Archive for October, 2010

The hand is quicker than the eye!

I know that it’s not even Halloween yet but I actually saw Christmas decorations in a store today! This means that I will start to avoid malls at all costs and that (soon) a local radio station will be totally dedicated to holiday tunes. It also means lots of online shopping and I’ve found a way to save you money if you’re interested!

InvisibleHand is a web browser add-on which shows a  discreet notification, with a direct link, when the product you’re browsing can be bought for a lower price elsewhere. Recently when I was on amazon browsing for a kitchen gadget, InvisibleHand popped up with another site that had it for $7 less but I’ve seen larger items at more than a $30 savings. InvisibleHand  remains invisible until it finds a deal on a product you’re shopping for and unlike price comparison sites, InvisibleHand refreshes its prices every single time you use it.

InvisibleHand is 100% free, No Adware, No Spyware & No Malware. GIZMODO, cnet, and Mashable all highly recommend this great money saving tool. Check it out today and start saving from the moment you install it!

You’ve got mail!

Real mail, in your mailbox, not a bill – when was the last time this happened to you? My new favorite site for fun (and learning ) is Postcrossing! The goal of the Postcrossing project is to allow people to receive postcards from all over the world, for free. Well almost, you still need to pay for postage ($0.89 stamp). Anyway, the main idea is this: if you send a postcard, you will receive at least one back from a random Postcrosser from somewhere in the world.

Why? Because, like most folks, there are lots of people who like to receive real mail. The element of surprise of receiving postcards from different places in the world can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises – and who wouldn’t like that?

I sent my first postcard a  few weeks ago as a test to Kate in Russia. This week I got one back from Adnila in the Netherlands! Too fun and the kids thought it was great. I signed them up each individually (or you can do it as a family) and off went their first postcards to Poland & Kazakhstan. Let me know when you’ve sent your first postcard and we’ll do a drawing for a 30 pack of postcards from artist Charley Harper.  Happy Posting!

Are you NUTS?

Today is National Nut Day (who knew?) so I thought I’d bring to light some of my favorite things about this often overlooked snack.  We’ve all heard that nuts are one of the best plant sources of protein and that they are rich in fiber,  phytonutrients and antioxidants.  Nuts are also high in plant sterols and fat – but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 – the good fats), which have all been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. A2Z of Health, Beauty and Fitness provides a great starter list of the specific health benefits of each nut but the list is endless and eating a broad range of nuts is best.

I’m so nuts about nuts that someone gave me the most fabulous book called Party Nuts! that contains 50 recipes for spicy, sweet, savory, and simply sensational nuts that will be the hit of any gathering – great for the upcoming holidays! Now the recipes aren’t as easy as dumping a jar of peanuts into a bowl – but they aren’t  much more difficult either. Curried garlic peanuts, vanilla walnuts, three-pepper almonds, sugared bourbon pecans…you get the idea. Real Simple also covers three easy party nut recipes in their November issue such as Buttered Nuts wtih Rosemary & Orange.

Obviously it goes without saying that nuts should not be eaten by anyone with an allergy to them.  And for snacking, it’s best to stick with the raw, unsalted variety.

WHOSE House? MY House!

So the reality is that I come from a background of working for a University as does my husband. What this means is many years of living in dorm apartments and currently we still reside in a University-owned house (as part of my husband’s position) even though our combined age is over 80. We live in a great neighborhood, don’t have to deal with the realities of home ownership but I do dream of owning/creating my own space one day – and having a second bathroom!

As with every dream of mine, this includes ripping out and saving hundreds of home “ideas” and “dreams” over the years.  I have used file folders, binders and even an “intention board”.  But all that has just changed! Houzz – Home Design is “like the Flickr of design idea sites” according to The Washington Post and I couldn’t agree more. You are able to browse by style, space or even metro, continually adding ideas or showing off your own space in “My Houzz”!

Real Simple explains it best, “”The online equivalent of clipping decor inspiration from magazines… browse more than 40,000 images submitted by interior decorators, architects and design-minded users (filter by space, style and more), then save them in your virtual idea book”.  And just when you thought it could’t get any better, Houzz has a fantastic app for your iPhone or iPad!

WARNING– You may lose complete hours or days while perusing  Houzz but it’s worth every minute!

Changes at Life Simplified

Due to some good feedback, we’ve decided to continue journal postings on their own site and keep Life Simplified strictly for fabulous shortcuts, suggestions & solutions for keeping your life simplified. Continue to enjoy both sites and giving me such great feedback!

Screen Time Suggestions

bluebirdbaby

As the days get shorter and kids start spending more time inside, it’s possible that they’ll gravitate to the computer, TV, cell phone or handheld as a remedy to “being bored”.  Of course I tell my kids that if they ever claim “I’m bored” then they can go clean the bathroom but I get busy (lazy) and am trying to incorporate some built in screen solutions to avoid future arguments and debates.

GetNoodles is free educational software which interrupts children’s web surfing, texting or gaming with pop-up educational, multiple choice questions. Parents choose the frequency of the pop-ups and the contents of the questions based on each child’s grade level and subjects selected. There’s a broad range of subjects for every age including some ACT prep for older children.

Instead of TV is a wonderful site offering a plethora of options for unplugged family activities and I also picked up the book, Unplugged Play: No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun. I let my kids pull out 10 ideas each that we have as a go to when they feel that there is “nothing to do” besides sitting in front of a screen. But my absolute new favorite pick up from my beloved indie bookstore, Pudd’nHead Books,  is It’s A Book Read the rest of this entry

Trick or Treat

Environmental Working Group provided this great article with tips on how to “green” your Halloween.

1. Pick play makeup carefully. Many children like to wear colorful cosmetics as part of their costumes. If they do, make sure they’re using safer products and applying them as directed. Visit cosmeticaldatabase.com to look up your products and find safer ones.

Kids should avoid:

  • Face paints can contain lead, which can impair brain development at extremely low doses, as well as nickel, cobalt and chromium, which can cause skin sensitization and contact dermatitis.
  • Lipstick can also contain hidden lead. Because little ones tend to eat almost as much as they put on their lips, it’s best to avoid lipstick all together. Opt instead for a shiny, beeswax-based lip balm.
  • Nail polishoften contains dibutyl phthalate and toluene, chemicals linked to hormone disruption and cancer.
  • Cosmetics in powder form can easily be inhaled. Depending on the particle size, the powder can lodge in children’s nasal passages and even lungs — where it may cause damage.
  • Fragranced products Read ingredient labels and avoid products listing “fragrance” — EXG research found that fragrances may contain allergens or hormone-disrupting chemicals.

 2. Decorate naturally. Pick up pumpkins, gourds and hay bales from a local farm to create a haunting scene and reuse decorations from year to year.

3. Create a low-impact costume. Rather than buying a new costume, get creative with items you already own or can get used at a local resale shop or from friends. Consider a costume swap at school or among friends.

4. Burn more eco-friendly candles — Read the rest of this entry

Expert Organization & Time Management Tips

If you are continually challenged by organization, prioritizing and managing all the “stuff” in your life, jump into a LIVE conversation with author Laura Vanderkam next Tuesday, October 12th 1:00PM EDT. The talk can be accessed through The Motherhood, a site that is dedicated to helping each other make life a little better every day.

168 Hours has some great big fans in Natalie Morales of the Today Show and Gretchen Carlson of FOX NEWS to name a few. One reviewer said it best, “While 168 Hours certainly gets up in your business for wasting time, it’s not some dull or preachy book about time-management: It’s a compellingly written, logical argument against the emotional complaint “I’m too busy,” presented alongside practical advice and an engaging collection of time-use tricks”. Christine Whelan, Huffington Post.

The Motherhood is also a great place to connect with others that may have additional shared interets such as Green Families, Living on a Budget & Shortcuts to Dinner.  I’ll be joining Laura as one of the “talk experts” so join us for some great shortcuts, suggestions and solutions for getting your life simplified.

Think Pink!

It’s October and everywhere you turn is information and opportunities regarding Breast Cancer Awareness. There are a variety of companies and stores that are doing their part to donate proceeds to a plethora of organizations. These are a few of my favorites:

Women's Bean necklaceAt Women’s Bean Project, proceeds from the sale of their beautiful Metamorphosis  necklace will benefit Sense of Security, which provides a sense of security from financial hardship and enhance the quality of life for breast cancer patients in treatment. 10% of the proceeds from Vera Bradley’s “Twirly Birds Pink” pattern benefit the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer. More significantly is that they will donate 25% of net proceeds from purchases made in Vera Bradley stores and verabradley.com on October 9th.

Sip and support from this fabulous Pink Ribbon Martini Glass which donates a portion of the proceeds of each sale to the Susan G. Komen For the Cure. 10% of the sale from any of these pink items from Broadway Panhandlermixer(hand mixer, pie dish, Santoku knife, etc) goes to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. As seen in In Style, Vanity Fair, Lucky  & Vogue, proceeds from this beautiful Elisa Ilana bracelet support cancer research and awareness.

Finally, if you need to buy in bulk for an event this month, check out these great hats & apparel from Century Novelty where 5% of all breast cancer awareness sales are donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Do your part to help save the Ta Ta’s this month!