Article by Lynn Redmile, Carolyn Forte, Good Housekeeping Institute
In an effort to keep your family healthy overall, it’s smart to ramp up your cleaning routine now, especially when family members are spending more time at home. Here are some tips and common household items that the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab recommends you include in your cleaning routine.
Check out all the items on the GHI list of things to clean, and how to clean them at:
Self-quarantine wasn’t on your bucket list. But here are activities you can try.
Source: L N/Unsplash
Here are a few things to consider. If you’re not in self-quarantine or isolation, you should seriously consider it. Transmission of the coronavirus is breathtakingly easy, and some medical experts say that the virus can survive on surfaces for up to three days. It needs to be left alone three days to start breaking down without disinfecting measures. This is why it’s important to not provide coronavirus “a ride” to its next vacation destination.
Eight things to do while you are in quarantine or self-isolation:
Go outside and walk a lot.
Source: patrick hendry/Unsplash
Phone a friend. There used to be a Bell telephone commercial jingle, “Reach out and touch someone.” (Hey, it was right after the swinging ‘70s). Instead of that, I’m recommending that you call, text, FaceTime, or Zoom someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. I texted a high school friend yesterday and the jokes picked up where they left off (he’s the one responsible for toilet paper being in such short supply). Think of this as a great opportunity to reconnect.
Work out at home. Can’t go to the gym? Cycle, and do calf extensions on the steps, and pushups and planks like there’s no tomorrow. I already met my fitness goals for 2020, but I guess I’ll be able to maintain them now, too.
Read five books that you’ve intended to but just didn’t have time. There’s enough time now. Just don’t break your reading glasses, unless you have a backup pair.
Find substitute TV programming now that all sports are suspended until further notice. Catch up on three, four, or more great shows that your friends have highly recommended. I hear The Good Place is worth a look. I haven’t seen it, but it’s on my watch list. If you’re into sci-fi/supernatural shows? Watch The Expanse (Amazon), The Outsider (HBO), and I Am Not Okay With This (NetFlix). Trust me now, and thank me later. (Have you seen Fleabag? Go to my analysis here to see if you’re up to it).
Write a poem or a Great American Novel. Tap your muse. In addition to blog posts, I plan to complete a book proposal and finish my second novel, if two weeks go to six, eight, or more.
Commune with nature. Walk around outside in the sun at a healthy distance from other humans (trails, forests, etc.). (I discussed the issue with a veterinarian, and there is not yet evidence that the next-door neighbour’s adorable pug can become infected with coronavirus). Exercise and naturally forming Vitamin D? What could be better?
Cook. Make a great YouTube recipe reality and create a meal to be proud of. It’s a good idea to stock up on pasta, rice, canned vegetables, and spices so that more recipes are within reach.
Start a betting pool on how much of a baby boom there’ll be due to all of this time on our hands with nothing else to do. It may put the spike from the Blizzard of ’78 to shame. Some of you may contribute to that boom. And why not? As long as neither of you tests positive (for anything), there are lots of good reasons to do it. Check out some of them here and here.
If self-quarantine doesn’t appeal to you, some of these activities can hopefully make it more tolerable.
The word gym always conjures images of rows of machines, weight areas, loud pumping music that interrupts your ability to think and uncomfortable crowding. Luckily, a home gym doesn’t have to incorporate all of that and with a few choice pieces of equipment and a dedicated area of your own within your home, you can have your own personal fitness area that allows you to train whenever you like – without having to clean equipment and worry about what you’re touching.
While you might be thinking – how could I possible afford to set up my own home gym – it doesn’t have to break the bank and in fact, is something you can gradually grow and develop over time by adding extra pieces and upgrading equipment, once you have the funds available. To get you started and inspired, here are some budget ways to start building your own home gym and getting into a good habit, without the need to start selling off your treasured belongings;
Start with the Basics
You don’t need a state-of-the-art treadmill or exercise bike to get you started, but simply the motivation to be healthy and improve yourself and your fitness levels. A skipping rope, soft mat (like a yoga mat) and a weight set can see you successfully work each muscle group and can all be picked up for relatively cheap with little variation between quality and cheaper options.
Once you’ve got a basic area set up, add a jar or pot to your fitness room or home gym space and every time you use the space put in between $1-$5 (or equivariant in your local currency) into the jar. Once you’ve formed a habit, you’ll soon notice your money-pot begin to fill up and this can be put towards upgrading or improving your equipment when you feel like a challenge. This can be motivation to get you to use your gym space more when the jar is looking low and can be a handy place to throw any loose change before you begin your fitness routine.
Avoid State-of-the-Art Equipment
Top tier gym equipment is expensive, but it is also designed for constant use by a continuously revolving door of gym attendees – the average home gym (unless being attended by half the neighborhood) does not need to include top of the line fitness or gym equipment. You don’t have to pay the prices expected of new quality equipment either and can save yourself a lot by investing in second-hand or refurbished equipment. Advanced or brand-new equipment is nice to look at but can often have a higher learning curve as it includes a whole host of bells and whistles that aren’t going to apply to the average gym user. Not only that, but a much smaller pool of gym-goers would have used or had access to the equipment, making it difficult to choose equipment based on actual user feedback.
As with any large purchase, do your research before putting down the investment – you might find that feedback hasn’t been positive, or the costs of maintenance and repairs outweighs all benefits gained from owning a high-tech piece of equipment.
Split it with a Buddy
Do you have a gym buddy or family member that you often attend the gym with? Why not invest in a home gym together, while it will need to be at one of your houses – depending on who has the space available – it can make it much easier to provide a comprehensive fitness area when you’ve got a bit more capital to play with. Plus, having someone to work out with routinely is always more motivating than trying to get into the right mindset by yourself.
The Benefits of a Home Gym
You might be wondering why you’d want to have a home gym rather than go out to a gym which already has a range of professional equipment and personal trainers available. The reality is, on average, gym goers spend $58 each month alone on gym memberships and that’s not counting the travel, clothing, supplements and additional trainer costs that accompany it. With all the additions, it’s estimated that gym users spend up to $155 a month on using their gym. That’s quite a high number. In comparison, if you were to create a home gym for less than $1000 – you’d be saving money after 7 months.
Not only is it cheaper, but without so many other gym users around, you can work out comfortably without worrying about who is waiting for your machine. No gross equipment wipe downs and you can listen to the music you like, rather than having to put up with the almost unbearable monotonous bass beat that accompanies professional gyms.
You’ll also spend less on supplements as you have easy access to your home foods and kitchen to prepare a healthy post-workout meal or snack and the benefit of no longer having to put up with gym locker and changing rooms.
Whether it’s something you aspire to or has been on your mind for a while, a home gym can make all the difference to your work-out routine, inspiring you to enjoy working out and making it easy to form long-lasting positive fitness habits. Explore the possibility of a home gym for yourself today!
Microwaving food is one of life’s simple pleasures: chuck in some cold food and in two minutes you have yourself a hot, tasty meal. It’s magic, really. In saying this, we often mostly microwave food oh-so-badly — dangerously, even. We’re looking at you, people who don’t cover their food.
Cover EVERYTHING, people !
Photo by GK Hart/Vicky Hart
Now for some safety tips from HuffPost Australia:
1. Don’t use metal bowls or utensils
“Don’t put metal in the microwave. It’s really not a hot idea as it tends to shield and spark,” Williams said.
“Metal containers are bad. Glass and ceramic are probably the best things to microwave food in. Plastic is fine if it’s suitable for the microwave.”
2. Do use glass, ceramic or microwave safe plastic containers
“Some people don’t like putting food into plastic containers as chemicals can leach into the food, and food can leach into the plastic, depending on the plastic it is,” Williams said.
“You’ll notice this when you have a bolognese which stains the plastic, whereas this won’t happen with glass and ceramic as they are neutral, so there’s no likelihood of them leaching chemicals into the food.”
This being said, many plastic containers are designed to be microwaved, so always check the container.
“Microwavable plastic can work well. Always check the bottom of the container to see if it’s actually microwavable and opt for a BPA-free container,” Williams said.
3. Don’t cook all foods for the same time
“It’s really hard to put times on foods because different foods are going to heat in different ways,” Williams told HuffPost Australia. “The more dense a food is, the more different it will heat compared to something that has more liquid in it.”
Microwaving a solid, more dense food such as a steak or potato is going to heat very differently to a soup or stew.
“A soup is going to heat up a lot quicker, but it will also lose its heat more quickly,” Williams said. “Something dense like a steak or potato will heat up slower, but will also hold their heat a little bit longer.”
4. Do stir food occasionally
A microwave needs a turning table so that the waves reach all sections of the food. Even so, when microwaving food, often not all parts will be heated thoroughly.
“Because of those bands and the fact that the product is being turned through those, you’re not going to get consistent heating with microwaves compared to the oven or hot plate,” Williams explained.
“You need to stir the food to spread the heat. Open it up and give it a stir to make sure it’s heated thoroughly throughout.”
5. Do heat it until bubbling and/or steaming
“You should always be heating up your food to at least 75 degrees Celsius,” Williams said.
“To do this, you need to make sure that you put it in a shallow dish, in the microwave on ‘high’ and give it 2-3 minutes (depending on what it is).
“Then you actually check it halfway to give it a good stir because you’ll find you’ve got hot spots. If it isn’t bubbling, put it back in.
“With anything that’s got liquid, you’re looking for a good bubble — that way you’re making sure it’s at least 75 degrees. And when you open the container, you want to see steam coming off it.”
6. Don’t microwave food uncovered
Don’t be that person at work who doesn’t cover their food when microwaving, resulting in a bolognese explosion (and then doesn’t clean it, GEEZ). Please cover the damn thing.
“Having it uncovered — particularly if there’s fat or liquid in there — means it can tend to explode,” Williams said.
“I would cover anything in the microwave, even if it’s just using paper towel. That stops it from splattering all over your microwave.”
7. Do clean it often
“You need to make sure your microwave is kept clean,” Williams said.
Have a look in the microwave — not just along the sides and the bottom but on the top surface. If there are bits of food there, it could drop back into your food the next time you microwave something.
“The best way to clean a microwave — in fact, all food contact surfaces — is simply good detergent, a clean cloth (don’t reuse a damp, dirty cloth!) and hot water,” Williams said.
“There’s no point in cleaning something with a cloth that’s dirty. I’d honestly say, instead of using cloths, use recyclable paper towels. Tea towels are okay, but only if you use them once.”
8. Don’t thaw meat
“Solids foods are going to partially cook in the microwave, so I would suggest with foods like meats, to not put them in the microwave,” Williams told HuffPost Australia.
“If you know you’re going to make steak tomorrow night, get it out in morning, put it in a covered container in the bottom of your fridge and it will be pretty close to ready to use.
“For thawing liquid-containing meals like stews and soups, microwave it, give it a stir at half way and thaw and cook it completely.”
9. Do check on your food frequently
As different foods heat differently, it’s important to check your meal while it’s cooking. That’s right, those poached eggs will not cook the same as your pumpkin soup.
“I often have curries with papadums, but papadums have no moisture. These dry types of foods will become very quickly ruined in the microwave, so you only give those short periods of heating time,” Williams said.
“Also, for eggs, they will explode so you do need to cover them.”
10. Do remember the golden rule(s)
“Microwaving is all about making sure you keep stirring, heating it consistently all the way through and heating to at least 75 degrees, and that the food is bubbling or steaming,” Williams said.
“And cover everything you put in the microwave and keep your microwave clean.”