It’s the end of April and it seems as if the spring cleaning will never end. We’re always looking for new ways to refresh our homes and so are our Pinterest followers. Here’s a list of our most pinned products for the month — our Pinteresting Picks for April.
Cooking is fun to do at home, but there are a lot of risks that come with preparing food. Microorganisms grow quickly in food and can make people sick, but you can prevent them from becoming a problem in your kitchen. Here are 5 things you need to remember to keep your food safe.
Microorganisms grow very quickly in foods that don’t contain much acid. Items like egg salad or tuna salad contain very little acid so, left in the wrong conditions, they can spoil very quickly. By adding acid like lemon juice or vinegar to low-acid foods, you can reduce the risk of microorganisms spreading.
Microorganisms develop fastest when food temperature is between 40°F and 140°F. This range is considered the temperature danger zone. Refrigerators are typically set at less than 40°F and most food is cooked to a temperature higher than 140°F. Your biggest concerns would be for food left out at room temperature (about 60°F to 90°F). Tip: keep the hot stuff hot and the cold stuff cold.
Microorganisms require time to flourish. When food is left in the temperature danger zone, it grows quickly – multiplying every minute it’s left out. After four hours, microorganisms can grow to levels high enough to make someone sick.
Most microorganisms need oxygen to grow. Keeping food sealed in plastic and glass containers helps keep oxygen out and prevent bacteria from growing.
Microorganisms need water to grow. Many microorganisms die in dry conditions, so spoilage can be controlled by dehydration.
Foods most likely to spoil:
- Milk and dairy products
- Cooked rice, beans and vegetables
- Baked potatoes
- Soy products
- Sliced melons and cut tomatoes
There are also some foods that won’t spoil easily. Food like bread can be left out at room temperature because it contains little acid, but it contains moisture so it will spoil eventually. Cookies and crackers don’t have much acid in them and contain little moisture, so they can be left out at room temperature for extended periods without spoiling. Most fruit have acid in them so they can be left at room temperature for a period as well, but both bread and fruit won’t spoil as quickly if they are refrigerated.
Food is fickle. While you can manage all of the factors that cause food to spoil, the only two things you can control are time and temperature. So if something is sitting on the counter and you didn’t put it there remember one thing: when in doubt, throw it out.
It’s getaway day! We’re fantasizing about what we’re going to do with our days off… and we picked out some items that are inspiring how we should spend the weekend. Here are LTD’s product picks for the week.
It’s Administrative Professionals’ Day! Administrative assistants do a lot to keep the office together and to make you look good. You’ve already sent flowers to show your appreciation, but it doesn’t seem like enough. So how do you say thank you to someone who is invaluable to you and your company? Here are three ways you can show respect for your administrative professional today.
Talk According to a survey conducted by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), administrative professionals identify “effective communicator” as the most important quality for a boss, yet only about half are very satisfied with the communication with their bosses. Though you may be good at communicating what needs to be done at the office, communicate to your administrative assistant that he or she has an important role in the work flow and he or she is valued.
Give You don’t have to give a gift, but it would be a very nice gesture. A more useful gesture would be a gift of knowledge. According to the IAAP, two-thirds of all administrative professionals receive less than ten hours per year of training from their employers. Of course you don’t want to lose your assistant who knows what you’re going to do before you do it, but everyone deserves the opportunity for career advancement. Even if your assistant doesn’t plan to advance, workshops and seminars for your assistant can help in improving efficiency in your office.
Upgrade 80% of administrative professionals say their responsibilities have increased over the last five years – 41% say it was a significant increase and 42% believe they could do their jobs more efficiently with a better computer. Three out of the top five training needs for administrative professionals are based on technology which is ever-changing – which 27% say is the biggest issue facing the profession in the next five years. How about a new computer to work and learn on? It’ll pay for itself in no time and your assistant will be a happier employee.
In a survey published in the Wall Street Journal, employers have seen the role of the administrative professional change significantly over the last ten years, they’re more technologically savvy and are more strategic thinkers. The survey suggests companies are running with smaller teams and have made administrative professionals an integral part of that team. They’ve found it’s harder to fill positions once an administrative professional leaves, so they’re working on a retention strategy for the positions and filling them with the best of the best.
April 22nd is Earth Day. We love where we live and we could all do a little bit more to honor Mother Earth. Here are 7 ways to reduce and reuse things around your home you didn’t know about and make your Mother Earth proud.
1. Milk jugs are the gardener’s little helper. They have many uses, but for the tomato gardener, it is heaven sent as a DIY trench watering system. Poke a few holes in the bottom and sides, dig a small trench near the plants and bury the jug about half-way. Fill the jug with water and it will slowly release water into the soil to keep it moist.
2. How many times have you seen a discarded wooden pallet and thought “I know I could do something with that”? Well, a garden walkway is about the easiest thing you can do with a wooden pallet. It requires little more than pulling it apart and arranging them along a dirt path. It’s so easy you’ll be kicking yourself for not having thought of it yourself.
3. Cereal or cracker box lining can be used anywhere you might use wax paper or parchment paper. Cutting the ends and along one side you have good sized sheet. In baking, you can use it to roll out ice box cookie dough or to line cake pans. It saves money, time and waste.
4. For the mismatched dishes you just can’t seem to get rid of, a clever way to make use of them is by making them into a tiered server. The project does require some tools and materials, but it will be worth it to see your plates in play again.
5. Save your cans. They’re the crafter’s dream material. Soup cans, coffee cans, paints cans: save ALL your cans. From lamp shades to biscuit cutters, there isn’t much you can’t do with a can.
6. Got something to stuff? That leftover pill bottle cotton can fill a sock doll. All of that dryer lint you toss in the garbage? You can stuff a pillow with it. No need to fill a landfill when you need to fill a toy.
7. Just because an old water bottle can’t hold water anymore doesn’t mean it can’t hold something. With clever cutouts it turns into a gadget you didn’t know you need – a wall mount for your cell phone while it charges. It’s a brilliant way to repurpose the used, but not used up bottle.
We use stuff every day, but that doesn’t mean we have to throw it away every day. Being a responsible human being is easy, it just takes a little bit of thought on how to be responsible. Happy Earth Day!
With all of the emails, meetings and spreadsheets to deal with in a day, it’s easy to get wound up. Here are 6 tips to reduce stress at work so you don’t have to find out what your breaking point is on Stress Awareness Day.
Take a Deep Breath We need oxygen to live, but it’s also a great stress reliever. Deep breaths can actually slow your heart beat and lower your blood pressure. Even if you sit quietly for a few minutes, you can lower your heart rate. So when you’re sitting at your desk with a to-do list a page-and-half long, take a deep breath… or no breaths… or five deep breaths, if it’s that bad.
Meditate Take ten minutes to meditate. Focusing on a word or sound while relaxing each muscle in your body helps to clear the noise in your head created by stress. An adrenaline rush is a natural response to stress — meditation does the opposite of an adrenaline rush. By using this relaxation technique, your pulse slows, blood pressure is lowered and your metabolism slows down. You don’t need any special tools, just a little bit of time and a comfortable place to sit at the office and you’re on your way to being stress free.
Stop and Smell the Lavender Lavender is used as a remedy for conditions from hair loss to insomnia, but did you know it could reduce stress? It lowers your heart rate and improves sleep quality. Keeping a sachet at work will keep your work space smelling fresh and calm when the going gets tough
Chew Gum When you have a presentation you’re feeling stressed about, pop a piece of gum in your mouth. Australian researchers found chewing gum decreased the amount of the stress hormone cortisol by 16 percent. They also found that it reduces anxiety and increased the ability to multi-task. All this and fresh breath to boot. Talk about stress reliever…
Dark Chocolate Dark chocolate is the anti-dote to many ailments – including stress. A study published in the Journal of Proteome Research shows the amount of the stress hormone cortisol was significantly reduced in people who ate a chocolate. The only down side to the study is they had to eat chocolate every day. That’s not such a bad trade off.
Read a Page or Two Researchers at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress levels by 68 percent. It’s a quick fix, too. It only takes about six minutes of reading before you start experiencing a lower heart rate and relaxed muscles. The study looked at other methods of relaxation – listening to music was a close second followed by a cup of tea and taking a walk.
Stress takes so much out of us, but it takes so little effort to get relief. On Stress Awareness Day, there’s no better reason to take time out to relax.
Millions of people across the country are getting ready to lace up their sneakers to walk in support of breast cancer research and awareness. If you’re one of the millions gearing up for the Breast Cancer Walk, here are some ideas on how to prepare before you set out on your journey.
Before the Walk
Walking isn’t the most strenuous of exercises, but it’s still exercise and when you’re walking for miles, it takes training. The amount of time you spend on training depends on the distance your charity walk is. Generally, you’ll want to walk 30 minutes five days a week, increasing the walk time by five minutes each week. Use a 13-mile training schedule as a guide for your training. Walk rain or shine during your training because you never know what the weather will be on the day of the big walk.
Make sure you have shoes dedicated to walking. When you walk for exercise, you walk differently than you would doing errands or going to work and your shoes adapt to how you walk. This can reduce your risk of injury and blisters.
Walk with a training group for some of your walks. This can give you a chance to meet other people walking for your cause. Another way to stay motivated is by keeping a walking log or journal where you can track your progress.
As walk day approaches, start gathering information about what you’ll need on the day of the race. Generally, organizers send you a walk day packet or send you information on where to pick up your packet. The packet can include:
- Information on how to get to the start and when you should arrive
- Your number
- Safety pins for your number
Carry as little as possible. It takes a lot of energy to carry even small items. The longer you carry something, the heavier it feels and it uses energy you need to get across the finish line. Items you should carry:
- Water bottle
- Poncho or light rain jacket
- Protein bars
- First aid kit (small)
Wear moisture wicking clothes. Moisture wicking clothes draws moisture away from your body so your body can regulate its temperature based on the elements rather than moisture gathered on your body.
Drink before you get thirsty and eat before you get hungry. Eat about 100 calories each hour you’re walking. Staying hydrated and energized can keep you going and you’ll feel less exhausted toward the end.
Start slow. When the walk begins, the crowd can be big and hard to navigate. When the crowd thins out, start walking at a comfortable pace for you. Be aware and respectful of other walkers and volunteers. Walk only in designated areas.
After the Walk
Now that you’ve completed the big Breast Cancer Walk, you’ve got a great base for an exercise regimen. Keep it up and start thinking about your next charity walk. Do good things for a good cause and do good things for yourself.
We’re flipping through the catalog to pass the time between now and when the weekend starts. We’ve picked out some items we can’t wait to use now that the weather is finally warm! Here are LTD’s product picks for the week.
It’s Sibling Day and in honor of our sisters and brothers, we’re looking at our catalog of yesteryear and thinking about what we might have given our siblings on Sibling Day 25 years ago. Here’s a glimpse at LTD Commodities teen gift offerings from 1989.
Wouldn’t your brother or sister love a new backpack? These fancy acid wash denim backpacks can catch any teenager’s eye – from Alex P. Keaton to The Karate Kid, everyone wants acid wash. Madras tie, geometric shapes sweater and bandanas sold separately.
If your brother or sister is musically inclined, the Song Maker Electronic Amplified Guitar with Stage Microphone ad Speaker box promises hours of magical fun. This is pretty amazing – the guitar is pre-strung with six real steel guitar strings and the microphone stand is adjustable. There are no messy wires to deal with because it operates on four “C” batteries. The only thing missing is an electric keyboard…
…and here it is — in the form of a calculator! This Mini-Piano Melody Calculator will allow the nerdy brother or sister to choose between musician and mathematician with the flip of a switch. Yes, you can actually play the piano on this calculator! It comes with two pens and batteries are included.
If your sibling’s talent is in vocals, loading up a cassette tape will be loads of fun with this Sing-Along Cassette Player/Recorder. You and sis can have “inspired jam sessions” at “the beach, a slumber party or a picnic.” Your parents will be delighted to hear the gift that keeps giving when the auto-stop reminds you to flip the cassette tape.
Not all siblings have musical talent. Some of them choose to listen – for those siblings, perhaps you can add music to their life with an AM- FM Mini Headphone Radio. How cool would it be to exercise to music without getting tangled in a cord? The only thing you have to worry about is keeping the tuner in the right spot on the dial. At the price of $4.95 each, you can buy one for yourself, too, it does, after all, adjust to fit any size head.
What teenager doesn’t want a shoe phone? This one comes in the shape of a pump and all the cool girls have one. The Shoe Fashion Phone is designed with impact resistant high gloss plastic so it can stand up to Sally’s wrath when she’s having a bad hair day. It’s Tone/Pulse Switchable, has last number redial and comes with – get this – Fully Modular Plugs.
For the jokester … the Ultimate Equalizer is the ultimate Sibling Day gift. This is awesome. Totally awesome. This little box is a noisemaker in the shape of a radar detector. It relieves tension and hostility the fun way! When someone makes your brother mad, he can just turn on the flashing lights and choose from noises that include “auto machine gun, grenade launcher, death ray, and rifle gun”. It will freak your brother’s enemies out. It’s the “crowning option for combating frustrations.” It can be mounted on a desk or dashboard.
And for the sibling who keeps racking up fees for returning video rentals without rewinding – give your sibling a practical and helpful gift. The Cassette Rewinder allows you to watch the latest episode of Full House that you recorded while rewinding that Mathew Modine movie that you missed when it was in the theaters. It comes with the choice of VHS or Beta.
Of course, it’s 2014 and not 1989 so those items, to our disappointment, are no longer available at LTD Commodities, and our catalog has been updated with items you would be equally excited to give to your sibling today. Check it out.
1. Generosity?If you loaned money to a friend or family member and they didn?t pay you back, don?t sweat it. Unpaid personal loans are tax deductible. Uncle Sam is looking out for you if you were being a little too generous this year. This also includes unpaid child support. You can read more about it in Publication 535, Business Expenses and Publication 550, Investment Income and Expenses on the IRS website.
2. Home Office?Getting tax relief for your home office is a little bit easier this year. The IRS simplified the option for you this year and they?ll you deduct $5 per square foot of your home office up to 300 square feet.
3. Sales Tax?If your income tax was low this year, you may want to look into how much sales tax you paid. You can claim your sales tax rather than your income tax. If you spent a lot of money, it may be worth going through your receipts and adding it all up. In addition to sales tax, if you didn?t get a state income refund last year, you can deduct it from your taxes this year.
4. Seasoned Students?Even if you finished college 20 years ago, you can still get tax relief for returning to school. You can get up to a $4,000 deduction in your income tax for post-secondary education to improve your skills or add to them.
5. Early Withdrawal Penalties?When you have money tied up in a time deposit account (like a certificate of deposit) and you make early an withdrawal, money that you give up in interest is tax deductible. Refer to page 18 in the IRS Publication 550 for more information.
6. Made in the USA?Uncle Sam wants to keep business in the family. If you make goods here in the United States, you get up to a 9% deduction of your adjusted gross income. However, if your business involves oil, this amount is significantly reduced. You can learn more about this in the instructions for IRS Form 8903.
7. Alimony?If you are contributing income to a former spouse in the form of alimony, this money is tax deductible. This money has to be part of the divorce settlement — and other details of the divorce agreement, like child support, are not tax deductible. More can be found on the IRS website on Tax Topic 452.
Tax time is taxing, but if you do your homework, it doesn?t have to be as damaging to your wallet as you expect it to.