Constipation relief for kids: Plum juice goes down easier than prune juice

I pretty much feel like I'm an expert in constipation relief in kids.  It's not a title I really ever strived to have, but given my daughter's recent frequent peeing problems, my son's potty trained but won't poop issues, and some ongoing hemorrhoid problems in this house (this blog doesn't have nearly enough room for all I've got to say about being the caretaker for 10 days of bed rest, two surgeries, two ER visits, sidz baths, a cath, and 'roids....so we'll just leave it at that), I've come to know a few things about poop.  More precisely, I've come to know what keeps it moving.

Prune juice is an old stand by, but let's face it the stuff not only smells and looks like poop juice it's not exactly the easiest thing to swallow - literally.  I've been looking for an alternative to prune juice to keep my kids regular and recently I came across plum juice.  After looking at the fiber content per serving and all that good stuff I decided to give a bottle of Sunsweet Plum Smart Juice a try.

Here's a direct comparison of the nutritional information between prune juice and plum juice.  Pay specific attention to the dietary fiber, calories, and sugar.

I gave a small cup to my daughter who proclaimed... "Mmm it tastes like apple juice." The consistency is the same as apple juice and it's not pulpy in the least -- plus I like it because there's not as much sugar or calories.

Now, as soon as I recognize that my kids are constipated or even showing the slightest sign that they're headed in that direction,  I start giving my them 6 - 8 ounces of plum juice a day. 


DIY Kitchen Art (and how to spray paint straight line letters on canvas)

I have a huge wall in my kitchen that has remained empty for the two years we've lived here.  We've considered buying a piece of art to put on it, but I'm just afraid a year from now I'm not going to like it so I really didn't want to spend a whole lot of money on it.

The other day I was in Target and I came across these huge silver utensils -- they're nearly 3' high (click here to see more oversized fork and spoon decor).   I thought they'd be perfect so I picked up a fork and spoon for about $40 total.  The way they are made, you can only hang them vertically, which I was kind of bummed about since I  thought they'd look better on my wall horizontally. 

When I put them on the wall, despite their size, they still
seemed lost.  I told you my wall is huge!  I kept them hanging there for a few days and was just about ready to return them when my husband urged me to keep them -- suggesting we could buy these $50 Pottery Barn letters EAT.  Obviously he's not a real DIYer.

That got me thinking that I could make something similar and it would be the perfect kitchen art and hopefully wouldn't look too hokey.   I experimented a little bit with getting the letters on the canvas until I finally figured out the perfect technique for getting straight lines.
The result when I taped cardboard letters to the canvas
Having first cut out cardboard letters and taping them to the canvas and spray painting, I realized the spray paint was getting under the cardboard letters except where the tape was.  That gave me the idea to simply use packing tape to form the letters.  Of course it worked because EAT only have straight lines, unlike an "S" or "D."  Not only would it keep the spray paint out and keep the area of the letter perfectly white, it would also guarantee a perfectly straight line.
Packing tape applied directly to canvas to form letters
'Before' touch up
I created three canvases E - A - T and then spray painted them red.  After I took the tape off I
realized some areas around the edges had let a small amount of paint spill into the white area.  I used
Q-Tips dipped in nail polish remover to clean up the edges.  On areas that still weren't perfectly white after removing the red paint, I used some white out. 
'After' touch up

When I put the three canvases on the wall I thought the spray painted area looked a little blotchy.  I actually put a second round of packing tape over the original letter area.  This time I made sure all the edges of the tape were really firm on the canvas to avoid any leaks.  I then re-spray painted and when I was happy with the dried product, removed the tape.   I liked that look better. 

My final step was to outline each letter with a black sharpie.  I did this to cover up any imperfections along the edge and I think it worked. 
After adding Black Sharpie to hide imperfections

They're not perfect by any means, but that's what makes my kitchen art DIY!  Plus, when my kids won't eat their dinner, I just tell them to turn around and read the sign - the kitchen made the rule, not me!

Small closet ideas: Organization solutions that work in the master bedroom

It's been two years since we moved into our 52 year old house and finally I have been able to get my painfully small closet organized and efficient.   This house has pretty much all we could ask for -- a finished basement, totally renovated, an outdoor firepit and outdoor fireplace, a large front and backyard, hardwood throughout,  large bedrooms, walk-in closets (in 3 of the 4 bedrooms) and 3,000 square feet.  About 3 of those feet are claimed by the God-awful small closets in the master bedroom.

I have come to the conclusion the reach-and-grab closets in the master must be the world's smallest closets for a master bedroom. Sure, they have about 10 foot ceilings -- that's great for someone who's not even barely 5', but they don't have much of anything else.  Seriously, don't you think this should be illegal??

Organizing tips: Home office paperwork organized in 5 easy steps

When the bottom literally fell out of one of the file cabinet drawers in my home office, due to the weight of all the papers, files, folders, and junk, I knew it was time to seriously get the office paperwork organized.  While it seemed like an overwhelming task at first, it actually turned out to be pretty easy -- plus, I got to put my label maker to work. Score!

If you're like me and are constantly rummaging through piles of old bills, paperwork, and essential junk to find a receipt or a physical form -- there is hope.

Just follow these 5 organizing tips and the home office clutter will turn into a color-coded, orderly, pared down, bottom-intact drawer of neatly organized paperwork where you can actually find everything you need -- quickly!


Boston Marathon Attacks: Lessons from Mr Rogers and Whitney Houston

Today, I find myself the same way I found myself after the Sandy Hook school shootings, the same way I found myself in the days after Hurricane Sandy, and the same way I found myself after September 11, 2001.  All those days I was left teary eyed and questioning -- a huge lump in my throat.  I'm questioning how this world, this great country called the USA, can endure such tragedy -- in three of the cases -- at the hands of fellow man.  We will survive.  We will come out stronger, and we will find bring justice -- that much I know.  But what I don't know is WHY does this keeping happening and WHAT is WRONG with our world

On Monday, when I got the AP News Alert on my phone that there had been two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon I got instant chills.  My heart was racing and my head spinning.  I had two friends running the race -- one of them raised thousands of dollars for a sponsor child associated with Boston's Children's Hospital.  These were thousands of racers running for a cause - cut short by an individual or a group trying to..what? bring attention to their cause which can be explained as nothing more than hate? It's sick.  It's just sick.


Yummy roasted brussel sprouts that even picky kids will eat

Brussel sprouts aren't exactly the most kid-friendly food.  I can remember my parents tempting bribing me to eat them with the lure of a quarter.  That was big time. 

A few weeks ago, I decided to give brussel sprouts a try again.   I didn't really have a trick up my sleeve for getting my picky 4 year old to try them.  In fact, I was pretty much not even planning on even going there, until she inquired.  I told her they were like little lettuces that I cooked for a few minutes in the oven.  She loves salad and it turns out, she loved roasted brussel sprouts too. 

They're seriously the simplest thing to make.  Just buy a bag of fresh brussel sprouts at the grocery store and in 5 minutes they'll be in the oven cooking.  Here's how I prepare them:
  • Preheat the oven to 375.  
  • Cut the ends off the brussel sprouts and then cut them in half.
  • Put the brussel sprouts in a single layer on a cookie sheet. 
  • Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over them.
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic salt. 
  • Use a spatula to gently coat all of the brussel sprouts and all of the outer leaves that fall off (leave these on the pan, they crisp up like little brussel sprout chips)
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes
I like to serve them with a perfectly cooked steak which can also be done in the oven (gasp!)

How to cook steak in the oven...I swear it works perfectly everytime

Perfectly cooked steak in the oven
I love a good steak.  I don't love a perfectly good cut of meat that is overdone, dry, and gray.   It needs to be pink and tender and preferably straight off the grill.   It used to be that we only had steak when the weather cooperated and we could use the grill.   But recently we've been cooking steak in the oven and they've come out perfectly -- if you know the secret.  Lucky, for you I'll let you in on the secret....okay, more like 8 of them.

Here's how to cook steak in the oven so it comes out perfect. We like medium rare...if you prefer your steak a little more well done, Step 6/7 is where you'll adjust the cooking time.

I got the wrong Valspar paint color...but there's good news

Note to self: NEVER take your 23 month old son to pick out paint colors.  I think I seriously just grabbed a paint swatch that was remotely in the rainbow of colors I'm considering and went with it.  I got two gallons of the stuff worth $75.

I got home and tested it on a small area and almost threw up in my mouth.  Um...I was looking for something in the gray family for my gray master bedroom makeover - this looks almost white with a hint of blue in it.

My first thought was to try to mix the paint with something that I already had in the basement to get the color more gray, but I didn't have anything that would even remotely work.  Then I went on Lowes' website to see about their paint return policy.  Turns out Valspar, not Lowes gives rushed, indecisive, or picky people, like me, who don't like the paint color a second chance - without having to shell out more money for another two gallons.  
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