New Momscape Giveaway: Tell us your best summer diet tip for a chance to win $50! {Contest Closed}

Congratulations to Christy – the winner of our Best Summer Diet Tip Giveaway. Stay tuned for more contests and giveaways!

Summertime can be an inspiring time to get fit, lean and healthy. All the fresh fruits and veggies, the farmer’s markets, the family bike rides, and – of course – all of those opportunities to show off a new leaner physique.

So to celebrate this season of healthy choices, we want to know your best summer diet tip.

We’ll give a $50 Visa gift card to a randomly selected reader who leaves a reply at the end of this post with their favorite, most helpful weight loss secret.

Your tip can be a favorite way to eat more healthfully, a favorite weight loss plan or program, a new way of thinking about your body, a useful trick that helps you motivate yourself to move…whatever is most helpful to you!

The drawing will be random and the entry deadline is Friday July 15, 2011 at midnight mountain time. (US residents, ages 18 and over, please. Complete contest rules are here.)

Also, please note that comment moderation is enabled, so your comment will not show up immediately, but as long as it’s not rated R, it will appear below quite shortly.

Then follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook because these are the channels through which we’ll announce the winner on Saturday, July 16 (in addition to sending the winner an email.)

So, tell us: what is your favorite weight loss tip?

Not-Your-Ordinary Popsicle Recipes – Tasty, Imaginative Treats

So it used to be cupcakes. Now it seems the trendiest treat is the Popsicle.

And that’s wonderful because making these ice pop treats can be as simple as pouring some orange juice into a Dixie cup, adding a craft stick and popping into the freezer. It can also be as complicated as simmering a concoction on the stove and pouring it into your Zoku machine (What in the world is a Zoku machine? See below.)

You can get pretty imaginative with your ice pop pour-ins. Just about any smoothie recipe, for example, can be frozen into popsicles.

In addition, we love these 7 Fresh Fruit Ice Recipes from Oprah.com and this just-for-adults recipe for Bellini  Ice Pops on FineCooking.com. (These tempt your palate with peaches and Prosecco, an Italian white wine)

A variety of kid-friendly popsicle recipes and ideas follow, as well as recommendations for even more:

Pureed Fruit Pops (3 recipe variations)

1. In a blender, combine 2 cups of strawberries and just enough fruit juice (such as cranberry or apple) to make the mixture liquefy. Pour into molds and freeze.

2. Combine 1 cup each of sliced, peeled peaches and nectarines with 1/4 cup orange juice and blend until pureed, adding orange juice as needed.

3. Combine 1/2 cup each of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries with about 1/4 cup of water.

Dessert-like ice pops (3 recipe variations)

1. In a blender, combine 2 ripe bananas, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 cup of sweetened, vanilla almond milk. Liquefy, then pour into molds and freeze.

2. In a bowl or jar, combine 1 cup orange juice, 1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt, and sugar or honey to taste. Whisk everything together and freeze in molds.

3. Chocolate and strawberries or raspberries are a classic combination. In a double boiler, melt 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. While the chips melt, blend 2 cups of strawberries or raspberries in the blender until liquid. Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the puree while the blender is running. Freeze in molds.

Frozen Mango Popsicles
Makes 8

You’ll need:
2 cups low fat mango yogurt
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp sugar
2 cups fresh mango, cut into small chunks
8 Popsicle molds

Combine the mango yogurt, lemon juice, corn syrup, sugar and 1 cup of mango chunks in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the remaining one cup of mango and pulse until the yogurt mixture is smooth, but still has some small mango chunks left.

Pour the mixture into the Popsicle molds, cover with the tops and plastic or wooden Popsicle sticks. Place into the freezer until thoroughly frozen.

Low-Fat Blueberry Popsicles
Makes 8

You’ll need:
4 cups fresh blueberries (or other berries)
1/3 cup fine sugar
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt (can be substituted with low-fat buttermilk)

Place blueberries in a bowl and crush with a potato masher. Add the sugar and combine well. Stir in the yogurt and mix until well combined. Pour mixture into 8 Popsicle molds and put into the freezer.

Things to Try:

Here’s a fun gadget that will have these icy treats ready before you can say “popsicle.”

Zoku 8.25x4.5x4.25-in. Quick Pop Maker
Zoku Quick Pop Maker
Price: $49.95
The Zoku Quick Pop Maker freezes ice pops in as little as seven minutes right on your countertop without electricity. Quickly make striped pops, yogurt pops or (for the first time ever at home) flavored core pops. To enjoy Quick Pops at a moments notice, simply store the compact base in your freezer. The kit includes six durable, reusable plastic pop sticks that have unique ridged designs that allow pops to adhere securely, with special drip guards for tidy eating. A specially designed Super Tool helps to quickly release the frozen treats from their molds. The unit can make up to 9 pops before refreezing the unit again. Includes 1 Quick Pop Maker, 6 sticks, 6 drip guards, and 1 Super Tool.
BPA and phthalate free.
From Cooking.com – a fabulous site, which offers frequent coupon codes and special offers, which we collect and publish here: Cooking.com coupon codes

Quality Popsicle Molds:

Tovolo Popsicle Molds (set of 6) - Star
Tovolo Popsicle Molds (set of 6) – Star
Price: $19.00
Enjoy some icy treats using these Tovolo Popsicle Molds (set of 6). These popsicle molds are larger than most so there”s more popsicle to enjoy! The base is designed so that you can easily remove popsicles individually and it also keeps popsicles from tipping and spilling in your freezer. The mold handles are designed to catch drips as you eat so juices don”t run down your arm. The plastic sleeves of each mold are insulated so you can set them out on your table and enjoy them at the end of the meal without worrying about melting! Sold as a set of 6. Instructions included.

And More Recipes:

Ice Pops: Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Frozen Treats
Ice Pops: Recipes for Fresh and Flavorful Frozen Treats
Price: $10.21
In these pages, you’ll find over 40 recipes for frozen delights with tantalizing flavors- summer peach, bright watermelon and lime, rich chocolate swirled with vanilla or layered with raspberries, custard-based cheesecake and caramel, or green tea with pomegranate. Chapters include: fruit pops; chocolate pops; dairy-based pops; and pops with daring, modern flavors. Packed with full-color photographs and endless inspiration, this book shows how satisfying it is to make ice pops at home. No machine needed.
From Barnes&Noble

Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Fr
Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops
Price: $10.64
From Barnes&Noble

Gifts for the Dad Who Has Everything

It can be hard to buy for the men in our lives. With many of the guys I know, when they need something, they go out and buy it. Also, they don’t tend to have too many things that they want, which they don’t also feel they need. And so the item is purchased.

This all leaves me a little stumped at gift-giving time. It also makes it extra fun to give them something that they didn’t even know they needed.

Here are a few of our favorite gift ideas for the dad who has everything:

For the Travelin’ Dad

Scratch Map
Scratch Map
Price: $24.00
Help dad track his travels with this scratch-off-where-you’ve-been map that charts globetrotting in a fun and innovative way. When Dad scratches off the areas he has visited, he’ll reveal adventurous pops of color, as well as local facts.  Wrap this one up with a coin for easy scratching – and top with a few scratch lottery tickets.
From Uncommon Goods.

For the Gadget Lovin’ Dad:

Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet with Boogie Board Magnet Kit and Shammy Cleaning Cloth
Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet
Price: $42.95
This brand new LCD writing tablet is a tree-friendly alternative to paper, pencils and pens. Plus, it’s a fun gadget. Simply press on the surface with the included stylus or other suitable writing instrument (even your finger) to create an image and then erase with the push of a button. Comes with a Boogie Board Magnet Kit and Shammy Cleaning Cloth
From Buy.com. Find Buy.com coupons here.

solar gadget charger
Solar Gadget Charger
Price: $99.94
Now Dad can power up wherever he goes. This compact little gadget is capable of charging or powering just about any device with a USB port. It’s lightweight and portable. Simply place the Solio in the sun, spread its wings and – once its internal battery charges – you can power or charge a variety of devices. Includes  7 adapter charging tips for your electronics. The solio and its packaging are made from recycled and recyclable materials.
Available from Red Envelope. (Red Envelope coupons are here).

 

Gift of the Month Clubs

Amazing Clubs Necktie of the Month Club - 3 Months
Amazing Clubs Necktie of the Month Club – 3 Months
Price: $71.85
What’s better than a new necktie for Father’s Day. One each month! Each month, Dad will receive a new 100% silk, designer necktie. Plus, instant gift messages with all orders. Amazing Clubs offers 32 different Gift of the Month Clubs including wine, beer, flowers, tea, hot sauce, teddy bears, ice cream, salsa, BBQ sauce and many more.
See more Gift of the Month Clubs from Amazing Clubs


125x125 GMC Beer of the Month
Gourmet Monthly Clubs
has a very popular Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club, as well as five other gourmet gift clubs. The really nice thing about Gourmet Monthly Clubs is that they also have a Whatever Whenever Club option, which allows you to mix and match from their 6 gourmet gift clubs (Microbrewed Beer, International Wine, Premium Cigar, Gourmet Cheese, Fresh Cut Flowers, and/or Gourmet Chocolate gifts of the month) and customize them to fit your shipping schedule. Oh, and the other nice thing about Gourmet Monthly Clubs is that they have some fairly regular coupon codes, including the following:
$10 off any 12 month prepaid club sign-up. Use Code: GMC$10

Give an Experience Gift:
Top Father’s Day Gifts from Cloud 9 LivingHere you’ll find a variety of popular experience categories for dads: Race Car Driving, Golf Lessons, Wine & Beer Experiences, Fishing, Learn to Fly and a handful more.

Give a Family Legacy:
Give an Ancestry.com membership.


Just for Fun:

F in Exams
F in Exams
Price: $9.00
Question: Use the word “doldrums” in a sentence. If you answered “I cannot play the doldrums,” you’re correct! At least according to this silly book of wrong answers, celebrating the creative side of failure with 250 true life responses to common test questions from grade school through high school. A touching, funny and oh-so-real look at everyday blunders, this little pick-me-up is sure to bring smiles to any student, teacher or class clown.
From Uncommon Goods.

Bacon Flavored Envelopes - Set of 25
Bacon Flavored Envelopes – Set of 25
Price: $7.00
Does Dad love himself a little bacon? Here’s a fun gift for dads with a sense of humor and a sense of taste. The glue on these envelopes actually tastes like the greasy, crispy, smoky, salty breakfast meat. Contains no actual bacon…no need to refrigerate.
Made in California and sold through Uncommon Goods.

 

See more Father’s Day Gift Ideas and Coupons on Momscape’s Coupons Blog.

Momscape is now featured on Alltop!

Featured in AlltopYay! Momscape is now featured on Alltop.com!

We think that’s a pretty big deal, so we wanted you to know.

Do you use Alltop?
Alltop has long been one of my favorite sites for finding information on particular topics. It’s different from a search engine in that it collects the latest headlines from the best blogs and sites that cover particular topics, including that ever-so-fantastic topic of “Moms.” These collections are then grouped into individual web pages. It’s a fun and smart way to stay updated on your favorite topics, ie. http://moms.alltop.com

Alltop also has widgets that provide you with a steady stream of new content about your topic of choice.The Widget for the Mom Topic, for example, looks like the following and is  available here: http://alltop.com/widget/

Browse the mom topic at Alltop for all kinds of good information, from product picks to recipes.

Fair Trade Luxury

I love finding products that do double duty: An item that’s a lavish treat but that is also something you can feel good using (and gifting) because it also helps people in another part of the world.

The Fair Trade label is an easy way to recognize products and companies that think in terms of their impact on humanity and not just about the bottom line. In brief, Fair Trade is a name for an economic and environmental program that offers growers and producers of many different types of goods fair wages and resources for the items that they produce. Read more about Fair Trade here: “What is Fair Trade?

Here are today’s picks for some luxurious fair trade products, so you can feel good about treating yourself – and your loves ones – to something special:

mark The Big Fix 15-in-1 Benefits Balm

mark The Big Fix 15-in-1 Benefits Balm
Price: $10.00
Made with Fair Trade Certified ingredients (cocoa butter, olive oil and vanilla, and blended with sunflower oil and beeswax), this balm immediately moisturizes chapped, dry elbows, knees and heels; smoothes unruly brows; softens rough cuticles and leaves skin dramatically softer anywhere you use

In developing countries, it’s common practice for farmers to be paid less than a living wage and for children to be forced into farm jobs in order to help feed their families. Each purchase from the mark. body care collection with Fair Trade Certified- ingredients helps promote a different kind of farming, where fair labor conditions are mandated and farmers are not only empowered but are also given the support to help lift themselves out of poverty. By choosing this Fair Trade Certified- product, you are directly supporting a better life for farming families through fair prices, direct trade, community development, and enviromental stewardship.
Look for Avon.com coupons here before you buy.

The Body Shop Coconut Body Scrub
The Body Shop Coconut Body Scrub
Price: $16.00
Think a tropical vacation aura with softer, glowing skin. Then, open the jar of this creamy moisturizing scrub and let its luxurious coconut husks and ground coconut shells gently exfoliate your body while coconut oil and other oils moisturize. Feel pampered in paradise without leaving home. Made with pure Community Fair Trade cold-pressed, organic virgin coconut oil, marula oil, organic soya oil, sweet almond oil and organic babassu oil. Oils are lightly moisturizing and non-greasy.

 

Fair Trade Foot Lotion
Lush – Fair Trade Foot Lotion
Price: $21.95
At the end of a long day, dip your fingers (or toes) into this creamy pink mixture and let the spearmint and peppermint cool your tootsies while arnica soothes and almond oil and fair trade cocoa butter soften and moisturize. Not only will your feet thank you, but so will those around you when your feet feel soft and smell divine. Use this after a Volcano foot mask for post-pedi softness.

New Giveaway Announcement – Enter to win a Club Med Family Vacation

WeJustGotBack.com  and Instructables is giving you a chance to win a Club Med Family Vacation.

To enter, simply submit a new step-by-step, photo, or video instructable in which you share your family’s favorite games, crafts andor activities that involve family travel. The contest deadline was June 5, but has just been extended to June 19 and involves some pretty great prizes. (Total prize value is over $5,500.)

Ready to go? Click here for all the details.

Summer Reading

Today is the first day of summer vacation for my kids. After school yesterday, we took part in our annual last day of school tradition, namely, going to Starbucks for Double Chocolaty Chip Frappucinos and making lists of things we want to do before the school bell rings again in the fall.

I’ll tell you what I want to do: inspire my kids to read. It’s not a problem for the 10 year old. With her, we have the problem of trying to get her to take her nose out of a book on occasion so she doesn’t trip on curbs as she walks down the street.

I want to get each of my kids fired up about reading, and – failing that – at least read enough so they don’t backslide by next year.

Here are some ideas we’re going to try to institute:

1. Start the ‘summer learning adventure’ by heading to the local library. (Though we’ll probably wait until next week. The kids have declared today – the first day of summer break – Kid’s Day, which probably means we’ll ride bikes to the nearest ice cream shop and then run around the neighborhood.)

Many public libraries offer reading programs each summer that challenge your child to read. They may have flyers and contests and giveaways to help your child stay on track and reading suggestions divided by age group.

2. Help your kids share their enthusiasm with younger kids. If you have a middle schooler, for example, you could invite the younger kids over for a storytime in which your older kids read to the little ones. Then serve some popsicles.

3. Tie in books about your vacation destination or the region in which you live. Find a children’s book or middle grade novel that ties into a summer vacation location. Read about the history of an area or read a historical novel that ties into a place you are going to visit.

4. Have a family reading time. Whether you replace an hour of television each night, or start off with a book in the morning, choose a book that everyone will enjoy and take turns reading the story aloud. Make the book come alive by reading the parts with different voices.

5. Let your kids choose whatever they want to read. Let them choose a comic book instead of a chapter book, for example. Some children, especially those that are struggling, prefer comic books because the text is large, the sentences are short, and the entire story isn’t that long. They feel they actually can read and understand comics better because the artwork helps tell the story.

Or choose a book that’s just for fun. My kids have each devoured the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series -though one was introduced to it when it was a bit high for his reading level, and the others were introduced to it when it was too low. They each related to Greg Hefley, and I enjoyed reading parts of it aloud, as well.

6. Use gadgetry to your advantage. If your kids are into screen time, let them borrow your ereader or download a book on their ipod.

7. Find educational computer games and games for video game systems that let your kids have fun while helping them hone their basic skills. (Of course, too many computer games – educational or not – will reduce your child’s activity level, so keep it in moderation.)

Here are a couple to try:

Readingeggs.com – This site is paid but comes with a free trial. Online games and activities, songs, with golden eggs and other rewards, which help kids feel proud of their reading and motivate them to keep learning and exploring.

Hooked on Phonics also has a variety of Reading Solutions for Kids, perfect for summertime. These programs are for kids ages 3 to 12.

Hooked on Phonics can help Pre-K children get a head start on reading before entering kindergarten in the fall. It can help children who struggle with reading catch up over the summer and be ready for the new school year, and it can help children who are on pace with reading have a fun summer learning activity that will also prevent learning loss over the summer.

In addition, here is Momscape’s list of Fun and Educational Sites for Elementary School Students

As well as more ideas on helping your kids learn all summer long.

Here are more ideas for Summer Reading:

Summer Reading Program Fun
Summer Reading Program Fun
Price: $27.54
Make your summer reading program fun with an innovative approach kids will love. Choose one game to plan your summer reading program or try them all, and you have 10 years of programming!

Summer Reading Renaissance
Summer Reading Renaissance
Price: $45.0
Discover a new approach to summer programs that doesn”t involve counting hours and books, giving rewards and awards-just reading, learning, and fun.

Things We Love – Easy Summer Recipes

Oh how we love summer. This year, we are going to love it more than ever. In the Colorado Rockies, it snowed more than 500 inches on us this winter. It was snowing through, well, yesterday. And so this summer is going to taste sweeter than ever.

In celebration of this, we are spotlighting some of the best cookbooks that feature easy summer recipes, including a favorite cookbook review and a roundup of other popular summer cookbook titles.

Bon appetit!

Best Summer Weekend Cookbook

Things We Love – Best Summer Weekends Cookbook
Where to buy: www.amazon.com
Review by: APCKelly

I love food. Especially summer food, with its fresh, ripe vegetables and mouthwatering, luscious fruits.

As a supreme lover of such delicacies and delectable delights, I am always on the lookout for great cookbooks. Even my kids love to page through the cookbooks at home and decide what to try out next. I was initially attracted to The Best Summer Weekends Cookbook because of its beautifully designed cover of mouth-watering watermelon, shrimp, tomato, lemon.

The inside of this book is as appealing as the outside. More than 75 recipes, perfect for entertaining friends and family or delicious day-to-day summer cooking. The color photographs make it one of our favorites to flip through to get inspired.

The recipes are varied and include appetizers, starters, sundown snacks, delicious BBQ recipes, summer salads, light main courses perfect for a summer’s day, to breakfast and brunch ideas and amazing desserts. I am sure you will love to try the delicious Mocha Ice Cream Loaf – or how about a refreshing Tabouleh salad and Thai Green Chicken Wings?

The ingredients used in the recipes are relatively easy to come by, but they are seasonal. (Each recipe gives ideas on how to substitute certain ingredients if they are not to hand.)

Overall, this cookbook has an exciting array of summer recipes that will please anybody. I am sure you will get a lot of joy out of trying out these fantastic and mouth-watering dishes.

Here are a few more summer cookbooks to try: