Jun 23 2008

A great tool for time management

A couple of weeks ago I came across a new free tool that allows to track the time you spend on your computer. This tool shows exactly what you do while on the computer and what tools or websites you spend the most time on. The tool is called Rescue Time and can be downloaded online.

I have been using this nice piece of software for over 3 weeks now and so far I am very impressed. I can see exactly what takes most of my time on the computer (which is more of a surprise than I thought).

One of my goals is to become more organized and make a better use of my time. This tool is a great helper for that. Since I have started to invest more time in leading a more succesfull and healthy life time has been a major issue for me.

I am always happy for advise on time management and if you know any other great tools that can help with this please leave a comment on my blog! I will keep you guys posted about my progress as well.

Jun 15 2008

Play To Win Los Angeles Seminar Review

Last weekend my wife and I went to the Play To Win seminar at the Los Angeles convention center. We learned about this seminar at the Millionaire Mind Intensive seminar earlier this year. Both seminars were free of charge, so there was really no reason not to go. We really loved the Millionaire Mind seminar and it changed our life in a major way. My wife started her own business and I started to focus on my online business.

We decided to go to the Play To Win mainly to meet people and promote our businesses. We didn’t expect the seminar to be any different than any other seminar we had been to but we were totally wrong. The seminar was on for 3 days from Friday to Sunday. On Friday we had to arrive later since I had to go to work in the morning. When we arrived in the afternoon the seminar was already in full effect. Surprisingly there were only around 40 attendance at the seminar. Compared to the Millionaire Mind with 2000 people this was a very small event.

Soon we found out why there was such a limited amount of people. Play To Win is not an actual seminar. It is more an interactive event where business skills are taught through games. First I thought that this would not work and was not very excited. Once the first game started I saw how effective this method really was. Just like in life you are thrown into new situations with certain rules and need to figure out what to do to win the game. Most games are played in teams which helps to learn about teamwork and leadership skills. The first day was over around 9pm at night and we were more than excited for the next day.

Saturday and Sunday started with reviewing the lessons learned from the second day. Then the new games started. All games were a lot of fun and a great learning experience. In our society where we are used to sit in class rooms and listen to someone talking this active way of learning is totally underrated. During the games and the breaks I met so many cool people and made a lot of interesting connections. The games make it so easy to learn business skills in real life scenarios. The trainers did a great job of making the games as realistic as possible. The program founder Clinton was present all weekend and took the time to answer everybody’s questions.

The biggest lessons for me were that I can do far more than I sometimes think and that I need to ask for teaching more often. Frontier Trainings also offers a great membership program with many advanced games. We are thinking about joining the program since we liked it so much. The whole weekend was totally sales free. Only in the last hour of the course Clinton was presenting his membership program. This happened without any hard selling tactics or pressure. The whole concept for Frontier Trainings is more to promote the membership though the quality of the free seminar. In my own opinion this was by far the best seminar/course I have ever been to. A great unique learning experience and I can only advice anybody who lives close to San Diego where most free seminars are currently held to take this free 3 day course.

May 19 2008

What are soap nuts?

Soap NutsThree months ago I came across a new product that sounded to good to be true. I was looking for a more natural way to make the laundry, since I read a lot about the negative health effects from regular laundry detergents. A lot of people are concerned about their food, but they don’t even think about the dangerous chemicals they come in contact everyday through common cleaning products. Since I wear my clothes on my body every day, I felt it was time to do something to get rid of the brand name detergent I had bought up till then.

I visited the local health food stores and found a couple of green cleaning detergents. I tried them, but was not fully satisfied since I noticed that they left white stains on some of my clothes. It was at this time that I read about soap nuts for the first time. The term soap nuts refers to the seeds of the Sapindus tree that grows mainly in India and Asia. These seeds contain saponin, a natural detergent which can be used to clean clothes.

At first I was skeptical since I never heard of nuts cleaning clothes, but I was ready to give it a try. I ordered a smaller package first to test the effectiveness of the soap nuts. With the package I received a small bag that would hold the soap nuts during the cleaning process. For the first load of clothes I used 2 soap nuts and nothing else. I expected my clothes to be not really clean and maybe to have a weird smell.

I was surprised to find that the clothes turned out perfectly clean and had no smell to it at all. Since that first time I have used the soap nuts over and over gain and so far I can’t complain. These nuts clean my laundry like any other detergent would without the smell and the chemicals. Sometimes I add some Borax, if the clothes have heavy stains on them.

After I used up my first small container of soap nuts I decided to buy a big bag, since this should last me for a while and also saves on the price. This big 1kg bag can be purchases at Better Life Goods. Smaller test packages for a good price can be found at Maggie’s Pure Land. Since I read that soap nuts can also be used to create soap and other cleaning products my next goal is to find more ways to use soap nuts in my home. This is by far the most natural and at the same time effective cleaning product I have found and the price is good too. Makes me almost want to grow my own soap nuts. I wonder if they would like the weather here in California?

May 11 2008

How herbal tea can help with stomach pains and discomfort

herbal tea can be great for your healthA couple of months ago my fiance and I made a great discovery in our local grocery store. She had been complaining about stomach pain and discomfort for a while and no medicine seemed to help. The doctors she went to had no alternative either than expensive prescription drugs that did not help at all.

One day when we visited our local supermarket we found a brand of herbal teas in the tea aisle that stated that they would help with digestive problems. Open to anything at that time we decided to give this a try and bough a pack of Eater’s Digest tea.

Back at home my fiance fixed herself some tea after dinner to see how it would work. She started to have discomfort after the meal, but as soon as she drank the tea the problems went away. For the rest of the evening she had no more stomach problems at all. This was a great surprise for us after all the traditional medicine didn’t help at all.

From now on she has used this tea on a regular basis and so far we are very happy with it. The tea’s main ingredients are peppermint, fennel and ginger which all have been used in many cultures as a medicine for centuries. The tea is also caffeine free which is important if you don’t plan to be up all night long after drinking it. After we have discovered tea as a way to improve your health we are always looking for new teas that we use for all different kinds of problems. This tea has saved us a lot of money so far in doctor visits and expensive drugs.

So the next time you have health problems you might want to check out the tea aisle in your local health store. We have not found these teas in many regular stores, but health stores such as Whole Foods and Mother’s Market carry a lot of different herbal teas.

May 3 2008

How to open a coconut

How to open a coconutCoconuts are a great nutritional food and are worth giving a try if you haven’t done yet.

Health benefits of coconuts include:

- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Lower your cholesterol
- Improve Crohn’s, IBS, and other digestive disorders
- Prevent other disease and routine illness with its powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents
- Increase metabolism and promotes healthy thyroid function
- Boost your daily energy
- Rejuvenate your skin and prevent wrinkles

You can buy coconuts at any good grocery or health food store. Many people are afraid to buy a coconut because they don’t know how to open them and think this is difficult. This is far from true. In this post I will show you step-by-step how to open a coconut in less than 5 minutes.

Step 1: You need the following: a coconut, a hammer, a kitchen towel and a pocket knife.

Coconut, Knife, Hammer

Step 2: Your pocket knife needs a sharp pick (if you don’t have this you can also use a long nail). Now set the pick on one of the three dark spots on the coconut top. This part of the coconut is the thinnest and you should be able to hammer it in easily.

Make a hole into coconut

Step 3: Widen the hole in the coconut until it fits a straw. Use the straw to drink the coconut water (very tasty and refreshing!).

Use a straw to drink the coconut juice

Step 4: After drinking all the juice make 2 more holes where the two other dark spots are on the coconut.

Two more holes in the coconut

Step 5. Take your towel out and wrap the coconut in the towel. This will keep everything clean and helps to avoid splinters.

Wrap the coconut in a towel

Step 6: Hammer the wrapped coconut until it cracks. This takes a little bit of muscle power. Start hammering directly at the spot between the three holes you made. This way cracking the nut should be easy.

Crack the coconut with a hammer

Step 7: As soon as the coocnut is cracked use your hammer to widen the crack and split the coocnut in half.

Split the coconut in 2 halves

Step 8: Now use your knife to cut out the meat. Just cut out small pieces or stripes. You might have to lift the meat up from the shell with the knife. This takes a little bit of work, but once you have the hang of it it is not that hard anymore.

Use a knife to cut out the meat

Cutting out the emat step-by-step

Step 9: Finally you can enjoy the tasty coconut meat. This is also a great healthy snack. Keep it refrigerated so it stays fresh.

The coconut is ready to eat!

Apr 25 2008

How a shower water filter can make your life more healthy and enjoyable.

Shower water filter can make a big difference for your healthOften it is the little things that can make a big difference. I made that experience this year in February when I finally decided to get a shower water filter for the shower in our apartment. I had played with the idea for a while, but always dismissed it as something unnecessary. Boy was I wrong! I finally decided to buy the filter since our water did smell so bad like chlorine that I smelled it on my skin after taking a shower. I also noticed taht my skin was very dry and itchy after taking a shower and often even lotion didn’t help. I did my research online and found out that the problem was our local water supply. Apparently the public water is heavily mixed with chlorine, which by the way is not healthy at all. Additional to the smell and my dry skin I started to think about the negative consequences for our health.

Negative health effects of chlorine:

1. Chlorine has been documented to aggravate asthma

2. Links have been found between chlorinated water and cancer

3. Chlorine contributes to heart disease

4. Chlorine gas released in the shower can reduce oxygen transfer capacity of the lungs

5. Taking a shower in chloridated water will also hasten the skin’s aging process

During my research I found out that shower water filters are not as expensive as I thought and one small filter can last for a whole year. Now I was convinced. I decided to go with the Paragon Water Systems Shower Water Filter, which had some convincing reviews. This filter is less than 20 dollars (and free shipping) at Home Depot Online, so I felt even if it wouldn’t work at least my loss would not have been too large. The filter arrived quickly in a couple of days after I ordered it. It was very easy to install. As long as you have a tool to loosen and tighten the screws you can easily screw it onto your shower head and the pipe. Since the filter is in a upright position it doesn’t take up a lot of space either. The first time I ran the filter black residue came out of it. According to the instructions this was suppose to happen. The residue appeared only the first time and only took a second until the water was clear. It’s a good idea to hold a bucket under the shower head for the first second, to catch the residue.

The first time I took a shower with the filter I noticed a major difference. The water was clear, had no odor to it and felt much softer than before. There was not the slightest smell of chlorine. I have to admit that I was surprised how good the filter worked. The filter also sat very tight between the pipe and the shower head, so that no water was dripping out.

More than 2 months later the filter still works like on the first day. I am very happy with my purchase, since my skin stopped smelling like chlorine instantly and my it is also not dry anymore after I take a shower. Even if I don’t use lotion my skin is still nice and smooth. My fiance, who was very skeptical in the beginning, likes the filter too. She even uses it to cook pasta and potatoes. So these 20 Dollars were definitely worth it and made a big different in our daily life.

Apr 10 2008

5 simple things you can do today to eat healthier

Eat healthierMany people want to eat healthier, but don’t know where to start. Here is a short list of things you can do today to make your diet healthier.

1. No more fast food

This might be hard for many people who are used to the convenience of fast food. Unfortunately there is nothing healthy about fast food. It might be deceiving since it smells good and looks good. But all this is chemical engineered and has almost no nutritional value. Also most fast food has excessive amounts of sugar, fat and salt. So stop eating it! Take some veggies with you and some fruit so you have something to chew on when you get hungry. You can also make your own snacks and sandwiches at home and take them with you. This will not only give you control over what you eat, but also help you save some money.

2. Read food labels

It can quite an experience to read labels of modern processed foods. A box of cereal alone has often a long list of unspeakable ingredients. The best rule is: The more ingredients and the more chemical and complicated they sound the more unhealthy is the food. Most of these are artificial flavors, sugars and chemicals to give these foods a longer shelf life. It is also a good idea to take the foods you eat on a regular basis and type the ingredients you are not sure about into Google. The reading of labels should be a rule of thumb. Even when foods say natural and organic on it. They can still contain unhealthy ingredients hidden at the bottom of the list. It is important to know that the first ingredients on the label are the once that have the highest concentration in the food. So if it says sugar first on the top of the list you probably can assume that this product is not very healthy.

3. Eat fruit & vegetables

Everybody knows that fruit and vegetables are healthy. Unfortunately most people still don’t eat enough of them in their diet. The tomatoes on a burger are not a salad and french fries are not a healthy vegetable. I try to eat a salad with each meal and additional make another serving of boiled or steamed vegetables. There are so many great tasting healthy vegetables out there and with some spices added they can be very flavorful. Fruit is a good snack between meals and is also easy to take with you. I eat an apple every day and a couple of other fruits such as banana, grapefruit, kiwi or melon. Start slowly integrating fruit and vegetables into your diet. One small salad a day and an apple is good for a start.

4. Buy organic

Many products these days are grown with pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals are often toxic and leave unwanted residues in your food. Organic food is a healthy alternative that is not only healthier but also tastes better. Even if organic food is often more expensive there are places like the farmers market where local organic food can often be found for reasonable prices. You can find a local farmers market near you on this website.

5. Buy fresh not packaged

With the advancement of technology more and more packaged food has appeared in the grocery stores. These foods are made for convenience and not for health. Most prepackaged foods that can be heated up in a microwave in 5 minutes are full of chemical ingredients to make them nonperishable and better tasting. One look at the label of these foods will give you a good idea if the product on the shelf is healthy or not. A good step towards a healthy lifestyle is to stop eating any standard microwave-meals. If you don’t have much time to cook during the week and have relied on these quick-meals so far, try to pre-cook large portions of food on the weekend and you can heat up the leftovers during the week for a quick meal.

Apr 4 2008

Raw milk under attack in California!

Raw milk under attack!A new law could mean the end to raw milk in California. AB 1735 is the name of this new initiative that would require all raw milk to be tested for a bacteria that causes no known harm to humans. This is an attack on the raw food producers and consumer who take their health in their own hands.

Is the milk industry scared that more people wake up an realize that the dead and polluted product called milk that is sold in the stores is not a healthy product? Why else this effort to destroy a growing industry for a perfectly healthy product.

On April 15th hearings are held in Sacramento that can send a powerful message to the politicians that will decide on this. Learn more about these hearing here. Another way to support the fight for raw milk is to make a donation to the farm-to-consumer foundation and give them a voice to speak out against this unconstitutional law.

Click here to learn more about what else you can do today to stop the attack on raw milk!

Apr 2 2008

Zsweet – a natural alternative to sugar

Zsweet - a natural sweetenerSugar can cause many problems for our body such as cavities, high blood sugar levels and lots of calories. Unfortunately most products in our Western diet are loaded with sugar. This mass amount of sugar in our food is one reason for many of our modern health problems. I experienced this myself when I was a kid and loved to eat everything sweet. Eventually I took it too far and ended up in a dental chair with lots of cavities. Even after I eliminated products that were loaded with sugar, such as soda and sweets, I still had new cavities every year. Since I learned about the Weston A Price diet I have been paying more attention to sugar in everyday products. I was surprised by the results. From seasoning to pasta sauce. Everything contains sugar.

Since then I have been working on finding products without sugar. In my search I discovered a new natural sweetener called Zsweet. This sweetener is from all natural ingrediences and does not cause tooth decay or raises blood sugar levels. Sounds too good to be true so I had to give it a try.

My judgment after two days: This product looks like sugar and tastes like sugar. No strange aftertaste or smell. The only negative thing is that it is not as sweet as regular sugar, so if you have a real sweet tooth you might have to use a little more. It also has it’s price like most healthy products. All together I am very positively surprised by this product and will probably buy it again. I found this in my local health food store. I haven’t seen it at any of the major stores yet.

Mar 28 2008

The fastest way to get your tax return – file for free online

It’s tax season and April 15 is coming closer. This year I decided to file my taxes online and thought I write a short review of my experience. First of all I have to say I was surpised how easy it was. Filing online is a great way to optimize your tax return filing – free and fast!

There are many options to file a federal return for free online. In general each service has a certain income limit that allows to file for free. I found this great page that gives a good overview about different services where you can file your taxes for free. I decided that H&R Block’s Tax Cut was the best option for my situation.

Before you start your tax return get all your documents together. I had all my information handy next to the computer. This way filing is very easy. Before you file inform yourself about different deductions and if they apply to your case. Bankrate has a lot of great information about that on their website. The good thing about H&R Block is that you get a password and can save all your information. You can then come back later and fill out the rest. The online system is very easy and intuitive and after you completed everything you have the option to check your data. I discovered some typing mistakes I made this way. After that I read everything twice to make sure I had no more mistakes.

You can send out your return directly to the IRS and you will also receive an email confirmation. To check how soon you can expect your return go to the IRS website to get your refund status. All together I had a very easy time filing my taxes, convenient from home and completly free. I didn’t file my state return with H&R, since they charge for this. Instead I went to the California Tax Board website and used their free software. The state return is much shorter and easier than the federal. You have to type in all your information again, but hey it’s free (just go to your state’s website to see if the offer free filing online)!

All this took me between 1 and 2 hours (I checked everything twice to make sure I got it right – If you are quick you can probably be much faster). I also choose direct deposit which speeds up your return. I received my state refund one week after filing and my federal refund two weeks after filing. Not bad!

This is for sure the fastest way to get your refund I know of. I would advice evrybody to check if you qualify for free filing and use the available online programs. I liked H&R Block, but I also heard good things about other online filing options. Just do some resaerch before you decide which offer is best for you.

And to see what the government does with you taxes there is a great website for that too!

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