Friday, January 29, 2010


Do you use those large bottles of laundry detergent that sit on a shelf and have those neat no drip dispensers? There is no way to put the cap back on after measuring detergent and not make a big mess without rinsing the cup out first. Who wants to do that? It takes a lot of water to rinse it out and my sink and washer are not close in proximity. You could not rinse it and not replace the cap but you'll still have a mess in the cap that will dry out every time.

Here's the easy solution. Throw the cap in the washer with your clothes and you are finished with that mess. My cap fits upside down in the detergent compartment of my front loading washer which makes this solution even better since I don't have to find the cap among the wet clothes. It comes out so clean! Hope this helps someone!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Have you asked yourself while pulling up to the pump what side the gas tank is on? Its easy to forget if you switch cars often. Most newer model vehicles have an arrow on the gas gauge that points to the side of the car your tank is on. I was one happy girl when I heard this a few years ago, but why didn't someone tell me sooner??

Sorry if you knew this, but I do not think it is common knowledge, definitely not in my family! If you didn't know this then say good bye to pulling up the wrong side or craning your neck out the window trying to see the gas cap and say hello to the little arrow on your instrument panel that now has a purpose.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Have a birthday coming up for a child? Consider a magazine subscription this year. Children love to get mail and a magazine subscription is a gift that will give all year long. Click on each link below to find subscription information. You can also find many of these at public libraries if you want to try them out. Some are more curriculum based and would work well for home school families.

  • American Girl
    Designed to celebrate the achievements and foster the creativity of girls ages 8-12 American Girl magazine is filled with craft projects, games, girl-to-girl advice and more! The companion web site features a variety of fun activities.
  • AppleSeeds
    Geared to children ages 7-9, each themed issue covers a social studies topic. Includes articles, interviews, photographs and activities.
  • Ask : Arts and Sciences for Kids
    Features puzzles, riddles, cartoons, articles and more inviting readers ages 6-9 to explore the world's greatest artists, inventors and other thinkers.
  • Babybug
    Designed for children 6 months to 2 years old, this boardbook magazine contains colorful pictures, short stories and rhymes to engage listeners and encourage children to try reading.
  • Boys' Life
    Features the cover picture and contents from the current issue, but only selected articles are available online. Includes a section where you can download the plans for making various projects, such as stilts or a telegraph. This is the official Boy Scouts of America magazine
  • Boys' Quest
    Geared toward elementary-age boys, includes stories, poems, crafts and other educational activities.
  • Calliope World History for Young People
    Designed to help readers between the ages of 9-15 understand how historical events intertwine, each issue of Calliope is devoted to one theme in world history. The web site lists current and upcoming themes and links to theme-related web sites and others of interest to children and teachers.
  • Chickadee
    Filled with puzzles, games, pictures and activities of interest to children between the ages of 5 and 9, Chickadee features colorful photos and stories emphasizing funny, unusual and true information about animals and people.
  • Chirp
    Subtitled "The See and Do, Laugh and Learn Magazine," Chirp is recommended for children ages 6-9. Features short stories, jokes, puzzles and other games. The web site also features activities for young children.
  • Click
    A magazine for ages 3-7 from the publishers of Cricket and Smithsonian Magazine. Includes articles, stories, cartoons, activities and more to help introduce young people to the world around them.
  • Cobblestone American History for Kids
    Geared for kids ages 8-14, each issue examines a part of America's past. The web site lists current and upcoming themes and links to theme-related web sites and others of interest to children and teachers.
  • Creative Kids : The National Voice for Kids
    Includes stories, games, opinions, poetry, drawings and more written by kids for kids between the ages of 8 and 14. Published by Prufrock Press, which supports the education of gifted children, this magazine aims to stimulate and encourage the creativity of readers and invites kids to submit their creative work. Visit the website for guidelines.
  • Cricket
    Features children's literature, poems, stories, articles, songs, crafts and jokes for children ages 8-12. Contributors are often internationally known authors and illustrators. Regular features include "Cricket League" (a story, art, or poetry contest), crossword puzzle, and letters from children to the magazine.
  • Dig
    A Cobblestone publication produces in cooperation with the Archaeological Institute of America, Dig brings the excitement of archaeology and other earth sciences to readers, ages 9-14. Each issue focuses on a theme and contains information and activities, colorful graphics and photos to promote a broad understanding of the featured topic.
  • Discovery Girls
    Created by girls for girls, ages 8-12. Includes articles on a variety of hot topics, from fashion to technology. Every other month, the magazine editors travel to a different part of the country to involve a new 12-girl panel in the creation of the magazine. Visit the magazine's website to find out how to apply to be a "Discovery Girl."
  • Faces : Peoples, Places and Cultures
    Geared for children ages 9-14, this magazine provides historical information about places in the news, colorful photos, maps and activities to help young people increase their knowledge of world cultures.
  • FootSteps: African American History
    Designed to help young people discover more about African American History. Includes informational articles and interviews, historical photos and artwork, maps and activities.
  • Girls' Life Magazine
    Geared to girls 10 to 15, this magazine (six issues a year) is packed with advice on friends, family, school, crushes, fashion and beauty. More of the same is available on their website.
  • Highlights for Children
    Issues contain poems, stories, puzzles, jokes, riddles, rebus stories, crafts, and hidden pictures. There is something for everyone ages 4-12.
  • Hopscotch
    Geared toward elementary-age girls, includes stories, poems, crafts and other educational activities.
  • Jack and Jill
    Published by the Children's Better Health Institute, this monthly/bimonthly magazine is geared to children between the ages of 7 and 10. It features current event and other special interest stories, as well as "things to do" and "jokes and riddles."
  • Kids Discover
    This full-color, monthly magazine covers nature, science and geography topics for children ages 6 and older. Each issue is devoted to a specific subject. Magazines are shelved by subject area in the nonfiction collection.
  • Ladybug
    This is a magazine from the publishers of Cricket, targeted to a younger audience (2-7). It contains numerous learning activities with a particular focus on reading and understanding. Contains poems, stories, cartoons, and activities.
  • Muse
    A magazine for ages 9-14 from the publishers of Cricket and Smithsonian Magazine. Includes articles and activities about science, nature, poetry, music and more.
  • National Geographic Kids
    Published by the National Geographic Society for kids between the ages of 8 and 14, Kids covers a wide variety of topics, but focuses on geography, adventure, wildlife and science issues. The web site includes links to stories, fun facts, games and other activities.
  • New Moon
    New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams is an international magazine designed "for every girl who wants her voice heard and her dreams taken seriously." Featuring girl editors, ages 8-14, and girl contributors from around the world, the magazine includes stories, poems, artwork, personal profiles and a variety of informational articles.
  • Nick Jr. Magazine
    The magazine that helps "kids play to learn and parents learn to play" features stories, news and activities for parents and preschoolers to do together, a pullout section for preschoolers and tips for adults.
  • Nick Magazine
    Geared to older schoolage children (ages 8-15), the magazine features a special topic each month. Also includes cartoons, stories, activities, and news about celebrities, movies, music, sports and other aspects of kid culture.
  • Plays
    The Drama Magazine for Young People, this monthly publication (October thru May) includes in each issue 8-10 plays for elementary, middle and high-school aged students.
  • Ranger Rick
    Monthly magazine for kids ages 7 and up features colorful animal photos, funny drawings, and exciting stories that inform children about nature, outdoor adventure, and helping the environment. The online version of the magazine includes web sites for homework help, monthly activities, games, sections for parents and teachers and a sneak preview of the current issue.
  • Sesame Street Magazine
    Early learning concepts are featured via stories, poems, and activities with Bert, Ernie, and other Sesame Street Characters. Recommended for ages 2-6, the magazine is published monthly as a supplement to Parenting Magazine. The website connects to Sesame Workshop pages for parents and kids.
  • Skipping Stones : An International Multicultural Magazine
    A nonprofit children's magazine, Skipping Stones provides a playful forum for sharing ideas and experiences among children from different lands and backgrounds. The magazine accepts art and original writings in every language and from all ages. Non-English writings are accompanied by English translations. Each issue (5 during a school-year), also contains international pen pals, book reviews, news, and a guide for parents and teachers. More information and a sample issue is available on the magazine's website.
  • Spider
    Another magazine from the publishers of Cricket, recommended for ages 6-9. Contains stories, articles, poems, drawings, cartoons and letters all with the aim of getting children interested in reading.
  • Sports Illustrated for Kids Online
    Monthly magazine for elementary age children includes interviews with sports heroes, comics, action photos and much more. The Web version mirrors the print edition while capitalizing on the magazine's interactive appeal.
  • Stone Soup
    This international magazine is written and illustrated by children between the ages of 8 and 13. The web site includes examples of the stories, poems, artwork and book reviews that appear in sample issues, project ideas and guidelines for contributing to the magazine.
  • U.S. Kids
    Published eight times a year by the Children's Better Health Institute, U.S. Kids is a magazine about kids ages 6-10. Readers will find stories about the achievements of kids their own age, puzzles, games, and opportunities to contribute to the magazine, as well. The web site for the magazine also features activities for kids.
  • Wild Animal Baby
    A publication of the National Wildlife Federation, the magazine includes stories, fingerplays and big colorful photographs and drawings of wild animals for children between the ages of 1 and 3. The website offers more games and activities for young children.
  • Your Big Backyard
    Also published by the National Wildlife Federation, this monthly magazine introduces 3-7 year olds to the fascinating world of nature. It features big, colorful photos, read-to-me stories, poems, riddles, and games.
Thanks for Monroe County Public Library of Indiana for putting together this list. It is the most comprehensive one I have seen.

We have tried and like National Geographic Kids and Your Big Backyard.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010


    Here's a short tip, but one of my all time favorites.

    Use conditioner to shave instead of shaving cream.  Use the cheap stuff and you'll save lots of money.  I think I get a closer, smoother shave and my skin feels nice too! 

    Monday, January 18, 2010


    If you are going to repot a plant, put a clean coffee filter on the bottom of the new pot to keep the soil from leaking out.

    To repair small holes in window screens, cover them with a few layers of clear nail polish.

    An easy way to raise the nap of carpet after a piece of furniture has matted it down is to let an ice cube melt into the matted area; wait until the next day to vacuum.

    The blade of your can opener is most likely the dirtiest inch in your kitchen, but easy to clean.  Just "open" a piece of waxed paper, which will clean away grime while the wax lubricates the blades and wheels.

    The easiest way to clean the gunk and dust between your computer keys is with transparent tape.  Just slide a 2 inch strip between the rows of your keyboard and the adhesive will pick up any debris.  

    ----These tips are from "Who Knew II" by Jeanne and Bruce Lubin---

    Friday, January 15, 2010


    When cleaning up after a meal, do you find you have leftovers that aren't enough to feed anyone again but you hate to throw them out?  Save all your left over vegetables in one "soup" container in the freezer and save it for homemade soup.  If you don't make homemade soup, don't be intimidated, it's easy.  I have included my recipe below.  Add leftover bits of corn, peas, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, cooked carrots, and more.  Make sure your leftovers are cool and add them to your "soup" container in the freezer.    It won't be long before you have enough to make a pot of soup.  You can do the same with leftover rice and pasta and beans, but it's best to store them in a separate freezer container because they will cook much faster than the veggies.  Freeze bits of leftover chicken, pork and beef too for soups, casseroles, or pot pies.  Two or three small portions of leftovers will make a whole new meal.

    Vegetable Beef Soup*
    • 48 oz.  tomato juice
    • 1 packet of onion soup mix or beefy onion soup mix
    • 1 pound ground beef browned, season with Salt and pepper while browning
    • 1 can chicken broth
    • Veggies- Without leftovers this is what I use -- one medium potato diced, handful of baby carrots diced, handful of green beans and peas 
    • Handful small pasta

    Combine everything but the peas and pasta.  Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour.  Add pasta and peas during last 20 minutes.

    * Customize any way you want- canned or frozen mixed vegetable would make this very quick.  Use low sodium broth and juice if you need to.  I like to add beans too.  I have made in the slow cooker too!

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010


    Some of these ideas I use and others I plan to try.  Hope you find a few you can use too!

    Reuse Ideas for Newspaper Bags/Sleeves
    • Treat bags for kids parties, trim the top if too long. 
    • Gift wrap- line the bag with tissue paper and finish off with a bow
    • Wet umbrellas
    • Dirty shoe bag for car- if your kids play sports you will understand this one
    • Dirty diaper bags
    • Doggy poop bags
    • Return to carrier plus the rubber bands- check with them first
    • Double bagging store bought bread to freeze- the original packaging of bread doesn't do much to protect it in the freezer- leftover bread bags would be great for this too
    • Save paint roller or paintbrush for later use
    • Small produce bags for grocery store- yes you can take you own!
    Reuse  Ideas for Tissue Boxes
    • Trash cans for car- won't tip over and spill its contents
    • Holder for plastic grocery bags, newspaper sleeves, used dryer sheets (some people have found great uses for these- I'll share that list later)
    • Collection spot for Box Tops for Education and soup labels- all those things you collect for school
    • Toys- mailbox, slippers (dinosaur or robot feet or carpet skates), building blocks, many crafts
    • Gift box - as is or cut the top off and use tissue paper like you would in a gift bag
    • If it has a pretty design, cut apart to make book marks, gift tags and more
    • Cut the top off and use as drawer organizers
    • Trash can by a sick bed for all those used tissues- it can sit on the bed without spilling it contents

    Do you have more reuse it ideas for the two items? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

    Monday, January 11, 2010


    Don't throw away all those over ripe bananas out, freeze them and use them in smoothies later.  First peel them and break or cut into bite size pieces that will make your blender happy and store them in a freezer container until ready to use.  A simple but delicious smoothie recipe is below, customize the recipe any way you want.  Kids will love this.

    1 medium sized banana cut or broken into pieces, fresh or frozen
    1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
    1/2 cup fruit juice - I use orange or apple because it's what I have on hand
    1-1.5 cups frozen fruit - I like strawberry and blueberry combined

    Put in all in the blender and give it a whirl!

    If its too tart, add a drizzle of honey and blend again.  If its too thick, add more juice.  If its too thin, add more yogurt.  If you use all fresh fruit instead of frozen, add ice cubes for consistency.

    I've also heard to freeze over ripe bananas for making banana bread.  Thawed bananas are a slimy mess and yucky colored, but I read its best to freeze them in the peel for use in banana bread.  I'll have to try that next time!


    Friday, January 8, 2010


    Brownies are so good, especially warm.  Have you tried to cut warm brownies and ended up with a marred mess of brownies instead of nice little squares?  The trick is to use a plastic knife to cut warm brownies.  I can't explain why it works, but a co-worker told me this trick years ago and I've used it ever since and shared it with many.

    Betty Crocker has a great site with things to do with store bought brownie mix.  Things you can mix in, ways to decorate brownies, unique ways to serve them ( like on a stick, Popsicle style), and more.  Check out the link for inspiration.

    Here a very easy way to make a pan of brownies look more special from my friend Candice.  Let them cool and then frost them with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting and then sprinkle chocolate chips on top of the frosting.  You can also top with grated chocolate or sprinkles.

    I've never made brownies from scratch, I think the mixes taste just fine.   I think my favorite is the ALDI store brand mix and it is so cheap.  Very  moist brownies!


    Enjoy your brownies!

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010


    I needed some art for my long yellow wall in my kitchen area, everything I had seemed too small on the wall. I thought I'd make something instead.

    I bought a good sized collage frame from Kirkland's and then shopped the craft store for pretty scrapbook paper to fill the photo openings.  It was quick and easy, picking out the paper was the most time consuming part of the process. I spent about $35 and was pleased with the results and I like that it can be changed in the future, because I am known to change my mind.  You'll be amazed at what you'll find in scrapbook paper, its worth a  trip to the craft store to check it out.  Sorry for all the glare in the photo, I'm not a professional.

    Here are a few more ideas for wall art using scrapbook paper, its a cheap project! Scrapbook paper is .59- $2.00 a sheet.

    The Queen of DIY has this project on her site using self stick foam core board and scrapbook paper.  Looks easy and I love the results.  Of course she has many other great projects on her site. has step by step instructions for the project below and others using Styrofoam and ribbon to cover the edges.

    Michael's has this Contempory Wall Art  as one of their online project sheets using Styrofoam.  Complete step by step instructions are given, click on the link.

    Monday, January 4, 2010


    Life can be a bit stinky at times. Here's an easy, more healthy alternative than all those commercial air freshener sprays you can buy. Make your own with essential oils, you'll love the results! Essential oils can seem pricey but one small bottle will last a very long time. You can find them at any health food store or online. Pick out one fragrance to start with that you like, such as Lavender or Orange for the basic recipe below. Try other recipes later when you know you like this technique. These recipes came from
    Pour one cup of distilled water into a spray bottle, add the essential oils and shake very well. Shake well before each use and use the fine mist setting on your spray bottle. You can buy those small 3 oz. spray bottles in most health and beauty sections where all the travel sized products are, they spray a very fine mist. One recipe can be added to several small bottles and placed around the house or in your car.

    • 1 cup distilled water
    • 8-10 drops essential oils, of your choice
    Deodorizing Room Spray
    • 6 drops bergamot essential oils
    • 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil
    • 2 drops lemon essential oils
    Pet Deodorizing Room Spray
    • 6 drops cedarwood essential oils
    • 3 drops tea tree oil
    Apple Pie Spice Room Air Freshener
    • 6 drops cinnamon essential oils
    • 3 drops clove essential oils
    Orange Spice Room Air Freshener
    • 5 drops orange essential oils
    • 2 drops cinnamon essential oils
    Mood Lifter Air Freshener Spray
    • 4 drops chamomile essential oils
    • 3 drops orange essential oils
    • 2 drops ylang ylang essential oils
    Stress Reliever Air Freshener Spray
    • 4 drops lavender oil
    • 3 drops rose essential oils
    • 2 drops clary sage essential oils (optional)
    Sleepy-Hour Relaxation Air Freshener Spray
    • 4 drops lavender oil
    • 3 drops chamomile essential oil
    Here are a few more ideas for keeping things smelling fresh using essential oils...

    Add a few drops to a cotton ball and place under your car seat or in hidden areas of your bathroom, scraps of fabric will work for this too.  You can add a cotton ball with essential oil on it to your vacuum bag or in the canister of your bag-less vacuum.

    Place a few drops on a folded newspaper at the bottom of your trash can.  The newspaper also works to catch spills and junk in the bottom of the can.

    You can add a few drops to the inside of a toilet paper or paper towel tube to get a nice scent each time it spins.

    You can add more drops when the smell fades, but remember to start with a few drops until you know the potency of the oil you are using.

    Enjoy the sweet smells!

    Friday, January 1, 2010


    Chances are you have lots of stuff stored under your bed, but don't stop there if you are short on storage space.  Look at any piece of furniture that has a skirt to the floor like sofas and chairs and use that area for storage too.  Under the bed storage containers or old shoe boxes can be easily slid in and out.  Think about things like wrapping supplies, photos, books, or anything else that will fit. 

    Under the child's bed would be a great place for that new toy that has more pieces than any toy should, like 450 piece Lego sets.  Throw it all in a storage container and shove it under the bed.  It can also be toted around the house easier too.  Can a toy like a race track, train track, or puzzle be put together on a piece of card board and slid under the bed when you want the room to look clean?  A bin under their bed will work for anything like barbies and dinosaurs and should make clean up easier for the child.