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A New Twist on Dinner Rolls/Biscuits

We’re officially at the 2 week mark: meaning exactly 2 weeks from today is Thanksgiving, already (can you believe it?). If you’re doing the cooking this year that means you’re already getting revving up; stocking up supplies, taking final head counts, and looking for any last minute add-ons. I’m going to add a new recipe idea here and there to see if we can’t help inspire and entice you to steal the show with a new flavor or two. Today I found a fabulous new take on traditional dinner rolls: Brie and Chive biscuits.

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for surface work
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ¾ cup of buttermilk (you can make your own by combining a cup of whole milk or heavy cream with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Stir them together, let sit for 5-10 minutes, and you’re good to go.)
  • 6 ounces of brie, cut up into ½ inch pieces, including the rind
  • 6 teaspoons of cold butter, cut up into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh, chopped chives

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine all of your dry ingredients in a bowl and stir until blended. Add in your butter and using a pastry blender cut until your mixture gets crumbly. Add in your brie pieces and chives, and then toss to combine. Add in your buttermilk and stir until absorbed (don’t over mix).

Lightly flour your work surface and transfer your dough to it. Knead it gently a few times to bring it together. Gently spread out your dough until it’s about 1 inch thick. Use a floured 2 inch cookie cutter or  small glass to cut out 16 biscuits (reshaping your scrap dough and re-flouring as needed). Place on your baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes. 

Posted on Nov 13 2014 11:10AM
By LIFamilies

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Baby Bare Newborn and Baby Photography Special Offer

I just found this special offer being hosted by Baby Bare Newborn and Baby Photography and had to share!!



Right now offering a free newborn mini-session to 5 LIFamilies subscribers!! 

You must be due anytime between now and end of November.

To get a free newborn mini-session, do these three things:

1. like our Facebook page 

2. share the page with your friends

3. COMMENT here AND on the page that you did so! 

FIVE mommies will be picked out for a free mini-session!! 

Go ahead, you can start doing that now :) 

Mini-session details:

Newborn Session in Newborn Studio
Props and accessories
Edited Images in color and B&W

Posted on Nov 11 2014 11:37AM
By LIFamilies

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Paper Pumpkin Craft

Gearing up for Thanksgiving, it’s important to still have a couple fall crafts to decorate your home, especially if you’re hosting this year. It’s far to easy to skip from Halloween straight to Christmas: Thanksgiving is becoming a forgotten holiday! To keep the spirit alive spend a little time preparing with your little ones or loved ones. Here’s a great little 3D paper pumpkins project that works as a mantel decoration or centerpiece element.

You'll need:

  • Book pages
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Short sticks for stems

Start by cutting out 16 – 20 circles/ovals that you’ll be using to create your pumpkin. Cut them all the same size (whatever size you’d like your pumpkin to be). Fold your circle/ovals in half with the side you want showing in the center. Glue one folded half to the next folded circle. Do the same for all of your pieces until you glue the last halved circle to the first. Push your stick gently down the middle for a stem. 

(Image source)

Posted on Nov 11 2014 9:22AM
By LIFamilies

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A Turkey Cheat Sheet

So we’re officially beyond Halloween and on to November. I get “little kid on Christmas” giddy just thinking about the Thanksgiving and holiday prep to come! Yes, I know, I’m a holiday addict and I should probably head to TRA (Turkey Roasters Anonymous) but I haven’t gotten to the “accepting I have a problem” stage yet! Anyway, like we started, it’s November and holiday preparations are likely already underway in your home (or at least in your head). To help you along the way I figured I’ll post up some simple recipes and cheat sheets to help keep your Thanksgiving Day and beyond as simple and peaceful as possible! What better what to start out the thanksgiving countdown than with a Turkey cheat sheet?

How big of a turkey do you need?

It is suggested that you figure 1 ¼ pounds of turkey per guest. Of course, the majority of your guests aren’t going to eat a full 1 ¼ lbs. of turkey, but after waste and bones that equals out to more than enough for your guests and leftovers.

How long will it take your turkey to thaw in the refrigerator?

You’ll want to allow a full 24 hours to thaw per 5 lbs. of turkey. So if you have a 15-16 lb. turkey, your best bet is to have it in the fridge defrosting by Sunday night.

What if you want or need to thaw your turkey quicker?

You can use a sink with a stopped, lobster pot, or cooler to defrost the turkey with cold water. You’ll fill until submerged and then change the water every 30 minutes. This method is faster, but it’s still time consuming. It still takes about 6 hours for a 12 pound turkey, so give yourself enough time.

Are you brining the turkey?

You can brine the turkey as it defrosts in the refrigerator, ½ cup kosher salt to 1 gallon of water. If you’re brining the thawed bird (for 24 hours or less) use 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water. The turkey must be kept below 40 degrees, though! You can also add any other flavorings to taste: cloves, rosemary, orange slices, bay leaves, garlic, onions, lemons, etc.

Dry curing or pre-salting?

You can also use a dry curing, or dry rub of sorts, the last day or two before roasting. Use a ½ cup of kosher salt per pound of turkey, and any other seasonings that you desire (salt and cracked pepper corns are a simple and delicious option). Spread over the skin and into all crevices of the bird. It’ll look like too much salt if you’ve never done it before, but it’s not. Place the turkey uncovered on a cookie sheet back into the fridge for the last one to two days. This also helps to dry out the skin so that it’ll crisp in the oven.

Do you stuff or truss the bird?

If you’re going to the perfect, most moist turkey that anyone has ever had…then no. With trussing the bird, you keep it together picture perfect, but it will take longer to cook the legs thoroughly. With stuffing the bird you really need to make sure to cook it long enough that the stuffing has reached the safe, 165-170 degrees all the way through. Both may cause your breast meat to dry out. Your best bet is to let the bird lie without trussing and stuff it with aromatics (such as lemons, oranges, onions, garlic, etc.) instead.

Roasting the actual turkey?

My favorite method is low and slow, starting at 450 degrees for the first 30-45 minutes, and then turning the oven back to 325 for about 12-15 minutes per pound. You can also roast at a high 425 degrees for 1 ½ - 2 ½ hours (depending on the size of the bird). Either way, use a meat thermometer to check multiple sections of the bird at the end of your time period to see if it’s really done. You want at least 165 degrees to be safe, I usually aim for 170.

To baste or not to baste?

Nope! All you’re really doing when you baste is letting heat out and moistening the skin so it stays flabby, rather than crispy. Your flavoring is in your dry rub, any herb mixture that you chose to run under the skin before roasting, and your aromatic stuffing.

Must it rest?

Absolutely! Once your turkey is up to temperature, remove it from the oven and allow it to rest, tented with tinfoil, for 20-30 minutes. This will help it retain its juiciness. 

Posted on Nov 6 2014 9:51AM
By LIFamilies

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Adult Halloween Concoctions

Halloween isn't just a favorite holiday for kiddies. Adults should be able to get a little spooky and enjoy Halloween, too (especially with it falling on a Friday this year)! Whether you’re going out partying, hosting a little soiree of your own, or just enjoying an evening of tricks and treats at home, here are a couple ghoulishly fun Halloween cocktails to help you keep in the “spirit” of things. ;-)

Start with a Ghostbuster. It is super simple, sweet and fruity, but it looks disgusting: what more could you want in a Halloween cocktail?! You'll need:

~ 1 ounce of peach schnapps

~ 1 ounce of melon liqueur

~ 3-5 drops of Irish cream

Shake the peach schnapps and melon liqueur in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail/martini glass. Add the drops of Irish cream for effect.

What fun is Halloween without candy corn? Here’s a Candy Corn Martini that'll provide a yummy adult alternative. You'll need the following:

~ a chilled martini glass

~ 1 ½ ounces of coffee-flavored liqueur

~ 1 ½ ounces of white chocolate liqueur

~ 1 ounce of orange colored and flavored vodka (such as UV)

~ ½ ounce of triple sec

In your martini glass, pour your liqueurs in order over the backside of a spoon.

Most of the “brains” drinks I find are questionable concoctions that need to be shot quickly before they curdle…no thanks. Here’s a fun one, Zombie Brains, that is tasty to drink and look at without, you know, all of the curdling.

~ 2 ounces of UV Salty Watermelon vodka

~ 1 ounce of triple sec

~ 1 tablespoon of sugar

~ 1 splash of lime juice

~ 4 large ice cubes

Combine your of your ingredients but the 4 ice cubes in a blender full of ice. Pour over the extra ice cubes in a glass and enjoy.

One last phantasmic concoction to try this Halloween is the lovely Vampire’s Kiss.

~ 1 ½ ounces of Midori

~ 1 ounce of blood orange vodka

~ 2 ounces of pineapple juice

~ ½ ounce of cream

~ grenadine

Combine all ingredients except the grenadine in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass full of ice. Drizzle grenadine around the glass for a bloody effect. 

Posted on Oct 29 2014 1:40PM
By LIFamilies

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Halloween Safety!

With just a couple days until the Halloween holiday, I thought it was a great time for a quick list of safety tips to just act as a reminder. I know, we all know how to keep our kids safe and sound, but it’s good to just be refreshed once in a while! Here’s a quick should do be for the big evening of door-to-door (if you trick-or-treat).

  • Be sure to have a big healthy meal before heading out to your festivities. This keeps everyone’s tummies full and will cut down on incessant candy chomping (especially candy that’s not checked).
  • Make sure costumes are seeable and safe to wear. Many masks have been updated so that they’re easy to see out of, but not all. If your little one’s costume is topped off with a mask, be sure that they can see. If not, have them wear it on top of their heads or cut bigger eye holes. Also, if the costume is dark and not easily seen, add some reflective tape to the both the front and back. This will make it easier for them to be seen by drivers.
  • Be sure to bring glow sticks or flash lights (with brand new batteries). This will also help make sure you’re seen, as well as keep everyone able to see. You don’t want any falls or accidents as the light starts to fade.
  • If you're handing out candy, be sure to clear your porch of any excess decorations or clutter for the night. You want to make sure that your little visitors are safe as they come to visit you.
  • Try to use battery operated candles for your jack-o-lanterns. This will cut down any risk of fire, especially with trick-or-treaters coming and going from your porch.
  • Check all of the candy and goodies received throughout the evening. Be sure to check for any open packages or unsealed items. Scary things have happened so you always want to be on the safe side! You'll also want to make sure all treats are food allergy friendly (I know, it’s a “duh!”) as well!
  • If you want all of the fun without all of the candy, look for participating "trade in your candy" programs. Some companies are offering a program for children to trade in candy for toys and trinkets in return. If you're interested, Pediatric Dentistry of Suffolk County is a good example, with one of their own that they offer through November 10!

Posted on Oct 27 2014 2:11PM
By LIFamilies

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Chalkboard Pumpkins

I found a super simple pumpkin idea that’ll not only add a unique touch to your Halloween décor, but also last through a good portion of the rest of your Fall! Instead of carving all of your pumpkins this year, why not make a chalkboard pumpkin or two?! With a chalkboard pumpkin you can have ever changing Jack-o-Lantern faces and welcome signs galore! Now, I would use a real pumpkin (I also have many to spare since I work on a pumpkin farm), but you can buy and repurpose plastic, craft store pumpkins, too! All you need are:

  • Your pumpkin or pumpkins that’re getting turning into chalkboards
  • Chalkboard Paint
  • A paint brush
  • Newspaper
  • Chalk!

Cover your table/surfaces with newspaper to keep them safe, weighing it down with stones if you're painting outside (so that the paper doesn't move or blow away). Make sure that your pumpkins are clean and dirt free. Allow to dry if you're washing them right before painting. Place your pumpkin in the center of the paper and paint the entire surface that you can reach. Allow the paint to dry for 1-2 hours, and then roll the pumpkin on its side to paint any places that were missed. After allowing that to dry another 1-2 hours apply touch up paint to anywhere that has pumpkin showing through. Once complete you should allow your pumpkin/pumpkins to dry thoroughly overnight before applying any chalk decorations. When you want to change your decorations a damp cloth works great as an eraser so that you can change your pumpkin’s look over and over again!

(Image Source)

(Image Source)

Posted on Oct 22 2014 10:54AM
By LIFamilies

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A Halloween Reading List for Adults

Halloween isn't just a favorite holiday for the kiddies anymore. I still get just as excited for the season as I ever did, maybe even more so now that I get a month of my favorite classic horror movies of regular TV stations and awesome horror releases to help inspire the season! If you're a Halloween fan, too, and love partaking in the spookier side of life, here are a couple of Halloween Must-Reads to help get you into the festive mood!

Start with a couple classics. Although it may seem redundant to have Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein on a “Halloween Reading List,” it’s amazing how many of us haven’t ever read the real deal. I’m just as guilty as the next, and can’t believe I need to add them to my own Kindle this month. Both are very honestly enthralling reads that will pull you in and keep you beyond “the sake of being a classic.”

Although the movies were a craze a couple of years back, if you still haven’t actually read John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In I highly recommend it. It is truly a unique tale settled in the Vampire genre and will thoroughly creep you (if not skeeve you) out until the very end.

For something a little more unusual for Halloween Fare, I recommend trying out Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s graphic novel, From Hell.  It’s a tale of Jack the Ripper and the events leading up to the Whitechapel killings (as well as the cover-up to follow).

Looking for something with a little more horror packed into the punch? Stephen King is always a safe direction to turn. I've just recently picked up both The Sleep Doctor and The Shining, and am planning a King-a-thon like no other! We all know the story from the cult classic movie, but we all know the book is always better. If you've already had your fill of Jack and his family, try returning to the Overlook Hotel with new characters and plot twists in the sequel Doctor Sleep.

Lastly is a twisted horror movie classic that was also a novel that redefined the genre, Shirley Jackson’s The House on Haunted Hill. I am a Vincent Price (or as I affectionately refer to him, “Vinny Price”) fiend and adore anything that he was in. Even better, I loved the 1999 remake almost as much as the original! Both delve into what happens when a group of strangers are coaxed into a haunted house with the promise of a cash prize if they survive the night. This Halloween I’m going to go back to where it all began with Jackson’s 1959 classic. This is the twisted mind that brought us the short story, “The Lottery,” so you know it has to be good! 

Posted on Oct 15 2014 12:53PM
By LIFamilies

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Fast Fall Recipes

It’s time for a super simple and fun fall recipe or two! I'm all about keeping things seasonal and fresh: so I look for new tastes and treats whenever I can! Here are two simple autumn recipes that you may want to add to your own seasonal cookbook.

Pumpkin Quesadillas: now these are great for a quick appetizer, or even a light meatless meal (especially is served with a side salad). All you need are:

  •  2 cups of canned pumpkin puree
  •  ½ cup of chopped, toasted walnuts
  • 4 ounces of crumbled goat cheese
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil

In a bowl combine and mix the pumpkin and cumin. Spread the pumpkin out over 4 tortillas. Sprinkle with your cheese and nuts (adding more of either, if you'd like). Cover with the remaining tortillas. Warm up 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium-low heat in a skillet or frying pan. Cook your quesadilla, flipping it once, until both sides are browned (1.5 – 2 minutes per side). Add more oil between batches. Cut your quesadilla into wedges however you'd like.

Butternut Pudding: this is a super simple and yummy dessert that takes almost zero prep-time! It’s something unusual to spice up your regular Sunday dinners or pot luck parties! All you need are:

  • 2 10-ounce packages of thawed butternut squash puree
  • 1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup of pure maple syrup
  • whipped cream for topping
  • Boiling water

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Blend all of your ingredients together and pour them into an 8 inch baking dish. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan and fill your pan half way up the baking dish with boiling water. Bake for one hour. Best served warm with whipped cream on top!

Posted on Oct 9 2014 12:39PM
By LIFamilies

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Soothing Fall Masks

It’s a spa pampering kind of night today. It’s been one of those stressful months already, and it’s only the 7th! To help combat the stress and the worry I’m going to work on a little self pampering. Here’s a fresh fall face mask that'll keep me and my skin happy while I relax to a Halloween inspired horror movies tonight. All you need are:

  • ¼ cup of pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon of organic honey
  • ½ teaspoon of  milk (or milk substitute of choice)
  • Optional: a splash of apple cider vinegar if your skin is acne prone

Combine your ingredients and gently apply all over your face (avoiding your eyes). Allow to set for 15 minutes or so, and then rinse away with a wash cloth and warm water. Follow up with your favorite moisturizer.

Not big on pumpkin? Here’s another refreshing fall mask I’m thinking about trying:

  • 6-7 fresh, crushed cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon of organic honey
  • 1 teaspoon of plain yogurt

Combine your ingredients and mix them well. Apply to skin in gentle circular motions, again avoiding your eyes. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, and then rinse away with a wash cloth and warm water. 

Posted on Oct 7 2014 1:19PM
By LIFamilies

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Make Your Own Fall Leaf Bowls

Looking for great new (and easy) fall project ideas I happened upon a leaf bowl that I love. Its super simple, only takes a little bit of time, and I think looks amazing when complete! Here’s what you need:

  • Decorative fall leaves (from a craft store, like these) or a leaf garland that you can snip the leaves off the strand (like these)
  • Matte finish Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Balloon
  • Scissors
  • Mixing bowl

Start by gently pulling the plastic stem and veins from your faux leaves. Blow up your balloon to the diameter that you want your bowl. Starting at the middle and working your way to the top, apply a thin layer of mod podge to your balloon cap (again, the size you want the bowl). Wait for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to allow the mod podge to get sticky. Next, lay a leaf on top of the mod podge, smooth with your finger and then apply a thin layer of mod podge on top. Repeat until completely covered. Use smaller leaves to help cover any gaps. Add a couple extra leaves across the bottom of the bowl for extra support. Set aside (with the bare end of the balloon set in a mixing bowl for support) to dry thoroughly. Once dry put a pin through the end of your balloon, by its tied, to let the air out slowly. If the leaves shrink down as the balloon deflates don’t worry: it should return to its officinal shape after a minute or two. 

(Image Source)

Posted on Oct 2 2014 12:15PM
By LIFamilies

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Tips for Getting To Sleep

There are so many different sleeping tips that fly around journals and newsletters that it’s hard to keep track of them all. What’s worse is that so many of them can be counterproductive if not done properly or taken out of context! Here are a couple “better sleep” suggestions and their contradictions to help your make the most of your nighttime snooze!

Try to keep your current reading obsession out of the bedroom. As much as reading can relax you, be wary of how involved you get before bed. Books are all consuming at times: demanding an emotional connection and intellectual attention, which can cause your mind to stay way too involved long after you want to head to bed. I personally keep a “sleep book” read to curl up with at night. A book I’ve already read, preferably a classic that takes a little more focus to get through. Your mind will tire sooner and you already know the ending so you don’t become too involved.

Exercising regularly will help you sleep better, but just make sure to keep it away from bedtime. When you exercise you help deplete excess energy levels. However, if you schedule in your workout right before you go to bed you’ll find yourself awake for hours. The endorphins you create will act as a stimulant to keep you alert and awake. Make sure your workout is at least a couple hours before you plan on heading off to bed.

Keep your bedroom as quiet as possible, but not too silent. Keep content noisemakers out of your room, such as ticking clocks and whirling electronics. Your mind can focus too closely on the sounds and that will keep you awake. On the flip side, having your room so silent that you can hear a pin drop can cause the opposite: any sound, such as the heat turning on, may cause you to be woken up.

Nap, but nap wisely. Naps can help boost your sleep total, as well as refresh your mind and invigorate your body when you hit that midday slump. Be careful of when you take your naps, however. If you nap too late and too long it’s guaranteed to push off your bedtime routine. It’s suggested that naps be kept to about 30 minutes in length. 

Posted on Sep 30 2014 1:02PM
By LIFamilies

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Fall Time Simmer Pots

I know we have a lot of summer fans on the boards, but, even with your dismay of summer being over, it’s hard to be upset for too long about the passing of the seasons: that’s what they're supposed to do! If you're just not in the frame of mind or mood for the fall yet, here are a couple sweet scents that may get you there. I love simmer pot recipes. They're so simple, heavenly, and chemical free! Here are two different early fall simmer pot ideas. All you need to do is put them in a pot with some water and simmer them on low while at home (keeping an eye on the pot to know when to add more water). You can do the same this with your crockpot, too. Just put the crockpot on low with water and your simmer pot ingredients, leaving the lid off to let the scents escape. 

Our first is an orange spice simmer recipe, just combine the following:
- 1 or 2 Oranges Sliced
- 3 Cinnamon Sticks
- 1 tablespoon of Whole Cloves
- Apple peels

For a different twist, here’s a cinnamon clove simmer pot recipe:
- 4 Cinnamon Sticks
- 5 Anise Stars
- 1 Tablespoon of Whole Cloves
- 1 Sliced up Apple

Let either one simmer and fill your home with their delicious scent. It'll be hard not getting into the fall time spirit!

Posted on Sep 24 2014 11:42AM
By LIFamilies

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Starting Fall With Healthier Eating Habits

With the new season it’s time to start thinking of refreshing ourselves again along with the weather! I know I’m always looking to try to improve my healthy habit and diminish the bad, but I always seem to get in my own way. We’re too food oriented, and I’m too bad with self-control. I found an article, though, with simple habits that we can use to help control unhealthy eating tendencies. Here are the best tips that I walked away with (and am instituting in my home).

Start by making the healthiest freshest foods your first visual and option. Rearrange your cupboards and refrigerator. Put a bowl out on the counter and/or table. Wherever you can make sure your fresh fruits and vegetables are the first thing seen when you’re feeling hungry.  You’re much more likely to grab or crave something within your line of sight.

Hide the less healthy food, or at least make it inconvenient to reach. The only out and visible foods should be your fruits and vegetable. All other foods should be out of sight, out of mind. Hide them on the top shelf or the far back of your fridge. The less convenient it is to grab the less you’re going to subconsciously want to reach for it.

Serve food away from the table. When you’re sitting down to breakfast or dinner, make sure to serve from bowls on the counter or on the stove, rather than on the table itself. This will make you less likely to just keep going back for more, increasing your serving size exponentially.

Eat and drink from smaller plate, utensils, and glasses.  Serving sizes obviously can be monitored better with smaller sized containers, but it’s more than just that. Just because you’re using a smaller glass doesn’t mean you’re going to have to go back for me. The larger the plate or glass to more apt you are to “fill it” whether you need that much or not. Smaller vessels equal lesser amounts all around.

Lastly, when you’re eating a meal, be sure to focus on only your meal. We’re too multitask-oriented, and when we eat and do an activity (even as simply as watching TV) we have a tendency to over-eat. We end up eating mechanically (on mindlessly) because our attention is split, and we’re less likely to know when we’re actually full until it’s too late. 

Posted on Sep 23 2014 9:53AM
By LIFamilies

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Mmm... Pumpkin Spice Lattes

Ok, it’s officially hit! This cooler weather is making me slap happy for fall and all I’m craving are pumpkin flavored and scented everything. Of course, the top of my list is Pumpkin Spice Lattes: I'm already getting a little too friendly with my favorite barista around the corner! I went on the search and found another awesome homemade recipe that’s a little healthier, a little easier and a whole lot more fun than waiting in line at the local coffee shop!

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of milk, divided
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin puree of choice
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup of brewed espresso

In a small saucepan whisk together ½ cup of your milk and your sugar, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract over a low heat. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes (stirring occasionally), and then whisk in your remaining ½ cup of milk. Next pour your milk through a fine mesh strainer to remove the pumpkin pulp. Put the milk mixture back onto a low heat for about 2 minutes, simmering and whisking. Add your espresso and whisk until foamy. Enjoy!

Posted on Sep 17 2014 12:15PM
By LIFamilies

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Pumpkin Pie Play Dough

I found an awesome and easy project that is a great sensory play for the kids while also priming everyone for fall! It’s 4 ingredient Pumpkin Pie play dough that’s also safe if they decide to take a chomp! All you need are:

  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of flour

Pour all your ingredients together in a big bowl, mix them together well and then knead it into dough with your hands. That’s it! If not in use, keep your dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge. Take it out and let it warm up for a couple hours when they're getting ready to play! Use a side of cheerios and a small cup of cinnamon as additional fun tools to use with the dough. Use household items, such as popsicle sticks and plastic utensils, to shape and mold with and to keep your playtime super simple. 

(Image Source)

Posted on Sep 10 2014 11:44AM
By LIFamilies

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Simple Eye Cream/Makeup Remover

I’m always looking to make my life a little easier with simple and fast alternative to store-bought products. Here’s a great easy one. Make your own nighttime eye cream/moisturizing makeup remover with just a few simple ingredients. All you need are:

  • Vitamin E capsules
  • Organic Coconut Oil
  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • A needle or pin to prick through the vitamin E capsules
  • A small (4 ounce) mason jar

Start by melting about ½ a cup of coconut oil in the microwave. Pour into your mason jar, filling to about ¾ full. Prick and squeeze 5-6 vitamin E capsules into the melted oil. Add 6-7 drops of lavender essential oil and stir well. Stick in the refrigerator for about an hour, or until completely hardened, and your makeup remover/eye cream is ready to use!

Posted on Sep 5 2014 11:58AM
By LIFamilies

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Keep Kids Healthy as They Start the School Year

The kiddies are all back, if not heading back, to school this week and I know it’s hard to let them go. If it’s the first time heading to kindergarten or Pre-K I’m sure you’re having a hard transition, but we know it can be the same for parents with children going into first, second, or third grade and beyond! Not only do you miss your little ones, you also need to readjust to a new year and calendar. This transition is tough on you, but can be even tougher on kids. Here’s a little list to help them and their immune system keep up with the new changes (and germs).

~ Be sure to start help boost your child’s metabolism and immune system with a new healthy school year menu. Breakfasts and lunches of whole healthy foods will help them trudge through the tough initial weeks (if not the whole year).

~ Establishing and enforcing a bed time is very, very important. You probably were a little lax over the summer, but sleep is too important to be lax during the school year. Limit activities after school that cut into their wind down and relax time, as well.

~ Send in packed lunches as often as humanly possible, and encourage your kids not to share their them. Also send your children in with multiple reusable water bottles. You not only want them drinking throughout the day, but you also don’t want them relying on water fountains.

~ Whenever it’s permitted, send in markers and crayons for children to have their own, and not just the community pot. Often teachers have community art supplies for all kids to work with. If you're able to, make sure to have a private set available.

~ Start strict homework and reading routines immediately so that they quickly become habit. This sounds more like tyrant than nurturing, but a good routine keeps your children on track with all of their assignments and cuts down on your stress, as well as theirs.

~ Try to keep extracurricular activities to a minimum per season, as least for the early years. So many sports and after school activities may be enticing to your little one, but try to limit it down to one or two per season. Too much running around after school will not only affect emotional health/stress levels, but physical health, too by wearing down immune systems. 

(One of my BFFs, lorich's Natie, on this first day of kindergarten!)

Posted on Sep 3 2014 4:58PM
By LIFamilies

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Bleach Design Clothing

I have been seeing awesome designs all over the net, so I decided to search out a simple tutorial for bleached clothing designs. (Design shirts, tank tops, pants, jeans, etc. this works for all!) These work awesome for team/bachelorette party/family reunion tanks, saying t-shirts, or any other groovily designed items! All you need are:

  • Clothing items to be written on
  • Bleach pen (available in almost any drug store or grocery store detergent aisle)
  • Cardboard
  • Washing machine

To start you probably want to play with your bleach pen a little to get a feel for how it flows and writes. You can either free-hand your designs or use a stencil, both come out equally as impressive. Smooth out your clothing item and insert cardboard to keep the bleach from bleeding through. Draw on your designs and then let it set and dry, as long as your think it needs. Start your washing machine on cold and let it fill about 4 inches while they're drying. Removed the cardboard from your items and drunk them one at a time into the cold water to soak. Let your washer run through a gentle cycle without any detergent. Once done hang your shirt, tanks, or items to dry or transfer them into the dryer. 

Posted on Aug 28 2014 1:19PM
By LIFamilies

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Baking Substitutions for Allergies

I found a great list of allergy-friendly baking substitutes options! I've already made quite a few of these substitutes for “healthier” versions and they work amazingly! Here’s a complete list in case you have allergies or intolerances in your family-friend circle: that way everyone can enjoy your yummy baked goods!

Milk: if you're looking for a substitute for traditional dairy milk, any of these can be substituted 1 cup for 1 cup.

~ Almond Milk

~ Soy Milk

~ Coconut Milk

~ Rice Milk

~ Oat Milk

Buttermilk: again, need a substitute for the dairy option? Combine 1 cup of your non-dairy milk of choice with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Use the amount of the cup called for.

Yogurt: trade on of the below for a 1:1 substitution

~ Pureed silken tofu

~ Coconut cream (the cream skimmed off the top of a settled can of full fat coconut milk)

~ Store-bought dairy-free yogurt (in most health food/whole food stored, usually soy, almond, or coconut based)

Eggs: each of the bottom quantities can be used to replace 1 egg.

~ 1 tablespoon of flax or chia meal + 3 tablespoons of water

~ ½ a banana

~ ¼ cup of applesauce

~ ¼ cup of canned pumpkin

~ ¼ cup of pureed silken tofu

~ 1:1 store-bought egg substitute/replacer

Flour: you can buy store-bought gluten-free flour mix. If you prefer, you can create your own, as well. Combine the below for 1 cup of flour substitute.

~ ½ cup of rice flour

~ ¼ cup of tapioca starch/flour

~ ¼ cup of corn or potato starch

Butter: there are always dairy-free butter sticks available, but other natural butter substitutes also include:

~ Avocado

~ Coconut oil

~ Canola oil

~ Olive Oil


~ Agave nectar

~ Maple syrup

Posted on Aug 26 2014 11:08AM
By LIFamilies

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Oreo Truffles Recipe

It’s officially the weekend and I thought a little chocolate was in order to celebrate! I’m over just grabbing a bar of chocolate and indulging, though! I found this super simple recipe to help you feel like fancy pants with your own homemade truffles, too (that you can then mangia down on)!

You need:

~ 1 pound of Oreos

~ 8 ounces of room temp cream cheese

~ 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract OR 1 teaspoon of mint extract

~ 1 pound of milk chocolate

~ 1/2 pound of white chocolate

Start by pulsing your Oreos in a food processor until they’re a fine powder. Put your cookie powder into a mixer with your cream cheese and extract, and then mix them until thoroughly blended and there aren't any white traces left. Roll mixture up into little balls, place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet, and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

In a double boiler melt your milk chocolate. Once melted, dip and roll your cookie balls to coat thoroughly. Place back on your wax paper. Melt your white chocolate in a separate double boiler (or carefully in the microwave). Drizzle your white chocolate over the top of your truffles. Pop your truffles back into the refrigerator to cool the rest of the way, and then enjoy!! 

Posted on Aug 22 2014 11:58AM
By LIFamilies

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Nearby Vacation Destinations

I don’t know about you, but this year so far has left me in dire need of a vacation. The summer has been lovely, but 2014 has been just as crazy and complicated as 2013 (if not worse)! I keep thinking one of these years needs to get a little more laid back, but it doesn't look like it’s going to happen anytime soon, so it’s officially time to take matters into our own hands! I wanted to make an awesome little list of places in close proximity that you can get away for a short vacation without spending the whole time driving!

Start with a quick hop, skip, and jump to Bear Mountain. This is a state park and historic preserve situated in the mountains above the west bank of the Hudson River. There’s enough hiking, biking, fishing, swimming and adventuring to keep the whole family happy! Best part? It'll only take you about 2 hours from the center of Suffolk County to get there (so give or take a little from wherever you’re situated)!

Looking for a quick getaway up into New England? Jump on the New London ferry… and go very little further! New London usually flies under the radar for vacation seekers: they get off the ferry and keep on heading north for further destinations. New London has its own charms and attraction for a weekend of entertainment. Check out history building, mills, and churches; art centers, state parks, and even take a short ferry ride to Block Island. Including the New London ferry ride (which is an adventure of its own) this trip should take you just about 2.5 hours, if you're starting from central Suffolk County. Still not completely sold that there’s enough to keep everyone entertained? Once you've completed New London, Mystic Seaport is just a short 15-20 minute drive away with its own aquarium, shops, and much more!

Looking for a quiet coast to get away to and just absorb what’s left of the summer? Head the short distance from Long Island to Sea Girt, New Jersey. This quiet little borough of New Jersey offers stretches of beautiful beach, along with small town charm and local history. It’s perfect for family or romantic relaxation away from the usual “Jersey Shore” volume. This trip will take you just under 3 hours to get there from central Suffolk County.  

For more of what New York has to offer, head up to Phoenicia, NY for a mixture of small town relaxation and mountain area activities. The town has coffee shops, boutiques, and festivals for everyone to enjoy. Phoenicia is also nestled in the shadow of Slide Mountain, also offering tubing, kayaking, hiking, and more! It’ll take you just about 3 hours to get to Phoenicia from central Suffolk County.  

Posted on Aug 19 2014 12:04PM
By LIFamilies

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Dirt and Grease Fighting Hand Scrub

Always looking to keep life simple, I found a great recipe for a gardeners hand scrub (or for a mechanic or anyone who gets their hands really dirty). There are always Goo Be Gones or similar handy helpers that get rid of the dirty, grease or grime at the end of the day, but this one can be made quickly and at a moment’s notice! All you need are:

~ A 8oz mason jar

~ Granulated sugar

~ Dish soap of choice (especial something like Dawn, which has known degreasing abilities!)

Just fill up your mason jar about 3/4 full with granulated sugar. Then pour in your dish soap to the bottom of the mouth of your jar. If you want, you can also at 4-5 drops of lemon essential oil to make your scrub anti-bacterial and disinfecting. Stir up your mixture well and check the consistency: you want a thick scrub so add more sugar and stir as needed. Once you have your consistency keep your gardeners hand scrub close to your sink. When you're in need just scoop out a small amount, scrub over your hands, and rinse away.

Posted on Aug 14 2014 11:52AM
By LIFamilies

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Healthier Fast Food Options

Sometimes we are just out of time and have no choice but to grab something fast on the go. Now we all know the evils of fast food, but once in a while it seems like the lesser of two evils. I found a great cheat sheet that gave some healthier options for national chains. Here are some of the best for local options.

~ From Taco Bell, try the Chicken Fresco Burrito Supreme and Pintos ‘n’ Cheese. This is a great high protein and high fiber option for when you're rushing past a Taco Bell. Together this combo has 520 calories, 17 grams of fiber, and 28 grams of protein.

~ Head over to Subway for a soup and sandwich option! If you go for a 6” Veggie Delite, be sure to follow it up with a Tomato Orzo soup. Together the pairing has 360 calories, 7 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein to keep you full and going!

~ If you're brave enough to drive into a McDonald’s drive-thru be sure to test the Southwest Salad and the Fruit n Yogurt Parfait. Believe it or not, McDonald’s grilled chicken Southwest Salad actually stands out as having the highest fiber and lowest saturated fats among its competitors. Together your salad and yogurt will rack you up 480 calories, 7 grams of fiber, and a whopping 34 grams of protein!

~ Did you know Burger King had veggie burgers? I didn't know they had veggie burgers! It may be a little more select, depending on your area, but Burger King’s Veggie Burger (hold the mayo) is a tasty and vegetarian option. Combine it with a garden salad sans chicken with light Italian dressing and you have a delicious combination worth 450 calories, 10 grams of fiber, and 26 grams of protein. 

~ Looking for a more outside the box option from Wendy’s? Order yourself a plain baked potato and then top if with  a small chili. Your chili baked potato will be a warm and satisfying 460 calories, 12 grams of fiber, and 21 grams of protein!

~ Lastly, believe it or not, you can have your KFC and eat it too! Choose a 1-piece meal of a grilled chicken breast, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. Even though KFC is notorious for setting you back a week’s worth of calories with just one meal, this lighter option will only cost you 430 calories, and give you 5 grams of fiber and 41 grams of protein! 

Posted on Aug 12 2014 12:40PM
By LIFamilies

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Exclusive Newborn Mini Sessions!

I have some awesome news that I wanted share with you, our loyal fans! I just received an exclusive LIFamilies special from THREE14 Photography. Just for our users, they're offering a limited-space newborn mini session special for September-November! If you've ever had newborn photos taken before you know that mini sessions are something most photographers don't offer: it's a lot of extra work, love, and dedication! Here are the details that I've received!

Posted on Aug 7 2014 10:51AM
By LIFamilies

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Password Safety Tips

Just when you started to think that it was safe to re-enter the world of online finances, it seems that a whole new security breach of epic proportions may have set us all back to square one. So what recently happened? Well it was announced yesterday that a “Russian gang” stole over 1.2 BILLION username and password combinations. What does this mean to you? It’s time to start watching everything like a hawk again and to change your passwords! We become too complacent with our passwords and tend to use what works for us or that we can remember. We need to buff up that security, though, and here are the top 3 expert tips to help keep your accounts safe online!

  1. Use different passwords! Don’t have all 25 (just a random number, of course) different usernames, emails, and financial accounts that you use be protected by the same passwords! Have at least a handful of detailed passwords that you can use, and if you need to have something like Keeper, a password manager, store them so you don't need to remember them all.
  2. Make your passwords difficult. Unfortunately the most commonly used passwords are still “password” and “1234567.” This habit is almost the equivalent of handing out your debit card number and pin code to random strangers that pass you by (or worse). Start the habit of creating long and complex passwords for your important accounts. Use numbers, symbols, capital letters, and lowercase letters. Make your password phases or short sentences instead of single words. The more complex your passwords are the safer you are.
  3. Change your passwords regularly! Just because you've officially come up with the password of all passwords doesn't mean you're infinitely safe. To be safe you need to still update and change your passwords on a relatively regular basis. 

Posted on Aug 6 2014 2:50PM
By LIFamilies

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My Delicious Nephew!

I just have to share! I am starting my day very late because I spent the morning with my delicious new nephew, Jace, at his newborn photoshoot with Amanda Saldarelli Photography. Now, I know that I get to check out scrumptious shoots all the time, and I know all of the hard work that goes into every single one of them, but it was truly amazing watching it action! Jace was putty in her hands, while Amanda had the patients of a saint trying to ensure every tiny little detail was just perfect! I could barely make it back to the office before checking for the teasers and there they were already! SOOO here's my shameless adorable teaser share post!!

Posted on Aug 5 2014 1:57PM
By LIFamilies

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Dry Shampoo DIY

I found this super simple recipe for dry shampoo and I just had to share! I'm one of those people who just can't wash my hair every single day or it becomes one big brittle nest of knots! So instead of having straw hair or store bought chemicals, here’s a third option: super simple dry shampoo!

All you need are:

  • A mason jar with holes punched in the lid or un-used salt shakers as your container
  • ½ cup of cornstarch (preferably organic)
  • 3-4 drops of your preferred essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder if you have dark hair
  • 2 tablespoons of cinnamon if you have red or auburn hair

Just combine all of your ingredients, quickly so that the essential oil doesn't have a chance to make your powders clump. That’s really it!

Dry shampoo is great for if your hair misbehaves like mine, if you head to the gym on your lunch break (to absorb sweat and oils from your workout), or if you simply run out of time in the morning! Just shake a little into your roots, let it sit a couple minutes to absorb the oils, and then comb or brush it right out!

Posted on Aug 4 2014 1:46PM
By LIFamilies

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Morcellation - Update #2

Our latest update on our past blog posts on the dangers associated with using Morcellation as an option for hysterectomies: Johnson & Johnson has officially requested that all medical practices utilizing their morcellators no longer do so, and they're suspending sales on all of the devices. This comes after the FDA finding that the procedure does in fact pose a serious risk of spreading unknown cancer cells. 

Just as a brief catch up, the whole issue came to light this past February when Amy Reed, a Boston doctor who had a laparoscopic hysterectomy to end bleeding from fibroids (benign growths on her uterus). She had tested negative for cancer before the procedure, but the form that was residing in her uterus was rare and didn’t appear on the tests. The morcellation spread the cancer throughout her body and she now has stage 4 cancer, with an 85% chance of death within the next 5 years. About 1 in every 400 surgeries have had a similar outcome.

Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it is conducting a worldwide withdrawal of all its morcellators still on the market. The company cited an FDA meeting earlier this month that reinforced "the complexity of this issue." The FDA itself is currently weighing regulatory actions to reduce the risk of cancer spread before ever condoning the use of the technique for similar procedures in the future. 

Posted on Jul 31 2014 10:20AM
By LIFamilies

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Thinking Twice Before Popping Pills

I'm far from an "anti-pill" advocate. I take an occasional ibuprofen (or more) as needed, but I try to watch what I take because I know for every pro there's always a con. I'm especially leery when it comes to acetaminophen, which seems to be in every cough syrup and headache reliever known to man. Why? Because I learned long ago (after not knowing and putting myself at risk for years) that there are conditions that can turn it toxic in your body and quickly lead to severe liver damage. For example, anything over the recommended daily allowance (usually exceeding unknowingly because many cold/flu/allergy medications also contain acetaminophen) turns it toxic, as well as combining it with alcohol, even if taken 12 hours before consuming. Here are new findings suggesting that for at least back pain it may be doing you no good in the first place!

If you're taking acetaminophen (the main active pain reliever in Tylenol and Excedrin) for back pain it may be of no use. A new study was recently publish out of Australia putting acetaminophen up against mother nature to see which relieved the pain first: popping a couple pills or waiting for the pain to naturally subside. 

For the study, researchers worked with a group of 1,643 patients who experience acute lower back pain. The subjects were broken up into three groups: 1 group took six 665mg tabs of acetaminophen and two placebos a day, 1 group took six placebo tabs and two 500mg tabs of acetaminophen a day, and 1 group took all placebos tabs. 

The study authors found no difference in recovery time across all three groups, suggesting that acetaminophen absolutely no effect on lower back pain.

It just makes your think twice before grabbing over the counter medication for help. Consult with your doctor for the best pain management options for you (especially if you experience long, lasting back pains that you haven't discussed/disclosed to your doctor yet!). 

Posted on Jul 30 2014 12:20PM
By LIFamilies

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Infant CPR Workshop

I really wanted to share this flyer that I received from one of our awesome vendors, Behr's Baby & Kids Furniture. They're offering a FREE infant CPR workshop next week. If you are interested in attending, please contact Behr's at (516) 541-2347, or email Behr's at [email protected].

Posted on Jul 25 2014 9:46AM
By LIFamilies

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Simple, No Sugar Add Blueberry Butter

I love trying new things in the kitchen, especially when it involved anything sweet. I’m a total coward when it comes to canning, though. I mean, I know it should be simple physics, and there are easy tutorials that help you cheat. But still…I’m too scared to risk it! Since tis the season of amazing fruit, I decided to look and see if I could find a no-can recipe for jam. I happened upon this bad boy and knew I had to share! I’m not afraid to admit that I’m horrible with fruit butters. If they make it into my house it’s a guarantee that they won’t be there for long. This recipe includes not only the fresh blueberry you can find easily this time of year, but no sugar, making in a healthier breakfast, snack, or dessert option!

All you’ll need are:

2 ½ cups of blueberries (you can use thawed frozen ones, too, for a year round recipe!)

1 tablespoon of water

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons of arrowroot powder (Bob’s Red Mill carries it, so you should be able to find in most any whole food section, or order online – you won’t regret it! It’s a natural thickening agent that lets you exclude sugar or gelatin)

You’ll need a food processor or blender to start. You’ll begin with either step A or B, and then follow the remaining steps for either.

A. If your using thawed blueberries, toss them in the blender/processor to puree. Whisk together your water, lemon juice, and arrowroot in a saucepan before adding your blueberry puree.

B. If you’re working with fresh blueberries, first combine then in a saucepan with your other ingredients. Cook them for about 5 minutes to soften the blueberries, and then food process them into a puree, before returning it to your sauce pan.

Bring your mixture to a boil slowly over a medium heat, stirring frequently. Next, simmer until it thickens: for roughly 25 minutes. You will know it’s about done once you’re able to run a spoon through it, creating a trench that doesn't immediately refill.

Once you've reached that thickness return your mixture to your blender again and process it smooth once more. Return it to the saucepan and allow it to cool.

The longer it cools the thicker it will get. If it becomes too thick just stir in a little water. If it doesn't seem thick enough return it to heat for a while longer. Once done your butter should fit perfectly into an 8oz mason jar, and should be stored in the refrigerator at all times. 

(Image Source)

Posted on Jul 23 2014 10:39AM
By LIFamilies

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Baking Sodas Superpowers!

I’m obsessed with finding ways to “multi-purpose” the items that are already regular household essential, especially anything that can be added to my natural cleanser arsenal (case in point: my obsession with apple cider vinegar). One such kitchen essential “power tool” is baking soda! Now we already know that many toothpastes and detergents already boast that they have baking soda as one of their main active ingredients, but you can skip the middle man and use the real deal for many of your cleansing needs! Here are some of my new favorite uses!

Stubborn, burnt on food in your pot? Sprinkle with a generous amount of baking soda and cover with hot water. Let it sit for an hour or so, and when you come back you should notice that the food has loosen/relatively lifted for much easier cleaning. Got most of it off, but there’s still a stubborn spot or two? Repeat the process rather than scrubbing your night away!

Want to brighten your clothing and keep the colors? Add a ½ a cup to your wash as you start it, along with ½ the recommended amount of laundry detergent (meaning your also save on detergent!).

Stuck on stains in the kitchen or bathroom? Make a gentle scrubbing paste with 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Scrub on, let it sit and rinse away. Repeat as needed.

Want a gentle, chemical-free to clean and brighten your toilet? Sprinkle straight into the bowl (as you would a soft scrub, such as Comet) and scrub away your stains. Allow to set for about an hour (or until the toilet is needed) before flushing to brighten and deodorize!

Your grandmother and mother were right about an open box in the refrigerator! Keep a bowl full on one of your shelves, or sprinkle some at the bottom of your garbage pail, to absorb the majority of odors.  

Posted on Jul 16 2014 11:26AM
By LIFamilies

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Consumer Reports Warns About Spray-On Sunscreen for Kids

I meant to post this as a heads up on Friday, but ran out of day! The FDA has been studying the effects of spray-on sunscreen use on children, and Consumer Reports came out with their final determination: they're officially recommending that spray-on sunscreens not be used on children (along with most, if not all, other aerosol products).

The studies show that spraying on sunscreen can add to the risk of asthma or allergy attacks if children inhale the mist. Consumer Reports has even removed one of it's recommended sunscreens from their list, Ocean Potion Kids Instant Dry Mist SPF 50, because it is marketed especially for children's use. 

Of course they say if it's all that's available to go ahead and use it, but to spray onto your hands to apply on your child, and not to spray directly onto their face (which isn't recommended in the first place). 

As with all things, this is just the recommendations of CR, and there are benefits and drawbacks that come along with everything. Spray-on is often preferred by parents because it sprays on evenly and dries more quickly. If your child has asthma, severe allergies, or is easily prone to respiratory issues, though, spray-on is not the best sunscreen option for your family. 

Posted on Jul 14 2014 10:59AM
By LIFamilies

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Simple and Delicious

It's been a long week (and it's only Wednesday) so to help perk myself up I decided it's a baking kind of night. Being that it is Wednesday, though, and I'm certainly not looking to have to head to the grocery store on the way home, I needed super simple ideas. Here are two awesome ones that I'm trying to choose between. 

3 Ingredient Shortbread Cookies:

  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour

Line a couple cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream your butter and sugar together, and then add in your flour. Keep mixing until it turns into a soft doughy consistency (it'll fall apart at first, keep mixing). Once you've gotten to dough, roll it out on a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick and cut out circles with a water glass. Place on your cookie sheets and bake for 16-18 minutes, until a light golden brown.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Mousse:

  • Coconut cream scraped from the top of 2 (13.5 oz) chilled cans of full fat coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons of cocoa (a little more or less, depending on your taste)
  • 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract 

You need a hand mixer or stand mixer, with a whisk attachment for either. Scooping as much of the coconut cream off the top of your cans as possible without getting the milk. Put it into a mixing bowl. Add all of your other ingredients and beat together, starting at low and gradually getting higher, until it starts to get fluffy and peaks start to form. Divide into individual serving bowls and chill in the fridge until you're ready to enjoy it. It will thicken more as it chills. 

Posted on Jul 9 2014 4:58PM
By LIFamilies

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Sweets in Season

Tis the season for fresh, local produce goodness! I know that there’s something growing all year long (we’re especially excited when we’re down to Brussels sprouts and potatoes… some sarcasm intended) but in the summertime we really get it going, with all of the delicious sweet fruits and vegetables coming into their own. We all need to get plenty of veggies in our diet, and this is the most fun season to do so. We all know, though, that the succulent fruits that are available are the real rock stars. If you’re feeling me, here are the local sweets to head out and enjoy. There are still many stands out east offering pick-your-own, as well, if that suits your fancy!

Blueberries: Oh how we love you, let me count the ways! Blueberries are locally in season for just July and August, and are a powerhouse when it comes to nutrients. They have the highest antioxidant capacity of all fruits, and help neutralize free radicals to combat aging and illness. To keep them the longest, keep them unwashed in their original container for up to a week, or until you’re ready to devour them!

Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melons: Both melons are basically the sugary snack equivalent of basically Coco Puffs in the processed world. They’re amazingly sweet and juicy on their own without ever needing to add anything to them (and little hands make them disappear in seconds)! They’re found local grown in our hottest weather, usually mid to late July through the end of September, sometimes into October. If you need your melon to last a couple days before cutting it, don’t be afraid to grab a firm one. Leave it out of the fridge for a couple days before use to allow it to finish ripening right at home. Warning though, your mouth will be watering because the closer to ripe the more your whole kitchen will smell like melon!

Cherries: Cherries are another health benefit powerhouse, helping with everything from weight loss and memory boost to heart health and anti-inflammatory properties. These sweet superheroes are only here for a short time, however, and are only available locally usually the month of July into the beginning of August. They’re best eaten within a couple days of purchase. Again, kept unwashed in their original container until you’re ready to do so!

Plums, Peaches, and Nectarines: all available through our warmest months, and all fun for picking, these stone fruits just about epitomize summer itself. They’re available from July through September, and are picked off of trees just like apples. Like melons, they can be picked a little firm and then left to ripen at room temperature. Once ripe they’re good for 3-5 days in the fridge!  

Posted on Jul 8 2014 10:38AM
By LIFamilies

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DIY Paper Sparklers

Looking for a fun little project for the holiday tomorrow? How about paper sparklers: you’ll be able to wave them around to celebrate our independence without having to worry about anyone getting burnt by the sparks! They’re simple and a lot of fun for the little ones. All you’ll need are:

-Fun or festive straws, like these (I've bought them in the Christmas Tree Shop in Riverhead before)

-Vellum paper in red, white, and blue. Silver and/or gold would work great, too!


-Scotch tape

-Wooden skewers

Start by cutting your paper into 3in x 4in rectangles. Next cut the paper into thin fringe, leaving about 1/2in uncut at the bottom. 

Next you're going to need to roll it up, tight enough to fit into the end of your straw. Once fit in you can add a little tape around the top if you're worried it’s not tight enough. Lastly cut a skewer to the length of your straw and stick it in the other end. Tape the bottom to keep it in. This will give the sparkler a little extra stability for waving!

(Image Source)

Posted on Jul 3 2014 10:03AM
By LIFamilies

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Photographs from the "Family Photo Shoot Giveaway" by THREE14 Photograph

I know she shared them on the forums, but I just HAD to share the images here, too! This is our very own, gorgeous moonmist09 and her beautiful family. They had won a free family shoot with THREE14 Photography over the winter, and their images came out absolutely stunning!

Posted on Jul 2 2014 8:49AM
By LIFamilies

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It's A Beach-Fever Kind of Monday!

I don't know about you, but this summer only started a week ago and it's already a crazy one! I need a second weekend to recover from my first. How am I making my manic Monday merry? By searching for fabulous photos of the little ones that make me squeal with delight! Check out these cheeky summer beauties and drool along with me! ;-)

(White Ink Photography)

(Christina Kneer Photography)

(Natasha Beccaria Photography)

(All Seasons Photography)

Don't you just want to be there now? My beach parking sticker is screaming for me to use her today! Check out all of the phenomenal photographers we have for more delicious summer shots!

Posted on Jun 30 2014 1:36PM
By LIFamilies

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Detach to Unwind

It doesn't take the recent studies to show that we're messing up a lot of our own tranquility and relaxation time. Stress levels are skyrocketing, as are insomnia, obesity levels, and electronic device sales. Not really related, though, are they? One of these things is not like the other… but in reality it’s our ever growing dependence on up-to-date media and devices that may be sabotaging us in the first place. Here are some common mistakes that you may be making that are cutting into your unwind time.

Relaxing with your blue light emitting friend is the most common. I’m beyond guilty of curling up in bed, all ready to go, and then switching on my cellphone to check out the latest update on Instagram or Vine. Even worse, I'm guilty of deciding, “Oh, I could really go for a little (insert TV show title) catch-up!” and flipping open my iPad to Netflix. This constant attachment is completely sabotaging your (and my) sleep cycle. The longer you’re attached to the glowing screen, the less likely your brain is to turn off.

Another bad habit (which I'm also EXTREMELY guilty of) is curling up to read for a while, but grabbing my tablet or ereader to do so instead of a close-by paperback. Even with the “nighttime” font setting on your ereader, the screen still emits a glow that reduces the melatonin levels that your system should naturally create, telling your body that it’s time to go to sleep. You may be reading to help slow yourself down, but you're not doing yourself any justice.

Instead, try keeping the electronic devices out of your wind-down time. If you're going to catch-up on your favorite shows, do so on your old-school TV and keep it out of your bedroom. This will limit the blue-light inside your “quiet space” that’s keeping your mind going when the rest of your body is craving sleep. Also, do rely on that literature to help tired your brain and get you ready to sleep, but make it a paperback. I have started this habit and have been known to be that freak that buys it in both digital and paperback. That way you can pick up from where you were on your e-reader without detriment to your sleep cycle. Conversely, reading actually does slightly “over-work” an already tired mind, helping your eyelids get heavy a little bit faster. Add a glass of warm milk and I guarantee you’ll be down for the count in no time! Those two steps actually helped me completely break an anxiety attack/insomnia stint in the matter of a few days. My own personal suggestions would be a warm glass of 2% and a couple pages of Peter Pan. ;-)

Posted on Jun 25 2014 11:44AM
By LIFamilies

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Enjoying the Outdoors: Mocktails and Pest Control

Now that the summer is finally here, it’s time to make some time to kick back with the family and enjoy the lovely weather! Let’s put together two super important components so that you can enjoy some well-deserved, pest-free outdoor time. First we’ve found a few mocktails that everyone can enjoy (with instructions for an “adult” touch when needed), and then we’ll jump into a little home-made pest protections.

Looking for something sweet to celebrate with? How about a Berry Mimosa:

You'll need: a handful halved strawberries, ½ cup cranberry juice, 1 cup raspberry flavored seltzer (or flavored ginger ale), and sprigs of mint. (For the adult version add a splash of vodka to the grownups’ cups)

Combine liquids in a small pitcher, and then pour evenly into champagne glasses. Top with half of a strawberry and a mint sprig.

How about a Cucumber Melon Agua Fresca?

You'll need: 1 8lb watermelon, 2 large cucumbers, 2-4 tablespoons of lime juice, 1-2 cups granulated sugar, 2 cups of water. (Add an ounce or two of your favorite liquor)

Remove the rind and seeds from your watermelon and cut it up into cubes. Peel and cut your cucumber into chunks. Puree both in a blender, in batches if needed, and then mix in your water. Add lime juice and sugar to taste. Chill your delicious concoction for up to 4 hours (or until very, very cold) before serving over ice.

Lastly, here’s a perfect fruit punch to sit back and cool down with.

You’ll need: 2 cups cranberry juice, 1 cup pineapple juice, 1 cup orange juice, ¼ cup grenadine, ¼ cup lime juice, 1 thinly sliced lemon, 1 thinly sliced lime, 3 ½ cups of cold club soda. (For an adult twist add 2 ounces of vodka or rum to 3 ounces of punch)

Mix all of your juices together in a big pitcher and chill for an hour. Add your lemons, limes and club soda right before serving.

Once you've chosen your mocktail (or cocktail) of choice, next you need to make sure that everyone will be relaxing in peace. Here’s a super simple and natural insect repellent that will help you enjoy the outdoors.

You'll need the following:

  • Spray bottle for your mix
  • 2 tablespoons of witch hazel
  • 2 tablespoons of almond, jojoba, or olive oil
  • 50-60 drops of essential oils of choice

List of oils that repel insects:

  • Lemon eucalyptus (but not recommended for use on children under 3 years old)
  • Cedarwood
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Citronella
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree
  • Peppermint
  • Cypress
  • Rose geranium
  • Bergamot
  • Lemon
  • Cinnamon

Combine your oil of choice and witch hazel in bottle first. Mix in your preferred combination of essential oils (you can choose 1, 2, 3, or all!) and shake well. Spray directly onto skin or clothing every hour or so. Unused repellent can be kept in a dark, cool place (even the refrigerator) until it’s needed again. It can be kept for a long period of time, but shake before each use. 

Posted on Jun 20 2014 11:58AM
By LIFamilies

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Puppy Mill Bill

We have a minor victory in effect today for puppy-mill battlers and pet advocates throughout Long Island. Today the “puppy mill” bill will be in effect: Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is set to sign the bill this afternoon, which bans the sale of puppy mill puppies. All sellers and dealers will then be required to provide background information on all of the puppies that they sell or face hefty fines for each animal that violates the law.

Retailers will not be able to obtain animal from any breeder whom the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been issued violations, due mainly to the health or condition of their animals, within the last 2 years. This bill also mandates that all kittens and puppies remain in the care of their mothers until at LEAST 8 weeks to be fully healthy and weaned.

Although this is far from an overall victory that will end all puppy mills, it is a step in the right direction: a huge step for local animal activists, showing that their representatives are listening and acting.

As always, when picking a pup, check out your local shelters or breed specific rescues (if you have a particular breed in mind). If you are looking to purchase a pet make sure to do all of your research to ensure that you're selecting a reputable breeder. 

Posted on Jun 17 2014 11:22AM
By LIFamilies

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Spray Painted Mason Jar Vases

I’m looking forward to another sun shiny Saturday coming up, and also looking ahead to all of the special events I have approaching in a very short period of time! I have at least one birthday a month for the next four months for the special people in my life, Father’s Day, a baby shower for my sister and long-awaited nephew (not to mention his literal birth-day in July or August!), birthday parties for baby cousins, and so much more! It’s all so eventful, and exciting…and expensive! I was looking for something simple and beautiful for the sunshine in my life (my glowing sister), and I've officially that decided I’m going to make her a special present this year. I happened upon a favorite Etsy find of painted mason jars are wedding favors or centerpieces. I decided I’m going to try my hand at a similar idea to add a personal touch (and to hopefully save a dollar or two while I’m at it).

To start we'll need to grab:

  • Mason jars: now I’m probably going to grab an actual canning pack from Target, but you can use vintage jars from flea markets or fancier mason jars from craft stores.
  • High quality spray paint, preferably an indoor outdoor variety if you’d like to ensure a little more of a waterproof quality to use it as a vase. Some people use glosses, other use Mattes. I’m going to use Matte colors for a more pastel, beachy theme.
  • Newspaper
  • Optional: nail file and/or crystal clear acrylic spray paint for a top coat.

So this project is supposed to be so simple that I'll be mad at myself for ever buying a set of jars (which you know I have, I’m an etsy-aholic). Make sure that your jars are very clean and very dry. Flip them so that the mouths of your jars are on the newspaper and its bottom is up, and then spray them until your hearts content. Just FYI: this project is definitely best performed outside, or at least in a very, very well ventilated area. Let the jars stand to dry, at least 10 minutes, and you’re finished! If you’re feeling fancy I’ve seen some instruct you to rub the paint off of the lettering and chosen spots with a nail file for an “antiqued appeal.” Others suggest a crystal clear topcoat to keep your paint from scratching. I think I’m going to leave them as it. I am going to grab a bag of potting soil, though, and fill them ¾ of the way full. I’m going to add a couple houseplants that don't need a lot of attention, but you can add any variety of indoor flowers. Just remember, with a plant in them (that will inevitably need watering) you’ll likely see the paint start to ware after a while. Easy-peezy: transplant your houseplant (if it’s still alive) into a temporary home and restart the simple process. 

(Pictures are the jar I BOUGHT ;-) from this wonderful shop)

Posted on Jun 13 2014 10:24AM
By LIFamilies

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Unused Eyeshadow Turned Favorite Nail Polish

I love buying eyeshadow makeup palettes. At this point it's almost a sickness (especially considering how seldom I wear makeup), and we're not talking Wet n Wild: I'm probably single handedly keeping our local Sephora in business. I wouldn't have a problem...with my problem...if all of the colors were being well used and loved. Let's face it, though, there are always used colors in every palette, and just as many that sit by thoroughly neglected. For me, more often than not, it's because the colors are just too dark for my taste. What do you do with those colors, then? I found the perfect remedy for your otherwise wasted colors: expand your nailpolish collection, instead!

All you need is a short sharp blade (think razor blade, box cutter, exacto knife, etc), a toothpick, bottles of clear nail polish (one per color), a piece of paper, and your unused eyeshadows. 

On the sheet of paper you're going to use your blade to scrape off, dig out, crunch up and crush your eyeshadow into as fine a powder as you can get it. You can also fold the paper in half over it and crush it that way, as well. You then fold the paper to funnel/slide the shadow dust into your clear nail polish. Use a toothpick to help thoroughly stir all of the powder into your polish, recover and shake it well. Vuala! You have a new nail polish. It should only take about the usual 2 coats to get it to it's true color. Remember to give your bottles a good shake before each use to ensure the pigment is completely dispersed!

Posted on Jun 10 2014 10:57AM
By LIFamilies

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Important CDC Norovirus Findings

I know that it’s getting harder and harder to just go out and enjoy yourself at a restaurant, but I thought these new finders were too important not to share (even if it pops that tiny remaining bubble of blissful ignorance). We want to protect ourselves as much as possible, especially against something as heinous as the norovirus (or stomach flu as we most often “fondly” refer to it). When heading to a restaurant be careful what you’re choosing and from where.

The CDC released a new report stating that at least 1 in 5 food service employees admits to having worked with the stomach flu/norovirus still in their system last year. This means they reported to work with the symptoms of either diarrhea or vomiting within the last day or so. The main issue with this finding is the norovirus itself: it’s not enough to simply wash your hands to stop it from spreading, it takes so few germs to get you sick that washing your hands isn't effective enough on its own.

The norovirus lends itself particularly well to raw, uncooked, and pre-prepared foods, such as fruits and vegetable. So when you're choosing to eat healthy by picking the salad bar over a burger you could be putting yourself at risk.

The rules and regulations that can be put in place to protect consumers are really simple: wear glove and use plasti/blog/c/disposable utensils when preparing food and always wait at least 48 hours after symptoms are gone before returning to work. Most reputable establishments already do/will do so/will continue to follow these simple regulations. 

Posted on Jun 4 2014 11:56AM
By LIFamilies

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Summer Reading for 2014

Okay, so you know me: I'm a big, big nerd and love creating lists for the best summer reads each year. Yes, I posted a blog a couple weeks ago of Amazon’s Top 100 Books to Read, but that was their list (not mine!) and it was for a lifetime, not this summer on the beach. Here are some interesting reads that I’ve found and am looking forward to. Have you found anything that you’d want to add to the list? Let me know!

The Vacationers by Emma Staub is a contemporary piece of the ups and downs of even a close-knit family, no matter the setting. The Post family in on a two week vacation in Mallorca, Spain, but that certainly doesn’t stop their problems from surfacing or dictate their story-plot in any way (in that this isn’t some faked-happy, A-typical family vacation). As you’re riding the emotional rollercoaster of their family dynamics you’ll be happy for the cool drink you your hand and the slumbering SO by your side!

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh is a compelling story (also developing during a pleasant family vacation) that crosses controversial boundaries from happily married to sorted Mrs. Robinson-esque affairs.  When a happily married Jenn goes from innocently flirting with her stepdaughter’s new beau to dangerously more during their Majorca getaway the story definitely steams up! Walsh creates an alluring and addictive read that may warrant an extra layer of sunscreen (since you won’t want to put it down to reapply any time soon).

Tiphanie Yanique’s Land of Love and Drowning is another great find that will keep you reading this summer. Whether you’re hopping on a plane for some tropical destination or lounging by the pool in your own backyard, Yanique's novel is going to transport you to the tropical Virgin Islands for this historical fiction tale. It chronologically accounts for 60 years and 3 generations of love, magic, and life for the Bradshaw family as the Virgin Islands transferred from Dutch to American rule and as the cultural shifts follow suit.


And possibly the most intriguing on the list is Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. When a well-known actor dies all eyes turn to the prescription-doling physician Marc Schlosser. The book follows the twists and turns of their association and their family summer spent together the previous year: full of flirtation, deception, and tragedy. Although this is the longest (and, supposedly, most long-winded) book on the list, it may be the one that you find more difficult to pull yourself away from.  

Posted on Jun 3 2014 11:59AM
By LIFamilies

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Secondary Drowning

One of the bloggers I follow regularly (Delighted Momma) had a bad scare a week back where her littlest had a “Secondary drowning” scare. Never heard of secondary drowning? Yeah, neither had she (or I) and that’s possibly the scariest part. Thanks to her sharing the story, though, it made headlines in a lot of news outlets recently to raise awareness. I want to do the same, just in case you hadn’t come across it already. Secondary drowning happens after a drowning scare, when we’d normally be lulled into a false sense of security about the event “being over.” Here’s a little information that you need to be aware of and signs/symptoms to look out for.

When a child (or adult, for that matter) has a drowning scare, we tend to become relieved once they’re safely on dry land and breathing normal again. In reality, though, the water that they inhaled during the scare can still do serious, if not fatal, damage. When a child has a near drowning incident, the water they aspirate collects in the lungs and makes it difficult to breath. The water can also cause chemical pneumonia if the incident happened in a chemically-treated water source (pools or spas). A dry drowning can even occur, where the larynx can close up to stop more water from entering the lung, but also cutting off air.

All children who experience a near-drowning incident should be brought to the hospital immediately to be checked out, and observed at home for at least 24 hours. Here is a list, however, of signs and symptoms of secondary drowning:

  • persistent coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • unusual fatigue
  • high fever
  • irritation in the throat and chest
  • dizziness

Posted on Jun 2 2014 12:44PM
By LIFamilies

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Sun Safety Tips

Now that our four legged family members are a little bit safer, it’s time to make sure we keep you and your little ones safe when it comes to outdoor play during the day. After a long, brutal winter we’re all ready to get outside and soak up those rays. We need to be very careful, though, to keep our families safe from sunburn and skin damage. Here are some helpful tips to keep everyone happy and healthy this season.

~Start by always setting a good example for the rest of your family. We’re all guilty of worrying about everyone else and then forgetting ourselves. This summer, instead of waiting until the end (or forgetting) be sure to get yourself slathered up and set before you even more ahead to the kiddos. If mom/dad/aunt/uncle is all set with sunscreen and cover-up, they’re much more receptive to do the same.

~Try to limit your outside playtime when the sun is at its strongest. Between 10am and 4pm the summer sun is at its peak, as is the outdoor temperatures. Try to keep everyone out of the sun as much as possible during this time to limit the UV rays they’re absorbing.

~Apple sunscreen properly and often. For adults dermatologists actually suggest wearing sunscreen of 15SPF daily for regular activity, so when you’re going outside for the day be sure to up the ante. The level of SPF tells you how much protection you’ll have for a length of time. To be safe keep you and family members at at least a 30SPF, applied at least 30 minutes before heading outside, and reapplied every 2 to 3 hours.

~Cover up with dark colored cotton cover-ups whenever possible. I know we’re still of the sun tan mentality and automatically think “then what’s the point?” but no amount of tan is worth permanent skin damage. Cover up you children with long sleeves and pages in dark colors whenever possible (whites and light colors let rays though), and wear sun hats and UV sunglasses.

~Remember that children under 6 months old are not recommended to get any extra sun exposure.

~Treat all minor sun burns with aloe vera to help heal the skin more wholly.  If your children have severe sunburn consider consulting their pediatrician, especially if there is any blistering or a fever of 101 or greater. If a child less than 1 year gets sunburn it is always recommended to consult your pediatrician, no matter the severity.  

Posted on May 30 2014 12:09PM
By LIFamilies

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Sanitizing Your Kitchen Sponge

I saw this super simple cleaning tip and had to share it (it may be common knowledge, but it was new to me). If you're guilty of using sponges in your kitchen, and for way too long, here's a super simple tip for sanitizing them really quickly. All you need is water and lemon juice (either fresh squeezed or from a bottle). Pour some lemon juice in a bowl of water. Saturate your sponge with the lemony-fresh water, and then pop it in the microwave. Nuke it for 2 minutes, and then let it sit for 2 minutes more (because it's going to be really hot). 

If you're feeling particularly inspired, you can also use your sanitized sponge and the steam it created to wipe out your microwave! The steam should have loosen up any grease and strains that have hardened on with time. If it's particularly nasty (or you're feeling counterproductive because your sponge is dirty again) you can always zap your sponge in the microwave one more time after rinsing it out! ;-)

Posted on May 28 2014 2:10PM
By LIFamilies

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Summertime Safety Tips for Pets

As we’re starting to get into the warmer weather (especially with Memorial Day weekend literally two days away) I figured there’s no time like the present to start a small blog series on summer and sun safety. Although it all may seem like common sense, it does help to just have a friendly reminder. To jump right in today’s PSA will be for our furry, four-legged brethren.

~Remember that leaving your pet in the car is never a safe option in the summertime. They may be desperate to go out and about with you, but even in the shade with windows open your car becomes dangerously hot, dangerously fast. No matter how much your fur friend loves the car; it’s time to start staying home in the AC.

~Be careful with the pesticides and soil additives you utilize since you're all spending extra quality time outdoors. Chemical plant growers, fertilizers and pesticides can often be highly poisonous to pets if ingested. Look into “green” pesticide and natural compost options to keep everyone in your family safe.

~Remember that dogs and cats need sun protection, too. Just like you, cats and dogs can get sun burned, too. Make sure that your pet has plenty of shady options when hanging outdoors. There are even pet-safe sunscreens for short and no haired varieties.

-Have plenty of fresh, cold water available. Whether for drinking or taking a quick dunk in, having cool water available is on sure way to keep heat stress at bay.

~Try to keep your walks and outdoor play time to the coolest parts of the day. When the sun is at its highest the heat is at its worst. Try to keep your furry friend in the house at these time, and save your play for when the sun is still rising and setting.

~When you are outside, try to stick to grass and dirt areas/paths. Streets and sideways can retain their heat and burn your pet’s paws. Keep this in mind if you head to the beach, as well! If the sand is burning your feet, it’s also burning theirs!

~Keep pets safe and secure during thunderstorms and firework shows. Although this may seem obvious, too often we hear about pets getting loose from panicking and getting themselves hurt. Keep your pets indoors whenever possible during these events. 

Posted on May 21 2014 11:55AM
By LIFamilies

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Apple Cider Vinegar

I saw this and thought it was so easy why should we ever by apple cider vinegar again?! I can go through a ton of vinegar when the mood strikes me: I make spray bottles of apple cider vinegar and water to clean the counters, clean the bathrooms, clean up after my fur-baby, etc. I mop the floors with it and even use it in recipes and condiments from time to time. ;-) Since it is so useful and versatile, why not keep your own homemade batch on hand? All you need are:

-apple scraps (peels and cores)

-white, granulated sugar


The easiest recipe I found suggests a ¼ cup of sugar to 1 quart of water. Load up a large jar with your apple scraps, and then fill it to the top with water and sugar. The combination needs to breathe, so cover with a clean cloth and secure it to your jar with a rubber band. Put it away in a dark cupboard for 4-6 weeks, and then strain out your fresh vinegar. That’s it! If it doesn't seem strong enough yet just add more sugar and put it back in the cupboard for a couple more weeks.

You may not be a fan of white sugar, but it’s the best catalyst for the bacteria that make your vinegar. If you must, you can substitute in your preferred type of honey. 

Posted on May 20 2014 10:43AM
By LIFamilies

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Giving Yoga Another Go

I have always been equal parts fascinated and intimidated by yoga. I love the lithe moves, meditative properties, and the overall calming effect it can have on the participant’s life and wellbeing. After my own several attempts (albeit on probably the worst possible yoga level for an extreme beginner) the intimidation set in heavy, with the overwhelming sense of “not being flexible enough” (an outright myth), "not being in shape enough" (why did I think I was trying yoga in the first place…to help get me in shape!), and the perpetuating sentiment of “I’ll never be able to…” Well it’s time for me to break the yoga mat back out and approach if from a totally different mental standpoint. If you're with me, here are my current wonderful reasons for loving yoga and why we should definitely stick with it.

1.Yoga relaxes your body and mind, helping you alleviate and combat stress. I am incapable of traditional meditation: I just can’t turn my brain off. By mastering your breathing and even just a couple simple poses, you can utilize yoga to help calm yourself into a more “zen” state. This in turn helps keep your health and happiness more in balance.

2.Yoga helps you lose weight, tone your body, and increase your flexibility; all in one fell swoop. Now, as a beginner, you're not going to be able to participate 100% in some of the more advanced power yoga classes (which will make the pounds fly off), but working continuously and moving ever forward will help tighten, strengthen and rejuvenate your body: helping you gradually get down to your “healthy” body weight. (Remember: health and body weight don’t necessarily go hand in hand)

3.The more healthy and flexible yoga helps you become now, the better your the fitness level and mobility will be later in life. Often we're so here in the now that we don’t stop and think about 10, 20, or 50 years from now (unless we're frantic about finances). The truth though is this: the old saying is right, “if you don't use it, you lose it.” The more your move, and continue moving, the happier and healthier you'll be once you've reached your middle aged and senior years.

And it always helps to have a little daily inspiration. I follow @laurasykora on Instagram, and watch her journey as she pushes her own boundaries and meets new goals (even after 17 years of practicing). It also helps that she involves her family for many an “aww” inspiring photo! Here a couple of my favorites. 

Posted on May 15 2014 11:44AM
By LIFamilies

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A Healthier Way to Clean Your Oven

Now that the holidays are over (leaving behind their mess) and the lovely spring weather is FINALLY here, you may be ready to finally have your house as bright and shiny as the world outside. Most of that house is easily cleanable, except that tortuous dungeon that we call an oven. If you have a self-cleaning oven, to run the cycle you need to be home for hours and hours (making sure no little hands go need the burning inferno). If you want to use a store bought cleaner you need to worry about ventilation for all of those fumes (which you then put your face in to inspect the job its doing). Instead I found a simple and more natural solution that won’t tie you up for hours or fumigate your house!

All you need for ingredients are:

  • ½ cup of liquid dish soap
  • 1 ½ cups of aluminum-free baking soda
  • 2-4 drops of essential oil of choice (or not, if you don’t want to add any)
  • ¼ cup of white vinegar
  • Enough water to make a thick paste of the solution


You’ll also need:

  • A paint brush
  • Glass bowls
  • A scrubber sponge
  • Spoon

Start by removing the racks from your oven. Combine all of your ingredients in a glass bowl and mix together well, until they create a thick “paintable” paste. Paint your paste over the entire surface of your oven, and allow it to sit for 6-8 hours (works great overnight or while you’re at work). Fill a bowl with clean water, dip your scrubber into it, and wipe away the paste and grime in your oven. You shouldn’t need to scrub, but you’ll need to keep wiping away the combo until it’s all clean (likely refilling your bowl with clean water a couple times, as well). Then start baking all over again with an oven that’s as good as new!

Two tips: 1) Make sure that the oven is cold, because your solution needs to be moist to work: heat will evaporate your liquids. 2) If you have really stubborn stains, once rest of oven is cleaned, reapply solution and let sit. Baking soda will continue to react with the baked on carbons, lifting the stain more and more. 

Posted on May 13 2014 11:32AM
By LIFamilies

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An Awesome Reading List from Amazon

A new list was published by yesterday of the “100 Books To Read In a Lifetime,” and it’s pretty awesome to check out. I know often when these lists come out there are dozens of amazing classical works that educate your mind…if they don’t put you to sleep and you can make it through them. I love this particular list because, while there are a ton of classics, it also worked really hard at keeping the recommendations enjoyable and engaging. While doing so, it also spans over 200 years of literature, connecting classic literature with modern cherished works, which I find astounding! Check it out and see if there’s anything that you are adding to this year's reading list.

Amazon's 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime

I just added the following to my own library:

  • “A Wrinkle in Time”
  • “Gone Girl”
  • “Catch-22” (I know, I know! I've been recommending it for years and still haven't sat down with it!)
  • “The Sun Also Rises”
  • “Life After Life”

They should do the trick; keeping my mind engaged for a while! In perfect timing, too, because I’m more than ready to sit outside all next weekend in the 70+ degree weather (when and if it isn't raining) with a good book or two!

(And I couldn't decide where I'd rather be so I'm including 2 inspirational images that I loved!)

Posted on May 7 2014 10:43AM
By LIFamilies

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DIY Dryer Sheets

I love this quick DIY technique and had to share. It’s for DIY Dryer sheets that are super simple and can be used over and over before ever needing to re-DIY(?) them again. If you're scent-free and totally natural…than this isn't a project for you. It does utilize fabric softener, any of your choice.

All you need are a stack of white dish rags, a jar to store them in, a bowl, fabric softener, and a clothing line or rack to dry your dish rags on.

Start by pouring straight fabric softener into your bowl. There’s no specific amount, and there won’t be any waste because the rest can be poured right back into the bottle. Soak your dish rags in the fabric softener, remove, and hang to dry outside. Allow them to dry THOROUGHLY.  This will take a while. Once they are dry you can fold them up and put them into your jar, leaving it in your laundry room for easy access. You just grab a sheet and throw it in with your laundry when you’re drying a load. You can use each upwards of 12 times before needing to start the process over again.

If you want to try a simple DIY fabric softener for this project, all you need is white vinegar and your favorite hair conditioner. Just thoroughly mix 3 parts vinegar to 2 parts hair conditioner: stir it, do not shake it. If you're throwing it into your washer, too, simply use ½ cup or so as you would regular fabric softener. 

Posted on May 6 2014 1:58PM
By LIFamilies

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Rolling River's Spring Festival and Fund Raiser

Come support a good cause and say “Hi!” to LIF at Rolling River Day Camp’s Spring Festival and Fundraiser!  It’s going to be tomorrow, May 3rd from 12pm-4pm. It sounds like it’s going to be a gorgeous day and this is a great way to spend it outside!

The Rock-the-River Spring Festival is a fundraiser benefits Rolling River’s Campmates Scholarship Program. The Campmates Program raises funds to send local deserving children associated with Peninsula Counseling Center to Rolling River Day Camp free of charge. The 2014 Rock-the-River Festival celebrates the return of East Rockaway after Hurricane Sandy and will feature extra activities and events sponsored by many local East Rockaway businesses.

We hope to see you there!

Posted on May 2 2014 10:54AM
By LIFamilies

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Sunscreen Bars

I’m more than ready for this foul weather to move out and for a sunny, warm May to move in. It’s going to happen, I refuse to believe otherwise. We’ll probably skip right over Spring and head straight into a hot summer this year, and I’m actually ok with that! To get us started off right I found an awesome recipe for homemade sunscreen bars. I prefer lotion of any form in bars when possible: they’re just easier to handle, use, and store. Although you may not feel 100% about making sunscreen for kids, these are definitely worth a try for yourself if not your family!

To start you’ll need:

  • 1.5 ounces beeswax
  • 1.5 ounces Shea butter
  • 1.5 ounces coconut oil
  • 1 ounce zinc oxide
  • 10 drops of tea tree oil

Start by melting the beeswax, Shea butter, and coconut oil together; put the ingredients in a mason jar and place it in a pot of boiling water until they’re melted completely. Removed from the heat and then stir in your zinc oxide and tea tree oil. Pour into silicon molds or an ice cube tray and allow to cool completely. Once done, store your sunscreen bars in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them! Once you’re heading out into the sun just grab a bar, warm it up slightly between your hands, and the rub it over your skin. These bars are roughly 20 SPF and waterproof. If you’re heading to the beach or a picnic keep your sunscreen bar in a zip-lock baggy in your cooler just to make sure it doesn’t melt on you. 

(image source)

Posted on Apr 30 2014 9:50AM
By LIFamilies

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FDA Discourages Possibly Dangerous Procedure

I thought that this is an awesome follow-up. About a month ago I wrote up a post about the dangers of using power morcellation as an option for hysterectomies and included the link to an online petition to stop the procedure from being recommended. The FDA is actually agreeing and is officially discouraging use of the procedure in these cases, as well as in the cases of fibroid surgeries.

Power morcellation is a technique that allows doctors to literally pulverize organs and fibers into tiny pieces to be removed through tiny incisions. The effect is a minimally invasive procedure for the patient, but it can result in the spread of cancer cells at the same time. Although cancer is screened for and doctors try rule it out ahead of time, 1 in every 350 cases the cancer is not detected and allowed to spread through the entire abdomen due to the morcellation process.

From William Maisel, the deputy director for Science and chief scientist for the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological health, “Patients should know that the FDA is discouraging the use of laparoscopic power morcellation for hysterectomy or (fibroid removal surgery), and they should discuss the risks and benefits of the available treatment options with their health care professionals."

Posted on Apr 24 2014 11:49AM
By LIFamilies

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Natural Allergy Relief

This time of year can be literal torture for seasonal allergy sufferers (heck, and year-round allergy sufferers). The trees and flowers are back in bloom… and that means itchy eyes and congestions all around! I know that most of you tough it out, not wanting to resort to medications unless absolutely necessary, so here are a couple remedies that will hopefully provide you with a little relief as you go.

Start by swapping some of your schedule, if you can. They say the worst times for allergens and pollen are around sunrise and sunset: while the weather is still palatable, try swapping your morning jog to midday or late afternoon. This will hopefully help keep you out of the thick of it. Once you get home leave your sneakers outside and head straight in to get changed/shower. You bring a lot of pollen right indoors on you, so you’ll want to remove it quickly to decrease the effects. Washing your hair right before bed and changing your sheets more frequently will also help to ensure you a better night’s sleep by removing the lingering allergens that would keep you up.

Use apple cider vinegar to your advantage. We already use it to clean our homes and kill other health issues (such as heartburn). Use it to help cleanse your system and break down mucus, as well. Mix 1 tablespoon with a glass of water 3x daily to best affect.

Saline Nasal spray and Neti pots are your friend. Although using a neti isn’t always recommended (because it can be “overly cleansing” if used with too much regularity), cleansing your sinuses with nasal spray and/or neti pots will help remove residual allergens from your sinus canal to keep their effects to a minimum.  

A teaspoon a day of local honey may keep the allergens away. Honey already has beneficial qualities to help you feel better: soothing raw throats and warding off a cough. It is believed that local honey may have an additional effect: the honey cultivated in our local environment may help you build up a barrier and tolerance for the allergens there. It may only be a chance, but with already existing anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties it doesn’t hurt to try.

Take as many breaks as you can. The more stressed you are the more hyper-reactive your body is going to be to the allergy simulants. By catching up on a little sleep and those yoga/meditative sessions you just haven’t had time for you’ll be helping your body fight the battle with fewer side-effects. 

Posted on Apr 22 2014 12:14PM
By LIFamilies

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A Weekend DIY Spa Day!

With the crazy winter finally finishing up and leading straight into a week of holidays and festivities, the chances are good that you’re more than ready for a relaxing spa day: I know that I am. My skin is crying out for it just as intensely as my psyche is! If you’re in the same boat, and don’t have the time or money to spend an entire afternoon at the spa (no matter how glorious it may sound) here are a few recipes for you to have your own spa day at home!

Let’s start with the hair. If you’re ready for a good conditioning treatment, here’s a simple and fast recipe! Pop 1 avocado (peeled and cubed), 2 tablespoons of heavy cream, and 1 tablespoon of honey into your blender and mix well. Wash your hair as usual, and then comb mixture through it. Wrap in cellophane and cover with a shower cap. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes and then rinse out well! This will leave your hair soft and silky, while helping to even out the pH of your scalp (leaving it not to dry and not too oily).

Next, we’ll work on healing those winter-chapped hands. Start with a simple scrub of ½ cup of olive oil and ½ cup of sugar. Mix them into a paste, massage over hands lightly, and then rinse off well. Next pop ¼ of honey (if not a little more) into the microwave for about 20 second to liquefy it (maybe a little more, maybe a little less depending on your microwave). Apply the honey to your hands and have a helper wrap them up in cellophane. Sit back and relax for about 30 minutes, allowing the honey to sooth and enrich your freshly exfoliated skin. Rinse away with warm water when you’re done.

Lastly, let’s greet the world with a glowing smile! I tend to post up face mask ideas often because they’re one of my favorite ways to unwind. This time, though, I figured why not go for something a little fancier! For this luscious mask you’ll start with 2 kiwis, 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt (regular or greek), 1 tablespoon of OJ, and 1 tablespoon of your preferred oil (almond, olive, sunflower, etc). Peel your kiwis and pop them in the blends. Puree them well, and then add the rest of your ingredients and blend well. Your mask should be creamy with just a touch of exfoliating properties (from your kiwi seeds). Apply all over your face, avoiding your eyes. Sit back, relax, and allow drying fully on your skin (usually about 10 to 15 minutes). Rinse off with warm water, and put any remaining mask in the fridge because it’s good for up to a week! (That means you can have a spa-mask-Monday if you’d like, too!)

Posted on Apr 18 2014 12:33PM
By LIFamilies

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Paleo Banana Cream Pie

I’m always looking for simple new health(ish) recipes, especially for desserts. I have a sweet tooth and would much rather have it over the dinner any day. Here’s a simple, fast recipe for a Paleo Banana Cream Pie that I will be putting to the test this week. I wanted to share it so that you could, too. All you really need (besides the ingredients) are a food processor, pie tin, and room in your freezer! No baking time and your recipe is all set up in about 15 minutes to pop in the freezer! What could be easier? So here is the breakdown of your ingredients:

Pie Crust:

-2 cups of raw cashews that you soaked overnight

-2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut

-1/2 cup of dates

-1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Pie Filling:

-1 ½ cups of raw cashews, soaked overnight

-2 medium to large bananas + one extra for slices placed on top of pie

-1/4 cup of honey

-1/3 cup of coconut oil

-1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice

-1 teaspoon vanilla

-a dash of salt

Place all of the ingredients for your pie crust into the food processor and blend until they clump and start to stick together. Place into your pie tin and press it evenly around. Put all of your pie filling ingredients into the food processor (except the extra banana for slicing) and blend until smooth. Pour and smooth it out evenly in the crust. Place banana slice all around the top and pop it into your freezer to harden (at least a couple hours). Take it out, thaw a couple minutes if necessary, and enjoy!

Posted on Apr 15 2014 10:53AM
By LIFamilies

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The Cookie Lady Contest!

Once again it’s contest time, and once again I’m jealous that I can't participate! The awesomely talented Cookie Lady is hosting a contest exclusively for you, our LIFamilies crew, for a chance to 25 free custom cookie favors! Your prize will include the 25 personalized cookies and bags with personalized tags! The prize will be redeemable after May 10, 2014!

To enter, all you need to do is head over to the official contest thread and post a reply with the theme and type of the party you are/will be planning! (birthday, christening, baby shower, etc) Multiple entries are allowed if you're planning multiple parties, but please one entry per post!

The winner will be chosen at random, and the contest ends at midnight on April 24th! Prize is non-transferable and cannot be redeemed for cash!

Good luck! :-D

Here are some of The Cookie Lady's creations!!

Posted on Apr 10 2014 11:59AM
By LIFamilies

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Seasonal Fruits and Veggies Chart

I've always been a huge fan of buying fresh and buying local, but that can be easier said than done. In the warmer states their growing season is basically year round for a lot of produce. Here on the Island, though, once we get into cooler/cold weather, it's hard to figure out what could or may be in season, and what is available local. I found these awesome charts and figured I'd share it with you. (I was searching to see what's going to be in season next, now that spring seems to finally be here.) It'll help you keep an eye out for local items and make a viable shopping list for when you head to the farmers markets. 

Posted on Apr 9 2014 10:13AM
By LIFamilies

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Glowing Egg Hunt

So, it’s almost April…and we had our April Fools a day early. Really? March 31 and we have about 1.5” of snow on the ground? I choose to ignore it and look forward to the warmer weather we are/were supposed to have this week. With that said, I'm looking forward to all sorts of colorful spring decorations and activities. One of my absolute favorites is the egg hunt. They're all over the place; your local parks, schools, and farms. Our favorites growing up, however, were done right at home. To add a new twist to a favorite spin, I found this awesome idea for Glowing Eggs for night time egg hunts. This is so simple, and looks so cool, it makes me wonder why I haven't heard of it sooner!

All you'll need are:

-glow sticks of choice. Small sticks or Finger lights are going to be the easiest, but you can also get the bracelets and twist them up like pretzels.

-empty plastic eggs.

-treats or prizes of choice.

Start by snapping and activating your glow sticks. Stick one into each egg with a reward, and tape them closed. All you have left to do is hide them! Either head out into the yard after sunset or turn off the lights indoors. Either way these eggs add an extra stimulus to an already awesome game. 

Posted on Mar 31 2014 11:49AM
By LIFamilies

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An Upcoming Event!

Mark off next Thursday on your calendars, ladies and gents, because I found out about this pretty awesome event coming up! One of our wonder vendors, and soon to be vendor, is having her work exhibited in Bloomingdale’s Furniture Gallery in Roosevelt Field Mall! Debbie Viola is a custom finish and mural designer, and she has been commissioned by Bloomingdales to create 30 large abstract paintings, which they will be displaying during the event!

Head over from 6-9pm on April 3 for an art open reception, with live jazz music, gourmet wine and food. Bloomingdale's staff will also be on hand to explain their loyalty program to designers who attend. The art works are going to be displayed for a month, during which time 40% of Debbie’s sales will all go towards The Interfaith Nutrition Network and other charities. 

Posted on Mar 26 2014 9:36AM
By LIFamilies

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Unshrink Your Favorites!

So I just saw this on one of my favorite blogs and hope it works for me, too! Did you know that it’s possible to “unshrink” your favorite clothes?! I absolutely loath shrinking pants legs. I’m 5’10” to begin with, so as my jeans and sweatpants start to shrink they almost instantly become way too short to wear (I also absolutely loath “high-waters” as we always called). Here’s hopefully a solution to help my wardrobe last a while longer.

Fill up your sink with lukewarm water and a capful of baby shampoo. Allow your clothing item to soak for a while in the solution. Remove the item and wring it out gently. **Don’t rinse it out.**

Next, lay the item out on a dry towel, and roll it up (absorbing that excess water out of it). Get another dry towel and repeat that step. Once you’ve done it a second time, unroll the cloth and towel, laying it out to dry the rest of the way. As it’s drying, gently stretch the item out, little by little, to its original size/length. Once it’s dry, try it on to see how close to un-shrunk you’ve gotten it! If you need to unshrink it a little more do the usual “rinse & repeat.”

Posted on Mar 20 2014 2:56PM
By LIFamilies

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DIY Grass Decor

I saw these indoor grass plants and thought they were absolutely perfect for living Spring decorations! I know that the calendar says that spring is literally 2 days away, but I think that the calendar is lying to us all! It certainly doesn’t feel like it (feeling like 2 degrees yesterday, and all). This quick and cute project is a great way to not only decorate for the occasion, but to also help you brighten up for it, as well!

To start you’ll need:

-potting/top soil

-grass seed (choose shade mixes if not going to sunny area of home: Rye and Wheat grass are great, with thicker blades.)

-containers (whether mason jars, antique bowls or mugs, old cans, etc)


-misting bottle

Choose your container and then add a layer of about ½ inch to 1 inch of pebbles at the bottom for drainage. Fill the rest of the container about ¾ inch from the top with soil. Sprinkle grass seeds across the top, and then press them gently into it. Mist the seeds until the soil is until soil is slightly damp. Place in your desired location, and mist until slightly damp every other day. Grass should start to sprout within a couple of days. Once it has reached about an inch tall you can give it a little bit more of a watering every few days to cut back on the maintenance. Once it starts to grow in height, enjoy trimming it at will to desired effect!

Posted on Mar 18 2014 4:25PM
By LIFamilies

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THREE14 Photography Contest!

Okay, friends and families, it’s time for another awesome contest! This time our prize is from the very talented THREE14 Photography, and they’re offering a contest for your chance to win a free newborn or family photography session! If you’re the big winner,  your prize will include the photo session and a DVD of all of the edited images! Here’s all you need to do to enter:

Head over to this contest post. Respond to that thread with a photo showing how you and/or your family have been enjoying or coping with this crazy winter season! The more creative your entry the better! The winner will be chosen at random from all of the entries.

As an added bonus, to help THREE14 get their new Facebook page going, the more Likes we get on their fan page the more prizes will be given away!

If they reach 100 fans/likes, there will be a second winner, and they’ll receive a $200 gift certificate!

If they reach 150 fans/likes, there will be a third winner, who will also receive a $200 gift certificate!

Multiple entries are allowed, and only one photo/activity should be shared per post! Contest ends 3/21/14 at 11:59pm. Session needs to be held between 5/1/14-9/30/14, and on location (your home, park, etc) within 30 miles of Floral Park. Winner will be announced 3/24/14!

Good Luck!!

Posted on Mar 14 2014 10:22AM
By LIFamilies

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More Recalls...

So, Graco is officially at it again.  Shortly after the NHTSA started the investigation against Graco, Graco recalled an extra 403,000 car seats. So who’s on the chopping block now? Here are the newly recalled models:

2006-2014 Argos 70 Elite, Ready Ride, Step 2, My Ride 65 with Safety Surround, My Size 70, Head Wise 70 with Safety Surround, Nautilus 3-in-1, Nautilus Plus, and Smart Seat with Safety Surround.

Again, these car seats are being recalled do to their buckles sticking when trying to get your child in and out. If you contact the company they will send you replacement buckles, because the rest of the car seat is still structurally sound.  

Now the NHTSA is still not satisfied. They believe that an additional 1.8 million infant seats should also be recalled, as they utilize the same buckles. Graco has yet to recall them, saying that parents can remove the whole carrier if need be, in case of emergency, so the buckles sticking wouldn’t be a risk.

If the infant seats are recalled this will be the largest car seat recall in history. Is it possible that that’s why they’re not playing it safe and recalling them all?

Posted on Mar 13 2014 2:06PM
By LIFamilies

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Graco In Headlines Again!

Yikes! I saw this and thought it was interesting to share. After the big Graco car seat recall last month, I know a lot of people were very happy to find out that their car seats weren’t included on the list of recalled models. Well, now Graco is feeling the heat again because federal safety officials want to know exact HOW those other models made the slip.

The safety recall last month had to do with the buckles of millions of car seats. Once they became gummed up with good and liquids (spilled by our little ones, of course) they became more and more difficult to unlatch. This could become especially hazardous in the case of accidents and fires, when getting your little one out immediately is obviously prudent.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now wants Graco to hand over every piece of information and research relating to both the recalled and non-recalled models, proving that the other models do still meet their necessary safety regulations. Graco of course says that they’re happy to comply and confident in their decisions: that the remaining car seats were tested vigorously and meet all safety regulations. Time will tell if that is indeed so!

Remember, if you have one of the recalled models, all you need to do is order your free replacement buckles online HERE. The seats are still safe to use while waiting for the replacement buckles the company claims. Here are the customer service contacts for Graco, as well: (800) 345-4109 or [email protected]

Posted on Mar 12 2014 8:59AM
By LIFamilies

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Home Stain Remedies

I am one of those people that goes through far too many clothing items, not because they’re old or don’t fit, but because I wear/spill/stain everything! All of my favorite camis and tees have been through the torment of store bought spot cleaners and oxi-detergents, but I am always looking for an easier (and better) fix! Here are a couple awesome home treatments that I found, thought I’d share, and hope save my current wardrobe!

I love this one! Spill some of your precious red vino? Blot with a damp clean cloth. Dab with a little white wine (in between sipping it) to break down more of the stain. For anything that is left, sprinkle baking soda over it and allow it to absorb the residue for 20 minutes, and then remove it with a cloth.

If you spill the grease from that pizza or cheese burger onto your favorite shirt, that doesn't mean it’s done for anymore! As soon as humanly possible break out your talcum powder or cornmeal. Sprinkle it generously over your stain, and let it absorb the oils. Dust away with a dry cloth.

Get something gummy stuck in clothing or furniture? Freeze the goo with an ice cube, and then scrape the mass majority off with butter knife or comb. For the remainder, dab on a little clear dish soap. Rinse off with a damp cloth.

Remove ink stains with a little bit of rubbing alcohol. Dip a clean toothbrush into the alcohol, tap off any excess, and then gently scrub your ink stain away.

For coffee or tea, first mix together 1 cup of water and 1 cup of white vinegar. Sprinkle or spray the stain, dab with a clean damp cloth, and then with a clean dry cloth. Next, mix 1 tablespoon of clear ammonia and 1 cup of water, spray stain, dab with a clean damp cloth, and then with the dry. 

Posted on Mar 5 2014 3:30PM
By LIFamilies

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New Food Package Labels

Have you seen the news yet about the proposed new food labeling that the FDA is working on requiring? The labels on the back of our food packaging (listing serving size, calories, fats, etc.) have been in place as status quo for over 20 years. The proposed face lift will hopefully help consumers make increasingly healthy/educated decisions in the grocery store by highlighting the positives and negatives in the foods they choose.

The FDA is putting up two different proposed labels for the food community to contemplate and critique over the next 90 days. Once any final decisions are made all food manufacturers will have to implement the new labels within the next 2 years.

So what would be so different? Well here’s a sort of checklist of updates:

-Serving sizes will be realistic! That can of iced tea that is supposed to be 2.5 servings will now be reflected as one serving.

-Calorie counts will be in larger, more prominent prints

-All grams of sugar (no matter the form) will be shown as one total

-Calories from Fat will be removed and fat break downs (saturated, trans, etc) will remain

-Vitamins that we’re commonly deficient in (vitamin D, potassium, etc) will be shown over others.

Here are the proposed changes next to the current. Do you think it will ultimately help? It will definitely be easy to read/understand, but do you that the information ultimately changes individual food choices?

Posted on Feb 27 2014 1:54PM
By LIFamilies

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A Simple Flubber Recipe

I am always looking for fun ideas and activities that are super simple to share…and this one made me squeal a little bit. Okay, maybe it's just my generation, but when I happened upon a “Flubber” recipe that I could make in less than 10 minutes, I got down-right giddy! Here’s a fun idea to maybe try this weekend if we end up stuck inside again. (Or you can always take it outside, too, if it gets nice enough out!)

So you need to set this up in two parts. The first is in one bowl combine and mix the following well; 2 cups of Elmer’s glue, ¼ cup of warm water, and food coloring of your choice.

In a second bowl, combine and mix well; 3 teaspoons of Borax and 1 cup of warm water.

Next, pour your first mixture into the second…and that’s it. It’s supposed to do all of the rest of the work itself. Once it forms a big glob with just a little bit of water on top pour the extra water off, and then knead if for a minute or two. That’s it! You can  enjoy your flubber fun and store it in an airtight container when you’re done to save for another day!

(Image source)

Posted on Feb 21 2014 10:08AM
By LIFamilies

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Knowledge is Power: Laparoscopic Hysterectomy Dangers

I just read an article on the dangers that can be associated with a less invasive hysterectomy technique and thought that it was important to share. Although there are pros and cons with all important decisions in life, it’s still necessary to know the dangers that you can face either way.

At least 11% of the 500,000 hysterectomies performed every year are now done through a tiny incision in the belly button. This cuts the healing time down drastically, from 4 to 6 weeks to 5 days. For this less-intrusive surgery, surgeons use a Morcellation technique, literally pulverizing the uterus (or growths) to be able to remove the tissue through the small incision.  

Although this surgery is a miracle for most women who need the procedure done, for small percentage of others it can become a fatal decision. How the surgery is currently performed, the morcellation also pulverizes any cancerous growths and cells that may be in the area and allows them to spread throughout the abdomen.

This is what happened to Amy Reed, a Boston doctor who had a laparoscopic hysterectomy to end bleeding from fibroids (benign growths on her uterus). She had tested negative for cancer before the procedure, but the form that was residing in her uterus was rare and didn’t appear on the tests. The morcellation spread the cancer throughout her body and she now has stage 4 cancer, with an 85% chance of death within the next 5 years. About 1 in every 400 surgeries have had a similar outcome.

Now, the point of the article and public awareness wasn’t to turn women away from this form of surgery. The real point is that the medical field can remove this risk by changing their techniques. A surgical bag can be put in place, at the start of the surgery, so that all of the cells pulverized in the morcellation process stay restricted within it, which is then removed through the incision in the belly button.

The reason why there’s any hesitation in this small technique alteration is that the hospital staff then needs more training and the procedure then becomes more costly. Amy Reed and her husband have created petition demanding that hospitals stop their current process until a better method can be implemented. 

Posted on Feb 19 2014 10:13AM
By LIFamilies

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Valentine's Day Cuties

Although we're not all always feeling it (some years more than others >.>), it is February 14, and there's no denying that love is in the air! There are fresh roses everywhere, bright pinks and reds adorn all of the seasonal displays/decorations in schools, homes, stores...everywhere! It's hard to not feel at least a little festive. Whether you're a Valentine's Day person or not, here's a little seasonal "Aw" that will put a smile on the most hesitant of faces. :-D (And trust me, before I found these cuties I was "hesitant" to say the least!)

The cuteness if overwhelming! (Image by Natasha Beccaria Photography)


(Images by Christina Kneer Photograph)

So sweet I can't even handle it!

(Images by Alexis Hardy Photography)

This Little Man is already a Romeo!

(Image by Amanda Saldarelli Photography)

And no Valentine's Day is complete without Candy AND Roses!!

(Images by Katie Burnett Photography)

Posted on Feb 14 2014 10:34AM
By LIFamilies

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A Simple Valentine's Day Dessert

So I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for fun and easy recipe ideas… emphasis on the easy. I want to show off my culinary “skills” without actually needing to have too many of them. My mother is impressed when I make a meatloaf and my sister is impressed when I boil water… but sometimes you need to show off a little more skill than that when you have company. I found these beautiful and super simple, mini cherry heart pies and thought that they would be perfect for this Valentine’s Day! You can try them for a simple something sweet, too!

All you need to get started are:

-a box of store bought pie crusts

-1 can cherry pie filling

-1 beaten egg white

-red or pink decorating sugar (if desired)

-a heart cookie cutter

-a little flour for dusting

-a parchment paper lines cookie sheet

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Dust your counter with flour and then unroll your pie crusts. Cut out as many hearts as you can out of the two crusts (keep an even number). Place half of your hearts on your parchment lined cookie sheet, spoon some of your filling in the middle (keeping about ½ inch away from edges to prevent overflow), and place a remaining heart on top of each. Crimp your edges with a fork (making sure that they’re tightly sealed). Brush egg wash over the top of each and spring with red or pink sugar if desired. Pop in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes (until they are lightly golden brown) and you’re done! 

(Image source)

Posted on Feb 11 2014 11:18AM
By LIFamilies

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Making Children Money Wise

In the difficult times that we’re still living in, one very important responsibility that falls on a parent’s shoulders is the need to help their children learn the importance of money and creating smart spending habits. I know that it sounds very heavy and that your little ones may still be small, but it’s never too early to start building a foundation for a good knowledge base. Whether it’s putting those found pennies away in a piggy bank or taking their birthday money to the bank, we all need to start somewhere. Here are a couple simple tips for building a smart money sense in your child/children.

Start by giving your child/children the ability to earn money/allowance, and then give them the independence to decide how to save and spend that money. At first they will definitely spend above and beyond their means, but as they start to realize that they want a little more to get items more important to them you'll be able to go over saving and putting away for later. It’s also never too soon to start discussing the benefits of putting at least part of their money away towards important expenses, such as a car, a trip, or college.

Have your little one get more involved with your wise money spending decisions right from the jump. Once they've started understanding the concepts of dollars and cents, hand them your wad of coupons. Allow them to help you find the brand that’s on sale, and make sure that it’s still your best buy (over the store brand, for example).

Next, try to help your children understand that everyone needs to compromise when it comes to spending and that even you don't get everything you want (when it comes to purchases). Show how you're making sacrifices for the sake of saving, and then how those sacrifices give you more money to spend at a later date (like with the money saved from the coupons above).

Let your children help you with the budgeting, planning and big decisions when it pertains to them. If you son or daughter has a big birthday coming up (10, 14, etc.) start your planning early and give them a budget and say. If they want to have a “party place” birthday let them explore the pricing and what’s included for different locations. Let them compare and contrast what they would get that way versus a party at home or going to the movies. They'll feel more involved and experience first-hand why you would choose one investment over another. 

Posted on Feb 6 2014 11:49AM
By LIFamilies

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Making Bubbles!

Okay, I’m officially dreaming of spring. I'm a winter person at heart. I love the snow. I love scarfs, gloves, and warm wool coats, but even I am officially done. I’m looking forward to the snow going away permanently and being able to head back outside for more than 10 minutes at a time. Because of this, I'm already looking ahead to fun, springtime projects (or, more appropriately, springtime antics). If you are too, here’s a fun and simple bubble solution that we can make on the first warm day. Heck, if you're so inclined, you can make it now and bubble away indoors to keep the little ones entertained until they can escape. After all, can you really make your house dirty with soap? I just don't suggest blowing bubbles on tile, linoleum, or hardwood floors. I won't be held accountable for the slipping and sliding! 

All you need are:

4 cups distilled water

1 cup dish soap of choice

½ cup glycerin or light corn syrup

Combine your ingredients in a jar or container, and then shake them up good! Allow the mixture 24 hours or so to settle, and then your bubbly mixture is ready to go! 

Posted on Feb 4 2014 10:53AM
By LIFamilies

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Origami Owl Contest!

Okay, ladies and gents, we have a new contest running for you (and I’m super jealous over this one)! Deanna Bonilla - Origami Owl Independent Designer is giving away a free personalized mini locket! This is the perfect accent piece for any outfit (gents, your SO will love you for winning one for her ;-D).  

All you need to do to enter is head on over to our contest post in the forum, reply with the best gift you have ever been given or received, and then head over and “Like” Deanna’s Origami Owl Facebook page. The contest winner will be chosen at random and will win one mini locket, one charm, and one chain of their choice! Hurry over, the contest ends on February 12, 2014 at midnight! Good luck and enjoy your locket for me! ;-)

Click here to check out all of Origami Owl's awesome jewelry options!

Posted on Jan 30 2014 9:15AM
By LIFamilies

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Himalayan Rock Salt

Today’s blog was a toss-up between Super-Bowl goodies and a healthy living idea, and I went for the healthy living idea. Sometimes it’s better to have a little healthy living inspiration. I was looking around some of my favorite sites and found a great break down for ideas for detoxifying and purifying with natural salts, and I had to share. I’m a big advocate for Himalayan rock salt, and have been for years. I used to sit with a bright and wonderful elderly woman years ago, as an aid, and she taught me the benefits of having a salt lamp lit in your environment at all times, and she only knew a few of the properties (that helped her daily). You can use is as bath salt, a neti pot wash, a sole elixir, an ambient lamp, or even the salt you use daily on your food.

As a bath salt: you can purchase Himalayan rock salt at most grocery and health food stores as regular, coarse salt as you would sea salt. By adding 2 cups of salt to your warm bath water, you create a rejuvenating and detoxifying spa bath. The dissolved salt draws out toxins from your body, while deep cleansing your skin and righting your energy.

As a neti pot salt: if you’re a neti pot user, you know that it is one helpful way to alleviate some of your sinus pain and congestion.  With a slightly salted wash, you can increase the benefits of utilizing you neti pot. Adding Himalayan salt to your distilled or boiled water helps to prevent and alleviate a sinus infection (as an antimicrobial agent), reduce or eliminate seasonal allergies, and clear your postnasal drip.

As a sole elixir: To start, you need to make your sole. You need a plastic container or glass container with a plastic lid (no metal). Then you just fill ¼ of your container with salt and filtered water the rest of the way. Stir with a plastic utensil or shake well, and then let it sit overnight…that’s it! There should always be undissolved salt at the bottom, that’s how you know that the water is saturated. To use your sole, take one tablespoon a day, first thing in the morning, in a full glass of water. Now for the crazy list of benefits!

-Detoxifies the body by balancing your pH

-Reduces muscle cramps by improving hydration and mineral content

-A powerful antihistamine

-Supports weight loss by balancing hormones

-Assists in balancing blood sugar levels

-Improves sleeping habits

-Supports thyroid and adrenal function

-Helps balance blood pressure through unrefined, mineral-rich salt in an ionic solution

As an ambient salt lamp: this is where my education started. The woman that I learned from kept her lamp going because the negative ions that it produced help keep her arthritis at bay, as well as helping her to breathe easier. I now know that a lot of this is because the bad things in the air we breathe (pollen, pollution, dirt, dust, etc.) have a positive energy charge. A lit lamp acts as a natural air purifier (moisture in the air lands on the salt lamp, creates a salt water mix, and then the moisture evaporates with the warmth of the light bulb, putting the evaporated Himalayan salt into the air). The lamp emits negative ions that attach themselves to the bad particles in the air, turning them neutral, which causes them to no longer be airborne.

Lastly, as your everyday salt: you can pretty much gather from the rest of the post the benefits of taking Himalayan salt into your system. Possibly the easiest way of doing so is by replacing your regular salt in your salt shaker with this rock salt and enjoy! 

Posted on Jan 28 2014 11:13AM
By LIFamilies

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Safe Home Cleaning

I’m always looking for new options for safely cleaning my (and your) home. I don’t have little ones of my own, yet, but I do live with 2 (sometimes 3) four legged children who are into everything and always licking everything. Because of this, I try to stick as natural as possible with my cleaning products. And let’s face it, I also try to be as frugal as possible, and usually home-made cleaners tend to be a lot easier on my pocket book than store bought ones are, too! Especially the organic, healthier store bought cleaners. Here are a couple new recipes I just found to try all around the house.

For your mirrors, in an empty spray bottle, just combine 1 ½ cups of water with ½ cup of vinegar. Add 5 to 10 drops of lemon essential oil if you would like to add a fragrance, as well as extra cleansing/disinfecting properties.

Keep your toilet clean and chemical free with straight vinegar. When you want to sanitize and deodorize your toilet, pour a little (or a lot) of scented or regular vinegar straight into the bowl. Keep additional vinegar in a spray bottle to wipe down the seat. When you need an extra scrub, sprinkle baking soda into the bowl and scrub it around with a sturdy brush.

For a great disinfectant for walls, door-knobs, toys, etc (anything that hands and mouths may touch) make a diluted vinegar spray of equal parts vinegar and water. To keep your home from smelling like a salad (as mine often does) add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil to keep your home smelling fresh and clean.

For your floors and countertops, a castile soap mixture will do the trick. This also works great on your walls, too, when you just need to brighten them up and not disinfect. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of castile soap and 10 drops of lemon essential oil to a gallon of hot water. Stir well and you’re ready to go. If your floors or countertops are greasy, add an additional 1/8 cup of vinegar to the mix, as well. 

Posted on Jan 23 2014 12:07PM
By LIFamilies

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Snow Dough Men!

I know all of you parents (and non-parents, like me, who just never grew up) are going to be looking for something simple and fun to pass the time tomorrow if we end up with another snow day…and right now it’s looking pretty darn likely. How about this fun, homemade snow-dough for indoor shenanigans once everyone is cold-weathered out? (Which is going to be pretty quick, playing in the snow isn't the same when it’s only 18 degrees out!) This easy dough will be especially perfect for Dough-Men ((as opposed to snowmen)) because we're keeping it white and making it glittery!

You'll need the following to start:

-A medium-sized pot

-1 cup of flour

-1 cup of water

-2 tablespoons of cream of tartar

-1/4 cup salt

-1 tablespoon oil


In your pot, combine all of your ingredients (with glitter being added last) and stir together thoroughly. Next, heat the mixture over a medium heat, stirring continuously, until it turns into dough. Remove it from the heat, allow it to cool until handle-able, and then knead until smooth. Your play dough is now ready for snowy day enjoyment!

Posted on Jan 21 2014 12:09PM
By LIFamilies

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Paleo Chocolate Frosted Vanilla Mug Cake

Do you ever get those unsurmountable cravings for delicious, homemade baked treats? I do on the regular (doesn’t matter the “time of the month”, though some are worse than others…) and I usually end up taking to Google for searches like “3 ingredient desserts” or “easiest sugar cookie recipes.” I’ve come up with some amazing results, as well as some attempts that have gone horribly wrong! One popular Google search for me is “One minute Mug Cakes.” Here is one that is super simple, and actually almost healthy (with its Paleo ingredients).

This is a super-fast, 2 minute Paleo Chocolate Frosted Vanilla Mug Cake!

Cupcake Ingredients:

-1 heaping tablespoon coconut flour (or flour of choice)

-1/4 teaspoon baking powder

-a dash sea salt

-1 tablespoon honey

-1 egg

-1 tablespoon melted ghee (vegetable oil or clarified butter work as substitute)

-1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting Ingredients:

-1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

-1 teaspoon honey

-1 teaspoon coconut oil

Start by just combining all of your cake ingredients in a microwave safe mug or bowl. Stir them very thoroughly, and then pop it into the microwave for 1:45.

Combine your frosting ingredients in separate bowl. Microwave for 20 second, or until completely melted. Stir your mixture together until its smooth, and then pour over your hot mug cake and enjoy! If you’d like a more “frosting” like consistency to your chocolate, pop the iced cake into the refrigerator for 5 minutes first and then enjoy!

Posted on Jan 15 2014 12:33PM
By LIFamilies

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Tips For Looking Younger and Healthier

We all want to look our very best at all times, but why not start a new regiment with the new year that will not only help you look your best, but help keep you looking younger longer? It’s never too late to start giving your skin and body a helping hand, but I learned that hard way that you're never too young to start, either! Here are a couple fabulous tips to help you look and feel years younger!

Start with a fabulous pair of sunglasses and actually wearing them! We're all guilty of forgetting our sunglasses exist, and then just squinting and dealing with the sun instead. When you do not only is this horrible for your eyes, but it also creates crow’s feet around your eyes and wrinkles on your forehead. Remember those fabulous glasses to relax and smooth away the wrinkles.

Be sure to get plenty of beauty sleep. We all have a tendency of overbooking our days and then, more often than not, not allowing our bodies to play catch-up! When we rely on less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep, our skin, brains, and bodies don’t have the opportunity to completely refresh. This not only leaves us with those dark bags under our eyes, but makes our whole body age more rapidly. Try heading to bed a little earlier than usual (if possible) to help your body and metabolism rejuvenate.  

Ditch the liquid/matte cover up. In actuality, liquid foundation and cover up have never been your friends, clogging your pores and aging your skin, but as we get older it is particularly unkind. Liquid cover up has a habit of filling in and emphasizing the cracks and imperfections that we're trying to hide in the first place. Switch to mineral and powder cover ups and foundations for a more flawless look that compliments your skins current state, and even helps it repair and replenish.

Slather yourself in sunscreen and moisturizer all year round. The best way to help your skin retain its youthful glow, and to help if get some of that glow back, is to help keep if quenched and protected. Protected skin is happy skin: it won’t have to be burned or wrinkled by the sun and it won’t have to worry about drying out and trying to replenish itself. 

Posted on Jan 13 2014 12:30PM
By LIFamilies

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Birth Announcement Contest

Attention all Mommies-to-be! We have another fun contest running just for you. Our good friends over at A Heavenly Delivery are hosting a “Free Celebration Display or Baby Announcement Display” for you to be able to tell the world about your little one’s arrival.

All you have to do to enter is reply to the contest thread and tell us your due date and what you are looking forward to most about your newborn baby.

The contest will run until Midnight of January 14th. Only one entry per username.

For birth announcements, just give them a call after the baby has been born to let them know when the new mother and child will be discharged. Before mom and baby come home from the hospital, they will set up one of their "Super Stork" or "Big Headed Baby" signs to greet them! Their 6 foot tall signs are personalized with baby's information; first & middle name, date of birth, weight and length and the best part is the new parents get to keep the personalized keepsake!

Our winner will receive: A free celebration display or 7 day baby announcement display.

Posted on Jan 8 2014 11:59AM
By LIFamilies

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Fabric Softener Crystals

Happy New Year all! I’m hoping that everyone had a happy and a safe New Year, and that you're planning on having a happy and safe first snow/blizzard of the year! While you’re homebound, why not try a super simple DIY project or two?! I just saw this shared on a friend’s page, and had to share here! It was a super simple and fast fabric softener crystals recipe!

You literally only need two items:

-Epsom salt

-Essential oils of choice

To create your softener crystals all you need do is mix 10+ drops of your favorite oil scents to 1 cup of Epsom salt. Mix your ingredients together to distribute the oil and you’re done! Add about ¼ cup of the mixture to your laundry right at the beginning of the cycle with your detergent. Not only is this a great way to cut a cost, while also getting the exact scent that you love, but it also cuts down on the chemicals in your family’s environment. 

Posted on Jan 2 2014 11:07AM
By LIFamilies

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