Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Importance of Being Grateful

   I enjoy this quote by Shawnee Native America Leader Tecumseh that says, "When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies within yourself."
   Expressing gratitude is one of the most important things you can do to empower yourself and better your life. By showing that you are thankful for all that is around you, the universe will reward you with similar enlightening occurrences. Some might even claim that having and showing gratitude is the secret to health, wealth, and everlasting success. No matter who or where you are currently in your life, practicing gratitude can and will make a difference to help launch you in the best direction possible.
   Without getting too 'out there' in terms of Quantum physics and The Law of Attraction, I will skip the deeper stuff and instead give you examples on ways to improve your vibrational frequency by practicing gratitude daily.
  1. Count your blessings - Every morning when you first wake up, write a list of at least 10 things that you are currently thankful for. Briefly explain why you are grateful for them and thank them accordingly. 
  2. Write thank you notes - Take a few minutes to write a thank you note (or several) to someone who has helped or inspired you. List the reasons why you love them and all that you are grateful for. You don't even have to send the letter to them! The act of writing your gratitude is enough. 
  3. Meditate on gratitude - Try sitting for a couple of minutes each day and just think about the things that you love and are thankful to have in your life. Start with 3 minutes and work your way up, a couple minutes more each day. Ideally, it's best to meditate around 15-20 minutes per day.
  4. Keep a gratitude journal - Write daily about the things in your life that you are grateful for. You can take the journal with you and write down events as they take place. Or you can leave it by your bedside and write a nightly synopsis of your wonderful days.
  5. Give up complaining - Complaining is one of the most draining and negative thought-producing things you can do. Try to vow not to complain (or at least take notice of when you are and try to change!). Do this for a week to see how much better and more positive you feel!
   These are just a few of many things you can do daily to increase your feelings of gratitude. I promise that the more you do, the more abundant your life will become. For further study on the Law of Attraction and Quantum physics, I highly recommend the documentary "What the Bleep Do We Know?," The Secret books by Rhonda Byrne, and the teachings of Abraham-Hicks, of which you can find a plethora of videos on YouTube. That's all for now, have a happy, gratitude-filled day! And remember:
   Thank you and stay clean! :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reasons to Go Local!

   Today, I received my first delivery from an online farmer's market here in Austin called Greenling. Greenling is a small company that gathers fresh produce and other products from local farmers and businesses and delivers it directly to your doorstep! The local box is a selection of the best fruits and veggies from the farmer's harvest that week. This week's box included a huge watermelon, blueberries, squash (I got butternut but other varieties were given also), kale, Bibb lettuce, basil, pears, potatoes, and an ear of popcorn! Upon opening my green box full of goodies, I got to thinking just what is so special about buying locally grown and produced food.
   First off, local food looks and tastes better. Conventionally grown produce is picked way before the fruit or vegetable is fully ripe, that way it can be shipped to the stores and sold before going bad. Local food, however, is left to grow until fully ripe before harvesting. That way, your food matures properly and the flavor is at it's peak. Local food is also better nutritionally for you. The less time it takes to get from the farm to your table, the better the nutritional content. Conventionally grown produce is left to sit on trucks and in packing plants, losing vital life force as the days pass by.
   Buying locally also helps the economy in your community. You can put your dollars directly into independently owned businesses instead of the giant corporations. Supporting small, family run farms is so important now more than ever since these farms are slowly becoming extinct and replaced with large industrial agriculture.
   Local farmers are also less likely to use chemicals, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and genetically modified seeds. You can actually meet the farmer face to face and ask questions about your food too! You can buy your produce from a farmer's market, or if you're lucky, there might be something similar to Greenling in your area! I encourage everyone to support local businesses as much as they can! And as always, stay green and clean!!! :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Making New (Furry) Friends

Summertime is a great time of year to go exploring and meet new people. Sometimes you might want to go for a jog or a hike, or maybe stay in where it's cool and watch a movie. Maybe you just like to have someone greet you when you wake up in the morning. A really excellent way to add a little love like this to your life is to adopt a pet! It's a big decision and a lot of responsibility to add an animal to your family, but the benefits are so rewarding to you and your new furry buddy. Here are some little known facts about adopting a new friend.
Companions make you healthier
Many studies show that companion animals lower high blood pressure, sometimes equivalent to that of prescription medication. People with animals are also more likely to be physically active and report less instances of loneliness and isolation.

Overpopulation of companion animals is a problem in the US
We all remember Bob Barker reminding us to spay and neuter our pets, but pet overpopulation is still a problem in the United States. Researchers believe that common misconceptions about spaying and neutering animals prevent their caretakers from taking action. However, "fixing" your pet can help prevent many breed-related health problems and relieve anxiety and frustration for your new buddy. Shelters and non-profit programs also make the procedure relatively affordable and sometimes free. Four million cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the US alone because shelters just don't have the space for them. If you are really interested in a puppy or kitten, go to a shelter, especially during high breeding seasons. Click here to read more about the facts on spaying and neutering your pets.

"If I take my pet to a shelter, it will be safe and adopted." False.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many shelters just do not have room for the enormous numbers of abandoned pets that have no one taking responsibility for them, even at more humane independent organizations. If you abandon a pet or litter of puppies or kittens, there is a high probability that it will be euthanized.

Well behaved and purebred dogs and cats can be found in shelters too
If you're planning on purchasing a pet and aren't swayed by the number of overpopulated animals, consider that a large number of animals in shelters come from mills and breeding centers. About 25% of all pets brought to shelters are purebred. There is a wide variety of animals from all walks of life in shelters, not just strays. Most shelters also take the time to rehabilitate, train, vaccinate and treat any animals that come in the door before putting them up for adoption.

Shelters aren't just for dogs and cats
If you're more the type of person who likes lizards, guinea pigs, rats, rabbits or snakes, these are also available at many shelters with all the same benefits of adopting a dog or cat.

Ready to adopt? Go to The Shelter Pet Project or PetFinder to search hundreds of shelters and rescue organizations, and enjoy getting to know your new furry friend!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Incredible Edible... Dandelion!

Dandelions are a familiar weed in American backyards, known as a fluffy firework of seeds to kids and a bane to many gardeners. These sunny little plants are also a hardy, healthy, easy to grow food.

Every part of the dandelion is edible. Traditionally, dandelions have been used as an herbal remedy, mainly for digestion. The roots of dandelions can be dried or roasted. When boiled and steeped for a few minutes, the resulting tea has a rich, deep flavor reminiscent of coffee. Dandelion tea relieves heartburn and is considered an assistant to liver cleansing by herbists. I like to drink it after an especially heavy meal or the morning after having a few beers. The thick long leaves at the base of the plant are excellent in salads. Leafy greens are an excellent source of iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium and are alkalizing to the body. Dandelion leaves are also a mild diuretic, helping to prevent water retention and flush the body of waste materials more quickly. Dandelion flowers open up in sunlight, and their happy visage and fragrant nectar make a salad look happy and add an interesting floral flavor. With lots of potassium and more Vitamin A than carrots, they're also a welcome burst of additional nutrition.

Dandelions grow quickly and easily almost anywhere and in any soil. Since they are considered a weed, it is best to plant your own in containers rather than just picking them straight from your yard in order to avoid possible pesticides. Press seeds about an inch apart and 1/4 inch deep into moist soil and place in an area where your flowers can get full sun. In the right conditions, dandelions can grow up to 12 inches tall! Dandelions will take about 3 months to grow, but you can pull leaves off your dandelions for salads as much as you wish once they're grown. Dandelion roots, however, can take a couple of seasons to be ready to harvest. Dandelion tea can be purchased at many natural food stores if you don't want to wait to enjoy the roots.

Purchasing salad can get expensive. Since they grow so fast, dandelions are a cheap, healthy and easy way to stay healthy. Stay tuned for more tips on healthy living, and keep it clean!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cool Summer Treat!

The 4th of July has come and gone, prompting many to exclaim, "So soon?" While some people are quick to flip-flop, others have a hard time accepting the heat. It's time to face the fact that you can look out the window and see the neighborhood kids running through the sprinkler and say, "Hey, it's HOT!" Welcome to Texas weather!

On those days when you get caught short in the heat and start craving the cool, you can pop this great recipe from on your fridge, and then in your mouth. It provides all the taste with all the nutritional benefits, since it features wild blueberries, a top antioxidant superfruit.

Wild Blueberry Ice Cream Pops


* 1 cup frozen Wild Blueberries
* 1 ounce milk chocolate chips
* 2 cups fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt, softened slightly
* materials: small wooden or plastic sticks


Thaw the Wild Blueberries and purée. In a bowl, combine the puréed Wild Blueberries, chocolate and frozen yogurt. Mix thoroughly.

Rinse 6 standard muffin cups with cold water and spoon in Wild Blueberry mixture, dividing it evenly between the cups (silicone muffin cups need not be rinsed first). Place a stick in the center of each “muffin” and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. 

Until next time, keep it clean - and stay cool out there! :) 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Say Hello to a FRESH Fridge!

     We all know that here at AZUMA our favorite top is appliances! We not only rent washers and dryers, we also rent Refrigerators in certain markets! We do lots of blog posts about cleaning and laundry, and today I decided I want to cover an issue we have all encountered at some time in our lives: Smelly fridges! I'm going to keep it short and sweet today, but here is a few remedies for our refrigerator blues!

     First, turn your refrigerator off and unplug it. Remove all the items from your fridge. As you go, discard any expired food that is developing into a science project. Place any food you choose to keep in a cooler while you work. Add ice if it will be out for some time for better preservation. Make a mixture of baking soda and warm water. Dissolve 1/2 cup of baking soda into a sink filled with warm water. Take out all shelves, bins and any other removable parts. Wash and rinse all of the parts before thoroughly drying them. Don't forget to wipe as much of the walls and floor of the fridge as you can, even under the crisper drawers. Clean the drip tray. This is located beneath the refrigerator. Be careful because it likely contains dirty water. Remove the grill from beneath the doors, carefully pull it out and dump the contents.

Kitchen items that will conquer the smell: 
  • Use baking soda. Keep an open box of baking soda in your fridge at all times. If you want to use it as a cleaning method, dissolve 1/2 cup of baking soda into water.
  •  Keep vinegar around. White vinegar neutralizes many of the same smells as baking soda. Put an open cup or bowl in the fridge, or mix it in with water as an effective cleaning solution.  
  • Use oats as an odor-absorber. Leave a bowl of oats out in your fridge and this will suck in the bad smells.
  • Use coffee grounds. Place dry coffee grounds in a couple of shallow bowls and keep them on different levels of your refrigerator. The smells should go away within a few days.
  • Let charcoal absorb bad odors. Similar to the coffee grounds method, place charcoal briquettes in a couple of shallow bowls and put them on different shelves in the fridge. The smells in question should go away within a few days.

     Also, regardless of which method you choose, don't put the food back into your refrigerator until the stench has cleared.  To prevent odors in the future, make a point to look in once a week or so and remove expired food. Try looking right before you take out the trash. It's a good reminder and items don't sit around in your kitchen trash smelling bad. As much as possible, contain foods in airtight containers. They will stay fresher longer and the odors will not spread as much if they do spoil. Until next time, keep it clean! :)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tips to Beat the Sweltering Heat!

   The heat is definitely on in Texas, as well as all over the US! For most of us, air conditioning is a much needed savior during these scorching months. However, you can't stay inside all the time!! Here are some tips on how to stay cool and beat the sweltering summer heat!
  If you are an exerciser, it's best to keep your activities indoor if you can. If you must jog, walk, or bike outside, it's best to do it either early in the morning or later in the evening. Just be sure to wear light reflective clothing if you choose the latter. Speaking of clothing, you should go for loose fitting, light colored clothing over tight and dark. Also, choose organic cotton over other synthetic fabrics as it will breathe better and keep you cooler!
   Another tip for staying cool? Try keeping a spray bottle with water in the fridge to refresh you after a hot day! It's also great to store your lotion or body oil in the fridge during the summer. While you're at it, keep your showers on the cool side as well to keep yourself most comfortable. Fans are a great way to keep the house cooled down, or you can even carry a portable fan to take with you on the run!
   You'll also want to drink plenty of water to keep dehydration at bay. Try to keep caffeine and alcohol consumption to a minimum as these greatly promote dehydration, especially if you are outdoors!!  You can also eat cooling foods to help lower the temp from the inside out! Try watermelon, cucumber, mint, coconut, summer squash, fennel, cilantro, and aloe vera. It's best to steer clear of anything spicy, heavy, or greasy as these will only increase the heat!
   Use your best judgement this summer, along with these tips and you will stay cool enough to enjoy this heat wave! From all of us at Azuma, have a safe and fun summer! And as always, keep it clean!! :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Red, White, and Blue Parfaits for Your Holiday!

   The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. It's the day we celebrate our independence and also enjoy time outdoors with family and friends. The best part: fireworks of course! This 4th of July, why not surprise your guests with a healthy and patriotic dessert!!
   I found this recipe on the Better Homes and Gardens website. It consists of very few ingredients, just berries and yogurt!! The original recipe calls for whipped topping but if you are wanting to keep this light, I would skip that and just focus on a premium yogurt. If you are vegan, I highly advise substituting coconut milk yogurt instead!
      You will need:
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries or Strawberries (cut into small pieces) 
  • Yogurt
  • Vanilla or almond extract
  • Optional: Whipped topping
   All you have to do is mix your yogurt with whichever flavored extract you choose. Fold in the whipped topping (if you are using that). Then layer in clear glasses starting with blueberries, then a dollop of yogurt, and finally strawberries and/or raspberries. If you are using larger containers, keep alternating this way until you reach the top! You can even make the parfaits up to an hour ahead and just place in the fridge until ready to eat!! 
   I hope you enjoy this delicious and easy treat for your 4th of July outing. Have a happy and safe holiday from all of us at Azuma Leasing. Stay clean for now!