Works for Me Wednesday: one-handed bracelet fastening

Time for a ride on the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival, now hosted over at We Are That Family. I was flipping through a gadget catalogue the other day—one of those catalogues I scoff at at first, then wish they had a store nearby, and finally have to talk myself into throwing it into the recycle bin before I make an order. Early into this catalogue I happened upon a one-handed bracelet fastener for $9.95.

Hey! I do that myself for free! I take a piece of tape—masking, scotch or sensitive skin first-aid—tape down one end of the bracelet on my wrist and with one hand, squeeze that little claw together and voila, a fastened bracelet all by my lonesome!

For more inspired tips , check out We Are That Family!

And be sure to check back tomorrow for a giveaway—a copy of the new book Do I Need to See the Doctor?

Works for Me Wednesday: The solution to messy kids’ rooms.

wfmwbanner1.jpgI haven’t posted to Shannon’s blog carnival Works-for-me Wednesday in a few weeks, and man, there have been changes. 1) it is now hosted by Kristen at 2) We Are THAT Family (a blog I read regularly and love) and 3) today she is asking us to repost a WFMW post that we really liked. So, Here goes:

I’m relying on the wisdom of my mother again for this Works for Me Wednesday tip. She had four kids in five years, and our beds were made rugs straight and books on the shelves and toys in the toybox for years. She sewed my next youngest sister and me the most exquisite bedroom linens in a blue willow pattern, complete with fancy birds, pretty girls on swings, little men on ornate bridges. She made coverlets, bed skirts, shams with ruffles, even elaborate draperies in several tiers with fancy tie-backs. What little girls in their right minds wouldn’t want to keep that room company-ready??

Fast forward to today. The cute Laura Ashley Owl and the Pussycat border exists only Continue reading

Works for Me Wednesday: eat that snow!!


Time for Shannon’s weekly blog carnival—and I have a no-cost, frugal find that’ll keep kids busy outdoors for ages. Sounds interesting? Read on!

I was packing Luka’s lunch the other day and he said wistfully, “I wish you could give me some simmammom.” After a short back-and-forth, I discovered he meant cinnamon, which I had never given him in his lunch before. Or maybe I had. “How would you like the cinnamon?” I asked. “Oh, just in a bag.” OK, I had never given him cinnamon in a bag for lunch.

Further investigation revealed a new trick during recess—a Grade 4 girl (my son, shooting for the stars) brought a bag of cinnamon in and so cinnamon yum-yums were born. To make a cinnamon yum-yum, you wad up some clean snow, sprinkle it with cinnamon and eat it. The girl only brought it in once, and Luka said they loved it so much, he’d love to bring some in again for the Grade 3s. I did him one better and mixed him some cinnamon sugar. That was such a hit, the next day I let my imagination run wild and mixed up some strawberry Fruitopia concentrate, cosmopolitan syrup and water, and put it in a little spray bottle. It was such a hit, he’s taken it again, and tomorrow it’ll be lime cordial, and the day after that, grape juice concentrate.

Cheap, cheerful, and keeps them outdoors and busy. It Works for Me!

Be sure to drop by Shannon’s blog for more tips and tricks that fall under the heading It Works for Me!

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Want to win three Consonant Body Organic Skincare products from the Pure collection? They are perfect for babies, children, pregnant women and anyone with sensitive skin or a sensitive nose, because these products have no added colours or scents, organic or otherwise.

The giveaway consists of a full-size Pure Unscented Body Wash, Pure Unscented Body Lotion and the Organic Olive Oil Pure Unscented Soap. All you need to do is answer one of my questions in this post (or more, if you’d like), so click and enter my contest!

Works for Me Wednesday: Brush those teeth!


After years, literally, of trying to get kids to brush their teeth—egg-timers that went ping, Days-of-Our-Lives like-sand-through-the-hourglass timers where the sand always got stuck, stopwatches, digital timers, bribes, threats, you name it, I have finally come late to the party of the singing toothbrush. Why didn’t I get here sooner??? I spent $12 to get my 8-year-old one of the toothbrushes that plays music “through the teeth.” My little guy picked the one that plays “Let’s Get It Started” by the Black-Eyed Peas. It takes just over two minutes to finish the song, and the kid can’t hear the tune unless the toothbrush is in contact with the teeth. Then he dances while it’s playing, so we have a two-minute creative cardio before bedtime stories. Well worth the money!

It Works for Me!

Be sure to drop by Shannon’s blog for more tips and tricks that fall under the heading It Works for Me!

Want to win three Consonant Body Organic Skincare products from the Pure collection? They are perfect for babies, children, pregnant women and anyone with sensitive skin or a sensitive nose, because these products have no added colours or scents, organic or otherwise.

The giveaway consists of a full-size Pure Unscented Body Wash, Pure Unscented Body Lotion and the Organic Olive Oil Pure Unscented Soap. All you need to do is answer one of my questions in this post (or more, if you’d like), so click and enter my contest!

Getting Organized 2009, Part 2: Ziplocs rock!

this photo is from PreschoolRock.com. See the link at the end of the post!

Even a kid can make ice cream with Ziplocs: this photo is from PreschoolRock.com. See the link at the end of the post!

As part of the Works for Me Wednesdays blog carnival that I take part in almost every Wednesday, I was inspired to write on a subject very close to my heart—Ziploc bags. I’m including my fave uses, Staci’s—whose blog is Family of 6 on $26K/year and she has some great ideas, 10 from Real Simple and a couple from Mommy, the Human Napkin, and Ed.

Ziplocs rock! I did list as my Number 1 2008 resolution that I would stop using ziplocs in my purse for makeup, office supplies, hair clips, etc. because they just don’t look that professional, but that is proving difficult. My favourite uses, aside from the typical—eegad, storing food in the fridge and freezer—are:
1) marinating meats—you can really work the marinade into the meat by squishing it around, and this will occupy achild from age 2 to 20 for quite a long time
2) storing anything leaky or oily, especially in the car trunk and garage
3) for making one-craft-at-a-time bags, with exactly what’s needed for one project (I got into that habit when my son had leukemia and we spent days in clinic)
4) the best one—large size ziplocs instead of file folders for receipts, instructions, warranties, photos, research, you name it. I have a box that holds all the current files/bags. When I need to take one out, I no longer worry about papers sliding out the sides of file folders, or spilling entire contents. And when a bag is full/project completed, I then transfer the contents to a file folder, label it and store.

from Staci at Family of 6, $26K/year:
The big freezer storage bags are great for when my kids head off to church camp each summer. We pack one outfit in each bag, label the bags, and then the kids make sure to put the things listed on the bag back into it at the end of the day so they come home with everything and leave nothing behind. Works perfectly!

from Real Simple:
1. Knead dough. Place dough in a Ziploc bag so your fingers don’t get sticky. Or slip your hand into the bag and wear it like a glove.
2. Store panty hose. Nude, Tan, Nearly Naked—they look the same out of the package. Tear off the corner of the package listing the brand, size, and color, then slip it into a bag. Store each pair in its own bag to keep hose organized and prevent snags.
3. Remove chewing gum or candle wax from a tablecloth, a couch, or carpeting. Gently rub gum or wax with a Ziploc bag filled with ice cubes until the substance hardens. Shatter gum with a blunt object, then vacuum up the chips. Carefully peel off frozen wax with a plastic spatula.
4. Pipe frosting. Snip off a tiny corner to use a Ziploc as a pastry bag.
5. Store homemade soup. Fill up bags, then lay them flat in the freezer. When the bags of soup freeze flat, you’ll be able to pile them up like stacked books for easy, space-saving storage.
6. Protect precious cargo. No bubble wrap? Slip a straw into the top of a nearly closed Ziploc bag and inflate. Remove the straw and seal to make a cushion. (Heirlooms, however, should wait for that bubble wrap.)
7. Break up graham crackers or vanilla wafers to make a piecrust. Fill a bag with the cookies, then roll a rolling pin over it.
8. Prevent a handbag from turning into a snow globe. Store pressed powder and other compacts in Ziploc bags.
9. Gather herbs from the garden. Before winter frost sets in, wash, pat dry, and freeze the herbs in Ziploc bags.
10. Ice an injury. Fill a bag with ice cubes to create a cold compress.

I totally agree with Mommy, the Human Napkin: ”I share the Ziploc addiction. I did want to add something, though… in regards to #4, using a Zippy as a frosting bag: make sure you don’t use the off-brand sandwich bags! I had a whole bag of frosting explode all over my hand on Christmas Eve. I should have used at least a freezer bag since they’re thicker and won’t tend to burst if you look at it too hard. I think the Ziploc brand are actually sturdier than the off-brand. Unfortunately, I tend to buy the off-brand. I need to stop this.”

Got it: Ziploc brand name only for icing, egg salad and cream cheese piping.

Ed‘s fabulous idea. Making ice cream!

Take a gallon bag and a quart bag.

Pack your ice cream ingredients (for half a quart of ice cream) into the quart bag. Make sure it’s really sealed tight. You can even use duct tape to make sure it doesn’t break open.

Place it inside the gallon bag with half a cup of water, rock salt and ice. Then knead! Within 15 minutes you’ll have ice cream!

Here are slightly more detailed instructions from PreschoolRock.com, complete with kid-focused instructions and photos.

I have wanted to try and make ice cream with the kids, but didn’t want to buy an ice cream maker and watch it hang out with the pasta maker and the Easy-Curl on the basement shelf! Is rock salt the same thing as kosher salt?

QUESTIONS FOR YOU: can you add another use for Ziplocs?

My next giveaway starts January 15, and the prize is a gift pack of full-size Consonant Body Organic skincare items. Better come back now, y’all hear?

Works for Me Wednesday: Dear Diary, I’m the perfect present


When I was a girl (oh yes, when Bugs Bunny was invented, says Luka) there were standard gifts from certain relatives and friends. There was always fudge and handknit mitts from one grandmother, and writing paper and some bath salts and talcum powder from the other grandmother (oh my, I do sound as if I’m 103 years old!). But the one present I loved the most, and always received, was a locking diary. The promise of private thoughts and a lock and key were like gold with three younger siblings in the house. My favourite ones had the gilt-edged pages and an embossed cover, with faint blue-lined pages. How I loved listening to the crackle of the spine when I opened it up and separated those pages! I spent hours and hours holed up in my room over the years, listing reasons why I should not have a brother, how much I deserved a room of my own, which boy I liked the most and why, minute details on what happened in classes, dances, the school bus.

The lure of journaling is timeless—what else is blogging and Facebook and Twitter?—and to my mind, that makes a diary the perfect gift. Tessa has run me ragged for years with her consumption rate of diaries—at her most prodigious, it was one every month.

How fortunate then that my talented youngest sister makes the coolest journals, and has an Etsy shop. She gave me a journal for my birthday and I love it. Tessa got to go through Juli’s collection of old books and pick out the one that she liked for the cover of her custom-made Christmas gift. I buy diaries for presents as soon as the recipients are old enough to print. Even Michelangelo had to start sometime! A diary for the perfect gift solution Works for Me!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU: did you keep a diary when you were younger? Do you journal now? Where did you hide your diaries? Do you still have them? Would you let YOUR kids read portions of your diary now?

Be sure to drop by Shannon’s blog for more tips and tricks that fall under the heading It Works for Me!

Want to win some pre-teen/teenage swag? Click here to enter my Teletoon contest!

Works for Me Wednesday: my 8 year old reading and writing on his own!


Like many boys (I hope, or at least other parents and teachers say it’s true) Luka hasn’t been bitten by the reading bug yet. It took Graydon a long time too, but he had extenuating circumstances. Luka claims to have a “reading disability” that makes him unable to read, but when you consider he has a self-professed “math disability,” “kitchen-cleaning disability,” “Lego-putting-away disability” and “teeth-brushing disability,” you get the picture.

My little dude is reading-bug resistant, to the point I think he must have some special spray or lotion he puts on every day.

I have outlined before my various attempts to get him to read and write: letters to friends who have moved away, grocery lists, street signs, cereal boxes, incentive prizes for reading a certain number of books. Some work, some don’t. The $10 Neopets and Pokemon stuffies worked, as did $15 Webkinz, but it was turning out to be more expensive than private school. And still, he didn’t read or print or write because he wanted to.

Until Tessa gave him this book for Christmas:

The book that has taken Luka from "I hate reading and writing!" to filling in these pages in the back seat of the car by the lights in the Zellers' parking lot.

The book that has taken Luka from "Ihate reading and writing!" to staying in the car, filling in the pages under the lights in the Zellers parking lot

"rarrararararararar," demands Hypnotoad.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book has Luka hypnotized much like Hypnotoadon Futurama—if the DIY book is in front of him, it’s like he is compelled to open it, read it and search for places to put his pencil or pen and get writing. It is astounding. The book is written by Jeff Kinney, author of the three and counting books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

Thank you Tessa. Your pick Works for Me!

Be sure to drop by Shannon’s blog for more tips and tricks of all kinds!