Tidy Tuesday – Electronics

Take a peek behind your electronics….does it look pretty bad? Even though mine were all moved out just a few short months ago, dust and certain items are beginning to accumulate again.

This week we’ll focus on cleaning behind the electronics, such as your TV, DVD, stereo, and whatever else you have in a main room. If you are feeling ambitious, clean behind all of them in the house including TVs in bedrooms and other rooms which have electronics in them.

Be sure to post your progress, or at least a note to say you’ll be joining us in this week’s challenge!

Harmless April Fools Day Pranks

April Fool’s Day is my favorite holiday next to Halloween, mostly because I get to torment my kids freely without any backlash. I’ve had several fun pranks on this day, but I’m always looking for more.

Here’s a few successful pranks of the past:

– Tape down the sink sprayer
If you have a sprayer on your sink that only turns on when you turn on the water, then put a piece of clear tape around the handle. Last year I asked my son to water the plants for me after school, and he fell for it! The look on his face was classic, and one I’ll never forget.

– I’m moving
This one was played on a friend one year, who knew I’d never leave the area. Play this one on family members near by to freak them out a bit. This works especially well on family members.

-SOLD!
While this is more business related, you can still pull this on a spouse, friends, or family. One year Anita from Mommy’s Helper and I hatched a scheme to tell everyone on her message boards that we had sold her site and one of mine as a package deal (for some ungodly amount of money, of course). It worked! For those of you without this kind of set up, you can always tell a spouse/family member you sold the car an/or house for some large sum of money.

– Inside-out Clothes
This prank has stuck in my head since I was no more than about 5 or 6 years old. Together with my aunt, we turned all my dad’s blue jeans inside out. This is a great prank to pull on slightly older children who don’t need your help picking out wardrobe. This would have to be done at night after they are in bed, or early in the morning before they get up. That way while they are getting dressed for school the prank hits them. 😉

– April Fool’s Dinner
A few years back I came across this excellent idea for a perfect April Fools Day dinner. It LOOKS like a cake, but really it’s meatloaf with mashed potatoes “frosting”. You make the meatloaf in the shape of a cake, then “frost” it with the mashed potatoes. The kids think they are getting a real treat for dinner!

That’s it for my list of harmless April Fools Day pranks – now let’s hear yours!

Family Activities – Indoor Pools

Last week my kids were on spring break, and they got a bit of a raw deal. The weather wasn’t so great, and it rained most of the week. On Saturday we even saw a rain/snow mix!

Seeing the weather forecast ahead of time, I knew it was going to be up to me to entertain them at least part of the time. So we decided at least one day would be spent at our local YMCA  where there’s a good sized indoor pool.

We don’t have a membership since the closest Y is a good 25 minutes away from us, and just isn’t worth it for how little we get over there. However, we were able to get in for just $12 for all of us, and spend as much time as we wanted there that day. The kids had a blast and so did I!

This is the perfect time of year to seek out local indoor pools, since it’s still just a bit too early for the regular summer pools. We like the YMCA over here because we can go off and do other activities after we swim to make sure no one is going outside with wet hair when the temp is still in the 50s. For $12, it wasn’t a bad deal, and it entertained the kids for at least half a day.

Go out and find some indoor pools near you – it might prove to be the perfect family activity for all of you too!

Why You Need a Bread Machine

So if you haven’t gotten the hint already, I love my bread machine. LOVE IT. And I have loved it for quite a few years. I don’t know what we ever did without it, and sometimes I think I use it more than the microwave.

Just in case you aren’t sure if you need one or not, let me give you a run down of some of the things we’ve made in the last few months alone.

1. Bread
Duh, right? Yes, we make bread in the bread machine. But we make lots of it on a regular basis. While sometimes we use the bread machine to actually bake the bread, most of the time we use it to take all the hard work out of making the dough. Being concerned with nasty preservatives in store bought bread is a thing of the past with us. All our bread products come straight from our kitchen using whole ingredients.

2. Bread Sticks
You know, the tasty little things that go good with pasta. Yup, we make those in a bread machine, or at least, the dough. We see frozen dough or pre-cooked bread sticks in the store all the time for a pretty penny. Since you still have to bake them, why not stick on the additives and just make the dough yourself?

3. Cinnamon Rolls
Same as the bread sticks – they are made with the dough cycle. Super easy and a lot less hassle. This one is a family favorite but a bit on the messy side. It’s completely worth it, though, as you’ve never had a REAL cinnamon roll until you’ve had one fresh out of the oven. The difference will make you never want a non-homemade cinnamon roll again.

4. Pizza Dough
There’s quite a few different recipes for pizza dough lurking around the internet, and all of them work quite nicely with the bread machine.  The bread machine takes all the hassle out of really good homemade dough that can be topped with all your favorite goodies. No powdered packets required.

5. Jelly & Jam
I’ve become quite fond of homemade jams, and it is SO EASY with the bread machine. There is no watching and stirring for an hour or more – just dump the ingredients in and walk away. Homemade jam spread on homemade bread doesn’t get any better.

6. Buns/Rolls
Ever since we latched on to the awesome roll recipe, its been used just about every time we have sandwiches or a family gathering. Currently we make sandwiches at least once a week, cutting this recipe in half for 5 average sized buns. Sometimes we make the full recipe, saving the leftover buns for lunch. This one simple recipe also works in place of anything requiring refrigerated biscuits or crescent rolls.

So there you go – six different types of foods, one machine. Pretty handy, eh? If you don’t have one, I highly recommend the Sunbeam Bread Machine. It’s the only bread machine I’ve used for over a decade now, although feel free to shop around for the machine that will work for you. Amazon has a huge stock of various brands, sizes, and styles to pick from.

Have fun!

800 Recipes and Counting

Looking for new recipes? Then drop by our sister site, RecipesForMom.com!

A few months ago we started redesigning the site and adding new recipes, and we’re still going strong! Currently you’ll find over 800 recipes available on the site, organized by both type of meal and main ingredient. So no matter what you are in the mood for, you’ll be sure to find a recipe that suits you and your family.

Enjoy!

Gardening Ideas Series – Herbs

This is part three of our Garden Ideas Series, which will be talking about basic herb gardens and ideas for starting them indoors. See part one on flower seeds and part two on vegetable seeds.

We’re trying something new this year. Never before have we grown herbs, but we will be this year for a very specific purpose – to keep the squash bugs away from our precious pumpkin patch. That, and we thought it would be fun to have some home grown herbs as well, since we do a LOT of cooking.

Two types of herbs we started indoors already, and will be planted near our pumpkins along with several other types of flowers. These herbs are the following:

Dill
This is one of my absolute favorite herbs, so I was pretty excited to see it on the list of potential plants which attract the squash bug’s enemy, the tachnid fly. I do love cooking with this, and have used it in breads and other really good recipes.

Parsley
Another great herb, and something we use in our homemade breads and other recipes. I’ve read this is also a great herb to have growing around roses, since it’s suppose to help the health and fragrance. Quite a fantastic herb to have in the garden I’d say, or even in the kitchen!

Since this is our first year trying out herbs, we aren’t going too crazy here. We decided to grow them both inside and out, just to see what would happen and because the garden versions were meant to protect and not eat. It may be we end up with a lot of both herbs on our hands, but that would be perfectly fine too!

Catnip
I don’t know if you want to call this an herb, but I don’t think it’s a flower either. We have cats, so we usually plant catnip for them as something fun. It gets started inside and transplanted every year. Although it never seems to last long outside because the cats eat it! That’s fine, that’s what we put it in there for! 😉

Be sure to see more herb seeds, live plants, and gardening supplies at Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Tidy Tuesday – Shelves

This week I thought it would be a great idea to focus on shelves. I think we all have something up high, such as a place we dump things we’re attempting to keep out of the reach of children.

While I’m going to focus on the shelves I have in the living room, you can focus on any area of the house. These shelves sometimes get loaded down with unnecessary stuff, or just flat out dusty because they aren’t often seen. If you have decorative items on these shelves, give those a scrub as well.

Post your progress here and join us next week for another focus!

Free Gardening Catalog

Since spring is almost here, it’s time to start planning and planting those seeds, bulbs, plants, bushes, flowers, and vegetables. If you need some help, Nature Hills has free catalogs available.

If you are going to buy online or by mail, I highly suggest this particular store. Their prices are reasonable and selection is just outstanding. They’ve got just about anything you can think of for all gardening supplies, making this an excellent place to request free gardening catalogs.

Click here to order a Free Nature Hills Nursery Catalog

Bookmark Craft for Kids

There’s nothing harder than coming up with a craft for an 8 year old boy who would rather spend his time in front of the computer or video games instead of being with his family. Although while hanging out in a local craft store one day, the foam sheets caught my attention like they always do, and I finally figured it out.

This particular boy loves to read, and has a large library of books he cycles though. Because of this (and his tornado of a room), we have to keep him well stocked on bookmarks. A foam sheet not only makes a “cool looking bookmark”, but is cheep too.

If folded correctly, you can make six bookmarks from one 8×11 sheet (standard paper size, that is). Two bookmarks “sideways” and four long ways. They won’t all be the same size, but it’s a bookmark, so it doesn’t matter. It’s main purpose is to hold your place in the book, after all.

Once you have them all cut out, it’s up to the kid to add his own personal touch. If you have a paper puncher, you can add small holes at the top and add yarn or ribbon of some type at the top. Decorations can include glitter glue, stickers (add some extra stick to this, because a regular sticker isn’t going to stick very well to foam), construction paper cut outs glued on, or anything else that is small and flat.

This is one of those “every kid” crafts, since you can pick any color of foam sheets you want. For the boy we picked black, but the girl would prefer something like pink or purple. It’s also a great craft because it lets their creativity shine, which is a huge plus in my book. I don’t like to get too specific with craft projects, simple because I want THEM to design and create freely.

Overall this was fun, and I hope you find it fun as well!

Need some more cheap and easy craft ideas? Be sure to check out kids craft kits at S&S Worldwide