Author Archives: Summer Huggins

About Summer Huggins

Summer Huggins is an amateur photographer, dog-lover, cupcake-eater and shoe-shopper in Austin, Texas. She loves to travel, cook and take in a good movie, and she volunteers with a local pet-rescue organization as a photographer and dog-walker.

15 Minutes Could Add Years to Your Life

15 Minutes Could Add Years to Your Life

Women's Running magazine January/February 2012 cover

Women's Running magazine Jan/Feb 2012

Recent studies show that just 15 minutes of exercise a day could keep you living — and working out — longer.

Sometimes it seems like experts can’t make up their minds. First we need an hour of exercise a day to stay healthy. Then it’s just 30 minutes five times a week. Now, research says 15 minutes of exercise a day could add up to three years to our lives. Awesome!

Lead researcher Chi Pang Wen of Taiwan’s National Health Research Institutes told Reuters “It’s for men, women, the young and old, smokers, healthy and unhealthy people.” He also said that doctors can successfully offer any patient this “one-size-fits-all type of advice.”

The study followed almost half a million people for 13 years, looking at their medical records and and reporting on their activity from year to year. When considering age, weight, sex and other health conditions, Wen and his fellow researchers found that just 15 minutes of exercise a day — compared to study participants who were inactive — increased their lives by three years.

Who can’t squeeze that into their busy schedule?!

When you add those three years to your life, you won’t want to stop there. Take Mary Harada for example. Featured in the article “Golden Goddesses” in the Jan./Feb. issue of Women’s Running magazine, Harada’s activity of choice is running, and she holds the bragging rights to an American record in the mile. She’ll turn 77 this summer.

Whatever your activity and whatever time of day you choose to do it — get out there and get your 15 minutes in. Maybe you can break a record before you turn 77, too.

Shape Magazine November 2011 cover

4 Tips for Safely Handling Leftovers

Shape Magazine November 2011

Shape magazine

Could storing and reheating leftovers be detrimental to your health? Shape magazine gives the scoop.

My Great Aunt Grace whips up a mean homemade banana pudding. When we get together for a family meal, whether on a special occasion or a simple Sunday afternoon, I’m not sure she’d be allowed in the door without the pudding in hand.

Thankfully, she makes plenty. So much so that there is usually enough for a few of us to take a bowlful home for later. But could a leftover bowl of pudding make me sick? I shudder to think …

No one wants to be down for the count with an upset stomach brought on by foodborne illness. Now that we’re through the holidays, I remember an article I read in the November issue of Shape magazine that had our health in mind. Now it has me wondering if it’s safe to eat leftovers like Aunt Grace’s banana pudding. According to Shape, eating leftovers is safe–as long as we follow four simple steps.

Suzanne Driessen, food safety educator with the University of Minnesota Extension, suggested the following to the readers of Shape:

  1. Food should go from stove to fridge in no more than two hours–and that totally includes the 45 minutes that it sits on the table. Any more than two hours and you risk bacterial growth.
  2. Chill leftovers quickly. To do so, store them in shallow dishes and make sure there is plenty of room between containers for cold air to circulate.
  3. Think days, not weeks. Driessen says foods like stuffing and gravy should be tossed out or frozen within two days. Meat, poultry and other sides within four.
  4. Reheat thoroughly. Leftovers meant to be eaten warm should be heated to 165 degrees.

And Grace’s leftover banana pudding should be eaten before anyone else knows you have it in the house. It’s just safer that way.

How to Keep Your House Spotless When Living with Spot

How to Keep Your House Spotless When Living with Spot

Dog Fancy magazine March 2012

Cover of March 2012 Dog Fancy magazine

The March issue of Dog Fancy magazine offers homemade remedies to cut through the toughest messes your canine compadre can create.

I hate to admit this publicly, but we’ve scrubbed puke out of the carpet three times this week. Nope, we don’t even have kids. But with three dogs and two cats in the house, accidents happen. Thankfully, I have my carpet-scrubbing routine down to a perfect science.

Other areas of our house, however, haven’t been quite so easy to keep clean. But with the help of the March issue of Dog Fancy magazine, a bit of baking soda and vinegar, almost any dirty-dog area in my house can sparkle like new–even that dingy grout in the kitchen by the dogs’ bowls.

To clean that grout, for example, Dog Fancy suggests mixing equal parts baking soda, ammonia, white vinegar and water. Then all you have to do is scrub. Once clean, place a large mat or towel under the bowls to keep the filth at bay in the future. Easy enough!

Scratches on the hardwood floor? That cleaning trick includes a bit of coffee. A couch full of dog hair? Wet rubber gloves. Gross squeaky toys? You’ll need a little more of that vinegar.

From the entryway to the screen on the back door, this issue of Dog Fancy has cleaning tips for every thinkable dog mess. Now, if I could just keep everyone from getting the house so dirty in the first place …

Rolled Magazine Vase

Funky Pencil Holder: Whole Living Magazine Gets Recycled

rolled magazine vase 1Blogger Summer Huggins rips the latest issue of Whole Living to shreds and transforms it into a recycled pencil holder.

Before my January/February issue of Whole Living magazine even showed up in my mailbox, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it. Sure, I’d give it a quick read, but then it would be time to tear it up!

I’ve always loved the feel of the paper used to print Whole Living. It feels substantial in my fingers as I turn the pages, thicker and comfortable to hold. That may be because it’s printed on paper containing 10 percent post-consumer waste.

I’ve become a bit addicted to Pinterest (along with fellow blogger Dana McCranie), making virtual bulletin boards with recipes I’d like to cook, cute faces of adorable animals and crafts that inspire me. A week or so ago, when I ran across a rolled magazine vase using strips of magazine pages, I knew that the Whole Living paper would be perfect for such a project. So, after reading about transforming wasted space in your home into cozy and creative nooks, as well as the nutritional benefits of mushrooms, I grabbed this issue and my scissors and got to work.

rolled magazine vase 2The craft’s creator, Mark Montano, made it look so easy, clearly illustrating and explaining the 10 steps from start to finish. The hardest part for me was rolling those crazy little straws out of paper. Maybe my thumbs are too chubby, but it just seemed to take me forever to get the hang of that. Once I did, though, I was on a roll (pun intended)!

Instead of the huge vase that Mark created, I decided to go smaller and make a pencil cup since this was my first try at this little project. It came together fairly quickly once I had all those straws rolled out. I did veer from his instructions just a bit, using a bamboo skewer to make my medallions instead of a pencil. I wanted a tighter, smaller circle.

The results: It’s not a bad little addition to my desk, if I do say so myself! One of my favorite magazines will live on by holding my pens and pencils for me. And that’s one less magazine in the recycling bin or (gasp!) the landfill.

Heart Health photo

How to Eat for a Healthy Heart

Health magazine January/February 2012

Health Magazine Jan/Feb 2012

Keeping your ticker tocking is often as simple as eating the right foods. A recent article in Health offers seven heart-healthy foods you should know.

We came into this world with a few very important parts and pieces. The heart probably tops the list, so we need to take care of it, and that can be as simple as healthy eating.

An article in the January/February issue of Health magazine, titled “How to Have a Healthy Heart For Life,” offers up some great news: “Ninety-nine percent of heart disease is preventable by changing your diet and lifestyle.” That’s according to Dr. Dean Ornish, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco and author of several books about cooking and eating for a healthy heart.

The article follows three women–one in her 30s, one her 40s and one in her 50s–who each made the changes they needed to prevent or erase heart disease. From getting to go off blood pressure medications to lowering their cholesterol, the women all have one thing in common: They made changes to their diets, and that made all the change in the world.

If you’d like to do the same and aren’t sure where to start, Health magazine lists seven heart-smart foods. The list includes salmon, nuts, broccoli and–my personal favorite from the list–oatmeal!

Eating healthy does more for us than help us squeeze into a certain jean size. It also helps reduce our risk factors for several diseases, including heart disease. And isn’t your heart one of those parts and pieces you want to keep healthy for a long, long time?

Summer Huggins' first quilt

5 Tips for Making Your First Quilt

Summer Huggins' first quilt

My first quilt (Photo credit: Summer Huggins)

First-time quilter Summer Huggins shares five tips and two magazines that helped her successfully complete her first quilting project.

I’m having so much fun as I continue to hone my sewing skills! I’ve made my first teddy bear and a stack of handbags and cosmetics bags, and I’ve amassed a fabric collection my great-grandmother would be proud of. To top it all off, I’ve become a quilter.

I’ve flirted with the idea of quilting for a while now, but I just couldn’t get over the intimidation. Now, inspired by two modern quilting magazines and my sweet mother just a couple of weeks after her stroke, my intimidation has been washed away, replaced with inspiration and excitement.

Quilting magazines and websites are filled with tips about the right foot to use when machine quilting, new and sustainable fibers and fabrics and videos teaching us how to miter a corner. And now that I’ve completed my first quilt, I have a few tips of my own for anyone who is ready to jump in with me:

  1. Work from a pattern that inspires, encourages. So many patterns out there gave me that “Holy cow, I could never do that!” feeling. But in magazines like Quilter’s World and Quilts and More, a Better Homes & Gardens special interest publication, I found several quilt patterns that filled my head with thoughts like, “That’s beautiful. I bet I could do that!” The patterns on the pages of these magazines are also labeled as perfect for the beginner, intermediate or even “super easy.” I went with “super easy” on my first one.
  2. Don’t work on a deadline. You may want to make a quilt for someone for an upcoming special occasion, but I encourage you to start now and aim for giving the gift on their birthday next year instead. Take your time, enjoy the process and don’t force a deadline on your first quilting project. You don’t want to feel rushed.
  3. Take each step one at a time. Looking at the multi-page instructions may seem overwhelming. I encourage you to read the instructions start to finish before you begin, and then just take it one step at a time. This keeps your quilting project organized and lets you celebrate each step of the process.
  4. Fill it with love. With every bobbin I filled and 10-inch square I ironed, I thought of Mom. I wanted this first quilt to provide her with warmth and add some color to her rehab facility room. Every moment making my first quilt was filled with positive, healing thoughts for her.
  5. Forgive yourself for little mistakes. Sure, if you looked at my first quilt closely, you might see a crooked line or an uneven seam here and there. But if you stood back and looked at the quilt as a whole, I hope you’d give me two thumbs up. It’s handmade after all, and we’re only human. Plus, I plan to just get better and better.

If you decide to start your first quilt, I hope you know I’ll be cheering you on! And please, share a link to a photo of your finished piece. I’d love to see it! Here’s mine.