“Get Better Soon” Gift Basket Ideas

Posted 02-24-2017 at 01:09 AM by Jessica

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Flu season has arrived. Coworkers coughing up a lung at the desk next to you and your kids giving you the lay down on how many kids have thrown up at their school this week…

Isn’t it just the most wonderful time of the year?

Someone around you is bound to get sick unfortunately, and I have the perfect “Get Better Soon” basket filler ideas so that you score some serious brownie points with whoever you gift it to. This basket can be as expensive or inexpensive as you’d like, just pick and choose which options you want to find, and use this list to inspire you to add some of your own favorites as well. (Maybe your grandma has the best soup recipe that she swears cures the common cold? Print it out and include it in the basket!)

 

“Get Better Soon” basket filler ideas:

Saltine Crackers

Bottle(s) of Sprite or Ginger Ale

A Mug

Cough Drops

Canned Chicken Noodle Soup

Mints (Altoids also help upset stomachs)

Tea

Ice Pack or Heating Pad

A Book or Magazine

Coloring Book or Puzzle Book (Sudoku is my favorite)

Hand Sanitizer

Warm Fuzzy Socks

Vitamin C Drops or Emergen-C Packets (I love Emergen-C!)

Chapstick

Vapor Rub

Medications (if you know what kind they prefer)

Boxes of Tissues

Lotion (Stay away from heavily scented if they have a cold; it could trigger symptoms)

Disinfecting Wipes

Reusable Water Bottle

Fruit Juice

Fresh Fruit

Thermometer

 

Those are just a few ideas out of the many out there! You can really include anything you’d like, and your friend or family member will really appreciate the time and effort you put into it for them.

Diaper Swapers

Getting and Staying Organized in 2017!

Posted 02-23-2017 at 01:08 AM by Jessica

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Now that 2017 is here it’s time for “in with the new, and out with the old.” If you’ve got clutter stacking up around your house (which is likely for everyone after the holidays) it’s time for you to get started on being organized. While the process of organization often isn’t all that complicated, the idea alone can be very daunting and may keep you from getting started. Here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful during my organizational adventures.

Get Started Somewhere

This is one of the biggest hurdles people face before getting going. They spend so much time dwelling on where to begin, and end up wasting so much time. All you need to do is choose a cluttered area. Just one! Start with something relatively simple so that you can build up your confidence from the beginning so that you don’t get burned out and quit early in the game. Maybe the shoe rack has shoes that don’t fit anyone any more? Or the shelf in the living room has somehow accumulated too many random trinkets? Put your mind to one specific area and do not move on until you’ve completed it.

Get Rid of Things!

If you haven’t worn that blouse in 6 months, you probably won’t ever wear it. There is obviously something about it that you don’t particularly like, so let it go. Pack it up in a box and take it to your local Good Will or Charity. Or, if you’re looking to make a little extra cash, take it along with a bunch of your gently-used clothes to a store that will buy them from you so that they can re-sell them!

Stick with a Schedule

De-cluttering is a constant process, especially with kids around to get things all cluttered back up again. Setting a schedule can really help to keep the clutter under control. Make it a plan to go through the fridge and pantry before each grocery shopping trip; organize the closets the first week of each month, and do a play-room run through every Monday to keep things under wraps. It’s much easier to take a few minutes here and there to tidy up and toss out old or unused items than to have to do a full clean-out.

Happy New Year, good luck with being organized in 2017!

 

5 Mix-ins to Dress Up Your Boxed Mac and Cheese

Posted 02-21-2017 at 01:08 AM by Jessica

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Macaroni and Cheese was the food of my childhood. I would choose the Kraft box over a serving of the homemade stuff in a heart beat. I’m not quite sure what the stuff is infused with that causes such an intense liking among children and adults alike, but whatever it is, it’s delicious.

The tastiness of the Macaroni isn’t the only thing that makes the meal so dang awesome; the fact that it can be also made in about 10 minutes tops is enough to get very excited about. All in all, it’s a great dish. But sometimes you just have to mix things up a little bit! I’ve found 5 different additions that you can mix into your Mac and Cheese that will add to the tastiness but not much to the preparation time, making the dish a little more unique on days when you’re feeling a bit fancier.

Cherry tomatoes + Mozzarella Chunks + Fresh Basil = Margarita Macaroni Heaven

Feta Cheese + Sun-dried Tomatoes + Garlic Powder = Mediterranean Style Mac

Canned Pumpkin + Nutmeg = Autumn Inspired Macaroni and Cheese

Frozen Peas + Bacon + Breadcrumbs = Comfort Food Style Mac 

Canned Chili + Pinch of Chili Powder = Chili Mac (my favorite. We used to eat this bi-weekly when I was growing up).

 

Let me know how you like these variations, and share with me your favorite Macaroni Mix-ins! 

 

Get Moving! 3 Easy Ways To Incorporate More Daily Exercise

Posted 02-18-2017 at 01:07 AM by Jessica

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Instead of thinking solely about getting in more exercise even though that is very important, if you truly want to be healthier, start thinking about how you can get in move movement each day. The extra movement doesn’t have to be a mile run or 15 minutes on an elliptical, it can simply be taking a flight of stairs or parking farther away from the store so you have to walk a little more. Those extra steps really add up, and if you pair that with regular exercise, you’re on your way to a much healthier you! Here are a few of my favorite easy ways to get more movement in each day!

 

Park Farther from the Entrances

Even if it’s just a little farther, switch up your standard parking spot for one that’s got a little more distance to it. Even just an extra 20 steps can make a difference.

Skip the Elevator

This one is frequently mentioned, and for good reason! Even if you just go up one flight of stairs before catching an elevator for the rest of the way up, your heart will thank you.

Stand Instead of Sitting

I’m one of those people who frequently finds themselves sitting, and hardly ever stands for longer than a couple minutes here and there. Don’t do that! Whenever you find the chance to stand instead of sit, take advantage of it!

 

It’s usually the small things that will become habits and end up making the biggest difference, so as 2017 comes around pay a little more attention to the small ways you can increase your movement, and you’ll be set to be so much healthier!

Tips for Driving in the Snow

Posted 02-17-2017 at 01:06 AM by Jessica

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I know that not everyone has to deal with driving in the snow, some people are lucky and never have to brave a winter storm to head to the grocery store or work. Though these tips are specifically for driving in the snow I think that a lot of them work just as well with extremely rainy conditions as well. If you can avoid driving altogether when the conditions get rough, please do! But sometimes you absolutely have to drive, and in those cases please remember these tips.

1. Give yourself plenty of room to stop. It can be easy to revert to your sunny-day driving and trail behind the car in front of you without giving much room. But when the roads are icy you won’t be able to stop as quickly and may end up rear-ending the other car! On dry pavement you should follow someone by about 3 to 4 seconds. When there are winter conditions present, you should increase that to 8 to 10 seconds at least.

2. Drive slowly. This one seems so obvious, but there are so many people who must forget because there are so many accidents caused by cars going way too fast. Even if you do end up hitting another car or running into a fence, if you’re going a slow speed there likely won’t be much damage.

3. Don’t come to a full stop, if possible. If you can slow down way before a stoplight and be going slowly enough that you can continue through as it changes to green before you fully approach it, go ahead and do that as you may otherwise get stuck on the ice.

4. Understand your brakes. If you have ABS (anti-lock brakes) then you simply need to push the brake all the way down when you’re trying to stop quickly. It is normal for the pedal to vibrate quite a bit when you’re stopping, that means that the ABS is working! If you do not have ABS you’ll need to pump your brakes in order to come to a quick stop.

5. Accelerate slowly. You can’t expect your car to accelerate as quickly when the roads are icy. If you get the wheels spinning too quickly off of the get-go you won’t gain enough traction and may end up digging yourself holes in the ice and snow that your wheels will get stuck in.

6. Check your tires. Before the first snowfall comes make sure to check your tires to see if they have sufficient tread to handle icy roads. In order to test your tread take a penny and hold it so that Mr. Lincolns head is facing down. Insert the penny in between the tread on your tires and if you cover the top of Mr. Lincolns’ head, you’re good. If the tread doesn’t reach the top of his head then you probably need new tires.

 

If the conditions are too bad, please try to stay home and wait for the weather to lighten up and for the roads to be plowed and salted. If you must venture out, please be safe!

 

Homemade Slime “Chemistry Project”

Posted 02-16-2017 at 01:05 AM by Jessica

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Making homemade slime is one of the easiest and coolest projects you can do with your kids. It’s a great science experiment if you explain how the liquids and powder “magically” turn into slime, if you want to launch into a discussion on polymers with your older children. If not, you can just explain that sometimes when you mix things together they change forms, and that is what the study of “chemistry” is about! When kids can relate a word that may seem scary and difficult, like “chemistry,” to something fun, they’re more likely to become more interested in it, and may end up finding that they love science!

Okay, on to the recipe!

You’ll need:

1 teaspoon borax powder
1 ½ cup water
½ cup Elmer’s glue (clear or white)
Food coloring
Optional: glitter

 

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve the borax powder in 1 cup of the water. In another bowl pour in the glue and add ½ cup water. Stir in the food coloring and optional glitter and mix it all together until it’s well incorporated and smooth.
  2. Pour the borax mixture into the bowl with the glue mixture and prepare to be amazed as it forms into slime once mixed!
  3. Now for the fun part; ditch the spoon and use your hands instead to knead the slime together! When you’re finished playing with it store it in a Ziplock bag.

 

Have fun!

4 Dog Toys You Can Make from Items Laying around the House

Posted 02-15-2017 at 01:05 AM by Jessica

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For some reason my dogs have always loved playing with items that aren’t necessarily dog toys. When my Aussie spent a solid 15 minutes throwing an empty sour cream container around the house today I honestly couldn’t figure out why on earth I’d spent so much money on his heaping pile of toys in the doggie toy basket. $10 squeaky elephant vs. empty sour cream container that would’ve just ended up in the trash…

Sour cream container for the win.

Honestly though, dogs do not care in the slightest if you spent 20 bucks on a fancy new toy. They may like it for a little bit, but often end up playing with a random object that just makes you want to roll your eyes and double check the pet stores’ toy return policy.

If you’re low on cash but still want to provide your pooch with fun new toys that will spark their excitement and help them to get some exercise you really don’t need to look any farther than around your own home. Here are a few simple ideas for fun toys your dog will love.

Water Bottle in a Sock -For the dog that loves the noisy crinkly toys. The sock will help it last longer, protect them from any sharp edges once the bottle is punctured, and to provide better grip.

Braided Shirt Rope Toy -For the dog that loves tug of war. Take that old t-shirt and cut it into strips. Braid them together for a sturdy tug-toy.

Tennis Ball Treat Dispenser -For the food-obsessed or bored pooch. Cut a slit into a tennis ball and fill with treats. The ball will rattle, which is oh-so-cool to dogs, and when bitten properly, treats can be released.

Apple Kong – For the peanut butter lovers. Kong’s are great, but they’re really pricey! Instead of dishing out money for one of those, simply dig out the core and seeds in an apple and fill up the middle with peanut butter. They’ll spend a good amount of time licking out the peanut butter, and they can chew at/eat the apple as well for some added nutrition!

What are some of your dogs’ favorite homemade toys? Please share them with us!

 

Indoor Activities for the Boring Winter Months

Posted 02-14-2017 at 01:14 AM by Jessica

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The winter months can be hard ones to get through when you have kids. Unless you plan on having snow-ball fights or will brave the cold temperatures for outside play time each day you really need other activities. I’ve found that it doesn’t take much to help bust boredom with kids indoors; it’s just a matter of creativity and novelty.

Here are just a few ideas to get you inspired!

  1. Bake a new recipe.
  2. Create homemade slime or kinetic sand. There are lots of great “recipes” you can Google or find on Pinterest. Imagine all the “cool parent points” you’ll earn if you tell them you know how to make slime!
  3. Find a bucket of old toys they haven’t played with in a while.
  4. Build a blanket fort.
  5. Get involved in a game of hide-and-seek. The game becomes infinitely more fun as soon as mom or dad start playing.
  6. Craft something new with unexpected supplies.
  7. Wash the dog together.
  8. Have a competition to see who can build the tallest Lego “building.”
  9. Fill up a bubble bath and give them finger paints (simply add some food coloring to bubble bath) to decorate the tub with.
  10. Set out blankets and pillows on the floor and watch a movie together.
  11. Have a board game day.
  12. Try some simple kid-safe yoga stretches and moves.
  13. Have an indoor photo shoot with stuffed animals and toys.
  14. Learn some phrases in a new language.
  15. Take turns reading new books together.

Coconut Berry Overnight Oats

Posted 02-13-2017 at 01:03 AM by Jessica

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One thing that really bugs me is when I wake up late and the morning is extra hectic, and I end up either skipping breakfast (leading to lots of unhealthy snacking until lunch) or I grab a cookie and call it good. I often eat whatever is convenient, not what is best for my body. So when I was introduced to overnight oats, I fell in love. I could easily throw it all together in a couple minutes the night before and could simply take it out of the fridge and take it with me in the morning! And the best part is that it would be a breakfast packed with nutrition! This Coconut Berry Overnight Oats recipe is super filling and tasty, giving you the perfect start to your day!

Coconut Berry Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

½ cup minute rolled oats

¾ cup Silk coconut milk (I use the sweetened kind)

1 cup assorted berries (I had blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries this morning)

2 Tbsp Chia seeds (these babies are packed with nutrition!)

Optional: Shredded coconut

 

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a mason jar and shake until incorporated. Place in fridge overnight and enjoy the next morning! (If you don’t have a mason jar you can always use a mug or bowl and just be sure to cover it once it’s in the fridge.)

How simple is that?

Let me know what your favorite Overnight Oats recipes are in the comments! I always love trying new flavors.

3 Easy and Unique Crafts for Kids

Posted 02-11-2017 at 01:12 AM by Jessica

Doing crafts with your kids is so important as it helps to fine-tune their motor skills and provides them with a creative outlet! Crafting doesn’t have to be complicated or pricey, there are so many great projects that require only a couple supplies, and they’re usually things you can find around the house!

Here are 3 of the easiest and most fun crafts I’ve found that you can do with your toddler.

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I used to do this Golf Ball Paint Craft as a kid and I remember loving it. It’s super simple, but super fun and a really unique idea.

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What could be better than finger painting with lots of different colors? Especially when stickers are used to leave white shapes behind. Get the full project instructions here.

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I have to admit that this project has me really wanting to find some bubble wrap so that I can try it myself. There is just something so mesmerizing about the pattern of dots from the bubble wrap! Think of all the fun designs that could be made with this craft!

 

What are some of your kids’ favorite crafts? Let us know in the comments!