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10 Simple Things to Make You Happier At Home

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:51 pm    Post subject: 10 Simple Things to Make You Happier At Home Reply with quote

10 Simple Things to Make You Happier At Home

Apartment Therapy / Jackie Ashton

Our homes are an extension of who we are: what we do within the walls of our abodes shapes our mood, affects our productivity, and influences our outlook on life. Scientific studies have shown that we can have an impact on our happiness by adjusting the tiny little habits and routines that constitute our daily lives—we are, in fact, in control of our outlook on life.

It’s amazing how a few tweaks to our daily habits can become a catalyst for meaningful, positive change. Here are a few simple things you can do every day to feel happier at home.

1. Make Your Bed

I explained previously the many benefits of daily bed-making. Gretchen Rubin, New York Times best-selling author of The Happiness Project, explains that this three minute task is one of the simplest habits you can adopt to positively impact your happiness.

House Tour: A Renovated House in Maine Inspired by the Atlantic Ocean. Photo by Justin Levesque

2. Bring Every Room Back to “Ready”

I learned this trick from Marilyn Paul’s clever book, It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys. It’s a known fact: Clutter causes stress; order creates a haven from it. This mood-boosting routine is simple: Take about three minutes to bring each room back to “ready” before you depart it. (Unless you have a toddler, or a partner who likes to simulate earthquakes, three minutes should be sufficient.)

3. Display Sentimental Items Around Your Home

One reason that experiences (and memories of those experiences) make us happier than material things is due to the entire cycle of enjoyment that experiences provide: planning the experience, looking forward to the experience, enjoying the experience, and then remembering the experience. Make your home a gallery of positive memories.

4. Start a One-Line-A-Day Gratitude Journal

Before bed, simply jot down one happy memory from that day. (If you have kids, you can ask them, “What was the best part of today?”) Reflection is an important part of happiness, and pausing to reflect on a positive event from each day cultivates gratitude. (An added bonus: Later, when your memory is defunct, you will already have all of your meaningful adventures recorded!) If you have trouble getting started with journaling, consider buying a book to guide you. Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, is a great one.

5. If You Can’t Get Out of It, Get Into It

This tip comes from The Happiness Project. I love the message: The dishes are not going to clean themselves, so you will do it, and you will like it. (Unless, of course, you can outsource this job, in which case I say: Nice work!) Otherwise, get into doing the dishes. Feel the soothing warm water on your hands. Enjoy the tickle of the tiny bubbles. Crank your favorite album at an unusually loud volume, do a couple fist-pumps while shouting “Can I get a hell yeah for the dishes? Hell! Yeah!” and pretend you love it.

6. Before You Get up Each Morning, Set an Intent for the Day

In The Art of Happiness, the Dali Lama says “”Every day, think as you wake up: today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” Wow. What a wise man. I tend to wake up with a strong visceral reaction that says, “Attention human beings: Be afraid of me before coffee. Be very afraid!” Setting a daily intent makes a huge difference. Your daily intent could be something like “be productive” or “enjoy today’s delicious moments” or it could be something more specific like “say thank you to my loved ones today.” But it should not be another “to do” item on your list.

7. Do Small Favors for Your Housemates, Expecting Nothing in Return

That’s right, I said it: Nothing! Not even a thank you! Mow the lawn for your husband, but don’t expect him to pat you on the back. Make the bed for your wife, but don’t try to get bonus points for it. Take the trash out for your roommate, just because. The ability to cultivate strong, healthy relationships is one of the biggest contributors to health and happiness, but when you start to keep score, the benefit is lost. (No! It’s YOUR turn to clean up the dog poop!) It’s a well-known fact: When you do good, you feel good.

8. Call at Least One Friend or Family Member a Day

You can do this while you clean, while you make the bed, or while you walk the dog. Texts and emails do not count! Make an actual phone call to a loved one, just to chat and catch up. We humans are social beings and studies show that even when we don’t feel like it, even if we are naturally introverted, socializing with our loved ones makes us feel better.

9. Spend Money on Things That Cultivate Experiences at Home

Save money for a new grill for parties or a new DVD for family movie night — something that will encourage you to have people over and entertain. Plan a summer barbeque, invite your closest friends, kick back and relax. (And don’t forget to print out the pictures to remember the good times.)

10. Spend a Few Minutes Each Day Connecting With Something Greater Than Yourself

Whatever your spiritual beliefs — or non-beliefs — may be, studies show that connecting to a high power is correlated with happiness. Just stepping back to realize that we are part of an enormous universe can put some perspective on your annoyance with the those-are-definitely-not-mine-and-they-are-abso-fricking-lutely-repulsive socks under the coffee table. Before bed, spend just a few minutes contemplating something larger than yourself. Take a walk in nature. Write in a journal. Create a sacred space in your home. (Or if spirituality is really not your thing, create a home spa: light some candles, soak in a hot bath, delve into a good book… are you feeling better yet?)
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:09 pm    Post subject: How To Roast Any Vegetable Reply with quote

How To Roast Any Vegetable

They taste great and there’s no recipe required.

The Kitchn / Emma Christensen

I am a firm believer in the power of a roasted vegetable. Not only can virtually every vegetable be cooked in this way — no recipe required — but roasted vegetables are also universally pleasurable to eat. Have a picky eater in the house? Want a break from your usual steamed veggie side dish? Try roasting your broccoli or green beans or cauliflower tonight. I think you’re in for a treat.

What Vegetables to Roast

Root vegetables — like potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and carrots — are old standbys when it comes to roasting, of course, but take a look through your crisper drawer and you’ll find all sorts of roasting candidates — from crucifers like broccoli and Brussels sprouts to surprises like zucchini, onions, bell peppers, and cabbage. Even tomatoes can be roasted.

If you’re not sure if a particular vegetable can be roasted, my recommendation is to just give it a try. It might not end up being your favorite way to eat that vegetable, but it’s definitely worth the experiment to find out.

Don’t Skimp on the Oil

Once you’ve cut your vegetables down into bite-sized pieces, toss them with some good-tasting oil. Use enough to give the vegetables a slick, glossy coating, but not so much that you have puddles in the bottom of your bowl — a tablespoon or two will usually get the job done. Not only does the oil help the vegetables cook more evenly and crisp up in the oven, but it also adds a rich flavor that makes roasted vegetables irresistible.

I usually use a mild olive oil when roasting vegetables, but you could also use coconut oil, avocado oil, or any other oil you like to use. Also, I usually toss the vegetables with my hands so I can rub the oil into the vegetables and make sure they’re evenly coated.

Last but not least, toss your vegetables with some salt. You can add black pepper or any other seasonings, as well. Again, be generous, but not excessive — add enough salt and other seasonings so that each piece of vegetable gets a little.

Give the Vegetables Space (More than You Think!)

Spread the vegetables out onto a baking sheet. You want to see a bit of space around the veggies — don’t be afraid to split them between two baking sheets if you need to. Crowding will make the vegetables steam instead of roast, and that’s the opposite of what we’re going for.

Also, make sure your oven is good and hot before you put the vegetables in to roast. I think around 425°F is ideal for roasting most vegetables, although you can adjust up or down as you prefer.

Roast Until You See Toast

Roast until the vegetables are tender enough to pierce with a fork and you see some charred bits on the edges. Softer vegetables cook more quickly, while harder vegetables like potatoes will cook more slowly. Smaller pieces will also cook more quickly than larger pieces. If you’re roasting a new-to-you vegetable, start checking after about 15 minutes, and keep roasting until you see charred bits.

Those charred bits are what make roasted vegetables so good, so even if the vegetables are already tender and cooked through, keep roasting until you see the vegetables start to turn toasty around the tips and edges. If in doubt, roast an extra five or 10 minutes — it’s unlikely the extra roasting will hurt, and very likely that your vegetable will be even tastier.

3 Ways to Roast Mixed Vegetables

If you’d like to make a mixed-vegetable side dish, you have three options.

Roast vegetables individually: First, and easiest, you can roast the individual vegetables on separate trays and combine them after roasting. This lets you monitor how quickly each vegetable is cooking and pull each vegetable from the oven as it’s done.
Pair “vegetable friends”: Second, you can pair together “vegetable friends” — ones that roast at roughly the same rate. For instance, you could roast cauliflower and broccoli together, or butternut squash with potatoes. Combine these on the same baking sheet and roast them together. If the baking sheet is getting crowded, split them between two sheets.
Roast in stages: Third, you can add different vegetables to the baking sheet in stages — start roasting the hardest, longest-cooking vegetables first, and then add softer, quicker-cooking vegetables later on. If the baking sheet starts to get full, split the vegetables between two pans so you don’t crowd them. Aim to have all the vegetables finish roasting around the same time, and remember: A little extra roasting time is unlikely to hurt.

General Roasting Times for Vegetables

Cooking times are for roasting vegetables at 425°F.

Root vegetables (beets, potatoes, carrots): 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how small you cut them
Winter squash (butternut squash, acorn squash): 20 to 60 minutes, depending on how small you cut them
Crucifers (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts): 15 to 25 minutes
Soft vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers): 10 to 20 minutes
Thin vegetables (asparagus, green beans): 10 to 20 minutes
Onions: 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how crispy you like them
Tomatoes: 15 to 20 minutes

How To Roast Any Vegetable

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

1 to 2 pounds any vegetables
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 425°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Meanwhile, prep the vegetables.

Chop up the vegetables. Peel the vegetables if desired, then cut into uniform pieces so they cook evenly. Smaller pieces will cook more quickly; larger pieces will take a bit longer to cook. If your vegetables still have some moisture after washing, be sure to pat them as dry as possible; the drier the vegetable, the better it will roast.

Toss the vegetables with olive oil and season. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl. Add the oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Add more oil if the vegetables still look dry or don't seem evenly coated.

Spread onto a baking sheet. Spread the vegetables out on a rimmed baking sheet, in an oven-proof skillet, or in a baking dish. Make sure they are in a single layer with a little space in between. If they are too crowded, the vegetables will steam instead of roast -- use 2 baking sheets if needed instead.

Estimate your cooking time. In general, softer vegetables, like green beans and cauliflower, will cook in 10 to 20 minutes, and tough, hard vegetables, like winter squash and potatoes, will take 30 minutes or longer. Large pieces will also take longer to cook than smaller pieces.

Roast the vegetables until tender. Place the vegetables in the oven and begin roasting. Check and stir the vegetables every 10 to 15 minutes. Continue roasting until the vegetables are easily pierced with a fork or knife and they are showing crispy, charred bits at the tips and edges.

Serve. Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish and taste; sprinkle with more salt or pepper if needed.

Recipe Notes

Roasting mixed vegetables together: You can roast different vegetables on separate trays and combine them after roasting, or you can cook them all on one baking sheet. If cooking on one baking sheet, start cooking the toughest, longest-cooking vegetables first and add the other vegetables later according to their estimated cooking time. For instance, start roasting potatoes for 30 minutes, and then add green beans for the last 15 to 20 minutes of roasting. Be careful not to crowd the pan, or the vegetables will steam instead of roast.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Emma Christensen is a former editor for The Kitchn and a graduate of the Cambridge School for Culinary Arts. She is the author of True Brews and Brew Better Beer. Check out her website for more cooking stories.

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn and was published December 19, 2019.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:11 pm    Post subject: Great Time to Try: Pickling Reply with quote

Great Time to Try: Pickling

Humans have been pickling for at least 4,000 years. Maybe it’s time you gave it a try.

The Conversation / Donna Lee Brien

Pickling foods in vinegar or fermenting them in brine is one of the oldest food preservation methods. The earliest archeological evidence comes from Ancient Mesopotania and the Tigris River Valley more than 4,000 years ago.

Pre-refrigeration, pickling allowed vegetables and fruits to be eaten long after they were in season, and meats such as salt pork to be carried on long journeys and into wars. Pickling soon spread around the world: pickles are mentioned by Aristotle, in the Bible and in Shakespeare’s plays. Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I were prominent proponents of their health properties.

The wide adoption of electrical refrigeration in the 20th century meant pickling was no longer necessary for preserving food, but by then pickles were appreciated for their taste, and so the method has lasted.

The 1893 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Every-day Cookery and Housekeeping Book has a number of inspiring and achievable recipes ranging from gherkins and herrings to nasturtiums as an alternative to capers.

Mrs Beeton also includes a warning against purchasing “inferior” commercially produced pickles, as copper sulphate was used to give a vivid, but unfortunately quite toxic, colour. Anxiety over food adulteration reached dizzying heights in the Victorian age, with dangerous and even poisonous substances added to foods to enhance colour and flavour, or eke out more expensive ingredients.

The Country Women’s Association Cookery Book from 1936 compiles “tried-and-true” members’ recipes, with a pickled beetroot recipe using a thin layer of melted fat to form an airtight seal on the cooled jar. Such vacuum sealing was essential for unrefrigerated storage.

In New Zealand, the 1968 edition of The Aunt Daisy Cookbook contains an entire chapter on pickles and chutney, including pickled figs, peaches and pears. One recipe suggests steeping blackberries in sugar overnight, boiling in vinegar, then spicing with ground ginger and allspice.

Reflecting Australians’ increasing interest in other cuisines, Margaret Fulton’s Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery (1983) used a number of Asian flavours, such as her curried aubergine pickle with fresh ginger and chilli. Fulton was also aware of how pickling can turn waste destined for the green bin or compost into a crunchy condiment, as in her recipe for pickled watermelon rind.

Easy Recipes to Try at Home

Almost Instant Cucumber Pickle

“Quick” or “refrigerator” pickles provide an easy way into pickling. The below is barely a recipe, but it is both reliable and totally adjustable to taste.

1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider, white wine or rice)
1 tablespoon cold water
2 teaspoons sugar (white, raw or soft brown)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cucumber, washed (peeled, or not, depending on variety)

Mix vinegar and water in a bowl, and stir in sugar and salt until dissolved.

Thinly slice in the cucumber. Stir gently.

An even more instant result is obtained by marinating the cucumber slices in some liquid from a jar of pickles.

Finely chopped dill, mint or chives can be added. More (or less) vinegar, water, sugar or salt can be used to taste.

This can be made during the day and refrigerated, covered, until dinner, or assembled while the rest of the meal is being prepared. Drained, these crunchy slices can be used on burgers and in sandwiches and salads, or just enjoyed on their own. They can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but become softer.

This is also a delicious way of pickling a thinly sliced red onion. When left for a couple of hours, it emerges from the solution not only soft and sweet, but a gorgeous pink.

Cauliflower Pickle

This recipe adapts elements from Aunt Daisy and Margaret Fulton. It requires some patience waiting for the flavours to develop, but not too long. Nervous about food hygiene, I keep this in the refrigerator.

1 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
1 onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges (about a cup)
⅓ cup salt
5 cups vinegar (white)
¾ cup sugar (white or raw) or ½ cup golden syrup
1 teaspoon turmeric
1½ tablespoons mustard seeds (or coriander seeds, or a mixture)
2 red chillies, halved lengthwise
glass jars with plastic-plated lids (I reuse medium-sized, 450g pickle jars)

Put cauliflower and onion in a large non-reactive glass or stainless-steel bowl.

Sprinkle with salt, stir a few times and leave in a cool place for three hours.

Wash glass jars and their lids in hot, soapy water. Rinse and place in a warm oven, about 140°C to sterilise.

Drain vegetables.

Mix vinegar, sugar or syrup, turmeric, seeds and chilli, and bring to the boil.

Add vegetables and cook gently for about 5 minutes. This depends on the size of the florets. They need to be just cooked through, not mushy.

Using a slotted spoon or soup ladle, put vegetables (not liquid) into hot jars.

Bring spiced vinegar up to the boil again and pour into jars to cover the cauliflower and onion.

Seal the jars. Let cool and then store in refrigerator for at least a week.

This makes about three jars, depending on the size of the cauliflower, onion and jars.

Donna Lee Brien is Professor of Creative Industries (Creative Writing) at CQUniversity Australia.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How to Stop Wasting Your Life Watching TV and Do Something Worthwhile With Your Downtime

With a busy life, chances are you only have an hour or two of free time each night. Here’s how to make the most of it.

Fast Company / Elizabeth Grace Saunders

You get home from work, eat dinner, clean up, flop on the couch, and doze off watching TV or mess with your phone. Then you repeat the same routine Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Before you know it, you’ve hit the weekend, and it felt like all you did all week was work.

In reality, you had an hour or two to do whatever you wanted each night. But because you didn’t consciously invest that time in meaningful or satisfying activities, every day felt like a grind.

So how do you shake up this routine and begin to invest your time in activities that truly satisfy and refresh you?

As a time management coach, I’ve seen that these five strategies can help you feel like you have more free time and feel happier with how you invest it.

Plan Your Downtime in Advance

Making a positive choice on what to do in the evening is really difficult when you already feel drained. A better option is to think ahead about your free time. That could include scheduling a dinner out, time to cook, a visit to the gym, or an opportunity to review your retirement accounts. If you’ll need to coordinate with others, I recommend scheduling events at least a few days in advance, for example, reaching out on Wednesday or Thursday for weekend plans. You may even want to put a recurring reminder in your calendar on Wednesdays to prompt you to think about the weekend. And for solo activities, such as reading or getting something done around your home, some conscious thinking even the morning of can better your chances of a good evening. For instance, on your way to work, you may decide that tonight you’ll go on a hike or finally tackle some outstanding bills.

Prep for Action

Since free time is so limited, it’s essential that you prep in advance to take full advantage of your time. That could mean packing a gym bag so you can go straight from work to the gym, writing up a list of errands to run so that you can zip out at the end of the day and get right to them, or setting out what you’ll need to work on a home project later that evening. Teeing yourself up the night before lowers the chances of inaction and also incentivizes you to leave work on time. When you have a higher level of consciousness, you are aware that extra time in the office means less time for whatever else you want to do, so you have motivation to leave.

Do What Satisfies

Not all activities will equally benefit your life. Watching TV or scrolling on your phone isn’t intrinsically bad or wrong, but these activities won’t produce the mood-enhancing brain chemicals that the most effective stress-relief strategies can. The best activities include exercising or playing sports, attending a religious service, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going for a walk, meditating, yoga, or hobbies.

Each person has slightly different preferences, so make a list of the specific activities that make you most happy. For example, if you’re extroverted, that might include getting out and around people as much as possible, whereas an introvert might need more solo activities. Then try to get some of them in each week. Maybe your list includes playing soccer, going on walks, reading, and spending time with your significant other. Clarity on what you want to do makes it easier to make those activities a priority.
Double the Benefit

A simple way to multiply the benefit of your precious free time is to layer activities. For example, go on a walk with a friend, or work on a creative hobby with your significant other—either doing the same activity or being in the same room. One thing I discovered about myself in the last few years is that I would rather meet socially for a hike than drinks or dinner. So now, when friends suggest getting together, I try to steer us toward an outdoor activity. That way I get in social time and do something that refreshes me on a deep level.

Increase Your Sense of Time

Another little trick to give yourself the sense that you have more free time is to do more than one activity in an evening. For example, instead of just working out, also take 10-15 minutes to read, or instead of just going out for dinner, also sort the mail. I don’t recommend packing your free time too tightly. But by doing multiple activities in one evening, it makes you feel like you experienced more within the same amount of time.

Can you watch TV at night? Absolutely. I’m not suggesting that you must ban yourself from all electronic devices in the evening. But you should consider a more intentional approach to your free time. Some small tweaks to how you spend it can make a huge impact to the sense that you have free time, your overall energy levels, and your satisfaction with life in general.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the author of Divine Time Management and How to Invest Your Time Like Money, and a time management coach. Find out more at

Last edited by Info on Tue Nov 02, 2021 11:20 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2020 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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