31
Aug

Mystery Light – Secrets of the Sea

by Tiffany in Children

Playing a Game

We love games here… we have a long list of favorites. Last week we played a new one that was sent to us called Mystery Light – Secrets of the Sea from Playroom Entertainment, who makes great educational toys.

This particular game was a hit with my 9 year old and my 5 year old. It is soooo very clever IMO and a lot of fun to play. If you have kids that are intrigued by deep sea exploration, boating, or maybe even pirates.. then this will be well received. The game is played “underwater” as you descend to find treasure.

secrets of the sea game

At the top of the game board you have buoys with colored flags. You roll the dice and pick one number from the two dice and using the that number you descend down underneath the buoy you chose and select the tile that represents the number you chose. If you rolled 2 x’s then you have no air and must remain above water and miss a turn. Anyway you light the tiles you land on with UV decoder Mystery Light to illuminate treasures (gold bars, shells, barrels of gold), caves that could have treasure or trouble, seaweed, and sea monsters. You can choose to take the tile(s) and return to the surface or keep going down hoping to reach the large treasures at the bottom of the board and hope you can reach them before you lose a battle with sea monsters or run out of air.

Initially it was a bit hard to keep it all straight… what the various tiles were and how the rules worked exactly but once you play a few turns it is fun and engaging. My kids liked to imagine they were submerging in a sub and shining the light on treasures they passed. The fact that you can’t see the treasures until you shine the UV light on them is very clever and fun. I also liked that it teaches the concept of risk. Go deep for the bigger rewards or play it safe on the surface to get smaller rewards… each has its benefits and drawbacks. Also since you can accumulate the tiles and save them to get the larger reward cards that are at the top of the game, it teaches savings calculations and planning too.

All in all I think the game helps with numbers, analyzing risk versus reward, calculating, strategy, and planning. It would be a good game for homeschoolers since it helps kids to learn various concepts and yet it is fun enough for any child, or parent, or grandparent (since we played with my mom). It gets a thumbs up from us!

Secrets of the Sea Game Board

Much thanks to ebeanstalk.com for sending it to us!

31
Aug

Top “Green” Cleaning Uses for Flat Beer

by Tiffany in A Green Home

Ever wonder what to do with a half empty bottle of beer? I have often wondered since my husband is a big beer fan and while I like beer occasionally on hot days, I can rarely drink more than half a can or bottle. It feels wrong to pop open a beer and then end up pouring half down the sink. Here are ten “green” cleaning uses for flat beer. Who knew?!

#1  Coffee and tea stain remover.  Though you don’t really want your clothes to smell like beer, it is actually a great stain remover.  Pour the beer on the stain and let it sit for a minute.  Blot the stain and examine.  If it’s still lingering, repeat as needed.

#2  Polish your jewelry with flat beer.  Pour that leftover beer into a small glass bowl and place your gem free jewelry into the bowl.  Let sit for a couple of minutes, remove and dry thoroughly.

#3  Furniture cleaner.  Use your flat beer to clean your wooden tables and other wooden furniture.  Place flat beer on a clean, soft clot and apply.  Dry with another clean, soft cloth.

#4  Clean your garden of slugs and snails.  It’s a long-standing gardening practice to use beer to attract snails and slugs to remove them from your garden.  Pour beer into a shallow dish and place in your garden overnight.  In the morning, you’ll find it full of slugs and snails that have imbibed and drown.  Toss and repeat to rid your garden of these destructive pests.

#5  Use flat beer to remove stains from carpeting.  It’s always good to test this in a low-visibility area for colorfastness, however.  If you have a carpet stain, pour a little beer on the stain, wait a few minutes, blot and repeat until stain is gone.  This works better on fresh stains rather than stains that have become set in the carpet. I also imagine it may not work if you like DARK beer like my husband does.

#6  Cleaning doesn’t just mean cleaning your home.  Flat beer makes a great hair conditioner.  Wash your hair as normal and rinse, then pour that bottle of flat beer over your head, let set for a minute and rinse out.  (Don’t take glass into the shower, but rather pour into a plastic cup to avoid potential breakage and injury.)

#7  Fruit fly repellent.  Flat beer is a good way to eliminate pesky fruit flies.  Pour the beer into a small plastic sandwich bag, filling it halfway.  Place the bag into a cup and snip the corner of the bag, not too big but large enough for fruit flies to be able to fly in.  They’ll be drawn to the beer and  not be able to find their way out of the bag.

#8  Bee repellent.  Place a few dishes of flat beer on the perimeter of your home to attract them to those areas rather than where you and your family enjoy playing and hanging out.

#9  Copper cleaner.  Beer is great for polishing copper.  Try placing a little on a clean cloth and applying to the bottom of your copper pans to remove tarnish and add shine.

#10  Plant food.  When watering your plants or garden, mix a few tablespoons of flat beer into the water and add to your plants.

Flat beer may be unpleasant to drink but it has a number of valuable green cleaning uses.  In a time where we’re learning to make the most of our resources, there’s no reason to let a little flat beer go to waste.

28
Aug

City Kids Need Adventure Too

by Tiffany in Photography

Downtown Historic Buildings

Awhile back a reader commented that she loved all my posts about getting kids out into nature but she found it unrealistic for her own kids because she lives in the inner city. I understand her plight because despite all the nature photos you see on this blog we do not live in the country. We live on a city lot just 2-3 blocks from downtown. I have to spread out and plan ahead to make sure my kids are spending time in “nature” as opposed to just outdoors. There IS a huge difference.

But city kids can have adventures too and while we like to go to state parks, nearby creeks and waterways, go camping, and all that jazz… we also like living in the city and adventuring there too. In fact I LOVE cities in Ohio because of all the historic and gorgeous buildings. Cities can be beautiful too.

Kids can get exercise from walking up and down city streets… ditch the car for a good workout. And if your kids are anything like mine they will find plenty of places to climb… even when there are no trees.

Climbing

We often window shop in the city and if I it is just my daughter and I, we will go into antique stores. I will ooh and ahh over all the old stuff just like my own mom did. I never understood her love of antiques… until one day I loved them too… funny how that happens.

And what city would be complete without little book stores with cozy little nooks and balconies where you can read and people watch. BOOKS… just as delicious as antiques. My kids are already trained… they know books stores are some of the most magical places there are. You walk in with a taste for adventure and later that day or evening you can have a date with fairies, pirates, knights, or if you are like me… vampires.

Book Store

I also like to take photos in the city. I especially adore the architectural details and all the brick. I am very much in love with brick and it makes such a nice background for pictures.

Lost in Thought

Girl in the City

There are lots of ways to find adventure and mystery in the city… you just have to get out and make the most of what you have. How do YOU make the most of city living?

27
Aug

The Last Days of Summer Vacation

by Tiffany in Enjoying Nature, Photography

Covered Bridges

All my posts this week were pre-scheduled. While my blog was on auto pilot I was actually out enjoying the last days of summer vacation with my kids. One day this week we sought out some covered bridges in central Ohio. I love photographing the bridges and my kids love the fact that there is always water under them. :) We sat, played in the water, enjoyed the breeze and the sun, and watched some kids fishing from the bridge. In my son’s hand below you will see a homemade crayfish catcher he made. Thank goodness he didn’t catch anything, cause I didn’t want to drive home with live crayfish.

Playing on a covered bridge

Playing in the creek

And of course corn fields are in no short supply here… the older kids played around the bridge and my youngest played in the corn fields.

Corn Field

The next day we got in the car and drove to Mohican State Park. Actually I saw a brochure about the park while my kids were riding a carousel and we just got in the car and drove to it.. about 2.5 hours away from home. The drive was kind of scary with steep drop-offs. But the smell of the forest was amazing. We could have spent a week there. My son kept asking why we can’t just build some huts and live there forever. It was so beautiful… we hope to go camping there soon!

Playing in the woods

School starts tomorrow and we have had such a wonderful summer. I don’t want the fun to end! Oh well, off to start planning for hay rides, pumpkin festivals, trips to the apple orchard, and all that fun Fall stuff that is sure to come…

26
Aug

Who Needs Mom Time?

by Tiffany in Tidbits

yoga no peace

Me that’s who! I admit that when I first began my journey as a mom I thought this whole idea of moms needing time away from their kids was selfish. Now after nearly nine years as a mom I can see the folly in my thinking. I guess maybe I thought these “me time” moms were out partying, clubbing, or going on extended vacations. But “me time” can be soooo much more. It can be an hour at the cafe down the street so you can read a book, perhaps a few hours to shop, time to see a movie or go to dinner with a friend. Moms need this time so they can reflect, catch their breath, and re-energize so they can continue to be a good mom.

This year I took up a new hobby that gives me some me time and helps me alleviate stress with creativity…. photography. Capturing moments with a camera is so therapeutic… and so is spending hours playing with Photoshop actions, overlays, textures. etc. I have a basic camera and very basic equipment but think I am not half bad at this…

I am also a movie buff.. always have been. I worked through college at a movie theatre so movies will always have a special place in my heart. I treated myself to a movie twice this week. Well, I saw G.I. Joe with oldest boy too but that doesn’t count. I saw two movies that I highly recommend… The Time Travelers Wife and Julie & Julia.

Julie & Julia was the standout. It is about the life of Julie Powell… a food blogger and Julia Child. I knew next to nothing about Julia Child before this movie and all I can say is WOW. She was one heckuva woman! And Stanley Tucci as her husband was fabulous. I will always have a soft spot for him now… “Julia you are the butter to my bread and the breath to my life…” When I think of timeless love stories I never would have thought of Julia and Paul Child but I should have! Now I cannot wait to go see her actual kitchen that is at the Smithsonian… I am supposed to be going in October. And fair warning.. this movie will make you HUNGRY and will make you want to go buy her cookbook and cook up a  storm. You can also buy the book written by Julie Powell that this movie is based on.

Another recent me time activity is sitting outside alone while I read Handmade Home… I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is simply delicious.

So what say you? Me time.. is it important or just an excuse? What do you do for “me time”?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

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