Kitchen Cleaning Hacks

Winter is finally, finally over, and it’s spring, which means it’s time to refresh your home. Spring cleaning lets us shake off the last traces of winter, opening our windows and letting the sunshine into every corner. A thorough spring cleaning means doing all of the things we let build up in the previous months, including tackling all the mess of our appliances. It’s not enough to just scrape away the gunk or wipe away any build-up of spills, grease, and other deposits. Have you ever looked at the inside of your refrigerator or oven? It’s probably a big yucky place, right? It doesn’t have to be!

The infographic below will show you quick and easy ways to banish all that yuck and grime from all of your most-used appliances. Do you have a greasy film on the inside of your microwave, and it just won’t go away, no matter how hard you scrub? No problem! We’ve got two quick ways on how to get rid of the grime so you have a gleaming microwave inside and out once more. All of the tips below use common household ingredients for an inexpensive yet effective fix. If you don’t have some of the items, you can easily pick them up at the grocery a few bucks. Say bye-bye to to foul smells, stubborn stains, dingy stovetops and more with these tips.

Source: Consolidated Foodservice






Best Ways To Accommodate Your Child’s Outfit Needs

child costumes Let’s face it, almost every holiday invites children to wear some type of costume or festive accessory.   Whether your child wants a full on goblin outfit for Halloween, an elf hat for Christmas, or a Heart Shaped headband to celebrate Valentine’s Day, one must always be on the look out for cheap and reasonable ways to keep up with holiday trends.  From school plays, school spirit days, themed birthday parties, costume parties, or costumes for playing dress-up, parents are looking for places to find the perfect costumes and accessories for their kid’s upcoming activities and events. Below are a few great places you can find great outfits for children of all ages.

Your Closets

An oft-overlooked place to find excellent costumes, are the closets in your home. This could be anything from “dress up” clothes that can be spruced up with embellishments, to mom and dad’s dated high school attire, to old costumes that can be transformed into something new. It is also an excellent place to find junk jewelry, and dated accessories that can be used to enhance costumes, both old and new.

The Craft Store

Even those who are not avid sewers or crafters can find several easy ways to make costume ideas online, or by getting creative with fabrics and embellishments. For example, a plain facemask can be embellished with rhinestones, sequins, and feathers to create a Mardi Gras style mask, or a box you have at home can be covered with brightly covered construction paper and black electrical tape to create a Rubik’s cube.

Vintage And Thrift Stores

Vintage and thrift stores are a great place to find second hand costumes in excellent condition. You can also find dated styles and trends for a decade theme party at a vintage and thrift store. For example, if your child is invited to a 70s theme party, bellbottoms and multi-colored polyester shirts are easier to come by in thrift stores than just about anywhere else. They are also an excellent place to find sweaters for the always fun, ugly sweater party.

Costume Store

Every Halloween, pop up Halloween costume stores can be found all across the nation. However, you can also look to see if there are any year-round costume stores, or costume rental locations in your area. Also take advantage of the post-Halloween discounts at your pop-up stores. Their goal is often to sell as much of their inventory after Halloween, before they close their location for the season. You can visit these stores a day or two after Halloween, and search for costumes for your children’s upcoming parties and special events.

Online Costume And Craft Stores

If you do not have the time or desire to get creative and make a costume for your kids, it may be easier to shop for their costumes online. For something unique and one-of-a-kind, search handmade arts and craft sites by crafters who ship the costumes they make around the nationwide. However, if your child has a very specific look they are going for, it may be easier to search for the costume they desire at a specialty costume website.

There are plenty of places you can turn to when looking for new costumes for your children. If you have many kids in your family, hang on to the costumes you purchase over the years to see if they can be repurposed at a later date.

Byline: Claire Wintrode’s daughter needed to be an angel for the latest school play, so they went to find an outfit online for cheap






Making Valentine’s DaySpecial for Kids

kids Valentine I know that Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day for sweethearts but what better sweethearts than our kids?

The Valentine’s memories that I have always have stirred me to make my children’s Valentine’s Day special and it extended over to my nieces and nephews as well. As for me and my children, of which there are two, I loved to sit down with them and make out their Valentine’s cards for school friends. We had a wonderful time shopping for not only the cards with the best sayings but the cards with the best candies attached!


I made a point of making up a Valentine’s package for my kids each year as well. I would peruse the Valentine candy isle and pick out all their favorites along with a special card just for them. They loved getting these gifts from mom and dad.


When my nieces and nephews were very small they lived in town with us and we saw them on a regular basis. When they became school age one of my brothers moved to another state and the other set of nephews moved to another part of our state. We were sad that we could not see them all the time but this made me even more determined to keep in close contact with them. That is a hard thing to do when children are so young but I was determined. My plan was to keep us on their minds by showering them with gifts on every occasion! Not only gifts but little notes and cards to keep us close.


Valentine’s Day was one of my favorite times to send my little care packages. One of my brothers has four children and the other has two. My oldest brother with two children and I did not always see things quite the same. He was anti candy at any time but I was often able to override his decision because his wife was my advocate. I am of the school of thought that a little candy now and then is good for the soul. So he tolerated my occasional overruling of his authority with a shrug of the shoulders and a non-approving glance.


Each year I would go shopping a few months before Valentines for small but meaningful gifts for each of the children and then nearer to Valentine’s Day I would pick up their favorite candies. They would drop me little hints on what those favorites were throughout the year by the way. My children joined in and helped me to make up these packages and we would all write out little Valentines for each child.


Every year my sister-in-laws would tell me that they awaited those packages as if it was Christmas and Santa was coming! It made my heart sing to think that we were able to give those kids such joy. They would call us up and chat about the things they found in their packages and my kids would get on the phone and share with them about their packages as well.


At our house we would make sugar cookie hearts with icing and sprinkles or a heart shaped Valentines cake. Sometimes we would sprinkle Valentine confetti on the white party table cloth we had and adding some red roses made the scene complete! Children get such joy out of simple things that do not have to cost a great deal of money; just a parent’s love and a little time.

I ended up carrying on this tradition not only on Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and their individual birthdays but on Easter and Independence Day as well. And on each of their birthdays I would also include some party favors for the other children as well. Sure, it made me the popular relative but that is not what I was going for at all. I wanted to stay connected to those kids just in case they needed another adult in their lifetime.


There are so many ways you can make people feel loved that do not cost a lot of money. Simple things like sending a card to remind them of your love or a few pieces of candy. My children have an aunt on my spouse’s side that always sent cards filled with confetti and after a while the kids knew not to fling open the envelope because it would fly all over. They got the biggest kick out of this small gesture. One year when my son was in high school he got the idea to turn it around on his aunt and he actually bought her a card and filled it with confetti and she was so pleased.


If you start when children are very young doing very simple things to let them know you love them they will remember. It seems that when we get older we sometimes lose sight of how important the small things are. We feel that they are not going to be appreciated if they are not elaborate gifts. I do not believe that to be true and I know that I carry a memory around in my own heart of a small gesture from as far back as I can remember.


My maternal grandmother was married twice and the second time she married a fellow that was kind of a tight wad but to be fair they did not have a great deal of money. Gram would put a dollar back here and there and hold on to them just so she could send each of her grandchildren a card with that dollar bill in it. Even when I was growing up that could not buy much but I always looked forward to grandma’s card and that dollar bill. To me it was like the story of the widow woman giving her tithe that the Lord honored because it was all she had compared to the rich man who gave a huge gift. She gave all she could and I loved her for it!


Never think that the thought is wasted or that if your gift is not large and showy it is not going to be appreciated. Sometimes it really is the thought that counts!


Author Bio:


Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.






How to Facilitate Fun and Safe Social Experiences for Your Young Children

kids playing board game It can be challenging to let your young children have fun while ensuring they are safe. Letting your children play at other friend’s houses, or go on excursions with their buddies can be risky if you don’t know their friends very well. Below are a few tips to help ensure your children’s safety, while supporting their development of an active and healthy social life.

Sign Them Up For Extracurricular Activities

If you keep your kids busy with extracurricular activities such as sports, arts and crafts classes, and summer camps, you likely know where they are and what they are doing as they enjoy the opportunity to play and socialize with their friends. If your kids have not yet found extracurricular activities that are a good fit, use it as an opportunity to keep searching until they find an activity they enjoy. They can even sign up for extracurricular activities with their current friends, or utilize extracurricular activities as a way to make new friends.

If They Are Going To a Friend’s House, Get To Know the Parents

Whether riding the school bus home with a friend after school, going to a birthday party, or staying the night at a friend’s house, try to get to know the parents of the kid’s house they are going to. Try to gauge whether the parents have the same values as you, and ask any questions you may have. Primarily, who will be home with the kids, who will be transporting them to activities outside the home, and find out how they will be spending their time so that you can make sure your child has everything they need. For example, if your son or daughter will be going to a pool party, you should make sure they have waterproof sunscreen, sunglasses, and any floating devices if necessary.

Make Sure You Know Their Schedule, And Double Check

It is important to know where your kids are at all times. If your child has a cell phone, you can install a tracking app, with or without their knowledge, so that you can find them at all times. However, as your kids become older, busier, and more independent, you may want to create a schedule so that you know where they are when they are not with you. Also create a system for letting you know if plans change, and make sure to double check where they are with surprise visits, and specific questions about where they have been.

 Host Fun Activities at Your House

One way to ensure you know where your kids are at all times, while giving them the time to socialize and have fun with their friends, is to host fun activities at your house. These fun activities should require a bit more time and attention to detail than simply inviting someone over to play or spend the night. For example, you could host a game night once a month, a baking party, a costume party, a movie marathon, or a holiday event.

The above tips are just a few thoughts to keep in mind to ensure that your kids have a reasonable amount of independence and are able to socially interact with kids their age while stay safe.

Byline: Andrea Potter recently decided to throw a costume party for her son, Alex, in order to meet all of his friends and understand his social circle more.  Alex dressed up as a teenage mutant ninja turtle, much to the liking of his friends.