Monday, April 30, 2007

Mom - Want to Earn Some Extra Money? Learn How!

I ran across this great article for SAHMs (Stay at Home Moms) with some tips on how to earn some extra money. Read on...

Stay at Home Mom Tips for Earning Extra Money from Home

Staying at home with your children is a rewarding job. Raising children is a hard task even under the best of circumstances. Still, moms who stay at home may be yearning for more in their own lives to feel fulfilled.

The invention of the Internet opened up many doors for entrepreneurial exploits. An entire world of information is at our fingertips twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. To take advantage, all we need is a computer and a little motivation. This is the perfect way for moms to make some money of their own.

The most popular choice would be internet auction houses. The most popular of which is eBay. Everyone has something around their home that they can sell that someone else may want. One day, while your kids are sleeping, check out the attic and the garage for hidden treasures that could fetch a good price on the internet. Use a digital camera to take pictures of all potential money-making items. You can find a useful guide to getting started with auctions here.

Use your hobbies to make some easy cash. Do you like to draw, paint, crochet, or create crafts? Create your own website to advertise your particular expertise. Local flee markets and craft shows are a perfect way to get your product out there to the public. These events take place on the weekend, so your spouse can watch the kids while you market your merchandise.

Another way to make some extra money is online surveys. Large companies spend millions of dollars each year in market research for new and existing products. They poll consumers like you and me to see if there is sufficient interest in their products. The surveys can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour per survey for follow-up surveys. Don’t expect to get rich, but just earn a little extra income. Different companies offer a variety of incentives. Some companies offer points for their surveys which can be converted into prizes. Other survey companies offer cash for trialing new services and products. These surveys usually require a credit card for a preliminary fee that is reimbursed by the company upon completion of the survey.

Any work you do for extra money on the Internet requires an online account for companies or individuals to deposit your earned cash. The premier online account is PayPal. Signing up is free, but you must have a valid bank account that can be verified in case there is any discrepancy with the funds in your PayPal account.

There are a number of ways to earn extra money as a stay at home mom. The Internet offers plenty of opportunities that do not require a lot of time. The extra funds that you will be making will feel good.

If you want to take it to the next level and start earning more serious cash from home, visit Moms Talk Biz for more ideas.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

We Have Recipe Challenge Winners!

Finally, the votes are tallied and we have the winners of our Mom's Niche Recipe Challenge! All of the the winners and their winning recipes are published below. Why don't you use these and make a nice dinner tonight?? :)

Appetizer Winner - Patty
Shrimp Bacon Bites

1 cup cleaned cooked shrimp (about 16)
1/2 clove garlic, slivered
1/2 cup chili sauce
8 to 10 slices bacon

Mix shrimp and garlic; pour chili sauce over mixture. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, several hours.

Cut bacon slices into halves. Cook bacon until limp; drain. Wrap each shrimp in bacon piece; secure with wooden pick.Set oven control to broil and/or 550 degrees. Broil with tops 2-3 inches from heat until bacon is crisp.

Entree Winner - Revka
Revka's Chicken

2 c. crushed saltines
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. pepper
8-10 chicken breasts
1 1/3 c. evaporated milk
1 c. butter, melted

2 cans Italian-style stewed or diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. Italian seasonings
2 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp. salt

In large, resealable bag or a shallow container, combine saltines, cheese, paprika, and pepper. Dip chicken in evaporated milk, then shake or dredge in saltine mixture. Pour butter into bottom of two 13x9 baking pans to coat. Arrange chicken, skin side down (if you left the skin on). Bake at 350F for 60-70 minutes or until chicken juices run clear, turning after 30 minutes. (I usually don't turn the chicken.) Top with sauce (recipe included) and Parmesan cheese.

Combine all ingredients in a pot and heat through.

Dessert Winner - Andrea
Quick Chocolate Cherry Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14oz) can condensed milk
½ teaspoon salt1 (21oz) can cherry pie filling
8 maraschino cherries, stemmed

Place the chocolate chips, condensed milk and salt in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir continuously until blended through. Mix in the cherry pie filling and mix well. Let cool slightly and then pour intro prepared pie crust. Chill for approximately 3 to 4 hours and garnish with the maraschino cherries.

Congratulations to our winners! You will all be notified by email and our Mom's Niche Prize Pack filled with all kinds of goodies will be sent directly to you.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Freebie - Coloring Pages

I always like to pass along the freebies to you...

Mom's Niche has just updated the website with coloring pages. These are all FREE for you to use for your daycare or preschool classes, homeschooling, Mommy and Me groups or just for your own personal use!

Now available:
Art History

We are updating frequently, so make sure to come back again soon!

Check them out...print them out...use them however you please!


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Is Your Toddler Biting? Here Are Some Tips to Help You Deal

It can upset and alarm you when your toddler bites. Some experts say that toddlers resort to extreme measures like biting when they become frustrated and have not yet learned how to express themselves with words.

Biting can become a dangerous problem if it isn’t properly handled. It is extremely important for parents to learn how to deal with this and meet it head-on. The following tips will show you how to cope with your biting toddler:

  • Get to the Core of Your Toddler’s Anger – If your toddler bites in anger, ask yourself what might be causing this change of mood in your toddler. Have there been any changes in your toddler’s life lately? Is your toddler reacting in anger? If your toddler hasn’t been socialized with his children his age, this could be another cause of anger.
  • Stay Calm – If you are already dealing with a biting problem and have lost your cool with your toddler, don’t feel bad. Parents commonly overreact to toddler biting. However, shouting or spanking your child probably will not help the situation. Model the behavior you expect from your child. Take a deep breath and count to ten. When you are calm, you are better able to handle a bite incident.
  • Warn Her of the Dangers of Biting – Even though toddlers are just learning to talk, they are old enough to understand pain. They are also old enough to understand cause and effect. In a calm, but firm voice, explain to your toddler why she shouldn’t bite. Let her know that biting hurts and she shouldn’t do it.
  • Teach Him To Use His Words – Some toddlers start talking earlier than others. As your toddler grows and learns how to talk, teach him to use special words to express his feelings. “Tommy mad,” or “Suzie sad,” are just a couple of examples. If your toddler is biting but is still too young to speak, try using baby sign language instead. You can make up your own signs for pain, hurt, no, bad, etc...
  • Set Her Up for Success – If your toddler seems to have trouble socializing in certain situations, don’t place her in that situation. Give your toddler the best chance of success by placing her in a situation where there is no opportunity for trouble. By setting your child up for success, you can show her that she can play and socialize with other children without biting. As you see your toddler’s behavior improving, gradually introduce her to more challenging situations.
  • Praise Your Toddler – Calling attention to negative behavior and its consequences is important. Don’t forget to praise your toddler when he does well, though. Pointing out and rewarding positive actions will help your toddler to remember the desired behavior and reaction.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Beat Stress with Laughter

Ever laughed so hard at a comedian on TV that you begin to cry? Or perhaps your friend gets you going with some old, funny memories and your laughter becomes uncontrollable for minutes on end. Do you feel the tension wash away from your body?

What you are experiencing is a release of the stress you’ve been carrying for days or even weeks. The old adage, “Laughter is the best medicine,” is very true.

Why is laughter your secret weapon to beating stress?

Laughter = 15 min. on an exercise bike

That's incredible! Not only does laughter lower your blood pressure, but it also increases the endorphins in your body which contributes to a healthier immune system.

Life is hard; why make it harder? If you can determine what makes you laugh; whether it’s going to a comedy club; surrounding yourself with funny people; watching a comedy on TV, or simply reading a book of jokes, you will be amazed how laughter can improve your physical and emotional well-being. Laughter actually distracts you from the underlying stress, and brings you to a balanced and calm state. It is, as they say, infectious.

It is important to laugh as much and as often as you can. It is the cure-all for stress, frustration and, in some cases, depression. Perhaps you’ve used the expression, “One day we will remember this, and laugh our heads off.” By having a positive attitude, and using laughter as a mechanism to celebrate life, instead of stressing over it; you’ll become healthier and less stressed when confronting negative events.

This happened just the other evening while being bombarded all day long with the tragedy of the Virginia Tech shootings...I said to my husband, "Let's just watch something funny for a half hour - we need a break." It's not that we needed to forget or ignore what's going on, but we just needed to laugh and release that stress that had been building.

“Laugh and the world will laugh with you….” As you go through your daily routine, find something to laugh about. Look at the bright side; tell yourself the cup is half full; laugh until it hurts. You may not have control over certain aspects of life, but you can control the stress. Let laughter be that secret weapon to beating stress.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

Busy all day tomorrow? Want to have a great meal on the table at the end of the day? This great crock pot chicken recipe will put a smile on your face and happy eaters at the dinner table!

1 medium onion (thinly sliced)
3 lbs boneless/skinless thighs and breasts
1 (6oz)can tomato paste
fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 (8oz )can stewed tomatoes salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups chicken stock

Place sliced onions at bottom of crock pot. Add chicken. Stir together remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on low 7-9 hours or high 3-4 hours. Serve over rice or pasta and add a side salad.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Saddened in Virginia

This morning, my families' eyes are peeled to the Today Show watching the horrific aftermath of the massacre at Virginia Tech.

My husband hails from Blacksburg and we have many close friends who live there.

This tragedy has hit home in so many ways. This morning, my oldest daughter (11) was talking about the trailers that they have some classes in at school. "At least we have 2 different doors to go in and out...unless they would have both of the doors surrounded." She's scared. She should be. What kind of a world do we live in that this sort of thing happens? What do you say to your kids? I'm scared too. I know that right now I can only do my best to make them feel safe and secure and let them know that the real world sucks sometimes, but my arms are here to hold them for as long as they can.

Last thought today: Our families' thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims and survivors of this horrible tragedy. We hope that some peace can be found.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Ideas for Fun Kid Party Games

Planning a kid party soon? Need some good ideas for games to keep them occupied? Here are some fun ideas for all ages...have fun!

Shave the Balloon
Mess factor: 10
Suitable ages: Pre-teens or teens
Supplies needed: balloons, shaving cream, disposable razors, and newspapers (optional)
Directions: Blow up balloons before party time. Spread shaving cream all over a balloon. Let kids take turns “shaving” a balloon. The object of this game is to shave your balloon completely without popping it.
Side note: This game should be played outdoors because of the mess factor. If playing indoors, spread newspaper on the floor before you begin.

Crazy Faces
Mess factor: 0
Suitable age: Pre-teen and younger
Supplies needed: disposable cameras or digital cameras
Directions: Let kids take turns snapping pictures of each other making crazy faces. The object of this game is to see who can make the craziest face. Kids can take a vote and give a prize to the craziest face.

Pass the Egg
Mess factor: 10
Suitable age: All ages
Supplies needed: eggs, spoons
Directions: Group kids into pairs. Place one egg on a spoon, and then have a child to place the end of the spoon between their teeth. One child walks halfway to the finish line, and then passes the egg (from one spoon to the other) to their partner’s spoon. The partner then attempts to reach the finish line without breaking the egg. The object of this game is for partners to successfully pass the egg from one spoon to another and reach the finish line without splattering the egg everywhere.
Side note: This game is best played outdoors because of the mess factor.

Silly Story
Mess factor: 0
Suitable ages: Younger children
Supplies needed: articles of clothing, odd accessories (costume jewelry, floppy hats, etc.)
Directions: Sit kids in a circle. Make a pile of the story-telling items in the center of the circle. The first child starts the silly story by selecting a piece of clothing or an accessory from the pile. She puts it on, then makes up a silly story line. Example: A child might say something like, “Suzie needed a gallon of milk, but her hair was too short so she put a hat on her head.” While saying this, the child places a hat on her head. The next child follows in suit, choosing something from the clothing pile and putting it on while adding to the story. The story continues in the circle until every dress-up item is used and the story has ended. The object of this game is to have fun making up a silly story and dressing up.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

11 Tips for Keeping Safe While Shopping Online

Shopping online has become the wave of the future. No standing in lines, no posted hours to shop and you don't even have to take a shower and get dressed to do it! These are all great advances from the old method of shopping; however, you need to make sure you're safe when doing so. To this end, here are some tips for keeping your online shopping experience a safe one.

  1. Never buy anything from an unknown company. If they don't have a phone number or address – stay away from them.
  2. Ensure that whenever you buy a product, you are sent a receipt by email.
  3. Some card companies are offering virtual credit cards – check into this type of service as it changes card numbers each time a purchase is made.
  4. Always look for the Veri Sign logo, BBB logo, and the lock on the bottom right corner of the website. This ensures the company is well known, and is using a method to conceal your information.
  5. Do not apply for credit cards on line. The company may be a bogus one.
  6. If you have several department store cards, and buy from them online, change your password every month.
  7. Research the stores you buy from beforehand. Ensure they are credible and have been around for a number of years.
  8. Shopping online and using your credit card unfortunately leaves you open to hackers. Make sure you have virus protection software installed in your computer, as well as a firewall.
  9. Change your passwords monthly. Although this can be a huge pain, it will be well worth it in the long run!
  10. Clear out your cache every time you sign off.
  11. If you are using a cable modem; unplug the PC cable from the modem every night. Using a cable modem means you are on a network; avoid any hackers from engaging in illegal activity.
If you are careful, you can shop almost anywhere and any time online as long as you keep these tips for keeping your online shopping experience a safe one in mind.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Talking to Your Kids About Smoking

Being the mother of two tween-age children can be a huge eye-opener. At the tender age of 10 and 12, it becomes quite clear they are more sophisticated than we were at that age. Some of the stories that I hear about the middle school kids' behavior are unreal. The language, the disrespect and smoking and alcohol consumption. While all of this is hard to fathom, one of the question facing parents is: “How to you talk to your kids about smoking?”

While it is recommended that parents discuss smoking with their kids at age five or six, it is nonetheless hard to broach the subject. Certainly, if you are a parent who smokes, it will be harder to convince a child that it is unwise and dangerous for them to do so. After all, to them it may seem harmless. Moreover, children tend to mimic parents at an early age. So what do you say to these children? How do you convince them the very thing you want them to avoid is a habit they constantly witness on a daily basis? It is quite a conundrum.

If you do smoke, the first thing you need to do is quit. I know this can be one of the hardest things in your life to do. We're experiencing it first-hand. My husband has been a smoker for a very long time. He wants to quit and has tried several different methods to quit and has been unsuccessful to date. Just these past couple of weeks he is trying the prescription Chantix. He has been very successful so far...wish us continued luck!

If you don't smoke, you can sit your children down and explain to them the dangers. It goes far beyond just telling them, doesn’t it? As they mature, they will be immersed in a culture where peer pressure and acceptance become the catalyst which may override your efforts to keep them safe and out of harm’s way.

So what do you say?

  • Smoking can kill
  • It is habit forming
  • It doesn’t matter what their friends do or say to provoke them, they should say no and walk away
  • Smoking is not a hip thing to do

Will they understand what you are trying to convey? Perhaps the answer is in repeatedly pointing out the dangers of smoking; that it is not a popular thing to do; point out people who smoke and make reference to how they look and smell.

While you cannot shield your child from all potential bad habits they will come across in their young lives, you can offer positive reinforcement on a daily basis by not engaging in any activity they may mimic, and being consistent in your efforts to dissuade them by any means you can. Books, videos and other tools can be used to teach children the hazards of smoking and other harmful toxins. Teach them to say no to their friends or peers. Tell them by saying no they are exhibiting strength of character, and how proud you are they have acted so grown up.

So far, so good with my tweens. In fact, they are a huge proponent in encouraging my husband to quit! We're going to keep educating and keep encouraging them to say no to the peer pressure that will keep bombarding them for the years to come!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Wedding Gifts - Part 1: Understanding the Process

Over the next few weeks, I'll take you on a guided tour of purchasing wedding gifts. Since the wedding season is coming up, I thought maybe we could all use a little refresher course on the proper etiquette of giving wedding gifts.

Understanding the Process

When it comes to wedding gift giving, there is much question about what to give, when to give it, how to give it and even how to choose it. Are you confused yet? You should be. It can be a very complicated process.

If you are in the market to purchase a gift for a newlywed couple, take some time to really ponder what the right gift will be. When you invest some time in doing this, the end result is a great gift that they will love.

To help you to get started, take a few minutes to ask yourself some questions about your needs and your relationship with the couple that is soon to be wed.
  • How close are you to the couple? The closer that you are, the more meaningful your wedding gift should be.
  • How often do you see them? Do you play a role within their lives? The closer that you are, again, the more special your wedding gift will need to be for them.
  • What is a comfortable amount of money that you can spend on a wedding gift that will not financially strain you but that will be worth the investment?
  • Is there something that you would like to give them? Is there something that is important to you that they have as they start this new life together?
  • Is there something on their gift registry that you would like to purchase for them?

Asking yourself these questions can help you to get the process started in finding the perfect wedding gift for the couple. While you can go out and just pick anything for them (or just write a check for that matter) spending a bit more time doing so will insure that they get something that they will love and cherish as much as their new marriage!

Next time...Shopping Successfully!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Consider Investing Your Tax Return

If you have already visited your CPA or filed your 2006 income taxes on your own; you may want to invest the money you'll be receiving from your tax return (provided you are receiving a fairly large sum).

Some may ask why investing your tax refund is a smart move, while others can’t wait to cash the check. Here are some investment ideas for those of you who are considering it.

  • Reinvest the money back into your home - repairs, landscaping, addition, etc...
  • Invest in a bank CD
  • Increase your IRA account
  • Your current 401K, SEP or other retirement fund
  • Invest into a 529 or other educational savings vehicle
  • Pay off insurance premiums
    Pay off your credit cards or other high interest debt
Think about why investing your tax refund is a smart move. Talk to your accountant to determine the best course of action which will yield you the highest interest for you and your family. This may be the smartest move you’ve ever made!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Easy Easter Brownie Cupcakes

1 (19.5oz) package chocolate brownie mix
36 milk-chocolate mini eggs
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flaked coconut
2 drops green food coloring

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Prepare brownie mix according to package instructions. Stir in 9 unwrapped mini chocolate eggs and stir well. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 to 17 minutes or until the edges start to firm but the center is still slightly soft. Remove from oven and cool in pan for approximately 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla using an electric mixer until smooth. Set aside.

Combine the shredded coconut and food coloring in a small bowl and mix well. Now top each cupcake with a tablespoon full of the cream cheese mixture and smooth the mixture flat. Then sprinkle the “green grass” shredded coconut over the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with one unwrapped chocolate egg.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Make Your Own Easter Baskets

There use to be a time when buying Easter baskets was affordable. With the exception of the dollar store variety, it seems everything but the kitchen sink is included, making them a bit high in price.

Here are some tips for making your own Easter baskets using your creativity!

A basket can come in any size and shape. Traditionally, an Easter basket is made of wicker, filled with brightly colored cellophane and, of course, the handle. You can make a basket out of things in your home.

  • How about a gallon milk jug? Cut it right above the handle to open it up. Wrap it with brightly colored cellophane or tissue paper and decorate the handle.
  • Paper plate and ribbon. Make holes on each side of the paper plate; use a bright colored ribbon to insert through the holes; make a bow and you have a basket, similar to one you would use to carry flowers! There are so many designed plates available in your local supermarket. You can dress it up however you choose.
  • How about buying a plain basket at the dollar store and weaving pink or blue ribbon through the basket? You can cover the handle of the basket with ribbon as well. Instead of buying the cellophane grass; line the bottom of the basket with colorful tissue paper cut into strips – make a nest, so to speak. Fill the basket with whatever you choose.

It is doubtful you will run out of ideas, but just in case, check out these links for some other creative ideas!
Paper Bag Easter Bunny
Can Easter Basket

These tips for making your own Easter basket are just the tip of the iceberg. Get your creative juices flowing and start working...if for some reason those juices won't start, just ask your kids - they are always FULL of creativity!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Reduce the Sugar in Your Family's Diet

Does your family eat a lot of sugar? A lot of candies, processed foods and fast food make their way into your household? As more and more families search for ways to try and become healthier, one of the most commonly overlooked health concerns is sugar consumption. While this is true, there are even more ways that sugar is incorporated into your family’s diet.

Here are a few tips for you to start reducing the your family's sugar intake.

  • Brown Rice – White rice contains mostly carbohydrates, which converts to sugar after consumption. Brown rice offers full nutritional value and should be chosen over white grain rice.
  • Whole Fruit – Most kids love fruit juice. However, there are fruit juices on the shelves today that are loaded with sugar additives. Instead of drinking fruit juice, opt for whole fruit instead, like apples, bananas and grapes.
  • Vegetables – Lots of kids fuss over eating their vegetables. Even though this might be a huge hurdle for some families, incorporating more vegetables into your meals will reduce your sugar intake by far and large. Smart vegetables include green beans, carrots, tomatoes, and squash. Be cautious not to intake too many of the starchy veggies, like potatoes and corn, which contain high amounts of sugar.
  • Snack Wisely – Families tend to snack a lot—yes, even parents. Make fun, healthy snacks for your family instead of binging on junk food. For power-packed snacks that will keep away hunger, use protein. A light snack, like a turkey and cream cheese roll-up, will keep hunger at bay a lot longer than a bag of potato chips.

These tips can help you get your family on the road to a healthier lifestyle.

Monday, April 02, 2007

I've Been Blogtipped!

Ponn with Empower Women Now wrote a really nice post about me yesterday.

Thanks Ponn!