A Cheese Grater’s Other Uses

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If you have recently updated your kitchen with new floors or counters, you know how great a kitchen can look.  We’ve come up with a few easy tricks for you in the kitchen so that you will look as amazing in your kitchen as your kitchen looks to us!

A cheese grater can be a super handy tool in the kitchen. There are many things you can grate, other than cheese. Find out how to put this ordinary tool to good use! To make your life easier when grating food, spray the grater with cooking spray to keep foods from sticking to the tool. This allows for super easy clean up; taking the scrubbing out of the equation.

Don’t have a garlic mincer? No worries, garlic can be grated on the small side of the cheese grater. This will mince the garlic and give you more flavor. This is especially helpful when making sauces or dips that require garlic. Ginger can also be grated just like the garlic. The same goes for ginger, more flavor will come out if you grate it, opposed to chopping it.

Grate hardboiled eggs to make a super quick salad topping. Make several hard boiled eggs, grate them all and save them for a salad topping that will last a couple of days. This is a great idea if you are trying to eat more salads. Hard boiled eggs add flavor and protein to your salad.

Potatoes can be grated to make yummy hash browns. The prep time is significantly reduced by grating the potatoes, instead of chopping them. Once the grating is done all you have to do is pan fry the hash browns and add some yummy melted cheddar (which of course is delicious when grated)!

Grate tomatoes when making sauces. By doing this instead of dicing, the tomatoes will cook easier because the pieces are smaller. Just make sure to peel the tomatoes before grating.

Spices can be grated by an extra small grating tool. This will allow you to use fresh spices in your recipes. The flavor will be more apparent when using a freshly grated spice. Cinnamon sticks are perfect for grating because they are easy to hold on to while using the tool.

Make toast and grate it finely to make fresh bread crumbs. This will come in especially handy around Thanksgiving!

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

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Father’s day is fast approaching.  This year show Dad how much you really care, by giving him a gift that he will enjoy and get some use out of. First think about what hobbies he is into and how he likes to enjoy his free time. Save the socks and cuff links. Spoil him this year!

An amazing gift for dad is an upgrade to his favorite area in his home.  Does he spend his spare hours in his workshop?  Make his time there more enjoyable by replacing the floor in the room!  Does he love to cook?  His kitchen would no doubt benefit from a change in the floor.  Every time he’s in the room, he will remember you and your thoughtful gift.

A modern and sophisticated back pack is a great gift for almost any dad. Choose one that looks modern and in a color like gray. This way he can take it to work with him, or use it on a day hike.

Masculine phone valets are a good gift for any man in our life. It is a station that can charge his mobile phone, store his wallet and keep his keys. A phone valet is the perfect little spot to keep all of the things he needs to grab before leaving the house. There are also some great leather phone cases that protect the device and double as a wallet. This will eliminate one more thing that dads have to carry around in their pockets. You can also have it embossed with his name and email address, in case it gets lost. This makes it easy for someone to return the wallet/phone.

If dad has a smart watch of some kind, get him a new band or two. There is a nice variety of these available at many various prices. It is always nice to have different bands that can be changed out for different moods or occasions.

Get him a nice game set, depending on the game he likes. There are beautifully constructed game sets available for poker, chess, backgammon and many others. This is also an activity the two of you can use to spend some quality time with one another.

A nice Bluetooth speaker is great for dad. He can wirelessly connect his phone to the speaker and listen to music while working in the yard, tinkering in the garage or relaxing on the deck. This is a gift that keeps on giving. There are many available that produce quality sound that can match up to a small stereo!

No matter what your dad loves to do in his spare time, there are amazing gifts for him.  Stretch your imagination this year and surprise him with your thoughtful gift!

Giving for Christmas

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Christmas is almost here and what better way to celebrate the season than to spend time with your family doing something different, something that will teach your kids the important lessons of the season. We all get swept up in the mayhem that is the holidays but it is important to take a step back and remember the real meaning of this special time of year.

 

While you are about to receive a multitude of gifts as families all share presents on Christmas morning, think about those less fortunate than your family. You’ll have to make room for the new things you’re about to receive anyway, so why not go through your closet, have your children go through their toys, and look around in your kitchen. Find items that you no longer use anymore, and gather them together to donate to your local Good Will or equivalent. This not only teaches your child the importance of kindness, but also gives them a tangible accomplishment to look back on down the road and remember how good it felt to give what they don’t need to someone who might need it more.

 

Another way to share with your children the spirit of Christmas is to create fun activities they can work on with you. They could make collages, poems, stories or songs that demonstrate the things they are most thankful for in their lives. Encourage them to include what makes the holiday so special to them and try coaxing out the more important things, such as thankfulness and giving. Then have them show them off to you and your family. This positive reinforcement will show them the importance of what they’ve created and given thanks for.

 

This time of year there are many out there less fortunate, who cannot afford food and will likely go hungry on Christmas without the help of others. Try finding a soup shelter in your area, or a church or charity that collects food baskets for those who cannot afford to feed their families. Doing this with your child will show them how Christmas isn’t just about getting presents on Christmas morning. It will also show them the importance of giving back to others.

 

These are just a few ways to share the important social lessons that can be lost amidst the glitz and glamour of Christmas. It’s easy to forget what the holiday is really about when your busy decorating your house and gathering presents for your family. Showing your kids what the holiday season is really about is the best gift you can give them.

Cinnamon Apple Chips

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Did you ever enjoy apple chips as a child?  The crispy snack is a great healthy treat for both adults and children – and can bring a nostalgia for fall any time of the year.  Rather than purchasing this item (at a very high price!), make them at home.  This is a wonderful fall activity with children.  Apple prices are low and a wonderful bonding experience between generations!  You may find yourself eating these delectable chips almost as fast as you make them, so plan for plenty!

 

What you need:

Lemon Juice

2 Apples

Cinnamon

Basting Brush

 

Instructions:

Slice apples into thin slices about 1/8 of an inch. Leave the skin and core intact. The skin is healthy and the core makes a pretty design in the center of the apple chip.

Soak apple slices in a bowl of water. Use 2 cups of water and add ¼ cup of lemon juice. Let slices soak for 30 minutes. The lemon juice will prevent the apple from turning brown.

After soaking, pat the apple slices as dry as you can get them. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and arrange the apple slices on the baking sheet. Dust the slices with cinnamon and then use a basting brush to rub cinnamon on the entire slice.

Move the oven racks to the 2/3 from the bottom and 2/3 from the top. Place cookie sheets on the racks and bake for an hour. After an hour remove from oven and turn chips over. Return to the oven for another hour.

 

A great way to enjoy these is cuddled under a cozy blanket or near a warm fire.  Turn on your favorite movie and snack on apple chips rather than popcorn.  These are also wonderful enjoyed with a big mug of hot chocolate!  Don’t forget the marshmallows!

Top Rated Back-To-School Apps

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Back-to-school time is visible as fall arrives and parents everywhere are bracing themselves for this massive undertaking. No matter how well you plan, the process of heading back to school is a chaotic time. Anything that helps simplify it is a very welcome addition to life. Help ease the stress and have some fun by trying out some of the best apps available for managing the process! 

CourseSmart

Free, Apple and Android

This app is designed to help rid your life of bulky, heavy textbooks. CourseSmart inputs a semester’s worth of textbooks on your laptop, tablet, or smart phone. The cost of transferring the books ranges from free to fee based, but in the case of paid transfer the cost of the material is still lower than buying the actual printed publication.

Dictionary.com

Free, Apple and Android

This app has been around for quite some time and it seems to consistently improve with smart changes to the interface. It’s not only more convenient than lugging around a printed dictionary, it offers an abundance of interactive features. It includes a thesaurus, lengthy descriptions of the words, their origins, and an audible pronunciation tool.

MyHomework

Free, Apple and Android

This app is designed to facilitate a way for students to keep track all of their homework assignments. It’s effective because it uses color codes that are assigned in tangent with due dates. It syncs with a desktop computer as well if you would like to be able to use it this way.

Graphing Calculator

Free, Apple

This app allows students to opt out of the inconvenient graphic calculator that seems to either be always in the way or impossible to find.  The app version is an extended scientific calculator that can easily graph multiple equations. The interface is also quite easy to use.

Student Tracker Life 360 Locator

Free, Apple and Android

This app is hugely valuable if you have young children who walk home without adult supervision before or after school. Simply register the app on your child’s mobile phone, and you’ll be able to track his or her location on a map. It also features a panic button which will give both you and your child some peace of mind knowing there’s a quick and easy access way to alert someone of an emergency situation.

Activities With Children

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Trying to find activities to occupy your children’s time as they are finishing their summer break? It can be difficult to fill the days with activities and you don’t want to just sit them in front of a screen all day but what can you do? Here are a few activities that can help keep your children active and away from screens. Some cost money while others don’t so that anyone on any budget can find something to do with their children.

 

A great option if you are trying to stay within a  budget is to pack up some balls, mitts, soccer balls—whatever it is that your children enjoy playing—and throw in a lunch and head to the park. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, a blanket, plenty of water, and even an umbrella if there isn’t much shade. Take your children to the park and allow them to run around and play for a couple of hours. It is a great way to get them more active and enjoying the beautiful weather and outdoors.

 

Another way to keep them active and also allow them a chance to be social is to take them to your local pool. They will have the opportunity to swim around and also meet other children who are at the pool. If the pool is outdoors, make sure you bring sunscreen! Depending on how long you’ll be there, you might consider bringing a book if you aren’t planning on getting in.  However, there is something to be said about taking a dip yourself and playing with your kids.

 

Finally, if your children have never been camping it could be a great idea to pack up your old gear that maybe hasn’t seen the light of day since you had them and set up a camping site in your backyard. Play lawn games with them, grille up some dinner, and when it gets dark start a fire if you have a fire pit and enjoy each other’s company while you look up at the stars. Luckily you are still home so if anyone needs to use the restroom or clean up they are still able to do so.

 

These are just three ideas to help keeps your kids active and off the couch some while they are finishing their summer break. Use these as inspiration for other ideas! Perhaps you actually take them out camping after all. Or you could bring them to an amusement park for the day, or a museum. Whatever you choose, if you keep them moving and learning and experiencing it will be good for them.

Fun Activities for Summer

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You don’t have to go on vacation to have fun during the summer. There are plenty of daytime and nighttime activities you can do with your family to make the most of the season. Consider doing some things right in your own city!

Find a drive-in movie theater or outdoor movie and take the whole family. You can sit in the car, bring lawn chairs or use an outdoor blanket for a picnic feeling. Pack your own snacks and relax under the stars. Many cities show movies at local parks every weekend during the summer – browse the internet for outdoor movie experiences near you.

Book a boat tour! If you live near a body of water, chances are there are daily boat trips you can take. You could go sailing or try out a kayak. There are rental companies that rent kayaks and canoes daily.

Fly a kite. This is a great activity to do with children, or relax and fly solo. Kites are typically welcome at the beach or in a park. Just make sure there is wind and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. When not in use, try hanging the kite on the wall as a bonus decoration!

Camp out in your backyard under the stars. Make your own fire or use a fire pit if allowed or use a hibachi grill. Enjoy cooking hotdogs and s’mores over an open flame!

Rent a convertible for a day or two. There is no better way to enjoy a beautiful summer day than in a convertible. Set out to tour the city you live in or have fun driving to different locations. Take a local scenic route and drive at your leisure.

Pick berries and other produce at a local farm. This is a fun way to buy produce! It sure beats selecting fruit from the grocery store. If you have kids, take them and allow them to hunt for the best fruit. Many farms sell fresh homemade ice cream and other treats to eat after picking produce. Make it a fun summer outing.

Find out what your city has to offer and make the most of the summer season!

Man Cave Ideas For Father’s Day

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He’s been asking, and asking, and asking for that man cave. Truly they are daunting spaces since the décor can vary so widely from the rest of the home. But, if you’re ready to relent, go about it the smart way and buy him things that he’ll love. If you choose the stuff but he loves it, the man cave can come about as being lovely! Here are our top suggestions for Father’s Day:

  • If he’s a gamer, old school stand-up video games. Think Pac-Man and Donkey Kong!
  • If he’s a musician, a small wooden stage on which he and his buddies can jam.
  • If he’s sports fan, have his favorite players’ jerseys professionally framed.
  • If he’s a golfer, a really large screen and a golf video game so he can practice his swing.
  • If he’s into comics, such as Batman, think Gotham City and hang a gothic style chandelier.
  • If he’s into hunting, a very well designed decorative gun rack.
  • If he’s into kayaking, a hang handmade one upside down from the ceiling.
  • If he’s into hockey use pucks to create a wall border, rather than wallpaper.
  • If he’s into watching multiple games at a time (something many men love) hang more than one TV. He will have no complaint when he can watch three or four events at once.

Get the idea? There are so many ways to put a huge smile on his face while preventing him from covering an entire wall in baseball cards! The more unique the idea, the cooler the man cave. If you’re on a budget, allow him to install the items himself. Put a big bow on everything and leave it in the center of the room. He’ll have the time of his life putting it all up himself. When he’s done he’ll also have HUGE bragging rights!

Mother’s Day Ideas

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner and every year when we were younger we would wake up early, cook our mothers breakfast in bed with dad, and generally spoil her all day doing chores and trying to stay out of trouble. Now that we are all grown up the normal is sending flowers or a card to your mother to remind her of how much you love her and appreciate her.

 

But there are other creative ways to show your mother your love for her, ways that she won’t be expecting. One great way to show your mother your love is to try sending her a hand written letter on the Sundays leading up to, and including, Mother’s Day. They could be about a warm memory you have of your childhood with her or they could be updates in your life and how she helped you achieve these things. A mother will appreciate the thought and hand written letters can be kept and treasured.

 

Another fun idea is to sign up for a paint night in your area where you go and an instructor helps the class paint a particular picture. Get two tickets and gift them to your mom for Mother’s Day. Then when it’s time to take the class you and your mother can sit together for a couple of hours enjoying each others company and getting to spend quality time together.

 

If you have enough childhood pictures you could also try scrapbooking those photos into a small scrapbook. Get creative and add little blurbs about your memories of the photos taken. It will be a nice way for her to see the world from your perspective when you were younger and you will have something to look over and share while you spend the day together.

 

Finally, if none of those appeal to you, you can always go old school and cook your mom a decadent home cooked meal. Grab the fixings and bring them over to your mother’s house and let her relax while you prepare dinner (you can always enlists Dad’s help here like back in the day).

 

At the root of it Mother’s Day is a celebration of the sacrifices every mother makes for her children and a day for us to express our gratitude for that. As long as your gift is a labor of love your mother is sure to love it.

Halloween Party Games For Kids Ages 10 and Under: Spider Web Indoor Maze

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This game is time consuming to set up, but it is always a huge hit with the kids. It also keeps them busy for awhile, which is of course, a big hit with the parents. But don’t stray too far away while they’re having their fun. Watching this game go from serious to silly is super funny!

Spider Web Indoor Maze

  1. You are going to create an indoor spider web that fills an entire room. Decide which room you are going to use so that you can estimate how much yarn to buy. This will not be a perfect science.
  2. Purchase a package of yarn for each participant. Select a different color for each child and opt for colors appropriate to the holiday.
  3. Begin building the web at any random point in the room. You are going to create a pattern for each child by stringing one color of yarn back and forth across the room. Move up and down in a zigzag pattern around the room. At each touch point, lightly wrap the string to change direction. 
  4. When all of the colors have been strung, you should now be seeing a massive spider web.
  5. Show each child the end of his or her part of the web. Instruct the child on how to find the other end of their yarn by navigating the entire web.
  6. Emphasize that they can’t just pull hard on the yarn or they’ll pull the whole web down. They have to go to each touch point and unwrap the string and then proceed.
  7. Whoever finds the end of their yarn first wins a prize. Or, you can have first, second and third place prizes if it’s a large group.

Enjoy watching the shenanigans unfold. Watching the children try to untangle the yarn while running into each other is priceless!