blog-posting-tipsIt’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog… in fact it’s been one season. That is, one season of my theatre arts organization job that lasts from June 1 through mid-August; we produce five Broadway musicals every summer. I work year-round, but the season is during the summer months. This was a busy season with much to accomplish and I simply couldn’t keep up with my weekly blog posts. And here’s the story: I now find myself about 10 pounds heavier, with a decreased energy level, a bulging disc in my back, and feeling generally cranky. This is a result of not properly caring for myself over the summer and ignoring my own advice on how to remain healthy and feeling great.

In May 2012, I began eating gluten and wheat-free and found my quality of life improved greatly. I have continued this eating regimen, but soon discovered there are many choices in a gluten-free diet these days – some of which are not the best for my body. There are gluten-free pastas, breads, crackers, everything imaginable. The sad part is sometimes gluten or wheat free means more carbs and more sugar. Again, completely against my idea of how to maintain a health eating plan.

Personally, I feel best when I eat high protein with lots of veggies. The protein comes from beans and grains, paired with white fish and roasted veggies. It’s interesting how easily I drift from what I know is best… only to realize it’s time to begin again and find the perfect balance of diet, sleep, and exercise. This is my quest: to once again find that balance and feel great. Here is how I’ll start:

Step One: Clean out the refrigerator and pantry: This is a must when unhealthy eating habits have crept into my life. Get rid of all temptations and refill with healthy snacks that are easy and convenient.

Step Two: Prepare food ahead of time: I used to spend Sundays preparing my food for the week. I would make a broccoli and bean salad (find this is my recipe section) that I could easily grab a bowl for lunch. (Yes, I’m lucky and go home for lunch most days). Otherwise, I need to identify the restaurants and eateries that have a healthy menu containing items good for my system. Of utmost importance – begin each day with a good breakfast. An egg white omelet with some black beans on the side is the best and tastes great. This gives me energy and keeps me from getting hungry mid-morning. (Hint: rinse the black beans until there is no more foaming. This will eliminate any gastrointestinal problems).

Step Three: Find 30 minutes each day to exercise: If it’s only a morning walk or a bicycle ride at the gym, I will do something to get moving.

Step Four: Get back to my daily vitamin routine: I feel best when I take extra B, C, and D. The difference in the way I feel is immediate and wonderful.

Step Five: Regular sleep: I know my body requires 8 hours of sleep each night to feel good… 9 is even better. This won’t happen without planning. I need about 30 minutes to turn my brain off so I can sleep. This means being in bed by 9:30pm with a book, turning out the light about 10pm, and rising at 6am.

Step Five: Blog: This is good for my mind and keeps my healthful plan in front of me on a regular basis. It’s impossible to write about a topic and not research it and find ways to implement it in my life.

Some of you may be thinking this sounds like a lot of trouble – and who has time to plan your day around eating, sleeping, and exercising? Well, to me it’s well worth it. Following this type of plan helps me feel great and gives me energy to do the other things I want to do in my spare time. I quickly fall into a routine and it doesn’t take so much planning and thinking. It get easier the longer I do it. And if it’s a choice of feeling sluggish and lethargic versus feeling energized and healthy – it’s an easy choice.

I realize my plan doesn’t work for everyone. Each person’s body is different and needs different things to feel good. I found what works for me…but, maybe through this you will get some ideas of how to begin your own healthful plan. Take some time to research products, vitamins, foods, etc. Try different things. If something doesn’t work, please don’t give up – develop a new plan. You’ll be glad you did!

Strive to be healthy!

Image courtesy of The Weather Up Here



red wine stainMy neighbor was recently telling me about a wine tasting he attended. Not only did he taste some great wines, but there was also an informational session offered – such as how the flavor of wine changes in a glass with a different bowl shape and how to remove red wine stains. I found the removal of red wine stains very interesting and wanted to share…

One of the best ways to remove a red wine stain is with white wine. Who knew?? But before we talk about removing a stain, let’s talk about why red wine is so hard to remove in the first place. Red wine contains a pigment found in grape skins, which is part of a family of food-coloring chemicals called anthocyanins, similar to fabric dyes. This chemical quickly and easily attached itself to fabrics and fibrous items.

So, in order to remove this dye-like product, we go to a valuable resource — white wine. White wine counteracts the red wine and makes it easier to remove the original red stain. While the stain is still fresh, pour a small amount of white wine over the red stain and blot with a clean, absorbent towel. Once you have blotted as much of the stain as possible, the remaining stain may be treated as any other stain with fabric or carpet cleaner.

baking soda pasteIf you have a stain that is dry and has really set, soak the red wine stain in white wine — then cover with a thick baking soda and water paste. Leave for a few hours, periodically moistening the solution with water. Finally, wash the fabric as normal.

There are commercial wine stain removers, such as, Wine Away. This is an industry specific red wine stain remover that ranks among the best on the market. It is also free of bleach and safe for kids and pets. Spray it on the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes, then launder as usual.

General tips for wine stain removal:

1. Blot, don’t rub

2. Never apply heat, such as putting a garment in the dryer, until stain is fully removed

Other products for removing red wine stains:

1. milk

2. vodka

3. shaving cream

4. peroxide

5. salt

More investigation is in order. As I try some of these, I’ll report on results. Yes, I am one of those unpredictable wine drinkers who often slurps, spills, or sprays. Invariably I have on white…

Strive to be healthy!

Information shared courtesy of Red Wine Stain Removal

Image shared courtesy of How To Get Red Wine Out Of Your Carpet and Swiss Diamond Cookware


pills pictureNational Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency is scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 2013 in cities all across the United States. Please take advantage of this opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet, bathroom drawer, or kitchen shelf and safely dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications that are unwanted, unused, or expired. The most recent take-back day last October resulted in the disposal of more than 188 tons of unwanted medications nationally. Kansas returned 3,809 pounds all on their own.

Participating locations in my home town of Wichita, KS, will be accepting old/used prescriptions or over-the-counter medications from 10am to 2pm on April 27:

  1.      Oaklawn Activity Center: 4900 S. Clifton
  2.      Haysville Police Department: 200 W. Grand in Haysville
  3.      Household Hazardous Waste: 801 W. Stillwell
  4.      Sedgwick County Zoo: 5500 W. Zoo Boulevard
  5.      City of Bel Aire Community Room: 7651 E. Central Park
  6.      Maize Police Department: 10100 W. Grady in Maize
Disposing of medications may create a problem if not disposed of properly. If simply thrown away, the meds can seep into a water system, contaminate soil, or create risk of someone finding and taking them. Don’t risk an accident with old or unwanted medications. Dispose of them properly and safely through this free DEA program.
For more information or for cities outside of Wichita, KS, please check here:

Strive to be healthy!

EYELASHES by Vickie Kline

eyelashesI am curious about many things… and that’s what prompts me to post about particular subjects. Eyelashes happen to be one of those overlooked (no pun intended) items that we don’t read much about. But lately I’ve noticed my eyelashes specifically reflect the overall health of my body. I’m not referring to my eyes, but my eyelashes. Okay, I know it sounds suspect, but keep reading…

When I am eating right, getting the required amount of sleep, and feeling good, my eyelashes are more full, straight, and look beautiful with the application of a bit of mascara. When I am a bit under the weather, whether that be from eating foods I shouldn’t, or suffering from some allergy-related symptoms, my eyelashes become short, stubby, and generally strange-looking. With the application of a bit of mascara, they clump together and seem to be more coarse and dry.

Wondering what it is about eyelashes that reflect other symptoms, I began doing some research.

On the average woman, eyelashes will measure 7mm on the bottom and 11mm on the upper. Eyelashes function as a barrier to keep dust, dirt, and debris from getting into your eyes; also protecting from sunlight and sweat. Lashes are extremely sensitive to motion or touch and will immediately send a message to the eyelid, making it close for protection. So they do have a physical function other than making our eyes more beautiful.

Eyelashes have a relatively short growth cycle, which is 30 to 45 days. Then they fall out and are replaced by new lashes. Eyelashes growth is predetermined by genetics, but certain nutrients are shown to support growth. Eyelashes that don’t appear as healthy as you’d like could mean a shortage of some vitamins, such as, B-3, C, and E.

Vitamin B-3 is also known as niacin and eliminates dry, brittle eyelashes by improving blood flow to hair follicles. Foods high in B-3 are salmon, tilapia, tuna, sunflower seeds, peanuts, mushrooms, and asparagus.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that strengthens your immune system and protects eyelashes from infection and diseases that inhibit hair growth. Vitamin C hydrates your lashes, which gives them the soft, full look. It also accelerates healing, decreases inflammation, aids in collagen production, and lowers the risk of breakage. Foods high in Vitamin C are cranberries, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pineapples, oranges, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant (just like Vitamin C), that also improves your immune system and protects hair follicles from damaging free-radicals, which prevent eyelashes from growing. Vitamin E helps transport blood and oxygen to hair follicles and reduces inflammation, encourages growth, and eliminates dry, brittle lashes. Foods high in Vitamin E include almonds, hazelnuts, kale, spinach, sunflower seeds, blueberries, peanut butter, and avocados.

If you look in the mirror and don’t like the eyelashes you see, try increasing and improving your intake of Vitamins B-3, C, and E. Or, anything that strengthens your immune system and cuts down on allergy-related symptoms will help you achieve fuller, more beautiful lashes… the natural way.

Strive to be healthy!

Photo courtesy of Little Girl, Big Thoughts

SLEEP CYCLE APP by Vickie Kline

sleep cycleAre you curious about your sleep habits?? I am… and because of this my sister recently introduced me to an iPhone/iPad app called Sleep Cycle. It’s a very interesting little app that monitors your sleep patterns during the night and reports the information back to you. This works well if you suffer from sleep apnea and want to monitor your sleep cycle, or if you never quite feel rested in the morning… possibly you’re not getting quality sleep time.

How it works: I plug-in my iPhone (so it doesn’t run out of juice), place it face down in the upper corner of my bed, and then go to sleep. Sleep Cycle monitors how deeply I sleep, how often I wake up, and the quality of my sleep based on these. It accomplishes this by monitoring how often I move and how deeply I breath, using the iPhone accelerometer to sense movement.

As we sleep, we go through different states that range from deep sleep to light sleep. The state you are in when your alarm goes off often determines how tired you feel. A fixed alarm clock is always a risk and can go off when you’re in deep sleep, causing feelings of tiredness or crankiness. It is best to come fully awake from a light sleep, rather than being shocked by an alarm when you are in deep sleep. Sleep Cycle helps you accomplish this by sounding an alarm (of your choosing) when you are in the lightest cycle of sleep within a 30-minute period. There is also a snooze option, if you still need more time after the alarm goes off.

The sleep quality function measures how well I slept. Calmer and longer sleep gives a higher score, translating to quality sleep. In the morning I can review statistics showing how long I was in bed and my percentage of sleep quality. Sleep Cycle tracks this and eventually gives me information on the shortest night’s sleep, longest night’s sleep, best night, and worst night.

Sleep Cycle is really interesting. Those nights when the cats are ornery and keep me awake all night, show that I didn’t get much rest. If I want more in-depth information, I can answer questions, such as, if I had alcohol, caffeine, or other foods that may impact my sleep. After using Sleep Cycle for a while, I begin to see patterns that may explain why I slept well… or not.

Strive to be healthy!

image provided courtesy of Sleep Cycle



dark circles eyeI have worked for years to rid myself of dark circles under my eyes. I was told they were caused by allergies… and if I treated my allergies successfully, the dark circles would improve. Well, my allergies are much better these days with only an occasional flare-up. But, guess what? The dark circles are still present. (The picture to the left is an exaggeration, but it’s how I feel sometimes).

I’m always on the lookout for something new to try, that’s not of the cosmetic variety. I have very sensitive eyes and need to be careful what I put in or around them. Otherwise, I’ll not only have dark circles, but red rims and swelling too. Anything of the natural or homeopathic route catches my eye (pun fully intended!).

I haven’t tried this yet, but am going to as soon as I get to the grocery store and get some parsley. I’ll report on the results later. Here’s the recipe:

Brightening Eye Mask:

1 small handful of fresh parsley and 2 TBSP plain yogurt

Place the parsley and yogurt in a food processor and pulse until formed into a smooth paste. Apply the mixture generously to under eye area. Rinse after 20 minutes with lukewarm water. This smells wonderful and feels very refreshing

Parsley is rich in vitamin K, and when applied topically, reduces blood flow to the eye area. The blood flow in the eye area is a key factor in dark circles. Over time, the fatty layer of skin under your eyes thins out and makes the blood vessels more visible. Their slightly bluish color is what creates the illusion of circles underneath the eyes.

Information shared courtesy of Be Nourished By Nature

Image shared courtesy of Dark Circles Under Eyes



025I know I talk about this often – but it’s because I think it is so important. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are a great way for a community to support a local farmer or grower. A CSA program also allows the farmer to provide locally grown items for the community that supports them. Often, CSA’s let members purchase weekly or bi-weekly bags of fresh produce. The purchaser pays upfront and takes part of the risk with the farmer. If it’s a great season, you will have more than you can eat. If there happens to be a drought or tornadic activity, you may receive less. Even with the risk, the idea of receiving locally grown, natural produce and other items is pretty difficult to pass up.

Listed here are CSA opportunities in the Wichita, KS area. If you are outside of Wichita, use a search engine and type in CSA. You may be surprised at what pops up. Each program works a bit differently, so do research, ask questions, and find the one that fits your needs. Let’s all work together to support local farmers and growers and create healthy eating environments for ourselves and our families.

MG Honor Farms: MG Honor Farms is located in Cheney, KS and was created to give members an option to purchase healthy food for themselves and their families without any herbicides and only organically certified pesticides. They have a meat program, balsamic vinegar, and honey available too! They make deliveries.

Fiat Farms: Fiat Farms is a sustainable farm located in southwestern Kingman County, serving the South Central Kansas area, specifically Wichita, KS, Kingman, KS, Pratt, KS, and Cunningham, KS. The farm currently features a 23 week CSA of vegetables and melons, with hopes to expand to other fruits, meat, and eggs in the future. Fiat Farms has a drop off point in the Riverside area where customers can make pick-ups.

Schenker Family Farms: This is a meat CSA provided by a farm that is certified naturally grown and animal welfare approved.  Talk about options!  You can choose the type of share you would like (full share, 3/4 share, 1/2 share or 1/4 share).  You also have a choice about the product:  would you like beef only, pork only, beef and pork, or beef, pork and lamb?  It’s up to you.  You can also add-on poultry or gill packs to your CSA subscription.

Morning Harvest Farms: The Morning Harvest Farms CSA appears to be very flexible and has three interesting differences from other CSA opportunities I’ve seen previously.  First, you select the products, second there is no end to the season (although, at parts of the season eggs are the only option) and third, you determine how often you receive a box and if it’s delivered or picked up at the farm. CSA

Some of these farmers may also be found selling items at public farmers markets in the area. Please check out their websites and take a look. CSA’s are a great concept that we should support and help spread the word!

Strive to be healthy!

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