American journalist Ellen Goodman once said, “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.” The New Year is often a time for starting fresh, and whether your goals for the new year are inward or outward, this issue of American Lifestyle can help you set yourself up for a successful year ahead.
As many people know, it’s not always easy to stick to healthy habits, and just getting started can be the hardest part. In this issue, you’ll get tools to help you make better choices at home, including solutions for organizing, scheduling, and meal prepping.
If you’re looking to eat better this year, cooking with simple, fresh ingredients is a great way to do it. The pair of recipes in this issue—a beef-and-tomato-based soup and a cauliflower-mushroom soup—are hearty and filling enough to make for the perfect winter dinners, and each offers no shortage of nutritious ingredients to help you meet your goals.
Does it seem like your kitchen appliances are always breaking down sooner than they should? The enclosed guide to the life expectancy of common appliances can help you better predict when they’ll need replacing and prevent them from falling apart before their time.
No matter what part of the country you live in, winter weather can be destructive to your home. From whipping winds to power outages to heavy snow, make sure your household is prepared for anything Mother Nature throws its way by reading the winter home safety guide in this issue.
May the new year bring you a renewed sense of possibility for what’s to come! As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
Habits create a domino effect. Once you begin a habit and stick with it, you can see the effects of it flowing into other areas of your life, for better or worse. But what if it’s easier than you think to make the healthy choice?
Most people put off developing healthy habits, especially at home, because it seems overwhelming while there are other important tasks at hand. Plus, there are copious self-help methods that promise you can change in a week. However, it takes time and dedication to change habits and get noticeable results. This year, you can cultivate a positive mindset about healthy habit development by following the three steps below.
Planners are all the rage, and for good reason. A planner can help you record your thoughts and remind you of your goals so you don’t forget them. However, don’t feel like you have to purchase a fancy or expensive planner to start organizing your life. With just a pencil and paper, you can develop a system that works for you, not against you.
A cleaning schedule
You shouldn’t feel the call to scrub and vacuum only during the mad dash right before guests arrive. Instead, divide your home into zones, and tackle deep cleaning one zone per day, even if it’s for just ten minutes—you’re sure to see and feel a difference in your cleanliness. Plus, it can help you spot potential problems as a homeowner when you get into the nooks and crannies of every room. Here is an example of a weekly cleaning schedule you can adopt:
Improving your eating habits can help you achieve your health goals, but what’s most important is that you plan your meals. Get excited about what you’re cooking! Dedicate time to preparing balanced and delicious foods. You are less likely to spend money and waste calories on junk food if you go to the grocery store armed with a list. You don’t need to have an expensive meal-planning program or take a course; just browse sites such as starthealthy.com or explore Pinterest for inspiration.
Your home is made up of rooms and areas that you use for different activities. Treat them as such. Instead of eating meals on the couch or working from your bed, create inviting spaces that can help keep you motivated and balanced.
If you work from home, it is of the utmost importance that you have an office or at least table space to call your own. When you do your work sitting or standing at a desk rather than on a couch or bed, you are less likely to feel tired and more likely to maintain your motivation and energy.
Exercise is an integral part of a healthy life. Consequently, you should dedicate all or part of a room in your home for a few pieces of equipment and keep an area open for yoga, stretches, and cardio. Consider rearranging your furniture to create this space, and choose a place that is well-lit with good airflow.
Hobbies and relaxation
Time for yourself is essential for reflection and relaxation. Make a reading nook, crafting space, or music corner to call your own. Whatever your hobby may be, you’ll benefit the most from it when you have the space to practice.
Clutter can impact your mindset and therefore prevent you from even starting new habits in the first place.
Items in your home
Take inventory of the items you own and ask yourself if you truly need that item or if you’ve used it much in the past year. Also, look at your decor to determine if your style has evolved or needs updating. This is a good time to remove unwanted items and introduce a new aesthetic into your home.
Reward yourself after selling, donating, or tossing items with a few new replacements that will serve a good purpose in your home. Invest in a high-quality office organizer or an entryway bench with storage. Choose pieces that are intentional and that bring you increased peace of mind.
How you choose to implement these tips and on what timeline you execute them is up to you. All that matters is that you try a little each day to dedicate time toward your goals!
Is there anything better than a warm bowl of soup on a winter day? January is the perfect time to pull out your pot and make this hearty and nutritious meal. This pair of soup recipes from the Soupology cookbook proves you don’t need much to concoct a bowl of true perfection.
Short on space and ingredients? This soup requires only a small pot and a handful of items, but it tastes as rich and delicious as any tomato-based soup you’ve ever had.
One of the best parts about soup is that it’s a great way to get in your veggies, and this soup is no exception—it’s loaded with hearty vegetables and flavorful herbs.
Excerpted from © Soupology by Drew Smith, Rizzoli New York, 2020. Photography ©Tom Regester.
recipe by drew smith
photos by tom regester
This is a good recipe if you are short on space or time. You can substitute chicken for the beef and follow the same technique.
recipe by drew smith
photos by tom regester
This soup began life as a way of using up the offcuts from a recipe for cauliflower with cheese sauce. Cauliflower leaves are also useful steamed and served as a vegetable with oyster sauce. The water in which the cauliflower cooks can be used for broths; so too, the water in which dried mushrooms are constituted. This recipe brings them both together.
From the refrigerator to the dishwasher, your home appliances help make life a little more manageable. However, you may not stop to think about how long you’ve owned these devices until it’s too late. Use this guide to learn about the life spans of your home’s appliances and ways you can make them last longer.
If your home came equipped with appliances, you might be a little lost when it comes to knowing exactly how old they are. However, you can look up an appliance’s serial number (usually located inside it) online to determine its age; manufacturers use codes within this number to record the production date.
No appliance’s life span is set in stone, and your usage and approach to its upkeep directly affect its performance. However, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) conducted a study to determine the average life spans of everyday appliances. Use the following information to gauge how long, on average, you can expect certain appliances to last and to get tips for keeping them in good shape.
Dishwasher: nine years
Microwave: nine years
Washing machine: ten years
Garbage disposal: twelve years
Dryer: thirteen years
Refrigerator: thirteen years
Stove: thirteen years (electric) to fifteen years (gas)
If one of your appliances is on the fritz, you can use the 50-50 rule to help you choose between repairing or replacing it—if the appliance is more than 50 percent through its average life span and the repair costs more than 50 percent of the price of a new model, it may be time to replace it.
Your home warranty may help cover a replacement appliance, regardless of how old it is, if it’s covered in your plan and meets the requirements outlined in your contract. Reasons your warranty won’t cover replacing an appliance include improper installation, lack of maintenance, and any preexisting problems or damages before the warranty came into effect.
You can avoid worrying about repairs by replacing older appliances before they break down. There are certain times throughout the year when appliances may cost less. Many retailers have sales over three-day weekends like Memorial Day, Presidents’ Day, and Labor Day, and there are typically discounts in January when some stores offer sales to offset the sluggishness of postholiday spending. You may also find a deal on an older model when manufacturers release newer versions. Popular months to keep in mind for sales include stoves in January, refrigerators in May, and washers, dryers, and dishwashers in September and October.
More than any other season, winter is when you’re likely to experience power outages—and they can be costly, both financially and emotionally. Last February, for example, a massive storm hit North America, affecting states from coast to coast, including the South. Half the country was under weather warnings at one point, and the storm created hundreds of billions of dollars in damage.
That marked an extreme example of winter’s wrath, of course. But it’s a reminder that a winter weather emergency can strike just about anywhere—so it’s well worth being prepared for the worst. Make sure your household is as safe as possible this season by implementing these strategies.
If you lose power, there’s no telling when it may be restored, especially during the dead of winter. So you should make sure that you always have a stockpile of nonperishable foods, especially those that don’t need to be heated.
Your best options are ready-to-eat canned or boxed foods; if you’re stocking up on the former, you’ll also want to make sure you have a manual can opener handy. Once these items are opened, make sure to seal them tight to keep any remaining food fresh. And keep in mind that you can access your refrigerator for food items, but, for safety, you must be extra careful that your fridge’s internal temperature doesn’t go above 40 degrees.
It’s even more critical to have drinkable water on hand. You may be able to get some hot water out of your pipes, but that won’t last long with the power out. Cold water will keep you hydrated, but it won’t help your internal temperature if the house is already cold. The CDC recommends that you keep at least three days’ worth of store-bought bottled water—one gallon per household member per day—stored in a cool, dry place for drinking and sanitation.
In addition to food and water, consider people in your household who may need special care, such as babies, those with allergies or diabetes, and the elderly. They may be at higher risk for medical problems during an outage, so you want to make sure you can accommodate their dietary needs without using a stove, oven, or microwave.
Finally, don’t forget your pets. Always have bags or cans of pet food stocked during the winter, as you don’t want to feed them human food.
Now that you have enough food and drink to get by, you need to consider your climate. If you’re in a part of the country that has or is at risk of cold winters, losing power can be a big problem because your home’s heat can quickly get sapped. However, there are simple things you can do to keep everyone warm.
Fortunately, certain heat sources, such as blankets, are often readily available; you just need to always have them handy. Matches are also a must, of course, but candles can be a fire hazard, so only use them if necessary and don’t leave them unattended. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, move an ample supply of wood closer to the house for easy access. Your properly vented hearth can provide heat and serve as an emergency cooking apparatus.
Finally, be intentional with your clothing. Consider using layers of coats and blankets, and wear thick socks, gloves, and head coverings, as extremities usually get cold the quickest. In addition, the CDC recommends monitoring elderly people with a thermometer in an emergency since their heat-regulation process may not allow them to feel how cold it is.
Beyond the basics
Yes, they may be a bit expensive and are certainly quite heavy, but generators are increasingly a go-to piece of equipment for many families, as they provide power to the home for a limited amount of time. After you purchase a generator, you need to learn how to use it safely and where to station it outside so that you’re ready to use it in an emergency. And if it’s gas-powered, ensure that you have plenty of gasoline on hand.
Speaking of gasoline, trekking outside to your vehicle can be a temporary solution for the cold, so try to keep your gas tank full in winter. Make sure to check that the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged first, and then warm up the car in your driveway (not in your garage) until the temperature gauge is between hot and cold and warm air is streaming out of the vents.
Being prepared for a winter storm usually means thinking outside the box, especially when it comes to everyday items that we often don’t give a second thought to.
Lights and batteries
Light may not keep your family warm, but it can help them feel secure. Perhaps more important, it will prevent people from hurting themselves by stumbling around in the dark. So keep one handheld light source, such as a flashlight or battery-operated lantern, per person at the ready. Also keep a stash of fresh batteries for these items, as well as other devices like portable radios and carbon monoxide detectors.
Medicine and aid
If you or a loved one has a medical condition, it can be disastrous if you get hit with a storm while your medication supply is low. Once the new year begins, get into the habit of making sure all prescriptions are filled instead of waiting until they are low. And be sure that you have a first-aid kit stocked and handy.
Being able to reach out to others can be vital during a winter emergency. Create a list of emergency contacts, and keep a paper version of it on hand. Just as important, sign up for emergency alerts from a weather service and your energy company so you know when bad weather is coming and when you can expect power back. Finally, to keep that communication channel open, consider purchasing a portable phone charger, which will keep your phones charged for longer without needing an outlet.
It’s vital to protect people from a winter emergency, but don’t forget to prepare your house too. In many places the temperature can dip below freezing indoors if the power is out for an extended period. If you haven’t already, turn off your outside water, and make sure your pipes are protected with slip-on foam insulation to prevent them from freezing and possibly bursting.
When the power goes out, the basics for survival become top priority, especially during winter. By thinking it through and planning, you can rest assured knowing that your household will be safe and sound.
To learn more, visit www.cdc.gov/disasters/winter