Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

#15 Fun Things To Do With Your Family This Weekend November 21, 2008

Build A Family Photo House!

This adorable three-dimensional house makes a perfect photo memory display, and is a great way to reuse items from the recycling bin! Younger

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

children can create simpler designs, enjoying the process of cutting and pasting. Older kids will appreciate more intricate details when decorating their house. 

For tweens, have them create a swanky hang-out with pics of all their BFFs. Instructions courtesy Kaboose.com

 What you’ll need:

  • Recycle a toaster pastry box, cereal box, or or one of similar shape and size
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pennies, pebbles or modeling clay
  • Tape
  • Photographs of all family members (get permission from your parents first)
  • Fine-tip permanent markers
  • Tiny flowers, birds, or other decor as desired. (Make them from construction paper!)

How to make it:

  1. The top of the box (with flaps intact) will be the top of the house. Decide what color you would like your house to be and cover the outside with construction paper. Leave three extra inches of construction paper at the top all the way around (where the flaps are – see figure 1).
  2. Cut slits in the construction paper at the top corners, so that the paper can fold like the flaps can. Glue the construction paper to the flaps.
  3. Trim the pictures into rectangular windows, or you may decide to cut carefully around the person’s picture (sort of like a paper doll) and glue that to a rectangular piece of white paper to make a window.
  4. Decorate the house, placing the windows and a door. You might want to include your family name, a message and the year.
  5. Put pennies, pebbles or the modeling clay in the bottom of the box to give the project some weight and keep it from falling over.
  6. Fold corners of the big flaps of the top of the box inward to make an upside down “v”. Fold the corners inward, but leave them sitting like tabs, so that you can glue the roof to them. Fold the small flaps down inside the box.
  7. Decide what color you would like your roof to be and cut the construction paper to cover it. Glue it on and then add any details you would like to your house, i.e., window boxes, shutters, flowers, ivy or anything else you like! 

Make Home-made Old Fashioned Gingerbread Men!

Making gingerbread men (and women) is a blast, plain and simple. Toddlers can get in the action by breaking eggs and mixing ingredients, and everyone enjoys rolling the dough, and making shapes. The scent of fresh-baked gingerbread will draw the masses from blocks around.

Dressing your ginger-people for success is a snap: Choose healthy snacks such as raisins, dried cranberries and pepitas, or go Old School with gum drop buttons and licorice whip smiles. Click here for the recipe!

Future Environmentalists Club

Did you know that Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 use large amounts of electricity and can each consume as much energy as TWO new refrigerators?!  

According to a new report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), you can cut your electric bill by as much as $100 a year simply by turning it off your Xbox 360 or Sony Play Station 3 when you are finished playing.

Playstation 3 uses five times the power of a stand-alone Sony Blu-ray player to play the same movie. This is a particularly dramatic difference considering these two products are made by the same company. Changes need to be made.

The NRDC is urging manufacturers to make future systems more energy efficient, to help save consumers money, for our clean energy future, and reduce global warming pollution.

  • Looking at the “big three” video game consoles – Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBox360 and Nintendo’s Wii – the report measured the amount of power they use when they are active, idle and turned off. It found these systems use nearly the same amount of power when you are playing them as they do when you leave them on and walk away.
  • On average, the report found that Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 use large amounts of electricity –150 Watts and 119 Watts respectively. These two systems can each consume more than 1,000 kilowatt-hours per year if left on all the time. The Nintendo Wii, however, uses significantly less power when on (at <20 Watts) and actually uses slightly less power than the previous generation of their console.

NRDC is working with the leading video game hardware and software designers to help make these improvements. In particular, NRDC is working to make sure users will be able to automatically save their settings and place in the game before they shut down the systems. 

For a full copy of the report, and ideas for saving energy in your home, click here.

“By raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.”–Helen Coronato, author of  Eco-Friendly Families, 

*Submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries

 

#12 Fun Things to Do With Your Family This Weekend October 9, 2008

Get Old-School!

We’re all feeling the squeeze from the economic downturn, but does that mean we have cut corners on family fun this Halloween? I think not! Craft magazine illustrates how to make fun and funky costumes for your kids with a visit to your recycling bin, sewing box or local craft store – Much easier than standing in line at a crowded costume shop and a bit easier on the wallet, as well.

You can quickly and easily whip up any of these five amazing kiddy costumes using supplies you probably already have on hand, plus a bit of creativity. Inexpensive and easy to make, these custom-made outfits have more staying power than most flimsy store-bought costumes. Follow the links below for full instructions, or Click here to watch the video.

Autumn Harvest Raw Apple Pie with Almond-Date Crust 

This uncommonly good apple pie is raw–yes, unbaked–and it rivals the most luscious and delectable of cooked varieties. It is dense, rich, sweet and aromatic with cinnamon, and suitable for low-carb, gluten-free, low-glycemic and vegan diets.

Raw food (like many things worth waiting for) takes time. This dish is somewhat time-consuming, so I suggest you make a weekend of it! Spend Saturday scouring the orchards for apples; It’s fun, great exercise and often there are seasonal festivals with music, period costumes and demonstrations. Get the kids to help, and use the time together for a short history lesson about how food was gathered and prepared when Grandmother (or Great-Grandmother) was young. Click here for the full recipe.
(Visit my other blog, UnassumingFoodie.com for more great kid-friendly recipes!

Future Environmentalists Club

“By raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.”–Helen Coronato, author of  Eco-Friendly Families, The following are excerpts.

Make your own Pine Cone Bird Feeder! This is a fun and easy project that is perfect for inviting our fine feathered friends to the back yard! All you need are fallen pine cones, string, chunky peanut butter, spoons, citrus fruit (such as lemons), scissors, sunflower seeds, and plates.

Cut the citrus into slices, then in to very small pieces and set them aside. Pour sunflower seeds into plates, spread around, and set aside. Tie a length of string around the top of the pine cone long enough to hang it in front of a kitchen window or from a nearby branch. Cover pine cone with peanut butter using the backside of a spoon. Stick fruit bits onto the peanut butter. Roll the pine cone in sunflower seeds, then hang your bird feeder!

Every part of this project is eco-friendly. Using fallen pine cones makes good use of a natural resource that you can later toss in the woods, where a thankful squirrel will claim it. Chunky peanut butter provides birds with high-energy peanut pieces, seeds are a staple in a bird’s diet, and fruit helps maintain health. Keep in mind that birds will come to depend on these feeders as a source of food, so plan on keeping up your pine cone practices through the Fall and Winter.

*Submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries.

 

#10 Fun Things to Do With Your Family This Weekend September 19, 2008

Photo Flipbook

Remember doodling little “movies” in the outer margin of your schoolbook? Try using your own photos to create this classic hybrid between book and movie. The creative people at CRAFT magazine supplied all the instructions. Click here for details!

  • What I love about this project is that all members of the family can play a role: little ones can pose, preschoolers can help select and organize the images, and older kids or moms and dads can use software and handle the scissors.
  • Imagine what a cute Christmas gift this would make for Grandparents and other relatives! Or, a sweet and personalized birthday gift featuring your child’s BFFs.
  • Try acting out a short play or favorite story. Create a short message on cards, or do a timeline of the year’s activities. Watch your children grow before your eyes!

Carrot Pudding

This rich carrot dessert (oh yes, it’s even richer and more decadent than carrot cake!) is a surprise hit with kids—yet also makes an elegant last course for guests. Part historical culinary wonder, part “health food,” Carrot Pudding (better known as Gajur Halvah) is popular throughout Northern India and Pakistan. Made with honey, raisins, milk–and carrots, of course!–I propose a batch goes to school with young students presenting a Geography project on the Middle East. Click here for the full recipe.
(Visit my other blog, UnassumingFoodie.com for more great kid-friendly recipes!)

Future Environmentalists Club

By raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.”–Helen Coronato, author of  Eco-Friendly Families, 

Reuse extra photos from the Photo Flipbook project!

  • Glue your precious photos or artwork to make cute fridge magnets. Simply reuse the little magnets attached to all those business card and advertising magnets that come in the mail from realtors, pizza restaurants, etc. 
  • Revive “snail mail” by sending photo postcards. Simply use a permanant marker to write on the backs of leftover photos. Add an address and appropriate postage, and voila! a custom postcard!
  • Cut up old birthday and greeting cards and used gift-wrap to make a scrapbook album of your best and your oldest photos with narrative and notes and dates.
  • Plan your narrative with your grandchildren and their children in mind. One day they will want to know about you, your parents and your grandparents. Give them an idea about the kind of person you are, the things you like to do, and what your life is like. Make history today!

Family Deals and Contests

Sesame Street mousepads up for grabs!

Sesame Street mousepads up for grabs!

Get a FREE Sesame Street mouse pad, simply by asking! Click here for more info!

Submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries.

 

#9 Fun Things To Do With Your Family This Weekend September 4, 2008

Make Custom Shoes for Your Baby!

Wish Manolo would fashion a pair just for you? Let your toddler live the ultimate dream: wearing custom-made shoes designed just for her—or him! The creative people at CRAFT magazine supplied all the instructions. Click here for details.

Tres chic!

Tres chic!

  • The instructions include everything you need to make soft, pliable shoes with just the right amount of structure for babies and toddlers ages 6 to 14 months.
  • Recycle and reuse! This craft is a wonderful opportunity to make use of out-dated leather jackets.
  • Better yet, recycle the adorable clothes baby has outgrown! All those cute, oh-so-soft baby clothes will keep tender tootsies cozy this Fall.

Turkey Florentine Meatballs with Brown Rice Pasta

This is a modern twist on a family favorite. Gluten-free, low-carb and low-fat, this recipe wins points with all family members. This yummy recipe is relatively easy: pull hungry kids into the kitchen to help make it! 
The meatballs are so tasty, I’ve used the recipe to make Florentine Meatloaf (rather than making the turkey into meatballs, I just bake it in a loaf pan), then used leftovers for sandwiches during the week. 
(Visit my other blog, UnassumingFoodie.com for more great gluten-free recipes!)

Future Environmentalists Club

By raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.”–Helen Coronato, author of  Eco-Friendly Families, The following are excerpts:

Now that the kids are back in school, before the sand toys go back into storage, give them a creative new use! For kids who turn up their noses at veggies, create a colorful table-setting using thoroughly-washed sand toys may be all the incentive needed to try something new.

  • Eating sliced cucumbers is a lot more fun when you’re dunking them in a personal seashell of dipping “bowl” filled with ranch dressing.
  • Frisbees can do double-duty as plates; small buckets can hold salsa and chips, beverages, or carrot and celery sticks.
  • Personalize your patio dining, and you’re likely to find a family of eco-eaters enjoying your efforts!

Family Deals and Contests

Submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries.

 

#8 Fun Things to do with Your Family this Weekend August 29, 2008

Become a “Junior Chef” Star!

The revolution has begun! Kids are in the kitchen preparing delicious and healthy meals all by themselves. Junior Chefs of America is the first kids’ web-based cooking program hosted by real kids who love to cook. The website teaches parents and kids how to create fresh, home-cooked meals, inspiring a new generation of smart eaters!
 
The creator and producer of the online show, Michelle Green, is a mother of ten-year-old twin boys, Alex and Jake, who love to cook. Michelle invites kids across America to create their own webisodes and upload them to the site–YOU could be the next Junior Chef star!
Here are some tips for producing a winning webisode! 
  • Maintain eye-contact with the camera, the same way you would if you were speaking with a friend. Make sure your recipe is delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare
  • As you make your favorite recipe on camera, be sure to wash your hands first, and explain EVERY step. Explain it thoroughly, but keep it fast-paced and high-energy. Include a tip or two on safety in the kitchen–handling tools, storing food properly, cleaning up, etc
  • Have mom or dad follow you closely and steadily with the camera. Ensure adequate lighting
  • Download this release form, complete it, and send it with your webisode
  • A good sense of humor gets an A+

Upload your webisode (and completed release form) at www.jrchefsofamerica.com

Apple Whiz

Any recipe with the word “whiz” in the title obviously predates the Food Network. My mom scribbled this recipe when she was yet a stay-at-home-mom—decades before anyone coined the acronym SAHM—and it’s a tried and true, family-friendly winner.
According to September’s issue of Real Simple magazine, legendary 19th century nurseryman Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) is said to have planted apple orchards over 75,000 square miles across the US Midwest. The Johnny Appleseed Society reports at least one of those trees, in Ashland County, Ohio, is still bearing fruit. (Good baking apples can be found nearly year-round. Visit my other blog, UnassumingFoodie.com for apple variety suggestions.)

Future Environmentalists Club

By raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.”–Helen Coronato, author of  Eco-Friendly Families,

Gratitude in our homes helps us feel connected. Encourage your kids to show their gratitude for family mealtimes by creating a centerpiece for the dinner table.

  • Recycle a used aluminum pie plate by affixing candles to it by melting the candle into the plate and pushing the candles into it. (Note: Little ones should make a centerpiece without candles.)
  • Surround the candles with natural treasures, such as rocks, leaves or pinecones, in lieu of store-bought items.
  • Each evening, light the gratitude candles (or place a small card inscribed with the words “thank you” among the treasures). Each person then takes a turn thanking someone in their life: a friend, grand-parent, co-worker, school bus driver, mail carrier, store clerk… whoever helps make life run more smoothly.

Family Deals and Contests

Win a copy of Rebeca Seitz’s newest book Coming Unglued , a fabulous follow-up to the well-received Sisters Ink (Scrapbooker’s Series #1) , simply by giving your “momtourage” a shout out! Visit the Momtourage Contest here for more info!

Still need school supplies? Click here for information about great Back-to-School deals online!

If you like what you read here and would like to support me in a small but meaningful way, please visit my Amazon store, Motherhood Must-Haves.

I also invite you to submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries

 

#6 Fun Things to Do with Your Family this Weekend August 8, 2008

Decoupage Your World!

Did your family enjoy a special vacation this summer? Is there somewhere you dream of visiting? Adorn a tabletop with maps and memories from your family travels! Using decoupage, you can upgrade an old coffee table or child’s craft table with this fun family-oriented project, courtesy of the nice people over at Craft magazine.

  • Choose maps, tickets and snapshots printed from your computer to create a collage of memories from your favorites trips.
  • Use a map of the world and mark all the places each family member dreams of visiting. Use a different marker to represent each family member. Dream big! 

It’s Fusilli, Silly!

Guaranteed crowd-pleaser!

Guaranteed crowd-pleaser!

It is a mother’s continual struggle to discover healthy dishes her children will actually eat—without becoming a short-order cook, rushing to produce both a delicious meal for mom and dad and nutritious sustenance for finicky little ones. Bruschetta Style Brown Rice Fusilli is a super-easy, gluten-free, lower-carb dish that strikes the perfect balance, and is a surefire hit at large, picnic gatherings. In my experience, minimizing gluten in my toddler’s diet improves overall his ability to concentrate and decreases the typical bedtime drama of a preschooler who would rather stay up late. (For more family-friendly and gluten-free recipes, visit my other blog, UnassumingFoodie.com.)

Future Environmentalists Club

By raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.”–Helen Coronato, author of  Eco-Friendly Families, The following are excerpts.
Get “green” for back-to-school! As you make your list of must-have school supplies, consider ways you can re-use equipment and supplies from last year.

Give supplies a facelift by breathing new life into them:

  • Sharpen scissors by cutting through a used piece of aluminum foil folded several times. Lubricate with a good dose of castor oil and wipe clean.
  • Buff up leather backpacks and shoes with a cotton cloth and baby oil
  • Remix craft paint by by dropping 2 or 3 marbles into the container and shaking vigorously.
  • Unwind a paperclip and use the end to unclog glue bottle tops.
  • Soften hard paintbrush bristles by soaking them in vinegar for five minutes, massaging the bristles, then rinsing.

Still need to stock up? Click here for information about great Back-to-School deals online!

If you like what you read here and would like to support me in a small but meaningful way, please visit my Amazon store, Motherhood Must-Haves. I also invite you to submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries.
 

#4 Fun Things to Do with Your Family this Weekend August 1, 2008

Roll, Baby, Roll! Have I got a treat for you! CRAFT magazine has kindly provided the inspiration–Click here: Roll, Baby, Roll!  for complete instructions for transforming any shoes into your very own custom roller-skates! (Or, click here for the podcast how-to.) Instructions include step-by-step instructions with photos for safely creating super-cool skates. Go on with your bad self!

  • The best part about making custom skates is that YOU choose the style and fit!
  • A well-made pair will last and last, providing hours of enjoyment. (I wish I’d had my own when I was young(er)!
  • Studies show that moderate skating for one hour can burn up to 330 calories, and vigorous skating up to 590! (Don’t forget your safety gear and sunscreen!)

Summertime, and the Grillin’ Is Easy The kids are in the backyard, the sun is still high in the sky as evening rolls in–the perfect time to fire up the grill for Organic Ribeye with Red Wine, Peppers and Portobello mushrooms

Get Grillin'
Get Grillin’

My husband has this idea that because he is a “manly man”, he should inherently know how to grill a steak. Well, not just “grill” a steak, but transform raw meat into something mythical in its splendor.
From my perspective, you can never have too many veggies on the Bar-B, however the fresh thyme and crushed bay leaf truly make this dish sing. (For more great recipes, please visit my blog UnassumingFoodie.com.)

Future Environmentalists Club Helen Coronato, author of the wonderful new book, Eco-Friendly Families, reports, “by raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.” The following are excerpts.
If the summer has done a number on your tween’s hair and face, skip the expensive salon trip and try these all-natural home remedies. Host a “Spa Party” with friends to detoxify hair and skin without toxic chemicals.

  • Treat chlorine hair by rinsing it with club soda
  • Whiten teeth by applying a small amount of baking soda to them after a regular brushing. Don’t rinse. (This is tough to do–Have party guests compete for who can stand this the longest!)
  • Indulge in a summertime three-step facial. First, boil water and pour it over two herbal tea bags. While the tea steeps, exfoliate skin by combining sea salt (larger grains than table salt) with olive oil and gently rubbing into skin using a washcloth. Rinse well and pat dry. Remove tea bags from water and let cool. Apply fresh lemon juice, a natural astringent, to a cotton ball and swipe entire face and neck. Lastly, combine 1/2 cup of oatmeal with 3/4 cup milk. Microwave 2 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of honey. Let mixture cool to a comfortable temperature and apply a thin, even layer to face. Place tea bags over eyes and relax with oatmeal facial for 10 minutes. Rinse well with cool water and pat dry.

Serve homemade lemonade to guests! Squeeze juice of 4-5 lemons into 64 ounces purified water, add honey to desired amount of sweetness and serve over ice! (This is also a fabulous way to beat hay fever symtoms!)

If you like what you read here and would like to support me in a small but meaningful way, please visit my Amazon store, Motherhood Must-Haves. I also invite you to submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!
Looking for more weekend ideas? Click here for Fun Things To Do archived entries.
 

Fun Things to Do with Your Family this Weekend #2 July 9, 2008

Have you made any plans for the weekend? I have a few ideas for you and your preschoolers!

A long-time childhood favorite, play Scavenger Hunt with your children. Even the little ones can join in by spying and retrieving age-appropriate treasures.
For kids aged 2-4, help them collect:
1.) Three leaves, in sizes small, medium, and large. This encourages counting and categorizing by size.
2.) One red shovel, one green truck (or any other easily recognizable toy the child owns.) This helps your child remember where to find specific toys and to notice specific colors.
3.) Find rocks or pebbles, one oval, one round. This helps your child differentiate between two similar shapes.
4.) Four pieces of grass. Do you remember laying on the grass during the summer, picking blades? For little ones, the world beneath their feet is quite exciting when examined closely: the scent of the grass and earth, the discovery of lady bugs and earth worms…
5.) Spot a cloud that looks like something other than a cloud! Once you’ve picked your grass, roll over and gaze up the sky. What do you see?

Create a delicious brunch dish that is sure to become a family favorite.
Fresh Peaches and Whole Wheat Pancakes with Roasted Walnuts
Night after night I read a poem, Rise The Moon (by Eileen Spinelli), to my drowsy three-year-old Joseph. The following stanza is accompanied by a lovely illustration (by Raul Colon) of an artist painting a gorgeous bowl of gold, white, and orange peaches–orbs resembling a twilight sun:
“…In a rooftop attic in the quiet hush of night, a moonlit artist takes his brush to paint a bowl of light.” We borrowed Spinelli’s book during a recent trip to the San Clemente library, along with Round is a Pancake, by Joan Sullivan Baranski. When it comes to art and eating, inspiration may spring from anywhere. The nightly ritual of reading these books inspired this recipe. (For more great recipes, please visit my blog UnassumingFoodie.com.)

Future Environmentalists Club
Helen Coronato, author of Eco-Friendly Families, reports, “by raising our children with a strong sense of respect and reverence for Earth, we help ensure that there will be adults to step into ecological leadership positions.” The following are excerpts from her wonderful new book:
With the kids out of school and summer in full swing, July is the perfect time to patronize your area’s farmer’s market. Buying local produce is a surefire way to support your local economy, enjoy vitamin-dense fruits and vegetables, and avoid overpackaging… Sing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” on the way there.

…Host a kid-friendly taste test by blindfolding family members and setting out in-season, local fruit and imported, store-bought fruit. Compare the difference and talk about the results. Assign children the role of “Market Master” and encourage them to pick a new treat from the farm stand each time you go. Give the new fruit or vegetable special attention at the table.

If you live in Orange County, try South Coast Farms (949) 661-9381 (talk to Julie, Emily or Sarah). You can order baskets of organic fruits and vegetables, including some recipes! I love this concept–not only am I feeding my family nutritious, locally grown produce, but since I usually buy the same tried-and-true items week after week at the supermarket, the surprise contents of the basket inspires creativity in the kitchen.

Submit your family’s fun weekend activities—The best ones will be featured here!

 

 
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