Mother-in-Law Day: 5 Ways to Show Your Mother-in-Law Your Appreciation

mother-in-lawOctober 26th is Mother-in-Law Day — your relationship with your mother-in-law is not like any other relationship. As the mother of the person you married, you owe her a lot for where you are today. Here are 5 ways to show your mother-in-law your appreciation.

Pay Her a Visit Take a few hours out of your weekend to visit your mother-in-law. Take her to a movie and have coffee afterward or go on a walk in the park, or to a museum . Spending time with your mother-in-law shows you care and it gives you the opportunity to learn a little bit more about her and your spouse.

Ask Her Advice Asking advice shows you respect her opinion. Your mother-in-law experienced a whole life before she met you and she wants to share her experiences and lessons she’s learned. Moms love being thought of as knowledgeable and wise.

frameGive Her Something Sweet You don’t have to give her something big for it to be thoughtful, but a nice frame with pictures of her children or grandchildren would be a nice gesture. Even something fun to put artwork from her grandchildren is a good way to make her feel loved and appreciated.

Ask Her for Help Moms love helping out. Asking for help shows her you respect her and need her. Have her babysit or take the kids to the park even if you don’t need her to. Moms love to be needed — especially when all the kids are grown and have their own families to take care of.

Offer Your Help Moms also love to know you’re there for her. Go to the grocery store or help her put up holiday decorations. Moms love having their children around — even when they’re children by marriage only. mother-in-law

The holidays are coming up, so you don’t have to go all out for Mother-in-Law day but she deserves some recognition and appreciation even if she’s only your mother in the eyes of the law.

Make a Difference Day: 5 Ways You Can Make a Difference

volunteersOctober 25th is Make a Difference Day. It’s a day that was created to encourage people to improve the lives of others. For some people, being of service to other people is second nature, for others, it takes some effort. For those of you who need some inspiration, here are 5 ways you can make a difference.

Raise Money for Victims of Disasters Disasters hit anytime and anywhere. The American Red Cross aids in about 70,000 disasters in the United States every year. From forest fires to hurricanes, millions of people are touched by disasters and are in need of help — whether it’s food, clothing or shelter. Raising money for the Red Cross or another disaster relief organization provides aid in all forms to people who have lost everything due to disasters.

petcaveFoster a Dog or Cat According to the ASPCA, more than seven million pets are taken in by animal shelters every year — almost three million are euthanized. Some shelters don’t have the space to accommodate every cat or dog that needs a home and some pets aren’t wired to be around that many animals or they’re too young. Rather than euthanize healthy cats and dogs, shelters make fostering available to people who can’t provide a forever home. By fostering one pet, you can make a difference in the lives of many pets. If you’re an animal lover, giving a temporary home to a shelter pet is rewarding for both you and the animals.

Support the Troops and Their Families There are many ways you can support our troops! If you want to go big, you can donate money or volunteer at organizations like Project Sanctuary. It’s a place where soldiers go with their families after returning from a tour of duty to heal and bond. But your contribution can be as simple as writing letters or sending care packages to deployed soldiers or even help mailing those packages — every little bit makes a difference.

volunteerHelp Your Neighbor You don’t have to think beyond your block to make a difference. You can make a difference to someone by doing little things like raking leaves in your senior neighbor’s yard, helping a single mom by walking her child to school or bringing a meal to a sick neighbor. Everyone needs help but not everyone asks for it; it’s up to you to offer it.

Volunteer at a Nursing Home There are a number of ways to volunteer at a nursing home, but one of the most appreciated is as a visiting friend. Talking and sharing stories doesn’t seem like much work, but seniors look forward to new friends and a chat over coffee. There are also programs in which you can visit seniors living alone in their own homes. Volunteers are especially needed around the holidays, but visiting volunteers are welcome year-round.

There are so many ways you can make a difference in someone’s life without even trying. Start small and eventually you’ll make a big difference.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: 5 Ways to Support Breast Cancer Awareness

Pink-Ribbon-Breast-CancerOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Millions of people are touched by the devastating disease, but there’s always more we can do to create awareness and support research to find a cure. Here are 5 ways to support breast cancer awareness.

Walk The most popular way to get involved is to participate in a walk or run. Hundreds of walks are held every year across the country. These events raise money to help cancer patients in addition to raising awareness of the disease. The American Cancer Society’s Making Strides originated in Boston in 1984 with 200 walkers. Since then, more than eight million people have walked to raise more than $460 million dollars to fight breast cancer.

Pink-Ribbon-Breast-CancerVolunteer All those walks have to have volunteer support to put the events together. They need people to set up, train walkers, put up posters, and do administrative work. Making time and putting in effort is appreciated and needed to make these events happen. There are several organizations to be of service to. Avon, The American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Foundation all have volunteer opportunities.

Donate If you don’t have time to give, donations are welcome at every organization. Money goes to education, outreach, awareness, and treatment. In 2012, the National Cancer Institute spent $602 million for breast cancer research. Finding a cure costs money and every cent counts.

Host a Fundraiser Breast cancer foundations make it easy to create fundraising events. Whether you want to do something small like a bake sale, or you have bigger aspirations like hosting a dinner or an art show, you can manage these events through foundations.breast-cancer-awareness-tote

Buy Pink Everyone loves pink! Pink products come in all forms — scarves, tote bags, t-shirts, pink tulip bulbs — and a portion of the proceeds go toward breast cancer research. Not only is money you’re spending supporting the cause, but you’re also raising awareness of breast cancer and showing your support for the cause when you wear your pink products.pink-tulips

However you decide to support the cause, every little bit has a benefit — whether it’s for education for prevention, helping families as cancer patients go through treatment or research to find the cure, your support is appreciated and needed.

4 Benefits of Getting Kids Involved in Scouting

scoutsKids are back at school! Not every kid is into after school sports, but they all need something to do between the last bell and when you get home from work. A scouting group may be an alternative activity for your child. Here are 4 benefits of getting kids involved in scouting.

Self-confidence  Joining scouting clubs typically requires learning new outdoor and indoor skills. Demonstrating these skills translate into merit badges.  Learning new skills gives children a sense of accomplishment. While in adult life, new skills and accomplishments sometimes means an increase in salary or a promotion, in scouting, children receive a badge to acknowledge that they’ve mastered a skill; mastery of one skill gives them courage to pursue more difficult challenges.

craftingTeamwork In scouting, kids are involved in troops. Activities – crafting, camping or cooking — are planned around working with other kids, communication and building skills as a group. Unlike working in the classroom where children do individual assignments, kids have to talk to each other, share equipment and supplies – even teach others new skills. Teamwork also allows for socialization and developing friendships they may not have the opportunity to bloom in their regular classrooms.

Value of Volunteering Scouting emphasizes service work. Exposing kids to service or volunteer work early on teaches them the value of giving back to the community and that helping others feels good. Getting involved in community service work also introduces children to the working world before they have to earn a wage. It gives them a jump start on developing a work ethic and helps them learn time management without the pressure of a paying job.  These are skills kids can also apply to school work as well as sports.

scoutsAdvancing Education and Career Development It’s never too early to help your kids with their careers. By getting kids involved in scouting, they can explore interests and activities outside of academics that they don’t have the opportunity to look at in the classroom. The more exposure they have to a variety of activities, the more likely they are to find their own path to higher learning and, subsequently, a career.

There are many after school activities for kids to participate in – whether your child joins scouting, a sports team or dance class, after school activities help mold children into contributing members of society – and it prevents them from spending too much time in front of the television.

 

 

Apple Dumpling Day: Recipe for Apple Dumplings

Apple-DumplingIt is National Apple Dumpling Day! If your only encounter with apple dumplings was The Apple Dumpling Gang, your idea of an apple dumpling might be misguided. An apple dumpling has nothing to do with orphans, golden nuggets or Don Knotts; it’s an Amish baked treat that can easily be substituted for an apple pie. It’s perfect for the cool fall weather and make a great holiday dessert.

Here’s how you make them.

For the Dough:

  • 1 ⅓ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 6 TB cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 TB cold milk

(As an alternative, you can use a 9” store-bought pie crust)

IMG_4666Directions:

With a fork, mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the butter and, with your hands, squeeze the butter and flour mixture together to distribute the butter. Keep working the mixture until you have what looks like lumpy cornmeal. Make a well in the flour. Pour the cold milk into the well. Using a fork, gently bring the wet and dry ingredients together until it’s just combined. Bring it all together to form a loose ball. Cover it in plastic and refrigerate it for one hour.

For the filling:

  • 3 or 4 baking apples (Granny Smith, Jona Gold, Cortland, Gala), peeled and cored (the smaller, the better)
  • ¼ tsp lemon juice mixed with enough water to cover the apples (it keeps the peeled apples from browning)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 TB butter, cut into cubes
  • Cinnamon and sugar for garnish (optional)

IMG_4668Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

With your hands, work together the butter, sugars and cinnamon until you have what looks like wet sand.

Roll out the dough until it’s about 1/8” thick.Put one apple in the center of the dough and cut a t-shape out of the dough — each arm of the “t” should be as wide as the apple.

Apple-DumplingFor three apples, stuff ⅓ of the sugar mixture inside the apple and along the arms of the “t.” Bring one arm at a time to the top of the apple and cut off any excess dough. Squeeze together the dough to seal it. Garnish it with dough cutouts and sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon and sugar on top if you want.

Using the dough scraps, repeat the process for the remaining apples. Place the apples in an oven-safe dish. Bake the apples at 375°F for ten minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 25 minutes or until the dough is nicely browned.

IMG_4673Serve immediately. Apple dumplings go well with vanilla ice cream and coffee.

 

Homemade Craft Dough Recipe

play-dohToys are very different today than when we were kids — even in the last ten years, technology has made toys evermore complicated. But there’s one toy that will always stay the same: Play-doh. Tomorrow is National Play-Doh day so in honor of timeless toy, here’s a recipe for homemade craft dough: IMG_4650

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 cups water
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 c. salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. cream of tartar
  • 5 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Food Coloring

Play-doh collage

  • In a large pot (a 4 or 5-quart stock pot), mix everything together except for the food coloring. Stir with a wooden spoon until it’s well-combined. It’s OK if it’s lumpy – it will work itself out during the kneading process.
  • Over low heat, cook the dough. Stir frequently. As it cooks, it will start to pull away from the sides of the pot and form dough – it takes about ten minutes, but the time may vary.
  • Remove the pot from the heat.

Play-doh collage2

  • Turn the dough out on a clean surface and knead it until it’s smooth.
  • Divide the dough into as many pieces for different colors as you want. This recipe yields about 44 oz. (almost 3lbs); for four colors, you can have about 1.5lbs for each color.
  • To color, drop the color on each ball and then knead it until the color is even. You may have to play around a bit with the amount of color you add. For vibrant blue, green and yellow, ten drops was enough, but to get a vivid red, more food coloring was required.

 

Store the dough in airtight containers or sealable plastic bags. They should last for several months. This is an excellent winter activity for when your kids are stuck inside.

play-doh pic

Positive Thinking Day: 16 Positive Quotes to Give Your Spirit a Boost

positive-thinkingSome days are better than others and on the bad days, it’s hard to stay positive. September 13th is Positive Thinking Day and to honor the day, here are 16 positive quotes to give your spirit a boost – no matter what kind of day you’re having.

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” — Maori Proverb

“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.”–Bill Meyer

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life’s about creating yourself.”– George Bernard Shaw

“I have for many years endeavored to make this vital truth clear; and still people marvel when I tell them that I am happy. They imagine that my limitations weigh heavily upon my spirit, and chain me to the rock of despair. Yet, it seems to me, happiness has very little to do with the senses. If we make up our minds that this is a drab and purposeless universe, it will be that, and nothing else. On the other hand, if we believe that the earth is ours, and that the sun and moon hang in the sky for our delight, there will be joy upon the hills and gladness in the fields because the Artist in our souls glorifies creation. Surely, it gives dignity to life to believe that we are born into this world for noble ends, and that we have a higher destiny than can be accomplished within the narrow limits of this physical life.” — Helen Keller

positive-thinking“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. –Alice Walker

“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” –Zig Ziglar

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”–Roald Dahl 

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” –Oprah Winfrey

“If you don’t get everything you want, think of the things you don’t get that you don’t want.”–Oscar Wilde

“Oh, my friend, it’s not what they take away from you that counts. It’s what you do with what you have left.”– Hubert Humphrey

positive-thinking“Each morning when I open my eyes I say to myself: I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.”–Groucho Marx

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”–Mary Engelbreit

“To be upset over what you don’t have is to waste what you do have.” –Ken S. Keyes, Jr.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” – Albert Einstein

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” — Willie Nelson

Soccer Mom Must-Haves

soccer-momSchool is back in session and that means it’s time to work sports into your fall schedule. Whether your kids are new to the field or you’re a veteran to the sidelines, here are some soccer mom must-haves so you can show your support all season.

Comfort You want to be as close to the action as you can and seating isn’t available at every soccer field, but you need to be comfortable when you give your soccer player a shout-out – have a collapsible chair handy in the car. And, for the most part,  games are played, rain or shine, so keep this in mind as you pack your car. Bring gloves, ponchos and umbrellas so when the weather turns, it won’t turn you away.

soccer-momCravings Every good soccer mom has a cooler packed with snacks and sodas for her hungry brood and their friends for after the game – but while the game is on, you’ll need to do snacking and sipping on your own. Bring a travel mug full of hot coffee — it goes well with the fall weather.

Camera Your smartphone likely has a camera on it, but in case you don’t have enough cloud storage for all of the action shots you want to take of your soccer player (that perfect header or that surprise save) having an extra contraption to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments couldn’t hurt.

soccer-momConclusion Winner or not, your soccer player needs just as much support after the game as he does during the game. Make sure to bring him a change of clothes and a blanket to stay warm, a first aid kit to bandage any scrapes and bumps and a big hug just in case he didn’t hear you cheer from him on the side lines.

Being a soccer mom is hard work – getting everyone to and from games with enough energy to root for your team can drain you, but if you’re organized, you can cheer with the best of them.

Fall Football Kickoff: Tailgating Tips

tailgatingPartying in the parking lot before a game has become as much of an institution as the sport of football itself. Tailgating can be so much more than just a cooler of drinks and a portable grill. It is a movable feast of food and fun that can get complicated. Here are some tailgating tips to make sure you don’t miss anything and have plenty of time to enjoy yourself.

Food and Drink Plan your menu ahead of time to ensure you have everything you will need. Hot dogs, hamburgers, kabobs, barbecue chicken, and brats are tailgate classics. Pack the right charcoal or propane canister to cook them on your portable grill. Sides like chips, potato salad, deviled eggs, and dips are a must. If you or your guests are watching what you eat, try some lighter options. For dessert, try something sophisticated or go for home-baked favorites like cookies and cupcakes. Y ou can even whip up icing in your team’s colors. A wide variety of drinks chilled in a cooler of ice will tackle your thirst. If the forecast suggests a hot day, include plenty of water and sports drinks to keep everyone hydrated.

tailgatingBase Camp Essentials The spot around your vehicle will be your headquarters during the party and the game, so make sure it is fully equipped and comfortable. Bring a portable canopy to keep the sun off your spot and help your party stand out in the parking lot. Camp chairs and a folding table to hold all the food are necessary. For safety, pack a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and extra sunscreen. Stay on top of all the game action with a radio or portable television. Remember plenty of batteries or a generator and extension cords for all your electronics. Pack a box or bag with the plates, cups, utensils, and napkins, and throw in cleaning supplies like garbage bags, paper towels, and extra water to put out a charcoal grill.

Games and Fun Tailgaters begin the party hours before kickoff. Lawn games and other portable pursuits give the guests who are not cooking something to do. They also keep children out of the chef’s way! Many games like bean bag toss and ladder ball are delightful for all ages. Kids practice their aim with hoop toss and mini disc golf. Take along a football for a game of catch.

tailgatingDesignated Drivers Perhaps the most important things for any party are the designated drivers. This is especially true for tailgating parties. Because they are held often at crowded stadiums, it can be difficult to catch a cab after the game is over. If you are hosting the party, encourage your guests to plan ahead to carpool to and from the tailgate site. If you are a guest, make sure you know how you can get home if you enjoy a beer or are simply tired out by all the fun.

Fall and football go hand-in-hand — here’s to a great season!

Baby Safety Month: 4 Ideas to Remember for Baby-Proofing Your Home

baby-safetySeptember is Baby Safety Month. As parents we watch and hover but there’s always a moment when we take our eyes off our crawling children. Baby-proofing your home is an extra measure of precaution for those times when we look away. Here are 4 ideas to remember when you baby-proof your house.

Big Survey your house for big pieces of furniture that look like an opportunity for climbing or tugging that could possibly topple like a bookcase or a chest of drawers. To get perspective, crawl on the floor as if you were a baby and look for things you might like to use to pull yourself up or even just to grab on to. Make sure those items are securely anchored to the wall and won’t move with a big push or pull.

baby-safety

Image Source: Jeff Berman via Flickr

Small Remove any kind of knickknacks from reach or view. Babies don’t have boundaries or a sense of limitation so if they see something they like, they will do anything in their power to get to it and probably put it in their mouths. Remove the temptation and you reduce the risk of injury from a failed attempt to grab an out of reach item or choking from trying to eat the item. You may have to put tiny, tempting items away for many years, but you’ll get to keep your keepsake and keep your baby safe.

Up Look for anything dangling within reach of a flexible baby. Think about table cloths, panhandles, utensils, plants, and electrical cords for table lamps. In the kitchen, while you’re cooking, make sure knives and sharp kitchen tools are away from the edge of the counter and panhandles are turned inward. Install knob covers on the stove range dial as well as any other doors around the house. Secure lamp cords to the backs of end tables or to the wall so they’re out of sight and not easy to grab. For plants, do research on houseplants you keep and make sure they’re not poinsonous. For windows, make sure there’s a window guard for windows you open often. Secure cords for blinds or drapes so they’re out of reach and babies can’t pull on them or get tangled up in them. Put floor lamps behind large pieces of furniture that can’t topple like a couch or recliner.

baby-safetyDown Cover all electrical outlets. Cover any sharp corners with edge guards and install latches on cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom where babies encounter the most dangers like cleaning supplies and small appliances.  Hide or conceal electrical cords. Install safety gates at stairwells and around rooms you don’t want your baby to enter. Put drawer latches on all drawers. Babies love to pull on drawer handles and use drawers as stepping stools.

Having babies around puts us on high alert, but we can never be too cautious when it comes to our little ones. Even if you think you’ve taken all the right precautions, it doesn’t hurt to make another safety check every so often.