Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Potty Training - Open to Suggestions

Potty training...anybody have any good suggestions? You would think since I've been down this road two times before, that I would know what to do...WRONG!

My youngest just turned three last week. She has always been very verbal and able to communicate. We never went through that frustrating time with trying to find words and throwing tantrums when said words couldn't be found. So, I'm thinking..."life has been a breeze with her for the first three years, why would potty training be any different?"

HAHA, was I in for a RUDE AWAKENING!

She has been using Pull-Ups, and pretty successfully, for the last year or so. We've been talking about becoming a "big girl" with this birthday and even got some Dora underwear in the stocking from Santa.

This past Friday, I decided it was time. She was home with me for the day and we would have a 3-day weekend to work on it. We traded in the Pull-Ups for Dora. I quickly became aware that my little angel's halo was slipping and she was going to put me to the test. All of a sudden she became defiant - I would tell her to go sit on the potty..."No, I don't want to" - EVERY time I put her on the potty this happens. We go through a HUGE power struggle and I'm trying like hell not to let her win.

This is the kicker right here...she goes to a private babysitter 3-4 days during the week. This babysitter has been taking care of her since she was about 10 months old. She's awesome. Livvie loves her and everything is hunky dory.

I'm getting to my point...the babysitter tells her to go sit on the potty...AND SHE GOES AND SITS ON THE POTTY. She even pulls her own pants down, does her thing, pulls her pants back up, washes her hands and BOOM, she's successfully gone to the bathroom by herself.

Of course, I'm thinking I'm the biggest failure of a mom who ever lived. This shouldn't be that tough..I'm smart, educated...and for God's sakes - I'm 36 years older than this child!

Okay mommies out there - this is an official cry for help.

I'm looking for some great advice...don't let me down now.

Update: it's now two days later and we've had TWO DRY DAYS!! All day long...even through nap time. Maybe I was wrong...maybe I AM a genius after all :)

Update - 8 days later: Okay - I want to thank everyone for the kind words and advice, but I really think we have this thing licked! She has had 1 accident since this past Saturday. She is still wearing the Pull-Up for nighttime (and she's been dry all night a couple of times), but she's "big girl underwear" all during the daylight hours. WOOHOO!!

Appetizers Being Featured Today!

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kids CAN Help Out With Chores!

It’s never too early to ask your kids to help you with chores around the house. You can even start as early as two years old. While children mature at different rates, you can still determine what age appropriate chores are best suited for toddlers, kids, tweens and teens. Here's a little guide to help you:

Toddlers - These little balls of fire can certainly help you around the house. Start by giving them some of these simple tasks: making the bed; picking up their toys; feeding the family pet; helping you put laundry into the basket; or cleaning up split milk on the kitchen floor. These chores would be most suited to two and three year olds. You can teach your toddlers to do their chores by making a game out of it or singing a song while completing each task. It will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment. Yes, even at that young age.

4's and 5's - You can ask them to help you: set the table; dust around the house; help make cookies; help you carry grocery bags (as long as you make it light for them).

6 thru 8's - This age can really dig into the chores by: taking care of the pet they’ve always wanted; helping you vacuum the floor; taking out the trash or folding the laundry. You can even ask them to help you prepare meals. Think of the experience they are getting at this early age.

Tweens (9-12) - This age group really has their work cut out for them. Some of the more vigorous chores can be relegated to outside work: rake the leaves; wash the car; help clean out the garage. If you need help inside the house, they can certainly help you prepare meals; dust and vacuum the house; wash dishes or clean the bathroom. Certainly they would be old enough to make their beds; clear their room of debris; organize their toys, etc...

Teens - These 13's and up tend to pose a different problem altogether. Sometimes they are willing to help, and other times not. It depends on how you’ve raised them. If they have been helping out since they were two, you won’t have a problem. In fact, they can do almost anything you ask of them. Be sure they can manage whatever task you assign, however. If you’ve taught them well, they have the ability to prepare meals; clean the kitchen; wash windows; do the laundry; just about any indoor and outdoor chore you need.

It's important to build your child's self-esteem and self-worth by teaching them to be independent at a very young age. This can be accomplished with the assignments of age-appropriate chores and LOTS of guidance :)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Don't Forget...Mom's Niche Recipe Challenge!

Don't forget to post your favorite recipe on the Mom's Niche Recipe site.

The deadline for appetizers is this Monday...Feb. 26th.

Just follow the rules HERE!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Product Review - Crayola Color Wonder

Product: Crayola Color Wonder products

Rating: 12 out of 10!

Review: Have you seen this stuff? I swear, this is the best invention since Velcro sneakers!

My daughter received some of the Crayola Color Wonder markers, finger paints, themed coloring books (Little Mermaid and Backyardigans) and drawing paper for her birthday yesterday. This stuff is SO COOL! You can color and paint without making a mess. She is just infatuated with the MAGIC and I'm excited about the clean hands. These fingerpaints are really cool too. You just dip your fingertip in and color the page - magically, the color appears on the paper.

I don't know how it works, but I LOVE IT!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thumbs Up Thursday - The Serious Shopper

This week's "thumbs up" goes to Robyn at The Serious Shopper. She is very enlightened in the shopping arena. She's got some great advice for shopping with a fun and easy-to-read style of writing!

One particular post that caught my eye was how to best Maximize Your Credit Card Points. I like my reward-air-miles-from-my-Visa-card as much as the next person, but after reading this post, I found there are other ways that I could be cashing in on the reward points. She suggests using one card to pay your monthly bills and another card for regular purchases during the month. This is GENIUS...why didn't I think of this before?

She made her point a couple of times and I would say you need to HEED THIS ADVICE. If you're going to start paying your regular bills with a credit card - PAY IT OFF EVERY MONTH so you don't accrue interest. Otherwise, you'll be negating the reason why you're doing it in the first place.

The Serious Shopper is informative and fun - it's worth a second look...and a third...and a fourth :)

Now, I'm off to earn money to pay off my credit cards so I can begin maximizing my reward points...

Happy Birthday!

My baby is turning 3 years old today. At this time, three years ago, my water had broken and I was on my way to the hospital. She came three weeks early, but I was glad because she was already 8 lbs, 6 oz and she really didn't need to be any bigger! She was an easy pregnancy, an easy delivery and has been a joy to have around ever since.

Happy Birthday Livvie...we love you!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chocolate Banana Mousse

We're due for another recipe...

2 Tablespoons low-fat milk
4 teaspoons sugar
1 medium banana, cut into quarters
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
Banana slices for garnishing

Place the milk, vanilla, sugar, cocoa powder and banana quarters in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and gently mix in the yogurt. Chill until set. Spoon mixture into serving bowls and top with banana slices.

If this looks good, check out our other recipes at Mom's Niche Recipes. Don't forget to enter our recipe challenge!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

10 Easy Steps to Organizing Your Garage

The weekend is here and now you can dedicate the time that you want to organize the garage. You've even enlisted the aid of your entire family to help you. You and your husband gather the children, open the garage door and are pleasantly surprised. It's actually in pretty good least one of the cars still fits. Here are some quick garage organizing tips which may help you fit that other one in there!

What you'll need:
Large boxes
Large garbage bags
Duct tape
Cord or twine
Hooks and shelving

1. Take everything out of the garage (including the car)!

2. Set up three areas in your driveway
a. items to keep
b. items to throw away (or give away to charity)
c. items to sell

3. As you remove each item from the garage, place it in one of the three areas.

4. After you have decided what to keep, place the items back in the garage using the hooks for hanging and the shelves for storing.

5. Clean the inside of the garage as much as possible - clearing away debris, dirt and dust.

6. For those items you wish to sell, pack them neatly in the boxes and tie them with cord. Mark the box or boxes "For Sale."

7. Put all of the items you are throwing away into the garbage bags. Be sure to double up on the bags, and separate the items according to your local Sanitation Department's recycling policies.

8. If you have any clothes in the throw-away pile, put them in the garbage bags and call your local Goodwill center or church for pick-up.

9. Place the "For Sale" boxes back in the garage off to the side. Prepare to hold a garage sale the following weekend if you can.

10. Pull the other car back in - after IS a 2 car garage!
What you have just read is an excerpt from the new book "Organize Your Home...Organize Your Life!" from You'll find helpful tips on how to organize every room in your house...AND you'll get a special bonus with cleaning tips too! This book will bring a new meaning to SPRING CLEANING!

The book is set to be released in March. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Enjoy Them While They're Young

I had the joy of taking my almost 3-yr-old to the Children's Museum this morning. We were lucky to have a little one-on-one time to ourselves.

We had a blast painting, picking apples, shopping in the pretend grocery store, catching butterflies with our shadows, sending blocks down a water slide, putting puzzles together and marching in a parade with the resident red dinosaur, Seymour!

I just loved watching her face and having a conversation with her through our whole trip.

The moments are fleeting...and FAST! I hope you are enjoying yours as much I am mine :)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Mom's Niche Recipe Challenge

We are looking for some good, we're looking for some GREAT recipes.

Mom's Niche Recipes is looking for your FAVORITE recipes in the categories of:

Entering is SO easy...follow the 4 steps below and you're on your way!

1. Go to the NEW Mom's Niche Recipe website

2. Register your name and email address to become a user on the site (we will NEVER share or sell your personal information)

3. Submit your favorite recipe in one of the 3 categories - you can submit in all 3 categories if you like!

4. In the "Description" section - be sure to type "Mom's Niche Recipe Challenge"

That's it. Three semifinalists in each category will have their recipes published in the Mom's Niche Newsletter for all of the subscribers to make and try for themselves. The subscriber's will VOTE on the best recipe in each category and the winning recipes will be published again in the Easter issue of Mom's Niche News! Each of the winners in the three categories will receive a great Mom's Niche Prize Pack filled with goodies!!

Please see all of the official rules below:

Appetizers: February 26. 2007 - 11:59pm EST
Entrees: March 5, 2007 - 11:59pm EST
Desserts: March 12, 2007 - 11:59pm EST

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID IN PUERTO RICO AND WHERE PROHIBITED by law.. Contest is offered to residents of the United States and District of Columbia ("U.S."), 18 and over at time of entry.

Contest will begin on Friday, February 16, 2007 and have three distinct deadline dates per category (see above).

Entries can be made only through the Mom's Niche Recipes website. Entrants must register as a user on the site to be able to submit a recipe for consideration. ( has a STRICT policy never to share or sell personal information - i.e. name and email address.) Entrants are eligible to submit an entry in each category if they so desire.

NOTE: in the "Description" section - entrant must type "Mom's Niche Recipe Challenge" to be considered for entry.

Initial semi-finalists in each category will be judged by However, the final winners in each category will be determined by subscriber's popular vote.

By participating in this contest you agree to and are bound by these rules. In entering, you give permission to publish your entry in the Mom's Niche News biweekly newsletter and on the website. By participating, entrants agree: (1) to the Official Rules and the decisions of the judges and popular vote, which shall be final in all respects; (2) if a winner, grant all right, title and interest in and to the entry, worldwide, and to the use of entry and winner's name and/or likeness for advertising, promotional, and publicity purposes in any media without compensation, or right of review or notification, and agree upon request, to provide documentation in writing to confirm the foregoing; and (3) if a winner, to grant the right to post name and entry as a winner in the Mom's Niche News newsletter and on the website.

Winners will be be notified via email and in the Mom's Niche News newsletter. We will also send the winning list out to our mailing list. All winners must provide a U.S. mailing address to be able to receive the Mom's Niche Prize Pack. Shipping costs will be incurred by

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Play with Your Child - it Benefits Them AND You!

In our busy hectic lives, it can be hard to work in play time with our children. To properly grow and learn, children need to actively play. By playing with our children, we can make sure they gain everything they need from play.

Physical activity
While you want to let your child choose what they do and how they do it during play time, you can help encourage them to choose healthy physical activities. If they want to play a game, suggest hide and seek, tag, or anything else that will get them up and moving. Play also helps to support physical development. If a child sits in front of a T.V. all day, they’ll never develop their hand eye coordination, balance, or other physical abilities as well as they should.

Important bonding time with parents
There is nothing more important in building a child’s self-esteem and feeling of safety than bonding with a parent. If a child knows that their parent is there for them, they’ll grow up to feel safer and more secure in the world around them. You may think it’s just talking and spending time with your child, but to them it’s the feeling of being loved and protected.

Getting more personalized help with issues
If allowed to direct their own play, a child will re-enact situations that he or she finds important. They may also use play time to vent emotional frustrations that they probably can’t describe verbally yet. By paying attention to your child’s behavior during play, you can determine what their concerns and frustrations are. Once you know the problem, it’s a lot easier to deal with and fix.

While playing with your child is obviously beneficial to them, it can also help you out as well.

Get to know your children
Many parents of teenagers say that they know little or nothing about their child. A good way to know them is to start while they’re still young and work to keep it as they grow. Playing regularly with your children now may actually help you worry less about them when they’re older.

Helps you relax
When children play, they create imaginary worlds and situations. If you are actively involved in your child’s imaginary worlds, it can help you forget the stress of the real world.

Promotes physical activity
We all know how hard it is to stay active when there are deadlines to meet, bills to pay, and everything else to do. If we strive to keep our children active through play, we will end up being active with them.

Playing with your child is as simple as setting aside a block of time everyday. It may be difficult to rearrange your schedule, but it will be well worth it for you and your child.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

YOU Could Be the Next American MOM Idol!

My friend, Amanda, over at is having a singing contest in the fashion of American Idol. She is a HUGE American Idol fan and thought this would be a fun contest to run for moms all across America.

It runs for a month and just started yesterday, so you have plenty of time to enter. All you have to do is make a video or a sound bite of yourself singing your favorite song. She'll be giving away prizes for the best AND worst singers and also some random prizes will be drawn too!

Check out all of the official rules here...and have some fun!!

Valentine's Day Cake

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Are you looking for that special dessert to make this evening for your family? Here's a great recipe, light and fruity and fun!!

1 package white cake mix
1 package strawberry gelatine
4 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
½ cup water
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8-inch square baking pans. Combine cake mix and gelatin in large mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil, water and half of the strawberries. Beat on for a few minutes until well blended.

Divide batter evenly and pour batter into baking pans. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until golden and baked through. Cool for 5 minutes in pans before turning over to wire racks to cool completely.

Top with remaining sliced strawberries and dust with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Have a Romantic Evening With Your Spouse on Valentine's Day

Do you want to put the "spark" back in your romance? What better place to start this Valentine's Day than the bedroom?

Let's take a look at a few easy steps to set the romantic mood in the place where we spend 1/3 of our lives!

Step #1 - (my husband would KILL me for writing this)...Get rid of the TV!...or at least hide the remote for the evening. Unplug the telephone and rid the room of anything that may distract you and your spouse. Put away anything that’s out of place.

Step #2 - Buy some romantic a red comforter and/or red satin sheets. Pick up some soft plush pillows also. Buy some scented aromatherapy candles in different scents.

Step #3 - Get some other fun essentials! Pick up some strawberries and chocolate and some whipped cream while you're out. One more thing...if you can pick up some rose petals, add those to your shopping cart.

Step #4 - Set the mood. Make some chocolate fondue for later. Place the scented candles around the room. Turn down the comforter, and place rose petals on the pillows. Either soften the lights or turn them off. Ensure there are no sounds coming into the room via the windows by closing them shut. Set up a bottle of wine near the bed. Put your favorite music on nice and low. Lay out your favorite night wear for you and your spouse.

Now stand by the door, and take a look! Is this a romantic bedroom or what? No matter what mood your husband comes home in, once he sees the bedroom his mood will quickly change. While these are some decorating tips, you may come up with your own imaginative style. Whatever you choose, the key to keeping your bedroom romantic and inviting is to get rid of all the distractions which would interfere with maintaining the ambience and mood of the room.
You can be certain that one night spent in this romantic setting will help the two of you remember why you married each other in the first place ;)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Whew! Live TV Wasn't So Bad

I wouldn't want to do it every day, but it wasn't so bad! Thanks to all of you who were sending me positive vibes through my first appearance on my bathrobe no less! Well, at least I was comfortable :)

I'll be getting a dvd here soon and I'll post the link so y'all can take a gander and see for yourselves.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Heart Cookies for Valentine's Day

1 cup butter

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla and mix well. Mix in the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. Mix until smooth. Divide dough into three equal pieces.

Work with one dough piece at a time. Roll out on a lightly floured surface. Using cookie cutters cut out two equal sized heart shapes for each cookie. Then using a smaller heart shaped cookie cutter cut out another heart in the center of one of the heart shaped cookies. Spread the solid heart cookie with a little strawberry jam/jelly and place on cookie sheet, top with the second cookie (the one with the heart-shaped center cut out). The center of each cookie will reveal a red jelly heart.

Repeat process until all dough is used. Bake cookies at 350F for approximately 8 minutes or until golden and baked through.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Product Review - Burt's Bees Facial Cleanser

Product Name: Burt's Bees Lemon Poppy Seed Facial Cleanser

Submitted by: Carrie Lauth; Atlanta, GA

Rating: 7

Where to Buy:

Description: This product is a creamy cleanser great for removing makeup and cleansing dry or normal skin. It contains poppy seeds for a mild exfoliating effect. It's made from 98% natural ingredients and smells heavenly, good enough to eat!

Criticism: While the product has a nice texture and left my face feeling smooth and well cleansed without drying, I probably won't be purchasing it again. You can't use it around the eye area which is inconvenient since if you wear eye makeup, you must use a separate cleanser. If you don't use eye makeup however, then this might be a nice cleanser for you.

The facial cleanser is applied to the face and removed with a warm washcloth. Splashing with water doesn't remove the cleanser well despite what the packaging says.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I'm going to be on TV!!

I first talked about my upcoming TV spot here. Now I have all of the details.

I'm going to be on Channel 6 (local Richmond, VA station) on Virginia this Morning at 10am IN MY BATHROBE! This is going to be so much fun. You see, Monday, February 12th is International Doing Business in Your Bathrobe Day and I'm going to be interviewed in my bathrobe on a live show talking about the wonderful benefits of working from home!

If you're in the Richmond area, please try to watch...if not I'll try to get the spot in digital form up on my website in the very near future.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thumbs Up Thursday - Bath Body Junky

Today's "Thumbs Up" goes to Jenny at the Bath Body Junky Blog. This blog is all about creating an affordable at home spa retreat by pampering the mind, body and soul. It’s a useful bath and body blog that provides great articles consisting of data on research on the topic of key benefits related with specific bath and body ingredients.

One particular post caught my eye and I wanted to share it with you. We all suffer from time to time of the "puffy eye syndrome." Here, Jenny gives us 5 great tips to help reduce them.

Jenny focuses the blog’s articles on how to care for skin, how to look younger and how to create the home spa retreat that all women deserve.

Here's to the Bath Body Junky!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Be the Mom You Always Dreamed Of

**Another freebie from**

Are you exactly the mom you dreamed you’d be?

Remember day-dreaming about her before you had kids? She was always having fun with her kids and looking great. Her home was clean and tidy. Her meals were healthy and delicious and she was never too tired to smile at the end of her day.

I know for many of us, that mom is still just a dream and that’s why I’m so excited to tell you about a great free teleseminar coming up!

Crystal Misener of Happy Mommy Newsletters & Resources is being interviewed by none other than Alice Seba of on February 13th at 1pm EST.

The teleseminar is called “Becoming The Mom Of Your Dreams” and will be more than an hour long - they are even opening the call up for questions at the end! Crystal’s going to cover an assortment of changes and strategies you can use to fulfill that dream you’ve had for years.

Space is very limited! Only 100 people will be allowed on the call. Don’t worry though, those who sign up for the call will also receive notification when the transcript and audio of the call are available. So even if you can’t make the call, do sign up so you’ll still get all the great info.!

Here’s to being the mom we dreamed of!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sweetheart Cake

Make this yummy cake for your sweetheart next Wednesday!

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
3 eggs
1 large bar baking chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. In a large bowl beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Gradually stir in the milk, mixing well after each addition. Fold in coarsely chopped chocolate.

Pour batter into pan and bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and baked through. Decorate the cake with Hershey kisses.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Maintaining a Positive Relationship with Your Ex

Unfortunately, the statistics for divorce are high. If you are divorced, or in the process of getting one, the people most affected are your children. The importance of keeping a positive relationship with your ex, and how single parents’ attitudes towards one another affect the children should be of utmost concern. Here are some tips to help you cope.

Never use the children as pawns in your battle
Keep your relationship as positive as possible when dealing with the divorce proceedings. If joint custody is awarded, never talk unkindly about your spouse. Never ask questions about any activities your spouse may be involved in. Putting your children in the middle will only cause them more emotional pain. Remember, they are trying to understand why this happened, but more importantly need to be reassured it’s not their fault.

Keep the negative thoughts to yourself
Don't whine around the children or talk about your spouse begrudgingly to your friends. You are more than likely having negative thoughts and feelings. If you need an outlet, join a support group (like a divorce recovery workshop at your church) or seek help from a counselor.

Keep the lines of communication open...
with your kids and your ex. Keeping a dialogue open with the children will show them that you aren't hiding anything and help to reassure them they are loved by both parents and that the break-up has absolutely nothing to do with them. Be as honest and open as you can - AND GIVE THEM AGE-APPROPRIATE ANSWERS! They will no doubt have a lot of questions - just be there for them. Keep an open and positive communication line open with your ex as well. Remember, it's not about's about THE KIDS!

Give them time
You may notice some acting out or inward reflection by your children. This is their way of dealing with the situation. Give them time; don’t push it. If they need you, they will come. There are usually great resources to help your kids in their school system. Ours had a nice group session with the counselor called "divorced kids" in the elementary school. Both of our kids really opened up in this group setting.

Give yourself some time
Give yourself a break, too. You are certainly under a lot of stress. Adding guilt to the mix will not help either you or your children. Take it one day at a time. Rid yourself of undue pressure. It’s hard, but definitely necessary. If the children need you for any reason and you are unable to cope or help, you’ll cause more harm.

Keep as positive an outlook as you can. While some divorces can be messy, you do have some control over the situation. Remember, what you do directly affects your children. Use caution.

Family Night

This term is no longer part of our everyday vocabulary. "Family time" is becoming less and less of an activity these days with both parents working, kids involved in numerous activities and no time leftover to have FUN as a family. It's time for a change. Certainly, there is one night out of the week that you can dedicate to spending with your family. Pick a night, any night and stick to it! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Play a board game
Scrabble, Monopoly or Clue would be a fun time had by all. Kids love to beat their parents at these games! If your kids aren't quite old enough for these advanced board games, the Leap Frog games are great starting at the toddler age. I've talked about them here before.

Go fly a kite!
...or some other fun activity. Windy days are great for flying kites. Rainy days are great for building a fort in the living room. Prepare hotdogs on a stick; then toast the old marshmallows; tell stories, and have a great time. If the family is into sports, get out the basketball and play a few games of HORSE. Or for exercise; why don’t you and your family go out for a bike ride in the neighborhood.

Bake some cookies
Take a vote on what they would like and assign everyone one job. For example; mom could make the dough; the kids could use cookie cutters to cut them out; dad could do the baking. Then everyone can get together and help decorate!

Other Ideas:

  • Play Charades
  • Instead of regular dinner - have a picnic in the back yard!!
  • Frisbee
  • Touch Football (girls against the guys)
  • Scrapbooking - get out those holiday pictures that you haven't done anything with yet. Everyone will enjoy reminiscing and will love to help find cropping and decorating the pages!
  • Have Dinner TOGETHER as a family!!

Whatever you come up with, ideas for family night activities can be fun and bring everyone closer together. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? With everyone going off in different directions, think of how wonderful it will be to enjoy each other's company once again!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Valentine Pancakes

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be treating you with some great ideas and recipes for Valentine's Day. Try this one on a Saturday or lazy Sunday morning right before...

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Powder sugar for dusting
3 inch metal heart shaped cookie cutters

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. In a separate bowl combine the milk, eggs, oil and brown sugar and add to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (do not over mix).

Heat the griddle or skillet over low to medium heat. Brush the heart-shaped cookie cutters with a little oil and place in griddle. Pour ¼ cup batter into cookie cutters and cook until pancake starts to bubble. Remove the cookie cutters then turn and cook for another minute on the other side or until slightly golden.

Sprinkle with dusting sugar and serve.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Save Some Money this Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Candy, flowers and cards can be so expensive these days - especially after many of us are still reeling from the holidays.

Wouldn’t you rather save some money this Valentine's Day? Make some homemade valentines! Here's how you can have a little fun and save a little money too.

Valentine Cards
Do you have a computer? That's the first step. You can make professional looking cards using Photoshop or other card-making software. Is not only fun, but easy to use. You can make scores of valentine cards in a short amount of time.

Valentine Wreath
Make a valentine wreath for your door! Find some red fabric of different textures and make heart shapes. Then stuff them with newspaper to give them fullness. You can make several hearts and sew them together to form a larger heart which you can then add to a round piece of wire.

Baked Valentines
How about a valentine basket? Fill the basket with homemade heart shaped cookies. Be sure to use red icing; or even red food coloring would suffice. Add some Hershey chocolate kisses in red foil and set it out on your table for your family to enjoy. Use your baking skills to prepare a homemade valentine cake. You can even shape it into a heart. Surprise your family after dinner!

Valentine Heart
Make a valentine heart for your loved one. All you need is some red or pink construction paper and glue. Write your heartfelt sentiment on it, then sprinkle colored sparkles on the glue and hang it so that your spouse can see it as soon as he walks in the door. You can even cut out tiny hearts with red construction paper and stream it across a wall in your home. Write notes of love on each one!

It doesn’t take much to make homemade valentines. Just a little imagination and a few items can really make a splash without having to spend a fortune. It’s the thought that counts!

Want some other great articles and ideas for Valentine's Day? Click here for more!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thumbs Up Thursday - Mommy, Inc.

Today's "thumbs up" goes to Shannon at the Mommy, Inc. blog. She a "mompreneur" with twin girls who just turned 1 this past week (Happy Birthday Girls). Shannon shares what she calls 'survival tips' for other moms who work at home and try to balance it all, including frugal ideas, make-ahead meals, business promotion ideas and success secrets from other moms. Here's something that she posted on Monday for the Thrifty Mom:

* Thrifty Mom: Child's Play
What's the best way to save money on children? Well, some people will simply tell you not to have them. But guess what? Raising kids doesn't have to be expensive. Just take the kid's-eye view of the challenge and use you imagination instead of always reaching for your wallet. During the month of January, I'm sharing secrets to save while enjoying your children.

Ways to have fun with kids, while on a budget
1) The library has more than books. Don't forget about all the videos and books on tape. Plus some libraries even have free passes to museums!
2) Grab an empty appliance box and let the kids decorate their own play house, club house or secret fort. (We actually did this 2 summers ago for the little Livvie - I put the older kids to work painting and decorating a huge box. We put it in her room and she got a TON of mileage out of it!)
3) When they're stuck inside, how about bringing the outdoors in and having a Teddy Bear Picnic n their bedroom?
4) Need some clothes for dress up? Now you can finally get rid of all those ugly bridesmaid dresses. (Kids don't care they're too big.) Think also about old uniforms, costume jewelry and hats.

Every day Shannon has something pertinent to a mom's life...make sure you check her out!