Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mother's Day activities at the UCLA Family Commons

Click here. Fun place. Easy parking. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Embrace life. Always wear your seatbelt.

My mom loves me. She sent me this.
Your kids love you. For their sakes, watch this.

Have you seen these helpful tips?

I've received this email a few times this month...if just one of the tips stick in my head...

Take your bananas apart when you get home from the store.

If you leave them connected at the stem, they ripen faster. ?

Store your opened chunks of cheese in aluminum foil.
It will stay fresh much longer and not mold!
Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.

Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking. ?

Add a teaspoon of water when frying ground beef.
It will help pull the grease away from the meat while cooking.

To really make scrambled eggs or omelets rich add a couple of
spoonfuls of sour cream, cream cheese, or heavy cream; then beat them. ?

Add garlic immediately to a recipe if you want a light taste

of garlic and at the end of the recipe if your want a stronger taste of garlic.

Reheat Pizza
Heat leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove; set heat to med-low
and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the food channel and it really works.

Easy Deviled Eggs
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal; mash till they are all broken up Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy; squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done - easy clean up. ?

Reheating refrigerated bread
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in
a microwave next to a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food
moist and help it reheat faster. ?

Newspaper weeds away
Start putting torn newspaper in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers,
put layers around the plants, overlapping as you go; cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic; they will not get through wet newspapers.

Broken Glass
Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can't see easily.

Flexible vacuum
To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Reducing Static Cling
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and ... ta da! ... static is gone.

Measuring Cups
Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water.
Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup. Next, add your ingredient (peanut butter, honey, etc.) and watch how easily it comes right out. ?

Foggy Windshield?
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth! ?

Reopening envelope
If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside,
just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily.

Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair.

Goodbye Fruit Flies
To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2 with Apple Cider Vinegar
and 2 drops of dish washing liquid; mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it 'home,' can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load of clothes.) He took the filter over to the sink and ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material . I'm sure you know what your dryer's lint filter looks like. Well .... the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn't go through it at all! He told us
that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh - that's what burns out the heating unit.
You can't
SEE the film, but it's there. It's what is in the dryer sheets to make your
clothes soft and static free. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box ... well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush ?at least every six months.
He said that increases the life of the dryer at least twice as long! How about that!?!

Wonderfully complete wheat-free grocery list

Monica at HealthyGreenMoms recently shared a terrific wheat-free friendly grocery list. Check it out and subscribe to the blog cause you know you will want to after this!

In her words,

"One major key to healthy nutrition is to eat food as close as possible to it’s original state. Simple Real Food. Food we recognize and ingredients we understand. My grocery list is pretty simple. Notably absent are products made with corn, soy and wheat – this also includes avoiding products that use these ingredients as livestock feed – organic or not! If it makes the animals sick, why would I eat it? We rely as much as possible on local suppliers and ask a lot of questions. If I were to describe our meals these days? Real foods, local fresh foods, organic, wheat free, reduced dairy, 50% raw and cooked from scratch."

Here at the P house, we're not wheat-free but I am aiming for simple real food as often as I can. Realistically, Mama loves her some carbs. But the ease of this list and the mere organization of it along with the fact that someone else typed it up and it reminds me of what all is available to my family all equal brilliance in my book.

Bless the beasts, the children and Monica.

30% off my favorite hand sanitizer!

I blogged about CleanWell a few weeks ago.
Lucky us! They're offering 30% off their products until Monday, April 23rd. Just enter code ED10 (as in Earth Day 2010).

Shipping is reasonable and I compared their prices with the discount to ordering off and direct from CW is the way to go.

Best parts: alcohol free, safe for kids, leaves hands soft, fresh citrus scent, safe for sensitive skin, easy to use flip-top, never tested on animals.

CleanWell is all natural and non-toxic. It is made from rapidly renewable botanical sources and is part of a sustainable solution.

Now we're all stocked up on hand soap and sanitizer until Earth Day 2011!

I can't wait to try the new Orange Vanilla "sprinkles" (as the boys and I call it). Maybe this will help Mr. P stop moaning that our car smells like CleanWell all the time =)

Eat this one up soon....

Monday, April 19, 2010

It's a thought...National TV Turnoff Week 2010

Start with just one night =)
My kids think that tv is for UCLA sports and nothing else!
For links and stats that make you sad, click here

Get outside people!

Entrance fees will be waived at all 392 national parks April 17-25 for National Park Week.

Interesting article about mothers' influence on daughter's eating habits

Quick but important read here

"Food is never just food. Food is love. Food is solace. It is politics. It is religion. And if that’s not enough to heap on your dinner plate each night, food is also, especially for mothers, the instant-read measure of our parenting. We are not only what we eat, we are what we feed our children. So here in Berkeley — where a preoccupation with locally grown, organic, sustainable agriculture is presumed — the mom who strolls the farmers’ markets can feel superior to the one who buys pesticide-free produce trucked in from Mexico, who can, in turn, lord it over the one who stoops to conventionally grown carrots (though the folks who grow their own trump us all). Let it slip that you took the kids to McDonald’s, and watch how fast those play dates dry up. "

Are you serious?


Orange you glad you eat well?!

Ever since starting the CSA, I've had a new interest in making dinner. My mom worked full-time and still had the energy to put a four-course meal on the table every night. I loved eating her pasta sugu, her porkchops, stuffed artichokes and especially Breakfast-for-Dinner! I hated that she wouldn't let me drink my glass of milk until I was all finished with it, but I loved the majority of what she made. Except beef stroganoff. Yuck.

When I moved into an apartment with roommates in college, we set up a system where we each cooked for the 4 of us one week-night and didn't have to worry about anything but eating the other 3 nights of the week. Sweet!

Sour. Well, sheepishly sweet for me, but probably still sour for them. Their moms all stayed home with them while they were young and, for the most part, cooked from scratch. So did mine, but she still had a realistic relationship with Hamburger Helper.

(Our "Orange" meal from last week. We hit all the food groups - even had an orange jelly bean to show how little sweets we "need."

So one of my first presentations for my dinner debut was just that. Cheeseburger Macaroni. To this day, they tease me about how, um, healthy, and happy that meal was. I think 2 of them had never heard of Hamburger Helper. Or Pop Tarts.

For my birthday that year, they presented me with a hand-made cookbook with all their recipes written out on cards along with memorable quotes of our year together. I treasure that book. For the memories it brings, but also for the dinner ideas and simple ways to make something special for your family. Recipes calling for 5-7 ingredients and not a little time. I've added my favorites from my mom as well as a few from my mother-in-law and some close friends.

When I started cooking for Mr. P, I was so excited to use some of these recipes. He ate them. He also started insisting on cooking more and serving less. I didn't get his new obsessions with portion controls. And who doesn't want applesauce and a starch with their meal? My mom was an expert at providing a healthy-balanced dinner so I assumed I had to do the same. How dare Mr. P risk his health and my ego but refusing his carbs?

When I got pregnant with our first son, he started eating less of what I made, I started throwing up more of what I made and my cooking days were numbered. Mr. P gladly took over (for various reasons) and I let him. Happily. I'm embarrassingly admitting that up until last year, I probably cooked once or twice a month for almost 3 years...toddlers don't require "cooking" and most of my vegetables were frozen from Trader Joe's. Not unhealthy.

Enter the preschooler, the husband who isn't available to cook and time. Well, I don't have more time, just more motivation. I have two real eaters in the house now, besides myself and $15 a week going towards the most deliciously fresh picked vegetables in Orange County.

Even I am blown away by all that I've conquered in the past 3 months - kale, bok choy, swiss chard. The list goes on and on. So does my receipt from Trader Joe's where I do 99% of our shopping now. I cook with fresh ingredients, often using a "starter" from TJ's (whole grain mix, turkey meatballs, etc.) Lunch is rarely PB and J and can even be handfuls of samplings from each food group.

We've been talking every day about the 5 food groups and "eating a rainbow" each day. Something that I have taught first graders for over a decade but didn't take to heart until I was teaching it to and feeding it to my own precious boys. When the CSA box comes each week, I let them sit on the kitchen counter and help me sort, wash and chop up the "vegetibles" as Curly calls them. We've been to the farm twice, most recently for a strawberry tour. This past week, Curly asked me if we were adding "green onions" to our lunch as he pulled them out of the fridge! Green onions! My kid knows what a green onion is! Jamie Oliver would be proud! (Love that show, by the way. SO inspiring).

I also put handouts in a clear, plastic sleeve and we cross them off with a dry-erase marker each night. This one from will personalize it based upon your child's weight, height and age. Brilliant. Here's another one.

The boys are benefitting and so am I. Healthier eating and a healthier relationship with food for a healthier LONG life.

Won't their roommates LOVE me? =)

Repurpose! Giving new life to old crap

If I'm lucky, the Three Musketeers will continue to nap until I finish typing this, but I'm not betting on it, so listen quick....

I'm "nesting." Not sure why. But the bathroom is the victim. I pulled down our travel basket that holds all the travel toothpaste, shower caps, etc. that I want to use before buying new stuff (obviously).

I came across these soap boxes from a fancy hotel Mr. P had a conference at in San Diego last January. Nice hotel. Nice soaps. Nice repurpose.

We never accept the crayons that come with the kids' menus at restaurants because I know they just toss them after you've eaten, whether your kids use them or not. Same with the plastic cups and straws. So we bring our own crayons and IF we forget the boys' Klean Kanteens and have to use the plastic cups I bring them home and give them to the grandparents for use at their houses when we visit.

I had been carrying our crayons in a bigger soap container from the 90's that was heavier and not so chic. We obviously needed an upgrade. Voila! If I was a tad bit cooler, I could use my imaginary Cricut and make a cute label for the box. (Incidentally, I found out this past weekend that it's pronounced like "cricket" not "Cry-cut." Guess I was thinking of Carl's Jr's crisscut fries when I thought about vinyl.
But I can't think what to use the other 3 boxes for just yet... Two are longer and could hold pencils or pens?

(The triangular-shaped crayons are from a Teacher Supply Store and are used to teach the proper finger hold for writing. I have my students put triangular -shaped grips on their pencils as part of an occupational therapy accommodation all the time. You can also get them at your nearest BJ's Pizza =)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday's Simple Start

I discovered Katherine Center this weekend. Where has she been all my life?

"We all carry our mother inside us."

Here's my Mommy who carried me inside her and my Trilogy who let me carry him.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Quick read - Don't get mad, get enlightened.

Here's a great article shared by my red-headed, never-blows-her-top parenting idol.

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

I love me a good party. Especially one I can attend in my jammies while the hubby and kids are sawing logs.
Janice and Susan, the duo (literally - twins) behind 5 Minutes for Mom are hosting their annual Ultimate Blog Party again.
Last year, I just lurked. This year, lurking still, but thought the 8 of you might want to join me =)
Click on the button below and pick a number. Visit every blog that ends in that number. Random stratified sampling, see? =)

And don't forget to sign up for 5 Minutes for Mom and 5 Minutes for Photography - my two faves! I love the quick and inspirational reads!

Another shout-out for the store Janice and Susan own. I drool over some of the retro phones - especially the one that reminds me of my grandparents' red one with a direct line to the President.

So I'm Jennifer...I have 3 boys under 4, 2 dogs under 16, 1 marriage just under 9 and 1 husband just under 16 =)
I started 2 separate blogs in 2006 when my first son was born. One for our family's memories since I type fast and am terrible at writing things in their baby books. I think my mom still reads it.
The other was an outlet for sharing with no one in particular the results of my OCD and anal-ness when it came to researching stuff for my kiddos. I think my friends Anne Marie and Kristen are the only ones still reading. Oh, and my mom.

Got pregnant again, threw up for 25 weeks (again) and stopped blogging. Started up again. Got pregnant again, threw up for 25 weeks (yet again) and stopped.

Now I'm back.

Until I get knocked up again.

Can it be a girl this time? =) Just asking.

I don't get paid for any of the opinionated posts I put up. And if I win anything ever in my life, it's the pleasure of being the booger retriever in my house when cold season hits.

If I did win something through UBP, golly gee willikers!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Sunny Days are here again!

I'm so excited! I've been waiting patiently for my favorite kids' sunscreen to be re-released. It was so popular that it sold out everywhere. Then it was being re-formulated with a Winter 2009 delivery date.

Update: Spring 2010 =(
Waiting...worth the wait, but anxiously trying other products in the mean time...
April 8th! As in two days ago? Sweet!
Order placed for two!

What is this fantastically-smelling, smoothly-spreading, sun-blocking sweetness? TruKid's Sunny Days SPF 30+.

We used it all last summer and the globby stuff I found in the meantime was a far inferior second, but it did achieve paleness like only kids of mine can.

AND...I found a coupon online - "JSMA" gets you 50% off orders of $25 or more.
AND...they throw in a bottle of their Friendly Face Wash if you select FedEx Home Delivery, which was only $2 more than USPS delivery for me, so why not?

I got a free bottle of Friendly Face Wash when I posted a review for them on Yelp! No need to sway me with the swag - I wholeheartedly support this product and this wonderful mother of 6's mission to support charities in the Bay Area. (6 kids!) She did the research and development so that we don't have to =)

They've also got a cute TruKid songs page to promote healthy habits.

From their website:

TruKid products are BPA and Phthalate free! We make safe products that families can feel good about; our certified organic and natural ingredients are always SLS, paraben, 1-4 Dioxane and Gluten-free!

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has awarded TruKid's entire line the safety rating of 0-3! THE SAFEST RATING of all kid's skin care lines!

Can't beat that! Eat this one up - coupon expires 4/15/10.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Very Hungry for Butterflies Mom

It's back!
Wahoo! Can't wait...

Prepare to be queasy, but avoiding it all is easy...=)

Don't read this article about germs while multi-tasking at email and eating your lunch..

I'm a germaphobe of the highest degree. My kids know what to do when I spray their hands with "Sprinkles" i.e., CleanWell. I have bottles of it in both cars, all diaper bags, my wallet tote and individual wipes stashed in every crevice.

Why? Because I've been a teacher for almost 10 years and I've seen it all?


Because I had younger brothers and I've seen it all?


Because I'm a mom of three boys and I've seen it all?


Because I've had my dogs crap in the house and I've seen it all?


All of the above, frankly, but most importantly I have a vivid imagination tossed in with my OCD.

I was the first person to toss my paper towel on the floor outside the restroom door because I used it to touch the handle when exiting. I've been squatting over toilet seats since the mid-80's. I clean, spray, re-spray, wash, wipe, re-spray, wash my hands so much that during the winter, they crack and bleed.

I hate germs. I hate my germs and other people's germs. I hate your germs.

Sorry. I can only imagine where your hands have been or more where they've touched and the unsanitary habits of the person who touched that before you. No offense.

My kids don't go in sandboxes unless I'm drunk. At the park. And if they do, I hose them down with CleanWell for 30 minutes afterward. Kidding. Sort of.

Am I neurotic about it? Yes. Am I healthier than the average bear? Yes. And so are my kids. Is it all a crapshoot? Maybe. But I'm not taking that chance with RandomGuy's fecal matter. Are you?

By the way, the cafeteria and drinking water spout rating doesn't surprise me. There is a fountain right next to the door of my classroom and the germs wave at me as I pass. If you want to make friends with these creatures, be my guest. But don't come over to my house for a playdate.

Dying over dyes.

The timing of this couldn't be more perfect! I have our Easter Egg dye kit out on the desk (after the fact) because I wanted to check the Food Coloring #'s to see if I had just poisoned my children in my pursuit of some hide-n-seek fun...

Healthy Child Healthy World has a fabulous article about the dangers and unknown secrets behind artificial food dyes.

Last Easter I saved lots of links to natural dyes thinking that THIS Easter I would be a better mother. One thing led to another and there we were, friend and her 2 kiddos present, looking for something to entertain the kids. With Daddy unable to join us for Easter this year, I figured that last thing I'd manage was juicing my frozen blueberries so I picked up the PAAS Color Cups kit.

Image courtesy of PAAS

Naturally, I started to second guess myself when the kids' fingers were still green two days later..

Thanks to this article, I can see that the 5 dyes listed on the back of the Food Color Tablets package: Blue #1 and #2, Yellow #5 and #6 along with Red #3 are all bad. Very bad? "Avoid" or "Caution" aren't the terms you like to read after you put Green Fingers and Blue Thumb to bed, are they?

Now that I've scared you, here's the link I saved last year to the Natural Dying we'll be doing for the rest of our short, chemically-shortened lives.

BIG CRUMBS - you have to bookmark this site: The Food and Food Coloring Database! Check it out and see why...