Saturday, April 11, 2015

In Honor Of National Pet Day: 5 Tips For Choosing The RIGHT Pet For Your Family

It's National Pet Day and while everyone is focusing, rightly so, on pet adoptions, the first thing you REALLY need to consider when thinking about a pet is:


HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT PET? 


We wanted a dog, but a cat fits our lifestyle better.



Here are some tips:

  1. Consider the time you have to devote to and take care of a pet Are both adults working? Are the kids old enough to responsibly care for one? This will help you determine if you need a low-maintenance animal (like a fish or cat) or can handle one that requires more care (like dogs or large birds).

  2. Think about health issues. Sure, you might want a rabbit, but if someone in the family is allergic, you can rule that one out. 

  3. Take into account where you live. Do you live in a high-rise in the city or have you got some land. You don't want to cram a large dog into small living quarters. Do you live in condo where pets may be frowned upon? 

  4. Discuss any fears family members might have. I love snakes but am afraid of the live crickets I'd have to feed them, plus my husband fears these reptiles, so snakes are not welcome in my home.

  5. LOVE guinea pigs, but I'm allergic.  No piggies for us.
    Hold a family meeting to discuss the plan, stressing that finding the RIGHT pet can take quite a bit of time.  This is not a decision to be made lightly.  Plan on visiting a number of pet stores and/or shelters to find the right fit for your family.   



Once you think you've narrowed down the type of pet you want, research it, speak with people who have that pet, grill the salespeople at your local pet store (if they carry that animal) or at your local shelter.


It's better to know as much as you can, so you make the RIGHT decision.




What kind of pet do YOU have?  And if you don't, what kind would you like if you could have ANY animal?



I would LOVE a hedgehog!







Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In Honor Of World Health: Improve Your Health IMMEDIATELY With This

It's World Health Day which means lots of articles on diet and nutrition. Okay, but those can take some time to render an affect on your body. 


There's something your can do RIGHT NOW to avoid getting sick and spreading germs:

LEARN HOW TO PROPERLY WASH YOUR HANDS


Washing Your Hands IMMEDIATELY Reduces Your Chances Of Getting Sick!


Hopefully, this is something you do every day, but are you doing it to maximize the amount of germ killing you're doing? Here are some tips to remember:


WHEN TO WASH YOUR HANDS

Before:
  • Preparing food or eating
  • Touching your eyes (whether to put on make-up or inserting or removing contact lenses)
  • Treating wounds, giving medicine, or caring for a sick or injured person 


After:
  • Preparing food, especially raw meat or poultry
  • Using the toilet or changing a diaper
  • Touching an animal, their toys, leash, or waste products
  • Touching dirty laundry
  • Blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands
  • Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
  • Handling garbage, household or garden chemicals, or anything that could be contaminated — such as a cleaning cloth or soiled shoes
  • Touching exercise equipment at the gym
  • Coming home from work or school
  • Getting off public transportation
  • Shaking hands with others



HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS



  1. Wet your hands with cold, running water. Using warm or hot water doesn't increase germ killing, and it actually raises your odds of skin irritation (source).
  2. Apply liquid, bar, or powder soap. Don't use anti-bacterial soap – it costs more and is no more effective at killing germs than regular soap, plus it contains chemicals that can actually damage your health.
  3. Get a lot of lather going! Lathering and scrubbing creates the friction necessary to lift the dirt, microbes, etc. from your skin. Make sure you get the backs of your hands, under your fingernails, and the space between each and every finger. Scrub for at least 20 seconds (or two rounds of The ABC Song).
  4. Rinse well and dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel before using a towel or your elbow to turn off the faucet.







SO WHAT ABOUT HAND SANITIZER?

Hand sanitizers are great, but only when soap and water are not available (don't be lazy – go to the sink!). Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol and remember to:

  • Apply enough to your palm to wet your hands completely (source).
  • Rub your hands together, again vigorously, covering of the surfaces and getting in the nooks and crannies until your hands are dry.

Antimicrobial wipes or towelettes are another effective option if used properly.



For a fun, catchy tune on how to wash your hands, watch the YouTube video below:







HAPPY WORLD HEALTH DAY! 
Now go wash your hands!






Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring's Here & It's Time To Fertilize - THESE Saved My Arborvitae!

I have a row of majestic arborvitae which help separate my house from the neighbor's.  They provide just a little extra sorely-needed privacy.  So after past seasons involving ice storms and Hurricane Sandy, one or two were looking....sick.  Their leaves were turning brown and I was concerned that they would never recover from ice and snow damage. 



Enter:  Miracle Gro's Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes! 
  







I found these at Home Depot last year and figured, 'What do I have to lose?  The shrubs are already dieing anyway!' so I picked up a package.  



These are fertilizer spikes.  You take one out, put the plastic cap that comes in the pack over the spike, and pound it into the ground per the package directions.   



Make sure the ground is soft when you do this.  I originally treated the trees last fall and just did it again today.  If, by any chance, some of the spikes are broken in the package, just dig a hole and put the cracked ones in.



These spikes DEFINITELY saved my precious trees.





Today's treatment took about 30 minutes for me to do a row of six trees, but that's a half an hour well spent to keep these beauties healthy!




Give them a try and let me know what you think!

 

 ~~~~~~~

Oh, and if celebrate Passover, Happy Pesach!  If you celebrate Easter, Happy Easter!  And if, like us, you're an Interfaith family  -


HAPPY EASTOVER!


 

 


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

9 Silly April Fools' Day Pranks You Can Play On Your Kids


I thought about this post long and hard, because the truth is: my kids have far more time to plan pranks on ME than I do on them! Still, with them being home for Spring Break this week and the odds that by Wednesday, I'll have lost some of my marbles, and will probably want to mess with them at least a bit. 

So I needed to find gentle pranks for them that won't have harmful repercussions for me



Harmless pranks are fun to play on your kids!


Peruse the pranks below and join me, wont' you?



1.  Wrap their cellphone in rubber bands, then call them. Watch them freak when they can't answer the call.

2.  Superglue a pen cap to the pen and see if they can get it off for you.

3.  Fill their shoes with beads or sand (the sand is easier to ditch outside)

4. Buy realistic spiders or flies and hide them where the kids will find them (in the bathroom is especially effective).

5. Take some of their socks and sew them together with a stitch or two. When they pick up one, they'll pick up both!

6.  Super Glue a quarter to the sidewalk or driveway and watch them go crazy trying to pick it up.

7.  Draw a mustache on them with water-soluble marker while they're sleeping.  A classic prank!

8.  The night before you plan to do this prank, pour some cereal and milk into a bowl. Then place the bowl in the freezer over night. The next morning, serve the frozen cereal and a spoon to your victim. Watch and enjoy as he tries to take a bite. 


And my favorite:

9. Change the language on your kids’ smart devices to a different one. Just make sure you know how to change it back! 



So have some fun with your kids – harmlessly!




Just be prepared:   because chances are, when you least expect it, they'll be pulling these same tricks on YOU!


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Here"s An Invention That Truly Excites Me: A Hand-Held Washing Machine!

 I'm starting to think about what I want for Mother's Day.  On my wish list is a portable washing machine.  You know, to get the boogers, drink stains, and almost anything that I encounter that winds up on my clothes, clean. 

Now there actually is one!  Drumroll, please...



Meet: COTON, the world's smallest portable washer machine, designed to remove stains anytime, anywhere.



Hairspray? No!  WASHING MACHINE!




A Chinese manufacturer has invented a machine roughly the size of a can of hair spray, that will wash clothes on the spot.  It removes stains in as little as 30 seconds. And since it only weighs 4 ounces and is 7 inches long, it will fit into your purse or briefcase. With its specially-designed nozzle, it provides a similar effect as drum-style washing machines. Using 1 tablespoon of water and a little soap or detergent, the nozzle beats 700 times a minute to squeeze out dirt and eliminate stains.   The caveat is that for best results, you should wash the clothes in a traditional-sized washer after using Coton. 




 

The Coton Handy Washer was just released in Japan at a price point of $92. And although the company says it has no intention of bringing it to the US any time soon, just wait: you know that eventually it WILL make it here somehow.  And when it does, I'LL BE WAITING FOR IT!



 ***********



As always, thank you for reading!








Please note that a variation of this post appears on www.thegeekparent.com.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The PERFECT Drink For Kids At Easter (Or For Any Special Occasion)

My kids are not allowed to drink soda, except on special occasions.   Before you feel sorry for them, know that they get plenty of sugar, thank you very much, and I'd rather them drink water, milk, and seltzer. In fact, my teenager drinks so much seltzer that he has his own recycling bag in his room!


So I was surprised when, at a bar mitzvah last year, my 9-year old bellied up to the bar and ordered a Shirley Temple.  


“Where'd you learn about those?” I asked incredulously. “Oh, all my friends drink them,” she replied nonchalantly. As she sipped the pink drink garnished with a cherry, a look of bliss overcame her face. I didn't know what a Shirley Temple was, but I could tell it was sugary and delicious. Still, having one every once in a while couldn't hurt, I thought, as I sipped a rare martini.


A Shirley Temple is a nice treat for kids, especially at Easter with its pink color. Here's the simplest, cheapest way to make one at home:


A Shirley Temple is a great way to make an occasion even more special for kids!



Shirley Temple Ingredients: (makes 1)

  • 1/4 cup lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grenadine syrup
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • ice



And here's what you do:



In a highball glass, over ice, combine the lemon-lime soda and grenadine. Stir well and garnish with a maraschino cherry.



So how did this drink get its name? According to Yahoo, the drink came about “when Temple was dining with her parents at the Brown Derby and wanted a beverage of her own.” Later, when the actress grew up, she supposedly replaced the ginger ale (again, I used lemon-lime soda) with ginger beer and added a bit of dark rum.”



In any case, the original alcohol-less Shirley Temple is a nice, easy treat for kids.


To them, it's a grown up drink. For parents, it's a lovely little treat to give your kids to make a day special.



Did you drink Shirley Temples growing up? How do you make holidays a little extra-special for your kids?


Thanks for reading!!!  And please follow me on Twitter!  






Monday, March 23, 2015

5 EASY Ways To Re-Use Stained & Outgrown Kids Clothes


I WANT to believe it's Spring, but it's 29 degrees outside and my car window was covered with sfrost this morning! Ugh! And even though I CAN'T (grumble, grumble) put away the kids' Winter clothes just yet, I'm starting to purge. They've both grown over the last few months and some things are just not fitting. Still, being a crafty, frugal person, I'm physically unable to just throw out some of these items. 


Sure, I'll donate some clothes, but I'm going to reuse a good amount, too. Here's how:


Tie-dying is a GREAT way to re-use clothes


  1. Hand them down - The teenager's sweatpants and t-shirts come to me. Yep, mom wears her son's clothes! They're great for hanging around the house in and for use as exercise clothes.


  2. Turn old dresses into shirts and tops - My daughter's old dresses get cut in half. The top, obviously, becomes shirts. Fringe the bottom to make them look a little more modern. The bottoms I turn into skirts. Just turn over the top few inches, add a little elastic, and they're great for wearing over leggings.


  3. Tie-Dye - Stained clothes get tie-dyed. I've become a mistress of tie-dying because you can easily cover stains by just using a darker dye. My favorite colors for this are dark blue and black. Add a little glitter paint to the item and it becomes a veritable work of art!


  4. Make pillows - Sentimental tops are turned into pillows. Just sew any openings, fill with stuffing, and they look great on a kid's bed. 

     
    The pink pillow used to be one of Diva's dresses.
     
  5. Pass them on - When my son was a baby, my mother-in-law balked at me accepting hand-me-down clothes, but I see nothing wrong with giving and receiving perfectly good used clothing. A friend gives me her daughter's clothes and I pass Diva's old, non-stained articles to other families.




No matter what your economic situation, re-using is a good thing. 


Purge and use the tips above to get extra use from your kids' old clothes. 




~~~


Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Texting Acronyms For Savvy Parents

I thought I was a “cool mom texter' who knew most of the texting acronyms until my teenager threw me a curve ball the other day. “Going to FOAF. L&R.”


Huh? By the time I'd Googled the meaning of those letters, he'd already gone to a “Friend Of A Friend” despite his “Love & Respect.” Not good. I was not comfortable with him going to a friend of a friend's house, so I quickly called him and put a kibosh on his plans.


Knowing texting acronyms helps you communicate with your child.



For you parents who might also be clueless about the meaning of some of those cryptic messages beyond, LOL and BTW, I offer these texting acronyms you might receive and decide to use:


143 – I love you

1432 – I love you, too

CMB – Call me back

CMBN – Call me back NOW

HAK – Hugs and kisses

GYAH – Get your ass home

IDC- I don't care

IDK – I don't know

ITA/D – I totally agree/disagree

NAGI – Not a good idea

NYRN – No you are not

RN – Right now

RUOK – Are you okay?

WRUD – What are you doing?


Just because you're taller than me, doesn't mean you know more than me!



As my experience pointed out, staying on top of this terminology is important if we expect to keep up with our children. 


They think we're texting idiots – let's prove them wrong!


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Growing Bean Plants - A BLAST For Kids Of All Ages

I'm a teacher's aide at an elementary school and I'm constantly flabbergasted at what the kids are learning!  Sure, I've seen this stuff before, but not in a long time, and it's fun asking the kids to explain to me what they're doing. Thus, I was thrilled when the 4th graders recently showed me the interesting plants growing on their desks. 


They were growing bean plants from ordinary beans and the plants looked incredible!


My bean plant growing in dirt - I'm having so much fun growing it!



So I asked them to teach me (or re-teach me since I'd grown them when I was in school eons ago). 


Bean plants are great for any kid (or adult) to cultivate because they require very little care and sprout so quickly you can virtually watch them grow. Here's what you'll need to start:


Any unused beans are going into chili.
Dried beans – I purchased a bag of Goya beans. I separated out the lima beans (which the family won't eat anyway) because they're big and easy to see. I saved the rest of the beans for use in chili.


A paper towel


A small dish




Here's what you do:


1.  Wet a paper towel and fold it so it fits inside the dish. 

2.  Slide a bean or two between the folds of the wet paper towel.

3.  Wet the towel every day (if it dries out, sometimes I wet it twice)


Could it BE any easier?!!


In a day or so, you'll see the bean start to crack and a green shoot emerging. When the shoot is an inch long, plant it in dirt. 


Future bean plants.



Again, you'll be amazed at how fast your plant will grow. 


For an incredible stop-action clip showing the process from bean to plant, visit http://www.instructables.com/file/F0GT0TJFW4JU0VO/.






Thanks for reading!!!




Monday, March 9, 2015

Should You Buy e-cloth? A Multi-Pack Product Review


Please note that although I was given this complimentary Value Pack for opinion purposes, it did not in ANY way sway my review. Whether I like it or hate it, I'm going to be honest!


e-cloths 8-Piece Kitchen Starter Set



When the folks over at e-cloth asked me to review their products, I was thrilled. No one hates cleaning more than I do and I'm always looking for ways to get it done faster and easier. Upon learning that I had my choice of products to choose from, I was giddy at the chance to review their 8-piece Kitchen Starter Set. I mean, what gets dirtier, daily, than my tiny, kitchen that everyone messes up? 


Now, first about e-cloth. Their niche is chemical-free cleaning with the goal of their line “to clean differently in order to clean better with less effort, and make your home safer by eliminating toxic chemicals.” Cool. I'm all for that. The cloths are composed of polyester and nylon which trap dirt within the fiber, collecting bacteria from surfaces, not killing it. So they scrape surfaces at a microbial level. E-cloth claims that the cloths “remove over 99% of bacteria” from hard surfaces and, when you run the cloths under hot water, all of .01% of that junk is released from the cloth into your sink, so you're not transferring the bacteria onto clean surfaces. 
 

Here's what the Kitchen Starter Set looks like, in (pictured below) and out (pictured above) of the packaging:






It consists of:

Two  Glass & Polishing Cloths
Two Classic Check Kitchen Towels (One Red / One Blue)
One Washing Up Pad
One Cleaning Pad
One Kitchen Cloth with Scrubbing Pocket
One Range & Stovetop Cloth


So here are my reviews in the order of products above:  
  

Glass & Polishing Cloths – I used one of these on the tempered glass door to my oven and it cleaned the glass easily, without much scrubbing. But where I REALLY tested this was in my downstairs washroom.   My husband is big Neti Pot user and manages to get goo all over the mirrored wall. Again, cleaning the mirror was easy and the cloth didn't leave any streaks or lint. It got caked-on toothpaste off the mirror as well and make the chrome faucet look like new. When I was done, I just washed the cloth off in hot water and hung it on the towel rack to dry – AFTER I took the cloth out to the car to clean fingerprints off my windows.  It cleaned the carpool's fingerprints off like magic!

The e-cloth got these disgusting drops off the mirror easily.


Kitchen Towels – I use a lot of fabric towels in the kitchen to reduce the amount of paper towels we blast through. The e-cloth kitchen towels are heavy, lush, and absorbent. When my dishwasher leaked, I was astounded at how much water the towel soaked up in a matter of seconds!


Wash Up Pad – My favorite of the e-cloth products, as mentioned, my dishwasher isn't the best and I often wind up doing dishes by hand. The wash up pad is LARGE, so it's great for scrubbing large pans. Since I burn food, more than cook it, I tried the pad on some caked-on fried egg. With very little effort, I got sparkling results (see below). I LOVE this pad!


Before the e-cloth

After the e-cloth


Kitchen Cloth With Scrubbing Pocket – If you've got kids, chances are there are fingerprints on the outside of your fridge. I know which kid belongs to which set of prints because the Teen is now much taller than his little sister. The Kitchen Cloth removed fingerprints from the refrigerator lickety-split and even took off some unidentifiable stains from the bottom of the fridge. Where this cloth really shined, however, was (like one of the other cloths) in the bathroom!  It cleaned the bathtub in a minute and removed all kinds of gunk (shaving cream, toothpaste,  God knows what else) from the sink without any scrubbing.


Range & Stovetop Cloth – I don't think the knobs to my stove had been cleaned in years. This cloth got the grease off and make the range look like new. 


 Dirty knobs...
Clean knobs
 













So, yes, I liked each and every one of these products. They got things sparkling, with minimum effort, fast. But what about the price of the Kitchen Starter Set?


At first, I thought the $49.99 cost was exorbitant. Then started to think about how much different cleaners I use cost, their toxicity, and what I spend on scrubbers, kitchen towels, etc. 


The e-cloth products are high-quality, use no chemicals, and I firmly believe are money-savers.


To learn more about e-cloth, visit them at www.ecloth.com

 
Oh, and on my Mother's Day List, there will definitely be items from their ebody Spa Collection, specifically their Face Cleansing Mitt. 


I have complete confidence that I'll be happy with anything I order from e-cloth.