Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bookbinding : How to Make Your Own Journal

Bookbinding (the craft of making a physical book, binding the pages together by hand) is one of those crafts that will slowly die out, but it is a very fulfilling and enjoyable craft that produces a truly useful piece of art. Learn how to make your own leather-bound journal from start to finish. This is a well-illustrated step-by-step article.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sock Puppets on the Road

Traveling with children, especially small children, can be difficult. You know they're going to get cranky and you're really not looking forward to it. Make and take some sock puppets on the road to help keep your child happy on the trip.

Almost everyone has lost a sock while doing the laundry. Some people have lost more socks than they'd care to admit. What do you do with all the unmatched socks? Create sock puppets, of course!

Before you plan a road trip with your children, let them create sock puppets out of some of the sock monster's leftovers. With some simple craft items, your child can make a number of sock puppets that they can play with at any time. They're particularly great for taking with when you're going on a trip.

What do you need to make sock puppets? In their simplest form, children can play with sock puppets made merely from an unmatched sock. They can be embellished to include eyes, hair, and even clothing. It all depends upon how creative and resourceful your children are. Here are some common craft items you can use to make your sock puppet:

Adult-sized socks
Buttons or wiggly eyes
Felt scraps or yarn
Pipe cleaners (also known as chenille stems)
Fabric paint
Craft glue
Needle and thread

If your child has a favorite story, you may want to help them create different puppets for each of the characters in the story. They can act out the story with their sock puppets on the road or make up stories of their own with the same characters. In fact, if you're going to be on the road for very long, your children can plan a whole story to share with the family that you're planning on seeing.

To give the sock puppet a little bit of weight and to help give them shape, push crumpled up tissue paper or cotton balls into the toe where the fingers are. You can then create nostrils for a dragon or horse by sewing and shaping the cotton balls to keep them in place.

Bring along stories on CD and let your children act out the stories while you're driving. Not only will this give them something to do, it's something that everyone except the driver can participate in. Practise the movements so they can put on a sock puppet show, with your help, when you arrive at your destination.

It has been proven that the act of creating things is good for your child's creativity and imagination. By taking their sock puppets on the road with them the next time you're traveling, you're encouraging them to use their imagination. Not only will they enjoy playing with their sock puppets, they'll be too busy to ask you if you're “there yet” - which will help you enjoy the trip, as well.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to Teach Your Children the Meaning of Charity

Parents all over the world want their children to have character. Honesty, integrity, thankfulness, and charity are important qualities to see them attain. You may not have problems teaching the other character traits, but you may wonder how to teach your children the meaning of charity.

The old saying is that it’s better to give than to receive. You want your child to be able to empathize with others who need help and to willingly give of their time and substance.

The following are some ideas you may want to use to teach your child the meaning of charity:

* Show the importance of charity by being charitable yourself. If you have clothing you no longer wear that is still in usable condition, take them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or a women’s shelter. Tell your children that the items are to help others who are less fortunate. Whenever and whatever you do to help others, let your children know that it is an act of charity.

* Let them pick out some canned goods or other non-perishable food items that you can take to a local shelter or food bank. Explain to them how charity has good effects on the people that will receive the food. Maybe the recipients just lost their home to fire and have no food. By your giving these food items to the food bank, this family will have food to eat this week.

* Use your child’s interests to find charitable activities they can do. If your child loves animals, they may be able to help at a veterinarian’s office or a local animal shelter. They can also donate pet foods to the shelters and humane societies in your area. Those involved in sports may be able to walk or run in charitable events to help earn money for a particular cause. They may even decide to help with Special Olympics events.

* Point out that many sports personalities, actors, actresses, and other well-known people give to charities or start charitable organizations to help others. If they’re not sure, go together to the internet and look up Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, Paul Newman, Chuck Norris, or anyone else they may be a fan of.

* When very small children receive a new toy, you can ask them to give away an old toy to another child who doesn't have it. The toy needs to be in good condition rather than one that’s been torn up. You can keep a box in a specific location in your home to put items to be given to charity once the box is filled up. Not only will your child learn about charity, but you’ll also help clear some of the clutter from your home.

* Offer to go to a neighbor’s house to help them work in their garden. Take your children with you so they can help, as well. Your children can help rake leaves, mow the lawn, or shovel snow, depending upon the season.

* Baked goods are appreciated by those overseas in the military. Maybe once a month or every two months you and your children could bake several dozen cookies to send to our soldiers in foreign lands.

Every parent wants their child to think of others instead of being selfish. The above are some things you can do when trying to think of how to teach your children the meaning of charity. Begin working with them while they’re young and they’ll most likely be charitable for the rest of their lives.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pet Rock, Mum's Best Friend

Children often beg their parents for a puppy or a kitten. Or, they may ask for something smaller like a hamster or goldfish. Why not offer to get them a pet rock?

People began keeping pet rocks in 1975. An advertising executive named Gary Dahl came up with the idea and it spread like wildfire for about six months. Imported from Mexico, the ordinary rocks were treated as if they were real pets and even came with an owner’s manual. When they were first marketed, they were $3.95. Now they’re being sold for hundreds of dollars on online auction sites.

If your children are asking for a pet, a pet rock might be the answer. You can tell them they can have a pet rock to see how well they handle the responsibility before you allow them to get a goldfish, hamster, or larger pet.

There are a number of things about pet rocks that make them Mom’s best friend. Consider these benefits when offering to “get” your child a pet rock:

* You don’t have to buy them. Yes, people were silly enough to fall for a marketing ploy, as ingenious as it was, but you really don’t need to buy a pet rock. You or your child can find one right outside your front door. Of course, you may want to find one that’s unusual so it won’t get lost if it falls on the ground. In all actuality, you can find a new pet rock anywhere.

* You don’t have to feed them. Pet rocks are just that – rocks. They’re inanimate objects that just sit there. They don’t eat, so you don’t have to feed them. You also don’t have to worry about buying food for them, which could help with budgeting concerns.

* Since they don’t eat, you don’t have to worry about taking them outside to use the restroom. There’s no mess to clean up after, which will make your life as a Mom just a little bit easier.

* You won’t have to wonder if your child’s pet rock will bite anyone. That’s often a concern with having a pet dog or small pets like hamsters. With kittens or cats you may be concerned about their scratching and biting.

When looking for a pet rock, try to find one that’s smooth. You also want one that’s not so small that you lose it or so big that your child can’t carry it. Something that’s pretty like polished rose quartz may be a good bet for little girls. Boys will probably like something that’s a little rougher.

Unlike a living pet, your child can decorate their pet rock to their liking. Decide which side of the rock is its face and then allow your child to draw a face on it. Your child can determine the type of face it has, whether serious, silly, or smiley. They can also glue on wiggly eyes that you can find in any craft store.

Face it, Moms, at one point your child will ask for a pet. Giving them a pet rock may at least buy you some time until you can decide as a family whether owning a live pet is in your family’s future. Consider a pet rock - Mom’s best friend because they are easy to care for, cost nothing, and are easily replaced.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Great Authors Teens Love

Many parents have problems getting their teenagers to read and do their homework. However, there are many great authors teens love to read. If you're looking for a gift, you may want to consider purchasing a book from one of these authors.

One author that has been a favorite with teenagers and adults alike for decades is Clive Staples Lewis, known as Jack to his friends and family. He is the celebrated author of The Chronicles of Narnia series. He also wrote scholarly works while he was a Fellow of Magdalene College, Oxford, and later Magdalene College, Cambridge. Lewis also wrote the science fiction work Space Trilogy. However, it is for his fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia that he is most well known.

A contemporary of C.S. Lewis was J.R.R. Tolkien. Just as is the case with many authors, Tolkien’s story The Hobbit was written for his own children. The story, however, has also become popular with adult readers as well as teenagers. Following on the success of The Hobbit, Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings. After his death, Tolkien’s son released The Simarillion to the joy of his father’s faithful readers.

Elwyn Brooks “E.B.” White is another author teens love to read. He was an American writer who began his career writing for The New Yorker magazine in 1925. It wasn’t until the late 1930s that White started writing children’s fiction for his niece, Janice Hart White. White’s novels include Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and The Trumpet of the Swan. He is also known for editing and updating the William Strunk, Jr. handbook of grammar and style, The Elements of Style.

Judy Blume may be best known for her book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. However, she has also written other books well loved by teens such as the stories about Fudge, Blubber and Just as Long as We’re Together. Blume is known as a champion for authors whose literary works have been censored. Despite the writing she has done for adults, it seems Blume also enjoys writing for young readers; she in the process of creating another series of books for them.

Roald Dahl, like Tolkien and Lewis, was a British writer despite the fact he was not born in Great Britain. Of all the works Dahl created, his most popular books are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda, all of which have been made into movies that children all over the world have enjoyed.

If you’re struggling to get your teenager to read for pleasure, you may want to check out some of the books by the above authors. These are great authors many teens love, and it’s quite possible your teen will love them, too.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Digital Cameras for All Ages

It's a rare thing to see people lugging around film cameras these days due to the popularity and quality of digital cameras. Much like traditional film cameras, you can find digital cameras of every size. There are literally digital cameras for all ages.

Very young children can become camera owners and can benefit from the simplicity of Fisher Price’s Kid-Tough digital camera. It’s easy to use and durable – it has to be if it’s made for toddlers. Of course, the picture quality isn’t as good as cameras for older users, but does it really need to be? The Fisher Price digital camera provides 0.3 mega pixel images and is recommended for children aged three and over.

For children that are a little less shaky, Disney offers the Pix-Click. It comes in five Disney themes that any little boy or girl will love. It is easy to use, durable, and has similar picture quality to the Fisher Price’s camera. You may have to help your children to hold this (or any other digital camera) steady in order to avoid blurry photos.

If you’d love to buy a digital camera for your child, but don’t really want to spend $50 or more for one, you may want to check out the Polaroid Ion. For $20 this adult model may be a perfect choice for your child or a first-time digital camera owner. The camera is easy to use and durable. While it is made for adults, it can handle the rough treatment a child may give it.

Adults who have used cameras before will want a digital camera that does more and has higher resolution than the cameras for younger people. Be prepared for sticker shock, however, when looking for the best digital cameras. The best cameras are often quite expensive, but you generally get what you pay for.

Olympus has been a well-known brand of quality, professional cameras for years. They produce a variety of digital cameras - from cameras for photographers that are just beginning and need a point-and-shoot, up to the high-quality DSLR cameras that professional photographers use. Expect to pay a premium price for these digital cameras.

Sony is known more for making other electronics; however, they have been producing digital cameras for quite some time. One of the benefits of all Sony digital cameras is that they have Sony’s exclusive Real Imaging Processor technology which allows you to capture memories because the camera shoots at a higher rate.

Kodak and Nikon are also names that you’ve heard of if you’re a photographer. They each have several options to consider when you’re looking for a digital camera. You may want to take the time to go to an electronics store and compare them for yourself before making a decision.

Digital cameras make photography something that everyone, from toddlers to senior adults, can use to create works of art. There are digital cameras for all ages so take your time finding the camera that is right for you or as a gift for someone you love.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Image Transfer Methods for Art and Crafts

Here is a great article with everything you need to transfer images for arts and crafts projects, including image transfer to fabric and polymer clay. Older kids and teens can have a ball with this creative technique.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Crayon Wax-Melting Art

What mother of preschoolers or other children hasn't found broken crayons in the couch, under the couch, and all over the floor? You may even have been frustrated to find a crayon in the laundry, way after it's too late to salvage the clothes in that load. Help your child create crayon wax-melting art to keep from having to throw all the broken crayons away.

Melted wax is dangerous for anyone, especially for children. Please be careful when trying any of the following crayon wax-melting art projects. Adult supervision is definitely a must for melted wax artists. Here's how to do it:

In the oven: Set your oven to 250 degrees. Create new crayons by melting the old broken pieces. Break the pieces up into smaller pieces and sort the crayons with like colors. Place the crayon pieces into an old muffin tin. Put the tin into the oven and then turn the oven off. Watch the crayons so they don't melt entirely. When the crayons have melted sufficiently, remove them from the oven and then place the tin into the freezer for half an hour. Take the tin out and then pop the new, larger crayons out.

Double Boiler: Another way to melt peeled crayons is over a double boiler. Use an old pan that you were going to throw away. Get a larger pot and place water in the pot to boil. Put the old pan into the water so it floats. Put the crayons into the upper pan and allow them to melt. You can then use a ladle or measuring cup to remove small amounts of wax. Dribble or paint the melted wax onto paper or into old candy molds. You can also dribble or pour melted wax on wet sand.

Color on Fabric: On a blank sheet of paper, create a design you'd like to have on a T-shirt or other piece of fabric. Color the design heavily, using plenty of crayon. Set your iron to cool and allow it to heat up. Place newspaper between the layers of fabric so the colors don't bleed through. Then iron the paper until the design shows through. For best results, use 100% synthetic fabrics.

Sun catchers: Children love the colors that are thrown across the room through sun catchers. You can help your child create a melted crayon wax sun catcher. Give your child a pencil sharpener and let them make crayon shavings. Fold a large sheet of wax paper and sprinkle crayon shavings on half of it. With a warm iron, run the iron over the wax paper quickly. Allow the wax paper to cool and then cut it into various shapes. Make butterflies or flowers with holes in them where you can tape the melted crayon wax sun catcher on the back so the light and colors shine through.

Let the artist come out in your child. However, since you're working with crayon wax-melting art, be sure to supervise closely to keep your child from injury. The artwork they create will spread colorful light across your room and into your heart.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Best Games for Preschoolers

Preschoolers have more energy that most parents. It's just a natural fact. When winter comes and you can't take your younger children to the park to play as often, you may want to find games to play indoors.

If you’re like most people, you remember playing board games with your brothers and sisters, maybe even your parents. This was before nights where families played games together became known as “Family Fun Night” or “Family Game Night”. You may remember hours spent playing Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, or Sorry. Maybe your family had Operation for when you got older, then you most likely graduated to games like Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit.

Those games are still around if you want to share them with your children, but you may also want to find newer games to play with them. These are some of the best games for preschoolers that are recommended by experts and parents alike:

* Goodnight Moon Game – This is a game based on the popular preschool book by the same name. Made by Briarpatch, it is recommended for children 3 to 6 years old. The game encourages the use of matching and remembering where things are. Children playing do not have to be able to recognize letters or numbers, so it’s good for very young children. Everyone wins in this game so you don’t have to worry about one of the children being a poor loser.

* I Spy Preschool Game, also developed by Briarpatch, is based upon the book series “I Spy”. It’s a matching game, but there are five ways that it can be played. It can also be played with rhymes. It was designed for 3 to 6 year olds and is an award-winning game.

* Chutes and Ladders – This board game has been around for years. Children move their game pieces up and down a board of 100 spaces that has chutes (slides) and ladders that the pieces land on. The game teaches beginning counting, taking turns, and the concept of losing.

Of course, there are other types of games to play with your preschooler. Children love to play games that allow them to move. Duck, Duck, Goose is one game that children enjoy. It teaches children to take turns and how to listen carefully. Another game you can play with your preschool child is Simon Says. Remember that game? You listen to what “Simon” says and do it. If “Simon” didn’t say to do something and you still do it, you’re out. This is a great game to teach taking turns and listening, and is a game you can play with your child.

Many experts recommend not allowing your young children to play computer games because it doesn’t develop a young child’s imagination. However, there are other aspects to a child’s mind that needs to be developed as well. Of course, you don’t want to plop your infant in front of a television or computer screen for long periods of time every day. However, there are many good quality computer games your child can play that will encourage their thinking, introduce them to learning concepts, and teach them skills they’ll need in the future.

The best games for preschoolers come in a variety of formats – board games, active games, and computer games. Your task as a parent is to find the best games for your child and to help them enjoy them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Best Digital Picture Frame for Your Dollar

Digital picture frames are all the rage. Instead of having to flip through picture albums, the picture frame displays pictures on a rotating basis. Which is the best digital picture frame for your dollar?

Digital picture frames have been around since year 2000. Originally the picture frames required an Internet connection to be able to download new photographs each night. The owner could upload digital photos to a website and then download the photos to their digital picture frame. Friends and family could also upload their own photos to the website and those could be added to the picture frame as well.

Things you may want to consider when buying a digital picture frame include:

* Does the picture frame have Wi-Fi? Some users aren't computer savvy, so a Wi-Fi system may not be the best choice for everyone.

* Digital picture frames obviously use a digital format. Most digital frames offer the user multiple memory card formats so no matter what type of digital camera you have, you should be able to use the picture frame. You can also buy an adapter if the memory card from your camera isn't compatible with the frame.

* What type of playback do you want? Some digital picture frames on the market have the ability to play music or video. This technology is relatively new, so it may not produce the results you want.

* What’s the point of having a digital photo frame if you can’t see the picture? Less expensive digital frames are generally 5.6 inches diagonally. This may be great if you’re holding the picture frame, but if you’re sitting across the room from it the pictures will be hard to see. Of course, the larger the picture frame, the larger the price tag is expected to be.

* Expect to pay $100 and up for quality digital picture frames. You may be able to find them for less, but they’re going to be limited in size and capability.

* Does the digital photo frame have internal memory or is it entirely dependent upon the Internet connection to display the photos? Better digital frames will have internal memory, some as much as 256 megabytes.

* One of the digital picture frames available today, eMotion 3-in-1 Desktop Media Player and Digital Frame, can also be used as a portable DVD and CD player. While it is best to plug in the frame, it can be run by battery for up to 2.5 hours.

* The Ality Pixxa Digital Picture Frame has a calendar and an alarm function. It has 512 megabytes of memory and can program your pictures to be displayed on a certain day. You can also add movies or music to this picture frame.

* If the size of the display area is important, you may want to consider the Alorek ADMPF311 which boasts an 11-inch digital frame. It comes standard with 1 gigabyte of memory. It also has a USB port so you can upload images directly from a camera, camcorder, or zip drive. You can also upload photos with the standard memory card reader.

* Finally, you may want to wait until closer to Mother’s Day to find your new digital picture frame. They are usually marketed heavily during this time so you may be able to find a great deal during this time. When choosing the best digital picture frame, take into consideration cost, features, and where you intend to place it in your home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Babies Love Boxes

Parents often go overboard when buying presents for their children, especially when that child is their first. What parents find out, after their babies are old enough to sit up and play, is that babies usually love boxes more than the toys that were originally in them.

Don’t become too discouraged. It happens to nearly every parent. When someone suggests that you may not want to spend so much on actual gifts because an infant won’t be able to appreciate them, you might want to listen. If they have children of their own, you may be able to avoid some of the same frustrations they’ve had.

What is it about boxes that draws the attention of babies? Part of the appeal may be that boxes are large and easily manipulated. Boxes are also lightweight so they won’t hurt if the baby drops them. Finally, as everyone knows, nothing tastes better than cardboard!

Since babies love boxes so much, don't fight it. Take advantage of their interest in boxes to begin to teach them to use their imagination. Your baby won't totally develop their sense of imaginative play until they are pre-school age, but there's no reason to wait too long before encouraging this type of play.

Actually, if you haven't looked at toys lately, you can buy pretend food to use in play kitchens. These are smaller than normal foods, so they're easy for little children to handle. There are also plastic foods that are safe for children to put in their mouths.

One box that parents probably have in large numbers is wipe boxes. Not only can they be used to store small things in, they can be used to build with like building blocks. If your baby is a boy, he can put his chunky cars in the box and then take them out and play with them. Little girls, once they start playing with baby dolls, can put their baby's clothes in the wipe boxes and even use the wipe box as a bed.

With babies, it seems that simple is best. They really don't need to have toys with all the bells and whistles. Lights and noises at this age may get their attention, but they may not hold that attention for long. Give them a couple of small boxes and they'll be happy for quite some time.

As your baby grows, they have the potential to turn almost anything into a toy. They'll find things in your home that you may not wish them to play with, so be concerned about baby-proofing your home.

Babies grow up so fast. One minute they're brand new, small, and helpless. The next thing you know, they're trying to get around on their own. Give them simple things to play with. Babies love boxes and they're great items to help them use their imagination.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Loan Out Your Teen to Friends In Need

Do you have friends who are empty nesters? Maybe they can't get around like they used to. Why not loan out your teen to friends in need?

There are a lot of things that teenagers can do to help neighbors. They could:

* Mow the lawn in the summer – Elderly neighbors or single mothers may not be able to get out and mow their lawn as often as it needs it. A teenager could do this task whether the neighbor has a push or riding lawn mower. If they’ve been trained, they could also help with edging and trimming bushes.

* Gardening – If neighbors have a garden, you could loan out your teen to help friends and neighbors till, plant, weed, and harvest their garden. They may learn enough to help you plant your own garden the next growing season.

* Shovel snow in the winter – In the winter people aren’t so concerned about their lawns, but they are interested in keeping their driveway and sidewalks free of snow. This is another activity that older friends and neighbors may have problems completing. Single mothers, unless they have older children of their own, would also appreciate any teen providing the muscle for this job.

* Help decorate for the holidays – Did you notice a neighbor that didn’t decorate for the holidays last year? Is it because they didn’t want to or because they couldn’t? Quite often older neighbors aren’t interested in celebrating because they’ve lost a loved one or their children don’t live nearby. Your teen could offer to decorate, even if only minimally, and then invite your neighbor to spend part of the holidays with you and your family.

* Care for pets if their neighbor has to be away from home – If your teen loves animals, they may want to help care for a neighbor’s pets while they’re away. They may also be willing to go over and take their dog for a walk every day to let it get exercise.

* Baby-sit – Of course, any working parents would be glad for an opportunity to go out without their children. Baby-sitting is generally thought of as a teenage girl’s job, but if your teenage son likes children, why shouldn’t he be able to baby-sit? Most new mothers would jump at the chance to have someone come keep an eye on a newborn while Mom takes a much-needed shower and nap.

* Offer to do housework for a new mother – Speaking of baby-sitting; are there any new mothers in your neighborhood? Any new mother would love it if your teenager came over to help with the housework. They would probably appreciate your teen’s help with cooking, as well.

Senior adult neighbors aren’t the only ones that need help, although that’s who most people think of when offering to help. Single mothers with small children and new mothers would also love to be the benefit of your teen’s efforts, should you decide to loan out your teen.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Toadstools and Snails Bento Box

I don't think many busy mums will have time to put together such an elaborate Bento Box, but this gorgeous idea is perfect for bored teens and older children. Although this Toadstools and Snails Bento Box is time-consuming it is not difficult and the instructions are clear and well-illustrated. Enjoy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Start A Home Business – Top Ways To Earn From Home

Home based business are on the rise. The internet makes it easy for people aspiring to transition from a traditional 9-5 or make some extra money from home. Here are some of the top ways to earn from home.

#1 Freelancing

Freelancing is simply selling a service without a long term contract. You can offer any number of services. Writing, graphic design, transcription, editing, audio creation, photography, and even voice over services can all be offered as a freelancer. Freelancing gives you the ability to pick and choose the projects you work on and whom you work with. It provides you with the freedom to set your rates and to choose when you work and when you don’t.

#2 Information Marketing

Information marketing is exactly what it sounds like, it’s making money by selling information. We’re an information hungry society and we often turn to the internet to help solve our problems. Whether you need to stop back pain, learn how to train your dog or learn how to be a parent to your teenager, we all have problems we want to solve.

Many times information marketers make their living writing books and reports. However, information marketers also create software products, or have them created for them. You can hold teleseminars or offer an online course. The key to being a successful information marketer is finding a topic you’re passionate about and researching supply and demand. There are tons of niches just waiting for a motivated entrepreneur.

#3 Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketers earn a commission on products or services they sell. Generally, affiliate marketers create a website around a niche topic. They use content to build an audience and drive traffic to their website. In their content they promote, review, and link to the sales pages of the products or services they represent.

For example, a person could create a website around pet health and be an affiliate for companies that provide products and services that support pet health. Affiliate marketing can be a very lucrative home based business. Like information marketing the key is to find a niche you’re passionate about and to research supply and demand. You’ll also want to research affiliate products and services.

Other ways to start a home business include direct sales, selling a product, coaching and membership sites. There are a number of ways to make a living from home. Find the business model that’s right for you and enjoy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Potty Training Made Easy – Strategies That Really Work

Potty training can be a process of trial and error. It can be both exciting and quite frustrating. Rest assured, eventually your child will be potty trained. There are very few teenagers running around in diapers!

That being said, there are proven potty training strategies that have worked for parents over the years. Let’s take a look at a few of them to make the potty training process as easy and painless as possible.

1. Avoid "nappy training" your child. Nappy training occurs when a child associates the presence of a nappy with going to the toilet and becomes distressed if they need to "go" when the nappy is removed. Encourage your child to go if they need to while you are changing nappies so that they don't form this association. This can be done from a very early age; some parents practice "elimination communication" from a few weeks or months old. Using elimination communication full time is quite a bit of work for the parent, though, as it is toilet training for the parent, not the child. But once you are in tune with your child's rhythms and toileting cues, you can cut down on the number of nappies you're using.

2. Remember that you are training yourself as well. If you're not paying attention to your child's cues, it's not fair to get frustrated if you're too late to help them avoid an accident. Eventually both you and your child will get into a routine that makes the process a lot easier.

3. Have a positive mindset. Mistakes will happen and children will make huge leaps forward only to then have really bad potty days or weeks. Stay focused on having a positive attitude. Recrimination, punishment and yelling only makes a child feel bad about themselves, it doesn’t further the potty training process.

4. It also helps to have potty training friendly clothing. There’s nothing more frustrating than a child who tells you they have to go potty and then having them wet their pants because it took too long to get their clothing off. Slips on pants are the easiest and of course skirts and dresses make it easy for girls.

5. Know that it’s much easier for a child to be aware of their body during the daytime and nighttime accidents can happen well into elementary school. Be prepared. Protect your child’s pride and their belongings with a mattress pad, rules about drinking before bedtime and support and understanding.

The potty training process can take a while and each child’s experiences are different. Be patient, be positive and be prepared!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Organic Gardening – Easy Ways To Get Started Today

Growing your own herbs, vegetables, greens and fruit can be both incredibly rewarding and delicious. However, many gardeners rely on pesticides, herbicides and fungicides not to mention chemical fertilizers to help their garden grow. That’s not only unnecessary, it’s also unhealthy. All those nutritious veggies pack a much healthier punch if they’re sans harmful chemicals.

Step #1 Prepare your soil. Because your soil is the foundation of your garden, it is important to make sure it’s full of the right nutrients to feed your garden. Mix in organic material like compost or humus and consider having your soil tested. The proper soil conditions can make the difference between a sparse crop and award winning vegetables.

Step #2 Choose your crop. The second step to build an organic garden is to choose your crop. What are you going to grow in your garden? Initially, in addition to what you’re going to grow, you’ll want to decide if you want to purchase plants or start your garden from seeds. If you start early enough you can use seeds. If not, you can purchase organic plants from your local nursery.

Regardless of what you choose, seeds or plants, make sure they’re grown without chemicals.

Step #3 Organize your garden. Did you know some plants naturally protect other plants from disease and pests? It’s true. Marigolds for example, drive bugs away and if you plant them around the perimeter of your garden, they’ll help protect your herbs, greens and veggies.

Before transferring your plants into your garden, mark where you’re going to plant them. Make sure there is plenty of room between plants so they have room to grow and thrive. A tiny tomato plant can grow several feet high and several feet wide. Leave room.

Step #4 Natural pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. It’s been said that home gardeners generally use more chemicals on their gardens than farmers do. That’s a lot of chemicals! Interestingly enough, mild detergent and water protect many plants from harmful pests. Hot pepper sprays also work to fend off pests. And natural predators like frogs and ladybugs can keep your garden healthy and full.

Step #5 Maintenance. Watering and weeding are all you have in store for you until it’s time to harvest. Take care to not over water. Soil should be moist but not soaking. Weed on a regular basis to make sure your plants have all the nutrients and room in the soil they need to grow.

Organic gardening isn’t difficult when you start with a healthy foundation. Before you dive in and start a garden large enough to feed an army, choose a few plants you know your family will eat. Grow those successfully and next year you can grow a bigger garden.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Green Energy – The Way of the Future

You may have heard a lot about green energy the past year or so. Whether you’ve jumped on the green energy bandwagon or not, it is definitely not a trend. Green energy is the way of the future. Let’s take a look at exactly what green energy is, why it’s important and how you can use it to improve your life and your environment.

What is Green Energy?

Green energy is energy that produces little if no by products that harm the environment. For example, fossil fuels like oil are expensive to mine, destructive to the environment during the actual drilling process and produce many toxic byproducts. These very same by products have been directly contributing to greenhouse gases and global warming not to mention polluting our waterways and air.

Green energy, like solar, wind, and geothermal do not cause destruction to the environment either during their harvesting stage or as a byproduct. When you use solar cells for example to store and create energy, you’re using energy directly from the sun. There’s no by product create and no waste.

Benefits of Green Energy

The benefits of green energy are vast. Initially you may think about two primary environmental benefits. They include no waste or pollution from the energy sources or emissions. Eliminating harmful emissions would drastically improve our planet’s outlook and virtually eliminate global warming caused by greenhouse gasses.

Additionally, green energy means no more destruction of the earth as we harvest fossil fuels. No more oil spills, digging in the midst of our pristine wilderness and destroying our natural resources.

However, beyond the immediate and apparent environmental benefits, in the long run green energy is significantly more cost effective. Imagine if your entire home ran on energy from the sun? How much a month would that save you in heating your home and in your electric bill?

Over the course of a year you’d save a thousand dollars or more, right? What about over the course of ten years? Yes, initially it will cost to transfer your energy source from fossil fuels to green energy sources, but that initial expense is usually paid for within a few years.

Green energy is infinitely sustainable and economically sound. That’s why it is the wave of the future.

How to Use Green Energy

The good news is that green energy can be utilized in smaller increments. You don’t have to change your entire home over to sustainable fuel sources in one fell swoop. You can add a few solar panels, use passive solar, and support sustainable practices. Some energy companies even offer a membership where you can specify a certain amount of your energy come from wind or solar. This depends on where you live but check it out. Finally, you can support businesses that use green energy.

It may take a while to spread throughout the world, however green energy is more than a passing phase, it is the wave of the future.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Get Rid of Acne – Simple Solutions That Really Work

Acne is the bane of life for millions of teenagers and even some adults. And when you suffer from acne and breakouts it can have a negative effect on your confidence. The good news is to get rid of acne, there are simple solutions that really work.

#1 Cut back on sugar.

There are both good and bad bacteria that live in our bodies. And some bacteria, the kind that can cause acne, thrive on sugar. Additionally, sugar affects your hormone levels and blood sugar levels both of which can cause a strain on your body. This strain makes it difficult for your body to fight any kind of infection, even a small pimple.

Cutting back on sugar helps balance your body’s systems and it eliminates the food bacteria thrive on. If your diet is particularly high in sugar and starchy carbohydrates (think white bread and baked goods) then going on a sugar elimination diet will show dramatic improvements in your skin.

There’s a reason chocolate is so often linked to acne, because it’s high in sugar. It’s also high in dairy and if you have a dairy sensitivity, which many people do, it can cause acne. Additionally, dairy is often full of hormones added to the cows to help them produce more milk. These hormones can wreak havoc on your system. Common foods that can cause acne include sugary foods, dairy, alcoholic beverages, fried foods, meat treated with hormones, and common allergy causing foods like nuts.

#2 Exfoliate and moisturize.

Exfoliation of your skin keeps the pores from being clogged. Clogged pores are the precursor to a blemish. However, beware of harsh abrasives. Many facial scrubs are just too abrasive for sensitive skin. Instead, use products with alpha hydroxy acids, retinols and salicylic acids to remove dead skin and debris from your face gently and consistently.

A common protocol might be to use a cleanser with salicylic acid and a night cream with retinol or alpha hydroxy acids or AHAs. Some skin care protocols for teens with acne contain benzoyl peroxide which can work quite well if you have particularly oily skin. However, for adults and those prone to dry skin, it can worsen the acne problem.

#3 Watch what you put on your face and when.

Makeup can clog pores. If you wear makeup choose a non-comedogenic versions. Don’t wear makeup when you exercise or when you’re going to be outside in the sun for extended periods of time.

#4 Avoid too much stress.

Easier said than done, right? Stress has an effect on our hormones and can cause breakouts. If you’re going to be dealing with stress, say you have a big project coming up, up the vitamin B complex and get some sunshine or vitamin D. Vitamin B helps your body manage stress and it helps protect your skin. Vitamin D, which our body makes when we get about 20 minutes of sunlight each day, helps promote healthy skin.

#5 Try not to touch your skin.

This goes beyond not squeezing or picking at your acne. Our fingers are full of bacteria. If you’re prone to acne much of it may be from simply transferring the bacteria on your hands to your face.

Overall, take good care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, exercise, fresh air and a good healthy diet. Good overall health helps your skin stay healthy and acne free. It helps your body manage obstacles, like stress and hormones, without suffering a breakout.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Free Kids' Gourmet Burger Cookbook

Download a free copy of the Red Robin Kids' Cookoff Gourmet Burger Cookbook. It looks like these kids had so much fun creating their burgers for the cookoff and there are so many ideas here that you'll never make a boring burger again.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dog Training Tips from the Experts

Whether you have a new puppy or an old dog, it makes good sense to invest a little time training them. And while there is an abundance of information available about how to train your dog, you can go wrong with dog training tips from the experts.

1. Positive reinforcement is essential.

While there are many theories on how to train your dog, most dog training experts agree that positive reinforcement works best. Positive reinforcement involves rewarding your dog with verbal praise “good dog”, physical praise like a pat on the head and food rewards. It doesn’t involve yelling at your dog, hitting or punishing them.

Positive reinforcement works because it builds a bond of trust with your dog. Dogs are motivated by rewards especially food rewards.

2. Consistency is essential.

If you’re working with your dog on a specific skill or trick then try to train them at the same time every day. This helps your dog know what to expect. Most dogs thrive on structure and will perform and learn much faster when they know what’s expected. If you’re training using food rewards, try to train your dog before mealtime so they’re a little bit hungry and motivated.

3. Be patient.

Dogs tend to learn in waves. Sometimes they pick things up quickly and then the next day it seems like you have to start over from the very beginning. Be patient. Start each new trick with very small steps and be clear about what you expect. Even with the smallest tricks like “sit” you will want to break it down into smaller steps.

4. Use hand cues in addition to verbal cues.

Some dogs have an easier time understanding and remembering hand signals than they do with verbal cues. Assign a hand signal to each trick or behavior you are training.

5. Train in small increments.

Dogs have short attention spans. Trying to train them for twenty or thirty minutes isn’t going to work. They’re going to get frustrated and lose focus. Instead, keep training sessions to no more than five minutes.

In the beginning, you may want to train for only a minute or two until your dog learns to look forward to training. Dogs can learn to dislike training. Keeping the training sessions short will help them learn to enjoy the process.

6. Always end on a positive note.

Learning a new trick is hard work. End each training session, no matter how frustrating, on a positive note. Always give your dog a trick or behavior to perform that they know how to perform and end with a food reward and plenty of praise.

7. Keep your dog healthy.

Finally, one of the most important dog training tips from the experts recommends feeding your dog a quality dog food, giving them plenty of fresh water and making sure they get enough sleep. A healthy dog is a happier dog and will learn desired behaviors much more quickly.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Natural Homemade Beauty Recipes

Nature is the newest trend in skin and hair care. For years, we’ve been putting toxic chemicals into our bodies that build up and make us feel tired and sick, regardless of whether we eat them or if they seep though our pores. And people are finally catching on that natural is better.

Most stores now have a line of “natural” beauty products. Unfortunately, they often come with a big price tag attached too. Often times many of these products are not actually “natural” so it does pay to do your homework to ensure you are getting what you pay for.

Fortunately actually making beauty products yourself isn’t too difficult. So if you want beauty products that you know are natural and are also inexpensive, just make them yourself. Here are 5 quick and easy recipes you can make at yourself.

Face Mask

Eating good food helps give you the right nutrients you need to look good. You can get more of these vitamins and minerals by putting the good stuff right on the skin.

Combining a mashed carrot, mashed avocado, and a beaten egg with a half cup a few tablespoons of honey creates a great face mask that provides vitamins, and improves the tone and texture of your skin. Just stir well, apply, let sit for about 15 minutes, and then wash off with cool water.

After you’re washed and nourished your skin, you can use grated cucumber or diluted lemon juice as a toner to help tighten your skin and close up your pores to close your pores and keep your skin looking great.

Hair Conditioner

Many people pay a lot of money for a conditioner that actually makes your hair look and feel good. Here’s a great natural recipe to save you money and help your hair.

Just mix an egg yolk with a tablespoon of castor oil and apply to hair. Let sit for about ten minutes and rinse out. You can use this every so often as a conditioning treatment for healthy shiny hair. If you like being experimental, you can try mixing other kitchen items, herbs, and natural items with eggs for healthy, shiny hair.

Hand and Foot Cream

A quick face mask will help make you look great in not a lot of time, but hands and feet require extra care.

Use ½ cup of olive oil mixed with natural sea salt and massage into your hands and feet. Leave a few minutes to soak and then rinse off with warm water.

When it comes to natural beauty products, these recipes are just the start. You can find hundreds of different combinations in natural beauty books, magazines, and on the internet. Or you can go to your kitchen cabinet and make your own special creations.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How to Make Homemade Soap

Making your own soap has some definite advantages. One of the most significant is the price. We can make soap much cheaper than we can buy it. Making it ourselves also gives us complete control over the ingredients, so we can create a soap that's perfect for our skin type in a scent of our choosing.

Making soap is much easier than you might think. It is, however, important to take certain safety precautions. Here's a basic recipe:


* 12 cups lye crystals
* 5 cups softened water
* 6 pounds lard


1. Put water in a glass or plastic bowl. Carefully pour lye into water, stirring constantly with a plastic or wooden spoon. This should be done outdoors or in a well-ventilated area, because it produces caustic fumes.
2. Mixing lye and water produces heat. When the lye is completely dissolved, set the mixture aside to cool.
3. Place lard in a stainless steel or enamel pan. Melt over low heat.
4. Allow both the lye solution and the lard to cool to room temperature.
5. Slowly pour the lye solution into the lard, stirring slowly and constantly with the plastic or wooden spoon.
6. Continue stirring after all of the lye solution has been added. Drizzle a small amount of the mixture into the pot periodically. When the soap keeps its shape for a moment before sinking into the mixture, you can add scent, color and herbs.
7. Pour the soap into a mold greased with Crisco. Wrap in a towel, and let set for about 18 hours or until completely cooled. Uncover and let set for 12 more hours.
8. The soap may now be unmolded and cut into bars. Let the bars cure for 3 to 4 weeks before using.

Customizing Your Soap

There are lots of different ways you can customize your soap. To make the best soap for your skin type, you may want to use different oils. Some that are commonly used include olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. The correct amount varies depending on which oil you use, so look for recipes online or in books until you get the hang of it.

Essential oils have therapeutic properties and add fragrance. Oatmeal, cornmeal and other grains can be added as exfoliants. And skin-safe colorants may be used to produce the desired color. These ingredients should be mixed together and added to a cup of the soap mixture, then stirred into the rest of the soap mixture immediately before pouring into the mold.

Making your own soap is easy, and it can be lots of fun. Coming up with the perfect concoction for your skin is rewarding, and sweetly scented homemade soaps make wonderful gifts for any occasion.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quick and Easy Toddler Craft Ideas

Toddlers love to learn new things. What better way to help them learn than to introduce new crafts. Crafts do not have to be labor intensive. In fact, many crafts are designed for toddlers and are available at the local crafts store. In addition to finding kits at the local craft store, you can also use regular household goods such as crayons, paper and even pasta to encourage your toddler’s creativity.

* Foam containers –

There are many projects available at Michael’s and AC Moore for children that involve foam. Foam is very easy to maneuver and does not rip as easily as paper making it a versatile project for children. Consider making foam masks or even foam characters such as dinosaurs, dogs, etc. Save the building activities for a later age when children are more adept to working with glue.

* Toddlers love to draw and color –

Provide a box of crayons, some paper and watch the children get inspired. Children can be taught to draw new items or simply left to doodle on their own. Ask them to describe what they are drawing; it will fuel their imaginations even more! To add another element to the drawing, give your child stickers to play with and place on the paper. Be sure to give your child a variety of stickers so they can choose what they want to use.

* Pasta creations –

There are many things that toddlers can create with pasta. Wheels can be used as tires on cars, ziti noodles and some string can be used to create bracelets and necklaces. Use markers to color the pasta before using the noodles to craft, your child will come up with a colorful creation for sure.

* Paper Crafts –

Let your toddler create a card for someone special. Cards can be made with glitter, with adult supervision of course. Help your toddler spell out what they want the card to say, then have them trace the lines with a glitter marker. Glitter markers are better than actual glitter because the markers already have the glue in them – easy cleanup!

Using the above ideas is a great way to introduce arts and crafts to your toddler. Since toddlers love to learn and absorb new information, crafts are the perfect idea to spark your child’s creative side. All of the ideas provided are quick and easy and allow for minimal mess as well as quick clean up. Crafts can be introduced on a regular basis to keep your child entertained.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fun Toddler Craft Ideas

Getting a toddler to sit still can be a near-impossible feat. They're constantly exploring the world around them. That's a good thing, but sometimes they need some creative downtime. That's where toddler crafts come in.

Crafting is great for toddlers for a number of reasons. It can help them develop longer attention spans. Most crafts help develop hand-eye coordination. And young children can benefit from learning how to follow simple instructions. Here are some craft ideas that your toddler can do (with supervision).

Craft Stick Puppets

Puppets are fascinating to toddlers. Creating their own puppets is easy, and it's lots of fun. All you really need are some craft or popsicle sticks, construction paper, safety scissors, markers and glue.

Help your toddler cut animal shapes out of construction paper. He can draw faces and other details with washable markers. Glue the stick to the back of the shape, let dry, and he's ready to put on a puppet show. If you want to make more elaborate puppets, try cutting shapes out of foam. Glue on a pom pom for the nose, and add some googly eyes.

Paint with Pudding

Kids love to fingerpaint, but it's so messy. And there's also the concern about them eating the paint. Even if the paints are nontoxic, it can make cautious parents uneasy. The solution? Let them paint with pudding!

You don't need different flavors to make different colors. Just use one serving of plain vanilla pudding, divide it up into small portions, and add food coloring to create various shades. Give your child a paper plate to use as a canvas for his masterpiece. When he's done, he can eat it with no worries.

Design a T-Shirt

If your toddler sees you sewing or painting clothes with fabric paint, she may want to try her hand at designing clothes. But needles are small and sharp, and fabric paint is messy. What to do? Break out the markers!

Kids can have a blast decorating a plain white t-shirt with colorful markers. If you use washable ones, they can create a design, wear it, and start over after you wash the shirt. If a permanent design is desired, however, you'll have to let him use non-washable markers. You can avoid a mess by covering the work area with newspaper and putting a smock on your toddler.


Making placemats out of contact paper is very easy. Have your toddler cut shapes out of construction paper and glue them onto a whole piece with a glue stick. He can add detail with markers or embellish with stickers. When he's done, place the artwork on a piece of contact paper, sticky side up. Place another sheet of contact paper on top, sticky side down.

Most toddlers will only have the patience to make one placemat at a time. But he can make another one tomorrow, continuing until there are enough for the whole table. He'll be so proud to know that everyone sees his artwork at every meal!

Crafting can help your toddler learn important skills while keeping him quietly occupied. Whether it's a rainy day or he's just feeling creative, seize the opportunity to let him channel his imagination into something you can both admire.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Eye Facts Poster for Children

Download a free Eye Facts Poster for children from the National Eye Institute website. This is a fun poster promoting eye health to school-age children. The poster includes interesting facts and myths about your eyes and vision and those of other animals, as well as tips to keep your eyes healthy.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Organic Chemical Free Gardening

Every year, thousand of chemicals are poured into the environment and millions of gallons of water are needlessly wasted. How? By growing plants. Sure, most of this is done by large agricultural producers, but some of it is still done in personal gardens. And that means that you can make a difference by changing your gardening practices. There are many agricultural producers who have done it, and you can use the same tricks to help your own garden, and the planet.

Pick appropriate plants.

Not all plants are appropriate for the area you live in. While you might be able to control the temperature, humidity, and rain conditions inside your house, you can’t do it out in the garden. If you pick appropriate plants for your area, you may be able to avoid using fertilizers and saving on water too. Research, what plants are native to your surrounding areas and try planting them in your own garden. Wildflowers, are just that, they can pretty much be left alone and will thrive in most areas.

Pick natural pest-repelling plants.

You don’t need to rely on poisons to keep away garden ruining pests. Many plants produce chemicals that repel these animals naturally. By putting them in or around you garden, you can keep your garden safe with little effort and no chemicals. Plus, you can pick parts of these plants and use them to make products to keep them away from you too.

If you don’t want to plant natural repellents in your garden, you can use them to spray your plants without harming them or adding artificial chemicals to your garden. Many herbs like hot pepper, vanilla, and lavender can help repel insects from your garden.


We’re all looking for a quick and easy way to safely get rid of weeds without chemicals, but the good old fashioned way is still very effective. It you take time every day to pull the weeds you can find, you’ll only take a few minutes so it doesn’t seem like a lot of work. You can even get the kids involved, just be sure to do it properly so you don’t spread the seeds around. There are even some common weeds that are edible, just make sure there are no pesticides that could have gotten on them.

Crop rotation.

Farmers all over the world use crop rotation to naturally fertilize plants. The concept is to change what crop you’re putting in a certain field each year. Plants use different nutrients and put other nutrients back into the soil. If you rotate crops that replace the nutrients the other plants use, you will have to fertilize the soil less.

You can use this same concept in your garden by planting different plants every year, or just rotating where you put specific plants in the garden.

So, you’ve made all these changes and are using a low-water, chemical free garden? Well, you still haven’t done the most important thing: pass it on! One garden can make a dent, but more can make a bigger difference. Tell your friends, teach your kids, you can even visit their school and teach your kids friends! Every little bit helps make a better world.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Make Your Own Cards

Instead of giving out a store-bought card for the next special occasion, try your hand at making your own cards. Making your own cards does not require a lot of hard work, but rather a bit of creativity and the right materials.

Make Your Own Cards by Made By HandsTo start creating your cards visit your local arts and crafts store to search for materials. Most arts and crafts stores have big scrapbooking sections. This is where you will be able to find the materials to make your own cards. Let your inspiration guide you as the possibilities are unlimited. You can create various themed cards such as Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s Day cards and much more.

Rubber stamps are widely available and you can buy virtually any color ink to go with the stamps. There are several stamping methods that you can use when making cards including embossing. Embossing is the process of creating a raised image on the card and it can give the card an elegant appearance.

Making Memories Slice Die-Cut Machine Starter KitThere are several die cuts and die cut machines available as well. Die cuts allow you to punch a shape out with ease. They come in all different shapes and sizes and can be very useful in achieving a layered look. Die cuts can be punched out of different color papers to display a colorful card.

Scrapbook papers come in all different colors, textures and themes. Patterned paper can be purchased as well as glitter paper and pre-scored card kits. Card kits come with the note cards already made and ready to decorate. The kits come in different sizes and often different colors to meet a variety of needs. During seasonal periods, such as Christmas, card kits come out with note cards, envelopes and many different die cut shapes.

Disney Princess Ultimate Sticker Book (Ultimate Sticker Books)Stickers are available, both regular and 3D and also come in many different themes. Disney stickers are available as well as licensed characters and many 3D designs. Adding stickers to your cards can help to foster even more creativity when matching colors and themes. You can further enhance your handmade cards by adding ribbon or brads. Ribbon comes in a plethora of colors, shapes and textures. Brads can be used to hold items such as die cuts on the card without the use of an adhesive.

Simply put, making cards is a creative process that only you can foster. Cards can be created with a variety of items found in your local arts and crafts store. You can play around using different methods to decorate the cards and have fun at the same time!