Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I'm Moving...

Not my house, not my business...MY BLOG!

Here's where you can find me now:
The Simple Life of the SuperMom

Hope to see you there!

Household Uses for White Vinegar

We all know vinegar is a must for cooking. That’s why you can find it sitting in a cabinet of almost any kitchen. If you’re into alternative medicine, you probably also know that white vinegar can be used to cure ailments from diabetes to toenail fungus. But if you want to know the full power of vinegar, you should try using it to replace some of the your unnatural cleaning products for a beautiful sparkling house.

The best part about cleaning with vinegar is that you know it’s safe. You no longer have to worry about your kids or your pets drinking cleaning products. While they may be a little queasy, drinking a bottle of white vinegar isn’t going to cause any permanent damage. In fact, it may actually be good for them.

Different and Alternative Cleaning Uses for Vinegar:

As an All Purpose Cleaner

Tired of those “all purpose” cleaners that usually work on one thing and not another? Instead of using several brands of these cleaners, just replace them with a bottle of diluted vinegar (half water, half vinegar). This can be used to clean counters, sinks, windows, and even carpet stains.

Floor Cleaner

Using a separate product to keep your floors shiny? You can use vinegar for this too. Just mix vinegar in your mop bucket (about 1 cup vinegar per gallon) and wash like normal.

Odor Absorber

Vinegar is a great way to absorb odors. If a room has a persistent smell that just won’t go away, leave a bowl of vinegar sitting out overnight to soak up the odor It also deodorizes as it cleans so is great for smelly jobs like garbage cans. If you’re not a fan of the vinegar smell itself, add a little bit of lemon juice for a fresher scent.

Shower Cleaner

There have been a variety of products appearing on the market that clean your shower for you. You just spray after every use to prevent the buildup of mold and soap scum. There’s no scrubbing or wiping, just spraying. You don’t have to worry about these hazardous and expensive products. Just put vinegar in a spray bottle and use it daily. The bottle can also come in handy for cleaning toilet bowl build-up and other stubborn bathroom stains.

Keeping Bugs Away

Ants can be a pain to keep out of the house, especially if you don’t use harmful poisons. Well, vinegar is a safe way to cut them off at the pass. Just follow the trail and figure out where they’re coming into the house. Then spray the area. Ants won’t cross the line and you’re saved from having to fix the holes with expensive repairs.

For jobs when plain vinegar just won’t do, you can add some baking soda. The bubbles produced by this reaction are great at breaking up backed up sinks and garbage disposals.

These are just a few of the literally hundreds of uses you can find for vinegar around the house. Now you don’t have to worry about expensive, dangerous products anymore. You’ll just have a clean, safe house.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Book Review: Home Learning Year by Year

Product Name: Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Home School Curriculum from Preschool through High School

Reviewed by: Jen Thomas; Denver, CO
Rating: 10
Where to buy:

Description: The best guide I have found to help with a curriculum for home schooling your children. Rebecca Rupp who is an expert in the art of home schooling wrote this book.

Review: Most of us who decide to home school panic in the beginning. If you’re like I was you started looking for any resource material that would lead us in the right direction. This book was just what I needed.

My biggest worry was if I would be able to come up with the right lessons to teach my children what they needed to learn for each year of school. This guide showed me what curriculum I should follow from preschool through high school.

It lays out how important each subject is and why. For most of us Mom’s this is really important. We worry if we are teaching our children the same things that children in public schools are learning. Even though we home school, our children still interact with other children. I was scared my child would be behind. This guide did wonders to ease those worries.

It is a very organized book, simple and easy for me to follow. I wasn’t going from front to back to the middle to find the help I needed. This was also important to me. I didn’t want to waste precious time I could be spending teaching my children or even spending quality time with them.

There are numerous references in this book. The other books and websites listed are a great help in planning out your next lesson.

There is a section on how to approach subjects that are very sensitive to a mother and child. I look foreword to using this part of the book when my children are old enough to learn about sex education, a very touchy subject in most families.

I would recommend this wonderful guide to anyone who is thinking about or has already started home schooling his or her children. It’s a guide I can’t live without.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Rice, Bacon and Asparagus

6 strips peppered bacon, diced
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups cooked asparagus, cut in 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

Cook bacon for about 5 minutes over medium high heat. Once browned, drain all but 1 tablespoon of grease. Add rice, wine and asparagus to skillet with the 1 tablespoon of grease. Heat completely through (approximately 5-6 minutes). Once cooked, remove and toss with pine nuts and serve. Serves about 4.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Intuition Plus Razor by Schick

Product Name: Intuition PLUS by Schick
Submitted by: Sher Birmingham; Valley, AL
Rating: 9
Where to buy:

Description: This is a razor with the soap or shaving product around the blade of the razor. Intuition Plus is Fragrance Free. It has Shea butter, aloe and vitamin E and is Moisture-Rich. Intuition has a pivoting action. Intuition® Plus™ lathers, shaves and provides extra moisture* to your skin in one easy step. No needs for shave gel, soap or body wash.

New! Skin Conditioning Solid™ with Shea Butter lathers and provides extra moisture* for a smooth shave Enriched pivoting head glides smoothly over curves Triple Blade self adjust to level of Skin Conditioning Solid™. New! Sleek, light and comfortable handle. All Intuition® cartridges are interchangeable, but enhanced pivoting works only when Intuition® Plus™ handle is used with Plus™ cartridge.

Review: I didn't like Intuition Plus the first time I tried it. There was so MUCH soap on it I felt I needed to shave with my regular razor to get the hair. But every other time I love it. I don't have to be in the tub or shower...a quick shave on DRY Skin! I wet the Intuition Plus and shave! It works great! I am lathered up and get a good shave. I rinse off with a wet cloth and ready for the day! Intuition leaves my legs feeling like I have washed, shaved and lotion them! But yet it is not too much for my underarms. I think that the reason I didn't like Intuition at first is because there was TOO much soap to get a close shave. I have the Intuition with razor & travel cap. The cap sits nicely on the side of my tub.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Back to School: How to Avoid the Back to School Blues

Returning to school is not easy for kids, which makes it especially hard for parents as well. In order to make the process of returning to school easier for your child, here are some tips which can alleviate those back to school blues.

  1. One of the things you can discuss with your child is they will be able to see their friends again, how much fun they will have, and all of the new things they will learn. If you have a child who exhibits anxiety about returning to school, you can tell him or her that there are other kids feel the same way.

  2. Perhaps a trip to the mall to shop for some new outfits will help. This can lift their spirits by allowing them to pick out two or three outfits and shoes for their first day back to school. Another way to improve your child’s spirit is to invite other kids over for a day; kids who are classmates and friends who go to other schools as well. In this way, they can talk to each other about school and other things so they can begin the process of re-connecting with, and feeling comfortable about, going back to school.

  3. Prepare your child for the first day by beginning a bedtime regimen a few weeks earlier. This will enable your child to establish a routine for the school days ahead.

  4. If your child is attending school for the first time, find out if there is another child in the neighborhood who is also attending the same school. In this way, they can go together whether it’s by bus or within walking distance. Having someone to go to school with can ease the tension and anxiety for both children.

Most children will feel anxious and down about their first day back to school. While it is a normal occurrence, it can also be an exciting time for them. Teachers also understand the difficulties of returning to school, and they also take extreme care to ensure every child is made to feel comfortable on their first day back.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Baking Soda: The Safe Way to Clean

Most of us have used baking soda at one point to remove odors from our refrigerator, but we never bother to take that box out and use it somewhere else. You fridge isn’t the only place nasty, bothersome smells develop, so why only use baking soda there?

Many cleaning products use harsh scents to cover up odor. To some people, these scented products can be really irritating to your skin and nose. That’s why baking soda is so great. Instead of covering up odors, it absorbs them and locks them away. You know it can get rid of odors in the fridge, but why not try putting some in garbage cans, shoes, litter boxes, or even sitting out in kitchens and bathrooms? Baking soda is a great way to remove offensive odors from pretty much anywhere.

Baking soda is a great way to remove dirt and anything else that might be stuck on surfaces. Just sprinkle a wet wash cloth with baking soda and scrub away. You can even use baking soda to get stuck on grease off your floors, counters and even pots and pans. If it’s really stuck on, you may need to soak it in baking soda and water before you start scrubbing. Remember to rinse all your surfaces after you clean them so there isn’t a residue left.

While baking soda can be used for general cleaning, it’s also a great way to get out stubborn stains. Just use a small amount of water to turn the powder into a gooey paste. You can then apply this to stains in your kitchen, bathroom, and even your clothes. Just let sit and then scrub. This paste is also a great way to clean your silver.

You can even use baking soda to disinfect objects like toys or other items around the house that get really germy (door handles, telephones). If the items can be soaked, they should be put in baking soda and water and left. It they can’t, simply cover the area and let it sit for a minute before wiping it off.

You can get even more cleaning power from your baking soda if you combine it with another wonderful natural cleaner: vinegar. If you’ve ever seen a model volcano at a science fair, you probably already know what happens when you mix these two chemicals together. When these baking soda and vinegar mix, they release thousands of tiny carbon dioxide bubbles. These powerful bubbles are great for cleaning out clogged drains, toilets, and garbage disposals. If you want the bubble with a fresh scent, try mixing baking soda with lemon juice instead.

These are just a few ideas for how to clean with baking soda. It is such a versatile product, the possibilities are endless. So why not pull your baking soda out of the fridge and give it a try all around your house? You may find yourself buying a lot more baking soda on your next shopping trip.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Hot Dog Train - Creative Alternative for Your Toddler

"Mommy, could I have something to eat?" (my 3-yr-old daughter)

"Sure, what would you like?"

"A hot dog train."

I pause a moment..."A hot dog train?"

"Yes, a hot dog train."

I pause for another moment and a light bulb went off in my head! "You want a hot dog train? OK, I'll give you a hot dog train."

My "little" as I call her went to grab her stool so she could get a good view of my culinary skills.

I got a hot dog out of the refrigerator and cooked it in the microwave (about 30 sec), then I sliced it lengthwise 3 times and cut those pieces into 3 chunky pieces.

Next, I cut small blocks of cheddar cheese to put in between my hot dog "cars."

My "little's" face begins to brighten.

Last come the wheels and the whistle on top...CARROTS! Cut some baby carrots into little "wheels" and place 2 each underneath the cars, then cut another in half and place on the front car to make the whistle.

VOILA - you have yourself a hot dog train.

My daughter thinks I'm a genious!

Let's let her think that at least for a little while :)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Nancy Drew: The Clue of the Broken Locket

Book Name: The Clue of the Broken Locket
Submitted by: Kendall (12 yrs old)
Rating: 8
Where to buy:

Description: This is the 11th book in the original Nancy Drew series. Nancy Drew is an 18-yr-old detective. Her father is a lawyer. She has two best friends, Bess and George, who are cousins that often help Nancy solve her mysteries.

Review: Nancy Drew is challenged to find out what is going on at the lodge across the lake from where she is staying. She is also challenged to find a hidden family treasure - with her only clue a broken locket.

I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed all the other books in the Nancy Drew series.

Special thanks to my daughter for writing this review for me :)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Back to School: 5 Show and Tell Favorites

Some kids can’t wait to go back to school to be with their friends and talk about what they did over summer vacation. While others dread going back because they loved being home, spending time with the family, and engaging in all kinds of activities.

Once back at school, however, kids settle in pretty quickly and look forward to learning new things and making new friends. One of the activities most kids look forward to is when they are asked to bring in something special for “Show and Tell” day.

This is a special day for them because they have an opportunity to tell the other kids in their class all about this one item that obviously holds a great memory from the summer.

What are some of the things kids may bring into school for show and tell? Here is a list of some of their “favorite things.”

  1. Bobby may bring in a baseball signed by his favorite ballplayer and tells the class how he was able to obtain it and the signature.
  2. Betsy may have gone to Disneyworld over the summer and brought in a scrapbook she created with pictures to show the class.
  3. Teddy loves NASCAR racing, and he brings in his favorite replica of the winning car while discussing the race and driver.
  4. Jenny has a favorite stuffed teddy bear and she tells the class why it’s her favorite and how she chose the bear’s special name.
  5. Johnny brings in an unusual rock which he found when camping with his had. He talks about why the rock is special and why nature is so important.

While it’s fun for kids who share stories about their favorite toys, stuffed animals, adventures, vacations, pets, dolls, magic tricks, and scrapbooks; it’s also part of the socialization process. For kids who are shy, standing up in front of a class and talking about what they brought to school can increase their self-esteem.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pizza Biscuits

Looking for something to put in the kid's lunchbox this fall? This pizza biscuit recipe is great to make ahead and store in aluminum foil - perfect fit for the lunchbox. You can also substitute any of your child's favorite pizza toppers in the ingredients!

1/4 pound sliced pepperoni
1 (14 ounce) can pizza sauce
2 (12 ounce) packages refrigerated buttermilk biscuit dough
1/2 onion, sliced and separated into rings (optional)
1 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cut biscuits in half and lay in a single layer in bottom of baking dish. Spread pizza sauce over the biscuits. Layer pepperoni slices over top of biscuits. Place onions and mushrooms on top. Place uncovered in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and layer cheeses on top. Return to the oven and continue baking for 10 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Keep Your Teen Safe on the Road

The time has come! Your teen has just received his license and the worry begins. Summertime is here and that means your teen will be spending more time on the road.

Here are some tips for keeping your teen safe on the road this summer and beyond:

  • Set ground rules as to when your teen can use the car. Daytime driving in the beginning, at least for the first six months; then gradually allow your teen to drive at night; but only up until a certain hour.
  • Teach by example. Don't: drive and use a cell phone; eat while driving; tailgate or speed; invoke any road rage when driving; drink and drive.
  • Wearing seat belts is a law; therefore, follow all of the rules and regulations taught in driving school. Your teen will take note, and follow your lead.
  • Limit the areas where your teen can drive, at least until he or she has been driving for a while.
  • Do not allow any passengers in the car for at least six months. They need to understand the rules of the road, and not engage in conversation with friends. These can ultimately distract them causing an accident.
  • Ensure your car is well maintained. Check the following regularly: tires; windshield wiper fluid; water; brakes; windshield wipers, etc.
  • Accompany them as much as possible in the beginning; pointing out hazards they may come across such as potholes, construction, and the like. Mix up the routes so they become used to driving to different places.
  • Take your teen to the gas station. Teach them how to pump the gas and which type to use in your car. Teach them how to put air in the tires as well.
  • If you don’t already have one, purchase an emergency road kit, and explain each item to the teen.
  • Teach your teen how to change a tire, how to use road flares, and what to do in an emergency.

These tips for keeping your teen safe on the road this summer probably need to be mentioned often to help them remember. Another thing to point out is that while they are a safe driver, others on the road may not be.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Homemade Tootsie Rolls

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
About 75 squares of colored foil or cellophane

Place chocolate in a microwave bowl. Microwave on high heat until chocolate is completely melted, stirring occasionally. Once chocolate is melted remove from microwave and stir in the syrup, water and extract. Be sure to blend well. Using a large cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap spread chocolate mixture out about 1 inch thick. Cover and leave out overnight. Chocolate should be easy to work with but slightly stiff. Grab the plastic wrap by the sides and lift chocolate out of pan, Remove the plastic. Use a sharp knife and cut chocolate into strips about one inch apart. Using your hand roll the chocolate into a tootsie roll. Cut your chocolate roll to desired size. The chocolate will soften some in handling. Allow to stiffen up a little before wrapping. Wrap in cellophane and twist ends.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Back to School: Bus Stop Safety Tips

All parents whose children take the bus to school want to ensure they will arrive safely. However, there can be times when safety becomes an issue, especially at bus stops. Here are some tips to guarantee your child will be safe not only walking to the bus stop, but before and after the bus arrives.

  • Children should be told not to run to catch any bus. Leaving early will avoid missing the bus and any chance of a child falling because they are in a hurry.
  • Stay well away from the curb when standing at a bus stop.
  • When walking to the bus stop with other children, do not play or run around in the street.
  • All children under 12 should be accompanied by another adult or older sibling when walking to the bus stop. In addition, waiting with the child until they safely board the school bus is recommended.
  • Children should be told not to talk to any strangers at the bus stop.
  • Children should be warned that if anyone in a car stops and calls them over, they should run away screaming.
  • Children who are approached by anyone for any reason should report the incident to the bus driver.
  • Children should be told not to shove other kids onto the bus. Board the bus slowly and in a single file.

The fact that schools do not take responsibility until the moment the children boards the school bus is a major factor in ensuring the child is safe before arriving to school. In addition, in some states where children are picked up by school buses, care has to be taken to avoid any injury to the child.

Oftentimes buses stop in the middle of a street, double-park, or stop away from a child’s home. Children should be told to look both ways before boarding the bus in these instances since some school buses have the automated stop sign which signal other vehicles to stop, and others do not.

These bus safety tips are just some ways in which children need to be made aware of situations which may occur when waiting for the school bus to arrive.

Wine - Getting to Know the Differences

Did you know having a glass of red wine a day is a healthy part of your diet regimen? Do you also know what wines compliment foods best? If not, here are some tips and suggestions on a wine for every meal.

Traditionally, red wine can be used for poultry, beef, veal, ham, pasta, lamb and pork.
What kind of wine? For poultry, ham, pork and veal, try a red Zinfandel or Beaujolais. For beef, pasta and lamb; a cabernet sauvignon or merlot would suffice.

White chardonnay would compliment strong cheeses, pork, poultry and seafood, including shellfish. A white Zinfandel or rose wine could accompany appetizers, mild cheeses, desserts, ham, lamb, poultry and seafood. Sparkling wine such as Spumante or Champagne could also be served with appetizers, mild cheeses and desserts. The rule of thumb when serving wine for a particular meal is selecting a light-bodied wine with lighter food and a full-bodied wine with heartier, flavorful dishes.

In addition, here are some suggestions on how to serve wine. First, quickly chill the wine by placing the bottle in a bucket of ice water for ten minutes, rather than in the freezer. Chill sparkling wine in the refrigerator for at least four hours before serving, or chill in ice water for twenty to thirty minutes. When filling a wine glass, you need to allow the wine to breathe; thus, filling it half way is suggested.

If you still have a problem deciding on what wines to service with your meals, here is a safe bet. When choosing white wines, pick out a Pinot Grigio (deliciously light and dry);
Sauvignon Blanc; Riesling; or Champagne (only for the most suitable occasions), and other Sparking wines. Rose wines can include White Zinfandel; and Red wines can include Beaujolis, Pinot Noir and Merlot (which is full-bodied wine perfect for any pasta dish as well).

Remember, you don’t have to spend a fortune on wine. A simple Pinot or Merlot will suffice, and both are affordable.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tortilla Chili and Cheese Dip

This is a great dish to take as an appetizer for a neighborhood party - it's easy and everybody LOVES it!

1 lb. cream cheese, softened
2 16-oz. cans chili (with or without beans and meat)
1 lb. shredded cheese (flavor of your choice)
1 bag tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Using a 9X 13" baking pan, spread cream cheese on the bottom. Create one layer with chili followed by shredded cheese to cover the top. (To make more, double recipe and layer twice) Place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese has melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pretty Pretty Princess Dress-Up Board Game

Product Name: Pretty Pretty Princess Dress-Up Board Game by Hasbro
Submitted by: Faith Martin; Howard, PA
Rating: 10+
Where to Buy:

Description: The object of this game is to be the first player to collect and wear all your matching colored jewelry and the crown. Once you have collected all your pieces with the crown, you are the Pretty Pretty Princess.

Review: This game is so simple . . . children do not have to be able to read to play. Although, if you have a child who likes to stick small objects in his/her mouth, you may want to wait until he/she is a bit older (small pieces). You may notice I referred to boys as well . . . this is the ONLY game I know of that you can get a grown man to wear costume jewelry. This is what makes this game so much fun. We have owned this game for a little over a year now. I have watched my 6 year old daughter play this game with her dad, her 8 year old brother, and her 68 year old grandfather. I never once heard any of the "boys" complain about having to adorn the beautiful jewelry. I have, however, heard groans when they didn't become the Pretty Pretty Princess. So, grab your daughters, sons, and a few good men for a good time, plenty of laughs, and photo ops. And, my daughter is not the only one who requests to play this game. Enough said.

Here is how the game is played . . . You place your colored marker anywhere on the board to start. The youngest player gets to go first, of course. When it is your turn, you spin the spinner and move your marker that number of spaces on the board. The spaces on the board are marked with pictures of the various pieces of jewelry. Whatever you land on is the piece you
collect (in your color) and wear. The plastic play jewelry includes rings, clip-on earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. I think the hardest pieces to acquire are the earrings, because you are only allowed to take one at a time. So, remember this when you land on a space that says you may choose any piece you want.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, watch out for that black ring! For even if you have collected all your pieces and the crown, you cannot win the game until you have rid yourself of the dreaded black ring. This can only be done if someone else lands on the black ring space or if you land on the space that tells you to put one piece back.

The playing pieces, jewelry, and crown are easily stored in a round jewelry box that is placed in the middle of the playing board (a 4-piece puzzle assembled). The lid of the jewelry box has a mirror on the outside and a spinner on the inside. So, once your royal highness is crowned the winner, he/she may flip the spinner over to gaze at his/her magnificence in the mirror. We often continue play to see who will be the "lady-in-waiting".

This game was well thought out by its creators. It is easy to set up, progresses quickly, and promotes well-being through healthy laughter.

Oops . . . I almost forgot. Don't think you are safe once you have attained the crown. Your fierce opponents have the right to seize the crown from your head during play unless you have already been proclaimed the winner.

Criticism: One minute problem - some players prefer not to wear the earrings (usually the children due to a comfort issue with the clip-ons). However, the earrings can be placed in front of the player or clipped onto his/her necklace.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

5 Tips to Help Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

For many of us this day just seems to rush up on us. We’ve known for years that our babies will be going to kindergarten but when the time comes, many of us are unprepared. It’s definitely an emotional time for both parents and kids but it’s important to help our little ones through this time by staying positive and upbeat.

Here are some tips for helping prepare your child for kindergarten:

  1. Talk about the new change – Children tend to deal well with change as long as we explain to them what is happening. Before starting have little talks with your child about what going to “big kid” school will be like, what the routine will be and so on. Try to have these talks in short spurts as your child may not be able to process too much information at once and may get more confused. Lots of little talks here and there should do the trick.

  2. Show them their new school – Many schools will have introduction days your child can attend ahead of time to meet their new teacher and see the school. You can also take them for a drive or walk to their new school a couple of times before starting. Show them where they will go and where mommy will pick them up after school.

  3. Read a book – Visit your library for a selection of books on starting school, many also have videos and DVDs. Sit with your child and read the book or watch the video and explain how they will be doing something similar when school starts.

  4. Go Shopping – Go school shopping with them and let them be involved in the process of choosing their school supplies, lunch box and even clothes or uniform where appropriate. Let your child feel that he or she is older and can now choose some of their own things.

  5. Draw a Picture – Once you visit the new school have your child draw a picture of themselves at their new school. You may even be able to tell what your child is feeling by what he draws. Talk about the picture and how your child is feeling and then hang the picture up in a prominent place to remind everyone that school will be starting soon.

Above all remain light-hearted and upbeat even if you are feeling a little bit weepy yourself. Talk in a positive way of how much fun school will be and enjoy this milestone with your little one.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Insulated Kids Animal Lunch Box

Product Name: Insulated Kids Animal Lunch Box
Rating: 10
Where to buy:

Description: These adorable kids lunch boxes are great. They are made of Insulated PVC and come in various animal designs.

Review: Your child will love taking this cute lunch box with them wherever they go.

The lunch box itself is made of PVC making it very easy to fold and store. Cleaning is a breeze also. Just use a damp cloth and wipe clean.

It is very lightweight so it’s easy for your child to handle. There is a shoulder strap or a handhold to make it even easier for your child.

There are six different animal designs. They come in a duck, frog, dog, ladybug, elephant or penguin design. So, if your little one has a special animal they like you will probably find the right one just for them.

It is also great for those first graders who can be a little skeptical about taking their lunch to school. Being able to take an “old friend” like a dog with them will relieve some of the leeriness they can feel.

It is also well insulated to keep things cold. That makes it great for taking snacks and drinks on a long drive or even to Grandma’s house. They are wonderful to take on a picnic too. Your kids will love this lunch box made just for them.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bagels and Egg Casserole


3 plain bagels (thinly sliced)
12 eggs (beaten)
1/2 pound cooked ham (diced)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter


Place butter in heavy skillet. Add ham and onion. Sauté over low heat until tender (approximately 2 minutes). Set aside. Slice each bagel into 4 thin slices. Arrange 6 bagel slices at bottom of lightly greased baking dish. Top bagels with ham and onion mixture. Then top with cheddar cheese. Finally top with remaining bagel slices. In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, milk, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture over the bagel layers. Bake at 375F for approximately 30 minutes or until eggs are firm and cooked through.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Homeschool Help: State Study - 50 States Complete Set

Product Name: State Study - 50 States Complete Notebooking Set with Bonus Pages
Rating: 10
Where to buy: Homeschool estore

Description: A complete notebook set of the fifty states. This notebook contains facts about each of our fifty states plus a bonus set that includes 13 colonies, national parks, monuments and memorials, Washington DC and much more.

Review: I was overjoyed with this set. I needed something to help in teaching my children about where they live and the United States in general. This was perfect for my needs. It will help my children from preschool through their high school years.

This set tells about each of our states. It includes information on topic ideas, directions, state facts and more. There are templates that you can use, some of which are blank so your children can create the own ideas. My favorite was the State Symbol pages. These templates allowed my children do draw the State Symbols the way they saw them.

There are also cutouts and graphics included with each individual state. These were very helpful for my children also. It helped them design their own notebooks on each of the states.

These can be bought individually or as the set on CD. You can also go to the site and download all the information. I preferred the CD but for some of us the download is just as simple.

If you are looking for a great teaching guide at a reasonable price I recommend this set. I wouldn’t be without it for my children.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back to School: Should I Send My Child to Preschool?

Deciding whether or not to send your child to preschool is a question only you can answer because you know your child better than anyone. There are certain criteria, however, which can determine whether or not your child might be ready for preschool.

Research indicates that most preschoolers begin between the ages of two and four, and while it seems very young, it is nonetheless an important starting point in your child’s educational experience.

Here are some readiness tips for you to consider:

  • Your child can speak in short sentences
  • Your child can be understood by others
  • Your child exhibits listening skills
  • Your child is able to follow simple directions
  • Your child gets along with other children and can participate in play groups without incident
  • Your child can pay attention to the teacher
  • Your child can sit quietly and focus on an assigned project
  • Your child does not have separation anxiety - a little is normal, but crying for longer than a half hour shows signs of not being ready.

The age at which you send your child to preschool can only be determined by you and your assessment as to whether or not the child is ready, capable of listening and taking direction, playing with other children, sharing, and interacting in a friendly and polite manner.

You may not choose to send your child to preschool at such an early age, which is absolutely fine. You can begin teaching your child at home, and when you feel the child is physically and emotionally ready, a decision can then be made. There is no age defined time nor any law that says you have to commit to preschool at the tender age of two.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pea Salad

1 cup fresh pea pods
8 ounces dried elbow macaroni
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup horseradish mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
2 tablespoons chopped onion

Boil macaroni until tender. Add peas to boiling water for one minute. Drain macaroni and peas and rinse with cold water. Combine, mayonnaise (salad dressing), sour cream, mustard, milk, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl to create dressing. Set dressing to the side. In a large bowl combine macaroni and peas with the celery and onions. Pour dressing mixture over and stir until coated well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. When ready to serve, stir and add one to two tablespoons of milk if desired.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back to School: Setting Rules Before the School Year Begins

Before teens begin to prepare for the new school year, it is important to set boundaries beforehand so they know what is expected of them as they continue on with their high school studies.

Curfew: A specific curfew should be set on school nights and weekends, especially if there are tests involved or they haven’t caught up with homework assignments, reports, or papers. If the teen does go out with friends, the parent should be told where he or she is going, and who will be accompanying them.

Homework: A certain amount of time should be allotted to homework and studying. No TV, video games, music, telephone conversations, or any other distraction should be present when teens study and/or work on their homework assignments.

After-School Employment: There are some teens who would like to earn extra cash, and working after school for a few hours a day might be considered. However, if it interferes with school work, or they begin putting in too much overtime, an alternative arrangement has to be made so that high school studies come before anything else.

Sleepovers: If your teen asks to stay at a friend’s house on the weekend, a curfew should be set in place and the parents of the other teen should be informed as well. In addition, unless a parent is present, it is recommended that your teen not be allowed to spend the night.

Report Cards: If a teen brings home a report card that signifies he or she is not doing well in all subjects, perhaps it would be time to discuss the reasons why the grades are low and find ways they can be improved. In the course of the discussion, perhaps your teen will open up and tell you about a certain problem or issue.

The teen years are fraught with self-image problems, physical and emotional problems, and anger and frustration. It is recommended that parents keep the lines of communication open with their teens. To let them know they understand and will always be available to listen or give advice if asked.

Remembering what it was like being a teenager, some may say it was great while others may say “it was no picnic.” Either way, teens need to feel safe, yet have room to breathe and grow. Though teens would never admit that parameters are a good thing, preparing and setting boundaries for the new school year is one way in which parents can help.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lemonade Stand Lemonade

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Juice from 4-6 lemons
4 cups cold sparkling water or plain water

Mix together one cup water with one cup of sugar in small pot. Heat mixture to boiling, stirring constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow water and sugar mixture to cool, pour in pitcher or bowl and refrigerate. Once the mixture has reached desired coldness, add juice from lemons and stir completely. (Strain lemon juice if desired) Mix four cups of cold water into lemonade and pour in pitcher adding lemon slices if you prefer.

Servings: Approximately 6

Make one batch and freeze into ice cubes to add to lemonade prior to serving to keep this drink from becoming watered down.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Summer Time: Water Safety

Beaches and pools are synonymous with summer. However, the fact is that 90% of all kids who drown are under four years of age; and this is just in backyard pools. To make this an enjoyable and safe summer, here are summer safety tips:

  • Make sure you lock the entrance to the pool and that it is fenced in, so the kids can’t access it.
  • After your children are finished playing in the wading pool, drain it, and store it away.
  • Always have a cell phone available near the pool.
  • When at the beach, only swim where lifeguards are visible.
  • Stay out of the water if you notice strong winds.
  • Always stay within sight of the lifeguard. Be aware of any signs posted on the beach regarding restricted areas.
  • If you see a lifeguard signaling you to come out of the water, do so immediately.
  • If you use a flotation device, ensure you are in control of it.
  • If you bring your kids to the beach, always keep them close, and within sight.
  • If you are not a good swimmer, stay close to shore.
  • Be aware of riptides that can pull you out to sea.
  • Keep your eyes open for jellyfish, or other dangerous sea animals.
  • If you see someone who is drowning, alert the lifeguard right away.
  • It would be advantageous to take a CPR course, in case of a potential drowning.
  • If you have toys in your backyard pool, make sure you take them out, and put them away.
  • Buy flotation devices for your kids.

No matter how diligent you may be, there is always the possibility of something going wrong. Whether enjoying the pool or the beach, it just takes a matter of minutes for any type of situation to emerge. Be careful, be cautious, and watch your kids like a hawk!

Saturday, July 07, 2007


Okay - enough slacking. I was on a vacation this past week with my family. We drove up to PA to my parent's house and met my brother with his 3 kids. We had a blast! The weather was great and the kids had a terrific time...not to mention the excellent time with Grandma and Grandpa!

But now, alas, we have returned and I have to get back to work. I apologize for the lapse in posting, but everybody's got to have some "down time." So, between unpacking, laundry and grocery shopping, I vow to update my blog this weekend and get some cool tips coming your way!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Protect Yourself from the Summer Heat and Sun

Summer is a time for pool parties, beach parties, and sun bathing. However, with the suns rays growing ever stronger, you should take precautions to prevent overheating and dehydration.

Here are some summer safety tips as you spend your days in the sun and heat:

  • When sunbathing, always wear sunscreen, preferably SPF 15. Make sure to reapply it every two hours.
  • Try to stay in the shade during the hours between 10am and 4pm when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Wear sunglasses and a hat when sunbathing at the beach. If possible, bring or rent an umbrella. (This is especially important if you are bringing the kids along.)
  • Drink plenty of water on a hot day. You want to avoid any form of dehydration. Gatorade or Propel will also do the trick and lend some flavor to that water!
  • When exposing babies to the sun, ensure they are wearing lightweight clothing, including hats with brims. Be sure to apply sunscreen to all parts of the body, even the face, back of the neck and backs of hands.
  • For younger and older children, apply sunscreen thirty minutes before going out to the pool, beach, or engaging in any activities. Ensure you have plenty of fluids for them to drink, as well.
  • If you go to the supermarket, or engage in any outdoor activity on a very hot day, dress in light-colored cotton clothing, wear sunscreen, and sunglasses, and be sure to bring plenty of water with you. Unfortunately, the older we get, the more likely we may suffer from dehydration.
  • If you and your family are participating in any physical activity, make sure you are all well hydrated. Drink liquids every 20 minutes.
  • If it’s very, very hot, reduce your activity to fifteen minutes. The moment you become dizzy or flushed – stop. Go to a shaded area, and drink water until your body has a chance to cool down.
  • Take care of your pets. Ensure they have plenty of water to drink, and are kept in a shaded area in your backyard. Otherwise, keep them indoors, and limit their activity as well.
  • Carry wet washcloths in a plastic bag, if you are spending the day out. This is great to have if you are feeling faint, or are walking for a long period. Another idea...keep this plastic bag in the cooler for a REALLY cool treat!
  • When driving, especially in high temperatures, bring bottles of water and wet wash clothes, as well.

We have all felt the affects of the weather over the past couple of years. With temperatures in the 100’s, or above in most states, it’s important to follow these tips, as well as listening to the radio or news channels. Remember: Safety first, summer fun later!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Checklist for Your Family Beach Trip

Heading to the beach this summer? If you're like me, you always forget something. Use this checklist when packing:

  • Large beach bag.
  • Sunscreen Lotion, preferably SPF 15. (higher for the little ones - and your husband's bald head!)
  • Lip balm.
  • Lotion - the sun and salt water really dry out that skin.
  • A beach umbrella if you have one.
  • Adequate changes of clothing for the family, including shoes.
  • Towels.
  • Wash cloths in plastic bags or wipes in containers.
  • A good book or two!
  • Beach blankets.
  • Pails and shovels.
  • Frisbee and beach ball for the kids.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Brimmed hats for everyone.
  • A cooler to store lunch, snacks, juices, water, and sodas.
  • Your iPod.
  • Beach chairs.
  • Plastic bags (don’t forget to save one for the kids to store their collected sea shells.)
  • Cell phone.
  • Camera (disposable).
  • First Aid Kit.
  • Life jackets and flotation devices.
  • Put cell phone and money pouch in plastic bag and keep in cooler. This way, you don’t have to bring a purse or worry about it being stolen.

Have a great time...and be safe!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Don't Let the Summer Heat Ruin Your Makeup

Summertime is here! It will most likely be a hot one. Wearing conventional makeup in that type of heat will not do. Here are some tips to keep that summer heat from ruining your makeup.

You can purchase waterproof makeup products that are currently available. These products include: tubes of lipstick, lip color and lip paints; mascara, eyeliner and eye shadow; foundation and blush, which are not only for summer wear, but stand up well to swimming, sweat, and yes, even tears.

Although wearing waterproof makeup will make you look great all day or all night, you still have to remove your makeup to let your skin breathe. Before you go to bed, take the time you need to carefully remove every bit of makeup from your face including: foundation, concealer, blush, eyeliner, shadow, and lip color. Take it all off with your favorite waterproof makeup remover and follow it up with toner or moisturizer depending on your skin type. Leaving makeup on overnight can cause clogged pores and breakouts. The best part is that you can remove this makeup with baby oil or you can even try different types of removers such as moisturizers with green tea extract, coconut, chamomile, or whatever suits you.

These waterproof products have been produced to ensure makeup doesn’t come off when exposed to heat or water. Most models use this type of makeup when modeling in climates where heat is a major factor. Runners use it; swimmers use it, and just about any woman who wants to look terrific without having to touch up on a hot humid day.

Before you try any type of waterproof makeup, test it on your skin first to ensure you are not allergic to it. There is a component in waterproof makeup that can cause potential reactions on the skin. So choose waterproof makeup that is also easy on the skin. Some removers tend to leave skin dry. Use whatever works best for you.

Friday, June 15, 2007

How Did Father's Day Come About?

Where did Father’s Day Originate? While there are about seven renditions relating to the origin of Father’s Day, the most widely held version is this:

Father's Day originated through a young girl named Sonora Louise Smart, who lived in Spokane, Washington. Apparently, after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, she wondered why fathers weren’t celebrated as well. At 16, Sonora lost her mother in childbirth and her dad, a civil war veteran, raised Sonora and her five siblings. Determined to have Father’s Day recognized as a special day, Sonora finally witnessed the first Father’s Day celebration on June 19, 1910. Subsequently, the idea gained popularity all over the US and thus Father’s Day became a national day of celebration.

In fact, President Woodrow Wilson, noticing the depth to which this day became so popular, approved the idea in 1916. Furthermore, it was President Calvin Coolidge, who also loved this idea, proclaimed Father’s Day as a national celebration in 1924. Interestingly enough, in 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a presidential proclamation stating the third Sunday in June would be officially declared Father’s Day. It didn’t end there! President Richard Nixon permanently established the observance of Father’s Day in 1972.

What happened to the young girl who started it all? You will be happy to hear that Sonora Smart Dodd was honored at the World’s Fair in Spokane in 1974 for her contribution in making Father’s Day a national day of recognition.

Today, Father’s Day is celebrated around the world; however, not all countries celebrate it on the same day. In fact, in Australia and New Zealand, for example, it is celebrated on the first Sunday of September.

Beginning with an idea and the determination to see it through, Sonora Louise Smart was the catalyst who brought recognition to make Father’s Day a day of celebration. It’s amazing what one person can do, isn’t it?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Danger Rangers Mission 547 Safety Rules! DVD

Product: Danger Rangers Mission 547 Safety Rules! DVD
Reviewed by: Tracy Ebert, founder
Rating: 10
Where to Buy:

Description: 40 minute animated DVD showing children safety rules through the use of superheroes named the Danger Rangers

Review: This DVD gets my two thumbs up! I viewed it with my 3-yr old daughter over the weekend and couldn't believe the reaction I got from her. I try to keep our usual viewing to semi-educational shows that help teach values, manners, songs, etc... This one was right down our alley - she was humming and singing the songs by the second go-round.

These animated superheroes called the Danger Rangers are housed in their secret headquarters (cleverly disguised in the head of George Washington in Mt. Rushmore). The Danger Rangers are organized by a super computer named SAVO. The Danger Rangers are alerted when safety oilations are being committed and they rush to the rescue to teach families and children the different safety rules regarding: home, biking, strangers, calling 911, fire, and pool/water.

Their motto...SAFETY RULES!

This DVD has Spanish and English available on one disc and there are some cute bonus songs such as "911," "Wheels," and "Rules of the Road" that have catchy tunes and lyrics to help the kids learn and retain the safety rules.

The viewing range covers a broad age bracket as my 10-yr old also enjoyed sitting with his little sister to watch and sing along.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Garlic and Herb Potato Salad

2 pounds red potatoes
1 Tablespoon roasted garlic
2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
Salt and pepper
2 medium red onions, sliced thin
1/3 cup fresh chopped herbs (parsley, tarragon, and thyme)
2 bunches watercress

To roast garlic, rub one garlic head with olive oil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. To prepare the dressing, whisk together garlic, Dijon mustard and vinegar. Next whisk olive oil into mixture slowly. Season mixture with salt and pepper, mix and add mustard seeds. After cleaning potatoes, dice into bite sized pieces and boil until tender. While potatoes are still warm, add potatoes to dressing and toss. Chill for minimum of 2 hours. When ready to serve add onions, herbs and watercress to potatoes and dressing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Reading - Make it Fun for the Kids this Summer!

As kids look forward to the last day of school, most middle school public school teachers remind their students to read at least 25 books over the summer. While this is certainly a daunting challenge, there are ways reading can be included in fun summer ideas for kids.

While it is estimated that school kids put in more hours than working adults, they too need a bit of a break. The first week of vacation should be devoted to rest and relaxation. This can then be followed by weekly trips to the library wherein kids can choose their own reading material specifically in topics which interest them. All year long they are being told what to read. By giving them the opportunity to choose books they like, they won’t feel so overwhelmed. Allowing them to decide what to read will give them the flexibility to seek different genres such as Harry Potter, and the ability to engage in this ongoing adventure.

Children are under a great deal of pressure during the school year. Summer should be a time of fun, but it can also be a time of learning as well. If your kids love to read, the trips to the library will be exciting for them. If they are hesitant, allow them to browse around. If they don’t choose any books the first time around, try again a week later. They may come upon a book or books which grab their attention. You can be assured once they find a topic of interest, especially if it’s a serialized book, they will want to return.

Fun summer ideas for kids can include reading as part of their summer enjoyment. It all depends upon how it is approached. While the 25-book requirement may or may not be reached, it is important for the kids not to feel pressured, but allowed to read at their own pace. If they manage to read 1 book every 2 weeks, that’s a plus. Whether they take a book to the beach or read aloud at home, reading should be a fun and relaxing time for kids.

If the 25 book goal might seem a little lofty, split it up into doable smaller goals - like 5 books each. Make a cool chart with an image, like a child climbing a mountain, that will show all of the small goals that lead up to the 25 goal peak. At every 5-book interval, have a little reward for your child...a trip to the pool, something that they can pick out at the dollar store, or maybe a night where they get to plan the entire family dinner! Doing small, inexpensive things like this can be just the ticket your child needs to boost their interest in reading!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Freebie Friday - Keeping the Balance with Your Teens

I always like to pass along freebies to you and Mom's Niche is offering yet another great resource for dealing with your growing adolescents.

It's tough to balance guiding your teen to make the right choices and keeping your home from becoming a war zone.

This FREE downloadable report gives some great practical tips on how to achieve that balance.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

What to Do this Summer? Fun No-Cost Ideas...

Although you may not be able to afford a summer vacation this year, there are no-cost, fun summer activities for the whole family. Check these out and feel free to leave me some other fun ideas in the comments!

  • Go to the library! What is more fun for a kid than to go on down to the public library and check out a couple of books and maybe a fun DVD to view? It's absolutely free and most libraries have summer reading activities that reward your child when they reach certain goals. This will help keep up their reading skills for school in the fall :)
  • Have some outside quiet time. Pick a tree in your back yard and lay down a blanket. Have some lemonade and cookies, and read the books you’ve checked out from the library. Take turns reading. Invite friends and their kids to join you. Make it a weekly event.
  • Make a treasure box with your kids (this follows the popular Pirates of the Caribbean theme this summer). Have them scout around the back yard or beach for rocks or sea shells or any item they think would be cool to include. Have the kids make a treasure map and include some information on pirates found on the internet. Add some coins, and make a pirate’s flag with black fabric. Have the kids add their own symbols to it. Then the kids can bury it in the back yard or keep it on hand and add to it each year.
  • Garden with the kids. Have your kids plant their own flower garden. Talk about each flower; how it grows, how much room it needs, and then give the kids a title, such as Director of Water Resource (this would be for one kid to oversee the watering of the plants); or Director of Roots and Shoots (this would be for another kid to oversee the weeding), etc. Also, give your kids some watermelon seeds to plant. You never know what may crop up.
  • Take a bike ride. This is such a great activity for the entire family. You can even pack a picnic lunch and stop midway for a great time together! It's wonderful exercise and will really bring the family together.
No-cost, fun summer activities for the whole family can be achieved with just a little imagination and a LOT of creativity.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Just Peachy Ribs

4 pounds pork ribs, cut into serving-size pieces
1 onion
1 bay leaf
2 cups chopped, peeled peaches (1 pound)
1 can condensed tomato soup (10 3/4 ounces)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Add two inches of water to 5 quart cooking pot and place ribs inside. Add the onion and bay leaf and boil. Reduce heat; cover pot and simmer about for one hour or until the ribs are tender. Drain the ribs. Preheat grill to medium high. Place ribs on the grill fat side up; cover and cook for one hour. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and mix well. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until mixture has thickened. Stir mixture two to three times while simmering. Once ribs have grilled, brush with sauce and grill until well done, brushing sauce throughout grilling. Use any remaining sauce to top ribs once ready to serve.

Monday, June 04, 2007

C'mon Mom, Enjoy the Summer!

How many times this winter did you say, "Man, I can't wait until the warm weather comes!" It’s been a long, hard winter. Now that summer is right around the corner, it’s time for you to get out of the house and enjoy yourself. Here are 7 tips to help moms enjoy summer.

  1. Spend a day in the park with the kids. Have a picnic lunch! Bring your favorite CD music and the kids’ toys and just enjoy the fresh air, the trees and grass – bring the dog too.
  2. Perhaps one morning you wake up, the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you decide to spend a day in your backyard. Have your morning coffee; find your favorite nail polish and paint your toenails. Heck, go the whole nine yards and do your fingernails too.
  3. Want to really have a great time? Put on your shorts and top, sneakers, and go for a walk or run. Don’t wear any makeup. That’s right, just put up your hair if it’s long, and set out on a beautiful summer morning until you break into a sweat.
  4. Call up one of your friends and make a date to spend a day at the mall. Buy a new outfit and a pair of sandals to go along with it. Have lunch and enjoy the day together.
  5. Want to get away from it all? Call your parents and ask if they wouldn’t mind babysitting their grandkids for a weekend. Then you and your hubby take off for parts unknown. Just pack light layers and get in the car and go. Imagine the freedom you will feel and the anticipation of not knowing where you’ll wind up. It can be exhilarating.
  6. How about you and the entire family going for a bike ride in your local park. Arise early on a Saturday morning and take the bikes out of the garage and head out. Just smell the fresh morning air, let it go through your lungs and invigorate you.
  7. How about going to a musical or play, with dinner afterwards. Call friends you haven’t seen in a while and make plans. Enjoy the night out with friends walking along the streets in the warm night air. Now that’s the ticket to enjoyment.

You deserve a little time for you, time with friends, and with family. Make this summer an enjoyable one!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Stop Feeding Your Family Junk!

If you had a choice between grabbing fat-laden fast food yet again or serving your family a balanced, home-cooked meal, which would you pick?

What if I told you that you can prepare that home-cooked meal and save time and money over the so called "Fast Food" option? Menu Planning allows you to do just that. It ensures that you have the ingredients you need in the house to whip up a delicious and nutritious dinner in less time than it takes you to find a coupon for your favorite pizza joint -- again.

But who has time to sit down to find recipes, make a menu plan and the grocery list to go along with it? The Menu Mom Does!

She’s done all the hard work for you, compiling recipes and creating printable shopping lists. All you have to do is click print and you’re set to feed your family for an entire week.

Don’t spend this summer stuck in the kitchen, missing out on summer memories, or worse, wasting your money on fast-food.

Let the Menu Mom handle everything for you.

Friday, June 01, 2007

My Celebrity Look-Alikes

This is pretty should check it out!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Cool Scrapbook Business Opportunity!

Do you dream of owning your own business? Is scrapbooking your favorite hobby and now you think you're ready to take this hobby to the next level? If you answered "yes" to these on.

A colleague of mine, Vera Raposo, the queen of scrapbooking, is going to knock your socks off with her brand spanking new Scrap Venture Coaching System.

This is a 7-week program that will take your scrapbook business to new levels. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s the scoop on what you’ll get during this coaching session with Vera:

1. Laying the foundation for your business
2. Building your website
3. Locating scrapbook products
4. Using auctions as business-builders
5. Marketing techniques
6. Mastering Internet marketing
7. Planning for your future

This coaching package is very exciting! Not only does Vera provide the weekly lessons, but you also get one-on-one coaching with her, a members-only forum, and feedback every week on your completed lesson. Now, where can you go to get this kind of personal business mentoring at such a reasonable price? Nowhere!

I am excited to share this with you because I know there are tons of moms out there searching for legitimate business opportunities. Vera is a trusted and highly respected work at home mom, too, so she understands where you’re coming from. Plus, the advice she gives is backed by years of experience in the scrapbook industry.

If you are considering starting your own scrapbook business, I implore you to grab this remarkable opportunity before you take the plunge. Let Vera guide you with her expansive knowledge about the scrapbook business. Hurry—the first round of coaching begins Monday, June 4th!

Make sure you reserve your spot now.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Unique Father's Day Ideas

What? Father's Day is coming soon?

Can you believe it? Half the year is almost gone...and yes, it is time to honor your Dad. If he's sick of receiving that same old tie as a present...check this cool stuff out! is a cool new site I discovered with some unique ideas for Father's Day!

Hit the Sauce - This cool gourmet basket (shown left) has a great assortment of grilling and barbecue sauces from Jack Daniels, Maker's Mark, Jim Beam and Beefeater. There are also some flavored coffees in there for good measure!

Cigar Sampler - This 20 piece sampler contains 4 each of some of the highest rated cigars produced today.

Beer of the Month* - Each month, dad could receive a 12-pack of 4 different types of hand-crafted microbrewed beer in 12 ounce bottles.

Tour of the Wine Country Gift Basket* - Is your dad a wine lover? This basket is a great choice that includes 3 different California wines, meats, cheeses, crackers and some Ghirardelli chocolate to top it off!

These are just a few of the cool gifts that are available from These gifts are unique and convenient for you too!

* Alcohol related purchases can only be shipped to certain states, please make sure you make sure dad is able to receive this great gift before you purchase!

Tips for Sticking to Your Family Budget

You have a family budget in place. Now the hard part begins—sticking to your family budget. With the demands of all the wants and needs of kids, it can be challenging to keep a close eye on your money matters. Here are some simple tips to save money and help you stick to your family budget:

  • No satellite – On average, the least expensive satellite package can run anywhere from $35-$40 per month. Multiply that times twelve months and you end up with a whopping $420-$480 per year! Do away with this single bill and your family can save almost $500 every year. Now that’s an incentive!
  • Limited video rentals – Many families choose to rent movies for a family night instead of going to the movies. While rentals are a huge money saver, it can still get expensive if you go overboard. Limit your rentals to two every two weeks, for example.
  • Return videos early – Another cost that adds up quickly is overdue rental fees. For the cost of a few past due days on one movie, you could purchase that movie and watch it forever if you wanted to. Write yourself a note so you won’t forget to return your movie rentals on time. Even better, try using an online video rental service like Netflix. You’ll pay the same each month, pay no late fees, and get new movies every time you return one.
  • Plan meals before shopping – Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You will want to buy everything you see on the shelves. You may think it’s silly, but you will be amazed at the results if you try it.
  • Buy off-brand products – Most off-brand products taste much the same as their counterparts. There are a few, like mayonnaise for example, that taste slightly different. For the most part, if you are trying to stick to a budget, buying off-brand products can save you a lot of money. And don’t forget to clip and use coupons, too!
  • Bring your lunch to work – Once again, let’s do the figures. If you spend a minimum of $5.00 per day on lunch (that’s a cheap lunch!), at the end of the week, you’ve racked up $25.00. With gas prices on the rise every day, that extra $25.00 could come in handy if you drive to work, too. Instead of eating out, fix your lunch to bring with you.
  • Drink water – Sodas are easy to grab and run with, but water is much healthier for you. Instead of spending money on canned drinks, buy a family-size pack of bottled water. You’ll save money and drink healthier.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day was first celebrated on May 5, 1866 at Waterloo, New York. This was due to the fact that the town commemorated Memorial Day yearly with the entire community engaged in events, including decorating the graves of soldiers with flags and flowers.

Originally named Decoration Day in honor of the soldiers who died in the Civil War, it was John A. Logan, General of the Army of the Republic who, on May 5, 1868, declared that May 30th would be a day in which flowers who decorate the graves of those who died in defense of their country. In fact, at the first celebration of Decoration Day, then General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. honoring the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who fought and died. It is said that over 5000 people helped to decorate these graves with flags and flowers.

Since then, Memorial Day has since become a day of reflection and observance. All businesses are closed for the day, as well as government buildings. In addition, all members of the armed services, from World War I to today, have been so honored. Memorial Day spawned Veteran’s Day, which is observed on November 11th. Subsequently, Congress declared Memorial Day as a national holiday and is celebrated during a solemn ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. One of the most important events is the placing of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, which is usually done by the President or the Vice-President.

The tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from all of the wars American fought. Moreover, every solider was given the Medal of Honor at the time they were interred, and you can see these medals at the Memorial Amphitheater. In addition, the tomb is guarded every day of every year by special members of the Old Guard. It is a fitting tribute to these men, and every year thousands of people visit this site to pay homage to these great men.

Memorial Day has become especially significant, as we have our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Honoring them and those who died before them is not only fitting, but reminds us that freedom comes at a price, and any soldier would tell you that fighting for their country is worth the sacrifice. Remember the men and women who are in far away lands protecting the freedom of others, as well as our own. Light a candle in their honor; send them a message of thanks or a care package of homemade cookies; let them know you are thinking and praying for them. It’s the least we can do to ensure our Memorial Day history is not merely read from a book, but practiced every day.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Summertime Peach Freezers

With summertime fast approaching, I thought you might want a fun drink that is great for the whole family!

1/2 c. milk
1 c. sliced peaches fresh or canned
1 tsp. sugar

ice cube tray
serving dishes

Pour milk in ice cube tray and freeze solid. Once frozen, pull from tray and place in blender. Add peaches and sugar to blend on high speed until smooth. Serve immediately.

***Of course, if you want to make this a fun, adult only drink, just add a little rum before blending ;)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

7 Camping Essentials for Families

Memorial Day weekend is here - one of the biggest camping weekends of the year! If you're heading out and want some help getting ready, here are 7 camping essentials every family should have.

  1. Tent, bedding and tarp
  2. Clothing fitting for the season and area
  3. Camp stove, charcoal and other cooking supplies
  4. Food, water, paper plates, cups, flatware, napkins
  5. Personal hygiene items
  6. Cell phone, and flashlight
  7. First aid kit

Is this your first camping trip? Your kids must be so excited! After all, taking a vacation where you can sleep under the stars; explore; have some home cooked meals; sit by a campfire roasting marshmallows, and tell ghost stories or sing; not being cooped up in some hotel – this is as exciting as it gets!

Ensuring that you are fully prepared, these 7 camping essentials every family should have are mandatory. However, you may wish to bring along other items such as a camera; fun games for the kids such as card and board games, or fishing rods (if you’re near a lake); and all of the necessary items you would need to cook; clean; as well as extra blankets and pillows. Additional matches and batteries would be preferable.

Camping has become more popular than ever, and it’s no wonder! Communing with nature; discovering new sites and sounds, but more importantly, spending time with your family without all of the modern conveniences and electronics which inevitably interrupt quality time spent with kids at home.

Another good way to prepare for your camping trip would be to ask questions at the camping store to ensure you have all of the items you need to make this a successful adventure. Who knows, this may be the beginning of a new vacation tradition for you and your family! There are so many places to see and experience; natural wonders which mesmerize kids, and give them a better appreciation of nature. Be sure to take lots of pictures! They will make a great addition to your family vacation scrapbook. Be safe and have a great time!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Time to Open Up the Swimming Pool!

Pretty soon it will be time to open the swimming pool and/or bring out the vinyl pool for your kids. In order to ensure any pool is safe and prepared for summer fun, here are some tips you can utilize.

If you have a vinyl pool, check for rips and tears. If there are any, you can easily purchase a repair kit from any pool dealership. Follow the directions in the kit, and the kids will be set to go!

If you have a larger pool or built in pool, there are additional steps you will have to take:

  1. Ensure you have all of the chemicals you need to properly prepare your pool for the summer. Get rid of any outdated chemicals you may have on hand.

  2. Remove the pool cover and clean it; fold, and store for the summer.

  3. Get rid of all debris from the pool floor using a leaf net.

  4. Adjust the pH and Alkaline levels of the water.

  5. Use chlorine to get rid of any bacteria in the pool.

  6. Get the pump and filter in working order. Reassemble the ladders to the deck of the pool.

  7. Remove all of the plugs and replace the return outlet fittings.

  8. Fill the pool up to its normal level.
    Check all of your electrical components to ensure they are working properly.

  9. Start the circulation equipment and clean the pool.

  10. Check the chemistry of the water as well as the levels to ensure they are up to speed. The rule of thumb is to run the circulation system for three days until the water is completely clear.

  11. Get out your tire tubes and water mats; inflate and give them a good cleaning before they are placed in the pool.
When it’s time to open the swimming pool, the kids become excited and can’t wait for the first warm day. Ensure their pool is not filled with too much water. Make sure it has been cleaned, and most of all, make it as safe for them as possible.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bladder Infections Can Be Dangerous in Children

While bladder infections are somewhat common among women, they can affect children as well. In fact, studies have shown that urinary tract infections are common around the age of three, during the time the child is being toilet trained.

Why are bladder infections dangerous in children and what can be done to prevent them?

According to research, cystitis or inflammation of the bladder occurs in children who may have an abnormal urinary tract. What this means is that they may be predisposed to infection time and again. For the very young, this is especially dangerous since it could cause kidney damage later on in life. Therefore, it is recommended that any child who has a history of two or more urinary tract infections should have x-rays and ultrasound tests, especially if the infection is accompanied by fever, pain and vomiting. Neither girls nor boys are immune to this condition, so it is important to see your child’s pediatrician to determine what can be done to properly treat the condition.

Make sure your child's genital area is clean by:

  • wiping from front to back after each bowel movement
  • drinking lots of fluids
  • wearing cotton underwear
Bladder infections can be painful. Some common symptoms may include:
  • the need to urinate but nothing comes out
  • a burning sensation as you urinate
  • not being able to control your bladder - It is very important to ensure your child urinates completely and goes to the bathroom as soon as he or she needs to, and not hold it in.

If your child exhibits any of the above symptoms, it is important that her pediatrician be informed so that if it reoccurs, he can then perform the necessary tests to ascertain if your child is predisposed to this condition.

Are bladder infections dangerous in children? Yes, but fortunately, they can be effectively diagnosed and treated.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Garmin StreetPilot GPS Navigator

Product Name: Garmin Street Pilot GPS Navigator
Submitted by: Marie Ynami; Redlands, CA
Rating: 9
Where to buy:

Description: It is a small, convenient, portable and easy to use automotive GPS navigator. It has three-dimensional map graphics, is voice-prompted and tells you turn-by-turn directions through a built-in speaker.

Review: I love this gadget. I feel more confident leaving the house knowing that I will not get lost.

I like the fact that I do not have to stare at the map while I am driving as the "voice" tells me if I need to make a left or a right, get on the freeway or which exit to take. It also tells me the distance and my estimated time of arrival.

We have 2 cars and since this is portable, I can move it from one car to the other with no hassles. I simply un-mount it from the windshield of the one car and mount it onto the other car - so easy!

Now, my husband and I do not need to stop and ask for directions! The driver can choose from either a three-dimensional mapping perspective or the standard overhead bird's-eye view.

It has a neat touch-screen which allows for quick access to features such as addresses, recent locations, food, and lodging and it automatically puts you back on course when you make a wrong turn or run into traffic problems.

It includes a SD card slot and 128 SD card and Map Source City Select street data on CD-ROM. You can upload detailed maps using your computer and the Map Source City Select street data on CD-ROM.

It can be charged too because it has an internal lithium-ion battery. It also includes a vehicle suction cup mount w/integrated power cable and PC/USB interface cable.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

7 Tips for Lowering Your Risk for Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the number one killers of women. Though women suffer fewer heart attacks than men, they are less likely to survive when they do have a heart attack. Men and women should be mindful of the risks of heart disease and take steps to reduce their risk.

  1. Stop smoking. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease. If you are having trouble, try using a nicotine patch or the gum.
  2. Know your blood pressure. When the arteries of the body and the heart are narrowed due to plaque buildup in the vessels, blood pressure will increase. When blood is under such pressure, it can dislodge pieces of arterial plaque into the bloodstream. This could lead to a heart attack if the plaque lodges in a coronary artery or a stroke if the plaque lodges in the brain.
  3. Have your cholesterol checked. High blood cholesterol leads to plaque deposits on the walls of arteries. As more plaque builds up, the vessels will narrow. There are three main components: HDL, LDL, and triglycerides. HDL lowers total blood cholesterol by removing plaques that have been deposited on the walls of arteries. LDL causes the plaques to stick to the arteries in the first place. Triglycerides are a fatty substance in the blood. High triglyceride levels have been linked to heart disease. The doctor may prescribe medication to lower your blood cholesterol. A number less than 200 mg/dl is desirable.
  4. Lose weight if necessary. Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to lowering your risk of heart disease. Carrying too much weight, especially around the midsection, increases the strain on your heart, not to mention your back and your legs.
  5. Start an exercise program. Performing an exercise for at least thirty minutes most days of the week will increase your cardiovascular health and your oxygen output. Aerobic exercise also helps you sleep better at night and maintain an overall good mental attitude.
  6. Check for diabetes. Developing diabetes puts you at risk for developing heart disease down the road. If you are diabetic, get your blood sugar under control with insulin shots or a change in diet. Your doctor will determine which is better for you.
  7. Change your eating habits. A healthy diet consists of whole grains, vegetables, fresh fruits, and low-fat dairy products. Lean beef, chicken, and pork will provide daily protein along with fish and seafood. Invest in a good multivitamin to provide the nutrients that you may miss from day to day.

Heart disease doesn’t have to affect you. Know the warning signs and the risks. Work with a doctor to lower your chances of suffering a heart attack.

Monday, May 21, 2007

What is Scoliosis?

How many Judy Blume freaks are out there? If you were like me, you couldn't get enough of her books when you were a kid. Anyone remember the book, Deenie? This book was about a young girl diagnosed with scoliosis and the trials and tribulations she went through wearing her brace. This book was an eye-opener for me because I had been through the screenings at school and had been warned about this condition, but through Deenie's eyes, got to know how it felt to have scoliosis.

What exactly is scoliosis? Simply put, it's a curvature of the spine. While everyone’s spine is slightly curved, scoliosis patients have more obvious bends to the side; not in or out like with osteoporosis. While mild cases of this disease may go undetected and without symptoms, severe cases can cause significant physical problems. Scoliosis can occur at any age in childhood, so it’s important that your child gets regular screenings, even if they haven’t had a problem before.
While the root cause of most scoliosis cases isn’t known, we do know many of the risk factors for curves becoming more severe.

Some risk factors include:

  • Growth. Curves in children’s spines almost always worsen during a growth spot. Pay careful attention to your child’s spine when they’re growing the most.
  • Age. If your child was very young when the curve was first discovered, they are more likely to have a severe problem because their spine has more growing to do. Babies who are born with scoliosis are especially at risk.
  • Placement of curve. Curves in the upper portion of the spine are more likely to become problematic and should be monitored more closely.
  • Angle of curve. If a curve is more dramatic to begin with, it is also more likely to increase in severity.

The most important part of treating scoliosis is early detection. Here are some steps you can take to make sure you find the problem as soon as possible.
  • School screenings. Find out if your child’s school does regular screenings. If not, talk to school administrators. Encourage them to start regular screening programs.
  • Look for the signs. If no one else is checking your child for symptoms (or even if they are) look for signs that your child may have a problem. These include: uneven or elevated hips, prominent shoulder blades, uneven shoulders, and leaning to one side. You child’s stance and body should be fairly symmetrical.
  • Yearly physical. Talk you your child’s doctor about checking for indications of spinal curves. This is particularly important if you’ve noticed signs on your own.

Many cases of scoliosis simply require monitoring to see if the curving gets worse. If it doesn’t, then no treatment is usually pursued. If your doctor observes an increase in the problem, they may give your child a back brace. This will help keep the curve from progressing, but shouldn’t interfere too much in your child’s life.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

No Babysitter = Chaos in our Household

That's right, my sitter is away this week. She had a family emergency and had to go out of town.

I've been wandering around all week trying to figure out how to get my work done, do the laundry, clean the house and entertain my 3 yr old.

We are SUCH creatures of habit! I'm used to having my routine of getting up, doing about an hour's worth of work, grabbing a shower, getting the kids off to school and the sitter and having a 5 or 6 hour chunk of time during the day that I get all of my work done. Then, when the kids come home, I take care of the housework (of course, with their help) and cook dinner. Since, my sitter has been away, I am lost without my routine!

So, after much deliberation (and feeling worthless because I am having trouble with this simple change), I decided not to fight city hall and: let my daily blog turn into an every 3 day blog; get only the work done that absolutely HAS to be done during nap time and the early morning hours; let a little bit of laundry slip (we can all wear those shorts ONE more time before they need washed, right?); and PLAY with my little girl.

Hopefully, things will be back to normal next week, but if they aren't - I'm not going to sweat it!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

9 Great Tips for Teaching Your Toddler to Share

Toddlers are, by nature, self-centered. Everything has been taken care of for her since you brought her home from the hospital as an infant.

When your child becomes a toddler and can begin to communicate, this is the perfect time to teach them the importance of sharing with others. It may take some time, but with continuity and positive reinforcement, your child will become very adept at playing with others!

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. If your toddler doesn’t want to share, explain why it’s an important thing.
  2. Tell your toddler that not sharing may mean his friends will not want to share with him either.
  3. Take the toys in question away. If your toddler doesn’t want to share – then no one will play with the toys.
  4. Never yell at the toddler, but be firm in your reprimands.
  5. If other toddlers are invited over, ask your toddler to pick out some toys to put away. But also remind him the toys left out can be shared with everyone.
  6. If your toddler screams and carries on, give the toddler a time out.
  7. Teach by example. Show your child how you are willing to share something you own.
  8. Thank your toddler for sharing his toys with others.
  9. Teach your toddler to think of others.

If all else fails remember this is probably a stage your toddler will outgrow. However, it is important to instill in your child that sharing and giving is important. Try not to give in to everything your toddler wants or buy your toddler a present every time you give another child or their sibling a present. Even though she is still very young, your toddler needs to understand the importance of the basic skill of sharing.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Hope you all have a very Happy Mother's Day! I've had a great one...did exactly what I wanted...nothing at all!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day Coconut Coated Chicken Strips

NOW you've got enough information to make a complete Mother's Day Dinner. Print off all of the recipes that I've posted throughout the week and give them to your husband or kids who are old enough to cook and...ENJOY!

3/4 cup pineapple juice, divided
1 cup cream of coconut, divided
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
6 eggs, beaten
1 (2 pound) bag shredded coconut
3/4 to 1 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl mix 1/4 cup of pineapple juice, 1/4 cup of cream of cocunut, soy sauce, brown sugar and wine vinegar. Add chicken strips and allow to marinate, covered in refrigerator a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. In a pie plate, combine flour, salt and pepper. In a bowl beat eggs and mix with 1/4 cup cream of coconut. In another bowl pour shredded coconut. Coat chicken strips first in flour, next in egg mixture and finally in shredded coconut. In a deep skillet, heat peanut oil (enough to just cover the bottom of skillet) over medium heat. Once oil is hot, cook chicken for 5 minutes on each side, taking care not to over cook coconut. Remove chicken and drain any leftover oil. Place 1/2 cup pineapple juice and 1/2 cup cream of coconut and heavy whipping cream in pan. Cook until thick, scraping drippings from bottom of the skillet. Pour sauce over chicken strips.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mother's Day Fruit Salad

1 can prepared lemon pie filling
12 oz. frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 - 15 oz. can tropical fruit salad, drained
1 - 15 oz. can pineapple tidbits, drained
2 - 11 oz. cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 cups fresh strawberries

Mix lemon pie filling and whipped topping together in a large bowl. Add fruit to mixture and chill in refrigerator from 4 hours to overnight. When ready to serve, top with fresh strawberries or fruit of your choice and whipped topping.
Serves: 8

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mother's Day Roasted Carrots

9 medium-sized carrots, peeled and trimmed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
dash of pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (2 teaspoons dried)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves (1 1/2 teaspoons dried)
1/4 cup pulp free orange juice

Cut carrots in half. Take the bigger half and cut again from top to bottom. Heat oil in a skillet on high. Lay carrots side by side in a layer in skillet. Sprinkle carrots with the onion and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and cover. Cook carrots for 30 minutes, turning at 15 minutes. Once carrots begin to carmelize and the liquid evaporates, remove from skillet. Place carrots in a bowl and sprinkle with thyme, rosemary and orange juice. Toss together coating well and serve.