Treating Dry Skin in Winter

Winter can be very hard on your skin. The air is dry and cold, and your skin gets chapped and dried by wind and household heat. For some people, dry skin can become quite problematic in winter, resulting in flakes, redness, or even eczema.

Here are some tips and ideas for helping heal your dry skin, and preventing it from getting too dry again.

Night Creams

Night creams are generally formulated with oil rather than water. This is important for wintertime moisturizing - water-based lotions may be fine for summer, but in the winter you need something oil-based that will seal in moisture, sources say. Night creams tend to be oil-based.

Not all oils are created equal, though, and not all parts of your body will respond well to certain oils. For your face, experts point out that non-comedogenic oils are best. Jojoba and sweet almond oils are said to be good for the face, as they most closely resemble your body's natural oils. For dry hands and feet, castor oil-based creams can be very effective.

"Spa" Footies and Gloves

Many of us like to slather on the moisturizer at bedtime. But then it all ends up getting wiped off on the bedding. An effective solution is thin cotton mittens or gloves and footies. You can usually get these for very little at your local pharmacy, drug store, or health food store. You can also use cotton socks.

Apply moisturizer heavily to hands and feet (start with your feet), and then cover them with the socks and gloves. The socks and gloves will hold the moisture against your skin all night.

Moisturizing Make-Up

One of the keys to healing and preventing dry skin is to use moisturizer daily. But it can be easy to forget, so using a make-up with moisturizer is a good way to get your skin moisturized each day. Some of these moisturizing make-ups are lightly tinted, while others provide more opaque coverage.

Moisturize the Air

Wherever possible, get moisture into the air in the winter. It will also make the air feel warmer. Sources recommend using a humidifier in the wintertime. If this is not practical, take some other humidifying steps: leave the bathroom door open when you shower; hang your wet laundry up in the house; leave pots of water on heating vents or on wood-burning stoves (safety first, of course).

Minimize Soap

Speaking of showers, we often unknowingly exacerbate dry skin in the shower. Many people scrub themselves all over with soap each time they shower, but this is really not necessary and can even be harmful. Instead, use soap "where it counts" (under the arms, for example) only, and just go over the skin of the rest of your body with a soft washcloth and water. Use soap on your body maybe once a week, and make it a moisture-rich cleanser.

$10 off a $40 purchase at Aeropostale

From 1/30/2012 - 2/19/2012 you can take $10 off any purchase of $40 or more at Aeropostale! This coupon is valid in store online. Click here to download yours!

$30 off $75 or more at New York and Company

New York & Company happens to be one of my absolute favorite places to shop! Well between now and February 2nd it gets even better. Use promo code 2015 when checking out and receive $30 off any purchase of $75 or more! Woohoo!

3 Free Bagels at Brueggers

On February 9th from open until 2pm you can take this coupon in for 3 free bagels at Brueggers.They are celebrating their birthday! :) So check and see if you have a Brueggers in your area. I do not. :(

Stein Mart Coupon

Now through Sunday, February 5th you can take an extra 30% off Red Dot Clearance items at participating Stein Mart stores! Don't miss out!

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The Necklace Nanny

How many times have you been to the grocery store and gotten all the way back to the car only to realize somewhere in your trip of what seemed like endless aisles your little has dropped their favorite toy and is now screaming to have it back?

Now here you go, pulling him or her back out of the car seat to go inside and search for that favorite toy. Well, maybe if you are lucky you find it but chances are some other little toddler has traced the same steps you did and that toy is long gone.

Well that all could be avoided with The Necklace Nanny. The Necklace Nanny is a durable elastic strap with a fully adjustable side release closure. You place the end of The Necklace Nanny through any circular shaped toy or any toy that has a loop, tag, etc. Then you place The Necklace Nanny around your baby's stroller or a shopping cart bar and voila! No more lost toys! Want to see just how easy it is? Watch the video below! Purchase yours at

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City Exploring

Author: Elias Massey

Our family was certainly stuck in a weekend rut. We were doing the same things over and over and I had been struggling to find something different to do as a family. I was watching direct tv chicago on a Saturday morning and the travel channel sparked a great idea. There has been so much buzz lately about folks discovering all the great things their very own towns had to offer up. I was captivated by all the hidden treasures some of these towns had to offer and I knew our city was just waiting to be discovered. Living in one of the nation’s greatest cities, I decided to plan one weekend a month for this year exploring Chicago with the family. Between the sporting events, museums, and historic scenery, we have more than enough to keep us busy right here in our very own home town. The family is very excited about what we are going to do next and it makes our city feel more like home now that we are learning all that it has to offer. We are definitely proud to call the great city of Chicago home!

Teens: How to Teach Them to Manage Their Finances

Sometimes, it's hard as parents to watch your teens squander their allowance or money they've earned from a job. You want them to do better, but how do you teach them? Or maybe you are just beginning with the basics of money management, and you want to make sure they get off to a good start. Wherever you are in the financial training process, it's good to have some tips on how to teach teens to manage their finances.

Implement an Allowance

You may already be doing this, but need some tips on how to help your teen save and control his or her money. (If so, read on for more tips.) If you're not giving your teen an allowance, go ahead and start. There's no better way to learn how to handle money than handling money!

Family Meetings

As you begin the allowance - or if you've already started one and need to get a handle on things - sit down with your teen and make your expectations clear. One possibility is to require the first 10% of the allowance or income to be donated to charitable cause(s) of your/their choice, 40% saved, and 50% for spending (always with an option to save).

Of course, this will depend on the amount and frequency of the allowance, and also on your personal family dynamic. The point is to give your teen money on a regular basis, while requiring specific discipline about handling it. This sets the stage for responsible budgeting later in life. In fact, you might want to create a budget along with your teen to help manage his or her allowance "income" (or actual job income).

Let Consequences Happen

We parents often want our kids to be happy no matter what, and out of sympathy we might be tempted to bail them out if they've been irresponsible and spent their money too fast. But consequences are powerful learning tools, and it's better that they learn about the consequences of mishandling money while living under your roof than when they're out on their own with more at stake.

So within reason, let your kids take the consequences for their spending habits - once the money's gone, it's gone until next allowance or payday.

Teen Business Web Sites

There are sites springing up all over the internet for teens who want to earn money. These sites often have financial advice as well, and message boards and forums. Your teen can sign up with one of these and learn a lot about entrepreneurship, what jobs are currently available, and how to manage his or her money. Such sites can be invaluable resources for teens who want to start earning.

Let Your Teen Pay for Certain Things Him/Herself

As you create your teen's budget and lay down your expectations for his or her spending, it's a good idea to make it clear what you will pay for and what your teen will pay for. For instance, you might make up a list with two columns - things parents are responsible for and things your teen is responsible for funding.

Parents may pay for necessary clothes, school supplies, and food, while teens may be responsible for paying for movies, video games, and "accessories" (such as special t-shirts and jewelry).

All new moms need a Nose Sucker

You might not have already known this but one of your duties as a new mommy is sucking the snot out of your little ones nose. Glamorous right? :)

In the hospital you are given a fabulous blue Nose Sucker. Let me tell you... all Nose Suckers are NOT created equal. If you are anything like me, you are going to quickly misplace the fabulous one given to you at the hospital in between taking it with you into various rooms in your home, taking it on trips to the pediatricians office and to grandmas house, etc. GASP! It will be gone!

You will wake up at 2am to the sounds of a congested baby and your  Nose Sucker will be no where to be found. That is why it is important to have one at home, at grandmas, in the diaper bag, in the kitchen drawer, in your desk drawer, in your car console, in your bathroom and any other place you can think of. 

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Teens: Top Tips to Feel Good about Yourself

For teens, feeling good about yourself can be a special challenge. You are undergoing a lot of changes physically, emotionally, and psychologically - and, for many teens, this period in their lives brings academic and social change. There's hardly an area of your life that isn't changing! Just about anyone would find that much change stressful.

Where does your self-image end up in all this upheaval? For some teens, it ends up pretty low. Getting some ideas on how you can feel better about yourself may help. Read on for some tips.

Identify the Cause

Sometimes, it can really help just to figure out why you feel down on yourself. Is it something going on in your life? Are you struggling socially? Maybe you are dealing with body issues, like being overweight, underweight, or having acne. If it helps, write down your feelings and try to identify their cause. You may find that it's something trivial, or, if it is something significant, you can identify it and get help in dealing with it.

Nix the Media

Many teens look at magazines or pictures online of models, trying to find someone they look like. Teens may feel that if they can find someone who looks like they do, it will affirm their looks. But surprise - not only do the people in the magazines not even look like that without major photo enhancement, they also devote their lives to their looks. You're a normal teen! You don't have eight hours a day to devote to working out and make-up and plastic surgery. Put down the magazines and steer clear of model pictures online and elsewhere, and look for affirmation in other areas. That brings us to the third point.

Get Affirmation Elsewhere

Ultimately, you're the one who has the power to affirm your worth. So a good place to start it with your own talents and abilities. What are you good at? What do people like about you? Are you funny, artistic, mathematical, organized, a good reader? You don't have to have some enormous gift that dazzles everyone; maybe you're really good at finding bargains, or perhaps you have a gift for encouraging others.

Write down some things you like to do (you may find you have a strength in writing!), things you are truly good at. If you're not sure, ask your parents. They probably know you better than anyone, even if you don't want to admit it.

Take Deliberate Steps

The only person who can change you is you. You can't change other people, but you can take steps to be a more positive, likeable person which will help you like yourself more. When people like you, it affirms your self-image. Some steps you can take are:

* Reach out to others - write friendly notes, invite a friend over for coffee, or just make a point to smile more and make eye contact.

* Exercise regularly - this doesn't just help with body image; regular exercise may also improve your overall health and mood.

* Compliment other people and boost their self-image - give to others what you would like to receive.

How to Teach Your Child Healthy Fitness Habits

There was a time when kids just kind of kept themselves in shape; overweight kids were the exception. Nowadays, however, with childhood obesity on the rise, parents, teachers, and caregivers are all finding it necessary to implement fitness programs and encourage fit lifestyles for kids.

So how can you teach your child healthy fitness habits that will stay with them for a lifetime? Here are some ideas.


Let your kids in on your fitness routine. (Don't have one? There's the first step - implement one!) Have them come along on your morning walk or run, or let them do a workout video with you. It might take some time to get them integrated, but it introduces them to the concept of regular workouts and the idea that exercise is fun. This also puts you in the position of positive role model for your kids.

Playtime = Fitness Time

Children are naturally playful. Engaging in free play is one of the best ways to encourage them to get in shape and develop healthy habits. Toddlers like to dance and be active at all kinds of play, as do preschoolers. Older kids may enjoy playing sports or just running races with their friends.

If it's snowing, get the kids to go outside and play in it; in the fall, rake leaves into piles and jump in. Spring and summer provide all kinds of outdoor possibilities. The point is to deliberately integrate active play time into your child's day.

Make the Time

Because we tend to expect fitness to come naturally to kids, many families neglect to schedule it in. But these days, that's an important step. Make sure your kids have the time to be active and move around. Sometimes, we spend a lot of our day telling our children to be still, be quiet, pay attention, and so forth. Try to schedule in some time when your child can be physically active.


Playgrounds exist for a reason - play! Make it a point to take your child to a playground several times a week. Make playdates with other moms and kids if you like, and make it a regular thing. When the weather gets bad, see if you can continue your habit in an indoor play area, community center gym, or church fellowship hall.

Family Sports

Signing your kids up for sports is a great idea, but if your child is the shy type, he or she may benefit more from family sports. Also, if the family participates, it encourages Mom and Dad to exercise, too.

How to Spot and Help a Sleep-Deprived Teen

Staying up late is almost a rite of passage for teens. Many experts point out that teens' internal sleep cycles actually change, making them more into night owls than they used to be (or might be in the future). That doesn't mean they need less sleep, though - sources say teens should get at least nine hours a night. But how many actually do?

Because late nights are considered so normal for teens, many parents might not recognize sleep deprivation in their teen. Here are some tips on how to recognize it, as well as ways you can help.

1. Poor performance in sports and/or schoolwork can result from lack of sleep. Your teen's grades may slip, or he/she may not do as well on the field during practice or games.

2. Changes in appetite may signal sleep deprivation. Your teen may begin gaining weight, as being deprived of sleep is said to bring on carbohydrate cravings. Other changes can occur, too, such as a lack of appetite.

3. Irritability may seem like normal teenage angst, but sleep deprivation can make this worse. Parents should pay particular attention if the irritability comes out of nowhere or is uncharacteristic. The same goes for overall moodiness, which may be a part of being a teen or may signal lack of sleep.

4. Depression can result from teens not getting enough sleep. Teens are prone to depression anyway; they are undergoing all sorts of major changes. But sleep deprivation can make it much worse, and harder to cope with existing depression.

How Can You Help?

As a parent, there are some things you can do to help your teen get the sleep he or she needs.

* Remove media from your teen's bedroom, such as televisions, telephones, mobile devices, and computers. If removal is not practical, then you can try implementing a strict "off time" for these devices. Experts say that music is okay, as long as it is calming.

* Consider melatonin supplements, which are recommended by some experts. If your teen does take these, they are best taken about six hours before bedtime, sources say.

* Calming teas like chamomile can help, too. This has the opposite effect of that favorite of teen substances: caffeine. Make sure caffeine is restricted after noon.

* Set a schedule that does not drastically change on the weekends. "Sleeping in" on Saturday may be a welcome respite for teens, but it may make Monday and Tuesday excruciating. Instead, keep the same basic schedule seven days a week, with perhaps allowing a one-hour sleep-in or stay-up on weekends.

Top Tips - Start Saving on Heating Bills This Winter

With many people feeling the chill not only of the weather but of the recession, it's become very popular (and necessary) to find ways to save on utility bills. Your heating system can be a real budget breaker when the weather gets really cold, but there are some things you can do to help keep your heating bills from breaking the bank. Here are some tips.

Alternative Heating Sources

It pays to look into alternative means of heating your home, or the room(s) you're in. Pellet stoves, kerosene heaters, wood stoves, and various types of space heaters all help to augment your hard-working central heating unit. See if you can use one or more of these alternatives in the rooms you use most, keeping the vents closed in the rooms you're not using.

Change the Filter

Really. This is one of the most basic and simple things you can do for your heating system, but it's also one of the most important. You should change the filter in your furnace at least every 60 days, or even once a month. This keeps the unit running smoothly and efficiently. A dirty filter can result in anything from high electric bills (due to the extra effort the unit has to make to get air through the dirty filter) to a broken-down system.

Turn It Down

When you're not in the house, make sure you turn down the heat before you leave. Also, turn it down at night. You can use a space heater in the areas where you're sleeping if you need to.

Another option is to get a timer for your thermostat. It's a simple job to install it, and timers can be bought at most home improvement retailers.

Shut Vents

If you're not using a room, shut the heating vent in that room. That way, you won't be paying to heat rooms you're not using. If you don't have the kind of vents you can shut, you can purchase vent covers at home improvement stores.

Check Doors and Windows

Part of saving money on heating bills is making sure your heat isn't escaping. Windows and doors can have leaks you don't really notice until it gets cold. Weather stripping is inexpensive and easy to install, and can save a lot of money on heating bills.

Use Residual Heat

In the kitchen, when you're finished baking something in the oven, leave the oven door open a few inches and let the heat escape into the room.

It's What You're Wearing - or Not

If you are hanging around in a t-shirt and shorts and constantly cranking up the heat to feel like summer, you are wasting a lot of heat. Dress for the season - wear several layers and a sweater, and thick wool socks. Warm house slippers can help, too.

Romantic Valentine's Day Dinner Ideas

Your Valentine's Day menu depends a great deal on who you're cooking for. For instance, if you are making Valentine's dinner for a family that includes small children, the menu will look different than an intimate dinner for two. Following are several different examples of Valentine's Day dinner menus so you can choose what fits the occasion and diners.

Family Valentine's

Some families like to include their children in the Valentine's festivities. Here are some ideas and recipes for a family Valentine's dinner.

* Heart-Shaped Pizza - This is a really fun kid-pleaser. You can make several individual ones to account for varying tastes, or vary the toppings half and half (heart-shapes are easier to divide evenly than circles!). Top with whatever your family likes and serve on festive paper plates and colorful napkins.

* Round out the meal with strawberry "roses." Stick fresh strawberries leaf-side-down onto bamboo skewers and serve in a vase at the table.

* Dessert could be chocolate brownies, cut into heart shapes if you like. Or kids love pretty cupcakes decorated with a Valentine theme.

Comfort Food

Sometimes, nothing says "love" like comfort food. Serve these comforting foods in festive dishes, or wrap the outside of conventional dishes in craft foam and ribbon (once they're out of the oven and on the table, that is!).

* Pot roast with potatoes and carrots is a favorite comfort food for many people. Wrap the casserole dish in pretty ribbon or craft foam when you serve it.

* Serve mashed potatoes in a heart-shaped ring on a pretty dish.

* Try a red Jell-O salad to go with it.

Romantic Dinner for Two

Beef is traditional, romantic dinner fare - but how to prepare it? Here are some ideas.

* Filet mignon is a treat, and served medium rare (or however your diner likes it) it is a decadent and romantic dish. You can also do beef kabobs with red bell peppers, onions, and cherry tomatoes.

* On the side, you can serve simple sliced tomatoes or steamed haricot verts with cherry tomato slices.

* Pasta tossed with grape tomatoes makes a romantic dinner entree as well - arrange the tomatoes in a heart shape on the pasta.

* Red velvet cake makes a romantic dessert.

Dinner with Friends

Maybe you are just getting together with friends for a Valentine's dinner. Try some of these ideas.

* Serve cheese fondue for the main course, and you've got a great dinner for a crowd. Fondue can be fun for romantic couples, too, who can dip bits of food and serve them to each other. For fun, have a few pieces of heart-shaped toast (cut heart shapes out of bread before toasting).

* Chocolate fondue makes a great dessert with raspberries, strawberries, and other fruits.

Teens: How Regular Exercise Improves Sleep

It's generally well known that exercise improves sleep, but for teens this may have special significance. A recent study showed a sharp distinction between the sleep quality of teens who sat in front of a computer for more than two hours a day or a television for more than four hours a day, and those who exercised instead. The teens who sat in front of the computer did so recreationally - that is, they did social networking, played games, and so forth.

This "sedentary behavior" had a profound effect on the teens' sleep quality. Teens who exercised instead of spending time in front of the computer reported sleeping for eight hours or more, while the sedentary teens got insufficient sleep.

Teens are a special concern regarding exercise and sleep. There are several reasons for this, such as the following:

* Teens are more likely to spend recreational time in front of a computer.
* Teens tend to stay up late due to homework and/or circadian rhythm changes.
* Teens actually need more sleep per night (between nine and ten hours) than the average adult.
* Teens are in school, and schoolwork is often very demanding and requires sufficient sleep to be tackled effectively.
* Teens' brains are still developing.

In other words, teens are the most likely group to get insufficient sleep, yet they are the group that needs it most.

So how does exercise improve sleep for teens? For one thing, teens who do not exercise are more likely to be obese, and obesity affects sleep quality. According to the study referred to above, chronic sleep deprivation affects teens' immune systems, the cardiovascular system, and the brain (which, in teens, is still developing). Exercise has been shown to help in all these areas - cardiovascular, immune, and neurological systems are all said to be positively impacted by exercise.

Exercise also makes your teen tired in a good way, and research shows it reduces stress. Stress can really keep your teen up at night, so exercising may relieve that stress and improve sleep. Regular exercise also boosts the appetite, and if parents keep lots of healthy food around, teens may be more likely to eat even foods they have shunned in the past. Intake of more healthy food also helps promote overall health and, by extension, sleep quality.

Generally speaking, vigorous cardiovascular exercise is the best for promoting sleep. Stretching and other forms of exercise are certainly good for the body and may help promote relaxation, thus aiding sleep; but experts agree that at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise - preferably in the afternoon - has the most benefit.

Part-Time Jobs for Teens

Part-time jobs are a great way for teens to learn about managing money, and it can take some of the load off of Mom and Dad as providers of spending money. It can boost their confidence and help them on their way toward becoming independent adults. But most teens are still in school, so it's important to remember that work should not take the place of homework or study time.

Here are some tips on how teens can find a part-time job, things to consider, and some of the things to expect.


Consider how your teen is going to get to and from his or her job. If your teen is not driving, or if you don't have a vehicle you can spare, take that into consideration before your teen applies for a particular job.

How Many Hours?

Twenty hours a week is the average for a part-time job, but your teen's other activities and schoolwork should be taken into consideration, too. If he or she only has 10 hours a week to devote to work, then babysitting or yard work might be good choices.

Studies have shown that teens who work more than 20 hours a week tend to flag behind in schoolwork and experience more fatigue due to lack of sleep. Other studies point to between 10 and 15 hours per week as the ideal number of hours for teens to gain the advantages of employment without sacrificing school and social life.

What Kinds of Jobs?

As noted above, babysitting and yard work are popular first jobs for teens. Today, there are online jobs, too. Transcription, writing web content, running a blog, and so forth are all legitimate part-time jobs, and your teen can pick and choose based on how many hours your teen has available.

Speaking of online jobs, your teen can also set up his or her own business online. He can manage a web content company and hire other teens to write for him, or he can set up an informational niche website. There are forums and organizations online devoted to helping teens start up their own businesses.

Handmade items and crafts are on the rise. Artisan foods are a hot item these days, as are hand-sewn bags and bath products. Your teen can set up a website to sell his or her products, or use online tools like eBay. Also, local retailers might be willing to sell items for a percentage of the sale price.


How much your teen can expect to make does, of course, depend on the job and the number of hours. It's important to be realistic here, too; your teen may be working for minimum wage at only 10 hours a week. But experience is invaluable, and your teen does not have the life expenses that adults do, such as grocery and utility bills.

Paintball - Is It Safe for Children?

Paintball is somewhat dangerous, just by virtue of its nature. After all, you're shooting pellets of paint at each other in an activity which you'd never allow in your own house. But it can be a fun and rewarding game, even for children, if the proper safety protocol is followed. It's also a good idea to go beyond the basic requirements of the paintball course.

Making It Safer

Here are some tips for how you can make paintball a safer experience for your kids, and how and why safety on the paintball course matters.

1. Masks

This is probably the most important piece of paintball gear your child will wear. Eye injuries are said to be the most common injury incurred during a paintball game, and a good-quality mask is essential. And sources agree that it should be high-quality - shop goggles won't do. It's important to use masks made specifically for paintball, and they should be worn every time there is a loaded paintball gun in your hands or in the hands of those nearby.

2. Barrel plugs

Required at some courses, barrel plugs fit on the end of the paintball gun, preventing it from firing accidentally. These are a must, sources say, along with a general rule that you should never point your paintball gun at anything or anyone you do not intend to shoot.

3. Not (really) a toy

Don't let your children brandish the paintball gun like it's a toy. Yes, paintball is a game, but shooting someone who is unprotected can be detrimental. It should be noted that a paintball gun should never be pointed at anyone's face, ever, regardless of safety mask.

4. Shoes

Some sources point out the importance of wearing the right shoes. It makes sense - you don't want your child wearing shoes that could come untied, or that have slick soles. Good-fitting running shoes with treads are a good choice; Velcro fasteners are a good idea as well. You might consider boots, too, to prevent your child's foot from bending or rolling to the side.

5. Torso protection

There are paintball vests available as well, and you can also provide some torso protection with a thick jacket. Getting hit with a paintball does hurt, and torso protection can help prevent bruises and welts.

6. Paintball courses

Playing on a regulated paintball course is the safest route. Turning kids loose to play paintball in the woods could be disastrous. Make sure the course you choose has a good reputation and that a referee/adult is present for the whole game.

Stroller Jogging Fitness - How to Get Rid of Leftover Baby Weight

Your first post-partum look in the mirror can be daunting. Then come the questions - how are you going to get in shape when baby takes so much time? How soon should you embark on a workout program? What's the best method?

As long as you have your doctor's go-ahead and have completely healed from the birth, a jogging stroller is a great solution.

Benefits of Jogging

Jogging is a great way to get in shape. Here are some of the benefits of jogging.

* Jogging helps burn calories, which is the key to weight loss.

* Stubborn fat, especially belly fat, is said to succumb to jogging.

* Jogging provides a full-body workout. Legs, arms, and core are all involved, which may help you feel a lot better all over.

* Heart health is said to be greatly enhanced by jogging. You get your heart rate up and keep it up for the duration of your jog.

* Muscle strength is increased by jogging. Moms need all the muscle strength they can get! Muscle tone, too, may be helped by regular jogging. It also is said to help build muscle as well, and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn, even while sitting still.

* Bone density is increased with use, and with the right shoes and diet, the impact from jogging can help build bone. This is important particularly for nursing mothers.

* Studies show that exercise improves mood, particularly lifting depression. This can be a welcome effect for new mothers, who may suffer from post-partum depression.

Why a Jogging Stroller?

A jogging stroller provides all those benefits of jogging, but you get to take your baby with you. That fact helps solve one of the big problems many new moms face - not enough time to exercise. If you have to find a babysitter each time you went to work out at the gym, it's not likely you'll get there very often. But a jogging stroller is something you can use in your own neighborhood.

Another advantage of a jogging stroller is that babies love it. Older babies in particular really like moving fast in a stroller, and when they get old enough to ask, love to ask Mom to run while pushing the stroller.

Jogging strollers are designed differently than a regular stroller. Their design takes safety into account. While regular strollers have wheels, the similarity ends there. Jogging strollers have a three-wheel design, and the wheels do not pivot like they do in strollers designed for easy maneuvering at slow speeds. Jogging strollers are designed not to flip or tip the way umbrella strollers and other types might do when moving at the speed of joggi

How to Host a Valentine's Day Party?

Hosting a Valentine's Day party can actually be pretty versatile. All you really need is to create a warm, loving atmosphere that makes your guests feel welcome and loved. It can be a couples' party, or it can just be a fun time with a group of friends. Here are some ideas on how to make your Valentine's party a time to remember.

Pick a Time

If you are going for a romantic love type of theme, an evening time would set the right mood. For a friendship party, you could do brunch or a late afternoon party. If you are having children, early afternoon might work best. The key is to choose a time that fits the schedule and lifestyle of the majority of your guests.

Choose the Menu

There are all sorts of ideas for Valentine's Day food. Here are some ideas based on party themes and types.

* Couples' party - Food at a couples' party can be romantic and share-able, like kabobs and/or fondue. Fruits like cherries, raspberries and strawberries can be dipped in chocolate for a lovely dessert.

* Friends' party - A buffet is a great way to welcome friends. You can decorate the buffet table with all sorts of Valentine themes, such as candy hearts and cinnamon candy scattered around on a white tablecloth, or muffin papers filled with assorted treats tucked among the food dishes.

-Children's party * Kids love just about any excuse for a party, and Valentine's is no exception! Have a trinket as a favor for each child, or a goodie bag with a few candies and toys. Cupcakes frosted in pink, white, red, or purple are pretty and festive, and you can decorate the tops with hearts. Arrange the cupcakes in a big heart on a cloth or platter. For healthier fare, cut watermelon, whole wheat bread, deli meats, and cheese slices into heart shapes.


Now that you know your time, place, and basic theme, you can send out invitations. It's fun to make your own, or you can just buy ready-made ones at the store. You can also do e-invitations, which are gaining popularity. Try to choose invitations that reflect the overall feel of the party.


Now to decorate!

* Couples' party - Votive candles, rose petals, strings of pearls, and flowers make romantic decorations. A single tulip, rosebud, or carnation makes a lovely, simple statement on a dining table, end table, or windowsill. Lighting should be low.

* Friends' party - For this party, you can combine the favor with the decorations. Have several bouquets of flowers around such as tulips, and let everyone take one home as a gift. Use tulle on your mirrors or wall art to create swags and bows. Have you ever cut paper dolls? Use that technique to make long paper chains of hearts to hang in front of windows or from chandeliers.

* Children's party - Go for fun with this one. Bring out the stuffed animals and arrange them so they look like they're having a tea party. Balloons are always fun for kids; tie bunches of red, purple, white, and pink ones in bunches around the room (tie them to the stuffed animals' "paws" for a really fun effect). Make paper heart garlands using construction paper and string, and let your kids do some window decorations with dry erase markers, cut-out hearts, or store-bought stick-ons.

What to Eat to Fight Off Winter Depression

The foods you eat can affect your mood, and in the winter, many people need foods to boost their mood. Winter is a time of year when many people battle depression, but eating right can help take the edge of the sadness of the season. Here are some ideas and suggestions.

Nuts and Seeds

Some people feel like they should avoid nuts and seeds due to their high calorie and fat content. But the high fat content is what makes nuts and seeds so good for fighting depression. These crunchy little foods contain important mood-boosting fatty acids. Heat can harm these healthful fats, though, so health experts recommend eating nuts and seeds raw if possible. A handful or two a day makes good sense in fighting off winter depression. Some nuts and seeds to try include:

* Almonds
* Hazelnuts (Filberts)
* Pepitas (Pumpkin seeds)
* Sunflower seeds


Lean turkey and chicken contain mood-soothing amino acids called L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine. These amino acids help your brain produce serotonin, the "feel good" brain chemical. Serotonin is often low in people with winter depression. If possible, choose poultry from the whole chicken or turkey rather than deli meats or processed meat slices.


In addition to supplying essential, healthy fatty acids, some seafood also supplies zinc and Vitamin B12. All three of these nutrients - essential fatty acids, zinc, and B12 - play important roles in mood regulation. Salmon is a good source of B12 and fatty acids; crab, oysters and clams are good sources of B12 and zinc.


An important nutrient called folate has a significant effect on certain key neurotransmitters. Some beans and legumes supply this vital nutrient, such as:

* Lentils
* Pinto beans
* Garbanzos
* Black beans


During the winter, greens like kale and winter cabbage are in season. So are collards and some other greens. If you can't find them fresh, you can try eating the frozen versions. Many greens are rich in folate, iron, and calcium, which are minerals often lacking in depressed people. Some of the most nutritious greens in this regard are:

* Collard greens
* Turnip greens
* Spinach
* Kale


In case there weren't enough reasons to eat this healthful food, here comes another one! Yogurt, like some of the seafood noted above, contains zinc. This mineral has been shown to help fight anxiety which is often a component of depression. Health experts agree that you should avoid sugary yogurt with lots of additives. The best thing is to eat plain yogurt with a little fresh fruit or raw honey.

Whole Grains

Sometimes, winter means craving sugar and unhealthy carbs. That's probably your body's way of telling you it does need carbs - but the healthy type. Whole grains are considered essential in fighting off depression. For one thing, they contain important mood-boosting B vitamins; for another, they help prevent blood sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. So try to incorporate these whole grains into your diet, replacing the unhealthy, "white" ones:

* Whole wheat
* Quinoa
* Brown rice
* Millet

Fitness Getaway Ideas for the Whole Family

Getting fit as a family is in these days. More and more families are choosing to take their family vacation time and make it a fitness adventure. If you'd like to take a fitness getaway with your family, here are some ideas.

National Parks

There are so many lovely national parks, and nearly all of them offer beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures. Book your vacation to include the activities offered by the park, such as horseback riding, biking, and hiking. Arrange your schedule so that each day involves being physically active.

Water Sports

Water sports are a great way to get the whole family in shape, and they are lots of fun. Here are some suggestions:

* Water skiing can be enjoyed at lakes, rivers, and oceans. All kinds of resorts offer water skiing. Your family can spend each day doing physical activity and having fun.

* Tubing is like water skiing in that it's often available at water resorts. Tubing involves riding in an inner tube and being towed behind a motorboat. It does not require any special skill except the ability to swim, making it a fun family event.

* Scuba diving and snorkeling are fun for families with older kids who are proficient swimmers and experienced with the water.

* Kayaking is a fun, outdoor adventure that usually involves lovely scenery as well as physical activity.


A ranch - or, more correctly, a dude ranch - is a great family fitness vacation spot. Dude ranches are deliberately planned as vacation spots, but they are modeled after traditional Western ranches. This is a fun one for horse lovers. The whole family can participate in chores and activities, and some dude ranches offer a fitness-oriented vacation package.

Turn Any Vacation into a Fitness Vacation

Think about it - with a little planning, you can arrange any vacation to have fitness at its center. Just schedule in daily activities. For example, a beach vacation can involve walking and/or running on the beach, biking, horseback riding, and water sports. A cabin getaway can involve daily hiking. Even a cruise can have fitness as its focus - most cruise ships have gyms on board, and you can make it a point to work out with your family each day.

Learn a New Activity

So you've never done anything like this before? Why not make it a learning experience? Find some activities you and your family would like to learn, and design a vacation around them.

For instance, maybe you or a family member have always wanted to learn how to ride horseback; plan a vacation that involves daily riding lessons. Find vacations where experts and guides are available and where the learning of the activity is the point. You don't want to go on a learning vacation and be surrounded by others who have done this before.

A little planning and creativity can go a long way toward planning the perfect family fitness getaway.

Valentine's Day Chocolate Lover's Gift Basket

Where to buy: is an amazing website of delicious chocolate products. You won’t be able to stop browsing and thinking about the pleasure of receiving one of the many scrumptious looking chocolate products.

The Valentine's Day Chocolate Lover's Gift Basket is amazing and I am sure there isn't a person that wouldn't want to receive one. It comes in a cute pink/red/white striped gift box with a big red heart at the front and is filled with 3 Sisters' Award Winning Chocolate. It includes chocolate covered popcorn (what a treat!), Gooey-To-Die-For Chocolate Covered Brownie (the name says it all), malt balls, Valentine's Day Foil Coins (which are made of solid milk chocolate), white chocolate bar and chocolate, caramel & pecan barnacle. All told an absolute treat!

The website also shows other scrumptious chocolate products, cakes, cupcakes with a difference and gourmet coffee. I am sure you'll agree with me that these products would make very welcome gifts to the special person in your life.

Overspent This Holiday Season? - How to Get Your Finances Back on Track

Spending during the holiday season can really set you back financially. It's all well and good to read advice on how to avoid holiday debt; but now that you're in it, what can you do? How can you get your finances back on track? Here are some tips.

Long-Term Changes

Twelve months are not as long as they seem. It may take that long or longer to pay off your holiday debts, so it's a good idea to plan to make changes over the long term. In other words, you can't expect to spend yourself into debt every year, or you'll end up digging a hole you can't get out of.

Take a Look - a Real Look - at Your Finances

It can be so hard to admit you messed up and got yourself into debt. But if you don't, it isn't going to go away, and everyone will expect you to keep spending like you always have. It's best to face the facts.

First, sit down with all your holiday bills. Write down the amounts and interest rate of each one. Then, look at the one with the highest interest rate. That's the one you want to pay down first. Then, look at the others. Determine how long it will take you to pay them all off and how much per month you'll be putting toward bills, and set yourself to the task.

To keep these numbers ever before you, keep a running list, hand-written or on your computer, that you can update each time you make payments. This can help you keep actual numbers in mind, and may help boost your mood as you watch the numbers decrease. For the numbers to really go down, you'll need to pay more than the minimum payment - more on that below.

More Than the Minimum

If you only pay the minimum balance, it will take a long time to pay off and you will end up paying a lot more in the end. As you put your payment plans in order, count on paying as much over the minimum payment as you can.

Fiscal Discipline

If you are serious about getting your finances back on track, then you need to exercise some significant discipline with your finances in the upcoming year. In fact, you may need to rethink how you view money.

Think of all your income - windfalls, gifts, tax returns, bonuses at work, regular income, etc. - as a means to get you out of debt. When you see the numbers on that check or those bills, your debt numbers should immediately pop into mind (and you are keeping track of those numbers, right?). Only after you've spent a percentage of your income on your debts can you spend on unnecessary things.

Inform Friends and Family

It's probably a good idea to let your friends and family know you are making these changes. Your family will certainly need to know, because your finances directly affect them all year round. Your friends should be in the know, too, although not necessarily to the same degree as your family. Otherwise, everyone will expect you to keep spending the same amount on them each holiday season.

The Organic Wine Company

Where to buy:

The Organic Wine Company offers fantastic tasting wines from 100% organically grown grapes, which benefit the environment but also your health. A lot of us are thinking about our health and maybe turning to organically grown produce. Drinking organic wine isn't quite so widespread yet. However, if you are thinking about incorporating organic wine into your lifestyle, or want to treat yourself or a special person to a good bottle of organic wine, then The Organic Wine Company offers a great selection.

The company offers a monthly Wine Club Membership, which gives you a selection of 3 bottles of wine each month, either 3 red or 2 reds + 1 white or a bi-monthly membership of 3 bottles of vegan wine.

You can also choose from their selection of high quality dessert wines, sparkling wines, biodynamic wines and vegan wines from Italy, Spain, France, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, US and Austria.

So if you are looking for a treat, The Organic Wine Company offers specialty wines for special occasions, such as a bottle of delicious sparkling wine for a romantic Valentine's dinner.

Valentine's Day Salmon and Pecan Bake

Serves 4

4 salmon fillets, both sides seasoned with salt and pepper
4 tsp runny honey
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ breadcrumbs
¼ cup pecans, finely chopped
Handful of fresh parsley
Salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit and lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard and melted butter.

In a separate bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, pecans and parsley.

Arrange the fillets on the baking sheet and brush the top with the honey-mustard mixture. Then sprinkle with the breadcrumbs/pecan/parsley mixture and bake in the oven until the salmon flakes (the general rule is: about 10 minutes per inch of thickness of fillet).

Serve immediately with rice and lemon wedges.

Smart Ways of Fighting Off Flu and Cold

When cold and flu season comes around, it's hard not to feel that getting one or both is inevitable. After all, doesn't everyone get sick during the winter? Not necessarily - there are certain things you can do to help minimize your risk of contracting colds and flu this season. Here are some smart ways to fight off these unwelcome sicknesses.

Nip It in the Bud

If you feel a cold or flu coming on - maybe it's a tickle in your throat, or a certain feeling in your chest - then it's a good idea to act fast. One option is over-the-counter homeopathic cold and flu remedies, which are said to be highly effective if you use them at the first sign of a cold or flu.

Other options are listed below, and they are all said to be more effective if implemented right away, before the illness settles in. This means it's a good idea to keep your treatment(s) of choice on hand, before symptoms set in.

A Good Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplement

During the winter months, health experts theorize that our susceptibility to colds and flu increases in part due to lack of key vitamins. Vitamins C and D (particularly D3, say experts) tend to be low in the winter season, with its lack of fresh produce and sunlight. So it's a good idea to get started taking a quality supplement at the beginning of cold and flu season so your body is ready when you get exposed to germs.


Lest you think you don't have time to get a good night's sleep, consider the amount of work time lost if you get sick. You could be out of commission for weeks! Instead, try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night, preferably starting before midnight (sources say you get a healthier eight hours if they begin before midnight).

Wash Hands

Really. This one is important. Hand sanitizer is good to keep on hand (literally) in case you don't have access to soap and water, but nothing beats thorough washing with anti-bacterial soap and warm water. The general consensus is, work up a lather on your hands for a full 20 seconds before rinsing.

Eat Well

Just because it's winter doesn't mean you have to eat junk food instead of fresh produce. There are all kinds of interesting, healthful foods you can eat in the winter that can boost your immunity and keep you healthy: greens (like kale and collards), winter squash, whole grains, sweet potatoes, cabbage, onions, garlic, pomegranates, and so forth.

Healthful meats like fish and lean turkey are generally available year-round, and Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits are often available in grocery stores during the winter. And don't forget frozen fruits and veggies.

The Complete Guide to Personal Finance

Where to buy:

“The Complete Guide to Personal Finance” is a book specifically for teenagers and college students and contains important financial messages that will hopefully stick with them right through their adulthood and will turn them into financially responsible adults. The book talks about financial basics, such as: wants versus needs (with a need versus wants questionnaire), impulse buying, the various types of bank accounts, how to choose the right bank, ways to deposit your money (i.e. ATM, mail etc) and online banking.

It covers budgets and how to create and stick to one through tracking your outgoing and incoming money. Your kids will also be able to read up on credits and creditors, (and the games they play with you and your money) and the pitfalls of credit and debt. Debt can cause havoc and the book covers topics around debt that will hopefully give your kids food for thought to avoid them going into debt. However, if they have gone into debt, it gives them strategies to get rid of said debt. Other important issues covered in this book are saving up for college ideas, financing your first car, joint accounts and cosignatory accounts, credit scores and other topics that are very important to any young adults' financial life.

Overall, the book "The Complete Guide to Personal Finance" is a very worthwhile book to give to your teenagers to read. It will give them important information to live their lives in a financially responsible manner. In today's world of economic ups and downs, this knowledge is more important than ever.

Valentine's Day French Toast

Serves 3 - 4

2 eggs
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup milk
6 slices bread
Fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
Maple Syrup

In a shallow bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Then add the vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg. Dip each of the bread slices (both sides) into the egg mixture.

In the meantime, melt some butter in a large skillet and fry the bread until each side is golden brown (about 2 - 3 minutes each side).

Serve immediately with sliced strawberries and drizzle with maple syrup.

How Different Room Colors can Help Your Mood

Did you know that the color of a room can affect your mood? Health professionals who work inside people's homes have noted physiological effects from certain colors - midwives, for instance, may not allow a laboring woman to go into a red room, as it tends to increase bleeding. Hospitals have that classic "hospital green" in their rooms because it was shown to make people feel calmer. A room's color can have an impact on your state of mind and mood.

What colors cause what effects in a room?


There are many shades of blue. It ranges from electric and bright to twilight-like gray-blue. Light, "baby blue" tends to evoke calm and happy moods, perhaps reminding you of childhood. Bright, royal blue or electric blue tends to create an energetic or fun mood. Cool, grayish blue might make you feel calm and ready for sleep. Another interesting thing about blue is that blue-walled rooms tend to take away your appetite, so it's not necessarily a good choice for a dining room or kitchen.


Dark purple tends to make a room feel close and small, so it might create a pensive or introspective mood. Bright purple has a tendency to evoke nervous energy, while periwinkle and lavender evoke the opposite - tranquility. Mauve is another color that may suppress the appetite. Children tend to respond positively to violets and purples with happy, playful moods.


Red runs from deep burgundy to light pink. It's generally grouped as a warm color, although pink can be cool or warm. Red rooms stimulate the appetite, sources say, and they also may increase blood pressure and heart rate. Red is also the color of choice for evoking a sexy or passionate mood. It's a bold color until you move into soft pinks, which tend to make you feel happy and calm.


Yellow is warm and sunny. It tends to be a mood-lifter, bringing a sense of light even to a dark hallway or small bedroom. There's a line that experts warn you shouldn't cross, though - bright, intense yellow may induce anxiety. A mellow, "mustard" yellow might be a good choice for a study or library, as it may help you concentrate.


From rust to pumpkin to pale salmon, orange is something like red but less intense in the moods it creates. Orange may induce feelings of friendliness and a sense of welcome and hospitality. Rooms like family rooms and living rooms might do well with a friendly coat of orange.


Green is one of the most prominent colors in nature, and it tends to produce a calming mood regardless of shade. It might work well in a child's bedroom to promote a relaxed mood, or in a bathroom.

Oriental Trading (Valentine's Day Decorations)

Where to buy:

If you are looking for anything "Valentine", you should have a browse at It has a huge assortment of Valentine products, including Valentine Goody Bags: fun plastic bags that you can fill with Valentine's goodies, ideal if you are planning a Valentine's party. There are also lots of little Valentine themed games and crafts you can use as party goodies. Or if your kids are looking for Valentine's exchange cards to give to their classmates, or Valentine suckers or paper stock to make their own cards - this website has a large array of Valentine products.

So if you are planning to make the next Valentine's Day or your Valentine’s party a success, I am sure you'll find lots of fun and exciting bits and pieces at Oriental Trading at affordable prices.

Spicy Avocado and Yogurt Dip

1 large avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cup plain yogurt
½ tbsp lime juice
4 cups fresh spinach, washed
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp curry powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
Dash of chili powder
Salt and pepper

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Adjust seasoning and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Serve at your next party (for example Valentine's Day party) with bagel crisps or pita bread.

Jogging Stroller - How to Choose One

Jogging strollers are a fun way for moms to get back in shape, and dads can use them, too. The whole family can go jogging together before baby can even walk! But how do you choose the right one for your family? Here are some tips.

Types of Jogging Strollers

There are various types of jogging strollers, while they have basic features in common. For example, all jogging strollers are specially designed for speed. They have three wheels instead of four, and the wheels do not pivot. Within these basics there are various types.

* Stroller for two - Some jogging strollers are built for two children. These double strollers can accommodate up to 125 pounds. A two-child design could come in handy for those with twins, two young children who are close in age, or an older child and a newborn. Most have a choice between 16- or 20-inch wheels.

* Bike trailers - A variation of the jogging stroller is the bike trailer, which can be converted back into a jogging stroller with a special kit. These usually accommodate up to 125 pounds, too.

* Single stroller - The one-baby stroller is probably the most common jogging stroller. These usually accommodate up to 75 pounds. Like the double stroller, you can usually choose between 16- and 20-inch wheels.


Various jogging strollers have different features. Here are some to consider.

* Weather - If you live somewhere where there is a lot of harsh sun or long periods of rain, some weatherproofing features might be a good idea. Most jogging strollers have a sun canopy, while bike trailers are more likely to have rain and insect protection.

* Safety - Sources point out the importance of a hand break and secure harness for holding children safely in the stroller. You might also want to look for a parking lock.

* Wheel size - As noted above, you can choose the size of the jogging stroller's wheels. You may not think this is important, but it actually can make a lot of difference depending on your terrain. At the beach, for instance, or for long-distance running, you'll want larger wheels (20-inch). For strictly smooth and level surfaces, 12-inch wheels will do. In the middle are 16-inch wheels, which work well for grass and off-road terrain.

* Price - There's a rather wide range of prices on jogging strollers. They can be as little as $75 or as much as $400. Some of the cost depends on size; larger strollers cost more. Other factors are the features - the farther you get from the basics, the more expensive the stroller (usually). Sometimes it's just the brand name that costs. A good rule of thumb is to look for a stroller that has the basic safety features and has good safety reviews, and go from there.


Where to buy:

Buying a stroller can be quite a difficult decision - there are so many different manufacturers and types around. If you are looking for a stroller, whether you are in need of a jogging stroller to get yourself in shape again after the holiday season, or if you are looking for a standard stroller, twin stroller, umbrella stroller etc, has a large collection of them in stock.

The website contains detailed information on each stroller so you know what it has to offer, and you can compare them regarding performance and price from the comfort of your home. The website, however, not only sells strollers. If you are in need of other baby equipment, for example high chairs, bicycle trailers, diaper bags, travel systems, playpens and car seats – again has a good selection of baby accessories at competitive prices.

Overall, is certainly worth having a more detailed look at all they have to offer.

Scallops and Mushroom Bake

Serves between 5 - 6

2 lbs bay scallops
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
¼ + 1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 450° Fahrenheit and lightly grease a 9x13inch baking dish.

Melt ¼ cup of butter in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms are tender. Then add the onion and garlic and sauté for a further few minutes.

Combine the scallops, breadcrumbs, parsley and mushroom/onion mixture in a large bowl and combine well. Transfer the mixture into the baking dish. Melt ¼ cup of butter and pour over the scallop mixture.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes and enjoy with a tossed salad.

How to Burn Off Post-Holiday Weight Gain

One of the difficulties with post-holiday weight gain is that it happens to come about in the middle of winter. This is not an inspiring time to get out and move. The weather is often cold and wet, and the mornings and evenings are dark. It's tempting just to hibernate and wait until spring to get in shape.

The trouble is that excess weight may get harder to lose the longer it's on, and you might get used to it. So take advantage of the timing - it may be the middle of winter, but it's a new year, and that's a good time for a healthy weight loss program. Here are some tips for burning off that holiday weight.

Choose Your Exercise

During the winter, you may have to be more deliberate about exercising, but that doesn't make it less important. If you can't get outside for your usual walk or jog, try some of these options instead:

* Use a mini-trampoline, the sort that is only about three feet across, to jog in place. It's easy on the joints, and the mini trampoline can be stored fairly easily. Some of these trampolines come with upper-body workout attachments and timers to track your progress.

* Take to the stairs! If you live in a ranch-style house, this may not be practical. But for those who have access to indoor stairs, you can design a workout around running up and down them. If you don't have stairs, you can use blocks to mimic steps and do your workout accordingly. In fact, you can find videos online and in stores to help you design a stair-based workout.

Eat Well

* Spice up your meals with low-calorie, high-flavor foods. Think salsas and spicy peppers, and condiments like Dijon mustard and horseradish. Use these flavorful condiments as replacements for higher-calorie, higher-fat items like mayonnaise or cheese. Also, spicy foods may mean you'll eat less, and studies have shown that some piquant condiments - mustard in particular - actually boost metabolism.

* Freeze leftovers, preferably in the basement in a deep freezer. No one likes to be tempted, but if you put all that holiday candy, fudge, cake, pie, casseroles, etc. in the freezer, it might well be out of sight and out of mind. And if you have to go down into a basement or out to the garage to get it, you may think twice before indulging that craving.

Another perk of freezing your leftovers is that you can dip into them slowly and carefully over the following months, making sure to share with friends and family. They can also make great "emergency meals" months down the road, when one fattening meal won't set you back from your main goals. Speaking of goals...

* Sources say that making lots of little resolutions instead of one big one are best for weight loss goals. See if you can put together weekly goals that challenge you, but that still are reachable. You don't want to get discouraged.


Where to buy:

I am a total candle lover, so I am quite taken by Bell-a-Roma website. They offer fantastic candles in different styles and scents for all occasions, from dinner parties, to wedding and baby shower candles and candles specifically designed for birthdays etc. There are even Valentine's Day candles shaped like hearts for you to give to your loved ones. Or how about the Romance Sampler - a set of 12 candles with "romantic" scents such as: Sensual, Lavender, Midnight, Fresh Cut Gardenia, Sandalwood.

The candles are handmade and of high quality. For example the pillar candles are made from natural wax, are hand poured and come in various colors and fragrances. The combination of color/fragrance can be customized depending on your personal preference.

There is also a great choice of ball candles, floating candles, aroma reed diffusers, taper candles and taper candle holders, oil burners and more. The Soy Odor Eliminator Candles (made in the US) are said to remove unpleasant smells, such as smoke or pets, from your home, through a special patented formula.

Overall, if you like beautiful candles and are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary in terms of look, quality, scent, color and price, have a look at Bell-a-Roma Candles in the wintertime will certainly help to create a cozy and warming atmosphere. They would also make fantastic gifts for any occasion, to bring to your next dinner party, to a special friend to say "Thank You" or to any candle lover.

Quick Borscht

Serves about 5 - 6

1 onion, finely chopped
2 beets, peeled, and cut into thin strips
2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
2oz butter
4 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp vinegar
Sour cream
Fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the onion until almost tender. Add the beets and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes. Then pour in the vegetable stock, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf and tomato paste. Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Teen Babysitting Basics

When you were growing up, you might not have heard about babysitter training. But today, there are classes and certifications to train teens on how to be a safe and effective babysitter. Teens learn that there is more to babysitting than just being in the same room with a baby or child; they learn basic skills and, in some cases, special skills like CPR. And all these qualifications can certainly enhance a teen's resume.

Where Are Classes Held?

There are various places where teens can seek babysitter training. Your local hospital, YWCA, Red Cross chapter, or community center may offer classes, or have information on where and when classes are held. You can search online under "babysitter training classes" or "childcare training."

What Can You Expect from the Classes?

There are several basic categories of babysitting classes. Some of them are simply advice and tips on childcare, whereas others delve into first aid and child safety. Nearly all types of classes are of some benefit. Here are some of the things you'll learn at a babysitting class or classes:

* What games and activities are appropriate for what ages. This can be really helpful when you're trying to figure out what to do with your charges.

* Child safety, including CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. Sometimes this is called "lifesaver training," and can really give you an edge with clients who want to know their child or baby is safe.

* Basic first aid, including what to do in an emergency.

* Basic understanding of babies, children, and how they act, which can go a long way toward preventing problems. In this day and age of "shaken baby syndrome," parents are more concerned than ever that their babysitters know how to keep calm when baby cries, and have been trained as to what they can expect regarding crying.

* Handbooks are sometimes given out for babysitters to take with them to jobs. Red Cross classes usually give out this kind of handbook to class participants.

* Basic do's and don'ts which sometimes need to be spelled out for young teens, such as not tying up the phone line with social calls, or not inviting friends over to the place where you're babysitting.

You can also expect to obtain higher-paying clients if you have taken babysitting classes, especially if you earn a certification.

How Much Do Babysitting Classes Cost?

Sometimes you can find classes for free, such as at your school or online. Other times you may have to pay a fee, but sources say these fees are not usually high - about $25 to $50.

Tea Collection's Semi-Annual Sale

Tea Collection is currently having their semi-annual sale! They have some adorable stuff, especially for little boys. If you enter coupon code 25OFFSALE you will receive an additional 25% off the already reduced price.

Gotta love kids!

Today my daughter came home from school extremely excited! She was bringing home her report card to show me she had received all A's! Well as I am sure you can imagine, I was very proud of her. She immediately began to show me the certificate she received for a free kids meal at The Red Elephant and a coupon for a free yogurt at a place called Chill Yogurt. She was the most excited about that.

Then she remembered that her papa promised her $1.00 for ever A she receives. So we head over to his house. Madison begins to tell him that he owes her $16 for all of her A's. Papa then told Madison he didn't have any cash on him at the moment. Then Madison proceeds to say "That ok papa... I'll take a check!" Needless to say... we all laughed! :)

No your right, the no trespassing sign means its ok to knock on my door before 8AM

My grandmother passed away in April of 2010 and left me her home. It was such a blessing. Well before my grandmother passed away, she spent a few years in an assisted living facility and then a nursing home so her house was vacant for a while. Well, there are several pecan trees that surround the house. Really most of them are technically on the property next to us but the branches come over into our yard so pecans fall in our yard.

At the beginning of pecan "season" this year we had a lady stop and ask if she could pick up the pecans. Well in the beginning I told her no and then she led me to believe that the owner of the property next to us said it was ok. Well the house next to us is vacant and I know the person who owns it so I just assumed this woman was telling the truth and let her pick them up.

A couple of weeks go by and the owner of the property next door came over and began putting up no trespassing signs on the trees and a larger no trespassing sign on a wooden post towards the center of the property. She said someone had been stealing their pecans. Whoops!!! So I told her the story of the lady and she informed me that the only people she had given permission to pick up the pecans were an elderly couple and a teenage boy that would be coming around occasionally.

Since then we have had several people stop into our driveway asking to pick up pecans. REALLY? This just seems so crazy to me. Is there really that much money to be made in selling pecans? I just don't really understand it. Maybe I am just really missing out on something here.

Well this morning it really became absolutely irritating. Before 8am someone begins knocking at our front door. Me and my husband were attempting to sleep in today so needless to say, that didn't work out as planned. My husband goes to the side door and opens it and there is a woman asking if she can pick up our pecans on "halves". Basically what that means is she picks them up, sells them and we get half.

My husband politely told her no and she left. About an hour and a half later someone is knocking at our front door. Then ringing the doorbell, then knocking again. My husband has just gotten out of the shower so he told me to go answer the door. Well I guess I didn't get there fast enough because now this person is knocking on our side door, then beating on our side door. I open up the door and there is a woman standing their asking if she can pick up our pecans. REALLY?!? I was so incredibly irritated by this point I said "NO! You can not. This is the reason there are NO TRESPASSING signs up because we are tired of people knocking on our front door asking to pick up pecans!!!!"

After she left I actually felt bad about speaking to her that way but this year we have literally dealt with dozens of people just showing up asking to pick up pecans at OUR HOME!

Microwave Chocolate/Walnut Fudge

12oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
14oz can sweet condensed milk
Handful of chopped walnuts

Combine the chocolate chips and the condensed milk in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium powder for about 2 minutes. Stir well. Then microwave for a further minute. Stir again and repeat this procedure until the chocolate chips are melted and the chocolate chip/milk mixture is smooth. Then mix in the walnuts and pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8" square pan.

Allow to cool before enjoying this delicious and quick treat.

Fatigued and Forgetful? - Check Your B12

Being tired and forgetful are not necessarily a normal part of aging, or of living in general. Some of us have come to expect feeling tired and forgetful as just being a normal part of life, but it may be a very correctible condition - Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vegans are particularly susceptible to B12 deficiency, because the vitamin is found primarily in animal products (organ meats, eggs, etc.). Others who may be prone to this deficiency include those with chronic intestinal inflammation (such as Crohn's disease), alcoholics, and those who consume antacid medication over a long period of time. In fact, recent studies have shown that B12 deficiency is more widespread than previously thought.

What Are the Symptoms of B12 Deficiency?

As noted above, feeling fatigued and tired is a symptom, particularly if it's chronic. Other signs and symptoms include:

* An inability to concentrate
* Forgetfulness
* Bruising easily
* Odd pain sensations in hands and/or feet. This could take the form of tingling or nagging pains.
* Headaches
* Feeling light-headed
* Feeling weak

If you have any of these symptoms chronically (we all feel "off" once in a while; but if it's a continual thing that's different), then you can check with your doctor, who will perform various tests to see if you're deficient. Your doctor also may recommend upping your B12 intake to see if your symptoms disappear.

What Causes B12 Deficiency?

Sometimes, B12 deficiency is as simple as not eating a balanced diet, or not eating enough B12-containing foods. It could also be due to a greater need for B12 in some people than others. B12 is also manufactured in the gut by intestinal flora, so it stands to reason that a lack of these helpful bacteria could contribute to a B12 deficiency.

Chronic intestinal inflammation such as occurs with Crohn's disease and colitis can also affect B12 absorption and manufacture in the body. And finally, there may be a genetic component. Some families find that the tendency to need B12 supplementation seems to get passed on to their children.

How Can I Get More B12?

You can eat foods high in B12 or go for a supplement. If you tend to take a lot of antacids, this affects B12 absorption; studies show that sublingual (under the tongue) supplements work best. This form of the vitamin bypasses your digestive tract and is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the mucus membranes. These are often marketed as "B12 lozenges." Other ways to get B12 include the following:

* An injection from your doctor, which also bypasses the digestive tract
* Eating foods high in B12, such as eggs, beef liver, lean beef, poultry, nutritional yeast (sometimes called "Brewer's yeast"), fish, and shellfish
* Taking supplements such as capsules or tablets.

Babysitter's Business Kit

Babysitting is a great way for preteens and teens to make some money and save up for something they really want. It also teaches them early on how to start up their first business venture and, even more importantly, how to be responsible and handle some difficult situations (such as sibling rivalry). These experiences will certainly hold them in good stead in future.

A good way to introduce your preteen/teenagers to setting up as a babysitter is by supplying them with the Babysitter's Business Kit, which, in my opinion, provides them with all the necessary information and tools to start up. The kit includes: business cards, a mini client address book, note pads, reward stickers, parent checklist and the very popular Babysitter's Handbook. The book gives your teen techniques to use when confronted with situations such as: comforting scared children, first aid, sibling rivalry, how to deal with nap time and bedtime, diapers and potties, but also includes fun ideas on games and activities to keep kids happy and busy, and more.

Overall, if your teen shows an interest in kids and wants to be a babysitter, the Babysitter's Business Kit is a fantastic way of giving them the wherewithal and ideas on how to set up their own business and become a responsible and good babysitter. I would certainly recommend this set.

Easy Vegetarian Lentil Burgers

1 cup green lentils
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 carrots, chopped
3 slices bread, crumbled
2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp cilantro
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp ground coriander

Place the lentils into a pot of water and boil for about 20 - 25 minutes until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Put the carrots, onion, garlic, bread, parsley, cilantro and ground coriander into a food processor and whiz. Add this mixture to the drained lentils and stir in the beaten egg. Season well with salt and pepper.

Form the mixture into burgers and lightly dust with flour on both sides. Place under the grill for about 7 - 8 minutes each side until hot throughout.

Serve with bread rolls and condiments.

B12 Rich Foods - List

Studies are showing that lack of Vitamin B12 is a more widespread problem than was once believed, indicating that more than one-third of the population is deficient. To complicate matters, excessive folic acid intake can mask the symptoms of B12 deficiency without offsetting the resulting psychological and neurological effects of the B12 deficiency. Folic acid is added to many foods, from breakfast cereals to enriched flour, so people may be ingesting more folic acid than they realize.

If you are concerned about your B12 levels, you might want to simply eat more B12-rich foods. Here is a list of foods containing B12.

* Clams - These little bivalves provide significant B12 - one cup of canned clams provides 12mcg, or 200%, of the daily value of B12. Steamed whole clams have even more - 3 ounces has 84mcg, or 1400% of your daily value. Oysters and mussels have significant amounts of B12, too.

* Lamb - Lamb is the meat from a young sheep - not to be confused with mutton, which is the meat of a full-grown sheep. Lamb shoulder is particularly high in B12, with 100 grams providing 62% of the US RDA of B12. Lamb liver is said to be chock-full of B12, packing 102mcg, or 1696% daily value, into one 4-ounce serving.

* Liver - All sorts of liver is high in B12, including calf, lamb, chicken, beef, goose, and pork liver. You can eat liver braised, fried, or as a pate.

* Octopus - Okay, so this may not be high on your grocery list. But octopus, common in Asian cuisine, is rich in B12. Three ounces provides almost 31mcg, or 510% of the US RDA.

* Fish - Many kinds of fish are rich in B12. Salmon, tuna, cod, sardines, and trout are among the top providers of B12. Mackerel is said to have the most, with 19mcg (317% RDA) per 3.5 ounces.

* Crustaceans - Crab and lobster are good sources of B12. A 3.5-ounce serving of crab has 11.5mcg, which is 192% of the RDA.

* Beef - Lean chuck comes in highest as the best provider of B12 among beef products, containing a bit over 100% of the RDA, followed by sirloin, which contains 62% of the RDA.

You'll notice that these foods are all animal based. If you do not eat any animal products, you might want to look for fortified foods like cereals and nut milks.

Awakening Mudface

Where to buy:

Awakening Mudface is a facial mask that will awaken your skin to new life. It is made from Dead Sea mud, which is very beneficial to skin health. Dead Sea mud contains naturally occurring minerals that not only treat and improve skin conditions, such as acne and eczema, but also exfoliates, hydrates and moisturizes: improving your overall skin tone.

If you've ever tried a mud mask, it may look funny at first sight, but the results are pretty remarkable and your skin will feel tighter and more youthful.

The product contains pure Dead Sea mud, in addition to essential oils of chamomile, lemon aloe vera and tea tree oil for maximum cleansing and moisturizing benefit. This is a high-quality product that has not been tested on animals and is free from toxins or chemicals.

The Awakening Mudface product comes in a handy squeeze tube and it can be used on any skin, from mature to teenage problem skin. So maybe you can share the mud mask fun with your teenage daughter?

Chocolate Mint Slices

2 eggs
8oz butter or margarine
½ tsp peppermint essence
8oz white sugar
2oz almonds, flaked
4oz all-purpose flour
2oz cooking chocolate

Butter Cream:
2 tbsp margarine
4oz confectioners' sugar
1 tbsp cream
½ tsp peppermint essence

Plus additional:
2oz plain chocolate
1 tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to about 360° Fahrenheit and slightly grease a jelly roll pan.

Beat the eggs and the sugar together until smooth.

In a microwavable bowl, melt the margarine and cooking chocolate and mix. Add the essence and combine. Then add the egg/sugar mixture and gently stir in the flour. Pour the mixture onto the jelly roll pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the mixture has set with a crusty top. Allow to cool in the pan.

In the meantime, beat together the butter cream ingredients and spread over the cool base. Chill in the fridge. Melt 2oz of plain chocolate and 1 tbsp butter and combine. Coat the slice with this mixture and sprinkle with flaked almonds.


Aromatherapy to Fight Winter Blues

Winter can be a gloomy time. It can feel very long, and the lack of daylight combined with holiday stress can get some people pretty down. What's interesting is that certain aromas or scents have been known to help lift your spirits during the winter blahs.

How Does It Work?

Our sense of smell is very powerful, and can have a profound impact on our feelings. Of course, you ultimately smell with your brain, and it's this scent-brain connection that aromatherapy seeks to tap into.

Studies have shown that certain smells actually affect brain wave activity. For example, lavender induces brain waves associated with relaxation. Smelling bright, uplifting scents may generate brain activity that makes you feel much more alert and happy.

What Scents Are Best for Winter Blues?

To help combat the feelings of melancholy associated with winter, there are certain "sunny" scents that may lift your mood. One group of scents that is highly recommended for fighting sadness is citrus. This includes lemon, orange (sweet, bitter, and mandarin varieties), grapefruit, lime, and bergamot. Other scents that may help are sage, basil, ylang ylang, and jasmine. Ginger essential oil may also add zing to your mood.

Other popular essential oils with uplifting qualities include the mints, particularly peppermint and spearmint.

You can blend these in various proportions to achieve a pleasing, bright scent. Some ideas might be equal parts of all or some of the citrus oils; basil and grapefruit; jasmine and ylang ylang; ginger and lemon; or sage and bergamot. You could blend peppermint and ginger, too.

What Are the Best Sources of Scent?

It's generally agreed that, regardless of what scent you choose, natural essential oils are the best. Synthetic fragrances can induce unpleasant reactions, such as chemical allergies, and may not have the same positive effect as natural scents.

To get these essential oils into your nose, you can try several methods.

* Massage - Mix 10 drops of your favorite blend or single essential oil with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of carrier oil, such as sweet almond or castor oil. Rub some of this oil on your temples and apply to your wrists. If you're lucky enough to get a massage, have your masseur use this mixture.

* Diffusion - Many health food stores and even mainstream retailers carry electric diffusers. You simply add drops of essential oil according to the instructions. This gets the scent throughout the room.

* Bath - Add a teaspoon or so of your massage oil to your bathwater and mix well.

All New Crafts for Valentines

With Valentine's around the corner, you and your kids might be thinking of easy to do crafts. The "All New Crafts for Valentines" book provides 20 craft projects for your youngsters with a recommended age of 6 and up. The instructions given are easy to follow, so that your older child can pretty much do them on their own, whereas a younger child might need the help of an adult. I like the fact that the materials needed for the projects are easy to come by and inexpensive. Overall, there is some gluing, drawing and cutting involved. Each project starts with a "Here is what you need" list, followed by simple, illustrated, instructions.

To give you an idea of some of the fun and cute projects your child can do: Valentine Bookmark, Hearts Wind Chime, Garden of Love Valentine Holder, Heart Butterflies Garland, Valentine Candy Jewelry or a Rubber Band Valentine Bracelet.

This book will give your kids hours of crafty fun the weeks before Valentine to make their own and treasured Valentine gifts for family, friends and classmates.

It is, in my opinion, a lovely craft book to have and enjoy some fun times crafting with your kids.

Chinese Salad

10oz fresh bean sprouts
4oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 banana, sliced
1oz cashew nuts
8oz can peaches, drained (juice reserved), chopped
4 celery sticks, chopped

2 tbsp soy sauce (ideally low in sodium)
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp reserved peach juice
½ cup cream

Arrange the bean sprouts in a large salad bowl and add the mushrooms, scallions, chicken, cashews, celery, banana and peaches.

Place all the dressing ingredients into a jar with a lid, and shake until well combined. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix.

Enjoy this salad with cooked ham.

After School Activity Program - How to Find a Good One

Unfortunately, the average school day and the average work day are not the same length. For parents who have to work a full day, it can be challenging to find a good after school program to fill in those hours between the time school lets out and the time you get off of work. Here are some tips for finding an after school activity program that works for your schedule and meets your child's needs.

Contact Your Child's School

The first step is to check with your child's school and see what is available on their campus, or what programs are affiliated with their school. The school principal can point you in the right direction and let you know websites to visit and organizations to contact.

Local Clubs and Organizations

You might also like to check with your local Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts counsel to see what is available for after school. Other organizations to consider are your local place(s) of worship, boys' and girls' club, and recreation center. Even your local daycare center might be associated with a program for school-aged kids.


Now that you have some specific programs in mind, one of the best ways to determine what will work for you and your child is to go and observe the program. Drop in unannounced if possible. Look for some of the following:

* What are the kids doing? If everyone is disorganized, unsupervised, or if you see groups of kids plotting mischief in the corners, then you may want to reconsider.

* How many adults are there per child? It's important for there to be enough staff to keep things safe and under control.

* How do the kids seem? Do they seem to be enjoying themselves? Are they happy and engaged in the activities? What kind of activities are there?

* Check the cleanliness of the facility, especially if they serve a snack or food.

* If the program does have a snack for the kids, what kind of food do they serve? Are you comfortable with it?

Questions to Ask

Talking to the staff is important. Here are some details you might want to ask about.

* What are the holiday and cancellation hours?

* How many kids attend on average?

* What are the fees, and do they vary? Do you have to pay extra for field trips, food, or other things?

* What is the pick-up time, and what happens if you are running late? You'll want to know what the policy is if you can't get there right at pick-up time.

With these things in mind, you should be able to find an after school activity program that works for you and your child.

A Smart Girl's Guide to Staying Home Alone

As a rule, I don't like to leave my kids alone at home. Sometimes, however, it can't be helped and the most important thing for the kids is having the knowledge and confidence of what to do in the event of a problem. The best way is always being prepared and knowledgeable and the book "A Smart Girl's Guide to Staying Home Alone" is a great way of giving your daughter the wherewithal to feel in control. This book also makes a good read for parents as a basis for talking to your daughter about certain topics, dangers, safety etc.

The book covers topics such as: safety (knowing your neighborbood, be in control of your key etc); how to tackle sibling conflicts when parents are out of the house; boredom busters, i.e. ideas of how to entertain yourself; first aid and how to stay in control in tricky situations and it even includes recipes, when hunger hits your kids after school.

Another great feature is, in my opinion, the special pull-out for parents and kids to write down all important information (i.e. phone numbers) as well as house rules.

Overall, this book would give, in my opinion, kids and parents peace of mind knowing that everybody is aware of the house rules. It also prepares kids to feel confident and in control when they are alone at home.

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