I was browsing the paint selections at Home Depot, and I had a mommy moment as I was standing there looking through what seemed like a million colors of the rainbow in order to find the one perfect accent wall color. Although, my boys are not preschoolers this tip may help other Moms that have preschoolers at home. I thought the paint swatch cards that I was picking up (to hang on my walls) would be a great tool for teaching preschoolers colors. You can select cards in the primary colors and on the back (with a black Sharpie) you can write the name of the color so that your preschooler can get familiar with not only colors but spelling as well. This is a much cheaper alternative than buying the color cards from the teacher supply stores (like I did years ago). I hope this quick tips helps your little ones learn their colors and saves you a few bucks.
Leslie is a wife, mom to two boys, and entrepreneur. She holds a Bachelors degree in English and History from The University of Southwestern Louisiana (now known as The University of Louisiana at Lafayette). She is the former sole business owner of Luxe Laundress, a wash and fold laundry company. She recently sold part of her business to be a behind-the-wheel Mom. She is in the process of working on her next great business adventure, while taking the time to share her laundry and household tips and organization skills to help you sort out life one load at a time. She lives in Spring with her husband, Paul, and two sons, Alec and Jace. When Leslie is not chauffeuring her boys around town, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, traveling, reading, writing, organizing and crafting. She even enjoys doing laundry!Leslie is currently a columnist for WoodlandsMommy.com, and you can send your household, laundry and organization questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
April is National Earth Month, and Monday, April 22, 2013 is Earth Day. Earth Day is an annual day on which special event are to held worldwide to demonstrate support for the protection of our environment. Earth Day is a great day to plan to spend time with your kiddos doing projects that are Earth friendly. It's also a great time to talk to your kids about protecting our environment as well as discussing Earth friendly activities you can do around your home. If we get our children passionate about our environment it will create a lifetime of good practices and environmentally friendly behavior. Every little bit helps. Below I have listed some kid-friendly activities to do with your kids or your entire family. If you don't have time on Earth Day go ahead and set aside any day in April to talk to your kids about being good to the environment. The entire month of April is Earth month so pick a day that works for you.
Get inspired at http://www.earthlingmonth.com.
Whole Foods Market has created The Earthling Guide with tips on how to help maintain the planet's beauty and minimize the human footprint. Click here to check it out: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/earthling
10 Kid-friendly Earth Day Activities Equal Fun For The Entire Family
1. Plant a tree.
2. Throw a block party to celebrate Earth month.
3. Decorate your recycle bin and explain what items can be recycled.
4. Visit a local Farmer's Market.
5. Put a rain bucket out to collect rain water and use the collected rain drops to water outside and indoor plants.
6. Clean out the toy box and donate the unwanted items to a charity.
7. Go through your bookshelves and donate unwanted books and magazines to our local library.
8. Start an herb garden with just one or two of your most commonly used kitchen herbs, and let the kids help cut the herbs when you need them for meals.
9. Recycle butter containers or plastic fruit bowls and used them to store paint in and spend an afternoon painting with your little Picasso.
10. Take a family walk through your neighborhood and collect trash while you are out on your walk. Make sure to bring a bag or two. Recycle one of your plastic grocery bags to collect trash along your walk.
Three weeks after I get my hair highlighted I always get one or two grays that pop up right in my part line. They scream, "Hey, look at me. I am getting old!" and I can't have that. A friend of mine told me her secret weapon to masking those unruly gray hairs, that stick out of your perfectly coiffed hair, is waterproof mascara. No, it's no April Fool's joke. If you are looking for a quick, easy and cheap way to mask your grays in between highlighting and coloring pick up an inexpensive waterproof mascara the next time you are at the drug store. After you have styled your hair grab your waterproof mascara and paint right over your gray strand(s) of hair, let it dry, and your grays are incognito until the next time you wash your hair. Say goodbye to those annoying gray strands!
A good friend introduced me to dōTERRA's essential oils. I have started using them to replace our household's over-the-counter medication as well as using them to make my own cleaning products. Below are several recipes and a shopping list for common household products that you can make yourself, and the best part is that these homemade cleaning products are all natural and safe for your family. I loved the products so much that I have become a consultant for dōTERRA. dōTERRA's Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils are 100% pure natural aromatic compounds carefully extracted from plants. They do not contain fillers or artificial ingredients that would dilute their active qualities.
I hope you enjoy making these all natural and safe cleaning products for your family!
1 1/2 cup Hot Water
1/2 cup Castille Soap
1 tbsp White Vinegar
1 tbsp Washing Soda
1 tbsp Soap Flakes
10 drops Lemon Essential Oil
Combine Castille soap, vinegar, washing soda, and soap flakes into a large bowl and add in the hot water. Whisk the mixture until ingredients are well blended and soap flakes have dissolved. Allow mixture to cool completely stirring occasionally. Add the Lemon oil after mixture has cooled.
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Citric Acid
20 drops Lemon Essential Oil
Mix together salt and essential oils till combined. Add other ingredients and stir. Store tightly covered in a glass jar. Use one tablespoon per load with hot water.
Dishwasher Rinse Agent:
Lemon Essential Oil
Fill rinse dispenser with vinegar and add 5 drops lemon essential oil.
All Purpose Cleaner:
1 cup Water
1 cup Vinegar
2 tsp Liquid Castille Soap
25 drops Essential Oil of choice, i.e. OnGuard (great for killing germs), Lemon, Melaleuca, etc.
Add all ingredients into a glass spray bottle. Shake before using.
Creamy Soft Scrub:
1/2 cup Baking Soda
Liquid Castille Soap
1 tsp Vegetable Glycerin
Essential oils of choice, i.e. Add Melaleuca essential oil to kill mold, Add Lemon for shine, etc.
Pour baking soda in a bowl. Add Castille soap a little at a time to make a frosting like texture. Add in your essential oils and glycerin. Store in a sealed glass jar.
1/4 -1/2 tsp Liquid Castille Soap
3 tblsp Vinegar
2 cups Water
10 drops Essential Oil of Choice- Peppermint, Lemon, Orange
Pour ingredients into a spray bottle, shake and use.
1/4 cup White Vinegar
1/4 cup Water
1/2 tsp Liquid Castille Soap
1/8 tsp Olive Oil
10 drops Orange or Lemon oil
Combine ingredients and pour into spray bottle.
Wood & Stainless Steel Polish:
10 drops Orange or Lemon Essential Oil
Combine ingredients, use a soft cloth to wipe then buff surfaces.
Fruit and Vegetable Wash:
1 cup Water
1 cup White Vinegar
1 tbsp Baking Soda
10 drops each Grapefruit & Lemon Essential Oil
Combine ingredients and pour into spray bottle.
Laundry Detergent (Safe for machines including HE):
16 cups Baking Soda
12 cups Borax
8 cups Soap Flakes
3 tblsp Essential Oil of choice, i.e. Lavender, Lemon, Sandalwood, Grapefruit, etc.
Combine ingredients, mix with a wire wisk. Use 1/8 cup per load.
Makes enough to last a family of 4 one year. Can reduce the recipe by 1/4 for a smaller batch.
1 cup Water
1 cup Baking Soda
2 cups White Vinegar
20 drops Essential Oil of choice
Choose a container large enough to accommodate the chemical reaction of the Baking Soda and Vinegar. Combine ingredients starting with water, essential oils, and baking soda. Add vinegar slowing to avoid volcano effect.
Use 1/2 cup in the rinse cycle or wet a washcloth and throw into the dryer with your clothes.
1/4 cup unflavored Vodka
3 1/2 cups Filtered Water
20 drops Essential oils of choice- Lavender, Lemon, Citrus, Ylang Ylang, etc.
In a small bowl, mix vodka and essential oil together. The alcohol works as an emulsifier, allowing the oil and water to mix evenly.
Pour the oil-vodka mix into the spray bottle, add the water and shake. Shake before using.
SHOPPING LIST FOR RECIPES:
To make the cleaners above, you will need the following:
• Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate), a sodium salt
• Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate), related to baking soda
• White Distilled Vinegar, an acid
• Liquid Castille Soap, (Olive, Coconut, and other vegetable oils)
• Organic Soap Flakes (Organic Coconut and Soy or Palm)
• Organic Food Grade Vegetable Glycerin, natural component of fats and oils.
• Borax (Sodium Borate Decahydrate), sodium and boron- a natural mineral
• Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), naturally occurring water like liquid
• Vodka (unflavored)
• Citric Acid, bitter acid found in fruits
• Essential Oils ( doTERRA!)
• Kosher Salt
• Glass Spray Bottles, Containers, Mixing Bowls
Most of these ingredients can be found in the grocery store. A few might need a visit to Amazon or other internet retailer. Start up cost to get these ingredients might seem overwhelming. But, the cost per use remains significantly less than retail cleaners. They last a very long time and you can use them in many ways around your home.
Also, make sure you mix your products in a glass bottle not a plastic bottle as the oils will stick to the plastic and possibly erode the plastic bottle over time. You may purchase glass bottles online at aromatools.com.
My youngest son is in Kindergarten so every day he comes home with some new masterpiece that he has created. Of course, he and I want to keep them all. He's a bigger pack rat that I am. I finally found a way that allows us to keep his artwork without my husband fussing that we are creating a fire hazard by adding more paper to everything we have saved over the years. He's probably right, but I am working on shrinking that fire hazard. Slowly but surely I am working on preserving all of my kiddos' art work and school work that they have done over the years. Keep in mind that I have a 14 year old so I have a lot to preserve. In order to preserve everything you need a scanner. It's a must! A scanner is a must have in organization, preservation and time saving. I am asked all the time, what do I do with all the paper's my children bring home from school, including artwork? Like I said before I don't want to throw it away, besides that my son would pull it out the trash can and come to me with big ol' tears in his eyes asking why I tossed his latest masterpiece. My advice. Put one or two items on the refrigerator for a couple of days then scan it and toss it in the recycle bin. I had to explain this to my little guy, because he did not like seeing his hard work going to the recycle bin. What I did was show him how the scanning process works, I showed him where I saved his projects in the computer and that was the end of the questions about why his projects were in the recycle bin. Now, I have gotten better, and I do not scan every single thing, but I scan the most special artwork and the most special school work. I let my little guy help pick out what we are going to save. A few tips when scanning. You should create a file folder for each child. You may want to create files for each year or grade level and dump your scanned projects in their respective folders. Scan the projects as they come in. Don't let them pile up or you will never want to tackle the pile. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can start today. Don't worry about the years of scanning that need to be done. Start today so it's less you have to do tomorrow. Another option is to create a "TO SCAN" folder and put it by your scanner and schedule one day a week do all your scanning and filing. Don't forget to back up your scans so that you may have them forever. That way you can preserve all those special memories without all the paper. Make sure to recycle once you have scanned. One day far far far away from now I plan on giving my boys' all of their projects that I have scanned over the years so that they can share with their children.
With Spring Break just around the corner I am sure many of you Moms are wondering what to do to keep your family busy during the week of Spring Break. In the past I have heard of family's taking staycations, which is where you take a mini vacation right in your back yard. Please don't take me literally. I don't mean tents and stuff in your back yard. Although for some this could be a really great idea of something to do for Spring Break. For you more adventurous Moms you need to jot that idea down. Tents and camping...well, that's definitely not for me, because my idea of roughing it is a hotel without a coffee pot or a Keurig machine. Well this past weekend my husband and I decided to take the family on a mini staycation. We told the boys about it on Thursday night, and they were about as excited as if I had told them I made liver for dinner. My boys' idea of vacationing has to do with passports, planes, beaches and room service. They can't help it; they are a product of their Mom, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I wanted them to see that we can have fun right here in the Houston area. We packed our little overnight bags and traveled down to Sugarland to spend the weekend at the Marriott in Sugarland Town Square, which is very much like Market Street in The Woodlands. There are lots of great places to shop and dine, and that is sure to keep you busy for the weekend. There is also a Whole Foods Store just around the corner. You really don't have to leave Town Square, because there are so many places to eat. Across from Town Square is First Colony Mall and other shopping sources. On our way home we decided to be a little more adventurous, and we went go-kart racing at Go-Kart Raceway in Houston. What a fun time! Much to my surprise the entire family had a great weekend, and we are already thinking about our next staycation in the Houston area. We planned this little trip on a whim so just keep that in mind when you are trying to find something to do with the kids during Spring Break. You can always sneak away locally for a night or two and still have tons of fun!
A couple of ideas you may want to consider for Spring Break:
* Plan an overnight trip to Brenham, and take the family to visit Blue Bell. Make sure to take the time to linger in the Bluebonnets. Don't forget your camera!
* Plan a night at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine. Pack a picnic and head over to Lake Grapevine for the afternoon. Take a trip on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, and make a stop at LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Grapevine Mills Mall.
*Take a drive to Fredericksburg in the Texas hill country. Check out Lady Bird Johnson Park. The kids would love the bird feeding area and the butterfly habitat. If the kids need to burn off some energy take them to Markplatz Playground. There is no admission fee and there are many different types of climbing, balance and swinging devices.
Whether you take an exotic vacation or a staycation for Spring Break just remember to enjoy the time with your family!
Let's face it. Making lunch for our children every day is a chore. Yes, it's fun to put sweet notes in their lunch kits, and it's fun making heart-shaped sandwiches, but that's where the fun ends. Making lunches in my house became the dreaded chore. My husband and I would play paper-rock-scissors to figure out who was going to make lunches or we negotiated other chores in lieu of making lunches. Can you believe we would rather vacuum than make lunches?
I found a way to make the process easier, and I want to share it with my faithful readers. Unfortunately, I have not found a magic fairy to do the chore for me, but I have a few tips that make it much less painful.
How many kids do you make lunches for? For me, it's two. I purchased 2 inexpensive plastic baskets, and put each child's name on the front of each basket with my p-touch label maker. Everyone should have one of those. It makes organizing easy. I keep the baskets in my pantry. You can keep them in the kitchen wherever it may be convenient for you.
Each day after the kids leave for school I fill their baskets with the items I am going to put in their lunch kits for the next day. The basket is for the goods that do not have to be refrigerated, like fruit roll ups, goldfish, pretzels, animal crackers, etc.
I also have a small plastic basket in the refrigerator, and it is labeled "For Lunch". My kids know that they can not take things out of this little basket. Everything else is fair game. I established the rule right away. In the basket I put their drinks for the next day, i.e. Capri Sun, juice boxes, etc. I also put their fruit that I have pre-packaged in Ziploc bags, i.e. grapes, sliced oranges, sliced apples, etc.
On Sunday, I take out my snack size Ziploc bags and my cutting board, and I get busy packaging snacks for the week. I wash and cut fruit and put it in snack size Ziploc bags. I package the dry snacks for the week too. I don't always pack for all five days. Most of the time I pack up things for Monday - Wednesday, and I repeat my Sunday washing, cutting and packaging process again Wednesday night for Thursday and Friday.
If you get ahead of the game the only thing you have to do in the morning is make sandwiches, wraps, heat up soup, etc. You can even try making their sandwiches and wraps at night, after the kids go to bed. That way in the morning you just grab your dry things out the bins in the pantry, the refrigerated things out of the bin in the refrigerator, stuff them in their lunch kits and send your kiddos on their merry way.
Make sure you give yourself a break at least once a month, and let the kids eat on the lunch line. They love pizza Fridays, and I do too, because I don't have to worry about packing anything.
Getting Organized in the New Year
Happy New Year! Most of you have made your resolutions (and some of you may have already broken them...that's why I don't make them), taken down your Christmas trees and Christmas decorations, and some of you have even begun gearing up for spring cleaning and tax season. There is no better time than right now to get yourself and your family organized. New Year. Clean Slate. Over the next few months I plan to bring you tips to help you get organized and stay organized. Hopefully these tips will help you get well on your way to an organized lifestyle in 2013 or at the very least you can say you had the best of intentions when you were reading about it. :)
Organize Your Recipes Electronically
I have so many cook books, recipe cards and pages torn out of magazines with recipes on them. I have hand-written recipes on the back of napkins and post-it notes. My intention has always been to type them up all nice and neat on recipe cards and file them in a pretty recipe box. That never happened. Even the most organized people tend to procrastinate. Lucky for me I found a quicker and easier method to my madness. I wanted to keep all my recipes (even the ones on napkins), but I didn't want all the paper taking up space and looking disorganized. It's that time of year when I am feeling claustrophobic and I feel the need to do early spring cleaning and de-cluttering around my house. In order to do all that de-cluttering and cleaning I have found that over the years it is best to tackle one project at a time and see it through to completion. That is what I did, and I am going to share this simple organizing project with you.
I started with my computer. I created a file in My Documents called Recipes. From their I created subfolders. You can create as many or as few as you like to suit your preference. Below are some ideas to help you get started.
Drinks & Frozen Treats
Kids and Holidays
Soups & Chowders
From there I gathered up all my slips of paper, torn out magazine pages, hand-written recipes, my recipe box, and cook books, and I headed to my scanner. I scanned until I was tired of scanning and then I scanned some more. If you have a lot to scan I highly recommend you break it up over a few sessions, and do it when the kids are napping or when you have some down time (Yeah right!...I know I am being optimistic when I say the words down time. When do Moms have free time?)
After you have everything scanned to your computer or on your jump drive take all the files and start moving them into the appropriate subfolders you created. Make sure to give everything a recipe title so when you venture into the subfolders it is easy to find what you are looking for.
Voila! There you have it. An electronic recipe file. To keep up with your organized recipe filing system make sure you scan all the recipes that you obtain once the system is in place. Make sure when you clip recipes out of magazines or write them down on napkins that you take them to the scanner and toss the paper in the recycling bin once you have filed them in your electronic file. If you keep up with the scanning and filing project as you go you will never have the inundating task of a big project again.
One last thing...DO NOT FORGET TO BACKUP YOUR RECIPES ON A DISC. You do not want to lose one of those favorite family recipes.
With 14 days until Christmas here are a few tips to help you get to the end of the year without pulling your hair out.
If you have not found the time to send Christmas cards yet this year don't worry there is still time to get them out. Send e-cards. Snap a picture of the family in front of the Christmas tree, and send an e-mail blast to family and friends. Save it in your drafts, and blast it out on December 22nd before the holiday rush takes place. This will save you time, money on stamps, and is environmentally friendly as there will be less envelopes going in the trash.
If you are mailing presents get them wrapped and put in the mail before the end of the week to make sure they arrive by Christmas.
Start wrapping a few gifts each night while your children are asleep so that you are not doing it all on Christmas Eve. That way, once the kids nestled snug in their bed Mom and Dad can kick back and relax and wait for the big guy to come down the chimney.
Make sure you check toys to see if they need batteries, and purchase them now. If at all possible add the batteries before wrapping. If the gift requires a charge it is a good time to charge now, before you wrap so that it will be ready to be played with Christmas morning. There is nothing more heart-breaking to a child on Christmas day who gets the present he or she has been anticipating all year only to find out it has to charge over night before it can be played with.
Get your home ready for holiday guests. Next week wash linens and make guest beds. Pick up any clutter around the house that takes away from your Christmas decorations and festive holiday spirit.
This weekend would be a great time to make and freeze a dish to serve your family for Christmas day brunch. Don't forget to take it out on Christmas Eve and let it thaw in the refrigerator.
Charge your digital camera and download or delete pictures so there is plenty storage to capture all your holiday memories.
Start making your New Year's Eve plans now. Line up a sitter, and have a kid-free night with your hubby and close friends.
Select and outfit for New Year's Eve now so you are not running around like a chicken with its head cut off the day before or worse the day of the celebration.
Most important, don't forget to take some time for yourself. Moms are always trying to pull it all together for the big day. Shopping, cooking, wrapping, and cleaning it can all be a bit over-whelming. Schedule 30 minutes here and there to relax, read a book, take a hot bath with candles. Whatever you do just make sure you take care of yourself too!
We all love the shopping, baking, cheer and smells of Christmas, and it is easy to get caught up in swiping that card with a big smile on your face. However, as fast as those smiles show up on your face from buying, buying and more buying the frowns will come around in January when you open your mail and the dreaded post-Christmas credit card bills come flying in. You can run, but you can't hide from them. They will show up in your mailbox in January, and you can close the mail box or hide them in a drawer, but they will not disappear. Do yourself a favor this year, and give yourself the gift of a Christmas budget and stick to the budget. Your present may not come in a pretty box with bows on it, and you may not reap the rewards of that gift today, but you will be thankful for that gift in the new year.
Below are a few tips to help you get in check with Christmas spending.
1. Plan your budget the month before Christmas. Include in the budget how much you are allowed to spend on presents, decorations, food, etc. Also, take into consideration any credit card cash back bonuses you may use to make purchases. If you use your bonuses to make Christmas purchases you will need less money in your Christmas budget.
2. With regard to food items if you are a holiday baker considering purchasing your chocolate chips, mint chips, and baking chocolate after the holidays when you can get deep discounts. You can freeze these items inside the original packaging in a large Ziploc bag. Make sure to get all the air out.
3. Make your Christmas shopping list that fits within the budget you have set, and stick to it.
4. Do not impulse buy. This is a biggie. We all get caught up in the Christmas spirit with Christmas music, cards, pretty lights and colors, but don't let yourself become a victim of the impulse purchase.
5. Stay away from Black Friday shopping unless you have a particular item on your list that is offered at a great price. If so, go to the store to purchase that item only.
6. Try Cyber Monday. Most places offer free shipping and deep discounts. You need to stick to your list, and there is less temptation to make an impulse purchase. Keep in mind you can do this while sitting at your computer in your comfy PJ's sipping a cup of hot cocoa.
7. In January begin setting aside money for Christmas. Estimate what your budget will be, divide that number by 11, and begin making a monthly contribution in that amount. To help with this you may open a Christmas savings account. Commit to making a monthly deposit. If you do this, and you stick to the budget you set, you will not feel the Christmas cash crunch.
8. Start a Christmas tote. During the year when you see things on sale that you would like to give as a Christmas gift purchase it, and place in the tote. Make sure to keep an inventory of the things purchased and who you plan to give the gift to in order not to duplicate gifts. Who knows, you may get enough great stuff on sale during the year that the money you sock away in your Christmas savings account can be used toward a great family vacation.
Happy Holidays and Happy Savings!