Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Time for Others Tuesday: Jennifer Frost

Last week, I introduced you to one of my oldest friends.  This week, I introduce you to one of my newest friends: Jennifer Frost.

Jennifer Frost
Name:Jennifer Frost

Hometown: Constable, NY
Current city: Greece, NY

Family: Family of 3 kids under 5.5 years old

Current occupation: Stay at Home Mom and Team Leader/Independent Sales Consultant Norwex

Favorite Color: Purple

An inspirational quote that you love:
"Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like the wise man who built his house upon the rock" Mat 7:24

How can others connect with you on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/resourcedhome

Twitter: https://twitter.com/frostgreenhome

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/frosty4/

Other: www.greensourcedhome.com

Monday, September 29, 2014

Making It Better Monday: Finding Time for You

How To Find Time For You
Last week I talked about the importance of taking care of our personal needs.  Several of the suggestions require you to do something on your own, without your children.  That is something that can be difficult for someone who has an active partner and/or friends and family nearby, but for some that might be impossible.  Here are 10 ways that should help you "find" some time for yourself.

1) Ask others for help
If you are married or have an active partner, explain your need for a few minutes to yourself.  Most likely, they want you to be happy and will be willing to give you that.  After they see how much it improves your mood, because it will improve your mood, they will likely be even more willing in the future.  If you are unable to convince them to give you that time, or there is no one around to ask, try to find a friend you can barter childcare with.  On one day you will watch her kids and on another she will watch yours, giving both of you time to yourselves.

2) Find something that will safely occupy the kids
This might mean taking your time for you during their nap time or  during their favorite tv show.  Obviously, this would only work for those things that do not require you to leave the house and won't take tremendous amounts of uninterrupted time, but it works well for you to get 5 or 10 minutes to do something for you.

3) Involve the kids
If you are making yourself feel pretty or working on a hobby, involve the kids in the process.  Many little girls have fond memories of watching mommy making herself up.  Also, when allowing yourself to eat first, let the kids help set the table, serve the meal, or get drinks, whatever is appropriate for their ages.  Again, this won't work for everything, but it will work for some.

4) Make it part of the family's routine
Again, this will not work with everything, but you could institute daily reading time or quiet time, where everyone has to read or look at books for 15 minutes.  Even the youngest of kids can amuse themselves with a book, even if they cannot read.

5) Let some of the chores slide, at least occasionally
I am not talking about letting your house slip into utter chaos, but there are likely days that you can skip vacuuming for a day, or instead of unloading the dishwasher, you grab the dishes from it as you need them (that works best with smaller families).

6) Prioritize
Look at all the things you do each day and determine if there is something you could give up, at least occasionally, in order to do something for yourself.  Maybe it is spending less time online one day a week, or making convenient meals (freezer meals, crock-pot meals, or whatever your go-to quick meal is) one night a week.

7) Multi-task   
This can mean doing more than 1 chore at a time in order to free up some time later, or it can mean using some alone time to do the things you need to do, such as grocery shopping by yourself or chatting with other adults while waiting for your children at gymnastics.

8) Get up a little earlier 
I have not been able to do this for a while, but when I am sleeping through the night again I plan to do this again.  I like to take my alone time at the start of my day.  I wake up about an hour before everyone else.  I read my scriptures, shower uninterrupted, and sometimes work on something I enjoy, whether it be reading a book or knitting or baking a treat.  It is a nice way to start my day.

9) If feasible, hire help
If it is in your family's budget, hire a mother's helper, babysitter, or house cleaner to come over once a week.  If money is tight, see about trading services with someone.  Maybe you could trade a cooked dinner (double your family's meal) for a couple of hours of service.

10) Cut back on unnecessary distractions and chores
Do you do things that do not bring you joy and are not necessary?  Cut back on those things and replace them with more time for you.  Do you have your kids involved on numerous activities that THEY do not enjoy?  Ask yourself which activities are most important and cut out the others.  Are you cooking every meal, every day from scratch?  Try making freezer meals once a month to free up some time each week or double up your recipes and have planned leftovers the next day.  Do you do ALL the housework yourself?  Involve the kids in everyday chores as appropriate.  They will enjoy helping you, learn life-long skills, and benefit from having a more relaxed mom.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

School Saturday: Africa

Last week I discovered a box of schoolbooks I had received some time ago and packed away because my kids were not ready for them.  In there, I discovered a social studies book that I am going through with my older girls.  The first unit is on Africa, so I built a unit for all the kids to go around it.  Here is what we did this week:

Writing- I had each child write about an imaginary trip to Africa.  The younger kids drew a picture to go with their paragraphs.  The older kids wrote theirs as narrative essays.

History-Each child was to choose (with help) an age appropriate biography about one of the following Africans (links are affiliate links, you can buy them or check your library for them)and share with us what they learned.  Each person needed to be chosen, with a younger and older child both working on Nelson Mandela.

- Nelson Mandela: Elementary kids: Nelson Mandela: A Biography for Kids (currently free for Kindle) and for Middle schoolers: Nelson Mandela: "No Easy Walk to Freedom")
- Phillis Wheatley: Middle schoolers and older elementary: Phillis Wheatley: Young Revolutionary Poet

- Wangari Maathai: Elementary kids: Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Frances Foster Books)

Health- With the ebola virus in the news recently, I had the older kids learn more about it and teach the younger ones the basics of what they learned: what it is (symptoms, treatments), where it is most prevalent, why it is so bad, and how it is spread.

Physical Education and Music- All of the kids listened to some traditional African drumming and learned a traditional African dance.

Visual Arts- We looked at some traditional African masks and designed our own.

Practical Arts- The older girls were each assigned a traditional African dish to make.  My 8th grader made African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup, and my 7th grader made a Melktert (Milk Tart).  I had my elementary students team up and make Moroccan Krsa (flatbread).  All together it made for a yummy African themed lunch.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Found on the web Friday

Around the Web

These are things I have come across this week.  It does not mean they were originally published this week, just that I found them this week.

- Ruth at Viva Veltoro shared information about what you should about car seats that are involved in car accidents.  Please note, that the information applies whether or not a child was actually in the car seat at the time of the accident.  

- With fall here, it is time to preserve those last tomatoes from the vine.  There is a recipe for Fiesta Salsa over at Halfway Oak Farms.  There are also instructions for how to make the salsa if you do not want to preserve it, at the bottom of the recipe.

- Whitney at Rookie Moms, shared how to make your own portrait studio at home.  This would be great for taking your own photos or as a small business.

- Did you know that Rosh Hashana started on Wednesday?  Aimee over at Multicultural Kid Blogs shares how her family celebrates it and a bit about the history of the holiday.

- Danielle over at Blissful and Domestic shares a video on how to make Basic Dinner Rolls, which will come in quite handy at Thanksgiving in a couple of months.  In the meantime, I can practice with my family at home.


These are giveaways I have found and entered.  In some of the cases, I will receive an extra entry into the giveaway for sharing it with you. 

- Over at Sonya's Happenings, you can enter to win a $25 of YumEarth organic and natural candies.  If you have never had these, they are soooo yummy.  Also, this giveaway is part of The Pumpkin Party Giveaway Hop, so she has links to 24 additional giveaways, as well. Ends 10/8.

- You can win the Blu-Ray of "The Fault in Our Stars" over at Irish Film Critic. Ends 10/30.

- Have a little one in your life, or one on the way?  You can enter to win an organic XOve baby one-piece and matching swaddling blanket at Family Focus Blog. Ends 10/13.

- Krusteaz is running an instant win facebook giveaway where you can win instantly a Weber Spirit SP-320 Gas Grill and year supply of Krusteaz Flatbread Mix, a 3-piece Weber Original Grilling Tool Set, or a coupon for a free box of  Krusteaz Flatbread Mix.  Ends 11/6.

- Over at Steamy Kitchen, you can enter to win a gift bundle that includes 2 Cases of Ball Green Heritage Jars, a Fresh Herb Keeper, Dry Herb Jars, Frozen Herb Starters, 5-Blade Herb Scissors, and Ball Blue Book. Ends 12/22.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Things I Love Thursday: Acorns

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you.  None-the-less, these items were chosen because I truly love them and not every link is an affiliate link.)

With fall starting this week, I chose another fall theme for this week's Things I Love feature: Acorns!

One More Acorn

First up, is a book that was pieced together by the son of the famous Don Freeman (author of the Corduroy books), Roy Freeman.  Roy had found the handwritten text and sketches among his father's belongings after his death.  He then pieced them together and brought this fun book, One More Acorn, geared for pre-school and elementary children.
Charming Tails Acorns

How cute is this little guy?  I have always liked the Charming Tails line, but never saw this one.  

acorn pregnancy announcement

Having had 6 babies, I began to run out of ways to announce our pregnancies.  I wish I had discovered Jeannie at Petite25 before we announced our last baby.  In addition to these adorable acorn announcements, she has a bunch of other ones that are just as creative.

acorn stamp

I love when I have the chance to create things and have recently been getting back into making homemade cards and stamping.  When I saw this stamp by Marlene at pictureshow, I knew I needed to include it here.  It is perfect for decorating fall themed cards or menu cards on Thanksgiving.

acorn napking ring

To go with your stamped acorn menu cards, you can use these acorn napkin ring by Tikkido.  If you want to make them yourself, I was given permission to share the link to Tikiddo's tutorial for my crafty readers.

acorn necklace

After you finish dressing up your table, you can dress up yourself with this beautiful acorn necklace from EnchantedLeaves.  I love this snow pearl and silver one, but they offer a variety of colors and metal combinations in their shop, so you can always choose the one you like best.

acorn peg dolls

I think these peg dolls with acorn caps by Lisa at Simple Gifts (SimpleGiftsToys) are simply adorable. She has tons of items I love in her shop, so be sure to check her out.

acorn mobile

This acorn mobile by Asta at astashtoys would look lovely in a woodland themed nursery.  It is also available in pastel colors.  Her shop also has a bunch more acorn items that would complement a woodland themed room.

acorn sorting toy
I love this Montessori/Waldorf friendly sorting toy by Heather at Homegrown Toys.  My 2, 6, and 7 year olds would all enjoy using the tongs to sort the acorns. Heather has also graciously offered my readers a 10% discount with the code JOY10.  She also has lots of beautiful wooden items in her shop, that would be great in a Montessori or Waldorf based setting, or any home.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

We Did It Wednesday: Dollar Tree Cake Plate

I have seen several people talking about making their own cake plates using items from Dollar Tree and a tube of E6000®(which is currently an add-on item on Amazon for only $2.97).  I have no idea who first came up with this, so I am sharing my experience with you.

I made this plate with a green bowl and fun multicolor plate that I found at Dollar Tree.  Due to the fluidity of their products, I cannot promise you will find the same colors at your local store, but chances are you will be able to find something.  When choosing the bowl, be sure to choose a bowl with taller sides and not the shallower cereal bowl.  After you have your products, you simply run a line of the glue around the bottom of the bowl and then center it on the underside of the plate and let it dry.  Mine was dry within 10 minutes, making the entire project super quick.  In fact, I think I spent more time choosing the dishes than I did putting it together.  The fact it cost less than $2.50 to make and can be done quickly makes this a great gift idea for a wedding, Christmas, or just because.  I plan to make a few, pile them with cookies, muffins, or a cake and deliver them to some friends who could use a pick-me-up.

homemade cake plate

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 ;)


Friday, September 12, 2014

Found on the web Friday

Around the Web

These are things I have come across this week.  It does not mean they were originally published this week, just that I found them this week.

- Back in February, Buzzfeed published a piece that shared 31 Impossibly Fun Wedding Ideas.  My favorite idea from the list is to honor the grandmothers by having them be your flower girls.  I just found it to be an incredibly sweet way to include them in the ceremony.  The list has many more unique ideas as well, so be sure to check it out.


- I love the free crochet pattern for this Stars and Stripes scarf from Yarnspirations.  I am hoping to make it for my daughter who loves everything patriotic.  I am new to crocheting, but the pattern is rated to be fairly easy.

- In March, Nadia, at Teach Me Mommy, shared how she organizes her craft tapes.  I am new to using washi tape, but think her idea for organizing them is genius.  I also like how she organizes her bigger tapes.

- My new baby loves his muslin blankets, both for swaddling and as a nursing cover.  The fabric is breathable so he doesn't sweat like crazy under it, yet it provides me the coverage I want without being see-through.  I was excited to find this post from Must Have Mom! (from March) for DIY Cotton Muslin Swadling Blankets tutorial.

- I recently received a nut milk bag from From Kitchen Essentials to review.  I am planning on making horchata with mine, so keep an eye out for that post coming soon.  In the meantime, An Ordinary Housewife shared how she used the nut milk bag to make almond milk.  I love almond milk and have wanted to make my own for a while and now that I have this bag, I have no excuses not to try it.


These are giveaways I have found and entered.  In each case, if you follow the link, I will receive an extra entry into the giveaway.  This will not always be the case, but this week it worked out that way. 

- Win a Hillshire Farms Naturals product from Nicole's Nickels.  Super easy entries, end 9/15/14.

- Easy Green Mom is giving away  SpenceBaby organic hoodie and pant set.  Easy entries.  The giveaway is part of a blog hop, so there are a bunch more baby-themed giveaways listed on her page.  Ends 9/15/14.

-  You can win DisneyNature Bears on Blu-Ray from The Review Wire.  Lots of ways to enter, including a free daily entry.  Ends 9/17/14.

- Measuring Flower is hosting a Spa for Ma blog hop and they are giving away a $300 Kohl's gift card.  There are links to other giveaways related to pampering mom on the page. Ends 9/15/14.

- The Review Wire is also participating in a giveaway blog hop, this one is for autumn apparel.  You can win a Karina dress from them and she also has more links to other participating blogs on the page.  Ends 9/23/14.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Things I Love Thursday: Apples

Since we went apple picking on Monday, and I am just in an apple mood, this week, I am sharing  the things I love that are apple related.  These are all from sellers that I have approached and none of the links are paid links, nor did I receive anything in exchange for these postings.  This week's posts are all from Etsy, one of my favorite places to shop.  All pictures belong to the respective seller of the product.

apple lip butter balm

I do not use a lot of lip balms, but when I do, I want them to smell yummy and not be full of chemicals.  That is why I love this Autumn Apple Lip Butter from AnitasLaLaLand.  It is 100% natural and Anita currently has a $5 (USD) off a $30 (USD) purchase coupon for her shop.

apple soy candle
I do burn a LOT of candles and I especially love food scents, so this Autumn Apple Soy Candle from aPinkButterfly is right up my alley.  I love that the wick is also zinc and lead free, making this a truly clean burning candle.  Also, because it is soy, once it is gone, you can clean the container out with a little soap and water and use it to organize or store smaller items. 

collapsible apple basket

Speaking or organizing, I absolutely love this Collapsible Apple Basket from idugitup.  It would look great on a counter or table full of apples or whatever you want to have it hold.  When you are not using it, it folds down flat for easy storage.

apple hair bow
One of the things I miss as my girls are getting older is their willingness to wear cute hair bows, but I still have my 7-year old who will wear them, at least a little longer.  I love this Apple Bow from Primrose & Patches (primroseandpatches).  It is also available with the bigger ribbon in green and the medium ribbon in red.
 modest apple jumper
Another item I would love to have for a little girl is this Little Girls Autumn Jumper and Peasant Blouse from JoyfullySewnDesigns.  I love that it is modest, and allows a little girl to be a little girl.  It also comes with 2 matching hair bows.  There is also a coupon for $5 off a $50 purchase available at this shop. 

apple candy boxes

How cute are these apple boxes?  These would be super cute for a teacher appreciation gift or how about for a teacher to hand out treats to her students?  I would use them as favors for an apple themed birthday party.  This is an Apple Candy Box Kit which is a digital download (No shipping costs...yay!) from claudinehellmuth.  Claudine also send written instructions and has a video link to show you how to assemble them.

apple apron

For those who do not know, I am an apron addict, so when I saw this Half Apron with Apples from Planet of the Aprons (JNAprons), I instantly loved it.  I love that it is a longer half-apron, instead the short ones that are most common.  I also love the bright, cheerful colors.  Her prices are also very reasonable for aprons.

Apple cozy
I love to pack an apple with me when I am on the run, but if I am not eating it right away, I worry that it will get bumped up and bruised.  That is why I love this apple cozy from TupeloHoneys.  What a cute and easy way to pack an apple in your lunch or just in your bag for a snack later in the day. 

Do you have any apple themed items that you love or would love to have?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Did It Wednesday: Decorated Clipboards

My kids have been wanting clipboards so that they can carry their schoolwork with them and work on it wherever they may be.  In an effort to stop any arguments before they started, I decided each child would have their own clipboard. We decided to decorate them in order to tell them apart.  I am pleased with how easy they were and how inexpensive.  The kids love them, too, so that is a bonus.

First, I picked up clipboards from Dollar Tree and took the kids to Joann's to pick out scrapbook paper and origami paper.  My oldest chose duct tape sheets (penguins) instead of scrapbook paper, but most of the instructions are the same. I also pulled out the Mod Podge, some paintbrushes, a pencil, scissors and old newspapers. 
decorative clipboards

Second, we traced the clipboards on the blank side of the scrapbook paper and cut it out.  With the extra strip of paper, I drew their first initial freehand and cut it out.  If I had it to over, I would probably use the Cricut, but c'est la vie.

Next, we brushed the back of the clipboard with Mod Podge and applied the scrapbook paper.  We did not use Mod Podge to adhere the duct tape since it did not need any help sticking to the board.  Try to remove as many air bubbles as possible.  We matched up a piece of origami paper to each board and trimmed it to a size that looked good.  (Note- on mine, the one with the "D" on it, we did not trim the origami paper.)  We then used Mod Podge to attach it to the center of the board (some were turned to look like a diamond and others were left square) and then added their initial.  After we were done with all that, we added a layer of Mod Podge over the top to seal it and let it dry.

You can also apply scrapbook paper to the front and add ribbons, which we may do at another time, but we are happy with how they look now, so we may just let them be.

covered clipboards

This final picture does not do the boards justice, as they look much better in person.  Seeing the picture makes me wish we had used the Cricut, and we might re-do them in the future.  I also prefer the look of the origami paper better when it is trimmed and turned to look like a diamond.  The one with a "D" also shows the importance of removing the air bubbles, or at least making sure they are as small as possible.  It does not affect the function, but does affect the overall look.  Also, measure your paper twice before cutting so you do not end up with bare edges like a few of ours.  Overall, they were pretty inexpensive to make (about $2 for each one) and everyone is happy with them, so it is a success in my book.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Time for Others Tuesday

Since I decided to do this very recently, I do not have anything planned for this week.  I am going to develop a questionnaire to give to the selected person or organization. As soon as it is written up, distributed, and returned to me, I will start up this feature.  If you know of any person or group that I should feature, please leave me a comment below and I will add them to my list.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Making It Better Monday: Apples


 For the first Making It Better Monday, I have chosen a topic where I can share tips that can help across a variety of areas in our lives: Apples!  In western NY, this is the start of apple season and this year the farmers are reporting a better than average yield.  My favorite apples, SweeTango, are ready now and my favorite farm, Whittier Fruit Farm, has them available for picking for the first time this year.  Last year, they were only available to buy in stores or already picked at the farm markets and farm stands.  That means that today we went apple picking :)

Here are some ways apples can help improve your life:

Health: Apples are super healthy and nutritious.  You can read one of my old posts about the nutrition in apples.  Picking apples is good exercise, too, especially if you walk out to the trees and back.  It incorporates stretching and weights, along with cardiovascular when you include the walking.  Bring a small child that you can lift to pick those apples that are just out of your reach and you increase the health benefit as well.

Emotions: Most of us have at least one happy memory that is linked through apples in some form.  Maybe it was apple picking with our family, making applesauce with our grandmother, or eating apple pie at a holiday.  Chances are, that memory is triggered when you find yourself even thinking about an apple.  Being nostalgic is a great way to brighten your mood.  Also, apple picking, gets you out in the sun so your body can produce vitamin D, which is proven to lift our moods.

Relationships: There are so many ways that apples can help build any family relationship, starting with picking them.  Working together to pick the apples will likely bring you closer together. Making and canning apple sauce or apple pie filling is a great way to spend the day with someone.  You can also make an apple pie to deliver to or share with someone you care about.  A couple of years ago, I bought a couple of several varieties of apples and did an apple tasting with my family.  I wrote up a chart and gave a copy to each person.  On the chart was the name of the apple and spots for the color, texture, flavor and personal rating level of each apple. One at a time, I cut the apples into wedges and each person got one wedge of each apple.  We filled in our charts and discovered what each persons' favorite apple variety was.  Now when I go to buy apples, I know exactly what each person in my house likes and doesn't like.

Financial: If you buy apples in season, they can help you stretch your budget.  They are also easy to process and can or freeze, so that you can enjoy apples year-round, without breaking your budget.  If you store them in a dark, cool room, they store for quite a while, too.  If storing them, the thicker the skin and the tarter the flavor, the longer they will last.  Also, be sure there are no bruises or bad spots on any of the apples, as that will cause them to spoil quicker and if an otherwise good apple touches a rotting or bruised spot on another apple, it will cause you to lose both apples.  Picking your own apples will also help you save some money.  When we go apple picking, I pick up about 20-40 pounds, depending on my budget at that time.  We eat plenty right away, store the best ones for later eating, bake some into treats like apple pie, apple muffins, and baked apples, and can some as applesauce and apple pie filling.  This year, I am hoping to make apple cider vinegar from the cores and peels left over as well.  Which leads to the next area.

Greener living: Apples are natural and better for the environment than any factory-processed food.  If they are organic, they are even more environmentally-friendly.  If you pick the apples yourself, you are also cutting down on emissions from buying apples that may have been trucked in from further away.  Apples also create zero waste in the long-run.  If you do not want to make the apple cider vinegar I wrote about, you can check out 14 additional ways to use them at Yellow Birch Hobby Farm's blog or you can throw them in your compost pile or even in the trash.  If they go to the landfill, they will likely become food for the wildlife or compost away to nothing rather soon.

So there you have it, apples can help improve your health, emotions, relationships, finances and environment.  Some of the impacts may be small, but it is by small things, that great things are made.

PS- I always include a disclaimer when I include links that are affiliate links or paid links.  I want to let you know that none of these links fall in those categories.  The apples and farm are truly my favorites and the other links are sites that I will be using.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My new posting schedule

I have realized that by not having a general schedule, I have fallen away from blogging and I miss it so much.  I have decided that I am going to try to return to blogging by reinstating a schedule.  There will still be times when I post off schedule, but my goal is to post at least once a day according to schedule, with bonus posts added in.  On Sundays, I may not always post as I try to reserve that day for family and church activities.  Here is my plan for future posts, hopefully starting tomorrow:

Monday: Making it Better Monday- posts sharing ways to improve some aspect of life; may include posts on greener living, finances, relationships, organization, health, etc
Tuesday: Time for Others Tuesday- posts will be about a person, organization, business, etc other than myself; this will be an effort to get to know and understand people and organizations around the world, some may be businesses or business owners, others may not
Wednesday: We Did It Wednesday- posts about crafts and recipes that we have recently made
Thursday: Things I Love Thursday- seasonally appropriate shopping guides where the items are chosen simply because I like them; items may have an affiliate link, but that will not play a part in whether or not I choose to share the item
Friday: Found on the Web Friday- I will share giveaways and blog posts from other blogs that I have come across during the week. 
Saturday: School Saturday- posts where I share what we did this past week for school, I have a pre-schooler, 1st grader, 2nd grader, 7th grader, and 8th grader this year
Sunday: Spiritual Sunday- posts about those things I find uplifting

Bonus posts will include product and book reviews, giveaways, and whatever else I feel inspired to blog about.  I love my children, but this is my outlet for me to use my "adult" voice and I miss being able to do it.  It is so easy for parents, especially those who stay home with young children, to lose themselves and have limited opportunities to talk to other adults.  Blogging has helped me to stay sane over the past 6 years by giving me that opportunity.  I am so thankful to have this opportunity and look forward to returning to it.  Thank you to all of you who have stuck by me through it all and to those who just pop in here and there and those of you who are here for the first time.  I am grateful for all of you.