September 29th, 2014 at 6:30 pm
As the holidays approach, it is easier to incorporate giving into your life and teach children to do the same. Here are some ways that you can give every day, all year long!
Giving comes in so many forms. It can include money, gifts, food, and service. Here are a few ideas to help your children become more charitable.
- Rake leaves
- Take their dog for a walk
- Spend some time chatting with them
- Cook them a meal or dessert
Donate Clothing or Toys
Go through items you no longer need and give to friends or family going through hardship, or drop off at a place that distributes to the needy.
Stop Collecting Birthday Gifts
Instead of actual gifts being brought to parties, ask for guests to bring items that can be donated. Include your child in picking a favorite charity.
- Pet food – Humane Society or Rescue Mission
- Books – Shelter or School
- Winter Items – Shelter for Kids
- Personal Hygiene Items
- Non-Perishable Food Items – Food Pantry
Help The Elderly
Teach your children to help the elderly complete tasks that have become more difficult to them, whether it is yard work, window cleaning, etc.
Complete Random Acts of Kindness
This can be something as simple as putting an extra coin in a parking meter, to something like buying a meal for the person behind you in the drive thru. Teach your children to lead with a giving heart where they are always thinking of others.
Deliver a Smile
Giving doesn’t always have to be to poor or needy people. You may know of a family that just needs a smile. Surprise them with basket of goodies, a special drawing or card, or even just a hello as you pass them in the store.
Giving is easy – spread some joy around!
September 26th, 2014 at 11:33 am
One of my favorite fall flavors is pumpkin. I buy canned pumpkin starting the first week of September all the way through the end of November. Below are several of my favorite recipe links, as well as my personal favorite recipe for pumpkin bars! There are so many delicious options!
- 4 eggs
- 1 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cup confectioners sugar
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir dry mix into the pumpkin mixture until thoroughly combined.
- Spread the batter evenly into an ungreased 10 x 15 jellyroll pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool before frosting.
- To make the frosting: Cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in vanilla. Add confectioners sugar, a little at a time, beating until mixture is smooth. Spread evenly on top of the cooled bars and cut into squares.
September 22nd, 2014 at 2:26 pm
All kids complain, pout, or get angry at some point or another. In the morning, at the store, sitting at the dinner table, anywhere!! It’s okay to complain every now and then, but constant complaining needs to be dealt with. .
“I want that, NOW!”
“I don’t like that!”
“Leave me alone!”
Sometimes, little ones are just trying to test the limits and may outgrow the “phase.” This negativity can permeate your entire family and other children can pick up the habit. Here are some ways you can help them adjust their attitudes.
- Explain that sometimes complaining is helpful, but most of the time it isn’t. Teach them constructive ways of showing their emotions and explaining how they feel.
- Enlist everyone in the family to help change a negative attitude in one child.
- Show them how they are acting and when they start complaining, do it back to them. Change your tone to the tone they use. My kids hate it when I start whining to them! Sometimes they don’t even realize what they’re doing.
- Challenge them to not complain for a whole day or even just a whole hour. Then try to do it for longer periods of time!
- Pick one problem to work on at a time.
With a little bit of persistence you can make an impact on your child and their negativity. Attitudes affect everyone in the family, so it’s important to nip issues in the bud.
September 19th, 2014 at 9:00 am
As kids grow up, you end up with a lot of extra clothing and items you won’t use anymore, but are still in excellent shape. One way to make some money to put towards new things is by selling your gently used clothing and other items at a consignment sale. The ones I have participated in run in the fall and spring. I want to share a few tips to help prepare you for selling used items.
Most sales ask you to provide hangers for your items. They do not typically return these, so you need to collect them throughout the year. I have a tote where I store hangers from when I purchase items. If I need other types or sizes, I recruit family and friends to save them also.
I have two totes that are labeled Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. I collect clothing each time I clean out the boys closets. As I put these items away, I make sure they are in good condition, with no stains, rips, or holes. I fold them neatly and store them until I am ready to sell. This also gives you time to make any repairs like loose buttons, frayed hems, etc.
Depending on the type of consignment sale, you can sell gently used toys, home decor, small appliances, bedding, etc. Everything should be in good working condition, clean, and show little to no wear. Make sure all pieces are kept together and are packaged efficiently if necessary.
Tagging and Pricing
Each consignment sale has different rules on how to tag and attach pricing to your items. Make sure to use enough details in your tag descriptions so that items and tags can be matched up if they are separated. A good rule for setting pricing is by determining what is approximately 25-50% of what the item originally retailed for. Be sure to get all the details on any pricing requirements or suggestions from the person who handles the sale coordination.
A Good Set of Tools
Here are a few things that help me in my preparations:
- Good Scissors
- Masking Tape
- Decent Pen
- Black Sharpie
- Batteries (Everything that runs on batteries needs fresh batteries or it won’t be accepted)
- Cleaning Wipes
- Goo Gone
- Baggies (in various sizes)
Donate What You Can’t Sell
It’s a nice gesture to donate what you don’t end up selling, and you will keep house clutter to a minimum, allowing for more storage for new items you may need.
September 15th, 2014 at 10:31 am
Can you believe there are only 100 days until Christmas? You are probably booing me right now….but with little kids, the more preparation time you have the better! Plus, the more you have done once Thanksgiving approaches, the more you can actually enjoy yourself during the month of December.
Here are some ways to get organized and prepared ahead of time:
Start your Christmas shopping list now. List each person that you need to buy for. If you have any ideas, great, list those too! Make sure to assign a dollar amount to them also.
Determine your Christmas budget. Add up the dollar amounts from your list above, but be sure to add a little extra. There are always gifts that come up last minute that you forget about. Think about decorations, food, and all the other things that go into celebrating the holiday season.
Plan out items you need to make. Do you need to plan out your Christmas cards? If you have the picture you are using then you can get your card made and printed. They can be signed and ready to send out at a certain time. Are you making any gifts? Can these be started early? Make a list of things you may need to make these items.
Clean out your kids’ toys. The presents your children receive can take up a lot of extra space that you might not have, so take the time now to start weeding out the old ones. Donate toys that they’ve outgrown or are are no longer interested in, and throw away broken toys or toys with missing pieces that cant be replaced to make some room for the new ones. While you are doing this, take into account what things your children already have so you don’t buy something similar.
Start writing lists. Write a list of clothing needs, grocery lists, cookie choices and recipes, cleaning expectations, and more! Make your own holiday notebook to keep all these lists organized.
Christmas goes a lot smoother when things are organized, so get a head start today!
September 12th, 2014 at 5:21 pm
The onset of fall weather and the smell of apples cooking makes me want to start bringing out my fall decorations. This year, I decided to make my own wreath out of burlap. It was really easy and very customizable, so it can be used year-round. I love the way it turned out with a couple of fall additions.
First you need a Metal Wreath Ring. It’s only a couple of dollars and is sold in many different sizes. You also need a couple spools of wired burlap ribbon, which come in all kinds of patterns, colors, and textures. I used the 2.5 inch x 7 yard spools and went through 2 of them. At our local hobby store they sell 30 foot spools which probably would have been a better option in hindsight…it depends on how many wreaths you want to make. When I looped my burlap I did smaller, tighter loops, so if you like it more loopy then you will want more feet of ribbon.
The first step is to tie the ribbon onto the wreath frame. I looped it through the wire and then tied a knot to hold it. Every time I added a new spool of ribbon I repeated this step.
The next step is to pull the burlap up through the first space. Pull the burlap through to make a loop. Once you complete a loop, take the end, twist, and do it in the next slat. Once you have finished the first row, weave and loop in the other direction to make a second row. I used this video to help to demonstrate the process.
You keep this process up until you go all the way around the wreath. At the end, I tied another knot (just like I started), and concealed it under the loops.
Then I picked up some decorative pumpkins and fall berries on sticks to weave into the wreath, and made a bow with some fall ribbon that I had on hand. I didn’t want to glue anything on the wreath so I can change out the decor for different holidays, but feel free to make yours permanent. I am thinking about adding a painted “R” in the middle at some point for our last name initial.
Here are some other wreath inspirations for you to make one all your own!
September 9th, 2014 at 12:39 pm
Fall is in the air…and when I think of fall, the first thing that comes to mind is apples!
Here are some of our favorite apple recipes that you might want to try out this fall. You’ll also find my personal recipe for Apple Crumble Pie at the bottom! Every year we visit an apple farm for apple picking. Check and see if there are any near you!
Caramel Apple Salad (This is my go-to dish for pot lucks, birthday parties, and every event we host. There are never leftovers!)
Apple Crumble Pie
● 5 cups of baking apples, cubed and peeled
● 1/2 cup sugar
● 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
● 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
● 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
● 1 unbaked pastry shell (9 inches)
~~ — Topping — ~~
● 1/2 cup sugar
● 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
● 1/2 cup butter or margarine
In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients and spoon the mixture into the pie shell. For the topping, combine sugar and flour, then cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping on the pie filling. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the apples are tender. Cover the crust edges with foil during the last 15 minutes if needed. Cool the pie completely before cutting. Yield: 6-8 servings.
September 5th, 2014 at 4:56 pm
Everyone should put aside some time to reconnect with their family each day. Dinner time is a great time to do this when you are all sitting at the table together. For many families, this is one of the only times during the day that you can actually have a full conversation. However, as kids get more involved in school and activities, and parents have obligations outside of the home, sometimes dinner isn’t always a full family gathering. Here are some tips to make sure you’re connecting as a family:
- If someone is missing for dinner, you should still gather the rest of the family around the table when they do eat. Serve dessert to everyone else while the late family members are eating dinner, that way you’re still eating together.
- Evaluate your day to determine the best time family time for your family’s schedule.
- Build a daily review into your bedtime routine with the kids.
- Go on a family walk and talk while getting exercise.
- Gather the whole family for a different meal. If everyone is around during breakfast and it isn’t as hectic as later in the day, that may work better.
- While driving kids places, talk to them while they are traveling in the car with you.
Some days, the only time my husband and I get to talk with my nine-year-old is while he is showering before bed. He chats from the other side of the shower curtain. Active kids are busy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find time to talk! Find what works for your family and enjoy those conversations!
September 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 pm
One of the best ways to have children behave appropriately is by focusing on rewarding them for good behavior. I find that my kids LOVE to receive little “extras” and it motivates them to think about their actions. Positive reinforcement can often yield better results than punishment.
Here are some great ways to reward behavior:
Give Praise – This goes without saying, really. Simple things like saying “Thank You’”, “I Love You”, and “Good Job”, can sometimes go a long way.
Special Items Or Toys – Have a box filled with little trinkets for the children to select from. When they acheive something we have been working on, or when they go out of their way to do something nice, they get to choose an item from this box as a reward.
Sweet Treats- Reward them with a piece of candy or another treat that is out of the ordinary. This isn’t the best thing to do right around bedtime, but every now and then i let my kids have ice cream in the morning when they’ve behaved well!
Reward With Activity – Use favorite activities or special trips do as a reward. A bounce house place, the zoo, a museum, miniature golf, the water park, etc. are great options for letting kids know they’ve been behaving well.
Give Your Child More Privileges – Kids love to do what they’re usually not allowed to, especially when older children and parents can do them. For example, children love to stay up past their bedtime. Allow them to stay up later usual, watch a “big kid” movie, etc.
Show With Affection - Reward them with some extra snuggle time on the couch or even a big hug.
How do you reward good behavior?
August 29th, 2014 at 1:18 pm
Breakfast is one of my nemesis’. The boys get bored with the same thing, so I try to mix it up as much as I can. This muffin mix allows you to use one mix and change it up with different ingredients to make different types of muffins. These also freeze wonderfully!
Plain Muffin Mix
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
Cupcake wrappers, vegetable cooking spray or butter for greasing tins.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in one-half of dry ingredients. Beat in yogurt. Beat in remaining dry ingredients, until incorporated.
Spray 12-cup muffin tin or put wrappers in it. Spoon batter into tins and bake until muffins are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve. They freeze wonderfully!
Feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts or blueberries to main mix or follow some of the variations below.
Raspberry Almond Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons almond extract with butter and sugar. Spoon one-half of a portion of batter into each cup. With small spoon, make a well in center of each cup of dough. Spoon 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry (or other flavored) jam into each well. Cover with remaining batter.
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
Follow the main recipe and add 3 tablespoons poppy seeds to the dry ingredients, and 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest to the butter-sugar mixture. While muffins are baking, heat 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice from 2 small lemons in small saucepan until sugar dissolves and mixture forms light syrup, 3-4 minutes. Brush warm syrup over warm muffins and serve.
Banana Walnut Muffins
Follow the main recipe adding 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg to dry ingredients, substituting 1 cup packed light brown sugar for granulated sugar and folding 1 1/2 cups finely diced bananas (about 3 small) and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts into finished batter.
What’s your favorite kind of muffin?