Thursday, September 26, 2013

Halloween Costumes for Couples - DIY

Are you scratching your head, searching the stores and online for Do-It-Yourself costume ideas that won't break the bank for you and your significant other?

Here are a few to get your creative juices flowing.

Ken and Barbie Halloween Costume as seen on Costume Works
Ken and Barbie Halloween Costume

Items needed for Ken and Barbie:

  • Cardboard boxes (2)
  • Scissors or Knife
  • Paint
  • Permanent Marker
  • Be sure to add handles to the inside of the boxes so you can keep them in place
Have fun with this one; Prince and Princess, Expecting Parents, Fantasy, Military Personnel, Farmer, or anything else.

Dominoes Halloween Costume as seen on PCM Lifestyle
Dominoes Halloween Costume

Items needed for Dominoes:

  • Long Sleeve Black Shirt
  • Black Pants
  • Black Shoes
  • White Belt
  • White Felt
  • Scissors
  • Something to fasten the white dots to your clothes such as fabric glue, hook and loop tape, safety pins
This is a perfect outfit for a single, couple, or the whole family / group.  It's also a costume that can be created with less than an hour once you have all the supplies.

Soap and Loofah Halloween Costume as seen at Costume-Works
Soap and Loofah

Items needed for Soap and Loofah:

  • White T-Shirt - color of the bar of soap
  • Paint - write SOAP or your favorite brand
  • Plastic Wrap to resemble bubbles on the soap
  • Yards of Tulle (you can purchase tulle in rolls or in yards like you find fabric) - to make the loofah
  • Rope - the loop that is often attached to a net loofah
  • Shorts and Tank Top to match your tulle (or the other way around) :-)

Have you already decided what you are going to be for Halloween?  Please send us [substanceofliving(at)gmail(dot)com] a picture and description so we can share it here or leave a link to your photo in the comments section.  Please keep your photos and links family friendly.  Thanks!

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Kitchen Equivalent Chart

A Pinch1/8 Teaspoon or Less
3 Teaspoon1 Tablespoon
2 Tablespoon1/8 Cup
4 Tablespoon1/4 Cup
16 Tablespoon1 Cup
5 Tablespoon + 1 Teaspoon1/3 Cup
4 Ounces1/2 Cup
8 Ounces1 Cup
16 Ounces1 Pound
1 Ounce2 Tablespoon Fat or Liquid
1 Cup of Liquid1/2 Pint
2 Cups1 Pint
2 Pints1 Quart
4 Cups of Liquid1 Quart
1 Quart4 Cups
4 Quarts1 Gallon
8 quarts 1 Peck (such as apples)
1 Jigger1 1/2 Fluid Ounces (3 Tablespoons)



Tbsp or TTablespoon
pt Pint

Hope these charts come in handy for the upcoming holiday cooking and baking season.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Finding Wines for the Holiday Season

Likelii - logo

Summer is over.  The children are back in school.  The holidays are quickly approaching and that means gifts.

Are you a wine drinker and stuck in a rut?  Don't drink wine and find yourself in a situation that you have to purchase wine?  What do you do?

I've been holding out on you.  I found out about Likelii earlier this year.  In all fairness, I did have to try it out to see if it would give viable choices for different situations.  I'm now sharing with you because it does work.

If you're familiar with Netflix or Pandora and how these two sites offer suggestions then I think you will appreciate Likelii's wine recommendations.  You enter a particular wine you enjoy and then the site recommends other wines you might like.

Apothic Red by Apothic Wine
Apothic Red

Last year I found a new wine at Costco that was smooth, relatively inexpensive, and readily available.  That wine was Apothic Red.  I typed in "Apothic Red" as my choice and the site recommended nine different wines in various price ranges.  In that case, I could choose an Argentinian wine "The Show Malbec 2011" at $14.99 all the way up to a Washington State wine "K Vintners Cougar Hills Syrah 2009" for $49.99.  There were other wines from Spain, California, and South America varying in prices.

If you add more than one wine that you like, the search engine will come up with different choices.  The more wines you know you already like the better options available.  The website also allows you to rate the wines, add wines to your wish list, print out the list of wines, or purchase directly from Likelii - that is if your state will allow shipment of wines.

So, the next time you're looking for a new wine to try or as a gift for someone (use their favorite wines for a recommendation), try Likelii before heading out to the wine store.  Then again, if you are of legal age and your state allows shipment of wine, you can do yourself a big favor and save a lot of time by purchasing direct.  This certainly is a new way of keeping a wine journal and possibly a new wine purchasing experience.

P.S.,  This post was NOT sponsored by Likelii or any of the other products mentioned.  These are merely my humble opinions.

Please share me with your friends! Please forward this post to your friends or better yet share on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  THANKS!  Your comments and help in spreading the news about this site is ALWAYS appreciated!  Be sure to sign up to receive future articles delivered directly to your inbox.
Substance of Living

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How To Start A Book Club in 7 Easy Steps

What are Book Clubs?

Do you remember back when you were in school and you were assigned a book to read?  During the process of reading individually, the class would also discuss the storyline and chapters.

Now that you're all grown up, you might find that you still enjoy discussing books with friends but would like something a bit more structured with maybe some food, drinks, and socializing.

The goal of a book club is to read, discuss, learn, and of course socialize.  Without socializing, what fun is the book club.  One might as well be back in school doing book reports.

To help you get started with a list of books visit or join us on our Book Club page.

What Kind of Book Club?

Although there are many genres of book clubs there are only two types: Informal and Formal.

An informal book club is usually about the entertainment value of a book.  The discussions typically are about the book itself.  To me, this group is more on the order of a couple girlfriends getting together and discussing their favorite book and characters.

A formal book club tends to discuss the author's point of view or specific aspects of the book; mood, particular phases, style of writing, location, time frame.  This type of book club often has a leader for the group or meeting along with prepared questions for the discussion.  This group reminds me more of a classroom setting with a teacher and students.

What Genre Will We Read?

  • Specific Author - Read everything from a particular author (remember the movie about the Jane Austin Book Club?)
  • Children - Introduce children to important aspects of reading and to show them the life-long joy found in books
  • Horror - This is certainly not for the faint-of-heart (remember Stephen King's "Pet Cemetery"?)
  • Mystery - Enjoy suspense, intrigue and possibly even some laughs along the way
  • Christian - This is a nice way to expand reading and understanding from Bible Study groups
  • Fiction - This is a very broad genre covering anything that is not Non-Fiction or may combine historical facts within the context of a novel
  • Romance - This can include historical romance, current romance, time-travel romance, chick-lit
  • Science Fiction - Sub-generes may include; Steampunk, Futuristic, Time-Travel, Aliens, Paranormal, and of course Super Heroes 
  • Non-Fiction - Including historical events, biographies, real-life, autobiographies
  • Poetry -  Discuss what the poet was saying or the meaning behind the poem
  • Home and Garden - Discuss housekeeping tips, decorating ideas, parenting, gardening (flowers, vegetables, herbs), crafts
    • This is a nice group to actually try out some gardening or crafts as projects during the meeting
    • Try decorating or re-decorating a room in the host's home
    • There are several books/novels or series that include knitting, crafts, gardening, and tea
  • Cooking - Review recipes or cook books
    • Prepare appetizers, dessert, drinks, or a good meal as part of the meeting
    • Mystery novels revolving around cooking are fun and often include specific recipes mentioned within the storyline
Your group may inherently lean towards a specific genre or be as eclectic and unique as the group itself.   It will all depend on the group's reading preferences.

What Type of Books should We Read? 

Choosing books may depend on your location, structure of your group, and of course finances.
  • Library - Work with your local library to choose books with enough copies for everyone in the group to read at one time 
  • Take Turns - The host for the month gets to choose the book
  • Suggestions - Have everyone list their selections and go down the list or draw from a bowl
  • Paperback - Save some money and only read books that are in paperback format

How Many People Should be in the Book Club?

Start with three people who are avid readers that like to discuss books and meet for a month or two and then ask each member to bring one person to the next meeting.

Six to eight people is ideal for a book club.  The group is small enough to fit in someone's home or around a table at a nearby cafe.  It also allows each member the opportunity to voice their thoughts about the book.

If for some reason, one or two people were unable to attend a particular meeting, there would still be enough people for ample participation.

However, if you're more inclined to have 12 of your closest friends, then each person would only have to host once a year.

When, Where, and How Often will the Book Club Meet?

Start with meeting once a month.  This time frame allows people with the busiest of schedules to complete a book of about 300 pages or less.

Choose a particular time and day to meet.  The meeting could be on the 3rd Thursday of each month starting at 7pm or say the 15th of each month at 7pm.  Whichever fits your groups schedule best.  In any case, try to stick with the same time and day or date of the week.

Places to meet might include a meeting room at the library, in someone's home, at a cafe or coffee shop, in a small room at a restaurant, or at a book store.

What are the Guidelines for the Meeting?

Most gatherings tend to stay relaxed and successful if scheduled at no more than 2 hours.  If everyone meets at 7pm, chat and snack for a few minutes (say 30 minutes) then discuss the book until 8:50, then choose next month's host/book/time/etc.  Or have everyone jump right into the book for an hour upon arrival and then mix and mingle for the remaining hour.

Once a year, once a quarter or every six months, have an administrative meeting to discuss upcoming books, thoughts, issues, time of meeting, location or anything else.

What is the Goal of the Group?

  • Socialize
  • Read good books
  • Donate books or goods to charitable groups
  • Meet new people, strengthen friendships
  • Enjoy learning new foods, crafts, or how to garden
It is always nice to have a goal or a purpose for the group.  This purpose keeps the group focused, however there may be times that the group will alter for one reason or another.  An example of altering may be that one of the members might want to donate her books to the local library and may ask if others would like to do the same.   Another example might be that your group has come up with an awesome craft and want to sell it at the next craft fair to raise some extra money for the group.

Do you belong to a book club?  Have these steps helped you decide to start a book club?

If you are in a book club already, would you please share your ideas and thoughts to help others?

Please share me with your friends!
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Substance of Living

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Truth Behind the Email Circulating about Leg cramps, Water, Heart Attack

The following information came from one of our wonderful readers.  While reading the following information, please keep in mind that this is NOT medical advice and we are not doctors.  We like to pass along information that we receive for your viewing pleasure and hopefully answer some questions or dispel rumors.

What we really want you to know is that after doing some research on this matter, we found that although water is good for us in many ways, the information below has some erroneous information. 

Please check out Snopes, MayoClinic, LiveStrong, and Consumer Reports, for the truth about the statements made below.

The information below in bold and quotes is what was sent in the email:
"I am sending this to you because I found this extremely interesting
It seems to be good information.
How many folks do you know who say they don't want to drink anything before going to bed because they'll have to get up during the night!!

Heart Attack and Water - I never knew all of this! Interesting.......

Something else I didn't know ... I asked my Doctor why do people need to urinate so much at night time?

Answer from my Cardiac Doctor -
Gravity holds water in the lower part of your body when you are upright (legs swell). When you lie down and the lower body (legs and etc) seeks level with the kidneys, it is then that the kidneys remove the water because it is easier. This then ties in with the last statement! I knew you need your minimum water to help flush the toxins out of your body, but this was news to me.
Correct time to drink water
Very Important.

From A Cardiac Specialist!

Drinking water at a certain time maximizes its effectiveness on the body:
  • 2 glasses of water after waking up - helps activate internal organs 
  • 1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal - helps digestion 
  • 1 glass of water before taking a bath - helps lower blood pressure
  • 1 glass of water before going to bed - avoids stroke or heart attack
I can also add to this. My Physician told me that water at bed time will also help prevent night time leg cramps. Your leg muscles are seeking hydration when they cramp and wake you up with a Charlie Horse.

Mayo Clinic on Aspirin - PASS IT ON

Dr. Virend Somers, is a Cardiologist from the Mayo Clinic, who is lead author of the report in the July 29, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Most heart attacks occur in the day, generally between 6 A.M. and noon. Having one during the night, when the heart should be most at rest, means that something unusual happened. Somers and his colleagues have been working for a decade to show that sleep apnea is to blame.

1. If you take an aspirin or a baby aspirin once a day, take it at night.
The reason: Aspirin has a 24-hour "half-life"; therefore, if most heart attacks happen in the wee hours of the morning, the Aspirin would be strongest in your system.

2. FYI, Aspirin lasts a really long time in your medicine chest for years, (when it gets old, it smells like vinegar).

Please read on.

Something that we can do to help ourselves - nice to know.
Bayer is making crystal aspirin to dissolve instantly on the tongue.
They work much faster than the tablets.

Why keep Aspirin by your bedside?

It's about Heart Attacks -

There are other symptoms of a heart attack, besides the pain on the left arm. One must also be aware of an intense pain on the chin, as well as nausea and lots of sweating; however, these symptoms may also occur less frequently.

Note: There may be NO pain in the chest during a heart attack.

The majority of people (about 60%) who had a heart attack during their sleep did not wake up.

However, if it occurs, the chest pain may wake you up from your deep sleep.

If that happens, immediately dissolve two aspirins in your mouth and swallow them with a bit of water.

Afterwards: - Call 911.

Phone a neighbor or a family member who lives very close by.
Say "heart attack!"

Say that you have taken 2 Aspirins. - Take a seat on a chair or sofa near the front door, and wait for their arrival and DO NOT LIE DOWN!

A Cardiologist has stated that if each person after receiving this e-mail, sends it to 10 people, probably one life could be saved!

I have already shared this information. What about you?

Do forward this message. It may save lives!

"Life is a one time gift""
We at Substance of Living truly appreciate you keeping us in mind when you receive funny, informative, or questionable emails.  As you've seen, with this email received, we will verify the "factual" information sent to us.  We want you to know what is being circulated throughout the internet and emails as well as provide you with the links to do your own further reading on the matter.

We hope this post has answered some questions about the benefits of water, muscle cramps at night, and the use of an aspirin during a heart attack.  Although some of the information that was forwarded to us was incorrect, it still brings up good questions to ask a doctor.

Please keep your emails coming, we love hearing from you!

Have you received this particular message in your email yet?

Please share me with your friends!
If you enjoyed this post, please do a friend and me a BIG favor and forward this email. If you received this email from a friend and you'd like to see more, please sign up today. Don't miss out on future articles. Have Substance of Living delivered directly to your inbox.  THANKS!

Substance of Living

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Books to Read During the Month of September 2013

This month's selection is a bit eclectic.  We have some mysteries and a love story of sorts.  We also have a book that at first I wasn't too sure if I'd like since it has to do with government corruption.  Ahh, but I did keep an open mind for the first couple pages and found myself unable to put the book down.

Whiskey Sour by Jack Kilborn and J.A. Konrath
Whiskey Sour by Jack Kilborn and J.A. Konrath
Are you a Whiskey Sour drinker?  Did you try "Jack" Daniel's drink of choice for this book?

Just the Way You Are by Barbara Freethy
Just the Way You Are by Barbara Freethy

Suggestions on where to find books other than a book store include, wholesale clubs, thrift stores, library, amazon, garage sales, family, friends, and flea markets.

Murder on the Mind (A Jeff Resnick Mystery) by L. L. Bartlett
Murder on the Mind (A Jeff Resnick Mystery) by L. L. Bartlett

Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills
Breach of Trust by DiAnn Mills

If you're new to our book club and would like to get caught up, check out June, July, and August.

What have you been or are currently reading?  What did you think about last month's reading selection?

P.S., Should you decide to purchase any of these books through the links, Substance of Living will receive a small percentage and will help keep this blog going.

Please share me with your friends!
If you enjoyed this post, please do a friend and me a BIG favor and forward this email. If you received this email from a friend and you'd like to see more, please sign up today. Don't miss out on future articles. Have Substance of Living delivered directly to your inbox.  THANKS!

Substance of Living