Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Flips Audio Headphone-Speakers Go From Solo To Social With Just A Flip

Flips Audio - In Solo Mode

Note: Although I received this product for reviewing purposes, the opinions expressed here are purely my own.


When I opened the package containing Flips Audio, I was going to give them to the Teen to try. He is, after all, recovering from a nasty double virus (bronchitis and pneumonia). Maybe these would cheer him up. However, upon reading what they could do and feeling the quality of the headphones, I decided to keep them for myself. Hey – Mom deserves nice things, too, right? 

And nice they are! Upon opening the box, the first thing I noticed was the carrying case which is great if you, like me, tend to be a little reckless with headphones. My old earphones are kept with my electronics in a storage hassock and every once in a while either the cat or my daughter decides to explore in there. Plus, Diva is a pilferer who likes to “borrow” my stuff. The sturdy, egg-shaped “shell” means Flips Audio is well protected.

The headphones themselves are light-weight and fit perfectly; snug enough to keep outside noise out (although they are not noise-canceling headphones) but not brain-squishingly tight. I immediately tuned into some John Mayer, then Bach, and finally, The Bee Gees. The sound quality was impressive. There was no need to adjust the balance; every note sounded right.

The ear cups flip out to become speakers.  How cool is that?!
I then flipped the ear cups out and the device went into speaker mode. Interestingly enough, I liked the speaker mode is even better than when unit was on solo. The sound is clear, crisp and, again, perfect.

Flips Audio is the answer to the question, “What are you listening to?” They are now my headphones of choice. And since they're collapsible, they easily fit into my Fall/Winter purse so that I can carry them around and enjoy my media while I'm waiting for my son to finish soccer practice or my daughter to finish gymnastics.

As I said, Mom deserves nice things. Flips Audio is definitely one of those.




Thanks for reading!







Saturday, August 23, 2014

Reusing Cardboard Car Air Fresheners


I love the smell of those cardboard Yankee Candle Air Fresheners that you hang in your car. I not only use them in the CRV, but in my small powder room and the porch. Unfortunately, they're a bit expensive and don't last as long as I'd like. Recently, during a caffeine-induced “eureka” moment, I realized that those air fresheners are made of cardboard and cardboard is absorbent. Hmmmm...

So I picked up a bottle of scented oil at the Dollar Store and poured a little on a dead YC air freshener. The oil was immediately absorbed into the cardboard and the scent was great. Okay, so it's not as lovely as a real Yankee Candle product, but for a fraction of the cost, it did the job!

Since my local Dollar Store has a nice variety of oils, I can change the scent with the season and not break the bank on getting my car, porch, and bathroom to smell nice. See if it works for YOU! 

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Thanks for reading!   Please follow me on Twitter:  http://twitter.com/IsItHotInHereMM

Friday, August 22, 2014

Have You Heard Of Lammily – A Healthily-Proportioned Doll


I was disgusted this week, when I learned of yet another female who wants to look like a manufactured doll. If you haven't heard, a 16-year old named Lolita Richi is having her 10 minutes of trashy fame by claiming that she looks like a doll naturally, without the use of cosmetic surgery. Her proportions, of course, are improbable and experts, who apparently have nothing better to do, are weighing in saying that her looks are not natural. According to eonline.com, the teen says “she wanted to look perfect and noted that all women should want that, too.”

The problem with looking like a doll is that it's NOT perfection, but someone else's idea of perfection. I'm not sure if that someone else is a designer or manufacturer, but it has become, to some degree, society's ideal. And we know the proportions of most dolls are unrealistic and unhealthy.  They suggest to girls that they, too, should do all they can do look "perfect."

 
That's why I was happy to learn of Lammily, a doll with “realistic” proportions. Her creator, graphic designer Nickolay Lamm, based her dimensions on averages of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (to learn more about the creation of Lammily, click on this article from The Atlantic).

As you can see, Lammily isn't super-skinny or sexy. Her boobs wouldn’t cause her to tip over in real life and it look as it she actually eats. Nor is she fat. She's healthy and natural looking, without the whorish make-up some of the dolls on the market sport (i.e. Bratz dolls, Monster High, etc.). Her wardrobe is pretty and contains pieces most girls would wear and we would let our daughters wear. Lammily looks fit yet fabulous. She's a great alternative to some of the current dolls on the market which have looks that are unattainable and, to some degree, not appropriate for their target audience.

Is she someone else's image of what a girl might want to look like?  Sure, but Lammily's motto, "average is beautiful" reminds girls that it's okay to be themselves and that they don't have to embrace society's image of perfection.  To learn more about Lammily, visit https://www.lammily.com.

If Lammily catches on, maybe there will be more girls who will see the beauty in being healthy and accept themselves for who they are, rather than take outlandish and unhealthy measures to attain unrealistic ideas of “perfection.” One can only hope. 

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Thank you for reading!   




Monday, August 18, 2014

5 Ways To Savor The Last Weeks Of Summer

Suck it up, Kids.  You're going!


As yet another Summer winds down, I'm in a last-minute dash to get some of my “Must-Dos” off my list. It's not going to be easy this week because Junior is down with a fever, but here's what's on my list and what you might want to do for the next two weeks before school starts:

  1. Drag the kids to the pool as much as possible. Inevitably, the cool weather we're now having in the Northeast will subside and hot-hot weather will come back to this area, ironically enough, just as the town pool closes. Sure, the kids claim they're all “pooled out,” but once they see that “Closed For The Season” sign, they'll be wishing they'd gone more often.

  2. See as many out-of-town friends as possible. Those are the people we won't be running into at the grocery store or local functions and we may not see them for quite a while once school begins.  Now is the time to have them visit.

     #

     
  3. Get the maximum use out of sandals, flip-flops and shorts. They won't be fitting the kids next year.

  4. Sit out in the backyard and savor these warm evenings. It's already getting darker earlier in the evening and once school starts, there won't be any time to enjoy the lawn chairs and leaf-free grass. Do it now before you wind up packing the cushions and umbrella in for the Fall.

  5. Greedily bite into the fruits of summer while they're still local. Watermelon, peaches, cherries, cantaloupe are especially delicious this season. Sure, I can get them “imported from Chile,” but why wait when they're harvested nearby?

     #

The leaves are just beginning to turn colors and soon the pool bag will be put away and the backpacks taken out. Schedules will get tight as, once again, the seasons of our lives change. It's time to “seize the moment” and grab the last bits of Summer while we still can!

What are you going to do to savor the last moments of Summer? I'd really like to know! 

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Thanks for reading!  Enjoy the day!  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why I WON'T Buy Back-To-School Clothes

Cry on, Kid.  Not happening.



In case you hadn't noticed, the ads for back-to-school clothing are in full swing on TV. Some of them are pretty aggressive, telling kids the “must-haves” they need to look good come September.  The commercials insinuate that the success of your whole school year is determined by what you are or are not wearing.  My daughter is taking more copious notes than she'll ever take any semester and even the Teen is occasionally looking up from his iPad to catch a glimpse of the latest fashions.

They can look all they want. Diva can plead with and eventually scream at me to take her shopping until she turns blue. I do not buy back-to-school clothes. Here's why:

  1. My kids have plenty of nice tops and shorts to wear. They don't need any new clothes. At least yet. 

  2. Their clothes have not been placed neatly in their drawers as I've asked them numerous times to do. Garments are strewn all over the kids' rooms, hanging from drawers, littering the floor. Since my children are not taking care of the clothes they have, they do not deserve new ones. 

  3. The weather is my part of the country is presently cool; too cold, in fact, to go to the pool this past week. It will stay cool through the next few weeks and go back up into the high 90s just AFTER Labor Day. That means any of the woolen/corduroy/heavy-cotton garments currently being sold will be too warm for the kids to wear, probably for many weeks.

  4. They are both due for growth spurts sometime between September 1st and October 15th. I'm not kidding. It happens every year and is most prominent in The Boy. The sweatpants that fit him perfectly in early September look like knickers by mid-October. And the shorts that looked great on Diva that first day of school will be inappropriately short a mere few weeks later.

  5. She especially will be influenced by peer pressure and change her mind about what she wants after she sees what her richer friends are wearing. So even if I bought clothes now, she'd want different ones after the first week of teaching ends.

Now don't get me wrong: I'm not depriving my kids of new clothes. But there's a massive difference between WANTING a new wardrobe versus NEEDING one. Do I want them to be social pariahs? No. But as I said, they have nice clothes, fashionable clothes, ones they chose in the Spring after their last growth spurts. I'm not asking my daughter to wear saddle shoes and poodle skirts or my son to wear cardigans. My brood will get new attire when the time is right and I decide, not a bunch of marketing executives circling my kids like sharks pressuring them to pressure ME to buy the latest merchandise. “Must-haves?” I know what my kids must have and when. Not advertisers. 

May you, dear reader,  always be able to resist the temptation of marketers...

Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How To Make & Eat A Dutch Baby






As the Summer gradually winds down, I'm still crossing off items from my “Must Do This Summer” list. One of those is to take the kids for a Dutch Baby; they love the look of horror on their friends' faces when they brag that they ate a baby!  Now, for those of you who are cringing, a Dutch Baby is a delicious, pancake-crepe hybrid that is roughly the size of a football; it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to bake. The waitress at our local pancake house explained the process (and it is a process) of how to eat one:

  1. Gasp at the sheer size of the dish.
  2. Spread butter over the surface of the baby.
  3. Squeeze a little lemon on it.
  4. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar.
  5. Dig in!

My kids, of course, forget the lemon, preferring to spread a lot of butter on the pancake and then dousing it with sugar. Because it's taken so long to make, they tend to savor the dish and, yes, my 8-year old daughter, has eaten an entire Dutch Baby.


 Food, Menu, Button, Restaurant, Knife


While the kids prefer to go to our Original Pancake House for their babies, I have made them at home. Here's how to make two small Dutch Babies:

Ingredients:

  • Two small oven-safe pans
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of butter for the pans or non-stick cooking spray
  • lemon wedges, more butter, and powdered sugar to put on the finished product

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place about a tablespoon of butter into each pan and put them in the oven to melt the butter. The alternative is to spray non-stick spray all over the inside of the pans; you don't need to put the pans in the oven, but you still need to preheat it.

Step 2: In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla, and milk and use a whisk to combine them.

Step 3: Gradually add in the flour, salt, and sugar until there are no lumps in the batter.

Step 4: If you've put pans in the oven to preheat them, take them out now. Divide the batter in half and pour it into each pan.

Step 5: Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the edges are puffy and brown.

Step 6: Serve with butter, lemon, and powdered sugar.

This is one of those dishes you can make for special occasions and if you wanted to make it as a after-dinner dessert, add some ice cream. 

 Fork, Metal, Cutlery, Eat, Tool

While I don't like to gush about food, it's really the 20 minutes waiting for the Dutch Baby in the restaurant that's special. I love taking my kids out for breakfast...and away from their video screens. My daughter giggles in anticipation of her baby as my son, who can easily eat two, challenges her to get through one. It's a great way to start the day and bond with my children.


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Thank you for reading! Please follow me on:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/IsItHotInHereMM
The Geek Parent: www.thegeekparent.com
Mom's Crayon: http://momscrayon.blogspot.com
And on Jersey Mom's Blog (www.jerseymomsblog.com) where I'm listed under Moms Crayon. 





Monday, August 11, 2014

Traveling By Air? Here Are A Few Dos & Don'ts

We just returned from a 10-day vacation to the West Coast. Unlike previous trips where the bulk of my prep efforts involved packing the kids, this time, I left much of their packing up to them. THEY were accountable for what they did and, more importantly, did NOT bring. Thus, no goggles in the pool? Their problem, not mine! A favorite top not packed? Not my concern. That one, simple edict freed up my time to think about other things, namely items that could make our lives easier and more pleasant while we were away. The challenge, of course, was finding stuff that would fit into our carry-on luggage since we do not check bags (too cumbersome and expensive).

Here is my list of Dos and Don'ts for future air travel:

Do bring...


...collapsible water bottles. These bottles (see the photo above), which I picked up at 5 Below for $5 each, meant that as soon as we cleared Security, we could fill up and have water on the plane. It saved us quite a bit of money since water in the airport is expensive! The ones we had came with a little hook which you could hook to your belt or purse, but more importantly, we hooked them over the side of the little pouch on the seat in front of us (the one that holds the SkyMiles magazine), so we didn't have to hold them and couldn't lose them.


...inflatable boogie boards. Last year, my kids were upset that they had nothing to play with in the ocean. Carrying Styrofoam boards on a plane was out of the question and paying $12 each at the beach was not happening. The ones I bought, again at 5 Below, were great because we used the bike pump at our hotel to blow the boards up and the kids boogie boarded not only in the ocean, but in the hotel's pool. The only problem was that they didn't come with elastic to strap from the board to the rider's hand. My son kept a death grip on his while surfing. Next year, I'll bring some elastic cord so we don't have that problem. 


Inflatable boogie board


...lots of Ziploc bags in various sizes. We used gallon-size bags to protect electronics while on the beach, to store medications, hold hair supplies, ice for our cooler (see below), etc. The extra large bags held our clothes and by compressing them, gave us a lot of extra room in each travel bag. 


...a collapsible cooler. I put this in my son's luggage, since he packs the least amount of clothes (don't ask). The cooler was wonderful because every day we'd pack some ice in a Ziploc bag (when the ice melted, we had more drinking water), add our filled water bottles, threw in some fruit, and stuck the cooler in the rental car. We always had cold provisions, even on the hottest days.


 

 ...bagel chips as a snack. These held up really nicely along with granola, protein bars (an essential for the Teen), and apples. 


Do NOT bring...


...muffins on the plane. They're way too crumbly and didn't hold up well at all. By the time we arrived in the West, we had a Ziploc bag of crumbs. Granted, it was fun to squish the crumbs and make one big muffin which the kids then, of course, thought was too icky to eat.


...Pillow Pets or their cheap knock-offs. Bunny dropped to the floor several times and was too gross to use as a pillow, even after I Lysoled it. Bunny is now in the garage, with luggage, waiting to be washed.



Overall, I was proud of my packing on this trip. The items above helped us a lot and made the trip more pleasant for the kids. And, as any parent knows, when the kids are happy, EVERYONE is happy!

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Thanks for reading!  Please join me again, won't you?  

Friday, August 8, 2014

My 2 Favorite Vegetarian Barbeque Dishes

The Weber Gas Grill hubby ordered off Amazon.  DH and son put it together in a snap!

Thanks to our relatively-new Weber gas grill, we've been having fun barbequing this summer. Now, this weekend, we have a dear friend coming over and he happens to be a vegetarian. At first, I was a little flummoxed. I mean, outside of kabobs and salads, what other veggie-only dishes are there, especially ones that can be grilled? I searched files old and new and came up with these two that are sure to please vegetarians and meat-lovers alike:


Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Ingredients:

4 portobello mushroom caps                       
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon each of dried basil & oregano
4 slices provolone cheese (although swiss is fine)
salt & pepper to taste

Place the mushrooms, smooth side up, in large Ziploc bag. In a bowl, mix together the vinegar, oil, and spices. Pour over the mushrooms and let marinate, at room temperature, for about 15 minutes. Make sure you turn the bag every once in a while so the marinade seeps into the mushrooms.

Preheat the grill on medium-high and brush the grate with oil. Place the mushrooms on the grill and save some of the marinate for basting. Grill the caps for between 5 and 8 minutes on each side until they're nice and soft, brushing often with the marinade. Just before you take the caps off the grill, top with the cheese and let it melt for a minute or so.




Winnie's Brussel Sprouts (named for my aunt)

Ingredients:

12 – 15 medium brussel sprouts (I've used frozen ones instead of fresh - see below)
½ teaspoon onion powder (optional)
5 tablespoons parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons salt

Clean and trim the sprouts by cutting the ends back. Score the bottoms by making an X. If using fresh sprouts, place in boiling water for about 4 minutes. If using frozen ones, just prepare according to directions. Drain and place in a bowl; drizzle with oil before tossing with onion powder and salt. Then place them on a hot grill and turn them every 3 minutes for a total of 12. Place back in the bowl and add the parmesan cheese. Honestly, if meat-lovers are present, I'll add some bacon bits(jarred – I'm too lazy to make them) just for them. LOVE the bacon!


Will the kids eat these? Well, my veggie-hating son really likes the portobello burgers while my cheese-loving daughter enjoys the sprouts. I'm also grilling halves of iceberg lettuce which I'll top with blue cheese dressing (with bacon bits, again, for meat eaters). Lastly,a dessert of grilled pineapple topped with vanilla ice cream...or just ice cream since my kids won't touch pineapple.  

These are easy dishes which let me visit with my company, not just serve them. Summer is supposed to be fun for the hosts and well as visitors. These recipes are simple, nutritious and mean we can spend time outside...and with each other. Bring on the weekend!








Wednesday, August 6, 2014

25 Texting Acronyms Common To Parents

I love Momspeak, that language that moms (and some dads) use to express the joys, sorrows, and angst of parenthood. So I was delighted with the responses I received when I polled some friends and asked them: what are your favorite texting acronyms? Here are the top 25:

  1. KBS Kids Being Snippy (or Sassy)
  2. DK Damn Kids (substitute an F for, you know)
  3. KSC Kids Spilled Crackers ( or C**p)
  4. CFG Can't Find Glasses (reading or sun)
  5. CL? Coffee Later?

  6. NAGI Not A Good Idea
  7. IT In Target
  8. PITA Pain In The A**
  9. BK Before Kids
  10. WIHMS When I Had My Sanity (also BK)

  11. DD Damn Dog (or DC as in Damn Cat)
  12. GDC God Damn Computer
  13. OOC! Out Of Coffee!
  14. TWIW They Whine, I Wine
  15. CSA Can't Stay Awake (Implication – the kids wore me out)

  16. BWN Baby Won't Nap (or BWS as in Baby Won't Sleep)
  17. HBAP Hubby Being A Poop (or something that rhymes with slick)
  18. BDCFD Burned Dinner Call Fire Department
  19. CRS Can't Remember Stuff (or S**T)
  20. FF Feeling Fat

  21. CTT Can't Take This
  22. SOBT Stressed Out Big Time
  23. UB! Unbelievable
  24. FTIW2C For This I Went To College
  25. ISLT I Still Love Them

Sharing our parenting experiences, our stories, is crucial to maintaining our sanity throughout the lives of our children. It's how we gain information and reassurance that we will come out of these experiences as better people with children who will grow to be responsible adults. Hey, kids have their own texting language, shouldn't we? 

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Please note:  A version of this post originally appeared on www.thegeekparent.com.

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Thank you for reading! Please follow me on:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/IsItHotInHereMM
The Geek Parent: www.thegeekparent.com
Mom's Crayon: http://momscrayon.blogspot.com
And on Jersey Mom's Blog (www.jerseymomsblog.com) where I'm listed under Moms Crayon. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Why Mom Is On Social Media

I've written before about how much fun I'm having with the DonateAPhoto app (you can read about it here), so recently I took the plunge and joined Instagram. (my user name is momscrayon). When I told my 14 year old about it, he asked, “Why does my Mom need more social media than me?” Excellent question, Kid!

First of all, no one needs social media in the sense that, we can survive, physically, without it. Those of us who lived through a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado, something which knocks out electricity, know that. But for someone who writes for a living, having many venues to showcase my work is important. At present, I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Bloglovin, and now, Instagram, so it's easy to see what I do and sponsors look for you to be on multiple sites.  

Second, you see your friends almost every day. You Skype with them for hours at a time and have plenty of social interaction. I work from home where the only individual I see regularly is the mailman. He's a nice guy, but I think he's getting tired of hearing me blabber on; I mean, the guy has a job to do.  Social contact is important for everyone and social media allows me to have a modicum  of that.

Third, I get quite a bit of my news from Twitter. I learn maintain contact with friends, close and far, via Facebook. Now, I'm getting a visual glimpse into various worlds via Instagram. As you know, the Web is contains a universe of data and it's important to stay current on local and world events. 

Lastly, you, my friend, are 14. You are still developing the social radar you'll need to determine who might be a threat, what you should/should not say, what to believe and what to discount, whether information is valid, etc. You have nothing to sell, no agenda to promote. Your world is largely contained to our house, neighborhood, and town. There is NO reason you need to be spreading yourself around on social media. Your book is unwritten, your time has not yet come.

Do I need social media? Professionally and from an information standpoint, I do. From an social perspective, less so; but it's useful. Someday, I will be gone from this planet.

At some point, you may want to review my digital footprint to learn more about who I was while you were growing up, to touch me, virtually, when I am not here. Then, my beloved son, you will be happy that I was on social media. 

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Thanks for reading!