Wednesday, December 29, 2010


We love puzzles yet I do not love losing pieces and finding larger storage options for them. A good friend gave me the following tip:

Cut out the picture of each puzzle from the top and sides of the box. Assign each puzzle a number and write the number on the back of each of the pieces (so you know where that lone puzzle piece goes that you find 2 weeks later). Store everything together in a slide-zipper top plastic food storage bag, labeled with the name and number on the puzzle.

We were able to fit all of our puzzles in a small plastic bin, ordered from 1 to 25. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Cards - Prayer

This tip is from a friend of mine and I think it is fabulous and very timely.

As you receive Christmas cards this year, before you display them, pray for the person or family who sent you the card.

I plan to save ours in a pile to pray over at dinner as a family. Let's all choose to make Christmas greetings even more meaningful!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Right Sized Cones?

This tip may save you money, calories and possibly a sugar-meltdown later. I purchased a box of kids' cones for a birthday party once, and was embarrassed when I realized just how T-I-N-Y they were! I felt that way...until I realized all the moms in the room were super happy because their kids weren't going home on a jacked-up-sugar-high.

So these mini cones are now a staple at our house. The cones themselves are not made with wholesome ingredients, but they are so tiny, it seems insignificant. I can use a melon-baller to scoop the ice cream into them and my kids are flipped over having an ice cream cone. Even if they ate 4, it wouldn't compare to what would go into one full sundae cup. (Although we still use those for special ice cream nights.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Preservative Worth Eating

This tip will change the way I view a loaf of bread. Today the kids and I went to a local bakery to learn about the bread-making process. The owner told us that they began adding honey to the recipes because it acts as a natural preservative. An employee later suggested I purchase honey wheat bread rather than regular whole wheat for sandwiches because it will likely last a few days longer in the pantry.

We currently buy at least two loaves of bread at the beginning of the week, and it doesn't always keep well until the end, unless I refrigerate it. I miss "soft" sandwiches! On my next shopping trip, I'll choose the honey wheat variety and maybe we can have sandwiches on the weekend!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Another Use for Hand Sanitizer

A friend shared this cleaning tip with me recently -use hand sanitizer to clean just about anything. I'm starting to think that is true!
  • My son skinned his knee pretty badly and got blood on my yellow purse. Hand sanitizer got it all out instantly.
  • My touch screen phone gets yucky from makeup and my kids' dirty fingers. Hand sanitizer makes it like new again.
  • We use dry erase markers to write on the windows for school. Sometimes the kids miss and color the painted window sills. :( Hand sanitizer cleaned it right off.

Unfortunately most hand sanitizers are just anti-bac, not anti-viral so it doesn't protect us against viruses like the stomach virus, or even the common cold. I prefer my kids to actually wash hands (unless we're out somewhere and have gross hands and cannot wash) BUT I will be adding hand sanitizer to my cleaning arsenal!

Please comment if you have a tried-and-true hand sanitizer cleaning solution!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Morning Board Time

This tip will only apply to a portion of BeenThereLearnedThat readers. The idea has so greatly benefited our family, I really wanted to share it.

Thanks to some of the ideas on the blog 1+1+1=1, we are starting a Morning Board time in our home. We are pinning several things on an old cork board in our school room.

My 2-year old chooses the Color of the Day and then uses a dry-erase marker to draw on the window in that color.

My 5-year old writes the date onto a Wipe-Off Calendar then my 7-year old writes in the full date on the Today Is template. This also has a place to tally our Days of School and I've created a Lesson Number template, too.

We choose our "What's the Weather today?" card and discuss the current temperature and the High/Low for the day. (I really need to get a thermometer for outside.)

We recite the Pledge of Allegiance (with a YAY! from my 2-year old at the end). A small flag and the words are posted on our Morning Board. (The printout I'm using is from the Adventures in My Father's World curriculum.)

We also have our Bible Memory Verse for the week up there. I'm hoping my 2-year old will learn those with us, too!

Morning Board time is now one our favorite times of the day! If you have any other ideas for Morning Board time, please do share!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mix Ins

My kids really enjoy sugared cereals. We used to buy them for special occasions and they somehow made their way into our normal routine. But the Mama-voice-of-reason says that we need more fiber and less sugar. So I came up with a new way our family eats cereal.

First, we use our base cereal. Plain cheerios. Not much sugar and some soluble fiber. Next we get to choose a sugared cereal as a topping. My favorite is Reese's Puffs. Yum! The cheerios seem to take on the flavor of the sugared cereal, yet everybody's bowl is about three-fourths toasted oats and one-fourth "bad" stuff. (SHHH! don't tell my kids!) I hope you enjoy this tip!

(Photo courtesy of Colin Purrington via

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Email Subscription for a Blog

I just found out how to create an email subscription service for your blog! These instructions are courtesy of ThemeLib:

First, use Feed Burner to share your blog:

Then, create an email subscription widget and add it to the design of your blog:

Lastly, please look to the right and sign up for emails on THIS blog, if you're interested. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Corn, No Cob

This tip is from Rachael Ray. To effortly de-cob corn, place a small bowl upside down inside a large bowl. Stabilize the corn cob vertically on top of the small bowl. Using a sharp knife and with a downward motion, cut the kernels off the cob. The large bowl will catch all of the corn kernels. No more corn mess all over your kitchen counter! (You could also use a bundt pan for this, if you have one)

(Photo courtesy of WhitneyInChicago on

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ginger Root

Ever have a recipe that calls for fresh ginger but you have no idea how to tackle the knob? Leave-out no longer! Bring home a smaller knob of ginger (broken off from a large one in the grocery store). Peel it using a cereal spoon from your flatware drawer. Place the peeled-knob-a-ginger in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until you're ready to use it. Using a microplane or zester, grate the ginger into your dish. I promise it will be a cinch!
P.S. This tip was given by Rachael Ray on several of her television programs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Hot Pocket Knock-Offs

This tip was from the Rachael Ray show in which Rocco Dispirto is a contributor. Rocco gave some ideas to spruce up lunches and one way was to create make-your-own-hot-pockets using healthy ingredients. Click here to view a video and Rocco's Lunch Packets recipe on Racheal Ray's site.

This is the basic idea:

Take a slice of trimmed sandwich bread
Place a few filling ingredients on one half of the bread (pepperoni, cheese, marinara, etc.)
Fold the sandwich to make a little triangle
"Fork" the edges to make it pretty
Toast until cheese is melted

You can make a BBQ chicken variation, Mexican variation, etc. I hope your family enjoys these as much as we have. The creativity is half the fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Glass of Chocolate Milk A Day...

Hold on to your seat. Recent articles from Women's Health and Men's Health magazines may just make your week!

Chocolate milk works better than most sports drinks to replenish electrolytes. It can also help you lose weight. And if you drink the whole milk version as a treat, it may raise your good cholesterol.

So drink up!

P.S. Happy Cow Creamery is famous for their chocolate milk. Everyone around here raves about it.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sift, Baby, Sift

I have always wondered why some recipes call for pre-sifted flour and other recipes suggest you sift regular all-purpose flour and then why some of these recipes don't turn out well, even when I follow the instructions.

I happened upon this Cooking For Engineers site when trying to figure this out and I found this measuring tip.

When measuring flour without a scale, always assume it calls for sifted flour, because unsifted flour produces different measurements every time. This explains some of the unpredictability of recipes. The author of this site recommends shaking your flour in a large container before measuring. And do NOT pack the flour. It should be lightly spooned in and then leveled off. And shaken in the container first. I've had great results so far!

My favorite containers to store flours, sugars, and other dry goods in are like the Lock and Lock Storage 11 Cup Medium Container.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Storm Chasers

We just received a phone call from a man with an Australian accent claiming he was with "American Shingles", I believe, and he proceeded to tell me about all the homes in my area damaged by storms. I let him know we were not interested in having him assess our damages, yet he kept insisting I have him come. I mentioned the outstanding claim we have with our insurance company and he abruptly disconnected the call. It was amazing how quickly he went from polite, to agressive, to RUDE!

I mentioned the call to my husband and he told me the man must be a storm chaser. According to an old post on Wikipedia's site:
Storm Chaser (contractor): A term used by insurance companies, municipal building departments, local contractors, and the general public to describe roofing and siding contractors from outside a local area that come to help people in need of repair. General contractors do not have enough skilled workers on staff to compensate for such severe damage, so contractors from all over come with a helping hand and their expertise.
Apparently these "storm chasers" often times charge very little money but perform terrible jobs and then disappear. The reputable companies have to come in behind them and re-roof the house.

So consider this a buyer beware - if you receive an unsolicited call asking for permission to check your roof, decline the invitation. You can then contact a reputable roofing and siding company in your area to obtain a FREE damage estimate.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Desperate Times?

Desperate times call for desperate measures. For those of you who have children you've diapered, you understand what I'm talking about. If your child has a terrible diaper rash, they do NOT want to be wiped, medicated or bathed. They just want the pain to stop. It must feel like a sunburn or something because the slightest contact puts them in a screaming rage. So finding a diaper cream that works, is worth making yourself!

A good friend of mine, author of, shared this pediatrician-recommended potion: Combine equal parts Lotrimin, Auquaphor and Maalox and store in a small container. Dispense as needed. (Generic Lotrimin and Maalox may be easily substituted - my friend stores hers in a tiny Play-Doh container.)

Here's why it works: The Lotrimin is an anti-fungal cream and will treat any yeast that may be present. The Auquaphor is a very thick ointment that will coat the skin, adding a protective barrier. The Maalox helps to soothe the skin by cooling it on contact. Please try it. You'll be glad you did.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saturated Truth

I read a Men'sHealth article today that is very interesting. It de-bunks myths regarding saturated fat (fat that naturally occurs in animal products). The article explains why eating full-fat versions of foods (the way God intended it) is actually very good for heart health. Please pass the butter!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Egg gone bad?

A friend of mine called the other day and asked how to know if an egg is not okay to eat anymore. We had both heard different things about expiration dates on the egg packages so I found this tip on .

Basically you float an egg in water in a bowl and look to see if it stays on its side or floats to the top. This site states that a fresh egg will stay on its side at the bottom of the bowl. But if it floats...well toss it! Somewhere in between - it's up to you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Maximize Volume With Your Breastpump

Okay, so if you have male anatomy, this post is not for you.

Men, stop reading now. This is one of those areas where ignorance is bliss.

When I was breastfeeding I had the lactation consultant's number on speed dial! I rarely pumped so it really did not matter what setting I had it on...until I went away for several days. So, I thought I'd post this for all of you who may be using the Medela Pump In Style Original breast pump. Because the numbers do matter!

To maximize volume start with the the Primer Rate. (Turn the dial to 4/5.) Once you've let down, reduce it to 1/2/3 (set the suction on the place that feels most like your child feeding).

I hope this helps!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dust With Dryer Sheets

What should you do with your dryer sheets after they've been used? Before tossing them, use them to wipe down your dustiest furniture. It works like furniture polish, leaving a temporary barrier that prevents dust from sticking to the wood, allowing YOU to dust less often. And it smells good, to boot.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wet 2 Straight

One of my curly-headed friends told me about one of my favorite hair tools of all times. I have naturally wavy hair...and lots of it, at that. When I used to straighten it I would spend 30-45 minutes drying it then another 30 minutes straightening it with a flat iron.

My new time saver? The flat iron that DRIES your hair, too. My hair also ends up much straighter and I can watch a TV show (in the mirror) or talk on the phone (on speaker) while I work. You know YOU like to multi-task, too. And my hairdresser said my hair seems healthier than it did before.

I purchased the Remington Wet2Straight last year for about $25 at Wal-mart. Best $25 I've spent in a while!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fish Spatula

Tyler Florence recommends this utensil if you are planning to cook fish. I made fish biscuits for a LOST-themed party and purchased it to move the large cookies to the baking sheet without breaking them. It is now one of my favorite kitchen tools.

It's great for flipping pancakes, moving warm cookies without disturbing the shape and it's perfect for delicate food items. It is small enough to get under food. It is flexible enough to not break something fragile. It is long enough to move a large piece and keep it in one piece. Every cook should have one.

I found mine for $3.99 at TJ Maxx. You can also find them at Williams-Sonoma or on

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Smell Like Garlic

I saw on an episode of the Dr. Oz show that if you have an ear infection and stick a clove of garlic in your ear overnight (covered with a band-aid to keep it in) then your infection will go away. He said it was not a myth, but actually true. Who knew?

I am assuming you'll smell like a salami the next day, but it beats 10 days on an antiobiotic!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sandwich makeover

I learned of this tip from a segment on the Rachael Ray show.  If you want to spice up a sandwich, roll it up! 

Here are the steps to create your own Sandwich Roll-Ups:

Remove the crust, creating two squares.

Flatten the breadout with a rolling pin.

Squish the two pieces together, creating a seam in the center of a long rectangle.

Next, add the sandwich yummies. In this case I was making a turkey and swiss sandwich. Only fill half the sandwich.

On mine, I added a little spicy mustard. My kids have theirs plain, though.

Roll it up and then cut it into four pieces, cutting at an angle to make it pretty.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Kitchen Burn

I am quite clumsy. And a little flighty at times. And sometimes I touch things that should only be handled with an oven mitt.

I've tried everything under the sun. The best advice I've read (and tried) is to place your burned skin under COOL running water until the pain subsides. Do NOT ice it. Do NOT run super cold or warm water over it. Do NOT immediately put an ointment on it. The skin is very fragile after a burn simply running cool water over it transfers the heat out of the finger without making the burn worse.

And this is a tip learned the hard way. Many times over.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Meat Savings

One of my new favorite ways to stretch the grocery budget is to use frozen ground turkey and frozen ground turkey sausage. I've found it is less expensive than ground beef and pork, and also less than the fresh ground turkey in the meat case. I now substitute it in everything. Most of the time my family cannot even tell the difference.

In our market, Publix sells the Louis Rich brand. Our Wal-mart sells the Jennie-O brand. They come packaged in 1-pound rolls, which is also great because I don't waste money on meat I don't need. And it is usually only $1.50/lb, a savings of about $2-$3 per pound.

I've discovered the turkey "rolls" hidden in obscure places. You may have to ask a grocery employee for help locating them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What to Pay a Babysitter

Ever wonder what babysitters actually get paid these days? If you need to know what to pay your babysitter, check out this babysitting rates site. There is a rate calculator that I found helpful.

You can still choose to pay based on other criteria, but it gives you a great place to start!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mash Your Meat

The next time you brown up some ground meat, whip out your potato masher. It breaks up the meat into perfect tiny pieces.

In fact, leave the meat alone and allow it to caramelize for a few minutes in the pan. Don't worry it won't turn into one huge patty! After the meat gets a little color on it then start to break it up with the masher.

If you try it, I'd love to know what you think.

(This is a tip I picked up from Rachael Ray.)

Rubber Chicken

Rubber chicken? Meet the meat thermometer!

If a recipe calls for cooked chicken, most of us throw it in a pot of boiling water and ends up tasting more like rubber bands than meat, right?

Here's my solution. Wash the chicken, pat it dry then dress it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat and bake it on 350F until it reaches 165F. This takes around 30 minutes for most chicken breasts. (I recommend a digital meat thermometer that alerts you when the meat is done. I bought one like this on ebay.) After the meat cools, shred away. You will end up with no-fuss-tender-chicken you won't have to chew in the back of your mouth.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pasta Perfect

When you drain pasta please do not rinse the noodles! You are washing off many of the nutrients and the starchiness that allows the sauce to stick!

If you refrain from rinsing you can instead coat the pasta with a thin layer of sauce. For example, if you're fixing spaghetti, drain the noodles, return them to the pot and add a few tablespoons of the marinara sauce, stirring well to combine. This will keep the noodles from sticking to each other but will still allow the sauce to stick to the noodles.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Movie Rentals

I'm not sure how you rent movies but I've never been a bigger fan of the $1 kiosk than I am now!

First, go to and find the closest Red Box kiosk to your home. You can then see which titles are available at each redbox location.

(If you want to research each title, you can try one of our other favorite sites:

Next, reserve the title you want and then pay with a debit/credit card. When you go to pickup the movie you want you just swipe your card and voila, you have an inexpensive movie rental without the hassle!

How great is that?

Thanks, Brandon, for this tip!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Clean Cut Brownies

My friend Sabrina told me that if you cut your brownies with a plastic knife they will cut straight and won't goop-apart. It works!