Secrets of Mom Search Results

Friday, April 30, 2010

What to do and what not to do for a bloody nose

Last night my daughter got a random bloody nose.  It reminded me that until I went to nursing school everyone I had ever encountered had been doing the wrong thing for a bloody nose, myself included. If you get a bloody nose take a kleenex and pinch your nostrils shut while leaning forward and breathing through your mouth. This seems counter-intuitive, no? If you lean forward you may drip blood onto yourself, clothes or something else. If you don't you can possibly have bigger problems.

 One morning before the crack of dawn I had a relative call me in a panic. "Jane woke up vomiting large amounts of blood. What should I do?"
Me: "Take her to the emergency room."
"I don't want to do that. What else can I do?"
Me: "I am not a doctor. Even if I was, I am not close enough to do anything for you. Even if I was, I would still tell you to go to the emergency room."

 A few hours later I called to check back. They decided not to go to the emergency room. Said relative decided that Jane had gotten a bloody nose in her sleep (which she was prone to do) and since she was laying on her back, it dripped down her throat and into her stomach, and the quantity was large enough that it made her vomit. The same thing can happen if you tilt your head back when you get a bloody nose. Which is what I was taught to do and what I always saw everyone else do when someone got a bloody nose. It is better to get a few drops of blood on your clothing, than to vomit blood all over who knows what. When you lean forward into a tissue the blood is will more quickly dry and clot, whereas when you tilt your head back the blood is flowing through a warm humid area (the throat) and won't clot off as fast. Most nose bleeds originate near the front of the nose, so pinching the nose and holding pressure usually will stop the bleeding. And once the blood does clot, don't try blowing the clots out, you can start a fresh bleed. If you have been holding pressure for twenty minutes or more and your nose is still bleeding, seek medical intervention. A continuing nose bleed can be a sign of a skull fracture or a symptom of other illnesses.

Nose bleeds can be caused by many things. Any medication that thins the blood (ibuprofen, aspirin, coumadin, etc.) make you more susceptible to getting a bloody nose. As do hot, dry climates (hello, St George, UT) cold climates (the your heater dries out the air), illness and infection. When your nose is dry, cracked or irritated it is more likely to bleed. When I was in nursing school one of my instructers taught us a simple secret to help prevent us from getting sick, as we would be exposed to so many illnesses in our clinicals. (And we were generally stressed out and sleep deprived which doesn't help your immune system.) The secret is nasal saline. You can buy it over the counter or you can make your own. Whichever method you choose, squirt a small amount in each nostril as often as it takes to keep your nose slightly moist. In order for your nasal mucous to most effectively trap bacteria and viruses, it must be moist. Moist mucous membranes in your nose means fewer illness and fewer nose bleeds.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trick to Beat Car Sickness

It seems like some of the best secrets come when you've just talking to your friends and neighbours about ordinary stuff. This week a bunch of ladies from the neighbourhood were at the local park when my friend mentioned a trick her sister uses to combat car sickness because her kids are highly susceptible to it. She found that if you put a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton-ball, and put a few of such treated cotton-balls in the air-conditioning vents of your car, it drastically reduces the nausea. It makes sense. Smelling or tasting peppermint is often an effective remedy for upset stomachs. I know what I'm packing for our road-trip this summer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strawberry Cablams

A few nights ago there was a neighbourhood dessert potluck/goodbye party for a family that's moving. (Great idea, btw. Simple, low-key and effective.) I made these because I had everything for them and going to the grocery store was not on the agenda for the day. They're fast, easy, soft, and as my neighbour says "the cutest cookies ever". All the little girls loved them. I got this recipe from my sister-in-law.

Strawberry Cablams
1 box Duncan Hines strawberry cake mix*
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup white chocolate chips**

1. Preheat oven to 350. 2. Mix first three ingredients. 3. Stir in chips. 4. Drop by large spoonful onto greased cookie sheet. 5. Bake for 12 minutes. Makes about 16 large cookies.

*Usually I don't think it makes a difference, but I have discovered that for this recipe the Betty Crocker strawberry cake mix gives lesser results.
**She always uses white chocolate chips. I used swirl chips (or squirrel chips as my daughter calls them) because that's what we had.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Review: The Hiding Place

Several times in my life people have recommended The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, and for some unknown reason I haven't read it until last week. It's the story of two sisters. They're old maids living with their elderly father in Holland during World War II. One day Jews just start showing up on their doorstep. So they start hiding them and smuggling them away to other hiding places. Eventually they are caught and sent first to prison, then a work camp in Holland and finally an extermination camp in Germany. What makes this book remarkable is this woman's amazing attitude. Despite all that she went through, this woman manages to have a positive attitude and truly learns to love her enemies. I'm not going to spoil the whole story, but here are a few great lessons that are well illustrated in this book.
  • Whatever in our life is hardest to bear, love can transform into beauty.
  • Even when life is the most difficult, we are richer than we think.
  • What feeds the soul matters as much as what feeds the body.
  • Whenever we can not love in the old human way, God can give us a perfect way.
  • God gives us experiences that will strengthen and prepare us for the future.
  • Gratitude can improve even the worst of situations.
  • Love and forgiveness can heal the wounded soul.
  • There is no problem so great that the power of Christ is not greater still.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Calzones Inspired by Erin's Food Files

I've been following Erin's Food Files for several months now. She makes a lot of things that look delicious, but until last week I hadn't actually made any of her recipes. (Sorry, Erin some of your recipes just seem a little more involved than I generally have time/patience for. Like the Red Velvet Cheesecake. Looks amazing, but not something I'll likely try soon.) I tried four with some successes, and I'm certain that I'll try a few more. I love that she uses whole wheat flour in so many of her recipes.

I saw the Buffalo Chicken Calzones and was certain that it would be a winner. However, I made two major changes. I decreased the hot pepper sauce by more than half and I added vegetables because I thought I could get away with it. As it turns out I was correct. It was still plenty hot and you can't taste the veggies. My husband said "I suspect there are several yummy things in here, but the only thing I can taste is Tabasco." So when I make this again I think I will sneak in even more veggies and decrease the pepper sauce. Also when I was sauteing the chicken I decreased the butter by 2/3rds. It still tasted great. To scope out the original (her pictures are better) and more of Erin's great culinary creations go here.

Buffalo Chicken Calzones

1 lb pizza dough (I used a whole wheat recipe from Skinny Bovine's Kitchen that is very good.)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
1/4 cup hot pepper sauce
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup pizza sauce (I have recently found that I love Classico's spicy tomato & basil pasta sauce)
1/3 cup finely chopped baby spinach
2 Tablespoons cauliflower puree

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 2. Cook chicken in oil and butter until no longer pink. Add pepper sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, mix pizza sauce and vegetables and roll out pizza dough into two flat circles. 4. When chicken is done assemble calzones. Put half of sauce, cheese and chicken on one side of each dough circle. Fold the other half over and press edges to seal. 5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until dough is golden brown. This makes two very large calzones. Each serves at least two, and they freeze well.

She served hers with a bleu cheese dip. I was lazy and just used Litehouse Chunky Bleu Cheese dressing. But I'm sure her bleu cheese dip is great.

In the past week I also made her Oatmeal Wheat Bread. It was a big hit. My daughter decided that it should be named "Family Bread". We also made her Homemade Graham Crackers. They were ok, but didn't look anything like hers. She served hers with ice cream. I don't think mine could take that, they're too crumbly. I think they will turn into a crust for strawberry pie. I'm not sure what I did wrong there. I also tried her Beer Bread, but without the beer. I used root beer instead of pumpkin ale. It was ok, not as fantastic as I was hoping, but I will take all the credit for that failure. I've done beer bread with Sprite before, I'll have to try her recipe again that way.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Secrets to a Healthier Brighter Smile Without Tooth Whiteners or Extra Trips to the Dentist

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am pretty OCD about brushing my teeth. Honestly, most of my life I have brushed several times each day. Despite this, I have a mouth full of fillings, have a tendency to get tarter build-up and have spent several thousand dollars on dental work. When I was younger, I remember a hygienist  telling me that it looked like I hadn't had a check-up in years. "Thanks, check the chart. I was here 5 months ago." My dentist decided that I have unusually high levels of minerals in my saliva, which results in increased tarter. At one point I was going in for cleanings every six weeks. And of course every time I went in they would talk to me like I was stupid and teach me how to brush and floss my teeth, like I hadn't figured it out yet. Really, even a year and a half ago I was still getting this lecture. :S Finally I went to a dental hygienist that taught me a helpful routine. I thought "Wow, this is great. Why in the world has someone not taught me this before?" It's a little time-consuming to go through this entire routine daily, but even doing this once a week makes a big difference. (But you may need to do it daily for awhile to get on top of plaque and tarter.) And good oral hygiene can improve your over-all health. This routine won't get you immediately from yellow to dazzling white and it doesn't replace routine dental check-ups, but it does make a huge difference in between check-ups.
  • Start with a dry toothbrush (toothpaste only). The dry stiffer bristles help to scrub off plaque. Brush all tooth and gum surfaces, cheekside and tongue side. Do this twice a day.
  • Every evening before brushing, floss. Wrap floss around each individual tooth, slide up and down, firmly.
  • Don't skip any areas that may be tender. If there are tender areas brush with a toothbrush softened in hot water.
  • After flossing and brushing, soften toothbrush with hot water. Then dip toothbrush in Listerine and massage with bristles directed at the gum line, moving only 1/2 a tooth width at a time. Massage all surfaces. You are planting and massaging, not brushing.
  • Rinse with Listerine for 30 seconds. Do not swish with water afterwards. You want the Listerine to stay on your gums and teeth for as long as possible, to effectively kill germs.
  • Don't forget to brush you tongue for fresher breath.

Since I have started doing this I haven't had any cavities, minimal tarter, only routine check-ups and no more scaling and planings. (If you don't know what a scaling and planing is, count yourself lucky.) And my tooth brushing has normalised to two or three times a day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ways to save money that are good for the environment too.

  1. Cook from scratch- There's a great deal of potential savings here when compared to eating out, buying packaged foods and mixes. And cooking from scratch is often healthier. Plus less packaging, less waste.
  2. Start a garden- My husband and I were debating on whether are garden is actually cost efficient. Thus far we've spent $50 and gotten two miniature strawberries. But then there were a lot of up-front costs that we won't have to do again like garden tools. Perhaps this will save us money as we get better at it. I did make the argument that growing your own herbs is definitely cost effective and I have managed to successfully do that one.
  3. Unplug your appliances- I've heard several times that you can decrease your power bill by 10-15% by unplugging your appliances when not in use. I am not about to unplug my major kitchen and laundry appliances when they're not in use. That is too much work. But unplugging computers and the TV at night is reasonable.
  4. Check out home improvement rebates- A few months ago we had our attic insulation redone. Upfront cost- $860. Rebate total- $823. So it cost $37 out of pocket and is estimated to save us $290 each year on power and heating. We also got rebates for buying new energy efficient appliances (which we had to purchase anyway.) These are just a few examples. There are many other opportunities out there. See what you have in your area.
  5. Plant a tree- If you plant it on the south or west side of your home and it provides any amount of shade it can decrease your air-conditioning bill, plus it increases the value of your home.
  6. Make use of your library- I'm certain that I would save thousands of dollars if I went to the library as often as I go to Barnes and Noble. It's a weakness of mine, but I'm getting better.
  7. Reuse plastic containers- I reuse Cool Whip containers to freeze vegetable purees. There are hundreds of other possibilities.
  8. Get your kids to play outside- Turn off the tv and computer once in awhile. The exercise is good for them too.
  9. Cook with a crockpot- These appliances are actually pretty energy efficient. And in the summer time they don't heat up the kitchen like your stove and oven, thus saving $ on your power bill.
  10. Take care of your car- Making sure your tires are inflated can save money on gas. And maintenance is cheaper than replacement.
  11. Have your kids color on both sides of the page. The little things add up.
  12. Buy in bulk-This only applies to some things. I buy fruit, cheese, laundry detergent and baby wipes in bulk because I know that whatever I buy we'll use. This isn't a good idea if what you buy will go bad before you get to using it. Figure out the price per ounce and comparison shop.
  13. Find alternative methods of cooking- Recently I went to a preparedness fair where they taught us how to cook using solar ovens and wonderboxes. I'm excited to give them a try.
  14. Walk or bike when its feasible- Another thing that's good for your health too.
  15. Reduce what you have to wash- I only wash jeans after they have been worn twice. (Unless they've been smegged.) It makes them last longer and it reduces what you spend on detergent, water and power. Plus it's that much less time folding and washing laundry.
  16. Get organized!- Being organized can decrease what you spend on things that you don't need. Plus it can save you time and just make your life easier.
Happy Earth Day! Does anyone have any other great ideas that belong on this list?

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Tropical Sweet Potato Casserole

    Ok, here's something strange and random about Heather: When I was six years old I started making a set of cookbooks. I had ambitions of being a famous chef. They are four binders that are falling apart, full notebook pages pasted with various clippings. For the most part I cut recipes off of package labels and out of Better Homes & Gardens magazine. There are also a few family recipes I transcribed in there. (My husband likes to poke fun of my misspellings and the sometimes questionable organization.) Although, I am far from being a famous chef, I still use these cookbooks to this day, often changing things around a bit. (The original version of the pumpkin apple muffin recipe I posted last week is in those books and came off a Libby's canned pumpkin label.) Today's recipe is from those cookbooks, therefore I can't properly give credit to the original source because when I was cutting and pasting that didn't seem important. From the font I'm guessing BH&G.

    This sweet potato casserole is lighter than the traditional fair, without butter or marshmallows. Also, I had never made sweet potato casserole before trying this and didn't know what I was getting myself into. It served 6, plus gave me four tupperware containers full of leftovers.  At least it was delicious as well as fairly easy. I froze them so I can just keep having this every few weeks. So the recipe that I'm giving you is half of that. Go ahead and double it if you need to feed a throng.

    Tropical Sweet Potato Casserole

    2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    4 Tablespoons orange juice concentrate
    2 Tablespoons milk
    2 eggs lightly beaten
    2 Tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 cup pineapple tidbits
    1/4 cup shredded coconut

    1. In a covered pot, boil sweet potatoes until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain and return to pan. 2. Preheat oven to 350. Mash slightly with a potato masher. Add next six ingredients and stir until well combined.  Transfer to a casserole dish (8x8). 3. Sprinkle with coconut. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until coconut is toasted.

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Fighting Pornography- Start with the Family

    As a member of the LDS church, I've been hearing people speak against the evils of pornography for as long as I can remember. So I found it interesting to read about someone outside the Church talking about it. In an article that I read recently, Patrick A. Trueman, the former chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the United States Department of Justice said that the answer to combat the scourge of pornography is to "Start with the family." He said there are three major things that average people can do to fight pornography.
    1. Strengthen their families- Know what your kids are doing and get Internet blocking software
    2. Survey communities- Boycott stores that display pornography, and let the store owners know (He says he has seen this work over and over again.)
    3. Lobby public officials- There are laws against hard-core pornography. Make sure that they are enforced.
    I feel like pornography is one large massive lurking evil that I don't want to look at too closely, but I can't pretend that it's not there.  If you think that pornography doesn't effect you, you're wrong. It effects the ways people are portrayed in the media. It effects the ways children view themselves, it effects the way that adults view themselves. The article states that "Children are harmed by looking at pornography. It effects them for the rest of their lives." But that's only one of many ways that pornography assaults the family. Pornography is a seed that can grow into rape, abuse and child molestation. (Recently I read parts of a series of articles about a columnist who spent some time following investigators for the Utah's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. I warn you, what she discovered was disturbing, but it's important to be aware of the lurking evil. But one interesting thing that she said that most of the time the child abusers started with adult pornography, which led to child pornography which eventually led to victimizing real children.) Even if it doesn't lead to that, it still destroys marriages, families and lives. For the love of all that is good, take a stand and purge it from your sphere of influence.

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Book Review: Grilled Cheese & More

    Once in awhile the man that I love decides to cook dinner. This usually involves one of two things, grilled meat or grilled cheese sandwiches of some kind, which is why I purchase Grilled Cheese & More for him. His go-to sandwich is the Grilled Cheese, Ham & Onion Melt. It's not exactly healthy, but it is very delicious. (However, he did cut the cheese by 75% from the original because it was a bit too much. He also traded turkey for ham and increased the grilled onion ratio.) If you like grilled cheese, this book provides lots of delicious variations.

    Grilled Cheese, Turkey and Onion Melts
    2 teaspoons butter or margarine
    1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    1/3 cup honey mustard*
    2 slices of Muenster cheese
    6 slices of thinly sliced smoked turkey
    4 slices of rye bread

    1. Melt butter in a pan. Add onions. Cook over medium heat until tender, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and add sugar. Cook 15-20 minutes or until onions are caramelized. Stir in mustard and remove from heat.
    2.Divide onions, turkey and cheese between two sandwiches. Grill until toasted and cheese is melted.

    * We've use ordinary honey mustard which works fine. Cranberry mustard works better. But your very best option is Mary Helen's Mustard Custard Sauce. Wow, that stuff on caramelized onions is amazing. It looks kind of strange on the onions versus regular mustard, but oh is it delicious.

    Sorry, no picture. The sandwiches never last long enough.

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Family Dinners are Important

    I recently read an article in the newspaper that I thought was worth sharing. After doing research for more than a decade The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has found that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, drink or use drugs. The center's chairman and president said "If I could wave a magic wand to make a dent in our nation's substance abuse problem, I would make sure that every child in America has dinner with his or her parents at least five times a week." There are other perks of having family meals together. Families that eat together have children who:
    • Eat healthier meals.
    • Are less likely to become overweight or obese.
    • Are more likely to stay away from cigarettes.
    • Are less likely to try alcohol, marijuana or illicit drugs.
    • Are less likely to have friends who abuse prescription drugs.
    • Will get better grades in school.
    • Will talk to their parents more.
    • Will be more likely to tell their parents about serious problems.
    • Will be more likely to feel that their parents are proud of them.
    • Will live in a home where there is less stress and tension
    Sitting down for regular meals does more good than soccer and piano combined. And the real secret is "What your kids really want for dinner is you!"

    For the complete article go here.

    Milk the Moment Giveaway Winner

    Britt, you win! I hope you enjoy your 'got milk?' giftpack. And everyone in the Salt Lake area, don't for get to check out the Milk Mustache Mobile this weekend for free milk and shakes.

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    A possible reason why your child is having accidents...

    Ok, so I'm sure that if my daughter were a teenager and knew that I was writing this she would be mortified. But she's four, her reading ability is very limited and therefore I can still get away with this. Besides, it's for the benefit of moms everywhere.
     So my daughter has accidents. Children do. It's part of life, it's something they grow out of. Usually she'll start 'doing the potty dance' and I or the nearest adult will tell her to go to the bathroom. She will respond that she doesn't need to go, keep playing, and a few minutes later she'll run off and have an accident on the way to the toilet. This probably happens sometimes once, sometimes 5 times a week. But sometimes she'll have an accident without the dance or any other warning. I mentioned it to her pediatrician at her last well-child check. He looked at her, but was not concerned. 'She'll grow out of it.'  This goes on for a few more months, but she doesn't have any pain, fevers or other signs that might indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI). Last week she had 7 accidents in 12 hours and was very upset each time. I took her to the pediatrician as soon as I could get her in. She was seen, she peed in a cup and they started her on an anti-biotic. A couple days later they called me back and said she didn't actually have a UTI. Apparently she has something called idiopathic bladder spasms. That means that her bladder suddenly and violently contracts without any apparent reason. From what I've read it's very rare, but in three days I've run into 3 other moms whose four-year-olds were diagnosed with it, so it can't be that rare. So she is taking a medication called Oxybutynin (Ditropan), which reduces bladder spasms. So far, so much better. I just feel bad that I did take care of the problem sooner.
     The most common cause of bladder accidents in children is a urinary tract infection. If you suspect this, take care of it immediately because a UTI can lead to other problems. And even if it isn't a UTI, it's possible that it's another problem that can be easily treated.  Sometimes bladder accidents are caused by stress. Look at the whole picture and talk to your child. Accidents can also be a result of nerve damage or the side-effect of a medication. Certain foods such as pickles, citrus, caffiene, chocolate, tomatoes and artificial sweeteners can irritate the lining of the bladder and cause spasms. Whatever you do, don't punish you child for having accidents, it will only make the problem worse.

    Wednesday, April 14, 2010

    Book Review: The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families

    The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families: What Scientists Have Learned and How You Can Use it by David Niven, Ph.D. takes research findings and breaks them down into helpful tips for the average family. Each secret is accompanied by a short story about a different family or individual, some famous, some average and a related research finding. Some of the secrets seemed profound and others seemed more obvious, but it depends on you, your family and your experience. I really enjoyed this book. I think it has a little something for everyone and it's a quick read. Here were some of my favourite secrets:
    1. Forgiveness Depends on More than An Apology. Recieving forgiveness from your family has more to do with how you treat them before the offence than how you try to make it up to them.
    2. Fatigue is a Family Enemy. Make sure you leave some energy for you family.
    3. Encourage Persistence Not Desperation. Valuing efforts and not results gives reason to continue.
    4. Family Life Teaches Us About Relationships. The example we give our children in how we treat others is one that they will remember throughout their lives.
    5. Show Up on Time. Being punctual sends a message that you do what you say you will.
    6. Cherish Traditions. Traditions help children learn who they are and how they are connected with each other.
    7. Encourage, but Don't Require, Activities.  Activities encourage development, but if it's something they're not interested in it becomes a job.
    8. What You Send Out Comes Back to You. To feel more support you need to give it.
    9. Illness Can Have Multiple Victims. When one member of the family is sick, it effects everyone.
    10. Self-Doubt Magnifies Family Problems. Seeing the good in yourself will help you to see the good in your family.
    11. Low Expectations Are Not A Family Solution. Lowering your standards is not going to make you happier.
    12. Emotions Last Longer Than Events. Your kids will remember being upset long after they've forgotten what caused it. Isn't this true of many adults too?
    13. Distress Is Contagious. When you are upset or angry it makes your family feel vulnerable and afraid, even if the problem has nothing to do with them.
    14. Family Affects All Aspects of Our Lives. Children who come from families where their needs are met are more likely to be healthy, satisfied with life, feel good about themselves and have confidence in their abilities.
    15. Can You Do It? Ask Yourself. You can do what you think you can do.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Fat Free Pumpkin Apple Muffins

    I've been making these muffins since I was six, although they have evolved quite a bit since then. They started out with a lot more sugar and oil than they have now. And I changed the white flour for oat flour and added some oatmeal and vegetables. They're still easy and satisfying. (And they're a hit with the picky eaters too.) Really, I heart these muffins so much. Trust me they taste better than they look. Plus they're full of Vitamins A and C and fiber.

    Pumpkin Apple Oatmeal Muffins

    2 1/2 cups oat flour (just throw some oatmeal in your blender)
    1 1/4 cup white sugar
    1 cup oatmeal
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 Tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
    2 Tablespoons non-fat powdered milk**
    2 eggs lightly beaten
    1/4 cup applesauce
    1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
    2 Tablespoons pureed carrots**
    2 cups chopped apples*
    1 cup canned pumpkin

    Mix dry ingredients together. Preheat oven to 350. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry together. Spoon batter into muffin tin. (Spray it, grease, use cupcake liners, whichever you prefer.) Bake for 35 minutes. Makes 18 muffins.

    ** These items are optional. I just throw them in for added nutritional value.

    Also of note, if you freeze your leftover canned pumpkin and use it later, you'll have to add more dry ingredients to get the right consistency. I use 6 tablespoons of flour or oatmeal.

    *These are best with granny smith apples, but I've tried them with almost every other kind too. I've even used reconstituted dried Tree Top brand apples and I was surprised at how well that worked.

    There is also a streusel topping that you can put on them, which I don't usually bother to do. But it is tasty. (You can kiss your fat-free muffins good-bye if you add the streusel topping.)

    Streusel Topping

    2 Tablespoons flour
    1/4 cup white sugar
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    4 teaspoons butter

    Mix first three ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on muffins before baking.

    Monday, April 12, 2010

    Steering Clear of the Brink...

    The other day I was talking with my husband. He was telling me about one of his students who has a tough situation at home and can't wait to graduate and get away. The biggest reason is that his mom is crazy, unreasonable and really makes his life miserable. (And we all know moms like her, or at least we know children like her son.) I thought 'How very sad'. It also made me think, 'how does this happen?' I'm assuming that at one point, perhaps a long time ago, she was a caring mother who her children enjoyed being around. She was the one that they went to when they needed comfort.  What happened things so her children can't stand to be around her? That's hard to say. I don't even know this woman. And as Tolstoy said "All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." There are great many things that can drive a person to unhappiness. (Perhaps I'm assuming wrong, perhaps she was always crazy.) But my guess is that it was stress in some form or another. Stress can drive you crazy, weaken your immune system and make you unhappy if you let it. But then you hear stories of people who go through horrifying experiences and come out even stronger. I think the key is learning to cope. One way of coping may work for one person and not another. Find what works best for you. Here are some of the things that I do to cope with stress.
    1. Deep clean the kitchen. Sometimes things are beyond my control. So I take my frustration out in a productive way with a scrubbing pad. By the time my kitchen is spotless I usually am too tired to be angry.
    2. Exercise Yeah, don't do that one nearly as much as I used to or as I should, but it does work.
    3. Think of the things that I'm grateful for.
    4. Play with the kids. Their laughter and smiles are infectious.
    5. Talk with someone.
    6. Get away. Take a walk. Take a vacation.
    7. Pray.
    8. Read a good book.
    9. Go shopping. This one can be dangerous.
    10. Listen to good music. Tchaikovsky always makes me feel more relaxed.
    11. Get more sleep.  Drink some tea or take a sleeping pill if you absolutely have to. Being sleep deprived can intensify all stress.
    12. Do something creative. Play some music. Paint. Bake. Whatever does it for you.
    13. Choose to be happy. Choose to see the positive.
    Hopefully by the time my kids are teenagers I won't be crazy and can still be a positive influence in their lives.

      Thursday, April 8, 2010

      Secrets of Organized Homes

      I try to keep my home clean, but let's be real. I live here with my small children. It's not perfectly clean all the time. (I don't think it's actually perfectly clean any of the time.) And I've mulling over and searching for cleaning hacks to share, but when it comes down to it, I think the best secret to have a clean house is to have everything organized. (Easier said than done.) We've all heard it before, but it's true. Recently I read an article in Family Fun Magazine called "Secrets of Organized Homes", and here's what they suggested, plus a few of my own.
      1. Go paper-free.
      2. Make an art box for each child.
      3. Reduce the amount of stuff you need to organize.
      4. A place for everything and everything in its place.
      5. Don't aim for perfection.
      6. Get your kids involved.
      7. Spend a little time every day cleaning and organizing.
      8. Maximize your space. Things that aren't used often should go in the basement or the attic. Store somethings on wall hooks.
      9. Use reusable shopping bags so you cut back on the number of plastic grocery bags that you keep around.
      10. Create a "Family Owner's Manual" with schedules and important numbers.
      11. Get rid of unused toys.
      12. Get rid of unused anything. Clothes, books, AP European History Notecards, whatever.
      13. Choose smart storage options for your children's toys.
      14. Store toys and games near where they are typically played with.
      15. Improvise.
      16. Make a back-up box, to have all computer program disks in one place.
      17. Get rid of cd cases and just use a disk folder.
      18. Create separate computer user account to keep the desktop uncluttered.
      19. Group things together. Helmets with bikes, etc.
      20. Make a charity bin.
      21. Assign each family member a basket for essential items such as wallet, keys and phone.
      22. Make a temporary dumping container that must be emptied daily.
      23. Create a system for your pantry. If you have the space organizing ingredient by recipe can make your life easier.
      24. Assess your 'stuff' at least monthly. What have you not used in the past year?
      25. Make lists. To-do lists. Grocery lists. Goals. Things for the man to do. Christmas gifts. Whatever. (If you guys haven't noticed yet I am a serious list junky. Lists are how I survive in life.)

      Wednesday, April 7, 2010

      Kitchen Substitutions to Help You Cut Calories

      The other day when I was at a gathering of toddlers and their moms, my friend asked us what hacks we use to make our cooking healthier. Here's the list that we came up with. Some of these substitutions won't work in every case, but if you can cut out fat at least some of the time, all the better.
      • Evaporated milk for cream This works for soups and sauces, but not making actual whipped cream.
      • Ricotta cheese for cream Thank you Skinny Bovine!
      • Neufchatel for cream cheese It's the exact same thing except it's made with skim milk instead of whole. I do not buy cream cheese. No one has noticed. (When I tried fat-free cream cheese there was rebellion, plus it's full of preservatives and complex unidentifiable ingredients. Low fat is good enough for me.)
      • Olive oil for butter Yes it doesn't taste quite the same, but you can keep the butter flavor by cutting the butter down by 2/3rds and filling in the remainder with olive oil. Sometimes it's fine to cut out all of the butter. Experiment.
      • Canola oil for vegetable or corn oil. This one works when you have to have oil. Canola and olive are the healthiest oil choices. Again, I do not buy vegetable oil.
      • Apple sauce for oil. Great for muffins and cakes.
      • Plain yogurt for oil.
      • Apple juice for oil.
      • Orange juice for oil.
      • Orange juice concentrate for shortening. This won't work for pie crusts, but some baking. For Easter I made some carrot cake with this method and it tasted even better with the OJ instead of the shortening. (Shortening grosses me out. I avoid it at all costs.)
      • Pureed vegetables as sauce/soup thickener instead of flour or cornstarch. Sometimes a winner, sometimes not. (Sometimes a woman has to resort to deception to get her family to eat healthy things. It's a don't ask, don't tell policy.)
      • Wheatberries for all or part of the ground beef in a recipe. This won't work for beef jerky, but I've tried with positive results in tacos, enchiladas, hamburger helper, casseroles and lasagna. I HEART it in tacos, so much less grease. I can't go back to the old way. For enchiladas I blend the wheatberries with some sauce for improved texture.
      • Part oat or wheat flour in a recipe
      Here's a great post from the SBK on making healthy dessert that runs along these lines.
      And here's a post I did previously on substitutions for alcohol in cooking, a few of which were also mentioned at our little healthy substitutions pow-wow.
       Does anyone else have any great secrets they'd like to share?

      Tuesday, April 6, 2010

      Helpful info for Moms who have had bladder issues after childbirth

       A few months ago I was talking with a good friend and I came to the realization that there are a lot of women out there who have been done a disservice by their post-partum nurses and OB-GYN's. She (and many others) have no idea what Kegel exercises are and how they are helpful in getting your body back to normal after childbirth. Perhaps many of my readers are already well-informed about this, but if I'm able to enlighten one woman who wasn't, than my time is well-spent.
       Pregnancy and child birth do a number on a woman's body. In order to grow a healthy child, the muscles get stretched out of place and weakened. The birth process is the most stressful on your body, because that 'not so little' bundle of joy has to fit through a comparatively tiny hole. Sometimes this results in tearing of the skin and muscles in the perineal area. Every woman who has delivered (or will soon deliver) a child should do Kegel exercises, but if you have given birth to large children, had difficult deliveries, had an episiotimy and/or torn during the delivery process, it is especially important that you do these exercises. And if you are pregnant can really decrease the perineal tearing during the delivery process by doing these exercises.
       So what are Kegel exercises anyway? They are exercises discovered by a Dr. Kegel to strengthen the muscles that control urinary flow. You're practicing squeezing and relaxing those muscles. And no one has to know that you're even doing them. There are two ways to determine if you are squeezing the correct muscles.
      1. In the bathroom, stop your urine midstream. The muscles you squeeze to do that are the ones that you need to exercise.
      2. Or lay on the floor and focus on squeezing the muscles around your urethra and anus. If you are squeezing your stomach or bottom muscles, you are squeezing the wrong muscles.
      Now that you know exactly which muscles to exercise try this:
      1. Squeeze for 3 seconds and then relax for 3 seconds. If you can't do that, build up to it.
      2. Repeat this 10 to 15 times per session. Try to do this at least 3 times a day. These exercises are only effective if you do them regularly.
      If you suffer from stress incontinence (bladder leakage when you laugh or sneeze), try these exercises. Doing these exercises can also help to prevent bladder, bowel and uterine prolapse (where the pelvic muscles are not strong enough to keep the pelvic organs where they belong). If you already have some prolapse it is important that you see a doctor to have it corrected before it gets worse. It is also important that you drink lots of water and get enough fiber so you're not straining in the bathroom and making things worse.

      Ok, this part may be a little TMI, but I think it's helpful. I pushed for four hours (wish I were exagerating, but I'm not) with my first child, who came out the wrong way and would not be turned. Afterwards my CNM said "I am totally amazed that you only have a first degree tear." The reason is I had an hour commute to work each way, and every day I did Kegel's on my way to and from work. That was a good 2 (sometimes 3 with traffic) hours of exercise each day four days a week. Thank you nursing instructors who drilled that into me! It made a huge difference. Having strong pelvic muscles before your delivery can prevent a great deal of pain and suffering, and greatly improve your delivery experience.

      Monday, April 5, 2010

      Where and How I Do My Grocery Shopping

      Recently a friend asked me where I do my grocery shopping, so here's the breakdown. (Note many of these tips are only helpful for locals, but many of the tips apply across the board.)
      1. I check out Pinching Your Pennies and their printable shopping lists. I never print their lists, but I look at them for good deals on things I may want to purchase and the corresponding coupons are listed there for me.
      2. Make a menu plan. I base my meals on what I already have, what's on sale and whatever my experiment of the week is.
      3. Make a list. I usually write mine on a bill pay envelope and put all of my coupons inside. Sticking to a list will save you money.
      4. Most often I shop at Smith's. Their gasoline is cheaper than any place that's near me and I get more discounts on it for shopping there.They offer rewards for shopping (essentially 1% back, plus a few bonuses, and no you don't have to sign up for a credit card to get these) and are always very good about taking coupons. They also have coupons that you can load onto your grocery card online that stack with other manufacturer's coupons. They often have some great sales and I find their produce is usually better.Often I can find lots of specialty items here that I can't find elsewhere. I go here at least weekly.
      5. Toiletries are almost always cheaper at Walmart. Plus Walmart price matches. If there's a amazing deal at another store, but I don't want to go there for just one item I take the ad to Walmart and get it with my other stuff. Walmart is generally the best place to get movies and toys. I almost always get my yogurt at Walmart because it's so much cheaper there. The produce is generally disappointing. I don't like to buy my milk here because their skim milk tastes funny to me. Again weekly trips.
      6. Costco is where I go for cheese. They have a fantastic selection at the best prices. They also have great prices on organic produce (as long as you are buying fairly large quantities.) They have fresh Einstein bagels 12 for $5 and since there isn't an Einstein's in the vicinity and I love bagels...Other things I consistently buy here: laundry detergent, dishwasher pellets, dried fruit, string cheese, Canadian bacon, sourdough bread (their rosemary loaves are sooo yummy), grapefruit juice, seasonal and party foods and Cheesecake Factory Lemoncello Cheesecakes. (My Costco membership is worth the last item alone.) When I do go, I also grab milk. They also have good deals on best-selling books, movies and great deals on toys around Christmas. It's the cheapest place I've found to buy ink cartridges or have them refilled. Drawbacks: membership required, it's out of the way, they don't accept manufacturer's coupons and I ALWAYS spend more than I intended because I always find something I "need" that wasn't on my list. I go here about monthly.
      7. Albertson's occasionally has some great deals worth going for. However, overall there prices are generally higher. I have also discovered that the Albertson's on Bluff Street in St George has the nicest staff I have ever encountered. Really, they treat me like family, I feel like I want to have them over for dinner. (Such a contrast, when I've been to Albertson's at other places, everyone seems so grumpy.) The staff are always helpful to point out great deals, offers samples and give my kids free chocolate chip cookies. Plus I never have to wait long in line there. I usually shop here monthly.
      8. Target has the best bang for your buck on diapers. Their store brand is the same price (or less) than Walmart and they are much better quality. Sometimes they have other great deals. I like their dollar aisle for things like Easter basket and stocking stuffers. I come here for diapers and special occasions.
      9. Walgreens often has some great deals if you match your coupons with register rewards. Plus they sometimes have some amazing deals on photo printing, and if you order it online you get a Upromise kickback. I probably go here ten times a year.
      10. I go to Lin's for their case lot sales and sometimes their produce. So I only shop here occasionally.
      11. I have recently discovered Rite-Aid. Not some place I would go on a regular basis, but a few weeks ago I got a couple jumbo packs of Huggies diapers for a little more than $2 each. Now that is savings that is worth going out of the way for. The problem is that when they do have amazing deals like that they sell out fast. I tried once before for some great deal and there weren't any left. And when I snagged my diapers I got the last two packages. I shop here rarely.
      Hopefully that's helpful. Anyone else have any great tips?

        Friday, April 2, 2010

        Milk the Moment Giveaway

        The National "got milk?®" Milk Mustache Mobile Tour is crossing the country from March to September to help celebrate those special moments that families share around the dinner table and show moms that serving milk at dinnertime is an easy, and affordable, way to help make sure their families get the nutrition they need. And they're coming to Utah.

        April 18th is Milk the Moment Day in Salt Lake City. Check out the Milk Mustache Mobile Saturday April 17th from 8:30am - 1:30pm at the Salt Lake City Marathon finish line  and Sunday April 18th from11 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2-4 p.m at the Hogle Zoo. They're handing out free milk, milkshakes and have free activities and contests too.

        And you can win a prize even if you aren't going to be in the Salt Lake area around April 17th and 18th. Just leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite milk recipe for a chance to win a 'got milk?' prize pack which includes t-shirts, lanyards, a canvas tote bag and more. Or you can just leave a comment telling me why you love milk.

        Hooray for milk! It does a body good.

        Thursday, April 1, 2010

        Easter Tips

        Easter, Easter, I love it, but what I don't love is the excess of candy. And I know some members of my family (cough, meat-loving man) would start a revolt if we completely went without Easter candy,  but I do try to limit the gobs of sugar that can be found in my house at this season. Here are few tips on making Easter memorable without all of the candy.
        • Hide things on your hunt other than candy. This year I'm hiding a Littlest Pet Shop set for my daughter and a Melissa and Doug tool set for my son. Yes, more pricey than candy, but I got a great deal on each of them, they last longer and lack the sugar rush.
        • Hide puzzle pieces in eggs and put the puzzle together as a group when all of the pieces are found. (I found that tip in Family Fun Magazine.)
        • Decorating and dying Easter eggs. Here are tons of creative ideas.
        • Cascarones! I used to make these with my mom when I was a young. I didn't do them this year, they do require quite a bit of planning ahead. But they're great fun, if somewhat messy.
        • Finding a new dvd has become an Easter tradition at our house.
        • Lower priced items that I'm hiding: stamps (found 2 for a $1), bunny ears, sticker books (both $1 items from Target) and small story books. Check out Target or your local dollar store for other small toys and items.
        • Do without the Easter grass. It just makes a mess and I hate it.If you must have basket filler, use tissue paper.
        • Make sure that you take time to talk to your kids about the real reason we celebrate Easter.