Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday! Things That Will Happen This Summer

I tore this one out of the July 2010 issue of Parenting magazine. I thought I would keep it around until the end of the summer and then you could glance at it and figure out if you followed this list unknowingly :0)

Things That Will Happen This Summer

1. Your kids will finally stop asking you when school is ending!! (And three hours later, start complaining that they're bored.)

2. No matter how quickly the egg salad warms up at your backyard picnic, the kiddie pool will remain ice-cold.

3. The ice cream man will be absent all day--until you've got eight neighborhood kids over and you're the only one in sight with a wallet.

4. Regardless of how well you package your lunch for the beach, and how carefully you'll eat it, you'll discover how the sandwich got its name.

5. You'll learn what your ER deductible is (and your toddler will find out that there are certain places you just can't put sidewalk chalk).

6. Your husband will lose the beach towels. We're not trying to make you laugh here. He just will, okay?

7. You're going to leave something behind at your rental condo--your kid's lovey, you sanity, or your security deposit.

8. The only thing that'll be smokin' hot in your tankini is your bare thighs--then they touch the sizzling car seat.

9. You'll realize it's a shame to forget some things, like the smell of honeysuckle--or a wet swimsuit at the bottom of your favorite beach bag.

10. The leaves will turn and your kids will head off to school and stop complaining they're board (and start asking when it'll be summer again).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Money Saving Monday! Eat, Plan, Save!

Who isn't constantly trying to find a way to save a buck...I for one always am! I found this little article in the March 2010 issue of Parenting magazine.

Eat, Plan, Save

Meal scheduling is a key to frugal food buying: You can make the most of sales, for one. To start:

Decide how often you'll shop. Weekly? Monthly? Reducing trips will help you cut back on expensive impulse buys.

Start small. If compiling a week's worth of menus sounds too daunting, aim for three or four days worth.

Count the meals. Are there some nights you be out? Have guests? Plan for these--and lunches, snacks, etc...as well.

Take inventory. Check your shelves for foods you already have (say, potatoes), then check the sales (say, roast beef). Build your menu choices from there. (Pot roast!)

Include cheap meals every week. That could be leftovers, soup and a sandwich, or even breakfast for dinner. Remember: Protein's usually the costliest part of a meal, so go vegetarian once in a while.

Be ready to substitute. If ground beef in on sale and it can be substituted for more-expensive ground Turkey, swap it in.

At least once, compute the cost of each meal. This can be a huge eye-opener. Sometimes an expensive cut of meat paired with a simple veggie costs the same (or even less!) than a casserole with many inexpensive ingredients.

Adapted from Kimberly Danger's Instant Bargains: 600+ Ways to Shrink Your Grocery Bills and Eat Well for Less ($13 Sourcebooks)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Something you may not know Sunday! 3 Biggest Feeding Fables

I found this kid's nutrition article in the May 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

3 Biggest Feeding Fables

With so much conflicting information out there, figuring out what and how to feed these days is confusing. Here, William Sears, MD, tackles the most confounding kid-food conundrums.

Kids need to eat three square meals a day. Nope. In fact, grazing, or eating a few small meals throughout the day, is a very healthy way to eat (and that goes for parents, too). Plus, it comes naturally to kids, who can't hold as much food in their stomachs at one time as adults. A slow-and-steady schedule of meals and snacks keeps their blood-sugar levels, energy, and moods on a more even keel. So if they don't clean their plates at lunch, don't stress; they'll want leftovers in a couple of hours.

Sugar is bad. Actually, it really depends on the type. There's a wide spectrum of carbohydrates (the other name for sugar), and those that are complex (veggies, whole grains, legumes) are always recommended. Complex carbs are digested slowly and act like a time-released capsule of energy. Fruits and dairy products (which contain lactose, another form of sugar) are also good choices. It's the simple sugars-table sugar and high fructose corn syrup in candy, cookies, soft drinks, and packaged treats-that are responsible for that dreaded crash and burn. These are the one worth limiting.

Children should eat from each food group every day. The fact is, kids have ever-changing taste preferences. One week they may eat pasta and tomato sauce, while the next they shun it for peanut-butter crackers. Doesn't matter. As long as their diets balance out over the course of a month--not a day--they'll be on the right track.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Swap a Recipe Saturday! Confetti Salad

I found this great picnic dish on familyfun.com. Can't wait to try it!

Made with couscous and fresh corn and served in a bright red pepper ring, this dish is a festive medley of colors and textures. Stir homemade ranch dressing into the mix, and you've got the makings of a new family favorite.


1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup diced zucchini
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
3/4 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch-tall rings
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon salt, or more to taste


Measure the couscous into a medium bowl. Stir in the boiling water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside until the water is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Fluff the couscous with a fork and then let it cool to room temperature.

Add the zucchini, bell pepper, corn, celery, and parsley to the couscous and toss the mixture well.

Make the dressing by combining the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, and olive oil in a small bowl and vigorously whisking the mixture. Stir in the chives and the salt.

Pour enough dressing over the couscous and vegetables to coat them lightly, then toss them again. Season the salad with salt and pepper, as you like. Place a pepper ring on each serving plate and fill it with the salad. Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fun Crafts for Kids Friday! Locker Pocket

Found this cool back-to-school craft on familyfun.com :)

These simple magnetic foam envelopes are great for storing assorted school supplies and CDs.

Craft foam
Craft scissors or pinking shears
Packing tape
Craft glue
Small craft foam flowers and geometric shapes (sold by the package in many craft stores)
Brass paper fastener
2 strong magnets

Cut a 9-inch square from the craft foam, using craft scissors or pinking shears to create a decorative edge.

Place the square on a flat surface and fold 2 opposite corners to the center, as shown. Fold up the lower corner so the edges slightly overlap the side flaps. While pinching the 3 folded flaps together with one hand, secure them from the inside of the pocket with packing tape.

Apply glue between the overlapped edges and place a heavy book on top of the envelope to keep them flat while they're drying.

When the glue is dry, attach decorative foam shapes to the front of the envelope with a brass fastener.

Glue the magnets to the back of the envelope, one at the top and one at the bottom, and let the glue dry completely before packing the pouch.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Things "He" Taught Me Thursday! Part 2

Last week I posted an article called, Things "He" Taught Me, Getting down and dirty. I have a few more that people wrote in to add to the list.

My husband taught me...

"...that carpet stain remover also works on furniture upholstery and clothes. He suggested I use some on my favorite pink suit to get out a black Sharpie ink spot, and the mark vanished. Who knew?"

"...how to clean our cast iron skillet. He said to just spinkle kosher salt in the skillet, then wipe it with a sponge. I'd never heard of this before, but the salt really does absorb the oil and get food off."

"...a better way to keep our wood floors spotless. I now use a large janitorial dust broom that he bought for me at an industrial supply store. Even if the kids push it around the house sloppily, it still picks up most of the dog hair, dust and dirt."

"...that I didn't need to buy a special spot remover when we got a dark stain on our light-colored carpet. He said to just use laundry stain remover--and he was right, it worked! We haven't bought a carpet cleaner since.

"...to always put like utensils together when loading the dishwasher: forks with forks, spoons with spoons, and so on. This way, you save time when your unloading."

Did you know? On an average day, only 20% of men in the U.S. do housework, such as cleaning or laundry.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wellness Wednesday! 50 Ways to Burn Calories

I found this great article in Allure magazine and thought I would post the first 10 and then continue over the upcoming weeks.

50 Ways to Burn Calories without breaking a sweat

Boot camps, juice fasts, 6am kickboxing--sure, they all help you lose weight. But who needs the agony when these simple tricks do the job?

Women with great bodies have a dirty little secret. Sure, they work out and eat well--but they also sneakily burn hundreds more calories than everyone else. From the outside, they don't seem to be doing anything particularly strenuous. "You wouldn't believe how many straightforward ways there are to burn calories," says Lauren Slayton, director of foodtrainers.net. "But it's easy to miss the opportunities if you're not looking for them." Research has shown that swapping sedentary habits, such as watching television, for pretty much anything that doesn't involve sitting down can make a world of difference. "Most people don't realize that a little extra effort can yield great results," says Steven Wheelock, a trainer at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts. The experts we consulted explain how to take every opportunity to flex your muscles, boost your heart rate, and eat foods that yield maximum fullness for minimal calories. Just don't tell anyone.

1. Take Vitamin D: Women who were deficient in it lost weight more slowly in a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Stephen Gullo, a weightloss expert in New York City and author of The Thin Commandments (Rodale), recommends 2,000 milligrams daily.

2. Drink Coffee: Studies have found that caffeine increases the rate at which you burn calories, according to Susan B. Roberts, author of The "I" Diet (Workman) and a professor of nutrition and psychiatry at Tufts University in Boston.

3. Sleep More: Getting fewer than four hours of sleep over an extended period of time slows the metabolism. Experts recommend aiming for between seven and nine.

4. Do Things By Hand: Wash your dishes, vacuum, or cook dinner. "We consider it a luxury to have tasks done for us, but doing some of these for yourself takes considerable energy," says Slayton.

5. Wear a Basic Pedometer: "Every week, aim to take a few more steps than you did the last week," says Wheelock.

6. Eat Lightly and Often: "For most people, the body uses up more energy digesting smaller meals every few hours than by eating the same number of calories in two or three sittings," says Chrissy Wellington, a nutritionist at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, Massachusetts.

7. Move Briskly: "Walk like you're late for a meeting," says Gunnar Peterson, who trains Jennifer Lopez in Los Angeles.

8. Laugh: "It burns up to 50 calories if you laugh for 10 to 15 minutes per day," says Adelino Da Costa, owner of Punch Fitness Center in New York City.

9. Eat Breakfast: "You send your body a signal that you're not starving, so it starts burning fat--even when you're just doing normal activities," says Peterson. He suggests eating scrambled egg whites or oatmeal with fruit.

10. Time Yourself: Spend the last five minutes of each hour (set your computer timer) up and moving around, says Kristin McGee, a New York City yoga and Pilates instructor.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tell Me About It Tuesday! Is my child ready to dive?

It is a question that a lot of kids have...the fear of not holding their breath, smacking their tummy on the bottom of the pool...it can be a scary thought!

I found this article in Parenting magazine with the question and the answers to help your child out.

7 to 9 years: Is my child ready to...dive?

Getting beyond a feet-first pencil jump and joining the older kids in the deep end is a big deal at this age. Help her take the plunge.

Go the distance: In deeper water, she'll need to have the endurance to swim from the middle of the pool to the ladder, as well as the ability to tread water for one minute (in case there's a wait to climb out).

Quiz her on safety: Katrina Ramser-Parrish, a swim teacher in Novato, CA and creator of Squidkid.org, a swim-instruction resource for parents, likes to probe her wannabe divers. "I'll suggest to the kids that we head over to the shallow end to get started. And if they don't object, then that's my signal to review some basic safety." (If they're old enough to dive, they're old enough to realize they should never attempt it in less than six feet of water.)

Look before you leap: Make sure your kid knows not to jump unless the area in front of her is clear. Also, she should ask the lifeguard if there's an age or height minimum to use a diving board.

Ease into it: Start by having your child sit on the pool's edge with her arms pointing straight out (like they're glued to her ears) and her fingers curled downward. A kneeling dive is next: one knee down, her butt up in the air, and the toes of her other leg on the edge of the pool so she can push off. A standing dive is the last position, when she's got the other two moves down.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Money Saving Monday! Find Savings in the Living Room

I am continuing the money saving article, found in AllYou magazine, June 18, 2010 issue, that I have done the past month. This one is for the living room...

Whip this high-traffic area into shape.

Revive tired furniture: New pillows can brighten a room, as well as hide stains on worn couches and chairs. Buy inexpensive covers ($5 to $10 each) at stores such as Ikea or Bed Bath and Beyond for a quick renewal from season to season.

Get artistic: Design a photo display instead of buying expensive art. Find affordable frames at a craft store, like Hobby Lobby, which sells frames for half off several times a year. Choose different sizes but the same color, and place them together on a wall.

Spruce up the floors: Pick up some wood floor restorer at a hardware store. Just mop it on your floors to make them look shiny and new. One product to try: Rejuvenate floor restorer and protectant ($18; homedepot.com).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Something you may not know Sunday! Up and at 'em!

Since school has started for some and ours happening in a week, I thought I would post something that will help out with the back-to-school blues! Found this little helper in Parenting magazine.

Up and at 'em!

Gone are the days when your kid woke you before the crack of dawn. Now it takes all your morning energy just to get him out of bed. What's going on? The sleep patterns of preteens are different from those of adults and young children. Their bodies' internal clocks actually tell them to fall asleep later at night and to snooze longer in the morning. (So why the heck does their school usually start earlier than your kindergartner's? Go figure!) Here, how to make morning wake-ups less of a struggle:

Tone down the alarm: Instead of having the alarm clock blare just in time for your child to rush out the door, set it to play his favorite music about 15 minutes before he has to get up. I'll help him ease into the day.

Give him a good reason to get up: Bribe him with that sausage-and-egg sandwich he loves (his appetite is no doubt having a growth spurt, too), or arrange a morning carpool with a close buddy (friends also trump sleep at this stage).

Make it his responsibility: Explain that you've realized he's old enough to get up on his own, so you'll call for him only once. Then stick to it--many kids will embrace the autonomy. Others will quickly learn how much they're missing at school when they're not there on time!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Swap a Recipe Saturday! Pizza Salad

Pizza Salad

Found this recipe that I can't wait to try on familyfun.com. Looks absolutely delish!!

Cheese, pepperoni, olives, and other classic pizza toppings make this flavorful salad a sure hit. To complete the illusion, serve it with soft breadsticks.

1 cup diced fresh mozzarella
1/3 cup thin pepperoni slices, quartered
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1 (2.25 ounce) can sliced olives, drained
Small head of leafy lettuce
1/2 cup salad croutons
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch of sugar

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk the mixture well.

Add the mozzarella, pepperoni, tomatoes, mushrooms, bell pepper, and olives to the bowl and toss the mixture to distribute the dressing.

Serve the salad on a bed of lettuce and top it with croutons just before eating. Serves 6.

Friday, August 20, 2010

FYI Friday...Bubblegum for your Brain

I found this "One Great Tip" in the June 2010 issue of Woman's Day magazine.

Bubblegum for your Brain

Chew a stick of sugar-free gum the next time you need some perking up. Research has found that gum chewing increases blood flow to the brain, so it makes you feel more alert and may even improve your memory and learning abilities.

David Grotto, RD, LDN, author of 101 Optimal Life Foods

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Things to Learn Thursday! Lights, Camera, Action!

Since it is "Things to Learn Thursday", I thought I would post something that I wish I would have found out a long time ago: Camera tips. I am constantly in a battle with my camera over settings, lighting, etc... I found this nice little article in the May 2010 issue of Parenting magazine under the "Ages & Stages" section: 7-9 years.

Lights, Camera, Action!

You've been capturing every step of your superstar's growth, but now, as he steals a base or goes in for a layup, you're left with blurred images of something that might have been your kid. How to get your picture-taking game back on:

Upgrade your camera. A digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera is more versatile because you can change lenses. it has higher-quality image sensors, and there's less lag time--essential for action pics. most have a pre-set sports mode, but the following adjustments can improve your shots even more.

Freeze the action with a fast shutter speed of 1/250 of a second or faster. If it's set below that, you're unlikely to stop the motion and get a clear shot.

Manage the light of notoriously dim gyms by raising the ISO sensitivity--the camera's ability to capture light--to 1600 or more, says Jim Miotke, author of The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Children. Avoid using the flash, as it might be distracting to the players (or even be prohibited).

Get close. Ask the coach if you can stand on the sidelines, or rent a super telephoto lens from a local camera store. Then shoot and shoot some more until you're happy with what you see in the LCD monitor.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wellness Wednesday! Make Room for your Cravings.

I found this article in the June 2010 issue of Woman's Day magazine. The whole article will take a bit of typing so I am just going to include breakfast in this one and will post more of the meals later.

Make room for your cravings.

Each of these sample meals adds up to 500 calories for a total of about 1,500 calories a day (which should enable you to lose about 1 to 2 lb a week)


What you're craving-Bacon

What you'd normally have: 2 scrambled eggs cooked in 1 tsp butter with 1 slice Cheddar on a whole-wheat English muffin with a 12 oz latte made with skim milk.

Eat what you want: Skit the cheddar and add 2 slices of bacon.

What you're craving: Chocolate-Chip Pancakes

What you'd normally have: 3 medium (4") buttermilk pancakes with 3 Tbsp maple syrup and 1 cup fruit salad.

Eat what you want: Skip the maple syrup and add 2 Tbsp chocolate chips.

What you're craving: A sweet and gooey cinnamon roll

What you'd normally have: 1 medium (4 1/2") cinnamon-raisin bagel with 2 Tbsp cream cheese and an 8 oz low fat cappuccino.

Eat what you want: Swap the bagel and cream cheese for a medium (5 oz) cinnamon roll; swap the cappuccino for an 8 oz regular coffee with a splash of 1% milk.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tip Tuesday! Clean and Save: Add Gleam to your Bathroom

I have already posted the first 10 tips in a past blog from this fast fix article found in the June 19 issue of AllYou magazine. These are tips 11-20, #11 being the last tip from "Make the kitchen sparkle" , 12-18 from "Add gleam to your bathroom" and 19-20 under "Polish up the living room". Enjoy these great tips!

Make the Kitchen Sparkle

11. Floss Often: Remove debris from the cutting disc on your electric can opener with dental floss.

Add Gleam to your Bathroom

12. Use a substitute: Try Listerine mouthwash if you're out of floor cleaner. Add a capful to a gallon of water and mop vinyl or tile--but not wood--floors with the mixture. The same product that kills bad-breath germs also zaps the gunk beneath your feet.

13. Clean in between: Grab a few disinfecting wipes to give faucets, sinks, tubs, toilet seats--you name it--a daily touch-up.

14. Pretreat: After going over your bathtub, sink or shower with disinfectant, wipe the area with baby oil or lemon oil. Do this once or twice a month, and it will help dirty water bead and roll down the drain faster, buying you more time before the next cleaning.

15. Scrubbing bubbles: Freshen the toilet bowl with effervescent tablets (denture or antacid) in between scourings. Drop two in the water, let soak for at least 20 minutes, then brush and flush. A can of cola dumped in for one hour also does the trick. The phosphoric acid in the beverage removes rust rings and other mineral deposits.

16. Shine on: Get rid of lime buildup on sinks by soaking an old rage in vinegar, then wrapping it around the faucet and clasping with a hair clip. Let sit for an hour, then take off rag and dry faucet.

17. Lose the spots: Combat mold and mildew on tiles and shower curtains with a past of equal parts lemon juice and baking powder. Spread on the mixture, leave to two hours, then rinse.

18. Mist away: Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar to clean chrome and stainless-steel fixtures, and to remove scum, grim, and mildew from your bathtub, tile or shower curtain.

Polish up the Living Room

19. Dust tough-to-clean items: A dry paintbrush (with bristles at least 3 inches long) is great for both the surface and grooves of your collectibles. Dust framed photos with a pastry brush, which is softer than a paintbrush and easier to dip into corners and places that are difficult to reach.

20. Revive canvases: Cut the crust off a piece of white bread, squish the bread into a doughy ball and use it to gently dab the surface of paintings (but not valuable or antique works). Once the ball is covered with dirt and grime, start again with a new slice. Use a pastry brush (or another soft-bristled brush) to clear off any crumbs.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Money Making Monday! Sell It!

We are always looking for some place to sell all of our old junk. I found this strip of money making tips on selling specific items in the June 18, 2010 issue of AllYou magazine.

Sell It-Get cash for your castoffs in a few easy steps

Books: Cash4books.net takes textbooks, novels, and other books. Type in the ISBNs, get a quote, then print out the prepaid shipping label. You're paid once the site receives your shipment.

Electronics: At gazelle.com or buymytronics.com, describe the gadget you want to sell, then receive an instant quote. The sites pay for shipping and wipe out your personal data. RadioShack has a similar deal; for details, click on "Trade & Save Program" at radioshack.com.

Cell Phones: Select the manufacturer and model at cellforcash.com to find out how much money you can get for your retired phone.

Jewelry: Still have baubles from a former fling? Pay $2 to post them for sale at exboyfriendjewelry.com. Interested parties contact you via a private messaging system. Or sell your jewelry to Red Swan (redswan.com), which covers shipping costs and allows you to change your mind if you don't think the price the company is offering to pay is fair.

Miscellaneous: You can sell nearly anything on eBay and Amazon (read about their fees online). Or, for free, post local ads on Craigslist and ebayclassifieds.com.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Something you may not know Sunday! How to Dress for the Office Now

I found the insider's guide to style in the June 2010 issue of Allure magazine. The article gives you a nice guide in to how to dress for the office during the summer season :)

Still being summer, you can't hide behind layers and lots of black--instead, you have to make the most of just a few lighter pieces.

Color it in: Mixing different bold colors on the top and bottom of an ensemble can make a big statement without a lot of fuss or tricks. My favorite approach is color-blocking a bright hue and a neutral. It looks refreshing--pale nude with aquamarine is particularly pretty.

Vary your neutrals: At the height of summer heat, I really love deep browns in cotton poplin--just don't wear any black with it. And people think wearing white in summer means pants, but try a crisp white blazer over a printed dress instead.

Nip your waist: Tuck a loose blouse into wide trousers or a simple skirt. The waistband should sit right at your natural waist, which keep the line trim and narrow.

Take it easy: One of the best things about summer is meeting friends after work for drinks or dinner outdoors. Wearing a silk dress in a bold color and subtle print makes the transition effortless.

*Tip* How to prevent a blister-When new shoes rub against bare feet and you don't have a bandage, use a piece of clear tape or a thick layer of ChapStick to create a barrier between the shoe and your skin.


Nude Shoes: If you want to make your legs appear long, match your shoes to your skin tone. They can be chunky or detailed, and platforms don't hurt, either.

Bright Bag: A large bag can be necessary in summer, in case of a quick shoe change or a weekend escape. A bright color can make a big bag look less heavy.

Navy Blue: The perfect summer alternative to black--navy goes with any color, particularly bold red. Choose pieces that float away from the body.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Swap a Recipe Saturday! Bagel Critters

Found this recipe on familyfun.com. Great for a kid's recipe project!

Let kids turn bagels, cream cheese, and assorted toppings into an edible zoo. This playful recipe also works well as an activity and quick lunch at a birthday party.

Bagels, sliced
Cream cheese, softened
Assorted toppings, such as baby carrots (grated or whole), cherry tomato halves, sliced black olives, sliced bell peppers (red, green, or yellow), poppy seeds, cucumber rounds, minced chives, and crunchy Chinese noodles

Spread the cream cheese on the cut bagels (going gently over the hole).

Set out bowls of vegetables and crunchy noodles and let the kids turn the bagels into animal or monster faces, like this royal lion with olive nose and eyes, a crunchy noodle mane and whiskers, poppy seed freckles, and a pepper crown.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Freebie Friday! Find freebies wherever you go

Who doesn't love a freebie? I for one get by in life mainly on freebies. As many as I can possibly get and have the time to try. I came across an article in AllYou magazine, Aug 27, 2010 issue that is packed full of them! I have time to give you just a few today which will leave for quite a bit more at a later date :)

Find Freebies wherever you go

Slash expenses by picking up food, samples and new products on the house. Whether you're surfing the Internet, strolling the mall or stopping for a bite to eat, there's always something free nearby, such as food, cosmetics and health items. The trick is knowing where to look for reliable deals and how to avoid hidden strings. Use the lists here to start filling your in-box with coupons and your mailbox with products--without reaching into your purse.

Nab Yummy Eats!! Enjoy these deals and cross another item off your grocery list

California Tortilla: Love Mexican food? Sign up at californiatortilla.com for this restaurant chain's newsletter, Taco Talk and you'll instantly receive a coupon for a free taco, plus many other discounts.

Dunkin' Donuts: At dunkindonuts.com, click on "Dunkin' Perks" and sign up to get exclusive offers, including a free medium beverage (plus another on your birthday)

Friendly's: At friendlys.com/birthday-club, sign up for a free three-scoop sundae with the purchase of any adult entree and also receive birthday offers for you and your family.

Godiva: Free chocolate! Join the Rewards Club at godiva.com and you can stop by a Godiva store once a month for a gratis piece of chocolate.

Old Country Buffet: Visit oldcountrybuffet.com/eclub to learn how to get a "buy one, get one free" buffet meal.

Pretzelmaker: Join this eatery's mailing list at pretzelmaker.com for a "buy one pretzel, get one free" coupon.

QDOBA: Request a free Qdoba card at one of these Mexican restaurants; after you register at qdoba.com, you'll get a free order of chips and salsa on your next visit (you'll also rack up points toward an entree)

TGIFridays: Register at tgifridays.com for a Give Me More Stripes card to be eligible for a coupon for a free appetizer or dessert, pljus a one-time pass to move to the front of the line at the restaurant--saving you both money and time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Things "He" Taught Me Thursday! Getting down and dirty

Wow! I never would have thought that my husband could be better at household chores than me...well not all of them anyway. I am still the reigning domestic goddess :) I found this article in Woman's Day magazine, issue June 2010. Check it out!

Think women clean circles around men? Think again. Here are six ways men clean better than us.

In the Kitchen

You: Wash the floor with a bucket of water and a mop.
He: Washes the floor with a spray bottle and a mop.
Why his way is Better: Rather than lugging around a heavy bucket full of dirty water that you have to keep emptying and refilling, you can spritz, wipe and move on.

You: Notice a smudge on the oven door and wipe down the whole door.
He: Notices the smudge and wipes only it.
Why his way is Better: Spot-cleaning saves time. Period.

In the Bathroom

You: Have a pile of old rags under the sink that you use whenever you clean.
He: Uses color-coded microfiber cloths.
Why his way is better: Microfiber is good on grime, and coding cloths halts germs. So do the same: yellow for the sink, red for the toilet.

You: Pour cleaner in the toilet bowl and start scrubbing with the toilet brush.
He: Pours cleaner in after "pushing" and plunging bowl water back into the tank with the toilet brush.
Why is way is better: This lets you really wash the bowl without the water getting in the way and diluting your cleaning product.

In the Bedroom and Family Room

You: Makes the bed right after you wake up.
He: Makes the bed after his morning routine.
Why his way is better: Moisture from body heat makes your mattress more attractive to dust mites. Leaving your bed unmade for about an hour lets it dry out.

You: Use paper towels to dust.
He: Use the vacuum's brush attachments to power-dust barer floors, headboards, lampshades, more.
Why his way is better: Paper towels are ineffective. They don't collect as much dust as you think.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wellness Wednesday! Kitchen Remedies

I found this wonderful article in Parenting magazine, May 2010 issue, about the most healthy herbs you can use while cooking.

Tasty? Check. Fragrant? Check. Healthy? Check. Not only pleasing to the palate and the sniffer, these herbs offer unique health benefits, too. They've got minimal calories and zero salt, so go ahead and liberally add these fresh herbs to your favorite foods.

Basil: Toss two teaspoons onto pizza to get 5 percent of your daily requirement of magnesium, a mineral that works to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heartbeats steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong.

Cilantro: Stir into salsa to top your tacos for a tasty way to reduce potential bacterial contamination in the meat. The Romans used the herb to preserve meat more than 2,000 years ago! Cilantro is also traditionally used to promote healthy digestion.

Dill: Dress up tuna salad and you could be helping your body maintain healthy cholesterol levels at the same time. Named after a Norwegian word that means "to lull," dill can also have a soothing effect and may relieve indigestion.

Parsley: Mix two teaspoons of dried parsley into a salad for 150 percent of your daily vitamin K needs, which is important for healthy blood clotting and bone health. You'll also be getting a nice dose of vitamin C and vitamin A.

Rosemary: Add it to marinades to help cut your cancer risk; its antioxidants may combat potential carcinogens created when meats are broiled or rilled at temps above 400F.

Thyme: Sprinkle two teaspoons of dried thyme into a stew or salad dressing to get nearly 20 percent of your daily iron needs. It's often used in tea or found in cough syrups to ease dry, hacking coughs and to soothe a sore throat, as well.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tip Tuesday! Clean and Save: Make the kitchen sparkle!

I am always looking for ways to get my kitchen in tip top shape. I hate that the kitchen is the germiest place in the house considering that we prepare food there. I did find these fast fixes in AllYou magazine, June 18, 2010 issue that are a great help!

Clean and Save

Substitute know-how for expensive products with this list of handy tips.

1. Eliminate Odors: Try coffee grounds to keep your refrigerator smelling nice and fresh, just as you do with an open box of baking soda. Place them new or used, in a bowl and remember to replace them every month or two.

2. Wash the dishwasher: To clean the inside of your dishwasher, fill the detergent cups with whichever one of these four products you have on hand: 1/2 cup white vinegar or a few tablespoons of powdered laundry bleach, Tang or lemon flavored Kool-Aid (lemon is the only flavor that works). Then run the empty machine through a complete cycle.

3. Chill Out: Use ice to cleanse the blades in your garbage disposal and break up the grease that collects on the rotors. Every few weeks, toss in a handful of cubes, turn on the disposal and run cold water. Add some orange, lemon, or lime peels to ward off odors.

4. Soften Up: Get baked-on foods off pots and pans with a dryer sheet. Just place one in a pot, fill with water and let sit overnight, then sponge off the next morning. The antistatic agent weakens the bond between the stuck-on food and the surface of the pan, while the fabric softener works its loosening magic.

5. Absorb it: Cover the bottom of your trash can with old newspapers to soak up leaks and odors.

6. Wipe away: Make scuffs on vinyl flooring disappear by applying a little baking soda with a damp sponge.

7. Gather shards: Pick up tiny slivers of broken glass--the ones you don't notice until you've stepped on them--by gently pressing a slice of bread or a piece of Play-Doh on the area. Be sure to wrap the glass up carefully before throwing it away--you don't want an animal to eat it or a child to play with it.

8. Nuke 'em: To keep bacteria from taking up permanent residence in your kitchen sponges, rinse them with water at the end of each day, squeeze, then put in the microwave for three minutes. Let cool before touching. Do the same with your cutting boards, if they are microwaveable.

9. Get fruity: Harness the power of citrus to clean your microwave: Cut a lemon in half, squeeze juice into a small bowl of water, add both lemon halves and place in the microwave for five minutes. The fresh scent eliminates cooking odors, and condensation from the steam loosens random splatters that have hardened. Wipe with a damp cloth.

10. Bring back the bling: Polish tarnished copper with this natural solution: Fill a 16 oz spray bottle with white vinegar and 3 tablespoons of salt. Spray onto the copper, let sit briefly, then rub clean.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Money Saving Monday! Find Savings in the Kitchen

I am continuing the money saving article, found in AllYou magazine, June 18, 2010 issue, that I have done the past few weeks. Have you saved any money by using the past tips? This one is for the kitchen...

Reduce spending on cleaning basics and food

*Squeeze more life from a sponge: Throw it in with a load of dishes in the dishwasher every couple of days or so to sanitize it and get several additional weeks' use from it.

*Stop buying paper towels: In addition to being a money-saving move, repurposing old T-shirts and cloth diapers as dishrags and cleaning cloths cuts down on waste, so it's better for the environment.

*Toss staples in deep freeze: Buy shredded cheese in bulk when you see a deal. Sprinkle in cornstarch to prevent sticking, then freeze. Consider storing herbs and spices and loaves of bread in the freezer, too, to extend their shelf life.

*Cut down on energy costs: After the dishwasher's final rinse, open the door and pull out the racks. Let the dishes air-dry to save electricity.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Something you may not know Sunday! How to Sell Your Stuff

This is definitely still the time of year for cleaning out. Hitting the kids closets and yours before the school season starts. Why not take them to a consignment shop for someone else to take on and just hand the cash over to you? I found a small square of advice on "How to sell your stuff" in the April 17, 2010 issue of Woman's Day magazine.

Some items sell better than others--in general, there's a need for larger sizes, as well as trendy and stylish pieces.

*Prep your clothes: The better condition your clothing's in, the better chance you have of selling it. It's wise to freshen up pieces: Have them dry cleaned, iron out wrinkles, replace missing buttons.

*Sell in season: Go at the very beginning of the season or just before. Right now stores are buying for fall.

*Be selective: If it's your first visit to a store, bring in a cross-section of your closet so that you can get a sense of what types of items they'll buy. While the staff sorts through your items, ask them questions to learn more about what they're looking for. Afterward, browse the floor to check out what kind of clothes they stock. Not every consignment store sells children's clothing, for example.

*Don't sell designer knockoffs: (logo bags, etc..) It's illegal!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Swap a Recipe Saturday! Peanut Butter Pancakes

Who doesn't love peanut butter? I haven't had a chance to try this recipe that I found on familyfun.com yet, but am looking forward to it!

Peanut butter packs these breakfast flapjacks with protein and just the right amount of nutty flavor. Freeze any extras between layers of waxed paper, then simply heat them in the microwave for 35 seconds, flipping halfway through, for a busy-morning breakfast.

1 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
Banana slices (optional)
Honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
Maple syrup

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, sugar, and oil until smooth. Beat in the egg, then the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until blended.

Next, lightly coat a griddle or skillet with oil and heat it over medium-high heat. Drop the batter onto the griddle by 1/4-cup measures. Cook until tiny bubbles appear on the surfaces of the cakes, then flip them and cook a few minutes more. Serve topped with banana slices and chopped peanuts, and drizzled with maple syrup. Makes twelve 4-inch pancakes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

FYI Friday...How to Pack a Picnic

Who doesn't love a picnic on a warm summer day?! It is one of the best, close to free things you can do for entertainment! Eating with your fingers, running around with the kids, picking any gorgeous spot as your backdrop :) I found this little article in Healthy Cooking magazine that can tell you the correct way to pack a picnic.

How to Pack a Picnic

Pack it in: "Picnic baskets are beautiful but not very practical. Pack each person's meal into an individual container in a cooler and bring several large, heavy blankets in a canvas bag."

Start Right: "Begin by putting out long French radishes with a small tub of sweet butter or sea salt. And everyone loves a crusty baguette and cheese--a sharp cheddar or fontina, nothing too messy."

Go With a Standby: "Potato salad is a picnic classic for a reason. Boil Yukon gold potatoes, dress them with vinaigrette while they're still warm, and toss with scallions and parsley."

Bulk Up: "Salads made from grains or beans hold up well. Try Israeli couscous with feta and asparagus tips. Salad with grilled chicken breast, sesame vinaigrette, and dried cranberries is delicious, and you gotta love panzanella, a tomato salad made with big chunks of toasted bread."

Simplify: "Save your energy for the food, and served bottled drinks. Also keep dessert basic: cookies or brownies and fruit."

TIP! How to Choose Summer Wine: "You want a wine that isn't too heavy but is fruity enough to stake your thirst--probably a white." says Andrew Harwood of New York City Wine Class. "If you like a dry mineral-y Sancerre, try the Assyrtiko grape from Santorini, Greece. It has a touch of citrus. If you seek more depth, try Kung Fu Girl from Washington State. It's perfect for food with a little spice. And if you like Pinot Grigio, try Pinot Gris from Alsace. It's the same grape, but with its weight more developed and with a dose of apricot and quince."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Things to Do with Science Thursday! Fog in a Bottle

I always try to find some kind of neat thing or idea that you can easily do with your kids on Thursdays. I found this ideas on www.bizarrelabs.com. What their faces light up when they discover the amazing trick you have done :)

Fog in a bottle

Creating fog in a bottle, as in the photo at the top of this page, is a simpler matter. A large jar or wide mouthed bottle is filled with hot water. All of the hot water is poured out except for an inch (25mm) or so at the bottom. A strainer is set over the mouth of the jar, and ice cubes are placed in the strainer. Before too long the cold air from the ice cubes will cause the water to condense from the warm, moist air in the bottle, forming fog.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wellness Wednesday! Get Moving!

Being a former office worker, I know how easy it is to become stiff while sitting at a boring computer. I came across this article in Healthy Cooking magazine, Feb/Mar 2010 issue that may help quite a bit!

Get Moving!

Sooner or later those hours spent scrunched in front of a computer screen can leave you complaining about a "back-breaking" workload that's becoming a literal pain in the neck. Get quick relief with these easy stretches that loosen up tense neck, shoulder, hip, back and wrist muscles. Try them two or three times a day, breathing evenly throughout. They take minutes and can boost your productivity and comfort until the end of the day.

Head Roll: Tilt head to the left until you feel a slight stretch. Roll slowly forward, touching chin to chest, then roll to the right. Hold each stage for five counts. Reverse. Repeat the cycle three times.

Shoulder Shrug: With your arms hanging, inhale deeply and lift both shoulders up to your ears. Hold for five counts. Exhale and let shoulders drop. Repeat three times.

Hip Stretch: Sitting tall, cross your right ankle over left knee. Lean forward with back straight and feel a stretch in the right hip. Hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Spine Twists: With right hand on left knee, hook your left arm over back of chair. With back straight, twist torso left as far as you can without straining. Hold for five counts. Repeat on both sides three time.

Forearm Stretch: Stretch your left arm straight out, wrist bent. Fingers pointing up. Use your right hand to gently pull your fingers back. Repeat on the other side.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday! Oscars you Ought to Win

Though I create my own top ten lists all of the time, I still love to borrow Parenting magazines on occasion. This is one of the lists I found in Parenting magazine, March 2010 issue.

Parenting Top Ten Oscars you ought to win

1. Music (original score): for teaching your kids to sing the real version of "Jingle Bells," not the one where Batman smells and Robin lays an egg.

2. Best Director: for organizing a month long PTA fund-raiser that actually raised funds--slacker parents and the recession be damned.

3. Makeup: for applying enough under-eye concealer to avoid looking like the Crypt Keeper after a sleepless night tending a croupy kid.

4. Art Direction: for getting the kids to make a "Welcome Grandma" banner without a single fight breaking out over using the red crayon.

5. Best Supporting Actress: for sitting on the bleachers every Saturday, just to cheer like crazy for the seven minutes your son makes it onto the soccer field.

6. Sound Mixing: for talking loudly enough that your tween actually heard you over his iPod--and, in fact, listened to what you had to say.

7. Sound Editing: for stealthily removing the Care Bear's batteries, then telling your son that Tenderheart lost his voice and needs to rest for a day.

8. Costume Design: for the Hannah Montana getup you made your daughter from a mop head and cheap jewelry minutes before the Halloween parade.

9. Cinematography: for capturing five full minutes of your family on video during which no child sticks a finger up his nose or crosses his eyes.

10. Picture of the Year: for the one you snapped of your husband and kids--the one that reminds you why, craziness aside, this is the happiest time of your life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Money Saving Monday! Find Savings in the Bathroom

I decided to write a little more from the article "Find savings around the house" Before I wrote of the bedroom and now I am moving onto the bathroom.

Save money...in the bathroom.

Don't let supplies eat up your household budget!

-Make a toilet brush holder-Cut the top off of a big (empty) plastic beverage container.

-Create an affordable body scrub-Put 1 cup sugar in an airtight container, pour in enough olive oil to cover. Add a few drops lemon or orange extract and stir.

-Multitask with shampoo-Buy a large, inexpensive bottle and use it as body wash and bubble bath, too. Fill a pump container with half water and half shampoo and use as hand soap.

-Show off plush, pretty towels-A colorful new set perks up the room. Find options at closeout stores, like TJ Maxx and Big Lots, or at overstock Web sites where you can get name-brand items for a fraction of the retail price.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Something you may not know Sunday! The Perfect Portion

I have always wondered how you can be totally correct on a portion size without actually breaking out the mini kitchen scale to figure it out. I found an article entitled "eye it up for size!" in the Feb/Mar 10 issue of Healthy Cooking magazine. It may help you like it did me :)

This is probably not a shock, but most of us eat too much. Here's the surprising part--we underestimate portions by at least 25%, meaning we could be eating hundreds of extra calories every day and not know it. The easiest fix? Right-size those portions and learn how to eat less. Below, we give you two comparisons--with everyday objects and parts of your hand--for a take-along system you can't beat.

Perfect Portion: 1 tsp butter or margarine
Everyday object it looks like: a postage stamp
Part of your hand it looks like: the tip of your thumb

Perfect Portion: 1 small bagel
Everyday object it looks like: diameter of a hockey puck
Part of your hand it looks like: your palm

Perfect Portion: 1 cup beans
Everyday object it looks like: a tennis ball
Part of your hand it looks like: a cupped handful

Perfect Portion: 2 Tbsp nuts or dried fruit
Everyday object it looks like: a golf ball
Part of your hand it looks like: a small cupped handful

Perfect Portion: 1 small muffin
Everyday object it looks like: the round part of a light bulb
Part of your hand it looks like: half of your fist

Perfect Portion: 3 oz meat
Everyday object it looks like: a purse pack of tissues
Part of your hand it looks like: your outstretched palm

Perfect Portion: 1-1/2 oz cheese
Everyday object it looks like: three dice
Part of your hand it looks like: your thumb

Perfect Portion: 2 Tbsp peanut butter
Everyday object it looks like: a golf ball
Part of your hand it looks like: your thumb

Perfect Portion: 1 oz roll
Everyday object it looks like: a bar of soap
Part of your hand it looks like: half of your palm

Perfect Portion: 1 pancake or waffle
Everyday object it looks like: diameter of a CD
Part of your hand it looks like: your palm plus 1/2 to 1 inch

Perfect Portion: 3 by 3 inch piece of cake
Everyday object it looks like: a pack of Post-It notes
Part of your hand it looks like: about 3/4 of your palm

Perfect Portion: 1 Tbsp oil or dressing
Everyday object it looks like: a silver dollar
Part of your hand it looks like: the center of your cupped hand

Perfect Portion: 1 cup pretzels or chips
Everyday object it looks like: a tennis ball
Part of your hand it looks like: a cupped handful