Sep 29, 2010

Feature: "Two Pillows In One Pillow Case...Amazing!" -Alli

Our bed is filled with a number of those down pillows that have virtually lost their umpf. A typical night at the Wards consist of me trying to wad them all together to form one pillow. Anyone else do that? Well today the most brilliant thing happened. We discovered putting two pillows in one pillow case! OH MY GOSH... Can you believe that has never crossed my mind before? 30 years I've been "settling" for a less than stellar pillow situation.. NOT ANY MORE! WHOOH. Those in the same boat... try it! It is amazing! =)

CLICK HERE to see Alli's full post entitled "The small things in life" on her blog Diapers-N-Heels.

Sep 27, 2010

Slice of Oprah: Grilled Cheese On Another Level

A while back Gale, Oprah's BFF, did a search across America to find the most mouth-watering sandwich. I feel a secret kinship with Gale because she loves food as much as I do, but I think she may have one up on me when it comes to trying anything and everything. One of the sandwiches she found on her search was a gourmet twist on a classic grilled cheese. It sounded so enticing that I went ahead and tried to make my own the week after I saw it and DANG is it delicious! So I thought I would share. What you need is:

Havarti Cheese Sliced

Tomatoes Sliced
Basil, either fresh or dried
2 Slices of Hearty bread, I prefer sourdough
Heat up your pan and butter the outsides of your bread. Lay down a piece of bread, butter side down, in the pan. While it's sizzling, throw on your cheese, drizzle some honey, lay on your tomatoes and basil leaves, drizzle some more honey, and top it with your final piece of bread, butter side up. When the bottom is golden brown, flip it carefully over and brown it on the other side.

You are in for a delightful treat I tell ya.

You can CLICK HERE to see the segment on Oprah that inspired me.

Sep 24, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Give your kids control

Many families with children have their own way of assigning jobs/rewards. Here is something we have come up with over time that is working wonders in our home. I am sure it may change over time as all family plans have to be flexible, but for now we are thrilled with the results! Perhaps it's something you can pull from for your own family.

I was really tired of setting timers for computer time or TV/video game time and nagging my children to turn them off. In fact, I was tired of them asking for it all so often. I really wanted them to be more responsible with their use of time. We decided on some rules and presented them to the kids. They were sooooo excited!
  1. Everyone has jobs they are personally responsible for: making their bed, brushing their teeth, keeping their room clean, taking dirty dishes to the sink, putting their clothes in the hamper, practicing piano, etc...
  2. We also have jobs that help the family. Each person has 2 "stick jobs" everyday. The kids pull two sticks from a bag and they are responsible for those 2 jobs that day. These include: setting the table, unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, clearing and wiping the table, wiping the cupboard fronts, wiping the kitchen table and clearing food/condiments, etc...
  3. On Saturdays, we work as a family, getting bathrooms cleaned, dusting, etc...
  4. When the kids do these jobs without being asked (this takes patient!) they will earn a dollar. The dollars have a fun name in our house that go with our last name. For example, if your last name was Bird, they could be Bird Bucks, or Dempsy Dollars. Catchy and fun for the kids. 
  5. At the end of our day when we come together as a family we go through each job and pass out our dollars. Each child has an envelope holding their money. For our money we altered an image we found online, but I'm sure you can find play money at the dollar store.
  6. Now for the fun part that puts them in control! Each dollar has a value. One dollar is worth 10 minutes of t.v. or computer or video game time OR the dollar is worth 50 cents. The kids get to decide. One rule is that they can only spend 6 dollars a day on electronics. 
The kids love having the control and they are soooo stingy about spending their money! My oldest (nine years) is saving up for the Lego Harry Potter game, so he never spends more than 2 dollars a day on electronics. My twin 5 year olds and my 3 year old are also very into this. The 3 year old doesn't quite grasp it all, but she loves earning her dollars! When the timer beeps now, they know if they don't turn off the screen, it means I get another dollar from them. I've never seen kids walk away from a TV so fast, or practice the piano, or clean up without being asked. They are developing great habits! I love that they have control and they are learning how to save in the process. As for me, my nagging moments have decreased by leaps and bounds!

Sep 22, 2010

Windex Away Temptation

I saw this clip on TV a while back and have to share. Basically, this guy sprays Windex on the cupcake he's given and throws it away so that he won't be tempted to eat it. I thought this was hilarious and on some bizarre level kind of genius. I mean, if you are trying to avoid food temptation, that is one way to completely obliterate it.

Sep 20, 2010

I Can Do Hard Things

My life has recently been flipped upside down. I am 11 weeks pregnant and we are thrilled to be having our fourth and final baby! However, pregnancy takes a serious toll on me. I have morning sickness for a good 5 to 6 months and nothing seems to help. So, here I am, a lump on a log. One who has no energy or desire to do anything, who can't change a diaper or wipe a bum without gagging for fresh air, who needs to eat every 2 hours and yet nothing sounds good, who has about 10 things to get done and is bedraggled after doing just one, who makes frighteningly odd sounds throughout the day while trying to keep from tossing my cookies. The truth be known, pregnancy is for me dreadful but so worth it.

Now to my point. Before finding out I was pregnant I happened upon a blog where a mother had recently lost her 18 month old baby girl. She was so inspirational and offered up a piece of advice I have taken to heart. As she tries to cope with her new reality, she has found it helpful to tell herself, "I can do hard things". I know my current trial pales in comparison, but I keep finding myself saying those very words out loud as I'm getting up to take the kids to school, or going to a social event, or making dinner, or anything that takes me off my bed or the couch for that matter. It really helps me to believe that I CAN do it and somehow motivates this lifeless body to move.

Sep 17, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Grated Butter

You know those recipes that call for drizzled butter? Well, sure, butter isn't always the best health option, but I still use the stuff every now and then.

I have several recipes that tell me to melt and drizzle butter over everything before popping it into the oven. I end up using more butter than I probably should or most of the butter ends up on one side of the dish and the other half gets hardly any.

I h ad an AHA! moment a while back that I would love to share. I now skip melting the butter and instead pull a stick straight out of the fridge and grate the butter over my dish. It works like magic, is evenly distributed, and I use so much less! Just note, the butter MUST be cold and you should move pretty quick. I simply move my grater over the dish while grating and viola! My dish is drizzled with butter. It looks almost like grated mozzarella cheese! This specific dish is a cheesy chip chicken. My kids love it!

Sep 15, 2010

Snack Time Fishing

I had the privilege of watching this cute little guy named Max last week. When it was time for a snack he asked if I happened to have pretzel sticks, peanut butter, and fishies. He went on to explain that he wanted to go fishing with the pretzel sticks! We were both pretty bummed that I didn't have the proper tools, but I thought this was the cutest idea and knew it would become an instant favorite for my kids. It's no wonder something so fun came from his mouth, his mother is a creative genius when it comes to entertaining little ones.

As you see in the picture above, you dab a glob of peanut butter onto a plate, scatter some fishies around, and give the kids pretzel sticks. It's then up to them to dip their pretzel stick into the peanut butter, pick up a fish with its gooey goodness, and pop the fun into their mouth.

Who knew snacking could be so exciting!

Sep 13, 2010

Guest Post: Sweet & Salty Pantry Bins

No matter how many times I cleaned and organized my pantry I could never KEEP it clean and organized. So a few months ago I thought of having one bin for our "sweet" snacks and one bin for our "salty" snacks and it has been so helpful! Just this one little change has kept my pantry clean and organized since I started using the bins. Everyone knows where to look for their snacks and they know exactly where to put them back as well. Hopefully this can help someone else too.

Kierstin, Utah

Sep 10, 2010

From Linda's Lips: WD 40--not just for squeaky doors!

I'm sure everyone has heard of many uses for this product, but one that I have used on more than one occasion and tell people about all the time is for getting out stains. I originally heard about this from the "Queen of Clean." She is one of my favorite ladies. I absorb her wisdom like a sponge!

Basically, if you have any oil based stain (lipstick, bicycle chain grease, grease splatter from last nights dinner, and my favorite--crayon) WD-40 can get it out.

I had heard of this once and stored it in one of those "useless fact" compartments in my brain, and then came the day when a crayon was left in a pocket of a pair of shorts and made its way into the dryer. You can imagine my horror (well, if you know me you can imagine). There I was, pregnant with twins and all of my maternity clothes were splotched with crayon marks. There was no way I was going buy new clothes for the remaining 2 months of my pregnancy, so then and there I armed myself with a bottle and took to the backyard. This was going to take some ventilation space. I would spray a bit of WD-40 on a spot, activate the stain, and then rub it with dishwasher soap and water to remove the crayon and the WD-40 completely out of the fabric.

It works ladies and gentleman. It really really works.

And to clean the inside of the dryer: I sprayed a bit of WD-40 on a rag and wiped out those crayon marks. Followed that with liquid dish soap and water, and then put some dry rags in the dryer to be sure they collected the residue (this little tidbit I got off of the crayola website after I had cleaned my clothes). I have since learned it will also get gum off of the inside of dryer walls as well. I'm thinking I need to inspect my pockets more carefully from now on...

Sep 8, 2010

"Plastic Spoon Puppets...Hours of Role Playing Fun!" -CE Alvarez

This is a cheap and easy craft that you can do again & again and can lead to hours of role playing fun!

What You Need:
Plastic Spoons, Felt, Permanent Markers, Scissor, Glue, Pipe Cleaners

WhatTo Do:
Draw faces on to the back side of the spoons with permanent markers. Carefully cut clothing, hair, hats, etc from felt. (Note: Fold clothing in half and use scissor to make a slit to slide spoon handle in) Glue hair on spoon. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the handle to make arms.

CLICK HERE to see more fun craft ideas at CE's blog, "The Mommy Mayhem Survival Guide"

Sep 6, 2010

The Countdown

We recently went on vacation to Yellowstone and before we left we got a surprise package with a yummy countdown from "Billy the Bear", affectionately named by Grandma. The kids were thrilled. And I thought, wow, that is a cute and simple idea!

She put treats into snack baggies, tied a cute string in the middle to make two separate pockets (I've also seen it done with saran wrap). Then she stapled as many bags together as she needed for the countdown. She attached it all to a cute bear cutout.

This idea can be used to fit any occasion. The best part is watching the kids light up as they open a treat each day in anticipation of the upcoming event.

Sep 3, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Hands Up!

A few years ago I was involved with a really fantastic playgroup. On one occasion we invited a child behaviorist to come observe us and our children as we played together. We all wondered if our children were "normal." Some wondered if their children needed speech intervention, some wondered if they were advanced/behind.

At the time, my twins were about 2 years old and I didn't really care too much about the spectrum, I felt like after watching my older son that they were pretty normal, but was curious nonetheless. After about an hour our behavior specialist talked to us individually and we learned some really great things about each of our babes and their different styles of learning. She then pulled us together as a group and gave us some great tips about things we could do to improve our parenting.

There was one thing that has stuck in my brain like glue. It changed my life as a parent. I now refer to it as the Hands Up! technique.

She quickly pointed out that all of us there that day (and most parents in general) constantly follow our toddlers around saying things like, "don't touch," "don't hit," "stop biting!" She explained to us that young children only hear the "touch," "hit," and "bite" in phrases like this and they get confused when we as parents get upset. Not to mention every phrase is negative in tone. She gave us an alternative! Yay! She told us that for the next 30 minutes we should change our phrase to match what we wanted the child to do. For example, if they were touching something they shouldn't, or hitting, we should say, "hands off!" or "hands up!" If they were biting, "mouths off" or "teeth off." It seemed sooooo silly to us, and for 30 minutes it was hard to change our ways. BUT it was like a miracle had occurred in that room. Our children listened to us! They understood what we were saying and everything was said in more happy tones.

These phrases now come very naturally to me because they are so much more effective! It definitely came in handy when we were recently seated at a restaurant right next to a fire place. My little miss quickly smiled and raised her hands high when my husband and I both said, "hands up!"

Sep 1, 2010

Feature: "Do You Have a Mystery Odor in Your Laundry Routine???” -Jane

In the past decade have you upgraded to a front loading washing machine? Do you think POWDER laundry detergent is a thing of the past?

I am particularly fond of good smells, actually, obsessed. In the past few years, I went to huge efforts to try and figure out why my laundry was not smelling fresh… I even brought in a couple plumbers to help me resolve the issue. I purchased a NEW set of washer/dryer and went back to top loader for my washer because I was convinced after all my research that it must be my washer that had the problem. After all, front loaders do have a ‘mystery odor’ reputation.

However, after an appointment with one very brilliant plumber, he informed me I should make the switch back to powder detergent. He said the washing machine needs that dose of powder every load to cleanse itself. I made the switch, and wah-la! My yummy-fresh smelling laundry returned. I was one very happy scent-obsessed housewife!

So, here’s the low-down on liquid… if you are having any challenges with a weird/nasty odor in your washing machine...good chance it's because the liquid soap is sitting-rotting in the plumbing pipes/tubes!!! And, if you have a front loading washing machine, front loaders are going to worsen the odor!!!

I recommend Tide He, *powder form only. CLICK HERE to check it out.

CLICK HERE to see all of Jane's laundry recommendations at her blog "See Jane Blog".

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