Saturday, October 31, 2009

Here's a Great Reason To Fall Back To Sleep

Set your clocks back an hour tonight and you can catch a few extra winks on Sunday morning!

Daylight Saving Time in the US begins on the first Sunday in November. Set your clocks back an hour to move an extra hour of daylight to the morning.

Listen up, Halloween partiers: you can howl at the moon extra long on Saturday night. You’re getting an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning, thanks to Daylight Saving Time.

It’ll be an early risers’ paradise for the next four months, with an extra hour of daylight moving to the morning. Night owls will just have to wait for their moment in the sun until March, when we spring forward and move that hour back to the evening.

If you're not sure how to change the time on your electronics or kitchen appliance, download owner's manuals for your electronics and appliances on

Let Daylight Saving Time serve as a reminder for several other things you should do around your home, including: changing your smoke detector batteries; tightening loose fuses in your fuse box; replacing your furnace filter; installing storm windows in place of your screens; and checking that your carbon monoxide detectors are operable.

One last thing you should do: mark the spring forward date on your calendar; it’s March 14, 2010.


1. Before you go to bed on the first Saturday in November, locate everything in your house, garage and car that keeps time, including clocks, watches, DVD, microwave and range.
2. Set each timepiece back an hour.
3. Sleep in on Sunday morning!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Searching for Something To Love: The Perfect Cookie Recipe

I have a chocolate chip cookie problem. I have been on a quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I have tried many.  I think the answer is…it’s personal.  What may be the perfect cookie for me may not be for you.  Let us not forget there is the soft & chewy vs. thin & crispy controversy.

After baking a gazillion cookie recipes, I think the determining factors are flour, salt and butter.  I seem to gravitate toward salty, buttery cookies. I have also learned that appearance may be deceiving.  I have made some cookies that look mouth watering. They may not be the tastiest but the site of them, all bumpy, cracked in all the right places, and gooey, triggers a Pavlovian effect.  In that case, who cares about the taste?  Bite in and be visually satisfied.

Another personal issue is the chip to dough ratio. WHOA this is a major one! If you are like me, I put half the amount of chocolate chips in my cookies. It’s all about the dough with a sparing surprise bite of chocolate. I don’t want that chocolate overwhelming my cookie. I also think nuts actually disturb the cookie. In my cookie, nuts are unnecessary and complicate things.  Some people load up their cookies with “stuff.” This is a hotly contested issue. So many variations.So little time to eat them all.

I do have some advice. Whatever the chocolate chip cookie recipe, using high quality vanilla and chocolate (I've been told that French chocolate is divine) makes a big difference in the end product.

Chocolate chip cookie issues to consider:

soft & chewy vs. thin & crispy
brown sugar vs. granulated sugar 
butter vs. Crisco
salted butter vs. unsalted butter
chocolate chips vs. chocolate chunks
(if you are a minimalist like me, small chips used sparingly)
chip to dough ratio
other inclusions/disruptions

Any ideas on the perfect cookie? Please share your favorites

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

OK, Its A Not So Wordless Wednesday, + A Recipe, Too!

So this Wordless Wordful Wednesday Meme is Motherhood.
Motherhood incorporates many different aspects and attributes, one of which is helping to guide and teach your children. Here is my post and and a fun project that I helped guide and supervise my daughter on. She's so independent, and I had to remember to be a good Mom and let her do this on her own. Admittedly, it kind of pained me to see her being so grown up in the kitchen...sniffle sniffle.

My youngest daughter is in the sixth grade, and she had a been assigned a fun project from her Teen Living Class. Her assignment was to find and prepare a healthy recipe that used at least 6 ingredients. Stipulations included no salads or smoothies.

Mom’s Review of Amber’s Chunky Chicken Noodle Casserole:

I was impressed with Amber’s choice of recipe (original basic recipe was from Campbell's® kitchen website, but we tweeked it a bit )   for many reasons. It was great that we had all of the ingredients on hand (yes!) and were able to substitute Fat Free ingredients without sacrificing the taste of the casserole. I love the fact that its a relatively balanced meal that had made enough for everyone to have seconds and was able to be put away for left overs for another day.
Prep: Amber was well organized with getting all of the necessary ingredients out and pre measured accordingly. Amber said that it was easy, and she handled it all on her own very well.
Cooking: Amber waited for the water to boil and cooked the Egg noodles as directed. She followed the tweeked recipe exactly and combined all of the ingredients in the casserole pan and baked it for 25 minutes. Amber even remembered to set the timer, which was also impressive.
Taste: We have a large family, so this was a great, frugal recipe. It was well balanced and really appealed to everyone, from the youngest picky eaters to health conscious Dad. It has been a long time (that I can remember) that the family has actually been excited about having leftovers.
Clean Up: This was very minimal and easy for Amber to do all on her own, without any complaints! All of the ingredients were utilized, so there was no waste.
The Verdict: Success! We would honestly love to make this again. It’s an easy enough recipe that all of our kids could help participate in the prep!
Amber's Chunky Chicken Noodle Casserole

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® 98% Fat Free Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® 98% Fat Free Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 and 1/4 cups Skim milk
4 cups frozen mixed peas and carrots, slightly thawed
4 cups cubed, cooked, skinless chicken breast ( easy enough because we used Berkley & Jensen brand canned Chunky Chicken In Water)
8 cups medium Fat Free Egg noodles, cooked and drained (we used No Yolks)
1/3 cup grated Fat Free Parmesan cheese (We used Kraft)
1 teaspoon Fresh ground black pepper
1 and 1/4 cup Fat Free Shredded Cheddar cheese (We used Crystal Farms)


Pre-Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir in the 2 cans of soup, Parmesan cheese, black pepper  and the milk together in a Large mixing bowl. When it is mixed well, gradually add all of the chicken to the mixing bowl and continue stirring and mixing to coat the chicken well. Combine the mixed peas, carrots and egg noodles in a large, lightly greased casserole dish/pan. Scoop all of  the chicken mixture into the casserole dish/pan, mixing everything well with a large wooden spoon.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the casserole is hot and slightly bubbling. Stir the cooked casserole well. Sprinkle the Fat Free Shredded cheese generously over the top of the casserole mixture. Let it stand until the cheese is melted. Serve warm.

WW hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom
WW hosted by SevEn cLoWn CirCuS
WW hosted by Ordinary and Awesome

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Easy Peasy?! This cookbook is it! Make It fast, Cook It Slow

Author Stephanie O’Dea, the author of the foodie blog A Year of Slow Cooking, really used her crock pot every single day in 2008 just for the practical purpose and creative driving force behind her new cookbook, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking, published by Hyperion. I have been reading and enjoying Stephanie's blog for quite some time. Her recipes are creative, innovative and interestingly palate pleasing. This is a great guide for those hurried and harried Moms like me who might have been fresh out of ideas for dinner. Admittedly, I was in a rut and our meals were getting redundant and boring.  The variety and versatility of the recipes and everything that one can effortlessly create with a Crock Pot is functionally fantastic! Stephanie's fun and creative recipes really convey a strong message that "your crockpot is not your mother's crock-pot anymore."
This book enlightens and enriches the reader in tried and true crock-pot favorites like; delicious soups, meats, side dishes, appetizers, dips, and desserts. I am actually beyond excited about using the crockpot for holiday appetizers, like the buffalo chicken dip described on page 25. It would provide a nice bite of competition in regards to the same old salad dressing dip. I love how this cookbook kind of breathes life into the Crockpot, and even family fun activities like creating Crock Pot caramel apples would make any Mom the coolest mom ever!  There is even a recipe for recycling old candles to make new ones. Yes, candles, in the crock-pot!
Stephanie's wit and her willingness to try anything are what initially drew me in to her website in the first place. I was vapidly searching for Gluten-free recipes as my kids fare well on this type of diet. Stephanie also has a child with Celiac Disease, so all of her recipes are Gluten-free or have been tastefully adapted to be gluten-free.Well many of you might be thinking, What is Gluten? Gluten is a special type of protein that is commonly found in rye, wheat, and barley. Therefore, it is found in most types of cereals and in many types of bread. Not all foods from the grain family, however, contain gluten. Examples of grains that do not have gluten include wild rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, teff, oats, soybeans, and sunflower seeds. Gluten essentially helps make bread elastic, providing it with that chewy texture it has when eaten.
Celiac disease is an incurable but manageable disease which impedes the digestion of gluten. This autoimmune disorder affects adults as well as children. Individuals with Celiac disease must eat foods that do not contain gluten in order to prevent severe illness, which causes a severe immune system reaction. Celiac disease, is a chronic inherited digestive disorder, which can cause damage to the small intestine. It is estimated that one in 133 Americans suffer from Celiac disease – 3 million adults and children are living undiagnosed with this autoimmune disorder, that can be effectively managed by adhering to a gluten-free diet.
I also think that one of the best parts of her blog are the verdicts, and she incorporates them into her book as well. It's nice to know all the recipes have really been authenticated--tried and tested. This is an extremely useful tool in helping the reader easily pick out which recipes will work for their family. Some cookbooks have fancy and eye appealing photos, but it's difficult to discern whether or not its actually going to taste good.
I have been sending people to her website ever since I stumbled across it, and will highly recommend this book to friends and family.  I plan on ordering multiple copies to give as Christmas gifts. Out of the vast conglomeration of slow cooker cookbooks that I own, this one is clearly a cut above the rest. IMHO, its the only one you'll ever need.

* The views and opinions expressed in this post are my own. I was not endorsed, compensated, or provided a product or service for my opinions stated herein*

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mommy's Must-Have Moments: Iced Coffee

Which iced coffee drink contains fewer calories?

Iced blended coffees seem to be increasing in popularity, and why not? They're sweet, refreshing, and give you a little pick-me-up. But unlike plain coffee, they're also full of sugar, fat, and calories. These two cool coffees sound similar, but which one won't tip the calorie scale?

The Low-Cal Winner
Dunkin Donuts Iced Mocha Swirl Latte

By choosing the Dunkin Donuts drink, you'll save 350 calories and 15 grams of fat. Their 16-ounce Iced Mocha Swirl Latte contains 240 calories and 8 grams of fat--not bad as an occasional treat. DQ's Mocha MooLatte will have you saying, "Moo!" With a whopping 590 calories and 23 grams of fat, you'd likely blow your calorie budget for the rest of the day. Make any coffee drink healthier by choosing skim milk instead of cream and holding the whip. 

Hygiene Drive with Giveaway Repost

Such a great cause--I'm going to gather some extra toiletries when I go grocery shopping and dig through my extra school supplies to help support this great cause!

Hygiene Drive with Giveaway- Repost this on your blog. 【ツ】

There are many people here in the USA that do not have the resources or money to purchase necessities such as hygiene products.

This Christmas, Beauty From the Earth will be sending Hygiene Kits out to the needy. These kits will be handed out to many men, women, and children who are not as fortunate as many of us.

Last year we were only going to send them to homeless but we found that there are many people out there that can not afford the items that are not homeless. These may include mentally handicap persons or the victims of domestic violence.

Our goal is to send at lease 200 kits out.

We are still in need of many more items.

We would like to invite you to participate in this event.We need the following items-
Hand lotion
Bars of soap
Dental floss
Sanitary napkins
In addition of these items we will also we collecting color books and crayons for children.

If you would like to donate please mail your items to -
Beauty From The Earth
PO Box 315
Syracuse, Kansas 67878

Every person who sends items for the cause will get 20% off their next order at
and will be entered to win a 100.00 gift certificate also from Beauty From The Earth.

Let's keep this going! Post this on your blog. I bet we can send out many more than 200 kits!

You can see the original post at-

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Win a Wedding Ring from J.CrewAholics & Tungsten Rings Online

My girls and I love the timeless, classic clothing separates from J. Crew. But did you know that J. Crew has wedding dresses and bridesmaids dresses? It’s  fun to get a glimpse of how brides integrate J.Crew into their special day.

J.CrewAholics ( the fab J.Crew Blog) along with Tungsten Rings Online is hosting a special Giveaway that will run until the end of October! Two lucky J.CrewAholics blog readers will each will a ring. They can choose from a Tungsten ring, a Ceramic ring (without an inlay) or a Titanium ring, valued up to $120.

J.CrewAholics & Tungsten Rings Online are hosting a fabulous ring giveaway during the month of October! Two lucky J.CrewAholics blog readers will win a ring valued up to $120.
How to enter? Blog about the giveaway! Make sure to include which ring you would choose: Tungsten, Titanium or Ceramic.
I would love to win a  new Ceramic wedding band for my Father-in-law who lost his wedding band years ago, and really doesn't have the financial resources to replace it. I think the Ceramic wedding band is very modern, high tech and stylish looking! I was shocked to find out that " Ceramic wedding bands are one of the strongest materials out there for jewelry, in fact they score a 9 out of 10 on the MOH’s hardness scale and are guaranteed to retain their deep, pure finish."!

Stay Sharp!

More than 80 percent of seniors worry about memory loss, according to a recent survey. For many of those, complaints about poor memory begin early in middle age. Yet only 20 percent of elderly Americans will ultimately suffer from memory loss severe enough to inhibit their daily activities.

How can you stay in that happy majority that doesn’t suffer from memory loss? Here’s what the experts recommend:

Stay physically healthy. High blood pressure and high cholesterol have been found to play a role in memory loss.

Don’t ignore mental health concerns. Depression and anxiety can interfere with memory function.

Get plenty of sleep. Insomnia or an overloaded schedule will impact both your memory and cognitive abilities.

Exercise daily. Aerobic exercise improves circulation and helps you relax. It can also reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol, which are known contributors to memory loss.

Eat right. Good nutrition is imperative to good brain function. Blueberries, strawberries and spinach are among the antioxidant-rich wonder foods that promote good memory. Also, avoid excessive amounts of alcohol.

Manage your stress. Stress can zap your memory and recall skills. Get plenty of rest, meditate, work out or do whatever it takes to reduce your stress. Laugh as often as possible.

Stay social. Social isolation, particularly among the elderly, can contribute to memory loss because of a lack of mental stimulation. Leisure and volunteer activities with others keeps you focused outside of yourself.

Challenge yourself. Learn a mentally challenging task, such as a new language or how to play chess.

Be organized. Make lists, write things down and have a system for your daily activities. Don’t give yourself a reason to waste your mental energy by worrying.

To improve your memory today, try these tricks:

Be fully attentive and observant. If you are distracted by the phone, social networking, your to-do, etc., it’s harder to learn or remember something new. Pay full attention to the new information at hand. Take a mental picture and reflect on it.

Know your learning style. If you learn by hearing, repeat the information out loud. If you learn by reading or writing, put it in writing and read it a few times.

Use frequent reminders. Frequent exposure to information helps it work its way into your long-term memory. Don’t expect to remember a lot of detail after one exposure to a new concept.

Use mnemonic devices. Use clever tricks to help yourself remember. A common mnemonic device is the acronym (Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge for the notes on the musical scale, or My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos to remember the planets in the solar system). A good way to remember names is through imagery. If your new neighbor is named Dr. Winter, picture him walking through some deep snow in the depth of winter – perhaps wearing a lab coat and stethoscope.

Question: What do you do to make sure your memory stays sharp?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In The Classroom: Are You There To Help or Hover?

With school budgets under ever increasing stress, and cuts happening in even the wealthiest of school districts, volunteering in the schools is more important than ever. Assistants and aides are often some of the first positions on the chopping block (in addition to supplies), so teachers need help in the classroom with everything from set-up to photocopying to leading small group activities. If you have the time and inclination, it's very much worth your effort to be a classroom volunteer.
Mother Volunteering in ClassroomIt is with this in mind that I went straight to the volunteer sign-up sheet at all 4 of my school aged kids open houses. So did most of the other parents who were there. This will be a good year, I thought to myself. The teachers will have appropriate support.

Fair to whom?

During the presentation portion of the evening orientation, one of my twin son's elementary teacher, a well-regarded teacher with over three decades of experience, said she would make sure she was fair to all the parents about getting into the classroom, and make sure she got through the rotation evenly.
This sounded off to me. Why does the teacher need to be fair to me? She needs to be fair to my son, her student, of course - but me? I wanted to be there to support her and her efforts and do what she needed to be done; that she was thinking she had to be "fair" to me seemed like an undue burden during her efforts to educate this group of children.

I asked around a couple of moms I knew from town. I asked why they planned to volunteer. I was shocked at the responses of some of them. They said their main goal in volunteering was so they could keep tabs on what is happening in the classroom and make sure their child was getting what they think the child needs - and so they could step in early if they needed to. One mother said she'd refuse a volunteer assignment that included photocopying or anything not directly with the kids.

Holding on tightly

Okay, I was shocked. I suppose that as the parent/caretaker of children ranging in age from 1 to 21, and having been through Elementary education in this town before, I have a different perspective and probably a little more trust. For a parent experiencing a school system for the first time, I can see how the desire to maintain some control over the child's day can come about. You're used to having much more control over what they see and do - letting go, even just a little, can be hard. And if your school district is struggling at all, it might be very appropriate to have that in-class oversight.

But, really, we need to let the teachers do their jobs. It's kind of like the "innocent until proven guilty" philosophy of our judicial system: until given proof that my child's teacher is not meeting his needs, I need to give that teacher the space to teach, and not hover, micromanaging every instructional day.

Support, not control

I can't change how the other parents approach volunteering, but I can make the best of my volunteer time. I've resolved to do those volunteer jobs the other parents avoid - the scut work, essentially. The photocopying, the cleaning up after whatever project or class party when the kids are off at the playground working out their pent up energy and/or sugar. I've let both of my son's teachers know that they can call me for this kind of job - and that they don't need to worry about being "fair." Both of these teachers seemed so relieved.

Maybe in one of my kids' classes my reasons for volunteering will change. I hope not, but I'll deal with that change when it comes about. Until then, this very clear support role - not control role - is just fine for me.

Food For Thought: The Top 10 Worst Restaurant Salads

This is an original content post from my main blog, Multiple Blessings. I thought I'd share it here as well.

Everyone loves a top 10 list and many of them provide a good chuckle or two. Here is a more serious top 10 list that instead of a chuckle, may make your gasp. Why? Here are 10 seemingly innocent salads that contain more than 1,000 calories each!

Number 10

Romano's Macaroni Grill Chicken Florentine Salad – 1,020 calories/17 grams/2,830 mg sodium

Number 9 

Quiznos Chicken Caesar Flatbread Salad – 1,020 calories/69 grams fat/2,120 mg sodium

Number 8 

Quiznos Roasted Chicken Flatbread  Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing – 1,070 calories/71 grams fat/1,770 mg sodium

Number 7 

Chili's Boneless Buffalo Chicken Salad – 1,070 calories/77 grams fat/4,380 mg sodium

Number 6 

Chili's Southwestern Cobb Salad – 1,080 calories/71 grams/2,650 mg sodium

Number 5 

Ruby Tuesday's Carolina Chicken Salad – 1,129 calories/71 grams fat

Number 4 

Baja Fresh Charbroiled Steak Tostada Salad – 1,230 calories/63 grams fat/2,380 mg sodium

Number 3 

Chili's Quesadilla Explosion Salad – 1,390 calories/89 grams fat/2,710 mg sodium

Number 2 

Chevy's Fresh Mex Grilled Fajita Salad made with Chicken, Carnitas, Shrimp or Steak - 1,450-1,620 calories/27-37 grams fat/1,570-2,530 mg sodium

And the Number 1 worst restaurant salad you may be eating is…. 

Chevy's Fresh Mex Tostada  Salad with Chicken, Carnitas or Steak - 1,550-1,720 calories/37-47 grams fat/2,480-3,310 mg sodium

Sometimes you eat at restaurants that do not provide nutrition information for their recipes. You can evaluate how healthy a salad is based on the ingredients it includes to help you make a wise choice.

Be honest – which one of these salads have you had? Are there any on the list that surprised you? Are there others over 1,000 calories that were missed?

Bake Sale-Ready Desserts:Get creative for a school fundraiser with these money-making treats

This is an original content post from my main blog, Multiple Blessings. I thought I'd share it here as well.
I know that my phone has been ringing off the hook from the my local school PTA's  begging asking for my assistance in various school functions, etc. I came across these great recipes from Woman's Day online. They have some great recipes that will surely have you nominated for Bake Sale Mama of the year!

10 Bake Sale-Ready Desserts            

Photo: © Iain Bagwell

As your little one’s next school fundraiser rolls around, don’t settle for bringing the same old brownies (or, worse, those store-bought processed goods). Instead, wow the crowd of fellow parents and impress the students with these unexpected goodies—from perky Pink Lemonade Bars to seasonal Black Bottom Apple Cupcakes. Or, if you crave the classics, try one with a twist—like Chewy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Recipe. Any of these desserts will make you the star of the class—at least on bake-sale day.
Bake Sale Recipe Ideas:
1. Chewy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies Recipe
2. Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies
3. Pumpkin Spice Muffins
4. Little Lemon Drops
5. Snickers Brownie Bites
6. Black Bottom Apple Cupcakes
7. Double Berry Tarts
8. Pink Lemonade Bars
9. Little Carrot Muffins Recipe
10. Orange and Cream Cupcakes