Thursday, April 23, 2015

How to raise awareness in your kids to being thankful ...

One thing I've started doing during dinner time with our family is to ask each person to name one (or more) thing that they are thankful for. Or they can tell us about something good that happened during their day, or the best part of their day, etc.
It has been a fun way to get my kids thinking about what they are thankful for and to help them realize that we have so much to be thankful for. Try it with your family today!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Create more room in your refrigerator . . .

As our family has grown, we realized that we probably need to get a larger refrigerator, as it seemed like we never had enough room in there to fit all of our refrigerated foods and drinks. However, buying a larger refrigerator these days is so expensive. So . . . we came up with a solution that worked very well for us.
We purchased a mini-fridge at Costco, for $150, which was a much more affordable option. Luckily, we have a large pantry and we adjusted a shelf or two and installed the mini-fridge there. We keep all of our drinks in that fridge ... jugs of orange juice, juice boxes, milk, waters, etc. Whenever guests want to grab a drink, we just direct them towards the mini-fridge.
It has cleared up a ton of space in our regular fridge and solved our issue of not having enough space. We love having all or our drinks/liquids in one area and have loved this solution. It saved us a lot of money and it could save you some too if you are running out of space in your fridge.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Picky Eaters . . .

My kids are such picky eaters!!! I worry that they are not getting enough variety because they will only eat certain things. Thank goodness for vitamins, right? I've tried bribing them, threatening 'no dessert', asking them to have 'just one more bite', etc. So I came across this article tonight and loved it and had to share.
There were a lot of great ideas in this article and the main thing I liked about it was that you decide what to serve and when, they decide what to eat and how much. No bribes, threats, or un-happiness at the dinner table.
Here is the article
And here is the book they recommend, which I am going to order :)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Central Computer Area

Our kids are getting old enough now, that it was time to get them a computer. Actually, I had a very outdated one, so I got a new one, and we passed on my old computer to the kids. My husband suggested getting them desks for their bedrooms and eventually they would both have a computer in their room.
That did not fly with me! I don't like the idea of kids having a computer in their bedroom. There are too many online predators out there, too many inappropriate images, and it's just plain dangerous.
So, we came up with the idea of having a central computer area in our home where it's out in the open, in a common area. This way, it will lessen the opportunities to hide what they are doing or get into a bad situation. Since it's in a central area, I will check them as I walk by to do laundry, etc. and the kids can keep a check on each other because they will be side by side.
We invested in a long desk/table type of unit and for now, we have my old computer there, which they share, but eventually they will both have their own, next to each other. This is a great study area and I recently found the cutest maps to hang on the wall, above their workspace.
I admit, I am terrible when it comes to geography and don't want my kids growing up not knowing where places are in the world. These maps are custom made so you can choose your colors and personalize whatever you want it to say at the top, etc. They look pretty and they are educational... win-win! I found them on Etsy by a shop called Urban Tickle. Here is the link to the Maps

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Swig Sugar Cookies . . .

Have you seen the Swig sugar cookie recipe floating around the internet? Well, I did and I decided to try it out. I don't bake much at all and I must say that I was surprised at how easy these were to make and how deliciously good they turned out.
They are so close to the real thing, just slightly harder. Next time I'd try baking for 7 minutes instead of 8. I have posted the recipe below along with a picture of how they turned out.
The recipe made a ton and were just too good. I ended up eating two a day and have regretted doing that. I will make these again but next time I'll be taking them to my kids' school or giving them away to a bunch of people.
Swig Sugar Cookies
1 C Butter (room temperature)
3/4 C Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 C Sugar
3/4 C Powdered Sugar
2 T Water
2 Eggs
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Cream of Tartar
1 t Salt
5 1/2 C Flour
Cream together Butter, Vegetable Oil, Sugars, Water, and Eggs.
Combine dry ingredients and slowly add to butter mixture.
Mix until everything is combined.  Your dough should be a little crumbly and not sticky at all.
Roll a golf ball sized ball of dough and place it on your cookie sheet.
Now its time to give these babies their signature rough edge.  Put 1/4 c of sugar and a pinch of salt in a dish (this is in addition to the sugar and salt listed above.)  Stick the bottom of a glass in it.  This is going to be your cookie press.
Firmly press it into the center of your dough ball.  You want your dough to spill out over the sides of the glass.  If there is a lip it’s even better.
Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  They should just barely be browning on the bottom.    Move cookies to a cooling rack.  Once they are cool put them in the fridge in a sealed container.
Sour Cream Frosting
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
3/4 C Sour Cream
Approx 1 2lb Package of Powdered Sugar (I never use the whole thing but love having extra on hand just in case I add to much milk!)
1 t salt
1/4 C Milk
Red Food Coloring
Start by creaming together butter and sour cream and salt.  Slowly add powdered sugar.  When it gets so thick it’s not frosting-like add a splash of milk.  Alternate this process until your frosting is the desired consistency.  Add 1 drop of red food coloring and whip on high for 1 minute.
Keep cookies in a sealed container until they are ready to serve.  The magic of a Swig Sugar Cookie is that the cookies are cold and the frosting is room temperature.
Frost right before serving (if you make them in advance and need to refrigerate the frosting make sure you give it time to warm up before serving)

Sunday, November 23, 2014

In need of a Thanksgiving dessert recipe? Here it is!

Every time I have made this dessert it has been a big hit, with both adults and kids. If you are serving a large crowd, I would double it.
Marshmallow Pomegranate Cranberry Delight
1 small pkg. fresh cranberries 1 pkg. mini marshmallows 1 pint whipping cream 1 pomegranate (seeds) 3/4 C. sugar 1 granny smith peeled and grated
Chop cranberries by pulsing them in your blender a few times. Then put the chopped cranberries into a bowl and mix with sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge. Mix whipping cream until stiff and put into the another bowl and add marshmallows. Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge. After two hours in the fridge, mix the two together and add pomegranate seeds and grated apple. Put back in fridge for at least two hours before serving.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I am a sunscreen freak. I wrote an article for Know It Mom about sunscreen several years ago, and here I am doing another one - only because using a truly protective and safe sunscreen is SO important.
Always buy a broad spectrum sunscreen because it will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays accelerate aging and may suppress the immune system. UVB rays cause sun burning, and both types of rays can cause skin cancer. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has done research on sunscreens and rate them according to their safety.
I always check with the EWG before I buy any sunscreen: EWG Sunscreen Guide
If you don't have time to hunt down your own, you're in luck! I looked up some of the highest rated ones with EWG and then read the Amazon reviews on them which helped me find two that I really LOVE this year. . .
My family and I are using Tru Kid Sport water resistant SPF 30 for the days when we are in water, and then we use DeVita Solar Body Moisturizer SPF 30 on other days when we aren't in water but are outside for long periods.
They are both safe for sensitive skin and were both given a 1 rating with EWG, which is the best rating possible. Some sunscreens go on really thick or leave you looking ghost-like, but these two really absorb well and I like the texture vs. many other sunscreens I have tried.
Here are the links to the EWG's recommendations on the ones I bought:
Tru Kid
DeVita Solar Body
For a couple of years now I have also used DeVita Solar Protective on my face if I will be in the sun at all. It's absolutely wonderful stuff! Here is the link for that:
DeVita Solar Protective
One reason I am so passionate about sunscreen safety is because there are so many main-stream sunscreens out there that contain Retinyl Palmitate. What's that? Here is a quote that I found on the EWG's website: "
About RETINYL PALMITATE (VITAMIN A PALMITATE): Retinyl palmitate is an ingredient composed of palmitic acid and retinol (Vitamin A). When exposed to UV light, retinol compounds break down and produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA and cause gene mutations, a precursor to cancer. Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. FDA also raised a concern that extensive, daily skin application of vitamin A creams may build up in the woman’s body a high enough level of Vitamin A that may be toxic to the developing fetus.
Many anti-aging creams contain Retinyl Palmitate as well, so if you are using one with that ingredient, be safe and just use it at night.
I hope that you all protect yourself and your family in the sunshine this summer and have fun!