Santa Christmas Countdown Printable

Santa Advent Calendar

Is it Christmas yet?! There’s no better answer than a countdown calendar and a pair of scissors! Inspired by La Classe Della Maestra Valentina’s Santa Christmas Advent Calendar, I made this fun Santa Christmas Countdown Printable for Jayna (and you and you!). This 4 year old loves to use her scissors to cut, so this is perfect practice for her. There are 25 strips, one to be cut off each day until Santa arrives.

Santa Christmas Countdown Printable

She thinks it’s so funny that she gets to trim Santa’s beard each day!

Santa countdown printable

It’s available for you to download, print and use too! Just click here! It’s sized at 11×17″, so for best results, take it to someplace like Staples to be printed on cardstock. Then cut it out and hang it up! You’re little one will love it!

Santa Christmas Countdown Printable

15 On-The-Go Snack Ideas

Great list of healthy, portable snack ideas. Fruit Squeezers are always a hit. I don’t remember past summers being so busy! It seems as though we are always on the go these days, which means we are often out of the house during snack and lunch time, which also means I have to plan ahead if I want to feed the kiddos something nutritious. I finally made a list of on-the-go snack ideas and put together a snack bin to make things a bit easier. Perhaps this will be helpful to you too! Del Monte Fruit and Veggie Squeezers - Perfect on-the-go snack!Among my kids’ favorite snacks right now are these Del Monte Fruit and Veggie Squeezers. They like them because they are fun to eat and they taste good. I like them because they are healthy – 1 1/2 servings of fruits and veggies in each one, plus they have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. I also love their portability; they’re the perfect accompaniment to our play dates at the park! Okay, and I also think they taste pretty good! The fruit and veggie variety comes in 3 different flavors: Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, and Peach Mango while the fruit only squeezers are Mixed Berry flavor or Strawberry. Check them out at your local grocery store next time you go shopping! Create a Snack Bin!So what else do we have in our on-the-go snack bin? Here is a list of 15 healthy things I rotate in and out as my kids (and I) eat them:

  1. plastic fruit cups (if you haven’t tried Del Monte’s Pineapple Coconut flavor, you’re missing out!)
  2. olives
  3. raisins
  4. craisins
  5. dried apples
  6. whole grain crackers (we like Triscuits)
  7. pretzels
  8. nuts (pistachios are a current favorite of ours!)
  9. peanut butter (I scoop a few tablespoons into small containers, great for dipping!)
  10. fruit leather
  11. granola bars
  12. trail mix
  13. Cheerios
  14. freeze dried fruit (strawberries, bananas, mangoes, etc)
  15. mini muffins

I divide the items that I buy in bulk into single serving portions and place them in small plastic baggies. The great thing about our on-the-go snack bin is that when things slow down in the Fall and we are at home more, it will become our self-serve snack bin. Jayna says she’s hungry, I tell her to go grab a snack! For more snack idea inspiration, check out my Snack and Lunch Ideas for the Kiddos board on Pinterest.

If you share a photo of your kids’ favorite Del Monte Squeeze or Spoon snack on the Del Monte Facebook page here between August 1st and September 1st, you could win one of two $10,000 GRAND PRIZES for your kids’ school!

Connect with Del Monte on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Last but not least, who wants to win a $100 Visa gift card!? That will buy you plenty of snacks for your on-the-go bin! For a chance to win, comment and tell me, do your kids prefer to Squeeze or Spoon?

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 8/1-9/19.

Be sure to visit the Del Monte Brand Page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

How to Clean Burnt on Food in the Oven

How to clean burnt on food in the oven. Ammonia is powerful stuff, take caution!

If you don’t already know how to clean burnt on food in the oven, chances are you are going to need to know how! Spills will inevitably happen and you won’t get to them right away because the oven is hot. You’ll forget about said spill until you go to use your oven again and smell something burning. What’s there to do, but use the oven anyway and hope the smell doesn’t affect the taste of the food you’re about to bake? This will happen a few more times before the spill is just burnt to the bottom of your oven and it doesn’t smell anymore. In that case you just leave that big black blob until you come upon a cleaning tip that seems quite effortless or you break down and run the self-clean option. Ammonia to the rescue!

That colorless, highly irritating gas with a pungent, suffocating odor (ahem, ammonia) works wonders on removing burnt on food from the oven. For more facts about ammonia that might seem alarming, check out this fact sheet by the Department of Health for the State of New York. For all the details on how to clean burnt on food in the oven, keep reading!

So I was casually reading the back of my bottle of ammonia and it advised leaving a dish of ammonia in the oven overnight for easy cleanup of spills in the morning. So I tried it out and it worked pretty well!

Here’s What I Advise:

  • You don’t need very much ammonia. 1/2 cup is sufficient. More than that and you’re gonna be able to smell it, even with the oven door closed.
  • Hold your breath, plug your nose, do whatever you need to do to not inhale it. It is powerful stuff.
  • Before opening the oven door in the morning, open windows. Air flow is good.
  • When you do open the oven door in the morning, do so (with your nose plugged) and head out of the room for a few minutes.
  • After a few minutes you should be okay to wipe away the burnt on food without irritating your nose or throat. It should wipe up fairly easy. I had a couple of spots about an inch big that didn’t just wipe up that I had to scrape with my fingernail.
  • Never mix ammonia with bleach or any household cleaning products that may contain bleach! It will create a deadly gas.

If you use caution and good sense, this is a pretty effortless way to get your oven clean! If you’d rather not use ammonia, try out this oven cleaner recipe.

July Fillable Cleaning Calendar

Fillable July Cleaning Calendar

Is it really already July!!? Time is flying and we are busy having fun, evidenced by my lack of posts the last month! I promise to be back with some great tips in the coming days though! For now, here is a fillable cleaning calendar for the month of July. Stay on top of housework by assigning a specific day for cleaning tasks and before you know it, cleaning will be habit!

July Cleaning Calendar

June Fillable Cleaning Calendar

June Fillable Cleaning CalendarSet up your cleaning schedule for next month with this free June fillable cleaning calendar! Open it here, click on any blue area and type! Use mine below if you need ideas. Save and print it if you’d like!

June Customizable Cleaning Calendar

A few weeks ago I reaped the sweet satisfaction of a clean house when a friend called me at 8:30 in the morning, wondering if I could watch her little boy at 8:45. I happened to have followed my cleaning schedule the few days before (I slip out of routine more often than not during the month!), so there was no rushing around to pick up before she arrived. I was able to say, “Sure, bring him on over!”, and not stress about getting things nice and clean! It felt great!

While that’s not always the case, in fact most of the time it’s not, I am still a big fan of having a cleaning schedule. I do what I can and try not to worry about it when I can’t get to everything. Having 2 small kids is a perfectly justifiable excuse for a dirty house!

My Go-To Dinner for Crazy Days

Baby Bed Head This cute little mess maker with his bedhead, is sleeping well again after his first molars finally broke through. It took well over a week and boy were those long days! They happened to come, one right after another, while Mr. C was out of town for a week. Talk about timing! Did I mention those were long days? Granted, we traveled to my parents’ house for a few of those days which provided me with some relief, but my respect for single parents sure grew during that time period. Parenting solo is quite the undertaking!

When we got back from Grandma and Grandpa’s we quickly settled back into our daily routine of eating, playing, and sleeping. Of course it’s really not that simple. There’s the laundry and diaper changing and the whining and crying. Meal time seemed to come around quicker than ever and by dinner time I did not have the energy to prepare a nice homemade meal. So we relied on left overs, cereal, and freezer meals! However, our frozen lasagna night was just as great as a nice homemade meal, except a whole lot easier! After preheating the oven, I threw in a delicious Stouffer’s Lasagna with Meat and Sauce and we headed outside to soak up the afternoon sun!
 
DSC_2061 webWe put Cal in his Tonka and Jayna took him for a little spin. His little tushy fit just perfectly! The kids played and I relaxed.
DSC_2105 webIt was just what we needed after a long day of being cooped up.
Coupons for Stouffer's LasagnaWhen we came in, the house smelled so yummy. We washed up and had dinner on the table in 5 minutes! It was quite effortless on my part and the kids (and I) ate it right up. Stouffer’s frozen meals are a favorite of ours. We want to try their Meat Lovers Lasagna next. It’s got Italian sausage, ground beef, pepperoni and just like the Lasagna with Meat Sauce, it has freshly made pasta laid by hand and vine ripened tomatoes picked at the peak of freshness. Not to mention, they tested 35 different variations to get the recipe perfect! Want to try it too? Here’s a coupon for $1.50 off Stouffer’s Family Size Meat Lover’s Lasagna and in case you want to stick with traditional, a coupon for $1.50 off Stouffer’s Family Size Lasagna with Meat and Sauce.

What’s your go-to dinner for crazy days? Leave a comment for a chance to win one $100.00 Visa gift card. 

 

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 5/7/14-6/30/14

Be sure to visit the Stouffers brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

 

The Swing Swaddle | A Review and Giveaway!!

Swing Swaddle for when all the bucket seats are taken at the park!I’ve got a cool new baby product to show you all today! It’s called the Swing Swaddle. And I love it. If you have little ones, you know bucket swings are highly sought after at the park. Watch them like a hawk or you’ll miss your opportunity, right?! Or worse, there are no bucket swings and you’re stuck swinging with your baby or toddler on your lap, because undoubtedly they want to swing! This is where the Swing Swaddle comes into play.

The Swing Swaddle - For all those times the bucket seats are taken at the park!The Swing Swaddle is an adjustable safety harness that clips right onto a normal swing, making it possible for your small child to swing safely! It is easily and quickly set up by clipping the hooks at equal heights on one side, pulling the swaddle underneath the swing seat, and clipping the remaining hooks on the other side.

The Swing SwaddleThe strap that goes underneath the swing seat is made of elastic, so it stretches to accommodate children of different sizes.

The Swing SwaddleAdditionally, there are waist clips on both sides that are also adjustable. As you can see, my little Cal is snug as a bug. I feel completely at ease about his safety while he’s in the Swing Swaddle.

The Swing SwaddleAnd he quite enjoys it! We’ve used this multiple times at both the park as well as on the swings outside our condo (especially convenient because there are no bucket swings!) and I have found that the Swing Swaddle fits differently on different swings. The park swings are wider than the condo ones and the fit seems to be a bit better for my little guy. On the condo swings, the swaddle hits him a little closer to his chin which seems a bit too high. If the hooks were just a little bit bigger, I would be able to clip them on the larger chain link, making it a perfect fit! So, that’s my only qualm with this product-the size of the hooks.

The Swing Swaddle - Convenient enough to pack everywhere!It is well made, cute, and functional! It conveniently folds up and fits right inside my big ‘ol diaper bag, leaving lots of room for other essentials. In fact, that’s where I store it! That way we have it for any impromptu park stops!

You can purchase the Swing Swaddle online for $45.00. It may seem a bit steep, but in my opinion it’s totally worth it! Ours gets used several times a week! There are currently 6 different designs available, with more on the way.

So who wants one??! Someone’s gonna get one for FREE and it might as well be you! Enter the giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

May Customizable Cleaning Calendar

May Customizable Cleaning CalendarYay for May! A new month and a fresh start to keeping house. Here is your Customizable Cleaning Calendar for the next month. Simply click on any blue area to begin typing. Use my calendar below as a reference if you need to.May Customizable Cleaning Calendar

Since the beginning of the year, keeping a cleaning schedule has helped me to get a handle on keeping house. While I don’t always accomplish everything on my calendar, it has most definitely helped! The following is a list of a few things I’ve realized since setting up a cleaning routine.

3 Reasons to Keep a Cleaning Schedule

1) It Will Save You Time. While it may seem like more work to sort mail (or dust, or wash windows, etc) every single day, week, or month, it’s actually less work and will save you time. By regularly cleaning, things don’t get as dirty and you don’t have to spend as much time scrubbing when you do clean!

2) You’ll Get More Done. I’m pretty sure it’s been proven that if you write your goals down, you are more likely to accomplish them, right?! Well, a cleaning calendar is your monthly set of housekeeping goals. Schedule your tasks and you’ll be more apt to get them done, I promise!

3) It Will Make You Feel Good! Keeping a schedule will help your house get and stay clean. And when your house is clean, it just feels good. And you’ll feel good too!

So what are you waiting for? Grab your Customizable Cleaning Calendar and make a plan! I’m hoping to get some more spring cleaning done in the next few weeks! What are you going to tackle?

Simple Things Sunday | Running Water

Sink Bath

I’m feeling really grateful for running water and electricity. Aaron returned Wednesday from a week long trip to Liberia, one of the poorest countries in the world, where the majority of people don’t get to enjoy these conveniences in their homes. I’ve been thinking about this every time I go to fill up a glass of water or use the restroom and I am content with and thankful for all that I have right now.

Sink BathLinking up to Simple Things Sunday.