Watsi – A Fun Way to Give

The end of the year is coming, are you searching for a place to maximize your charitable contributions before 2015 is over?

My husband introduced me to a place called Watsi where you can donate to help specific people with specific medical needs. We have given through them several times now over the last year or more, and I must say it is a really fun way to give!!! Not only do you feel connected because you get to know who you are helping, but they send you an email update to let you know when the persons treatment is complete! They also use 100% of the money to fund the procedures. There is a place where you can add an extra “tip” amount that they can use for the operating expenses if you want to. The other neat thing is you don’t have to be rich to donate and you don’t have to be able to fund an entire procedure! You can literally donate a small amount that covers a share of a person’s need. If you have a little extra to give this year, I’d encourage you to check it out.

It seems like it would go without saying, but: I was not compensated in any way for this post and all the opinions are my own and do not represent those of any other person or organization.

Leftover Lanolin Cream

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For our babies, We have always chosen to breast feed and at the beginning I tend to have some issues with cracking and sensitivity. So for me it  is a good idea to have some lanolin cream on hand in advance. Well a little of it goes a long way, so I typically have leftover. I have also discovered that it does go bad after several years. The shelf life is about 5 years for this stuff so you can’t always leave it in the back of the closet till the next baby comes along.

Anyway, I was trying to figure out what I could use the leftover on and one day it just came to me. Not to gross anyone out, but my feet tend to get cracked and icky on the heals especially this time of year. I typically don’t have time to do anything to them so they just get worse and worse. In under 5 minutes, I can rub some old lanolin on and throw on some socks to keep it from getting all over. During the course of the day or overnight my feet are getting softer and looking better. It is amazing how well it works!

Do you have any tips for using leftover lanolin?

Inside Activities for Kids

Recently we had a week of cool wet weather and the kids were inside more that usual. I couldnt wait to send them back outside to run, jump, scream, and tackle. This made my thoughts turn to winter and how much time we spend inside during winter months. So, I decided I need to start thinking and prepare now for activities to break up the monotany especially for the younger pre-reading ages.

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One of my “go to” activities is a tub of beans. I usually have some on hand in my pantry so it is simple to do. I put beans into a big Tupperware like tub and hand the kids an old plastic set of measuring spoons and cups. Sometimes we even have a dumptruck or two join in the fun. Depending on the kid or number of kids and their interest, I have had this activity last anywhere from 20 min to several hours. Preschoolers love it, and I have even had a second grader that loved it too.

My tip: Even though I tell them to keep the beans in the tub, it really isnt realistic that they will. So before I set the tub down, I spread out a clean blanket or sheet. Then when it is time to clean up, I can just gather up the corners and get all the stray beans into one spot. This activity would also work with rice or dried field corn.

Do you have a simple “go to” winter activity for kids? I’d love to hear your ideas!!! Afterall, I did just add collecting winter indoor activity ideas and supplies onto my To Do List.

Happy Fall

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Happy fall! I’m not a huge fan of Halloween but I love the fall. Carving pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, making and eating apple anything, the brisk fall air, flocks of birds, and the changing color of the leaves are all at the top of my fall favorites list. Fall is such a warm rich season and I’m so glad it is once again here. What is your favorite thing about fall? Do you have any fun fall traditions like making homemade apple cider, going to a corn maze, a consume party, or a church harvest party?

Dried Tomatoes

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I had my new Dehydrator out again. This time it was for an experiment with tomatoes. I have never tried to dry my own before, but I do occasionally buy sun dried tomatoes for a creamy sun dried tomato, rosemary, chicken, and noodle recipe I have and love.

So, I put some in the dehydrator on 140 and let it run over night. Then, instead of putting them in a ziplock in the fridge or vacuums sealing (I don’t have a vacuums sealer), I put them in a canning jar and covered them with my favorite Olive oil. I’m told that will preserve them for a long time right on the shelf.

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I think the jar looks really pretty. The tomatoes kept such a vibrant red color. I once again forgot to take pictures along the way…sorry!

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After doing the tomatoes, I started in on one last batch of rosemary. Now I just need to add the sun dried tomato and rosemary recipe to my monthly menu plan. Then I can see if my tomato drying experiment is a success.

To Do Tuesday Pumpkin Bread Whoops!

Welcome to To Do Tuesday where I tell you about something I have recently crossed off my “To Do” List.

To Do: Pumpkin Bread

Bread for the Bake Sale

Bread for the Bake Sale

Ever have one of those days where you think you are going to get something done, but you make a mistake and it turns into a huge project? Well, that just happened to me. I was making a BIG batch of pumpkin bread (9 loaves) some for us and a couple for a bake sale. Long story short, one of the kiddos was talking to me and not thinking, I grabbed a tablespoon for baking powder instead of a teaspoon. As you probably know, that is 3 times the baking powder I needed. Another kiddo was already helping stir so it was already too late to scoop any out!

Decision time: Change it to an enormous batch (27 loaves worth) or toss it, wasting the ingredients.

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Adding the 30 plus cups of flour!

After much anxiety and stressing. I sent my wonderful husband out to the store for 2 dozen more eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and 10 pounds of sugar. Crazy! I used every big bowl I have, and the next day I spent a lot of time back and forth to the oven. Now I have more than enough pumpkin bread for the rest of the winter, and the bake sale will get six loaves instead of two or three. I feel good that I didnt waste the ingredients. The day I baked we had some company drop in and I was able to send some away with them too.

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So my simple To Do, turned into an enormous one. My husband tells me we will laugh about it for years. It is rather funny. 🙂 However, something tells me I may not feel like making pumpkin bread again for a while…..good thing I have so much in the freezer 😉

Bread for the Bake Sale

Bread for the Bake Sale

I can cross making pumpkin bread off my To Do List for sure now!

Pumpkin Mush – A Simple How To

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My house smells like pumpkin. Why? You ask. Well, I’m roasting some pumpkins to make pumpkin mush for pumpkin bread.

A lot of you probably know how to do it already, but for those of you who don’t, here are my basic steps. First I wash and cut open the pumpkin.

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Then scoop out all the goop and seeds (keeping the seeds to roast later).

Next, I put the pumpkins in a pan (cut side down) with some water and roast them in the oven on 350 for a couple hours until soft. I usually check for softness by poking them with a fork.

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After Roasting

When cooled, peel off the skin to discard, cut pumpkin chunks to put in a bowl, mush it up, and then measure out enough mush for your recipe. If there is extra mush you can freeze it to make something later. Here is a tip: I always pre-measure the mush before I freeze it and write the amount on the bag. Then I can freeze it in the amounts I need for my recipes so when I thaw a bag I wont have too much or too little.

It is so easy to do, and a great way to show kids an example of where food comes from. Plus if you grow your own pumpkins, it is WAY less expensive then the canned pumpkin at the stores.

Preschool Phonics Learning Game

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This is Hopkins. I made him for a preschool group to help them learn letter sounds. If you can’t tell, he is supposed to look like a frog. I made him out of a shoebox, some paper, and some green paint. I spend a out half an hour making him from supplies I had on hand so Hopkins was basically free. I’m kicking myself now that I didn’t take pictures while making him to share with all of you….sorry.

Here is a short recap of how I made him. I took the papers from inside the shoe box, balled them up and masking taped them on top to form the bumps up for the eyes. Next I covered him all over with brown packing paper. Then painted him bright green. While it dried, I used construction paper to cut out legs, spots, and a tongue. Regular white paper and a Sharpie formed the eyes. A little glue, and Hopkins was complete.

Next I printed off some bug clip art (I only had a free bee picture, a fly would probably have been better). Our printer is black and white so that gave me the opportunity to add some fun colors by hand. I laminated the sheets and then cut them out. This allows me to write letters on the back of the bugs with a dry erase marker.

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 So, how do you play? Well, Hopkins, of course, eats bugs but he is a bit picky and will only eat bugs that make a certain sound that day. So the kids pull bugs out of a bag, figure out what letter they have and what sound it makes. Then they either feed Hopkins or discard the bug in another box.

So far the preschoolers have seemed to really enjoy it, and the learning possibilities are endless with this. I can even see using it with kindergarteners or first graders. It could be used for learning numbers, sight words, even basic addition problems or having Hopkins eat words that are the specific part of sentence like verbs.

This is a ToDoLady original pattern. Please feel free to copy this idea, however, I am not liable for any accidents or issues you may encounter while engaging in this activity. 

Olive Oil

Do you use Olive Oil? Years ago I switched over to only using light olive oil and no other vegetable oils. I prefer the Bertolli Extra Light and typically it is less expensive at Sam’s club.

So when we make a trip to Sam’s, I stock up. The last time I was there I was surprised to find a special offer for a free cookbook  when you purchase 2 containers at Sam’s. I was stocking up anyway, so it was perfect. I’m always looking for new recipes to throw in with our standard meals every so often.

Anyway, if you like olive oil and need to stock up you may want to check it out. The special cookbook offer runs through the end of this year. I know there are millions of recipe ideas online, but to me there is still something comforting and nice about having the actual cook books.

This post is completely my own opinions, and my opinions are not necessarily those of any other person or business. I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.

To Do Tuesday – Dried Apples

Welcome to To Do Tuesday where I tell you about something I have recently crossed off my “To Do” List.

To Do: Dried Apples

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I recently got a new food dehydrator, and I really like it! The first thing I dried in it was some rosemary from the garden. Rosemary is super expensive so drying some will save me a fair bit of money this winter. However, after seeing how long it takes to dry and how much it shrinks, I have a new appreciation for how much work goes into the tiny expensive bottles of rosemary. After my success with Rosemary, Dried Apples was the next thing to go on my To Do List. I’ve tried it before both in the oven and on a borrowed dehydrator. For me the dehydrator worked faster and better.

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This is the dehydrator I got and so far I think I made the right choice. Making the dried apples is super simple. Some people have special types of apples they like for different things. I usually just use whatever I have or can get which was Gala and Yellow Delicious this time. All you need to do is cut slices. I don’t have an apple peeler/slicer so I just do mine by hand. The slices aren’t always the most even or uniform, but the kids eat them so fast they don’t have time to look at them anyway.

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After the trays are all full of apple slices, I turn on my dehydrator around 135 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Then just wait for them to dry. For me it seems to take about 4 or 5 hours. Then I bag the apples for eating later. I like to store them in the freezer to keep them just a little while longer than the average shelf life.

This year I made about 8 quarts of dried apples, and I’m confident they will disappear faster than the time it took to make them. However, I don’t have any more time I can spend on dried apples this year. So this To Do Item is crossed off my list till next year.

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Do you have a dehydrator or do you use another drying method? what is your favorite thing to dry?