Archive for January, 2008

The Best Hot Chocolate in New York

Posted on January 28, 2008. Filed under: Things to Do, Westchester | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Monday is about Things to Do

Photos by Annechocolate.jpg
I love chocolate. There is simply no other way to put it. Not just the kind of chocolate you can buy in a candy store, but the rich dark chocolate that has flavor nuances like good wines. Chocolate that is rich and fulfilling so all you need is a small amount to be satisfied. Chocolate that is diluted with very little milk, and not too much sugar, but is as pure as possible. I am the type who makes an annual pilgrimage to the New York Chocolate Show. I simply love chocolate. So when I recently saw a video on the NYTimes webpage about the Best Hot Chocolate in New York, I knew immediately that I would have to try all of these places.

Being such an avid (or perhaps rabid) chocolate fan, I was already familiar with the Jacques Torres chocolate shop mentioned in the video. It is one of my “must go to” places when I visit friends in Brooklyn. His hot chocolate is certainly one of the best. It is rich and complex, thick and satisfying. Plus he offers two versions: a regular and one that is spicy and pays homage to the Mexican roots of this drink. The biggest plus to his chocolate, is you can buy a can of the mixture (but be prepared for sticker shock) to make your own hot chocolate at home.

Wanting to try something new, I decided to go The City Bakery on 18th street to taste their version. Bottom line: it’s great! Their hot chocolate is definitely made from a mixture of chocolate that is melted down and diluted with milk to form a thick and satisfying drink. It is very, very rich and heavy, but in a good “chocolate satisfaction” way. They have been able to strike the right balance of intense chocolate flavor, without too much sugar which can make it too cloying, or too much milk which can dilute the flavor. Interestingly, the chocolate was not too hot, so it’s savoring the flavor that makes you sip it, rather than the heat. The picture above is a cup of our hot chocolate after my four year old got to it (she dove right in before I was able to get a picture). They also have huge marshmallows available, that are nice but not necessary for a good hot chocolate treat. Since they serve the hot chocolate at a cooler temperature, the marshmallow did not melt quickly. However, the chocolate has enough heat to make the surface of the marshmallow soft and easy to scrape off with a spoon. If you like a strong marshmallow flavor, then it’s worth it. My four year old was not interested, and wanted to focus all her energies on the hot chocolate itself.

In addition to their signature drink, the City Bakery is a real bakery and offers lots of pastries, cookies, foods and other treats available to satisfy your hunger (my 14 year old loved the mac and cheese). The biggest problem was that seats were hard to find in this place. Some people clearly were there to spend a few hours reading a paper, or working on their laptops. However, I was a mom with two kids in tow and finding a table was difficult. Since we went on a Saturday afternoon, I am not surprised the place was filled, and seating may be better at other times. Also, this place is definitely not a bargain. The prices are high, but if you limit yourself to the hot chocolate and a pastry, you can visit without breaking the bank. If you want to eat (especially with a couple of kids) then I would recommend going to Republic instead, which is an inexpensive noodle place a couple of blocks away.

So overall, this was definitely worth a trip into Manhattan (I live 30 minutes outside of the city), and I will go back to check out the other hot chocolate spots in the city.


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Family Date Night

Posted on January 25, 2008. Filed under: Family Life |

Friday is about Family Life

Try to have a Family Date Night once in a while. When my kids were younger Friday night was my favorite night of the week. First because it was the end of my work week. Second, it was the night we set aside as Family Date Night. This was when we choose to do things as a family. Activities included going to a new movie, staying in and renting a movie, playing a game, going out to dinner, out for ice cream, or some other activity we all enjoyed. On some nights we talked and laughed, while on others it was just a pleasant evening together. I looked forward to every Friday because the evening was a time when I knew I would be able to focus on my family, and not think about getting ready for work or school the next day.

As my children grew, so did their social calendars. After a while, Fridays became the time for hanging out with friends, going to the movies, participating in their activities or going to sporting events. After a while, Family Date Night became a thing “we used to do”, and it’s now a nice memory we share.

So before your kids get older and really involved with their friends and activities, try to have a regular Family Data Night. If your kids are already older, try to have a Family Date Night–even if you have to schedule it around their other activities.



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The Next Step to Frugal Living Is to Get Out of Debt

Posted on January 24, 2008. Filed under: Frugal Living | Tags: , , , |

Thursday is about Frugal Living

Photo by KevinDooley
unum.jpgWill I ever get rid of my debt? Being debt free is definitely one of my goals for frugal living. Having no debt would free a significant part of my budget for savings and investments. But how does one get out of debt?

I am working on a plan to be debt free in two years, and here are the steps I am taking.

First, get a handle on all the places you owe money. Student loans. Credit Cards. Lines of Credit. Car Loans. Friends and Family. Mortgages. Home Equity Lines. Write them all down, so you know who you owe and how much.

Then prioritize your debt based on what it buys you. Since student loans and mortgage buy something that increases in value, then I am comfortable carrying that debt and paying it off slowly because I consider it an investment. Everything else is probably consumer debt and loses value over time–cars, clothes, trips, eating out– all of these things do not increase in value and are basic consumer debt. This is what should be tackled first. Once this is paid off, then you can make a plan to pay off other debt like mortgages at an accelerated rate.

Then look at your monthly budget and decide how much you can afford to apply towards debt after you pay your other bills. Be aggressive in carving out as much of your budget as you can. While it may be tempting to put your money into savings, it makes more sense to use your money to eliminate debt where you are charged double digit interest rates, rather than putting your money into a savings account with single digit returns. Even so, I keep a small amount for savings just in case of emergencies, and to avoid having to use my credit card if something comes up.

Then figure out which sources of debt are charging you the highest interest rates. The highest interest rates will probably be on your credit cards. According to the average interest rate for a standard credit card is currently 13%. Usually, you will want to target the highest interest debt you have first. However, there have been times when I tackled lower interest, but lower balance debt so I could quickly get to my goal of eliminating one of my sources of debt.

Always look for opportunities to lower the interest rates you are being charged. You can call your credit card companies, and if you have been paying your bills on time, you can often negotiate a reduction in interest rate. Also, your cards will often send you offers to transfer your balances to get a lower rate. Consider taking advantage of these–but check the fine print! Some of these balance transfers come with a fee– often 3%. So if you get an offer to transfer your balance to get 5% interest, but there is a 3% transfer fee, then you are really getting an 8% rate. Also, if you get an offer for a new card with a low interest rate, keep in mind that taking on another card and the potential for more debt may lower your credit score. So before jumping at one of these deals, consider all of the options.

Do not pay the minimum amount requested. Pay as much as you can. I found it better to pay as much as possible on higher interest debt, while paying less on lower interest debt. Then once the high interest debt was paid off, I added that same money to the payments being made on the lower interest debt. Over time, your payments get larger as they roll over from one debt to another, and you can aggressively attack those last few sources of debt.

While it may seem obvious, do not take on anymore debt. Stop using your credit card or line of credit and focus on bringing it to zero. Make a budget and stick with it. Pay cash for everything possible. Bottom line: don’t spend more than you earn.

Think of the money you apply to debt each month, and imagine what it would be like to have that money available to you each month because you no longer have debt to pay off. If you have carved out a good chunk of your budget for debt, that can be a lot.

Even with this plan, it’s hard. Something always seems to come up–the car needs repairs, the kids need something for school, something breaks in the house– and I end up using my credit cards more than I want to. My biggest motivation is imagining the day when I no longer have these bills. If I am strict with my plan, and nothing comes up, then it will take two years. Seems like a long time, but at least there is an end in sight….


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Letting Go of Anger

Posted on January 23, 2008. Filed under: Stop the Drama | Tags: , , |

Wednesday is about Stopping the Drama

Photo by jurvetsonletting-go.jpg
Everyone gets angry. Trigger events can be small things like being cut off in traffic, or big things like a profound disappointment or hurt from someone we love, or thought loved us. Whatever is the cause, anger is an important and useful emotion. It helps us keep others from pushing us around or abusing us. But if we hold on to anger, it no longer serves it’s purpose, which is to protect us. When allowed to fester and be a part of our daily lives, anger can take over and be a negative force. I don’t know why, but it is often very difficult to let go of anger. We often find it easier to stay bitter, and sullen and avoid embracing calm.

Letting go of anger doesn’t just happen. It’s an active process. Like most people, I have had wrongs and disappointments that make me angry. However, I try to move on and let go of my anger by doing the following:

  • Put yourself in their shoes. I doubt that most people get out of bed and say “today I want to offend someone”. Most transgressions occur because someone is being thoughtless, but not necessarily malicious. It seems to make it easier when you realize that the wrong being done is not about you, but is about the person’s inability to be thoughtful. Did you get cut off in traffic? Maybe that person just had a horrible fight with their spouse and is not paying attention. Did someone you love let you down? Maybe that person is having problems caring for themselves, much less caring for you. Most people don’t try to offend others, try to imagine why someone would behave the way they do.
  • Know where your anger comes from. If little things are setting you off, then you may be angry about something else and using that little thing as an excuse to express your anger. Are you feeling frustrated at work and not respected? Does this anger come out when you are yelling at your kids because they have not cleaned up and you are feeling they are not respecting you? Try to understand the real source of your anger and direct it back to that source, and not onto others. While the little things may annoy you, reserve your anger for the real source.
  • Take deep breathes. This is basic, but really important. Thousands of years of yoga practice, and loads of research on biofeedback demonstrate the benefits of deep breathing as a way to be calm. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just 20 deep breathes to get a momentary break. My oldest daughter is a real hot head, and I often tell her to count to 20 and breathe with each count when she is in an intense situation. I often have to use that same technique when dealing with her.
  • Don’t give others power over you. I have a friend who often spent her weekends complaining about the wrongs her boss had done to her. Then one day I asked her “why are you spending your free time thinking about your boss, when you can be sure she is not thinking about you?” Don’t give others the power to put you in a bad mood or to ruin your good time. What’s great about this is it is completely in your control. You can decide if you are going to let someone else make you feel bad or feel angry. If you decide to not let them get to you, they have no power over you. I’ve seen this when relationships end, or when couples continue to fight after they are apart. It is often due to the efforts of one of the partners to continue to engage the other. If you let your ex get you angry, or get you into a fight then s/he still has power over you. Don’t give them that, don’t engage.
  • Say it once (or twice). People often walk around with anger, and never tell the person with whom they are angry. This can let it build up to create resentment or lead to passive aggressive behavior. If someone is doing something that makes you angry, then tell them. You may have to tell them more than once. They can decide if they are going to do anything with that information. However, you let it out and made them aware of the behavior that is making you angry. If that person is not available to you, then write it down and let them know in a letter. They may never get the letter, but you have put words to your feelings, expressed them and let them out.
  • Just let it go. This is hard, but is really at the core of getting rid of anger. Just let it go. Sometimes you have to make a conscious choice to not hold on to anger. After you tell the person who made you angry, you’ve done what you can and it’s up to them to deal with it. In the meantime, do you want to hold on to your anger, or do you want to let it go? If there is no benefit to being angry, then forgive the person and move on.
  • Take your anger out on something else. The aggression you feel when you are angry can be a great energy boost. Use that adrenaline to work out, hit some balls, punch a bag, go for a run, or clean out a cluttered part of your home (perhaps the clutter that belongs to your ex?) Turn that energy into a positive activity.
  • Make sure you are really angry. Sometimes people can experience other emotions that come out as anger. Perhaps you are not mad at the world, but depressed, anxious, scared, frustrated or even jealous. When it is hard to pinpoint the source of your anger, take some time to think about other emotions your are experiencing–they may give you a clue to the real issue you need to address.
  • Make room for other emotions. Opening yourself to other emotions, leaves less room for being angry. It is hard to feel angry when you are focused on feeling gratitude, centeredness, or happiness. Like a lot of our emotions, they are very much under our own control regardless of our circumstances. So take a “glass half full” perspective and try to find the positive in your situation. As a concrete example, I was driving with my family today and we got a flat tire. However, the tire did not blow until after we got off the highway, were going at slower speeds, and had access to lots of gas stations. So while having a flat was annoying, I focused on how lucky we were that it did not happen on the highway, and it was easy to take care of. My husband had a less favorable view of the situation (but, then again, he was the one out in the cold changing the tire, while I went inside a warm convenience store to wait with the kids).
  • If all else fails, plot your revenge to get back at the person who has done you wrong—–just kidding! Let it go!


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Motivation to Run in the Winter

Posted on January 22, 2008. Filed under: Running, Take Care of Yourself |

Tuesday is about Taking Care of Yourself

Photo by Powi winter.jpg

I can now call myself a runner. I started by walking three years ago. Then I began to run for one minute at a time, then three minutes, and then five minutes. I kept going until I built up my stamina and clearly remember the first time I ran for 30 minutes without stopping. So now I am a runner.

Although I enjoy the benefits that come with running—like feeling less stress, it’s easier to lose weight, enjoying time alone–I do find that it is harder to run consistently in the winter. The cold outside, and the fact that it is still dark when I get up to run, both make me want to roll over and stay in bed when the alarm goes off.

Then after Christmas I got on the scale, and saw how much damage I had done with all of the eating and drinking over the holidays. I needed to recommit myself to my running. So I called a friend (who had also just gotten on the scale) and we agreed to run together and keep each other motivated. However, in our enthusiasm, one thing led to another and we talked ourselves into registering for the More Half Marathon in April.

A Half MARATHON? Thirteen miles? The longest I’ve ever run was six miles.

The following day, I jumped out of bed when they alarm went off and went out for a run without thinking about the cold. I have discovered that fear is a great motivator. I am afraid of not being able to finish the race, afraid of coming in last, afraid of embarrassing myself in front of the crowds, and afraid of the pain I may experience on race day. All of this fear motivates me to run and train for this race. When it is cold, when it is dark, when I am on the treadmill and feeling bored, I keep going. Not because I am committed, but because I am afraid. Afraid of performing horribly at this race.

After we signed up for the race, we went out for a long run on the first weekend and did six miles. Last weekend, I ran nine miles, and I am getting in early morning runs before I go to work during the week. I think I will be glad I did this. I am already glad that it has motivated me to stick with my running this winter. However, next winter I will be looking for motivation to keep me running that does not involve fear.


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Home Made Play Dough

Posted on January 21, 2008. Filed under: Things to Do |

Monday is about Things to Do

Photo by CP

playdough.jpgWe were all off from work and school today for the Martin Luther King holiday. My oldest daughter attended a commemorative function this morning, while I was home with the other two. Since it was bitterly cold today, I did not want to go out, but needed to find something to do to keep my 4 year old child entertained.

This is the kind of day when we make our own play dough. If you search the web, there are lots of recipes for home made play dough. Among all the variations, I find the best require some cooking time, and use cream of tartar as the secret ingredient. I let my 4 year old get involved by deciding what food coloring to add before we put it on the stove. We also put in 1/2 teaspoon of a fragrant extract (like vanilla, maple or almond extract) to give it a nice smell. I’ve seen recipes where people added baby oil, instead of vegetable, to get a nicely scented play dough. Whatever scent you choose, this is a great recipe for a non-toxic, inexpensive play dough that your child will enjoy making and playing with.

Home Made Play Dough:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup table salt
1 cup water
1 Tbs vegetable or mineral oil
3 Tbs cream of tartar
Food Coloring

Mix all the ingredients, including the food coloring, together in a pot. The color will be fairly pale at this point. Then cook over medium heat while stirring constantly until it forms a ball, about 5 minutes. The color will become more vivid as it gets heated through. Turn the ball out onto a flat work surface and knead it thoroughly. Adults may want to do the initial kneading since it is hot. When cool, it is ready for the kids to play with.

Store in an airtight container like a ziploc bag and keep at room temperature.



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When Does Parenting Get Easier?

Posted on January 18, 2008. Filed under: Family Life |

Friday is about Family Life

My two older children were born 16 months apart, and it was tough when they were toddlers. Two kids in diapers. Two kids who woke up at the crack of dawn. Two kids who were constantly on the run. Two kids who didn’t like to nap. There were days when all I wanted to do was to curl up into a ball and sleep until they were old enough to go to school.

I knew my job would be less tiring and stressful as my kids got older, but I wanted to know exactly when that would happen. One day I asked a friend whose children were older than mine “when is this going to get easier”? Her response was “it doesn’t get easier, it gets……different”. Hmmm, now what does THAT mean?

By the time my kids started school, caring for them was easier because they were potty trained, could talk, and were able to follow more directions. However, their being in school meant I had to pack lunches, help with projects, oversee homework and help with class trips. They also had more friends so we started managing their social calendars which were filled with birthday parties and playdates. Next came sports, and our Saturdays were filled with attending games and cheering them on.

Now they are older and in high school. They REALLY talk, and seem less able to follow directions than when they were younger. Their activities and interests have us dropping them off for team practices at 7AM on weekends, attending sporting events and plays, and scheduling our family vacations around their activities because they do not want to miss anything. Parties now require a lot of monitoring from us as parents to make sure they are safe, no liquor or drugs will be available, and there is adequate adult supervision.

Very soon they will learn how to drive. One mother told me watching her child drive away in a car for the first time was the scariest moment in all her experience as a parent. I can imagine what that will be like, and now I will have sleepless nights because I am waiting for my children to come home.

So I finally have figured out what my friend meant when she said it gets “different”. Parenting can be stressful. In the beginning the stress was about sleep deprivation, but my children’s needs were fairly simple. Later it morphed into the stress of time management and my kids’ need to explore the world. Most recently, it has been about their need to distance themselves from their parents, which sometimes conflicts with our need to protect them and keep them safe.

I also notice that as my kids get older, we talk, we joke, we laugh, we can enjoy each other’s company. The time goes quickly, and I am very aware that my children will be leaving home soon. I wonder if it will finally feel easy to be a parent when my children go off to school or get their first jobs. Perhaps. Or perhaps it will be the next phase of “different”.


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Teaching Kids How to Budget

Posted on January 17, 2008. Filed under: Family Life, Frugal Living | Tags: , , , |

Thursday is about Frugal Living

Photo by r-z

coins2.jpgThe lessons I’ve learned from frugal living will be wasted if I don’t teach these principles to my children. Right now, I am trying to teach my kids about managing money and just started an experiment. I put money into an account for them whenever I get paid, and that is the money they can use for buying clothes and entertainment. If they want to save the money they can. If they want to spend it they can. However, when they want to buy clothes or go out and do things, the money comes from that account. If there is no money, there is no going out.

I am doing this with my older daughters who are ages 14 and 15. I figure at that age, they should be able to manage their money and learn how to keep a budget. When I first told them about this, they were thrilled. I decided to give them $75 every time I get paid (that’s twice per month), and they agreed that was a lot of money for them. I came up with that amount because I usually take them shopping for clothes twice per year, and spend about $500 each time. I also added in the costs of getting their hair done, and going to the movies and came out with an average of $150 per month.

Now when they ask me if they can buy something or go somewhere, I can simply say “Yes, if you have the money for it in your account”. This has really made things easier for me to manage. I have the money that is going into their accounts set aside in my budget. When they want to make a purchase, I don’t have to worry about what it costs–now that’s for them to figure out.

One of my daughters has learned how to save her money and now has a good amount saved up. The other spends it as soon as it comes in. She’s still learning, as are many adults.


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Get Some Time Alone

Posted on January 16, 2008. Filed under: Stop the Drama | Tags: , , , , |

Wednesday is about Stopping the Drama

Photo by Tico24

alone.jpg Some people are extraverts and enjoy spending time with others, while some are introverts and prefer more solitude. I am a natural extrovert, and am always looking to plug into and engage with others. However, despite my social tendencies, I find that having daily alone time is a good thing. With work, kids, a husband, friends, email, my cell phone, and the radio (which seems to always be one in my house), I feel like there is always someone talking to me or trying to get my attention.This leaves me with little time to just think, or engage in “the internal monologue”. So each day, I try to grab a little alone time.

Here’s how:

  • Exercise. I run, and no one seems interested in joining me, which is fine. I recently started to do my longer weekend runs with a friend and that makes the time go quicker. However, when I run during the week, I am alone and really enjoy it. There are also times when I walk to or from work just to unwind and get some time alone.
  • Be awake when everyone else is asleep. Ideally this would be early in the morning to get a head start on your day. Realistically, I think more people find it easier to stay up late after everyone else has gone to bed, but there’s something more deliberate about getting up early. I once heard an interview with Toni Morrison where she said she wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye, by getting up at 4AM to get in some writing before her children woke up. That spoke volumes to me about what can be done with a few hours of alone time.
  • Take long showers or baths. I treat my shower like an isolation chamber and really take the time to enjoy the solitude and warmth of the water. My family teases me because I always take long showers, but it is my only guaranteed alone time each day and I often come out of the shower with lots of new ideas.
  • Meditate, pray, or do whatever works for you. Whether you take time each day for reflective silence or repetitive rituals, do whatever you need to feel centered and spiritually enriched.
  • Engage in your hobby. Do something that provides a creative outlet whether it’s playing an instrument or making something. I knit. I once showed my knitting to someone who said it would make her tense to knit because she would want to get through it to finish the project. However, for me the goal is to do the actual knitting, it just so happens that sweaters and socks result from those efforts.
  • Go grocery shopping. This sounds like a pitiful way to get some time alone, but it is a strategy I picked up from my husband. I noticed he often runs errands alone and is eager to go. I suspect he enjoys the solitude more than he enjoys getting things accomplished.
  • Clean your house. No one seems to want to join me in this activity! Honestly, I could be better at using it as a way to get alone time, than to get annoyed because no one else seems to want to do it.

These are my little ways to get some solitude built into each day. I find when I am alone, I often hear voices. Then I realize “oh, that’s the sound of my thoughts”


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How to Get Rid of a Cold, Naturally

Posted on January 15, 2008. Filed under: Take Care of Yourself | Tags: , , , , , |

Tuesday is about Taking Care of Yourself

Photo by Crystl
ginger.jpgUgh. I have a cold and had to leave work today to come home and get into bed. I am one of those people who is guilty of presenteeism and I go into work where I won’t be productive, won’t give myself a chance to get better, and could infect my coworkers with the germ du jour that I am sneezing and coughing up.

However, as part of my commitment to taking better care of myself, I am pledging to not work through colds and allow myself the space and time to be sick. While work is important, we need to get a handle on what is truly an emergency or critically important. The truth is no one is laying on a table with their guts hanging out waiting for me to put it all together. And if they were, they wouldn’t want me coughing and sneezing all over their innards. Otherwise, most things at work can wait a day or two, or be delegated to someone else.

How to get better? Well being a geek, I have looked up a bunch of research for what does and doesn’t work. Being a mother of three, I have also had a lot of practical experience treating colds. So based on those sources of information, here is my 10 step plan for getting rid of a cold:

  1. Nip it in the bud. Start to take special care of yourself as soon as you feel that first tickle in your throat or sniffle in your nose. Don’t wait until you need to crawl into bed before you need some rest.
  2. Take zinc. More specifically, take zinc gluconate. This is a homeopathic remedy that is backed up by studies which show that taking zinc as soon as you start to feel symptoms of a cold will shorten the time you are sick. Studies have looked at both nasal gels and lozenges, and found both are effective.
  3. Drink. Lots. Most experts recommend drinking lots of fluids when you are sick, but don’t say why it’s good for you. There are lots of benefits to drinking water in general, which I have talked about before. When you are sick, you need to be well hydrated because your body is producing lots of excess mucus, snot and phlegm (they are really all the same thing) as a way to get rid of the viruses that are attacking your body. When that stuff is thin and liquid, it is easier to cough or sneeze it out. When you are not hydrated, it is thicker and more viscous and harder to get out. It’s just that simple. It’s also why a humidifier helps. It loosens the mucus.
  4. Rest. Sleep. Snooze. Do whatever it takes to give your body a chance to heal. The restorative powers of sleep are magical, and I always feel substantially better after I’ve slept. If there is only one thing you can do for yourself when you are sick, sleep would be the most effective.
  5. Blow your nose. Other people may be better at this than I am, but I actually hate to blow my nose. So I will sit all day and sniffle. But the mucus your body is producing is how it is getting rid of the viruses. So blow your nose, and get it out.
  6. Use a neti pot. I have a handheld shower and once accidentally shot some water up my nose when I was sick (not one of my more coordinated moments). After coughing, gagging and blowing the water out of my nose, I realized that my clogged sinuses were completely clear. This is when I learned about the ancient yogic practice of nasal washing, and the use of the neti pot for delivering a saltwater solution into the nasal cavities for cleansing. There was a recent article in the NY Times about the growing popularity of this practice for colds, allergies, and chronic sinusitis. I can say from personal experience that the practice definitely does help.
  7. Drink ginger tea. I haven’t been able to find any research supporting the use of ginger for treating colds, but I do know it tastes great and I always feel better after I have had some. I take some ginger root, slice it up and simmer it in water. Then I add honey. Speaking of which…..
  8. Take a teaspoon of honey. Tea with honey has been touted as a cold remedy for years. However, a recent study found that honey is an effective cough suppressant for children and worked as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in cough medicine.
  9. Drink some tea, or coffee. Actually, drink anything that contains caffeine. Some people get a dry hacking cough that doesn’t produce much mucus, but causes coughing spasms. I get this and it is worse when I talk or laugh. Studies show that caffeine is similar to medicines used to treat asthma, and is an effective bronchodilator that makes breathing easier, and can relieve this type of cough. Obviously, if you have asthma, or are wheezing, you will need something stronger than a cup of coffee. Also, caffeine is a natural diuretic so drink extra fluid to stay hydrated.
  10. Say no to drugs. Most cold medicines are suppressing the symptoms and not really fighting the cold. Those symptoms–excess mucus and nasal congestion, and cough–are how your body is fighting the cold. So suppressing your body’s response is just prolonging your agony. Fever is an important part of the body’s immune response for fighting a cold, and should not be treated if it’s low grade (less than 102 degrees). However, if it goes higher, or you feel particularly miserable, fever is easily treated with ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

So that’s my 10 point plan. I have a cup of ginger tea waiting for me, and am ready to get some sleep. I hope to be better by tomorrow.


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    Musings on how a disorganized woman with a full time job, three kids and a real need to relax is trying to make life simple.

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