Monday, February 24, 2014

Organic Laundry Care for PENNIES!

Eco Nuts Soap

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Favorite Cookbook Ever

I made one of my favorite meals for dinner tonight.  

It comes from my favorite cookbook.  

Two of my friends bought the book tonight based on this one recipe alone. 

 It's perfect for big families like mine, and I'm sure you'll adore it.  It really can't be beat!  Look how much abuse mine has taken!!

Get it while it's hot!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

How Much Physical Activity Do Kids Need?


Kiddos should be active for at least 60 minutes each day. This amount of activity offers many health benefits to your kid as well as benefits in the classroom! Kids who are more active have better concentration and focus during the school day, activity can also improve your child’s behavior in class and boost their performance at school. It is important for schools to incorporate activity and health education in the curriculum to establish healthy habits, but it is also important that we teach our kids these habits at home as well! Consistency is key! So encourage your kids to be active with you and at recess! 


Wednesday, January 1, 2014



Being physically fit has many health benefits like decreasing your risk for certain diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. There are many more benefits to fitness that you may not realize! Fitness improves your mental health, helps you weigh less, improves your sleep, acts as a stress reliever and also plays a role in increasing your bone density! Making the decision to live the fit life is also important in teaching your kids the value of living a healthy lifestyle! You are your child’s biggest influence! Be a positive role model! Start with getting active by doing things you enjoy, like walking the dog or going for a swim at your local Y! Take your kids with you and make getting fit a family affair!

Source: Frechman, R. The Importance of Fitness in Your 30’s.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kid Friendly Healthy Pancakes

One of my best friends introduced me to these pancakes, apparently the recipe was made popular by The Biggest Loser and it floating all around Pinterest! When I first saw the recipe I couldn’t believe that they would be any good… Until I tried them! They are so delicious and virtually guilt free! I also like this recipe because it uses whole grains (oatmeal) as opposed to traditional pancake mixes that use enriched white flour.
Serves 3: 191 calories | 24 g carbs |19 g protein | 7 g sugar
  •  6 egg whites (or ¾ cup of egg substitute)
  • 1 cup rolled oats, dry
  • 1 cup cottage cheese (I would use fat-free to cut back on calories, but you can choose whatever you’d like)
  •  2 tsp sugar (or less, depending on your preference)
  •  1 tsp cinnamon
  •  1 tsp vanilla
1)       In a blender/food processor or what have you- blend all ingredients until smooth (I use an immersion blender like this one.
2)       Spray pan or griddle and place over medium-low heat
3)       Pour ¼ cup of batter on griddle and flip when bubbles begin to form
4)       Cook until golden brown
5)       Serve whichever way you like it-- with butter and maple syrup, fruit, nuts, yogurt, the pancake options are endless!
I also tried a savory pancake with this recipe by adding some shredded carrot, onion and mushroom which was also tasty! Get creative! 


Monday, December 30, 2013


·         Use your lunch break as a time to sneak in a 10 minute walk!

·         Use commercial breaks as exercise breaks! Do a few squats, push-ups, crunches, lunges, jumping jacks, jog in place, whatever your little heart desires! If you’re watching a show with your kids, have them join you!

·         Park your car at the far end of the parking lot when going to the store or work. By adding as little as an extra 30 minutes of walking to your day can improve your health and weight status!

·         Instead of taking your grocery cart to one of the ‘return stalls’ in the parking lot, take the time to walk it back to the front of the store! You’ll burn a few extra calories, especially since you’re already parked further away!

·         Do a squat when you need to pick something up vs. bending over.

·         Take advantage of stopping at a red light! Use this time to squeeze and relax your buns and thighs as many times as you can until the light turns green!

·         Choose the stairs over the escalator and elevator!

All of these things can be done whether you’re with your family of 5 or solo! Remember that any amount of extra activity can benefit you, but try to aim for 30-60 minutes of exercise/activity per day for maximum benefits!

Do you have any tips for sneaking activity into your day? Let us know!!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Active Kids at Christmas

A study by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that “Children chose parents, not celebrities or sports figures, as their number one role model, regardless of the child's age. Parents can model healthy habits by finding ways to be active in their daily routines and making activity a household priority.”

Children should be active for about 60 minutes every day, or most days of the week. But this doesn’t mean your child has to “exercise.” Active play is a way to keep your child moving in a fun and engaging way!

  • ·        Toss a ball
  • ·         Play tag
  • ·         Go for a walk
  • ·         Go for a bike ride
  • ·         Provide a safe area for your child to tumble and jump around.
  • ·         Turn Simon Says into active play with lots of movement, jumping and balancing!
  • ·         If your child is into video games, try to encourage active games that requires your child to move their body versus just their thumbs!
  • ·         Get your child involved in team sports or other active sports like swimming, dance or gymnastics!
  • ·         Contact your local YMCA for information on activities available for children! Here is a link to Youth Activities in Sunbury and Milton!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Shoveling = Exercise


Forget about the snow blower! Time to get out those snow shovels and clear off your driveway! Did you realize that shoveling snow is a good form of exercise? A 150 lb person would burn about 99 calories with 15 minutes of shoveling snow! This doesn’t mean you should use shoveling snow as an excuse to skip your daily walk or your visit to the gym, but it does allow for an opportunity to burn some extra calories! Keep in mind that we need to consider safety when shoveling! Click here for some snow shoveling safety tips from the National Safety Council.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Avoiding Chubby Christmas

The average American will gain 1-2 lbs during the holiday season, not a huge deal, but if we are not active enough to combat this weight gain, it has a tendency to stick around well past the holiday season. So how can you enjoy your holiday meals and treats without going up a pant size?

Add in exercise! Go for an early morning job and enjoy the Christmas decorations in your neighborhood! Go for a family walk after your meal or just sneak in some squats whenever you can! You’ll feel better throughout the day by adding in a little activity, I guarantee it!

Contrary to what you might think- skipping meals earlier in the day to “save room” for your holiday meal is not the best choice. Research shows that skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day. So make sure to eat a well balanced breakfast in the morning to keep you fuller, longer! My family makes a baked egg (usually with egg substitute)  and vegetable frittata for Christmas morning which leaves us feeling satisfied until we’re ready to enjoy my Nan’s Christmas meal in the afternoon!

Use a smaller plate! This means you’ll put less on your plate and are more likely to eat proper portion sizes!

Drink water! It will fill up your tummy and keep you hydrated!

Try to load up on green salad and veggies before your meal!

Eat slowly and ENJOY every bite! It can take 10-20 minutes for our brain to register that we are actually full. Eating slowly will allow more time for your belly to tell your brain it’s had enough! So if you feel the urge to get seconds, take a little break and see if you’re still hungry before loading up on more mashed potatoes!

Don’t deny yourself dessert, it will probably just lead to overindulging later on! Just make sure you choose a reasonable size portion! For example, a slice of pie should measure approximately the length of your pinky finger. Even better, opt for a colorful bowl of fruit salad!

DIY Advent Calendar

When I was a little girl, my parents had this Christmas Advent Calendar.
My sisters and I fought over who got to move the little mouse each day in our countdown ‘til Christmas. I have very fond memories of this Christmas Tradition, and have wanted to do something like it every year since starting my own little family of two. I bought a cloth advent calendar very similar to this, but the excitement just wasn’t there. (I think it was lacking the fight over who moved the little candy cane. Ben just won’t fight with me!) Then, last year, while wracking my brain for a gift for my husband, I had the brilliant idea to make him an advent calendar in the form of gifts and experiences. Each day he got to open one envelope to countdown to Christmas. His gifts lasted the entire month of December. If you have never lavished your spouse with such attention, I HIGHLY recommend it. Ben was like a little kid, excited to see what each new day held, and I loved seeing him so happy! This was last year’s Advent Calendar:

This year I decided that we needed something more permanent for our new annual tradition. I researched (ok ok I pinterested) different types of DIY advent calendars, but nothing really stuck out to me, so I went to work envisioning my perfect advent calendar. I wanted something reusable from year to year, something with 25 individual pieces and something I could write our daily activities on. That’s where chalkboard paint came into play.

Who doesn’t love this stuff?! After my epiphany that chalkboard paint was the solution to all life’s problems, everything else fell into place. I talked about my ideas with Ben, and he suggested a Christmas tree with chalkboard ornaments. Genius! We set to work planning our project. I got out cardstock and we started planning color schemes. After a Ben’s Choice vs. Ashley’s Choice facebook vote (which I won, of course), we settled on our sample:

I suggest drawing your plans out and playing with different colors, shapes, etc. before settling on a design. I must have showed Ben ten different types of Christmas tree shapes before we agreed on one. I was in favor of a more whimsical shape, while he favored a more traditional shape. As you can see, Ben won. Marriage is all about compromise, right?
With our design and color scheme settled, we headed out on an Advent Calendar shopping trip. Home Depot, here we come! We hit the paint section first so the paint could be mixed while we shopped for our other supplies. Our list included:
Behr Paint S-G-560 Jazz Blue (Sample Size) – Background Paint
Behr Paint 450B-6 Formal Garden (Sample Size) – Small Tree Paint
Behr Paint 430B-5 Apple Orchard (Sample Size) – Large Tree Paint
Half inch Plywood (4’x4’ piece) – Main Piece of Advent Calendar
MDF Project Panel (2’x4’ piece) – Ornaments
A note about our supplies: sample size paint is very inexpensive, but only comes in flat finish. We had many of our other needed supplies on hand (power tools for cutting, chalkboard paint, paint brushes, rollers, paint pan, sandpaper, etc.) More about those later.
As soon as we got home from shopping, I put Ben to work cutting our calendar down to size and cutting out our round ornaments. Did I mention that he is Mr.-I-Can-Fix-Anything? In this case, he is Mr.-I-Can-
Build-Anything. Seriously, I can tell him exactly what I am thinking of, and he executes it perfectly every time. I think its partly because we are such good communicators. Anyway, back to the project. Ben used a circular saw to cut the 4’x4’ plywood down to 3’x3’. I went to work painting two coats of the Behr Paint S-G-560 Jazz Blue on the newly cut 3’x3’ plywood for the background while he started on cutting the round ornaments from the2’x4’ MDF project panel . I used a small roller on the plywood. Ben used an electric drill with a 2” holesaw attachment to cut out the ornaments from the 2’x4’ MDF project panel.
The holesaw looks like this
Ben cut the ornaments over the trashcan so the dust from the MDF would fall directly into the can. Did I mention he’s brilliant?
He cut out 25 circles plus a few extra in case any of them were not up to my standards. While the large plywood background dried, we both went to work smoothing out our ornaments. Ben used an xacto-knife to trim off the rough edges and then passed them to me to give a light sanding. I used 220C very fine grit sandpaper, which we had on hand from a previous project.
After sanding came drilling the tiny little holes which would be used for hanging the ornaments on our advent tree. Ben used the electric drill with a small drill bit to drill a hole near the top of each ornament. We used an old piece of wood under the ornaments so we would not drill into our table.
OK, all of the lame “getting ready” parts are finished. Now on to the fun part – PAINTING! There were quite a few steps in the painting process. We first painted our chalkboard side of the ornaments. We did three coats of Rust-Oleum Chalkboard paint on one side of each ornament. This paint dried very quickly, so it was very easy to paint all three coats in one evening. At the end of painting, I used a wooden cooking skewer to open up the holes that were drilled in the top of the ornaments. A note on the brushes I used to paint: It seems as though I go through paintbrushes so frequently and if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to drop big $$ on paint brushes for all of your projects. I use inexpensive E.L.F. makeup brushes! These can be found on, at Target, and sometimes at the Dollar Tree. Score! The white brush in the photos is the foundation brush. (I use this type of brush for my makeup also.) I think costs about $2.oo, or just $1.00 if you are lucky enough to find it at the Dollar Tree like I did.
After all of my hard work planning, shopping and painting the first day, I fell asleep on the couch. Ben did not. When I awoke the next morning, I could not believe my eyes! I thought Christmas Elves had paid me a visit and painted my Advent Christmas Tree!
I never knew Ben was so talented. I pictured him painting the night away, saying he would put some more “Happy Little Trees” here and here. Any Bob Ross fans out there? No? OK…
With the bulk of the background complete, I set to work painting our ornaments. We decided we liked the colorful look, so I painted the rainbow. I used a skinny brush on the edges and that same foundation brush on the front of the ornament. For most of the colors, I did three coats of acrylic paint, which I had on hand from previous projects. You can buy this paint at any craft store for under a $1.00. I bought the paint palette for $0.50, but a paper plate will work just as well.
When the colorful side of the ornaments had dried, I began to paint the numbers, 1-25. I chose variations of red, green and white. I did not draw the number on the ornament first, but you can do that if you think it will be helpful to you. Pencil would be best for this. For the fine point that I wanted on the numbers, I used another E.L.F. makeup brush, this time the angled eyeliner brush. LOVE that one for makeup also! I painted two to three coats of paint for the numbers. Just paint until you get the look you are going for!
I also painted some wooden snowflakes for the sky. These were $0.33 at Michaels. I painted two coats of white paint, followed by a brush of light blue here and there to give the snowflakes some depth.

Once the ornaments and snowflakes dried, there were only a few more steps to complete. We laid the ornaments out on the Christmas tree and moved them around to our liking. Once we found an arrangement that we liked, we hammered tiny finishing nails through the pre-drilled holes. You should hammer the nails until they don’t waiver at your touch. I would estimate that about half an inch is sticking out from my tree.
Next we arranged our snowflakes and glued them into place. We used Liquid Nails Adhesive Perfect Glue for this.
The last step to tackle is the advent events. I print a blank calendar from MS Word and write out all of our advent plans so I can keep track of and plan for each event/outing. I use a chalkboard marker, Chalk Ink Wet Wipe Markers. These make it so much easier to write long words in tiny spaces. I bought mine on
And here is our finished product!
Some fun things from this year’s advent include baking, assembling and decorating a GingerBread house (that was a big hit last year), going to Wolf Trap for their Holiday Carol Sing A Long, watching White Christmas and going to our annual Ugly Sweater Party. The possibilities are endless. For us, Christmas is all about soaking up every bit of the season and making memories together that will last a lifetime. My hope is that this advent calendar will be something that our future little Fabina’s will think back on and say, “man, that was so awesome!”. I challenge you all to EXPERIENCE Christmas!!!