Thursday, December 29, 2011

Flavored yogurt

I have been concerned by the ingredients (like high fructose corn syrup) and amounts of sugar in flavored yogurts, but my kids love them and the probiotics in yogurt are so good for us.  I decided to try mixing yogurt with some naturally sweet jam, but the kind I was using left some small chunks of strawberries in the yogurt- a texture my kids didn't care for.  Yesterday I got the idea to use the food processor to make the mixture smooth.  Why didn't I think of that before?
This time I got what Costco had, the lowfat plain yogurt.  If I'm at Trader Joe's (my other favorite place to shop) I usually buy one quart of organic lowfat plain and a quart of organic whole milk yogurt, and mix those together.  I used the jam I had on hand, some grape and some strawberry.  This combination was very yummy, and no HFCS!  I should try and calculate the savings someday and see what it comes out to.
Enjoy trying this at home~

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winter Activities for Kids

Hopefully the day after Christmas has your kids occupied with their new gifts and not yet bouncing off the walls.  My son's winter break started Thursday, which was actually kind of nice to have just a couple days before Christmas instead of a whole week to anticipate it and get bored.  He has a shorter break than other schools in the greater area, strangely, but at least he won't go as stir-crazy (I hope).  However, it's only a matter of time before the kids are bouncing off the walls with no snow outside to play in!
I have compiled a whole bunch of ideas we have used in past winters to keep the kids occupied when going outside isn't going to work well.  I hope something helps you through the long days indoors!

1. Get 'em cleaning!
There's something about using the real cleaning items that actually will motivate kids to "help" and keep them busy.  I have given my son a spray bottle of water (dollar store, cosmetics area at Target or a pharmacy will have empty spray bottles) and had him "wash" the inside of the dishwasher door.  He has to be old enough to not want to climb on top though!  I've let them wash windows before with a vinegar and water mixture or Shaklee's Basic H (safe for kids) but sometimes too much water will get onto the floor- throw some towels down in front though and it's no big deal.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Cookies 2011

Every year for the past few years I've enjoyed baking different kinds of cookies to give to family and some friends.  I am scaling it back a little, only giving to out-of-town family and bringing them to Christmas gatherings.  I said this year that I would simplify Christmas, including the cookies.  You know what that plan ended up producing?   Seven different kinds of cookies.  This was supposed to be a scale-down year but I found myself making a batch every day or two starting Dec. 1st, and storing them in the freezer.  So now I have seven different kinds of cookie to bring with us tomorrow.  Oh, whoops, that doesn't even include the 3-minute fudge I made to satiate my mint chocolate craving this week and the Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bars I just had to try (they contain garbanzo beans, butternut squash and my kids loved them!).
Here are how some of my recipes turned out:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Decor around my house

Would you like a Christmas tour?  It might even be better to take online rather than in person because you won't be tripping over stuff.

Sometime this past year (or maybe last year?  It all blurs), I took the big doors off of our main upper kitchen cabinets to create open shelving.  A few months after that I put the damask black-and-white wallpaper up in the back, which I love.  And I love that I can change out some of the items to decorate for the season.

Our everyday dishes are on the right, and more decorative stuff is on the left, which are the harder-to-reach shelves. 
The basket on the bottom left is full of kids' bowls, which they can reach from a chair on the other side of the counter.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Tree Over the Years

Christmas is just a week away and I thought I'd do a week of Christmas posts.
Today's is all about our Christmas tree and it's "evolution" over the years.  It's honestly not that much different from year to year until this year, where we can see a marked difference in ornament placement!
 This was Christmas 2006- our tree had few ornaments toward the bottom with a 1-year old in the house.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Outdoor Winter Containers

A few weeks ago I saw a demonstration at MOPs on how to create winter containers with the planter pots you have outside from summer. They are supposed to last all winter long and add some beauty to the bare winter landscape. The other ladies in my group agreed that they were cool, but none of us really expected to do these on our own. This is where I got the idea that it was a really good excuse for a party! These would cost between $50 and $130 ready-made at the nursery I shopped at, so for around $20 a pop by doing it together and buying supplies in bulk, it was great! We even made a few as gifts. I invited the other ladies to my garage for an evening of creating. I picked up supplies at local nursery and craft stores (one of us called around first to find the best prices on greens). I picked up the greens (spruce tops, evergreen and other green accents) which ended up costing us about $15 per pot since we bought in bulk. The guests brought any extras they would like to make their pot prettier (ribbon, metal plaques, wooden reindeer, and lighted branches). I also picked up some additional colorful and sparkly things like plastic berries, curly twigs and fake glittery branches to dress up the pots. Fake glitter snowflake ornaments were also a popular addition.

Here is how we set it up:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Guest Post: Kids' Pickup Routine

Tonight I am welcoming my first guest post from someone who likes to be known as "Cookie Monster." It's actually not going to be a huge secret once you start reading: someone with 3 kids, who thinks very logically (notice the many numbered lists below) and amazingly has the same toy organization bin system that was posted about here.
Ok, no use hiding it- it's my husband!  We thought it would be fun to share his perspective on the madness of getting the kids to pickup their toys.  I will admit the toy clutter was out of control and I couldn't get a handle on it, so I called in the forces of an engineering major (thankfully I happened to be married to one) to put his project management skills to work at home.  Thankfully he helped me out of this mess because this place would be even more chaotic (like scary chaotic) without his leadership here.
Without further ado...

Involving the 3 kids in a pickup routine
by "Cookie Monster" (Sally's hubby)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Green Smoothies

Green smoothies are one of the ways I get some super-healthy greens into our diet.
How else can a person eat a whole handful or two of super-tough kale or collard greens?  I know I can't easily do that!  I've tried making them into salads, but this is the best way to break the fibrous leaves down without destroying vitamins and minerals by heating them.

This might be the GREENEST smoothie I've ever made (Jan 2010).  And my kids liked it!  It helped that we called it the "Green Monster" or "Hulk" smoothie.

They don't always turn out green (you'll see what I mean below), but they're in there!