Teaching Kids To Love Reading

Teaching Kids To Love Reading.

I was the kid who got in trouble for hiding under my blanket with a flashlight and reading until a ridiculous hour. So I was shocked when our kiddos did not take to reading as enthusiastically as I did.

Our eight-year-old Zoe, for instance… I took her to our cool little neighborhood library to sign up for their summer reading program. She paused at the door, staring at me with a suspicious squint.

Zoe: “Why are we here?”

Me: “We’re signing up for the summer reading program! They have these great prizes, like-”

Zoe: “I was told there would be doughnuts.”

Me: “I will get you a doughnut after we sign up.”

Zoe: “How many doughnuts?”

Me: “What?”

Zoe: (patiently) “How many doughnuts do I get to eat per book?”

This is where my cunning culinary bribe fell through. I couldn’t feed this kid enough baked goods to get her through a single multi-chapter book. Plus, I would be the size of a planet by the end of summer because there’s no way I can hold out if she’s stuffing chocolate crullers down her throat.

Nothing was working until I changed my approach.

So, here’s what I’ve learned this summer: every child has their own way. It’s my job to find the path that gets each of my Littles enthusiastic about books. Here are some different thoughts on amazing books and how to invest your little people.

 

Teaching Kids To Love Reading

  1. What are they interested in? So, my 8-year-old Zoe is crazed about Minecraft. I immediately ordered 3-4 books about Minecraft on Amazon.com. I didn’t pay attention: the fonts in the books varied, they were oddly styled and hard to read. They just made her more frustrated. So we started with some of the “New World” instructions on her iPad. We read about diamond armor and the Ender Dragon. Then, we graduated into Minecraft technique posts. I read a paragraph, she read a paragraph. We were reading together… and yeah, now she’s into the Friendly Creeper Diaries.
  2. You Read To Me, I’ll Read To You: It’s actually the name of a book series, but it was an “Oh, duh!” moment for me. We always read together when Zoe was little, but now that she’s in second grade, I’d just intended to check off the books she’d read on her homework list. What is wrong with me? This is an age where she actually wants to hang with me. And it’s not even just her reading to me- it’s reading back and forth, asking questions about the story and laughing at silly things.
  3. Make It Fun: Once again, this one took me by surprise. What do you mean, reading isn’t fun? So we came up with some ideas. This summer, we’re reading in our trampoline tent dome (Editor’s note: you can find an easy DIY video for this epic little creation here.) We acted out all the dialogue in different accents. (Zoe is very proud of her Cockney accent.) We’ve listened to audiobooks together to get her excited, then re-read the book together. We’ve created her own books- writing out different stories with her clever illustrations. There are easy ready-made books here to use to create your own classics.

 

Here’s one of my favorite graphic novel kits. One of my favorite experiences with the twin’s 7th-grade class was creating their own graphic novels. It’s not particularly expensive and the fun of watching these kids collaborate and create together is one of my most tender memories. They created a super-hero with autism, who could move back and forth in time to solve crimes because, “For kids with autism,” said their classmate Jerry, “it’s hard for us to understand time anyway.”

The Best Books For Infants and Toddlers: Great Starts

Best Books For Children Ages 5-9

Best Books For Pre-Teens – It’s Not Too Late!

 

What has worked with your kiddos? What made them finally want to learn to love reading? Share! Discuss! We all need new tips and tricks.

Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games

Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games. My Zoe- who’s 8- and my teenager Zachie love to go camping. They love the mountains, the beach, they’re both strong swimmers, so I kind of slacked off on survival skills. What happens if they get lost? What if we end up displaced because of a real-life disaster?

I wanted to find ways to teach new skills without being scary. My Zachie has autism, so heightening his anxiety isn’t going to help him learn, and at 8, Zoe finds almost anything can be scary if presented poorly. So how to teach them?

 

Teach Your Kids Survival Skills – 5 Fun “Let’s Pretend” Games

1- Playing “Doctor”

Zoe used to love trapping her twin brothers on the couch and more or less taping them to the cushions with surgical tape and winding gauze haphazardly all over their face and arms. But it’s a good start for teaching first aid skills. We tried a session of going through the Todd’s “medium-intense” first aid kit. (The Todd is a born prepper- he has multiple kits stashed all over the house, our cars, our trailer, the boat… One is a massive kit that paramedics use– I could probably do open heart surgery at midnight with the contents and car headlights to see with.) We practiced how to splint an arm, how to tell if a bone is broken, how to check for fever and what happens if you swallow something big and you’re choking. (Note to self: try the Heimlich again with Zoe. She’s very enthusiastic and alarmingly strong.) We danced to the BeeGee’s “Staying Alive” which is the new anthem for CPR and sets the rhythm for chest compressions.

Next Step: taking a first aid class together- find some options and locations here.

 

2. Backyard Campout

If you’re not ready for a big mountain/desert/beach campout, start at home. But this time, use a “bug-out” bag, or the closest thing you have. (Find out more about an easy 72-hour emergency bag here.) This is a good chance to go through the bag, find medications that might be needed, cook some of the food you have there, teach about filtering water and change into clothes already stashed and ready to wear. Have the kids help you put up the tent and “find” firewood. We’ve done a short hike with everyone wearing their bug-out backpacks to make sure they can carry everything comfortably.

Next Step: trying the same scenario in the wilderness.

 

3. ROAD TRIP!!

This is our kid’s favorite phrase because it means Mom and Dad managed to finish filming and editing and it’s family time, baby! We keep our trailer stocked so that, with gathering just a few things, we can be on the road. But we’ve altered it into a game where we time our kids. In most natural disasters, you have around 15 minutes to grab what you can and leave home. The terrifying spread of wildfires across California last summer is a classic example. So now we focus on what we can pull together immediately, which made some changes in our life. I keep all our important documents- titles, birth certificates, legal paperwork and passports in one fire-proof pouch. I’ve started saving important papers and family photos in iCloud so they’re always there if we need them. And this has taught our kiddos to decide what’s really important to them since there’s so little they can grab in 15 minutes- though Zoe’s managed to shove a good 28 stuffies in the car before the time was up.

Next Step: here’s what FEMA suggests you need in terms of documents.

 

4. Scavenger Hunt

Learning edible items in the wild, understanding direction and how to create shelters are all crucial lifesaving skills if you were to get lost. We created a “scavenger hunt” style game that rewards our kiddos for finding important items based on their list. Our last list included:

  1. Edible grasses or berries
  2. Moss from the north side of a tree
  3. Kindling
  4. Rocks to heat for warmth a night stay
  5. A spot perfect for building a shelter
  6. Filtering water to make it drinkable

Next Step: there’s a great set of cards – The Purple Cow –  that brings out your young outdoors expert and scientist that our kiddos have totally loved, find it on Amazon.com here.

BTW: if you’re interested in teaching your kiddos how to grow a garden from kitchen scraps, have a look at our complete guide here.

 

5. Lights Out!

I’m embarrassed to admit this one came from our last power outage here and the only lights I could find was the glow from our iPads. The Todd came home and laughed at me for a good 30 minutes. Hmph! Mr. Overprepared, next time show me where you’re stashing the flashlights! Which makes a good point: do our kiddos know where to access lighting and other emergency gear if the lights are out and we are somehow separated? So we turned off the power this weekend for 24 hours and worked through where to find important items, what to eat, where to find our water storage, etc. All done under the guise of an adventure, but you know, it truly turned into a fun challenge for all of us.

Next Step: a chart with all the important information, phone numbers, and a location for all the needed supplies in the house.

 

I think sometimes that I underestimate my kid’s resiliency and ability to keep calm. But I know that by practicing “Let’s Pretend” scenarios, we’ve all gotten more confident about their ability to handle an emergency. We have a list of some of our favorite disaster prep gear and information on Amazon here, and here.

What about you? What tips and tricks have worked with your family? How have you prepared for the worst together? Spill! Share!

 

 

Hot Weather Helpers – The Best Body Care Products For 100 Degrees

Hot Weather Helpers – The Best Body Care Products For 100 Degrees

“Lady Anti-Monkey Butt?” My best girlie Caryn stared at me like I’d just slapped a dirty diaper in her outstretched palm.

“Trust me,” I promised, “you’ll thank me for this.” I know there are blissful little spots where summer temperatures never move above 70 degrees and cool winds blow gently through the trees.

We don’t live in one of those places. Summer in Utah is a blast-furnace of merciless heat and even the tired old, “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat!” means absolutely squat. I’ve been putting together hot weather survival care packages for visitors for years to our life-sucking Dust Bowl Of Death. I feel like a terrible hostess when the only place they can be comfortable is lying directly over our air conditioner vent.

Here are my top ten must-haves…

 

Hot Weather Helpers – The Best Body Care Products For 100 Degrees

 

 

 

Lady Anti Monkey Butt – My girlie Jen gave this to me on our last sojourn into the Salt Flats (a super intense spot in the desert here in Utah where the evaporated salt shimmers and glows) to avoid the inevitable… rash. It smells lovely and does the trick without getting all weird and gooey. $5.69

 

The Coldest Water – Right around now my running habits migrate into the evening hours when it cools down. Then, night. Which unfortunately is right around the time the rattlesnakes around our home in the foothills like to stretch out on the street. Umm.. back to the day-time hours, then! The Coldest Water band saved my life- throw it in the freezer, then wrap it around your neck or the small of your back. The velcro straps keep that sucker tight and against your sweaty skin. $20

 

WOW Dream Coat Supernatural Spray – This delightful little bottle tames my hair from the freakish spiral of fuzz that 100+ degree days seem to inspire, to a well-groomed ponytail. It’s refreshing to not look like there’s a pyracantha bush living on my scalp. It smells lovely, and when faced with a blowtorch of a day, will not melt down your neck. $28.00

IHHAPY Handheld Mini Fan- This adorable little fella charges off a USB port, and gives you between five and six hours of blissful chill. We tried this out during an outdoor concert on the Fourth of July- I looked behind us at the end of the fireworks and there were 11 people clustered behind us, trying to get in on the breezy action. $19.99 – There’s a 20% off coupon here.

 

 

Snake Brand Prickly Heat Powder– I did not know “prickly heat” was actually a thing until my first summer in Southeast Virginia. I looked like I’d come down with some appallingly invasive rash and I itched compulsively. Even my boyfriend wouldn’t sit next to me. The moment the powder slid over my skin was sweet, sweet relief. If I had to pick water or prickly heat powder for my survival kit… well, I’d be stealing your water. But I’d be rash-free while I did it. $98 for a package of 10.

 

UCOOL Body Cooling Band So the Todd – who loves gadgets – presented this to me with great ceremony, insisting on reading the entire booklet. “As your body heats up,” he instructed me, “a special heat wicking fabric inside 31 superconductive fins draws heat away from the body, replacing it with refreshing coolness.” Superconductive fins? Sign me up! As it happens, this thing works great and I slap it on our son Zachary when we go hiking because the kid insists on running up the steepest grade we can find, no matter what the temperature is. It’s nice having a child who doesn’t resemble an overcooked lobster. $24.99

 

“Arf” Cooling Mat – While we’re on the subject of children and pets, forgetting your furry little buddy at home is a terrible idea. The “Arf” Cooling Mat is an easy-peasy way to keep your pets comfortable, especially if you’ve got a long day and they’re languishing on the porch. The pad actually self-charges, so it’s zero-maintenance. And you’re the best pet owner on the planet. $69.99

 

Toes Home Outdoor Magic Buffs – I got my first buff as a gift at Burning Man, where it became my best friend during 50 mph dust storms, keeping my waist-length hair and associated irritating flyaway bits out of my mouth. I barely took it off long enough to wash it. These lovely little things are stretchy, dry instantly and make you look polished… put-together… like a Woman Of Adventure. $9.90 for a six-pack.

 

 The Wind & Weather Soothing Herbal Aromatherapy Neck and Back Wrap – This sucker rules for so many reasons- it cools down even the most overheated body, comforts you with a gentle weight on your shoulders and even offers several different scents to chill you out mentally, too. Throw it in the freezer and you’re set. I was surprised at how well this worked for pain relief- The Todd gets debilitating headaches during hot weather and he gave this two blissed-out thumbs-up. $37.99

 

EnduroPacks All-Natural Liquid Electrolytes – This handy spray bottle squirts a tasty mixture of electrolytes into your water, it’s sugar, gluten, and calorie-free with no artificial ingredients. It takes getting sunstroke just once (cough- me!) or several times (points at the Todd) to know that the fastest recovery is the best one. Or, if you’re not dimwitted like we are, maybe keeping hydrated with something tasty like this and never ending up with sunstroke. We exist to be your walking, talking cautionary tale. $17.50

 

 

 

 

Your complete guide to splash pads along the Wasatch Front

Your complete guide to splash pads along the Wasatch Front

There’s something liberating to me about splash pads: you don’t have to strip the kids all the way down, drag out the towels and glue your eyes to the pool to make certain your offspring doesn’t drown.

Splash pads are gaining popularity because for merchants, parks, and attractions, it’s an easy way to lure families into their clutches. Little ones (and some big ones, too – don’t look at me like that! It’s 90 degrees today!) prance through the spray without actually immersing in a chlorinated spray that likely contains more sunscreen and body fluids than any of us would like to think about.

BTW: looking for something different to do this summer? Check out our “Utah Eccentric: 5 quirky road trips.”

Or… “5 family-friendly camping spots” here.

Take a look and print off a copy of the splash pads closest to you – I consider this knowledge part of my emergency summer plan and just as important as sunscreen and band-aids.

 

Your complete guide to splash pads along the Wasatch Front

Salt Lake County:

Red Butte Gardens: charming snake “spit” water into a big sun disc play area for your little ones to soak.  $

This Is The Place State Park: it’s a hard stretch to connect a splash pad with the pioneers, but it’s wonderful. $

Utah’s Hogle Zoo: a brilliant tie-in to their Pacific Northwest exhibit. Tidepools, squirting rocks, metal starfish and crabs. $

Liberty Park: two or three throughout the park, all delightful.

Gateway Mall: Moms bring towels and chairs and stay the day…

City Creek Mall: There are several water features but wading in the tiny river with the trout is a major no-no.

Mountain View Park-Cottonwood Heights: huge park off Ft. Union Blvd.

Riverton City Park: cute farm-themed water features.

Magna Rec Center: included in the price of admission. $

Umbria Estates Splash Pad: more geared to the pre-school crowd in Herriman.

RoseCrest Splash Park: another Herriman park.

Murray’s Willow Pond Park: splash pad and fishing pond with dock.

Valley Fair Mall: there are a new train ride and carousel in the Food Court as well. $

Daybreak Development: in South Jordan on Daybreak’s SoDa Row–there’s free summer concerts as well.

Sandy Amphitheatre Splash Pad: new and absolutely gorgeous

Davis County:

Foxboro Regional Park: shiny and new in North Salt Lake

Legacy Regional Park: NSL’s new and shiny attraction.

Riverdale Park: Riverdale City’s splash park is repaired and back up.

Heritage Park: Kaysville’s biggest park with a huge playground as well.

Clearfield Aquatic Center: the new splash pad is included with the price of admission. $

Lagoon Amusement Park: spendy unless you’re hitting all the rides on your way. $

Cherry Hill Water Park: 2-3 different splash pads, but since you’re there and buying a ticket, hit the Lazy River or Cardiac Canyon too. $

 

Weber County:

Harrisville City Park: small, but pleasant. Kind of like the city.

South Ogden City: fairly big, with fun water cannons.

 

(image credit via: Wikipedia)

Utah County:

Palisade Park in Orem, Monday-Saturday, 10a-8pm (Thanks, Michael!)

Creekside Park in Alpine: surprisingly big with several different features.

Highland Town Center: the splash pad is always crowded, but if your kiddo’s getting wet for free…

The Shops At Riverwoods: the luxury outdoor mall has the Provo Beach Resort. $

Provo’s Pioneer Park: the splash pad is huge, kind of like our families. Well-planned, eh?

Spanish Fork North Park:

Nolan Park: the splash pad in Eagle Mountain.

Grove Park: the splash pad in Vineyard is open 10am-8pm (Thanks, Michael!)

 

Are there any local splash pads I’ve missed! Please share in the comments!

 

Spicy Summer Reads

Spicy Summer Reads… There’s something about summer that always sends me to the spicy side of the bookstore. I’m sitting by the pool, I’m reading something about Loki and some lucky girl in Asgard and…

Wait. That would be my personal dreamy summer read. Maybe yours leans towards something with hot guys and a big, beautiful woman heroine? Werewolves? Gorgeous, brooding Scottish guys?

Here are my favorite picks for this summer from some of my favorite writers- all popular, all self-published so I love giving them as much attention as possible. Have a look. Thank me later.

Spicy Summer Reads

“I Love the Way You Lie”

Maybe you fell in love with Marvel’s Loki in the “Thor” and “Avenger” movies, but ohhh… he was so much fun in the original Norse Myths! This story has King Loki of Asgard (you’ll find out what happened to Odin and Thor later) capturing the daughter of the Dark Elf Queen, a weapon that can find the truth in the most closed mind. A Princess who can only speak the truth and the God of Lies. I love this so much- I’ve read it three times. Find it here.

 

“Loki’s Mortal Mate”

While we’re on the subject of Loki, here’s another favorite from one of my favorite writers, Gisela Grey.
This isn’t the first time that Loki has been punished for a bit – all right, a lot of – mischief. Banished to Earth and badly hurt, he seeks refuge in the form of a black cat. You know a kind-hearted mortal girl will rescue him and then… You can find it here.

 

“Big and Beautiful: The Lancaster Werewolves”

Why should teeny tiny sylph-like girls have all the fun? Gisela Grey’s girl all have figures like, you know, normal women. But the men are still gorgeous and she throws in the whole werewolf-shifter thing and it’s all over the place. But in a good way. (Editor’s note: my personal favorite is the second in this series, “Big and Brave.”) Find them here.

 

“Sgàile Leannan: Book One of The McClary Chronicles”

Back to the hot, brooding Scottish guy I promised you… Stuck in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands doing soil-testing research, Molly finds herself completely out of her element and in the crosshairs of a rough local who doesn’t turn a welcoming eye to strangers. Caught in a dangerous storm in an unfamiliar place, her only option beside freezing to death or getting lost on the mountain is to follow the surly shepherd home…  Lexa Kline has been a favorite of mine for a long time- you’ll also find stories about archangels from other dimensions and several other tasty man-morsels.

 

What are some of your favorite summer reads? Share! Discuss!

 

 

Utah Eccentric: 5 Quirky Road Trips

quirky utah roadtrips

Utah Eccentric: 5 Quirky Road Trips. Perhaps you just can’t stand the thought of one more weekend languishing in your backyard, hogging all the space in the kiddie pool while your offspring glare at you? We’re here to preserve family unity, my friend. Grab the cooler and fill up the gas tank, you’re going on a road trip!

Pleasingly, there’s a big fat bunch of options for a short road trip along the Wasatch Front.  If you’re looking for something a little quirky, maybe off the beaten path, you’re in the right place, honey.

BTW: ready to introduce some new camping sites into your summer rotation? Check out our “5 Family-Friendly Camping Sites” here.

 

Utah Eccentric: 5 Quirky Road Trips

antelop island

1. Travel To A Desert Island: Antelope Island is the largest in the little chain dotting the Great Salt Lake.  Step foot onto the island and you’re sent back to frontier life with roaming buffalo, wagon rides, clouds of hummingbirds and primitive camping.  Floating in the pungent, briny brew of the Great Salt Lake is best from there–just be sure to get all those brine shrimp washed off in the campground showers.

 

Beaver Creek Nudist Ranch[4]

(Photo Credit: EnjoyUtah.org)

2. Beaver Creek Nudist Ranch: mostly entertaining for what it isn’t–a nudist colony.  A group of Samak mischief-makers put up the sign years back to trick the unsuspecting into thinking they’re going to see some naked bits racing alongside the road up the Mirror Lake Highway past Kamas.  After laughing at your overly hopeful friends, stop by the Samak Smoke House for some incredible smoked trout and salmon and camp in one of the well-kept and surprisingly un-crowded campgrounds.

 

Old Mine Shaft Entrance

3. Lark, Utah–Extra Creepy Ghost Town: Lark, Utah used to be a bustling lead and copper mining town.  After a tragic explosion in the lead mine in 1950, five miners were lost and their spirits were reported wandering helplessly by the mine’s entrance.  Lark started fading and was eventually shut down by the Kennecott Copper Mine’s executives in the early 1970’s.  About four miles west of Herriman in the Oquirrh Mountains, it’s a fascinating and creepy destination. But I’d be out of there by nightfall…

 

meister_footprint

4. The Antelope Springs “Footprint” Mystery: Millard County is a bonanza for even the newbie rockhound, thousands of trilobites to ferret out and marvel at the Awesome of your very own fossil collection.  Then grab a beer in Delta and start the endless argument over the authenticity of the Antelope Springs Footprint: a fossil found by William Meister in the 1960’s that looks like the imprint of a shoe.  Gasp!  Aliens?  King Arthur?  Who knows?  Easy camping and inexpensive hotels for overnighters.

 

bearlakemonster

5. Buddying Up To The Bear Lake Monster: Having worked a summer at Bear Lake 60 miles north of Logan, I am adamant that the Bear Lake Monster exists.  He’s described as half carp/half eel in appearance, and I swear I heard his roar echo over the waters at least twice that summer.  While you’re searching for the elusive serpent, be sure to stop by Raspberry Days and grab a gigantic raspberry shake from the Hometown Drive-in in Garden City.  There are campsites on the beach and inexpensive rentals all around the lake and in nearby Logan Canyon.

 

Find more fascinating and entertaining Utah adventures at EnjoyUtah.org.

 

5 Great Water Games For Kids

5 Great Water Games For Kids

5 Great Water Games For Kids. Mr. Thermometer is finally cracking 80, and the backyard hose will be constantly running until the first freeze of Fall.  My MacLeanie, in particular, loved water with a furious passion.  So, when the allure of our cheesy above-ground pool (my sister Jenne calls it the “White Trash Oasis”) runs thin, I’m plactating my kids with these ideas.

 

 

Five Great Water Games For Kids

  1. Water Balloon Toss. In pairs, begin facing each other with one water balloon. Each time the balloon is tossed and caught, the catcher takes one step backward. Pairs can see how far apart they get. When the water balloon is dropped, grab another one and try again.
  2. Sponge Pass. Everyone sits down in a line facing forward. At one end is a bucket full of water with a large sponge. At the back of the line is an empty bucket. The object of the game is to get as much of the water from the front bucket to the back. Each player passes the sponge over their heads to the person next to them. When it reaches the back, the last person must squeeze the water into the bucket – hands still over his head – and pass the sponge back to the front.
  3. Duck, Duck, Splash. Just like the old school Duck, Duck, Goose, everyone begins by sitting in a circle. One person stands and walks around the circle tapping the shoulder or head of the other players and shrieks “duck!” Then that player gets to picks one person as goose- but this goose gets water poured from a cup poured over his head. The goose stands and chases the water offender one time around the circle. If she’s tagged, that person goes again. If the player reaches the empty spot and sits down before he gets tagged, the goose is passed the cup of water, which is refilled, and they become the new “it”.
  4. Cup Relay. Everyone stands in a line behind an empty bucket. A full bucket is placed further away. The first person in line runs to the full bucket with a cup in hand and attempts to get as much water into the empty bucket then passes the cup to the next person in line. You can also have two teams play to see who can get the most water in their empty bucket.
  5. Water Pinatas. Hang a large balloon full of water from a tree branch, blindfold the kids, and let them have at it. One child at a time with one stick! You might need to give the occasional helpful push to keep them from braining the other kids, but this one has been my kiddo’s favorite. The pinata isn’t pouring out candy, but the blast of water can feel like a water cannon, and it feels amazing.

 

I Did Not Know That, Either! 5 More Fast Fixes For Everyday Problems

I Did Not Know That, Either! 5 More Fast Fixes For Everyday Problems

I Did Not Know That, Either! 5 More Fast Fixes For Everyday Problems. Back to admitting my ignorance and letting another, more clever soul to solve my everyday petty annoyances. You with me?

 

I Did Not Know That, Either! 5 More Fast Fixes For Everyday Problems

1.  I don’t think I have ever ONCE hung a picture frame evenly.  For picture frames with two holes, hang them evenly and easily by placing a single strip of masking tape over the back covering the two holes. Mark each end of the tape where the holes are located for hanging the frame. Take the tape off and place it on your wall. Make sure it is level then hammer a nail in at each pen mark. Go to Adventures in Creating for the entire step by step tutorial.

 

2.  If you can’t find a shower curtain to match your bathroom style (in most cases I can only find solid black, brown, white and blue or really scary bright colors) try looking in the regular curtain section. Using this tip from SAS Interiors. You can turn any curtain into a shower curtain.

 

3.  I do this all THE FREAKING TIME!   Tired of shrinking sweaters or ruining shirts because you accidentally threw them in the dryer? Keep a dry erase marker in your laundry room. Use the marker to write notes on your washing machine (i.e. Do not dry red blouse!)

 

(image credit: Noricum)

4.  You CAN fix a broken zipper!! Just take the stopper and zipper off re-arrange the teeth, then put the zipper back on. Use a needle and thick thread to make a new stopper. I wish I would have found this tutorial years ago. I could have saved so many coats and backpacks!

 

(Image credit: Marco Vercht)

5.  Ever spill nail polish on your floor?  There’s a great post here on how to remove nail polish from wood, cloth, hair, and carpet.

 

5 Tricks To Make Your Produce Taste Better & Last Longer

5 Tricks To Make Your Produce Taste Better & Last Longer. Well, no wonder produce is so blasted expensive!  Simply between getting it out of the store or from the Farmer’s Market and into my fridge has been enough to make some of these nervous nellies expire right in the grocery bag.  Spend the extra $ for organic, and you can see the mold creep on to that peach as you enter the checkout line.

However, a chat with your produce fella at the store can yield some valuable advice about how to make these most delicate of flowers continue to bloom at home in your crisper.  They just need a little help.

 

5 Tricks To Make Your Produce Taste Better & Last Longer

1. Your Lemons & Limes Can Be A Home Decor Item Or Food. Not both? Here’s why. Yes, your citrus does stay juicy and nice sitting on the counter and looking pretty in a bowl–for about a week at the most. However, everything from oranges to grapefruit will stay juicy and tasty longer in the fridge–usually two weeks–longer than sitting out. However, if you take out your lemons a few minutes before using them to let them warm up to room temperature, they’ll be delightfully juicy.

 

 

2. Grapes Are Sneaky. We have to do a little reading to see how fresh they actually are.  First, checking to see if the grapes are wrinkled where they meet the stem is task #1. But read the label: grapes from Chile could be months old by the time they reach the grocer– no matter how well the growers try to store them. Grapes from Mexico tend to be from field to store within a week. Store the grapes in their little perforated plastic bag in your fridge the keep them fresh for 2 weeks.

 

3.  Asparagus Need Water. Notice how they’re usually sitting up with their stems in a bit of water at the store?  Asparagus is actually part of the Lily family: they need water to stay crisp.  Store them upright in the fridge with the stems in a half inch of water.  Sneaky inside tip: those little green guys went limp? Roll them up in a wet paper towel for an hour and they’ll get nice and crisp again.

 

4. Eat Your Strawberries Warm, Not Chilled. Strawberries are at their most heavenly when pulled off the stem and popped into your mouth, right?  Sun-warmed, sweet.  Eating strawberries directly from the fridge hugely dulls their flavor. Sneaky inside tip: if you quicky simmer (like, 1 minute!) the berries in very hot water, then let them air dry on a paper towel before putting them in the fridge, you’ll extend their life by stopping mold growth.

 

Correct Tomato Placement. Fussy, eh?  Here’s the deal: if you’re putting them on a sunny windowsill to ripen, store them stem-side up.  This way, the fragile top of the tomato doesn’t “get gooshy,” as my Zoe says.  However, if the stem is already pulled off, store them stem-side down so that air doesn’t enter and moisture doesn’t escape from the opening where the stem used to be.

 

(All images courtesy of Pixabay)

I Did Not Know That! Genius Parenting Tips & Tricks

So, in the Good Old Days, everyone had a cool Nana that lived with them and basically told everyone what to do.

So Parenting Tips & Tricks weren’t really needed.  Nana knew all this stuff.

Then, we all decided to start moving around and multi-generational families weren’t so common.  And all of a sudden, it’s 2am and the kid is screaming his lungs out and there’s no one to tell you what to do!

 

Thus, behold the Awesome.

Genius Parenting Tips & Tricks:

 

1. Use a little glue glitter to make “Tooth Fairy Money.” (Editor’s note: a FIVER?  Hah!  My kids are lucky they graduated to a buck a molar.)

 

 

 

2. Wiggly kids that have a hard time sitting still long enough to study? Invest in a stability ball.  Long-term studies are showing increased concentration for longer periods of time–and an improved core! Find some good selections here.

 

3. Make your expensive iPad safe with “Kid Mode.” This feature locks the application and disables any hardware controls that could lead your toddler on a wayward path. Learn how to turn it on here.

 

4.  Use a shoe caddy as “kid central” for long drives.  Rather than paying $150.00 for a fancy car organizer (I’m not kidding.  $150 bucks!) I bought a hanging shoe caddy for $10.99.  Neatly stores everything and keeps it within reach of grubby little paws.

 

5. Temporary tattoos that help locate your little person. These are by a company called SafetyTat.  So brilliant that I can’t even stand it.

 

(Cover image credit: Sarah via Flickr)

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