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Hospitality in the Old West Found in Woman’s Home Manual

Home HInts for New Wives

The Hearthstone book helped newlywed wives carry out daily chores of 1886

It was easy for me to think that recipes from the Old West or Civil War Era, were found in every relative’s cookbook from the turn of the century. But the truth is, cookbooks, like the ones we use today, weren’t really on the shelves until about 1920s. No one really had money for the luxuries of buying recipe books. Few had even thought of creating one.

Since I’m an Old West historian, I found that the tastes of the country and city folks coming out west brought with them their skills of cooking. Simple foods required simple instructions. Recipes were handed down on loose pieces of paper, in a handwritten letter, or even stuffed in the pages of a family bible.

More Folklore Than Formulas

And what became our list of specific ingredients followed by detailed instructions began as loosely expressed directions – more folklore than formulas. Many cooks substituted the ingredients with what was on hand. While salt, sugar, and flour were staples, and herbs were gathered out the back door, not many had saffron, ginger, and exotic flavorings like we have today.

Home Hospitality starts in 1886 Hearthstone Book

Early Women’s book for Household Hints

A pinch of salt, a dram of tartar, a ladle of pork fat. Well, those measurements made recipes so different that not one cook could copy the flavors. After years of secret recipes for cobblers and pies, jams and jellies, breads and compotes took blue ribbons at the county fairs across the country, tying down the ingredients into a cookbook was pure industrialization.

I happen to own an original The Hearthstone, Or, Life at Home: A Household Manual Containing Hints, by Laura Carter Holloway written in 1886. It has a small section of recipes almost added into the book as an afterthought. It calls for wives to be good hostesses, caregivers of the ill, managing the household’s daily chores, how to care for a baby, and how to make bread. It’s much more than that. Easily I can spend hours perusing its pages for recipe nuggets.

Here’s an easy sample of an old-time recipe:

MISSISSIPPI CAKE: One pint of the best yellow cornmeal, a pint of buttermilk, two tablespoons of melted butter, two eggs, a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of Saleratus. (saleratus: Sodium or potassium bicarbonate used as a leavening agent; an early term for baking soda)

       That’s it. No cooking directions, so it’s presumed that a wood stove is used and 350-375 degrees is an average temperature if using an oven. This recipe could also be created in a Dutch oven over an open fire. No cooking time is given so it may be cooked until brown, or even until the surface springs back when touched. Dutch oven cooking would usually include a lid with a lip that held 8-12 pieces of hot charcoal.

So there you have just a taste — pardon my pun — of some of the earliest attempts at sharing a family heirloom from the kitchen. i’ll be returning each week with more historical recipes and insights into the frontier kitchen and Old West hospitality.

High Desert Blogging Network

What is the website, HighDesertBlogging.com, all about and who are the authors? If you’ve been wondering, it’s about the High Desert in Southern California, especially the Victor Valley area. It is also a blog. Not sure what a blog is? Think of a blog as a web-log, a website, a journal online, articles, etc. This particular blog is not just written by one person (or blogger) but by multiple people. Therefore, it’s called a blog network.

Our bloggers write specifically about topics related to the High Desert area of Victor Valley.

HighDesertBlogging.com Network Topics

Our bloggers write about a variety of topics which are all related somehow to the High Desert. The blog post may be about things to do in the area, written by or about one of the local writers or artists, an event happening, or places to shop, etc. The newest topic is our diner guide. Topics include:

  1. Blogging
  2. Book Publishing
  3. Books
  4. Cash Flow
  5. Comedy
  6. Community
  7. Contests
  8. Decorating
  9. Entrepreneurs
  10. Food
  11. Frugal Living
  12. Gardening
  13. Day Trips to and from the High Desert
  14. Jobs
  15. Beauty and Fashion
  16. Fitness
  17. Vintage
  18. Shopping
  19. Route 66
  20. Southwest
  21. Spirituality
  22. Poetry
  23. Writing
  24. Things to do, sites to see, and places to go in the High Desert

We have writers who also have other blogs like:

If you are interested in joining our blog network or want to submit an article about one of the topics listed above, contact Rusty or Angie at hdblogging@gmail.com.

High Desert Bloggers Meetup

Angie, Owner of
HighDesertBlogging.com

Rusty, Copywriting and Editing

Rusty, Editor at HighDesertBlogging.com

A High Desert bloggers group that meets monthly through Meetup.com/High-Desert-Bloggers:

High Desert Bloggers, Route 66 Molly Brown's

High Desert Bloggers at Molly Brown’s on National Trails Highway

 

Thank you for visiting our blog. We hope that you will come back often and join us in the comment section. We love to hear from our readers.

 

Share Your Event with our Blogging Network

Like a Pebble Dropped in a Pond

Like a Pebble Dropped in a Pond

Does your business have a new event to share or mile marker in its history? A celebration? An anniversary? Get the word out to hundreds of blog readers who follow on High Desert Blogging.com then tell them about your shop.

How long have you been in business? What is your specialty? Are you only online or do you have a storefront as well? What’s your address? Do you sell to a certain age group or specific interest? Do you have an active web site? Please share with us.

What days are you open?

What hours are you open?

Do you have sales days or use coupons?

Can shoppers use credit cards, debit cards, or gift cards?

What’s your shop’s telephone number, fax number, and do you have a toll-free number?

These are the basic questions that readers ask us.

Don’t forget to list all of your supported social media connections. Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. The list goes on …

In every case, you’ll find a new shopper, a new friend, and a new connection. That’s what blogging and networking is all about? Like dropping a pebble in a pond.

If you feel that networking and blogging are taking too much of your time, you can hire someone to do that task for you. Virtual Assistants and  business bloggers are all around. Let us know if you need some help.

Rusty LaGrange

 www.aFlairForWords.com

Last Blog Basket of the Season Draw at Suger Shack

As we sneak up on the last days of December, I represented High Desert Blogging com’s Basket Give-Away drawing Saturday, Dec. 20, at Sugar Shack. This shop is always festive and the owners — mother -daughter team — Debbie and Tonya, always have the coffee brewing.

Tonya and Debbie Got the Sweet Treats at Sugar Shack

Tonya and Debbie Got the Sweet Treats at Sugar Shack

One of the largest baskets of our seven-week drawing, Sugar Shack was so enthusiastic to try the basket give-away that they barely had time to get sign-ins. As people began coming in to get out of the blast of wind at Oro Grande’s new face lifted vintage shops in Old Town, they shopped and sipped and warmed up. Everyone was in such a cheery mood.

 

 

 

I placed all of the Basket Give-Away names in a bag and drew Joel Esparza! Congratulations!!

And the Winner Is...

And the Winner Is…

He only gave an email address so we are hoping to hear from him soon.

In the meantime, I hope shoppers remember that if you’ve stuck for a gift for a teen or a gentleman, candy is always a great selection.

 

 

Sugar Shack Antiques, Collectibles, and Candies will have modified  hours for the holidays so be sure to call (760) 646-0562 or check their Facebook page for updates.

 

Sugar Shack _tonya_02_12202014

 

Our winner, Joel, picked up his basket and enjoyed a great and very sweet collection of goodies from Sugar Shack.

Keep watching for our next basket give-away for Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Happy Holidays!

From Angie and Rusty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Desert’s Autumn Blog Basket Give-Away Ends Saturday Dec. 6th

By this Saturday, we’ll have the final winners of the “Autumn Blog Basket Give-Away.” Have you signed-in? Anyone is eligible to win if they stop by at these listed Vintage and Antique shops around the Victor Valley. Earlier, shops sponsored to hold baskets which were filled with a variety of collectables, antiques, foods, and specialty items for the season. No obligation to buy. No tickets. It’s a free drawing offered by bloggers from High Desert Bogging.com to shoppers who enter their names and e-mail addresses. We just wish to give back to the communities who have helped our High Desert blogging group grow.

So far, Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques in Victorville has gathered 135 entries. Vintage Gypsies in Apple Valley already received 40 entries, and another 45 signed-up at The Desert Cottage in Hesperia. See the asterisk for current stores awaiting the drawing this Saturday. Winners need not be present to win.

The first baskets were given away in November but due to the overwhelming interest in hosting new baskets, the second give-away continues until Dec. 6th. What are you waiting for?

High Desert Blogging  “Autumn Basket Give-away” Victor Valley area sponsored shops:

1.      * Vintage Gypsies, 21880 Hwy. 18 (across from Molly’s Country Kitchen in Old Town), Apple Valley, CA

2.      * The Desert Cottage, 15451 Bear Valley Road, Hesperia, CA

3.      * Find Your Ps and Qs Antiques, 15080 7th Street, Suite 11, (near Gridiron Pizza) Victorville, CA

4.      Linda Marie’s Enchanted Treasures, 19222 National Trails Hwy., Oro Grande, CA (past basket host)

5.      Salvaged & Tattered, 19248 National Trails Hwy., Oro Grande, CA (past basket host)

  Let us know if you won a basket. We love feedback!

Rusty LaGrange

Growing a Community Blog

High Desert Bloggers, Route 66 Molly Brown's

High Desert Bloggers at Molly Brown’s on National Trails Highway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Community blogging in the High Desert reminds me of preachers who start out with the message and go down a few rabbit trails before the amen. You start out with a “message”, mission statement, or goal and along the way think of things that didn’t occur to you at first.

Since the beginning of this blog network, the focus has been on people, places, things, and events of the High Desert. Bloggers meet up in the community and share their expertise. These meet-ups are inspiring. New food blogs have been created like pattycakespantry.com (a blog often written with a comical twist and filled with creative recipes) and simplyhealthyeats.com (includes incredible recipes for gluten-free eating). An e-book on boiled egg recipes was published. More egg, breakfast, and vegetable recipes are found at the food blog kitchenhospitality.com. Another blogger and author Monica Gloria

 

Blogger and Author Monica Gloria

Author Monica Gloria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

published a book recently and had a book signing at the Hi Desert Book Oasis Used Book Store. One of our blog administrators has her own children’s traveling museum and has another blog, MyRustyBucketRanch.com.

Rusty at Pioneer Museum

Rusty at Pioneer Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbit trails add, new ideas, and ways of doing things you wouldn’t have thought of before. That’s the way it is with community blogging. Community is all about relationship. You meet people interested in similar interests as you and share ideas.

The interesting thing about a network of bloggers is that there is a greater opportunity to learn from one another’s adventures, ideas, interests, or community events. You have no need to worry about those rabbit trails taking away from the point of the message or purpose of the mission statement and goal. Blending all that the bloggers bring into the network actually can grow the community blog.

Share your experiences of what has worked for you. Communicate that to bloggers in your network. What are some rabbit trails you’ve taken that gave you new insight to the purpose of your community blog?

 

How Can Someone Else Write a Blog For Your Business?

 

Your business can rely on Blogging

Blogging is direct Internet connections for your business

I don’t believe it’s fear that holds back the idea of allowing an outsider to write for their business. I think it’s the concern that an outsider to any business, just won’t be true to the name, the brand, or have the depth of knowledge or nature of the company.

This is often the second question that comes up. The first question is: How much?

 

So how much to you pay for a good pair of shoes? Are you on the cheap end and figure $50 for a pair of sneakers or a page of content is enough? Are you the middle-of-the-road entrepreneur who wants to look good on the outside yet keeps the budget in mid-range of $75 per blog or dress boots? Or are you the dashing example of clean lines, solid foundation, and a leather loafer with over $100+ to spend on high-end shoes and a daily blog?

 

 a team of bloggers and writers

A team behind you 100%

A good content writer and blogger knows how to reach down deep and pull out some gems right away. Certain contract writers will not go after a blog position in, let’s say, the jet plane industry because they aren’t aware of the industries finer points. Research plays a large part in deciding if the content writer is even capable. It does take skill to write for someone else.

However, a content writer can excise information from a subject-matter person (SME) behind the scenes who can quickly assess and glean the best of the industry insider. There is a knack to extracting fine points.

Cavve is home for this Blogger

Your Blogger Can Live Almost Anywhere

 

A blogger will usually gain a good grasp of those items being sold or manufactured. So much so, that you as the reader would never know it was written by an outsider, often living in another state.

Judging a content or contract writer or a blogger for your business is just like hiring a new employee: you’ll check for examples of his work, his knowledge of the area of expertise, his ability to express himself, and then testing him for his writing ability to stand-in for your tone, brand, and voice.

Actually, the best way to consider a blogger is for her to offer a sample blog. She will be able to sample your online web site, talk to key employees that can “teach her the ropes,” and, may even talk to select customers who work directly with the company.

A blogger is a chameleon who can stand in place of your company’s field agent. They make every effort to blend in, while trying not to cause concern for those who hire them. One tool that helps is a “writing style guide.” These are often developed when several writers come onboard to help with advertising, web content, blogging, and PR outside the office. A second tool is a signed promise of non-competing, where a writer will not write for the competition, or share its secrets.

A Blogger is a Chameleon who can blend in easily

A Blogger is a Chameleon who can blend in easily

 

 

A second tool is a signed promise of non-competing, where a writer will not write for the competition, or share its secrets.

Will using third party writers be an effective strategy for getting a great amount work done while keeping staffing costs low? Yes, in most cases. By using the right content writing service, you can often save time, energy and money while building your brand with powerful content. You won’t need to provide insurance or paid vacations, either. Whether it’s a single writer or a writing service, your overall exposure on the Internet will increase the chances of more sales.

If the blogger’s entries, over time, improve your number of prospects while keeping your brand and company out in the public eye, then your choice to use a writer as an essential part of the team has paid off.

No one will really know until you try a business blogger.

 

 Rusty LaGrange

If you like what you see here check out my other blogs:

A Flair For Words.com

A Flair For the Old West. blogspot.com

and Old West Stagecoach.com

 

How Do You Use Conference Time to Your Benefit?

Everyone hears that to promote your company, your idea, or your service, you should network with other business owners. So you’ve just returned from a 3-day conference at “Universal Whatcha-Call-it.” You’re tired and just want to relax. Then you see the pile of business card you judicially collected during the weekend.

 

business cards Overwhelm

How Can You Manage Business Cards When You Get Home?

Don’t ignore them. They’re gold.

Here’s some ideas that will help you collect more than paper:

 

Business cards – Those simple cards are really each prospect, a live person that seemed interested in what you had to offer. Image that each card you collect is filled with the expectation that you generated. Will you follow up? You bet. They expect it.


Write a “selfie” prompt
– A keyword or two will help you remember.  Take time right now and write an association word on each card that can trigger your memory later. Your brain is still on overload. Just make a note so you can have peaceful sleep.


Shuffle the deck
 – Decide on four classifications that you can place a business card into. Use color coding with a marker across the top, or a rubber band. Consider these categories: a) a good fit, b) maybe an affiliate or Joint Venture, c) too general to be different, and d) not interested or way out of the categories that you feel comfortable in. Make the first two groups your contacts but make the first group a high priority.


Journal your thoughts or conceptions
 – You’re going to get some brilliant ideas that you will lose as soon as you leave the conference room. Those little thoughts that sprout into a Joint Venture are often captured in written notes, tapes, or personal recorders. Although, some use recorders, it can be intimidating; some use index cards and sort them easily. You decide.

 

Take lots of pictures and upload online – One of the newest trends is to take photos, associate them with the client prospect, and post them on a convention gallery. People love to see and be seen at events. There are ultra small cameras now that you can use with discretion. Be sure to get their name, business, and website — ask first for photo permission.

 

Use your sincere interest and listening skills – It’s good business practice to listen to the prime speaker in any group. Take time to analyze the subject, add your two-cents when appropriate, then listen some more. Try not to interrupt just to hand that person a business card. That’s rude. Are you a good fit for that business? Ask them a question or two, then decide if you might form a new friendship. Tell them your aptitude for business that will enhance theirs. They won’t know unless you ask.

 

Be a person of change – While you may not do anything resounding while in session, you might take a carload of attendees to a nice place for dinner, showing them around town can break the ice later. Maybe two people that seem like a good match would not have met unless you brought them together. Watch for possibilities. It’s not just about you.

 

Mingle in and out – Place yourself in an unfamiliar group. It’s tough for some to do, especially when they don’t see any friendly faces. Move on to another group. Cliques form quickly, so maybe you’ll find one by cruising and using your networking skills.

 

Take time to shop from the display tables – Sure there’s a lot of self-promotional materials there, but you’ll also find reduced prices, a speaker’s course options, and book sales. Bringing home a book from your favorite speaker will be more beneficial down the road.

 

Spend quality time to send out notes – Did you know that 90% of attendees never follow-up with a card or email note? You have all those business cards and connections. Remember how your classified cards and notes were arranged? Now it’s going to be easy for you to follow up. Send out a short, friendly email to categories, “a”, “b,” and “c”. If you can personalize it with a memory, do it. E-mails will be ignored just as fast as you scan through your email subjects after a long weekend. Take the time to catch their attention in the subject line. Warning! Never automatically send emails to all persons at once without using the “Blind copy” line on your email window. Business people abhor the overflow of spam and linked emails.

 

So you’ve made it through another long and busy weekend. When you begin calling on your potential prospects, don’t slam your foot in their door. Always be respectful and professional in order to gain new and beneficial contacts/clients.

 

Rusty

If you enjoy what you read here, then take look at my other blogs

A Flair For Words.com

A Flair For the Old West.com

My Rusty Bucket Ranch.blogspot.com

Hiking for the Couch Potato (Part 2)

Ridge of Inselbergs in High desertMarch has come to an end. The theme this month for the High Desert Bloggers was inspiring change. Have you been inspired to change your activity level? Are you inspired to discover new territory? I know it can be difficult, but you can do it.

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. On the flip-side….it also takes 21 days to create a habit. Have you created a habit of walking, now that you’ve been at it for a month? Are you reading blogs about it? Or are you blogging about it? Habits are interesting behaviors. For example, you might be in the habit of drinking only 8 cups of water a day. However, as you become more active, particularly as you plan to hike in the High Desert, your body demands that you drink more water, even at this point in the game.

Water

It can be argued that water is essential to living.  It helps us process food, move nutrients, keep our electrical impulses flowing and, of course it cools us off when it is hot outside.  The high desert presents a unique challenge to individuals participating in physical activity.  It is both hot AND dry. Both of these conditions increases our water needs by a factor of 2.  Think of it like this, if you are walking or hiking in the desert in full sun, at the hottest time of the year, you will lose 2 quarts of water in 1 hour – that is just walking!

If you are RUNNING or jogging at a reasonable temperature, your body averages this same usage. Thank goodness we have the sense to stay indoors during full sun. But that does not change the fact that it is dry. As a general rule, most hikers will bring at least 1 liter of water per each hour they hike. I say, that is a pretty good rule of thumb even just walking around the neighborhood. Most hikers will NOT walk during the hottest part of the day.

The PLAN (Month 2)
You have been walking three times a week for 4 weeks now. You might have added a day if you were feeling great, and hopefully you have been consistent with paying attention to how your body feels after a walk and even the day after a walk.

You may have been walking for about 20 minutes, and if you have been feeling good, you may have been going up in duration to about 30 or 45 minutes.That is great. This duration is somewhere between 3/4 mile to 1.5 miles – depending on how long you are walking and how fast you are walking. Let’s add some frosting to this cake.

For the most part, we will walk the same 3-day per week, but we will add a 4th day. This day will be the day that you will increase EITHER your duration OR your distance. Since the high desert is relatively flat, we don’t really have to worry about elevation gain or challenging terrain – for the most part. If you lived elsewhere, you would consider this as a third factor. We will call this extra day, your “Long Day”.

An EXAMPLE
Here is how this will work:
Again, you choose you schedule. If you choose MWF, your 4th day would be Saturday and your rest day would be Sunday. If you choose T-Th-Sat, your 4th day would be Sunday, and your rest day would be Monday. We are resting on the day after so that your muscles can recuperate. Then back to the first day (Monday or Tuesday depending on your schedule). On this first day, you should take it easy. Walk a little slower and see how your body reacted to the increase of time or distance.

Week 1:
If you are walking 45 minutes on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s, on Saturday or Sunday and you are walking about 2 miles in that 45 minutes

  • if you increase your duration, you would add 15-20 min during this week.
  • if you increase your distance you could add on another 1/2 to 2/3 mile.

Week 2:
You are already walking 45 minutes. Take an easy walk for 45 minutes on your Day 1 (Monday or Tuesday). How do you feel?
On Day 2 of the week (Wednesday or Thursday), increase your 45 minutes ONLY if you are feeling energetic. I would only increase about 10 or 15 minutes, or if you did distance, maybe 1/4 mile. The rule is that you do NOT want to increase your time or distance on this middle day by the same distance or duration you did on your “long day”. By the third day of the week (Friday or Saturday), you will do your regular distance or time but at your normal pace. As a matter of fact, your body should feel back to normal. If it does, let’s increase our time or distance on the long day. If not, let’s repeat what we did for week 1 in time and distance.

On the long day, if we walked for an hour the previous week, we should increase by 1/4. So if you walked for an hour on your last long day, you will walk 75 minutes. If you walked a mile (distance as opposed to duration) you will walk 1 1/4 mile.

Week 3:
Again, rest the day immediately following your long day.
Day 1: Moderate walk
Day 2: Regular pace/distance
Day 3: Regular pace/distance
Long day: Increase previous long day duration or distance by 1/4

Week 4:
This is the week we call a rest week. Again, we will rest the day immediately following your long day.

Day 1: Moderate walk
Day 2: Regular pace/distance
Day 3: Regular pace/distance

Long day of the 4th week we will cut our distance or duration in half and just walk that. This is called cycling and it allows your body to rest and repair itself. It helps to prevent injury. By the time you reach the next long day, you will be READY to and well rested to increase the duration or distance.

What are the benefits of following this plan?

  1. It let’s your body recover. Any running or activity article that your read these days stresses that rest period are just as important as periods of activity. We must allow our bodies to rest. That is why we sleep every day. It is a rejuvenating and replenishing process. In this plan, the first cycle is weekly. We stress our bodies one day out of the week, to increase our stamina. The remaining days, we allow our bodies to recover from the stress. On a monthly basis, we all our bodies to fully recover for one full week after 3 weeks of stress.
  2. Allowing your body to recover prevents injury. Rest days does NOT mean go to the gym and work out on weights in order to make up for the reduced mileage – especially if you are not in the habit of going to the gym. That will just lead to muscle fatigue and injury. We need to patient with ourselves and learn to respect our bodies and not punish ourselves.
  3. Less muscle fatigue means more energy to do other things. Like encourage your friends, neighbors, co-workers and fellow commuters to walk with you. Having more energy means being able to focus on other things instead of putting one foot in front of the other.

When you put a plan on a longer scale like this, you will be more likely to keep going with the program, because you won’t use the excuse that you’re too tired.
You’ve got the baseline on building mileage. Next time we will talk about choosing a trail.

_____________________________________________________________________
Beverly Familar is a blogger and hiker dedicated to encouraging and supporting well-balanced dogs through mental and physical activities. She shares her love of nature and dogs with others through her hiking group: Hiking with Fido. If you are in the Southern California, consider joining a pack hike. You can follow the pack’s furry adventures on the Hiking with Fido Google+ Page; via Twitter @hikingwithfido; via Hiking with Fido on Instagram; and on the Hiking with Fido Facebook page. Visit the pack page at http://www.hikingwithfido.com.

Hiking for the Couch Potato (Part 1)

Ridge of Inselbergs in High desert

A couple of weeks ago I was with some newly found and absolutely fabulous friends in the High Desert. They are all bloggers, so it goes without saying that they pretty much write all the time, if they are not working. One person asked me if it was possible and what I would recommend, as far as training, for a blogger with a couch potato status to get into hiking. So, I am here to tell you that it is possible and I have a plan for you! This will be a monthly series of blog entries to get you to the next level. You might take longer or shorter time. You might want to add more distance initially. The point is, go at YOUR pace, and don’t hurt yourself. This should be FUN!

First I want to premise this by saying that I wasn’t always a hiker. I didn’t always visit or live near in the higher elevations, a.k.a. the high desert. I lived near the beach and practiced yoga about 3 times a week. But my search for more elbow-room and the ever-elusive idea of privacy in an urban setting, took me east towards the Inland Empire.

Living in the foothills, there is a lot of country to wander around near me. Slowly but surely I got into hiking because I wanted to experience the nature around me. I didn’t want to go alone, so I got a dog. I had to train my dog to walk next to me, so we started going on daily walks. First it was just around the block. But by the second week, we were going 3 to 4 blocks. after 6 weeks, we were walking at least 1.5 miles every day (that is approximately 30 minutes walking at a relative relaxed pace). Once a week on Saturdays, I would challenge by myself either by increasing the mileage OR increasing the difficulty of the terrain (for example, more uphill).

Nowadays I do between a 7-10 mile hike twice a month. You can get to this point too. It just takes patience, consistency and a desire to relax and enjoy the area around you. And…maybe blog about it, or at least keep a diary about how it made you feel. By the way, if your dog is not used to walking long distances, believe it or not, they need training too. This would be an excellent way to get Fido in shape!

So… Potato-heads! Are you listening? It’s time to shake off those cobwebs, grab your closest pair of shoes and get ready to take a hike around the block.

Assess your physical condition

It doesn’t matter if you have been walking for a day, a month or a year, if you are getting up from a day’s work at a desk, you need to assess how your body feels. This is a good point to stretch, especially if you feel tight. Before getting up from your chair:

  1. Rotate each foot to loosen you ankle joint;
  2. Sit up straight in your chair. Do head circles, slowly. Don’t force this. Go only as far as you feel comfortable, without feeling like you’re pulling your muscles. Tilt your head to the left, count to 20. Then do the same to the right, count to 20.
  3. Sit up straight in your chair. Extend your hand above your head and reach to the ceiling. Try to keep your shoulders relaxes. Don’t let them scrunch up next to your ears. If that means that your arms are extended out towards the sides so that you are making a wide “v”, that is fine. Just reach your arms to the ceiling. Breath in and out slowly, count to 20.
  4. With each exhale, bring your arms straight down in front of you, so you are pointing forward with straight arms. With each inhale, raise them slowly toward the ceiling again. Breath slowly, making sure that your movement does not finish before you terminate your breath. What does this mean? As you finish your exhale, you are finishing your movement of bring your arms down in front of you. And as you finish your inhale your arms are completing the movement of being raised overhead.
  5. With your arms reaching overhead, stand up while you inhale. As you exhale, extend your arms out to the sides, then down onto your thighs. As you complete your exhale, bend forward at the waist in a forward bend, but keep supporting yourself with your hands on your thighs. Be careful to only go as far as you are comfortable. do not push your limit. You should feel a slight stretch in the back of the legs. Your hands on your thighs support your back. This is important. Take three slow breathes in and out in this position. You may feel your body relax a little.

This is just getting your blood flowing after a long day of sitting. On an inhale, stand up. How do you feel? With all that slow breathing, you should feel a little more lively. We did just oxygenate your body, after all.

Grab a pair of walking shoes. Make sure they are comfortable rubber soled shoes. Grab a dog (optional). Open the door and walk. Actually that’s all a given.

The PLAN (this month)

We will only walk for duration. The first week is an experiment, because no one really knows how far they can go if they are just starting a program. I call it base-building. The days listed could be Monday-Wednesday-Friday, or Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday. Just take a break in between so you can evaluate what effect this walk had on you.

Day 1: So for this first day, let’s just stroll for 20 minutes. We’re not going for distance, we are just going for time. We are not trying to win a speed-walking competition, so just take your time. When you get home, assess how you feel. Write it down.

Day 2: Did you stretch? How do you feel after that 20 minute walk? Was it well within your limits? Increase by 5 to 10 min. Do you feel like you just want to keep walking? Go for another 20 minute walk and this time take your time and look around. You might notice something really cool, which will take your mind off of the time. Maybe invite your neighbor. Maybe invite their dog (if the dog is nice to you and others that you might pass on the street). How did you feel today? See anything interesting on your walk? Feel crummy? Feet hurt?

Day 3: Don’t forget to stretch! Assess how you feel. Don’t worry, if you feel a little muscle tension. It gets better. How did your body react to the extra time, if you added it. If it was well within your mean, you can add another 5 -10 minutes. Don’t push yourself, especially if you have never walked in successive days before. If you were at 20 min yesterday, let’s do 20 min again today, but let’s change the venue. Walk the reverse way around the block, or walk around the mall and window shop. The bottom line is, if you were a true couch potato, just getting out and moving is good for you. No doubt about that!

Self Evaluation Time

Part of physically participating in an activity like this, is also assessing where your are. Do you feel better? Or do you feel worse? If you don’t take a self-assessment, it could lead to injury. At this point, you should feel something – good or bad. Let me address how to alleviate a physical ailment.

So, assess how you feel. You have walked for 3 days. If at any point you are feeling pressure on the knees, swelling in the ankles, etc, apply RICE (no, not the food). This is what athletes do. If you have ever heard of an athlete in an ice bath, they are actually soaking their entire body in ice. COOOOOLD! As laypeople, we don’t have to be so dramatic.

RICE is:
Rest: sit on the couch. Remember you are also taking a day off in-between walking days.
Ice: Put ice n the affected area. You can get a reusable ice bag at Walgreens for $10. Just refill it with ice cubes. The ice will reduce circulation to the affected area, thus decrease the swelling.
Compression: Wrap your affected area to keep the swelling down. The system should look like this: Keep the ice on for 20 minutes. Take it off for 20 minutes. Then put it back on for 20 minutes.
ELEVATE your affected area. The idea is to elevate it above the level of your heart initially. So if you are lying down, put a pillow under your leg or arm.

NOTE: After taking ice off the 2nd time, do not walk on your leg for another 20 minutes or more. This area has to warm up again, and it is best if it is done gradually. If you notice the same reaction later on in the day, ice it again. How do you feel?

Now what do you do?

Do it all over again. Don’t forget to stretch! Assess yourself. Can you do 20 minutes again? Or were you in the 30 minute group? Do it again today. Try a different route, for more variety. Compare this route to the previous routes. What did you notice? What bored you? Want to share it? Post a comment and tell me. I’d love to hear what you have been up to!

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Beverly Familar is a blogger and hiker dedicated to encouraging and supporting well-balanced dogs through mental and physical activities. She shares her love of nature and dogs with others through her hiking group: Hiking with Fido. If you are in the Southern California, consider joining a pack hike. You can follow the pack’s furry adventures via Twitter @hikingwithfido; via the Hiking with Fido Facebook page and at http://www.hikingwithfido.com.

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