Wednesday, February 24, 2010

WHO KNEW?

To keep corduroy garments from retaining lint, wash them inside out.  This will also keep acrylic sweaters from pilling.

Keep a shaker filled with a ratio of 75 percent salt and 25 percent pepper next to your food prep area, its a good ratio for so many things you cook.

If you wet your hands with cold water before shaping sausage or hamburger patties, the grease won't stick to your fingers.

When you go away on a vacation, fill a zip-close plastic bag with a few ice cubes and place in your freezer.  If a power failure occurs while you are away, the ice cube will melt and refreeze in a solid block, alerting you that your frozen food has been defrosted.

Insert paper plates (the cheap flat kind) between fine china or nice plates before stacking to prevent scratches.

When the forecast calls for snow or ice, place two old bath towels across your windshield. When it's time to drive, simply pull off the towels for a clean, ready to go window.

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

Monday, February 22, 2010

FUN PHOTO BOOK IDEAS


Photo books are very popular and for good reason, they are easy to do (not always quick though) and make great gifts.  Sizes and prices vary on how many pages and the cover, but I have seen 4 x 6 books for around $4.99 and 8 x 11 photo book for $20 and up.  Before you pay full price for a photo book do an internet search for a coupon code for the site you are using.  All of the major online photo processors like Shutterfly and Snapfish offer photo books and so do many stores that offer photo processing like Wal-mart and Walgreens.

Custom Childrens Book- Do you want a special gift to give a child?  Write a short book about them and include pictures and art by you or the child.  If you worry you don't have writing skills for a book, just start very simple.  Write about their favorite foods, places, colors, games, subjects, or adventures.

Cookbook-  A great way to make your own family cookbook and make it look very professional.

Preserving Kid's Art- You can't keep everything your child makes.  Keep the special pieces and know its okay to throw away some or lots. You can take a picture of art projects and put it all in a photo book too.  You could do a photo book of art for every grade.  To get a good picture place the art on a plain background  (lay on a plain white or dark sheet on the floor and try to frame the photo so the art takes up most of the photo).  Some art can also be scanned in but I find taking a picture works great.

Preserving other parts of childhood- If you have a lego whiz, take pictures of all his creations and put in a small photo book.  Think of other things they make or build that have to be messed up like blocks, play dough and start taking pictures of their neat stuff.  If your child loves to dress up, take pictures in all their costumes.  Hopefully you get the idea, theme the photo book!  This is a great idea for the smaller photo books because they are cheaper.  The kids will love them and you'll find yourself doing more than one.

Reasons we love you book- This one is sweet and will make a great gift for anyone.  Include lots of great pictures and reasons the gift recipient is loved.  Great for grandparents, moms, dads and include comments for all the grandchildren/children.


Snapfish has more fun photo book ideas for you here.


Do you have more ideas for photo books?  Share them below!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Seven Irresistible Board Books for Young Toddlers

Every young child should have a good collection of board books. They are durable and often short which is a must for busy toddlers. It is hard sometimes to find books that a young toddler will sit still for. They want some books read over and over again and others make them wiggle out of your lap before you finish the first page. Here's a list of seven board books that my three boys loved as young toddlers. These books were literally worn out by so much reading and handling. Any or all of these board books would make a great gift for expectant parents. Board books from this list would also be a pleasing first birthday present or a Christmas gift for a young toddler.

Source

The Counting Farm by Kathy Henderson

This is a short rhyming book that counts farm animals up to 10. Its catchy little rhyme will stick in your head and children love the words and pictures. Be sure to make the animal sounds on each page, this takes the book from enjoyable for your child to an absolute delight.


Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins

This is a Bright and Early Board Book about monkeys making music. It will have you and your child tapping and drumming with the monkeys. This was probably the favorite of my three boys and I never grew tired of reading it to them.



Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr. and Illustrated by Eric Carle

This book is full of rhyming, repetition and color- three things young children love to hear and see in books. You'll find many other Eric Carle books in board book format.



Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? Dr. Seuss's Book of Wonderful Noises by Dr. Seuss

This is also a Bright and Early Board Book and it is full of funny sounds to make. Anytime you can add sounds to books for young toddlers, they love it and this book makes it so easy and enjoyable. You will be making sounds like lightning splatting and corks popping and so will your toddler.



There's a Wocket in My Pocket! Dr. Seuss's Book of Ridiculous Rhymes
by Dr. Seuss

This is just the right amount of Dr. Seuss for young toddlers. They will love his silly rhymes and colorful pages and you will be reading about animals you have never heard of before like Bofas and Ghairs. This book is also a Bright and Early Board Book , you can't go wrong with books with this endorsement.


Barnyard Dance
by Sandra Boynton

All of her books are great for young toddlers but this is my favorite. You'll feel like you are calling a square dance as you read this and your little one can't help but tap his feet and nod his head to the rhythm.


The Monster at the End of This Book Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover
by Jon Stone

This book will have young toddlers laughing because Grover is scared of getting to the end of the book because a monster awaits and he tries everything to keep you from turning the pages. Of course little hands keep turning the pages and discover the only monster at the end is Grover himself.


I hope some of these books become well loved favorites in your home too.  Feel free to add others great suggestions in the comments for others to read, thanks!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FREE USEFUL ONLINE SERVICES

My time on the internet is spent on email, Facebook, and Blogger mostly, so I love to hear about great free services online.  Here are some neat ones I wanted to share with you and if you are internet savvy some of this will be old news to you, forgive me!

Getjar.com- Appsolutely Everything!  This is the place to go if you don't have a Blackberry or iphone but still want to find applications for your phone.

Tripit.com- Organize your Travel!   Email tripit.com all you confirmation emails from anywhere you book and you will get an organized master itinerary sent back to you.

Doodle.com- Doodle takes the pain out of finding the right date and time for a group of people to meet and makes scheduling virtually effortless. The basic service is a free online coordination tool which requires neither registration nor software installation.

Springpadit.com- Springpad is a free personal organizer to save and use just about anything — recipes, products, restaurants, ideas, notes, articles, and more.  They claim to help you organize travel and planning, celebrations, and holidays, health and fitness and your collection and someday lists.

Shopittome.com-You can think of Shop It To Me as your free personal online shopper. Select your favorite apparel brands and sizes. They willscour the websites of leading retailers and send you a Salemail™ - a daily or weekly email summary of which new items go on sale in your size. Mens, Womens, and Childrens brands for clothes, shoes, and accessories

And my FAVORITE and I know its not new...but go there fast if you didn't know about it!  You'll be glad!
Pandora.com- They claim their only mission its to play music you will love and they do a good job.  Just enter a favorite artist or song and something similar will pop up and you'll end up finding new music you love.  You can listen without logging in or you can sign in to create many different "stations" for yourself.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Top Ten Ways to Reuse Flower Vases

Did your Valentine's gift come in a vase?   If you sweetheart gives you flowers often, you could have quite a stash of florist vases.  Here are some great ideas on what to do with those vases.

Top Ten Ways to Reuse Flower Vases

From Teleflora's Find A Florist web site.

1. Design a Centerpiece

You can reuse plain cylinder floral vases by filling them with something colorful. Oranges, lemons or limes make a great eye-catching summertime centerpiece, or fill a vase with pinecones and dried berries for a festive winter look.

2. Create a Candleholder

Wide-mouthed vases make lovely candleholders. Just fill the bottom half with items sturdy enough to hold-up a candle (stones, beads or coffee beans are also great ideas), then work the candle down into the container.

3. Give a Gift

Don’t go to that next party empty handed! Fill a vase with relevant items (i.e. Christmas decorations, holiday themed candy such as candy corn for Halloween, or seashells for a beach party) for the host or hostess as a thank you.

4. Make Bookends

Decorate the exterior of your flower vase to match the area of the bookcase and fill the vase with something heavy, like sand or rocks, so it can be used as a bookend.

5. Organize your Home

Smaller flower vases are great for holding pens and pencils or loose change. In addition, empty vases are great for kitchen utensils. Have a square vase? Try using it to hold all your remote controls.

6. Donate to a Good Cause

Fill your old flower containers with dried or artificial flowers, and donate them to hospitals or retirement homes and help brighten someone else’s day.

7. Produce a Planter

Try planting herbs or small flowers in a clear vase for a prettier alternative to plastic containers. Put rocks in the bottom third of the vase for drainage and fill the rest with soil. You can plant a variety of herbs for a kitchen window garden or small flowers to brighten up your office. The best part – you’ll always know when your plants need watering!

8. Showcase Something Special

Have a special memento or souvenir from a recent vacation? Tall floral containers are a great way to call attention to smaller items that might otherwise get lost on bookcases. Cover it with the vase by itself, or add similar themed d├ęcor along with the keepsake for a more intricate display.

9. Put Pastries on a Pedestal

Wide based, wide mouthed vases make great cake stands! Just turn your vase upside down (or keep it right side up if the base is wider than the mouth), and secure a plate on top. These stands can be used to display special pies, cupcakes, cookies and more.

10. Apply it to Art

If all else fails, and you can’t find any other uses for your flower vases, you can always break them up, and use the colored broken glass in mosaics or tile works.
Receiving floral gifts is only half the fun when it comes to all the different ways you can reuse the vases. Remember: don’t just throw away your old containers, keep it green and reuse them!

Resource Box:

Teleflora’s Find a Florist is the leading online florist locater in the US and Canada. Want to send a bouquet for the holidays, a special occasion or simply as a thinking of you? With a network of over 20,000 caring florists, Find a Florist makes it easy to locate a flower shop, anywhere in the country.

Friday, February 12, 2010

64 WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU

This is a great list and many of these can be used for everyone you love, not just your sweetheart.

64 Ways to Say "I Love You"

  1. Don't compare them to anyone.
  2. Be courteous at all times.
  3. Embrace the present moments without fear or guilt.
  4. Live by the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you).
  5. Give your full attention when talking.
  6. Become their biggest fan and cheerleader!
  7. Toast each other over breakfast or dinner to say I love you.
  8. Tell them how they bring love to your life.
  9. Laugh about kids quotes on love or events.
  10. Talk about your day during mealtimes.
  11. Read books aloud together.
  12. Say you're sorry.
  13. Recall good and bad memories.
  14. Let go of the past to say I love you.
  15. Do nothing together.
  16. Encourage health in all its forms.
  17. Trust your partner enough to cry together.
  18. Act silly together.
  19. Be lavish in praise.
  20. Ask questions about opinions, feelings, thoughts.
  21. To say I love you, forget about labels.
  22. Encourage adventures and risks!
  23. Show your joy when they come home.
  24. Bake cookies.
  25. Leave stress at work to say I love you.
  26. Use flannel sheets in the winter.
  27. Solve problems together - such as crosswords or Suduku.
  28. Show your gratitude for them.
  29. Be a good sounding board.
  30. To say I love you, take pride in them -- and show it.
  31. Compliment them in front of others.
  32. Spend time with them.
  33. Listen.
  34. Ask for hugs and kisses.
  35. Take vacations together.
  36. Tell the truth to say I love you.
  37. Use pet names to say I love you.
  38. Practice self-acceptance.
  39. Hunt for treasure together.
  40. Be interested in their interests.
  41. To say I love you, let go of jealousy.
  42. Accept their weaknesses and flaws.
  43. Ditch work or responsibilities to play with them.
  44. Be yourself.
  45. Share chocolates, ice cream sundaes, milkshakes.
  46. To say I love you, ignore slights.
  47. Pray or meditate together.
  48. Practice forgiveness.
  49. Watch classic movies together.
  50. Leave notes or send letters.
  51. To say I love you, buy a "for no reason at all" gift.
  52. Don't gossip or judge.
  53. Give the benefit of the doubt to say I love you.
  54. Give space when they're in a bad or sad mood.
  55. Learn something new together.
  56. Go dancing.
  57. Keep your promises to say I love you.
  58. Make them laugh.
  59. Consider their feelings.
  60. Learn ways to rekindle the romance.
  61. Hide a treat in their lunch.
  62. To say I love you, make home a fun place to be.
  63. Let them make their own decisions.
  64. Say what you mean when you say I love you. Say why.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WHAT'S FOR DINNER?

What's for dinner tonight at your house, or Friday at your house?  If you can answer both of those you are probably a meal planner  which can saves lots of time and money.  I ask myself the "what's for dinner" question often but I get asked it more often by my kids.  There are hundreds of ways to plan meals but you have to start somewhere and this is what made sense to me.

Make a list of EVERYTHING you can cook that your family will eat, and then add those things you buy ready made to feed your family.  Add side items and breads to the list the same way.  Now that you have a master list of things that you can feed your family, organize the list.  You can organize by main dish types or you can organize by how long it takes to prepare the meals.  Make a section of all the side items and bread possibilities and put your list in a page protector and keep it very close by the kitchen. 

I think you will find you use the list often when its time to make grocery lists and plan meals.  You can also let other family members pick things from your list to add to the week's meals.  This is is where its helpful to have a "Sunday dinner" section and a "busy weeknight" section and to tell them which sections they can choose from.  Don't forget to update the list often and I think you'll surprise yourself with all the options you have when the dreaded question comes up, what's for dinner mom?

Monday, February 8, 2010

CHEAP DATE NIGHT IDEAS

I know you have read and heard that date nights are needed for all couples, especially those with kids and busy lives.  Date nights are easier said than done, so many things can get in the way.  If you have to hire a babysitter, it can turn into an expensive evening.  They need to be planned and put on the calendar at least a week in advance and don't let life get in the way!  Here are some ideas for cheap date nights...

Make a playlist of slow love songs, light a candle and dance in your house.

Dream big together!  Plan a fantasy vacation together, go window shopping for luxury items, go test drive the car you want, spend a Sunday afternoon touring open houses for the next step up home.

Watch a movie.  Or course you can go to the theater, but it can be expensive.  Instead send one person out for a redbox movie  ($1 rental) while the other puts the kids in beds. Have your spouse pick out something you both will enjoy but let him surprise you with the choice.

Picnic... Go for a hike and a picnic on a weekend or long summer afternoon or have a romantic picnic in the backyard.

Get active together- If you belong to the gym you can try racquetball together or if you have bikes try a bike ride.  Take a leisurely paced hand holding stroll around a lake.

Reminisce- Have a nice dinner at home together and drag out those early love letters and cards to each other and all those early pictures.  It will be a fun look back.

Volunteer together- Spend a Saturday morning or any time during the week doing something for others together.

I'd love to know your ideas too!

Photo info:

Friday, February 5, 2010

CLOSET PURGE

Are your closets bursting at the seams with clothes? You can spend lots of time and money organizing your clothes, but the organization is easier when you have fewer clothes. So spend time weeding through them before you spend money on new containers and closet systems. Here are a few tips on how to decide what to keep and what to purge.
 


First group like items together but put your hangers backward. As you wear an item and hang it up again, turn the hanger around. This will give you an easy way to see what you wear and what you don't. At the end of the season or sooner take everything that is still on a backward hanger and get rid of it.

Another method is when you re-hang your clothes after wearing, hang them to the left of everything else. Shortly you will notice clothes on the right that never get worn. Unless they are special occasion clothes, your giveaways will be to the right staring you down.

This works great for kids clothes too!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

20 KEY IDEAS FOR A HAPPY MARRIAGE

During the month of February, you'll find some tips and snippets on relationships, marriage, and love.

20 Key Ideas For a Happy Marriage





  1. Keep your mind on your main goal, which is to have a happy marriage. Say and do what will enable you and your spouse to have a happy marriage. Avoid the opposite. Everything else is commentary.
  2. Keep asking yourselves, What can we do to have a happy, loving atmosphere in our home?
  3. Focus on giving, rather than taking. Say and do as many things as possible to meet your spouses needs.
  4. Keep doing and saying things that will give your spouse a sense of importance.
  5. Frequently ask yourself, What positive things can I say and do to put my (husband or wife) in a positive emotional state?
  6. Before speaking, clarify the outcome you want. The meaning of your communication is the response you actually get. If the first thing you say is not achieving your goal, change your approach. Remember that mutual respect and happiness is your real goal. Do not needlessly argue. Silence is often the wisest choice. Constantly be mutually respectful.
  7. Show appreciation and gratitude in as many ways as possible. Say something appreciative a few times a day.
  8. Be a good listener. Understand your spouse from his or her point of view.
  9. Be considerate of the feelings and needs of your spouse. Think of ways that you have lacked consideration and be resolved to increase your level of consideration.
  10. Instead of blaming and complaining think of positive ways to motivate your spouse. If your first strategies are not effective, think of creative ways.
  11. Give up unrealistic expectations. Do not expect your spouse to be perfect and do not make comparisons.
  12. Do not cause pain with words. If your spouse speaks to you in ways that cause you pain, choose outcome wording, Lets speak to each other in ways that are mutually respectful.
  13. Be willing to compromise. Be willing to do something you would rather not do in return for similar behavior from your spouse.
  14. Write a list of ways that you have benefited from being married to your spouse. Keep adding to the list and reread it frequently.
  15. Write a list of your spouses positive patterns and qualities. Keep adding to the list and read it frequently.
  16. Keep thinking about what you can do to bring out the best qualities of your spouse. Reinforce those qualities with words and action.
  17. Focus on finding solutions to any problems that arise. Be solution oriented. Do not just blame and complain. Do not focus on who is more wrong. For a happy marriage, work together to find mutually acceptable solutions.
  18. Remember your finest moments. What did you say and do when you felt best about each other? Increase them.
  19. Look for positive activities you can do together.
  20. Live in the present. What went wrong in the past is the past. You create the present and future with your thoughts, words, and actions right now. Choose them wisely.
© Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Monday, February 1, 2010

5 WAYS TO DONATE YOUR OLD CELL PHONE TO CHARITY

I love these ideas on how to recycle an old cell phone and it benefit a charity. This list and many other good things can be found at Planet Green.

1. Help Soldiers Call Home
Cell Phones for Soldiers provides talk time to overseas troops so they can call home. The organization collects old phones, which they send to ReCellular so the used phones can be sold or recycled. Each phone donated buys one hour of talk time for soldiers.

2. Help Victims of Domestic Violence
Two organizations -- the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Shelter Alliance -- collect cell phones to help fund their programs. NCADC works with ReCellular, while Shelter Alliance is a program run by Florida-based GRC Wireless Recycling. You can mail your phone, but check with your local women's shelter to see if you can drop off your cell there.

3. Help Kids Go to Camp
NASCAR's Recycle for Victory cell phone fund benefits the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a NASCAR-themed sleep-away camp for kids with chronic medical conditions or serious illness. Just mail your phone to Recycle for Victory with this pre-paid shipping label.

4. Donate to Your Favorite Charity (Or Plant a Tree)
Flipswap refurbishes and recycles cell phones—and pays you for it or donates the value to your favorite charity. The company also has another program called inStore, which gives credits to people if they trade in their phone when they purchase a new one. And for each phone collected through the inStore service, Flipswap plants a tree.

5. Help A Local Organization
American Cell Phone Drive helps you find local organizations that either refurbish or recycle cell phones to raise funds. Just head to AmericanCellPhoneDrive.org, type in your zip code, and you'll get a list of organizations and drop-off locations. And if there isn't a collection site in your area, you can print off a shipping label to send three or more phones directly to their headquarters.