Last fall, a long time fantasy finally materialized, a visit to the Tuscany Region of Italy. The food, wine, vistas, and the people were all as I imagined, if not better. And as often portrayed in movies, Italian women are unquestionably gorgeous. It is difficult not to covet their hair, skin, and body shape. Well, of course, there are exceptions, but my filters must have been set to rose-colored glassiness, because I was in awe. The women of a variety of ages climbed steep cobblestone streets in stiletto heels, an extraordinary feat (pun?). Sneakers were fine for me thank you. And, how the heck do they maintain their weight with store fronts in every village and town boasting delectably rich pastries and comforting breads? Those hills burn some calories, but seriously? Wine was poured freely, and when I say freely, there were several dinners where wine was shared gratis as a thank you from the chef. Calories galore, yet I was in heaven.
After a few days in Tuscany, I believe I discovered the secret to the locals’ impressive hair and skin texture and tone. The main ingredient in the sample soap and shampoo at our inn was olive oil. By the time we checked out, my skin and hair possessed a luxurious silky smoothness. My face is prone to breakouts, but the mirror reflected a radiance as I have rarely witnessed.
Since the trip, I added several drops of olive oil to all my soap dispensers resulting in fewer cracks on my fingers this past winter. And every night, I lightly coat my face with olive oil. Even if a breakout occurs, it seems to heal much quicker with less overall swelling, redness and angry cysts.
I use organic olive oil. This is more economical than most good quality moisturizers. As the dispensers run low, I refill with a mild cleanser and olive oil. I use the open oil bottle from stored in the kitchen which saves on storage space in each of the bathrooms.
For my nightly facial moisturizer, I fill a small pump dispenser with the oil and keep it with my nightly routine items. The glass is a dark blue, and I keep it away from the window to slow down rancidity.
I also add a few drops to my shampoo bottle. Not enough to severely weigh my hair down, but enough to keep my scalp and hair moisturized. I began doing this when I noticed that the winter dryness was taking a toll and scalp flaking was becoming noticeably embarrassing.
Olive oil is not just for cooking. Give it a try. See what you think. As everyone reacts differently, it is advisable to try a tiny drop first somewhere inconspicuous in the event you have any type of sensitivity reaction. The Practical Sort assumes no liability.
During the last week, my kids, my husband, my daughter’s boyfriend, and her kitty were visiting us for Thanksgiving break. I don’t know about them, but I truly enjoyed our family turkey celebration. Once again my husband nailed the succulent fowl and overall culinary feast, and this year I had scores of blessings for which to be grateful.
We also passed the time by showing her BF, who had never been to Oregon, the magnificent coastline and Columbia gorge waterfalls. Well, technically hubby took the kids on the Gorge trek while I worked. On our last night together, we had a hoot playing board games. Watching the smiles and hearing the laughter was just so dang cool. Sunday morning was the trip back to the airport to drop them all off for their return flights.
Goodbyes have never been easy for me, and I know that many others struggle with an emptiness as we let go. For some reason, I do find it much easier for me to give hugs and wave adios at our airport than it is for me to me to fly away from them. After contemplating why that is, I realized that as I sit in the airport, as the plane begins its ascent heading away from their cities, and as we level off, I have loads of time to sink deep into my head. There are too many hours for me to feel sad recalling the fun we had, the times when they were little and we did lots of silly things together, and how long it will be until we see each other again. But when I drop them off, afterwards I can head over to the grocery store to reload the cupboards and fridge and then proceed home to get the house back into pre-guest shape. No time to wallow just focus on the traffic and then chores.
That is what I did after the airport run. As soon as I arrived back home, the linen laundry was started, while my husband dealt with the litterbox and remaking the beds, and I began scrubbing the kids’ bathrooms and bedrooms. I realized I did the same thing when they first went away to college but on a much grander scale of wading through the morass in their rooms. Yes, they did receive fair warning along side requests for them to begin the process before freshman year otherwise, they ran the risk of mom’s discretionary clear out/clean up. They both acknowledged the consequences and decided that they would grant permission rather than face the work.
I discovered that for me, cleaning is a form of catharsis. Or more accurately, my brain type craves order and cleanliness and the only way to achieve that state is to buckle down and get to work asap. The sooner restoration occurs, the quicker I feel a sense of calm and relief. I can lose myself for at least an hour or more in the work, while rocking out to some tunes or sing to myself to pass the time instead of breaking down into a puddle of tears amidst a sense of loss.
Do you have a difficult time with goodbyes? Maybe your kiddos are still young but your send-offs are for your parents, dear friends, siblings, a long-distance relationship partner. How do you cope with post-farewell emotions? Perhaps a quick cheerio and you are good to go which is fabulous. If you dread departures, figure out what brings you serenity or an activity where you can lose reality for a few hours. Engage in your hobby, sport, exercise or catch up with an old friend, grocery shop, or do as I do and begin putting your house back together. Find your own catharsis to get you through the withdrawal.
A few days ago, I received a text from my daughter and under the circumstances fortunately I did not have my phone with me. Her phone sent out a SOS alert signaling that she was in need of immediate assistance with a map of her current location. She was not aware that it occurred until a friend contacted her letting her know that she would be on the way to her home if she did not hear back at once. Luckily she received her friend’s call and indicated that all was fine. Then she proceeded to contact all the folks on her alert list including me. Thank goodness by the time she reached me, I had not had the opportunity to check my text messages. My daughter lives far away and that would have sent my heart into cardiac arrest. Thank goodness it was a false alarm.
She is not certain why the message was sent except that her phone was processing an update causing something to go awry. Typically her phone model requires that the power button be pressed 3 times consecutively. This is a feature that is useful and in the right situation could be life saving so actually I am grateful this occurred otherwise I would not have known this option exists.
As all phones are different, it is best to check with your user instructions to see how to add emergency alert contacts to your model and to activate an emergency call to your local authorities or rescue crew especially in situations calling for covert action.
To make an emergency services call on iPhone 8 or later:
Press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services. If you continue to hold down the side button and volume button, instead of dragging the slider, a countdown begins and an alert sounds. If you hold down the buttons until the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.
For iPhone 7 or earlier (although I have an iPhone 5 with ios 10.3.3 ios, and it did not work although ios 11 promises a fix):
Rapidly press the side (or top) button five times. The Emergency SOS slider will appear.
Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.
After the call ends, your iPhone sends your Emergency contacts a text message with your current location, unless you choose to cancel. If Location Services is off, it will temporarily turn on. If your location changes, your contacts will get an update, and you'll get a notification about 10 minutes later.
If you use the Emergency SOS shortcut, you need to enter your passcode to re-enable Touch ID, even if you don't complete a call to emergency services.
Stop sharing your location
When your location is being shared, you'll get a reminder to stop every 4 hours for 24 hours. To stop the updates, tap the status bar and select "Stop Sharing Emergency Location."
End a call
If you start the countdown by accident, you can cancel. On iPhone 8 or later, release the side button and Volume button. On iPhone 7 or earlier, press the Stop button, then tap Stop Calling.
If you accidentally call emergency services, you can end the call. Tap, then confirm that you want to stop calling.
Adding Emergency Alert Contacts
To add emergency contacts from the Health app on your iPhone:
Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
Tap to add an emergency contact.
Tap a contact, then add their relationship.
Tap Done to save your changes.
To remove emergency contacts:
Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
Tap next to a contact, then tap Delete.
Tap Done to save your changes.
You can't set emergency services as an SOS contact.
**For Android Users, here are instructions reprinted from the Samsung.com website. They also recommend referring to your user’s manual for additional assistance.
Here are the steps to setup your SOS message.
1 Go to setting menu.
2 Go to the [Advanced Features], and select [Send SOS messages].
3 Agree the Terms and Conditions to setup the contact person.
4 You can select recipient from your contacts or create new. Please add cellphone number to the recipient so they can receive your SOS message.
From what I can gather, unlike the Iphone, Androids do not appear to send out alerts to 911 without specifically dialing 911.
As a caution, if you set up emergency alerts, you need to be mindful that sometimes calls are sent out inadvertently resulting in false alarms to 911 and your contacts. While countdown sounds are useful for letting you know that an alert has been activated, it may not be advisable in life threatening situations so you need to carefully consider your options.
*Reprinted without permission from Apple.com. **Reprinted without permission from Samsung.com.
Are you looking for a non-aluminum, natural deodorant? For eons, I have. Products produced without the ingredients I tried to avoid might smell nice but they lacked in effectiveness as the hours wore on. What's the point if they don't work or if you need to reapply continuously throughout the day?
Recently a friend advised me about a product line that she adores, and I am embarrassed to admit it is manufactured by a company right here in Portland, and I was clueless. Schmidt's offers an array of naturally scented deodorants that are free of aluminum, propylene glycol, and artificial fragrances. They are vegan, gluten free, and cruelty free. Most importantly, it works. You only need to apply a small amount, no drying time, and it does not appear to stain shirts.
To be honest, I made a big mistake after using the deodorant neglecting to read the warning on the label. Who reads deodorant application instructions? "Do not apply directly after shaving." Oops, that was a big oversight. Within a day or so, I had huge, ugly welts under my arms. I thought at first I had a reaction to something I ate, but then quickly deduced that it had something to do with this new product and then recalled shaving.
I reached out to Schmidt's to verify the correlation. The representative asked if I had shaved in the last few days, and noted that this reaction is not uncommon. I was highly impressed that rather than chastising me for not reading the instructions, she inquired which of the products I purchased. After an aha moment, she requested my address and which fragrance I preferred. Why? Because she was replacing the Ylang-Ylang & Calendula with an alternative from their sensitive skin formula line. The fragrant Jasmine Tea stick arrived few days later. I love it. The fragrance is light, refreshing, and substitutes as a cologne particularly when I am sleeveless.
Now I am careful not to apply it directly after shaving despite using the more gentle formula. I try to remember to shave at night . I am taking no chances. Those welts were painful and unsightly.
Bottom line, I am impressed with the deodorant, the formulation, the effectiveness, and the company ethic. So much so that I purchased travel sizes too. They also offer toothpaste, soap and glass jar packaging for the deodorant if you wish to avoid the plastic which I need to source out.
See what you think.
A while back I posted a tip about the wonders of coconut oil. Rarely a day goes by that I do not use coconut oil for cooking, body lotion, or household use. This morning I had caulk on my fingers from caulking along my bathroom sink. With this little trick I easily removed the sticky, gooey caulk from my fingers in just a few seconds.
1. Rub coconut oil on your hands
2. Rinse your hands under warm water
3. Use a rag to gently rub and dry your hands and fingers
The caulk should come off rapidly without abrasive scrubbing, and this technique avoids any harsh chemicals.
Another coconut oil success story, and my hands are super soft as a bonus.
Ok, this tip may sound like a bit of a reach for some of you, but I promise you it works if you are feeling overwhelmed by too much on your plate and scarce time to get it all done. Believe me I know as a recovering perfectionist what you see will call your attention.
If you wear glasses remove them as you walk through your house if you can do so safely. While wearing your glasses you are much more likely to see dust and accumulated grime on surfaces, smudges on mirrors and windows, fingerprints on glass, buildup on your refrigerator's water dispenser, dirt spots on your floors. You will know what I mean if you are a visual type person. If you have time to address these chores, then go for it. In fact, shine up your eyeglass lenses to enable you to see even more items calling your name. But if dirt and messes bug you like they bug me, and one more thing on your to do list will hurl you over the emotional cliff, then put your glasses away until you are ready to get to deal with the tasks you might find. The cleaning will still be there when you finish whatever is currently demanding your attention.
Dying is only for old people right? Wrong! No one likes to think about end of life planning. Yes, it is morbid and unsettling. Yet, unanticipated health events or tragedies can happen at any age and at any time. Having your affairs in order simplifies the process for your loved ones in the midst of their shock and grief. Considering the current devastation of fires and floods, knowing that someone has our back and access to our backup information is reassuring even if it is the Cloud.
But where do you start?
Smead Life Documents Organizer Kit
1. Having a will or trust and healthcare directive in place is crucial. Talk to your attorney to flush out your particular estate needs. There are also websites that offer templates for creating your own if an estate attorney is not within your budget. Regardless of which route you take, be sure to have documents notarized.
2. Storing your documents in a fire-proof safe and passing along all your key information including where to locate vital documents to someone you trust will reduce the stress associated with managing your healthcare, wishes, assets and liabilities.
3. To determine what information to gather, write/gamer Erik Dewey who has written a series of estate and end of life planning articles for The New York Times and other publications, offers a free online Big Book of Everything pdf or Excel spreadsheet to start the process. This virtual binder provides forms to enable step by step amassing of all the information your designated estate administrator needs to know. Worksheets are also included for keeping track of important documents such as resumes, work history, school, and health history during your lifetime. Note, this binder is a big undertaking and some of you might find it too overwhelming. Please take it step by step, maybe a page per day. Start with the most critical information first such as your bank and investment accounts. Then move along to medical directives or final arrangements. Click here to download the Big Book of Everything.
Another option is the Life Documents Organizer Kit by Smead which retails for $39.95 as a poly file or $29.95 as a drawer kit system to keep all of your documents in one place. Click here to view the Life Documents Organizer Kit.
Smead also offers an All-in-One Emergency Planning Organizer and a Healthcare & Wellness Organizer.
Remember it is never too soon to organize the most essential information in your life.
How often have you been engaged in a household project and had a "near miss" and thought "wow, that was lucky"? Or maybe you injured yourself swearing that next time you will be more careful?
About a week ago, I was so honored that one of my dear friends told me that I inspired her to organize her garage. I know that this was on her to do list for many months. She was awaiting nice weather since she planned to unload most of the contents onto her driveway and front yard to fully assess what she has and what she still needs.
Fast forward to a few days into her project, a hanging bike fell on her head. Now she is nursing a concussion and a week long headache.
If heavy objects are hung, please ensure that they are secure and use caution when taking them down.
Store hazardous materials in their original packaging or if repackaged be certain that the packaging is well-marked (draw skulls and crossbones if necessary) and its composition is appropriate for the contents. Follow manufacturer's use and disposal directions.
Place sharp objects inside heavy-duty sleeves or wrap. Be vigilant regarding the things you grab especially if you are removing items from dark cupboards recesses.
Finally, ask for assistance from a friend, neighbor, or handy person if you need an extra hand.
It is unlikely that my friend would have considered wearing a helmet while working, although she is now wishing she had. She also regrets not asking someone to assist her with retrieving the bike. She is very lucky that she was able to phone for help as she was alone and that her injuries were not more severe.
Like any household project, there are inherent risks in just about anything we do. In situations with heavy, sharp, or hazardous materials wear solid shoes, protective clothing, eye and head gear, gloves, and/or a respiratory mask if necessary.
Bottom line, be mindful and please proceed with caution with any project no matter how small even cooking and cleaning. You will thank yourself in the end.
Take a Walk
This might sound like a strange practical tip of the week, but there are several logical reasons behind it.
While the weather is glorious, particularly in the early mornings here in Portland, it is the perfect time to exercise, meditate, and enjoy the remarkable Pacific Northwest scenery.
A lengthy walk with a brisk stride will help you to:
Strengthen and tone your body
Maintain your weight
Potentially prevent a variety of cardio-vascular medical conditions, dementia, diabetes and even erectile dysfunction according to Harvard Medical School*
Improve balance and coordination
Allow you time to reflect
Regulate your mood and release mental baggage
Boost Vitamin D
Increase circulation and oxygen intake to boost energy levels
How does any of this apply to organizing your space? Your physical and mental fitness play a role in how you maintain your personal surroundings. Face it, if you are feeling unwell, unmotivated, angry, listless, etc., you are unlikely to have the physical or emotional capacity to care about or care for your home.
Walking requires no special sports equipment except a good pair of walking shoes and perhaps a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a phone in case of emergency so it is an economic way to exercise. Warm up before you pick up the pace and cool down at the end. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings. Take along a friend if you feel uncomfortable heading out alone. In fact, a buddy system is a great way to sustain accountability.
So set aside at least 30 minutes in your day as a gift to yourself. Enjoy the magnificent beauty of this city, inhale deep cleansing breaths, and walk your way to optimal physical and mental health. Then return ready to tackle the rest of your daily regimen including maintaining your home.
A Time Out for Gratitude
Take some time every day to be thankful rather than saving it up for one day a year. Find a few minutes to be alone. Inhale deeply from your toes to the top of your head and slowly breathe out as you contemplate all of the blessings in your life. Feel the tingling begin and enjoy this brief relaxation. Great for your mind and your body.
Dry, chapped hands during the winter? Add a few drops of a light oil such as Apricot Kernel, Jojoba, Almond, etc. to your hand and body soaps for additional moisture without having to remember to reapply lotion each time your wash.
After a power outage this morning, my garage door refused to work once the power was restored. Fortunately I stumbled upon a solution by engaging a small piece of metal back into its proper location in the manual pull. Yay, I saved myself a few hundred dollars for a service call and appointment downtime.
What does this have to do with coconut oil? After I patted myself on the back (fortunately figuratively), I noticed my hands were coated in grease. Soap and water were fairly useless in getting them clean.
Enter the coconut oil which I rubbed onto my hands then wiped them with an old rag. Voila, this eliminated the grease except under my nails. I inserted some underneath, and a good bit of the grease is now gone. When I have time, I will take another stab at thoroughly cleaning my nails. At least my hands are clean and moisturized.
I use coconut oil regularly, and I find it difficult to get the last bits out of the jars. Since the oil is pricey, I like to use every drop. So, I keep the nearly empty bottle near my kitchen sink for easy access when my hands need moisturizing. I wiggle my hand inside the jar coating it to get just enough to rub on both hands. Once the jar is fully clean, it gets recycled.
There are lots of websites that tout the many wonders of coconut oil such as The Ultimate Guide to Scientifically-Backed Coconut Oil Uses and 50 Ways to Use Coconut Oil. Please consult your health practitioner before engaging in any new health regimens.
Put One Foot in Front of the Other
A few months back, I wrote a blog about Baby Steps. In fact it may have been The Practical Sort's first blog. Every once in a while, we need to be reminded that baby steps can often lead to great strides. When we were toddlers taking our first steps without any inhibitions or fears, we slowly learned to put one foot in front of the other. Without realizing the enormity of our accomplishment, we ambled along discovering our world and overcoming challenges that a few weeks or even days before were unthinkable hurdles. As adults, we still have mountains to climb, obstacles to clear and so much yet to learn. I am frequently guilty of wanting to learn everything at once and finish tasks immediately setting myself up for frustration. I see it in my clients all the time. So, baby steps got us to where we are today and they will get us where we need to go tomorrow. BABY STEPS!
Some of you may recall this tip from last year. I think it is worth repeating for the parents who are sending their children to college for the first time or who may have missed this post previously.
Be sure to have your son or daughter sign a HIPAA release form. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This gives you rights over your health information, including the right to get a copy of your information, make sure it is correct, and know who has seen it. You may have signed HIPAA documents at your own practitioners' offices.
If your child is 18 or older and becomes sick or injured while away, you will want to be able to obtain information about their condition, assist with insurance claims, etc.
When they arrive on campus, it is advisable that they give a copy to the school's health clinic to keep on file. Keep a copy for your own records so that you can scan or fax if necessary.
Click here for a link to a sample form. Your child's campus might have their own release of authorization form to be completed, so check with campus health services. They will likely need a copy of your child's ID to prove their identity.
Do this for your own peace of mind.
Oregon's new driving law took effect today as part of House bill 2597. It is designed to close loopholes in the earlier distracted driver bill that did not specify prohibiting the use of phones or any electronic devices for entertainment or programming navigation apps while driving. This new law prohibits the use of any functions that require holding or touching the phone. Activating or deactivating a function that requires a single swipe appears to be permissible as well as mounted electronic devices.
As long as both hands are on the wheel, music and apps are allowed.
Be aware that using the phone at red lights, stop signs, or in traffic is a no-no. You are advised to pull over to a safe location before using your phone for any reason.
An exception is 911 Emergency calls for reporting emergency situations if there is no one else in the car capable of placing the call. Emergency responders are also allowed cell phone use when reacting to an emergency call even if they are in their personal vehicles.
This new law imposes larger fines and 6 months jail time for a third violation within a 10 year period.
Judges will have the option of waiving a first offense violation beginning in January; however, the offense will remain on your driving record.
So folks, play it safe. Put the phones and other electronic devices away until you reach your destination or a safe area.