Quick Tip Tuesday: Finding a Ripe Avocado

Raise your hand if you love avocados? Is your hand up? It should be. Now raise your hand if you can’t pick a ripe avocado to save your life. Yup, my hands are up. I have wasted a ridiculous amount of money on the un-ripe avocado, or even worse one that suddenly is over-ripe. Thanks to the internet there is a solution. The dish I made this week is delicious when topped with avocado, and man did I pick a good one, and it was sooooooooo easy.

(Image from My Fridge Food)
MIND BLOWN

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Quick Tip Tuesday: Rainy Day Boxes

What this post should really be called is “Rainy Day Boxes will save your sanity” when it’s too cold out, too wet out, or for whatever reason you just can’t go out. There have been many times that Pinterest has just been a time waster, but with these boxes, I swear I struck Pinterest gold. I promise this is a really short post, I just threw in a lot of pictures!
You can find tons of ideas for these boxes by searching Pinterest for rainy day activitiesbusy bags, inpendent play boxes, quiet boxes, and sensory boxes. I’ve collected craft items, and random things from the Target dollar section, and a few dollar stores. A box of beans is a favorite around here. They are great for construction trucks, or for animals to play in. Another favorite is good for developing fine motor skills: putting items in the hole of a wipe box. For my youngest, we’ve given him coins, blocks, and other toys. For my older son, we use the same items, or mini dinosaurs, and give him a clothes pin to pinch and put them in with. You can make it more difficult by doing everything of one color first. We’ve also used many of the objects for sorting. The Target dollar section is full of flash cards for learning, matching and memory games!  Here are some of the things we’ve done. 

Construction trucks in beans

Dinosaur Dig. (These bones are from the dollar store!)

Construction trucks in beans & rainbow rice.
Fine motor skills: Items into a wipe box
Practicing threading, knots, etc.

I store almost all my activity accessories in these Creative Options Project Boxes. They are (currently) $50 on Amazon, but I have seen them for less online, and purchased mine for $20 at Costco (item# 552250). I just saw some at Costco this weekend! They are 14.25″L x 14″W x 3.25″H and can also hold 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper. I have stored them all different ways though, based on my living space!

Beads, Beans, Rice, Cutouts, Minianimals, Pipecleaners, Stickers

Dinobones, Sponge Numbers, Mini Foam Blocks, 
and objects to practice threading

Paint, play dough, paint brushes, stamps

For most of the year I stored my sand and beans in a gallon bag in one of my boxes and pulled them out as needed, dumping into a container. Since it’s been cold and we’ve been using them more, I dedicated two shoe box containers, one for sand and one for beans for easy access.

Quick Tip Tuesday: Timers for Toddlers

One of the most effective things I found to help minimize meltdowns when my children were small was an old fashioned kitchen timer.  
Kids do much better if they have some sense of what is coming, and are given a set period of time to wind up their current activity.  If you put yourself in their shoes, it is not hard to understand.  When you are in the middle of a favorite movie, sports event or even just a good book, how would you react if someone told you that you had to stop right now and come with them to do something else, usually without any explanation as to why that was necessary.  I doubt that you would be very happy, and might very well refuse. 
One of the problems is that small children don’t have much concept of time, and this is where the timer comes in.  The best choice is an old-fashioned timer with a dial, preferably one that clicks off the minutes and dings when time is up.  Digital timers don’t work nearly as well since it is much harder for the child to visualize the time passing.  
Give it a try.  Give a two- or five-minute warning when it is time for lunch, a nap or to get out the door to go somewhere.  It is also very helpful if you tell them what is going to happen next (not a discussion, just a brief statement of fact).  It also works well if they resist napping.  I used to set the timer for an hour, and told them that if they laid down and rested quietly, they could get up when the timer rang.  Most of the time, they were sound asleep and never heard it. If they are still awake, you must be prepared to let them get up. (It is important that the timer be where they can see it but not reach it.  It doesn’t take long for them to discover how to change the time.)

Quick Tip Tuesday: You Can Freeze Almost Anything

Over the years, and I’ve read any number of tips that have changed my life. Not only do many of these tips save me time and energy, some of them save me money too. So as part of the new MMC, we are now bringing you “Quick Tip Tuesday”: time and budget saving tips in short blog post form.
Are you ready for it…….Here’s this weeks tip………
YOU CAN FREEZE ALMOST ANYTHING
This is life altering for many many reasons. First, freezing your food means that, like most of our meals, its available for use in the future. Second, if you ended up with some unexpected left overs, or excess produce you can’t finish in time, you can save it for later – this way it does not go to waste, and it saves you money in the future. Third, you can buy just about anything in bulk that is on sale.

Frozen Banana Slices – Perfect for Smoothies

I was quite skeptical in the beginning, of what I could or couldn’t freeze. I played it safe. Lately, I’ve been branching out, and doing some research and it has definitely paid off. Can’t finish off that huge container of Costco spinach? Freeze it. Throw it in smoothies, dishes calling for frozen or fresh spinach. What about the ridiculous large container of Costco pesto? Freeze it in cubes, throw in dishes at a later date. Bought a fridge full of squash and zucchini and suddenly have to leave town? Slice it up and freeze it. Throw it in some orzo at a later date. And those are just a few. 
Frozen Pesto Cubes!
I could go on and on, but in the interest of this being a short post, I’ll leave you with a few basics and some links. First and foremost – most things should be quick frozen on a cookie sheet, freeze for 1 to 24 hours, then bag. This freezes all the items separately, so you can store in a single bag and grab as much as you need. For example: slice up bananas and lay on a parchment paper lined pan. When frozen, transfer to a freezer safe bag. Scoop out what you need for a smoothie when you need it. This is the same for most fruits. I do the same procedure for meatballs and individual burritos. Sauces freeze great in ice cube trays. Once frozen, put in a bag. 

How to Shred Chicken with a Mixer

Even thinking about writing a post about Rio Chicken has me feeling like I’m committing some sort of crime. Kayte has raved about this chicken forever. I don’t know why it took me so long to try it. It’s amazing. I’d love to go on and on about it, but I really should leave that to the pro. 
Did you know you could shred the chicken in a kitchen aid mixer? Just throw in 3 to 4 cooked breast (must be warm), and turn on low, and let it go. Literally took less than one minute!