Thursday, April 13, 2017

Autism Awareness Gift Guide

April is autism awareness month.  For my family, every month is autism awareness month.  We raise autism awareness where ever we go!  Even with so called professionals.  Being an autism mom can be overwhelming, but every time I meet another autism mom, I feel like there's an instant connection and we both breathe a little easier knowing we aren't alone.  I spent many years feeling like we were the only ones dealing with autism, so now I do my best to help other families.  I've been hosting a monthly support group for parents of children with autism to try to reach members of the community.  I also work closely with several non profit agencies in my county to get the word out about autism and what help is available.  That's why I proudly wear my autism awareness shirts and jewelry.  My car isn't decorated yet, but it's definitely on my to do list!  Here are some au-some autism awareness items for April and every month.

Autism Awareness T-shirt Captain Autism T-shirt - Male XL - Royal Blue

Mens Official: autism awareness 2017 shirt- accept-understand-Lv 2XL Black

Awkward Styles Womens Love Puzzles Autism Awareness Graphic T shirt Tops Autistic Support Blue L

Womens Someone With Autism Has Taught Me Love Needs No Words Shirt Medium Royal Blue

Mens Autism Shirt in Shape of Heart made from Puzzle Pieces Tee XL Navy

Mens Autism Owl Tshirt Autism Awareness make up words Medium Royal Blue

Womens Love Autism Love Shirt Autism Awareness T-Shirt Gift Large Royal Blue

10 Autism Awareness Wristbands - Colorful Puzzle Pieces Silicone Bracelets

Autism Awareness Bracelet - Autism Jewelry, Adjustable Autism Bracelet- Hope Charm Bracelet- Puzzle Piece Bracelet- Perfect Gift!!!

Until All the Pieces Fit™ Autism Awareness Ribbon Bracelet

Silvertone Iced Out Puzzle Piece Pendant with an 15 Inch Snake Chain Necklace

PinMarts Autism Awarness Multi Color Puzzle Piece Enamel Lapel Pin 1"H x 34"W

Red Lion Puzzle Autism Awareness Socks White Multi - Medium

NI284 Autism Awareness Puzzle Piece Car Decal Sticker | Premium Quality Vinyl Sticker | 5-Inches X 5-Inches

Red Autism Awareness Flat Breakaway Lanyard With Swivel Hook by Specialist ID, Sold Individually

Autism Awareness Heart Puzzle Car Window Vinyl Decal Sticker 4" Wide Color: White

Graphics and More Blank Autism Awareness Puzzle Piece Pattern License Plate Frame

BreezeArt Autism Awareness Garden Flag 31354

Womens Autism Awareness Elephant T Shirt Small Royal Blue

Womens Give A Hoot Autism Awareness Shirt Owl Autism Shirt Medium Navy
Read More »

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Best Beauty and the Beast Toys for Kids and Adults

Can I just say how excited I am for the new Beauty and the Beast movie?  The original Disney classic was one of my favorite movies growing up, and it's hands down my favorite Disney movie.  My daughter and I are so excited to see the movie when it comes out next month.   I've seen some clips, and they just keep the excitement building.

When I was little, I identified with Belle because she always had a book in her hand and she's independent.  She's also a brunette like I am.  Back then, there weren't nearly as many fun Beauty and the Beast toys for me to play with.  My daughter is so lucky because there are so many fun toys now.  We spent a good half an hour just looking at the new toys at the store the other day.  Of course, she wants them all!  Here are my top 20 picks for Beauty and the Beast toys for kids and adults.  I included some cute tops and jewelry for the moms too, but there's nothing stopping us from playing with the other toys with our daughters!

Beauty and the Beast Toys

Beauty and the Beast Toys 

Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission from sales.

Disney Beauty & The Beast Live Action Enchanted Rose Jewelry Box Toy

Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition - BD+DVD+DIGITAL HD [Blu-ray]

Beauty and the Beast Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Art of Coloring: Beauty and the Beast: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity

Funko POP Disney: Beauty & The Beast-Winter Beast Action Figure

Disney Beauty And The Beast Adult Bootie House Slippers with Classic Fairy Tale Image L

Disneys Beauty and The Beast Silvertone Metal Charm Bracelet

Funko POP Disney: Beauty & The Beast Yellow Gown Belle Toy Figure

Loungefly Disney Beauty And The Beast Tattoo All Over Print Zip Around Wallet

Beauty and the Beast: Belles Library: A collection of literary quotes and inspirational musings Disney Beauty and the Beast

Rose in Glass Dome Bronze Vintage Locket Wish Photo Pendant Necklace Beauty and Beast Childhood Dream Princess Disney,best Gift

Disney Beauty & The Beast Live Action Enchanted Tea Set Playset

Beauty and the Beast Disney Beauty and the Beast Little Golden Book

Beauty and the Beast Stained Glass Womens Graphic Scoop Neck

Disney Beauty and the Beast Singing Tea Set

Melissa & Doug Disney Belle Magnetic Dress-Up Wooden Doll Pretend Play Set 30+ pcs


Disney Collection Beauty and the Beast Figurine Playset

Disney Animators Collection Belle Micro Play Set

Fisher-Price Little People Disney Princess Belle & Friends

Disney Beauty and The Beast Live Action Baby Belle Doll
Read More »

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Guide to Borax and How to Use It

Borax is one of those products that I always have on hand because it has so many uses.  Borax is also known as sodium tetraborate.  It's white, soft crystals and dissolves easily in water, making it easy to use for cleaning.

I use a cup of it in my homemade laundry detergent, and I use it for cleaning.  I add a few tablespoons to my mop bucket to clean and deodorize my floors when I mop.  Whether you're new to using Borax or have been using it, I found some great recipes for you to try.  I haven't tried the dishwashing tabs, but I want to soon.  I use Borax to clean my dishwasher because it does such a great job!

Read More »

Monday, December 26, 2016

DIY Cat Scratcher or Bed

Neither of my cats are declawed.  While they will scratch sometimes, it hasn't been an issue on our furniture.  Chloe, my son's cat, does like to scratch more than Carly does.  Our homeschool room is in the basement, and Chloe likes to hang out down there with the kids during the day.  I made her this DIY cat scratcher so she has something to scratch on and sleep on while she's downstairs.  Even though it's not soft and padded, she doesn't seem to mind it.

diy cat scratcher or bed

DIY Cat Scratcher

We inherited a large--I'm talking 5 feet long and 3 feet high--roll of corrugated cardboard.  I used it for shipping when I sell on eBay or Etsy, but I don't think I will use it up in my lifetime.  I used that for this scratcher bed, and it worked perfectly!  You could also use strips of cardboard from shipping boxes.

None of my cats are declawed, so they like to use cat scratchers to scratch their claws on.  I made this one big enough for them to lay on, and sometimes they use it as a bed instead of a toy.  

To make a cat scratcher, you'll need:
  • 4" strips of cardboard (I used corrugated cardboard)
  • Scissors
  • Marker
  • Yardstick
  • Glue gun

I marked off 4" inch lines and used the ruler and marker to make long cut lines on the cardboard.  I cut about 8 strips that were about 4 feet long.  

Then just start rolling.  I used hot glue to keep the cardboard from unraveling.  I didn't glue the entire thing; I just spread some glue every 8-10 inches to give it a little support.  

When you finish with one strip of cardboard, glue the next one to the roll and keep going.  And going.  And going.  When it's the size that you want it to be, just glue the end in place and hold securely until the glue sets up.  

Your strips of cardboard will never be perfectly straight, so just keep one side as straight as you can while you're rolling it.  The other side will be bumpy, but it will rest on the floor okay.  

I painted stripes in purple paint because I have to paint everything, and Chloe likes purple. 

Read More »

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Garlic Romano Penne with Stella Black Pepper Romano

We will be hosting more Christmas parties this year, and I don't want to serve turkey and ham at each one.  I came up with this Garlic Romano Penne recipe for easy entertaining.  You can serve it alone or add shrimp, chicken, or even sausage.  After you read the recipe, be sure to enter to win a trip to Napa Valley sponsored by Stella Cheese!

Garlic Romano Penne Recipe 

This dish is very simple, but it's full of flavor.  I use Stella Black Pepper Romano because it has a salty, sharp flavor in the aged cheese and the peppercorns lend spice to the dish.

I will usually make a cheese board for our holiday parties, and I use Stella cheeses.  I think with a simple recipe like this penne or with a cheese board, you need to use ingredients that have a lot of flavor on their own.  With just two or three flavors of Stella cheese, crackers, olives, and some grapes, you can have a flavorful cheese board that's quite easy to put together.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated Stella Black Pepper Romano
  • 1 pound penne, cooked
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and cook until brown, about 30 seconds.  Smash the garlic with a wooden spoon to release the flavor.
  2. Add parsley and stir well.
  3. Pour garlic, parsley, and olive oil mixture over cooked pasta.
  4. Top with grated Stella Black Pepper Romano

If you want to serve wine with your Garlic Romano Penne or a cheese board with romano cheese, I suggest a chardonnay or zinfandel.  Romano also pairs well with brandy or scotch.

Win a Trip to Napa Valley

Be sure to enter Stella Cheese's awesome sweepstakes!  They are offering a $5,000 trip to Napa Valley, CA, wine country to a lucky winner!  

Read More »

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Top 50 STEM Toys for Christmas 2016

Caleb, my 10-year-old, loves anything science or math.  He will spend hours with his Snap Circuits building their designs and creating his own.  He loves few things more than dumping his bin of LEGO bricks and having free play.  My daughter, on the other hand, has to be coaxed in to doing anything STEM related.  Once she starts playing though, she will have fun and start experimenting.  These toys look like so much fun, both my son and my daughter will love them.  If you need Christmas ideas, these 50 STEM toys will be a big hit.
stem toys christmas 2016
Magna-Tiles 12148 Clear Colors 48 pc DX set Toy

Snap Circuits SC-300 Electronics Discovery Kit

ClickBlock X-Bar Magnetic Building Toy School House Set, 28 Piece

Thames & Kosmos Wind Power 2.0

ClickBlock X-Bar Magnetic Building Toy School House Set, 28 Piece

Geode Explorer Science Kit - Crack Open 7 Amazing Rocks and Find Crystals!

4M Magnet Science Kit

Math Dice Tournament Kit

KNEX Education - Intro to Simple Machines: Levers and Pulleys Set - 178 Pieces - For Grades 3-5 - Construction Education Toy

Robot Turtles Game

Geode Explorer Science Kit - Crack Open 7 Amazing Rocks and Find Crystals!

Gravity Maze

Thames and Kosmos Rocket Science Kit

Laser Maze Logic Game

Mega Shark Tooth Science - Collect 5 Real Shark Teeth with NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Abacus

SmartLab Toys ReCon 6.0 Programmable Rover

My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope - MFL-06

littleBits Electronics Premium Kit


Melissa & Doug Human Anatomy 100 pc Floor Puzzle

Uncle Milton - National Geographic - 3-in-1 Expedition Magnifier

4M Kitchen Science Kit

Snap Circuits Lights Electronics Discovery Kit


Zometool Basic Creator Kit

Insect Lore Butterfly Pavilion

TINKERTOY 30 Model Super Building Set - 200 Pieces - For Ages 3+ Preschool Educational Toy

Ravensburger Science X Magnetic Magic Activity Kit

MudWatt - Grow your own living fuel cell - Classic STEM Kit

fischertechnik Dynamic - Fun with Physics

4M Math Magic Puzzles and Games

Ozobot 2.0 Bit, the Educational Toy Robot that Teaches STEM and Coding, Titanium Black

Educational Insights Nancy Bs Science Club Way To Grow Hydroponics Kit & Gardening Diary

Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Super Set

Be Amazing Toys Big Bag Of Science +70 Activities

OgoSport OgoBild Animate It Studio Kit with Webcam

Trends UK Haynes Build Your Own V8 Engine

4M Weather Station Kit

Thames & Kosmos Master Detective Toolkit

Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

National Geographic Break Open 10 Geodes and Explore Crystals Science Kit

Thames & Kosmos Electricity and Magnetism

Thames and Kosmos Classic Science Archaeology: Pyramid

Puzzlets Starter Pack with Free Programming Game: Cork the Volcano

Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot Robot Wonder Pack

Learning Resources Primary Science Lab Set

Scientific Explorer Magic Science for Wizards Only Kit

Professional Rock Tumbler by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Improved Quality Sept. 2016

Sick Science Fast Physics Kit
Read More »

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rustic Farmhouse Decor from Amazon

We've lived in our farm house for 4 years now.  The previous people didn't like the farm house look, so they painted more modern colors.  Needless to say, modern colors just don't look right in a farmhouse!  My living room, dining room, and hallway were terra cotta and yellow, which is totally not my style.  We've slowly been turning the old farmhouse back into a farmhouse.  When I saw slowly, I do mean slowly.  I can't wait to share photos, but it's not quite there yet.  Until then, enjoy some of these amazing rustic farmhouse finds.

Rustic farmhouse decor

Rustic Farmhouse Decor from Amazon

Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission from sales.

Cotton Linen Square Decorative Throw Pillow Case Cushion Cover (Compass), 18"x 18"

Decors Square Decorative Throw Pillow Case Cushion Cover Rustic Deer Buck Burlap Throw Pillows 18 X 18 Two Sides Printed

BarnwoodUSA Rustic Reclaimed Wood Shelves Open Box

Mini Mason Jar Night Light in Rustic Brown Metal Color

Mini Rustic Wood Signs - Seek Adventure, Create, I Love You, Explore, Dream, Inspire

Old Rustic Window Barnwood Frames - Not For Pictures

Rustic Primitive Milk Can Vase Container with Barn Star Country Home Decor

Wall26 - Canvas Prints Wall Art - Artistic Abstract Dandelion on Vintage Wood Background - 12" x 18"

Custom Cut Decor Customized Monogram Rustic Tin Letters

What's your favorite rustic farmhouse decor item?
Read More »

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why Doesn’t Anyone Talk About How Amazing Tweens Are Today?

It seems like when people talk about the younger generation, they only have negative things to say.  I'm an active volunteer with several youth organizations, and I can say that these kids are pretty awesome.  They have opportunities that my generation never had.  They literally have the entire world's knowledge in their pockets.  The kids that I work with are polite, well read, and a lot of fun to be around.  I may be a little biased, but I think my tween son is pretty awesome too.   Now he has a pretty awesome snack to keep him fueled all day, too.

Caleb is 10 now. His struggles in life started five weeks in to my pregnancy when I was told that we'd lost him.  Thankfully, several doctors and their ultrasounds were wrong.  I went in to preterm labor that was stopped with bedrest and medication.  We almost lost him during birth, too.  I thought we were safe once he was born, but he was hospitalized with RSV at four weeks old and had an apnea in the hospital.

I'd like to say the next few years were uneventful, but they weren't.  Although he didn't have any major medical problems, he was an active and ornery child.  He was the one who kept my on my toes by moving furniture, jumping from high places, and swinging from the ceiling fan.

When Caleb was eight-years-old, he was diagnosed with autism.

In the last two years, we've secured the support that he needs to lead a successful life.  Thanks to countless hours of therapy, his wonderful therapists, and a large support network, I have no doubts he will reach his goals in life.

Caleb wants to be an astronaut when he grows up.  While I'm not thrilled about sending my baby to space--even if my baby is over 18 by then--I do believe that he will reach his goal if he sets his mind to it.

One of the things that makes Caleb so amazing is his big heart.  He loves animals.  He has a Siamese mix cat named Chloe that he plays with and takes good care of.

While I still get to sneak in a few snuggles if I sit on couch in the evening, my baby boy is growing up.  He still plays with action figures and loves watching cartoons, but I see glimpses of a young man, especially when he's eating.

It's hard to believe that our days of sippy cups and carrying cups of snacks are over, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't need a snack to get him through the day.  I started buying him Yoplait Go Big.  They are the perfect size for a snack for a growing boy both at home and on the go.

He likes the rip and grip because it's easy for him to open without using scissors, and the pouch is easy to hold with one hand.  I like that I can get them at Walmart in the yogurt section on my weekly shopping trip.  I also love that they don't have high fructose corn syrup or colors from artificial sources.

Go Big challenged me to write a letter to my tween.  Here's an excerpt from my letter.

Dear Caleb,
You've been a fighter since day 1.  You fought to stay alive, and now you fight to fit in in a world that doesn't make sense.  You're determined, and you never give up.  You have a unique journey to trek before you become an adult, but I'll be beside you every step of the way.

Do you have an amazing tween?  Tell me about him or her in the comments and be sure to visit Yoplait Go Big for more inforatation!

Read More »

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Send a Letter of Hope to Show You CARE

I am lucky because I grew up in a time where women could be anything they wanted to be.  I got a free education in a public school and went on to private college thanks to merit-based scholarships and some student loans.  When I had kids, they started in our local public school, but for many reasons, they now learn at home.  My kids have a safe environment in which to learn, and they don't have to worry about anything except learning.

My daughter, Dakota, is 9 and in the fourth grade.  She loves to read, and she loves to learn.  She doesn't have any barriers to her education, and she has the full support of her parents.  Not all girls around the world are so lucky.  This is where CARE helps.  CARE is a global organization that fights poverty by empowering women and girls.  One way they empower women is by giving them more access to an education.

Meet Mary.  Mary is 15-years-old and lives in Nairobi, Kenya.  Her parents aren't available, so Mary and her three siblings live with their grandmother.  Mary wants to be a journalist when she grows up.  She works hard in school to meet her goal, but she often lacks the money for food and school fees for an education.

By contrast, Dakota never has to worry about food.  Although we don't have school fees, Dakota always has the fees for ballet, community theater, karate, and ju jitsu.

I like school because...

Mary says, "It will make me reach my goal."

Dakota says, "It is fun!"

To be successful I will...

Mary says, "try my best to work hard."

Dakota says, "work hard in school."

My biggest challenges...

Mary says, "Sometimes I lack school fees."

Dakota says, "staying focused."

Education inspires me to...

Mary says, "To be a hard-working journalist."

Dakota says, "do my best!"

Dakota and Mary are similar in that they both want to work hard in school and have a good job later in life.  Where they differ is in their obstacles.  Mary lacks the money for an education.  Dakota lacks the motivation because she, thankfully, doesn't understand that education is a luxury to some girls in other parts of the world.

You can help by sending a letter of hope or encouragement through CARE to students in developing countries.  These letters will help students get through those rough days, and with the help of CARE, hopefully graduate to end the cycle of poverty.

Read More »

Friday, September 16, 2016

How to Fix a Clogged Sink

This post is sponsored by Roto-Rooter.  As always, all enthusiasm is my own.

I don't know about your, but clogged sinks happen more than they probably should here.  One time I caught the kids giving the bunny a bath in the sink...a bunny who had not been wiped clean of straw before entering the house.  Our house is an old farm house, so clogs are a little more common here than in newer homes for various reasons.  I've had to learn how to fix a clogged sink myself because we only have one bathroom and can't just use a different one until the hubby gets home.  Fixing a clog isn't too difficult.  Keep reading for some simple ways to unclog your sink without calling a plumber.

How to Fix a Clogged Sink


I usually try this method first because, with kids, there's usually debris causing the clog.  This method is also very easy and usually works.

Before you use a plunger, be sure to use a wet cloth to block the overflow opening.  This helps direct the force towards the blockage.

 If there isn't water standing in the sink, add a few inches of water.  The water helps force the blockage to move.

Simply cover the drain with the plunger and plunge up and down for 30 seconds.  If the water flows, then you are done.  If the water is still standing, try again.  After the drain opens, run water for a few minutes to clean any blockage that may be stuck on the pipes.

Using a Drain Stick

I use a drain stick if I notice that the sink is draining slowly but isn't blocked.  This usually means there is a hair clog in this house.

Simply insert the drain stick down the drain.  You may need to move it round and twist it to catch the clog.  Then pull it out and, hopefully, the clog will come with it.  Run water for a few minutes to clear the pipe.


If neither of those two methods work, that's when I reach for Roto-Rooter home products.  To use the Gel Clog Remover, which is what I normally get, make sure the cap is on securely and shake the bottle well.

Then pour 16 ounces of gel directly in the drain and let sit for 10 minutes.  Rinse well with hot water.  Some clogs will take more than one treatment.

Before you use a chemical drain cleaner, make sure it's safe for your system.  We have a septic system, and Roto-Rooter Gel Clog Cleaner is safe for septic systems.

Read More »