Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Dish Wand in the Shower

This tip is what got me back to this space to write again.

Side note - I'm sorry if you've missed the blog, we've been living life around here and I'm trying to keep my priorities in order.  And some days when I've had free time, Pinterest won. :)

Speaking of Pinterest, and the reason I'm writing here, you really need to try this tip.  I'm in love with the idea.  If you hate cleaning bathrooms as much as I do, and like saving money, you'll love this idea, too.

It's simple, combine equal parts blue Dawn with white vinegar in a dish wand, and store it in your shower (sponge side up).  Next time you have shower time, scrub the walls, floors doors, and even the shower curtain.  It works really well because the vinegar has antimicrobial properties, the Dawn cuts through the scum, and the scrubbing sponge does the hard work for you.

I've been using this for almost a year, but had to wait for high humidity days to really test it out.  It has passed the test in my home!  I hope it blesses you, too.

I'd like to thank the author of Joyful Homemaking for this original idea. You go girl!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Leftover Buns?

If life gives you loads of leftover hamburger or hot dog buns, and you don't want to make croutons, then make cinnamon toast.  Your family will love you.  And if you want it to be extra scrumptious try these tips and make it the Pioneer Woman way.

But if you don't like eating plain buns, croutons, OR cinnamon toast, then make cheese toast. Or mini pizzas!  YUM!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unconventional Art Gallery

Would you like to find a way to display the kids' artwork without it taking over the refrigerator or cluttering up the walls?  I have a hate relationship with clutter, but I do love my kids' artwork.

This idea, courtesy of my good friend G, allows us to have the best of both worlds.  Hang artwork on a blank wall in the laundry room/laundry closet.  Almost all of us have at least SOME blank space in there.

I used inexpensive frames from a big-box-store.  I love the reward of viewing their creations when I finish putting away all the laundry.  My laundry space has become a happy space!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dry Erase Marker on Plastic

At my daughter's last birthday party I allowed her guests to write on plastic patio cups and plates I have.  It helped us stay in our birthday budget, and provided way more entertainment than I'd anticipated.

The predicament arose the next day, when I removed them from the dishwasher and realized the marks weren't coming off, as they do on plastic containers I use.  

I tried several different cleaners with no luck, until finally, I found a solution that worked.

Wouldn't you know plain old rubbing alcohol did the trick?  Alcohol is the reason hand sanitizer cleans windows and dry-erase boards.  My hand sanitizer didn't contain enough alcohol in it for these cups, but alcohol sure did the trick.

I'm so excited to add this new weapon to my cleaning arsenal!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Love Your Feet

Are cracked heels, dirty feet or stinky feet a problem for you during the summer months?  If so, Suzanne Carlile has some great tips for creating presentable feet.  So love your feet and read the tips she listed on the site Kohl's Healthy Kids: Mommy Medicine.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Put the Straw Back in the Strawberry

How can you hull a strawberry without a strawberry gadget?  Use a straw!  Genius!

Photo courtesy of Amy from New Nostalgia
Amy's brain must hurt for coming up with this one!  You can read more about her original idea on her blog, New Nostalgia.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Upcycle Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns

Photo courtesy of cooljuno411 via
We're in the thick of grilling season again.  This means we'll all have to figure out what to do with all those leftover hamburger and hot dog buns.  In a perfect world, the number of buns eaten would equal the number of hot dogs and hamburgers consumed.  Unfortunately, this is not heaven.

So, rather than tossing them (waste not, want not), let's turn them into CROUTONS!  Really, really yummy croutons that will store in our pantries for a long while.  And next time we have a craving for a yummy summer salad, homemade croutons are readily available.

Here's my method:

Cut the leftover buns into crouton-sized cubes.  For every 6 cups of bread cubes, toss in a plastic bag or large bowl with 4 Tablespoons melted salted butter and 1 clove minced garlic (if you want garlic croutons).  Arrange the seasoned cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until crispy and dry.

This works with day old bread or week old bread.  Just make sure it's not growing mold!  :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Girl and Her Shelf

This past December I started a DIY project while the kids were with my mom.  To my great surprise, I finished without any assistance from the hubby.  And I'm telling you, if I can do it, so can you!

It started with a desire for a place to display my girls' beloved trophies and to hang their bags.  I wasn't able to find anything store-bought that was big enough.

I stumbled upon this photo on Pinterest from the blog Our Vintage Home Love and it was my inspiration for the project:

The project began with a trip to Lowe's.  I purchased white paint, a small paint tray, painter's caulk, regular nails, finishing nails, (I'm still not sure what the difference is.) screws, and satin nickel hooks (I returned to the hooks to Lowe's after a trip to Hobby Lobby, but that's a story for later.):

I had the patient employees at Lowe's cut the wood and crown molding to size: (The employees were true gentlemen and really held my hand through the project.)

First, I painted the wood and the crown white:

Once I glued and nailed all the pieces together like the Lowe's employees showed me, then I brought it inside to dry: 

I attached these beautiful hooks from Hobby Lobby:

Because I didn't know of anyone experienced with a miter saw, I wasn't able to finish the edges with the crown the way I would have liked to.  I now know of someone that can do that.  I'll be asking him for a huge favor if I ever need to make something like this in the future. 

And here is the finished product (with not so great lighting):

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Foods that Fight Sickness

Photo of oats courtesy of Phil Dubois via
According to Women's Health Magazine, there are certain foods that can boost immunity.  Listed on this site are:

Chamomile Tea
Olive or Nut oils
Whey protein (found in yogurt)
Butterbur herbal supplement
Sports drink (most surprising to me)
Red wine (wish I liked it)
Chili peppers (the hotter the better)
Reduce food intake in general

To read more about the studies that led to this list, read the full article here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Family Night

Photo courtesy of John-Morgan via
Several years ago, two sweet ladies drove from two states away to share tips and parenting ideas with a small group of young moms in a living room here.  One had been a mentor to a mentor of ours, and she really helped cast a vision for what godly motherhood looks like. Our families have greatly benefited from their sacrifices.

One of the ideas given was regarding a regular Family Night.  One woman said her family had pizza and a movie every Friday night, and that Friday nights were "sacred".  They never agreed to do things that would interrupt it, unless it was completely necessary.  The mentor-of-our-mentor mom shared that her family rotates ideas for Family Night, and that each time it had a different personality.

When I pitched the idea to my man, he loved it, and we've had a rotating Family Night, ever since.  Everyone in our family looks forward to it.

Here's how it works, our rotation starts with Daddy, then Mama and then kids, in their birth order.  Until a child turned 4, he or she was not allowed to choose.  And honestly, when they were younger than that, they didn't even notice!

Each person has to choose the food, the activity, and possibly dessert, and there is a $20 budget, which rolls over if we don't spend money one night.  

Here are some of the fun things we've tried:
  • Eating Out Night - My hubby's top choice, finished off with a dessert at home or no dessert at all.
  • Ice Cream Sundae Night - Create an ice cream sundae bar for dessert after a light dinner.
  • Movie Night - Rent a movie and eat taco dip, nachos, popcorn or pizza in front of the TV.
  • Family Video Night - Same as above but with home videos.
  • Themed Movie Night - Watch a movie and eat themed food with it, i.e. Ratatouille.
  • Game Night - Play board games or video games as a family, with TV snacks.
  • Scavenger Hunt - Indoors or out.
  • Park Night - Pack a picnic and visit a local park or playground.
  • Hot Cocoa Night - Create a hot chocolate bar for the winter months.
  • Pet Shopping - Take your pet to a local pet store and pick out treats for him/her.  Treat a neighbor's pet, if you don't have one.
  • Indoor Picnic - Rearrange the living room furniture, lay a picnic blanket down and roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the fireplace.
  • Play-Doh Night - Create.  You may even want to compete.  My husband won.
  • Midnight Movie - Okay, so maybe not midnight, but have a "lame family night" and once the kids are good and asleep, wake them to find a rearranged living room and buttered popcorn for a late night showing.
  • Carnival - Go to a local carnival or fair. 
  • Flashlight Tag - Indoors.
  • Train Ride - Find a train to ride.  Our local mall has one.
  • Candy Store - Eat a small dinner and then find a candy store to raid for dessert.
  • Toy Store - Go to a local toy store and window shop.  The kids can bring their money, if it's been earned.
  • Family Walk - Take a long stroll somewhere, the kids can bring their bikes.
  • High School Game Night - Go to your local high school team's home game.
  • Pool Night - Go to your neighborhood pool with a pizza for dinner.
  • Reverse Night - Allow the kids to act like parents for the night.  They can eat whatever they want, stay up as late as they want, but they have to make dinner, clean the kitchen and put the parents to bed (parents can watch a movie).  If they break anything they have to pay to replace it, just like Mama and Daddy would.
  • Thankfulness Night - Set aside a night to remember all the ways God has been faithful to you as a family. 
  • Window Shopping - Eat dinner at home and walk around downtown.  Sometimes we enjoy cupcakes from our favorite local bakery.
  • Downtown Festivals - Take advantage of seasonal events that take place in your hometown.
  • Fire Pit Roast - Roast hot dogs and marshmallows in the backyard, make S'mores.
  • Valentines Night - Create a handmade Valentine each to give a friend, and eat heart cookies for dessert.
  • Christmas Lights - Drive around after dinner and enjoy Christmas lights; don't forget the music.
  • Gingerbread Decorating - Decorate a gingerbread house or create a graham cracker nativity together.
  • Pumpkin Carving - Let everyone carve or paint a pumpkin.
  • Easter Egg Dying Party - Create all kinds of egg decor.  We love rubber bands.
These are ideas I'd like for us to try:
  • Camping - In the living room or outside.
  • Family Soccer Game - In the backyard.
  • Memory Book - Run the laptop to the TV and create a photo book together, or create one the old-fashioned way with scrapbook supplies.

What Family Night ideas do you have or have you tried as a family?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Save Money at the Coffee Shop

Photo courtesy of Marco Arment via
Next time you go to your favorite coffee shop, try this tip to save money and calories.  Rather than ordering your usual latte, try a Misto instead.  (A latte is typically a shot of espresso topped off with steamed milk, while a misto is half brewed coffee, half milk.)  On average, you'll save about $0.50 a cup, and about 80 calories with a Grande size.

When you order with flavorings, rather than requesting a Pumpkin Spice Latte, simply ask for a Pumpkin Spice Misto, a White Chocolate Misto, or a Caramel Misto etc. There will only be a slight difference in taste.  (A former Starbucks employee told me you get a tad more caffeine in a Misto, too, because brewed coffee typically has more caffeine than espresso shots.  Yay for caffeine!)

And, if you want to go even further, order a Short (8 oz) drink, instead of a Tall (12 oz)Grande (16 oz) or Venti (20 oz).  A Short is not on the Starbucks menu, either - it's the kids' size.  You'll save a few pennies and calories with that size, too.  Of course you have to be in the mood for just a little coffee, but it usually does the trick for me!

FYI, cafe' misto is the Starbucks term (and is not on the menu), other coffee houses may refer to it as a cafe au lait.

So drink up, and let us know how it was!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Storing Clothes

Every year we start to dread changing out seasonal clothes in our home.  But it has to be done and it may as well be done with efficiency.

A friend of mine gave me the idea to no longer use bins to store clothes, but instead use Ziploc Big Bags.  They are a quarter of the price and don't take up as much space.  Plus, they're much lighter and easier to toss down from the attic.  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Here I Raise Mine Ebeneezer

Do you struggle sometimes to remember just how faithful God has been to you and your family?  We do, for sure!  Our family started a new "remembering" tradition a few years back.

To read more about this Ebeneezer stone idea on our local church's children's ministry blog, click here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dip Containers

We love using dips.  Whether it is a fiesta ranch ip for veggies, a toffee dip for apples or Chocolate Covered Katie's healthy Cookie Dough Dip with graham crackers, we're always dunking and dipping in this house.  It's just more fun, right?

So when I pack a lunch for the kids, I want to send them a fun dip as a treat.  The dilemma is that finding a dip container that is small enough to fit in their lunch box and one that won't pop open, making a huge mess.  

One afternoon I was on the phone with a friend and we were brainstorming about what containers we could use.  This is the idea we came up with.  I'll give you a hint, it's the same size as these disposable souffle containers for sauce or dressing, but it's reusable, colorful, inexpensive and you probably already have one in your kids' toy box:

Miniature play-doh containers!

Simply remove the label, run it through the dishwasher and you have a colorful petite-sized dip container.  It will not pop open, it will fit in the Easy Lunchbox system and my kids tell me it's a great conversation starter with their friends.

Save the actual play-doh for a kit like this one and if you have any containers left over, they also make great on-the-go homemade diaper rash ointment containers.

These are some photos I snapped last week as I was packing lunches.

My daughter's pretzels with spicy mustard for dipping:

My son's pretzels and spicy mustard:

Fiesta ranch greek yogurt my daughter affectionately calls "Dorito Dip-Dip":

"Dorito Dip Dip" covered with carrots:

P.S. My 6-year old asked me to please label it so her friends didn't think she was actually eating play-doh for lunch.  :)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cookie Disaster Fix

photo courtesy of slgckgc on
Ever work hard to prepare cookies then forget to set the timer? (Enter burned cookies.)

Ugh!  Me, too.  Next time this happens to you, don't trash the cookies right away.  If they're only burned on the bottom, you can possibly salvage them with your box grater:

Using the side with the smallest holes (the one used for zesting lemons or grating nutmeg), "grate" the black parts right off the cookie.  
(This tip is from Sarah Moulton on an episode of the Rachael Ray show.)

Another tip to prevent cookies from burning on the bottom is to invest in a stoneware baking sheet.  I use a Pampered Chef one from back in the day, but there are many new ones to choose from.  If your cookies are burned on the bottom on that pan, they'll be burned all the way through.  It really does heat evenly.  It's a baker's best friend.  :)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas Card "Books"

I love pictures.  And I hate throwing them away.  I was so excited when I saw this idea on Pinterest.  It's a great way to display and enjoy all those fun Christmas cards throughout the years, once the card display comes down.

The detailed instructions on making these books (and the original idea) is from Close 2 My Art.

You'll need a 3-hole punch and can adjust it to make 2 holes in all the cards.  I used my old daytimer one because the holes were adjusted to the right size.

You'll also need some inexpensive book rings to bind them together.  I made books from the last four years  in less than 20 minutes.

I plan to pull these books out every year for Christmas and display them on our coffee table.  My kids love flipping through them.  And the "book cover" is always new, because they're always flipping through and leaving the last photo on top.

Yay, for not throwing photos away!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Card Display

Trying to decide how to display all those Christmas cards?  This has been something I've wanted to get creative with for years.  The last few years I've created a faux Christmas tree with the cards, which was fine, but getting the right shape was not always easy.  I recently saw a Christmas card holder on the Anderson Crew blog that inspired the change.  Thank you, Pinterest.  :)

So here's the tip/idea to use:

Hang a grosgrain ribbon vertically and attach the cards to the ribbon.  I chose a red grosgrain ribbon with white polka dots for this project then hot-glued the ribbon to a Christmas plaque I found.  You could certainly hang the ribbon as is, like this photo from Life on Mars clearly demonstrates.  Note: At first, I used mini clothespins to hang the cards, but it began to feel cluttered once all the photos were hung, so I switched to reusable adhesive putty (sticky tack).

Here is the full-length view:

After attaching all of our horizontal photos to our card holder I ran out of room for the others, so I moved the vertical ones to a door frame and displayed the folding cards using the slats of our louvre doors.

This was an inexpensive, easy project with a huge payoff for me.  Our cards finally have an orderly display!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Play-Doh. Organized. And Pretty.

photo courtesy of lovelihood on
My kids love play-doh, but it is sometimes difficult for them to open the containers.  We also have a hot mess of play-doh and tools in an over-sided big plastic storage bag.

Carisa over at 1+1+1=1 came up with this tip.  Create a play-doh kit with the dough and  accessories/tools all stored in one organized box.  Carisa also created play-doh letter formation  printables for a tacticle way to work on A, B, C's.  (Please click here to view her photos and to download her free printables.)

Now, I can store the play-doh container-free AND create a system for the chaos.  Grin.  (Thank you, Carisa!)

I purchased this 17-compartment storage box at Ace Hardware today with a $5 off coupon.

Here is a picture of our bin all filled up:

I was amazed at how many play-doh items I was able to store in this container!

My next project will be making our own play-doh with scents and glitter.  Check out Tradewind Tiaras and her glitter play-doh recipe and jelly jar gift ideas.  So pretty!  And I love the 1+1+1=1 ideas for adding scents to different colors.

NOTE: Do not toss your play-doh containers!  I'm posting an upcycling idea soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Pops

Want a great way to use extra-ripe bananas? Don't toss them or force yourself to make banana bread to use them up. Try this super-fast nutritious 3-ingredient recipe for pudding, instead! 

A recipe I discovered on Pinterest for Nutella Ice Cream was the inspiration for this tip.  I had Dark Chocolate Dreams and no Nutella in the pantry today, so I adapted the recipe accordingly.  I also added Greek yogurt for the extra protein and probiotics.

Oh. My. Stars. This is delicious!

Recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pudding Pops

6 ripe bananas
1 cup chocolate peanut butter, recommend Dark Chocolate Dreams
1/4 cup Greek style yogurt, recommend Stonyfield Oikos

Peel bananas and pulse a few times in a food processor, then puree until smooth. Add chocolate peanut butter and puree until well blended.

Add Greek yogurt, to taste, and blend well.  I thought it was just right with 1/4 cup yogurt.

Using a soup ladle, pour chocolate pudding into popsicle molds.

You may also want to try these silicon ice pop containers .  These are great for push-up popsicles or for yogurt in lunchboxes.  (My kids love anything I give them in these!)

Serve the remaining pudding straight-up and garnish with light whipped cream, if desired.  It really does taste like pudding!!

This "pudding" is healthy, full of protein, vitamins and minerals and is gluten-free if you use the Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams.  I hope you love this recipe as much as my kids and I have!


Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Breakfast

Don't want to toss that delicious Thanksgiving stuffing or dressing? Make stuffing muffins for breakfast or brunch the next day.  This was made with leftover Sausage Apple Stuffing.  YUM!

Pour chicken stock over leftover stuffing and refrigerate in muffin tins.  The next morning bake at 375 degrees F in a preheated oven until warm and crispy on the edges, about 10 minutes:  (After these photos I put mine back in the oven to brown more, these only cooked about 7 minutes - you may prefer them this way.)

Serve with a side of cranberry sauce.

Another great idea, per Rachael Ray, is to make Leftover Stuffing Waffles!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Post - Oreo Turkeys

This guest post is from my friend, Jackie.  She takes baking and cake decorating to the next level and is really great to have in a woman's group because She. Brings. Goodies. Every. Week.  This post gives tips and instructions to create the latest dessert she shared with us.  This would be a great craft to make with kids for Thanksgiving:

Oreo turkey with Reese's cup

Here are step-by-step instructions to make an Oreo Turkey.  Be creative - the turkeys are much more fun if they have a little bit of personality and some of your own personal touches. As an example, my brother-in-law decided to add a mohawk to his turkey and it looked great! So here are my instructions – but please don’t be afraid to have fun!


Oreo Sandwich Cookies (preferably the regular, original variety because you get more for your money, but they are easier to damage, so if you are heavy handed, I recommend the double-stuffed variety)
Chocolate icing of any variety, and a knife for spreading
Whoppers (a movie theater box is fine)
Red Hots candy
Candy Corn
Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Black and Orange piping icing (recommend Wilton sparkle gel - makes beady sparkly eyes.)
• Creativity and patience


Peanut-free Oreo Turkeys

1.Separate the two halves of an Oreo cookie, being careful not to crack the cookie.  Discard the white filling, or eat, or give to a child to eat.  Ice half of the Oreo cookie with about 1/8-inch of icing all around.  Set aside one of the halves to use as a base.

2. Arrange 5 candy corn pieces in a fan pattern, with the white tips pointing to the center of the Oreo half. The chocolate icing will help them stick. This will be the turkey feathers! If you get carried away with the candy corn and add a lot more, the turkey becomes a little top heavy and he’ll have trouble standing up.

3. Ice the other oreo for the base.  If using peanut products, place a Miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with the flat, larger end at the bottom of the white tips of the candy corn so that the Reese’s only slightly covers the tip and does not hang over the edge of the Oreo cookie. (The step-by-step photos demonstrate the peanut-free version.)  Using more icing, secure a whopper to the peanut butter cup or to the oreo, for the turkey head.   If you don’t add enough of the icing you will have a headless turkey, if you add too much icing you’ll have a fat neck turkey which is good for eating, but looks kind of funny.

4. At this point you should have your base and the turkey feathers/body ready to be put together.  Take the feathered Oreo and stand it up at a right angle to the base Oreo with the Reese’s acting as a stand for the two halves. Add more icing if you need to in order to make it stick.  (If using double-stuffed Oreos, this step is much harder, you'll have to use a book to prop it up while it dries.)

5. Now the turkey is almost finished!  Time to add the details.

6. Break off the white tip of a candy corn and put some chocolate icing on the end and attach to the whopper to make his beak.

7. Put a little bit of icing on a red hot and add it as the Turkey’s “wattle”.

8. Using the black icing, pipe on some eyes.

9. Admire.

10. Using the orange icing, pipe on legs at the edge of the Reese’s on the base of the turkey. For a Big Foot turkey, use the damaged candy corns and place them as Turkey legs.
Plate your turkey and show him off to the world!

Remember, Oreo Turkeys don’t like to be alone – so make him some friends to play with!


Products used in this post:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cut Noodles

This tip is from a friend at the Frazee Dream Center.  She often prepares meals for at least 90 kids and volunteers in the program.  She is full of great ideas, and this one is so obvious, yet not something I've ever thought of.

Next time want to cut spaghetti into small pieces for your little ones, put your kitchen shears right in the bowl (or in Ms. Jenny's case, kid scissors in the large pot) and have at it!  This is so much easier than using a knife, potato masher, pastry blender OR a wooden implement.  And, yes, I have tried all three.  Another benefit is that your 4-year old can even cut his noodles by himself, assuming he has the scissor thing down!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Redeem Mac-N-Cheese

Most nutritionists will tell you that macaroni and cheese is a calorie-laden dish that has very little nutritive value.  But so many of us love it, and so many of our kids gobble it up.  So rather than throwing our comfort food out the window, let's add some nutrition we can feel great about.  This idea came after talking with a  friend who makes pasta with broccoli regularly for her kids.

When you are making macaroni and cheese from a box, I recommend two kinds we have tried.  If you're a Kraft Macaroni and Cheese fan, try the new Veggie Pasta variety:

The pasta itself is made with cauliflower, which adds valuable nutrients easily. Prior to the arrival of the Veggie Pasta, I'd puree cauliflower, as mentioned in my Deceptively Delicious post. This is likely the healthier option, but it is more work.  I would typically add between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup of the cauliflower puree to an organic boxed macaroni and cheese.  The sauce will need salt and pepper since the cauliflower puree is not seasoned.  One of our favorite box varieties is Annie's Shells and White Cheddar:

And of course the healthiest option would be to make homemade macaroni and cheese, but that is not always practical.  

Now for the tip.  Regardless of which macaroni and cheese you use, add broccoli to the dish and you instantly have a nutritionally superior meal.  The key is to use FRESH broccoli florets and add them to the boiling pasta during the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time (add little salt to the pasta water, if you desire).  The broccoli will float on top like this until it really starts to boil:

Once the pasta is done, dump the pasta/broccoli in a colander, and prepare the cheese sauce. (I like to season the sauce with a liberal amount of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.)  Add the hot broccoli and pasta back to the sauce and mix well.   My kids love this and they weren't broccoli fans before we started making it this way.  NOTE: I do not recommend using frozen broccoli, it gets really mushy and may warrant complaints.  This is a photo of the final product:

This bowl is "heavy on the broccoli" for my new little broccoli lover.  But who doesn't love broccoli covered in cheese sauce?  Yum!

And if your kids dig the broccoli with the mac, next time you dine with your kids at Outback Steakhouse, order the Mac 'A' Roo and Cheese, and ask your server to add steamed broccoli.  This dish does not disappoint!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Stomach Virus Protocol

Some of you will stop reading as soon as you see the title.  I get it.  We've had our fair share of this nasty bug.  But since we're approaching stomach flu season, I thought I'd post these tips to help you if you find yourself dealing with it, too.

My family seems to be prone to the throw-up-bugs, otherwise most commonly referred to as the rotavirus or norovirus.  I have had MANY a late night call into our phone nurse to determine my next course of action.  I've made many mistakes and regretted it, especially those at the beach with my entire extended family.  I do not have a great memory, but I can take good notes and I am very thankful for our pediatrician and researchers like this one who are dedicated to studying this nasty pest.  I am NOT a nurse or a medical professional, so please verify this information with your own physician before proceeding.

The first item of prevention is frequent hand washing. Contagions for these viruses are believed to be transmitted through vomit and stool. The virus is so contagious because of its potency (according to this site the norovirus has over 10 million particles per gram, yet it only takes 30 particles to make you sick). Familiarize yourself with proper handwashing techniques. My family sings the "ABC" song all the way through and we dry our hands well afterwards. If someone is sick, we temporarily replace hand towels with paper towels to reduce the transmission. And remember, always wash after using the potty, before eating and when returning home. (If you are out and don't have access to a sink, hand sanitizer is effective against one strain of the virus, but not the other. It's worth using, but hand wash when you get home!)

If someone in your family vomits, CLOSE YOUR MOUTH. The virus is not technically airborne, like the common cold would be, but when someone vomits, all those tiny particles are floating in the air before they land on surfaces. So close your mouth until you can get out of that room then later clean well with an anti-viral disinfectant that works on both the norovirus and the rotovirus. We use Lysol Disinfectant Spray. And use care when transferring bed linens to the wash. Everything it touches becomes infected.

Another prevention item my family has added is to have everyone who is well drink one serving of RED grape juice three times daily. There isn't strong scientific evidence to support this theory, but some believe the juice creates and acidic environment in the gut that makes it difficult for the virus to survive, which is why three servings throughout the day is important. Others believe it's because this type of juice has anti-viral properties. Whatever the reason, its worth trying in my book.
And now for the actual protocol:
Once someone vomits, wait 30-40 minutes after vomiting to give food, drinks or medicine, allowing the tummy to rest. Sleep is best at this point, but if he/she is awake give one tablespoon of clear liquids every 5 mins for the first 4 hours. This step will replenish electrolytes and prevent dehydration. Choose one clear liquid and stick with it. Clear liquids include:
(At any point in this process, if the patient vomits, you must start over. It stinks, I know, but it is worth it in the long run!)
Next you will move to TWO tablespoons of clear liquids every 5 mins for the next 4 hours.  You can try Pedialyte popsicles or another low-sugar popsicles at this point.
If 8 hours has passed with no vomiting, the patient may have dry, starchy, bland, salty foods. Ideas include:
After 3-4 more hours if there has been no vomiting, add in the B.R.A.T. foods (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) for 24 hours until the diarrhea subsides. This means you must wait until the sick person has a normal bowel movement to determine if he/she is over the virus. Trust me when I say it is not worth chancing this! B.R.A.T. diet items include:
  • Bananas
  • White rice
  • Cream of Rice (prepared with water)
  • Natural applesauce, no sugar added
  • White bread toast
  • White potatoes with no dairy and no peel
  • White pasta (may cook in chicken stock)
  • Ginger snaps
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Tiny amounts of protein
  • Popsicles
  • Jell-o
  • Jell-o Water (mix according to directions, then add 3 extra cups of water)
  • Diluted Gingerale or Gatorade
  • Rice milk in small amounts
  • No dairy
  • Add Culterelle to drinks, a probiotic supplement
The patient is contagious until there has been no fever, vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours. At this point you will be washing hands like it's your job, swearing never to have this again! And for your sake, I hope you don't! Please comment if you have any tips to add to this. It may really help someone one day. I'll update this post as new information comes my way.