Friday, May 1, 2009

Free Hallmark Mother's Day Cards Till May 4th!

Hallmark cards will send a personalized Mother's Day card in the mail to anyone for free till May 4th.

Click on this link and follow the instructions|10001|10051|-1|unHallmarkHome
Put in promotion code CARD4MOM. Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Make Owies Less Painful For Your Children- How To Make BOO BOO Wash Cloth BUNNIES

I was sorting through my daughter's drawers and realized that I haven't used half of the cute wash cloths that were given to us as baby gifts. My mother made these cute boo boo wash cloth bunnies with me when I was younger and they had a fun little plastic ice cube in the center to ease the pain of boo boos without the mess of wet dripping ice cubes. So I thought I would put my daughter's wash cloths to good use and maybe make a few gifts for my mom friends. The bunnies above in the pictures are just a few ideas of how to embellish the wash cloth bunnies. Some glue on googly eyes, pom poms for nose, eyes and tail and others stitch the eyes, mouth and add string whiskers so their children can't pull them off. They are all darling any way you choose to embellish them. Here are the basic steps on making a wash cloth bunny.

Items You Will Need:
1 small child size wash cloth (optional: You could stitch two wash cloths together and turn them inside out so the bunny looks like it has different colored lined ears)
1 small to medium rubber band
1 square plastic ice cube-(You can buy them on or find boo boo bunny replacement cubes on google)

Optional Items For Decorating Bunny:
small ribbon
fabric glue
1 tiny and 2 small pom poms for nose and eyes and a little bigger one for the tail
2 googly eyes
white string or embroidery thread for whiskers

Directions: Lay your washcloth flat on table and roll one corner to the center, then do the same to the opposite corner by rolling it to meet the other in the center. Now it looks like you have two wash cloth coils. Fold in half with the two coils on the outside. The ends will be your bunny ears. Grab the ends (bunny ears) and bend them straight upwards and then back about four or five inches in from the end this forms your bunny face. Place a rubber band snugly around the face about an inch back from the fold and then fluff out the ears.

Time to decorate your bunny. Glue or stitch on your eyes depending on what you are using ( googly eyes or tiny pom poms or embroidery thread), Then the nose ( small pom pom or embroidery thread stitches, it looks cute without a nose too). If you are adding whiskers then us your fine string or embroidery thread and make sure you tie little knots to secure it at the nose and at the end of each whisker to keep from unraveling or falling out.
Tie a small ribbon around it's neck and then glue or stitch on a little pom pom tail.

If you are making these as a gift, then here are some cute boo boo bunny poems you could include at this link-

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Smart Kitchen Items-Make your own chalkboard labeled glasses and containers

I bought these really fun water glasses, tumblers and a glass milk bottle/ water pitcher from Pier 1 last year and absolutely love them. My husband and I were always mixing up our cups/glasses and having to do a lot of dishes because we would forget who's glass was who's. These are great glasses to have at dinner parties for your guests to label their names on their glass! Unfortunately I was clumsy and I broke one of my water glasses doing the dishes this week and they have now been discontinued so I have to make my own. If anyone else whats to make these great water glasses or chalkboard labeled vases, jars or containers, this is all you have to do.

Items You Will Need:
Water Glasses (or glass item to be labeled)
Scotch Tape
Black Chalkboard Spray Paint (check craft stores or Art suppliers and home improvement, paint stores)

Box of Chalk Sticks (to label your glasses)

Take a clean water glass and mask out around a rectangular area on your glass, leaving the rectangle shape in the middle clear of tape. Put your water glass on a piece of cardboard and spray (in a well ventilated area) the center rectangle area with chalkboard spray paint. Let dry and then peel off the surrounding tape and you are done! It is so easy to do and chalkboard paint is dishwasher safe too! :)

SPA DATE NIGHT-Massage, Reflexology and Hot Rocks

There is nothing more relaxing then getting a rejuvenating massage. If you can afford a couples massage, than I would defiantly recommend that you and your spouse get one together for a fun date idea. If you can't, then I will give you some ideas and techniques that you can do for each other at home that are just as relaxing, romantic and therapeutic.

Preparing For Your SPA Night-

Choose Your Massage:
Decide what kind of massage you want to give your spouse. You could give them a full body massage with loations and essential oils, a hot rock massage, where you can heat up your massage rocks in a pot of water to be placed on the body (purchase these smooth flat rocks at nature stores, or any place that sells rocks for decorating or you may even have some medium flat smooth rocks in your garden you could clean and heat too.), then there are the reflexology foot and hand massages you could choose to do. I will go over the steps of a reflexology massage for you. There are some great books on body massage and hot rock massage you can get from your library or information online. Here is a link on how to give a hot rock massage- Here are some links to Reflexology charts for your foot and hand massages- They also put these charts on the bottom of socks and gloves that your spouse can ware, giving you an easy guide while you massage them. You can find these on

Music and Mood Preparations:
If you have some beautiful soothing instrumental music, then start with that. You can find some great massage music DVD's with piano and nature sounds found at: Target, Bed Bath and Beyond or Book Stores etc. Turn off all other distractions (phones) and prepare your home before your spouse gets home from a stressful day. Play the music, light your candles, sprinkle rose/flower petals, light a fire in your fireplace and dim the lights. If you are going to give your spouse a whole massage, then fill the bath with warm water and flower petals. If you are just doing hand or foot massage then prepare a large bowl of water with a flowers or petals to soak their feet in with a towel under the bowl and two other towels to dry feet after foot or hand bath as well as after massage to wipe down feet or hands of excess lotion/oils. Prepare a small bowl with water and petals for hand massage. Find some beautiful smelling soaps to cleans the parts of the body during the water baths and some beautiful smelling massage lotion or essential oils to apply during the massage.

Food For After Your Relaxing Massages:
Cut up and arrange some finger food on a nice plate: tropical fruit, melons, grapes, tangerine slices, and avocado, veggies; cubes or slices of cheese and your favourite chocolate treats. Prepare the beverages with glasses: Martinellies Cider or water with lemon slices. You will need some hydrating liquid for your spouse to replenish their body after the massage.

Massage Steps For Foot Reflexology:
Foot Bath: Begin the ritual by washing your partner’s feet, letting them soak for five minutes in the prepared water bowl with petals. Allow him or her to verbally unload the stresses of the day. Was with soap and dry the feet thoroughly. Have your partner recline on a bed, couch, or comfortable rug, supported by pillows. Prop up his or her feet on a cushion covered with a towel. Make sure you have adequate back support. To warm the feet, bend and flex them in all directions, rotating them at the ankles and squeezing them.  Be sensitive to maintaining a comfortable amount of pressure, as gentle work is also effective. 

Treatment: Warm the oil or lotion in your hands and apply it evenly, working the whole surface area. When you find tenderness, encourage your partner to breathe deeply. Press into these points with fingers and thumbs. Rotate on them gently and consistently until the tenderness has subsided. “Crunchy” sensations in the foot are associated with accumulated toxins needing to be eliminated. Work for as long or short a time as is comfortable; I recommend thirty minutes.

Focusing on the Reflex Points: Tension is one of the most powerful elements in a massage treatment. Begin with the tips of the toes, which are reflex points of the brain. The toes also house the eyes, ears, teeth, and sinuses, so these touches will wake up the senses. Massage the tops and sides of the feet, then around the ankles in slow circles and work up and down the inside edge of the feet to relax back pain. Stress and anxiety accumulate in the digestive tract. Focus on tenderness in the stomach, intestine and kidney/adrenal areas. The heel represents the pelvic and reproductive organs; stimulate gently. To finish, press the solar plexus points with your thumbs to relax breathing. Push in upon inhalation, release upon exhalation, and repeat three times, synchronizing your breath. End with slow strokes, and again dry your partner’s feet with a towel to wipe of any slippery excess. Let them relax a few minutes and give them water to drink before they get up.

Message Steps For Hand Reflexology:
Hand Bath: Sit your spouse on a comfy chair, in front of a small table with your prepared water bath. Soak hands in prepared water bath (on table) with petals for five minutes, sit on a chair facing your spouse and let your spouse relax and talk with you. Then wash hands with soap and pat dry with towel.

Treatment: Warm the oil or lotion in your hands and apply it evenly from palm to the fingertips and other side of hand. Press into points with thumbs and fingers working all reflexology points in center and sides of hand up to knuckle, joints and fingertips (Small circular motions). Interlock your fingers on one hand with your partners fingers and support both hands with your other hand at your partner's arm slightly above their wrist. Again be aware of tenderness and do just as you would for the foot massage tenderness points. Rotate wrist and hand back and forth towards you in a circular motion 3 times to relax wrist. Gently press their palm to yours and push their fingers and palm back (gently) away from you to stretch all joints, muscles and wrist parts. Release stretch and circle wrist and hand again. Gently squeeze and run your interlocked fingers up to the top of their fingertips. Unlock fingers and still supporting their wrist with one hand, take sides of tip of one of their fingers at top joint of their finger with your thumb and index finger to support finger. Gently move their finger in a figure 8 motion side to side. Repeat with other fingers. Massage top of hand from finger tips to top of hand and then back down and around the edges of their nails gently in small circular motions. End with slow strokes and then dry your spouses hands with a towel. Repeat on other hand and they give your partner time to sit quietly and relax again. Give them a glass of water to drink after the massage.

Enjoy a relaxing massage date night!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Medical, Food, Utilities and Financial Help For Low-Income or Unemployed Families

My friend Janay has helped me compile a list of Medical, Health, Food, Utility and Finical Help Programs for families with low incomes or who have recently become unemployed. Please pass this information on to any of your friends and family members who could use assistance.


Healthy Families Program- 
Healthy Families is low cost health care for children who do not qualify (make too much $) for Medi-Cal.  It used to only cost about $12/child/month- this is based on your income.  A recent statement by H.F. said they have enough funding for more children and there will not be a wait list. This link has a chart with the income guidelines for both Medi-Cal and Healthy Families- 

Access for Infants and Mothers- 
AIM is low-cost health care coverage for middle-income pregnant women who do not qualify for Medi-Cal, do not have insurance, or who have health insurance but their deductible or co-payment for maternity services is more than $500.  It covers your entire pregnancy, labor & delivery, and mother and baby for 60 days after.  The newborn baby may be automatically enrolled in the Healthy Families program unless baby is enrolled in employer-sponsored insurance. The cost of AIM is 1.5% of your annual income.  This fee covers everything!  No monthly premium, no co-pays, no hospital bills, etc.  Once you pay the 1.5%, you won't pay another penny for up to 60 days after baby is born. 
The link below shows the income guidelines to qualify for AIM-
*For both AIM and Healthy  Families you get to choose your health care provider from a list of providers available in the county.


United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services-
For all low income services: food, health and rural housing loans and grant services go to-

WIC-Women, Infants, and Children Food Nutrition Program
WIC gives federal grants to the states to distribute supplemental food supplies like meat and milk etc. with food stamps to help low-income pregnant, breastfeeding/non-breast-feeding postpartum women, and infants and children up to age 5 that are at risk nutritionally. To find out if you are eligible for this program click this link-

SNAP-Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-
The original Food Stamp Program name has now been changed to SNAP as of Oct. 2008. This program is like the WIC program but is designed for anyone with a low income who needs food assistance.
To find out if you are eligible for this food assistance program-


LIHEAP- Income Home Energy Assistance Program-
LIHEAP is a federally funded grant program given to the states to serve low income households who need assistance form their home energy bills. LIHEAP has been operating since 1982, providing low income households who have a high energy burden, the presence of a vulnerable/disabled individual in the home, people at risk of utility shut off and some states even offer weatherization improvements, utility equipment repair and replacement, budgeting counseling and more. To find out if you can apply for assistance check this link and find your local representative by state-


California Unemployment Compensation-
If You have lost your job, file for unemployed as soon as possible. This will help you get financial assistance from the government till you are employed again. Find out how to file for unemployment here at this link-

(*If you are you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and have lost your job and are struggling even with assistance from these programs listed above, please talk to your Bishop about church welfare programs that may assist you temporarily. Check out your local LDS Employment Agency to help you with your resume, networking and looking for new job placement. All low income and unemployed families should find out if their local ward provides free bread day- Usually located at one member's home once a week for free bread and groceries that the grocery stores have distributed to their neighborhoods. If you don't have this program than go to your local grocery store to find out if you can start one in your ward to help your struggling members and friends.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Teaching your family about nature and wilderness survival

How familiar are you and your children with the edible and medicinal plants in your area? My mother felt this knowledge was important to teach her children. Every walking path, biking trail, marina or natural preserve trail I have ever walked with my mother growing up, was a way for her to share her love and knowledge of nature and wilderness plant survival. Since she repeated it every time we went walking and quizzed us on it, I have never forgotten it and I hope I can do the same for my children one day. I hope that this blog post will inspire you to take your children for fun nature walks and educate them about the food and medicine that the wild provides. Your children will love taking nature walks with you. You could even do this for a Family Home Evening Activity and have them collect and label what they find or turn it into a fun scavenger hunt. You could put together a picture printout or book of the plants in your area in your emergency back pack for reference and the cook book I will mention at the bottom using wild plants. This would be a fun introduction to teaching your children about emergency preparedness and also food storage. If you do plan on tasting some of these, I would caution you NOT to test any plants that are close to car fumed road ways, contaminated water, or in areas that have been sprayed with pesticides. I also recoment that you teach them about the plants that are poisonouse and shouldn't be touched or eaten. Good way to get your kids prepared for camping or summer camp too! I have posted a very helpful link about wilderness survival for further reference and also a list to the nutrition/ medical remedies of more plants below.

Can you identify these plants? Here are a just a few edible and medicinal plants pictured above, that grow on the trails in the East Bay of San Francisco, CA to get you started.

Dandelions-These little plants are packed it calcium and a whole bunch of vitamins that help your liver and other systems of the body. The leaves can be boiled and eaten and the yellow flower blossom can be dipped into a flour tempura batter and cooked. The Mormon pioneers used the root to make herbal tea and coffee which helped stimulate the digestive system. Check out this link below for more information on the root and recipes. My mother even makes a dandelion pie. If you want to try it let me know and I will send you the recipie! :)

Fennel- You can take the seeds of this plant that taste a bit like black licorice and cook them with fish or mix the seed with butter for a flavored butter spread on bread. Fennel seeds help detox and remove waste form your body.

Wild Berries- Wild berries are packed with Vitamin C and were eaten in the old days to prevent scurvy. Black berries and raspberries are very dominant here to eat. Use as you would cultivated berries, Just watch out for the prickly thorns!

Slippery Red Elm or Soft Elm- Slippery elm has been used in healing salves for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, and skin inflammation. The bark can be made into a tea to relieve coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems. Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines; it may also contain antioxidants that can help relieve inflammatory bowel conditions, Crohn's disease. To make the tea, pour 2 cups boiling water over 2 tablespoons of powdered bark and then steep for 3 - 5 minutes.

Wild Mustard Plant- You can boil the leaves of this plant and eat them like the dandelion and the seeds can be used for a spice like cultivated mustard is. If you smash the seeds you can make a poultice to tease the skin strengthening the blood circulation. They use this plant for loss of appetite, digestive weakness, strengthening metabolism and Rheumatic pain

Pine Needles- Are high in Vitamin C. You can chew on the needles for instant Vitamin C and pine freshness or make a herbal tea by steeping the needles in boiling water. Has been known to help in cancer treatments and other medical ailments. Not good for pregnant women though.

Mint leaves- Can be made into a herbal tea, seasoning in cooking and you can even candy the leaves with your children for fun or use the candied leas as a garnish on desserts. Chop up both the leaves and the stems. Use about a half cup of mint to 4 cups of boiling water. Don't boil the mint, but instead pour boiling water over it and let steep for at least 5 minutes. You can also clean the leaves with water, pat dry and chop them up in a salad for a fresh flavor.

Plantain- Crush the leaves and to draw the moisture to the surface of the leaf and then apply it on bruises, stings and cuts. The leaves can also be made into a tea as well to relieve your soar throat during a cold.

Red Clover- The blossoms can be dried and made into a herbal tea to relieve an upset stomach, reduce blood pressure, bone density, help women's menopause symptoms and also fertility since it containes an estrogen-like substance in the blossom.

Miners lettuce- Named for the gold mining 49'ers in California who used it as a salad to prevent scurvy as well. Eat miners lettuce raw in salads. Throw in a few wild mustard or wild radish leaves and flowers, A bit of filaree and chickweed, add an avocado and a grated carrot, dethorned milk-thistle leaves, toss with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar or lemon juice, add salt and pepper to taste, feta cheese if your not vegan, and you'll have one of the best salads ever.

White Willow Tree- You can chew on a twig bark of a white willow tree for pain relief. The bark contains salicin which the body will then turn it into salicylic acid that acts like aspirin. Just don't eat it if you are using aspirin, Ibuprofen or other types of blood thinning medications or pain relievers.

Plant and wilderness survival links:

Check out the cook book Wild in the Kitchen by Ronna Magelon for some more recipes at your library or bookstore.

*For more nature and plant fun with your children, check out the Edible Schoolyard garden in Berkely, CA. The Heather Farms Park Gardens in Walnut Creek, CA have a 5 Senses garden your kids can go to and identify different plants. Also the small dog park off of Paso Nogal in Pleasant Hill, CA has little tags to identify plants and trees on the paths for your children to become familiar with. (check out my earlier post on Fun things to do with kids in the bay area for additional natural places to visit) Check your local college for Nature courses too. Diablo Valley College in Pleasant HIll, CA also offers a Nature Study course of the wildlife in the area. It is a fun class for adults!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Make Plate Settings Special With Napkin Folding/Origami

When I was 9 years old, my parents decided they were going to take my brother's, sister and I to my mother's birth place for a family vacation (England). They wanted us to learn to eat European style so they sat us down one night at dinner to a nicely set table and instructed us how to use our napkin, fork, and knife etc. I thought it was such a fun dinner and ever since then I have loved place setting, the ways other cultures eat and set their table settings and fun party place settings. I know a lady who has a new table setting with beautifully folded napkins on dinner plates set out each night before her family sits down to dinner the next night at their dining room table. It is a great way to keep your dining room table clean and clear of junk piles if you always have it set for dinner ahead of time. Also saves you time setting the table while you are frantically cooking dinner if it is already set ahead of time. Napkin folding doesn't need to be done just for parties or formal events either. If you let your children set the table, then teach them some of these fold or get them printed/picture instructions on how to fold fun napkins. This is a great way to have fun doing chores and also learning to set the table properly. Here are a few ideas on how to use your fun folded napkins for everyday meals or different events.

The Shirt and Tie Origami Fold-
Use this for a Father's Day meal, father, son or grandpa's Birthday, missionary farewell/homecoming/or when missionaries come for dinner, a son's baptism dinner/ordination/baby boy blessing lunch or special date night dinner for you husband/boyfriend.

The Rose Folds, Water Lily, Swan, or Heart Shaped Fold-
Use this for a Mother's Day meal, mother, daughter or grandmother's Birthday, girls baptism/blessing or YW accievement, little girls tea party, bridal/baby showers, Valentines Day or a romantic dinner with your spouse/date.

Candle Fold, Crown Fold, or Carnal Hat Fold-
Use for Christmas, Birthdays

Turkey Fold-
For Thanksgiving or pilgrim party harvest party, child's birthday party at Thanksgiving

Bunny Fold-
Use for Easter, little girls party, spring garden party, or baby shower

Fish Fold, Bird of Paradise Fold or Ship Fold-
Use for fish/Pirate boat theme Birthday (check out my jello cup post for a fun dessert too), fish friday dinner, tropical theme party, or at the beach house. Don't forget a button for the fishy eye.

Pocket Napkin Fold or Place Card Napkin Fold-
Use the pocket napkin fold with your utensils or print out your menu in a fun font on card stock paper and insert into the pocket fold of the napkin on the plate. If you have a child who is learning their ABC's, then use a small fridge magnet letter placed where the center edge fold is for some fun and learning. You could even use the letters of everyone's first initial to mark their place at the table as well by using the magnets or cut out lettering. If you are doing a fun party then you could fill the pocket with a fun little toy, flower or item with If you use the Place Card Napkin Fold then this is a great place to teach your children their names or for guests to find their setting.

Here are some websites with instructions on how to fold these fun napkins I mentioned and more:

Go to your local library to find more napkin folding books or purchase this fun napkin origami fold book (pictured above)

Napkin Origami- Edited by Brian Sawyer