Why My Kids Are Sugar Free This Christmas (or How I’m the Worst Mom Ever)

How do you become the Worst Mom Ever? Ask your kids to go sugar free at Christmas!

Sugary Christmas Treats

What would your kids do if you asked them to be sugar free at Christmas?

Is it even possible to be sugar free this time of year?

There’s the cookie exchanges, hot cocoa with marshmallows, grandma’s fudge, gingerbread house decorating, reindeer food, and peppermint bark.

Can you even conceive a Christmas without all these sweet treats???

It was a difficult decision to ask my girls to be sugar free this year. So let me explain why I put forth this request.

In August of this year, I gave up sugar.

I can’t brag that no sugar has touched my lips for the past 6 months, because there are always occasions. Always.

However, I can look you in the eye and say on a day-to-day basis I am living a happy, content life without sugar.

No sugar. Nada. No white sugar. No honey. No maple syrup. No coconut or date sugar. No sugar by any name.

Sweets at Christmas

I’m not going to lie, it was incredibly difficult at first. The sugar cravings are real.

However, this wasn’t the first time I’d gone sugar free, so I knew all I needed to do was stick it out, and it would get easier.

Not only did it get easier, but as time has gone by, what I have felt has surprised me.

I feel free.

I no longer get those crazy cravings that result in hanger. My moods have stablized.

I no longer feel deprived because I’m not eating sugar. In fact, I can walk right by the endless retail displays of sugary treats and not be tempted.

For the first time in my life, I am satisfied.

What started out as a way to take off a little weight (I’m down 10 pounds) has led to my happiest life ever.

That is why I asked my daughters to be sugar free this Christmas.

I want them to be able to break free of the guilt associated with indulging in too many sweet treats.

I want them to find how freeing it is when hunger no longer controls your emotions.

I want them to learn that celebrations are still celebrations even when no sugar is involved.

gift of health

I don’t want my girls just to be saying no to sugar, I want them to be saying yes to a lifetime of good health.

How did my girls respond?

They were onboard for a sugar free Christmas as long as we could still enjoy blueberry stuffed french toast on Christmas morning. (Here’s a similar recipe to what I make)

That was an easy yes. By having only one treat, it puts the “special” back in special treat.

We’ve been sugar free since December 12th and I’ll be honest, it has not been all rainbows and unicorns.

Don’t be fooled, sugar has a very tight grip on our kiddos.

But I declared our house a sugar free zone and I’ve been determined to keep it that way. So I told both sets of grandparents that we will not accept any of the special desserts they were planning to bring to our house. This didn’t go over well for anyone–the grandparents or the girls.

As my girls have experienced how hard it is to live without sweets, we’ve looked into some sugar substitutes that satisfy our sweet tooth without activating our insulin response.

We’ve made a few treats sweetened with Erythritol and/or stevia. The taste is not the same as refined sugar, but overall I’d say we’ve enjoyed experimenting with recipes.

We’re also embracing some of the classic Christmas treats. I picked up a bag of chestnuts from Trader Joe’s. We’ll be roasting them over an open fire (our patio fire pit) on Christmas day.

Did you ever receive an orange in the toe of your stocking? We’ll be having oranges as our Christmas dessert. An orange used to be a treat! When you haven’t had refined sugar for weeks, you really appreciate the sweetness of an orange.

Both girls have said they are okay with continuing to be sugar free during Christmas break, even though it has been HARD. They also have said they don’t think it is sustainable for them in the long run, but that they will be more conscious of their sugar consumption.

So am I crazy to continue to enforce a sugar free house even though it is Christmas and I’ve been called the worst mom ever?

Maybe. However, I’m committed to a sugar free Christmas for my family, and a sugar free life for me.

Roomba Tips: What Everybody Ought to Know About the Roomba

Roomba Tips from a Roomba Owner

Roomba Tips: What everybody ought to know

To Roomba or not to Roomba, that is a $375 question.

I’ve owned a Roomba for about 2 years. These Roomba tips are based on my personal experience and are not part of a paid review. These are just the things I wish I had known prior to owning my Roomba.

So who am I?

I’m the owner of two hairy dogs with no kids living at home. My rooms have multiple surfaces. I mainly have hardwood floors with rugs scattered throughout.

We got Rosie the Roomba to vacuum up our main living space and to keep up with the never ending supply of dog hair.

Rosie does not vacuum our whole house. In fact, I limit Rosie Roomba to cleaning 2 rooms every night – my kitchen and my family room – where most of the daily mess is made.

The best part of Rosie? She’s programmed to run every night. God Bless Her.

So after living with Rosie for several years, I’ve figured out some Roomba Tips I think everybody ought to know.

Roomba Tips

Roomba Tip #1 – You Will Still Need To Vacuum!

That’s probably not what you wanted to hear, is it? Believe me, I know.

I bought my Roomba under the impression I turned it on and it got my room flawlessly clean and I didn’t have to lift a finger.

Not. So. Much.

I’ve since learned that the Roomba is a great way to go longer in between vacuuming, but it is NOT going to get a room well vacuumed on it’s own.

So do I think a Roomba is still worth it? Unequivocally YES! You just need to think of your Roomba as your partner – not your replacement.

How this works:

  1. Vacuum your room thoroughly to get started.

2. Then program your Roomba to do a daily sweep.

If you vacuum your room, then let your Roomba run that same night, I promise you, you will be AMAZED at the amount of hair and dirt the Roomba will pick up that you missed.

This photo is what Rosie picked up AFTER I had vacuumed that morning! 

Roomba tip 1

The Roomba allows you to go longer in between running the vacuum yourself.

The fact that it will get under my couch and chairs so I don’t have to is reason enough for me to own a Roomba.

Roomba Tip #2 – Pick Up Before Running Your Roomba

I can not stress this enough. You need to do a 5 minute pick-up prior to running your Roomba.

There is nothing more discouraging then getting up in the morning to find your Roomba stuck on a dog toy or shoe that was left out.

If your Roomba gets stuck, you’re out of luck. It stops functioning.

Roomba tip 2 pick up

Doing a nightly pick-up so my Roomba can do it’s job is not a big deal. I just clear the area of shoes, toys and whatever else is on the floor.

roomba tip 2 room picked up

Oh! And always pick up any plates of dog food! There is nothing more discouraging than to find your Roomba has “eaten” your dog’s $50 a bag dog food!

The good news is, your dog will probably “help” you by eating that random piece of food if you empty your Roomba out for a picture. Thanks Wilson! He’s so helpful.

roomba tip pick up dog food

Roomba Tip #3 – Your Roomba Will Run for Hours

Having your Roomba run for hours is a good thing, right? Well…not in my book.

If you think you can run the Roomba “real quick” before company comes, you are out of luck.

Rosie the Roomba takes forever to vacuum a space. No big deal if I’m running her at night, but if I need the room vacuumed pronto – I gotta do it myself.

Roomba Tip #4 – Don’t Forget to Clean Your Roomba Filter

My filter looks brand spanking new, doesn’t it?

roomba tip 4 clean filter

Then I turn it over. Seriously! How does so much dust and yuck accumulate in one day?!?!?!

roomba tip 4 clean filter daily

I run my Roomba every night and every morning it is this dirty. Don’t be fooled. You need to clean your filter daily. Your Roomba will thank you.

Roomba Tip #5 – Never Watch Your Roomba

Watching the Roomba is the most frustrating experience. Period.

It makes absolutely no sense how it vacuums a room. It’s so random. Not to mention, it will continue to run in the same space until you want to scream.

Often times, I’ll see a piece of fuzz on the floor. Rather than pick it up, I wait to see if Rosie will.

I watch her go by it in a hundred different directions before it she will finally pick it up.

This will slowly drive you crazy.

Do you own a Roomba? What did you name her?

Hallmark Christmas Movie Bingo for True Fanatics!

Free Printable: Hallmark Christmas Movie Bingo

Hallmark Christmas Movie Bingo Cards

Everyone who knows me knows I watch Hallmark Christmas Movies ad naseum throughout the holiday season.

By “Holiday Season” I mean I start watching Hallmark Christmas movies on Halloween and I won’t stop watching until Christmas Day.

Are the sappy? Yes! Predictable? Yes! Do they require any brainpower whatsoever? HECK NO!

What they are is warm, fuzzy, and excessively sentimental. I think of them as holiday cheer broadcast far and near.

Nothing gets me in the Christmas Spirit better than a Hallmark Christmas movie marathon.

The problem in our house is: I’m the only one who likes them.

The sap factor of these movies goes unappreciated by the other members of my family. In fact, when I turn the Hallmark Channel on, I can actually hear their eyes roll.

How did I raise such Scrooges?

No matter. My love for these sickeningly sweet movies is not to be deterred by the protests of my family.

But in order to peacefully coexist in our house and have the movies playing 24/7, I started looking for ways to draw them into my happy Christmas land.

So I invented Hallmark Christmas Movie BINGO!

Hallmark Christmas Movie BINGO

These free downloadable BINGO cards contain all the various elements of Hallmark’s formulaic movies. Plus, a few themes common only to a few.

DOWNLOAD HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE BINGO CARD 1
DOWNLOAD HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE BINGO CARD 2
DOWNLOAD HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE BINGO CARD 3
DOWNLOAD HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE BINGO CARD 4
DOWNLOAD HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE BINGO CARD 5
DOWNLOAD HALLMARK CHRISTMAS MOVIE BINGO CARD 6

I’ve watched enough of these movies to know exactly what each movie has to have in each episode. Then, I threw in a few popular themes so everyone has a chance to win – but not for every movie.

Hallmark Christmas Movie Bingo Squares

Print them out, then sweeten the deal by using peppermints, gum drops, or chocolates to mark the squares. The first one to get BINGO gets a small prize. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be as simple as being excused from doing the nightly dishes.

Play along with me this holiday season and see if it doesn’t bring Christmas Cheer!

5 Ways to Preserve Your Excess Eggs

5 Ways to Preserve Eggs

Here’s a Works for Me post with thanks to Jaime from Slightly Steady.

My brother in law and his wife had only ten chickens last year – yet they seemed to be up to their ears in excess eggs. In order to make sure that all of the eggs were used before they spoiled, they wound up giving away dozens upon dozens of eggs to friends and relatives. Being in the latter category, I’m not complaining. We got free eggs all summer – but I couldn’t help but think what a shame it was.

Here they had invested in these chickens for the eggs, and they had more than they could use at the moment – but all winter, when the hens stopped laying, they’d have to buy eggs like everyone else.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some way for them to keep the eggs so that they could use them year-round?

At the time, I didn’t think much more about it – until I got chickens myself.

They were slightly more work than I anticipated, and it occurred to me again that it would be a real shame to care for them all year and only be able to use the eggs in the warmer months. Fortunately, it IS possible to save your eggs – it just takes a little planning!

First of all, know that fresh eggs keep in the fridge for around 3 weeks – so if you’re big egg eaters, you might not even need to save that many of them.

If you find yourself with excess eggs (even from the grocery store), there are several options for storage.

Powdered Eggs Method

Ever had those powdered eggs? Maybe on a camping trip (or maybe in the military)?

To make a powdered egg that can be stored in airtight containers for use (no refrigeration):

  • Scramble and cook the eggs you plan to store. DO NOT USE FAT – just scramble them plain.
  • Spread the scramble out on a dehydrator (you may use a low oven temp to dehydrate as well).
  • How long it takes to fully dehydrate them depends on how many eggs you’re making, but plan on at least overnight.
  • Once they’re fully dried, grind them to powder in a food processor and store in an airtight container.

To use the powdered eggs, use 1 Tbsp of the powder with 2 Tbsp of water. This will equal 1 large egg, and can be used to substitute eggs in most recipes (although obviously not to make egg dishes like quiche).

Frozen Whole Eggs Method

Crack open as many eggs as you want to save and whisk them until they’re blended (but not whipped). Add either ½ tsp of sugar or salt per cup of raw egg (this will prevent them from becoming chewy). Freeze in ice cube trays (one cube equals one egg). Once the cubes are frozen, remove them from the trays and keep them frozen in labeled plastic bags.

Egg Yolks Only Method

To freeze just the yolks, separate them from the whites and stir together the yolks. Add 2 tsp of either sugar or salt per cup (again, to prevent chewiness). Freeze in ice cube trays that are filled only 1/3 full (to equal the size of just one yolk).

Egg Whites Only Method

To freeze just the whites, simply pour them into ice cube trays. No additional ingredients or stirring is needed.

Hard Boiled Method

This one is last because, really, it’s probably just me that enjoys these things – but, well, I love pickled hard boiled eggs. You see them a lot in country stores (at least, here in Ohio). I’d never have tried one if it weren’t for a dare when I worked in a grocery store – but they’re good! The salty pickle-flavor is only in the outermost skin of the hard boiled egg, and the rest just tastes like, well, hard boiled eggs! They’re yummy – if you’re willing to give them a shot!

And there you have it – your own homegrown eggs, available all year round! I hope you give this a try, and that you’re able to get the most out of your laying hens this year. Enjoy!

20 Summer Activities for Preschoolers and Kids

We are a little over halfway through summer and your kids have probably said they are bored at least once.

Am I right?

Well, there is no need to hear those words again. I have a list of free and inexpensive summer activities for preschoolers and kids that will keep everyone busy for hours.

What I love about this list is everything is very affordable and nothing will break the bank. And, far too often we overlook and forget about the simple things we did as kids like: skipping rocks, feeding the ducks, playing in the mud, etc. These things can give hours of entertainment.

Ready to get started?

summer activities for preschoolers and kids

Summer Activities for Preschoolers and Kids

  1. Make healthy homemade popsicles.
  2. Have an iced tea party.
  3. Put a puzzle together as a family.
  4. Go to the zoo and have a scavenger hunt.
  5. Play in the sprinkler. Find a fun sprinkler attachment.
  6. Have a summer Olympics in your backyard.
  7. Build a lemonade stand.
  8. Make a bird feeder out of recycled items.
  9. Stay in your pj’s and watch movies all day.
  10. Pick wildflowers.
  11. Learn the alphabet and create letter of the week crafts.
  12. Be creative with water play.
  13. Listen to story time at the library.
  14. Skip rocks.
  15. Find a new playground.
  16. Sort through clothes that everyone has outgrown and make a trip to donate them together as a family.
  17. Have fun with food at snack time.
  18. Go for a car ride. (Keep little ones entertained.)
  19. Make easy homemade pizza as a family.
  20. Make instruments out of recycle items at your home.

What are your go-to summer activities for bored kiddos?

More Summer Activities for Preschooler and Kids

Swing by and check out Crystal, a Dallas Mom Blogger, who runs the mommy resource and solution site Crystal & Co.!  She loves to share activities for kids, teach busy families how to meal plan and share real easy recipes. She is a fast-paced mom of all boys, five to be exact (including twins), who is in the trenches of homeschooling. Are you tired yet?

7 Food Documentaries to Watch Now

7 Food Documentaries You Must Watch.jpg

This past weekend, my husband and I had a strange conversation. He was reading the paper and asked me if I’d heard of this company ‘Monsanto’.

Huh?

Of course I have! Monsanto is one of the main reasons I elect to purchase organic food. If you’ve never heard of Monsanto, it is time to get educated!

In the course of our discussion, we realized since I was the one buying and preparing the food, I was the only one educating myself and making decisions for my family. I wasn’t including my husband in the discoveries I’ve made about our food system.

We had a great discussion about our food supply and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing with him some of my favorite food documentaries.

If you are looking to educate yourself on the food we eat, I’d recommend watching these 7 food documentaries:

Hungry for Change – Are we being manipulated by the diet, weight loss and food industry? This is a smart movie starring Jamie Oliver sets out to prove healthy eating leads to better living.

Food Inc – This movie is an expose about the food industry. Questions about feedlots? Questions about GMO crops? This is one to watch. This is a great introduction to ‘Monsanto’ and how they are completely altering our food supply.

Food Matters – If this film sets out to prove the saying, “Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food” – Hippocrates. We are what we eat. Watch this and see if you agree.

Fresh – Are you interested in reforming our food supply? Fresh gives good, basic information about what is happening with our food supply.

King Corn – It is mind boggling how many products contain corn. Not corn-on-the-cob, but corn that has been processed and used to make so much of our food. Learn how corn is the basis of our entire American diet.

Forks Over Knives – This movie poses the question: If we eliminate or limit refined, processed and animal based foods, can we eliminate or reverse disease? What happens when we follow a plant based diet?

If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch these movies FREE!

What movies would you add?

Make Easy Berry Flower Straws with Cut Fruit

Berry Flower Straws

These berry flower straws are so easy to make. There are no fancy knife skills required to cut the fruit. In fact, I can’t even give you an exact pattern to follow. It’s just not that complicated.

That said, even though these are super simple to make, it looks like you really spent a lot of time and effort. Which you didn’t, which is why you should make these.

Easter morning is a great time to make these. All you need are: Strawberries, Blackberries and paper straws.

Cut the top off the strawberry. Then cut the top so it looks jagged by cutting out small v-shapes. Poke the straw through the bottom of the strawberry and top with a blackberry.

Berry Flowers Cut Fruit

Ta-da! You are ta-done and everyone will love the extra effort you went to, and only you will know the extra effort really wasn’t much effort at all.

 Wouldn’t you love to be served a drink with a berry flower straw?

The GBG It Works for Me

“The GBG: It Works for Me” is a weekly series. It’s all about that thing you’ve started doing that you’d wish you’d known you should be doing all along.

Solutions, quick tips, and shortcuts. Time savers and sanity savers. It’ll all be right here.

Have a solution, tip, or time saver of your own? Let me know by filling out this form, I’ll try then share!