January 31, 2011

The Challenge

I've posted before of how Fish or Sea food was never my thing when I was younger. Not really sure what it was, but fish, or shrimp, oysters, lobster  just weren't anything that remotely tasted good to me. Funny thing happened though. You know how they say, "Having kids changes everything."? Well they were right. In fact more right than anything I've ever come to know.  Besides the obvious life changes, your point of view, the way you live and breath, and everything in between it's done a huge twist to my taste buds.

Now I love fish, love sea food, make it once a week if not twice! Lobster, mmm , shrimp, scallops, crab, salmon, trout, tilapia , beer battered catfish, striped bass, snapper, and cod oh my! I'm enjoying finding new ways to cook sea food,  as I am with all foods but it's fun with sea food. I get to tell my kids, "You never know if you'll like it this time, it was my least favorite, now it's my favorite!" After an eye roll here and there, they try it as well as love it :) 

A wonderful friend of mine Angie, who cringes at the thought of fish came to mind when I wrote this post. Gave  her about a year for a dare to try some herself, which she hasn't, so now it's clearly in  bold writing that she must try it!!

Perhaps with the whole blogging world behind the challenge, she'll try it and even post the results. So my Challenge for her, as well as you, is to try one new recipe or food this week, whether it be fish, or oatmeal, pot roast, cabbage or anything you never thought you'd like. Try it, if you want, email me and I'll even post it. Good or bad results are welcome!

The Recipe that stands behind my dare for my Dear Friend is

Crispy Fish with Lemon Dill tartar sauce (from Cooking light)  

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) ** If you have bread crumbs , use them it'll be just as good, if you have seasoned bread crumbs skip the next 3 ingredients**
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 (6-ounce) skinless cod fillets
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle (I used my pickles I canned from last year)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
Lemon wedges

1. Preheat broiler. (or heat oil if your frying)

2. Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Combine panko (or just seasoned bread crumbs), paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in a shallow dish. Sprinkle fish evenly with pepper and salt. Dip each fillet in egg mixture; dredge in bread crumbs ; place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness,test with a fork, if it flakes apart it's done. I fried mine, the rebel I am, so here's how you do it

Simply coat the fish with the egg, the bread crumbs and place in a pre- heated skillet with oil (a thin layer enough to coat the bottom of the pan about 1/4 inch) Cooking about 3-4 minutes per side till golden and fish flakes when when tested with a fork.

For first time pan fryers, the fish in the front has just been turned that's the color you want it to be. Be careful as you turn it. If all else fails don't worry about it being in one piece when you plate it, make sure it flakes apart in the thickest part of the fish to see if it's done.

The Tatar sauce
3. Combine mayonnaise, pickle, lemon juice, and dill

 I served this with spinach and steamed snap peas, keeping it light and healthy.

 Are You up for the Challenge this week? If so, comment  here then later after you have the results of your challenge come back and tell me! I'd love to hear from you!

That means You Angie!

***You will all get to see her results next week as she aceepted the Challenge :) **


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January 30, 2011

Glass Pebble Magnets

This is a super easy craft. My kids for some reason find it a blast to play with anything on the fridge so, the nice cute magnets my husband has picked up for me over the last few years are now either lost or broken. They were all cute crafty little ones too, so that's what I wanted. Cute and crafty.

All you need is

Glass pebbles
Craft Magnets
Glue - make sure it dries clear

All you need to do is find pictures, spread the glue on the flat part of the  glass pebble, place it over the picture and press. Let it set and dry and then trim the edges up. Either glue or use Self-adhesive magnetic tape. Let it dry and your all set to go!

Easy, simple, the kids can make them as well, be advised it's not for kids who put things in their mouth of course!
 I made mine out of a garden book :)

Made a Tomato one too, can't forget those!

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January 28, 2011

CSN Giveaway!!! **CLOSED**

CSN is generous enough to let me host another giveaway for my amazing readers!!I love CSN, you can find pretty much everything you need, From swing sets, sandboxes, bikes and more outdoor fun.

 With Spring on it's way so is the amazing weather that follows. Time to get the kids outside for some fun and adventures!
 CSN has alot to offer with it's selection of outdoor activities for the kids and family to enjoy.
 I purchased one of these a few years ago right after my 3rd was born. Step 2 Naturally Playful Sand and Water Activity Center, from CSN ($89.95) 
 It's a blast! I just fill it with all water as I know my kids would just end up pouring the water in the sand....you can pretty much picture where things go from there! It covers up as well, which is another plus, very sturdy too!

CSN also has several neat sandboxes to choose from!  There's one on their top 20 list right now that's on sale check out the Crabbie Sandbox. We have a swing set with a small sandbox, but I've been looking for another. This is one I want, the Cedar Sandbox with Two Bench Seats. The benches fold down to cover it up. Keeps those darn cats out!

 Simple, to the point and again has it's own cover. You can easily buy a tarp to go over it if you wanted, CSN also has those!!

There's so much I'd get from the section of outdoor activities for the kids, they'd enjoy everything for sure!
The question is what would YOU get from CSN! Now's your chance to win a $35 gift certificate to use in ANY of CSN's 200+ stores, (does not cover shipping costs)

Win a $35 CSN Gift Certificate Conest will run from 1/28  to 2/7


 Leave your email with at least one of your entries so you can be contacted

1. Must follow My Side of Life via GFC - One Entry

2. Must head to CSN and come back here to tell me what you would like to get. - One Entry

3. Like CSN on FB (Do NOT write on their wall for this giveaway) -One Entry

4. Like My Side of Life on FB (You may write on my wall ) -One Entry

Winner will be picked by Random.org on Feb. 7th, winner will have 24hrs to respond before another winner is picked.

Disclosure - CSN was kind enough to sponsor this giveaway, I have not been compensated in any way for this post. All opinions are, and will always be, my own.

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January 26, 2011

Quote of the Week

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.
-Sir John Lubbock

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January 24, 2011

Early Childhood

Baby Sign Language

A baby's first word is not traditionally expected to be silent. However, after learning how beneficial it can be for your child to learn Sign Language at a young age, the idea may not seem so radical. A recent trend shows sign language is being used by much younger babies as a way to communicate with their parents, but the skill they are learning can and will help them with so much more.

Time to Bond

The benefits of early childhood education in signing are endless. In addition to giving kids a way to communicate, it also provides them with an opportunity to form a bond with their parent(s). The hope is that eventually it will become know as one of the "firsts" that no parent wants to miss, such as the first time they walked or their first tooth. Signing is likely to allow communication much earlier than verbally.

First Words

Ages 2 to five –are an ample time to educate children in different modes of communication and language because of their brain development course. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.

American Indian nations have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate. Therefore it is not as strange as one would think.

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:

"...by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children
can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children
can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces
frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves
before they know how to talk." (Glarion, 2003)

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development are also referred to by the author, demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age whether at day care  or at home, actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that "using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration...[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music" (Glarion, 2003).

The ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways and languages to the widest possible audience is a great way to stay ahead and ensure a decent standard of living in our suffering economic state. This is not limited to speaking different languages but also non-verbal communication: signing.

However, the shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language that has led to more career opportunities is dwindling– and if current trends continue, it's likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of day care facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose day care schools.  Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.

**reposting for working links!!**
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It's another Giveaway!!

With Spring just around the corner and great weather heading our way, my kids are ready to be spending most days outside playing and having fun. What better way to welcome the new season than with a Giveaway!
   CSN is generous enough to let me host another giveaway for my amazing readers. From swing sets, sandboxes, bikes and more outdoor fun,  CSN offers something for everyone, both inside and outside the home. You'll have the chance to win a $35 gift certificate to use in ANY of CSN's 200+ stores, (does not cover shipping costs)

 Stay tuned for an early Spring Giveaway by CSN Stores this week!!
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January 21, 2011

Quick Broiled Snack

Ever since I had the Four Cheese Broiled Tomatoes, I have been broiling stuff like crazy. Mostly just cheese on bread for a quick snack, but sandwiches, get the same quick fire up finish as well. I remember buttering up rolls my Mom used to bring home from the deli where she worked, and tossing them under the broiler till they were golden and crispy. Oh my, that was a great snack. I still crave those rolls, but still can't convince her to ship them out here to CA. I can't replicate them just yet either. Yet another challenge I will never give up at until I make my own amazing Kaiser roll!
 On to the snack, you can use anything at all you have, doesn't have to be the same cheese at all. This is all stuff I had on Hand.

 I used left over dinner rolls I made, family recipe of course! (soon to come don't worry)
 Chopped Sun dried tomatoes
 Minced garlic,
 Chopped chives
 Asiago, Romano & Gruyere cheese

 I buttered the roll topped it with all the good stuff and just broiled till it was melted and golden. May I say, it was lip smacking good. Use what you have on hand, mix it up, slap it on, broil it.
This would make for great Superbowl snacks, easy, frugal if you can make your own rolls and just use what's on hand.
 Happy Friday Everyone!!!
 Next week I'll post, Meatballs Cabbage Rolls, Italian Casserole,  Crispy Fish with Lemon Dill, & Pepper Steak wraps. If I can, the Dinner Rolls as well :)
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January 19, 2011

January 15, 2011

Boiron- Homeopathic Giveaway! *CLOSED*

We use many Homeopathic medicines in our house, if they are even needed to begin with. I've fought ear infections with garlic, sore throats with honey with the older kids and just used it for my youngest. It took the bad cough away within a day, ear aches gone pretty much the same day as well. I've fought pink eye endlessly and now don't have to rush them to the doctor as a homeopathic medicine has made it simple to battle an ever accruing thing with kids.
   With all the medicines out there and shots, you choose what's best for you and your family. I've never liked what some of them have done to my kids or myself. They have made my kids hyper, drowsy, angry, and jittery, some even interact with my husband medicine.  I started researching Herbal and Homeopathic remedies and was shocked to find out how much of the stuff I already had in the house. As with any medicine,check with your doctor before taking anything, just because it says it's not a drug and it's over the counter doesn't make it alright.

 This winter we were able to fight some coughs and colds with Boiron that I came across! A Homeopathic company that makes Cough , Cold & Flu Medicines with no side effects such as drowsiness or drug interactions.
The Chestal Cough medicine is based with honey, something I now use on all my kids to fight a lot of colds. It's natural safe and helps loosen the horrible stuff making you cough in the first place. No artificial flavors or coloring either , and safe for ages 2 and up.

Coldcalm helps with Sinus and Nasal Congestion, Runny nose, and minor sore throats. Little quick dissolving tablets. Safe for ages 3- and older. It Treats the cold symptoms at any stage of the cold, with no side effects like drowsiness or drug reactions.

The treat Flu-like symptoms oscillococcinum  works best when taken at the first signs of the flu, like body aches, chills and fever. It helps reduce the durations and severity of the flu. Safe for kids ages 2 and up.  Quick dissolving pellets, they have no side effects such as drowsiness or drug interaction.

You can pick up some Cough, Cold and Flu packs from their long list of available stores here. Amazon.com also has many of Boiron's products on sale, check them out and help fight back with these natural and safe Homeopathic cold kits!

You can also with your own  Value Pack from Boiron!!

Winner with comment #6 Was Valerie!! Congrats!!

~Please leave Email/Name so you can be contacted if a winner, and so I can check your entries~
1- You must follow My Side of Life via GFC - One Entry
2- Visit Boiron's Website and come back here with the product you'd like to have handy during the cold and flu seaon.
3- You must follow Boiron on FB - One Entry
4- Follow My Side of Life on FB - One Entry

**Winner will be picked Monday Jan. 31st at 10PST, by Random.org. Winner will have 24hr to respond before another winner will be picked. **

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.
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Caring Lessons, By Lois Roelofs

"Caring Lessons: A Nursing Professor's Journey of Faith and Self" is a beautiful memoir"

· Author: Lois Hoitenga Roelofs
· ISBN : 978-1935265375
 ·ISBN-10: 1935265377

· Publisher: Deep River
· Publishing Date : 2010
· Price 13.99

Lois Roelofs takes us on a journey from being a reluctant nurse , restless Mom, questioning things along the way into becoming a fun, well loved teacher. Throughout her career Lois learns and cares for patients in a mental health and medical surgical atmosphere. She takes on along with her as she learns values of not only caring for herself, but others as she struggles to find her place in life. While changing jobs to keep herself challenges as well as happy she craves to learn more and takes on personal as well as family crises arise throughout her life.

This book seemed like a perfect read to me, not even sure why at first but the description had me intrigue. Finished within two days I was laughing, and taken back at what Lois had, and still has going on in her life. She takes you along with her as she tries to rebel against her studies. She’s reluctant, yet the more she puts herself into nursing school and goes through more experiences you can clearly see not only was she made to be a nurse, she was made to be an inspiriting teacher.
Though many times Lois questioned what and why she even started, her little quirks, humor and strive for learning more kept her plowing through her life. Lois kept going over hurdles, one year down, classes done, different jobs, restlessness in her own life, personal  (chronic) pain and loss, she kept going. Not everyone can do that, and though parts of the book were sad, Lois is a wonderful inspiration in this memoir. Her amusing humor had me glued to the book. Her values of friendship, faith, family and her own need to be challenged made for an excellent read. I enjoyed reading her commitment even as a rebellious young girl , and how she grew into a stronger, more inspiring woman that took on life even as things got harder. I’ve certainly learned the appreciation and dedication it takes in caring for yourself as well as others.

I encourage anyone who questions their faith, and life to read this book. Lois takes you on the steps, and paths she took to change what wasn't working for her. She encourages her readers to learn from life's lessons and keep at it. Instead of making things her weakness, Lois devoted herself to learn, challenge herself and make it into a new strength

Lois has written a remarkable book on her journey through struggles and most of all her success! You can pick up a copy yourself at Amazon.com or any major book seller!

**Disclosure-I received the book Caring Lessons to read and review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write an honest review,  Any and all opinions are and will always be my own. **

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Stop Reacting and start Responding 2

I got the chance to read a free copy of Stop Reacting and Start Responding™ by Sharon Silver, parenting educator. It's a helpful books with 108 ways to deal with different areas with your children. It gives some wonderful tips on responding to different situations. Example instead of avoiding things that upset the kids, Silver gives ideas on how to work with it. I'll admit that's something I don't do, I avoid it to go around the hassle, and a really hard time with one of the kids. It's always come up "why not deal with it" well, with four kids, that's not an easy thing to think about. The truth is, my kids need to do it, they need to know they can, and with my help they will succeed. Silver gives excellent tips to help the parents deal with things just like this in her book.

Living My MoMent and Proactive Parenting™ are joined forces with Sharon Silver and her new book – Stop Reacting and Start Responding™. Silver and Abbey Fatica, owner of Living My MoMent, LLC,  invited bloggers to be a part of a live discussion on MomTV. I was able to be a part of the discussion where viewers had questions answered, whether on the spot or the ones we all sent in.
  As parents we don't get handbooks with our kids, they are all different of course but Sharon shared with us alot of tips, helpful ideas as well as facts that came behind some of the behaviors we deal with our kids. It was very helpful, my only regret was not having enough time and not being able to ask her more questions. I'm always looking for ways to deals with problems, and with four kids there's plenty of them coming up one after another.
  Patience is a major thing parents need to be flexible about, but not so much in discipline. Consistency is a must, the same as not reacting first. It's the same common sense thing, stop, think than speak. If something happens and you react right away you didn't think about it first. You may be upset, of course, that's understandable, but we would be teaching our kids to do the same. React without ever thinking. We want our kids to stop, think and then carry out whatever it is they are doing. Whether homework, discussing, or a project they need to think first. If we all Responded to the problem with a positive attitude half the time the outcome would be better than responding first without thinking about it.

My kids take a lot out of me, it isn't easy at all to deal with everything. Sometimes it is overwhelming but I've found changing the way I respond to things, changes the way they respond as well. Kids make mistakes all the time, so do parents, but we should take a better action of learning to dealing with the problem instead of how to make it go away. If I approach the situation differently, so do my children, in the end, we solve the probelm, and they have susseeded in dealing with it instead of ignoring it. Kids get a boost of self confidence, as well as the parent in being able do deal with it together.

    Sharon Silver wrote Stop Reacting and Start Responding™, with helpful views, tips and dare I say guideness all parents should read. Not everything out there will work, but Silver's book certainly gave me a different view of situations I'm dealing with, and so far they've all changed for the better, not saying they dissappeared, but in the long run it's helping.

If you know a new parent, or soon to be, or have children of your own, I highly recommend this book. It's worth your reading time and you never know you may take a lot more out of it then you thought you would. I have!
 You can pick up your copy of the book here

*Disclosure- I  participated in a Living My MoMent campaign for Proactive Parenting™ and have received the e-book Stop Reacting and Start Responding™ by Sharon Silver as part of my participation.” No other compensation was given, and all opinions are and always will be my own.Any and all opinions are and will always be my own. *

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January 12, 2011

I put Hot Sauce on it!

I love spicy things. In fact while my husband puts ketchup on everything I'm the same way with Hot sauce, although I wouldn't put it on certain things it's pretty much an equal match up. Rice, eggs, sandwiches, chili, pizza, bread, salsa , gumbo, hot dogs, hamburgers. It's the Zing,  the Zang and the spice and it's all mine!

My kids aren't much into spicy things, not like I was when I was their age, so that's even better. More for me :) Once in awhile I just want something for me, and it is truly rare that I even get a piece of it before the kids gobble it up. These two easy fast snacks are the only ones to count on they won't touch! Perfect for Football Sundays as well!

My Dad used to make this all the time when I was a kid, huge bags of it! Using just Butter and Tony Chachere's Seasoning you've got a handful of simple popcorn gone wild. I love this seasoning, you can use it on just about anything. It's also the seasoning behind my Dad's Gumbo, which I will be posting pretty soon. Stay tuned for it!

Pop the popcorn! Real popcorn, no bag stuff either, fresh yummy popcorn!(I used an air popper, my Dad used to do this in a hot pan with oil and didn't use butter at all. My version uses butter, but have made it alot without butter as well, good both ways, depends on your taste)
  If your using Butter, melt it  and pour it over the popcorn,Now just shake the seasoning over it till it's to your liking. Your done, now Eat end Enjoy!

 Awhile back I wanted something with hot sauce. Nothing really sounded good, nothing was quick enough either, plus it was snack time. I was already making popcorn for the kids anyways . Which gave me the idea of pouring hot sauce over popcorn. Really, what's stopping me? It's good on everything, there didn't seem to be a downfall to this idea.

Let me tell you what happened in true picture style, now pay attention it goes really fast!! (using Fanks Redhot "wings" sauce mixed in with butter,about 2tablespoons butter and hot sauce to your liking, again popcorn was popped in an air popper)

Oh Darn, it's all gone! Better go make some more :)
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January 10, 2011

Jump Start Giveaway! **CLOSED**

Several years ago, when my oldest was about 2 we picked up this Jump Start PC game that he loved! We had one for Preschool and K, which was a lot of fun. The best thing was he figured it out without having any real trouble.
  When I look for games for the kids, they need to be educational of course, but they also need to be Kid Friendly. What I mean is, I don't want to have to stand there telling my kids how to play the game. It's supposed to be interactive for them, so they can learn. JumpStart makes a lot of these wonderful games, and while a few areas do need a little help from the parents, my kids have been able to start a lot of the games and know what to do without many directions from me. Which brings me to something really exciting that I must share with you!

 JumpStart.com has launched a 3D Virtual World for kids! With many different interactive games to get the kids involved and challenged all at once, JumpStart brings adventure and fun into one place.

 The first thing the kids get to do is build their own person, a Jumpee. It's too fun, they even get to pick names like "David VolcanoGater".

The kids got a kick out of those, it's putting different combinations of words together, and they get to pick which ever is silliest.  I bet my name would have been "Mom SuperWoman", with a cape, and flying abilities right along with it!

 Once you create your person you get to explore the  The 3d Virtual world! There's a big map where the kids pick where they want to start, and always directions before you start in the area.
We haven't even seen half of what the Virtual World has, it's a lot, which is great. The kids can explore on their own. While your walking around in each area, there's a guiding voice to tell you what you can do , Select an area or go back.

When your in each world as well if your supposed to do something a "Mission" it was let you know, and even show you before you begin. If ever the child isn't sure what to do, you click on the a Character and it'll again tell you what you can do, or what your mission is. I like the way it guides the kids, but it's also not talking none stop, which in other games is very annoying to listen to.

My kids like all the worlds, I don't think they have a favorite as they check each one daily. I do like the Science area, it's got giant ants that are walking around, when you click on it, it'll give you a fun fact. They also have an Aquarium where you can hatch eggs and feed the fish after it grows. They haven't gotten big enough to release yet, but it's fun to see the kids guess what will happen next.
 Future Land is also fun!

There's so much to explore and so much fun around every corner, I would definitely put my money forwards to any of the JumpStart games in a flash you can check them out all right here.
Here's some pretty neat screen shots,

This is in Windy Hollows

In Enchanted Sanctuary you can hatch your own dragon!

How cute is that? You have to take care of the dragon too, so it's really fun for the younger kids. It does take a day though, once you find the hearts, and the egg it says to come back tomorrow to see the hatched Egg. That's about the only thing my kids didn't like.

There's tons of things to do, math games, word games and more. There's a section for Downloads (with  4 different worlds one each age range, starting at  3  and up to 8yrs of age)  There are additions games, and lessons, to keep all kids entertained. Even if they aren't old enough to do most other games, JumpStart.com has really made a wonderful 3D Virtual World that is incredibly easy for the kids. My 3yr old has just as much fun simply looking around instead of any of the games.I would highly recommend JumpStart.com and many of their games for the kids, I've never been let down since the first time I picked up a game by JumpStart. Kids enjoy some time to play while learning to follow directions, gain more access to areas of games and even learn computer skills.

There's even a Blog for that parents that keeps tips, and updates to new features or games being added! I love that, I can check out new features,  and some behind the scene details. You can manage account easily in one place, add more kids, even manage the Buddy List, where you can invite your child's friends to play and explore and learn right along with their teammates!

Now comes the fun Part! You have a chance to win a 3month Free subscription to the Exciting Online World at JumpStart.com

**Giveaway Rules**
Please leave email with one of your entries so you may be contacted if picked as winner.
"Mandatory" 1- Check out the Video I posted (above) from JumpStart.com and tell me what you think about it.  - One Entry 

2. "Like" JumpStart on Facebook (Leave this message on the wall I entered to win the Jumpstart Giveaway , Stop by and enter at http://itsmysideoflife.com/  ) - Two Entries

3- Follow My Side of Life by GC -One Entry

4. Follow My Side of Life on Facebook - One Entry

This is an amazing chance to win a Subscription to a Fun interactive adventure for your kids. JumpStart really went all out with the Virtual world. The smallest things, have made my kids laugh till they were red in the face, and that's what I'm after. It doesn't have to be a huge thing, the picking the names alone cracked them up, and I love that in games. Every aspect to JumpStart is aimed directly to kids, from the amazing colors, the wide variety of things they can do , and all the little things in between.
 Good Luck to you all!!

*Winner will be picked by Randon.org On Jan. 24th. Winner has 24hrs to respond before another winner is picked*

Congrats to GRACE for winning the giveaway!!! :)

“Disclosure: I was provided with a JumpStart membership at no cost by Knowledge Adventure in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.”

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January 7, 2011

Not those Mom!

"Scalloped Potatoes are potatoes that just aren't mashed, practically the same thing, just look different." This is what I tell my son at the table, but he won't buy it at all. He'll make faces and start to say , "Mashed potatoes are better, it's buttery, and you put cheese on it. Why can't we have those?"
"Because we're having these, the same none mashed potatoes with butter, cream and cheese in thin slices and baked."
"You ruined dinner, Mom. This isn't a good thing"  This is when I reached over to his plate grab it and walk into the kitchen, take a fork and mash away at his scalloped potatoes, and then walk it back to my son.
 "Perfect, Mom, you do it every time.Thanks."

Sure, buddy, anytime! ha. I can't help but laugh inside, he really just won't eat the scalloped potatoes at all. Why I don't know, the texture? I'm not sure, but we don't have potatoes very ofter let alone scalloped ones. I love them, I'll throw chives on them, even fry the left overs with eggs the next morning and you've got a great breakfast!

This recipe came from Food Network, I was skimming through the itouch app and came across it. It's not really anything I don't do already when I do make Scalloped potatoes but I haven't shared one yet on the blog.  I normally always use skim milk, skim cheese and sometimes I even whip up an egg to make it creamer, but make it your own. I added left over ham as I knew we're have left overs and wanted more too it. Also pre-boil the potatoes , it'll speed the time up, plus the milk can curdle if left in the oven too long.

Low-Fat Scalloped Potatoes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk (1%), at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 3-quart baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the potatoes and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a paste. Cook, stirring, until the paste puffs slightly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in both milks and simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the nutmeg. Pour the sauce over the potatoes and gently toss to coat.

Transfer the potato mixture to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the gruyere. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Switch the oven to the broiler setting and broil the potatoes until browned on top, about 5 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Look Out for the JumpStart.com Giveaway coming this weekend, I didn't have time to post it today, so it'll be up before Monday :) Enjoy your weekend!

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January 6, 2011

Country Bob's Meatloaf

Every week while I write down the menu and items I need for dinners, there's time's where my kids get a hold of the paper, and it's never seen again. Last week I had meat defrosted and yet no menu in sight! It's funny when it happens, though I hate missing a whole weeks worth of my plans written out, I get to find something else to make. This time I had one bottle of Country Bob's All Purpose sauce left, and decided I'd try out one of the recipes they have on the site.

1 1/2 lbs lean hamburger
1/4 cup chopped onions
12 crushed saltine crackers
2 eggs, beaten
1 T Country Bob's Seasoning Salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce (or may substitute Spicy)
1/4 cup milk

Recipe Method :
Mix all ingredients together, place in baking dish, shape in loaf, pour a little more Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce on top and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

 It was good, I made two of these and saved the other for another night. The sauce is not spicy, but it has a kick to it. My kids didn't like extra sauce poured over it, where as I loved it!  You should check out the rest of the recipes as well as products they have on the websites. Lots of yummy things there! Don't miss out!

I served this with green beans and scalloped potatoes which I'll post tomorrow, so check back!

**Disclosure-I received the products mentioned above from Country Bob's in order to write an honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. Any and all opinions are and will always be my own. **
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January 4, 2011

It's the Gravy

You know how many different recipes there are for the same meal? A lot!  I've been running into the same Meatloaf, pot roast, burger, casseroles, and everything in between. Everyone makes it differently, which is great, I love trying the same dish made differently. Sometimes I'm looking for a taste I had at someones house, or from my childhood. It also paves the way for coming up with something of your own.

I will be honest, I rarely follow some recipes, I'll read it, go yup, and off I go. Other times I'll be flipping through a book and see a picture without the recipe and try to make it myself. More than half the time, it's totally different from the original recipe when I do look it up. Sometimes it's a fail, but most the time it's a winner. Salisbury steak is one of my all time favorites, mostly because it comes with a yummy gravy. I've said it before, I love gravy! Love dunking my bread into sauces, any really, but give me a good gravy and I'll be good for the day. My Husband has even warned the kids, "Don't waste that gravy it's your Mom's favorite and she parted with it just for you." Ha! They don't waste it though, infact I make more gravy just to have leftovers, which brings me to the tasty recipe I came across one day.
 This recipe was found on Food Network, for once though I did follow directions, and glad I did. It tasted like the same stuff my Mom always made when I was a kid. I love Salisbury steak, and will admit it's mostly for the gravy. Gravy Hog, yeah that's me. :) No shame in it, I slurped this up with fresh made Italian bread and forgot there was anything else on my plate.

Now I'm hungry again.
A quick thing about the gravy, the recipe calls for water, but I used Beef Broth instead as I had it on hand and it needed to be used. Since I've been making my own stock , it's used in all the gravy I do. It tastes richer to me.

1 pound ground beef
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
7 saltine crackers, finely crushed (about 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Buttered egg noodles, for serving (optional)
Gently mix the beef, egg, onion, cracker crumbs, sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl using your hands. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into oval patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the patties, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to the skillet and cook the mushrooms until slightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste, scraping up any browned bits. Sprinkle in the flour and stir, then stir in 2 1/2 cups hot water and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, swirling to combine.

Return the patties and any juices from the plate to the skillet. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the patties are cooked through, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper. Serve with noodles, if desired.


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January 1, 2011

New Year, New Challenges!

Last year, during January my kids got to the point where they'd grimace and turn their nose up at anything I put at the table. They wouldn't try it, no matter what, they just wanted the same old things. I didn't. It was getting boring, and honestly the same old things weren't all that great. By the end of the month I came up with an idea, to try to new things. Not just try them, but each and everyday, try a new thing in the kitchen.
   So there it was, I posted to my friends on facebook and waited for anyone to give me some new recipes. They came in, pouring in from all my friends all over the country. Chicken, pasta, pizza, bread, cookies, and more cookies. That would be Peggy, she's the Cupcake -Cake -Cookie, Goddess! If I lived next to her, I'd be the neighbor with my face pressed against her kitchen window everyday. "What are you baking today Peggy? Can I have some? I'll taste that cookie!" She'd most likely throw a spatula at me and say bug off, but I'd only be back minutes later, face squashed against the glass like one of those poor puppies you see in pet store windows, "Take me, Take me!"
 I swear her cookies, cakes and cupcakes look like they were all sprinkled with magic. Mmmmm! Maybe one day I can convince her to do a guest post, a cupcake, or cookie post for you all. I'm telling you you will not be disappointed! I've been making one of her cookies non stop since Thanksgiving as everyone who's stopped by has taken a bag full after tasting one. By the time they leave we're left with about ten to share ourselves, and given how awesome they are, we cannot just have ten cookies! So we end up making another batch. Oh for the love of Cookies, Peggy please share more with us!!!

Back to the Challenge I came up with though, I started out February with a handful of printed recipes and cookbooks lined with endless little sticky notes. I was to try one brand new recipe each day, and I posted them daily, for the entire month on facebook. It was more than fun, it was exciting for me. My kids got into it, they never again said they didn't want what was on the table, they helped cook, helped prepare and wanted to eat it! It was awesome. I got into the habit of making menus each Friday night, making a list of what I had, and didn't have, so it would make it easier.
  It didn't matter what the recipe was, breakfast, or breads, muffins, side dish, main, or dessert ,if it was new to me I tried it. From that point this blog was created, along with several friends begging me to do it. I didn't really want to stop with the trying new things, and in order to keep it all in a tidy neat little place, I took the plunge and started My Side Of Life.
   I've never stopped trying new recipes, in fact I try at least two to four new ones each week, even more some others. I normally cook seven days a week, unless we have piles of leftovers, in that case less. Either way, it's become a habit to do something different.

Everyday is a challenge with four kids. Two of them in school it does make it a little crazy running to and from picking them up, dropping them off, play-dates, after school programs, birthday parities, field trips. You name it, it gets a bit too chaotic at times, rushed and pressed for time.
   It's not easy to get any "Me" Time during the day, actually my time is in the kitchen. I enjoy it, I can whip gravy till it's thick and savory, knead bread dough till it's elastic and smooth, or slam a rolling pin against chicken breasts till it's as thin as ever for dinner. This is where I get my time to work out stress. It may not seem like my break as the kids hover even more around me, but it's fun for me. It's My Time!

Which brings me to my New Year Challenge. Keeping realistic with the crazy life as Mom, I want more me time. Whether it's trying a new recipe in the kitchen with it not being rushed as it's been getting in the last few months, I want more time in other areas of my life. The kids will and always will be a part of everything I do, but simply grabbing a book, movie, or making a tiny something just for me, I plan on doing it.

Kids have always come first, but there's no reason I can't grab a little something in between myself, so this marks a new start. A Challenge to devote time for myself. Where it will take me? Most likely still playing with my food, but hopefully at the same time enjoying more for myself outside the kitchen as well.

Happy New Year Everyone! Welcome To 2011!!!
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