Archive for August, 2007

Kitchen Health: Cinnamon

This Toast Can Lower Your Cholesterol!

I love cinnamon and have ever since I was small. The scent is so warm, inviting, and has even been found to boost memory, along with cognitive function! I guess that’s why remember Grandma’s cookies so well. Ok, maybe not, but they were so tasty.

I add cinnamon into different dishes you probably wouldn’t normally think of dumping it into. The spice has a wonderful way of bringing out the flavor of other ingredients, especially pork. Try a dash in spaghetti sauce or meatloaf.

Cinnamon has so many benefits to the body. A recent study found cinnamon in a ½ teaspoon dose daily can lower LDL cholesterol. It can also help regulate blood sugar in diabetics. Another great benefit is the ability cinnamon has in stopping yeast infections that are resistant to medication. Here is a short list of some other great things about cinnamon:

1. It’s full of manganese, iron, calcium, and fiber.
2. It’s an anti-clotting agent for blood.
3. Mixing cinnamon with one tablespoon of honey and taken every morning can give relief in sufferers of arthritis.
4. At Copenhagen University, a study has shown cinnamon reduced the growth of leukemia and lymphoma.

Wow. So many more reasons to love one of our most popular kitchen spices!

Posted in Uncategorized, Health, Arthritis, Chronic Illness, Cold and Flu Remedies, Diabetes, Healthy Eating, Herbs and Natural Remedies | 3 Comments »

Mmm…Tasty!

Oh, so sweet!

I promised some yummy desserts to pop into those lunchboxes! I found one recipe and I’ve ‘designed’ the other. Before I get to them, I want to talk about creativity and your child’s lunch. If you want your child to eat the lunch you’ve so carefully prepared you should be creative in the presentation. Don’t worry, it’s nothing like the gourmet plating you see on cooking programs.

Kids love interesting foods, the texture, taste, and look all factor in. Knowing they have a delicious dessert to follow the interesting wrap or sandwich you packed will only make the whole meal more fun and interesting for them. Don’t go overboard, though. Frilly ribbons to tie baggies shut might turn off your son. And his friends. Bright fruits, dips, and interesting containers will do the trick.

For really young kids, instead of a written note, try just drawing a happy one. A smiley face, a heart, a flower, or your best drawing of their favorite cartoon character can brighten up their day. A simple ‘I love you’ is the very best note to slip in. Try writing it on their juice box, the inside of their lunchbox lid, or in another unexpected place they’ll be sure to see.

Now, on to dessert…

Want healthy and sweet? Try out a Banana Dog! Just pop a hot dog bun into a baggie that has been spread with peanut butter on one side and jam on the other and a small baggie of raisins, cocunut, or peanuts inside. When your child gets to the cafeteria all she has to do is peel the banana and place into the bun, then sprinkle with the extras. Neat, huh?

If you want seriously sweet…rather your child does, try candy bar brownies. This is so easy! Just whip up a bowl of pre-packaged brownie mix, line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, pour the cups 1/3 full. Place half of a snack sized candy bar in the middle, then cover with more brownie mix. Bake according to directions. You can use any snack size candy bar.

These are just two idea. How many can you come up with? Share!

Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Healthy Eating | No Comments »

Lunches Kids Will Love

Big Burger

I’ve decided to pack lunches for my daughter this year. I know tons of parents have made their child’s lunch for years upon end and I figure it’s my turn to join the ranks. School lunches, while supposedly balanced and nutritious, look about as appetizing to me as those cellophane wrapped sandwiches sitting on the counter at the local gas station.

Yeah. Mm, mm good.

My husband and I are pretty health conscious and luckily, our children love their veggies. If you’re wondering how we got so lucky, it’s a matter of introducing the kids to vegetables as if they were treats when they’re still very small. Black olives are great fun to pop on the end of tiny fingers and nearly every child loves to pop sticks of carrots or celery into any type of dip. It’s like a requirement of being a kid to dip everything that’s remotely dippable.

So, in search of the perfect lunch, I married some ideas. Kids like to have something they can just pick up easily. Wraps are a great way to go if your child is like that. But, you can run out of tortillas at the wrong time. Then you’re stuck with a soggy old sandwich. Or are you? Nope! Just trim the crust off of a piece of bread and roll flat. Voila! Instant wrap. You may have to use a toothpick to hold it shut, but this does work really well. For smaller kids, don’t worry about the toothpick, just add smaller amounts of filling.

Sometimes it seems like a nice idea to make a hot sandwich or wrap, but don’t fall to that temptation. By the time lunch rolls around, the melted cheese on a hot sandwich or wrap will be gummy, the bread soggy, and the mayo…I don’t even want to go there. Try cold versions of hot foods. Chop chicken, season with taco seasoning, mix with a bit of sour cream and salsa, spread on top of a lettuce leaf that lines a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, then roll tightly. A cold chicken fajita!

You don’t have to stick to normal sandwich fillings or breads. You can also use bagels, pita bread, crackers or rolls. Ever try strawberry preserves with cream cheese? Uh huh, kids love that, too. Leftover stew? Wrap it! Just drain the excess liquid, squish the vegetables and meat together a bit, then wrap. Let your imagination run wild.

Next time, we’ll talk about easy desserts for packed lunches!

Posted in Parenting, Nutrition, Cooking, Daily Living, Healthy Eating | 1 Comment »

Stay In Touch: Virtual Scrapbooking

Most people are familiar with blogging and also with family websites. You keep a diary for your family to visit, catch up on your activities, see pictures of your little ones, and maybe leave comments. But have you though of a combined family blog?

With different free blog platforms such as Blogger and Wordpress, you can add authors to your blogs. I recently began a blog for everyone to keep in touch. My family is accustomed to visiting my blogs (like this one) and just seeing what I am up to or check out an upcoming magazine article to find out where I am next. But, that’s a little one sided. I want to read about my aunt’s trips to Las Vegas, see my cousin’s latest beach pictures, and find out about my uncle’s falconry exploits. And I don’t want to have to add 500 more blogs to my Google reader.

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So, I started a new blog and sent out invitations for each of them to become authors. It’s really hard for us to keep in touch, but thanks to email, I had three people signed up in less than 24 hours. I already have a slideshow posted for everyone to comments on and the nice part is, I can’t wait to see what is going to be there tomorrow.

Families lose touch way too easily. Why not start a new blog and invite your loved ones to blog with you and make your life an interactive experience again?

Here are some articles with more ideas on how to enjoy your family.

The Benefits of Telling your Story

Family Vacation

And Just for fun, because my grandma did this sort of thing to me, I present: Butter Fried Krispy Kreme Donuts.

Posted in Lifestyles, Relationships, Building and Maintaining, Daily Living | No Comments »

Healthy Herbs:Rosemary

When my little girl began pre-school, I found out first hand how germs travel from child to child. Then they invade your home. I had no idea what to do to prevent this spread of germs once she was away from home and mixing with other children. Face it, most pre-school kids aren’t very fastidious about their cleanliness while playing. I know some older kids who aren’t either!

About a month after my daughter had been in school, I read an article on how rosemary can help prevent colds. Just plain old rosemary for cooking. Some people drank tea of the herb, but I preferred adding it to food my girl already ate. Rosemary tea just isn’t very appetizing, though it makes a wonderful addition to a bath for someone suffering from a cold or the flu.

 

I just sprinkled a pinch or two of rosemary into her eggs, along with different cheeses before heading off to school. Adding in some chopped tomato is also tasty and healthy. Just don’t tell the kids about the healthy part.

Another wonderful thing about rosemary is that it’s easy to grow. You can find rosemary trees at your local grocery close to Christmas in the floral department, though some carry them all year. Follow the instructions on the care tags and you’ll have a natural air cleaner that kills airborne germs. The scent of rosemary has been valued since before the Roman Empire!

Why not try some Rosemary Potatoes to get your taste buds clamoring for more?

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
2 large sprigs rosemary (about 1/4 cup of stripped leaves)
2 pounds unpeeled potatoes cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
3 cloves garlic, smashed and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt.
Toss the potatoes with the rosemary, olive oil, garlic, and salt, then put them in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and roast uncovered for 30-45 minutes at 400 degrees, until they are browned lightly on the outside and tender inside. Serve immediately. These potatoes are terrific with chicken, pork or even hamburgers.
Recipe credit-http://www.gardenguides.com/how-to/tipstechniques/herbs/rosemary.asp

Posted in Health, Cooking, Cold and Flu Remedies, Healthy Living, Herbs and Natural Remedies | 4 Comments »

Kindle Some Passion.

Holding It Together

With the overextended schedule many couples have these days, is it any wonder that no one has time for sex? Shuttling the kids to school, after school activities, working differing schedules, all of this leaves little to no time for couples to be as intimate as they were dating. Sex is the first thing to go, it seems, when everyone is tired. And sex is the superglue of marriages; when the intimacy deteriorates, everything else will as well.

You may feel too tired to put any effort into reviving a seemingly lifeless love life. But the end result will surprise you. A little extra effort on the part of one partner can go a long way. Instead of the functional goodbye kiss, why not slip a little passion into it? Surprise your partner by letting them know you really /will/ miss them. A sexy wink afterwards can only ignite wonder and a reciprocating spark.

Sneak a sexy note into their briefcase or lunch. If this is a bad idea, in case of it falling out in front of a boss, then write a sexy email and send it to your partner’s personal inbox. If they enjoy television after all the kids are in bed, grab a snack and cuddle up to them. Feed your partner little bites of the snack, because food, like sex, is a basic need and can be very sensual.

If you live in an area where you can sit and watch the heavens, try it. Spending time with your loved one under the stars can help you connect. You can find a lovely photo of a meteor and a link to information about the Persids, here. A meteor shower is something wonderful to share together. How many wishes can you both make?

You will find that if you take just a little time to do these little things, your own passion will grow.

For more ideas, take a peek at what I’ve found!

The Impact Of Intimacy

6 Tips For Keeping Spark Alive In Your Marriage, After Children

Relationship Glue

Posted in Parenting, Dating, Marriage, Sex, Divorce and Separation, Stress Management | No Comments »

Vacation’s Over, Mom!

You knew it was bound to happen. Summer days dwindle to an end, autumn sneaks up and gives you the reality whammy. School! Clothes shopping! Supplies! More, more, more!

Vacation's Over

Getting ready for the kids to head back to school is stressful, but for moms who work at home, it can be a nightmare. The misconception that work at home moms walk around in pajamas, eat bon bons, and then click a mouse a few times while checks pour through the mail slot like Niagara Falls is still pretty common. I hate to burst anyone’s bubble…but the only time any of the moms I know who work at home are still in their P.J.’s at noon, it’s because they haven’t had time to change yet.

No matter the field of work the mom is in, it seems that dad and kids know the perfect time to need things. A grown man can suddenly forget where the fridge is located, while a normally capable thirteen year old is unable to assemble a cheese sandwich. Mom to the rescue!

Seriously, now is the perfect opportunity to get some balance into your life, mom. Everyone forgets how much you do. Cooking, (yes, sandwiches and microwaves count), cleaning, salving the minor wounds that occur daily, and wrestling with internal issues of your own are just a few examples. Working at home increases your stress, for some reason others in the household think that the work performed from home just isn’t that important. Landing a new client doesn’t seem as special to people if there was not a new title gained from a promotion to many.

Take some time for yourself, even in the midst of summer to fall upheaval. Spend some time alone at your favorite time of the day to just enjoy being with yourself. Take a walk in the morning or evening air. Watch how the light changes even the most ordinary scenery. Lock the bathroom door, play your music, and light the incense or candles. Go out to lunch by yourself, or catch a movie. Taking even a few minutes a day will improve your mental health and balance.

Your partner and children will appreciate having a more calm and relaxed you. You’ll appreciate it, too. Especially when you have to leave your file sorting behind to find the fridge for hubby. Again.

Want some more info? Of course you do, because I don’t have all the answers. Not yet, anyway.

Working Mom Guilt

Nurturing the Working Mom

Put The Spice Back Into Your Life, Take a Spice Bath!

Before I close, I’d like to take a second to send warm wishes to Jennifer who has been taking care of this blog so well for a long time. Thank you for trusting me to try to fill in your spot and I hope you get some much needed relaxation yourself! Good luck with all you’re doing. -Julie

Posted in Parenting, Career Minded, Daily Living, Stress Management | 5 Comments »

Great Back to School Clothing!

We don’t do enough plain old fun posts around here. Safety, breastfeeding, parenting; all very important topics. But you know, shopping can be fun too!

And it is back to school time for most of you. I found one great and unique shop where you can find items that’ll send your kids back to school in style. None of this (yawn) clothing. That ends now.

ismodern is a newer shop with truly unique and fun clothing finds. The company was started by a mama Tami, who was tired of seeing the same old furniture, clothing, and toys everywhere she looked. Her goals are to create amazing and yet, simple items that are well-made and make a statement.

I think she did it, take a look at some of these pieces:

This Orange Jonquille Dress is one of my favorites (and it’s on sale, so hurry over).

orange_dress.jpg

Next up is a beautiful Aqua Knit Dress. Your little will look adorable in this.

AquaKnitDress.jpg

Ok, I’ll admit, that as a girl, I am partial to girl clothing (I can’t help it) but some of us, me included, do have little men to think about.

Now as the mama of said boy, my idea of a good tee-shirt design logo would be like this one from focoloco:

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Focoloco has literally dozens of great tees with funky and hip designs for your boy (or girl). Including their newest neat creation, the color your own shirt! What kid wouldn’t love one of these? Check out their ad…

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If it’s packing supplies you need check out Monkeemoos selection of cute lunch boxes and backpacks, like this monkey lunch box

monkey lunch box .jpg
That was fun. But if you insist on reading today instead of shopping, I’ve got some great Family Resource back to school need-to-know articles for you. Take a look at:
All of these articles are packed with great schooling tips for your family.

Posted in Clothing, Child Education | No Comments »

Top Five Hidden Home Hazards

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) just released the “Top Five Hidden Home Hazards? — an important list for you and your family to be aware of.

child_safety33.1 million family members a year are injured by consumer products in their homes. The CPSC came up with this recent list in hopes of lowering these injuries. With very little costs to families many of these injuries can be avoided.

Here’s the list from the CPSC:

#1 Magnets

Since 2005: 1 Death, 86 Injuries

I had no idea that magnets cause so many injuries, but they do. The CPSC says, “If two or more magnets, or a magnet and another metal object are swallowed separately, they can attract to one another through intestinal walls and get trapped in place. The injury is hard to diagnose. Parents and physicians may think that the materials will pass through the child without consequence, but magnets can attract in the body and twist or pinch the intestines, causing holes, blockages, infection, and death, if not treated properly and promptly.”

To be safe make sure that small children never play with magnets when unattended. Watch for loose magnets that may break off from toys and throw them away. If you hear that a magnetic toy is recalled make sure to follow the recall instructions.

#2 Recalled Items

Each year there about 400 recalls.

Recalls are useful; if your family knows about them. You can get dangerous products out of your home and away from your children quickly if you sign up to receive recall information by email at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. CPSC points out that, “An e-mail from CPSC is not spam – it could save a life.”

#3 Tip-overs

Average of 22 deaths per year;
31 in 2006 and an estimated 3,000 injuries.

Furniture, Electronics, stoves, and more can fall over and crush young children. Kids like to try and climb up shelving or pull themselves up using equipment stands, shelves, chests, dressers, and more. A television sitting on a shelf can tip over and cause head trauma and other injuries.

Don’t leave enticing items, like a bowl of candy, a toy, or even a remote control, on top of something because it might make your child want to climb up to get the item. Make sure furniture is stable and not sitting on a slanted floor or uneven carpet. You can buy brackets and attach them to tall easy-to-tip furniture. In California my family attached everything to the wall (earthquake precautions) and all the brackets to do that cost under $15. It’s an inexpensive way to keep your kids safe.

#4 Windows & Window Coverings

Average of 12 deaths annually from window cords;
Average of 9 deaths and an estimated 3,700 injuries to children annually from window falls.

Window screens are designed to keep icky bugs out; not your cute kids in. If you open your windows wide, use window guards. Or you can use a lock that allows a window to be semi-opened but not all the way. Cords from window coverings are a huge danger to kids. You can wrap them up at the top of the window; but a safer bet is to install inner cord stays. Also, keep all furniture and cribs away from windows.

#5 Pool & Spa Drains

15 injuries, 2 fatalities from 2002-2004.According to CPSP, “The suction from a pool drain can be so powerful that it can hold an adult under water, but most incidents involve children. The body can become sealed against the drain or hair can be pulled in and tangled.” Another issue is missing or broken drain covers — one of the main reasons that entrapment occurs. You can install a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS) which automatically detects when a drain is blocked and shuts off the pump which prevents entrapment. Also, of course, never allow children to use a pool or spa unattended. Consider putting up a gate, with a lock, around your water filled equipment.

To learn more visit CPSP.

To find child-proofing products for your home visit, BabyGates.com

Posted in Child Safety | 3 Comments »

Safety DVD Review: By A Six-Year Old

A six year old and me to be exact.

The Safe SideEarlier this week I mentioned that I got a safety DVD for my son Cedar. The video is called The Safe Side and it was created by John Walsh and Julie Clark (of the Baby Einstein fame). Right now The Safe Side Company has two different DVDs available; Stranger Safety and Internet Safety. We ordered the Stranger Safety DVD. You can also get them in video cassette format.

The DVD was very well-priced at $12.99 and came right away. It comes with safe side stickers, a viewing guide and other information for parents, and a child’s safe side data card. The card can be filled in with information that your child should learn such as phone number, parent’s cells, safe adults list, and more.

Stranger Safety DVD Goals:

What’s on the DVD:

This movie is about 40 minutes long and it was broken up into really nice sized chunks for little kids. There are 11 kid based sections that include:

  1. Introducing Safe Side Superchick.
  2. What is a Don’t Know?
  3. Examples of Don’t Knows.
  4. Hot Tip: Keep your Safe Side Adult close.
  5. Hot Tip: Don’t open the door!
  6. Hot Tip: Beware of tricks.
  7. Hot Tip: Don’t Know? Don’t talk.
  8. Hot Tip: Create a Safe Side Circle.
  9. Hot Tip: Know your Safe Side Adults.
  10. Hot Tip: Don’t go without asking.
  11. Hot Tips review at Safe Side Headquarters.

There’s also a music video and Spanish subtitles available.

What we thought:

I was leery because frankly, the commercials look a little annoying — a ’superchick’ flying around and loud noises. I wasn’t too excited. The commercials did however, entice my son because he’s been begging for this DVD for a while.

I was very pleasantly surprised. The ’superchick’ character was not annoying at all. She was a pretty calm voice of reason dressed up to appeal to kids. Her voice was nice to listen to and Cedar LOVED her. He thought she was great. They use real kids throughout the DVD and Cedar liked that too.

He laughed through the whole DVD, said it was “cool,” and asked questions. He also talked back to the DVD when superchick asked questions –  most of the time he got the correct answer too.

What’s “a don’t know”:

The best thing this DVD did was that they never, I don’t think, used the word “stranger” which was great because that word can be really confusing to kids. If you ask my son what a stranger is he’ll say someone mean or scary. By using the term “a don’t know” instead of stranger it made more sense to Cedar who he should and should never go with or get too close to.

The next term they introduce is “a kinda know” –falling into this category are adults that kids meet but don’t know well. This could be their dad’s boss, mom’s friend, baseball coach, or teacher at their school. The DVD emphasized not going anywhere with a kinda knows. I think that’s smart considering actual abductions by people kids never meet are more rare than abductions and harm from people they’ve met before.

The last set of characters introduced were the “safe side adults;” these are parents, grandparents, close adult friends, people like this. The DVD encourages parents and kids to discuss three safe adults that a child knows he can trust no matter what.

Was Cedar getting it?:

We stopped the DVD a few times and talked about it afterwards and he was able to rattle off a list of “kinda knows” as compared to “safe side adults.” It’s been a few days and he’s watched it twice. He’s getting this much better than he gets “stranger.” He’s still, I think, a bit confused about “don’t knows” because he likes to think everyone is his pal. I think though that with more discussions he’ll understand as well as a kid his age can.

Great stuff:

At one point they show a kid who know karate. They discuss that even though this little kid is a rock star at karate he’s no match for a big adult. They actually show superchick stopping his moves. I thought that was great because I’ve heard kids say things like, “I can stop a stranger by kicking, or hitting, etc.” This showed you can be strong but not strong enough.

I also liked that superchick had real kid-like weaknesses. She talked about being so excited when the doorbell rings and wanting to jump up and answer it and how it was hard not to. But she did not open the door because she also knew it wasn’t safe. Cedar loves to open the door but all week instead of opening the door he has gotten me first instead — a huge step for him.

On a scale of 1-10, I’d give this video a straight up 10, likely more. Cedar loves it, it was not overly annoying as a parent, and it really offers great ideas for kids. We will be ordering the Internet Safety DVD soon for sure. I actually hope that this company goes on to create more DVDs because I haven’t seen any stranger DVDs this well done before. There are other safety items you can order at the website; but I think the DVDs are your best first move for keeping kids safe.
To learn more visit the Safe Side Company.

Posted in Child Safety | No Comments »

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