Becoming an Active Member of the Community

Many of us are overwhelmingly busy. Between work, family, play and school, we’ve got a lot to do. But sometimes, we may feel like something is missing — a meaningful connection to the community perhaps? Becoming an active member of the community is an ideal way to get that connection and stay involved with local events and organizations. So how can you do your part to actively engage in the community? Here are a few things to try:

Church Ministries

If you belong to a church, going to Mass or other celebration each week is probably where your commitment ends. But there are other ways to more deeply ingrain yourself in the workings of the church and how it engages with the community around you. Sign up for participation in men’s, women’s or youth ministries to grow your faith and build spiritual, emotional and social skills as they relate to God’s divine purpose, according to Petra International Ministries. Churches may also run food drives, youth programs, hunger walks, counseling services and health ministries that aim to aid those in the community who need it most.

Hospitals

Nothing is worse than being stuck in a hospital with nowhere to go, especially when the prognosis isn’t good. Patients, particularly children, can get scared being in a strange place for days or weeks on end. You don’t have to have a background in medicine to be a volunteer at a hospital. All you have to have is a love for people and a goal of making people smile. Contact your local hospital to see if it offers volunteer opportunities that you could sign up for. You may be able to use your talents to make patients happy, such as knitting hats for young children or making colorful paintings for their rooms. You can visit with patients, greet visitors or donate your time by working in the cafeteria or gift shop.

Homeless Shelters

Perhaps you’ve donated canned goods to homeless shelters in the past, which is extremely helpful to the community food banks. However, you could take this a step further and head down to the local shelter and serve food, especially during busy times in the winter or over the holidays. Want to do something a little different that you can involve your kids in? Guiltless Giving suggests creating hygiene kits for the homeless comprised of anything from toothpaste and toothbrushes to deodorant, combs and soap. These kits may also contain a reference card with important numbers where recipients can get the help and assistance they need to get back on their feet.

Nursing Homes

Because elderly residents of a nursing home have often been placed there due to medical reasons or because they can’t safely live on their own anymore, they often become sad and withdrawn. Sure, there are activities in place throughout the day to engage them, but often times this isn’t enough to cheer up those who no longer have the comfort of their own homes. More than 50 percent of nursing home residents do not have close relatives, and 46 percent have no living children, leaving 85 percent of residents with no visitors, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Ask the volunteer coordinator at your local nursing home what you could do, such as lead a sing-a-long in the common room, lead the daily Bingo game, read books and poetry, craft scrapbooks, teach a language, or simply sit with each resident and ask them to tell you happy memories of their lives.

Getting active in your community doesn’t take a lot of effort but it does require that you take the first step. Get active today and make a difference in someone’s life.

Essential Tools for any Toolkit

Home Improvement 1For those who love to take on projects around the house on their own, there are many tools that can come in pretty handy. While some may simply seem like a luxury item, there are many tools that are a must have for the serious handyman. One of these tools is the oscillating multi-tool.

As the name implies, this tool allows the D.I.Y-er the to complete several tasks at the same time. With this tool, you will be able to grind, sand and cut with a back and forth motion, rather than the traditional—and more unstable—spinning motion. Because of this, there are many reasons that this is the perfect tool for your toolbox.

Accuracy

One of the best things about this type of tool is that it is extremely accurate. Because of the back and forth method rather than the spinning motion, you will have much more control over the tool than ever before. The reason for this is because it feels more like vibration rather than movement.

It is also a tool that is easy to use, meaning that there won’t be a giant learning curve to overcome. Because of this, you can quickly begin tackling your household projects with little to no instruction. Many other power tools can be somewhat complicated and difficult to learn to use.

Versatility

Along with being accurate, you will also find that this tool is very versatile. It’s designed to be used for many different projects. It is can easily sand or cut a piece of wood, but it is also a great tool to help remove rusted bolts and screws.

Because of the design of the device, it is easy to use in a variety of locations. Plus, you won’t need to worry that it will go off course as you would with some other commonly used power tools.

Speed

Not only can you rely on the accuracy of the oscillating tool for many projects, but you will also be able to complete the project quickly. Many jobs that this tool can do are extremely time-consuming when you are doing the same job by hand.

Instead, you can rely on this device to help you speed up the project, complete it with unparalleled accuracy and be able to move on to your next project sooner than before. Not only is speed a great benefit when you are working in a woodshop, but it is also a great benefit for around the house as well.

So, if you are a serious handyman and have yet to add one of these tools to your arsenal, you are really missing out. There are so many projects that this tool will come in handy for. You will be surprised at the umber of times you’ll find yourself using it.

When it comes to caring for this tool, simply make sure that you are replacing the blades as needed. This will help make sure that every job you do goes off without a hitch. Additionally, performing all necessary scheduled maintenance will make sure that you are getting the most out of your oscillating multi-tool, increasing the life expectancy.

Beef and Vegetable Casserole

Cooking time

picPreparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours to 3 hours 50 minutes
Serves 5 people

The traditional, braised beef stew with its thick, rich gravy is ideal for cheap cuts because slow-cooking ensures a tender dish.

Ingredients

Celery sticks – 2 numbers thickly sliced
Onion – 1 chopped
Carrots – 2 big ones halved lengthways and then cut into chunks
Bay leaves – 2
Thyme – 3 sprigs
Vegetable oil – 1 tablespoon
Butter – 1 tablespoon
Plain flour – 2 tablespoon
Tomato purée – 2 tablespoon
Worcestershire sauce – 2 tablespoon
Beef stock cubes – 2 crumbled
Stewing beef (featherblade/brisket works) – 850g cut into large chunks

Cooking Method

Heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit or gas 3 level. Keep the kettle on and put the bay, celery, onion, carrots and one of the thyme sprigs into a casserole along with 1 tablespoon of oil and butter. Soften for about 10 minutes and then add the flour and stir till it ceases to look dusty. Now, add the tomato purée, beef stock cubes and Worcestershire sauce.

Gradually add 600 milliliters of hot water and keep stirring. Now, add the beef and bring it to a gentle simmer. Place the lid and keep it in the oven for around 2 hours 30 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour till the meat becomes really tender and the sauce thickens.

Nutrition per serving

483 k. calories
33.7 grams protein
14.3 grams carbohydrates
32.6 grams fat
13.4 grams Saturates
2.3 grams fiber
7.4 grams sugar
1.6 grams salt

Cottage Pie

cottage_pie[1]Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Serves: 10

The cottage pie is a family favorite. It freezes well and is sure to please everyone in the family.

Nutrition Facts

600 K. calories
37 grams Protein
40 grams Carbohydrates
34 grams Fat
16 grams Saturates
4 grams Fiber
7 grams Sugar
1.15 grams Salt

Ingredients

Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
Minced beef – 1.25 kilograms
Finely chopped onions – 2
Chopped carrots – 3
Celery sticks – 3 chopped
Garlic cloves – 2 finely chopped
Plain flour – 3 tablespoons
Tomato purée – 1 tablespoon
Red wine – large glass (optional)
Beef stock – 850 milliliters
Worcestershire sauce – 4 tablespoons
Thyme sprigs – a few numbers
Bay leaves – 2

For the mash

Potatoes – 1.8 kilograms chopped
Milk – 225 milliliters
Butter – 25 grams
Strong cheddar – 200 grams grated
Freshly grated nutmeg
Foolproof freezing

Method of Preparation

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fry the minced beef (in batches) till it becomes brown in color. Keep it aside for some time. Pour the remaining oil on to a pan and add the vegetables. Gently heat the pan till for about 20 minutes or till the vegetables become soft. Now, add the flour, garlic and tomato puree. Raise the heat and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add the beef on to the pan. Pour the wine and bring it to a boil. Now, add the herbs, Worcestershire sauce and stock. Keep the stove in simmer and cook without covering it for 45 minutes. Make sure that the gravy is thick and is forming a coat on the meat. Season well and then discard the thyme stalks and bay leaves.

In the meantime, prepare the mash. Keep the potatoes immersed in salted cold water in a large saucepan. Bring it to a boil and simmer until it becomes tender. Drain off the water and allow it to become dry. Mash the potatoes well with milk, butter and three-fourth of the cheese. Now, season the mash with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Transfer the meat into two ovenproof dishes. Cover the meat with mashed potato. Sprinkle the remaining cheese. Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit or gas level 7. Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes or till the topping becomes golden brown in color. If you are not eating it immediately, freeze it.

The pie should be completely cold and should be well covered with cling film before freezing it. It is a good idea to freeze the pie on the same day you make it. Then defrost the pie in the refrigerator overnight and then cook as described above. Or else, cook the frozen pie by heating it in the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Fahrenheit or gas level 4. Then, cover it with a foil and cook for 90 minutes. Increase the temperature of the oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit or gas level 7 and continue cooking for 20 minutes more or till until it becomes golden brown in color.

Country Home Décor Ideas

country-style-home-decor-ideas-1[1]It is fun decorating a country home and there are a number of country home décor styles. Three different home décor styles are discussed in this article.

#1: Rustic Country

The rustic country style, also referred to as American country style, makes use of a simplistic approach. Typically, furniture with straight lines is used and frills and fuss are avoided. In order to bring about an older appearance, wood is often distressed. “Shabby chic” is a popular as well as a contemporary version of this style.

Further, Americana accents and symbols are used as accessories for this décor style. The American flag, barn animals or eagles and stars, old country sayings and fruit and vegetables can be appropriately used within this theme. The color of the window coverings is generally white, but may have a navy blue or red stenciled or stamped border.

#2: Country Cottage

This style is more formal and is also referred to as English country style. The walls are painted using bright colors and the windows and tables are covered with heavily patterned fabrics having floral designs. Window treatments often include ornamental antler rods or a curtain rod that has been creatively carved out of a branch.

Ornate furniture with bold patterns and in colors such as red, green, pink and sometimes purple are made use of as part of country cottage décor style. A number of pillows with ornate trim, covered with fabrics having mixed floral patterns printed on them, are often used. Other things that are used include doilies, metal picture frames, mirrors, and bold floral arrangements.

#3: French Country

The colors used as part of French country include dark greens, deep reds (wine red, crimson, etc.) and touches of navy blue. Sometimes, eggplant and goldenrod yellow colors are also used. Typically, two main colors along with one accent color are made use of in this home décor style.

The walls are painted white or using neutral colors in order to create a balance with other bold colors used as part of the décor. Window coverings are provided with tasseled pullbacks or very ornate brass curtain rods. Typically, the curtains extend up to the floor and may even puddle up.
Further, furniture made of distressed wood (as in the case of rustic country style) with eclectic design is generally used. In order to make this style a little more formal, the furniture may be kept heavy and colored in dark shades. Glass is used as an accessory with vintage furniture pieces.

A varnished wood floor goes well with the country style. However, wood grain is appropriate with all styles. Rugs, an inexpensive option, may be used to accessorize any of the rooms. All the home décor styles discussed in this article bring the feel of another time period. Whatever be your taste, one of these designs will definitely catch your attention.

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