Sunday, March 29, 2015

Here"s An Invention That Truly Excites Me: A Hand-Held Washng 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

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

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

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.

Friday, March 6, 2015

10 Signs That Spring IS Coming

I shoveled snow this morning...again...following another school Snow Day yesterday. New Jersey is a constant grey, my mood is a constantly sour, and when I asked a therapist friend how her patients who from suffer depression are doing, she said,

 “Nobody gets better in a Winter like this.” 

Still, with Daylight Savings Time robbing me of an hour of sleep (grrrrrr.....) I have to believe that Spring is just around the bend. And, after all, the “official” first day of Spring is coming on March 20th

So here are 10 signs that the cold and snow will soon be a memory:

  1. There are buds on the trees. Really. Look at the ends of branches and you'll see the teeniest little buds growing.

  2. More birds are about. I haven't spotted the elusive Robin Red Breast yet, but based on the chattering my cat is doing in the window, there are a lot more of our feathered friends out there.

  3. The numerous emails I'm getting reminding me to join the Town Pool.

  4. The numerous reminders I'm getting to send the kids to Camp.

  5. Days are getting longer so I'm looking at snow much longer. Grrrrr....

  6. The emergence of jelly beans and other Easter goodies which must be hoarded the rest of the year.

  7. Spring/Summer clothes in the stores. Okay, so they've been there since October, but now I'm actually thinking about wearing them.

  8. People who only wear pants (as opposed to shorts) on the the coldest days of the year are back in shorts. They know something we don't know.

  9. The sound of woodpeckers drumming. Woodpeckers drum in early spring as both a territorial announcement and as a part of spring courtship. You may hear them on chimney flues and drainpipes.

  10. Winter drinks containing gingerbread and pumpkin are fading, to be replaced by ones containing coconut and pineapple. Yum!!!!

As I look over my stomach past the 10 pounds I've gained from stress and boredom eating this Winter, I can't wait until the trail at the local park has been plowed and I can again enjoy my walks around the lake. I'm ready to say “good-bye” to my comforting fireplace and put the heavy blankets away. I'm hopeful that the pollen won't be too bad this Spring so that my daughter and I won't suffer too much. And I'm looking forward to seeing the face of that first crocus pop up from the ground. You'll hear a “whoop” of joy from here, in the Garden State. 

For me, Spring can't come soon enough!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Three Amazing Websites To Help You Celebrate Purim

Happy March! For those of us who are Jewish and/or interfaith, Purim begins this year on Wednesday evening, March 4, 2015, and continues through Thursday night, March 5th

So what's Purim about?

Masks are part of Purim fun!

According to the website, the Persian empire of the 4th century BCE extended over 127 lands, and all the Jews were its subjects. When King Ahasuerus had his wife executed for failing to follow his orders, he conducted a beauty pageant to find a new queen and a Jewish girl, Esther, found favor in his eyes. She became the new queen, while not letting Ahasuerus know she was Jewish. In the meantime, the anti-Semitic Haman was appointed prime minister of the empire. Mordechai, the leader of the Jews (and Esther’s cousin), defied the king’s orders and refused to bow to Haman. Haman was infuriated and convinced the king to issue a decree ordering the eradication of the Jews. Mordechai convinced the Jews to repent, fast and pray while Esther implored the kid and Haman to join her in a feast. Esther told the kid she was Jewish, Haman was hanged, Mordechai was appointed prime minister and a new decree was issued granting the Jews the right to defend themselves against their enemies.

The service for Purim is pretty unusual and a lot of fun, especially for kids. You're encouraged to dress in silly costumes and every time you hear Haman's name, you're supposed to interrupt the service with noise-making devices (as opposed to being quiet).

After extensive research, I found these three websites to help you and your little one get in the spirit of Purim:

  1. – A bright, fun website, kids can learn the story of Purim, how it's celebrated, about the foods associated with Purim and the site even has Purim trivia.
  2. – This site offers games, crafts, printables, videos, songs, stories, music, and more! A MUST-LOOK if you celebrate Purim!
  3.  – Offers videos, recipes, coloring pages, tips on Purim costumes, a trivia page and even boasts a guideline for having a Purim Scavenger hunt. Fun!

Everyone loves Purim festivities, but there's deeper meaning. It's about courage, survival, and one woman who made a real difference to her people. Happy Purim! 

Please note that a version of this post appeared on 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Heroes Of The City On YouTube

Last year on the other website I write for, The Geek Parent, I reviewed the Heroes Of The City Baby (read my review here). Even before that, I'd reviewed the Heroes Of The City app aimed at preschoolers (read that review here). In a nutshell, this series is great because unlike others, it boasts both a male and female lead character, with each being a brave and role-model in his and her own right.

Now, Heroes Of The City have their very own YouTube Channel for the preschool set!

This channel provides more than 6 hours of entertainment for boys and girls alike to enjoy watching their favorite HOTC characters become heroes in compelling stories about what it means to be a hero, friendship, and teamwork. 

Check it out and watch it with your child. Heroes Of The City can generate some wonderful discussions between you and your child on the topics of helping, what a hero is, and how we can affect the lives of others every day. 

Thank you for reading!!!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Avoid These 5 Email Mistakes

Most of us check our email every day and although, to some degree, email is intuitive, it's still a form of communication with Dos and Don'ts.

Here are 5 Common Email Mistakes 
we all need to avoid:

  1. Not Using A Greeting – Addressing someone by name still applies in email, just as it does when writing a letter. Addressing someone with a simple “Good morning, Allison!” or “Dear Principal Wood” adds professionalism to your correspondence and sets the tone for the rest of the communication.

  2. Understanding When Email Is/Is Not The Right Form Of Communication – There are times when email is absolutely justified as a mode of communication and others when it's not. Delivering bad news and providing constructive criticism may be done best in person or via the phone. There are situations when you simply need to be with someone in person to give them more information that they can see for themselves (i.e. body language, expression). Using email in those circumstances can be viewed as a cop-out and may actually hinder the message you're trying to deliver.

  3. Using Chat Language – Abbreviations are just plain lazy and should not be used when writing an email. Sure, LOL is acceptable when texting, but email is a longer form of communication. People may not be aware of certain abbreviations and may not understand what you're talking about. Don't leave it to chance – spell it out.

  4. Forgetting To Double-Check Before You Hit “Send” - We've all sent emails to the wrong person unintentionally. And I HATE it when I find a typo in an email I've already sent. Always check that you're sending your communication to the right person, that you’ve spell-checked, and that your information is correct.

  5. Rambling – With vast quantities of email we get, composing an effective email is crucial. Greet, get to the point, and write a simple closing (“Hoping to hear from you,” or “Good luck”).

If you're going email, do it right! Avoid the mistakes above to be a better communicator and have your message received.