Back to Basics Cooking, Baking & Grilling

keeping your area clean while you cook is a chore in its self. My husband always laughs about the after math when I'm done baking. Here are some helpful ways to improve on making less of a mess in the first place. Use a bowl for your scraps and garbage as you go saving you time running to the trash making you more efficient. Using a thin flexible mat for your cutting board makes transferring vegetables to your pot much easier, by using the flexible mat as a funnel.

Getting into the habit of using a splatter screen when sauteing or shallow frying will save you a lot of time on your clean-up later. Measuring ingredients and using cooking spray over the sink will keep messes confined to an easy to clean area. Keeping a bottle of soapy water handy make it more likely that cleaning up as you go will become part of your cooking habits. Another tip is to cook more slowly. Be a deliberate in measuring, chopping and wiping between each step. but this is one tip I often do not follow my own advice, often trying to do to many task at one time.

With Spring just around the corner what better time than to take stock of what is in your pantry. Consolidate and organize and take note what you're low on. It is also a great time to check those expiration dates and dispose of any that expired. Make a list of items that you can stock in your pantry that will help make a meal quickly without a lot of planning. It is also a good time to add those family favorites.

Now that you have your pantry all organized it is time to turn your attention to the fridge. Do not be afraid to those bowls way in the back that have been forgotten about for weeks. It is a good time to check those condiments with cookouts just around the corner.

With everything clean and organized and Winter still here comfort food is the way to go. A pot of soup on the stove with grilled cheese sandwiches or a stew in the crockpot is the way to go. With Spring not too far away get those recipes out and start planning for fresh salads and garden vegetables. You will be amazed how time and clean-up will be and the fun of cooking, baking and grilling will not become a hard task but a lot of fun putting love in all the recipes for family and friends.

6 Reasons to Cancel or Reschedule a Party

Canceling or rescheduling a party is a very unfortunate event but often it happens as the result of uncontrollable circumstances. Knowing how to deal with the situation is of uttermost importance.

Party failure is disappointing and difficult to handle but a number of reasons will demand it, regardless of your intentions. Here are a number of reasons for the cancellation or rescheduling of a party and some information on addressing guests and cancellation etiquette.

People Can not Make It

You will have to reschedule or cancel your party if too many guests are incapable of attending. Everyone wants to share big events and beautiful moments in life with dearest friends. If these people have difficulties making it to the party, choosing another date will certainly be the wisest move.

You may consider informing people about the change in person. Call everyone and you may even inquire about another date for the party to be held on.

A Storm is Coming Up

Weather can play a trick on you. It may interfere with your party planning attempts. You should reschedule your celebration in case a severe storm or another kind of meteorological disaster is expected – intense rain or snowfall, thunderstorms. It certainly is wiser to organize the party in the future than to put at risk the health and life of your guests.

Personal Tragedies

P personal tragedy that you or one of your dearest friends has experienced is another reason for the cancellation of a celebration. Postpone the party in the case of death or illnesses of family members. It will be inappropriate to have fun while someone you care for is mourning or feeling sick.

That Major Event

A major event taking place on the date when you plan to have your party will be yet another reason for cancellation. Postpone the party if somebody else is getting married on that date or if it is the anniversary of a couple you love.

Important city events – concerts, gatherings or sports finals may have you thinking about moving the party to another date, as well.

Illness

Cancel the party in the case of an illness or a medical condition. This is yet another unexpected and uncontrollable factor that will interfere with your plans and the organization process.

It could be a personal condition or a disease affecting someone you love and respect. You should better have the celebrity after that person gets better – this way you will have two reasons to bring people together and to party.

The Reason for Partying Has Disappeared

Sometimes, things fail going according to plan. Such sudden changes and unexpected turns may call for the cancellation of a party.

A baby shower will certainly be canceled in the case of a miscarriage. This huge, personal tragedy changes plans and demands for rapid reaction.

Party planners should always have a backup plan. Very often, life handles us surprises that we have difficulties coping with. Party failure or rescheduling may be tough but it certainly is needed in various instances. Knowing how to be flexible will help you deal with the situation.

Hiking Boots – Parts And Construction

When shopping for a pair of hiking boots, it is important to know how they are made. No, you do not need to know how to make your own, but you have to understand what goes into them and how it affects the comfort and durability – the overall quality – of the hiking boots. In this article I will describe the parts of a hiking boot, what they are made of, and how they come together to form the ideal hiking boot for you.

Like any shoe, a hiking boot consists of an upper and a sole joined together by a welt and with an inlet at the front covered by a tongue, and the whole is lined with various pads and cushions. I will discuss each of those parts in detail, in terms of what they are made of and what to look for in various types of hiking boots.

Sole and Welt

Let's start at the bottom. The soul of the hiking boot is the sole.

Soles are usually made of synthetic rubber in varying degrees of hardness. A harder sole will last longer, but generally will have poorer Traction on hard surfaces (such as bare rock) and will provide less cushioning. A softer sole gives you the cushioning you need for long hikes and the transaction you need on rough ground, but it will wear out faster.

Manufacturers have made their trade-offs in choosing the materials to make their boots out of. The final choice is up to you when you choose which boot to buy. If you expect to do most of your hiking on soft surfaces, such as desert sand or bare soil, you might lean more towards harder soles. But most of us hike on fairly rugged trails with a good deal of bare rock, and we need the traction of a softer sole.

Inside the sole is a shank. It is a stiffening structure, either fiberglass or steel, that prevails the sole of the boot from twisting and that provides arch support. Shanks may be only three-quarter or half-length. Hiking shoes generally have no shank at all, deriving all their stiffness from the molded rubber sole. Good day-hiking boots may have a full-length fiberglass shank. High-quality backpacking boots will give you the choice of fiberglass or steel. It will depend on how strong you need your hiking boots to be, and how heavy.

Look for deep, knobby tread. Deep cuts in the sole allow water and mud to flow out so you can get traction. "Fake" hiking boots, designed to look like hiking boots but not to perform like them, may have thinner soles and shallow tread. Working boots also may have shallow tread, and they generally have harder soles than hiking boots have.

The welt is the connection between the sole and the upper. Virtually all hiking boots these days are glued together rather than sewn. If you are buying a very expensive pair of backpacking boots, give preference to a sewn welt. Boots with a sewn welt will be easier to resole when the original sole wears out. For hiking shoes or day-hiking boots, when the sole wears out, the upper is not worth salvaging, either, so a glued welt is just fine.

Upper

The upper of the hiking boot brings warmth, protects the sides of your feet from rocks and brush, and repels water. It must also allow your feet to "breathe," so that moisture from perspiration will not build up inside the boots and cause blisters.

Uppers of hiking boots are usually at least partially made of leather. High-quality backpacking boots are often made of full-grain leather (leather that has not been split). Lighter boots may be made of split-grain leather (leather that has been split or sued on one side), or a combination of split-grain leather with various fabrics.

Fabrics that are combined with leather are usually some type of nylon. Heavy nylon wears almost as well as leather, and it is much lighter and cheaper than leather.

In any hiking boot, especially those made of combinations of leather and fabric, there will be seams. Seams are bad. Seams are points of failure. Seams are points of wear, as one panel of the boot rubs against another. Seams are penetrations that are difficult to waterproof.

The uppers of backpacking boots are sometimes made of a single piece of full-grain leather with only one seam at the back. This is good, for all the reasons that seams are bad, but it is expensive.

You're going to have to deal with seams. But as you shop for hiking boots, look for customer reviews that mention failure or undue wearing of the seams, and avoid those brands.

Inlet and Tongue

There are two things to look for in the inlet and the tongue:

1. How the laces are attached and adjusted

2. How the tongue is attached to the sides of the inlet

The inlet may be provided with eyelets, D-rings, hooks, and webbing, alone or in combination. They each have these advantages and disadvantages:

* Eyelets: Simplest and most durable way to lace a boot. Not so easily adjusted.

* D-rings: Easier to adjust than eyelets, more durable than hooks. More failure-prone than eyelets. (They can break, and they can tear out of the leather.)

* Hooks: Easiest to adjust of all lace attachments. Subject to getting hooked on brush, or bent or broken in impacts with boulders, main cause of breakage of laces.

* Webbing: Cause less chafing of laces, slightly easier to adjust than eyelets, slightly more durable than D-rings. More failure-prone than eyelets.

The most common lace attachment of any hiking boot is eyelets below ankle-level and hooks above. You may see eyelets all the way up, as in classic military-style combat boots, or a combination of either D-rings or webbing with hooks.

The attachment of the tongue is a critical factor in how waterproof the hiking boots are. Provided the leather and / or fabric and seams of the upper are waterproof, water will not get into the boots until it gets higher than the attachment point of the tongue.

Most hiking shoes and day-hiking boots have the tongue attached all the way to the top. If the tongue is not fully attached, consider carefully wherever you will need that extra inch or two of waterproofing.

High-rise backpacking boots have the tongue attached only partway up, but that still reaches higher than most day-hiking boots. It's difficult to get the boot on and off if the tongue is attached very high.

Linings and Pads

There are many pieces that go into the lining and padding of a hiking boot, but two in particular you need to pay attention to:

1. The sole lining

2. The scree collar

The sole lining must be appropriately cushioned. You want a firm, durable surface in immediate contact with your socks, but enough cushioning below that to absorb impact.

The scree collar is a cushion around the top of most hiking boots. It enables you to pull the boots tight enough to keep out loose rocks ("scree") but without chafing against your ankle and Achilles tendon. This is the thickest and softest cushion in the whole hiking boot. It must be soft enough to conform to your ankle and Achilles tendon as they move, and still keep close enough contact with your leg to keep the rocks out.

Very high hiking boots, such as military-style combat boots, may have no scree collar at all. The height of the boot is what keeps the rocks out.

Throughout, the lining and padding of the hiking boots must be thick enough to provide warm, durable enough to last, and smooth enough that it will not cause chafing and blisters.

Conclusion

So, these are the things you need to pay attention to when going a pair of hiking boots. Be prepared to compromise, and pay attention to which features are really important to the style of hiking you intend to do.

Do Something Out Of The Ordinary With Adventure Vacations

So you have had enough of sightseeing and historic places and want to do something different this time for your vacation. The best idea would be to opt for adventure vacations organized by adventure travel agencies. Whether you are a beach lover or a mountain person, there is some adventure in every place for the avid adrenalin junkie. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about the planning and organizing of the trip because all this is taken care of by the travel agency.

The best way to find an adventure travel agency is to conduct a search on your favorite search engine on the internet. You will get a long list of websites and you should study as many as you can. Then short list 3-4 of them and call them up on the phone numbers published on the websites. Ask some pertinent questions regarding their skills and expertise and the kind of services that they provide. Some of this information is also published on their website, but you can go into the minute details on the phone. Whether you want to go trekking in the Himalayas or scuba dive in the Andaman Islands, everything is possible and available with these adventure travel agencies. In fact the best agencies will also create tailor made holidays with a combination of activities which will give you the kind of thrill that you have never experienced before.

When it comes to adventure trips they can range from paragliding, jet skiing, trekking, motorbike tours, cycling tours and much more. All the paraphernalia required for the trip is provided by the travel agency and you only need to carry your personal belongings. For instance if you are going trekking in mountainous areas then the travel agency will take care of the food and water, tents, sleeping bags etc. There will be porters and mules to carry the stuff required along the trip and also to carry your luggage. They will provide you with a mountaineering expert and a local guide so that you don’t have to worry about losing your way. At the same time, there are also facilities for first aid and emergency evacuation if the need arises. This means that you are always safe and secure. At the same time, the travel agency will also conduct training and counseling sessions which will prepare you mentally for the trip and they will guide you on how to prepare yourself physically before taking on the ordeal.

On the other hand if you are going on a motorbike trip through rugged areas then the travel agency will supply the motorbikes and other gear required for the trip. These trips will also be led by skilled guides who will ensure that you do not get into trouble. These guides are completely aware of the entire route and they know the eating joints on the way where you can make pit stops and refresh yourself. Any mechanical trouble with the motorbikes will be taken care of by the guides and the travel agencies also have tie-ups with road side assistance providing companies which will ensure that you have the best adventure holidays without having to worry about anything.

Now if you happen to be a beach lover then the adventure travel agency will ensure that you can enjoy the adventure activities like scuba diving with your family. Children of the age of eight years and above can go scuba diving with their parents. The travel agency provides guides and instructors who prepare you for the scuba diving experience and provide some preliminary training so that you don’t feel at odds when under water. Your kids will be specially trained in a kid’s training session so that they feel confident and comfortable during the adventure.

The same is true for any kind of adventure activity that you wish to experience. In fact some of the best adventure travel agencies also provide a combination of experiences like hiking up a volcano, scuba diving and trekking through lush green forests all combined into one package. They can suggest the best destinations for the activities that you are interested in. Whether you are new to adventure travel or have experience it does not matter because the adventure travel agency will prepare you for the ordeal that lies ahead of you and ensure that you go back home with lasting memories of your adventure trip.