Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer Unplugged

Let us have a summer with more family time and less technology time. The first step is to set 2-3 days out of the week where the family spends time together without texting, television, computer, tablets, Facebook, gaming devices, and only use the phone for emergency phone calls. 
Now let’s figure out some fun family activities that can be done, and enjoyable. I asked a few people what their favorite things to do as a family, for the most part, they are cheap, and here they are:

• Game night – play cards, board games, any game to get all the family involved
• Library trips
• Park, to play ball, or whatever for the age group
• Zoos
• Camping/fishing
• Bike rides
• Lake/ocean/pool/ 
• Bowling
• Crafts
• Hikes/nature walks

Whether your family is the outdoors type of people, or the inside type, there is something for all of you to do. Family time seems to be disappearing as technology keeps developing. Lets take a stand and put away those gadgets for a few hours or be really brave and make a whole day. Even taking a drive is nice.
There was a time my husband, my daughter, and I went to a car show that was a couple hours away, just to get out of the house. I left my phone at home, but I had the best time. I have not had that much time in a long time. Now from now on, I leave my phone in the car most times, because we have more fun without the temptation of checking Facebook, and we actually spend more time with our daughter when we turn everything off and put it away.

So now it’s your turn to turn off the technology, put those phones away, and have family time.

~ Jennifer

Saturday, June 9, 2012

30 Days of FUN!

 1. Fly a Kite. Look in the forecast for a windy day. Go to the store and let your kids pick out a pretty kite they like. Then when the day comes, take them outside, maybe to a park. Have fun teaching your kid how to fly a kite.

2. Bake cookies or a cake. Baking is a great way to bond with your kids and teach them about cooking. Let them pick out what they want to make. Its real fun when you let them decorate it a certain way. Enjoy the goodies!

3. Build a fort.Gather bed sheets, covers, pillows, and chairs for this fort. Set up your chairs so your sheets can lay over them for a roof. Its loads of fun to try to make it more of a maze rather than a big open "tent".

4. Have a water balloon fight. Fill up tons of water balloons and put them into buckets to take outside. Get your bathing suits on and let the fun begin!

5. Lemonaid Stand. Have older kids set up a lemonade stand. Let them go with you to the store to get ingredients. Let them draw, color, or paint signs and set a price. Make sure you have an adult supervising at all times, just in case something happens.

6. Board Game Day. Play board games and cards all day.

7. Dollar Movie Day. Check out your town's theaters for summer dollar deals. Most theaters have dollar deals going on in the summer for kids movies.

8. Have a Picnic. Make sure you find a good day with no rain in the forecast. Have your kids make sandwiches and pick out side dishes you can take along. Go to the park, find a shaded area, spread your blanket out and set up your picnic.

9. Go Camping. Go to a local campground or even in your backyard. Set up a tent and cook dinner outdoors.

10. Catch fireflies. Stay up late one night past sundown. Take your kids outside and let them catch fireflies.

11. Pick Strawberries. Strawberries are grown all over. Take your kids out to a local strawberry farm and have them pick some. Maybe even take your strawberries home and make Strawberry Shortcake! YUMMY

12. Make Mudpies. A day or two after its rained and there is still some mud around is a great day for mud pies! Get old clothes out and have fun! Remember: Mud pies are not made for eating!

13. Paint. Have your kids paint a pretty picture that will be showcased on the fridge.

14. Make neaklaces. Buy string and beads for your kids to make necklaces to give away to friends, family, and keep some for their own.

15. Water Gun Fight. You can buy cheap water guns from any dollar store or Walmart. Get on your bathing suits and go at it, outside of course.

16. Make Smores. Look in the forecast for a day with a cool night when you can build a fire outside. Don't forget to buy your graham crackers, Hershey chocolate bars, and marshmallows.

17. Treasure Hunt. Get a small box and fill with coins or fake gold coins. Bury or hide the box somewhere. Then put together a treasure map or clues that lead them to a certain place then at that place have another map or clue that leads them to the next and so on.

18. Hide and Seek. All kids love to play hide and seek. So take this time to teach them if they don't already know how. It will be their new favorite game!

19. Tea Party. If you have girls you definatly need to have a tea party outside with a blanket down and real drinks and tea set.

20. Finger Painting. Finger painting is fun from age 1 to age 10! You might want to set newspapers down on the floor first.

21. Obstacle course. Set up chairs to run around, buckets to jump over, table to crawl under, string tapped to the wall in crazy webbed to crawl through, and a balloon at the end to pop.

22. Scavenger Hunt. Pick a few things you know you have around the house that are hidden or you can sort of hide them. Send them on the hunt to gather the items. Repeat with different items.

23. Blindfold the Cook. Put a blindfold around the kid playing. Get different candys, marshmallows, fruit, etc.. let them try each item and they guess what they are eating.

24. Penny Pitch. Draw circles on paper and try to toss pennys in the circles.

25. Kick the Disk. Use chalk to draw your boundaries. The farthest away would be 2 points, the next 3 points, and up to 5 into a pyramid with 5 being the top point. pyramid on both sides and in the middle a small "Dead zone" in between the two. Take lids of some sort to be the disk.

26. Photo Day. Let your kids use your phone or camera to take pics. Have a list of the pics you want them to capture. Plus 10 free pics of whatever they want to take. Could be a self picture, picture of something fun they like to do, picture of flowers, picture of trees, picture of an animal, picture of favorite food, ect..

27. Family Faces. Use paper plates as a head and let them choose the eyes, nose, hair.. Use grass, rocks, sticks, nuts, leafs, markers, tape, glue. Let them be the designer.

28. Go on a hike. Take your child to a local park or a place you know has trails through the woods. Hiking is a fun experience and good exercise.

29. Bobbing for apples. Put apples in a bucket and have the kids dive their heads down and bring as many apples up as they can in 1 minute.

30. Side walk fun. Get your kids some side walk chalk and let them go to town. Show them how to do hopscotch.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Featured Fan: Missy Douthit

On Facebook, we had a little contest.  We asked our fans to send in a little story about them and the winner would become our "Featured Fan".  We chose to share a life story about a mommy who really inspired us. She has come a long way in life in just a few short years. Her name is Missy Douthit, she is 28 years old, will be celebrating her 6th anniversary this year with her husband - Nathaniel, and they have a beautiful 2 year old - Avonlea. Here is her story::

On May 15, 2009 after just 1 month of trying, we found out we were pregnant. We were over joyed and so excited to see what this bundle of joy would be like. On June 9th, 2009 just 3 short weeks later I felt like our life was turned upside down. My husband was in hotel management and had been expecting to get a raise....instead he was terminated with just 1 month of severance pay. He tried relentlessly to find a job...unfortunately it took over 16months for him to find one. During that time we found out that we were pregnant with a little girl, her name is Avonlea Marie. She joined our little family on January 14, 2010 and has forever changed my life. Due to our financial situation I just didn't have the expendable income to buy all the ADORABLE girly things that I wanted to buy. Hair bows, tutus and all other pretties fit for a princess were what I had always dreamt of having for my baby girl, but life wasn't allowing it. So, in July of 2010 I sat down at my dining room table with some ribbon scraps and a hot glue gun. I was going to make the accessories I so wanted but couldn't afford. I had never tried to do that before but I had to try, for her. I was told almost instantly by my family and friends that I should sell the bows and things I was making. I set up my Facebook page Missy's Musings and started sharing my creations with others. I cannot thank the people who supported me in the beginning enough, looking back now I can't help but laugh at the little bows and things that I so proudly showcased. I feel that I learn something new everytime I sit down in my bow room surrounded by my bags of ribbon, accents, tulle, flowers, and all of my other beautiful crafting supplies. Missy's Musings ended up being so much more for me than just a way to provide hair bows and things for my precious girl. It became an income source when we couldn't find the money to pay bills, buy groceries, gas or anything else. It became a way for me to channel my creative energies into something I was proud of and to help be a part of other's memories by providing them with beautiful accessories. I also could have never anticipated the friendships I would build with my amazing clients, they are the reason I am still doing what I love, and I love hearing how my products make their days even brighter!! 

In January of 2011 I added another business to my resume, I became an Independent Scentsy Consultant! I had just tried the Twinkle nursery warmer in October of 2010 and used the Newborn Nursery (baby powder) scent and fell in love. I was not the type of person who enjoyed using candles all of the time, but as a mommy I enjoyed the safety that Scentsy offered. Their wickless candles are electric and heated in a special way so the wax is not scalding, if a curious child was to get into the wax it just cools like a paraffin dip and your child and your home are safe. I have appreciated Scentsy and the quality products time after time as I hear of people who have had children who ate their products only to find out the child would be fine, which wouldn't have been the case if they were using something else. I started a Scentsy Facebook page and got to share my love of Scentsy with others as well. Scentsy has provided an additional income to help my family provide for our basic necessities. It was something I was VERY hesitant to sign up for since that meant $99 out of our holey pockets but it was one of the best decisions I made. I more than made back the money I paid for my starter kit in the first month that I was a consultant!!!

My husband ended up going back to school during his unemployment to get certified to teach so we finally were able to lead somewhat of a "normal life", something we felt many days was impossible. I am so blessed because my husband has supported every decision I make, personally and professionally, he is always there 100% behind me, cheering me on. Unfortunately because of our overwhelming debt (we had over $20,000 in credit card debt that had been wracked up over the course of our 16month unemployment) in December of 2011 I had to get an evening job. I often tell people that I wish I had all of the fancy things that $20,000 could have bought, however instead we had food in the fridge, gas in our cars, and bills paid. Miraculously we never paid a bill late...never. There were times when we sold items in our home to get the money to pay a bill that was due, but we wanted to do everything we could to salvage our financial situation as much as possible. So, in addition to the 2 business I ran from home, being a stay at home mom to a 2 year old and all that entails, I started working 4 days a week to provide additional income to help us start paying down our debt. It was a very hard decision for me to make since I didn't want to miss a moment with my little family, especially bedtimes....but it was the right decision for us.

In March of this year I decided to pursue yet another love of mine...photography. I started Missy's Musings Photography and have already had the pleasure of photographing several families and I look forward to the shoots I already have scheduled and even the ones who I have yet to meet yet. Photography is something I have always enjoyed, my poor daughter probably thought her Mommy was a camera lens as often as she had one pointed at her in her short 2 years!! Now I am able to turn that lens and help others preserve memories of their precious families without spending a fortune. 

As if running 3 businesses, working out of the home, staying at home during the day and running a household isn't enough, I started selling the Scentsy brand family's newest brand called Velata in May of 2012. Velata has warmers similar to those of the Scentsy line, but their dishes are silicon and made to be used for fondue!! I knew I would be a consultant for them as soon as I tasted my first bite!! Velata has 4 delicious chocolates and they have a variety of warmers to choose from. I love that fondue is now, easy, mess-free and best of all FUN!!! It's an amazing family-friendly way to do fondue!

I am a busy mom, my 2 year old makes sure of it....but I am loving life. I run 4 businesses from home, work 20+ hours a week outside of the home, and am slowly making a dent in our debt. After the last few years, I can focus my eyes on the bright brown eyes of my 2 year old and I finally know what is truly important. I am a mom, I am a wife, I am a daughter, I am a small business owner.....but the most important thing at the end of the day is that I am me.

Be sure to check out all of facebook pages and show her lots of love.

If you would like to visit Missy's Pages, here are the links:

Missy Douthit - Independent Scentsy Consultant: https://www.facebook.com/MissyDouthitScentsy
Missy's Musings Photography (Norfolk, VA): https://www.facebook.com/MissysMusingsPhotography
Missy Douthit - Independent Velata Consultant: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Missy-Douthit-Independent-Velata-Consultant/282349145181208

~ JulieGail

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summertime Cocktails

When you think of summer, what do you think about?  Our fans on Facebook said things like relaxing, lemonade, BBQ, beach, hot, fireworks, swimming, ice tea, and flip flops.  What about cocktails?  There is nothing like a refreshing cocktail on a warm summer day!  Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 fresh mint leaves
Ice cubes
2 tablespoons gin (1 oz)
1/2 cup ginger ale or lemon-lime soda
Lemon wedges, blueberries on a beverage pick, fresh mint, if desired

1. In a highball glass, muddle blueberries, lemon juice and mint.
2. Fill glass to rim with ice cubes. Add gin. Top with ginger ale; stir gently.
3. Garnish as desired.

1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. blue curacao
1/3 oz. grapefruit juice
1-2 splashes simple syrup

Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice; shake,
then strain and serve either straight up in a martini glass
or over ice. Garnish with an orange slice & tropical flower.

PER SERVING (entire recipe): 121 calories, 0g fat, 10mg sodium, 4g carbs, 0.5g fiber, 2g sugars, 0g protein --PointsPlus™ value 4*  
One 2-serving packet (about 1 tsp.) sugar-free strawberry powdered drink mix (any variety, like Crystal Light Strawberry Kiwi or Energy Wild Strawberry)
1 1/2 oz. white rum
1/2 oz. lime juice
3 frozen unsweetened strawberries, slightly thawed
1 cup crushed ice or 5 - 8 ice cubes

Combine drink mix with 4 oz. cold water in a glass. Stir to dissolve. Transfer to a blender.  Add all other ingredients to the blender, and blend at high speed until slushy and uniform.  Pour into a glass and add a straw. Slurp that baby up!  MAKES 1 SERVING



5 juice of 5 oranges
3 juice of 3 lemons
4 cups sugar
5 cups water
4 mashed bananas
1 cancrushed pineapples
7-Up® soda

Dissolve sugar in hot water and cool. Add all other ingredients and freeze. (Other fruit can be added to the bananas and pineapples such as pears, peaches, strawberries, kiwi, etc.) Spoon frozen mixture into glass and add Sprite, 7-Up, or Ginger Ale.

What cocktails do you like to enjoy during the summer months?

~ Kate & Kristy

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Craft: World's Best Dad Trophy

Father’s Day is fast approaching and what a better gift then one made from the little ones, with help from you of course. Here is one that just seemed to stick out, and thought someone else might enjoy making this for that one special DAD.

World’s Best Dad Trophy

Supplies that will be needed:
·         2 foam coffee cups
·         5 inch square box (or one cut to size)
·         Masking tape
·         1 gold chenille stem
·         Gold craft paint
·         Black construction paper, cut to fit on side of box
·         White paint pen
·         Scissors
·         Paintbrush
·         White craft glue

How to put it all together:

·     Turn cups upside down and trim the bottom lips to make them flush.



·     Glue the bottoms of the two cups together.



·     Tape the square box shut by covering the entire box with masking tape. 



·     When the glue on the cups have dried, wrap a piece of masking tape around the middle where the two cups meet.




·     Cut the chenille stem in half and insert into each side of one of the cups as trophy handle



·     Cover the cups completely with masking tape.




·     Paint the masking tape on both the trophy and the box gold.




·     **Let dry.**

·     Write "Awarded World's Best Dad" on the black construction paper with white paint pen and glue to the front of
the box.



·     Put the white glue onto the bottom of the cup that does not have the chenille handles and press onto the top of the box and let glue dry completely.


Now you have a great gift for Dad!



Enjoy this craft idea, but most of all, Happy Father's Day!

~ Jennifer and Tina

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chocolate Delight


Looking for a yummy dessert but not wanting to bake?  Here is my recipe for my no-bake Chocolate Delight!  I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine does.

Chocolate Delight

graham crackers
8oz cream cheese
1c powdered sugar
cool whip
2 chocolate pudding
3 c milk
Cake pan

Put a pack of graham crackers in a Ziploc baggie and then break it up into crumbs. After you have crumbled up all the graham crackers, pour them into the bottom of the cake pan (cover the bottom).
In a mixing bowl mix the chocolate pudding, milk, powdered sugar, and cream cheese. Mix until there are no lumps and then pour over the graham cracker crumbs. Then get the tub of cool whip and put it on top of the filling. 

*Optional*
Crumble up some more graham crackers and sprinkle on top (not a lot).

What delicious no-bake dessert recipes do you have?

~ Jennifer

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From Our Kitchen to Yours: Soups


Some dishes vary from family to family.  Two dishes that we noticed differ are potato soup and chili.  Here are recipes from the kitchens of our very own admins:

Kellie's Chili for the Picky Eater
1 Lb hamburger
2 Tbsp chili powder
Can of tomato juice 

Brown hamburger 
Add hamburger, can of tomato juice, and chili powder
Heat to a boil
Let simmer for approximately 20 mins
We serve ours over spaghetti and then eat it after its been refrigerated and reheated by itself! Day old chili is the BEST!! And I am not one for leftovers :)

Kate's Chili
1 lb of stew meat
1 medium yellow onion
1 poblano chili 
1/2 head of garlic
1 can of dark beer
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 tbsp. of tomato paste
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 cube of beef bouillon 
1 cup of water
1 can of kidney beans
3 tbsp of ketchup
2 tsp. of dry mustard
1 tbsp. of turmeric
4 tbs. of chili powder
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Cut a head of garlic in half. Coat the garlic and poblano in olive oil and salt and pepper. Wrap both in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until roasted.
2. Brown stew meat in pot. Dice up onion and add. Cook until translucent. 
3.Peel the skin and seed the chili, dice, and add to the pot as well. 
4. Squeeze out the roasted garlic from the head into the pot.
5. Add one can of beer while scrapping the bits of meat from the bottom of the pot. At this time, add the remainder of the ingredients.
6.Cook for 3 hours on low heat. Be sure to remove the bay leaves from the chili before serving.


Kristy's Potato Soup
6 slices of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 pounds (about 5 large) russet potatoes 
3 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 stick butter
2 2/3 cups milk
1/2 tsp pepper 
3/4 cup shredded cheese

Cook bacon until crisp. Set aside. 
Peel, rinse, and cut potatoes into thirds
Boil potatoes until soft with 2 tsp salt
Drain and return to pot
Mash, add sour cream and butter and stir until melted
Add milk, pepper, and salt and bring soup to a simmer
Garnish with cheese and bacon

Kellie's Potato Soup for the Picky Eater
3 lbs of potatoes
Can of half and half
Stick of butter
Tbsp of pepper (heaping)
Tbsp of salt (heaping)
Half an onion (optional!) 
2 Cups of Water

Peel potatoes and cut into bite sized chunks
Boil until potatoes can easily be pierced with fork
Drain potatoes 
Add can of half and half (can substitute with milk if you'd prefer), water, salt, pepper, onions, and stick of butter. 
Heat to a boil
Let simmer till onions are completely cooked and butter is melted
Serve!

We hope enjoy our our variations of these two classic soups!  Bon app├ętit!  

~ The Mommy's Place Admins