Tag Archives: family

On the go this summer with some Healthy Trail Mix

On the go this summer With summer nearly here, that means it’s time to hit the road, the beach, or the trail. Instead of stopping for fast food or a convenience store on the way to your summer destination, bring a healthy snack along, preferably one that doesn’t need refrigeration like homemade trail mix. This recipe can be made gluten free by omitting the Cheerios and adding two more cups of your favorite variety of Gluten Free Chex. (Note that Wheat Chex and Multi-Bran Chex are not gluten free.) If you or your children have nut allergies, omit the Planters Energy Mix and use pine nuts or sunflower seeds. Or you can add more dried fruit, raisins, or shredded coconut. Get the kids to help you make some Healthy Trail Mix, especially if they want custom blends without coconut or with more of their favorite dried fruit – or chocolate!

You can find coupons for Cheerios, Chex, Planter’s Energy Mix, and more at everydayhealthyvalues.com. You can also connect with Everyday Healthy Values on Twitter @Evrydyhealthval and Facebook at facebook.com/EverydayHealthyValues.

Healthy Trail Mix

This is a great snack for hiking, hanging out at the beach, taking to summer camp, or with you on family car trips.


  • 2 cups Cheerios (any variety)
  • 2 cups Gluten Free Honey Chex
  • 2 cups Gluten Free Corn Chex
  • 2 cups Gluten Free Rice Chex
  • 2 cups raisins and/or dried fruit pieces
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 cup Planters Energy Mix Nut-Rition Mixed Nuts


  1. Combine ingredients together in large bowl.
  2. Store into plastic zipper bags or airtight containers.

The secret to great movie night is preparation! #PopSecretMovieNight

The secret to movie night is preparation!

The secret to a successful movie night is preparation. Seriously! Now I know what you’re thinking – just turn on a movie, sit on the couch, and watch it, right? Not at my house.

First, there’s the movie selection – do it beforehand! My husband is the type of guy who’ll sit there for half an hour with the remote going through the movie selections on our favorite movie streaming service. The kids and I inevitably get bored and we end up leaving the room or watching something on regular TV. So much for movie night! Instead, I put movies in my movie queue that I think we’ll all like. I even discuss movie choices with my husband way in advance. Anything to get him to make a decision!

Second, now that we’ve picked a movie, where will we watch it? Downstairs in our media room with the not-super-comfortable couches, awesome surround sound, and big HD TV? Or in our room, with the smaller TV, no surround sound, but the oh-so-comfy bed? Will the kids and dog be joining us? (Downstairs, probably.) Or is it just the two of us? (Our room!)

Third, start the movie early! My son literally passes out by 9 pm. So, there’s no point in starting a two hour movie at 8 pm. For us this means starting dinner early, too, or planning to eat dinner on trays while we’re watching that night’s movie selection.

Fourth, have your snacks and drinks prepared ahead of time. This is the true secret to movie night and means always keeping Pop Secret popcorn in the pantry! My favorite is the 94% Fat Free butter flavored variety since it tastes great and only has on 2 grams of fat per popped serving. We also like to nosh on slices of gourmet cheese and fruit. And don’t forget the napkins and the drink coasters before the movie starts!

Fifth, get comfy! My family prefers watching movies in our PJs, slippers and robes or in loungewear. Also, we make sure to bring several throws for us – and the dog – since it gets cold in the media room. Finally, a reminder to take a potty break before pressing play is a good idea, too.

What’s your secret to having a successful movie night?

Check out the Pop Secret Labs

Pop Secret The Secret to Movie NightAt Pop Secret, we love movies as much as you love movies. So we’re on a mission to make movie watching and popcorn even more social and fun. We’re sharing a bunch of apps, tools, and fun partnerships with everyone over at our hub, Pop Secret Labs. Keep checking back to try ‘em all out and give us feedback. The more you get involved, the better all of our movie experiences will be. See you there!

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Pop Secret via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Pop Secret.

Finding joy in my family’s hidden talents #AGiantSurprise

Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips

One of the biggest joys of becoming a mom was learning that my children make me laugh, especially my daughter, Lucie. Besides being artistic, cute and super smart, Lucie has a hidden talent – she’s a ham. She does a great Honey Boo Boo impersonation and can make her tummy roll like a belly dancer’s. She’s also good at making our dog, Nellie, leap high in the air to get a treat. (Leaping is Nellie’s hidden talent, along with sneaking chips.) She even dances with the dog, even though Nellie doesn’t like it all that much.

Her antics crack me up. I’m sure it’s only because I’m her mom, but I find great joy in these hidden talents of hers!

Green Giant’s hidden talent

The folks at Green Giant have a hidden talent, too! Their giant surprise is that they’ve brought the goodness of vegetables into their new Veggie Snack Chips!

Green Giant sent me their two new chip varieties to try out – Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips and Roasted Veggie Tortilla Chips. Both are tasty and a snack you shouldn’t feel too guilty about indulging in (in moderation, of course.) Unfortunately, some of the ingredients of the tortilla chips were things I avoid, like whey due to my food sensitivities, and hydrogenated soybean oil, which I feel isn’t all that healthy even if there’s 2% or less of it in the snack. (You can see the nutritional information on Green Giant's Facebook page on the Veggie Snack Chips tab.)

Green Giant Snack Chips

However, I was really excited when I looked over the ingredient list on the bag of Green Giant’s Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips. Even though they’re not certified to be gluten free, the ingredients seem to be free of the stuff. (If you’re very sensitive to gluten or have celiacs, you should assume that the chips are manufactured on machinery that is exposed to gluten-containing foods. Better to be safe than sorry!)

Green Giant’s Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips contain: whole grain corn flour, sunflower oil, dried sweet potatoes, rice flour, whole grain brown rice flour, whole grain buckwheat flour and 2% or less of refiner’s syrup, maltodextrin, sugar, salt, buckwheat fiber, dried honey, and two ingredients to preserve freshness – sodium acid pyrophosaphate and tetra sodium pyrophosphate. Sure some of the ingredients aren’t what you’d use in your kitchen, but it’s a SNACK CHIP, not a salad! If you want a super healthy snack, have some fruit or a green monster smoothie instead.

In addition, Green Giant Multigrain Sweet Potato Chips (6g fat per 28g serving) have 40 percent less fat than regular potato chips (10g fat per 28g serving). So, if you’re jonesing for chips or want to serve a healthier chip at your next party, Green Giant’s Veggie Snack Chips are a good alternative.

Find even more of the Giant's favorite surprise talents at the Green Giant YouTube channel and learn more about their Veggie Snack Chips on the Green Giant's Facebook page.

What are your hidden talents?

Disclaimer: Thank you to The Green Giant™ for being a sponsor. Show the Giant your surprise talent at www.facebook.com/greengiant.

Two million Invisalign smiles and an update #InvisalignMAB

Two million Invisalign smiles and an update #InvisalignMAB at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Helping you be prepared for the tough discussions #KotexMom

mom and daughterMy time as a U by Kotex Tween Ambassador is ending. I hope you enjoyed some of the information I shared about having “the Talk” with your daughter about getting her period and going through puberty. I know my experience writing these posts and sharing the information with you has opened my eyes to all the great information there’s out there at the U by Kotex website for teens and tweens as well as Kotex’s website for moms and dads.

But like any topic that’s tough to talk about, the important thing is to keep the lines of communication open between you and your child. Find time to spend one on one with them so they’ll feel more comfortable coming to you with questions. And seek out materials to help you through the process such as a helpful website or book. Don’t be shy asking friends and relatives to share how they had “the Talk” with their daughters. It’s all about being prepared to have the tough discussions about anything, whether it’s periods and puberty, sexuality, or drugs and alcohol.

And just to review, here’s a list of my previous Kotex Mom posts:

How are you preparing to have the tough discussions with your child?


Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Look good, smell good, feel good #KotexMom

mother and daughterOne of the tough things for tweens and teens to keep on top of is hygiene. I know at my house getting my kids to bathe enough is like pulling teeth. Both my son and daughter regularly take showers, but do so reluctantly. I have no idea why, as I love a good hot shower. (It’s just having to deal with my hair afterwards that’s a total pain.)

Bathe regularly

With girls who are menstruating, it’s especially important that they bathe regularly. I’ll never forget the time my friend Sue came over and had to borrow some pads from my mom. After she went home, my mom said she wasn’t surprised that Sue was having her period since she was a little bit stinky. I was really embarrassed for her!

Also, just because your daughter’s having her period doesn’t mean she can’t take a bath. In fact, in my opinion there’s nothing better than a good hot bubble bath for cramps and tummy pain. If she’s concerned about blood that’s gotten into the bath water, have her take a quick shower afterwards to rinse off.

Change regularly

It’s also important to tell your daughter to change her pad or tampon regularly. U by Kotex advises:

On regular (medium) days, you should feel the need to change a pad or tampon with regular absorbency about every four hours. If four hours pass and you find your pad or tampon to still be mostly white, then that’s considered to be a light day, and on these days you might want to switch over to a panty liner or a pad/tampon with light absorbency – especially if you find it hurts to take out your tampon because it’s dry. If you check your product before four hours have passed and you feel like your pad or tampon (or both) needs to be changed sooner, then that’s considered a heavy day, and you would be better off with a super, super plus, or max absorbency pad or tampon. On your heaviest days, you can avoid accidents and overflow by wearing a pad or liner with your tampon, and perhaps you’ll want to sleep in our overnight pads with max protection so you don’t have to worry about staining your sheets.

And no matter how vigilant she is with changing her pad or tampon, leaks will occur. Kotex’s advice is to treat stains by washing out clothing or sheets with cold water as soon as possible. They also say that rubbing salt directly on the stain or presoaking in hydrogen peroxide for 15 to 20 minutes before tossing into a regular load. (I like using a good stain treatment spray, too.) You may also want to go out and buy your daughter a set of dark colored underwear to use when she’s having her period.

Finally, make sure she has a supply of pads or tampons in her purse, gym bag, locker and backpack for those unexpected emergencies. And make sure you stock up at home, too!

My daughter, the grump

My daughter is nowhere near puberty yet, but boy is she moody. The fact of the matter is that moods can swing as hormones fluctuate. As parents, we have to be supportive and positive. But at the same time, we moms can be moody depending on our cycles and if we’re going through the early stages of menopause. You have to realize that sometimes it’s the hormones talking, not either of you. Find time to chill, calm down and apologize if necessary. (Big hugs help, too!) Then find time to do some cool mother-daughter activities like cooking or going to the movies.

For more tips for moms and daughters, check out Kotex Tween and U by Kotex.

U by Kotex Tween Giveaway!

Mom Central is giving away U by Kotex Tween Pads and Liners to 50 lucky winners! You can enter the giveaway here. Giveaway ends November 12!

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Creating a German Oktoberfest Breakfast #worldmarket

World Market OktoberfestI’ve been shopping at Cost Plus World Market since the early ‘80s. In fact, I consider it one of my “must go to” places for everyday staples like Torani Sugar Free Syrups, spices and tea. It’s also the place we go to get stocking stuffers every Christmas. So when I was asked to shop World Market to write about a fall foodie theme, I jumped at the chance!

Shopping at Cost Plus World Market

With the kids off from school, I made it a family outing since we had to drive an hour to the Mall of Georgia. I had hoped that Nathan (12) and Lucie (9) would help me figure out a theme for my post. Instead, they had a great time showing me all the cool things they found from Star Trek Pez to a giant Tootsie Pop!

kids at world marketWhile the kids were off shooting at each other with pop guns and finding where the bathrooms were, I enjoyed looking at all the cool things I could buy from gluten free Quinoa Pasta to bacon flavored Torani Syrup! However, my mind was on breakfast – coffee, jam, Nutella, and Heinz Beans for English “beans on toast.”


Then I saw the Bavarian display and my theme was set for a German Oktoberfest Breakfast!


German Oktoberfest Breakfast

For most people, fall means football, Halloween and pumpkins. But if you’re a beer fan, you probably think Oktoberfest, since that’s when we celebrate it here in the States. (In Germany, Oktoberfest is in September.)

My husband, Paul, lived in Berlin, Germany for six months during graduate school and I had a chance to visit him there. We traveled to Munich for Oktoberfest where we sat in large “tents” (actually huge airplane hanger sized buildings), drank beer, ate big bread pretzels, and listened to German oompah bands play drinking songs as well as polka versions of John Denver songs. It was crazy and a lot of fun.

Paul also brought home a new family tradition from Berlin – the German breakfast. Unlike us Americans who love eggs, bacon and pancakes on the weekend, Germans have fruit, cheese, bread, sliced cured meats, sausages, and stuff you can’t get here (like spreadable pork fat) for their Sunday breakfasts.

With the help of World Market I created a German style Oktoberfest Breakfast at home. I was surprised how easy it was to do since so many of the items I usually would get fresh at the store were available at World Market in a shelf stable form. (Great to keep in your pantry for last minute entertaining, too!)

I bought:

German breakfast

I served our German style breakfast goodies from World Market with hard boiled eggs, toast (since we didn’t have any German bread) and sliced pears. Paul had coffee and the kids and I had juice.

It was a wonderful fall day here in Athens, GA. So my family and I enjoyed our German Oktoberfest Breakfast outside while we listened to German oompah music. Well, except for having to swat yellow jackets who, I guess, like German breakfasts, too!

Sunday breakfast outside

HGTV Passport to Style Sweepstakes

HGTV and Cost Plus World Market are partnering on the HGTV Passport to Style Sweepstakes. The Grand Prize package includes a $10,000 World Market shopping spree and design consultation with an HGTV Designer. There will also be three runner up prize winners that will each receive a $1,000 World Market gift card! The HGTV Sweepstakes runs from September 22, 2012 until October 26, 2012.

You can enter online at worldmarketsweepstakes.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/worldmarket/app_315124871876517. Also, if you share the sweepstakes with five of your friends via Facebook share or email, you can receive five additional bonus entries! Users can also enter daily for more chances to win. Good luck!

Connect with Cost Plus World Market

You can connect with Cost Plus World Market on Twitter @WorldMarket, on Facebook, on Google+, on Pinterest and on Instagram.

Disclosure: This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™. All opinions and experiences are my own.

An update from the orthodontist’s office #InvisalignMAB

An update from the orthodontist's office #InvisalignMAB at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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Preparing for the inevitable: getting your period at school #kotexmom

school girlsIn my Kotex Mom posts, I’ve written about having The Talk about periods and puberty with your daughter and to share sites like kotex.com/tween with her. I’ve also mentioned how important it is to be prepared for getting those first periods by having supplies in the house like U by Kotex pads and liners.

But what happens if your daughter gets her period at school?

Have a chat with the school.  Ask the health clerk or nurse, your child’s teacher or the school counselor how they handle girls getting periods at school. I’m sure they’re used to it at the middle school, but how prepared is your daughter’s elementary school. Do they stock pads in the nurse’s office? If girls don’t have lockers, can they keep pads with their teacher or in the nurse’s office?

If your daughter has cramps or feels ill, can she lie down? What about getting a pain reliever – or does she need a note from her doctor or you? Is there enough time between classes for girls to change their pads?

What about privacy? No girl wants to announce to her class or in a crowded nurse’s office that she got her period or is having cramps. Do the teachers and staff have a “code word” or way to handle this?

Back when I was a tweenager and teen, we brought pads from home in our purses (no backpacks then) and we didn’t need permission to take a Midol. Our nurse’s office had private areas and you had time to use the toilet whenever you wanted. Times have changed.

Prepare your daughter. Most kids have a backpack these days. How about stocking a small makeup bag, like the one below, with pads? Special pads for tweens like the ones made by U by Kotex are small but super absorbent, so you don’t need to carry more than a few for a day away from home. If she’s worried about having an accident, pack a pair of panties in a small ziplock baggie, which she can put at the bottom of her backpack or in her makeup bag. That way she can change and bring home the stained garment.

Even if your daughter isn’t close to approaching puberty, having a small bag for band-aids, a hairbrush, ponytail holder, and a mirror is a great way to get used to carrying this stuff around. Before you know it, she’ll not only be carrying pads but makeup, too!

Teach your daughter the warning signs. Everyone is different, so it may be hard know what warning signs to look for when you’re getting your period. For some girls, they may break out a day or two before. Or there may be some light cramping or feeling moody. Some girls may experience breast tenderness. The U of Kotex website has a terrific article about this, First Period: What You Might Expect.

Even so, sometimes your period doesn’t announce itself. I remember being in my high school’s dark room printing out some photographs. All of a sudden I experienced knife-like cramps “down there” and had to run to the bathroom with my purse to take care of things. Not fun at all.

How are you helping your daughter prepare for getting her period at school?

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Preparing to have a talkable moment with your child #KotexMoms

mother and daughter

Recently I cohosted a couple of online parenting webinars with Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions. Amy pointed out that kids crave attention from their parents, which is why they act out when they’re not getting it. Kids are just dying get that special attention from mom or dad, even tweens and teens. You can use this to your advantage when planning to have any important talk – like The Talk about periods and puberty – with your daughter. After all, what kid wouldn’t want some one-on-one time with mom?

Here are some fun ways to break the ice when having The Talk:

  • Play video games. Then head to the kitchen for grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Chat over your meal or between gaming sessions.
  • Cook together. Have a chat while baking cupcakes or cookies.
  • Get out of the house. Go out for a meal or snack. Pick a place or time when the entire fifth grade isn’t at DQ grabbing a cone.
  • Go for a drive. Turn off the radio and eliminate other distractions like phones and iPads.
  • Go shopping at the mall. Or have a mani/pedi session at the local salon. Stop at the food court for some smoothies and a chat.
  • Go for a hike or go camping. This is my husband’s way of having deep and meaningful discussions with the kids.
  • Do a craft. Turn off the TV and play some quiet music in the background while you bead, scrapbook, paint or knit. Keeping your hands busy while you chat makes things less stressful.
  • Watch a movie. I have great discussiona with my kids about important topics from racism to death after watching movies that touched on those things. Most coming-of-age movie deal with first romances, so many may not be appropriate. However, 16 Candles is a good one in so many ways – it’s funny, sweet, and a great slice of ‘80s pop culture. Also, the brother discusses with his dad that the sister who’s getting married is having her period – and the dad commenting that he’s glad that he’s learning about that in school. It’s not much, but it could help. (Note: watch it on TV, which is edited to eliminate f-bombs, nudity and other things you may not want your child to see. The movie’s a lot raunchier than you may remember.)

Kotex Tween also has some great tips on how to have The Talk with your daughter, too.

What are your favorite ways to spend one-on-one time with your daughter?

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a Brand Ambassador Campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of U by Kotex Tween and received products to facilitate my post and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

The family trip to the orthodontist #invisalignMAB

The family trip to the orthodontist #invisalignMAB at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

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