Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Preserving Your Harvest

The most challenging part about gardening for me is preserving what we grow. We try to eat as much as we can within days of it being harvested, I'm the only one who eats tomatoes so we have way more than I can eat before they start to spoil. The hubby and the Lil' Princess aren't fond of tomato sauces, though I can get the hubby to eat tomato-based soups from time to time.

Canning is one method I've used to preserve my vegetables. One year, I made so many bread and butter pickles I had a few jars to donate to the church's annual bake sale. There are other methods which will help you enjoy your harvest for a long time after the growing season is over. This article shares links to 30 blogs that have tips for preserving summer fruits and vegetables. The one I am most excited about is the low-sugar options.

What have you done to preserve your harvest? Is there one method that has been more successful than others?

Monday, July 29, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

It was a busy weekend followed by a busy start to my week. We celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday on Saturday. I worked in the garden on Sunday planting second season vegetables, taking in some of the earlier harvest, and restaking the tomato plants that have grown like gangbusters this year.

This week, the Lil' Princess has soccer camp and the Lil' Diva is making up two days of golf camp she missed because of last week's rain. I have a couple of hours to myself while I wait for the inspector to come check out the new roof. Yep, the house needed a new roof. We had hail damage from the 2011 tornado.

This is a picture close to completion. We changed from a drab black and brown colored shingle to a reddish brown called Burnt Sienna. Love the new look.

There's so much that needs doing around the homestead right now, I'm not sure how we'll pay for it all. We're not handy people, so we have to hire out to accomplish almost everything.

Okay, now on to the mail. I was able to plant the second season vegetables because Burpee® shipped the beets and salad greens I ordered. They arrived on Wednesday. As I mentioned, the tomatoes are growing like crazy. I've never had such tall tomato plants. The pumpkins are doing well and so are the watermelons. It looks like the leaves are picking up that Powdery Mildew disease. I have to see if I can get rid of it. I cut off the infected leaves--not sure if I should have, I'm learning as I go--but just learned I should not water them at night because the humidity makes the condition worse. I'll see if I can save them. Next year, I'll plant them in a different location and water at a separate time. We've had several green beans and potatoes so far, and my crop of onions came out great. I replanted lettuce and carrots, so hopefully they will come up with the beets and the salad greens.

My latest issue of All You arrived this week. The August issue talks about spending less on everything: groceries, beauty items, and Back-to-school. They have chicken recipes in this one, which is good because we eat a lot of chicken. I'm also drawn to the "easy organizing ideas."

We received a catalog from dElia's and it has a 20% off entire purchase coupon on the cover. The prices look good and the styles seem to be what the Lil' Diva would like. Maybe I'll get her some school clothes from there. The other item in the mailbox this week was the Olympia Sports catalog. We get the Lil' Princess' sports equipment there. Sometimes we visit Dick's Sporting Goods, but Olympia is closer and the staff is great. Olympia is also offering 20% off entire purchase (including sale and clearance items). It might be time for a new pair of cleats before fall soccer kicks off.

That's it for today. Hope you have a great week.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bloggers Share Natural Remedies for Headaches

I've been plagued by headaches most of my life. As a preteen, my migraines were so severe they required medication. In the past, I was selected as a participant in a medical study on how certain ingredients in medication impacted headaches. Even now, when I get too stressed out a headache is often my first symptom.

This article contains links to 18 blogs describing natural remedies for headaches. As our family has become more careful of what we eat and drink, I've been more open to trying natural remedies first. We still have some medicine in the house, but if we can find effective natural treatments, I feel like I am doing a better job taking care of the family.

Tips from Bloggers on Helping Kids Through a Move

A failed business followed by my parents' bankruptcy filing led to us moving out of the only home I had known for the first 12 years of my life. When my mother died two years later, we were forced to move again, this time to an apartment my father could afford on a single income. We would move another time when my father remarried.

I remember how tough it was leaving all those places, so when I was a single parent I tried to make each move a bit easier. I'm not sure if I was successful, but my son doesn't seem the worse for wear because we lived in a variety of places. Even in the late 80s and into the 90s we didn't seek as many resources for helping kids as we do now. The Internet certainly has made life easier.

"21 Blogs with Insightful Tips for Helping Kids Through a Move" shares links to numerous articles on how you can help your child through a move, whether it be across town or across the country.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday Books: The Man Who Was Thursday by Gilbert K. Chesterton

British writer GILBERT KEITH CHESTERTON (1874-1936) expounded prolifically about his wide-ranging philosophies-he is impossible to categorize as "liberal" or "conservative," for instance-across a wide variety of avenues: he was a literary critic, historian, playwright, novelist, columnist, and poet. His witty, humorous style earned him the title of the "prince of paradox," and his works-80 books and nearly 4,000 essays-remain among the most beloved in the English language Considered by many readers to be his best work, this 1908 novel is an outrageous satire about a club of gentlemen in London at the turn of the 20th century who have vowed to destroy the world. Subtitled "A Nightmare," and bursting with Chesterton's trademark wit and abundant in surprising metaphors about religion, nature, and human civilization itself, it is a philosophical and ironic wonder, a delight to read and an even greater delight to ponder.

Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Watchmaker Publishing (April 30, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781603863308
ISBN-13: 978-1603863308
ASIN: 1603863303

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Untangling Doll Hair Without Ripping It Out

Don't you wish all your child's dolls would stay just as beautiful as these two? Not happening. Kids play with their dolls. The clothes get dirty or misplaced and the hair ends up being styled and restyled so many times it ends up looking like a bird's nest. I don't mind as much when it comes to cheaper dolls, but the American Girl® dolls they own cost $100 each. Yes, you can pay American Girl to fix the dolls' hair, but that's an additional expense.

This article shares a method on how you can untangle doll hair without ripping it all out. I'm going to try it. What's the worst that can happen? It doesn't work and the doll's hair is still a mess.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vacation Rentals and Kids: 10 Things to Look for in a Rental Home When Traveling with Kids

We're lucky to have a friend who owns a house on the Outer Banks. He sends a list each year of what our accommodations include (in case there have been any changes since last year) and also a list of nearby attractions and recommended places to eat. Granted, that area of the Outer Banks is like a second home to us now and we're familiar with everything, but when we were new to the area and when the girls were younger, these things were very important to us.

"10 Things to Look for in a Vacation Rental When Traveling with Kids" is a helpful article for those traveling with kids and planning to rent a vacation home. For me, the most important items are: a functional kitchen, ample sleeping space, multiple bathrooms (especially when vacationing at the beach), and laundry facilities.

The rental companies I've worked with in the past provide ample lists of amenities on their websites or in catalogs, but if you're unsure about anything, ask before you put down your deposit.

Monday, July 22, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

The Lil' Diva starts golf camp today. She had her first golf lesson with her dad last Monday, and since this is the only sport other than cheerleading she has expressed an interest in, I thought it would be good to sign her up for a camp this summer.

The post office finally delivered all our accumulated mail from vacation. Less than I expected, but filled with catalogs from L.L. Bean, One Hanes Place, Land's End, Gardener's Supply Company (they have a Hot Summer Sale going on), and the birthday catalog from Oriental Trading.

My July/August edition of the AAA Times was in our mailbox. The headlines read, "10 great spots to set up camp" and "Theme parks add new attractions." There was also this neat little newspaper type magazine titled Articles from Old News.  It says it covers historical topics ranging in time from the fifth century B.C. to the 1960s. Sounds right up my alley, but not sure how it was sent to me.  A six issue subscription is only $17 so I might give it a try.

The only book that arrived was Traveling for Love by Becky Due. I'm reviewing it Wednesday at The Book Connection.

That's it for this week's edition of You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you have a great week.

Talking to Pre-Teens About Having a Healthy Body Image

I feel very blessed. The Lil' Diva is in that awkward adolescent stage. She's trapped in between wanting to grow up and sometimes still being a little kid. Her face is breaking out. She's got braces. Her body is developing into a woman and she's got a lot of changes going on all at once. But so far she is handling it well. She remains confident and secure in who she is.

One of the keys to making a successful transition from child to young adult is the ability to talk to your parents or guardians about everything that is happening. Having gone through it myself, I know it's not easy. Thankfully, the Lil' Diva and I have always been open with each other, even during those moments we don't like what the other person is saying.

"How to Talk to Pre-Teens About Having a Healthy Body Image" is a great article that helps you get the discussion going with your pre-teen. Boys and girls alike struggle with these issues and it's helpful to know you're not alone. One other thing I would add to this list is talking to your pre-teen about their friends. If they have friends who are always bringing them down, even if it's just teasing, that can hamper your son or daughter developing a healthy body image.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Teaching Kids How to Save Money

Teaching kids about saving money and responsible spending is one of the most important things a parent can do. We all need to learn early on that just because we want something doesn't mean we can afford it. One of our daughters is an impulse shopper. The other would rather watch her money grow in her bank account. It makes for some interesting shopping trips and vacations. And lest you be fooled that the one who likes to watch her money grow is easier to manage, let me assure you that she would much rather figure out a way to get her parents to buy the things she wants instead of taking money from her own account.

"Teaching Your Kids How to Save Money" is an article that includes several great tips on how you can teach your kids to save money and spend responsibly. We've used some of these tips in our home, especially the one about giving kids independence over their spending decisions. That one tip alone has helped to curb some impulse shopping.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sunscreen or Sunblock? What's the Difference?

What's the difference between sunscreen and sunblock? And which product is best for me and my family? I sure didn't know until I checked out this article.  With as hot as it has been around here lately, it's a good thing this article came my way.

I was surprised that sunblock is considered more effective than sunscreen when used correctly. I usually look for the SPF rating, which sunblock doesn't have, so I used to avoid it. Learn something new every day.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Making Your Own Beauty Products

Have you seen the prices of beauty products lately? Between the Lil' Diva and me we spend $200 every three months on products to keep our skin looking health. And that will only increase as the Lil' Princess gets older and has her own beauty concerns.

Here is an article titled, "30 of the Best Blogs Containing Recipes to Make Your Own Beauty Products," which includes links to numerous blogs with recipes to make your own shampoos, conditioners, body scrubs, face masks, lip balms and lotions. I'm really excited to see this, as I'm eager to try some of these out and save some money.

Have you ever made any of these products yourself? How did they turn out?

Instructions on How to Make Your Own Laundry Aids

As I've mentioned from time to time, our family is working--ever so slowly--toward becoming more self-sustaining. Between unknown products in our foods to the sheer cost of running a household, we're looking for ways to live cleaner, better, and cheaper.

This article provides more than 20 links to blogs with recipes and instructions on how to make your own laundry aids: detergent, stain remover, and dryer sheets.

As for the crazy picture above, that's the Lil' Diva at around 14 months old. This is one of my favorite photos of her and I've been waiting for the right moment to use it. When our son was little, my hubby kindly (not really) taught him this horrible habit of screaming at the top of his lungs when the hubby counted to three. No matter what was going on, my hubby would suddenly put up his hand, silently mouthing 1, 2, 3 as he lifted each finger. At the end of three, my son would screech like his life depended upon it. That was just one of the sweet things my son passed along to his little sister, which, you are seeing the results of in that photo.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Kindle Fire Giveaway - Summer 2013

I visited Tribute Books Reviews and Giveaways today and discovered this great multi-author, multi-blogger Kindle Fire Summer giveaway. The winner will have a choice of the following:

7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)


$199 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)


$199 in Paypal Cash (International)

Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire. Sponsor a future Kindle Fire Giveaway by signing up HERE. Ends 8/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating authors and bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep Those Pests Away From Your Picnic

Nothing can ruin a picnic faster than annoying pests. Around here it's the mosquitoes that get you. With wetlands close by, we've had to be creative and diligent when entertaining outdoors. But even the local park has its share of critters I would rather not share my food with.

"10 Ways to Keep Bugs Out of Your Picnic Food" provides some nifty ideas on keeping those pests away. I'm ready to try a few of them myself.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How To Boost Investigative Skills in School-Aged Children

Why is the sky blue? What causes earthquakes? Does a leaf breath?

Children are born curious. As parents, we encourage our children to learn about the world around them. The Lil' Diva has always been interested in science. At a very young age she was mixing ingredients to see what they created--which was usually a gross, ugly-colored mess (LOL!). She enjoys planting a garden each year  and seeing what develops and how the weather impacts what grows.

The article, "10 Science Projects to Boost Investigative Skills in School-Aged Children" provides several easy ways you can keep your children curious enough to investigate the world around them.

Teaser Tuesdays - July 16th

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

When everyone piles on expectations, rules, plans for the future and college, part of Buffy balks. A voice inside screams for comfort, for fun, for a chance to lash out.

~ Page 82, Buffy and the Heroine's Journey by Valerie Estelle Frankel

Monday, July 15, 2013

You've Got Mail Monday

It's Monday. The sun is shining for the memorial service of our dear friend, Dianne, who passed away last week. It was touching to see so many friends turn out for the wake last night. We waited in line for two and a half hours. Dianne always had a smile on her face. She greeted you with that smile and a hug. I never heard an unkind word cross her lips. She will be greatly missed.

The post office hasn't delivered all our accumulated mail yet, so I don't have much to report for this week. They did, however, deliver Saturday's mail, which included a Justice® catalog just in time for back to school clothes shopping, and the August FrontGate catalog. Love their outdoor furniture, but won't spend that type of money on something that is going to get rained on.

Also from our mail carrier came Murder As A Fine Art by David Morrell. I won this during his virtual book tour. It sounded amazing and the cover art has to be seen up close. It's gorgeous. Can't wait to dig into this one.

That's it for this edition of You've Got Mail Monday. Hope you have a blessed week.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

And, We're Back!

North Carolina was wonderful. Though we had more rain than usual, the family still managed to have a nice time. We went to the beach, ate some great food, and finally took the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island, where we walked around the village area. We stopped by the Ocracoke Preservation Museum, checked out the British Cemetery, enjoyed ice cream at The Slushy Stand, and visited the Books to Be Red bookstore. If you're on the island, you really need to check out this neat bookstore. It's much larger than it looks from the outside and has a slew of interesting titles and gift items, as it shares space with Deepwater Pottery.

I picked up a journal for each of the girls and treated myself to Portsmouth Divided: Portsmouth Island and the Civil War by James E. White, III. This is just one of a series of books the author has written about Portsmouth.

We had never been to Ocracoke in all the years we've vacationed on the Outer Banks, so this was a nice day trip. Next time we go, we'll rent a golf cart to travel around. The island isn't very large and it's much more peaceful than Kill Devil Hills, where we stay on the mainland. I would love to visit one time with just the hubby and take the boat out to Portsmouth.

In addition to this day trip, we visited Manteo a few times. The first was to take in the fireworks on July 4th, but toward the end of our first week we stopped at the Island Gallery Christmas Shop, which is probably my favorite place on the Outer Banks. I usually buy myself a new Christmas ornament, but this year books were on my mind. At a 60% discount I picked up a copy of Tom Wolfe: A Writer's Life edited by Ted Mitchell. I recently heard of this book, even though it was released in 1999. It was a recommendation, so I figured I would check it out. The editor is an authority on Tom Wolfe.

As for books from my TBR Pile, I reviewed Anasazi Intrigue by Linda Weaver Clarke here on July 1st. I also started The Queen's Vow by C. W. Gortner, and I am almost done with Strong Rain Falling by Jon Land.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Broken Hearts

While on vacation, we received news that a member of our church family suffered a stroke. Dianne, a wife and mother of three children, was called home to her Creator yesterday. Our hearts are broken over the sudden loss of our dear friend. I hope you'll join us in praying for her family as they cope with this unexpected loss.

Vacation Rant - Trash on the Beach

I don't consider myself an ardent environmentalist, but I don't like litter either. It makes no sense to me when there are multiple trash receptacles on the beach why people have to leave their trash hanging around.

The other night, the family and I went for a late night walk on the beach in Kill Devil Hills. What was supposed to be a leisurely trip to find seashells became a pick up the trash trip for me as I followed along scooping up bottle caps, fireworks trash (they are illegal here, by the way), shoe laces, plastic wrappers, and more.

One of the reasons we've come to the Outer Banks each year for more than a decade is because of their beautiful beaches. I hope visitors to the Outer Banks will respect its beauty and keep the beaches clean.

Monday, July 8, 2013

You've Got Mail Mondays

I know it's You've Got Mail Monday, but I'm not sure what the postman brought because I'm not home today. I'm hoping Traveling for Love by Becky Due, which I am supposed to review at The Book Connection later this month.

I'm sure there will be a host of catalogs and junk mail to plow through, too.

Can't wait to see how the garden has fared while we're in North Carolina. I haven't asked the house sitters how things are going during the heat wave. I hate bad news, so if the garden is suffering, I would rather wait to find out. I transplanted the Lil' Princess' cabbage in the garden before we left. It had been growing in a container, but grew too large for it. Hopefully it's done well in its new home.

Finally, we received news that one of our friends suffered a stroke over the weekend. She is currently in stable, but we're not sure of how much damage there has been or what her road to recovery looks like. We would appreciate prayers on Dianne's behalf. She is a wife and mother of three children, so her family will need a great deal of strength as she recovers.

Hope you have a great week.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Diary of a Busy Mom - Menopause

Why didn’t someone warn me that menopause stinks? Women spend their adult lives looking forward to the time they don’t have to deal with pads and tampons. At least I did. But I would gladly choose one week of discomfort to days filled with multiple hot flashes, belly fat, and needing to sleep with a fan six inches from my head each night.

In addition to the obvious physical symptoms, I find coping with the fact I can never bear children again kind of depressing. Not that I was desperate to have more children, but at least before this year I had a choice in the matter.

I’m not sure why menopause has come upon me so early. Next Friday I’ll celebrate my 45th birthday, but many of my friends who are around my age or older still have their periods. I’m not sure I’m ready for this stage of my life.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Fourth of July Crafts for Kids

Check out the coloring pages, crafts, games and more to help kids celebrate the Fourth of July featured at DLTK's Crafts for Kids: http://www.dltk-kids.com/usa/

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

27 Blogs With Ideas on How to Teach Kids Time

I am not a creative person. Well, that's not entirely true. I'm creative when it comes to writing, but I don't always feel like the most imaginative teacher of my kids or Sunday school students. That's why I rely on finding neat online resources to help.

Here you'll find "27 Blogs with Methods to Teach Your Child How to Tell Time," an article that shares links to activities and crafts designed to help teach your child how to tell time. Feel free to let me know if you've tried any of these before and how they've worked for you.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Are These Foods Really Healthy for Our Kids?

Life is busy. Each day, I swear we are running from one thing to the next. Even though summer is usually less structured and crazy, so far this year it has been anything but. Despite our hectic schedules, I want to make sure my kids are eating right and making healthy food choices when they are staying with friends.

It might surprise you that many foods and drinks we serve our kids are not as healthy as we think. In "10 Kids' Foods Considered Healthy That Aren't," you'll learn the facts about foods like peanut butter, breakfast cereals, granola bars, and more.

Monday, July 1, 2013

You've Got Mail Mondays

I'm writing this post by memory, since I'm not at the house right now. Typical catalogs made their way to my house last week: Grandin Road, Land's End, and Hanes. My latest issue of History Magazine also arrived.

Though I wasn't expecting anything else from tiger tales, I was pleasantly surprised to find four more picture books to review at my blog The Children's and Teens' Book Connection.

That's it for me right now. Hope you have a great week.