Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Time for Others Tuesday: Joanne Schmidt

My first real feature is going to be a friend of mine who I have known longer than most of my friends, the beautiful Joanne Schmidt.
Joanne Schmidt
Name: Joanne Schmidt

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Current city: NYC, NY

Family: I have a son  (editor's note- a VERY talented son, who I expect we will see great things from)

Current occupation: Family Public Health Nurse

Favorite Color: Red

An inspirational quote that you love: John 3:16

Any 3 facts about you that are not listed above:
1. I am currently attending NYU to become an Adult Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
2. My dad is the famous R&B singer Sam Moore (Sam and Dave) 
3. I am Black and German. 

How can others connect with you on social media:

Facebook: Joanne Schmidt

Instagram: thehappynurse

If you or someone you know would like to be featured on Time for Others Tuesday, let me know and it can likely be arranged.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Making It Better Monday: Put Yourself First

Taking Care of Yourself

As women and mothers, it is in our nature (for most of us anyway) to always put others first. This often leaves us feeling drained and unfulfilled. Mothers who put their needs in front of their children's needs or their spouse's needs, are often labelled selfish and unfit. However, I firmly believe you are doing everyone a disservice when you let your own needs slide. There is nothing selfish about ensuring you are physically well and emotionally fulfilled. In fact, how can you give your best to your family, if you are not at your best?

Before I go any further, let me be clear, that I am not talking about immediate and real needs of a child. If you are eating dinner and your child starts choking, by all means, please set your need of food aside for the moment and address your child's need for oxygen. Likewise, if you have to choose between spending a few dollars on a gallon of milk for your empty fridge or a new bottle of nail polish that you have been wanting, please provide the food your family needs before fulfilling the emotional need to feel beautiful. So what am I talking about then? You know how on an airplane, they tell you that if the need for oxygen masks arise, you should put on your own before helping others?  That is to ensure that you do not pass out before helping those who depend on you.  Even if you manage to get their masks on them before you pass out, who will help them with the next steps, such as evacuating the plane.  The same concept applies to our lives.  Here are 10 simple ways to take care of yourself.

1) Take 15 minutes by yourself to do something you enjoy
This might be reading a book quietly or taking a short soak in the tub or even just a few moments to lie down and rest.  Just take some time to yourself to gather your thoughts and reset.

2) Develop or work on a hobby
Rediscover something you used to love to do or discover something new that you enjoy.  Maybe you used to play an instrument or paint or you collected unicorns, whatever it was, if it brings you joy, spend some time each week doing it.  

3) Make yourself feel pretty
Spend a few minutes each day on your appearance, so that you feel good about how you look.  This is a personal thing and differs for every person.  For me, it means being dressed in something I would be comfortable wearing in public (i.e. not pajamas or sweats), brushing through my hair and sometimes putting on a touch of make up.  For others, it might mean more or less.

4) Indulge in a special treat
The next time you go grocery shopping, buy yourself a treat just for yourself.  It might be a pint of your favorite ice cream or a high end chocolate bar or a normal chocolate bar.  It just needs to be something you do not normally get for yourself and something you enjoy.

5) Feed yourself first
So often, we spend so much time dishing up and serving our family at meal time, that we don't get to eat until our food is cold.  If you are not all eating a family meal, dish yourself up first and eat it BEFORE even calling the others to eat.  If it is a family meal, dish everyone up and serve it, anticipating any possible needs (drinks, condiments, etc) and then call everyone over.  Serve yourself and then sit down and eat your hot meal.  If anyone needs something else or wants seconds, have them wait for it or get it themselves.  (I know that statement assumes a lot, adjust it as you need.)

6) Talk to adults several times a week
This can be a spouse or partner, but only counts if the conversation is not about the kids.  Get together for play dates, talk to others at church or while waiting for the kids at dance class or school, go to the park and chat with another parent that is there.  Heck, I have even struck up conversations in the store with a stranger simply for a few moments of an adult conversation.

7) Introduce yourself by something other than "so-and-so's mom"
If the conversation is going to revolve around one of your children, use that as a description of who you are, but always introduce yourself by your name first.  Being a mother is a part of who you are, but you are so much more than that. 

8) Ensure you are getting enough sleep
If you are not going to bed on time because you are always working on house chores or school projects for your kids, stop it now.  Even if you only forgo them a couple of nights a week,  the extra sleep you will be able to get will help improve how you feel. 

9) Get out by yourself a couple of times each month
If you are a stay-at-home parent,  this is especially important.  You can even combine this with a necessary errand, such as grocery shopping or a doctor's appointment, or go window shopping at the mall or take a run or go for a walk.  The idea is to get out of the house in a role other than as mom.

10)  Take care of your body
Exercise is important and so is a proper diet, both of which we all know we should be doing, but I am also talking about taking care of your medical and dental needs in a timely manner.  Do not put off making an appointment that needs to be made.  Many adults do this, even without children.  Then, the problem often ends up much worse than it would have been had it been taken care of in the first place.  Also, be sure to stay hydrated and remember to eat throughout the day.

Having listed all these, I know it is easier said than done.  Some of you are single parents, some of you do not have friends or family in the area, and some simply cannot figure out how to find the time.  Next week, I will give you some ways to find the time and means to get these things done. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I am still here :)

The past couple of weeks have been a bit busy for us. My husband is in the process of taking a few courses and state exams that he needs for his new job. Considering we share a laptop, that has left me without a computer much of the time and when I have had it, I have been running around with the kids so that he could have the quiet he needs to study. That means we have been doing a ton of stuff, but I have just not had much time or the ability to get on and blog. This is another course week, but I am hoping to get several posts written and scheduled today so that there will be new content throughout the week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We Did It Wednesday: Horchata (and review of the Best Nut Milk Bag)

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links.  This simply means that if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.  I also received a free product in exchange for this review.  However, all opinions are 100% my own.)

I first tasted horchata a few years ago on a road trip.  I absolutely fell in love with the creamy, sweet, cinnamony flavor and knew I wanted to try making it at home.  I put on my want list, a fine mesh bag or sieve and then never bought one.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I received the opportunity to review the Best Nut Milk Bag Now, I had no reason to not try and replicate this yummy treat.  Before I get to the recipe, let me tell you a bit more about the Best Nut Milk Bag .  This bag is great for exactly what its' name implies, making nut milks, and so much more.  On my personal list of things to try in the future are almond milk, Greek yogurt, and Elderberry Syrup, but it can be used for any recipe that requires you to run the ingredients through a fine sieve.  Here are some of the features of the bag:

Nut Milk BagThe Secret to Pulp Free Nut Milks and Juices, Without the Mess, Lumps, Frustration, Waste and Tearing You Get With Cheesecloths or Cheap Nut Milks Bags!

Make Healthy, Deliciously Smooth Almond Milk, Nut Milks, Cold Brew Coffee and Juices While Saving Time and Money with Your Premium, 12" x 10" Vita Nut Milk Bag.

- You Only Have to Filter Once. Ultra Fine, High Quality Reusable Mesh Bag Means No Pulp Gets Through.
- Make More Milk from Your Almond Milk Recipe! Tight Weave and Heavy Duty Fabric Mean You Can Squeeze More Milk Out. No More Waste, and Drier Pulp!
- No Holes, Tearing or Clogging Like You Get With Cheaply Constructed Bags You Have to Keep Replacing. Our Premium, Double Enforced Outer Stitching Lasts Longer and Works Better than Other Bags.
- No Dirty Residue. Durable, Tight Weave Means No Pulp Left Behind After Washing. Your Bag Stays Sanitary for the Healthiest Drinks, Sprouts and Yogurt Possible.
No Moldy Bags. Elastic Top Bags Dry Flat After Washing, Making Them Susceptible to Mold. Vita's Enforced Drawstring Makes Drying Quick, Complete, and More Sanitary.

FREE BONUS - Recipe E-Book with Nut Milk and Juicing Recipes specially designed for use with the Vita Nut Milk Bag.

I really like this bag and plan to use it many, many more times.  The chopped rice and cinnamon sticks that I used this with had many sharp edges and likely would have shredded cheesecloth, but the bag held up well.  It is easy to wash, and easy to dry.  I suspect it will last for quite a while and through many, many uses.  I also love that I can easily keep the pulp that I strained for other uses.  For example, I am going to use the rice and cinnamon from the horchata to grind into rice flour for snickerdoodle cookies.  Overall, I would highly recommend this bag.

Now for the recipe:

- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 4 cups of water
- 1/2 cup milk (the more fat, the creamier it will be)
- 1 1/2 cups light cream
- 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/3 cup white sugar

1) Put the rice, water and cinnamon sticks into a blender and blend for about 1 minute, making sure the rice and cinnamon break apart somewhat.

2) Refrigerate mixture overnight, or at least 6 hours.

3) Strain the water mixture through a fine mesh sieve or The Best Nut Milk Bag, into a pitcher.  Set aside the rice and cinnamon for another use or discard it.

4) Stir in the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar.

5) Chill for 1 hour.

6) Stir.  Serve over ice.

Have you ever had horchata?  What did you think of it?  How else would you use the Best Nut Milk Bag?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Time for Others Tuesday: Me :)

I decided that for the first interview, I would tell you a little about me.

The Happy Wife

Name: Danielle Garcia

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Current city: Rochester, NY

Family: husband, Juan, and 6 children, 3 girls and 3 boys, ages from 3 months-13 years

Current occupation: homemaker, blogger, homeschooling mom

Favorite Color: pink

An inspirational quote that you love: "If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world." - Elaine S. Dalton

Any 3 facts about you that are not listed above:
- I am proud to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints.
- I had no idea how to cook or clean when I got married.  With a patient husband, a number of trials and errors, and the help of a college cooking course, I slowly learned how to cook decent meals and it became a passion of mine.  I have also learned how to clean, although that is not a passion of mine ;)
- Growing up, I did not want to ever have children.  Around the age of 19, I made a 180 and decided I wanted a dozen kids.  Of course, life is what it is and while I am pretty sure I am not going to have another 6 babies, I am more than happy with the ones I have been blessed with.

How can others connect with you on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Happy-Wife/140586056040045
Twitter: www.twitter.com/The_Happy_Wife
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/the_happy_wife
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thehappywife99

Other: n/a

Monday, September 15, 2014

Making It Better Monday: Homemade cough syrup

Disclaimer- This post contains an affiliate link.  This means, if you click the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small percentage of what you spent.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I did receive any payment or products in exchange for this post.  My opinion is what I wrote and is no way influenced by the affiliate link.

With school now in session for all of the US and the weather turning colder, there is no doubt that most of us will experience at least one cough and/or cold this year.  I dislike all the extras that are added to many cough syrups, including high fructose corn syrup.  I also have gagged on every commercial cough syrup I have ever tried, so it does not work for me anyway.  Several years ago, I went searching for a homemade version that would work for me.  I wrote down the recipe when I found it and when I recently went back so I could give credit to the right person, I see it is all over the internet, so I have no idea who truly create it.  Therefore, I feel it is ok for me to share it here.  None-the-less, if anyone knows who the original creator of the recipe is, please share it with me and I will give the proper credit.

Here we go:

1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. honey (I prefer to use local, but any honey will work)
1 Tbsp. apple-cider vinegar (I think Bragg's tastes the best, but any will work)
2 Tbsp. water

Once they are mixed well, take 1-2 teaspoons as needed to soothe your cough.

Here is why each ingredient works:
Ginger- an antispasmodic which helps calm the muscles that cause coughing; also has antibacterial and antioxidant properties so it can help prevent illness and disease

Cayenne- another antispasmodic and also helps break up the mucus causing the congestion and cough (this why you get a runny nose when you ate something spicy)

Honey- besides being soothing, honey also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties

Apple Cider Vinegar- kills germs

Water- there is really not enough to be super beneficial, but it helps dilute the strong flavors of the other ingredients and of course, it is hydrating.  I still recommend drinking lots more afterwards, mainly to increase hydration, thin the mucus, and wash away the acidic ingredients of the cough syrup.

My experience has been that after 1 day of using this, my cough has cleared up each time.  I cannot promise the same for you, but it has been that way for each person in my house.  The number of doses is not the same, so maybe it is the combination of the ingredients and rest, but never-the-less, it has always worked for us.  I also have to say that the taste is not the best, but honestly, does ANY cough medicine taste good?  The taste is no worse than any commercial cough syrup I have ever tried and I can get it down without gagging on it.

This solution will help improve your health, finances, and environmental impact.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

School Saturday: Grease

I am excited to have found a new curriculum this year for my kids, Discoveryk12.  It can be used through the school year on their schedule, or you can use it on your own schedule.  You can have them do most of the work independently or you can work alongside them.  It covers a great range of topics and uses free resources for reading and videos.  We are using it for much of our "academic" studies, but I am still putting together themed activities for supplemental learning.  This week, my older girls watched the musical Grease, so I used that as the theme for all the kids.  Before anyone gets upset about the moral issues that come up in Grease, we personally use it as a diving board to discuss those issues with our older kids, so this also allowed for life lessons in addition to "school."

Middle School (7th and 8th grade)
Writing- Each girl was asked to choose 3 characters from the movie and write about what they thought happened in their life after the movie ended.

US History- Each girl was to choose one of the following people: Elvis Presley, Debbie Reynolds, Sandra Dee, Doris Day, Ricky Nelson, or Shelly Farbares.  They then researched the person and gave a mini-presentation on why they were famous and their contributions to American culture.

Health- I had the girls work on a Smoking Crossword and then work together to create an anti-smoking commercial for the radio.

Physical Education- All of the kids learned and danced the hand jive.

Music- I count watching the musical as part of their music education, but the girls also learned and practiced singing We Go Together, from the musical.

Visual Arts- The girls chose a nonsense phrase from the song We Go Together and turn it into a piece of word art.  They were free to design it any way they wanted, as long as the phrase was prominent.

Practical Arts- Each girl created a diner-inspired meal consisting of a burger, fries, and a milkshake.  My 13-year old created a BLT burger with cheese fries and a Peanut Butter cup milkshake and my 12-year old topped her burger with avocado and bacon and served it with bacon and cheese covered fries and an Apple Cinnamon milkshake.  They also both curated an outfit on Polyvore that was inspired by a character from Grease.  You can check out their Rizzo-inspired outfits here and here.

This unit was mostly geared toward the older kids, but all of the kids learned the Hand Jive and the 2 elementary kids also created a milkshake.  My 7 year old created a Chocolate Covered Strawberry milkshake that was absolutely amazing and my 6-year old's Cinnamon Banana milkshake was pretty tasty, too.  She also decided to curate her own Sandy-inspired outfit on Polyvore.  The 4 oldest kids and I also went to the drive-in on Friday night to watch Dolphin Tale 2, Winter's Tale, which will be the basis of next week's lesson.  The elementary kids also did a mini-unit on coins which consisted of learning about the people and places found on coins, coin identification, coin rubbings, and an old song I remembered from when I taught the older girls about coins.  The song talks about the value of each coin.  I cannot find it any more on the internet and I made up the tune, so it is not something that can be easily shared on the blog :(

I don't really do any formal schooling with my 2-year old, but I do set goals of things I will work on with him each week.  This week's goals were to work on recognizing his first name in print,  identifying the primary colors, animal sounds, and hopping.  For his name, I made up a word document and wrote his name out as may times as it would fit.  I made the letters, empty block-style letters (under word-art) and increased the size to the largest possible.  He liked coloring it, but I am pretty sure he still has no idea it was actually his name ;)