Coffee: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly via Boston.com

In this article, I found more good reasons to drink coffee, than reasons to avoid it. Thank Goodness!

Coffee: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

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When back-to-school shopping meets hurricane shopping

As we prepare for Hurricane Irene (New England’s uninvited guest who’s about to drop in this weekend), it occurred to me that my panicked run to the warehouse store to stock up on essentials will not be in vain. Even if Irene makes a hard right turn and heads out to the Atlantic, as parents of a 1st grader and a preschooler much of my hurricane shopping should double for back-to-school lunch/snack-time shopping.

On my pre-storm shopping list are:
Juice boxes
Water bottles
Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, banana chips, etc.)
Bananas
Peanut butter
Jelly
Tuna fish
Cereal bars
Single serving -applesauce, fruit cups
Cereal (cheering, rice chex)
Graham crackers
Pre-packaged cheese and cracker snacks
Pretzels
Goldfish
Zone bars (fudge Graham, my personal favorite)
Nuts
M&Ms
Bread
Instant Coffee
Tea Bags

Everything listed above can be stored at room temperature, and will stay fresh for an extended period (except the bananas). And everything on the list, except for the nut-based items are perfectly suitable as lunch box items for the kids.

In preparation for the big storm, I plan to start experimenting with a few cereal-based snack mixes. We should have plenty of munchies to get us through a long day or night with no TV or power. Any leftovers will go right back to the pantry, ready to be doled out in lunch boxes next week. During the storm, we’ll keep most of the food items in a handy plastic bin for safekeeping in case we happen to get any water in the house. Hopefully it will be more of a hurricane party-stash than an emergency food stash. If any readers have recipes, feel free to send them my way!

I thought I’d share a few other food shopping tips as we prep for the hurricane. Keep in mind, an unplugged full freezer stays cold longer than a half-full freezer. Even then, your freezer will thaw within 48 hours. (Your unplugged fridge is good for only about 4 hours.) So, please do not buy more frozen meat than you can eat in a few days. Fill your freezer with enough food for 2-3 days, and consider adding blocks if ice to fill it completely and maximize your food store.

Make sure you have gas for your grill. Detach the tank from the grill during the storm, and keep it in a safe place (but not inside the house!) A good grill will be invaluable after the storm to cook all of that frozen meat during an extended power outage.

Any other tips out there? Should I be adding something else to the list?

 

A brief update:

As of Thursday night, there were almost no batteries to be found within 10 miles of my house. After checking several of the big-time stores (supermarket, warehouse club, Dollar Store), I finally found a few packs of Size D batteries at the local gas station on the corner. I immediately bought up his small stash!

Here Comes Irene! Are You Prepared RI? (via My Life in RI)

Here Comes Irene! Are You Prepared RI?.

I live in Southern New England, and right now it seems as if we are in Hurricane Irene’s cross hairs.

This impending weather event has brought my worst neuroses to the surface. My therapy? Shouting from the rooftop to anyone who will listen, spreading the word on hurricane preparedness to friends and family alike.

As such, I’ve linked to my second blog “My Life In RI” to bring you some tips for building your family’s own disaster plan.

One Last Thing: A Tattoo For Her 90th Birthday (via CBS Boston)

This post just made me smile!

FRAMINGHAM (CBS) – I got a nice email from Tom Illsley from Framingham. He told me about his sister-in-law’s mother who just turned 90. Her name is Dorothy and he said she is the “definition of meek, unassuming, shy, quiet, wall flower etc…” So you can imagine the surprise of all the party guests at her 90th birthday when she rolled up her sleeve and showed off a brand new tattoo. That's right, she got ink… a colorful tattoo of a butterfly. Her f … Read More

via CBS Boston

Splashing $2.35 Worth of Cold Water on My Face

I just spent $2.35 on a bottle of water! I have just gotten any overdue slap in the face.

I am embarrassed and ashamed. I know all the reasons against buying bottled water: it’s no better than tap water; the plastic bottles are bad for the environment; it’s expensive.

I think I’ve been living in denial though, somewhere in the imaginary void between $1.25 and $2.35. I am a creature of habit, you see. Nearly everyday at lunch, I buy a bottle of water to drink with my soup or sandwich. I tell myself that it’s a very healthy choice. It’s better than soda or coffee, and this routine probably keeps me from being chronically dehydrated.  Until today, I haven’t given too much thought to what this little bottle of water has cost me. Shame on me. I’ve gotten used to the cost of lunch as a “package deal.” My tomato soup and spinach croissant neatly camouflaged the price of my little purified, fresh-from-the-mountain-spring indulgence.

That changed today. Today I brought lunch from home (pat on the back for me, thank you!). I did not bring a drink, though, so I went to my usual lunch spot and grabbed a single bottle of water. I went to the cashier and held out two $1 bills. It wasn’t enough.

That was the slap. As I walked to my table with my bag lunch and bottle of H2O, it began to really sting. Ouch! $2.35 for bottle of water? I paid less than $2 for a large coffee this morning. That was a cup of water with coffee included, and caffeine, and some cream too!

Now I just paid about 20% more than that for water with nothing in it. I have been had.

I buy lunch at work 5 days a week, for 48 weeks a year. My annual budget for bottled water: $564.

No thank you.

I will not be had again. My next self-indulgent purchase will not be a bottle of water. It will be a lovely, personalized reusable water bottle. I hope to find a nice colorful bottle that matches my office décor. My water will come from the tap; my nod to luxury will be using a tap with a filter.

In fact, I think I will buy two bottles, one for home and one for the office. After all, I just found an extra $564 in my pocket.

Reviving New Year’s Resolutions

Times Square NY
Times Square on New Years Eve – Photo Credit: Countdown Entertainment, LLC

I admit it. I’ve blown it.

My New Year’s Resolution was to gradually chip away at the 20 lbs or so, that have gravitated to my waist, hips and thighs over the past couple of years. It quickly went the way of many of resolutions: a fast descent to oblivion. According to a 2007 Franklin Covey survey, whether it be to save money, quit smoking or lose weight, over a third of us break our resolutions before the end of January.  Well, I guess I am in good company.

Why did I blow it? Lack of commitment? Too many distractions? The discouragement driven by an unrelenting New England winter? Maybe.

A winter for the dogs
This winter is for the dogs!

I thought my resolution was simple enough: to keep a journal of my daily eating habits, including my abundance of coffee and the occasional Hershey’s Nugget, as well as the tasty veggie soups and salads I proudly munch at lunch. My journal would force me to PAY ATTENTION to what I eat. Further, by publicly acknowledging this effort here, on this blog, I would use my pride as a weapon in this battle. Failing in public, for everyone to see, stings much more than does slipping up in private.

I started the year off with a BANG. It was great! I lost 2 pounds during the first two weeks. I diligently recorded my diet and calorie intake using my handy little “LoseIt!” iPhone app.

And then, I stopped. I stopped tracking my meals, keeping a journal, weighing myself. I haven’t gone on any binges or anything, no big Italian Subs, or chocolate cream pie. I just stopped paying attention.

However, the beauty of New Years Resolutions is that you don’t have to be waiting for the ball to drop on Times Square to re-invoke it. No time like the present!  So here I go. Again.

I hereby resolve to put myself on the path to healthy living by doing a few simple things. I will keep track of what I eat. I will start to step outside of the office for a walk at lunch. I will pay attention. By doing this, I will begin to make progress on this very Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) goal: to lose 1 pound per week. That’s it. One pound, not two, not five. Just one pound each week.

New Years Resolution: Round 2. Here I come!

5 Ways to Shake the Winter Blues

1) Go for a walk. OK, so most of us probably think that navigating un-plowed sidewalks with scarves wrapped around our runny noses is a sorry excuse for a spring stroll. However, a nice jaunt around the neighborhood on a crisp day can do wonders for your psyche. Cold fresh air wakes you up from that sluggish mid-afternoon daze if nothing else.

2) Get a massage. There’s nothing like a good deep tissue massage to melt away the stresses of the season, and soothe those muscles that just dug out your car for the fifth time this month.

Coffee and Books
Read A Book

3) Read a book. Who needs the beach for paperback novels? Pick your favorite genre; I tend to favor something light and humorous. Something too introspective might drag you right back from whence you came.

4) Rearrange the furniture. Sounds like a chore, I know, and it kind of is. If you’re like me, it forces you to finally attack all those dust bunnies under the couch. Moving that sofa and coffee table will give you that novel “new room” feeling. It’s a nice afternoon project that doesn’t cost a dime, and rewards you with feeling of renewal.

Naps Work wonders
Naps Work Wonders - Courtesy of Graur Codrin

5) Take a nap. When all else fails, give in to your droopy eyelids. After all, hasn’t this winter exhausted all of us? If you’re just too tired, you won’t have the energy for any of the above. Go for it! It’ll just be a quick nap, you won’t miss anything, except another snowstorm.

These are the suggestions I have. How do you shake the Winter Blues?

Charting a Windward Course

I am no sailor, but it strikes me that the journey I have begun this year has some similarities to a transatlantic voyage.

Like a sailor, I am charting a course from Point A to Point B. To get there, I will have to navigate some rough currents. I have settled on weekly SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) goals as the buoys to measure my progress. At times, I will have to tack back and forth as the wind changes to maintain my ultimate heading.

My original goals for the year have merged. I want to lose some weight (and gain some energy), and I want to make regular blog posts to enhance my writing skills.  I have committed to blogging at least once a week, and that has evolved into periodic posts on my ‘weight loss project’. Each week, I assess my progress for both goals.

So far, my writing has been more prolific than I expected, although I don’t think quantity dictates quality. It’s a challenge to discover things to write about, and to choose the right words to shape my message. In my professional life, I write pretty sterile, stiff business reports. Dull, dull and dull.

Finding a more casual, conversational voice is sort of like trying on skis for the first time. Very awkward, very scary but I’m really hoping to get good enough to enjoy flying down those moguls. I am starting to believe writing will become a favorite hobby. I think as many people want to read my posts as want to listen to me sing ’80s pop songs in the shower, though.

My weight loss project is a little slower going. I committed to logging everything I eat in a private journal (ok, most of what I eat), with the hope that I could drop a pound a week. My results have been lackluster. I lost a pound last week, and about a 1/2 pound this week. Trending in the right direction, but not quite the pace I want.

With this in mind, time to check the navigational charts and do a little tacking. Steering a ship is about making lots of little adjustments. Pull on the rudder too hard, and you could capsize the boat. I definitely need to make a few adjustments.

So, looking ahead to next week, I will still log my meals, including the occasional Hershey’s nugget, but I will also step up my activity a bit. I walk to work every day. This week, I will take at least two days and walk at lunch too. Walking will get me away from my desk for a bit, clear my head, and give me energy.  This time next week, I should be back on track for my long-term weight loss goals.

We will see how I do. Next week we’ll find another buoy to aim for.