Share My Stories!

Friday, March 8, 2013

This week's creations...

I started some fun projects inspired by Pinterest this week as well as Spring cleaning with the hopes that the weather would see my endeavors and behave accordingly. It did. It snowed. Ah well, at least the house sparkles from my homemade vinegar cleaner. At least for a few days...
Katie and Avery's co-op creation
My kids were busy creating things this week as well. My daughter was using the glue gun, and household items to turn a can into a dog with a friend. Of course I had to scour the house for more tin cans so she could create more puppies ;) I love that you never know what will spark your kids.
My son was busy coming up with some grand contraptions of his own to build. Hubby and son spent the morning going over plans. I know it involved a chariot, totes, a motor but that is about all I understood. My son is amazingly brilliant when it comes to coming up with contraptions. I love to see his enthusiasm, and passion for these machines, and am grateful that my hubby can help his ideas come to life.
My project was not too shabby either. I took some old photos of my Great Grandma, Grandma, Great Aunt and Mom to create a multimedia creation. I love that I am showcasing photos in a unique way, and incorporated old pearls (fake of course) that were my Great Grandma's that give it such texture.
We created more projects than these but those will be for another blog entry. So what have you created today?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ronald McDonald House

I love my job as DRE of my UU church, and I love being a UU. Yes, I said it because it is such a huge part of our lives that I want to share. No, I will not preach to you nor do I have any desire to. What I will do is share with you our experiences, projects we are working on, and social action projects.
A big focus of our church is helping people. My kids and I love helping because it makes us feel good and it makes us happy knowing we are making a difference in our community. One project our youth and adults took on was cooking breakfast for the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland this past Sunday. For those that are not aware, the Ronald McDonald House provides housing at a minimal cost so families can be close to their hospitalized child. Any organization can sign up to help cook any meal. We chose to cook breakfast because we wanted it to coincide with Sunday morning. Our church used half of its collection plate so we could buy all the food which included, bacon, sausage, waffles, cinnamon rolls, blueberry muffins, fruit, eggs and home fries. I had planned a book drive as well so we could take gently used books to donate to the House's library. We had a ton of soda tabs to donate as well. I could not believe that they get about $10,000 a year for those soda tabs.
We arrived bright and early Sunday morning, sans one daughter who was recovering from a mall sleepover with the Girl Scouts. She got home at 7am, and passed out since they were busy having way too much fun to sleep all night. Anyway, there we were a handful of adults, and one youth in a tiny kitchen cooking away. Thank goodness for our head cook, Evelyn, who knew what she was doing. If we had followed my plan we would have served lunch. Have I mentioned I have time management issues? And I really cannot cook? Not good combinations ;) But it turned out wonderful. The residents were so appreciative of the meal, and many took the time to thank us. It made my heart cry to think of what these families were going through. They were so strong. One little boy thanked us and we learned his little brother was staying in the hospital. It makes you stop, and appreciate all you have in your life. The Ronald McDonald House is such a worthwhile cause, and I hope you consider giving your change when you go there. Better yet contact your local house, and volunteer. For those that are interested here is the link to the Cleveland House. http://www.rmhcleveland.org/
 

Paleo

I started this new lifestyle after my last doctor's visit. Apparently he was a little concerned with my weight (Yes I admit I need to lose 40 pounds. Gulp) The problem was I had tried counting calories, cutting sweets, using online help,exercising more,  meal plans, etc... I never stuck with any of them. One, I do not like to cook. Two, I do not like to cook. Oh, I guess I already stated that :) I knew I wanted to get rid of dairy and sugar, but did not know how to start. I finally stumbled across the Paleo diet and started researching more (which I should state is NOT a diet, but a lifestyle decision) This lifestyle is definitely not for everyone, but it has really changed my thinking about food. I find it is easier to cook because I am limited in my ingredients. Plus the food is more flavorful because of the spices used. I recently made Paleo brownies from honey, almond butter, egg, cocoa, baking soda, and it was wonderful. I won't say it was better than real brownies, but because I have not had sugar it was sweet enough for me. I feel better than I have in a long time, and I am losing weight slowly. There have been some adjustments such as the Paleo pancakes I made that were HORRID! Pancakes that bad should be outlawed. I shudder just thinking about those suckers. Yech. Yet those moments have been fleeting and few (thank goodness!) and my kids have even given their stamp of approval on many of the Paleo dinners. So, wish me luck and for those  that wish to try the brownies here is the link:
http://www.bakergal.com/2011/08/bakergal-chewy-paleo-brownie-recipe.html.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pinterest, let me count the ways...

Ok. I admit it. I LOVE pinterest! I love the boards on pinterest. I love browsing all the categories and seeing where I end up when following pins. I have found some of my favorite websites this way. The best thing about pinterest? I do not have to be creative (per se) which is fabulous because not only am I searching for recipes, homeschool resources, green resources, funky thrifty house wares, gardening tips and decorations, I am busy living life. With pinterest I can search for specific things or browse categories and be inspired. My favorite things? Ways to reuse household items and making household items cheaper than the store bought item. Usually this has a ton more character and looks way better than store bought. But that's just my opinion. But what is the use of pinning all those fabulous ideas if you never try them? So I have made it one of my goals to try a new pin every month. This month I tried making a magazine rack from an Ego waffle box, modge podge glue (cannot live without this glue and worth every penny!) and scrapbook paper. After some struggle (because things never work out perfectly the first time;) I had a pretty good magazine rack!

                                           
Empty Eggo Box, cut

Starting to modge podge on the scrapbook paper
Modge Podge goes on white but dries clear and shiny

Finished product!

Back view

Love that it can hold so many magazines and papers!
I hope this inspires you to try your pins! I know this is just the beginning of my love affair with Pinterest!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Name Change

You know the past few years have been amazing. Changes, growth and leaps of faith have all inspired me. I have changed so much and have really been able to clarify what is important to me. With that said I have changed the name of the blog. The address is still mylifesjourney because technically it is still about me and what I am learning and what I want to share with you. The description has changed though. It is now Family Living: Living Simply, Living Mindfully, Living Green. I think that represents what I am about and how I try to live my life. I will be focusing on those things as the tone for this blog. It has taken me awhile but I feel like I am at a place in my life where I am able to be fully me and learn who I am. Not just as a mom, wife, daughter or sister but as me, Shannon. I am weird, I am a tree hugger, I enjoy political debates, I love our Mother Earth, I think women should lift each other up, I believe in sharing joy with everyone, I like being thrifty because it saves resources, I like recycling, reusing and re purposing, I am spiritual, I love homeschooling, I like meditation and holistic stuff, I love the beach, I love growing my own vegetables and flowers, native wildflowers enchant me and I want a meadow in my backyard, I hate greed, I hate advertisers who trick people into thinking they need things when they don't, I love my family and my new homeschool community, I love my job as Director of Religious Education at my UU church, I love being a UU, I love being a mom, I like making homemade bread, bubbles and Popsicle, I have an infatuation with mason jars, Rehad Addict rocks and I wish I could do DYI like that lady, I am learning to knit because of pinterest (that is a WHOLE other post) and so much more. I am complex and simple and me. I love being confident in who I am. This is me and I hope you enjoy my posts as much as I enjoy writing them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New doors opening

Well it has been awhile since I have written any posts yet so much has happened I am not sure where to start! I guess just plunging in the middle somewhere works. My hubby and I have decided to keep both kids home to homeschool them. Actually the decision was there's too. I had researched this for well over a year and talked to many moms who homeschooled their kids as well as joined groups just to see if we could do this. I researched different methods, different curriculum, different learning styles, everything that I could read on the subject I did. Then came the time to take the plunge and we did it. The results so far? Amazing. The kids have rediscovered their love of learning without the added stress of memorization and peer pressure. They have met so many kids that many weeks we have to decide NOT to see any of the numerous groups out there because we are so busy. Is homeschooling for everyone? No. But I am so glad the option was there for my kids.
Second? I got a part time job. Actually two. I help out my cousin who cleans houses once a week. The other? I am Director of Religious Education at my Unitarian Universalist Church. I have been a member for over 12 years and I just slipped seamlessly into my new position. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I cannot believe how much joy this position brings me and how much I have to stop myself from putting even more hours in. I have had people tell me that I glow. Sounds corny but I feel it. I feel joy and passion oozing from me and at times I feel giddy and break out into song. Of course my kids are embarrassed that it is usually out in public that I feel these urges but that kinda just adds to my joy! I feel like this is part of my light that I was given to share and shine.
I have also finished my ebook on ADHD and am so proud to put that out there. Of course there is never any rest and I am already working on my next book which is a fiction piece. I may add chapters for others to read but not sure. We will see how it goes. So as you can see I am busy. But I still love to write and hope to start blogging more about the kids, homeschooling, being green, working and writing. Because I have so much free time ;)
So, what makes you glow? What are you passionate about? What light do you share with others?

Thursday, June 28, 2012



Tips for Parents Raising a Child with ADHD

I am so proud to announce the release of my e-book. I have worked really hard on this and hope you find the information useful. Price: $2.99 USD. 11260 words. Published on June 28, 2012. Nonfiction.
This e-book covers everything I have learned on my journey to help my son who has ADHD. It covers diet, supplements, behavioral changes, ways to deal with stress naturally, self esteem issues, school alternatives and more. I know how busy moms are and how valuable your time is so I made sure this book covers everything you need to know in a quick to read format that will change how you view ADHD.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vertical Gardening



The newest rage in container gardening is vertical gardening. It is easy to see why this is fast becoming a very popular way to garden. For those that have limited space such as apartments or live in urban areas this is ideal. I like the idea because it frees up my lawn area for other things such as flowers, pools, and grass for the kids to play in.
So what exactly is vertical gardening? Vertical gardening is growing herbs, vegetables, flowers or whatever you wish, up. This could mean on a fence, a wall, the side of a house. But, how exactly do you plant in a fence? Very carefully. I know corny, but I had to I say it.
Many items are available to use for vertical gardening. You can buy black pouches online or at your local gardening center. Another option is to use gutters. Yes, I did say gutters. Hang the gutters on your fence, fill with soil and plant anything such as an herb garden, flowers or vegetables. The benefit of this is you can usually fit more plants in the gutters than what you could have with potted plants.
You can also be creative with your vertical garden. Plant kitchen herbs in colorful painted pots and hang on your fence. Not only does it add character but it is useful for cooking! Hit the junk shops in your area and look for old cookie jars, brightly painted pitchers, or purses. These are all items that can be attached to the fence. They add a little bit of your personality to your vertical garden so have fun with it.
The down side is that container gardens whether on the fence or in potted plants on the ground, requires more water. They need to be watered every day in hot weather. Water usage could be offset with a rain barrel. I have two and would be lost without them every summer. But I will save that for another article.
If you would like more information on vertical gardening you can visit http://verticalgardeninstitute.org/

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Simplify and De-Clutter


Shelves added to a bare basement wall for storage
It is amazing how much junk you accumulate over the years. What is even more amazing is that we only use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time. So what do we do with all that extra junk? Simplify and de-clutter.  Simplifying and organizing your house is easy if you know how.

You may be wondering why you should bother simplifying. After all, what does all that clutter really do? For one, there will be less time spent cleaning your house which means more time for stuff you like to do. Although I am sure there are many moms that love to clean, I for one would rather be at the beach or playing with my kids. 

How many times have you looked for your keys and been stressed because of it? When you are organized there is less stress and frustration trying to find items. This also teaches us needs vs. wants which is a valuable lesson and makes us analyze what is important to us. All of these lead to a calmer, happier mom which leads to a calmer, happier family.

Starting is not as daunting as you may think. Just break it down room by room. You could tackle the closets one week, the bedrooms the next, and the kids playroom last. Start by coming into the room with a new eye. Look at it like you are a stranger in your house. Look at where the clutter accumulates. Then attack the clutter. No, seriously, you need to have an attack mentality because you are going to be giving up stuff you may be attached too and do not want to give up. For instance, those "skinny" jeans you have not worn since the 80's do not belong in your closet. I had my rehearsal dinner outfit I had kept for years, just because. I finally gave it to Goodwill because I knew it was not my style anymore and I was never going to wear it again.

As you are going through the clutter have 3 laundry baskets, or 3 plastic bags, whatever. You can have a keep pile, goodwill pile and garbage pile. As you go through the room put items into those piles. Examine each item and ask yourself if you really use that or if you are emotionally attached.

 Re-purpose things and be creative with storage solutions. My husband found some cabinets that someone was throwing away. He brought them home and we cleaned them up and and painted them. They are hung up in our basement and used to store play dough and art supplies along with extra storage for food items. This has really helped in a house where storage is scarce. We also added shelves to bare basement walls to put the kids toys up on and added drawers from an old waterbed below the shelves. Just another way to re-purpose old things for creative storage ideas.


Now that you have the clutter in check you need to keep it that way. I use the rule that for every item I bring in, I have to get rid of 1. I also believe in less is better, especially with the kids toys. I have found that when they have too much of anything, they do not play with anything. They do not know what they have and it just creates chaos when you have too much. The kids are part of this de-cluttering process and we go through their rooms before birthdays and Christmas to give their old toys to the needy. This gives them the sense they are helping others which is important.

I invite you to try simplifying your house and the clutter and see if you feel better!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kids and Gardening

First cucumber and tomato of the season 2010
Well this year we have decided to expand our garden. Or rather, I have decided  :) The reason we decided to expand was because of a novel idea (at least to me) about no-till gardening. Genius really because who wants to spend all that time tilling the soil? So what is a no till garden? Well., first you have to lay down a thick layer of cardboard over the area followed by a thick layer of newspaper. Then you layer dead leaves, grass, and dirt till you get about 1-2 feet of compost. The cardboard and newspaper decompose with the dead leaves and debris creating wonderful soil for your veggie plants.
My kids are involved in this whole process too. They help with starting seeds, planting seedlings, watering from the rain barrels and of course the harvesting. Usually the cherry tomatoes never make it to the kitchen because the kids pick the plants clean. It is so amazing to see the kids eat vegetables they would not normally eat just because they grew it. Purple green beans are a novelty to be gobbled up along with yellow tomatoes while grocery store green beans are given the ewwwww factor. To have my kids feel the Earth and take care of her is something I hold dearly.  For those that have never tried gardening with their kids I highly recommend it. It is not something that can be taught in a classroom or just talked about. It is just something that has to be experienced.
So while March feels like June and has me dreaming of veggies and gardening, I will start by laying down the cardboard for my 12x12 area and dream of a bigger garden. Hmmm. Was there extra space behind the garage in the backyard I could use?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Benefits of Planting Native Plants


I know it feels like it might be too early to talk about plants but before you know it Spring will arrive! So I wanted to take this time to talk about native plants. I love the look of native plants. I am not one to go for perfectly manicured lawns and gardens and spend all my time and money keeping it looking trim and green. I love the look of meadows and wildflowers, and the natural slope and rise of the land. Colors explode all summer long in native plants and add diversity and interest to the eye. I have been researching native plants for a couple years now and am impressed with the many benefits they hold.
The one benefit that speaks to everyone on all levels is money. Planting native plants can save you big over the years. How? Native plants are adapted to your specific region. That means native plants will thrive in conditions that other plants could not. You do not need to water native plants as much saving you money on your water bill. Native plants do not require the use of fertilizer or pesticides since native plants are resistant to local bugs. Not only does this save you money but native plants save you time. Native plants are low maintenance and require little care freeing up your time for more important things, such as your family and friends.
Did you ever notice that wildlife seems to be disappearing? Native plants attract songbirds, butterflies, hummingbirds and wildlife by providing shelter and food, depending on which species you plant. Many local nurseries can help you pick out native plants that suit your area and interest. A local Ohio company is Ohio Prairie Nursery. They offer seed packets and flowers based on many factors. Their website is: http://www.ohioprairienursery.com/shoppingcart/. If you are from Ohio and are interested, I would suggest checking out their website.
All of these benefits contribute to the overall health of Mother Earth. In addition, native plants help with storm water runoff, keeping our rivers and lakes cleaner and less polluted. Native plants promote biodiversity and are aesthetically pleasing. Why not try planting some native plants this Spring?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Aspartame free gum!

Glee Gum made with Natural Ingredients
Sometimes I come across some great products and just have to share! I found  Glee Gum at Earth Fare and was excited to see it was made with NO aspartame! I have been searching for a gum for awhile now and I am sure I made a scene as I was clutching the gum to my chest dancing in a circle but I did not care. The gum comes in different flavors with my favorite being tangerine. Although it does lose it's flavor faster than "mainstream" gum  the plus is it stays soft and chewy for hours. Made from natural ingredients and better for my kids! What could be better?


Saturday, March 3, 2012

BBQ Sauce Recipe

High fructose corn syrup seems to be in everything and avoiding it means I have to make a lot of things from scratch. Here is a great recipe for BBQ sauce that can be tinkered with to make it to your own taste.
 
Homemade BBQ Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
Instructions: Whisk ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cool and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Simple Ketchup Recipe

Many items we buy from the grocery store are full of sugar and preservatives when they do not have to be. Ketchup is becoming more clean but I still enjoy making my own.

Homemade Ketchup

Ingredients:
  •  3 tbsp tomato paste
  •  2 tsp onion, grated
  •  1 clove garlic, minced
  •  1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  •  1 tsp agave nectar or honey
Instructions: Whisk ingredients together and store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Ketchup can be made a few days ahead of time and stored in refrigerator in a sealed container for about 1 week

Sidewalk Chalk

I love simple. Simple saves my sanity and saves money too. That's why I love making stuff for my kids from scratch. They love it and have fun with it.




Sidewalk Chalk

This is a fun activity you can do with your kids. My daughter will draw masterpieces for hours and I admit I love drawing with her. Although she usually tells me what to draw :)


  •  Find a mold for your sidewalk chalk. You can use a toilet paper roll, cupcake tin with liner, small paper cups or ice cube trays.
  •  Mix together 1 cup of Plaster of Paris (you can find at any craft store or home improvement store) with 1 cup of water.
  •  Add 2-3 T colored powdered tempera paint (you can get at any craft store)
  •  Mix together
  •  Pour your mixture into the molds
  •  Let dry for 24 hours.
  •  Once dry you can remove your chalk from the mold.

You can experiment with this recipe. Try layering colors or swirling the tempera paint. You can also try adding glow in the dark paint (this is also sold at craft stores.) The recipes are fun and educational activities for kids if you let them help you. Try letting them measure and mix and teach them about mixing colors.  

Bubbles

BUBBLES



There is more to being green than just recycling. I want you to think about things with the Earth in mind. Take bubbles for instance. You can go, get in the car, waste the gas, go to the store and buy a bottle of bubbles that took not only resources and energy to make but took gas to deliver the product to the store. Or, you can look around your home and make your own bubbles. Better for the Earth and cheaper too! Below are 2 recipes for bubbles:

  • 6 parts water
  • 2 parts Dawn
  • ¾ part light corn syrup or glycerin (available at your local pharmacy)
    Mix and store in a container
  • 1/2c Dawn
  • 2 c water
  • 2 t sugar
    Mix and store in a container





     

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chocolate Sauce

This recipe is great for making chocolate milk or poured over ice cream. My kids cannot get enough of it and think it is better than other name brands I will not mention. Easy to make and the best part is there is no corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup!
Make sure you have a big pot to make this. The first time I made it I added the cocoa and it almost boiled over!

1.5 cups water
3 cups sugar
1.5 cups cocoa (try to use dutch processed if you can)
1 T. vanilla extract (pure not imitation)
1/4 tsp salt
2 T honey

1) Add water and sugar to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat
2) Whisk in cocoa, vanilla, salt and honey and stir until dissolved
3) Cook until reduced and thickens up a bit.
4) Let cool then store in refrigerator and enjoy!





Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Organizing Kids with ADHD

For those that have kids with ADHD you know how important being organized is and you also know how difficult it can be. I was never "taught" to be organized so this has been a lesson trying to teach my son to be organized. One idea I adapted from pinterest was the to do list. I took a lined poster board I found at Marc's for $.57 and cut it in half. I then listed the things he needed to get done for the day. Since he has been so good at getting morning stuff done I did not feel the need to add those to the list. When he as completed his chore, he simply moves the colored paperclip to the opposite side of the paper. You can also use clear contact paper to laminate it and check it off with dry erase markers. I have a list for my daughter too and yes, I admit I made one for myself. Just to keep things on track and to make it more of a family thing.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Home Spa Treatments - Part 2

Usually there are only a few simple ingredients in homemade scrub such as salt or sugar, along with oil. You can add honey, glycerin (which is available at your local drug stores), vanilla and fruit to the salt or sugar and oil. You are only limited by your imagination. Below are some great recipes to get you started.



Homemade Strawberry Sugar Scrub


Ingredients:

  •   3-4 ripe crushed Strawberries (make sure they are very ripe)
  •   1/8 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  •   1 tsp Honey
  •   2-3 Tbs Sugar
  •  1 Tbs Oil What oils to use?

Mix ingredients. Gently rub over face or body. Rinse well.

Homemade Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Ingredients:

  •  1 c brown sugar
  •  ½ c oil
  •  1 tsp vanilla

Mix ingredients. Gently rub over face or body. Rinse well.

Homemade Lemon Salt Scrub

Ingredients:

  •   1c salt
  •   ½ c oil
  •   1 Tbl lemon zest
  •   1tsp lemon juice

Mix ingredients. Gently rub over face or body. Rinse well.

Homemade Coconut Salt Scrub

Ingredients:

  •   ½ c salt
  •    2 T coconut oil
  •   1 tsp vanilla extract
  •   1 Tbl honey

Mix ingredients. Gently rub over face or body. Rinse well.

Homemade Honey Sugar Scrub

Ingredients:

  •   1 c sugar
  •   3 t glycerin
  •   1 t honey

Mix ingredients. Gently rub over face or body. Rinse well.






Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My struggle with organization

I have always been a procrastinator and organization does not come easy to me. Being a college student, a writer and a mom among others, gave me a "safe" get out of jail free card. I bemoaned the fact that I had no time to stay organized and I would let things pile up thinking I would get to it later. But the stress of being unorganized was affecting myself and my kids. Yes we made sure the book bags were packed by the door the night before but there were other things. Running around in the morning because I thought I could grab 5 minutes on the computer to pay bills which turned into 30 minutes. Glancing at the clock I would then have to rush the kids and I could feel my blood pressure go up. I knew it was my fault for not paying attention and I would get cranky.

So I sat down and made a list of my time and my commitments. This made me focus on how much time I really had during the week and whether or not I wanted to spend it scrolling through websites or keeping my sanity by keeping organized. The organization won out and the computer has taken a back seat to life. I plan time and limits to be on the computer to pay bills and write blogs now so I do not get caught up in pinterest for half a day. Life has become smoother which I am enjoying. I have to really focus on being organized but the payoff has been worth the effort.

For instance, mornings are much smoother, less stressful and much more enjoyable. The computer stays off and I am able to keep up with the time and what the kids have to do to get ready. We make lunches the night before as well as pack up the school bags. I am able to get the kids off to school earlier so they are not rushing to get to class. Everyone's day starts a little happier which makes the whole day happier. Especially my son. Having ADHD he never does well with rushing so this has been an immense help with starting his day off right. I have also been reading books on organization because I know the best thing I can do to help him is to show him how to stay organized. Organization is ADHD's best friend and I really needed to step that part up to show him what a difference it can make.
Being organized has forced me to write more. Yes I love to write. It fills me up in a way that others can never understand. The complete joy and stillness that I feel can never be duplicated except when I write. Yet I was always procrastinating and saying I did not have time to write. I needed to concentrate on school to finish my degree. I needed to concentrate on helping my kids. I needed to just sit my behind down and write. Writing is a joy but it is scary too. You are putting your soul out there for the world to see and it feels raw to let others read what you wrote. Yet I know I need to write to be who I am supposed to be. So I will keep up with the organizing.  It has been a learning experience but isn't that what life is supposed to be about?

If you would like to share tips to stay organized I would love to hear them! Or if you know of any books that can help please feel free to leave that info in the comment box below.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Decorating a kid's room on a budget


Decorating a Kid’s room on a budget



This year for Christmas my daughter wanted a room makeover instead of gifts. She was ready to forego Princesses and opt for a different look with a whole room re-do, yet I still needed to stick to a budget. Decorating on a budget can seem like an impossible feat but you just have to be creative and use your imagination.

First item up is to pick a theme. This does not mean you should stick to a princess theme or an action hero theme. You should, however pick out colors and things that interest your child. If your child does not like ballerinas it would not make sense to decorate your kid’s room with pictures of ballerinas.

Paint! This is the inexpensive way to change the look of a room. It is a simple way to decorate a kids room with ought spending a ton and achieve a fresh new look. If you are artistic try painting a mural or use a projector if you are like me and can only draw stick figures. You can also use paint to change the look of furniture or add flair by painting the walls different colors. Paint plain frames, plain shelves and wood accents with bright colors that match your color theme. For instance, I painted my old vanity a bright teal and added new knobs for a completely new look. The cost was under $20.00 but the look was priceless.

Purging is just one option of low cost decorating. I emptied my daughter’s room before painting and when I was done I only put back toys she really played with. Everything else went down in the playroom. This created the look of a bigger room without all the things to clutter it.

Another tip for budget decorating is to use sheets for window treatments. Try using sheets that match your color theme or child’s room theme. Very inexpensive with little to no sewing involved. Or check out Goodwill. My daughter got cute curtains for very cheap.

Wall decals can add a lot of fun when decorating a kid’s room. These can be found at your local superstores or online. They have cute animals or sayings or you can splurge on a custom name that can be a focal point. Whatever fits your fancy and your budget.

Re-purpose old items from other rooms. My dad recently re-did his bathroom so my daughter got his huge beveled edged mirror that is 4’ x 6’. She now dances in front of it and loves how it made her room look bigger and brighter. This was a freebie that would have cost me hundreds of dollars if I were to buy it.

Think outside the box. I went to Home Depot and bought a closet shelving unit and turned it into a desk area with shelves for her toys. The total cost was $120.00. When my dad and I priced the materials to make it, it would have cost over $400.00. So for $120.00 we have a piece that fits the space exactly.

Re-arrange furniture. This may seem like a no brainer, but re-arranging furniture gives the room a new feel. Play around with how each piece fits to see what works best in the space.

Use posters or calendars to decorate. My favorite artist is Michael Parkes. I bought a calendar and framed all the pictures for inexpensive art that I love. Another inexpensive wall decoration that kids love is corkboard, and white board. Let the kids use corkboard to show off their latest masterpiece.

Buy new bedding. This may seem like a splurge but new bedding adds a fresh new look. Look for overstocks, sales, clearance and online. I would not suggest buying second hand because of the resurgence of bedbugs.

I hope these low cost decorating ideas have inspired you. I know they have inspired me to look at other rooms in our house. Be creative and have fun!

Friday, January 6, 2012

ADHD and medication

I cannot believe that the holidays are over already. Each year it seems to go by faster and faster. I guess that's what happens after you have kids. Like so many families we have been busy which is why I have not written any new blogs. Today is the first day I have been able to catch my breath so I decided to write about our experience with medication. At the beginning of the school year we decided as a family (my husband, my son and myself) to try medication for my son's ADHD. He started on 18 mg of Concerta which seemed to help him focus a little more at school. The dosage was upped to 36mg to see if it would help a little more. Unfortunately the side effects outweighed the benefits. He started losing too much weight and all the joy seemed to leave him. He was more "zombie-like" so we dropped him back to 18mg. While spending the night at a friends he forgot to take his medicine. I asked him how that made him feel and he said it felt good to have fun and be himself which made me want to cry. He asked if he could go off the medication and my husband and I agreed. We always told him that this was an experiment just like all the other things we tried and if it did not work, we would figure something else out.
So, it is back to the drawing board for us. But this time we have more knowledge about what works and what doesn't. I am reading more books about ADHD and organizing kids, diet, behavioral therapy, parenting skills and more. He seems much happier and my husband and I are not stressing about it which helps a ton. We are learning new things with the new studies and research about kids with ADHD which makes me hopeful.
This is a life long journey but one I would never change for the world. My son is amazingly creative and funny and bright and wonderful and he would not be that way if he did not have ADHD. Our challenge is helping him find ways to cope and overcome the obstacles which I am every optimistic about.
I am in the middle of transferring my notes to my power point presentation on ADHD in kids to share what I have learned. I originally did the presentation for a class project thinking I knew a lot about kids with ADHD. I was so wrong and there was more to learn. Like I said before, there is so many new studies and research and books that it is truly amazing. We have tried so many things yet there is so much more out there to try. I will post the presentation in the next couple of weeks. If you have any advice or comments, please feel free to share!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Best Baked Potato Soup Recipe



Fall is one of my most favorite seasons. Of course being an Ohioan, I am in love with all the seasons. Towards the end of summer I start to actually miss the gray days. Yes, I know. I need help but it's true.  I love the beautiful fall days (sunny and gray), curling up on the couch with a book and some hot tea, fall hikes with the kids, corn mazes, picking apples and pumpkins, HALLOWEEN, cozy sweaters, and the crisp fall air that holds the promise of snow. I know just around the corner is winter and that means slowing down for me. A time of rejuvenation.  The pace slows down and I am forced to slow down with it. I need this time. I need to be reminded that life happens very fast if we let it. Sometimes I forget and get so wrapped up in the day to day hustle and bustle that I lose track of life. The end of fall and winter remind me to stop and take a step back and remember that life is for living and enjoying, not just for being and doing. So, in honor of cold nights, slowing down and enjoying life, I am sharing my recipe for baked potato soup. It takes some time but it is worth it and isn't that what this blog post is about?


Baked Potato Soup - WARNING!! 
This soup is not fat free, or remotely healthy (ok it does have potatoes and milk but that is about it) but it is soooooo good. And really, how often do we get the chance to enjoy a bowl of homemade deliciousness? This also makes a BIG pot so there is plenty of leftovers.

Ingredients:


  • Package of center cut bacon, nitrate free (or whatever you can afford)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 10 Tablespoons flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth (organic if you can)
  • 8 large baked potatoes (I wash and dry mine and rub olive oil on them. Place them directly on the oven rack @ 350 for 45 minutes)
  • 2 cups half and half (yes you need this. This is what makes it so nice and creamy.....mmmmmm)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream



1) In large saucepan cook bacon until crisp. I usually bake the potatoes and then start the bacon.
2) Place bacon on plate, drain grease reserving 1 Tablespoon.
3) Saute onion and garlic in reserved bacon grease until tender.

4) Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. 
5) Gradually add chicken broth and whisk to break up the flour chunks.
6) Bring to a boil and simmer

6) Cut up the baked potatoes into cubes. I leave the skins on. Make sure they are cool enough to handle.
7) Add cut up potatoes and half and half to the chicken broth
8) Heat through and simmer gently
9) Garnish individual servings with crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese and sour cream
10) Enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Awesome Free Cookbook Giveaway!!!

Today is your lucky day readers! I am excited to share with you a cookbook giveaway from Chef Jeff from dinner revolution. I was just complaining that there were no healthy cookbooks out there with less than 10 ingredients that you could buy at the grocery store, instead of specilaty stores. These cookbooks fill that niche which is great news for busy moms.
I was also impressed with Chef Jeff's message of getting the family back to the dinner table. My family tries to eat dinner together at least 5-6 nights a week which is difficult at times (I cannot vouch for that when I am at school and my hubby cooks dinner ;). My kids look foward to dinner as a time to share what happened in their day and I look foward to hearing about their adventures. These cookbooks make it easier for family dinner nights to happen. Read on below for information on how to get this great giveaway!

Hi! I'm doing my free cookbook giveaway again!
*So here's the deal: I am simply going to give it away for free to
your readers. *
It's going to sell for $27 so quite a good deal for your readers.
I know this give-away is a little different than what you are used to,
but I really want to get this in as many hands as possible for
feedback before I roll it out.
Hopefully it's a good fit for you. The recipes are super
family-friendly, healthy, have less than 10 ingredients, and take less
than 30 minutes to prepare.
*Let's get the family back to the dinner table and out of the fast
food joints!*

Chef Jeff
http://www.dinnerevolution.com/cookbook/nerfree.html

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Supermom - NOT!

This has been a year of huge personal growth for me. I have been forced to look at my strengths and look even closer at my weaknesses which is a hard thing to do. I have had to learn to give up control, trust in my family and realize that I am not a supermom.
Between starting my second year of college, working out issues with my son, working a job, writing a novel, taking care of the kids and house, after school activities and more, I was ready for a meltdown. I saw things that needed to be done, yet no one was doing them. Everything rested on me and I started to feel resentful especially to myself. You see, I have amazing friends with multiple children, who have time to make homemade cinnamon rolls, do amazing crafts, read to their kids every night, keep up with their looks and house and make it look easy. I, on the other hand, used to barely make it out of bed before the morning routine starts, was off to take the kids to school when one kid realizes they forgot their homework, the cats are not fed, I did not eat breakfast, the dishes are piled in the sink, I realize I wore the shirt with the grease stain and never washed my jeans with the chocolate spot on the thigh. I look and feel frazzled and wonder what I am doing wrong that I cannot do it all like the other moms. I felt inadequate, almost like I was failing as a mom. What was their secret, I would wonder? Why could they do it all and I could not?
I am not sure when it started or when I realized I could not do it on my own. I was not superwoman, nor did I want to be that unattainable ghostly image anymore. I had held myself up to unattainable standards because  I was not concentrating on what I was good at, only what I was not doing as well as the other moms. I had to realize that I will never be a good cook, or a great crafter. My time management skills needed to be addressed desperately but that could be fixed. I was a great mom and I was great at loving my kids which is all that mattered.
Once I realized I was not supermom I started asking for help around the house, then I started demanding it. By not allowing my family to help, I was doing a huge disservice to them. I simply told everyone that I could not do it all on my own, nor should I have to, and that everyone was part of this family which meant everyone had to help out. I gave up the control and it was liberating. Yes, when my husband cooks while I am at work, sometimes he does not cook a vegetable. Will that kill my kids? If my cooking as not, then this won't. Does my 7 year old vaccuum as well as I do. No, but I am grateful for the help and she feels proud for helping the family out. Ultimately I am raising children who will help without even thinking of it with their future spouses because that is just the way it is. Because what kind of message was I sending my kids before? That they were not good enough to help? That the woman can do it all? Was that fair to put all that on my daughter since she would have the same skewered expectation that she was supposed to do it all? Or that my son did not have to help his partner because it was "supposed" to be the woman that takes care of it all?  Their expectation going into life would be wrong and it would be my fault for not setting them straight. Thankfully that will not happen. Everyone helps out and life is much smoother.
 So for all you women out there that think you can do it all on your own. Why? Life is easier when you have help.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Home Spa Treatments - Part 1


It is really hard as a mom to take time to pamper ourselves. Trips to the spa become a thing of the past to remember fondly. We wish we had time for the luxury of facials, massages, manicures and pedicures. While it is difficult to give yourself a massage, you can give yourself a mini facial to freshen up your skin. This will be a 2 part series. The first will focus on what oils to use for your home spa treatments. The second will focus on scrub recipes.
Read about the benefits of my 3 favorite oils below and choose the right one for you. Most of these oils will not go rancid and are hypoallergenic.


EMU OIL

Emu oil is my favorite oil. I use it on my hands every night instead of lotion and I cannot believe the difference it makes. Emu oil is proven to be anti-inflammatory, which helps with muscle aches and joint pain and contains Vitamin E, which is a healing agent and antioxidant.  Emu oil repairs skin damage, including scars, wrinkles, and stretch marks because it contains skin cell re generators. This oil is fantastic and you can find it at your local organic store.

JOJOBA OIL 

Jojoba oil is not only excellent for your hair but it is good for your skin. Jojoba oil is used to nourish and moisturize skin. It is helps with eczema, psoriasis and is used to maintain skin elasticity.

GRAPE SEED OIL

Grapeseed oil is another excellent choice as it has the same antioxidants as tea and berries. The oil helps with production of collagen which is an anti-aging benefit. For acne sufferers, grapeseed can be used to help clear up your skin.
All of these oils can be found at your local organic store. Quality affects the benefits so make sure you use higher quality oil and try to use organic if you can. 
So, take a few minutes for yourself tonight and make a homemade scrub. Try them in the bath or shower and you will love how your skin feels. Just make sure to lock the door and turn the music up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meditative Creekwalking?

I spent a lot of my childhood in the woods and in the creek. I grew up in Avon Lake and we had the best woods just down the street from us. I would spend hours there, picking wild concord grapes, walking in the creek looking for crayfish, playing with my friends. I was also a tree climber. Ask my parents about the time they had to call the fire department to get me down from a tree. I think I was 3 or 4. I just loved being in trees. It was a magical time that I never realized was magical. It was also too fleeting.
Alas, I grew up and the woods became a nostalgic memory for me. I never realized how much my soul craved the woods. We bought a house in a city that hardly has any trees. This started to bother me more and more over the years, although it was like a vague wiggle in the back of my head. Life fast forwards, I had children, and the wiggle got bigger. It was not until I stopped my hectic life to take a lazy afternoon and go walking in the creek with my mom, nephews and daughter that my soul cried out, THIS IS IT! This is what I have been missing. The stillness of nature. The whispering of the leaves. The sun dappled water as it glistened and flowed. My soul cried in relief as I soaked up Mother Nature and the stillness. The kids splashed in front of us, squealing with delight at each find as if it were gold treasure. Each shallow of pool that held little fish were meant to be stopped at and inspected and awed over. My mom and I enjoyed a slower pace and sometimes there were no words. Just the majestic beauty of Mother Nature. We spent and entire afternoon there and I cannot tell you how relaxed and stress free I was. I did not think about dishes that needed to be done or budgets that needed to be balanced or how was I going to go to school and work at the same time. Nothing. I enjoyed and reveled in the peace. Now do not get me wrong. I have been in the park before with the kids. Bike-riding and nature walks. But somehow it is not the same as when you are creek walking.
I was reflecting over my day when I started to wonder. How many of us have been so caught up in our day to day lives that we miss being with nature? We have such an amazing gift with the Metroparks being so close but how often do we take advantage of it. In a world of video games, video games and more video games, and TV, how often do we take the time to go back to nature? I know I will be taking time out to go back to that creek and fill my soul up as often as I can.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Natural Cough Remedies for Children


Children get an average of 6-10 colds a year. While you may be tempted to reach for over the counter medicine you may want to reconsider. All the recalls on cough medicines and the FDA warnings about children and cough medicine would make any parent want an alternative. Luckily there are many solutions you can make at home that will help with your kids cold. As always, you should not give children under the age of 1 any honey and if your child’s cough is persistent or gets worse see your doctor.

Water – water helps to break down mucous and keep your child hydrated. Do not give to infants as they require breast milk or formula.

Ginger Tea – Boil 3-4 slices of ginger in a cup of water to help with their cough.

Saline Solution – can help relieve congestion and soothes irritated nasal passages

Gargling – gargling with saltwater helps to thin mucous

Chicken soup – yes it is true! Chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties and is great for colds

Vicks Vapor Rub – you may be thinking of only using this on the chest but try slathering some on the feet at night. I put socks on after so the sheets do not get ruined. Science does not know why this old remedy works, but it does

Honey – you can give it straight or add other cold fighting ingredients to the mix. ½ tsp for children 2-5, 1 tsp for children 6-11 and 2 tsp. for children 12 and older. Give every 2 hours

Mix 1 tsp honey with 1 Tbl freshly squeezed lemon juice. Stir with a little water and give 2-3x day

For those more adventurous try this recipe:
1 lemon – use a juicer to extract juice and then add the pulp. Grate 1-3 heads of garlic (you may want to start with 1) add equal amount of honey to amount of lemon juice you squeezed. Stir together and put in a container. Keep in refrigerator and give a tablespoon every 2-3 hours or as needed.

You should use local ingredients and local honey for the best quality. For those in the Cleveland area try Jorgensen Apiary located in Olmsted Falls. Or visit their website @ https://www.jorgensensapiary.com/honey/view-all-products.html to view their honey products.

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake Recipe

Happy Father's Day!! I know many people like to buy ice cream cakes from the store or DQ but I thought I would share a recipe for a homemade version that is so easy to make and is delicious!!

Ingredients

24 Ice Cream Sandwiches
Jar of hot fudge or caramel ice cream topping
      nuts (optional)
      candy bars crushed (whatever flavor you like)
      carton of cool whip, thawed

Place 12 of the ice cream sandwiches in a 9x13 pan. You will have to cut a couple in half to get them to fit.

Spread 1/2 of the hot fudge or caramel over the ice cream sandwiches
Sprinkle half of the nuts and crushed candy bars on the toppings
Spread half of the whipped cream over the candy bars and nuts
Repeat layers
Cover and freeze for an hour

This is amazing and trust me when I say people are going to rave about this! The great thing is you can change the flavors. Try caramel topping with Butterfingers or fudge with Snicker. The combinations are endless. I hope you enjoy and have a Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Family of baseball players

Baseball was a big part of my youth. My grandfathers played minor league, my father coached my brother's  team and  my brother was a terrific baseball player. Me,  I tried. I excelled at being the bat girl but that is where my athletic abilities ended. Which was difficult to come to grips with since baseball was such a part of our summer life growing up.
 As for my kids my son never showed any interest in baseball so when my daughter said at age 3 she wanted to play, I thought it might be an interest that passed. 4 years later that interest still held so I relented and signed her up. I had no idea she would love the sport so much and want to practice at it so much. She is very competitive and wants to excel at it. She practices at least a few times a week and she always reminds me when it is time. I ended up being her assistant coach (do not ask me how that happened!) and I find myself at a loss. I am trying to help her be her best. I understand her love of the game (I always liked to play non competitively) but not her drive to be the best. That she gets from my dad. So I research online how to coach and what to teach and I ask other parents what works for them. I am trying to be as supportive and helpful as I can because I know this fiercely independent strong willed child is going to like many things I am not familiar with and have no clue about. Thank God for google. In her first year playing she has already shown so much improvement. Last game she got 3 hits, 1 run (almost 2) and almost got a runner out at second with a fantastic catch in 5 innings. Yet she was still upset because she got tagged out at home. After the game she stayed another hour wanting to practice hitting and throwing. I am amazed at the will power of this little girl to get better. And now she has gotten her brother interested in playing. So now we are a baseball family. Which feels like I have come full circle. And it feels good. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer as much as we are!

Monday, June 13, 2011

ADHD kids and more freedom?

This summer we decided to give my son more freedom. The reasoning? He was going into 5th grade and we thought it was time to try it out. Now we wrestled with this question for awhile. Anyone with a child who has ADHD knows what we were going through. My son is a little more immature than the other kids when it comes to decision making. He does not think things through and has no thought to hmmm, maybe that is not such a good idea. I realize most kids are like that but it tends to be amplified in kids with ADHD. So we gave him a 1 mile radius (he knows the streets so he knew where the boundaries where) and when he roamed he was supposed to have my cell phone. The first couple days I could see where he was pushing his new found freedom but I waited. Then it happened. He went off with a younger friend. 30 minutes later the kids older sisters were at the door looking for them. Apparently the father was out looking for his son. I thought, no biggie. I'll just call my phone to see where they are at. 9 calls and 3 texts later my son comes sauntering home with a what's up? He had left my cell phone on the porch because he did not want it to get broken (or he did not want me to get hold of him) and the boys were off riding bikes. I was furious. Then I found out he had stretched the boundaries and had gone to places outside the limits I had set. So today he is grounded and cleaning his room. Tomorrow he gets to help me weed and the next he gets to help me clean the basement. Thank you Rhonda for the suggestions.:) My question, do I give him his freedom back? Do I try this again? Do I give explicit instructions this time so there are no loopholes about what my expectations are? I think I will. He is a boy and he will always push the boundaries and I cannot keep him home with me to protect him as much as I would like to try. I can however have clear punishments so he knows what will happen if he goes to far again. No one said parenting would be easy and boy were they right! But it is worth it. I love my kids with all my heart. I just hope they do not need too much therapy when they are older :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Last Day of School!



I cannot believe how fast this year flew by! Today is the last day of school and I am not sure who is more excited, me or my son. I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. I do not have to remind him 30x in the morning, and evening to get things done. No more fighting with him to get his homework done. No more notes home from the teacher saying what a sweet kid he is BUT he is not turning in his work, or he is talking too much, or whatever. Stress is lifted off my son. He is so different during the summer months. My husband and I plan on teaching the kids over the summer. Jared has plans to build a go cart (he made the plans up) and my husband is going to help him build it. I have plans to for zoos, parks, creek walks, art projects, swimming, camping, star gazing and so much more. This is a time to reignite my sons love of learning and keep fostering it in my daughter (who happens to be very sad school is over because she loves it so much) Firefly catching, popsicle making, beach bumming days are here and I am overjoyed. This is a time to relax and have fun and learn things that the kids are interested in. I plan on tie dye and scrap booking, treasure hunts and flower picking. Summer is a magical time and I for one plan on making the most of it. What are your summertime plans?

Total Pageviews