Keeping Fit When It’s 110 Degrees & Humid

There are a lot of things to love about living in the South, but the weather in the summer isn’t one of them, at least not for me! “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity,” is what most people say when they complain about the weather where they live.

Well, in our case, the heat and the humidity are both pretty ridiculous. Seriously, I can’t count how many days I look at the thermometer and it is 110 degrees, and the humidity is at 100%!

It can be so tempting to just call it quits on your whole exercise routine until summer is over, but that’s a really bad idea, especially with all that fattening food we eat down here! How do I stay in shape when it’s hot and humid? Here are a few suggestions!

5 Ways to Beat the Heat

1. Work out early in the morning or late in the evening. This usually is best if you work full time anyway! Stay out of the high midday sun.

The Happy FIt Mama agrees,

Run early. Morning temperatures are usually the coolest during the summer. It also will give you a break from the strongest hours of sunlight.

If you aren’t a morning person, then try exercising at night. Even just a walk around the block after the sun sets and you are finished with dinner can keep you fit.

2. Exercise indoors. There is no time like the present to make use of your gym membership. Don’t have one? Even just a few basic items at home can make for a functional home gym. There are also tons of exercises you can do indoors without free weights or anything!

The Triad to Wellness Fitness Boards should give you plenty of inspiration. Here you will find mat workouts, strength training, stretching and more. If you can’t find something up your alley on their site, you are trying hard enough!

PinsfromTriad
Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

3. Pick a sport that gets you out of the heat. Swimming or diving is great fun, and you can also try indoor sports on ice rinks if you have one locally. There are plenty of water sports to keep you cool all summer long. Here are just a few of our favorites

  • Kayaking
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Surfing
  • Water Aerobics
  • Water Volleyball
  • Sailing
This looks like too much fun!  Photo: Pinterest
Too much fun! Photo Credit: Pinterest/Buzzfeed

4. Stay hydrated. This can’t be emphasized enough! You not only need extra water to keep yourself going longer when you work out in the summer heat, but you also need it to function at your best. It is a good idea to start drinking water around 15 minutes before you are going to work out, and then drink an extra eight ounces for every 20 minutes you spend exercising.

Alkaline water has been known to help keep you get hydrated faster due to the smaller molecules. This means your body has an easier time absorbing it. As a result, it is easier to stay hydrated with alkaline water than it is with tap water.

To top it off, alkaline water has all kinds of exciting health benefits which can help you make more of your workouts! The Alkaline Water Pinterest Board has some cool portable and bottled alkaline water solutions that make it easier to take it with you when you jog.

5. Dress for the heat.  A key way to stay cool is to make sure your dressed for weather & that doesn’t always mean wearing fewer clothes.

The Skinny Mom says,

Wear loose, cool clothing: When you’re outside in the summer heat, make sure you’re wearing light colors that will reflect the heat, and materials that will help evaporate sweat. Wearing loose fitted clothing will also help keep you cool without feeling sticky and drenched.

Just Do It!

So there you go. It may be hot and humid down here in the South, but as we head into summer, you can make the decision not to give up on your workouts this year!

Just time your exercises and choose activities which will keep you out of the heat. Stay hydrated and try drinking alkaline water instead of regular tap water. Work out in your house if you have to.

You don’t necessarily have to push yourself really hard just to keep in shape either. A simple walk around the block several days a week is often enough. The most important thing is to just to get up & start moving!

Tips for Building a Chicken Coop from Scratch

Here in the south, lots of our neighbors raise chickens.  You get to enjoy farm fresh eggs, entertain the children and live a more sustainable life.

Most of us don’t bother with the pre-made kits that you see for sale in the amish farm markets or specialty shops, they are just way too expensive!

Instead we like the do it yourself version and will create our own chicken houses depending on our own style. Plus there are also plenty of handy folks around to help us in the build. (Our men like to show off a bit!)

Building a chicken coop is a great way to get into farming on a small property. You don’t need a whole lot of space to set one up, and you can generally do it for a very small investment. It is a great learning experience, can help you generate income and/or food, and is an excellent survival skill. It also can be a lot of fun!

Our DIY Coop Building Tips

What are some tips for starting up with DIY chicken coops? Here are a few that we’ve picked up over the years.

1. Keep it simple. You want to build a coop with a solid floor and sturdy design to keep out predators and raccoons, but you don’t need to overdo it either.

2. Find a good building plan. There are plenty of pre-made DIY plans out there, which you will definitely want to check out if you are a novice woodworker. You can find thorough step-by-step instructions for simple but sturdy chicken coops that are cheap and easy to build. If you do design your own, draft everything out first.

There are also several chicken coop plans for sale on internet also. You can see a comparison of some of the good ones on this chicken coop building pinterest board.

3. Go with recycled and up-cycled materials when you can. It is better for the environment and for your wallet; just make sure everything is high in quality and nothing is rotting. For example, how about this Homemade Coop with Beer Can Shingles?

4. Make sure your chickens have plenty of space—you need at least four square feet per hen. The more space, the better. Give them a free range area if you can! If you can’t do that, you will need to build them a run.

5. Raise that coop.  Chickens need roosts in a cozy space at least three feet above the ground. Each chicken needs at least 6-10 inches of roosting space. Be sure to give them a way to climb up to the roosting spaces, especially if they are higher off the ground. You will need to include nesting boxes too.

The Backyard Chickens website has a ton of good information on raising chickens, so be sure to stop in and say hello in their forum if you have any questions. You’ll be sure to get plenty of good advice from fellow chicken farmers.

6. Will you go mobile? Decide if you want the coop to be movable or not before you build it. A moveable coop can be quite handy, but each model has pros and cons. Here’s a great article that gives you the ins & outs of setting up a mobile chicken coop. And one of our favorite designs shown on Pinterest, the Hippie Chick.

7. Plan your access points. Do not forget a full-sized door so you can easily get in and out and clean the coop, because it will be a regular mess!

8. Enlist help from friends or family. Building a chicken coop and raising chickens is a great activity to do with friends or family. Even children usually like to get involved with a project like this.

Make sure children understand from day one if the chickens are going to be raised as food. Your goal is to teach them about conscious living, humane treatment of animals, and respect for our food sources, so that they see it as a natural, healthy process. Children often love to care for the chickens and see that they enjoy happy, healthy lives.

Inspiration Boards

If you need a little inspiration, check out the Chicken Coop Design Plans Pinterest boards. There are plenty of photos of chicken coops from the silly to the surreal. It’s amazing how creative some people can be!  It will definitely help you to see some real life examples before you get started.

chicken coop photos
Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

The Art of Manliness also has a great article on Setting up your own chicken coop, you can find that pin here – How to Raise Backyard Chickens. They have some great photos too!

Building a chicken coop is a really great project which you can do in your own backyard. So check out some floor plans, get your family and friends involved, give your chickens the best life you can provide them, and have fun!

Photo Credit: Wikimedia/Steven Walling; under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

 

Why Southerners Love to Can

There are a lot of stereotypes when it comes to what we southerners eat. Ask any Yankee and they’ll tell you that we live on fried food and red velvet cake. While I personally enjoy both of those, the reality is our diets are a lot more diverse—and not half as unhealthy—as a lot of other people think. And one healthy habit we love in the South is canning!

Why is canning awesome? Well, it was pretty much the most amazing food science breakthrough ever. Canning has come a long way since it was first invented in the 18th century by Nicolas Appert. In fact, it has come so far that you can now do it yourself at home by using a vacuum sealer which is equipped for canning and jarring.

One of my favorite ways to use canning is in conjunction with another of my favorite kitchen appliances: my pressure cooker. The best pressure cookers can handle making a lot of food at once, and they can be used in many different ways.

In fact, they’re perfect for preparing a lot of our favorite southern recipes. Many of these are slow-cooked favorites, and you know how hard it is to prepare them all the time:

  • Rice and red beans (see recipe here)
  • Braised meats
  • Black-eyed peas and other tasty veggies
  • Chicken and dumplings
  • Breakfast, especially eggs!

… And so much more.

Make Ahead Meals with a Pressure Cooker

One of the things I love to do to enjoy my favorite foods more often is make about a week’s worth of food all in one go. You can make a whole huge batch of food in a pressure cooker, and then voila, your cooking is all done for the week. This is a great way to 1-save money, 2-save time, and 3-enjoy awesome food every day, even if you are cooking for a big family.

And I’m not the only one, I recently read this article in TheKitchn.com where the author used her pressure cooker to make a week’s worth of soft-boiled eggs dishes.  Great minds think alike!

Canning & Bulk Food Preparation

Where does the canning come back into it? You have to have a way to store all those bulk batches of food! A vacuum food sealer which is equipped for canning is perfect for storing extra batches of food. You can really extend the life of your food this way (by as much as five times for some types of food!). This is really the secret to the “one a month” meal plan.

Along with bulk meals, you can also prepare bulk ingredients. You know how long it takes to soften up and cook red beans just the right way. Imagine doing it once, and then canning all those beans for use in upcoming recipes. Check out the Food Storage Tools n Tips Pinterest Board to find more information on pressure canning, plus some other great ways to keep food fresher longer. They have links to lots of recipes, plus the tools of the trade.

Slow Cooked Taste that’s Quick to Make

We enjoy slow-cooked food down here in the South, and that is exactly why pressure cooking and canning go so well together. You use your pressure cooker to get that slow-cooked taste in record time. Then you can use bulk preparation and canning to preserve the results.

That way all you have to do the rest of the time is heat up what you need. Preparation is fast and easy from that point forward, but you still are enjoying those classic Southern slow-cooked results.

10 Things Only Southerners Can Truly Understand

Being from the south is much more than a location, it’s a frame of mind. There are some things that only someone who was born and raised South of the Mississippi can truly understand. Here are just a few of them.

1. Bigger is better. Big hair, big hats and big trucks – in the Southern states bigger is almost always better!

2. Football. Football is a way of life, especially High School football. If you remember that show Friday Night Lights, it is sooo true. And we dress for football games. You won’t find true Southern girl wearing jeans to a football game -oh no. Skirts and dresses are more our style.

3. Fried Food. We like to fry everything – fried bananas, fried shrimp, fried chicken, and especially hush puppies, which are the best!

4. Sweat Tea. The sweeter the better. To make sweet tea, bring 2 cups of water to a boil & add about 6 teabags. Let steep for about 15 minutes then stir in 3/4 cups of sugar until it’s dissolved. Add 6 cups of cold water, chill until cold & serve.  BTW – that’s about 1.5 Tablespoons of sugar per glass!

5. The Southern Phrases. “I’m fixin‘ to make me an egg”…”You’re a peach” …”Ain’t she precious?”…”I reckon“…”bless your heart”…and calling our parents “Mama and Daddy“.

6. Southern Charm. Our men open car doors and pull out our chairs for us. This is one thing we do pretty darn good in the South – we have manners. Many a southern man has swept a Northern girl off her feet with his simple southern charms.

7. Humidity. The Northern folk may think we’re putting on airs in our fancy dresses & fans, but truth be told – we’re really just trying to stay cool! Between the heat & humidity, you’ve got to pull out all the stops to cool down.

8. Favorite Foods.  Cornbread, biscuits and gravy, turkey dressing (not stuffing!), peach cobbler, grits, collard greens, fried okra, jambalaya and jumbo, and of course the best chocolate cake!

9. Moonshine. Some call it white lightening or “hooch”, but Moonshine is a kind of home-made whiskey our grandfathers make from corn, sugar, yeast, and water. While not the smoothest of liquors, it’ll do the trick on a warm southern night!

10. Southern Hospitality. In the South, we like to make everyone feel welcome. If you’re coming to visit, we’ll make you a meal. Our children will call you Sir or Ma’am and our men will stand when you enter the room. This is one tradition that will never go out of style.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?