3 Easy Ways to Eat More Meals at Home

Most Americans today aren’t following the government’s recommended dietary guidelines. In fact, they’re not eating nearly enough fruits and vegetables, and they istock-460260009-500x333consume too much sodium, sugar and saturated fats. They also go out to eat more often than they should.

Although it is possible to eat healthy away from home, studies have shown that most people don’t, choosing foods with more calories, fat and saturated fat than what they’d get at home. The USDA Economic Research Service found that restaurant food has a significant impact on caloric intake and diet quality. Meals and snacks from restaurants contain, on average, 134 more calories than the same food prepared at home.

To eat healthier, cook more meals at home. Follow these tips to make food prep a breeze:

Meal Plan

It might take you 15 minutes or so to plan out all the meals you and your family will eat for the week, but at least you won’t be standing in front of the fridge at dinnertime wondering what to eat. By doing so, you’ll also avoid the temptation of going out to eat.  With your list in hand, you can do just one grocery trip for the week to get all you need. Another timesaver!

Sign Up For A Meal Planning Service

You can reduce time spent planning and shopping by paying a meal planning service to do it for you.  Most of these services incorporate well-rounded meals and deliver foods uncooked, with accompanying recipes. Many offer meals to fit special dietary needs as well.

Although some services deliver cooked meals, by seeing the raw ingredients you can be sure of exactly what you are eating. This is a fun way to try new foods and eat more veggies.

Pack Your Lunch

Brown bagging it is an easy way to ensure a healthy lunch and reduce your caloric intake. In fact, eating fewer lunches out will save you, on average, 158 calories per lunch. But don’t get in a turkey sandwich rut. Consider packing healthy leftovers, salads, bento box-style lunches and more to keep things fun! Just search online for “lunch box planning” and you will have no shortage of fresh ideas.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Home Remedies – Do They Work?

For centuries, people have turned to natural remedies to fight common ailments such as colds, stomach aches and skin conditions.  This home-remediestrend has continued to the present day. Nearly four out of 10 adults have used some form of alternative remedy, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

As appealing as the idea of natural remedies might sound, keep in mind that not all remedies are safe and effective. Let’s take a look at some remedies backed by research.


  • Apple cider vinegar & honey (as a therapy for sore throats): Honey, a common sore-throat remedy, has antibacterial properties and also acts as a hypertonic osmotic, which means that it draws water out of inflamed tissue, reducing swelling and discomfort. There is not enough data on the effectiveness of vinegar, however.


  • Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (as a cure for diarrhea): The “BRAT diet” has been proven to help people recover from an upset stomach because these bland foods are easy to digest and have a small amount of fiber, which helps make your stool firmer.


  • Chicken soup (for colds and flu): Chicken soup has long been a go-to remedy and recent science is showing why. Chicken soup helps mitigate inflammation in the upper respiratory tract to help you breathe a little easier. It is also superior to other hot liquids in clearing mucus from nasal passages to ease congestion.


  • Cranberry juice (as a cure for urinary tract infections): An active ingredient in cranberries can prevent adherence of bacteria, particularly E.coli, to the bladder wall. However, most studies show that juice and supplements don’t have enough of this ingredient. The bottom line? Cranberry can’t hurt, and it may help.


  • Peppermint (as a remedy for nausea): Peppermint oil and peppermint tea both relax the stomach muscles and relieve nausea after surgery. They can also ease morning sickness and soothe menstrual cramps.


  • Turmeric (as a pain reliever for arthritis): Turmeric is a common spice in dishes like curry. It can help to reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.


  • Prunes (as a remedy for constipation): Prunes are rich in insoluble fiber, as well as the natural laxative sorbitol, which is proven to help with constipation.

Just because a remedy is natural does not mean it can’t cause harm. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking to ensure there is no interaction with medications or pre-existing conditions. When using home remedies, if symptoms persist or worsen, seek professional help from your doctor.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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How to Deal with Feral Cats in Your Community

dustinMost neighborhoods in the United States encounter roaming outdoor cats. Some of these are indoor/outdoor cats that are pets, but many of them are feral cats.  Stray cats that were once pets are usually adoptable whereas feral cats are not.  While they are not typically dangerous to humans, they are too fearful of people to be adopted as a pet due to not being accustomed to human contact.

Outdoor feral cats can become a nuisance in some cases. They may use people’s backyards as a litter box, dig in gardens, jump on people’s cars and other items, and spook other household pets.  In addition to this, they can very easily become overpopulated.  Only about 2% of feral cats have been spayed or neutered so most are having kittens that grow and produce more kittens.  These issues can produce complaints in neighborhoods.

So what is the best solution to handling feral cats in your community? Shelters are not an ideal option as they are already overpopulated and are really best for housing animals that can later become pets.  One of the most successful ways to control the feral cat population is through a strategy known as trap-neuter-return (TNR).  This involves humanely trapping community cats, getting them spayed and neutered, vaccinating them against disease, surgically removing part of the cat’s ear to designate him or her as being spayed or neutered, and returning the cat to its home territory.  This can be very effective in keeping the cat population under control in your neighborhood.  An 11-year study at the University of Florida found that implementing TNR reduced the number of feral cats on the campus by 66%.  It is also much better for the cats as it reduces the stresses of frequent pregnancies, improves physical health, and helps reduce behaviors such as fighting, spraying, and roaming.

Implementing a TNR program in your neighborhood can be a good way to solve an issue as well as bring people together. Many animal lovers will happily volunteer to assist with this type of project.  Consider hosting a public forum on your community website to locate volunteers.  You can also organize a fundraiser such as a raffle or bake sale to raise funds.  Research local vets that offer low cost spaying/neutering for people participating in a trap-neuter-return program. pepper-r-i-p

Coexisting with other living creatures in your community can sometimes be difficult, but finding positive solutions can make life better for both the human and non-human members of your neighborhood.

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Don’t Fall Into the Pit

pitfalls-1Being on the board of a homeowners’ association or condo association can be a very fulfilling experience.  Many board members enjoy getting to know their neighbors better, offering guidance on association matters, and playing an active role in the operations and health of the community.  Most board members take their positions seriously and truly want to do an excellent job.  However, being a board member can be challenging at times and there are certain mistakes that are easy to make and can be detrimental to an association.  This is why it can be advantageous to work with a community association manager (CAM).  CAMs can help board members avoid common pitfalls to ensure the association runs smoothly and legally.  Here are some of the common mistakes boards can make:

  • Not following the governing documents: Sometimes boards do not carefully read their documents and then fail to abide by them. This can sometimes happen if a new board is elected and they try to follow a previous board’s example as opposed to reviewing the declaration and by-laws of the association. Typically, this is unintentional, but it can cause a lot of potential issues. It is extremely important to follow the documents as they are written both from a legal standpoint and to ensure fairness for all residents of the community. An association manager can assist with questions a board might have about documents. CAMs will also review the documents and help advise boards when a policy or procedure may not be in line with the by-laws.
  • Becoming overzealous: Board members are understandably excited about their position and sometimes in their ambition to make positive changes in their community, they can make large decisions too quickly. Smaller changes can lead to big changes. It is best to weigh any major policy changes very carefully. As mentioned before, documents need to be reviewed before procedures change. Also, there is a risk of alienating fellow residents if a major change is implemented too quickly. Sometimes hasty decisions can backfire. For example, sometimes a new board may decide to fire all current vendors believing it is in the best interest of the association. However, in doing this, all ongoing projects lose momentum and it becomes impossible to determine which vendors were actual problems and which were not. Take the time to speak to your association manager. In the case of vendors, if you are unhappy with someone your CAM can likely recommend alternate qualified vendors for your association. They can also give you advice about how to implement changes within the community.
  • Holding improper meetings: All board meetings must be documented and noticed. Anytime a quorum of board members gets together and speaks about association business, this is considered a board meeting. Boards often may do this at a casual lunch or other social gatherings not realizing this is a violation of association law. Conversations at social gatherings need to steer away from any type of discussion about the community. If you have questions, speak to your CAM to help clarify what is and is not okay to discuss amongst your fellow board members when there is not an official meeting taking place.
  • Mismanaging the association budget: Budgets can be a complicated issue for any community. Too often, boards make errors in judgment when it comes to association funds. Common mistakes are spending too much too quickly, not establishing funds for emergencies and other incidentals, and keeping costs artificially low in order to please homeowners. It is crucial to look at finances in the long-term. While a board may want to add an amenity, execute a requested repair, or fulfill other homeowner requests, it is important to think how the association might be impacted in five to ten years from a large financial decision today. Boards should review prior year budgets and learn from them. Also, as hard as it may be to consider raising assessments, sometimes it is necessary to continue to meet your fiduciary responsibilities. CAMs usually have a lot of experience assisting boards in different types of associations. They can likely provide guidance and advice throughout the budget process and also help make sure that any work that is completed is done so at a reasonable price.
  • Losing patience: Being a board member can be a very stressful position. As rewarding as it can be, there are times when it can feel thankless and frustrating. Sometimes board members may feel like they are hearing a broken record when they get similar complaints from multiple homeowners. It can be easy to lose patience and become aggravated with explaining a situation multiple times, but try to remember that to each member, this is a new conversation. Residents come to boards with their concerns because they are the trusted representatives of the association. As hard as it can be sometimes, it is vital to maintain a respectful rapport with the homeowners in your association. Having poor relationships can make things challenging during board meetings. Community association managers can assist with the stressful task of listening to owner concerns. They often act as the middleperson between the owner and the board and can typically field most questions and concerns before it ever needs to make it to a board member. Many boards find this to be one of the best parts of working with a community association manager. It is beneficial to residents as well since they can become familiar with one designated contact.
  • Not knowing when to seek legal advice: This can be a very tricky topic. Boards do not want to overuse their attorneys since this can become costly, but there are definitely times when legal advice should be utilized. If you are dealing with a challenging situation with a homeowner that could potentially turn into a lawsuit, this would be a time to seek legal counsel. Additionally, when statutes change, it might be a good idea to consult the association attorney to see if the board needs to do anything to be in compliance with the law. Talk to your association manager if you need help on finding the right balance for your community.

Volunteering for a board comes with a large amount of responsibilities and decisions that have to be made. It can be very easy to make common errors in judgment that can cause a lot of issues down the road. Reviewing these tips and keeping an open line of communication with your association manager are good ways to ensure you have checks and balances in place to make sure your association continues to thrive and operate successfully.


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Why Calcium Supplements Don’t Guarantee Women Strong Bones

Women are at higher risk than men to develop osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones. In an effort to prevent this, you may have been advised to take calcium and/or vitamin D supplements. While thistock_90374421_large-333x500is is good advice if you’re not getting enough calcium or vitamin D in your diet, it may not protect you from getting brittle bones.

Recent research shows that a thyroid condition, hyperparathyroidism, is linked to weakening bones in women and is more common than once thought. When your parathyroids aren’t working correctly, your body can’t get the calcium it needs. If you have this condition, no amount of supplements or change in diet will help.

If you are experiencing hyperparathyroidism, you probably wouldn’t know it. That’s because many times there are no symptoms, and the symptoms that do show, like depression, kidney stones, muscle fatigue, bone and joint pain, and memory loss are often confused with something else.

If you have high blood calcium levels, you should have follow-up testing for PTH and vitamin D levels. Together these three tests can confirm hyperparathyroidism.

If hyperparathyroidism is confirmed, surgery is most often the recommended treatment. The affected glands are removed, and the healthy ones continue to regulate calcium.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Pets and HOAs

DakotaMany of us have pets which are considered members of our families. In fact, nearly half of Americans have a dog and around thirty-five percent have a cat.  These furry friends can provide many emotional benefits and give affection and companionship to their human families.

If you are a resident of a homeowners’ association or condo association and you have pets, it is important to make sure you are following the rules in regards to possible restrictions. Most communities are proud to be pet-friendly, but usually have sets of reasonable guidelines to make sure you and your pets can coexist peacefully with all residents of the community.  Here are some tips to ensure that your four-legged friends will continue to be welcome in your association:

  • Review the rules. Some associations require approval for pets or they have weight restrictions. If you currently own a large dog and are considering moving into an HOA, make sure you read the governing documents to see if your pet will meet the requirements. Additionally, if you already reside in an HOA, make sure before you get a new dog that it will not violate existing rules and regulations.
  • Clean up after your pet. This is very important since your neighbors probably do not want to step in anything left behind by your pet. A lot of associations have doggy bag stations which make cleaning up after your dog much more convenient. This is a simple step to take that will help keep your fellow owners happy and therefore less likely to make complaints about you or your pets.
  • Be mindful of noise caused by your pets. All dogs bark from time to time, but sometimes barking can become excessive and become a nuisance to surrounding neighbors. Sometimes a pet owner may become accustomed to the sound of their own dog barking, but this is likely stressful and upsetting to neighbors who might be trying to relax or sleep. If your dog barks excessively, try to isolate the cause. Maybe playtime or a walk will help relax your furry friend and reduce barking. In some cases, it might be a good idea to research the problem online or even seek out the help of a professional. Not only will this help keep the peace with neighbors, but it will likely strengthen the bond between you and your pet.
  • Do not allow your pets to wander. Anytime your pet is outside, he or she should be on a leash. Even if you think your dog will not run off, all it takes is a nearby squirrel or another distraction to gain your dog’s attention and create a potentially dangerous situation. Also, some people are afraid of dogs and should not have to feel nervous if your unleashed dog is wandering towards them. You may know that your dog is friendly, but a stranger might not realize this. Additionally, leashing your dog is Sadieusually not only a regulation for the association, it is often a city law. For the safety of your pet and other residents, always leash your pup.

Pets are great members of our families and usually a very positive addition to any neighborhood. Just remember to be respectful of others and follow regulations within your association. If you do this, even residents that might not be as keen on pets will likely be perfectly fine with having you and your pets as neighbors.

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Community Spotlight: Ironwood

This community is a hidden gem on the south side of Jacksonville, Florida.  Ironwood Village HOA was founded in 2005. This gated, 550 home community is a mixture of both single family homes and townhomes.Ironwood Sign

Ironwood has two amenity centers; each one offers its own fitness facilities and pools.  These amenities are a favorite place for many Ironwood residents. Some residents state this was the reason why they moved to the community in the first place!  One amenity center also offers a large community room which is used for board meetings, parties, and holiday celebrations.

The location of the Ironwood community is one of the things that sets this community apart from the other Jacksonville communities. Many residents drive from many miles around the region to get to where we are located. The reason is Ironwood is close to many premier medical facilities, shopping centers, office buildings, and major highways.

Leland Management began managing the Homeowners Association in June 2014. Since then, Leland and the Board of Directors have worked together updating the amenity centers with new painting, state of the art flat screen TVs, LED lighting for interior and exterior illumination, fitness equipment upgrades, new pool furniture, and a major landscaping update. These and many other upgrades have presented Ironwood as a clean, upscale community with a newer feel to it. Ironwood Pool

The Board President Stanley Hayes says, “The Board of Directors have followed the same philosophy, and that is ‘Our mission is to do our best to make Ironwood a great community to both live in and in which to raise our families in as well.’”

Leland will continue to assist the board in making Ironwood a desirable place to live.

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