Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cheap Christmas decor

Need something to spice up your room for Christmas but don't want to spend any more money?  Try wrapping one of your pictures on the wall. It is easy, cheap and can make the room merry and bright :-)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Great book = Great Christmas gift

I am not much of a reader, mostly just browse things online and in magazines.  However, I have found a few good books that I like - and most of them seem to be "self-help" or motivational type books. I received this book from my sister for my birthday, Run Like a Mother and so far I love it!  The book is great for someone that is interested in running, is a runner or even someone that has no desire to run. It is more of a motivational, funny book about all kinds of things that women and mothers go through in life to get it all in.  I am only a little ways through the book and I have laughed and learned a lot already!  The two authors did a great job! 

This book would make a great Christmas gift!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Homeschooler website I love!

I don't plan to homeschool, but as I was searching for some curriculum ideas for the girls at home, I came across a great homeschooler's website and I just had to share it!

Confessions of a Homeschooler - http://confessionsofahomeschooler.blogspot.com/

The website has great ideas on so many things.  I actually have been using a lot of the Letter of the Week curriculum, games, etc.  She also has great organizing ideas, meal plans and recipes.  You can download everything right from her website.  It is quick and easy to just print off one thing at a time, or do the whole curriculum.

If you are looking for something simple for your kids to do, take a look you might be surprised!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I had the opportunity to attend a round table discussion about the new nutritional scoring system called NuVal.  This system was designed to make it easier for the consumer to make better choices at the supermarket.  In a nutshell, the system scores food on a scale of 1 to 100 - 100 being the best.  Our local Coborns stores are implementing this system and I think it is going to be great!  Each food will now have a score associated to it to help you determine which items might be better for you.  With new studies coming out all the time it is hard to make decisions between all the good and bad ingredients.  This system did all the work for you and now you just have to look at ONE score.  You can choose to make better choices or you can totally ignore it, it is up to you.

Here are some websites about the system:

Dr. David Katz - one of the main doctors that developed the system.  He has some great info on his site regarding nutrition in general. The info under ABC for Fitness and Nutrition Detectives are great for kids.  You can also get free DVDs for your kids to watch

This is the main site of NuVal

The discussion I attended was put on by a local organization called BLEND.  They are doing amazing things for kids and families in regards to fitness and nutrition.  They have great information on their site.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Monthly activity calendar

Adding another thing to your daily to-do list or monthly calendar isn't always easy.  However, this monthly toddler and preschool calendar does most of the planning and organizing for you.  I have been using this great website, Preschool Express, for quite some time now and I find the monthly toddler and monthly preschool calendars very useful.  On each day there is an activity/idea for your child or something that you can do together.  Most of the ideas are very simple and use items that you would normally have in your house anyway.  They also correspond with the season, theme, holiday, etc.  The website has plenty of other coordinating activities, printouts, color sheets, learning games, activities, etc.  She also offers kits that you can buy if you are interested.  But, if you don't have time to browse the site and put together your own ideas the calendars are a quick and easy way to at least do one fun activity each day.

Preschool Express by Jean Warren

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Moon Dough - it's for the moon!

One of our daughters received some Moon Dough for a birthday gift and I was so excited to try it.  Well, the excitement wore off pretty fast when I realized how MESSY it was.  At first I thought I did something wrong.  Maybe I should add water to it?  It just seemed to fall apart so easily - and into a million pieces.  It does go together fairly easy again but trying to keep all the very small pieces in one place was exhausting.  I finally just let them play and then all the small pieces on the floor I just swept up and threw away.  I know they say it is better than play dough because it won't dry out but I still think play dough is better and easier for the kids to work with. They seemed to be frustrated with it falling apart so much and trying to keep all the pieces together.  However, it was easier for the little girls to roll it out and make cutouts themselves. 

You can be the judge, but I think I will stick with good ole fashion play dough from now on.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Great game for toddlers

The girls are in LOVE with this version of the CandyLand game.  It is easy for them to play by themselves but also fun enough for their older siblings to play with as well. It is often the first thing they take out in the morning.  They learn shapes, colors and do puzzle work throughout the game by putting the pieces in the correct spots.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Love this cereal!

I recently found a cereal that I surprisingly LOVE!  It is healthy, tasty and filling!  It is a fairly new cereal, I think, so sometimes I have a hard time finding it. However, I did find a few boxes at local Wal-Mart. 

First of all, I never thought I would like any raisen bran cereal.  It just didn't sound very good to me.  But this one has almonds, raisens, yogurt clusters and craisens - the combination makes the taste amazing.  I have even had a handful for a snack without the milk.  At just 210 calories (with fat free milk), 2.5 grams of fat and 6 grams of fiber.  It is a well rounded breakfast.

So, if you are looking for new cereal, I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What to make for breakfast???

I am always looking for new and healthy things to make for breakfast in the morning, for both my husband and I and our kids.  With the new school year starting, I made a vow to myself to get up earlier so I am better prepared in the morning to offer the kids something better than just a granola bar or cold cereal.  Although, I am sure on most days that is what they are going to want.  I want to make sure I have other options.  The hardest part for me is to be up early enough to have it ready for them.

When making my list of breakfast options for the kids I came across a few good lists and websites that I would like to share.  If you have good breakfast ideas that you would like to share I would love to hear them!

1.   Berry-Fresh Parfait: This can be a fun recipe to make together! It can be prepared the night before, too. Put it in a plastic cup, if breakfast needs to be eaten in the car or on the bus. Just layer your child’s favorite flavor of low-sugar yogurt with granola and colorful fruit like strawberries, kiwi, blueberries or peaches. Small children can help by adding pre-sliced fruit to the cup or bowl.
  • I love this one because it can be prepared the night before.  I just received a Magic Bullet from my sister and I am excited to make smoothies, etc. Hopefully the kids like them!

2. Oatmeal Happy Face: Oatmeal can go from “yucky” to “yummy” by adding some fun faces made with raisins, bits of dried apricots, cherries and nuts. Just serve plain old fashioned oatmeal in a bowl, and give your child the option of creating a fun face on top with dried fruit and nuts. When the “artwork” is complete, add a bit of maple syrup, and watch breakfast be devoured!
  • I think the little girls will like this the most!  We also make malt-0-meal which probably isn't as good for you as oatmeal but it is another option.

3.  Wrap It Up! Eggs and cheese rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla is a nutritious “to-go” breakfast. The egg and cheese mix can even be scrambled the night before. Just put it in a sealed container. When you’re ready to wrap and roll, warm the eggs and cheese, put some into the tortilla, and you’re done!
  • The is one of my favorites!  I often make them with ham, onions, green peppers and sometimes bacon bits.  They are quick and easy!  Of course there is always the regular eggs, toast and some sort of protein as well.  We normally save that for the weekends though.

4. 3-Minute Muesli: This 3-minute recipe is super-healthy and fun to make with kids. The recipe lasts for three days, so it’s ready whenever you are! Check out my recipe and “how-to” video at http://www.voiceofreason.net/.

5. Mmm-Mmm-Good Muffins: Kids love to stir, so helping make oatmeal-blueberry, corn-peach muffins will be lots of fun for them. Scooping batter into muffin cups is also a safe and easy way to get kids involved in cooking.
  • The kids love muffins!  Most of the time though I just buy the muffin mixes that you just have to add water or milk - how easy is that!! 

6. Pile-O-Fruit: Always keep mixed, fresh, cut fruit on hand. Scooped into a bowl and drizzled with honey (and maybe topped with granola), fruit makes a delicious breakfast.
  • All of us love fruit so this is a win in our house.  The only thing with fresh fruit is that it can get spendy!

7. Way-To-Go-Waffle: Whole grain waffles are a good source of nutrition. Topped with sliced bananas or berries, this colorful meal is irresistible!
  • French toast, waffles, pancakes and French Toast sticks are something that all of us love as well.  Sometimes I make a whole loaf of french toast and freeze it and then just bring up what I need for the day.  It takes a little time to prepare but then you have it done already and just need to heat to eat.

8. Cereal: Low sugar cereals can be made more exciting (and tasty) with the addition of berries, nuts, dried fruit or whatever else your child might like. Just have healthy “add-ins” on hand, and he’ll feel proud when he creates his own concoction of goodies.
  • I am trying to get the kids to eat more low sugar cereals.  We will get there someday.  Honeynut cherrios is the closest we've got so far.

9. Shake-Rattle-‘n’-Roll: Nothing is quicker than a shake make with milk, fruit and honey. The natural sweetness is irresistible! Just have your child pick the types of fruit she’d like, control the “on” and “off” switches of the blender, and voila! She’ll be drinking her fruit in no time.

10. Bagel-icious: Whole grain bagels, whole grain English muffins and raisin bread are each tempting when slathered with peanut butter, apple and pear butter or other preserves. High in protein, this is a dynamite way to start the day!
  • Our son loves bagels so this works great for him.  I have been buying the bagel thins lately and really like them.  They are about half as thick as a normal bagel and half the calories.  I toast them and put a little peanut butter on them - yummy!  And only about 3 WW points!

Above info from Modernmom.com:
Other ideas:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Everyone has days like these..... I think?

A few days ago I decided to take all the kids with me to get groceries and their school supplies - my first mistake.  I thought it was going to go so well.  The kids were in good moods and very excited to pick up all of their supplies.

We walked into the store and the chaos started - we had to go to the bathroom first, then Iz had to go, then O went into the boys bathroom, then they need a drink from the fountain, etc.  Once that was done, we finally started the shopping.  I got out my lists which I had highlighted because we only needed certain items as some things were still good from last year.  We started putting items into the cart and I let them put their items in themselves too.  O was putting everything she could grab into the cart.  So while I was trying to get E and A's stuff organized, I had to keep track of what O was putting in that she didn't need and put it back on the shelves - which ended in a crying meltdown because she thought she NEEDED all the items.  A had a great idea to get O's mind off the crying - she could pick out a new backpack!  O was thrilled! So we moved on to that aisle.  O picked one out in no time and we were all set with the supplies, whew!!  I was exhausted, hot and sweaty by this point.

Next were the groceries.  We didn't need much but we still had to go through almost every aisle, which left plenty of time for the 3 kids that were walking to pester each other.  And oh how they did!  I was constantly telling them to stop touching things, stop touching each other, etc.  It was exhausting.  And somewhere along the way O picked up a $4 notebook that she thought she had to have.  I let her carry it around hoping it would keep her happy and content the rest of the trip.  Well, she left it lay about 4 aisles before we were done, so another crying tantrum resulted.  This one lasted pretty much until we left though :-(  We continued to shop and get the items we needed with the kids still misbehaving.  I am not sure why they were in such a pestering mood.  I often take all 4 of them with me and it has never been THIS bad.

We were finally done. The kids went to the play area by the checkout and I began the checkout process.  I started stacking the bags back into the cart and Iz says she needs to go poopy.  I asked E to take her to the bathroom.  He takes her and comes back and they all go back and play.  The cashier finishes checking me out and I get my total. Then I hear Iz say, "I need to go poopy", so I asked E nicely to take her again and he refuses because he said that he just took her and she went. So I tell her to hold it and she starts crying because she has a tummy ache, so I hold her.  I reach into my purse, NO WALLET!  I can't believe it.  I was so frustrated with the kids, hot and sweaty from shopping all over the store and dealing with the kids and now I can't even pay for the items I wanted to buy. Ughhh.!  I put Iz down and begin looking for my wallet.  I can't find it anywhere. In the meantime, Iz pooped in her pants!  So, I then tell E to take her to the bathroom to see if she has to go more.  The customer service rep comes over and tells me that she will hold my groceries while I go and get my wallet.  I then went to check on E and Iz and he has her in the men's bathroom and their is poop EVERYWHERE on her legs, underwear, leggings and dress.  Luckily, I had wipes and an extra set of clothes with for her.  I took her and changed her in the women's bathroom while E watched the other kids outside the bathroom door.  Then we ALL go outside to the van to find my wallet, which was there thankfully, and head back into the store again.  I go up to customer service, pay, and then we all head back out to the van, this time with our school supplies and groceries.

Needless to say, they all got a nice talking to on the way home and a timeout when we got home.  This was the worst shopping experience I have EVER had with the kids.  I know it happens to everyone and that is why I am writing about it.  As mad and frustrated as I was, I knew that someone else had experienced something like it, or worse.  I know bringing all the kids at one time was kind of asking for it but I have done it so many times that I thought it would be fine.  It was just the accumulation of all the things that happened that put me over the edge.

After we ALL took some time away from each other, we had a nice calm talk about how we act in stores and in public and how we need to help Mom when she asks, etc.  I think we all learned a lesson from this one.

I guess my tip to you from this story is to know that all of us have our "Mommy Meltdown" moments.  Although is seems so bad at the moment, it passes and everything turns out just fine.  I have actually laughed about it now :-)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Love these no-spill cups!

This is another item that took me until the 4th child to give in and buy and I wonder why I did so?  These are great cups for toddlers!  They are easy for them to hold, lightweight and of course spill-proof.  I think I was reluctant to buy them in the past because I thought - The kids won't be walking around with a snack, so why would they need a spill-proof cup...haha!  I know as much as I want them to sit for all meals and snacks, that isn't always going to happen.  So, for when you are on the go, on a walk, at church, etc. these cups really do keep their snack inside and are easy for your toddler to use!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Almost as good as chips

I have a great LOVE for chips and I finally found something similar that is a little more healthy - Veggie Straws.  I found them at my local Sam's club.  They are made by Sensible Portions.  Click here for more information on this product.

They are crunchy, a little salty and fulfill that afternoon craving that I have for some chips.  The kids have really taken a liking to them as well.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Another great Yoga DVD

I try to incorporate a little Yoga or Pilates a few times a week to my workout regimin and I picked this DVD up a while back and I really like it.  It is a little more intense than the Biggest Loser Weight Loss Yoga, but still has the same benefits.  I highly recommend it.  There is something to be said about feeling more lean, taller and more flexible after yoga.  It took me until this year to try it and it is something that I will continue to do for the rest of my life.

Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chores and Allowance

Our chore charts are hanging up and in full swing.  Our two oldest have things that they need to do each day in order to get their allowance.  This is the first year that we have actually paid them to do their tasks.  I never know when to start that, how much to pay, etc. So, if you have any advice to share, that would be great!

I have them doing things like - mowing the lawn, sorting laundry, watering the garden and shrubs, loading and unloading the dishwasher, sweeping, cleaning up toys, etc.  And helping with their 2 younger sisters.  It has been so GREAT to have them here to help.  And they are actually old enough to do the tasks well enough that I don't have to take the time to do them again after they are done (they are 6 1/2 and almost 9).

Here are a few websites I found when creating their chore charts, in case you need help or advice:

If you do chore charts or allowances, I have a few questions:
1.  How often do you pay them and how much? (right how we are doing $5 a week for each if they do everything)
2.  What types of chores do you have them do?
3.  How much of their allowance are they allowed to spend vs. save?

Any tips, adivce you have to share would be great.

Also, with all the kids home during the summer, there isn't much time for blogging.  I will probably only be doing one or two posts a week until September.  Hope you stay tuned!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Great Tortillas - low carb, low fat and high fiber

These tortillas are great for just about anything.  They are just 100 calories, low carb, low fat and high in fiber.  They also have 8g of protein.

One tortilla is just on the edge between 1 and 2 weight watchers points, which is awesome!  I use these for so many things - egg wraps in the morning, chicken wraps for lunch, tacos or burritos, sandwich rollups, pizza crust, homemade chips, enchilada bakes, etc.  There are endless possibilities.  They have a great texture and enough fiber (7 g per tortilla) that keeps you full for hours!  Unlike other tortillas I have tried, they stay completely in tack when you roll them up too - no cracking or breaking apart.

So far I have only been able to find them at Sam's club but the bigger grocery stores may have them too.  Hope you can find them and enjoy as well!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

6 Rules of Good Nutrition

Again I can not take credit for the tips below.  They came to me in one of the subscription emails I receive but I think they are simple tips that if you REALLY make the point to follow, could make a big difference in your life.

6. Never Skip Breakfast - I am guilty of skipping breakfast or eating breakfast so late it really can't be considered breakfast.  However, I have been trying to make a point to eat something within an hour of waking lately and I think it is helping.  I feel better, more energized and I am hoping it is helping my metabolism!

5. Snack With Purpose - I find that if I plan out my snacks for the day I do much better.  Sometimes I do go for my chips and pop - that I love! But I try to limit that to twice a week and choose better options all the other days.  Here are a few of my favorites - trail mix, popcorn, carrots, celery/dip, yogurt, wheat thins/string cheese.

4. Beware of Portion Distortion -  I started using the kids plates that are divided for my lunch/dinner to help control portion size. The plates are still plenty big and it makes me think about how much I am putting on my plate as well as filling the different spots with more fruits and veggies.

3. Drink Responsibly -This one I do fairly good at - I drink water all day long and on most days I don't have any pop.  I do have coffee in the morning though.  So for the most part, I am not drinking my calories.  Well, at least not during the week.  When we do go out on a weekend and have a few cocktails the calories add up fast!  Recent studies have shown that even diet pop and the mixes that go into your water aren't that good for you either because they make you crave something sugary.  So you end up eating something not so good with your drink.  I am guilty of that.  If we don't have pop in the house, I won't have chips.

 2. Eat More Whole Foods and Fewer Science Experiments - A friend of mine was explaining to her daughter the difference between what foods are good for you and what aren't.  She stated it very simple - If you can tell me where the food came from and how it was made or grown, it is probably good for you.  I thought this was a great way to explain it and it is very true.  It isn't always easy or convenient to eat whole foods though so I like the 80/20 rule.  80% of the time I try to eat and drink well and 20% of the time I indulge a little.

1. Set the Table - I find that setting the table or at least making my plate and sitting down at the table really cuts down on how much I eat.  However, I find it really difficult to do.  It seems to be easier to just stand because someone always needs something, is getting up, spills something, etc. Setting the table also helps with family bonding.  We often go around the table and talk about what we liked about the day, etc. 

I hope these tips help you to reach your wellness goals.  I know that just talking and writing about them reminded me that these 6 simple things could help our whole family live a healthier life.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Great Tanks/Tees

I found some great layering tanks the other day at a store that I haven't been to since high school - Ragstock!  There is a store in our local mall and I was killing time with the kids while it rained this week and they had some racks of tanks that were more into the hall than in the store, so I decided to check them out.  Turns out, they were long layering tanks with both lace on the top and the bottom!  I have been looking for some of these for a while now and they were 2 for $12.00 - you can't beat that!

They also have other great layering tanks both with and without the shelf bar.  As a stated in a previous post, I hate the shelf bar and have resorted to XS maternity tanks as undertanks for layering because I hadn't found any others I liked.  Well now I have!  I also saw t-shirts in ALL colors and cuts - scoop neck, vneck, with a pocket, etc.  And, the tanks/tees have a little bit of spandex in them so they should keep their shape and wash up nicely. 

So, if you are in the market for some great layering tanks or everyday t-shirts at a GREAT price, stop in to Ragstock or check them out online as well.  I think most of them were $12 or under for 2.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cucumber Dip - great, light summer snack

Yet another great recipe I learned about at one of my scrapbooking weekends.  This Cucumber dip is super simple, fairly healthy and a great snack!

All you need:
Cream Cheese
Garlic Salt

Peel and cube the cucumbers and try to get most of the juice out of them by using paper towels, napkins, etc.  Mix the cucumbers with softened cream cheese and add a little garlic salt to taste and you are done! 

I eat it with pretzels and have also tried it with wheat thins, both are great!  The cucumber to cream cheese ratio is up to you. If you want it creamier, I would use one package of cream cheese to 2 or 3 cucumbers.  I tend to use 2 or 3 cucumbers to 1/2 a package of the light cream cheese and it still turns out great and has amazing flavor.  When you use the light cream cheese though, the dip does get a little more runny.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Ways to keep the kids busy this summer

I can't believe we are ending another school year! They seems to go faster each year. With the end of the school year comes the start of a fun-filled summer - at least that is what the kids think and want :-) With four kids all different ages and abilities sometimes it is hard to keep them all happy and entertained. So I am always looking for unique things to do with them so that we can all have fun at the same time.

This is a great book for good ole fashion fun - no TV, DS, etc. It is unplugged play. It also breaks the ideas down by age group as well as how many kids you have, etc. It is great!(Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun.)

Here is a list of fun parent/child activities that I received from our school's pre-school teacher. These ideas are sure to bring happiness and entertainment to both you and your children! The list is broken down for age groups too to make it easier to find what will work for your family.

101 Quality-Time Parent Child Activities

Older Kids

1. Fly a Kite - Kites are cheap and kids love them. Stay clear of power lines and enjoy.

2. Hangman - this is a fun way to work on spelling with kids without them realizing it.

3. House of Cards - This isn’t easy, but it can be fun. It offers a good opportunity to talk with your child to get them to open up and tell you about their day at school, etc.

4. Make Doll Clothes – Use up scrap fabric from old projects or fabric from clothes you don’t want anymore. Search for patterns. Here is a nice simple pattern that I recommend. (Downloads as a PDF)

5. Beading - both boys and girls can have fun with stringing beads.

6. Macrame - knotting, weaving, etc crafts are always fun. Search for Macrame on Google.

7. Play 500 - Use any kind of ball. The thrower says “I have 50 points up for grabs.” or any number he/she wants. Then the person who catches the ball wins those points. First person to 500 wins.

8. Pickle – Set up the two bases about 20 feet apart. Select two kids to be “it”, one at each base. The other kids would divide and go to the bases. The game starts by two kids tossing the ball to each other. The object of the game is to time running from one base to the other without being tagged by the ball. If tagged then that new person is it. Any kind of ball is fine.

9. Marco Polo – water/swimming game. One person is “It.” They keep their eyes closed. They shout “Marco” and then everyone else shouts “Polo.” The person who is it tries to tag the other players by hearing where they are. Lots of fun!

10. The ABC Game - Great for in cars. Start with finding something that begins with the letter A. First person to shout out an answer get a point. Go all the way to Z. The person with the most points wins.

11. I Spy – Another car game. “I spy something Red.” Then everyone has to guess what it is.

12. Name that Tune – Hum a song and see if others can guess the name of the song. You can add this variation too: “I can name that song in 5 notes.”

13. Mad-Libs! – these are so much fun. Rainy day or in a car. This is a great one for learning nouns, verbs, and so on. And it is a riot! You can find free ones online in a pinch.

14. Conflict Games – Have children act out with you the difficulties they run into at school. By making it fun you can help kids overcome some of the conflicts that they face. Be creative.

15. Musical Glasses – fill glasses with different levels of water. Either tap with a spoon or rub the rim with a wet finger to make sounds. See if you can play some tunes.

16. Make a Soap Pal - use needle, thread and a face cloth to sew a soap holder. If you have more fabric you can sew on eyes, nose and smiley mouth too.

17. Board Games – Trivial Pursuit for Kids, Life, Clue, Yatzee, Monopoly, Checkers, and Chess are great. Remember how much fun they were? Enjoy them again today with your kids!

18. Charades - Think of a word and then act it out to have the rest of the group guess what the word it.

19. Pictionary - You don’t need the board game. Just divide into two groups. Even two people could play. You pick a word from the dictionary and then draw pictures and the others try to guess what the word it.

Younger Kids

1. Pattern Play - take different shaped and/or colored objects and line them up in a pattern. (blue block, red block, Blue, red) Then have your child figure out what comes next. Any objects will do. You can also try sound patterns like clapping, tapping, funny noises, and have your child repeat them back. If they can have them make up patterns and you repeat them back.

2. Sorting Play – 2 WAYS: 1) Gather some different objects like blocks, toy cars, stuffed animals, coins, spoons, and ask “How should we sort these?” Then ask if they could be sorted another way. 2) Have children help you with sorting real household items such as sorting laundry, silverware, toys, etc.

3. Feel and Guess – Get a bag that you can’t see through and put about 10 different objects into it. Anything will do. (spoon, keys, yarn, toys, crayon, watch, remote control, etc.) Each person closes their eyes and takes out one object. They feel it and try to guess what it is.

4. Ramp Play – make a simple ramp with a piece of cardboard or even a large book, what ever is handy. Take different objects to see how they go down the ramp. Toy cars, plastic cups, a sock, small toys. Ask child what they think will happen with each. Test it. Talk about why they are different. Have races.

5. Letter Play & Number Play – Take index cards and draw the letter. On the back you draw something that begins with that letter. Let the child color it in all the while talking about the letter and the sound it makes. For numbers write the number on one side and then that number of objects on the back such as stars, smiley faces, anything. Let child color. You can do this a few each day. It’s hard to do all in one day.

6. Tic-Tac-Toe – little kids love this!

7. Reading Books - You read. Then let the child “read” to you with the pictures. Lots of praise. Your child will be learning to love reading.

8. Sing kiddie songs -Bingo, Intsy Wintsy Spider, Five Little monkeys, Mary Had a Little Lamb, London Bridge, My Bonnie, Old MacDonald, Row Row Row Your Boat, You know all the ones. Use hand signals. Make them up if you need to. Have fun.

9. Learning About Money - teach about the different coins. Ask them what they think. Talk about the difference between spending and saving, and also how we get money.

10. Properties of Objects – discuss the properties of different objects: soft, furry, hard, rough, round, cold, warm, etc. Then go on hunts around the house for things with those specific properties.

11. Role Play – pretend games are a young child’s favorite. Pirates, Firemen, Fairy Princess, etc. You can also use this as a way to start teaching about what to say when confronted with strangers and peer pressure for things like smoking. It’s best to start when they are young, not when the peer pressure starts. Take turns playing the “bad guy” or the “tempter.” Keep it light hearted and positive.

12. Silly questions - take turns asking each other things like “Would you rather be a cat or a dog?” And don’t forget to ask why.

13. What am I? - For instance you might say “I am big and gray. I have a long trunk and I live in Africa. Who am I?” And so on. It’s like 20 questions but easier for little kids.

14. It Felt Like -after reading books to your child take it a step further and ask how they think certain characters felt in certain situations. Explore the world of feelings.

15. Bath Party - bath paints, bath toys, what could be more fun. Let your child lead the way in this playing adventure.

16. Bubbles! – make your own with water and a small amount of dishsoap and/or glycerin. Use straws or funnels for blowing the bubbles.


1. Fun with Cleaning – Choose either windows (Kids love to squirt spray bottles), dusting, or tidying up. Make it fun with music, incentives (such as hiding money to be found when tidying) or prizes for getting all the windows cleaned.

2. Goopy Fun – mix 1 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup water in a big bowl. Squish it and it become solid. Let it sit and it turns back into a liquid.

3. Bean Bag Toss – mark out squares with masking tape on the floor and make different points for each box. You can used small stuffed animals instead.

4. Baking – even young kids can help with pouring or mixing. It might be messier, but that’s part of the fun. Kids look cute in aprons too. Get a picture of your little chefs! Search Google for cookie recipes.

5. Make a pizza from scratch – Pizza dough is easy to make. Search google for recipe. You’ll need flour, yeast, water, olive oil, and salt. Once your dough is made. Add sauce, fresh mozzerella, oregano, and whatever toppings you like!

6. Make Soup or Stew – Have your child help you wash the vegetables. You chop. They dump into the pot. They pour in the water or broth. You do the meat if you’re using meat. When this soup is ready, watch your kids be more willing to eat the vegetables since they helped make the soup!

7. Pinecone Birdfeeder - Tie some string, yarn or several strands of thread to the pinecone.Take a pinecone and smear it with peanut butter. Then roll it in any kind of seeds or nuts. Tie the pinecone to a branch of a tree outside your window. Tip: hand this up in the morning so you can watch the birds come around and feed. If you hand it at night, the squirrels might get it by morning. That can be fun to watch too.

8. Make Jack-o-Lanterns – In season, search Google for Jack-o-lantern patterns. You cut the pumpkin. Be careful!!! Kids can help gut the inside and help draw the face pattern. You do the carving. After search Google for pumpkin seed recipe, and yum, you’ll have a healthy treat for afterwards.

9. Play with Blocks – It is the one toy that kids never outgrow. Join in for the fun. See where your child’s imagination will lead.

10. Dominoes - Search on google for different ways to play. Or just keep it simple and make up your own rules. Little kids might like building with them. And it’s always fun to set up the knock-down pattern.

11. Let’s play cards - Games like Go Fish, War, and Concentration are easy and fun. For young kids use a small amount of cards when playing concentration. You might want to make up your own with pictures. Just use simple symbols like yellow star, red circle, blue square, etc. For older kids you could try out Rummy. Or search google for more ideas.

12. Nature Exploration – Head to the beach, woods, a field, the mountains, whatever is close to you and begin with “Let’s listen and explore the mysteries here!” Listen, what do you hear? Look, what do you see? Smallest things, biggest things? Ask lots of questions. Be curious about Everything! Have fun. When you get home lookup things online that were burning questions for you and your kids.

13. Tent City - Grab some pillows and sheets and set up a tent in your living room. Bring snacks, play pretend (let child lead the way), play 20 questions, Sing songs, tell stories.

14. Star Gazing at Night – ask what patterns they see. Tell them about the constellations you know. What do they think of the stars. What do you think? What’s out there? How big is it? Aren’t we lucky to have these stars!

15. Visit the Zoo – The opportunities for fun, learning, and bonding are endless. Make it fun. Bring snacks and drinks and as always with outings, keep a watch on the kids’ and your own energy level. When energy starts to fade, it’s time to finish off on a good note and get home to rest.

16. Collage with Nature – go outside and collect leaves and flowers from nature that can be made into a collage. Use paint too.

17. Collage with Magazines - cut out pictures from old magazines and make some cool collages. Hang them up when done. For older kids you could try doing mosaic collages with pictures of different colors. For creative ideas search google for “collage ideas” or “mosaic collage crafts.”

18. Painting! – finger paints, brush paints, any kind. The only key here is to completely let your child express his/herself freely. Don’t guide too much except for instruction on how to use the paints. Have fun!

19. Coloring - both crayons and magic markers are so much fun. Both free drawing and coloring books. The possibilities are endless.

20. Sidewalk Chalk - pictures, letters, numbers, hopscotch games, tracing hands etc. Lots of fun!

21. Visit the Library – Suggestion: stay clear of the computers. Explain ahead of time that the visit is about finding some great books. You can read to your child right there in the library and let them pick out a ton of books to borrow. Try to go once a week or every other week.

22. Go to the Park – to make this different you might want to try a new park for a change. Take a drive and explore a new park. Bring healthy snack and water.

23. Go to the Beach – sandcastles, swimming, playing ball or frisbee, taking a walk. The beach or a lake is a wonderful place to bond and chat the day away with your kids.

24. Crafts - some fun projects to look up on Google: paper mache projects, cut & paste with construction paper, etc. Search for others based upon the materials you know you have already.

25. Create a Chart – Use this method for encouraging any behavior you’re trying to work on with a child from potty training to (older kids) putting on their seatbelts when they get in the car. Let the child make the chart with you. Let them decorate it. Their involvement raises the excitement level and ensures success.

26. Play Catch – with little kids, you can start with catching stuffed animals that are easier for them to grab onto, then graduate to an actual ball.

27. Jumping games – jumping jacks, jumprope, hopscotch, etc.

28. Mother May I – an old favorite. Everyone asks “Motherâ€? may they take so many steps. The idea is to take big steps. The first person to touch Mother wins.

29. Tag/Chase Games - always fun and good exercise for everyone involved! Try this website for several variations of chasing games: http://www.gameskidsplay.net/games/chasing_games/index.htm

30. Hide and Seek – (indoors for little kids)

31. Stamping – use all kinds of objects with paint to make different patterns, like sponges, string, leaves, forks, and more. Or you can make stamps with potatoes. Older kids can use a spoon or other non-sharp object to carve out a picture on the potato. Never let a child use a knife even with supervision.

32. Paper Airplanes! - Do a Google search to find instructions on making different kinds of paper airplanes and then see which ones fly the best! Try this site for free instructions: www.paperairplanes.co.uk/planes.php. If you want a book, I recommend The Gliding Flight by John Collins.

33. Tea Party – cookies and decaf tea! What fun! Maybe the kids can even dress up in mommy and daddy’s clothes!

34. Dress Up – Let’s put on mommy and daddy’s clothes! You be the kid. Let your kid show you how they see you! See what it’s like to be them. This can be really funny and eye opening!

35. Dance Fever – have a mini dance party.

36. Put on a Mini Play - either use a story you all know or make one up.

37. Volunteer - How about a visit to a local nursing home? Or maybe you could take an elderly neighbor on an outing with you, say to a bookstore or coffeeshop. Helping others is always a positive experience.

38. Visit a museum – science, natural history, art. Go for a drive and enjoy the day together learning.

39. Painting Rocks – Find some nice rocks. Paint with acrylic paints. Paint pictures and let them dry. If you want a shiny surface you can put a coat of clear acrylic nail polish over the paint once it has dried.

40. Have a Limbo Dance – This is best if you have a few people. Get a rope or a bar that two people can hold and each person has a chance dancing under it. Keep lowering the bar and see who wins. Play some fun steel drum or Caribbean music if you can find it. Or any kind of dancy music will do.

41. Make Me Smile – Players form a circle with one player in the middle. The middle person approaches each player in the circle and ask, “Honey, do you love me?” The person being questioned must answer, “Honey, I love you but I just can’t smile.” If s/he does smile or laugh, s/he becomes “it” and the previous middle person joins the circle. Decide whether you want to allow light tickling or just funny faces.

42. Red Light Green Light 123 – Person who is “it” says “Red Light Green Light 123″ with their back to the rest of the players. “Itâ€? person then turns around and everyone has to FREEZE. Anyone who is caught still moving by It person has to go back to the start. First person to tag It person wins.

43. Write a Story – Use any combination of paper, pens, crayons, photos, collage, to write and draw a simple story. This is something you can build on over time. It doesn’t have to all be done in one setting. Who knows maybe you can even publish this story. How about on a website?! Just use free blogging platform Blogger.com to post a new page each day.

44. Plant some flowers, vegetables or herbs – you can use an empty egg carton to start or buy some little starter containers. Once they are big enough, transplant them outside. It’s fun to grow your own plants!

If you have any fun activities or books to share, we would love to hear about them!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Where to get your vitamins

Every wonder what you should be eating to get the right vitamins and minerals?  Or why we need specific ones more than others, how they help us, etc.  This information came from a Women's Health email that I receive and it has some great information for how we can get our vitamins and minerals from real food instead of just taking supplements.

Vitamin A

What is it: A pale yellow crystalline compound also known as retinol.

Why you need it: It preserves and improves your eyesight as well as fights viral infections.


Raw carrots (1 cup, 53 calories)

686 percent daily value

Cooked spinach (1 cup, 41 calories)

294 percent daily value

Baked sweet potato with skin (95 calories)

262 percent daily value

Cooked turnip greens (1 cup, 28 calories)

158 percent daily value

Baked winter squash (1 cup, 80 calories)

145 percent daily value

Cooked collard greens (1 cup, 49 calories)

118 percent daily value

Cantaloupe (1 cup, 56 calories)

103 percent daily value

Romaine lettuce (2 cups, 16 calories)

58 percent daily value

Steamed broccoli (1 cup, 43 calories)

45 percent daily value

Cooked green peas (1 cup, 134 calories)

19 percent daily value

Vitamin B1

What is it: Also known as thiamin. Helps cells' enzyme systems convert oxygen into usable energy.

Why you need it: Maintains your energy, coordinates nerve and muscle activity, and keeps your heart healthy.


Raw sunflower seeds (1/4 cup, 205 calories)

54 percent daily value

Cooked yellowfin tuna (4 ounces, 157 calories)

38 percent daily value

Cooked black beans (1 cup, 227 calories)

28 percent daily value

Cooked corn (1 cup, 177 calories)

24 percent daily value

Sesame seeds (1/4 cup, 206 calories)

18 percent daily value

Oatmeal (1 cup, 145 calories)

17 percent daily value

Cooked asparagus (1 cup, 43 calories)

14 percent daily value

Brussels sprouts (1 cup, 60 calories)

11 percent daily value

Cooked spinach (1 cup, 41 calories)

11 percent daily value

Pineapple (1 cup, 76 calories)

9 percent daily value

Vitamin B6

What is it: Involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions throughout the body.

Why you need it: Helps your nervous system, promotes proper breakdown of starch and sugar, and prevents amino acid buildup in your blood.


Banana (108 calories)

34 percent daily value

Roasted chicken breast (4 ounces, 223 calories)

32 percent daily value

Roasted turkey (4 ounces, 214 calories)

27 percent daily value

Cooked cod (4 ounces, 119 calories)

26 percent daily value

Baked potato (1 medium, 133 calories)

21 percent daily value

Avocado (1 cup, 235 calories)

20 percent daily value

Garlic (1 ounce, 42 calories)

17 percent daily value

Raw red pepper (1 cup, 24 calories)

11 percent daily value

Watermelon (1 cup, 48 calories)

11 percent daily value

Cooked cauliflower (1 cup, 28 calories)

10 percent daily value

Vitamin B12

What is it: An unusual vitamin formed by microorganisms like bacteria and yeast (and found in the various and sundry animals that ingest them).

Why you need it: Plays a key role in developing blood cells and nerve cells and processing protein. Helps protect individuals with anemia and gastrointestinal disorders.


Clams (3 ounces, 126 calories)

1404 percent daily value

Duck liver (3 ounces, 114 calories)

756 percent daily value

Oysters (6, 250 calories)

720 percent daily value

Calf liver (4 ounces, 187 calories)

690 percent daily value

Rainbow trout (3 ounces, 130 calories)

90 percent daily value

Top sirloin (3 ounces, 160 calories)

25 percent daily value

Skim yogurt (1 cup, 137 calories)

25 percent daily value

Milk (1 cup, 121 calories)

14 percent daily value

Lean cured ham (3 ounces, 130 calories)

10 percent daily value

Hard-boiled egg (80 calories)

10 percent daily value

Chicken breast (140 calories)

6 percent daily value

Vitamin D

What is it: A vitamin present in just a few foods (but added to some others) that's also produced when UV rays hit the skin.

Why you need it: Essential to calcium absorption - without it, bones don't grow correctly and become thing, brittle, and easily broken. Also helps with the immune system and can reduce inflammation.


Halibut (3 ounces, 160 calories)

130 percent daily value

Mackerel (3.5 ounces, 180 calories)

90 percent daily value

Salmon (3.5 ounces, 185 calories)

90 percent daily value

Canned sardines (1.75 ounces, 100 calories)

70 percent daily value

Oysters (6, 112 calories)

67 percent daily value

Shrimp (4 ounces, 112 calories)

40 percent daily value

Vitamin D-fortified milk, reduced fat (1 cup, 125 calories)

25 percent daily value

Cod (4 ounces, 120 calories)

16 percent daily value

Vitamin D-fortified cereal (1 cup, 105 calories)

10-30 percent daily value

Egg (70 calories)

6 percent daily value


What is it: Also known as folic acid. A chemically complex vitamin found naturally in foods, folate requires enzymes in the intestine to aid in its absorption.

Why you need it: Aids fetal development in pregnancy, helps produce red blood cells, prevents anemia, helps skin cells grow, aids nervous system function, prevents bone fractures, and lowers risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.


Cooked lentils (1 cup, 229 calories)

89 percent daily value

Cooked navy beans (1 cup, 258 calories)

63 percent daily value

Cooked beets (1 cup, 74 calories)

34 percent daily value

Cooked split peas (1 cup, 231 calories)

31 percent daily value

Papaya (118 calories)

28 percent daily value

Mustard greens (1 cup, 21 calories)

25 percent daily value

Raw peanuts (1/4 cup, 207 calories)

21 percent daily value

Flaxseeds (2 tbsp., 95 calories)

13 percent daily value

Orange (61 calories)

10 percent daily value

Raspberries (1 cup, 60 calories)

8 percent daily value

Vitamin C

What is it: Also known as ascorbic acid. A water-soluble nutrient that acts as an antioxidant to protect us from colds and infections, cardiovascular disease, cancer, joint diseases, and cataracts.

Why you need it: Protects cells from free radical damage, regenerates vitamin E supplies, and improves iron absorption.


Steamed broccoli (1 cup, 43 calories)

205 percent daily value

Cooked brussels sprouts (1 cup, 60 calories)

161 percent daily value

Strawberries (1 cup, 43 calories)

136 percent daily value

Orange (61 calories)

116 percent daily value

Cantaloupe (1 cup, 56 calories)

112 percent daily value

Kiwi (46 calories)

95 percent daily value

Grapefruit (1/2 fruit, 36 calories)

78 percent daily value

Pineapple (1 cup, 76 calories)

39 percent daily value

Cooked winter squash (1 cup, 80 calories)

32 percent daily value

Blueberries (1 cup, 81 calories)

31 percent daily value


What is it: A mineral that is found in your bones and teeth.

Why you need it: Keeps your bones strong and healthy, promotes efficient function of your nerves and muscles, and helps blood clotting.


Sesame seeds (1/4 cup, 206 calories)

35 percent daily value

2% milk (1 cup, 121 calories)

30 percent daily value

Plain or vanilla soymilk (1 cup, 70 calories)

30 percent daily value

Low-fat yogurt (8 ounces, 155 calories)

25 percent daily value

Cooked spinach (1 cup, 40 calories)

25 percent daily value

Part-skim mozzarella cheese (1 ounce, 72 calories)

18 percent daily value

Nature's Path Optimum Slim cereal (1 cup cereal with 1/2 cup skim milk, 250 calories)

15 percent daily value

Raw tofu (4 ounces, 86 calories)

10 percent daily value

Cream cheese (1 ounce, 29 calories)

10 percent daily value

Vitamin E

What is it: A group of fat-soluble vitamins that are found throughout the body.

Why you need it: Protects your skin from ultraviolet rays, promotes communication among your cells, prevents free radical damage, and lowers risk of prostate cancer and Alzheimer's disease.


General Mills Total Cereal (3/4 cup cereal with 1/2 cup skim milk, 143 calories)

100 percent daily value

Raw sunflower seeds (1/4 cup, 205 calories)

90 percent daily value

Peanut butter (2 tbsp., 189 calories)

69 percent daily value

Kashi Heart to Heart Instant Oatmeal, Maple (1 packet, 162 calories)

68 percent daily value

Roasted almonds (1/4 cup, 206 calories)

45 percent daily value

Olives (1 cup, 154 calories)

20 percent daily value

Papaya (118 calories)

17 percent daily value

Sweet potato chips (1 ounce, 139 calories)

14 percent daily value

Cooked spinach (1 cup, 41 calories)

9 percent daily value

Blueberries (1 cup, 81 calories)

7 percent daily value


What is it: A common metal that's essential to nearly all life forms.

Why you need it: Key for oxygen transport, cell growth, and immunity.


Chicken liver (3.5 ounces, 100 calories)

70 percent daily value

Soybeans (1 cup, 297 calories)

50 percent daily value

Spinach (1 cup, 40 calories)

36 percent daily value

Tofu (4 ounces, 86 calories)

34 percent daily value

Sesame seeds (1/4 cup, 205 calories)

30 percent daily value

Kidney beans (1 cup, 225 calories)

29 percent daily value

Venison (4 ounces, 180 calories)

28 percent daily value

Lima beans (1 cup, 215 calories)

25 percent daily value

Beef tenderloin (4 ounces, 240 calories)

23 percent daily value

Roast turkey (3.5 ounces, 220 calories)

10 percent daily value


What is it: A mineral found mostly in our bones, but also in our muscles. The human body is unable to produce it, so it's vital to seek out foods that contain it.

Why you need it: Helps muscles and nerves relax, strengthens bones, and ensures healthy blood circulation.


Cooked salmon (4 ounces, 260 calories)

35 percent daily value

Raw sunflower seeds (1/4 cup, 205 calories)

32 percent daily value

Sesame seeds (1/4 cup, 206 calories)

32 percent daily value

Prickly pear (1 cup, 61 calories)

32 percent daily value

Cooked black beans (1 cup, 227 calories)

30 percent daily value

Roasted almonds (1/4 cup, 206 calories)

25 percent daily value

Cooked pinto beans (1 cup, 235 calories)

24 percent daily value

Cooked brown rice (1 cup, 216 calories)

21 percent daily value

Cooked scallops (4 ounces, 151 calories)

19 percent daily value

Cooked summer squash (1 cup, 36 calories)

11 percent daily value


What is it: Another mineral, stored within cells to regulate muscle contraction and nerve activity.

Why you need it: Keeps your muscles strong, balances electrolytes, and lowers risk of high blood pressure.


Baked winter squash (1 cup, 80 calories)

26 percent daily value

Avocado (1 cup, 235 calories)

25 percent daily value

Pinto beans (1 cup, 243 calories)

23 percent daily value

Cooked lentils (1 cup, 230 calories)

21 percent daily value

Cooked beets (1 cup, 75 calories)

15 percent daily value

Fresh figs (8 ounces, 168 calories)

15 percent daily value

Cooked brussels sprouts (1 cup, 60 calories)

14 percent daily value

Cantaloupe (1 cup, 56 calories)

14 percent daily value

Banana (108 calories)

13 percent daily value

Tomato (1 cup, 38 calories)

11 percent daily value


What is it: A mineral needed daily, but only in small amounts.

Why you need it: Protects cells from free radical damage, allows thyroid to produce hormones, and protects joints from inflammation.


Wild cooked oysters (3 ounces, 61 calories)

87 percent daily value

Cooked snapper (4 ounces, 145 calories)

80 percent daily value

Cannned white tuna, in water (3 ounces, 109 calories)

80 percent daily value

Cooked halibut (4 ounces, 158 calories)

76 percent daily value

Cooked shrimp (4 ounces, 112 calories)

65 percent daily value

Roasted turkey breast (4 ounces, 215 calories)

47 percent daily value

Broiled beef tenderloin (4 ounces, 240 calories)

40 percent daily value

Grilled portobello mushrooms (1 cup, 42 calories)

31 percent daily value

Hard-boiled egg (68 calories)

19 percent daily value

Raw tofu (4 ounces, 86 calories)

14 percent daily value


What is it: A mineral that regulates carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar.

Why you need it: Stabilizes metabolism and blood sugar, helps immune system when you're sick, and heightens your sense of smell and taste. Also plays an important role in male fertility.


Broiled beef tenderloin (4 ounces, 240 calories)

42 percent daily value

Roasted lamb loin (4 ounces, 230 calories)

30 percent daily value

General Mills Cheerios (1 cup cereal with 1/2 cup skim milk, 146 calories)

30 percent daily value

Wheat germ (1 ounce, 101 calories)

23 percent daily value

Venison (4 ounces, 180 calories)

21 percent daily value

Sesame seeds (1/4 cup, 206 calories)

18 percent daily value

Pastrami (2 slices, 82 calories)

18 percent daily value

Cooked green peas (1 cup, 134 calories)

13 percent daily value

Steamed shrimp (4 ounces, 112 calories)

12 percent daily value

Nonfat shredded mozzarella cheese (1 ounce, 42 calories)

7 percent daily value

Friday, May 28, 2010

A great indoor/outdoor toy for toddlers

Our daughter recently celebrated a birthday and she received a Jumpolene!  Essentially it is a miniature trampoline that can go indoors or outdoors and is made for toddlers/preschoolers.  The two little girls have had a blast with it already and the price point is nice too - only $40!  I am sure you can find it cheaper even on sale or at the end of the season on clearance.  It will make for many hours of enjoyment I am sure.  It also holds up to 120 pounds so it should last for a long time!

It works in the house, and isn't so big that it takes up the whole room.
It is perfect for outside!
And can even be used as a playhouse or a fort!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Daily Devotionals

Whether you are spiritual or not,  I think a thought of the day, prayer of the day or something to make us reflect as we begin or end our day can't hurt anyone. I have recently been introduced to some good books for this purpose. 

In my Yoga class my instructor reads from The Mother's Daily Prayer Book and
Tao Paths: Good Fortune (another reason Yoga is good for body, mind and soul) I really enjoy the readings from both of these books.  They are short, to the point and really give you something to think about and strive for as you live each day.  As with all books, you probably won't like all of the daily readings. Some may seen a little "out there", but I think there is still something that you can take away from it to make your day a better one.

We also have the Growing and Learning Day by Day daily devotional at home that we read to the kids from time to time.  This book also has a short paragraph with a daily lesson for the day in the terms that a child can understand and learn from. 

I highly recommend all the books.  If you have any favorite daily devotional or self-help books I would love to hear about them!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oriental Chicken Salad

Homemade oriental chicken salad is one of my favorite lunches to make for myself.  It is easy, refreshing and pretty healthy!

This is what you need:
Chicken breast
Mandarian oranges
Chow Mein Noodles
Light Asian Toasted Sesame dressing

I usually grill a chicken breast and then cut it into pieces.  Add the chicken to the lettuce.  I chop up almonds into little pieces and add them to the salad.  Top with the oranges and chow mein noodles and lastly add the dressing.  It is filling and light at the same time.

According to The Daily Plate, it calculates to 303 calories, 14g of fat, 2g fiber and 23g of protein.  If you want to add more fiber you could add some chick peas too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Personalized Necklace

On a recent mother/daughter trip with my sisters and Mom I purchased a mother's necklace.  I have been looking at them for a while and I finally found what I was looking for - and a price that I was happy with.  My sister got one as well and we are both very happy with the quality and time put in to them.  The artist made them for us as we browsed the rest of the art festival.

If you are interested in any of their designs, take a look at their website - http://www.lisanelsondesigns.com/

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

30 Ways to Make Your Life More Simple

I found a link to this article and thought I would share this list of 30 ways to make your life more simple.  I have already done some of these and currently do some. But I did find some things that I will defintely be doing in the near future.  I love any self-help tips.  With just a small change your world could be dramatically different - and for the better.

How will you make your life more simple?

30 Ways to Make Your Life More Simple

1. Resign from a commitment you’re not passionate about.
2. Stop trying to be perfect.

3. Implement a basic cleaning schedule.

4. Sign up for automatic billpay.

5. Automate a portion of your investing.

6. Clean out your media collection and keep only the items you love.

7. Plant perennials that will automatically bloom next spring.

8. Clean out your purse or wallet.

9. Put a paper shredder next to your mail spot.

10. Wind your wardrobe down to pieces that work together.

11. Delete any social networking accounts you don’t actually use.

12. Add your number to the do-not-call list.

13. Create a car maintenance schedule and post it somewhere you’ll see it.

14. Design a filing system that you can stick to.

15. Start your day with a healthy meal.

16. Turn your phone off when you need quiet time.

17. Invest in a programmable thermostat.

18. Set one good goal, and go achieve it.

19. Record your good “shower” ideas and then implement them. (Don’t we all get our best inspirations in the shower?)

20. Write to a friend with (gasp!) pen and paper.

21. Set limits on your bad habits, and reward yourself when you stick with them.

22. Stop trying to be a saint and indulge yourself every once in a while.

23. Pay off your credit card debt.

24. Avoid watching commercials and reading advertisements.

25. Rediscover the pleasure of reading purely for enjoyment.

26. Plan two weeks of delicious meals ahead of time and skip the nightly grocery run.

27. Go to your doctor for a preventative checkup.

28. Remember the joys of doing nothing.

29. Single-task as much as possible.

30. Learn to ask for help.

(Thanks onsimplicity.net for 30 great ways to simplify our lives! For more inspiration from onsimplicity.net check out 4 Simple Ways to Make the Most of Your Day and 4 Ways to Fight “But I Might Need It Someday” Syndrome.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Perfect Caddy

My sister introduced me to this picnic caddy  as she used it all the time in her home and at their cabin.  I have been on a mission to find one since we saw hers and she finally found it for me at Cosco!  The best part - it was only $14.00!  It is so perfect for eating outside or even eating on the main kitchen table.  It holds all of the items you need - plates, napkins, utensils, salt/pepper, even cups! So you don't have to make so many trips bringing each item to the table.  The kids can even help you fill it up for the meal.  I am so excited she found one for me - she also had to get one for my other sisters and Mom as we were all longing for one once we saw how well it worked.

On these nice spring evenings you can't help but want to eat outside.  The bugs will be here soon, so we have to enjoy it while we can. 

Our caddy is all ready for grilling and eating on the deck tonight!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Creamy Cauliflower Purée

I tried a new wonderful receipe for cauliflower purée the other night and I was very impressed.  The taste was amazing, it is a great way to get in more vegetables and I am pretty sure if you didn't tell the kids they were eating cauliflower, they would think it was mashed potaotes.  I tweaked the recipe a little though - I used a mixer instead of a blender (this left it a little chunky but I wanted it that way), light sour cream instead of buttermilk and garlic powder instead of the gresh garlic. Hope you enjoy!

The recipe is from Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes

Creamy Cauliflower Purée

A perfect low carb alternative to mashed potatoes with a creamy buttery taste and less than one point. If you don't have buttermilk, low fat sour cream also works great.

Servings: 4 • Serving Size: about 3/4 cup • Calories: 93 • Points: .5 pt
1 medium head cauliflower, cut up into florets

4 cloves crushed garlic

1/3 cup 1% buttermilk

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp light butter spread (I used Brummel and Brown)

Steam or boil cauliflower and garlic until soft. Drain, add buttermilk, light butter, salt, pepper and purée with a hand blender. If you don't own a hand blender, you should consider getting one. It is one of my most used gadgets in my kitchen, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. A regular blender would work fine as well.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Calendar Pages

As an avid scrapbooker, I tend to preserve almost all of our memories in some way.  I was introduced to calendar pages when I was working at a scrapbooking company.  For those of you that don't know what they are, they are scrapbook pages that have the calendar template printed on them.  But, just as soon as I got hooked they discontinued the pages and I had to find another way.  My sister started using calendars by making her own with a word template and then printing them off and adhering them to a regular scrapbook page.  I have since adopted her version of the calendar page and it works wonderfully!

I love calendar pages because it makes it easy to capture those everyday moments that happen right in front of you.  As soon as they happen, I have my calendar page hanging in my kitchen to journal the word said, the funny thing the child did, milestone reached, etc. I have done them for each child until they are around 2 1/2 or 3 years old.  It is so great to have the page filled each month and so fun to look back at previous year's pages as well.  It doesn't need to be fancy.  You could even use a regular calendar to journal the memories.  It is just another way to capture those little things in life that make it so precious. 

Here are a few examples of the calendar pages used in my scrapbooks.  I found some calendar paper at a local scrapbook store that I use as the background and then just put the calendar page on top, embellish the the page a little and it is complete!  If you don't want to scrapbook the calendars there are many other options to keep them too - put them in a folder, 3-ring binder, etc. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Neat homemade art projects

I received an email from one of the blogs I follow, Excellence in Early Childhood Education, and it had wonderful art ideas that I thought I would share:


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Stinky kitchen dishcloth?

There's nothing worse than a stinky kitchen dishcloth!! I hope I am not the only one that notices a little stench from my dishcloth every once in a while. I have tried quite a few different kinds and brands of dishcloths and I finally found one that works. A close friend of mine introduced me to the Tupperware Microfiber Dishcloth and I am hooked. I have been using them for about 6 months now and I haven't noticed a stench at all! It is a little smaller than I would have hoped but it still works great. This is one of those items that I spent a little more to get a product that REALLY works and lives up to what it says it will do, so it is worth a few extra dollars.

To order the dishcloths you will need to contact your local Tupperware distributor or go through the website.

From someone who washes down their counters and tables literally 10+ times a day, I am a very happy customer and I highly recommend these dishcloths.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


I have been blogging for a few years now and I just recently created a book of the posts from our family blog.  I was looking for a way to save my posts as the blog has almost turned into an ongoing digital scrapbook.  A friend of mine introduced me to http://www.blog2print.com/ which is a website that takes all of your blog entries and bounds them to a book for you.  It is very similar to the digital scrapbook experience but easier and with less options.  I am so excited to have the book!  The process to create the book took less than 5 minutes and was less than $50.00.  If you want you can get a soft cover book or just the digital file to make it even less expensive. We have been reading through it and re-living the great family memories of the last few years that were captured on the blog.

If you are looking for a way to preserve your family memories and pictures and you don't want to get into scrapbooking either tradionally or digitally, I think blogging might be something you will want to try.  You can create a blog in just minutes and there are options to set it private so that only you will be able to view it and it won't be searchable, etc.  It could be your very own personal digital journal.  So many of us spend hours a day in front of the computer, so having a digital journal makes it easy to log on and jot down the happenings from the day or week.  Blogging is free too, so you don't have to pay to preserve your memories and pictures.  You will never regret having captured all the special moments in your life!