork.

Light it Up

Since the sun now sets hours earlier than it does on long summer nights, we have to substitute the lost hours of daylight all on our own. Invest in a layered lighting plan to illuminate every dark corner and visually enlarge your space. A great combination is having an overhead fixture, such as a statement chandelier or a cluster of pendants, and adding smaller lights where they’re needed, like lamps or wall sconces. Shop for LED bulbs for energy efficiency or incandescents to mimic the sun’s yellow tint. If you’re still in the holiday spirit, you can also hang string lights above the headboard or along a spare wall for an extra homey feel.

Stash the Nightstand

When you’re too comfy in bed to get up and venture to another cold room, look to your nightstand for one or two of your daily essentials. Choose from a humidifier to combat the dry season or an aromatherapy diffuser to set the mood; succulents or fresh flowers for a welcome burst of nature; a small tea or coffee maker for early mornings; and a journal or good book for inspiration. If your bedside table is looking a little worn out, upgrade it now to one with multiple shelves or drawers for year-round storage. #cbrmr

 

Party Perfect

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Hosting a party this holiday season? Here are a few ideas to make it a fun and memorable event not only for your guests, but for you too!

At the Top of the List: Make Lists!
It’s never too early to start getting organized, and that means making lists so you don’t forget a thing.

A written cooking and party prep schedule that includes cleaning, shopping, food prep —even time to set the table and create a playlist— can help the countdown to your party, and your stress level, stay on track.

Engage the Senses

  • Taste. You want to provide a variety of foods for your event, so why not consider a potluck for your next get-together? Don’t stress about providing every course, when friends and family would most likely be happy to contribute a salad, dessert, side dish or appetizer. When someone says, “May I bring something?” change your answer to “yes!”
  • Hearing. Create a music playlist to run throughout your event. Music can set the tone for any party; keep the volume at a reasonable level so people can comfortably maintain conversations.
  • Sight. Adjust electric lighting to ensure it’s neither glaring nor too dark, then set up candles strategically to complement the mood —just be sure they’re positioned safely where they can’t be knocked over or where they might ignite nearby flammables.
  • Smell. Choose a scented candle for the bathroom, but scent-free candles for the dining table and other areas featuring food.

Bathroom Basics

  • Clear your medicine cabinet of personal items and medications.
  • Set out soap and clean hand towels, or provide disposable hand towels.
  • Stock extra rolls of toilet paper within reach.
  • In addition to a scented candle, make available a can of air freshener.
  • Consider placing a small “emergency stain remover” basket in the bathroom, with club soda, paper towels and red wine stain remover.

Kitchens & Cocktails
The kitchen tends to be where everybody congregates, and subsequently gets under your heels! Either take advantage of the extra pairs of hands to expedite your food prep, or help nudge them out of your way by placing groupings of appetizers outside the kitchen, and also setting up a DIY cocktail bar or beverage cart away from your main work area. Consider the following for your cocktail station:

    • Along with bottles of liquor, soda, various mixes, and garnishes like olives, lemons and limes, make sure you have plenty of ice available in an insulated bucket. Also consider keeping drinks cold without watering them down by replacing ice cubes with frozen grapes, berries, lemon or lime wedges. And don’t forget to include cocktail napkins, measuring glasses, stir sticks and a martini shaker on your cocktail station.
    • Consider printing out drink recipes on cards for a fun way for people to mix and shake. Don’t forget to include non-alcoholic cocktail options too!
    • Help guests keep track of their glasses (and cut down on the dish washing) by creating a system to identify to whom each glass belongs. A casual event using disposable plastic glasses allows you to mark guests’ names right on the glasses with a permanent marker or stickers, while glass markers, wine glass charms or beer bands allow for easy idenification of reusable glasses.
    • Keep people hydrated easily and conveniently by placing buckets containing bottled water on ice throughout your entertainment area.

Remember that a relaxed host/hostess makes for a more relaxed, festive atmosphere. Once the party starts, focus on your number one priority —to enjoy your company and make wonderful memories!

Air Quality in the Great Indoors

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The winter season typically draws people indoors for long periods of time, often resulting in an increased incidence of airborne health concerns. Read on for some tips on how to maintain better indoor air quality, and subsequently better health!

While homeowners recognize the need to seal leaks around windows and doorframes to prevent expensive heat and air conditioning from escaping, the resulting airtight indoor air quality comes with its own issues, especially for those who suffer from allergies, asthma or other respiratory diseases.

Ideally, homes should include some air-circulating devices to ensure a level of air quality that’s free from harmful pollutants, toxicants and contaminants. In addition to changing furnace filters, consider the following ideas to improve the indoor air quality in your own home this winter:

Air Purifiers. An air purifier helps to clean the air and subsequently eliminate dust, pollen and bacteria. Use a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter to noticeably improve air quality.

Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers. Balanced indoor humidity levels are essential to healthy indoor air. If you’re suffering from dry, itchy eyes and skin, or a dry throat and dried out, irritated nasal passages (making you more vulnerable to colds, sinus infections and the flu), a humidifier may be the solution, as it adds moisture to dry air. Conversely, a dehumidifier removes overly moist air that can harbor mold and bacteria.

If you’ve been feeling under the weather lately, you may want to check if your indoor air quality is to blame. Today’s appliances and technology allows homeowners to control their indoor environmental air quality —there are even smart thermostats these days that detect outdoor allergens and adjust your indoor air accordingly!

Keeping Contents, Connection, and Compassion

We are Helping to Build a Community, One Locker at a Time.

Solution! Secure, outdoor storage lockers accessible 24 hours a day

We would like to thank the following People who helped bring this dream into reality.

  • PK Welding and Fabricators for going above and beyond in the design and construction of the lockers and for their financial contribution
  • Dailey Enterprises for donating expert consultation and assistance in preparing the site and coordinating installation
  • OPUC for generously donating equipment and manpower for site preparation and installation
  • John Henry, Mayor of the City of Oshawa, for catching the vision quickly
  • Rick Kerr, Councillor for the City of Oshawa, for his enthusiasm and for facilitating many important connections
  • Dirk Taylor and Jonathan Mash for website design, development, hosting, and support
  • PI Tool Ltd. for donating use of a truck for transportation
  • Region of Durham Police, Business Improvement Association, Chamber of Commerce for enthusiasm and support
  • Simcoe St. United Church for allowing the lockers to be placed on their property
  • MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, the community who will use the lockers for suggestions, encouragement, and the assurance that this project was worth doing

In Memory

Spirit Alive Outreach Ministry would like to remember Don MacLeod.  Don was the President of Back Door Mission for the Relief of Poverty and, when presented with the idea, quickly began working tirelessly to ensure that this project would happen.  Unfortunately, Don passed away before the Keepers Project was completed.  We firmly believe that the individuals who will be helped by the KeepersProject will be a lasting legacy to Don.

Participate!

A pilot project consisting of 12 lockers has been installed in downtown Oshawa. We are actively looking to install lockers in other sites in Oshawa and elsewhere. If you would like to be part of the next exciting adventure in helping the marginalized please donate!

Learn More

NEED:  Members of Spirit Alive have recognized for a number of years that a real need of homeless individuals is a safe place to store their personal belongings.   Carrying all one’s personal belongings everywhere is not only cumbersome, it stigmatizes the individual by identifying him/her as homeless.  This can limit one’s ability to attend appointments, seek work, and find accommodations.  Stashing or hiding those belongings, on the other hand, often leads to theft and further vulnerability since one’s appearance and ability to provide identification and other documents, are essential to seeking assistance.

PLANNING:  Board members have done a great deal of brainstorming and research into this problem and potential solutions.  This included a visit to an area in Portugal where a successful locker project for the homeless has been established.   After much consultation with elected city officials, interested downtown Oshawa residents and business organizations (Chamber of Commerce, BIA), community police, and, most importantly, members of the homeless population of Oshawa,  it was determined that a pilot project should take place in downtown Oshawa.

ACTION:  A set of twelve outdoor lockers has been installed in downtown Oshawa.  Each locker includes a mail slot and a USB connection for cell phone charging.  Spirit Alive is partnering with Back Door Mission for the Relief of Poverty (a local, downtown-based service agency)  to administer the first set of lockers as a pilot project.  Consistent connections with staff and volunteers at Back Door Mission will potentially lead to solutions to other issues.  It is believed that having a permanent, secure place for belongings will be an important stepping stone to a better life.

FUTURE:  After this pilot project has proved successful, and any adjustments deemed necessary have been made,  it is anticipated that there will be additional locker sites in Oshawa. As well, Spirit Alive hopes to be a resource for other communities who feel that lockers could help in their work of assisting individuals to end homelessness.

 If you would like to see this initiative brought to your area we would love to help!  Please contact:  info@spiritaliveoutreach.org or http://www.keepersproject.ca for more information on How To Donate.

Holiday Fire Safety

There is nothing like decorating your home for the holidays with fragrant candles, colorful lights, and festive bows and ribbons. But take steps to protect your family this season with these fire prevention tips.

 

There is nothing like decorating your home for the holidays with fragrant candles, colorful lights, and festive bows and ribbons. But take steps to protect your family with some holiday fire safety.

This holiday season, when you are gathered around the fireplace with family and friends enjoying the smell of pine needles from your freshly cut tree, a little holiday fire safety can give you peace of mind.

Holiday Candles and Fire Prevention

Fragrant candles can add a festive flare to a room, but take precautions to avert a fire by making sure that your candle is placed on a heat resistant base and never leave your candle burning when you are not in the room. Keep your candles high up where children cannot reach, and do not under any circumstances leave your home without extinguishing your candles. One unattended candle can cause terrible damage and at the very least, ruin your holidays.

Lighting and Holiday Fire Safety

Holiday lights and lighted trees add a celebratory cheer to your home, but use these fire prevention tips to keep your family and you’re home safe. Check all electric plug-ins and extension cords. Make certain the plug-in has a place for a ground wire. Check the extension cord for splits in the wire.

  1. Never run extension cords under a rug.
  2. Do not overload extension cords.
  3. Equip your home with a fire extinguisher.
  4. If you plan on using your lights outdoors, make sure the lights you are using are rated for outdoors.

Fireplace Safety

Gathering with friends and family around the fireplace can keep you cozy and warm your heart. Be sure to have your fireplace cleaned and inspected every year to avoid disasters and keep your family safe. Do not dispose of Christmas wrapping by burning it in your fireplace.

If you have a live tree, water it often to preserve the pine needles — this is especially important if your tree is located close to the fireplace or wood stove. As beautiful as your tree may be, remember pine needles are very flammable. Many deadly fires have been caused by family Christmas trees with lights that are plugged into defective wiring or trees that are dried out.

Oven Fire Safety

Christmas cookies and other holiday treats are great this time of year, but watch out for burns and keep all plastic away from the oven heat — burning plastic is toxic.

Count Your Blessings

By taking these precautions, you can enjoy the holidays and celebrate with family and friends worry free, and concentrate on what this time of year is all about, counting your blessings.

20 Barnard Crt. Ajax

Open House October 8, 2017 2-4 pm

$525,000

Quiet Family Court

You’ve got to see this one in person! Full of designer touches. The good life is certain in this 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with finished basement, hardwood floors on top level, and walk-out from kitchen to covered patio overlooking huge back yard. Enjoy carefree living with low maintenance exterior, updated windows, furnace, newer shingles and electrical panel. Enjoy the convenience of an large eat-in kitchen that has been recently updated with top of the line appliances, quartz counter-top, under the counter lighting and over sized center island with B/I dishwasher, cupboards and seating for 5. All this for only $525,000 .

 

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Weed Away!

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In our quest for a perfect, green lawn that more resembles AstroTurf than anything Mother Nature could create, we may find ourselves blasting gallons of weed killer onto our lawns throughout the summer. Instead of filling our lawns — and our lungs — with noxious chemicals, give these natural weed-eliminating methods a chance.

Crowd them out. Over-seed your grass to not only create a thick, luscious landscape, but also to ensure there’s no room for unwanted, weedy invaders.

Smother them. While not practical for weeds scattered throughout your lawn, mulch is a must for keeping weeds at bay around your flowers and vegetable beds. Keep the mulch about two inches deep to eliminate the light and air that weeds need to thrive.

Scald them. If you can boil water, you can kill weeds. For an economical and effective weed killer, carefully pour boiling water onto young weeds popping out of cracks on sidewalks and driveways.

Try vinegar and soap. Mix four cups vinegar with two teaspoons of dish soap in a spray bottle and spray weeds only (avoid grass).

Use elbow grease. Weed the garden regularly, pulling up weeds manually before they go to seed.

And if you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em! Your next plate of nutritious greens can be as close as your backyard. Young, tender dandelion and chicory leaves can be enjoyed raw, in a salad, or steamed or stir-fried as a cooked side dish. Some people even make tea with the leaves and roots. Those pesky weeds include impressive amounts of nutrients and vitamins — just be sure you know what you’re picking and that you wash them well!

The Psychology of Clean

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Does mess equal stress? An article in Psychology Today* says “yes!” But the good news is, clutter is one of the easiest life stressors to fix.

Clutter both at home and at work can stress us out on a number of different levels, making it difficult to relax, both physically and mentally. It signals to our brains that our work is never done, and creates feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Clutter also creates a feeling of frustration by preventing us from quickly locating things we need, from keys to paperwork. There’s simply nothing good about mess, so here are some tips to help you tackle it.

    • Address one area at a time, and finish de-cluttering and cleaning that one area before moving onto the next. This creates a sense of accomplishment as you fully complete one task or one room at a time.
    • When it comes to getting organized, setting up more shelves and storage areas isn’t always the answer. Downsize your belongings first by getting rid of things you don’t use or need – donate or toss as necessary, then create designated areas for the rest, ideally in closed spaces such as drawers and cabinets. Simply re-organizing things on open shelves doesn’t take care of “mess stress” as your clutter is still in sight, creating visual stimuli that your mind continuously has to process.
  • Once you get your clutter under control, keep it that way by getting in the habit — making a resolute effort every time — of putting things back where you got them. It sounds simple, but it’s a repetitive process that needs to be continuously reinforced before it becomes routine.

www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octanewomen/ 201203/why-mess-causes-stress-8- reasons-8-remedies