Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Monday - Blackberry Jam

Blackberry Jam

3 Cups Blackberries
2 Cups Water   
1 Package Powdered fruit pectin
5 Cups Sugar

Cooking Instructions:
Crush fruit thoroughly. Add water and fruit pectin. Stir until pectin is dissolved. Heat to boiling. Boil 5-10 minutes. Add sugar. Stir until dissolved. Boil 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until thick.

Submitted by a member to The Mommies Network recipe database
Friday, October 28, 2011

Organizing Kids' Rooms

Let's face it, where there are kids clutter is sure to follow. Kids are natural born hoarders whose rooms are notorious for being a cluttered mess.  At times you may have even wondered if a tornado just ripped through there or if perhaps the place was possibly burglarized while you were loading the dryer. One never knows. As much as you'd like to, you will never completely eliminate the clutter. But, there are a few things that you can do to get it under control and make life much easier for everyone.  Avoid the impulse to tackle this project all on your own, instead use this as an opportunity to teach your child responsibility and the basics of organization. The time you invest now will pay huge dividends in the long run.

Step One: Clear The Clutter!
The very first step towards bringing calm and order to the chaos is getting rid of the clutter. Start by sorting through everything in the room and remove as much as possible that doesn't NEED to be there starting with the floor. do NEED the floor, but you get what I mean.
I find that using three large bags or boxes marked donate, trash, and keepers works well for making quick work of this step. Just grab the item and toss it right into it's new home. Yeah, we can see a floor again!

Step Two: Stow The Stuff
Now that you've cleared the clutter, step two involves organizing and storing what's left using kid friendly storage items such as bins, bookshelves, clear containers, cubbies, hooks, etc. Every item will need a place to call "home." The key here is finding an easy system that's right for your child and will motivate them to be and stay organized.
If you find that even after the big purge your child still has too many toys and books or you just want to limit the amount of stuff in your child's room in general, rotate them. Just pop a few of them into a box and stash them away. After about a month or so, pull them down and trade them out. Rinse and repeat. They'll get a real hoot out of re-discovering their "new" old toys.

Step Three: Maintain Order (No, really)
Ok, so now that the hard part of clearing the clutter and stowing the stuff is out of the way, it's time to set some simple ground rules to help make staying tidy and organized a part of each day. In addition to the usual "put it away when you're done," I find that having a "Morning Pick-up
Routine" and an "Evening Pick-up Routine" really helps us a lot.
This will help them to stay ahead of any messes that would have otherwise accumulated during the week making it one large project to tackle over the weekend. That's no fun! Speaking of "staying ahead of messes," here's a tip inside of a tip. Set up a "Donation Station" in a place where everyone has access. Whatever works best for your family, a hall closet, laundry room, garage, etc. Whenever family members come across something that they no longer want or use, it goes into the "Donation Box." When the box is full, drop it off at your local donation center.
Your family will benefit in 3 ways:
1.) You enjoy a less cluttered home
2.) You help other families
3.) You get a tax deduction (be sure to ask for a receipt)
Everyone's a winner!
Don't worry if your child's bedroom doesn't exactly look like a page torn from the latest Pottery Barn Kids catalog. (A girl can always dream right?)  That's not the goal. What's important is that they learn to be responsible for their own things. A valuable lesson that will serve them well for years to come.

Originally posted on
Monday, October 24, 2011

Menu Monday Basic Bangers

Basic Bangers

1 lb Pork shoulder, lean
8 oz Pork fat
Salt & pepper
1 1/2 oz fresh breadcrumbs
2 egg yolks   
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of mace
Pinch of thyme
8 sausage skins

Cooking Instructions:
Mince the lean pork and pork fat finely. Season generously with salt, pepper, and at least a pinch each of nutmeg, cloves, mace and thyme. Add the breadcrumbs and egg yolks and mix well. Refrigerate the mixture to make it easier to handle, then stuff into the skins and twist to secure the ends. If sausage skins are not available, coat with egg and dry breadcrumbs. Serve grilled or fried.

Submitted by a member to The Mommies Network recipe database.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Fun and Safe Halloween

Halloween has always been a favorite of mine. I don't know if it was the candy, the dressing up, the neighborhood involvement, or the general feeling of happiness that everyone, old and young, felt. I think I went trick-or-treating longer then any of my friends and was always the one trying to talk my other 18-year-old friends into going with me. If I wasn't trick-or-treating, I was throwing a Halloween party. The only thing I knew for sure was that I was going to celebrate one way or another. I love Halloween so much; I even brought my oldest child trick-or-treating three days after giving birth to her younger sister. Nothing was going to keep me from sharing with her something that I grew up to love so much.

Unfortunately, times have changed since I was a young child walking the streets for candy and fun. Special care must be taken to be sure the excitement of Halloween doesn't turn into disaster.

The National Safety Council offers some great advise for parents and children to be sure to enjoy the special night safely. "There is no "trick" to making Halloween a real treat for the entire family." Before planning your night of fun, check to see if your community has an assigned time for trick-or-treating and go over these safety tips as they pertain to your children

Halloween Safety Tips from the NSC

Both children and adults need to think about safety on this annual day of make-believe.

The National Safety Council urges motorists to be especially alert on Halloween.
* Watch for children darting out from between parked cars
• Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
• Enter and exit driveways and alleys carefully.
• At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.

Before children start out on their "trick or treat" rounds, parents should:
• Make sure that an adult or an older responsible youth will be supervising the outing for children under age 12.
• Plan and discuss the route trick-or-treaters intend to follow. Know the names of older children's companions.
• Instruct your children to travel only in familiar areas and along an established route.
• Teach your children to stop only at houses or apartment buildings that are well lit and never to enter a stranger's home.
• Establish a return time.
• Tell your youngsters not to eat any treat until they return home.
• Review all appropriate trick-or-treat safety precautions, including pedestrian/traffic safety rules.
• Pin a slip of paper with the child's name, address and phone number inside a pocket in case the youngster gets separated from the group.

• Only fire-retardant materials should be used for costumes.
• Costumes should be loose so warm clothes can be worn underneath.
• Costumes should not be so long that they are a tripping hazard. (Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries on Halloween.)
• If children are allowed out after dark, outfits should be made with light colored materials. Strips of retro reflective tape should be used to make children visible.

                                                     FACE DESIGN
• Masks can obstruct a child's vision. Use facial make-up instead.
• When buying special Halloween makeup, check for packages containing ingredients that are labeled "Made with U.S. Approved Color Additives," "Laboratory Tested," Meets Federal Standards for Cosmetics," or "Non-Toxic." Follow manufacturer's instruction for application.
• If masks are worn, they should have nose and mouth openings and large eyeholes.

• Knives, swords and other accessories should be made from cardboard or flexible materials. Do not allow children to carry sharp objects.
• Bags or sacks carried by youngsters should be light-colored or trimmed with retro-reflective tape if children are allowed out after dark.
• Carrying flashlights will help children see better and be seen more clearly.

Children should understand and follow these rules:
• Do not enter homes or apartments without adult supervision.
• Walk, do not run, from house to house. Do not cross yards and lawns where unseen objects or the uneven terrain can present tripping hazards
• Walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
• Walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic if there are no sidewalks.

To ensure a safe trick-or-treat outing, parents are urged to:
• Give children an early meal before going out.
• Insist that treats be brought home for inspection before anything is eaten.
• Wash fruit and slice into small pieces.
• When in doubt, throw it out.

Whether you decide to go trick-or-treating or hold a Halloween party for your friends and family or even invite your whole neighborhood, here are some fun party ideas that can easily and inexpensively be put together. Use your imagination and add to these party themes with some of your own ideas. Remember to ask your neighbors for their help and candy donations.

Barnyard Bash
Invitations: Cut out animal shapes on construction paper and write the party information on these. Hand deliver to your guests.
Decorations: bales of hay, bunches of dried cornstalks, autumn leaves, pumpkins, gourds, dried corncobs.
Serve food in western bandannas attached to sticks. Be sure to make a scarecrow. Carved out pumpkins make great serving dishes or chip bowls.

Witches, Wizards and Goblins
Invitations: Buy several cheap plastic magic wants. Print out invitations on white paper with important information. Scroll up around want. Tie with orange and black ribbon. Hand deliver to guests.
Decorations: String Christmas lights around the entrance way. Hang silver and gold stars through out the party area. Mylar gold and silver balloons can also be hung. Cut out ghost shapes in Mylar and hang. Glow-in-the-dark tape attached to walls, doors, lamps etc. is nice when lights are low. Grave markers can be made from Styrofoam sheets - use felt-tip markers to make inscription.

Cats and Bats
Invitations: Cut out the shape of cats or bats in construction paper. Write important party info on these. Hand deliver to invited guests.
Decorations: Have guests enter through a cat door (place a dark blanket over half the doorway and let guests crawl through). Hang black crepe paper and cobwebs everywhere. Hang black silhouettes of cats and bats throughout the house. Black balloons are a nice touch.

Monster Mash
Invitations: Buy inexpensive eye masks at party store. Write important party information on mask and hand deliver to guests.
Decorations: Bats hung everywhere! Make a coffin out of cardboard and leave at entrance way for kids jackets etc. to be placed inside. Hang black and green crepe paper or streamers.

Nightmare at Haunted House
Invitations: Cut out tombstone shapes on construction paper. Write party info in the form of an epitaph. Hand deliver to guests.
Decorations: Hang spider webs, plastic insects, phony tombstones, ghosts, balloons, witches and bats. Use back and white candles (out of reach of children). Hang ghosts made from white pillowcases. Use white balloons with black eyes drawn on them with markers. Ask florist to save dead flowers and wreaths that would be thrown away. Create a headless heathen by stuffing old clothes with newspaper and prop up at front door. Dry ice makes a special affect at these parties. (*Please be sure to use the dealers safety recommendations for the handling of dry ice-NEVER allow children to handle dry ice)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Monday - Healthy Morning Muffins

Healthy Morning Muffins

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
4 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium ripe banana, mashed

Cooking Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt until there are no more lumps. Stir in oats and raisins. Add oil, egg, milk, carrots and banana and stir until blended.

Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 23-25 minutes.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve warm or at room temperature. To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 3 days.

Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by "Betsy"
Friday, October 14, 2011

Hard Copy or eReader?

So, I need to talk to you about something very important. And yes, it has everything to do with books. I need to know how you're reading these days. Are you reading hard copies of your books - as you always have and always will? Hardbacks. Paperbacks. Mass Market copies that fit in the smallest bags you own?

Or have you gone to the technological side and got yourself a Nook or a Kindle? Any sort of eReader at all?

I can't decide. I love my books. But believe me, I'd have a lot more space in various rooms of my home if I had less of them. And I'd never have to leave my house to buy the latest title that sparks my interest. AND I could carry more than one book at a time with me when I travel (not that that's frequent or anything - but still) and switch it around if I wanted to without worrying.

And no more tearing ads out of magazines to create bookmarks. That would be nice. You know the kind? The little tear outs that are in every magazine? Oh, and magazines! I could subscribe to more and not worry about how quickly I read them and whether or not I'll be able to recycle all those pages well enough to feel a little bit greener.

But I would totally miss the page by page feel. I would totally miss how a book feels in my hands. The weight of it. The smell of it, even. I would miss living in the bookstore like I normally do. More than once a month we head there to take our daughter to play with the trains at Barnes and Noble.

But see, there's another concern. Kindle or Nook? I live off Barnes and Noble, ALWAYS. But I am saving the Amazon giftcards that I have been getting through Swagbucks so I can buy one [a Kindle] for practically nothing. Sort of.

So what do I do? What did you do?

Fill me in on why you switched to an eReader, or why you think you never will. And I'll just keep reading. And reading. And - well - you get the idea!

Happy Reading -- however you do it!

Originally posted on the TriangleMommies blog on 5/7/11
Andrea is a SAHM who blogs about her everyday life, motherhood and more over at
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lunches to Go: Keeping It Interesting

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to work I go!

That’s right, I recently returned to the work force after being a stay at home mom for the past six years. And you know what I learned? (Well besides the fact that moms on the clock deserve a lot of props!) Eating out every day is expensive!!

I was coming up with every excuse not to pack my lunch each morning. It took too much time…that extra fifteen minutes of sleep would really help later in the day. We didn’t have the right food in the house. I couldn’t bear the thought of another turkey sandwich. I don't want those leftovers. I was running late. I was out of sandwich baggies. I didn’t have the right “lunchbox.” (Yes, I actually used that one.)

And then I sat down and calculated how much I was spending each week: $25-35. Just on lunch for one person! And I only work four days a week. That means I would average $120 a month on my work lunches…more than I budget for an entire week’s worth of groceries and household items for my family of four. Surely, there must be another way.

So I decided to put myself to the test. I sat down and made a list of all the things I could pack in my brand new reusable lunch bag. (Yes, I actually bought a new one.) They are all things I can either make up ahead of time or put together quickly in the morning. I realized that not only did I spend literally a fraction of the cost, the lunches were enjoyable and I felt so much better eating real food instead of restaurant/fast food stuff every day. I’m sure I saved some calories too. Bonus!

Just in case there are others struggling with this dilemma, I wanted to share the little method I came up with. Not because I think it’s ingenious or anything, but because I know every penny saved in this economy is helpful. And sometimes it’s a heck of a lot easier to start when someone gives you a jumping off point to get you going.

First, I divided my list into three categories; breads, fillings, and sides. Next, I quickly jotted down my favorites for each one. Now all I have to do is choose one or two items from each category and add that to my weekly shopping list. Yours might be a bit different than mine, depending on what you like. But having a variety of your favorites will help your bagged lunch seem anything but boring!

-Multi-grain (I love the kind with little seeds or oatmeal on top)
-Whole wheat
-Bagels (plain, whole wheat, everything, etc)
-Sandwich thins
-Hard rolls

-Tuna salad
-Deli meat
-Tomato slices with mayo
-Egg salad
-Chicken salad
-Veggies with hummus
-Bacon, lettuce, tomato
-Grilled chicken
-Peanut butter and banana
-Peanut butter and jelly
-Peanut butter and honey

-Small salad
-Cup of soup
-Cucumber slices
-Baby carrots
-Frozen grapes
-Cottage cheese
-A pickle
-String cheese
-Cheddar cheese cubes
-Grape tomatoes
-Granola bars

You get the idea! Really, the list could go on and on. But separating it like this made it so simple!! I had everything I needed each morning, it was faster to assemble than I expected, and it provided me with enough variety that I haven't felt bored at all.

Got some of your own yummy ideas for “brown baggers” like me?? I’d love to hear them!!

Post submitted by Heather from
Monday, October 10, 2011

Menu Monday Heathers No-Salt Table Blend

Heather's No-Salt Table Blend

6 tbsp. dried oregano
7 tbsp. onion powder
4 tsp. dried marjoram
4 tbsp. dried basil
4 tsp. dried savory
6 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried sage
3 tsp. black pepper

Cooking Instructions:
Mix together and store in an airtight container.

Additional Comments:
This is a lovely addition to the table. My family and friends are crazy about this mix and are constantly asking me to package it up for them.

Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by "Heather"
Sunday, October 9, 2011

National Support at Your Fingertips

What if you had a place to go that had the same great support as your local chapter, but with more specialized forums and thousands of members across the United States?

What if that place offered encouragement to mommies in specific situations, such as stay-at-home, work-at-home, and military mommies?

What if that place provided interaction in groups discussing the latest Twilight books, couponing tips, and other hot topics in today's culture?

What if you could get all that for free?

Well, wonder no longer, because it's here at The Mommies Network National Forum. With 3,000 members and growing, the National Forum offers the same great support you've come to know from your local chapter, but with a twist. It features unique forums not available on your home site, including couponing, family vacation tips (including Disney), and alternative medicine.

Looking for someone to chat with about Twilight and other vamp books? Check out our "Everything Vamps" subforum in Books, Movies, & Entertainment. Are you a stay-at-home, campus, or military mommy looking for a friend? Talk with those in your situation in one of the Our Work subforums. Do you have a child with special needs and desire interaction with other mothers who are dealing with a specific condition? We have subforums related to specific diagnoses in Our Kids With Special Needs.

Members of this free site may purchase a Premium Membership, which contains extra forums, such as Debate This and Classifieds, along with other perks.

Mommies across the country are chatting it up in these and many other groups in the National Forum. So skip the "what ifs," and join us for enhanced support on a national scale!

If you're interested in being on the ground level of the action, consider becoming a Support Coordinator or Posting Diva for the National Forum.
Friday, October 7, 2011

Kids and Yoga

If you think yoga is for the thirty-plus set alone, it may come as a surprise that children as young as preschoolers actually enjoy striking a pose. While they do not attempt headstands, there are a number of simple moves that the young enthusiasts can perform. The exercises themselves last between thirty seconds to one minute, but children stay in a pose as per their capacity, which builds gradually with practice.

Many of the yoga positions resemble animal movements and elements in nature, which is why kids easily take to stretching their bodies like a cat or balancing like a flamingo. The poses spark the little ones’ imagination and promote awareness of their bodies’ abilities.

Instructors too afford children freedom to explore, and incorporate creative techniques and age-appropriate props to playfully lead them through the active and relaxation poses. So unlike in a class for adults your tots can flap their imaginary wings, make barking sounds in the dog pose or be still as the mountain for as long as they wish. In the process they develop strong, flexible bodies, better motor skills, and learn to calm down and focus.

Yoga also presents ways to overcome fear, anger and frustration. It has been found to aid hyperactive kids in channeling their impulses, and therapeutic in children with special needs. Thus this exercise system that dates back more than 5000 years fosters the overall development of children and unlocks their potential through the formative years. Yoga programs for kids offered across the country are providing that early start. From being a trendy discipline, yoga is gaining acceptance among parents too. In fact, some of the classes are open to parents so you have a wonderful activity to share with your child.

This is just the beginning. As your kids grow so do the ways in which the physical skills and meditation techniques derived from yoga can make a difference. An after school yoga session serves as excellent exercise without the pressure of competitive student sports. The holding of postures and synchronizing of breadth and movement enhance fitness. Hatha yoga which is the more widely practiced form in the West has several styles so there is flexibility in choosing a workout suited to the individual’s physical capability and personality type. For instance ashtanga yoga with it’s challenging sequence of poses performed at a faster pace is akin to athletic training while viniyoga is less demanding physically and focuses on precise coordination of breath with the movement of the spine.

Regular practice builds strength, energy and muscle tone, boosts bodies vital systems, and improves concentration and coordination. These benefits help your child be a better sportsman as well as a better student. Beyond that, the essence of yoga is to bring the mind and body together to attain inner peace so it promotes self-appreciation, serenity and a sense of balance. Hence your preteen or teen acquires the inner resources to cope with the stresses of adolescence, keeping disorders and addictions at bay.

Even if you may not know much about yoga it is not difficult to bring home it’s many positive effects to your family. Towards this end you can attend a yoga class taught by a qualified instructor or self-study using books and videos. Resources such as The Yoga Site ( and Yoga Journal ( educate on the philosophy and practice of yoga, guide you on how to perform various poses as well as assist in locating a teacher in your area.

When practicing the postures with your four year old or your twelve year old at home a little bit of improvisation and spontaneity keeps the workout interesting and it becomes an activity that they look forward to doing with you. As you interact at their level, you will find discovering yoga with your child to be a rewarding experience in more ways than one.

Originally posted on CharlotteMommies
Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Understand Why

I now understand why, when I was young and got sick, my mom would go get my medication and come back with what I thought of as treat drinks and foods.  She was doing anything she could to get me to eat or drink!  I also understand why she would buy me something fun like a book, coloring book, activity book or some other activity I could do while sick.  For one, she was trying to keep me entertained by anything other than TV.  Two, she felt bad that I was so sick.

Kara has a double ear infection mixed with a cough that occasionally has that seal bark sound.  Thankfully her fever is mild and so far she hasn't thrown up.  The stomach bug was 2 weeks ago.  She will just rest her head on our lap and cry.  We've had such a hard time getting food in her that we're going to start offering Jello (I know, it's not really food.  But it's something!).  I need her to rest and stay inactive so that her body can fight the infections.  I'm also trying to tend to Rowan (who just got 2 vaccines).  Oh yeah, and get ready for Yule, Adam's birthday, and a trip to Wisconsin.  Oh yes, and still maintain the normal routines and needs of the house.  So I'm not able to play with Kara, or read to her, in a way that will keep her resting.  So, evil idiot box time it is.  I have never been so thankful for over 100+ channels, a DVR, DVD and VHS as I have when Kara is sick!  I feel so bad that she's so sick and doesn't get to play with friends (she will miss 2 playdates and 2 days of school this week.  I can't tell which of us is crying over that more).  I want to buy her treats and toys and things to cheer her up.  But dang if this kid doesn't have more than she normally plays with anyway.  So I restrain myself and say that it's my love, my attention and my compassion she needs more than my gifts.

I know part of my feeling bad for her is because she's been sick a lot lately.  She got sick before our trip to Minnesota- stomach bug.  Then she got sick on the way home from Minnesota- stomach bug on the plane.  And now she's sick again.  Oh yeah, that plane trip was very "interesting".  She threw up when we were at the airport, we had no clue she was sick.  Then she kept throwing up on the plane ride home.  And then again a few times at home.  We used all the motion sick bags we could get our hands on.  The flight attendants were very understanding thankfully.  Sadly they were all out of extra bags, thankfully other passengers gave us theirs.

Mom, I understand all you did when I was sick.  I hope that my girls feel as comforted and tended to as I did by you!

Submitted by Heidi-rose Creuzinger, member of NorthMetroDCMommies.  Heidi-rose blogs at Terror at 3 Feet & Rising.
Monday, October 3, 2011

The Mommies Network Presents ... Mommies Talk

Mommies Talk Webinar
The Mommies Network Presents ... Mommies Talk!
Mommies Talk is a monthly webinar series that engages, informs, and supports our members.

Get your kids to listen — the first time. No nagging or yelling required. October's webinar, presented in partnership with Positive Parenting Solutions, offers tools and strategies you can use right away. Discover how this webinar will be your answer to better behavior and parenting peace!

There are two dates to choose from: Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 2 p.m. EDT and Thursday, Oct. 13, at 9 p.m. EDT. To ensure that this webinar proceeds as scheduled, we need at least 120 participants. If you are interested in attending, please click here to sign up as soon as possible.

Email with any questions about the Mommies Talk webinar series.

Menu Monday - Butterscotch Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Butterscotch Pineapple Upside Down Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 12-oz package (2 cups) butterscotch flavored morsels, divided
3/4 cup butter, softened, divided
Two 8-oz cans sliced pineapple, drained, reserving 3/4 cup juice
8 maraschino cherries
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

Cooking Instructions:
Mix dry ingredients, set aside. In 10-inch cast iron skillet over low heat, combine 1 cup butterscotch morsels and 1/4 cup butter. Stir until morsels are melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple and maraschino cherries in skillet. In large bowl, combine sugar, remaining 1/2 cup butter and eggs and beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the flour mixture alternately with the reservered pineapple juice. Stir in remaining morsels. Pour over pineapple. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. Immediately invert onto serving plate.

Submitted to The Mommies Network recipe database by a member

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