Monday, March 22, 2010

Packing Tips for Airplane Travel

Any seasoned traveler will tell you that you should always try to pack light enough to avoid checking your luggage during airplane travel. Checking your luggage when you arrive can eat up precious time, something you need when you are looking for the right gate at a huge international airport. However, most of us just can’t bear the thought of limiting ourselves to one carry-on sized bag for a trip. If you can’t manage to carry-on all of your luggage you will need, and must check your bag, make sure you pack enough in your carry-on to get you through a few days should your luggage go missing.

Which toiletries do you need to carry on board an airplane flight? Use this as your guidepost: pack what you must have it for the first night or week and your lodging won't supply it. These might include: deodorant, sunscreen, contact lens solution, toothpaste/toothbrush, and lip balm.

Some additional hints to help you fly the skies successfully:

A hard plastic soap case is the perfect size to protect a camera stashed in a carry-on bag and cheaper than a regular camera bag.

A hotel shower cap becomes the perfect wrapper for shoes when traveling; stick your shoes inside and protect your clothes from getting dirtied.

Roll clothes to help prevent wrinkles and save space in your luggage.

Leave some room in your bag for souvenirs you pick up along the way, you definitely don’t want to put yourself in the position of having to leave anything behind.

Choose shoes wisely. Always wear your heaviest, bulkiest pair on the plane. A cheap pair of flip-flops is also a good idea in case the showers aren’t first class accommodations or you make an impromptu visit to a beach location.

If you are bringing children, make sure to pack some snacks for the airplane ride. Most flights are cutting back on providing food on domestic flights, and you will definitely want to avoid hunger driven temper tantrums.

Pack some sort of moisturizer or facial mist. Airplane trips can be incredibly dehydrating so this will help refresh your skin. Also avoid alcoholic or heavily caffeinated beverages, and opt for water instead.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Housewarming Gift Ideas

Have you noticed a moving van recently on your street? Welcoming new neighbors to your block is always a great idea; moving is a huge transition and they will appreciate your gesture. Even if they don’t throw a housewarming party, you might want to stop by after a few days with a small gift in hand to help welcome them to your neighborhood. They will probably be grateful for the gesture, and you just might become fast friends! You don’t need to go overboard with some extravagant purchase; a small thoughtful token is enough to impress any new homeowner. Here are some fun and inexpensive housewarming gifts you might consider:

1. Make a “gift bucket” of cleaning supplies. This might sound like a strange idea for a gift but it’s all in the presentation. Load up a bucket with a few cleaning aids and include a sponge, paper towels, dish soap, and some hand soap. Wrap the whole thing in cellophane, and tie it up with some ribbon and a card. New home owners probably didn’t bother to pack up cleaning supplies from their former home, so your gift bucket will probably come in handy.

2. Gift Certificates. Every business under the sun now offers gift certificates, but think about what a new homeowner would especially need right now: dry-cleaning, lock-smiths, shoe repairs, auto repairs. Your new neighbors might not know the best dry-cleaners in town, but you do. A gift certificate to a local restaurant or bar would probably also be appreciated by someone new to town.

3. Sweets. You can always resort to the classic idea of baking cookies, a cake, or even a pie to welcome your new neighbors. So if you have a special recipe for a dessert, go ahead a whip up a batch.

4. Libation. You can find a great bottle of wine that is expensive just about anywhere these days, so dress one up in a decorative wine bag and consider purchasing some cheap stemware from the dollar store. Your neighbors may not have had time to unpack all of their glassware yet, but you can bet the stress of moving will make them want to enjoy a glass of wine.

Just keep things simple and remember that thoughtfulness counts. By welcoming your new neighbors with a gift you open the door for them to reciprocate with an invitation to dinner, and you might soon have another set of friends on your street.

Did you know? That the pineapple is the symbol of welcome and hospitality, and is considered the traditional housewarming gift.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Cleaning for Your Baby Nursery

Very few people are born with the gene that allows them to actually enjoy cleaning, but we all have to do it or suffer the consequences of clutter and grime. One room that deserves extra attention is your baby’s nursery, since babies are so susceptible to getting sick and are just natural mess-makers. Beyond your daily routine of picking up their scattered toys, make sure you occasionally follow up with a round of more heavy duty cleaning and disinfecting. Read on to find out how to ensure you are really getting your baby’s room squeaky clean!

Remove the padded topper from your changing table. A cloth pad can go in the washing machine on a gentle cycle with a mild detergent. You’ll also want to launder all the bedding from your baby’s crib. Wash everything in water that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure you kill any dust mites and remember to use a detergent designed for baby’s sensitive skin. Wipe down furniture next. If you are cleaning wooden furniture, apply a small amount of dish washing liquid to a damp cloth and wipe the inside and the outside. Don’t overdo the moisture, since wood can warp. Wipe dry with a clean cloth. Using disinfecting wipes, wipe down the changing table. Also wipe down all the lotion bottles, ointment tubes, and containers of diaper wipes to catch any extra germs.

The diaper pail definitely needs regular disinfecting. Clean the diaper pail outside of your baby’s nursery to prevent germs from escaping into your clean nursery. Also make sure to use a liner or garbage bag to keep germs contained. Spray all-purpose cleaner both inside and outside to disinfect the pail. Use a toothbrush to scrub down hard to reach areas and hinges. Wipe dry with a cloth or paper towels.

Soak plastic toys in a bucket of water with just a splash of bleach, and follow up with a rinse of clean water. To clean plastic storage bins, spray all-purpose cleaner both inside and outside an empty bin to disinfect it. Scrub the hinges with a toothbrush. As with furniture, wipe wooden toys with a wet cloth and dish washing liquid. You can disinfect stuffed animals either by washing on a gentle cycle in the machine or stowing them in resealable plastic bags and placing them in the freezer for two days. Germs can’t survive in freezing temperatures.

And remember to always use products, whether it be laundry detergent or disinfecting wipes, that have mild or fragrance free formulas to avoid irritating your child's sensitive skin!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Ahh sleep, it’s our bodies natural way of recharging. Unfortunately, you probably take better care to recharge your cell phone than you do your own body. Or at least that is what the National Sleep Foundation has found; reporting that lack of sleep is the most common complaint amongst Americans today. I’m guilty of it, and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be helped. Despite a busy day, once I try to hit the sheets, I can’t seem to drift off easily.

We all know that the obvious drawback of not getting enough sleep is that you will be tired, which is never a good feeling. But researchers are now finding that there are some pretty serious health risks that come along with a lack of sleep. Cardiovascular disease, hypertension and high blood pressure are the major ailments you put yourself at risk for. But your immune system also takes a hit from lack of sleep, and that means more colds and infections. Beyond that, lack of sleep can actually mess up your plans to diet as well! Some experts say that sleep deprivation causes your body to boosts production of the hormone that makes you hungry. And it makes sense: your body is probably trying to shore up missing energy from another source.

Fortunately, just one extra hour of sleep per night can make a dramatic difference. Logging that extra nightly hour will not only improve how you feel during your daily routine, but you will reap the long term health benefits as well.

Start trying to develop a healthy routine that should be practiced before bed. Your kids probably have a bedtime routine to keep them alert and active during school, so why shouldn’t you take care of yourself in the same way?

This might seem hard, but for at least four hours before bed, avoid consuming any sort of stimulant. Coffee, soda, and even chocolate are major culprits to avoid. I started switching out my late night coffees with caffeine free peppermint tea after dinner. Also think about stimulants for your mind, the TV, radio, computers, and your cell phone. Unplug yourself from all of these distractions and let your mind start to wind down.

Exercise three to four hours prior to sleep is also a bad idea. Exercise won’t tire you out instantly; it will actually get your energy levels up. If you are committed to your workout routine, trying hitting the gym before work, you might even find this keeps you more energized during the day!

And while it is a good idea to get on a routine with your sleep, your body also craves a certain amount of variety. So don’t feel guilty about sleeping in on a Saturday morning! You might have to answer the call of the alarm clock during the week, but if you can, find a weekend morning where you can let your body decide when you are ready to rise.

For more information on healthy sleep habits visit
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