Back-to-school sleep tips


Summer vacation is almost over, and whether kids break from summer, winter, spring, or even a long weekend, they seem to want to stay up later. Late nights can lead to difficult mornings transitioning back into their normal school routine. It is important for parents to put healthy sleep on the back-to-school list of necessities. Here are some helpful tips to get kids prepared to go back to school.


  1. First, calculate how much sleep your child needs. Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours of sleep. Ages 5-10 need 10 to 11 hours, and teenagers 9 to 10 hours.

  1. About 10 to 14 days before school starts, parents should gradually start adjusting their child’s bedtime schedules. Have them go to bed 15 minutes earlier each day before school starts. This will help set their circadian clock to school time. Try to also keep the same sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep sleep rhythms regulated.

  1. Stick to an age-appropriate bedtime routine to help them wind down. For younger children this may consist of taking a bath before bed, brushing their teeth, or reading a bedtime story. For older children, they may want to read a book to relax or find a relaxation technique such as meditation, yoga, or deep-breathing exercises.

  1. Control the sleep environment by keeping the room cool, quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electronics such as, cell phones, televisions, video games, and computers should be turned off an hour before bedtime.

  2. Limit caffeine intake after lunch or at least 6 hours before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and inhibits sleep. Healthy meals and regular exercise can help promote quality sleep.

  1. Avoid food close to bedtime, especially spicy foods that can cause acid reflux and raise body temperature, both of which inhibit sleep.

  1. Practice what you preach. Studies have shown that parents who set rules and abide by them themselves are more likely to have children follow their example. The right amount of sleep every night can help your child do better in school and help with mood and anxiety. 13717923_10205279444144540_1107853922_o.jpg

    These strategies can help you and your child have a healthy, successful upcoming school year.

How to keep your pets safe during hot summer days.

As we go through the summer months with rising temperatures, it can be uncomfortable and dangerous to not only people, but our pets too. As pet owners, we need to be aware of these dangers and how to keep our pets cool and comfortable.

Here are a few tips to help keep your pets safe and comfortable in the summer heat.

  1. Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked. Temperatures inside a vehicle rise rapidly. For example, on an 85-degree day the temperature inside a car with the windows cracked can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees. This will cause organ damage and even death for any pet.

  2. Limit exercise on hot days. On really hot days, limit your pet to early-morning or evening-hour exercises. Also, be especially careful with pets that have light-colored ears, since they are more susceptible to skin cancer. Pets with short noses, who typically have difficulty breathing, may also have a lot of difficulty in extreme heat. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pets’ paws, so walk them on grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your pet hydrated. 

  1. A fan isn’t enough. Pets respond to heat differently than humans do. Dogs sweat through their feet, and fans don’t have the same effect on dogs that they do on people.

  2. Give them plenty of shade and water. Make sure your pet has protection from the heat and sun, and plenty of fresh cold water. During heat waves, add ice to water to keep it cooler longer. You may think that a just because a doghouse provides shade it can keep your dog cool enough, but it doesn’t. There isn’t enough air flow in a typical doghouse to keep a pet cool.


  3. Take your dog swimming. If your dog enjoys water, this can be a great way for him to cool off and get some exercise. If you don’t live by water, you can use a kiddie pool in a shaded area. FullSizeRender.jpg

  4. Watch for signs of heat stroke.  Warning signs to look for include, heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep-red or purple tongue, seizures, and unconsciousness.

Certain animals are more prone to heat stroke than others including, Senior pets and very young animals, overweight pets, pets that don’t get a lot of exercise or that have heart and respiratory issues.

Certain breeds of dogs, like boxers, pugs, and shih tzus, have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

If you think your pet is experiencing heat-stroke symptoms, move your pet into the shade or to an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest. Give your pet fresh, cold water or ice cubes to lick and call your veterinarian.

For more information, check out the Humane Society’s website for tips to keep pets safe in the heat. Let’s work together to keep all pets safe this summer.

Father’s Day gift ideas

Great last minute Father’s Day gift ideas:AdobeStock_106425785(2).jpeg

Don’t forget your dad this Father’s Day.

Here are some great gift ideas for your special dad.


  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your dad to his favorite restaurant or plan a family fishing trip, hike with a picnic, movie, concert, or sporting event that he would enjoy.Family fishing
  2. Plan a special at-home treat: Make him breakfast in bed, or plan a night in you can make his favorite dinner, then watch a video and relax.
  3.  Build him an eco-inspired bird house out of a recycled bottle – HERE 
  4. Get dad some new items for the barbecue to inspire more summer night barbecues.Grill, bbq area with tools hanging on the wall
  5. Show dad how much he’s appreciated by making a homemade picture frame. Here’s a link for some creatives ways to make a frame – HERE
  6. Create a gift basket and fill it with some of his favorite things. Maybe pick a theme based on his hobbies or favorite treats and fill the basket based on the theme. Some great examples of theme ideas: sportsman, coffee lover, sweet-tooth fanatic, bookworm, Mr. Fix It, film buff or outdoorsman, to name just a few.
  7. Get him a digital magazine subscription or pick out some books by his favorite author at a used bookstore.

This Father’s Day, show dad how important he is and how much he’s loved.


Great Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Colorful_spring_gardenMother’s day is only days away. Show your mom how much you love her with a thoughtful gift straight from the heart.

  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your mom to her favorite restaurant, museum, play, movie, concert, or some other event she would enjoy
  2. Plan a Special At-Home Treat:  Make her breakfast in bed, or plan a night in, make her a delicious dinner, then watch a video and relax.morgan-making-smoothie-273x300
  3. Create a gift from things you have around the house, such as this no-sew t-shirt pillow:
  4. Make Her Kitchen Mason-Jar Herb Garden:mason-jar-planter-board-747x1024Use a piece of wood and affix the quart-size mason jars using heavy-duty stainless hose clamps, adding chalkboard strips for labeling. Place gravel or clay shards at the bottom of the jars to avoid rot.Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  5. Paint a Tin-Can Mini Flower Pot: Transform tin cans into elegant containers for potted roses with a can of spray paint in a bright and stylish color.
  6. Give Her the Gift of Relaxation: Gift your mom a relaxing gift basket filled with assorted “tub teas.” pampering items, lotions, etc., to help with sleepless nights.
  7. Glass Vase Centerpiece:Shanty2Chic-Bottle-VaseUse recycled glass wine bottles in a pine or whitewood frame and with fresh flowers.   For a full tutorial on creating this gift, visit Shanty 2 Chic
  8. Recipe Ring:
    A great easy gift to help keep your mom’s special recipes. Type out recipes with 6” long and 4” tall dimensions so you are able to glue them onto note cards. Print the recipes onto different-colored paper. You can even color code them according to side dish, entree, dessert, etc. Cut out and glue to note cards; laminate if possible. Hole-punch the top left corner and add a ring. You can even attach a new bright spatula or whisk to the ring for a fun extra addition.  
    Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  9. Head Outdoors:
    Enjoy the great outdoors with a trip to the park for a picnic, or plan a hike to a favorite outdoor area.
  10. Framed Memory: A picture can be worth a thousand words, so give your mom a favorite picture of you or your siblings, or even the two of you together.
  11. Send a Thoughtful Card: Skip the funny card from the card aisle at the grocery store and make your own. Include a note about how special your mom is to you.

This Mother’s Day, make sure to do a little something extra special!

A Menu for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

With Cinco de Mayo only days away it is time to begin planning a delicious meal to share with friends. Here are some great recipes to help you start planning a yummy menu:


Tuna Nachos w/Cucumber Margarita


  • Coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • ½ cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
  • 4 slices of jalapeño
  • ¼ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz. light agave nectar
  • 2 oz. 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ½ oz. Cointreau or triple sec


Pour an even layer of salt on a plate. Rub the rim of an 8-ounce rocks glass or tumbler with lime wedge and invert glass into salt to coat rim.

Combine cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar in a 2-cup cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or pestle, gently muddle the mixture.

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and then add tequila and Cointreau. Cover and shake well until shaker is frosty and cold.

Fill prepared glass with ice. Strain margarita into it and garnish with the cucumber slice.


Mexican cuisine: tasty salsa and corn chips nachos close-up. Horizontal


  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small bag tortilla chips


Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.


Grilled chicken skewer with grilled vegeyables salad


Marinated Chicken

  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 tbsp. chopped oregano
  •   1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Tequila Mustard

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  •  1 tbsp. ground cumin
  •  1 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • Salt


In a large bowl, combine the tequila, brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, water, malt vinegar, honey, tequila, lime juice, dry mustard, coriander, cumin and chile powder. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously until thickened (approximately 5 minutes); do not boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lime zest and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mustard to a small bowl. Thread the chicken onto the top third of the skewers; grill over moderate heat, turning, until browned and almost cooked (approximately 8 minutes). Brush the chicken with the reserved ½ cup of mustard and grill until glazed and cooked through. Serve the skewers with the remaining mustard.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients possible for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

10 Tips to Keep Your Valentine’s Day Green

Romance is in the air as Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. But rather than planning on grabbing a bouquet of flowers at the check stand of your grocery store, try to keep your romance eco-friendly.

Here are 10 ideas to make your Valentine’s Day green!

  1. Plan a fun outing, like a trip to a new museum, art show, concert, etc.
  2. Cook a special dinner rather than going out. food-vegetables-meal-kitchen
  3. Give a handmade gift like this DIY wine rack.Wine_on_the_Wall
  1. Paint a picture.
  2. Write a poem.writing-923882_960_720
  3. Plan a picnic in the park if the weather is cooperative.Platbos_Reserve_Oak_Tree_Picnic
  1. Frame a favorite photo ot the two of you together.
  2. Skip the bouquet of flowers and give a potted plant that your loved one can enjoy longer and even plant in the garden.9090127853_2dcf4d902f_o
  1. Buy a unique gift from a local artisan or vintage store.Distressed_finish_vintage_dresser
  2. Give your full attention to your loved one(s) by making it a device-free night in with no interruptions.

However you spend Valentine’s, be sure to make it a memorable experience!

Don’t Forget Breakfast This Thanksgiving

As we gear up for Thanksgiving, we have the turkeys prepped and the menu planned. If you’re like me, breakfast is the last thing on my mind. Breakfast shouldn’t be too complicated, because from the moment the coffee is brewing, I am busy.

To help make the morning more enjoyable and less stressful, here are several recipes that are quick, easy and delicious. Some of these recipes you can make the night before and reheat that morning. They can even become a new yearly tradition.

Crustless Zucchini and Basil Mini-Quiches

2995536015_3a950ae2e4_oMakes 4 Dozen


  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ¼ cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil for pan
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchini, grated
  • ¼ cup grated Gruyere or Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, finely chopped

Heat oven to 450°F.

Prepare Batter: Put the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Whisking steadily, slowly pour in a 1/2 cup of milk, mixing until quite smooth. Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks, mixing again until smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk, the cream, the salt, and the nutmeg. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day. If using the next day, be sure to re-whisk.

Prepare Zucchini Mixture: In a nonstick pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add grated zucchini and stir until just softened, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Oil mini muffin tins well. Put a pinch of grated cheese, a teaspoon of zucchini mixture, and a pinch of chopped fresh basil, into each muffin cup. Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each muffin cup.

Bake until the quiches puff and start to turn golden, 15-18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and then carefully run a paring knife around the rim of each muffin cup. Carefully lift each quiche out of its cup.

Mini quiches freeze very well. Let cool, then freeze in a single layer in a covered container. Reheat on a cookie sheet in a 400° oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Spiced Crock-Pot Porridge

img_1555Makes about eight 1-cup servings; recipe can be doubled.


  • 2 cups steel-cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chopped apricots
  • ½ cup chopped dates
  • ½ cup chopped figs or raisins
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 orange

Toppings: Chopped roasted nuts, jam, fresh fruit, more dried fruit, milk, yogurt, leftover eggnog

Combine everything except the orange zest and toppings in the bowl of a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Set the cooker on its lowest cook setting (“LOW” or 8-10 hours), and leave overnight.

If you happen to get up during the night, give the porridge a stir as you pass by. If not, no worries.

In the morning, break up the thin film that forms over the top of the porridge and stir it in. Scrape the sides and bottom. Stir in the orange zest.

Serve with toppings. Leftover porridge will keep refrigerated for at least a week. Reheat with a little milk or water to make creamy again.

Lemon Scones


  • 2 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup butter

  • 1 egg, plus enough milk to make 3/4 cup

  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

  • Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven 425° F

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and pinch of salt in a bowl.

Add butter and mix in a processor on “pulse,” or rub together with your fingertips until it looks like a crumble or bread crumbs.

Break an egg in to a measuring cup and add milk up to the 3/4 cup mark, and lightly beat with a fork.

Add the egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients and mix just until well combined. (Do not overmix).

Feel free to add extras at this step, such as lemon zest, cranberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, pieces of apple, or currants. There are unlimited possibilities!

Place spoonfuls of the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Tip: Keep on eye on them, because depending on the size you make, they may cook more quickly. Also, leave some space in between the scones because they grow. Serve plain or with butter or jam.

Eat up and enjoy!