Baby-Proofing Your Child’s Environment

Children are amazing at finding forgotten items on the floor. While it’s great when they pick up that little screw that you need to put something back together, but it’s also dangerous because that little screw will immediately go into a mouth or up a nose. It’s vital to babyproof your house, and it’s not as overwhelming as you might think. The key is to start thinking like a child.

Take a Tour of the Home – On Your Knees
Everything you see around your home is at an adult’s level, but the view is entirely different from the floor. When you crawl around on the floor, you’ll see the world the way your son or daughter does. This is when you’ll realize that those elegant curtains that pool on the floor look like an inviting cave to hide in for children, and that can lead to accidents or even strangulation. It’s when you’ll start to understand why electrical outlets look like they might be fun to play with. As you go through the home and take in this new viewpoint, it will be easier to find and address different hazards.

Time to Consider Sharp Edges
The average home is full of hazards, and some only make themselves apparent after an accident. A simple wood coffee table looks innocent enough, but a toddler who falls at the right angle can hit his head and wind up with stitches. There are a few ways to address the problem of sharp angles on raised fireplace hearths and coffee tables. You can buy special padded bumpers that are cut to fit and stuck directly to the surface. There are also websites that sell padded table covers with elastic bases. The cloth softens the table edges while the elastic keeps it firmly on the table.

Handling the Stairs
Stairs are enough to give any parent of a crawling baby a heart attack. You have visions of your precious child falling down those stairs, and you’ll do anything to prevent that. Rather than pressure-mounted gates that can be pushed out of position by a determined toddler, opt for gates that screw into the wall. It’s a chance to use some power tools, and even the most creative toddler won’t be able to push it out of place.

What About the Bathroom?
You don’t want to consider the statistics on children drowning in the home. You just want to keep your little princess safe. The simplest solution is often the most effective. Buy childproof doorknob covers and put them on all of the bedroom and bathroom doors. Keep these doors closed when no one is in the rooms, especially the bathroom. This way, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of toilet lid locks.

Say Good-Bye to Clutter
The key to childproofing is diligence. Choking hazards are everywhere, and you’ll spent the better part of each day picking them up off the floor. It’s easier to spy items on the floor and get them up if you keep the house clean and free of clutter. You’ll also avoid the heartbreak of having your little baby break something that you really love.

When you head to the store, you’ll find a vast array of child-proofing gear. It’s all excellent for keeping your baby out of certain rooms and prevent them from playing with electrical outlets. However, there are other hazards lurking around the home. You may feel silly crawling around on your hands and knees, but it’s the best way to spy those long cords, unstable chairs and other hazards that our little guy is sure to find. After you’ve childproofed the home, you’ll be able to relax a little more and start really enjoying this amazing time.

Does Your Exercise Routine Have You on the Path to Success?

As heart disease continues to top the list of illnesses related to death, men must continue to strive for reasonable levels of fitness. Many are working well beyond the retirement years of yesterday as the cost of living continues to rise.

A recent health trend has seen a significant increase in ads related to male menopause and testosterone supplementation. Testosterone is the critical male hormone responsible for vigor and everything male. However, vitality may be more akin to lifestyle than anything. Diet, exercise and discipline are the triplets of health that allow many men to forgo risks associated with hormone replacement therapy.

Fortunately, this triple threat does not have to be the challenge that it is often perceived. Every goal must start with a plan. Imagine trying to build a home without blueprints. Well, fitness is no different. You must regularly document meals and fitness routines until you’ve reached your goal. While structured diets are the kiss of death for many, documenting meals allows you to see the food quality you are placing into your body and gives you the knowledge to make better choices.

Documented workout routines allow you to see the regularity and progression of your training regiment. As you embark on your journey to better fitness, it is important to find equipment and exercises that you enjoy. If you hate all exercise, choose the routine that you hate the least. Enjoyment is vital to long term success. Also, remember that your body is comprised of more than your chest. Therefore, endless pushups or bench presses at the neglect of other exercises will quickly leave you unbalanced. If you are one who prefers to train at home, there are a number of inexpensive, home gym systems that will provide you an overall workout and satisfactory results if done consistently. If you prefer the gym, a few sessions with a private trainer will quickly get you on the right path.

Know your limitations. As we age, our bodies deteriorate. There are some exercises that may exacerbate joint pain. Find a pain free alternative. The long term consequence is not worth the risk. A standard pushup may prove too difficult or cause shoulder pain. However, if the upper body is raised; more body weight is directed toward the lower extremities making the movement easier and less painful.

It is also important to set realistic goals. Fitness is a lifetime proposition and should be approached from this perspective. If you are like most people, you struggle with adherence. Setting small, achievable goals will greatly improve your discipline and chances of long term success. Your initial routines should be brief and fairly easy. As you develop the habit, you can increase time and intensity. This also reduces the likelihood of exercise plateaus or months when results seem to stall.

Flexibility is a functional aspect of exercise that is often overlooked. A flexible muscle is a well-conditioned muscle. Incorporate stretching into your regular exercise routine. The Internet provides an endless supply of tips, exercises and benefits of stretching. There are several ways to implement it into your program. Working through a full ranges of motion will enhance flexibility. Yoga and Pilates will also increase flexibility and function by utilizing your body weight or external resistance appropriate to your strength. These modalities are a great way to break the monotony of standard resistance training as they reduce stress and improve blood flow.

Many men will attest that a well-executed exercise routine has benefits beyond health and aesthetics. Learned disciplines continue to prove beneficial for men who desire personal as well as professional success. Train smart.

Beer Clubs – Great New Gift Idea

beer clubsWe all have friends or colleagues who enjoy nothing more than sitting down to a really great beer. Imagine how much they’ll look forward to checking the mail each day day knowing that their next shipment of premium beer might be waiting for them thanks to you. After all, you really can’t go wrong with giving the gift of a beer club membership these days when it comes for finding the perfect gift for the beer lovers in your life.

It’s hard to believe that it was just a short time ago that most guys were only familiar with a handful of breweries and stuck to one or two domestic pilsners with fanatical devotion. With new microbreweries appearing throughout the country dedicated to the craft of brewing artisanal ale, it appears that beer has entered a golden age. Beer clubs let members celebrate the era of quality craft beer in style with samplings of different types of beer from around the country and even the world.

One of the best things about choosing a beer club membership for someone is that it’s the type of gift that keeps on giving. Months after you’ve given your friends subscriptions to a beer club, they’ll continue receiving new beers to try, often for an entire year or longer. In addition to giving them the opportunity to sample some new beers that they may never have had before, their beer club membership can serve as a great conversation topic when they let you know what they’ve tried most recently.

Although membership in most beer clubs isn’t exactly cheap, there are different programs available to fit just about any pocket book. Some clubs focus primarily on providing members with beers from some of the better known microbreweries like Sierra Nevada and Red Hook, and memberships in these programs tends to be pretty affordable. Other clubs specialize in distributing high quality Flemish ales and other craft brews that are hard to find in most parts of the country, and these memberships tend to be a little more pricey.

If you are thinking of purchasing a beer club subscription for a friend but aren’t quite sure what type of beer he happens to like, you might consider simply letting him pick out a subscription for himself. Many beer clubs offer multiple programs and provide customers with the option to purchase a gift card so that recipients can pick out what type of membership they would like for themselves.

Although many people choose to go with annual subscriptions when it comes to signing up for beer of the month clubs, there are other options available if you are interested in a shorter commitment. Subscriptions in most beer clubs are available for durations from three to twelve month terms. Purchasing a 3 or 6-month subscription can be a great way to see if someone will enjoy your gift as much as you hope they will while providing you with the option to renew their subscription when the next special occasion roles around.

Not only do beer clubs provide members with the opportunity to sample a wide selection of brews, they also usually offer decent discounts on buying larger orders of beer as well. If your friend happens to really enjoy a particular beer that he’s received, most beer clubs will provide him with the opportunity to order more at a substantial discount.

No matter what types of beer club membership you decide to give as a gift, you’ll be providing him with a great way to learn more about the wide world of beer. Beer clubs usually send along some detailed information about each of their monthly beers, including how the beer was made and some background information about the brewery itself. Some also include a monthly newsletter about beer in general with topics that range from industry news to home brewing. In fact, with so many benefits of membership, you might just find yourself signing up for a subscription yourself.

Tips in Buying Beef

Now that summer is upon us the time to get out the grill and prepare that beef to everyone’s delight. There are several items of interest that a dad must take into consideration when selecting and buying beef. One is the use or method of preparing the steak or cut of beef. For example, if you wished to barbecue beef by the smoking method you would only want to use brisket beef. The brisket cut comes from the lower front portion of the cow and has the greatest amount of fat. Barbecuing in a smoker, as a general rule, needs fat to cook properly. If you are going to roast then there are the chuck or the round cuts that offer great results. Same thing with broiling such as a London Broil using a cut of round. There are many recipes that will go against what has been stated in this article so take note, follow these general rules and you won’t go wrong because they are easy and reliable.

When it comes to pure eating and grilling the king of all has to be the T-bone steak. This cut comes from the rear section of the cow but in front of the round section and is close to the tenderloin section, the primo portion, of the cow. The T-bone is a succulent portion of the cow which is easy to cook and hard to make mistakes. Here the butcher has several options. One of which is to call it a Porterhouse versus a T-bone cut. In some cases there is a difference in that the Porterhouse cut comes from the back of the short loin section whereas the T-bone comes from the front of that section. However, in most cases the only difference is the price.
The term Porterhouse was concocted in a town named Midway in Kentucky where a train stop restaurant wanted to give the cut a fancy name and picked a sophisticated name of a New York restaurant. That indicates that there are a lot of names of cuts of beef which are just promotional in nature. For example one might go into a restaurant and see ‘New York Cut’ but in New York that same cut of beef will be called “Kansas City Cut”. Don’t let any of those names fool you. They mostly are hype and with the hype so also goes higher prices.
As to the grades of beef that is one of the most important aspects to the quality and taste of the meat. There are four rankings: Prime, Choice, Select and Standard. Within these rankings there are other rankings which are not readily revealed to the common person. For example there is a high grade Prime, a medium grade Prime and a low grade Prime. All these grades are determined by a USDA inspector.
Forget the high and medium grade Prime. You will never or rarely see that in the meat section of your local store. Buyers for restaurants are eagerly waiting for this kind of stock to arrive and often purchase these cattle before they are butchered or while still on the hoof. How can they grade it without even seeing the beef and its marbling and other aspects? Any buyer worth his salt knows the location where the beef has been raised and under what conditions. For example, The best beef in the world comes from the pan handle area of Nebraska and is called ‘high grassy lands beef’. This beef has proven more succulent than the Kobe beef from Japan. If you ever get a chance to eat this beef you will think you are in pure heaven.
Forget the Select and Standard grades as they are not worth wasting your grill gas. When you buy any beef for the grill get the highest grade. It is worth the extra money.

Why Cast Iron Makes Desirable Cookware

Why Cast Iron Makes Desirable CookwareReady for rugged use, cast iron cookware is an all-purpose choice for kitchen duty. Once heated, it cooks either fast or slow and it cleans up quickly under running water with just a little scrubbing. Hefty by nature, larger pieces require a little man-handling on the stovetop or in the oven. When a camping trip calls, these pieces are workhorses over a fire for great outdoor meals. Cast iron will last through generations and can take the abuse of a busy family while impressing guests when the time comes to commandeer kitchen spaces.

Plain and Enameled Cast Iron

Deciding between plain and enameled cast iron depends on cooking needs, budget and size requirements. Enameled versions tend to be higher in cost and can chip if not treated with some care. However, they are also best for cooking acidic foods such as tomatoes. Plain cast iron remains the most in demand. It requires an oil rub after each use and an occasional re-seasoning to prevent rust. Original, plain cast iron pots and skillets may feature slightly raised rings on the bottoms, making them harder to use on flat-surface stovetops. Completely flat bottoms will get the job done on any type of surface. Just be careful about placement as their weight can cause scratches and, if dropped, breakage.
Cast Iron Advantages

The advantages of using cast iron are many. In addition to a long life, the material evenly conducts heat exceptionally well over gas flames or a heating element. That makes deeper pots excellent choices for soups and stews, as they require less babysitting. Using a larger griddle that covers two burners is no problem. Heat spreads outward to prevent cold spots with room to let bacon sizzle, hash browns crisp and eggs cook to everyone’s preferences. Tougher cuts of meat will turn tender with a little loving care inside cast iron. Well-seasoned cast iron provides its own non-stick coating, which means less cleanup time. Pieces also move from burners straight into the oven to finish off meats and other dishes.

Small, medium and large skillets are a must-have for any cook. In addition, a variety of saucepans and pots will round out a collection. Muffin pans will make easy work of cornbread and other baked treats. A Dutch oven is the ultimate in large-scale cooking. For avid campers, an oven with feet will sit perfectly over hot coals in a fire pit.

Reasons to Avoid Cast Iron

Frying, simmering, boiling and baking. Almost all foods are quick and easy to prepare in cast iron. However, a few exceptions do exist and every cook should keep a wider range of cookware choices on hand. Adding cold or frozen foods to cast iron can cause it to crack. Because the material is porous, it can also transfer flavors from an earlier cooked meal to the next. Plain boiling water is best saved for other types of pots. Even well-seasoned pieces can impart a little iron into foods.

Cleanup and Maintenance

Cleanup for plain cast iron is perhaps the easiest part of all. Rinse thoroughly with hot water, scrubbing away any stuck-on particles. Wipe dry and place on a hot burner for a final quick heat. Remove and let cool.

Today’s standard cast iron cookware arrives pre-seasoned, often with an extra oily coating that acts as a preservative in transit. For a cheaper alternative, older pieces are still easy to find at garage or estate sales. They may show rust but, if they are in good shape, can usually be revitalized with a deep seasoning and baking in the oven.

While outfitting an entire kitchen collection in enameled or cast iron cookware is not practical, it is nice to have one, two or more favorite pieces. A deep pot, a skillet or two and a Dutch oven are all popular starter choices.