Festival of Lights

To everybody celebrating Chanukah (or Hanukkah) this week the December issue of Parents magazine has some great ideas in case you haven’t yet purchased the 8 nights of presents you need.

PTMA Hanukkah

The LED-lit menorah that you build (above) is super colorful and what a great price!  The scooter is really colorful too!  We did end up buying a scooter for our youngest this holiday over at the wonderful local toy store… White Horse Toys.

PTMA kiddi-o scooter

However you celebrate your holidays we all hope that they are great and that you support those local businesses!


The fresh scent of Pine

Do you remember the slogan from TV commercials talking about the “fresh scent of Pine”? That slogan always reminded me of the holiday smell of christmas trees.

Well we have a fake holiday tree, so every year I miss the smell of real trees like the PNW outdoors gives us so this year I thought I’d try an advertised product from the December Parents magazine for fir-scented ornaments from Scentsicles (there are five different scents to choose from).

PTMA Pinetastic

I have them hanging on the tree as we speak and yep, they do smell like a real fir tree! But I would like to mention that the smell fades after 24 hours and is non-existent after 72 hours unless you get right up to the tree (like the logger above is doing). Another thing that I would like the Scentsicles company to consider is that not everybody has extra ornament hangers lying around and their product doesn’t provide any so adding a couple of the hangers into the containers would be a GREAT IMPROVEMENT to me!

We improvised with no extra ornament hangers and used a paperclip which works too!

PTMA Fir Freshner

I’m sure if you have a holiday party or dinner coming up if you fill the tree with multiple Scentsicles that your fresh-tree-smell would linger for longer than 24 hours but it could be so pungent that your guests can’t smell or taste anything but Fir or Pine?! So I would still suggest using these things sparingly and just provide a fresh-fresh scent for the days you need it!

Dinner Bell!

School bells aren’t the only thing going off around here in September… the dinner bell is chiming in too, so we thought we’d try a Parents magazine suggestion for a new spin on what’s cooking.

I used the fish recipe above (except traded Flounder for Tilapia) and the green bean recipe.  Both turned out fantastic and the kids were coming back for MORE!

I made the salsa recipe but added my own “leftovers” and instead made this salsa (which was AMAZING by the way!!!) my own special way.  The recipe for my salsa is below…

1/2 pear sliced, 1/3 jalapeno finely diced, 10 cherry tomatoes quartered, 1/2 cup freshly cooked corn from the cob, 2 cloves garlic clove finely diced.  Mix all ingredients with 1/3 cup of honey and 1 lime (juiced), add a dash of sea salt and ground pepper and VOILA, dinner is served!

I finished off the meal with some decaffeinated black tea (iced) and some yummy just-baked corn bread topped off with honey butter (an absolute favorite of mine).  With the cooler fall season upon us, these recipes definitely hit the spot for our family!

Car Safety

This September 16th thru 22nd is National Car Safety week and in honor of children in cars I am taking and rechecking my younger son’s car seat safety with the Parents magazine article below.

As AAA members, we also had a great little write up in our monthly magazine Journey.

As AAA members we have access to additional online resources for properly checking car seats but I will tell you our secret in Seattle… Seattle Children’s Hospital!  We’ve went to their free car seat checkups a couple of times (every time you change a car or car seat you should have a specialist help you understand proper installation proceedures) and they are worth the wait!  These specialists are trained and certified and have resources (like huge binders with each car seat ever made!) to tap into, and many of them are nurses, doctors, teachers and concerned parents.

So during this week make sure you recheck your child’s safety in your car(s), it could save their life!

School Snacks

With the first week of school I decided to try out some of the chef recommended student lunch creations in the September Parents magazine article “Out of the Bag”.

We tried Tyler Florence’s sandwich (instead of higher calorie bagel) and instead of goat cheese we switch it with cream cheese, keep the jelly and cut it into a pretty star shape.  The ideas by Tyler Florence were also only part of our school lunch since we need more snacks and items for the growing boy we have (that LOVES to climb, run around and play outside all day) so I paired his inspiration with our traditional squeeze fruits and yogurt (organic of course).

As you can see I also traded the nectarine (not a favorite here) with super yummy grapes we picked up this week at Whole Foods and I cut the ends and front off the snap peas to make it easier (and more visually appealing to a toddler).

The next day we decided to try a creation by chef Josh Capon with a tuna sandwich, blueberries and again with the super yummy snap peas.

We paired this lunch with the great Pirate Booty classic and YoKids and GoGo Squeez, all from our Whole Foods store.

We have yet to try school snack ideas from Marcela Valladolid or Ming Tsai but can’t wait to create some more tasty treats this first school week!  The updated Ramen noodles recipe looks good as well as the egg salad sandwich.  These chefs creations definitely worked for this mommy and youngster’s appetite!

School Style

Ah… the first week of school with all the new kids, new classes, new teachers and new styles ready for fall and beyond.  I always LOVED getting my wardrobe ready for back to school as a teenager and even now rotate my wardrobe according to the upcoming seasons.  It seems so fresh and new to go through your clothes, donate or consign pieces you just didn’t like or wear and buy some new tidbits to revive your old favorites!

The same holds true when helping get my son’s get their wardrobes ready, especially for back to school.  My oldest son is pretty opinionated as a tween on his style… but he does well for himself so I usually say yes to his creations.

He doesn’t look very happy in this photo, but I think that’s the teen angst (and nervousness about a new school) showing there.  He has been extremely happy at school this week and mommy’s happy with his wardrobe choices of relaxed but stylish fashions!

Now the younger son is a bit easier since I mostly get to dress him myself still but even by 2 1/2 years old he is starting to show his preferences.  Such as this great T-shirt we picked up at a friends consignment store in Bellevue called Hopscotch.  We LOVE the variety of awesome choices at her store, always find something new and this T-shirt was a perfect choice for the first day of school at a great cost (and being environmental)!

As you can see the September Parents magazine back to school fashion article shows that skulls/crossbones and stripes still top little boys clothing choices this fall…

We all have been going with more stripes this year and as you can tell with the oldest son’s photo above the youngest is swayed by his school-style example…

Here are a couple of more examples of wardrobe choices from Parents magazine that we are trying out during our back to school week for 2012.  I’m not sure if the bow tie is going to fly with either boy, but the skateboard is already an accessory for us!  This article and it’s fall back-to-school styles definitely worked for this mommy!


*School Style UPDATE*

With a couple of weeks of school under our belts we wanted to share some more images of our school styles with everybody…


Big brother is happy with his back to school fashions and younger brother is showing off his fall-weather style for the camera!

2 School for Cool

This September’s Parents magazine has a great article about all the newest, coolest, back-2-school apps for the busy mom.

So I tried out a couple of their recommendations in preparation for school starting this week…

I started out by trying to download the “easy reader” app.

*SIDE NOTE – this app is listed under the name “OverDrive Media” and NOT “Easy Reader”*

I liked that we could tap into books from all over public and school libraries.  I downloaded it for our youngest since we are trying to encourage reading as much as possible and since he’s just a real fan of our iPhones… having multiple apps for him on our iPhones is great encouragement!  I searched one of my FAVORITE LIBRARIES of all time… the Seattle Public Library (which if you’ve never seen it is a MUST on your Seattle trip!  The architecture is so amazing that you have to explore every nook and cranny inside and don’t miss the “red floor”!)

and we found a TON of books to download to read, and that was just one library!!!  There are so many libraries to choose from, just list a city or a zip code and your off finding a new literary adventure!  This app is a MOMMY MUST HAVE!

For my oldest son I downloaded the “Digital Tutor” for help answering student’s homework questions (and which parent doesn’t need that now and again?!!)

*SIDE NOTE – this app is listed under the name “School A to Z” and NOT under “Digital Tutor”*

The app is set up nicely with easy icons to start with such as math, english, technology, spelling bee, etc.  I, of course, pick math first since that is the area that trips me up the most when remembering back 20 years to my horrible math classes with the mono-tone teacher… SNOOZE!

I start with Algebra which starts with an example and it gives options for a help sheet, a wiki page and more!  There are even videos (it will have a video icon next to the name if it has that option) to show you (and your student) how something’s done.  This app is definitely a MOMMY MUST HAVE!

So, check out the back to school apps recommended by Parents magazine and soon you’ll be 2 School for Cool!