Archive for the ‘ Household Tips ’ Category

5 Tips to Make Kid’s Packed Lunches Easy and Fun

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Lunch Tips

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Del Monte. The opinions and text are all mine.

Back to school season is here and if you are like most parents, one of the things that you are not looking forward to is packing your kid’s lunch. Somehow it is just one of those jobs that can get boring and tedious pretty fast, not to mention the fact that a lot of kids can be hard to please when it comes to food!

Take heart! Here are 5 tips that will make packing your kid’s lunches easy and hopefully make them a hit at the same time.

1. Prep Ahead

The more prep work you do ahead of time, the easier your mornings will be. Mix up sandwich spreads, portion out bags of snacks and chop any veggies or fruit. Then all that you need to do in the morning is simply throw the sandwich together and grab your other items. And actually, if you want to make it really easy, you can even make the sandwiches the evening before too!

Want to be even more efficient? Prep a whole week’s worth of lunches at the beginning of the week!

2. Have a Designated Spot for Lunch Food

It makes things super easy if you can always find the items for your lunches at the same spot in the fridge and pantry. Designate a shelf as the lunch shelf or get a small basket and keep your lunch things in it. This not only makes sure someone doesn’t make a snack out of someone’s prepared lunch food, it also will save you time and hassle in the morning when you are rushing around trying to collect everything.

3. Allow Variety

Chances are your kids will be more excited about their lunch if it’s not the same old boring peanut butter and jelly sandwich every. single. day. Add some variety by switching the sandwich for a slice of pizza, a cheese quesadilla, hummus and crackers or even the occasional hot dog.

Prefer sticking with sandwiches every day? That’s fine! Just change things up and keep it interesting by making different kinds such as chicken salad, meat and cheese, tuna salad, egg salad or even cream cheese and banana. Of course you could easily sub a wrap for the bread some days too just for something fun and different!

4. Make it Easy to Eat

If your child is anything like mine, they have a hard time getting their food eaten in time. Packing easy-to-eat foods like sandwiches and wraps, cheese, carrots, trail mix, No Bake Energy Bites and Del Monte Fruit Burst Squeezers and Plastic Fruit Cups make it easy for them to get their lunch eaten.

5. Keep it Simple

Above all, keep it simple! Yes, you could spend extra time and make a sandwich that looks like an animal. And if you enjoy doing that kind of thing, go ahead and make them occasionally. But fancy looking sandwiches are totally not necessary to give your kids a healthy, delicious lunch. Chances are that you’ll stick with packing healthier lunches if you keep it simple and therefore easy to do.

Enjoy a little contest? From August 1 through September 1, share a photo of your kids’ favorite Del Monte snack- Fruit Burst Squeezers or Plastic Fruit Cups (Squeeze or Spoon?).

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Del Monte. The opinions and text are all mine. 

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Household Tip: Reheat Pancakes in Toaster

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

My children love pancakes and this simple tip has been so helpful.  I especially love it for those days when I’m super busy and suddenly realize it’s lunch time.  Just as I’m hitting panic mode and wondering what to feed my hungry crew, I’ll suddenly remember that I have pancakes in the freezer.  So I’ll whip them out and within a few minutes I can have warm, homemade lunch on the table ready to fill my hungry kids belly’s.  Kind of makes me feel like supermom or something!  And who doesn’t like to feel that?

Make breakfast (or lunch!) a cinch by using your toaster to reheat leftover or frozen pancakes.  It’s as simple as popping them into the toaster and toasting them until they are warm and the sides are slightly crispy.  And that fast you have delicious hot pancakes to enjoy!

You can do this with leftover pancakes that you’ve kept refrigerated or with pancakes that you’ve frozen.  Either one works.  If you are making pancakes up to freeze and enjoy later I recommend storing them with a piece of wax paper between each pancake so that they don’t stick together.  Or, if you’d rather, you can flash freeze them first by laying them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer, putting them in the freezer until frozen solid and then put them in a Ziploc bag or container.  If you do it this way, you don’t need to put anything between the pancakes.

Why I recommend it:
1.  It’s frugal.  Making your own pancakes, freezing them and then reheating them in the toaster is much less expensive than buying frozen pancakes at the store.  Plus, if you can create a quick breakfast (or lunch) at home, you’ll be much less tempted to stop at McDonald’s to eat which will save you a lot!

2.  They taste good.  Toasting them gives them a nice crispy outside and doesn’t leave them soft and mushy like pancakes reheated in the microwave.

3.  It’s fast.  There’s no excuse not to have a filling, warm breakfast when you can get it ready in a minute or two.

4.  It creates less waste.  Instead of letting extra pancake batter spoil in the fridge thinking that one of these mornings you’ll use it, you can go ahead and make pancakes with it and then just enjoy them later on in the week.

5.  It saves time.  If you are going to be making pancakes already, why not take a little bit of extra time and double your batch and then have some for a quick meal later?  The bonus is that you’ll only have to do the work of mixing them up and washing those dishes once!

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Household Tip: Keep Plastic Wrap and Foil in Place for Frustration Free Rolling

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Tip:  Punch in the push-in tabs on the ends of plastic wrap and aluminum foil boxes to secure the rolls in place and allow you to use the product without frustration!

Have you ever tried to cover something with plastic wrap, only to have the plastic roll keep trying to hop out of the box? Yeah, me too. Well, a couple of years ago I happened to notice that there are little punch-in tabs on the end of the box and when pushed in they sort of lock the roll in place and viola! No more plastic wrap  rolling out of the box! Turns out aluminum foil boxes have them too.

Makes me wonder what other simple little instructions I am missing that would make my life easier!

Please tell me I’m not that only one who didn’t know about these handy little tabs!

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Tags: | Categories: Household Tips

10 Chores for 4 & 5 Year Olds

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

You might also enjoy this Free Online Chore Chart for kids!

We recently have been working at getting our son Logan, 5, to consistently do more chores around our place.  And while he has been doing most of these things since he was 4, there are a couple that we only added more recently.  However, they are all things that he could have easily done at age 4 as well. I figured that if you are like me, you are always looking for inspiration and ideas when it comes to parenting.  And so, in the hope that someone else might be inspired, I thought that I’d share our current list of the 10 chores we are having him do.

But first of all, a few tips:

* Don’t expect your child to understand how to do something without being shown how to do it.  Take the time to explain what you expect and also to show them exactly what you want done.

* Be patient.  They are going to mess up when they are learning and will probably need reminding of how to do their jobs well as they go along too.  It’s good for me to remind myself that our son is only five- I can’t expect him to do things as well as an adult!

* Praise your child liberally.  Even if the job wasn’t done perfectly but you can tell they were doing their best, shower them with encouragement.  I find that the more I thank our son for doing his job well, the better of a job he seems to do.  Funny how that works!

Now on to the list of chores:

1.  Make bed
While our son can’t do this perfectly, I’m amazed at how good of a job he can do!  At any rate, when he’s done with it, it looks so much better than a totally unmade bed.  And with practice, he’s actually learned to get the quilt spread out nice and evenly.

2.  Set the table
When Logan was learning to set the table we didn’t stress putting each piece of silverware correctly since it was pretty confusing for him.  But as he got used to his job, it became required that he put each piece in it’s proper place.  He also typically puts on the water, any condiments we need, serving spoons etc.

Because I wasn’t thrilled about having our dishes getting broken all the time, we decided to skip the pottery and instead go with melamine dinnerware that looks like pottery but is pretty much unbreakable.  Even so, we’ve had a few glasses and other things get broken along the way.  If you want to teach your children to help, it’s really important to remember that this is just part of the learning process.  (I’m reminding myself here too!)  And if you do have pottery, I’d suggest having your child just take one or two plates to the table at a time to help minimize breakage.

3.  Clear the table
It is our 5 yr. old’s responsibility to totally clear the table of everything, not just the dishes.  Instead of just letting things on the kitchen counter, he is also expected to put away all that he can, which most times is everything but the leftover hot food.

4.  Empty the dishwasher
When Logan first started doing this, he was allowed to remove only one glass out at a time.  Otherwise, he would get careless, crash them together and well, you can imagine the results!  As he learned to be more careful, he became capable of taking out two glasses without any catastrophes.  We also have found it helpful to have a designated spot where he puts the few things that he is not tall enough to put away.  Just a quick note, if you put sharp knives in your dishwasher be sure to remove them before your child gets started!

5.  Move laundry from washer to dryer
To save money, I don’t use our dryer a lot.  But when I do, I often get Logan to move the laundry from the washer over to the dryer.  It’s actually one of his favorite chores!  If I am going to hang laundry out instead of using the dryer I simply have him unload it into my laundry basket instead.

6.  Fold washcloths, rags, underwear and socks
I typically separate these things out from the other laundry and give them to our son to fold.  He can get a little careless with folding the washcloths especially, so we’ve been really working on folding them neatly and evenly.  I think it’s important that children learn to do their jobs well!

7.  Put laundry away
It is our 5 yr. old’s job to put his laundry and his sister’s laundry away.  (She’s too little to help at this point!)  He also takes our laundry and puts it on our bed and often will do the same with the bathroom towels and washcloths since they are located too high for him to reach.

8.  Vacuum
We have a fairly large vacuum but our son can still pretty easily handle it.  Obviously, he does not sweep as thoroughly as I would, but it sure helps keep the house cleaner if I have him vacuum a couple of times a week!

9.  Clean up toys
This is something that Logan has been doing for a couple of years.  I usually like to have him do it before dinner and then he also cleans up before bedtime too.  And sometimes if the mess is getting to me throughout the day I’ll help him do it another time too.  He likes to hurry and try to get the job done, so we’re constantly working at doing it neatly and putting things away nicely instead of just throwing everything haphazardly in the toy box.  (We have various containers that smaller toys go into to help keep it more organized.)

10.  Empty trash
While our kitchen trash is still too bulky for our son to handle, the smaller trash cans scattered around the house are very easy for him to empty.

What chores do you have your 4 and 5 year olds do?  What have you found challenging when it comes to chore time?

Manners & Responsibility: Chores Kids Can (and Should) Do
Manners & Responsibility: Chores Kids Can (and Should) Do
Manners & Responsibility: Chores Kids Can (and Should) Do

Linking up at Clean and Scentsible.

Image source for picture in post banner: Shutterstock

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Household Tip: Check for Unclaimed Money

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Look to see if there is unclaimed money/property owed to you.  Did you know that there is $41.7 billion worth of property that is unclaimed?

So what is this unclaimed property anyway? explains it this way:

Unclaimed property (sometimes referred to as abandoned) refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for one year or a longer period. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.

Why I recommend it:
It takes all of 2 minutes and is a simple way to possibly find some extramoney.  Who doesn’t like that?

How to:
Head to, click on any state that you have lived in, enter your name and see if there is anything that shows up! 

Misc. Info:
While I’ve never found any money for myself, several years ago I found claims for my father-in-law, brother and my husband’s aunt.  All of it was under $100 but still, it felt kind of like finding a hidden treasure.   :)

Have you ever found unclaimed property with

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