LED Candles: Great Safe Alternative

LED candles

The two candles on each side of the table are LED!

As I was walking through TJ Maxx the other day I saw a box of LED candles that can go on a four our timer.

My attention was caught.

I picked up a four pack and immediately found places for them around our apartment. Just a couple AA batteries and away we went.

The LED candles are perfect because I can leave them going, leave the room or even leave the house. And even though I trust my cat with candles, but there’s always the chance she might knock something over.

For you, you might have kids, pets, etc. With the LEDs, there aren’t any worries. Especially if you get ones with a timer because then you can just forget about them but they just add a little bit more to your room. I highly recommend! Plus you can find them anywhere now, so keep an eye out and give them a try if you’re looking for a candle alternative.

Versatile Cooking? Try the Ninja Cooking System 3-in-1

Ninja Cooking SystemWhen we got married, it meant we got to have fun in Bed Bath & Beyond with that scanner gun. Oh, and did we ever. We nabbed all the essentials, many of which I forgot we scanned. But there was one thing I had my heart set on: The Ninja Cooking System.

The great thing about wedding registries is the percentage off they give you if you want to buy anything from the list after the wedding. The Ninja Cooking System was on the top of our list. And no, they aren’t paying me. I just love it that much and use it every week.

What Does It Do?

The Ninja Cooking System is a slow cooker, oven and stove top all in one which is why I wanted it. It also said it cooked faster and healthier–plus was easy to clean-up. Learn the exact features from their website.

So does it do these things? Yes, yes it does! Now I’ll be honest, in the year I’ve owned it, I primarily use it as a slow cooker. But I have used it as an oven and in the book that came with it, it said I could make spaghetti and meatballs all in one (water included). The spaghetti and meatballs didn’t go as perfect as the book made it seem. Maybe it just needed to get used a little more. But the oven definitely works, more with steam. I made chicken nuggets with it and they were a little soft. So definitely look into what you want to make with them.

Now, for the oven, it excels in making an entire meal in there as they provide a small rack so you can have multiple items in at once. It can be set from 250ºF to 425ºF. So perhaps you’d like to cook chicken and vegetables. One can go in the pot, the others can go on the rack. I know you can do this with your regular oven, but because of the way the pot is designed, it keeps in a lot of the nutrients and flavor.

Ninja Cooking SystemMy Favorite Feature

Saving the best for last, I use the Ninja Cooking System primarily as a slow cooker. Granted, I didn’t own a crock pot until a few years ago, and it was  one that is probably over 20-years-old, so I was over the moon when I saw what new technology could do. But this crockpot has a digital display so I can set my time up to eight hours ahead on high or low. Then, what takes the cake (for me) is the “buffet” feature which the crockpot automatically switches to after the duration you have set it to expires. This will keep the food safe to eat for hours.

You can also use the buffet feature without the slow cooking mode as well. I have a convection oven with a warming feature, so usually to keep foods at temperature, that’s what I use. But you definitely can use the Ninja.

So I can toss something in on my way to work then get home nine hours later and it’s still completely fine for me. And when I cook in the slow cooker, I like to put in recipes that are an entire meal. Or most of an entire meal.

Crockpot chicken taco chiliRecipe Ideas

Below are some of the recipes I have online that you can use with this. You can do SO much with the Ninja Cooking System and there are many recipe books and sources with ideas to use all the different types cooking styles. If you’re looking for something to make things easy, definitely look into this.

Hey Allergies

Author: labambola / photo on flickr

Photo credit: labambola / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Even though fall 2014 doesn’t start until September 23, let’s be realistic, Labor Day weekend marked the unofficial start of fall. I’m totally fine with that; fall is one of my favorite seasons followed by the worst season. But we’ll focus on the positive… well kind of.

You see this particular season is a very beautiful one, especially here in Indiana, with the leaves changing and the crisp cooler temperatures…except for one thing. Allergies.

Fall is the absolute worst month for my allergies and when we had a terrible spring, I can only imagine how bad this fall is going to be. But there is no sense in suffering, so if you find yourself waking up with swollen itchy eyes, scratchy throat and a runny nose that’s not from a cold, here are some things I’ve being doing over the years to get through this intense allergy season in one piece.

Decongestant Allergy Medicine

Decongestants are behind the counter at the pharmacy, they can get a little pricey, but might just be your new best friend and you’ll only use it for a few weeks at most. Decongestants are one of the only things that can really knock out some of the worst allergy symptoms…. at least for me.

I’m more of a Claratin D (or generic Claratin) kind of person. But there are other allergy meds on the market such as Zyrtec or Allegra. If you try one and it doesn’t work for you, try another. Find your Claratin.

Also, it’s important to buy the 24 hour version. If you are really riding the struggle bus and prefer the 12 hour, buy a small package of the 12 hour version just to give you a jumpstart. But then switch to the 24 hour so you don’t have to worry about taking it throughout the day.

Now there’s one more thing and this is very important. Once you start taking your allergy medicine, my doctor told me not to take the decongestants for more than two or three weeks. So once you take that time to reign things in, switch to the over-the-counter antihistamine and you can take that all season long. I will be taking it daily. My husband has tried and really likes Nasacort, which is over the counter.

So whether it’s pills or a spray, if your allergies are bad, talk to your doctor and figure out something to take. There is absolutely no sense in walking through the next couple months miserable.

Keep Your Bed Clean

Over time your mattress and sheets gets filled with dust and all kinds of other allergens, especially if you have pets. Well news flash: You’re sleeping in that. It’s in your face. It’s all over you.

According to an interesting CNN article about how often to wash anything, they advise to wash them once a week. When you clean your sheets, wipe down your bed frame as well to clear out the dust.

Another thing the article mentions is to clean your actual mattress every six months, starting by vacuuming it.

“Then, remove stains by wiping down the surface with a cloth lightly dampened with cold water and a small amount of upholstery shampoo,” the article said, adding to be cautious and not soak the mattress which can create mold and damage padding.

Feel like going above and beyond? Purchase allergy free bedding. This Good Housekeeping article covers the different types which can also make a big difference.

Around the House

It’s obvious but vacuum and dust regularly and by regularly shoot for at least once a week. Also be sure to change your air filter once a month. ENERGY STAR says you can get away with three months tops, but if you are trying to help your allergies, stick with once a month during your peak season.

Last, try to avoid opening your windows. I know it’s not fun at all, especially when the temperatures are perfect, but if you’re in your worst allergy season, an allergy specialist told me to keep them closed.

These are just a few things I know about or do. Is this allergy season already bad for you? How are you coping?