101 Businesses You Can Start With Less Than One Thousand Dollars: For Stay-at-Home Moms and Dads

Today’s Momscape Product Pick: 101 Businesses You Can Start With Less Than One Thousand Dollars: For Stay-at-Home Moms and Dads

Review by: ACMom

Where to buy
: Borders.com or Amazon.com

101 Businesses You Can Start at With Less Than One Thousand Dollars: For Stay-at-Home Moms & Dads

If you’ve ever thought about starting your own home-based business, so you can spend more time with your kids, this book is a great starting point.

The book gives good advice and answers questions you might have with regards to health care, retirement fund, the benefits but also the negative aspects of running a business from home. You will also be guided through a self-evaluation of your skills: what you have to offer, what you need to work on to be successful. You learn about advertising and marketing, business plans, licenses, taxes and most importantly how you plan to finance your business. The book gives ideas on where and how to find start-up capital.

In addition to all the advice, you will find 101 business ideas that you can start up with minimal investment. It’s up to you to decide which one is the one you will enjoy spending hours and hours developing and growing it. It has to be something you deeply care about in order for it to be successful. It can be a hobby or even a service you do for others.

Overall, this book will definitely give you lots of food for thought and should help you to decide whether running your own business, and which kind of business, is the right thing for you.

Here’s the product description and a direct “buy” link from Borders.com

Most parents today have a tough time economically: they have to be at home raising their children so they cannot work much and the jobs that are out there are often part-time and low paying. Yet most families need two incomes today to get ahead. Detailed in this new book are over 100 business ideas that can be started for very little money and yet may provide parents with a lot more money than they would be paid by the hour. This is a collection of businesses selected especially for stay-at-home parents who are interested in augmenting their income. These businesses can be started with minimum training and investment and are all capable of producing extra income. Most can easily be operated by one person and eventually be sold for an additional profit. Many of these businesses can actually be started with less than one hundred dollars and some can really be started with next to nothing. All can be operated from home. Starting and managing a business takes motivation and talent. It also takes research and planning. This new book is intended to serve as a roadmap for starting your business. It is both comprehensive and easy to use.

Buy now at Borders.

This title is also available from Amazon.com here.

The Importance of Friends (or Why You Should Invite Your Friends Over Tonight for a Glass of Wine)

friend-feet
Young Friends

Young Friends. Photo courtesy of Gwennypics


On Momscape, we’ve done features on the health benefits of chocolate and the health benefits of sex. And so today we turn our attention to the health benefits of another one of life’s pleasures: good friendships.

Just in case you need a few concrete reasons to call a friend and invite her over for a glass of wine this evening, here are a few things that good friends do for us.

Emotional Well-being

“A faithful friend is the medicine of life.” ~ Apocrypha

Feeling loved and appreciated has huge effects on your emotional health. A friend can provide that feeling of self-worth, connection, and affirmation. And all of these positive feelings may even reduce your need or desire to engage in unhealthy behaviors.

Physical Well-Being
Research shows that cardiovascular health is better in those who regularly socialize with friends. Like good diet and exercise, friends improve arterial elasticity and blood pressure. And a recent Harvard study found that strong social connections may actually promote the health of the brain as we get older.

Sharing Feelings
Even if you don’t feel comfortable expressing your emotions, your limbic brain system is doing so. The limbic system is the “captain” of your emotional “ship.” When you are around friends, the limbic system kicks in and attunes itself to your friends’ limbic systems. You influence each other’s moods and feelings without even knowing it. A positive, cheerful, and loving friend can lift your spirits when you don’t even realize it.

Stronger Motivation
A recent study in New England showed that people who exercised together lost more weight than those who exercised alone. Having a friend or group of friends can be a real motivator. Are you going to sign up for that belly dancing class by yourself? Are you going to sign up for a gym membership and go workout alone? Maybe you will, but the fact is that more people engage in healthy activities like exercise more when they are in social groups.

Better Accountability
Friends can help us steer clear of unhealthy behavior patterns. A good friend cares about you, so they might help you to stay on that fitness schedule, discourage you from eating that doughnut, and distract you from lighting up when we’ve been trying to quit.

Any Socializing Helps
What if you don’t have any close friends? What can you do if you have just moved to a new area and don’t know anyone yet? Or maybe you just aren’t inclined to forge friendships. Interestingly, it’s been said that just being around people can help improve your mood and, consequently, your health. So, just going to a coffee shop or restaurant can help.

Share this article with your friends – or people whom you’d like to get to know better. Then plan a girls’ night out.

More information
Well, What are Friends For? A Longer Life
A New York Times article with links to numerous studies on the health benefits of friendship.
The Health Benefits of Good Friends
– from Girlfriendology

Here are a few more popular Momscape articles you might enjoy:
How to Be a Better Friend
Conversation Starters for Shy People
All Momscape articles on Friends and Friendships

Petunia Pickle Bottom is now at Target.com

I love Petunia Pickle Bottom, and now Target.com is offering these Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bags – and they are super affordable, too!

Just $50 buys you one of these:

Petunia Pickle Bottom Clever Carryall Diaper Bag in ModDot
Features: Zip Closure, Storage Pockets, Cell Phone Pocket, 4 Interior Pockets, 2 Exterior Side Pockets, Open Interior Pocket, Bottle Pocket, Wipeable Liner, Changing Pad.

or

Petunia Pickle Bottom Clever Carryall Diaper Bag in Tulip

Don’t forget to check out Target.com coupons and specials before you buy, like this one:

Target Coupon
Save $5 Off $50 at Target.com
Click link to activate coupon.

Do you eat when you’re stressed? 11 Strategies to Help You Avoid Emotional Eating

Many of us love to eat. It’s a natural part of life. But instead of sitting down with people we love to savor each bite, some of us are eating unconsciously as a way to deal with stress. Sometimes, we may not realize we’re stress eating and if we do recognize that we’re doing it, we might feel helpless to know how to stop.

In any case, your weight – and your health – will pay the price until you find a new, more healthy way to deal with stress.
In this article, we’ll share more about the science behind emotional overeating. Plus, you’ll find strategies to help you switch gears during stressful times so that you can get a better handle on the stress in your life and learn new coping skills.

Emotional Eating – What is it?

Here is the science behind why we eat so much when things are already going wrong. The body is full of hormones, which are are secreted by glands to perform specific functions in the body.

When the body experiences stress, a hormone called cortisol is secreted. And that’s when you being to crave sugary snacks. The chips, ice cream, comfort food and candy bars that everyone wants to reach for after a restless night of sleep.

Eating these foods causes you to experience a calming effect, much like when endorphins are released after an exercise session. In fact, they are released here. The level of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter, rises to further calm you and “turn off” the stress trigger that got the cortisol going in the first place.

Prolonged stress cycles like this are not good for the body. Not only will your weight shoot up, but also your risk of other conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity and stroke.
It is a vicious cycle but there is a way out. Stress doesn’t have to control you. Learn to control it.

11 STRATEGIES TO AVOID EMOTIONAL OVEREATING

1. Finding Support
When learning how to cope with a problem, the best course of action is to build a support system. These are family, friends and professionals who will be in your corner to help you discover the root of your situation and offer their hand to hold or their friendly ear when you need it.

This doesn’t mean that they will tell you what you want to hear. They will also hold you accountable for your actions.
Support can be found initially in therapy. Trained therapists can help you to uncover your “emotional triggers.” These are the situations that increase your stress level and lead to stress eating.

You might say that just about everything on a daily basis is a trigger. Not so.

All stress is not unhealthy. If you come outside and find that your newspaper has once again not been delivered, what do you do? You march right in the house and call the company to complain. The problem is solved. Your potentially stressful situation caused you to do something that removed the stressor.

Not all situations are like that. When the stress involves another person or a situation that is difficult to manage, the answers don’t come so readily. This is usually the case around holiday time with stress and also workplace stress and some family situations.

Once you know your emotional triggers, you are armed with knowledge that you didn’t have before. You can see which situations will get the cortisol pumping through your system. Now, you can head them off with a little more help.

Your therapist may suggest ways for you to handle stress constructively. Things such as cognitive behavior therapy teach you how to change your way of thinking by recognizing when a button has been pushed so that you can head it off with sound judgment. Many of the easy strategies to combat stress eating are a variation on that theme.

2. Think logically
When we are in a stressful situation, it is the emotional side of us that begins to kick in. Emotions aren’t always rational and can overrule the head. Flip the script and let the brain do the talking.

Here’s another example. You’ve had a hard day at work. Maybe the boss yelled at you or you felt beat down by the sheer amount of work you had to accomplish in eight hours. Getting in your car is the first time you felt free all day.

On the way home, you start to crave ice cream and debate whether or not to stop and get a double scoop of chocolate chunk brownie ice cream on a giant waffle cone. What’s wrong with this picture?

Before you speed off to the follow the sweet smell of frozen confection, ask yourself one important question: Will eating that ice cream solve your problem at work? Most people are quite rational and stopping to question your motives before you fall into the stress eating trap will start the wheels turning in that brain.

Usually the answer to that question will be “no.” there are actually more reasons why you shouldn’t do it now that you have started to think. It will waste money and gas. You will be eating empty calories. It will make losing weight that much harder. If these things are important to you, you’ll head towards home at this point.

3. Take a deep breath
When everyone is vying for your attention at the same time, it can be hard to hear your thoughts. All you want to do is get away. The stress level is rising by the minute.

Slow things down a bit by taking a deep breath. You don’t have to drop to the floor in the lotus position and start chanting. Simply breathe in deeply through your nose and blow it out slowly through your mouth. Close your eyes if that will help you focus.

This technique is not only a way to tune everyone out for a moment but also a way to get more oxygen to the brain. Increased oxygen in the body, especially the brain, increases your focus and concentration. You can now
consider each attention seeker’s wishes one at a time with a clear head.

4. Clean something
Most of us don’t like doing that on a good day but it can make a difference to your eating habits in times of stress. What you are trying to accomplish is a bait and switch. You are distracting yourself from thinking about food long enough for the body to calm down on its own and flip the sugary craving switch without any damage being done.

Prepare a little cleaning bucket and keep it in an accessible place. Whenever you get stressed at home, reach for that bucket and get to work. It is hard to concentration on getting the coffee stain out of the carpet and the source of your stress at the same time.

At work, if you find the stress getting to be too much, begin to organize your desk. We all can use a bit more of that. A messy desk does not reflect an organized mind, rather a chocolate cookie waiting to be eaten.

5. Laugh (a lot)
Laughter therapy has been well documented as a way to help cope with not only stress but painful events in your life. This laughter can be artificial or brought about by humorous situations.

You may not think that you can make yourself laugh on command. Try it. It starts deep in your belly and moves upward. As you begin to form your laughter, the mind will conjure up happier times and humorous experiences to help that laugh to grow.

Laughing has a calming effect on the brain. It also works the midsection as you tighten those abdominal muscles with each side-splitting chuckle.

If humor on command is not for you, rent a funny movie. In fact, buy one. Every person needs a laughter survival kit. This includes some of your favorite comedy shows and movies that still get you rolling on the floor. Before you reach for the junk food, pop one in the DVD player or VCR and hit Play. In a couple of hours, even before then, you’ll have stopped thinking about food.

6. Have a piece of chocolate
If you’re like me, you’re saying: This is the best one so far. But we are not referring to the average candy bar here. This is dark chocolate. By volume, dark chocolate contains the highest amount of cocoa from the cocoa bean.

It might surprise you to also know that dark chocolate has many health benefits when eaten in moderation. It can ease the symptoms of depression, increase your level of antioxidants in the body and release those endorphins that make you feel good. Who knew a once ounce square of every woman’s favorite snack could do all that. And, it works for men too.

Just like other foods, it is okay to eat in moderation. Eat one small piece each day to feel the cumulative effects of the power of the cocoa bean.

7. Exercise
It seems appropriate to mention this on the heels of the chocolate talk. Exercise also releases those same endorphins that we have been talking about with food and also with laughter. Here, you are also getting the benefit of a stronger, leaner and fitter body in the process.

The first thing to do is find an exercise that you like. No one is going to respond to a stressful situation by running for a couple of miles if they have bad knees or have never run in their lives. Hop on your bicycle and ride through the neighborhood. Walk a trail in the park. Shoot a few hoops of basketball.

Each activity that you engage in takes your focus off of the stressor and places it somewhere more constructive. As with deep breathing, the increase in oxygen flow not only calms you but can actually help you to clear the fog of emotion and come up with constructive ways to solve your problem.

8. Sleep it off

When stress is in the picture, you can get physically and mentally drained quite fast. It seems like you can’t take even one more thing happening to you. Stop the madness and find a quiet place to rest.

The good news is that you can’t eat and sleep at the same time. Sleep is a time when the body can shut down and begin to repair itself. It is regrouping so to speak. Even an hour nap has restorative properties that can give you a new outlook on an old situation.

9. Drink a glass of water
We seldom get the recommended daily requirement anyway so a chance to drink more water is good. Strategically consuming water is an old diet trick that still works. Before you eat, drink.

Water fills up that empty space in your stomach giving you a feeling of fullness. It also buys you time to begin focusing on something else that is not food related. With the belly temporarily full, the urge to eat can pass by with no unhealthy consequences.

If you don’t like the taste of tap water, add lemon. Buy bottled flavored water and keep it all around your home, in your car and at work. Whenever you need an emotional boost, it is there at hand.

10. Listen to music
Music is unique in that it can evoke emotional responses and memories. Have you ever just heard an old song and then you were magically transported to another time and place? That is what we are hoping for.

Memories can imprint themselves in a strain of an instrumental ballad or the chorus of some familiar childhood tune. Your mind moves immediately from the stressor to something more pleasant. Taking a walk with your iPod does double duty to remove you from a stressful situation and the junk food.

11. Talk to a friend
This seems like a basic thing, but it can be hard for us to share our troubles with another. We might not be sure how they will react to what we have to say. If this person is a good friend that you can trust, take the plunge.

Sometimes, just hearing the words that describe your situation out loud can trigger all sorts of options for a solution. On the other hand, it can also allow you to see what you couldn’t when you were emotionally overcharged – it is trivial. The rational side of you kicks in and decides that the reason you were so upset wasn’t even worth getting upset about in the first place.

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
These strategies for dealing with stress eating are not just another way to bury your head in the sand. They do, however, offer you the opportunity to see your problem in a new light so that you can come up with a constructive solution and not just an emotional one. In reality, after you down that half gallon of Chunky Monkey, your problem will still exist but you won’t be any closer to a possible solution.

In each of the strategies listed above, you are actively doing something to help change your situation. With counseling, should you choose to go that route, while you are concentrating on other things besides food, you can also actively change your thinking about the situation so that stress eating won’t be a factor in your life for very long.

CONCLUSION
If you live long enough, you will encounter a stressful situation in your life. Emotional eating is one response to stress that is not only unhealthy but also doesn’t do anything to change the initial problem.

Using simple, easy to implement strategies, you can get out ahead of your stress, recognize what situations cause you to reach for food and rationally decide to switch your focus elsewhere. This will be especially helpful around holiday time when food flows like water and so does the emotionally-charged situations. Live a little and laugh a lot to stay sane and away from the sweet snacks.

Recommendations for further study:

Women, Food and God (Hardcover)
Women, Food and God
, by Geneen Roth

This is a groundbreaking book, and Oprah.com has a free 15-week companion guide to help you work through the profound questions in the book. If you struggle with emotional eating and stress eating, this book could bring about the changes and the insights you need.

Here’s a link to the book at Overstock: > Women, Food and God (Hardcover)

Here’s a link to the free companion guide at Oprah.com>

Read Weight Loss articles at Momscape >
Read Momscape’s Diet Reviews >

Handmade Paper – How to Make Your Own Homemade Paper From Recycled Paper

Handmade paper has such a beautiful feel to it. You can use it for papercrafts, cards, and more. But did you know that you can make your own homemade using the paper in your recycling bin?

Any paper that doesn’t have a shiny coating will work. In fact, newspaper works the best, so raid that paper recycling bin and let’s get started!

You’ll need:

- Recyclable paper

- Small Screens. Any flat screening will work, so you can use an old window screen or simply nylon hosiery stretched over a frame. You’ll probably want two screens, so you can work in batches.

-  A pan or tub, which your screen will need to fit into. (A rubber dish tub is ideal.)

- Water

- Blender

-White Glue

-Towels

-Iron

How to Make Your Handmade Paper

1. Tear the paper into strips. (You’ll want to tear the strips – instead of cutting – because you want to expose more surface area.

2. Place the paper strips into your rubber tub. You’ll want it about 2/3 full of strips.

3. Pour water over the strips until they are just submerged.

4. Stir the water-paper mixture with your hands.

5. Soak the paper strips. If you used cold water, you’ll need to soak for several hours. If you used hot water, they’ll be ready for step 6 in about 30 minutes. Different water temperatures and soaking times will achieve different results.

6. When the paper is soft and pulpy, mix it thoroughly with your hands again.

7. Blend the pulp and water mixture in a blender. Do it in batches if necessary, but do not put the blended pulp back into the tub.

8. When all the paper pulp is blended, pour a few inches of water into the dish tub. Stir in a tablespoon of white glue.

9. Set the screen down into the water in the tub.

10. Pour about 1 cup of the blended pulp onto the submerged screen. Using your hands, spread it thoroughly over the screen, making sure to incorporate the water and glue.

11. Lift the screen from the water, and set it where it can drain well.

12. Invert the screen onto a towel. Lift the screen off; there should be damp pulp sitting on the towel.

13. Lay another towel over the pulp.

14. Once the pulp is between the two towels, run a hot clothes iron over the top towel to steam out the moisture and smooth the paper.

15. Leave your pulp to dry for about 24 hours.

16. Cut into sheets and cards.

Enjoy your new handmade paper!

Online Ancestry Search: Where to Start

Finding Information on Your Family Ancestors Online

There’s only so much you can do to find information about your ancestors from using old family records, newspapers, and such. Sometimes you have to search elsewhere, particularly if you’ve run into a road block. Finding information on your family ancestors online is one way to get past those road blocks and get back on track.

Obviously you’ll need to have a starting place when you’re searching for your family online. You may have a list of names, birth and death dates, and places of birth or death. These are a great place to begin, no matter how you go about finding your ancestors.

Obituaries are printed for everyone who passes away. If your loved one passed away after 1962, you can search the Social Security Death Index to determine exact date of death. The index will provide the person’s birth date, death date, and the place they last resided.  You may also want to try Genealogy Bank which has obituaries from over 1100 newspapers dating as far back at 1977.

If you already have some information about family members from the past, you may want to search for them on other online websites. Some genealogy websites are free to access and those might be the best place to start looking if you’re new to genealogy. After you’ve learned more about your family you may want to sign up for a subscription on the membership-based genealogy sites.

Free genealogy websites you may want to check out when finding information on your family ancestors include:
* Rootsweb.com
* MyHeritage.com
* FamilySearch.org
* EllisIsland.org
* CyndisList.com
* USGenWeb.com

Each of these websites will provide you with search functions as well as give you information on the best methods to search for your family online. Many genealogy websites also have forums where people can ask for information from people around the world.

The better-known genealogy websites require paid membership. These include Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com, WorldVitalRecords.com, and OneGreatFamily.com. These paid websites can be as little as $3.33 per month or as much as $24.95 per month depending upon if you choose to access to files in the United States or worldwide. Normally you will be billed annually for your membership.

If you’re not sure a paid membership site is right for you, most of them have trial memberships between one and two weeks. That will give you ample time to do some searching, find information that will be helpful in locating your family members, and let you know if there is a need to sign up.

As with any attempt at finding information on your family ancestors online, be sure to spell their name correctly. If you’re having problems finding them, you may want to consider that the surname (last name) may have changed over time. Try variations of spellings to ensure you find the people you’re looking for.

Valentine Party! 11 Games Kids Love

If you are planning a Valentine’s Day party for children, games are essential. Here are some ideas appropriate for various age groups.

Valentines Day Party Games For Elementary Kids

“Throwing the Smile” Game

Sit everyone in a circle and have one person smile wildly at the rest of the group. Everyone else must sit as stone-faced as possible. Then the person smiling dramatically wipes the smile off her face (by literally wiping her hand over her  mouth in a swiping motion) and “throws” the smile to the next person in the circle. That person puts the smile on, and again makes a wild, silly smile at the group, then wipes it off and moves on. As soon as someone smirks or smiles that is not supposed to be smiling at that moment, he or she is out. It’s harder than it sounds and kids often end up in fits of laughter.

Pillow Race
Bring in two large stuffed hearts (either pillows or just plush stuffed hearts). Divide the kids into two teams and tell them they must run to the finish line with the heart between their legs. (They won’t be running so much as stumbling forward.) Once they return to the group, they should take the heart and give it to the next child, who puts it between their legs and so on. Whichever group finishes the entire relay first wins.

Wrap the Gift
Give the children a couple rolls of toilet paper and instruct them to wrap another child mummy style. This is a popular game at Halloween, but in this case they are wrapping a present. Divide the kids into two teams and time them. The team that finishes first, wins, and gets to put a big red bow on their “package”.

Famous Couples
Help elementary students remember some of the great couples by having them complete the match to a famous other half. For example, if you say “Romeo” their answer would be “Juliet” (hopefully). To play this game, divide the kids into two groups and give each a buzzer or similar type item. Present the famous start of the pair. You might say, “peanut butter” and if one of the teams knows the match is “jelly” they will buzz in with their answer.
Some other options are:
“Eggs and (bacon)”
“Coffee and (sugar or cream is OK here)”
“Cinderella and (Prince Charming)”
“Cookies and (milk)”

Heart Stacking Contest
Kids love those little Valentine’s candy conversation hearts available everywhere around Valentine’s Day. Create a heart-stacking contest, which is a lot of fun and can create some team spirit. Initially, each child will get many hearts. Plan to have a few bags on hand if you are doing this game with a classroom full of kids.

Have them build as high as they can with the hearts within in a given period of time (30 seconds to a minute is plenty). If their contraption falls, they are out. Keep playing the game over and over again until you are down to two final contestants. Have everyone cheer him or her on as they try to build the highest (and longest lasting) tower of hearts. Be sure to have a prize for the winning architect.

Valentine’s Bingo
All kids love a good game of Bingo. For a seated game that might help the kids rest for a minute, play a game of Valentine’s Day-themed bingo. The bingo squares might have pictures on them like hearts, flowers, cupid, arrows and the like. Be sure to have a prize for the winner, and play the game over and over so the kids can all have a turn at winning.

Valentines Day Games For Preschoolers

Valentine Fishing
Preschool-age children love to fish. You can create a fishing game with small toy fishing poles and hearts (as fish). Use an empty plastic tub as your “lake” and put into it red hearts cut out of construction paper or cardstock. Each heart is good for a prize. One might be good for a Hershey’s kiss, or other small candy, another might be for a small plastic heart. Put magnets on the cardstock hearts and a magnet on the fishing pole. Then the kids can “fish” for hearts and win a prize at the same time. Each child should only be allowed to “catch” one fish each.

Balloon Races
Preschoolers love balloons and you can create a heart target for them to aim their balloons at. Create a target out of cardboard or heavy cardstock and put it on the floor somewhere. You might want to have several targets on the floor. Give the kids balloons that have been blown up but aren’t tied shut. Let them let go of the balloons in the direction of the target and see where their balloon lands. Be forewarned: kids will want to play this over and over again, so either have plenty of balloons ready to go (perhaps held closed with a clothespin) or have plenty of adults around who want to blow up balloon after balloon.

You can also play a similar game by putting a heart target into a box or laundry basket and having the children try to hit the target with an inflated balloon.  Be sure to provide prizes for everyone!

“Cupid, Cupid, Love” and “Cupid Says”

Preschool age children love a good game of “Duck Duck Goose” or “Simon Says”. For Valentine’s Day, you can put a twist on these classic games. Have the kids play a game of “Cupid, Cupid, Love” instead of “Duck, Duck, Goose” or have them play “Cupid Says” instead of “Simon Says”. Be sure to add a smooch at the end of each order in “Cupid Says” or have the kids incorporate Valentine’s Day activities, like “Cupid says, give your neighbor a hug”.

Valentine 20 Questions

Preschool teachers might want to encourage creative thinking with a little game of “Valentine’s 20 questions”. The teacher can have a visual in mind, which might be a heart, or Cupid, or a card or something relative to the holiday. The teacher says “I’m thinking…:” and the children must ask questions about what the teacher is thinking. The teacher can give tiny clues along the way especially if he or she is losing the interest of the younger children in the group. Whoever figures out what the teacher is thinking can be the next one to begin the next round of 20 questions. Be sure to ask the child what they are thinking before the next round begins or it could go on longer than it needs to!

Pin the Heart on Cupid
Children love “pin the tale on the donkey” so why not “pin the heart on Cupid”? In this game, simply provide each child with a big red heart with his or her name on it. Have a big cutout of Cupid on a wall and blindfold each child, spin him or her around and have them stick their heart on Cupid (there should be adhesive of some sort on the back of the heart). Once everyone has stuck their hearts, let them look at where they ended up.

Easy Homemade Spa Treatments and Beauty Recipes

You don’t need an expensive trip to the spa to rejuvenate. Here are some simple at-home spa treatment recipes you can make yourself.

Sugar Scrub:

Make your own sugar scrub to exfoliate your elbows, knees, back, arms and legs. Just take one cup of brown sugar, one cup of raw oatmeal and one cup of olive oil. Mix the ingredients together in a jar and then apply to dry skin. Stand on a towel or plastic bag and massage slowly in circles. Step right into the shower and rinse off the scrub.

Refreshing foot scrub:

Combine two tablespoons of vegetable oil, two tablespoons of natural sea salt (or beach sand, which you can get at the craft store), three drops of rosemary oil and three drops of peppermint oil. Mix the ingredients into a paste and then massage the paste onto your feet.

Concentrate on rough areas, such as your heels or calluses. When you rinse off the mixture, your feet will be silky smooth.

Botanic Choice has inexpensive vials of essential oils. It’s nice to have a few vials of your favorite scents on hand for aromatherapy and spa treatments. If you’re just getting started with your essential oils collection, try Lavender, Rosemary, and Peppermint oils. We post current Botanic Choice Coupons here >

Pumpkin Facial Mask:

Pumpkin adds moisture to your skin, no matter what your skin type. Just use three tablespoons of pureed pumpkin from a can and one-half teaspoon of honey. If you have normal or oily skin, add one-quarter teaspoon of milk. If you have dry skin, add one-quarter teaspoon of buttermilk.

Once you’ve mixed together all of the ingredients, clean your face using your regular cleanser. Spread the mask over your skin and then leave it on for 15 minutes. Clean off the dried mask with warm water. You can follow it up with rose water (see below) and then apply your moisturizer.

Carrot Avocado Facial Mask:

Combine a mashed carrot, mashed avocado, and a beaten egg with a few tablespoons of honey. Stir well, apply, let sit for about 15 minutes, and then wash off with cool water.

After you’re washed and nourished your skin with the natural face mask above, use grated cucumber or diluted lemon juice as a toner to help tighten your skin and close up your pores. (Remember to keep all ingredients away from the eye area.)

Cuticle softener:

This treatment is simple to use and can prevent jagged nails. Combine a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of vitamin E oil. Mix them together in a bowl and then massage the oil into your cuticles. After letting the oil soak in for fifteen minutes, you can wash away the excess oil with soap and water.

Lemon softener:

The acid in lemons will work wonders on your rough elbows and rough knees. Cut a lemon in half and then rub it on your rough patches, then rinse it off in the shower. This treatments soften skins and can even lighten dark areas.

Rose Water:

Rose water is a well-known toner and astringent. It costs a lot when you buy it by the bottle, but you can easily make it yourself. Firmly pack rose petals into a cup and place it in a bowl. Pour two cups of boiling water over the top and cover.

Steep the roses until the liquid is cool and then strain out the petals. Refrigerate the water in a sterile glass jar between uses. Apply to the skin with a cotton ball to tone and tighten your skin.

Here are more recipes and ideas on Momscape:
Natural Beauty Recipes
Homemade Beauty Products

Pampering Recipes for Moms

Healthy Snack Ideas

Whether you want to slim down, or you just want to feel more energized throughout the day, healthy snacks at the right times can help.

Here are few ideas:

Lowfat yogurt with fresh fruit.

Fresh fruit. Apples, bananas, oranges, whatever’s on hand.

Apple with a (small) smear of nut butter. Venture beyond the usual peanut butter. Try almond butter and cashew butter, which are generally available right next to the peanut butter on grocery shelves.

Half a toasted whole wheat English muffin
with a thin layer of your favorite nut butter.

Half a bagel with a thin layer of nut butter and thin apple slices on top.

Carrots or celery. If you are craving something to dip those raw veggies in, try a bit of hummus.

Hummus on a toasted pita.

A small handful of fresh nuts, mixed with a few dried fruits. I love to eat a dried cranberry or cherry with a toasted walnut. Yum! Again, nuts are good for you, but they are high in calories, so don’t eat very many.

Fruit smoothie. Take frozen blueberries and strawberries and blend with a banana and some milk or juice. Some people also love their green smoothies. Mix water, juice, water, fruit and add raw spinach – or another leafy green. Low fat and super healthy.

Make healthy mini muffins using applesauce in place of the fat (butter or margarine). You can also add shredded carrots as well as other fruits and vegetables such as bananas and zucchini.

Popcorn. (Unbuttered.) Air popped popcorn has no fat and can satisfy the munchies. If you really miss the buttery taste, try a spritz of olive oil instead.

If you’re trying to lose weight, remember that even if you choose snacks that are low in fat and healthy, you won’t lose weight if you are eating too much.

Here are some more resources on the Momscape site:
Fun Snacks for Kids: 10 Healthy Snack Ideas Kids Love
Frugal and Nutritious Snack Recipes for Kids
Eating Healthy on a Budget
Breaking an Addiction to Sugar: 16 Tips

Christmas Party Games for the Whole Family

Here are fun Christmas party game ideas for the entire family.

1. Christmas Word Search. Find holiday word search puzzles on the Internet or in bookstores. Make enough copies for all. Using a timer, give everyone three minutes to find as many words from the list as they can.

2. Holiday Win, Lose or Draw. Remember the TV show? Divide into two teams and have a list of holiday phrases and song lyrics written down on slips of paper. One team member chooses a phrase and then draws it while the other members try to guess. Your team gets 90 seconds to guess correctly. If they can’t, play passes to the other team.

3. Name that Holiday Tune. Divide into two teams. Have a list of holiday songs written on slips of paper. One person from each team chooses a slip of paper and hums the tune for the rest of the team. Teammates have five or ten seconds to name the holiday tune. If they can’t, play passes to the other team.

4.  DVD games. There are a number of DVD games on the market that can make it easy to play big group games.  Here are some favorites:

Family Feud DVD Game

Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? DVD Game

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire DVD Game

There are lots of other games that are great for large groups. Play Charades with a holiday theme or play Catch Phrase, a game that is particularly well-suited for groups of any size. Mad Gab is always good for a giggle, especially in large groups, but it works better with groups of 12 or fewer.

Whatever games you play, it can spice up the game if you have prizes for the winners. These can be small candies or items from Oriental Trading. Or use fake money and have a Christmas Auction House.

Here’s how it works: Instead of giving assorted prizes for winning games, give game money, which you can call Reindeer Bucks or Santa Bucks. At the end of the game session, each person with money can bid on a gift that they want from the gift table. Have everything wrapped so no one knows what exactly they are bidding on.You’ll want to buy enough gifts for everyone to take home something as a fun and festive party favor.

Happy holidays!