Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sleep Better With EverSleep Every Night

Getting a good night's sleep is so important for your mind, body, and soul.  Not everyone can get by on a small amount of sleep and if some don't get their 8 hours they feel terrible.  I know when I don't sleep enough not only am I tired but irritable too.  It's not a good feeling and all you can think about is resting.  It's time to wake up refreshed and ready for the day every single day.

EverSleep is the world's most advanced consumer sleep tracker.  If you're tired of being tired it's time to include this sleep tracker in your life.  The brand uses hospital-grade infra-red oximetry technology to monitor your blood oxygen level 30 times per second while you sleep.  This is combined with a pulse rate measurement, snore, and movement to generate a complete physiological analysis of your night.  If you're wondering why you don't sleep well or don't get enough sleep, this tracker will give you the answers you've been looking for. 



You can track your sleep through an app on your phone while you wear the EverSleep Wrist Device  that also has an attached finger sensor.  Each night you'll answer questions that are specific to your sleep that night.  When you wake up in the morning, you'll be presented with the data which you can review to make changes to your sleep.  It's like having a sleep doctor at your disposal! 

You might be wondering how EverSleep is different from traditional trackers that only rate your sleep by how much you move.  This tracker helps you determine why you are sleeping badly and gives you detailed coaching tips to help with your specific problems.  Whether you are having breathing disruptions that can be corrected with adjusting your body position or figuring out why you have insomnia, EverSleep is there to help you.  


The EverSleep sleep tracker would be a wonderful gift for those who suffer from poor sleep and would like to reclaim their life.  Wouldn't it be nice to finally pinpoint the reasons you're sleeping poorly to correct them? 

It's time to wake up rested and refreshed from here on out and you can give all the credit to EverSleep. 

EverSleep is currently on IndieGoGo and is being backed by funders.  It's scheduled to start shipping in October. 

*DISCLOSURE* I received compensation in exchange for this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  





Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Baby Cubby Wants All Toddlers to Enjoy Their Meals

My daughter Scarlett is a very easy eater.  She likes practically everything I serve her, and that makes life so much less challenging.  It can be very frustrating to figure out what to feed your child when they refuse things. Hopefully you have a child who likes to eat like I do.



Baby Cubby is an online children's shop that is made up of parents who understand what parenthood is like and are passionate about encouraging, inspiring, and reminding parents how important their role is.  You'll notice your favorite brands featured on Baby Cubby like Stokke, 4Moms, and even UppaBaby! Baby Cubby is truly a baby headquarters and you can find anything you need on the site from nursery and baby gear to feeding, clothes, and beyond.

The shop finds the highest quality and safest baby gear to provide to parents in a fun shopping experience.  The brand offers a price match guarantee even on Amazon, so you know you're getting a great deal.  You'll be happy to know that they carry only the highest quality and safest baby gear so that you can shop confidently.  Baby Cubby actively engages with parents via social media and their Cubby Community Blog to discuss some of the difficult topics of parenting.

As a parent, I'm always looking for new things to make Scarlett for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since I don't have endless time to prepare meals with a 2.5 year old running around, my favorite things to make are quick and easy but still delicious.  Anything that I can make in volume is ideal, since it will create leftovers that work for a meal for another day.  Luckily since Scarlett has no food allergies or restrictions, everything is fair game. I always pair fruit or veggies with everything I make.  She's such a good eater that it makes cooking for her a pleasure.



To initially make mealtime fun for little ones, you have to start with the plates and utensils to engage them with.  We have plenty of brightly colored plates as well as ones that have animals and Scarlett's favorite Sesame Street characters.  Scarlett has an Elmo spoon and fork set that she requests for every meal so it has to constantly be washed.  We also have girly utensil sets that have flowers on them too that are a close favorite.  She seems to gravitate more towards "exciting" dinnerware rather than ordinary.   You can find fun and interesting feeding options here.

Scarlett is most interested to have fruit at breakfast.  If you served her a fruit salad, she'd be in heaven.  She's not a huge lover of pancakes or waffles but opts for bananas, blueberries, and apples with Greek yogurt.  I also make her cheese eggs with toast and applesauce on the side too.  I notice that she always eats her fruit first!

Wheat toast with strawberry jelly, blueberries, and cheese eggs.  Feel free to not put cheese in the eggs if you'd prefer your child to not have it.  Scarlett goes nuts for her blueberries and can go through a whole container in record time if she had the opportunity!

When lunchtime rolls around, I usually make her light fare such as peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, English muffin pizza bagels, or turkey and cheese sandwiches.  I pair all food with a side like mixed veggies or some cheese crackers.  If I'm feeling creative, I'll make her sandwich in the shape of an Elmo with an Elmo sandwich cutter.  She loves that and it gets her to eat.  

It's important to me to not have her consume anything too heavy where she won't be able to eat dinner.  Scarlett is a huge vegetable lover and really loves sliced carrots, peas, and tomatoes.  Since Scarlett is in camp all week, I'm packing her lunch so she eats there.  I make sure she has healthy but filling options to keep her sustained while she plays outside.

This was Scarlett's lunch from camp yesterday.  Turkey and cheese roll-ups, Pirate's Booty, sliced carrots, blueberries, and a fig cookie.  She enjoyed everything and there was nothing left in her lunchbox! 

For dinner, I usually give Scarlett a heavier option such as chicken and cheese quesadillas with pineapple salsa, pasta, chicken cutlets, mac and cheese, and so on.  I make sure she has enough to eat to get her through the rest of the day and night on a full belly.  She'd have pasta and pizza every night if given the chance! 

Homemade breaded chicken strips with mac and cheese and mixed veggies.  I take boneless skinless thin-sliced chicken breast and dip it in egg.  Then I take the egg mixture and toss it in Italian and garlic seasoned breadcrumbs and then cook it in a pan with a little oil.  It's crispy like a chicken nugget but without the deep-fried guilt.  My daughter loves them! The best part is that since the package of chicken is big, you'll have leftovers. 


Toddlers go through phases of eating and can become picky with no notice.  Scarlett is usually pretty good about trying new foods.  If she doesn't like what she's served, I try to reintroduce the foods a few days later to see how she responds then.  It's trial and error with those tiny cuties! Remember, don't get frustrated and they will eat when they're hungry.  Happy cooking!

*DISCLOSURE* I received compensation from Baby Cubby in exchange for this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own.  



Monday, June 26, 2017

Be Stocked With Cottonelle's Mega Roll This Summer #NeverRunOut @Cottonelle @Walmart #ad



Now that summer is in full swing, it's time to plan and enjoy those pool parties and BBQ's.  I can't imagine anything more fun then being surrounded by friends and family and delicious food.  What more could you want? Make sure you have plenty of fabulous appetizers and drinks on hand to make your guest's bellies happy.  Don't forget plenty of sweet treats either!



When you constantly entertain guests during the warmer months of the year, you'll need to make sure your bathroom is stocked and ready for them with toilet paper.  It's essential to never run out because that would not make for a fun party! Cottonelle's Mega Roll lasts longer which allows you to not have to change the roll as frequently.  Did you know that one mega roll equals 4 regular rolls? That will certainly last for some time!


Thankfully, you can find Cottonelle's Mega Roll at your local Walmart.  I went there to purchase a 12 pack today and found many packs of it waiting to be bought and brought into people's home.  You'll be able to choose from ComfortCare or CleanCare, depending on your preference.  You'll be happy with the quality of it each time you use it.

Along with my toilet paper purchase, I picked up some snacks for Scarlett's friends who will be coming over this weekend to play.  They are big fans of goldfish and fruit snacks!


I like that Cottonelle offers quality toilet paper at an unbeatable price.  Go ahead and visit your Walmart today so you'll be stocked up for guests this summer.   You can even save $1 on your Mega Roll purchase starting on 6/28! Save money and have great toilet paper in your home, what can be better?


We don't live near a Walmart Grocery Pickup, but if you do you'll be able to get your BBQ supplies and toilet paper needs met at the same time.  It would be so nice if I was able to order all of my groceries ahead of time and then pick them up when I felt like it!

Thanks to Cottonelle's long lasting toilet paper, you can have a fun and enjoyable summer without having to worry about bathroom needs.






Sunday, June 25, 2017

Scarlett's 2 1/2 Year Update

It's been a few months since I last did an update on Scarlett.  She turned two in December and there's been many changes since I last posted!

Scarlett has finished preschool now and her first year went so well! She will start her 3's program in September and go 2 days a week.



We've been doing speech therapy since February and there's been a big improvement in Scarlett's communication! When you used to ask her to repeat words she would ignore you, or say a sound that sounded like "guh" no matter what the word was.  Now she actually will try to say the word which is wonderful to hear!  She's picked up many words along the way including no! She says no to a lot of things now which is typical at this age.  Scarlett is very social and says hi to everyone she sees when we're out.  If they ignore her, she'll yell 'HI!" at them! I have to tell her that not everyone wants to say hi, but it's nice that she's so friendly!  She has about 50-60 words which is wonderful because she wasn't even speaking at the start of the year. 


One big change is her love of the alphabet.  Scarlett knows about 15 letters now and can identify them when asked and also points them out on her own when she sees them in her books or when we're out. She knows A,B,C,D,E,G,H,T,I, and O. Everyday we're working on learning more letters and she is really interested to learn! I'm happy she's so enthusiastic to learn and responds to it positively.  The next step will eventually be learning the difference between lowercase and capital letters and also letter sounds.  I don't think that will be happening for a while though.  Numbers is also something we're working on and she can count from 1-10.  



Sesame Street is still one of Scarlett's favorite shows and we watch it daily.  She knows all of the characters names and screams Elmo happily whenever she sees him! That furry red monster has her heart for sure.  We're going back to Sesame Place this summer and I'm sure she'll be so excited.

Scarlett's going to 4 weeks of summer camp this summer which her school hosts starting tomorrow.  We're all registered for it and I'm sure she'll have a blast! She went last summer when she was 18 months old and had such a good time.  I had no problems with her transitioning despite her young age and the fact that she had never been away from me either.  I'm teaching her to be independent which is a good quality to be.

As I wrote on my blog a few weeks back, I'm giving Scarlett choices to help her feel like she has some control and freedom to make her own decisions.  She picks out her outfit for the day from her drawers and also what she wants to eat, and what shoes she wants to wear for the day.  I'm sure she enjoys feeling like she has a say in her life!



Crayons are really big in our house right now.  Scarlett loves to color whenever she can and enjoys coloring in her Finding Dory and Frozen coloring books. I have to put her in a booster seat to color at the table because she's colored on our walls one too many times!  She also enjoys play-doh as well as her sticker books.

Scarlett loves babies and gets so excited whenever she sees them! It's very sweet and she always wants to touch their hands and make sure they're ok.  She asks me to show her videos of babies on YouTube all day or pictures on Google images too! 

Potty training is something that we're going to be revisiting this summer.  I tried in February and I think she was still too young and just not ready.  Hopefully in another two months, she'll be ready! I'm ready to have a break from diapers. 



Scarlett still continues to love books and has favorites which she asks us to read daily.  She's still a good eater for the most part and loves her veggies! I've gotten a little more lenient over time and allowed her to have juice occasionally and a cookie here or there.  You gotta live, right?

It's been so fun watching Scarlett grow and change and I can't wait to see what else this year brings!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How I Meal Prep For My Family

Every parent knows that it's hard to cook when you have a young child around who needs supervision.  When I do make meals, I try to have Scarlett in the kitchen with me or in the living room watching TV where I can see her from the kitchen.  If she's in the kitchen, she's opening every single cabinet and taking items out.  She's very strong and now can open my pull-out drawer freezer too and start going through the frozen food.  It's stressful and makes it hard to focus on what you're making! It's easier for me to make meals in advance when Scarlett's eating in her high chair or napping.

I've gotten into a good rhythm lately with meals for the week that is actually working well for my family.  Each Sunday I sit down with my husband and I write down what each dinner will be for the 5 nights of the week.  When I go grocery shopping it's a joy to actually buy items that you know you'll be cooking and what ingredients go with them for each meal.  I used to buy packages of chicken and come up with ways to use them in my head, but that's really not sustainable.  It's a lot easier to use each item for a specific meal each day, then buy willy-nilly and hope you come up with dinners for them.



Let's say you make a chicken casserole on Monday night for dinner.  The idea behind this system is that you'll have enough leftovers to eat it again on Tuesday, which saves you a day of cooking.  The huge benefit is that you don't have to worry about what to make on Tuesday! It's been a huge weight off of my shoulders not to think of what we're having every single day hours before I make it. Since Scarlett eats dinner at 5 pm, way before my husband gets home from work, she may have leftovers of our previous meal for dinner.  If there's nothing left from that meal, then she gets a completely separate meal made just for her.  My husband and I eat together when he gets home.

Since I stay at home with Scarlett during the week, I make her a fresh breakfast and lunch every day.  Some days there may be leftovers from lunch the previous day, and she'll eat that.  She loves eggs, toast, and yogurt for breakfast among others.  For lunch she usually has turkey meatballs with veggies, or peanut butter and jelly, or something along those lines.

Life is so much easier when you plan meals in advance and it becomes a true joy to cook.  I only have so many hours in the day, why lose time worrying and stressing over meals each day?

Quesadillas Are a Quick and Easy Toddler Dinner

Let's face it, whether you're a working mom or a stay-at-home-mom, they both don't have a lot of energy to make dinner at the end of the day.  If it's just one of those days where you're exhausted from a long day and don't even want to think about making anything involved for your toddler, why not focus on a delicious and easy recipe that involves minimal prep work?


One of Scarlett's favorite meals is chicken quesadillas.  I usually put black beans and corn in it along with chicken and shredded Mexican cheese. The best part about quesadillas is that you can use whatever you have on hand to please the tiny tot who'll be devouring it.  Whether you use refried beans, black beans, or even steak or pork, it'll turn out fabulous each and every time.  Don't forget lots of shredded cheese too! I even make them for myself for dinner occasionally.  


Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Put one tortilla in a non-stick pan and fill it with pre-cooked chicken, cheese, black beans, pre-cooked rice, corn, and whatever else your child likes.  I usually use chicken nuggets that I dice and then I top with shredded cheese.  Once you're done filling the bottom tortilla top it with the second tortilla.  

2. Put it in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp up the tortilla and have the cheese melt.

3. Pair the quesadilla with your favorite salsa. Scarlett's obsessed with pineapple salsa and would prefer to drink the bottle if I let her, that's how much she loves it.

I didn't have a ton of ingredients on hand since we're at Grandma's, so we opted for a classic chicken and cheese quesadilla tonight.  Of course Scarlett does not mind that it's not chock full of other ingredients and was happy to dig in regardless.

Let these quesadilla's be a quick go-to when you're feeling unmotivated or lazy in the kitchen.  You can even put veggies in them too, especially if you struggle with your child to eat veggies.  Feel free to make these your own and be as creative as you'd like.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Just Because You're A Parent Doesn't Mean You Have to Lose Your Identity

My husband and I were together for 7 years before Scarlett was born.  We had seven years of it just being us, and sharing life and memories together.  There were no nighttime feedings or parenting woes and we had all the time in the world for each other.



When I became a mom back in 2014, it was both a scary and exciting time. Jay and I were responsible for taking care of an 8 pound 4 once pooping and eating machine.  As time went on, Scarlett got older and I was able to have a little bit more time for myself.  She would play on the carpet with toys while I watched.  Nowadays, she's too mobile and active to be left unsupervised for a long period of time.  

I think the hardest part of parenting thus far has been making sure that my identity as a person, not just a mom, hasn't gone away.  It's very easy to get swept up in motherhood and only live life for your children.  I try to make time for my hobbies during nap time and when Scarlett goes to bed at night.  I don't have any friends who don't have children at this point, so our playdates and outings with the kids consist of talking about them and comparing stories.  People who don't have children don't understand what this life is like and cannot relate.  When I do meet up with my friends without the children, it's very nice to have adult conversation and get a break from the little ones.  

Motherhood is a busy, never-ending world of preparing meals, diaper changes, bottles, cleaning, laundry, sleepless nights, and homework checking.  There's nothing wrong with taking some time to yourself to do something that's important to you.  Whether you want to finish that book you keep putting down, knit a scarf, garden, or anything else that is meaningful to you, make sure you do it.  When you have "me" time, you'll feel better about yourself and in turn you'll be a better parent and person.  At night when Scarlett is sleeping I enjoy catching up on my favorite TV shows and relaxing with my husband.  I'm very tired at night from being with Scarlett one-on-one for 12 hours a day, and I'm desperate for adult conversation.

I try to have a date night with my husband once a month.  We go out to dinner or see a movie and just enjoy the time together.  We're never gone that many hours, but we appreciate the time to reconnect and have some time away from our child.  After all, we were together for so many years before Scarlett was born.  It's healthy and essential to remember why you're a couple and why you love each other.  It's inevitable that the children will come up in conversation, but try to savor the time with just your partner.

Don't lose yourself in motherhood.  There's plenty you can do to avoid this like doing an activity that you loved before having children.  Don't forget to ask yourself what you can do to make you happier at home or at work.  Some women enjoy volunteering to help benefit others.  Having just an hour or two of time for yourself everyday will make you a happy and satisfied person.  

Go ahead and be the best you can be, you deserve it. 

The Best Parenting Advice Ever

There are far too many articles online that tell parents how to treat their children. Everyone has something to say about the best ways to make them feel happy and fulfilled. However, the truth is that all kids are different. You’re never going to get the best results until you account for that in your approach. So, you need to put the guide books down and use some common sense. You know your child better than anyone else in the world. That means you are in the perfect position to work out how to give them the best start in life. Do not worry if the method you select varies from those used by your friends. At the end of the day, who wants to breed a generation of robots who all think and feel the same way?


Let your child make the decisions

If you want your kids to become responsible adults, you need to let them make decisions from any early age. Let’s presume you have a couple of options for activities this weekend. You prefer one idea more than the other, but your child might not feel the same way. So, you should ask them and stick with their decision. When all’s said and done, a parent is supposed to be there to support their little ones. They are not there to make all their decisions and act like a dictator. You should let your child decide what to do, even if you think they’re making a mistake. If it turns out you were right, your loved one will learn from the experience. That will assist them in growing a maturing at a faster rate.


Build from stable foundations

With the last point in mind, you’re probably think I want your kids running amok. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. You still need to provide them with stable foundations on which they can build their lives. Promote exercise as much as possible. You should also spend time encouraging a child to eat more healthily. Parents are still very much responsible for the physical health of their children. However, that doesn’t mean they have to control every aspect of their mental and emotional growth. You can only show someone the way - you can’t make them walk the path.


Provide them with unconditional love

Above all else, parents need to provide their children with unconditional love. Regardless of any other strategies you follow, that is the underlying rule. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if your child becomes a rocket scientist or a checkout assistant. It doesn’t matter if they start a huge family or spend their lives alone. If they feel the love from their parents, they will have a better start in life than millions of others. Even if you forget everything else on this page, remember that loving your children is the best parenting advice ever.

Whatever methods you decide to follow, ensure you understand what I’m saying in this article. Children require love and freedom to blossom into their true selves. Many parents stifle that progress by enforcing rules and taking control. If you want the best for your kids, you need to let them lead the way (as the old song says.) I wish you all the best of luck, and I’m sure you’ll make the right decisions.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Life After Cutting The Cord

My family has now been cable free for 6 months.  Around the holidays, my husband and I discussed canceling cable.  We spoke to several people who got rid of cable and told us that anything you could really want to watch was on Hulu and Netflix.  We had 3 cable boxes and DVR services on all of our boxes.  We were given the advice that it might feel odd in the beginning without cable but you'll quickly adjust to it.



We were spending over $100 a month on cable and knew that the savings would not only be significant per month, but per year too.  We'd be saving over $1,200 and that's a big deal.  The only two or three network shows that I truly watched weekly were available to watch online.  Due to this, I knew I wouldn't miss cable.  Once we did finally cancel it, it was strange to turn on the TV and just have static.  That took about a week to get used to.

I must say that I truly don't miss cable.  Hulu has everything you could possibly want from movies and documentaries to every TV show under the sun.  There's hundreds of options to choose from and the best part is that Hulu offers the complete season for all major TV shows.  I feel like every time I turn on the TV I find something new and interesting to watch! Scarlett loves all of the kids programming offered especially Sesame Street.  I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything.  Whether you want to watch something from the Food Network or Bravo, it's all there.

I feel like both Netflix and Hulu are very user friendly and I have no problem navigating them.  We pay $10 for Netflix and $8 for Hulu per month.  That's a big savings compared to over $100 for cable too! 

Netflix also has a lot to offer but I do feel like I prefer Hulu more.  My husband and I love to watch Orange is The New Black on Netflix. Right now we're making our way through the new season and enjoying it.  

If you're on the fence about canceling cable, I think it would be a smart choice to do.  You'll enjoy the money saving factor immensely. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Celebrate National Sunglasses Day With Maui Jim

It's finally feeling like summer here in New England! The temperatures have been heating up and my family has been spending more time outdoors.  While it's important to have fun in the sun and take care of your skin, it's equally important to keep your eyes protected too.  Those powerful rays can hurt your eyes and cause damage.  Make sure you wear sunglasses that are not only stylish, but protective from the sun too.



Maui Jim offers polarized sunglasses for men and women that is inspired by the beauty and culture of Maui, Hawaii.  Their mission is to create sunglasses designed to change the way you see the world and spread aloha through vivid color, clarity, and detail.  You'll find regular and prescription stylish glasses and sunglasses for every one's taste and needs.  Whether you like aviators, wraparound, rectangular, cat eye, or even a vintage style, there's something that you'll instantly like.  The best part is each style comes in many different colors to choose from.  

Maui Jim's glasses come with Polarized Plus2 lens technology that protect your eyes not only throughout the summer months, but the remainder of the year too.  The sunglasses are stylish, and offer the best lenses in the industry to protect your eyes.

The lens technology uses up to nine layers of premium polarizing film within their lenses (on both sides of the lens) to block out 100% of UV and UVB rays, while also reducing 99.9% of glare caused by the sun.  Now you'll be able to spend more time enjoying the sun while your eyes and skin are protected. 

National Sunglasses Day is rapidly approaching on June 27th.  What will you do to celebrate? Are you planning on going to the beach with your family? Or maybe you'd like to take your children to the park to play? Whatever you choose, make sure you protect those eyes! 



If you're looking to buy your first pair of Maui Jim sunglasses or even your fourth, I have a great option for you to consider.  The Castles in Matte Black offer an aviator style front with supportive temples that have a modern design.  

You'll quickly fall in love with the natural grey lens which allows for the highest light reduction for rich color and contrast.  The sunglasses rest comfortably on your nose and are very lightweight. Wear them to the beach, the park, a sporting event, or just hanging around town.  You'll love their stylish look and feel that protects your eyes at the same time. 

Maui Jim's Castle glasses make a perfect gift for both men and women and the recipient will love them for years to come.  Go ahead and treat yourself or a loved one to a pair of Maui Jim's today.

*DISCLOSURE* Thank you to Maui Jim for providing a product sample in order to facilitate this post.  All thoughts are strictly my own. 



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Running Out Of Time? Last Minute Ideas To Celebrate Father's Day Together

Father’s Day is a big day for every family. But unfortunately, it’s a day that receives less mediatization and marketing than Mother’s Day, or even Valentine’s Day. As a result, it’s not uncommon to wake up a few days before D-day and suddenly realize as a drop of cold sweat runs along your back, that you don’t have planned anything for your father or your partner and father of your children. Don’t panic; this is a common issue. More often than not, though, Father’s Day is about getting the family together to remember each other about your unique bond and your love. And this is in this spirit that you need to consider your celebration for Father’s Day: It is a day to honor family love and fatherhood. In other words, it’s a family reunion to remind the man in your family of how appreciated he is and how strong your family nucleus is thanks to him. Thankfully, there is always time for a last minute celebration day with these few ideas.

#1. Organize A Garden Party

Could there be anything better and easier to organize than a garden party? While the answer is most definitely no, it doesn’t mean that a garden party doesn’t require any prep time. In truth, you need to take care of your garden, at least enough for it to be a safe place for a party. For instance, this starts by mowing the lawn and maintaining the garden regularly, so that there is no risk of accidents with dead branches falling from trees, or the kids swimming in a dirty pool. There is no doubt that you are probably ahead of this kind of maintenance, but it’s always worth mentioning it: As a rule of the thumb, you should mow your garden every two to three weeks in spring and summer. Additionally, you will need to make sure that the garden is pest free. You can find a helpful article about this on the blog TheEngagedHome.com that describes how to get rid of slugs, snails, and even the annoying neighbor’s cat or dog that keeps coming to foul the garden.
Once you’ve ensured that the garden is perfect to receive a party, it’s time to set the tables out and to decorate the garden. If you’re lucky enough to have a large garden, you can hang garden lanterns above the tables and place fresh flowers in a vase at the center of each table – if you are using several. There is no need for fancy cutlery and plates if you are planning a large party with ten or more guests. Plastic plates , glasses and cutlery are perfect for large parties, and they are easy to manage to. They don’t need any cleaning! Additionally, if you are organizing a party in the evening or the late afternoon, do plan some citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay, as well as a few throws to keep your guests warm.
More often than not, the best kind of food for a garden party is a proper BBQ meal. Barbecues are ideal for meat-lovers, fish-eaters, and vegetarians, so you can arrange the perfect mix of food to suit every need. Besides, it’s likely that the Father of the party will be glad to stand in front of the grill to prepare the food. Not that you want him to work on this specific day, but dads are renowned for taking over the BBQ management. They can’t help it: Who doesn’t love to be in charge of the burgers?

#2. A Day Down The Memory Lane

Father’s Day is a day of remembering the good times of the past. So you can be sure that planning a cozy family meal together in the comfort of your home is a good choice. Sometimes, all you need is to dress the tablet for you, your partner and the kids – or for your parents and your siblings if you don’t have any children yet – and to cook their favorite meal. To make it extra special, you can decorate the table with some sweet napkin folding ideas, such as the lotus fold or the swan fold, which is always very impressive. If you love origami, napkin folding is very similar. But even if you’ve never practiced any origami design, you’ll  be amazed by how much you can do with a simple tutorial. Pick your best cutlery, your most beautiful plates, and let the napkin do the talking. If you want to make an impression, the heart fold is always a hit.
There’s thankfully still time to arrange a quick album of your favorite photos together, or even to get a special printout. CouponSherpa.com currently runs a few discount offers – up to 60% off – for photo prints and personalized cards to share your best memories without breaking the bank. All you need is to have your favorite pictures ready at the time of the online order. A common picture for Father’s Day, if you don’t know what to choose for a new father, is one where they are holding their son or daughter for the first time. Otherwise, a collection of pictures throughout the years is always a nice and touching choice, and a good way to remind all fathers that they matter just as more with gray hair than they did in the past.  
As it’s a day of family togetherness, you could choose to spend the rest of the day doing things you all love. From watching your favorite films together, or taking a walk in the woods, it is a choice that you could leave to Dad. But don’t be afraid to make suggestions or to plan some board games if the weather is wet or cold. After all, togetherness can happen just as well inside with a nice cup of cocoa and a card game.

#3. A Day Of Excitement

If the father of the day is a dynamic man who loves entertainment, you still have time to plan a day out for the family in his favorite amusement park. There is a vast choice, naturally. If he’s a man who loves to travel, maybe the Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a fantastic idea with its Parisian streets and its European feel, combined with mind-blowing roller-coasters. If he prefers an adventurous life, maybe the Six Flags Magic Mountain in California is a better match, especially with its 19 roller-coasters and its virtual-reality headsets to enhance the riding experience. Admittedly this may not be suited for families with young children, but if you’ve got teens or older children, it is the perfect amusement park! A film lover dad would probably prefer a trip down the Universal Studios in Hollywood where he can take a ride through his favorite films, and even through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. There are plenty of options so that you can find the right place for him.
However, not every dad is a fan of amusement parks. Loving entertainment doesn’t mean that you love queueing for the roller-coaster ride. How about musical concerts then? TicketMaster.com gives you access to the list of concerts running through the USA in 2017, which is a great start for a music fan. If he loves rock bands, he will love to see U2 in concert so that you could get tickets for the Joshua Tree Tour, their latest tour through the states. But there are plenty of other artists touring too!
The most important thing to remember when you are planning these days out is to plan the hotel too. Nobody wants to spend a day on the road just for an amusement park or a concert. By the way, you don’t need to worry if you can’t get a concert ticket for the day of Father’s Day. It remains a fantastic gift, even if the concert happens next week or month.

#4. Help The Kids To Spoil Their Dad

If you have children who are old enough to help and enjoy the craft side of life, you could suggest that they prepare their dad a Father’s Day’s breakfast of champions. Why not start the day with a yummy smoothie, such as coconut and banana smoothie, for a fresh and healthy start? Smoothies are easy and quick to make so that it’s the perfect last minute breakfast. It only takes a few minutes in the blender, and it’s ready! If you give the kids a hand, they could even serve yummy fruit muffins at the breakfast table. Remember that a little icing decoration can go a long way, especially if the kids leave a message for Father’s Day. Using 15 muffins, you can write happy Father’s Day with one letter on each muffin. This is a brilliant display on the breakfast table!
For craft enthusiastic kids, you can also help them to some handmade decorative pieces. An embroidered cushion cover is not too difficult to make and can be a cute and impressive present. Older children can create a personalized card or even a decorative frame with wood and paint to place their favorite picture or a motivational quote about their Dad.










Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Make Food Prep Lightning Fast With Dash's Electric Mandoline

I was browsing in Homegoods yesterday when I came to an endcap that caught my eye.  On that shelf was a box containing an electric mandoline.  I was intrigued because I had been meaning to replace my manual mandoline for some time.  Even though the manual tool helped with my prep work, I still was doing the work myself.  The thought of a machine actually chopping and slicing your veggies for you was a wonderful thought, especially since I'm a mom of an active toddler.  If you turn your back for too long, you never know what disastrous surprise you may find! 



I'm always looking for some shortcuts to save me time in the kitchen and I knew that the electric mandoline would be a needed and necessary purchase.  It was on sale for $40 in Homegoods and I found that it sells for $80 online, so I really got a great deal.  The one I bought was red however the machine comes in white and black too.



As soon as I took it out of the box, I couldn't wait to use it.  It's very compact and hardly takes up any room on my counter.  It comes with a variety of slicing, dicing, and chopping blades depending on your preference.  There's even a blade for making thin sliced veggies as well as thick!  What more could you want out of a kitchen appliance?



I used the machine for the first time this morning to make thick sliced cucumbers for a salad for lunch.  I love to do my prep work in advance since it saves me time and allows me to get other things done.  The blade was very easy to insert and in seconds I had beautifully equally sized cucumbers flying out like magic! Everything gets deposited into the covered bowl that you can pour right into the salad bowl.  I was amazed at how wonderful this machine was and how it did all of the hard work for me!



I'm looking forward to using the machine for a variety of meals including soups, stews, casseroles, pasta salads and more.  You can even grate hard cheese for a delicious dish like mac and cheese.  This would make a wonderful gift for an elderly friend or relative who has arthritis and can't chop veggies easily.  They will certainly appreciate it.

My kitchen is now more fun thanks to Dash's Electric Mandoline! 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Keeping Your Family Budget Under Control

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When you’re a mom with a family to think about, it becomes even more important that you’re able to keep your family’s household budget under control. If you’re forever spending more than you make each month, it’s only a matter of time before things are going to come to a head and you’re going to be unable to meet your most important financial commitments.

If you want to avoid over-spending and ensure that your family is taken care of no matter what, here are some tips to help you get and keep your family budget under control:

Be Accurate

The first step to getting your budget under control is to actually draw up a document if you don’t already have one. When writing up your budget, you will need to get organized and ensure that you accurately record all of your incomings and outgoings for the month. This includes bills, debts, the cost of your kids’ school lunches and even your morning coffees. If you leave out anything, your budget will be inaccurate, and you might still overspend, so get out those receipts, print off your bank statements for the past few months and ensure that every last cent you spend is accounted for.

Give Yourself a Buffer

Once you know how much is coming in and going out each month, you will need to look at your budget to see where savings can be made. Cutting out your morning latte or switching to a cheaper internet service provider might not seem like a huge thing, but it will add up and ensure that you have a bit more to play with than you did before.

Ideally, you should be looking to get rid of enough unnecessary expenses so that you have a 10 percent buffer in your budget. This will help you cover any unexpected expenses such as field trips or important but unexpected purchases. Sure, a cash loan can help you out in unexpected circumstances, but if you have a buffer built into your budget, you won’t need to worry about being accepted for one quite as often as you might otherwise, and you’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that most small emergencies will be covered.

Set Up an Emergency Fund

As well as giving yourself a 10 percent buffer, you should also think about setting up a separate emergency fund. Even just putting a few dollars a week into a savings account will soon add up and provide you with a fund you can tap into when more expensive emergencies like the breakdown of appliances or a trip to the vet with the family pet. By having this fund in place, you’ll never have to use some of your monthly budget to cover emergency costs, which is one of the most common reasons why families get into debt or end up overspending at the end of the month.

Withdraw Your Salary as Cash

If you want to avoid over-spending and going over your budget, one thing you could do is to draw out your salary in cash each pay day, leaving enough in your account to cover any automatic bills. Then, if you are paid monthly, split the cash into four and place it in four separate envelopes, one for each week. That way, you’ll know exactly how much money you have to see you through the week, and because you have to actually hand over cash when you do buy something, you won’t be quite as tempted to overspend as you are when you use plastic and it doesn’t feel like you’re spending at all.

Build in Treats
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As a busy mom, you deserve a treat now and again, and you’ll probably want to treat your children when they’ve been good too. This is absolutely fine, and any budget should take into account treats and rewards. You just need to cut down on the cost of your treats and perhaps change their frequency to monthly rather than weekly or even daily. When you first start out, it might be difficult to adjust, but you’ll soon find that the longer you wait for treats, the more you appreciate them.

Deal with Your Debts

If debt is one of the big issues that’s causing you to overspend and struggle to make all of your essential payments, you should make tackling it a priority. If, after you’ve streamlined your budget, you have enough cash leftover to do so, start overpaying on your debts, so that they will be cleared more quickly.

You might also want to look into balance transfers and consolidation loans, which will help you to cut the amount of interest you have to pay to as much as zero, depending on which method you use, giving you the breathing space you need to really make a dent in your debts and get your family’s finances back on track.

If you’re struggling to pay your debts at all because there are just too many of them, and all of your cash is going towards paying the bills and ensuring your kids are well fed, getting in touch with a non-profit debt counselling organization should be a big help and could even help you to get some of your debts quashed.

Overspent? Don’t Give Up

If at any point, you fall off the wagon and ignore your budget, instead of feeling disheartened and throwing in the towel, as it is so tempting to do. Write it off as a bad day/week/month and get right back on the horse again. One little splurge might put you out of whack for a little while, but it won’t make your financial situation any worse, providing you get back to following your family budget right after.

Avoid Temptation

Sticking to a budget can be very hard, especially for kids, which is why you should try, if you know that a particular place will cause temptation to rise, try to stay away from anything or anywhere that may cause you temptation. For example, if you usually go to the park near McDonald's, try to find another place for the kids to play, which won’t cause them to pester you for fast food. You shouldn’t give up doing the things you love, but if you can find a better way to do them that won’t tempt you and which will cost you less, it’ll be so much easier to stick to your budget and keep your family’s finances under control.

Are you great at managing your family’s finances? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?