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Archive for April, 2013

28 Blogs Filled with Ideas on How to Host a Mother’s Day Brunch

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Moms deserve the world for all of the work that they do and the many hats that they wear in any given day. With Mother’s Day right around the corner, why not show Mom how much you appreciate her by serving up a Mother’s Day brunch?  You can impress her with your culinary skills, which you learned from her of course, by cooking up a combination of sweet and savory dishes.  Planning the perfect brunch can take time, and you’ll probably need some tips for executing it perfectly.  If you don’t have time to plan or you aren’t very handy in the kitchen, you can find ideas for easier brunch ideas under the Quick and Easy Tips section.  Aside from mom, the most important thing about the brunch is the food.  Find some ideas on how to put together the best menu for your mom. Once you prepare the food, you’ll want to think about how to plate the meal in a visually appealing way, and the ideas under Setting the Perfect Table can help. These 28 blog posts are filled with inspiring ideas that you can use for brunches all year long.

Planning the Brunch

If you’ve got time, it’s a smart idea to plan out your brunch.  You don’t want to spend the whole day in the kitchen cooking and miss out on a chance to spend time with Mom!  Think about dishes that you can make ahead or that can be served at room temperature.  Make sure that you have a mixture of sweet and savory dishes.  You can even come up with a theme for your bunch. Check out these seven blog articles for ideas to get you started.

Creating the Menu

A week or two before Mother’s Day you will want to start gathering your recipes and creating a list of items that you need.  Be sure to check the sale flyers to see if you can buy anything at a bargain price. Making a list before you head to the store is imperative, as you don’t want to start cooking only to realize you forgot a key ingredient. The day before, you should go through all of your recipes and double check that you bought everything you need.  It can also save you time to make as many dishes ahead of time as possible. Take a look at these seven blog posts for some potential recipe ideas.

Setting the Perfect Table

Moms love to be pampered, and sitting at a beautifully decorated table is one way that you can show her just how special you think she is. To decorate the table, grab some glasses at the dollar store and fill them with fresh flowers.  Cut them low so that your guests can see each other.  Make sure you use a table cloth and nice dishes.  If you don’t have these items, see if you can borrow or rent them. These seven blogs will help you create the perfect table setting for your brunch.  Remember, if you don’t have a huge table to seat everyone, you can serve buffet style and allow people to mill around with their plates or use TV trays.

Quick & Easy Tips

If you’ve waited a bit too long or you just aren’t that talented in the kitchen, don’t worry – there are simple solutions. Instead of trying to prepare complicated dishes when cooking isn’t your forte, check out the prepared section of your grocery store for some tasty treats that don’t require a lot of extra work. Make pretty yogurt parfaits by layering fruit and yogurt in a nice glass.  Buy croissants from the neighborhood bakery and serve with a selection of jams that you’ve put into little bowls.  These seven blogs will help your brunch come together quickly and easily.

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15 Tips for Cleaning Tough Kids Stains Up Around the House

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Where there are children, there will be stains. From overzealous artists to accidental spills and loss of bodily fluids, there are few areas that kids are more adept in than creating messes that are difficult to clean up. These 15 tips can help you remove the most common and most stubborn stains, allowing you to have kids and nice things in your house at the same time.

  1. Zap Bedwetting Stains With a Black Light and Cornstarch – Potty training isn’t always easy, and accidents are especially common at night. Getting those urine stains out of a mattress isn’t a lost cause, though. Mix cornstarch with enough water to form a paste and allow it to dry for several hours. Vacuum the dried paste, then hit the lights and examine the mattress with a black light. If there’s any remaining urine, it will glow under the black light. Another treatment with the cornstarch paste should do the trick if there’s anything left.
  2. Remove Blood Stains with Hydrogen Peroxide – Kids skin their knees, scrape their elbows and find creative ways of injuring themselves. When those war wounds leave blood on your carpet, treat them with hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Treat All Stains With Urgency – Regardless of the stain or your removal method, the most effective stain treatment is urgency. The sooner you start working on a stain, the less likely it is to be permanent.
  4. Use Wall Erasers to Remove Crayon Wall Art – If a budding Picasso becomes so overeager that the walls are adorned with her artwork, commercially-available wall erasers will usually remove the colored wax without stripping the paint.
  5. Clean Up Permanent Marker Ink With Hairspray – Should a small child get his hands on a permanent marker, you can rest assured that he will end up using that marker on a surface you’d rather not be decorated permanently. Spritz the stain with a liberal amount of hairspray, then follow with soapy water.
  6. Get Crayon Marks Out of Carpet With Lubricant Spray – Crayons aren’t intended for use on carpet, but your child probably doesn’t care. Should you find crayon marks on the carpet, the spray lubricant will lift it from the fibers without spreading the pigments around.
  7. Remove Tree Sap With Glycerin and a Spoon – When an adventurous kid learns to climb trees, you can bet that she will promptly track the sap into the house on the bottom of her shoes. Saturate the sap with a bit of glycerin, then scrape it away with a spoon. When the sap is gone, clean up the glycerin mess with warm, soapy water.
  8. Use Enzyme Cleaners to Remove Protein-Based Stains – Protein-based stains that result from spillage of bodily fluids don’t have to be permanent. Treat them promptly with an enzyme cleaner that will break those proteins down.
  9. Attack Chocolate Stains With an Iron and Paper Towels – Chocolate stains are common when there are kids in the house, and they can be a real challenge to remove. The next time your bundle of joy smears chocolate into fabric, reach for your iron and a paper towel. Cover the stain with the paper towel and iron over it. The heat from the iron will melt the chocolate, and the paper towel will absorb it.
  10. Remove Grass Stains With Meat Tenderizer – Instead of using chemical pre-treatment products on grass stains in kids’ clothes, try sprinkling a bit of meat tenderizer on them and rubbing it into the stain before laundering as normal.
  11. Clean Up Ink Stains With Rubbing Alcohol – The same rubbing alcohol that kills germs will also kill the ink stain left behind after your child finds a ballpoint pen and promptly breaks it open.
  12. Use Ice To Remove Wayward Chewing Gum – Chewing gum can end up anywhere in your house when kids chew it, except for their mouths. Apply an ice cube to the sticky mess, then crumble the gum when it hardens for stress-free removal.
  13. Clean Tea and Coffee Stains With Vinegar and Baking Soda – Kids don’t just spill their own drinks, they’re also pros at knocking over coffee cups and glasses of tea. A bubbly mixture of vinegar and baking soda will remove those stubborn stains from your carpet, though.
  14. Don’t Rush to the Steam Cleaner – Investing in a heavy-duty steam cleaner for your carpet may seem like a smart move when you have kids, but just five uses can remove the stain-guarding treatment. Try to hold off on using the steam cleaner to preserve the life of your carpet.
  15. Remove Mud Stains With Dish Soap and Water – Mud stains contain a wonderful variety of organic substances, from greasy particles to proteins. After you’ve vacuumed dried clumps of mud out of your carpet, the same soap you use on your dishes and a bit of water will usually do the trick.

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How to Know When Your Teen is Lying and When He’s Not

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

When your child is younger, spotting a fib isn’t much of a challenge. Little ones don’t quite have the skills they need to fabricate a plausible excuse, so picking apart a questionable story is usually the work of a moment. As kids get older and hone their skills in the world of deception, however, it usually becomes a bit more difficult to spot a false story. Accusing your teen of lying when she’s telling the truth can cause a major blow-up and do serious damage to your relationship, but letting her out of the house with a flimsy story can put her in dangerous situations. At no time in your child’s life is it more difficult to pick out a lie than when she’s a teenager, but it’s also the time when it’s most imperative. While there’s no fool-proof method of sussing out the truth when a teen is determined to lie, there are a few things you can keep in mind that may help you get to the bottom of a story before things get out of hand.

Look for Out-of-Character Behavior

Just as all poker players have a tell or two that will tip off an opponent in the know, everyone has a few tics that can give them away when they lie. The key to spotting suspicious behavior in your teen, however, is to be intimately familiar with her habits when she’s telling the truth. When you know your child and her mannerisms through and through, you’ll be better positioned to pick up on inconsistencies that indicate a lie or two. For instance, a teen that normally looks at the floor may be conscious that she needs to make eye contact in order to sell her story, and may hold that eye contact for so long that it tips you off to her tall tales. Any mannerisms that are out-of-character and suspicious can be indicators that she’s lying, so be on the lookout for changes in behavior.

Listen Carefully

It’s easy to get so caught up in trying to decode your teen’s behavior that you miss out on the most important aspect of determining the veracity of a story: just listening. Make sure that you pay attention to not only your teen’s mannerisms, but also what she says and how she says it. Long pauses after you ask a question are usually the result of your teen looking for holes in her story before answering, concocting an answer to your question that falls in line with her previous tale or to cover her tracks in case of a misstep. Slight stuttering or stammering or a change in pitch may also be indicators that your teen’s story isn’t entirely true.

Observe Her Body Language

A teenager that’s normally poised and graceful may have a perfect, seamless story to tell that fails only because her shifty body language betrays her. Look for fidgeting, excessive touching of the face, mouth or neck, tapping toes or a visible struggle to stand still. If your teen is suddenly fascinated with the hemline of a shirt or a stray thread poking out of a seam, she may be looking for an excuse to avoid making eye contact with you. Watching your child’s body language and comparing it with her normal behavior can give you a good idea of when her story is less than honest.

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, or even the strange ones. Your job as a parent is to find out where your teen is going and what she’s up to, so don’t shy away from questioning a story that doesn’t sit right with you. Follow your instincts and listen to what your own experience tells you. If there’s a loose thread in your teen’s story, follow it to see how well that story holds up. Look for inconsistencies or discrepancies with the information you already have versus what she’s giving you.

Trust Her

While it may seem like trusting a teenager is just asking for trouble, you may be actively harming your relationship with her by questioning every word that falls from her mouth. Realizing the importance of showing her that you do trust her, and letting her know that you’re approachable when she’s in need of help or advice can actually foster a more open relationship that’s based on mutual trust and respect. When you work to build that trust, you won’t have to worry so much about picking apart her stories, as she’ll be more honest with you from the outset of a conversation. Accusing your child of lying when she’s telling you the truth only makes her angry and makes her more likely to stretch the boundaries of the truth in the future. After all, if she’s being accused of lying and punished undeservedly for dishonesty, why shouldn’t she at least earn your lack of trust and the penalties you level against her by doing exactly what you accuse her of?

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27 Blogs Featuring Easter Scrapbook Layout Ideas

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

If scrapbooking your memories is something that you love to do or are interested in starting, now is the time to grab your Easter pictures and put together some scrapbook pages. Creating pages quickly after an event has occurred is the best way to scrapbook because the occasion is still fresh in your mind and you still remember how you felt and what you were thinking when the pictures were taken.  If you need some inspiration to get started, take a look at these 27 blog entries.

Easter Bunny

Kids and Easter go hand in hand, and you probably have dozens of pictures of your kids dying eggs, hunting them in the yard and going through their Easter baskets.  These bright colorful photos lend themselves to bright layouts and designs.  Check out these nine blog posts and see some of the ideas that these bloggers have created.

Digital Ideas

Lack the time for traditional scrapbooking, but still have tons of photos on your computer that you’d love to do something with?  Digital scrapbooking might be the answer for you.  Take a look at these digital scrapbooking layout ideas and see if they inspire you to get started on your own digital scrapbook.

Adult Layouts

Maybe you don’t have kids yet or your kids are all grown up, but you’d still like to have some ideas for Easter layouts that aren’t quite so cutesy?  If that’s the case then you will love these nine blog posts and the layout ideas that they have.

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20 Blogs with Different Ideas on How to Make May Day Baskets with Your Preschooler

Monday, April 15th, 2013

May Day baskets, which Romans and Druids exchanged when they celebrated the sign that Spring was turning into Summer, have been around for centuries. The tradition of making and leaving baskets by the doors of your friends to celebrate May Day is experiencing a comeback.  If you would like to make May Day baskets with your child, there are many different types you can choose from.  You can add an updated spin to this time-honored tradition by making your baskets out of recycled items, which will also help you keep it green this year.  Or, if you want to be different, you can make one of the non-traditional May Day baskets.  There are plenty of quick baskets to make that are simple enough for your preschooler to help with.  If you remember making May Day baskets when you were little, you might prefer to make baskets like you did back then and go the more traditional route.  No matter which type of basket you choose, you can find some help in one of these 20 blog entries.  Check them out and get to crafting!

Eco-Friendly

In the weeks preceding May 1st you will need to collect small containers to upcycle into May baskets.  You may be able to figure out how to make baskets out of everyday items on your own, but if you feel a little stuck for inspiration check out these five blog posts.

Non-Traditional

Create May Day baskets that are different and unusual by creating cones that can hang on the door or using origami to create your own basket.  Find these ideas and others in the following five blog articles about May Day baskets.

Quick & Easy

If you are pressed for time or are just looking for a simple basket to do with your preschooler, you can check out the options on these five blog posts.  Find printable patterns that are simple to cut apart and put together.  Several other simple options can also be found on these blogs.

Just for Fun

Have a little fun this May Day by creating various fun May Day baskets to make you smile.  If they bring a smile to your face, just think what they will do for little neighborhood friends or elderly neighbors who remember dancing around the May pole celebrating the start of summer.  These baskets are clever and something you and your preschooler can enjoy making together and delivering to family, friends and neighbors.  Don’t forget that the key is to ring the bell and run away before you get caught.

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24 Blogs with Tips on Coloring Your Own Hair for the First Time

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Coloring your hair is a good option whether you are trying to cover some gray or you just want to try a different look.  Going to the salon to get your hair colored can be very expensive, so you may be considering coloring your hair on your own.  If you want guaranteed perfect results, you should go to a professional.  However, if you are willing to experiment with your hair a little, you might be a good candidate for coloring your own hair.  Keep in mind that some of the biggest fiascos happen when hair is not in good shape, so it’s important that you prepare your hair ahead of time to make sure it’s at its healthiest.  Then you will need to decide whether you want to try highlights, temporary color or permanent color for your first attempt.  Read through these 24 blog articles and educate yourself before you try anything on your own.

Preparing to Color

The first step when preparing to color your hair at home is to make sure that your hair is healthy.  Even if you think your hair is in fairly good condition, it’s recommended that you do a deep conditioning treatment on your hair a few days before you color.  For more tips on what you should do to get your hair ready to receive color, take a look at these six blog posts.

  1. 7 Things You Need to Know Before Coloring Your Hair
  2. Beauty Tips—For Coloring Hair
  3. Best Hair Coloring Tips: What You Need to Know Before You Dye Your Hair
  4. How I Prepare for Hair Color
  5. Things to Know Before You Dye Your Hair
  6. 7 Things to Consider Before Coloring Your Hair

Highlights

Highlights might be a good place to start for your first time coloring your hair.  While it’s a little more work, you can adjust how much color you are putting in your hair.  If you are just starting to get gray hair, you are better off highlighting your hair for a while because it’s less of a commitment and less maintenance.  Once you start coloring your hair, it’s hard to find a good time to stop, so you end up coloring it for the rest of your life at that point.  For pointers on how to highlight your hair, read through these six blog entries.

  1. How to Highlight Your Own Hair
  2. How to Highlight Your Own Hair at Home with Foil
  3. How to Highlight Your Own Hair
  4. How to Highlight Your Own Hair at Home
  5. How to Cut, Color & Highlight Your Hair at Home
  6. How to Foil or Highlight Your Own Hair- Part 1

Temporary Color/Semi-Permanent

Once you decide you want to go with all-over color in your hair, you might want to take your new color for a trial run.  If you use temporary color or a semi-permanent color, you are leaving yourself an out if you find that you really don’t like the color. Also, if it turns out badly you haven’t committed yourself to live with the color for the next three years.  Some temporary color is so short-lived that you can wash it out with the very next shampoo.  Others will take a few shampoos.  Temporary color is something you can try for a special occasion and then go back to your normal color the next day.  To find out more about what your temporary coloring options are, check out these six blogs.

  1. Hair Chalking: A New Look at DIY Hair Color
  2. Add a Splash of Color to Your Hair with Dudley’s Fantastic Colors
  3. Wanna Add Temporary Color Streaks to Your Dark Brown or Black Hair?  Grab Your Gel Eye Shadow and Go
  4. Eye shadow… for Your Hair! It’s the Best Way to (Temporarily) Try the Dip-Dye Trend
  5. How To: Rock Temporary Hair Color!
  6. DIY: Temporary Dip Dye Hair

Permanent Dye

If you are more than 50% gray and are looking for something to cover up the gray for a while, you are looking for permanent dye.  The most important thing to remember about permanent dye is to buy a good quality dye and that you choose a shade lighter than you really want.  These six blog posts will help you decide if permanent coloring is for you and if it is what the best way is to go about getting the look you are after.

  1. 4 Must-Read Tips for Upgrading Your Spring Hair Hue
  2. How To: Color Your Hair at Home
  3. Cool Ways to Dye Your Hair
  4. How to Dye Hair
  5. How-To: DIY Dyed Ombre Hair
  6. How to Dye Hair Like a Pro

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10 Tips for Scoring Stellar Easter Photos of the Kids

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Spring is in the air, the Easter Bunny abounds and your children are wearing adorable outfits. For most parents, the first item on the agenda is to get plenty of snapshots to commemorate the excitement of the day. Managing to capture those beautiful moments in a way that translates to great photographs, however, is a bit tricky. These ten tips can help you get better Easter photographs of your family, from snapshots to professional portraits.

  1. Opt for Coordinating Outfits Over Those That Match – Putting your kids in outfits that match is adorable when they’re walking into Easter church services, but tends to be a bit on the cheesy side when it comes to family photos. That’s not to say that you have to make sure that every outfit is completely and wholly original, though. Coordinating kids’ outfits makes for a cohesive picture that doesn’t strip anyone’s individuality.
  2. Schedule Photographs Carefully – It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that tired and hungry kids are usually cranky, and that cranky kids don’t tend to have much patience for photographs. When you schedule your day, try to balance picture time so that kids are awake and well-fed, but haven’t yet had a chance to destroy their outfits.
  3. Realize That Candid is Okay – Perfectly posed family portraits certainly have their charm, but there’s also something very touching and personal about candid shots. When your kids are playing together or carefully examining an Easter egg, snap a photo. You’ll capture their natural expressions in a photo that’s a bit more genuine than one with stiff poses and painted-on smiles.
  4. Just Keep Shooting – Most digital cameras these days have the ability to snap rapid-fire photographs, and you don’t have to develop an entire roll of traditional film to get your hands on a single shot. Remember that you can edit or delete any pictures that aren’t up to snuff, but you can’t recapture a moment that passes by. Fire away!
  5. Learn Your Way Around a Photo Editing Program – You probably don’t need to learn professional level airbrushing, but it is wise to learn the basic tools in a photo editing program like PhotoShop or free, open source programs like GIMP. When you know how to correct red-eye or digitally remove stains from Easter clothing, you may be able to salvage a beautiful shot that was marred by a few flaws.
  6. Think Twice About Using Animals as Props – Easter is associated with springtime, rabbits and baby chickens. Integrating a rabbit or a baby chicken may seem like a great way to capture the Easter spirit, but it can also be just asking for trouble. Animals scratch, bite and attempt to get away from little hands, and children can be scared of even a wee, cuddly thing that’s unfamiliar to them.
  7. Get On the Kids’ Level – Perspective is an important element of quality photography, which is why getting down on your kids’ level tends to result in better photographs than those shot from a standing position. Rather than towering over your brood and snapping a few shots of the top of their head, why not get down to eye-level for a few frames. You may be surprised at how well they turn out!
  8. Be Realistic – No matter how invested you are in getting the perfect Easter photo, your children will not be able to hold the same pose for an hour, nor will they want to do so. Unless you want the last few shots to be of your kids’ crying faces, try to keep photo shoots on a realistic timeline.
  9. Read Your Camera’s Instruction Manual – Even if you think you own a simple point-and-shoot, there are probably features on your camera that could be improving your photographs dramatically, if only you knew how to use them. Taking a few minutes to carefully look over the features and tools on your camera can turn a mediocre photograph into a fabulous one.
  10. Consider Working With a Professional – The expenses of raising a bustling family are such that professional photographers may seem like an overwhelming luxury. While calling a high-profile artist to shoot on location may get a bit pricey, you can also walk into a portrait studio in your area and have photographs taken for a reasonable cost. If you’re absolutely at the end of your rope when it comes to Easter pictures and are on the verge of giving the whole project up, you may want to load everyone up and drive to the nearest studio.

Before you allow yourself to become frazzled and discouraged by the lack of cooperation or your struggle to frame the perfect shot, remember that the name of the game is preserving memories. Who wants to preserve memories of being miserable, stressed out and frustrated? Try to relax, go with the flow and focus on family fun as you focus the camera.

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