Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Apples are one of the most versatile fruits known to man, and have been for a good part of recorded history.  Apples are so popular in fact; apple pie recipes are often handed down through generations. They are served at family reunions and during the holidays all around the world.

Here’s an Apple Pie recipe you’re sure to enjoy making as much as you do eating.


Old Fashioned Apple Pie (Save time by purchasing ready-made crusts)

2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts  
7 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
1 cup white sugar 
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons butter

Preheating oven to 425 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, flour, and spices, stirring gently.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crusts and dot with butter.  Place the top crust on the pie, and cut holes in the top for ventilation.  Bake for ten minutes at 425 degrees, and then turn the temperature down to 275-300 degrees.  Allow the pie to bake for an additional 40-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Let the pie cool and then serve.  Add a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream for a special treat.


Besides using them in pies, fresh cider, and eaten raw, you may also use apples as a decoration around the home.  After drying apple slices, you may string them on a piece of jute to create a garland, or add the dried slices to a wreath that hangs on the front door.  You can also make ornaments out of applesauce and cinnamon.


Apple Cinnamon Ornaments

3/4 cup ground cinnamon 
2 tablespoons ground cloves
1 cup applesauce 
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon nutmeg 
1/8 or 1/4 inch ribbon

In a small bowl, mix the applesauce and spices, stirring until the mixture makes a dough.  Roll the dough out between sheets of wax paper.  Using a cookie cutter, cut out the designs you like, and then set them aside.  Roll out the leftovers and cut out until all of the dough is gone.  Poke a hole in the shape to accept the ribbon.  Let the ornaments dry four to five days, uncovered, and undisturbed.  Place the ribbon through the hole and then hang the ornament to leave a pleasant scent.  Store the ornaments in a zip-top bag.


With over 7000 varieties, apples are one of the most well-known fruits. They can be used in a myriad of recipes and can even be used in non-cooking methods.  Now is the time to get some – cooked or raw, food or craft – apples are truly a fruit to enjoy.


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This summer was a hot one…and I think we felt it ALL over.  It was tough to get outside to enjoy activities with the record-breaking heat wave that we all experienced.  This weekend will be the first day of fall!!  NOW is the time to think about a trip with your family to enjoy the great outdoors.

While it’s true that you can go camping during the summer, unless you are able to travel to the mountains where it’s always cooler, it may have been too hot to enjoy the trip.  One of the benefits to camping in the fall over the summer is that bugs are less likely to be a problem.  You’re also less likely to come across snakes as they will be searching for dens in which to hibernate this winter.

Autumn camping gives you the best of both worlds – warm days to enjoy hiking and traipsing around nature, but cool enough to truly enjoy cuddling up around a campfire.  What is better than a crisp autumn evening, making S’mores around the campfire, and enjoying the aroma and sounds of the crackling fire?  When the leaves start to change colors and the air turns cool, this is the perfect time to pitch a tent and enjoy a weekend of camping.

You can enjoy a hike in the woods during the summer months, but you won’t get quite so hot during the fall.  In fact, one of the biggest reasons to wait until fall to go hiking is that you won’t have to fight with tons of other people as you travel along the trails.  Not having to deal with as many people is a great reason to wait until later in the year to hit the trails.  It would also be a perfect time to take someone on their first hike.  They won’t have to worry about carrying quite as much in their backpack and the scenery will be a joy to behold.

This is really a combination of hiking and camping.  Backpacking is another activity that can be enjoyed during the fall.  It’s a great way for you to take a day or two to get away from the daily grind, reconnect with nature, and refresh your spirit.  Be sure to take along plenty of water, even though the weather won’t be as hot, you’ll still need to keep yourself well hydrated.

A fairly new activity that people are enjoying is geocaching.  The best of hiking and backpacking, geocaching is a trip with a purpose – locating the cache that was hidden by another participant.  This activity, however, requires that you have a GPS unit to find the cache, but requires you to be prepared to climb, hike, and hit the trails. You are allowed to remove items from the cache you find, but you are also required to leave something for the next person to find.

All of these activities can be enjoyed during the spring and summer months, but they can be just as enjoyable, if not more so, during the fall months.  The weather is not going to be as hot, there will be less people to contend with, and the scenery will be beautiful.

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My friends over at Dine Without Whine came up with these terrific things to do with the kids and they all relate to Dr. Suess books!  Read and enjoy…

What child doesn’t grow up with Dr. Seuss books? We have quite a few of them lying around the house. The kids love the silly characters and the rhymes. The Dr. Seuss inspired recipes and activities that I’m about to share with you have been a great hit in our house. Of course the famous green eggs and ham are included, but there are also quite a few other snack and meal ideas. Create a fun Dr. Seuss inspired afternoon with some of these recipes and of course don’t forget to read a few of the books with your kids. (If you don’t own any, enjoy a trip to your local library.)

Green Eggs and Ham
This has to be the most famous Dr. Seuss inspired dish. Scramble a few eggs, add a couple of drops of blue food coloring to the mixture and cook as usual. You can serve a warmed up slice of ham with it, and if you want to go all out, brush the ham with a little green food coloring.
My kids love either biscuits, or mashed potatoes with this dish. Add a little food coloring (either green, or a complimentary color like red) to the biscuit dough or the finished mashed potatoes for even more fun.

Cat in The Hat Snack
Make the Cat’s Hat for a fun snack. All you need is a few Ritz crackers, gummy lifesavers (preferably in white/clear and red) and a little vanilla frosting. Put the Ritz cracker on a plate. Use a little bit of vanilla frosting to glue the first lifesaver on the cracker. “Glue” more lifesavers on top of the first one alternating between red and white.
These snacks are so cute; you may want to take a picture of your child’s creation before it is devoured.
Wiggly Fish
This snack was inspired by  “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”. Prepare several different colors of Jello according to package directions and pour each flavor into a shallow pan. Use a fish shaped cookie cutter to cut the Jello into fish shapes.  (If you don’t have a fish shaped cookie cutter you could also just cut fish shapes with a knife.) You can also add small pieces of fruit to the Jello mixture before it cools. This is a great way to sneak an extra serving of fruit into your child’s diet.
Pink Ink for The Yink
The Yink in “One Fish, Two Fish” love to drink pink ink. Make your own version by combining a few strawberries (either fresh, or frozen and thawed) and some milk in a blender. Add a few drops of red food coloring if the “ink” isn’t pink enough.
A Fruity Hat For The Cat
How about this for a fun Sunday breakfast? Whip up a batch of silver dollar pancakes and cut up some fresh strawberries. Grab some whipped cream and let the kids assemble the Cat’s hat by stacking pancakes, and strawberries on top of each other using the whipped cream as “glue”.
Enjoy a few of these Dr. Seuss recipes and activities with your family, or invite a few neighbor kids over for a Dr. Seuss party. Either way they are a lot of fun and a great way to bring some of the Seuss stories to life.

Want more family friendly recipes and crafts ideas?  Visit Dine Without Whine for a sample weekly menu plan your entire family will love and www.kinderinfo.com for tons of craft and activity ideas that are sure to keep your little ones entertained. 

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Product Name: Healthy Menu Mailer
Submitted by: Nicole Dean; Pensacola, FL
Rating: 9
Where to buy: Healthy Menu Mailer

Description: Healthy Menu Mailer is a menu planning service for health-conscious people.

What they offer is a weekly email that includes A Healthy Dinner Recipe for each night of the week complete with nutritional information and a corresponding Weekly Shopping List. This allows you to easily plan your weekly meals, print your grocery shopping list, and eat healthier in the process.

Review: The Healthy Menu Mailer is an easy way to eat healthier without adding more stress to your day.

My favorite part of this service is the shopping list. The list is broken down by type of food ” [Fresh Produce] Fruits and Vegetables” and “[Meat / Poultry / Seafood]” for instance. Not only that, but next to each item on the shopping list, you’ll find a letter that corresponds to a recipe in the weekly menu. So, for instance, if I decide not to cook Meal D, I can quickly cross off the items on my grocery list that have a “D” before them and I’m ready to head to the store.

The only criticism that I can come up with for this service is that it may not appeal to picky eaters. The recipes are full of flavor and there is a large variety of foods in each week’s menu. So, if you have a lot of food limitations or are sensitive to certain foods, you may not be able to utilize all the recipes each week.

Healthy Menu Mailer is a great way for Moms to serve a healthy meal to their families without all the leg-work. I definitely recommend this service for anyone who is trying to avoid fast food, but isn’t a Martha Stewart type and needs a bit of help.

Healthy Eating Made Simple - Healthy Menu Mailer

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Are you always looking for that perfect deal?  Want to get the most you can for every dollar you spend?  Here are 11 different ways for you to find T.H.E. B.E.S.T. D.E.A.L. when you shop.

T.AKE ADVANTAGE OF DOUBLE COUPONS – Many grocery stores offer double coupons, most of the time up to $0.50 (doubled to $1.00).  Cut them out of your Sunday paper and use them!

H.OLIDAY SALES – This is a great time to shop.  You can get great discounts many times throughout the year.  Look for sales in your paper around these times:  Presidents Day; Memorial Day; Labor Day; Thanksgiving; and after Christmas.

E.LECTRONICS AND APPLIANCES – You can usually take advantage of some sort of mail-in rebate or gift card rebates with big dollar purchases like electronics and appliances.  Check around at your local stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy and Circuit City to get the best deal with rebates.  Only drawback – it can take 6, 8 or even up to 10 weeks to receive the rebate. 

B.OTS – There are Shopping bots such as Shopzilla.com or Pricegrabber.com that make it easy for the consumer to comparison shop and find the deals.

E.XAMINE REVIEWS BEFORE BUYING – Check out the product reviews online before you spend the money.  Often times, they will lead to a discount code, sale or free shipping.

S.TORE CREDIT CARDS – Many stores offer their own VISA or Mastercard sponsored store credit card.  You can really take advantage of some great offers and rebates by signing up for one of these cards.  Sidenote: try to pay off the balance each and every month and only apply for those cards where you frequently shop (you’ll get the most bang for your buck that way).  Example: Kroger (a grocery store) will award points for all purchases made in the store and outside the store using the Kroger Mastercard.  These points are tabulated and rewarded on a quarterly basis with gift certificates that can be used as cash in the store (I’ve gotten up to $80 in one quarter).  PLUS they’ll give you a $0.15 per gallon discount on Kroger gasoline purchased with the card.

T.AKE A LOOK AROUND – Make sure you do some browsing before jumping on that great deal…there may be an even better one right next door! 

D.ISCOUNTS, DISCOUNTS EVERYWHERE – There are always great deals in the: Sunday paper; Val-Pak coupons in the mail; local restaurant coupon deals; and coupon sites such as coupons.com and couponchief.com.  Take the time to check these out…it can save you a bunch of money!

E.FFICIENCY IS THE KEY – Many online shopping carts will allow you to combine or “stack” their deals and codes.  You can get free shipping, 10% off AND receive a free gift all at the same time!

A.SK AROUND – If you see someone wearing a cute pair of shoes or that new tee you’ve been dying for…ask them where they got it.  If they got a great deal, they will be more than happy to tell you about it.

L.OOK FOR USED OR CONSIGNMENT SHOPS – They have great prices on name brand goods and items that have barely been used.  There are always hidden treasures to be found in these shops. 

When you break it down into a formula, it’s not so overwhelming, is it?  Use these steps as a guide to help you find the best deals around.  Happy shopping! 



Check out the unique, personalized gifts and letters at My Special Note!

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Are you getting bored with your traditional workout?  Is going to the gym just too bothersome?  Well then why don’t you get your next great workout at the local dance hall?  Dancing is not only fun to do; it’s great exercise too.

There’s nothing that gets your heart pumping like dancing.  You don’t have to be good; you just have to move around.  The simple act of moving your arms and legs around is enough to get you a great cardio workout.  Studies have shown that ballroom dancing is almost as effective at working your heart as common workouts such as running.  It also doesn’t matter much what kind of dancing you’re doing, whether it’s ballroom, country line dancing, or even belly dancing.  You can even just dance around your living room to the radio (also a great way to work out with the kids!)

Dancing works all the different muscle groups.  Activities like jogging and swimming feature repetitive movements that work the same muscles over and over.  That’s why it’s easy to tell a runner from a swimmer, just by looking at what muscles on their body are developed.  Unless you do the same dance over and over, you’re going to be doing various different movements.  This allows you to work all your different muscle groups giving you a great total body workout you’ll be able to see in a mirror.  This is also a great motivation to take classes and try new styles of dance.

Normally, workouts can be a bit boring, and boredom is actually one of the most common reasons for quitting an exercise program.  With dance, not only do you get to listen to music that is fun and entertaining, dancing can have the benefit of being a social event.  If you have one or more people there with you, you can enjoy the conversation and excitement; you’ll probably completely forget you’re working out.  Try getting a group of friends to go dancing once a week with you.  You can even use the fact that it’s a great workout as a selling point to convince them to join you.  Just be careful; depending on the venue, you may be encouraged to drink.  Don’t burn off all your calories just to add them back with alcohol. 

Dancing makes a great family activity.  You can use it as a time to bond with your spouse or your children.  Remember, they need to get regular exercise too!  If you want to get closer to your spouse, sign up for some lessons you can take together.  And while you can’t take kids out to a lot of dance clubs, you can get a kids dancing tape, teach them to dance at home, or just play around to the music on the radio.  It’s a great way to exercise while stimulating their creativity. 

So what are you waiting for?  Why not change a workout this week to a fun time dancing?

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Webster’s definition of a freshman is: a 1st year student.  As a parent, you see your college freshman as much more than that…this is your baby boy or girl getting thrown out into the big, cruel world.  There are probably a myriad of emotions running through you:  excited, insecure, exhilarated and downright scared.  Keep in mind that, as your college freshman is frantically packing up his belongings to move into that dorm, he is more than likely feeling those very same emotions…times 10! Here are some tips for you to help your young adult make the transition to college:

  1. Encourage him to participate in school related activities such as intramural sports and clubs – This will help him to make friends who have the same interests and will help ease him into campus life.
  2. Send care packages – Whether it is your famous homemade cookies, a special college tee you found on sale, or just a quick card or letter to say “I’m thinking of you,” he will appreciate it to no end!  (AND, he will be the envy of his entire dorm)
  3. Keep the lines of communication open – Provide him with a calling card or cell phone so he has quick and easy access to the most comfortable place in the world…HOME.  Almost all college students have their own computers.  If your child does not have one, he will have access to the computer lab at school where he can receive a quick email from home wishing good luck on a test or an update on his sister’s winning goal in the soccer game.
  4. Teach him how to manage money – Sit down and work out an initial budget for your freshman to help him figure out expenses for the semester.  Set a weekly allowance for him to spend.  Encourage him to manage his own checking account.  Don’t come to the rescue EVERY time he needs another $20.  By TEACHING him how to budget and manage expenses (and not doing it for him), you will be giving him a great skill that will help him grow as an independent adult.
  5. Encourage sibling communication – Call, write, text message, email…these are all great methods of communication for siblings.  Being able to keep in touch will help BOTH the younger sibling and your older child make the transition to them being away from home.
  6. DON’T drop in on him unannounced – Your 18 year-old is finding out what it’s like to live on his own without mom and dad hovering.  Show him the respect that he deserves and don’t drop in, but DO make plans to come visit on a Friday or Saturday…attend a football game, stay in a nearby hotel, treat him to a nice dinner, take a tour of the school and meet some of his friends.  He will be happy to have you there and show off his new surroundings.

There will be many ups and downs this freshman year of school for you and for your child.  You know that your child is about to begin one of the best times of his life – times and experiences that he’ll never forget.  You need to be strong and supportive to help him make the transition from live-at-home teenager to that of a young independent adult.



Find a cool, personalized Collegiate or Greek pillowcase at My Special Note!

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