Jul 262016
 

Helpful Things I Learned from MacGyver

MacGyver is one of the best guys when it comes to “life hacks”! There are so many great things that I learned from MacGyver; he really does give out some of the best tips and tricks! Some of these can really come in handy, others are just really clever, and some I can’t believe are even real. I suppose this is kind of tribute to the master…In today’s day and age we’re all pretty obsessed with life hacks and MacGyver was the OG of life hacks! If you’ve ever needed to remove a stripped screw, unlock a door from the outside, or turn a chip bag into it’s own bowl then this is the post for you. If you’ve never needed to do any of those things this is still the post for you, you’ll likely rest A LOT easier knowing that you CAN do all of these things just like MacGyver!

Remove a Stripped Screw

You can use a rubber band placed over the top of a stripped screw to remove it without the screwdriver slipping!

Never Leave Home Without a Swiss Army Knife

Okay so maybe leave it at home when you go to the airport but other than that you should have one. It’s got everything you need for all kinds of situations! Continue reading »

Jul 262016
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Scott100More #CollectiveBias

How To Make Overnight Guests Feel at Home

I love, love, love having people come to stay at my house – whether it’s just for one night, a week or even longer. My husband is one of seven and since a few of his siblings have relocated over the years, sometimes when they come “home” they need a place to stay. I am the first one to raise my hand when one of them needs a place to stay. My brother in law, his lovely wife and my super cute 1 year old nephew are regulars at my house and I get so excited whenever they tell me they are coming up. They live in Astoria (Queens, NY), so since they are fairly close, they come back to Massachusetts pretty often.

When they (or anyone else) stay at my house, I want them to be comfortable and feel completely at home. Just a few extra touches here & there can really make your overnight guests feel special.

1. Clean and/or Pick up your house.
Give your house a good cleaning. If your house is already clean, go through your house room by room and get rid of clutter. I am a parent and that means that there are toys all over the place. Take an afternoon to pick up all of those things laying around and put them back where they belong. Why not get the kids involved while you’re at it? I do!

How To Make Overnight Guests Feel at Home3

In addition, I always use having overnight guests as an opportunity to cross things off of my to-do list. Have a doorknob that’s wiggly and needs for the screws to be tightened? This is the time to get those little things done. Continue reading »

Jul 252016
 

My husband, Christian, and I are self-proclaimed foodies.  And by that I mean that we like to eat.  Scratch that….we love to eat.

Christian and I had a chance a day off from the kids recently and around 1 pm, we both looked at each other and realized we hadn’t eaten lunch – which explained the rumbles coming from our tummies.  We were in the area, so we decided to have lunch at the new (ish) Bonefish Grill located at University Station in Westwood, MA. This is only our second time dining at the Bonefish Grill and since the last time we went was for brunch, we decided to go for lunch this time so that we could try out their new seasonal summer menu.

Bonefish Grill1

The wood-grilled fresh fish experts at Bonefish Grill launched their new seasonal menu last month and it features delights like fresh, hand-cut simply grilled Wild Salmon, Rockfish with Citrus Aioli + Shrimp topping and Dayboat Scallops — sushi grade George’s Bank scallops on a bed of creamy corn risotto topped with crispy bacon, lemon butter drizzle and green beans. Continue reading »

Jul 242016
 

Brown Rice Spaghetti and Spicy Tomato Sauce with Chickpea Meatballs recipe

I am always looking for ways to incorporate healthier options into meals. These chickpea “meatballs” are a great way to do just that. The fresh, bold flavors of this spicy tomato sauce pair perfectly with a rustic, Italian red and deliver a healthy and thoroughly nourishing meal in under 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bundle fresh basil
  • 6 oz. brown rice spaghetti (about 1/2 a box)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Continue reading »

Jul 192016
 

the little gym logo

As you know I am the mom of two very active little boys.  Well actually they are not so little anymore. They are going to be 9 & 12 next month and I honestly don’t know where the time went. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was changing diapers and doing midnight feedings, but alas my boys are definitely not babies anymore.

I want to take a second to emphasize something I said before, though.  I said that my boys were active, and on most days that would be an understatement. I strongly believe that a big part of why they are so active today is largely due in to the multiple mommy & me classes that I did with each of them at the Little Gym. I had originally heard about the Little Gym when my oldest son was about five months old and after doing a little research, I found out that they offered classes for children as young as 4 months old.

I called my local Little Gym (which at the time was in Raynham, MA) and set up a free introductory class.  The class was a combination of singing, open gym play, circle time and a basic gymnastic skill (which for the littles were things as simple as rolling over). My little guy had such a fun time in class, I signed him up for the whole 20 week “Bugs” class.

lil gym1

Each week the classes were structured the same way.  We always started the class by sitting in a circle while the instructor sang a welcome song, always naming each child in the song. Then we would learn a new skill for the week (rolling, forward rolls, etc) and then it was time for free play. Each class ended back on the padded mat in a circle with a goodbye song. Miss Lisa was the teacher for all the classes that my boys took at the Little Gym (spanning about six years time) and I was always impressed that she knew every child’s name and always made it a point to compliment each child on their specific achievements during class as they left. Continue reading »

Jul 192016
 

Tips for Traveling to Washington DC with Kids

Like any trip, traveling with children can be difficult if you are not prepared. Washington DC is a busy metropolitan area that has lots of tourist attractions but is also a busy city with hazards and pitfalls galore. Check out these tips for traveling to Washington DC with kids to make your next trip a smooth success!

Be Prepared…No, Be OVERLY Prepared
Nothing is worse than getting to your hotel room and realizing that you don’t have Mr. I Can’t Sleep Without Him Bear or Ms. Holy Cow I’m Going to Throw a Total Fit Blanket. Your child will be a nightmare without the things that they are attached to. Instead of fighting them when packing, make as many concessions as you can feasibly fit into the suitcase. Let them bring their favorite toys or blankets or games. If it will make them happy during their small amounts of down time, it’s a must, make room in that suitcase. Also, make sure you bring along extras of things that typically get dirty really quickly. If you have a messy eater, pack some extra shirts and that type of thing. They will be less stressed and so will you if you can just throw on another shirt and deal with the ketchup stain later!

DC2 Continue reading »

Jul 182016
 

Small Disclosure

the foodery logo

Don’t you just love those nights when you don’t have to cook?  I don’t know about you, but once my kids go back to school in September, our lives are going to be chaos – especially on week nights.  My boys are in two different schools (middle & elementary) so they get off the bus at different times. Once my little man gets off his bus at 3:45, depending on the night it’s off to karate class, soccer, drum lessons or Lego club.

While I love that my boys have so many fun after-school activities, it can really be a challenge for me to make sure they are eating healthy dinners every night. I recently found out about the Foodery Boston prepared meal delivery service and my life has been changed forever.

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The Foodery started its healthy meal delivery service in September 2012 to help change the way food is raised and consumed in New England. They understand that it can be quite challenging for people in the city to consistently eat healthy, nourishing meals while maintaining a busy lifestyle.  They also understand that responsibly-raised foods in the city are scarce, so the Foodery improves access to these foods by delivering ready-to-eat meals to the homes of busy Bostonians. All ingredients sourced at The Foodery adhere to quality standards and each product gets labeled with ingredient and nutritional information. Continue reading »

Jul 122016
 

So a year and a half ago my world was turned upside down. My dad had been sick for a week or so and after not eating for a week he decided he would go to the doctor. Our family doctor thought it was an ulcer. So he went for a cat scan and started some medicine. That Friday afternoon I got the news that they saw something on his pancreas. A tumor of some kind. They scheduled him for another test on the following Monday.

Monday comes, he gets the second scan and we wait. The results put our family into shock. A cancerous tumor on the head of his pancreas. It was pushing on everything and was causing lots of problems.

The next week we had an appointment with a specialist who said that yes it looks like cancer and we need to do a Whipple procedure….. A what????? I have been in the radiology field taking x-rays and an EMT and had never heard of this…..

brandi whipple

In quick and generic terms. They would remove the gallbladder, the head of the pancreas where the tumor was located, attache the small bowl the the pancreas, and re route the stomach some. Basically re route the digestion plumbing. We were scheduled for the following week. So in 3 weeks time we went from an ulcer to a major surgery they put as being worse than an open heart procedure.

Being an only daughter this scared the hell out of me. Luckily my aunt and uncle cut vacation short and rushed home to be with us. Continue reading »

Jul 112016
 

7 ways to prevent and treat poison ivy

Summer is here, which means you might be spending more times outdoors. Whether you are hiking, camping, or gardening, your chances of running into poison ivy are likely, so knowing how to protect yourself from this poisonous plant is important. Instead of spending the summer itching from head to toe, take a look below at 7 ways to prevent and treat poison ivy. When you keep these tips in mind, you can keep yourself itch free and enjoy summer in the way it is meant to be enjoyed!

1. Remember the old saying, “Leaves of three, leave them be.”
Poison ivy is easily identifiable by the three leaves, a red stem, and vine like characteristics. However, poison ivy may lack one of these traits which may lead you to assume the plant is safe. Instead, keep the rule in mind that if a plant has three leaves, leave it be. Don’t touch it and instead play it safe.

2. Use a prevention spray.
Head to your local gardening center or Amazon where you can find poison ivy killing sprays. This is perfect for banishing poison ivy from your yard without having to touch the plant. If you notice any in your yard, treat it quickly before it has the chance to spread.

3. Cover legs and hands when working in the yard.
Wear long pants, sleeves, and gloves when working in the yard. This way should you come in contact with poison ivy, the oils from the plant won’t have the chance to touch your skin. Immediately remove and wash the clothing in hot water when you come indoors. Continue reading »

Jul 112016
 

ahoy logo

If you follow along with any of my social media channels, you already know that my husband, Christian, and I just got back from a trip to New York City. He originally booked the trip back in April and he had been planning on surprising me with it for my birthday (which fell during the trip), but I cracked him and ended up finding out about the trip shortly after he booked it, I think he was relieved, though, because out of the two of us I am the planner and he just comes along for the ride – so it works out well.

The two of us are not strangers to Manhattan by any means.  We go down several times a year, so we already got the big touristy things out of the way years ago. When we head down for a weekend now a days, I tend to look for more off the beaten path things for us to do. This time around, in addition to a couple of Broadway and Off Broadway shows, we ended up going on the Chinatown and Little Italy Food Tour from Ahoy New York Tours & Tasting.

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If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I have a love affair with food.  I seriously love to eat and love expanding my palate whenever possible which is why I was so excited to take this particular food tour.  I’ve been on food tours in my home city of Boston and really enjoyed them, but the Chinatown and Little Italy Food Tour from Ahoy was different from any of the other food tours I have ever been on. Their tour visits six different tasting locations in two unique ethnic NY neighborhoods and fuses the elements of history, culture, and food all in one. Continue reading »

Jul 102016
 

Elote (Mexican Street Corn) recipe

With summer upon us and farm stands and markets offering fresh, sweet corn, this plant-based recipe is an easy way to bring a tangy treat to your picnics and backyard barbecues. It’s easy to make and will likely be the highlight of your meal. The chipotle in adobe sauce can typically be found in your local market in the ethnic foods aisle.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ears of corn
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo (for taste and consistency, I prefer Just Mayo brand)
  • 1-3 chipotles coated with adobo sauce (depending on desired heat)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro

Continue reading »

Jul 052016
 

Cinnamon Rolls the easy way

We all have been there. You open the fridge door and there are those delicious little packs of cinnamon rolls staring at you. But it is 95 degrees with 90% humidity and you really do NOT want to turn the oven on. Oh but those cinnamon rolls look soooo goooood….. Well I have your solution…..

Grab your waffle maker!!!!!!!

cinnamon rolls waffle iron

Pre heat the waffle iron. Once heated put on your cinnamon rolls and press the lid close. Give it a good push close to smash them down a little. Continue reading »

Jul 042016
 

Easy Frozen Dog Treats Recipe

Are the dog days of summer getting you down?  I personally love the heat, but I know that some people feel the exact opposite.  If you are that hot, imagine how your pro dog must feel underneath all that fur.  We keep our dog, Milo, inside in the air conditioning as much as possible, but of course we have to take him outside multiple times a day to do his business. I always feel so bad for him when he comes in from being outside on a super hot day. He comes in panting really bad and instantly runs to the coolest spot in the house to cool off quickly.  On days like that, I like to give him a homemade frozen treat to help him cool off.

These frozen dog treats will not only help them get cool fast on those super hot days, but they will love the combination of chicken and blueberries in them.

Here’s What You Need

  • 1/4 Cup homemade unsalted chicken broth or canned unsalted chicken broth
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • 1/4 Cup blueberries

You Will Also Need:

  • A silicone rectangle ice cube mold
  • Measuring cup

Continue reading »

Jun 302016
 

3 Free Ways to Make the Most of Boston This Summer

I love living in the Boston area, but especially in the summer time. With its rich history, bustling neighborhoods, and beautiful coastal landscapes, it’s a perfect place for the whole family.

I recently discovered a website called, MapAround, which is a search engine for finding local events in the Boston area. This was perfect for us, as it even has a “Kids & Family” category. Once we started searching, we had no idea how many events were happening around us every single night. From concerts to comedy shows, movie nights to boat cruises, farmers’ markets and festivals, I couldn’t believe how many awesome things are happening in Boston every single day.

Boston1

Here’s a few events that I liked best:

Free Friday Flicks

Free Friday Flicks is one of Boston’s favorite summertime traditions! Every Friday night around sundown, families and friends gather at DCR’s Hatch Shell along the Charles River to watch a movie. All you need are your own chairs, a cozy blanket and of course, some snacks. There are even fun games and prizes for the kids. This was a perfect way to end a long week. Continue reading »

Jun 292016
 

Small Disclosure

I’ve struggled with weight all my life. Sometimes I am down, sometimes I am up and other times I am way up.  I am in one of those way up phases at the current moment, but I am hoping to change that soon. The thing about me is that I like to eat and I truly enjoy food. Especially comfort foods.  Noms.

When it comes to cutting back, though, the real trick is not cutting out the things you love, it’s eating less of them and with the help of The Perfect Portion Cookbook I am learning to do just that.  The Perfect Portion Cookbook includes 150 Guilt-Free Comfort Food Recipes using Happy Days’ TV star and director Anson Williams 100-Calorie Counting System to Stay Fit and Healthy.

cover

This cookbook was inspired by Happy Days TV star and director Anson Williams’ own challenge to remain healthy, fit and energetic at the age of 65. It is a first-of-its kind, food-loving guide that tackles the timeless question of how much to eat with a simple idea of a 100-calorie counting system applied to the best-loved American comfort foods. Co-writers Bob Warden, a New York Times best-selling cookbook author and Mona Dolgov, a top nutritionist have made over 150 guilt-free recipes from mac & cheese to lasagna that are clearly shown in simple 100-calorie portion servings. Now you can eat what you want in the portion that is right for you. Continue reading »

Jun 292016
 

Easy Teacher Appreciation Gift

So we would all love to be able to get our children’s teachers a gift at the end of the year, but lets face it when you have more than one child or more than one teacher it gets expensive. And if your like me you want your gift to mean something not just a flower or another keepsake to collect dust on a shelf. I found the cutest idea for a gift for my daughters teacher this year and cost me right at $10!!!!!!!

gift1

Our theme….. “Orange you glad it’s summer” Continue reading »

Jun 252016
 

Red White & Blue Freeze Pops Recipe

The Fourth of July is such a fun holiday.  The cookouts, swimming, fireworks, spending time out in the sun with friends & family – what better way to celebrate Independence Day could there be?  I look forward to the 4th every year and this year will be no different. We usually host a cookout at our house and in addition to the mountain of burgers, hot dogs, steaks and chicken we’ll be having – there will be an additional mountain of desserts.  These red white and blue freeze pops are festive and the kids always love them.  They’ll be running around playing in the back yard for hours that day, so these are the perfect way for them to cool off. Plus, they are tasty and wicked easy to make.

Here’s What You Need

  • Red, white, and blue Gatorade
  • 3oz paper cups
  • Craft sticks

Red White & Blue Freeze Pops6

Here’s What You Do

Continue reading »

Jun 252016
 

My Child Got Diagnosed With ADD - Now What

Last week I told you the story of how my son got diagnosed with ADD. If you didn’t read it, I suggest doing so before you read on – just so you have the backstory. It was a long process and definitely not an easy one. What I didn’t mention before was that when my son got his ADD diagnosis from the neuropsychologist, he was also diagnosed with depression & anxiety. Not only that, the neuropsychologist recommended that my son needed some OT (occupational therapy) and speech therapy. She explained to his father and me that our son had some auditory processing issues and was only catching every one out of 16 words that were spoken to him. The ADD diagnosis was expected when we got the results of his testing and I suppose it wasn’t a huge surprise that he had auditory issues, but the depression and anxiety were certainly news to his father and I.

nathan1

But now that we had an official diagnosis, we could start getting our son the help he needed. A copy of the neuropsychologist’s report was sent to me, his father, his school and his pediatrician and once everyone had a copy, things started happening pretty fast. Appointments were set up with both his school and his pediatrician and I am going to break each one down. Continue reading »