Letting Go of “perfect”

(an unexpected gift of aging or pain)

Doing less when I’m tired or sore

Some years ago, I read an article about simplifying housework, or finding ways to do less without guilt. For example, hide messes in the oven, or throw toys in a bin when a guest was coming over. Or better yet, just leave the dirty dishes in the sink and welcome your friend in the house anyway! Another work saver was spot cleaning the floor when spilling in one area rather than wash the whole floor.

This is a struggle for alot of us who are too hard on ourselves or do too much! Enter a sore back, chronic pain or just normal aging and we have a choice to make. Keep hurting or try a new cleaning tool, doing things differently or get help from someone else.
Or let a few things go. Stop working when you’re tired or sore. Take a break. I’ve had to learn to do things differently and to do a whole lot less than I used to. Letting go of perfect and just being “good enough”. As we hear in healthy circles, I am a human “being”, not a human “doing”.

swiffer mop or similar

I do use a swiffer to wash my floor, and often I spot clean a mess on the floor. I use my foot (and clean shoes) to wipe up small spot rather than stoop and twist to reach the floor. My other “go to ” trick is to sit on a low foot stool (Rubbermaid or other) to do chores including gardening, or wiping something up without stooping or twisting.

Blessings, Mary Beth

Continue reading “Letting Go of “perfect””

Core Exercises for Fitness and Fall Prevention

Image result for therapy ball exercises
Sit to stand with a therapy ball is much easier on the knees
(Sit to stand motion is a good fall-prevention move)

Consult your Dr, physical or occupational therapist before starting any new or challenging exercise program.
And remember, that PAIN IS NOT GAIN! If something hurts, stop immediately, and consult a professional. Or start with a low number of repetitions until you can do a routine, and not hurt the next day (my rule for myself).
Balance really changes after age 60, as I’ve seen in professional courses (I am an occupational therapist). I am also learning by personal experience. I tripped over a rock in the garden last summer and was surprised at how fast it happened. Luckily, I landed on soft soil and didn’t hurt myself.

Easiest core exercise, can be done in bed if getting on the floor is too difficult
Image result for therapy ball exercises
Ball Bridge is your “go to” exercise, if you have time for only one. Try this with a low ottoman if you don’t have a therapy ball

Core muscles are important for preventing falls and hip fractures, especially the rectus abdominus muscle (according to research). A church friend in her 60s fractured her hip when her bike slid on a sand patch, so fall prevention isn’t just for those over age 80.
Although core exercises don’t prevent accidents, they may help you land without the twisting that can make a hip fracture more likely.
As a person with lifting limitations (arthritis), I try to find fitness routines that don’t hurt my body, but also feel good. With therapy ball core work, I can feel the results in a more upright posture and better mobility getting off the floor or in and out of the car.
Mix it up

I also like to “mix it up”, vary workouts so I don’t get bored or stuck on one or two basic exercises. Research shows that varying workouts, even on alternating days is beneficial for keeping your body strong and balanced. Ideas with pictures:

I recently joined the Mayo Clinic Diet program on-line and lost those pesky pounds with their programming of healthy eating, changing negative habits (like mindless eating with tech), and balanced fitness. Here is a recent email from the Mayo Clinic Diet program about core workouts:

So, main take away, try one of two of these therapy ball exercises in addition to your regular routine to keep your core and posture strong!

Blessings, Mary Beth

Instant Healthy Berry No-Bake Cheesecake- (5 minute prep)

5 minute prep berry cheesecake
allow 2 hours to overnight to chill

Excellent winter raspberries and strawberries are in at the markets and even though it’s January, I am craving a taste of summer found in fresh fruit and colorful presentation in a dessert. This instant dessert, adapted from this Eating Well no-bake berry cheescake bars recipe, met my criterion for beautiful, easy and healthy all in one. Just don’t tell people it’s healthy and they will never know! I really like that there is no gelatin or cool whip with this filling , just healthy neufchatel cream cheese and Greek yogurt mixed with confectioners sugar (for thickening) along with lemon flavorings. Note: I use Fage Greek yogurt , which is especially thick and sets beautifully while chilled.
For easy entertaining, make this overnight, and add fresh fruit at the last moment. A little dollop of whipped cream (like Reddi-whip) makes this company ready.


Instant No-Bake Berry Cheesecake
1 pre-made graham cracker crust
1 8 oz package cream cheese (regular or Neufchatel)
1 cup Fage or other thick Greek yogurt (0% or 2% work well)
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 t lemon extract, 1 t lemon zest, 1 T lemon juice
Fresh berries and/ or fresh pineapple to taste
Reddi-whip dairy whip for garnish

Whip cream cheese, confectioners sugar, Fage Greek yogurt and lemon zest, juice and extract in mixer with beater attachment (or a food processor) until smooth. Spread in prepared graham cracker crust. Chill at least 2 hours to overnite. If wanting to serve quickly, pop in freezer (cover with domed pie crust cover and foil) for 1/2 hour and then garnish with fresh fruit before serving.

Instant mousse variation: Make filling as a “pudding or mousse”. Serve in glass dessert dish, garnish with crushed graham cracker crumbs and fresh cut up fruit before serving,

Enjoy every moment and a little splurge of dessert!

Blessings, Mary Beth

Travel Tips to lighten your load!

January weather in Minnesota is frightful right now at zero degrees and many senior friends are booked for travel to points south. Whether you yourself have joint pain or lifting limitations or are traveling with a family member who does, travel can be challenging and painful. Handling luggage in and out of cars, overhead luggage rack on the plane or off the baggage claim carousels are the most difficult for me when traveling alone. Here are some of my favorite travel tips to “lighten your load”.

The Arthritis foundation magazine (Arthritis Today) or their free on line forum at arthritis.org has the most helpful, up to date ideas on adapting daily living, living healthy and adapted equipment suggestions.

  1. Asking for help. I have found fellow travelers to be very willing to help with helping to lift luggage from the overhead plane bins or off of the luggage carousels.
  2. Travel lighter. I wear my heaviest jeans, athletic shoes and slacks when flying, and keep my coat or jacket on. I resist my tendency to “overpack” or have a new outfit for every day and plan to do laundry part way through my trip. I pack light “flip flops” for slippers, showering or pool areas to lighten my load. I do pack one pair of lighter dressy shoes.
  3. Try out roller bags to make sure all four rollers move easily and don’t strain your low back. (see reviews on best roller bags, above.) The review also features a smaller roller camera bag that can double to carry lightweight items like shoes, insulated pack to carry medication.
  4. The Arthritis Today magazine suggests that you don’t overpack into one suitcase but spread your items among a few smaller cases. Use a fanny pack to carry important documents and medications close to your body and for travel security. Invest in a smaller “tuck under” the seat suitcase to avoid overhead lifting in the plane.
  5. If you’re traveling during a “flare up” and the walking distance is too long between airport gates, airlines are willing to get you a wheeled escort via “golf cart” or wheelchair. Asking for help is still difficult for me, but it was a relief and made a trip for my mom’s 90th birthday party possible!
  6. Find a local pool to stay strong and ease pain while traveling.

Blessings, Mary Beth

Lighten Up! (Around the House)

Including Instant and Low Cost Lighting Solutions without an Electrician or Handyman!
My top picks have no batteries or light bulbs to change!

My 91 year old mother mentioned that our eyes need more light as we age, especially for reading, and navigating dark hallways, basements and , yes, more nighttime trips to the bathroom while half asleep! As I have reached my sixties I have also noticed that I need more light as I enter the house into a dark hallway, stairway and in the longer dark days during the winter, and focused task lighting when I do crafting or reading.
A recent trip to Costco showed a full aisle of lighting solutions, probably tailored to our aging baby- boomer population who are noticing the need to “spotlight” or task light as they age. Many low-maintence LEDs for indoors and outside have integrated bulbs that don’t require replacements! (Double win: no climbing of ladders to replace light bulbs)! Several were $29.99 or high of $44.99.

Integrated LED lights for interior or outside. Most with no bulb replacement and easy install. Some interior lights have dimmer options

Our neighbors who are in their late seventies have a dark stairway down to their basement laundry room and have stumbled a few times on the dimly lit stairs. We loaned them our $2.50 battery “hockey puck” motion activated LED light (above) to see if that additional light would give more security without alot of wiring or fuss. This instant solution worked so well, that our friends hightailed it to the home store to buy a few motion activated lights.
As we adapt our home to “age in place” and prevent falls, I am looking for low cost solutions that don’t require wiring or frequent maintenance and can be installed quickly.

My favorite almost- instant lighting fixture is the Guidelight 2 from Snap Power auto on and off (light sensor) outlet or switch plate, which any home handyperson can manage in about 5 minutes by just changing out the switchplates. No electrician or rewiring is needed. It also works for kitchen outlets to light up your countertop work space, which is something we seem to need after age 55.
According to the Techlicious.com, the LED lights should last for up to 25 years, and cost about 10 cents a year in electricity. I like that Snappower is made in the USA (Utah).

Eufy set of 3 “lumi stick-on night lights” from Amazon are highly rated. Great for a park model trailer, RV or camper.

Lightening up and aging in place in your own home just got easier!

Blessings, Mary Beth

Easy Holiday Cooking Shortcuts

Parchment baked onion and butternut squash

Happy November! As the weather gets cold, I want to fire up the oven and put stews and soups on to heat up the house and ourselves! This last week in Minnesota we had record cold (zero degrees straight temperature) on Veterans Day, not a distinction we’d like to advertise! But in our state, stay tuned as temperatures zig zag alot. Within a few days we had more average 40 degree weather. Hunters were bundled up in the woods for deer opener last Saturday, Nov. 9, and that is usually the informal beginning of holiday bazaars, church craft and bake sales around here. While many women are hunting during deer opener, many of us prefer staying warm to congregate and hunt for bargains as we peruse the craft bazaars. Of course that means going out to lunch, catching local choir concerts, and cooking soups and stews to warm our souls!
This week, I tried a few time and hand saving recipes, using parchment paper to reduce clean up and even chopping (see halved baked onions and butternut squash).
My hint of the month is using parchment paper to reduce scrubbing or scraping of baking pans!
Those of us with tender hands from arthritis or aging understand that scrubbing baked on food and chopping are some of the toughest daily chores in the kitchen.
I was pleased to find these easy-on-the-hands cooking shortcuts from my new favorite food blogger, Katie Morford.
In Mom’s Kitchen Handbook, with “Week Night Rescue”, food writer and registered dietician Katie recommends halving butternut squash and onions and baking cut side down at a high temperature of 400 degrees. She appears to use a reuseable baking mat, while I used parchment paper.

As a person with tender hands , baking halved vegetables reduced the need to peel and chop multiple times and made peeling the cooked onions effortless. Baking at the high temp (400 degrees) carmelized the onion without having to stand for several minutes to saute in a fry pan. High temp baking also brings out the natural sweetness of the squash, onions, and is our latest “go to” method for potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussels, cauliflower and asparagus. We often use olive oil or olive oil spray on the vegies, on top of the parchment to enhance the flavor while still making clean up a breeze.

Instant Parchment Baked Salmon

Alaskan salmon baked on parchment paper
Instant , effortless meal with no clean up
Found at Costco in the freezer fish case

Pete’s Instant Cranberry Salsa Appetizer

My final fast holiday hint is Pete’s cranberry salsa appetizer or garnish for turkey. It is an instant appetizer to pull out of your pantry and serve with your favorite chips (we prefer blue corn tortilla chips). This dry salsa mix is found in the grocery store in mild or medium heat. It’s also great slathered over leftover turkey in a sandwich. Add creamed cheese next to the cranberry salsa to dress it up on the appetizer table.

Whenever my husband Pete brings this out, people want the recipe. It probably could win a recipe contest, but we prefer to share this instant appetizer with you as it makes you look good!
As we talk about self care and being easy on ourselves, there is nothing wrong with grabbing appetizers out of the deli if you’re too sore to whip something up. Or snag one of our favorite rotisserie chickens from Costco for 4.99, for an instant meal or chicken sandwich.

Holidays aren’t about driving ourselves crazy by trying to “do it all” or being perfect!

Blessings, Mary Beth

Doing things one handed

It happened in an instant. A fall off a mountain bike, which happened to my brother last week. Or a fall on a ski hill for my friend Ellen last winter. Or a planned surgery with a long recovery in a sling or cast.
Suddenly, little things become difficult. From putting on socks to opening jars and cutting your food. How can I do daily tasks without someone there all the time?

I thought I’d hit the highlights of hardest things that I needed to do myself after my dominant hand and arm were casted.

Use yoga or light stretch exercise pants during your recovery, so you can pull them up one handed. I found some great looking stretchable slacks and shorts at Lands End in their “starfish” pants collection.
There is a “sock aid” available if you if need help long term putting on your socks and it works well. For the short term, wear loose socks which can be put on this way:
1) Sit on the side of the bed, or if balance is a problem, lay on your back in bed. Cross your leg so you can reach your foot. (Or laying in bed, relax your knee and bring your foot towards you)
2) Spread sock apart with your free hand inside sock, and slide it over your toes.
3) Shimmy the sock up your foot. Now you see why I suggested wearing loose socks!

My husband learned to put on socks one handed after a ski fall

Sturdy slip ons work the best. if you’re in a heavy cast or immobilized arm, you may want to use a long handled shoe horn, which my husband found at Walmart, with a spring loaded feature:

Spring loaded shoe horn

Around the house:
Opening jars
If you’re on your own, getting food out is a bit tricky. I have a decent jar opener that is mounted under a cabinet that only takes one hand. (like the one below) If you have a long term condition or weakness in one hand, a mounted jar opener isn’t a bad idea.

Bed Bath and Beyond
$5.99 before coupon

Or put (previously opened) jars between your knees to stabilize while you open it with your free hand.

Hold jars or packages between your knees to stabilize

Opening microwave packages and cutting food:
Pre-packaged microwaveable dinners are a life saver if you’re limited to one hand.
A super sharp scissors is a huge help to open packages and a variety of other chores since you can use it one handed. You can hold the microwave package between your knees (or put a heavy tool like a hammer, on top). Cut one end (carefully) with a super sharp scissors.
You can even use a sharp scissors to cut food, especially washable kitchen shears.
I hope these ideas help you get by as you heal. Hang in there, things get better!

Do you have any other tricks or tools that help you do things at home? Please send me a message!

Blessings, Mary Beth

Zero G- super light and flexible garden hose

Super lightweight, flexible and easy to drag
Now “Amazon’s choice” for hoses

The whole country is parched with a massive heat wave, and our yards and gardens are showing the stress as much as we are.
It seems like we went from sweater weather to southern- style heat and humidity this year, even though we live in central Minnesota where our springs are usually moderate.
Despite our rainy spring and summer so far, the ground dries up quickly with the furnace like heat spell we’ve been having this month (July 2019), and we’ve been watering often.

Available at many garden stores or discount stores. Watch for sales, I got this for $29.99 at Fleet Farm

I was impressed when my sister showed me her Zero G hoses this spring, and I instantly understood why she replaced all her older hoses with this lightweight, flexible but sturdy hose. It’s not a wimpy or “girly hose” either- it’s rated well by garden sites and carries a 5 year warranty.
Like many of us with tender or aging bodies, lifting or dragging a hose is one of the hardest garden tasks we do. In fact, our mother ended up with a nasty fall after pulling a typical hose in her small yard just a few years ago.
So I was thrilled to find a hose that I can manage without asking for help and especially without strain or pain.
This baby pulls easily across the grass, and has a “space age” feature that is kind of fun: when the water is turned off and drains, the zero-g hose contracts like a shriveled snake and becomes instantly lightweight and easy to coil and stash.
I’m sold on this new technology, and my husband is impressed too.

Hang in there! The humidity is supposed to lift this week! It does make me crave fall, my favorite season.

Blessings, Mary Beth