Friday, August 31, 2012

Combat the school dropout crisis

It is no surprise that I have spent most of my lifetime dedicating my time to community service. Then I had kids, and my commitment to the community slowed down. Not that I do not want to do as much community service, but just that my focus in life right now is on raising three young children to become upstanding citizens.

I attempt to bring my children along with me to do community service, but times have changed a lot since the 80's. When I was a kid, children were welcomed into community service programs with welcome arms - not so much in this day in age. Most organizations will not allow children to commit their time until they are middle school age. We have found other ways to do community service together like donating to the OC Rescue mission, holding canned food drives and reading stories to the children at the Ronald McDonald House.

Last month I attended an event, with P&G GIVE Education that focused around the crisis of kids dropping out in schools right here in the United States. Every 26 seconds a child makes the decision to drop-out of school. How frightening is that? I knew right away that it was my calling to help.

Every 26 seconds a young person drops out of high school in the U.S.

I showed all the video from the press conference with my husband, and we made the decision that he was going to become a mentor. A mentor to a child that does not have a Father in his life. He was an exceptional mentor to our foster child who lived with us two years ago, and truly helped to shape him into a lovely young man. My husband cannot wait to start helping to mentor a boy and help stop one more child from becoming another statistic.

Do not have time to mentor? There are a lot of other ways to help!

The easiest way to help is to "like" the P&G GIVE Education Facebook page. They will donate $1 to Communities in Schools (CIS) for every "like" that they get. It could not get any easier!

The second way to help is to purchase $25 worth of select P&G products, and you will get a $5 rebate by mail. By doing this, P&G will donate $5 to CIS on your behalf. Most of these products are items that you are more than likely already purchasing. It just takes that one extra step to help the school drop-out crisis by sending in the rebate form.

Want to become a mentor?

CIS can help! The CIS network works with 2,700 schools and approximately 13,000 community partners, including Matthew McConaughey's foundation J.K. Livin. CIS serves nearly 1.2 million young people and their families every year.

Matthew McConaughey founded his foundation to help empower high school students in inner-city schools to lead active lives and make healthy lifestyle choices.

Thank you for your support in helping stop the crisis of school dropouts.

Disclosure: We were provided with car transportation to the press event. All of our thoughts and opinions are of our own.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

World's Easiest Weeknight Dinner Recipe

Let's face it, we are all busy. After a busy day, dinner is usually the last thing we want to do.

I think that most moms can relate to this..

Never fear moms! I have found the world's easiest, healthiest recipe ever! Dinner will be ready without barely lifting a spoon.


  • Pork tenderloin
  • Trader Joe's Island Soyaki Sauce
  • Brown Rice

Put the pork tenderloin and sauce into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Serve over a bed of brown rice. That is it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Clay Bread Baking

Every since my oldest came down with severe food allergies, I started reading food labels. The food labels with the most disturbing ingredients that we were eating on a daily basis was - bread!

While I thought that the bread I was purchasing was made of flour, salt, water and yeast - I was sorely mistaken. Most store bought bread is loaded with soy, preservatives and chemicals to help give it a shelf life. While I thought that baking homemade bread was such a difficult task, I quickly learned that it is one of the easiest foods to prepare for my family. Plus, nothing can beat the smell in a house after baking a fresh loaf of bread. 

I have been making bread (well the dough) in a bread machine for the past six years. I add all the ingredients, let the machine do the work, and then bake the bread dough in my household oven. This weekend I attempted to make bread a little different - in a clay baking dish.

I have heard that clay is a great way to bake homemade bread. Since I had already made our weekly bread, I made a cinnamon coffee bread from the provided recipe booklet. It was super easy, delicious and just the perfect texture. The entire loaf of bread was gone within an hour into the tummies of my happy children.

I used a Nature's Oven by Reco (The Original Clay Baker). The porous clay increased the flavor and enables the food to retain its natural nutrients and vitamins. It was easy to clean, and came with its own set of recipes. 

Disclosure: We were provided with a sample bread baker from Nature's Oven. All our thoughts and opinions are of our own.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Best Beef Stroganoff Recipe

I grew-up with my Mom making the best beef stroganoff. Even now that I am an adult, I still call my mom often begging her to make me some of my favorite dish. Just like when I was a kid, I still don't like when my mommy tells me "no" so I challenged myself to make my first dish of beef stroganoff on my own. 

I made this recipe with a combination of what I witnessed my mom putting into her dish, James Beard and Paula Deen. The mixture of the three recipes made the best beef stroganoff recipe I have ever had.

  • 1 package of egg noodles
  • 1 pound of stew meat
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of beef broth
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/8 tea. pepper
  • 1/8 tea. salt
  • 1/8 tea. of garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter

Cut the meat into small pieces. Mix with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Dust lightly with flour.

After melting one tablespoon of butter in a pan, brown the meat. After the meat has been browned, remove from the pan.

Heat the second tablespoon of butter in the pan. Cook the onions until they are clear and translucent. Then return the meat to the pan.

In a small corner of the dish mix the wine and beef broth in the pan. Slowly add the flour while whisking it until thick. Once it is thick, add the sour cream - and mix well. Serve over a bed of egg noodles and enjoy!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back-to-school lunch Recipes

Back-to-school is merely weeks away, and gone will be the afternoons of relaxing at home and eating home-cooked lunches.  But, just because your kids have to trade in their placemat for a brown bag or lunchbox, doesn’t mean they can’t still eat like the princes and princesses they are.  So this year, toss the PB&J aside and prepare just as easy and delicious meals for dinner that make mouth-watering meals for your child’s next days’ lunch, without any need to re-heat!

Maria Zoitas, Creator of Westside Market NYC has offered this quick and easy recipes for us to share with you! Enjoy!

·         2 cups chopped cooked chicken
·         ½ cup cubed red pepper
·         ¼ cup chopped cilantro
·         ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
·         1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
·         4 8-inch flour tortillas
·         4 red leaf or Boston lettuce leaves

1.       Combine chicken, tomato, cilantro and hot sauce in a medium bowl and toss well
2.       Add avocado and toss again
3.       Divide chicken mixture among tortillas and top with lettuce leaves
4.       Roll up and cut in half.

·         2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
·         1 small eggplant, cubed
·         1 small zucchini, cubed
·         1 red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
·         2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
·         1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
·         Salt and pepper
·         1 cup broccoli florets, blanched
·         1 9-ounce package fresh cheese-filled tortellini, cooked and drained according to package directions

1.       Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet
2.       Add eggplant and zucchini and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
3.       Add red pepper and cook 1 minute
4.       Whisk together ¼ cup oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in large bowl
5.       Add tortellini, broccoli, and cooked vegetable mixture
6.       Toss well
7.       Chill before serving

Calling all Lego Masters

Are your kids masters of the legos? Maybe you? Lego the Motion Picture, is looking for master builders to be featured in their upcoming new film. Get out your box of Lego's and start creating magic!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Love Jar

There is such a short time that we have with our kids before they grow-up. I was watching my kids grow so fast, that I wanted to spend every second of the summer with them. I decided not to enroll them in any summer camps. It sounded like a good idea in the beginning, until the sibling fighting began. Yes, we did get extremely close. With closeness also comes bickering and sibling spats.

Instead of punishing the kids for the fighting, I decided to start rewarding them for their good behavior.We started the "Love Jar." I sat down together with the kids and made this special jar. Whenever the kids feel that their sibling has made them feel "loved," then they will put a marble in the jar. When the jar overflows we will celebrate their love with a special treat of their choice.

Friday, August 17, 2012

End of Summer is near

When the sun comes up, my kids run outside to play. They have been riding bikes, swimming, running, climbing and playing in the dirt. Enjoying summer the way I did as a kid. I bought the kids summer shoes at the beginning of the summer, and this is what they now look like as we prepare to buy their back-to-school shoes. 

This picture is a sign that either my kids have had a killer summer, or they are really poorly made shoes. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - The Challenges of Parenthood

Have you ever had one of those days where the kids wake-up ready to test your every parenting skill? 

Today was one of those days for me. The kids tested, had tantrums, and it was a tough day of parenting for my husband and I. Even though they gave me a run for my money, and I am dog tired - I wouldn't change it for the world.

I love these three kids more than anything in the world.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Helping the Homeless Children in Orange County #Champions4Kids #Bagitforward

It is almost time for the kids to go back-to-school. It is hard to believe that some children do no have the school supplies that they need to start school, but the reality is that there are too many. The kids and I purchased new Elmer's school supplies to donate to children who need them the most (see our shopping trip here) - the homeless children living in Orange County as part of their SIMPLE service project.

One of our favorite charities in Orange County is the Orange County Rescue Mission. They house many homeless children in Orange County at their various housing facilities. The kids helped me to package up the Elmer's school supplies in colorful containers for them to be delivered to the different housing facilities.

When we learned that Elmer's was working with Champions for Kids to help encourage families to donate school supplies to children in need in their communities, we were eager to participate. Champions for kids is working to help give all children the resources they need to thrive.

This morning we drove to the donation drop-off location. The kids were so excited to be able to doing something help other children living right in our community.

When we pulled in front of the Rescue Mission, they jumped right out of the car to tell them they were there to help.

While we were there the children talked with the volunteers about different ways they can help.

The kids started planning a new donation drive to help the Orange County Rescue Mission.

Has your family done anything to help give back in your community before?

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Champions for Kids #CBias #SocialFabric

Monday, August 13, 2012

Odeya Rush Interview "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" #TimothyGreen

Last week I took the kids to the Disney Animation Studios to meet one of the stars from "The Odd Life of Timothy Green," Odeya Rush. Odeya Rush plays Joni Jerome, Timothy's best friend in her first feature-film debut. 

When we went into the room with Odeya to start the interview, the kids had a little secret planned. They had worked on a long series of questions for Odeya, and took control of the interview. As a writer, I was so very proud of my kids during their interview.

After the interview, the kids and I enjoyed walking around the Walt Disney Animation Studio lot with our friend Desiree ( and her children.

Tyler could not take his eyes off of the Walt Disney statue.

The kids loved Timothy's leaves in the movie so much that they collected special "Disney leaves" while we walked around the lot.

We recommend bringing the family to see, "The Odd Life of Timothy Green" coming out on August 15th.

Disclosure: We were invited to the studio lot to interview Odeya Rush. All our thoughts and opinions are of our own.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

LINCOLN First Look Image

Photo courtesy of Disney Animation Studios

Well I missed doing a "Wordless Wednesday" post with all of you let's just pretend it is still Wednesday because this picture made me speechless when I first saw it. Maybe it's because my ten year old is a major history buff, or because this is such a sign of the amazing talent of Steven Spielberg.

This is Daniel Day Lewis in the title role of the upcoming movie that focuses on the last four month of President lincoln's life.

"Our movie is really about a working leader who must make tough decisions and get things done in the face of the overwhelming opposition," Spielberg said.

LINCOLN will be opening in a limited release on November 9th, expanding on November 16, 2012.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Elmer's #Bagitforward #Champions4Kids Twitter Party - 8/16

Come join us as we talk about the Elmer's Bag-it-Forward and Champions for Kids program!

What: Elmer's #Bagitforward #Champions4KidsTwiter Party

When: Thursday, August 16, 2012 1-2pm EST

Where: On Twitter using the hashtags #BagitForward and #Champions4Kids on the custom tweet grid link

Prizes: (3) $25 Walmart gift cards and (1) $100 Walmart gift card

Who to follow: Host @GlitterfulFelt - Prize patrol @Mamaluvsbooks

Twitter Party Legal Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. VOID WHERE TAXED, PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Subject to Official Rules. Open only to residents of the United States.

Enter by RSVPing for the Twitter party on the link above, be actively participating in the party and are using the hashtag #BagitForward. To be eligible, entries must be received by 1:55 p.m. EST except that mail in entries must be mailed separately and postmarked by August 12, 2012. To enter without purchase, hand write your name, completed address, age and telephone number on a 3”x5” card and mail it to Collective Bias, 205 S. Main Street, Ste. 1, Bentonville, AR 72712.

Prizes will be limited to (3) $25 Walmart gift cards and (1) $100 Walmart Gift Card and will be given away every 15 minutes during the 1 hour duration of the party on August 16, 2012. The grand prize of (1) $100 Walmart gift card to 1 winner will be given away at the close of the party. All winners will be chosen using from the RSVP link and winners must be present and participating in the party using the hashtag #BagitForward at the time that they are drawn as a winner. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Winner will be notified via Twitter @ message by 
@MamaLuvsBooks  during the party on August 16, 2012 and must respond to @MamaluvsBooks within 5 minutes of being selected to claim their prize. All entries will be eligible for any unclaimed prizes after the close of the Twitter party via random drawing held on -two weeks after- .

To obtain a copy of the Official Rules, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to Collective Bias, 205 S. Main Street, Ste. 1, Bentonville, AR 72712.

SPONSORS: Collective Bias, 205 S. Main Street, Ste. 1, Bentonville, AR 72712

All winners will be chosen using from the RSVP link and winners must be present and participating in the party at the time that they are drawn as a winner.  There is a limit of 1 (one) prize per household during the party.

Elmer's Champions for Kids Simple Service Project #Bagitforward #Champions4Kids

One of our favorite things to do together as a family is participate in service projects around our community. When we heard about the Elmer's and Champions for Kids simple service project, we were anxious to participate.

Champions for Kids are helping to ensure that no child be left without food or the resources they need to grow. Since one of our favorite local charities is the Orange County Rescue Mission, we decided to create back-to-school kits for the homeless children that are currently living at the mission. The Orange County Rescue Mission is currently housing more than 55 homeless infants and children at their transitional living facilities.

Homeless child living at the Village of Hope - Photo courtesy of The Orange County Rescue Mission
The kids and I went to Walmart to get supplies to create back-to-school kits, for the homeless children currently living at the Orange County Rescue Mission traditional living facilities. We were able to get a lot of Elmer's school supplies with Walmart's already low prices.

We purchased a lot of glue, pencils and some of the pre-packaged Champions for Kids school supply backpacks.

The Champions for Kids pre-made school supply backpacks come with all the school supplies that a child needs to have a good start to the school year, plus $35.55 in money saving coupons.

We can't wait to start putting together special care packages for the homeless children at the Orange County Rescue Mission. The kids are also going to be running a school supply drive on the street to collect more school supplies to donate. We look forward to updating you on the progress of our simple service project next week!

Enjoy seeing the pictures of our shopping trip for our Bag it Forward school supplies in our Google Plus story.

Learn more about Champions for Kids on their Twitter and Facebook page. Or on the Elmer's Twitter and Facebook page.

  • I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Champions for Kids #CBias #SocialFabric”

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