What are your kids doing this Summer? For many of us Summer time with the kids is a time to enjoy the outdoors, the sunshine and if you're lucky the ocean.
As much as kids love Summer holidays, keeping them busy can be a challenging! If you've not got the luxury of a Summer camp then it's up to you as parent to find things to keep them busy.
Failing that, your kids might spend all their time in front of a computer, tablet, phone or other screen and research has shown that spending too much time in front of a screen can have a detrimental effect on the health and wellbeing of children.
Studies have shown that taking part in nature-based activities helps people who are suffering with mental health problems and can contribute to a reduction in levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. In fact, a daily walk in nature has shown decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
One in four people are estimated to experience bouts of mental health problems and it's on the rise. Prescription medications of antidepressants are also at a record high level and the demand for more invasive treatments are also on the rise. Health officials are examining different options for cost effective services for mental health sufferers and one of these options is a daily walk of 90 minutes or more. Let's go back to a time when children got excited to spend their time climbing trees and building forts rather than spending hours in front of the tv.
Joe at Nature Rated understands this all too well and has put together an infographic of 15 Summer activities to get your kids outside enjoying nature.
This is what it looks like:
From baking a blackberry pie to constructing a pond or insect hotel, there's plenty for the youngsters to do. Head on over to his site for step by step instructions to get your kids outside and into nature.
Thank you Joe for guest posting.
An outdoor enthusiast, Joe is the lead editor at Nature Rated; a website which rates and reviews the best outdoor gear for people who quickly want to know what to buy. He believes in no fluff, to the point reviews, which help you choose the right gear for your next adventure. Whenever daily life gets him down he heads to the nearest lake or river with his kayak and camera spending time recharging his batteries.
We are trying to raise our boys to explore, create, and use their imaginations so their screen time is very limited. I love these ideas to get kids outside. We also want our kids to have a good work ethic and a great way to instill this is to let them help with outside chores and projects.
The boys helped clean the overgrown mint out the flower beds to make room for perennials. They have also been working hard in the community garden this summer.
Watch this cute video of the boys showing off their catch, which we did cook for dinner.
The boys love to go fishing and have already been twice this summer. Luckily we live close to the lakes and their Dad likes taking them. Fishing is fun, but just being outside at the lake is fun too. They could spend hours looking at rocks, shells, and exploring trails.
What are your favorite ways to get your kids outside?
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As a busy mother of four I rely heavily on simple meals, especially during t-ball season. Most of our games are at night which makes getting dinner on the table quickly a must. We love brats and sauteed mushrooms and onions so I put the two together for a delicious, quick, and easy meal.
We enjoy these brats without buns, cutting them up and eating them with the yummy caramelized onions and mushrooms. The boys love applesauce so I serve this meal with store bought unsweetened applesauce or this yummy homemade version.
Since brats are not pre-cooked, I simmer them in beer for about 12 minutes to let them cook through. I used non-alcoholic beer which I purchased since it is less expensive and we aren't beer drinkers. I just like to have it on hand for cooking. You can also use water instead of beer.
While the brats are cooking, I saute the onions and mushrooms in a little oil in a skillet. I used a large package of whole mushrooms and sliced them myself. I always feel like they are fresher if I slice them myself. I recently found some walnut oil on sale at the grocery store and thought it would be fun to try. It worked well for this recipe. Walnut oil is also a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. You can also use olive oil, coconut oil, or another favorite oil.
While cooking the vegetables, I add a pat or two of butter for flavor and salt and pepper to taste. I love fresh ground pink himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper and use them in most of my cooking. Once the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, I scoot them over to the side of the skillet and brown the sausages on each side until they have a beautiful golden brown sear. I then redistribute the veggies and place the sausages on top for a beautiful presentation.
1 lb. brats
1 sweet onion, cut into thin wedges
8 oz. or more fresh mushrooms, sliced
Walnut, olive, or another oil of choice
1 bottle or can of beer, optional
Fresh ground salt and pepper
1. Simmer brats in beer or water for about 12 minutes to cook through.
2. Meanwhile, saute onions and mushrooms in a drizzle of walnut or olive oil in another skillet. Add a little butter, salt and pepper to taste.
3. Once the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, scoot them over to the side of the skillet and brown the sausages on each side until they have a beautiful golden brown sear. Then redistribute the veggies and place the sausages on top for a beautiful presentation.
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So I'm still very new to video editing. Last night I stayed up way too late learning how to do some basic editing on youtube. It took longer than it should have, but I learned some things and finished a cute baby video to add to my recent sponsored Huggies Family Dollar post. (video has been added to the end of the post)
I was so excited to share it with you that I wrote a post just to show you. If you have already seen it on instagram, you get to enjoy the cuteness all over again :)
Parenting is messy, but how we handle it shows our growth and patience as parents. I haven't and still don't always show grace under pressure, but as I have mothered four boys over a span of almost ten years, I have learned (most of the time, there is no perfect in parenting) to show a little grace and love in messy situations.
Plus these messy situations make pretty cute pictures and memories. This little guy is now seven going on eight. I'm so glad to have this precious memory of his blue iced face on his 3rd birthday. Had we not taken a picture, I don't think I would have remembered.
Here is the same little sweetie even younger and messier. He used to get into everything. Another precious memory I am glad we documented with photos. I am so glad that I am smiling in the photo and handling it with grace. I would rather remember the joy of the little years more than the frustrations.
This brings us to our newest little sweetie as we are reminded to #hugthemess with Huggies.
We went to Family Dollar to pick up Huggies Snug & Dry diapers. Have you heard of Family Dollar Smart Coupons? They are new to me. You simply go to the Family Dollar website and click on the coupons you want to add to your "wallet". It's really easy to do. When you checkout after shopping, enter your phone number in the keypad to redeem your coupons. You can save $2 on Huggies Snug & Dry diapers with the Family Dollar Smart Coupons!
This little guy loves to shop since he has a great view of everything around him from the security and comfort of being next to me in the baby carrier, so we bought a few extra things we needed. Honestly, I haven't done much shopping in Family Dollar in a while and was pleased with the large selection of home goods. I even bought some curtain rods I needed to replace, saving myself a trip to another store.
We also picked up some Huggies One & Done Refreshing Wipes. I love the cucumber and green tea scent and they are strong, but soft on baby's skin. They are also packaged so that only one wipe comes out at a time so you don't have to stuff any unused wipes back in the container.
These are also handy for washing blue iced faces at birthday parties, just make sure you get a picture first!
Since we're getting real here about parenting and messes, I didn't try to edit out the laundry all over the couch or the hamper in the middle of the living room because this is life in all of it's beauty and messiness.
Look at this curious little one checking out his Huggies Snug & Dry diaper. So cute! Huggies Snug & Dry diapers have increased absorbency at the same great value. Now that this little guy is sleeping through the night most nights, I really appreciate the more absorbent Huggies Snug & Dry diapers.
Disclosure: I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Life as a Mom is wonderful, amazing and I am cognizant of the fact that these years will go by all too quickly, but it's also so so busy. Some days I am lucky to grab a cookie for breakfast between dropping kids off at school and nursing our infant son. I am not complaining, I think parenting is the greatest calling, but there isn't much down time or time to sit and eat a meal (which can contribute to poor digestion).
You can even catch this foodie who loves to cook standing in the kitchen eating store bought (you read that right, processed, not homemade) snacks because real moms don't have time to make healthy snacks everyday, much less sit down and eat them before they are asked to build another paper airplane, clean up another mess, or tend to a waking baby . I was actually asked to build a paper airplane while I was in the shower the other day, LOL. My five year old sat outside the shower waiting for me, paper in hand.
I make a healthy dinner almost every night, but when we are in a busy season like now with sports, end of school year, and parenting an infant, some nights call for pizza or the drive thru. And I am ok with that, I would rather keep my sanity than stress over trying to prepare meals when we just don't have time.
I do care about health though, even and especially in our busy seasons (which is pretty much always). I have four boys to care for so I have to stay at the top of my Mom game. Parenting takes a truckload of energy and add my other responsibilities of running this blog and my graduate courses ...it can take its toll.
I have been gradually adding supplements including probiotics to my routine over the years. NOW is a brand I have trusted for a long time. (I buy the giant bottles of NOW Magnesium Citrate 200 mg,250 Tablets from Amazon). (affiliate link)
About NOW® Women’s Probiotic 20 Billion
NOW Women's Probiotic 20 Billion is really easy to take. One little capsule a day is all you need and it is designed especially for women. Since I am nursing, I appreciate that it may help to support healthy immune function in pregnant and nursing women. I have felt really good lately. Maybe it is due to taking this probiotic along with Now Super Enzymes.
I read recently that because we eat so many processed foods with preservatives our body has a harder time digesting these foods. The idea was that this leads to weight gain through our bodies storing what they can't breakdown. Another article I read said that after age 30, our body's production of enzymes drastically diminishes. Interesting since most of us do gradually put on a few pounds as we age. I also read that taking the digestive enzymes amylase, lipase, protease, and bromelain would help our bodies break down fats, carbs, and proteins. NOW Super Enzymes have all of these plus more.
My kids have been taking the NOW Berry Dophilus Kids for gastrointestinal support.
They love these little berry flavored animal shaped probiotic pills and no one has complained of any tummy aches lately so they must be working:)
Want to win a bottle of NOW Women's Probiotic 20 Billion? Enter here!
And check out NOW’s probiotic chooser tool to help you pick the probiotic or gut health product that best fits your wellness needs.
There's nothing like waiting until the last minute, but for some of us, that's when inspiration hits and our best ideas come alive.
If you are one of those last minute creatives, here are a few ideas I hope will inspire you.
For more delicious recipe ideas, go to the recipes heading at the top of the page and use the drop down menu.
So I haven't posted here in almost two weeks...this time of year is crazy busy which hasn't left much time for anything beyond the basics. Stuff like getting to practices and school on time, remembering to go to important end of school year activities, making sure all 6 family members have something clean to wear each day, maintaining a somewhat clean house during the chaos, starting the garden (we are falling a little behind here already), much less meal plan, grocery shop, and prepare delicious healthy meals. Confession: We ate McDonald's in the car on the way to wrestling one day last week. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do and this Mom was in survival mode. But hey, roast chicken and healthy veggies balances it all out eventually, right?
To be honest, I have been relying a lot more on quick and easy meals lately. Life is busy and as much as I love cooking, I am usually stretched pretty thin to get everything done. That's why I love making a roast chicken. It is so easy and delicious.
My favorite way to prepare it is with salt and pepper, butter, lemon, and fresh herbs. I used sage this time because I already had some on hand. I have made roast chicken with potatoes and with sweet potatoes and hands down the sweet potatoes are the best. In fact they are amazing when baked with a chicken. They are so tender soft and pair perfectly with the chicken. Our kids LOVE carrots so I always put in a lot of carrots. I don't even bother to peel them. I just cut off the ends and set them in the pan around the chicken.
So if you are busy like we are and need some easy dinner ideas give this roast chicken a try. It takes a little while in the oven, but once it's in, you can do something else while is cooks. And wow is it delicious! Any Dads out there need a simple and amazing Mother's Day dinner idea? Here it is. You got this.
And don't forget to save the carcass (I know that's a gross word, but I gotta call it something) for the best homemade chicken noodle soup ever. If you don't want soup in the next couple of days, just freeze the carcass for making soup later.
Easy Roast Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
Fresh herbs; These go well with chicken. thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon, marjoram, sage
1 lemon, sliced into rings
Fresh ground Salt & pepper
1 lb. carrots, cut off ends, but leave whole
3 to 4 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Prepare chicken, removing packet of organs from the inside cavity. Discard or save for later use. Salt and pepper inside the chicken then put a pat or two of butter inside the cavity along with 2-3 lemon slices and some fresh herbs. Set the chicken into a large dutch oven.
3. Pull back some of the exposed chicken skin over the breast. Salt and pepper then stuff with a couple of pats of butter, lemon slices, and fresh herbs. Place carrots and sweet potatoes around chicken. Then salt everything and salt and pepper the chicken once more.
4. Place covered in the oven and bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes until it reaches 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer.
5. Remove the lid and put under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the skin.
Because I cook it with the lid on, the chicken is really tender and juicy, but won't have much color so I put it under the broiler for a few minutes before serving to brown and crisp the skin.
The first time I made this recipe I bought quinoa in bulk so I did not have directions. I found instructions for making quinoa pronounced "keen wah" and some nutrition information at Joyous Health. Quinoa was new to me then and harder to find, now five years later, quinoa is everywhere.
This is one of our favorite meals. We all love it, especially the kids. It's pretty easy to throw together too since I use canned chicken and frozen broccoli. I have made it with shredded chicken and fresh steamed broccoli, but think it is just as good with canned and frozen ingredients so this is one recipe where I save myself the trouble.
Basically, you make a simple cheese sauce and combine it with cooked quinoa, broccoli, and chicken then mix it all together in a casserole and bake to perfection.
My sweet five year old brought me some wild onions from the yard so I had to garnish the top.
1½ cups quinoa
3 Tbsp. butter
1 sweet onion, diced
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. dry or prepared mustard
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. turmeric
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. shredded cheese, I like a mix of cheddar and mozzarella
10 oz. bag frozen broccoli
13 oz. can of chicken, drained
This is what uncooked quinoa looks like in a pan with water.
1. To cook the quinoa follow package directions or if you purchased your quinoa in bulk use these directions: 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water. Combine the water and quinoa in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 12 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion in melted butter until it is tender and golden. Stir in the flour, garlic powder, mustard, cayenne, and turmeric. Continue stirring until light golden, a couple of minutes. Slowly stir in the milk. Allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until it bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, frozen broccoli, drained canned chicken and cheese sauce.
5. Transfer to a greased casserole. Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.
(My husband likes to dress his with a little hot sauce.)
Adapted from Annie's Eats.
I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com), May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my honest opinion on my blog. The opinions posted are my own.
I read an article recently about the impact our clothing choices have on our world. It was pretty eye opening. I generally knew that some choices were better than others, but I didn't really know why. Honestly, I lived most of my life without even thinking about the environmental impact of my clothing choices. Until recently, it didn't even cross my mind. I read another enlightening article about how clothes are potentially polluting the food supply. Love microfiber fleece? We do too, but the fibers have been found to pollute water and marine life.
Over the last year or two, I've noticed a cultural movement towards being more intentional in how we live and the choices we make. Maybe we should be more intentional concerning our clothing choices too and the impact that those choices have on textile workers, farmers, farmland, and now even the water supply. We should consider our overflowing closets too and make intentional choices based on what we really need and will wear again and again.
Luckily because of companies like PACT Organic it is getting easier to find clothing that is better for both us and the planet. PACT Organic uses organic farming practices that don't pollute the soil or water, while working with organizations that protect the well-being of people who make the clothes.
I was excited to review several pieces of PACT Organic clothing. As you can see they sent several things to try. The packages say super soft for a reason...the clothes really are super soft.
I love black leggings and have worn them for years and my new PACT Organic leggings are both soft and strong. I love that they are thicker than many of the leggings I have worn and stay comfortably in place. No tugging to keep them up. They are also nice and long. I am around 5' 10" and these leggings fit perfectly in both length and size.
My husband tried the boxer briefs. When I asked him how he liked them, he said he loved them and that they were so soft and supportive. This is a lot coming from him because he is really particular. I always tell him he should be in quality control or a food critic.
I LOVE my new PACT Organic light weight hoodie. First the color is the most beautiful blue stripe that goes with so many things. Second it is so soft and cozy. I have worn this sweatshirt many many times in the short time I have owned it.
As I have mentioned before, I am on the tall side and often have trouble finding shirts that have long enough sleeves. My new sweatshirt has wonderfully long sleeves, maybe because it has wrist slits for your thumbs which could come in handy if you are a runner. I haven't used this option, but love the sleeve length and coziness. I think my new PACT Organic hoodie might just be my favorite piece of clothing I have ever owned.
I wasn't sure if I would get much use out of my new PACT Organic camisole since I am nursing my 7 month old son, but it actually works well as a nursing tank. I wear a nursing tank every single day under my clothing so that my middle doesn't show when I lift my top shirt to nurse. What I like about this tank is that it is supportive enough to stay in place, but stretches enough to make access for nursing. The fabric is really soft, stretchy and supportive all at the same time. It doesn't loose its shape at the end of the day like some tanks do. I have found that if worn with jeans, it tends to ride up at the waist and I end up pulling it down throughout the day, but if worn with yoga type clothes (which I wear a lot), it stays in place. You can see it peaking out from underneath my shirt in the pictures above.
Check out PACT Organic and see all the cozy, comfy styles available. You can save 25% off your order with my discount code, AtHome25. There are some really cute affordably priced casual summer dresses and adorable baby things too. I just ordered some baby things for gifts and was impressed with the ease of ordering and how quickly my order shipped.
To be honest, I am notoriously bad at making pork chops. (Notorious with my own family because I would never make pork chops for company because then they would see how dry I always make them.) In fact, I usually avoid making pork chops because it's no fun to always make them so badly. I ventured back into this scary world of pork chops because I vaguely remembered having made them good once and remembered that I had blogged that recipe many moons ago, as I passed the thin pork chops on sale in the store yesterday. I decided to take the plunge and dove into the blog archives to this buried recipe and am so glad I did.
So here it is revitalized because sometimes you feel like thin buttery perfectly crispy and juicy pork chops.
Since we're talking crispy and juicy chops that crisp right in the butter soaking in it's buttery goodness, what's not to love? These delectable little gems will melt in your mouth with these perfectly paired wine seared baby bella mushrooms.
You can also whip up these amazing chops in no time at all. There's not much to it. Simply cook pork chops in olive oil and butter occasionally flipping them to brown on both sides until done. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder while cooking. Then quickly saute mushrooms in butter and wine and wallah you just made an amazing entree.
Serve with a simple salad and quinoa or rice pilaf and dinner is done.
6 thin pork chops
2 T. to 1/4 C. white wine
8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in the pan. Add a pat of butter. Cook pork chops, browning each side. Season chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder while cooking.
2. Set chops aside once done. Add some white wine to the skillet to deglaze scraping up any browned bits. Add sliced mushrooms and a couple of pats of butter (2-3 Tbsp. should do) and saute the mushrooms until desired tenderness.
3. Add chops back to the pan to warm topping them with sauteed mushrooms. You can turn off the heat at this point. They will warm up quickly from the hot skillet. Serve and enjoy.
Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science (Home Economics) Teacher turned work at home Mom, bringing you family friendly, homemade recipes and homemaking tips to simplify your life. Join me on my homemaking and mothering journey.
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