December 31, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: New Year, New Calendar

Happy New Year!  The new year is always exciting.  It's a time for wiping the slate clean, and making a fresh start in every part of your life.  This week's Mid-week Morsel focuses on keeping your calendar for the new year organized and effective.  LifeHacker's Five Best Calendar Applications lists personal calendar apps for all platforms.  Appstorm offers 15 Cool Alternatives to Google Calendar; a list of applications for both personal and business schedules.  If you're looking to organize your whole family, has simple ways to streamline your family's schedule.  Finally, if you're more of a paper and pen person, I have found many printable calendar options at CalendarLabs and WinCalendar.    What do you do to keep your calendar under control?


December 29, 2012

Fast & Fabulous Cheese Ball

My mother-in-law's cheese ball recipe is a holiday staple around my house.  We took two to a Christmas party last week, and had to make a third just for my family to eat before we went.  They never last more than a few minutes, and they are so simple!  Have a New Year's Eve party coming up?  Try this recipe as an appetizer.

1 pkg. Buddig beef
1 pkg. cream cheese
2-3 stems green onions

Dice the beef and the green onions.  Break the cream cheese into pieces and combine with the beef and green onions.  The best way to do this is with your hands.  It's a little messy, but getting to lick your fingers clean makes it worthwhile.  Shape the mixture into a ball and serve with crackers.  We serve the cheese ball with saltine crackers, but you can use whatever you wish.  This fast and fabulous cheese ball makes the good life simply delicious!


December 25, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: Be a Supercook!

Not sure what to do with all those leftovers? How about the left over ingredients from the special dishes you made for holiday get-togethers? is not your typical recipe site. Rather than searching for the title of a recipe, you enter the ingredients you want to use and Supercook searches the internet for every recipe you can make with what you have. You can even exclude ingredients you don't want to use.  This feature is perfect for someone with food allergies or someone on a restricted diet.  With Supercook you'll never have to fret over dinner again.

December 23, 2012

Let it Snow!

Winter is upon us.  Whether you live in the North or South, the snowflake is a recognizable symbol of winter.  They are so beautiful and interesting; I thought it fitting to write a post about snow to commemorate the Winter Solstice.  

I love watching fluffy white flakes fall from the sky, but what makes snow white?  Well, it's not really.  It's actually clear, like glass.  Snow crystals, again like glass, partially reflect light.  Have you ever seen a pile of crushed glass?  The light reflecting from the clear glass appears white.  The same phenomenon happens with snow crystals.  

Snow is frozen water, right?  So what makes snow different than sleet and ice?  The difference is in when the water turns to ice.  Sleet and freezing rain are actual drops of water that freeze as they fall from the sky.  Snow is created in the clouds when water vapor condenses directly into ice, and not water drops.  

Kenneth G. Libbrecht, Professor of Physics at Caltech created a wonderful website all about snowflakes.  There he has a photo gallery full of pictures of actual snowflakes, tons of information about the science behind snow, information about creating your own snow, and some science-based activities for kids.  I highly recommend his website.

If you're looking for more than science, I found that as well.  Snowflakes make great decorations that you can leave up all winter long.  Country Living and Better Homes and Gardens both have nice collections of snowflake decorations.  I also found informative how-to's on making snowflake window clings, borax crystal snowflakes, and even a quilled snowflake ornament.

Of course, there are always paper snowflakes.  Here are instructions for your basic 6-pointed paper snowflake.  For more stylized snowflakes, check out these Star Wars, ballerina, and 3-D snowflakes.  Jessica Jones, a blogger at How About Orange, has a fan-tastic paper snowflake tutorial.  eHow even has instructions for making a paper snowflake chain!

If you're the kind of person who prefers to stand outside and catch snow in your mouth, perhaps you'd be interested in making some snow ice cream.  This first recipe is very similar to how my dad made it when I was a kid.  The next one uses sweetened condensed milk, and the last one has egg in it.

Finally, if you're like me and live someplace where it doesn't snow, occasionally you miss it.  Even if you don't miss the cold, snow is beautiful.  Steve Spangler Science sells instant snow powder.  Just add water for an "eruption of fluffy snow".

All this talk of snow is giving me cold chills.  I think I'll have a hot drink and snuggle under a blanket.  How do snowflakes inspire you in the winter?


December 18, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: Christmas Factoring Tree

This week's Mid-week Morsel brings you a Christmas Factoring Tree.  Just in case you're not doing 5th grade math right now, a factoring tree is a diagram showing the prime factorization of a number.  Prime factorization is the process of breaking a composite number down into its prime factors.  My daughter does happen to be doing 5th grade math right now (which means so am I), so I decided to make it a little more fun for us to practice prime factorization.  I created two versions of this free printable; one sized to use at your student's desk, and the other sized to hang on a wall or chalk board.

December 4, 2012

Mid-week Morsel: Free Holiday Cards

The holidays are almost here.  If you're anything like I am, you still haven't bought or mailed a single card.  Never fear; the Mid-week Morsel is here with free printable and customizable holiday cards.  MES cards offers free half-fold or quarter-fold Christmas cards, including picture cards.  Greetings Island has half-fold and half-sheet cards for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and allows you to add a picture to any of their cards.  Both sites offer printable envelopes, as well.

December 2, 2012

My 5 Favorite Apps (v.1.0)

This past summer I bought my first smart phone.  Before I had one, I was amazed at how much time other people spent on theirs, and wondered just they did that took up so much time.  Now, I don't know what I would do without it.  I feel like I can carry half the house with just one pocket!  I thought it would be fun to make a list of which apps I liked and used the most, then come back to it periodically and see how the list changes.  This is the first version of the list.  By the way, I have a Droid and get my apps from Google Play, but I will list a link to the Apple version whenever possible.  Also, I only use free apps.  The good life should be free.

5. Ultrachron Lite - This is a stopwatch and timer.  I use it for everything from cooking to phys. ed. to reminding my children when a class is starting to tracking when it's the next person's turn to play the Xbox.  Needless to say, it gets a lot of use.  After all, you never know when you might need to see just how fast you ran down the street!  I did not find an Apple version of this app.

4. Blogger - I don't think I could really call myself a blogger if I didn't acknowledge how nice it is to be able to blog on the go.  I love having the Blogger app on my phone so I can start or work on a post whenever inspiration strikes.  I can take a picture and upload it to a post right from my phone.  Finally, I never have to worry about not getting a post up just because I'm not at home.  Get Blogger for iPhone here.

3. Zoodles - My daughter loves Zoodles.  She's had an account for a couple of years.  I was so happy when I found the app for my phone.  If you've never heard of Zoodles, it's a place where children can access age appropriate (and often educational) games.  They can also draw using a feature similar to Microsoft Paint.  They can send video messages to family members (which you have invited and approved). You and other family members can also video yourselves reading classic storybooks to your children.  One of the features I love about the app is that there is a Kid's Mode and a Parent Dashboard.  Once your child is logged in to the Kid's Mode, they must pass a security test to be able to close it and access other apps on your phone.  This prevents your child from getting into app in which they don't belong. Also, you can add any other child-friendly app you have to the Kid's Mode so that you child has all of his/her apps in one place and isn't wandering aimlessly through your phone.  Download Zoodles for iPhone here.

2. Google Sky Map - Fun and educational!  I absolutely love Google Sky Map!  It is so much fun for kids of all ages.  Download this onto your phone, then point your phone at the night sky.  It will show you where the stars, constellations, planets, and meteor showers are.  My family and I have so much fun finding constellations and planets.  Get Sky Map for iPhone here.

1. Out of Milk - My very favorite app I have right now.  Out of Milk takes so much effort out of my meal planning.  For several years now my husband and I have memorized the prices of items at the store so we can plan our weekly menu to match our budget for that week.  Then, I've walked through the store, carrying my calculator, shopping list, and pen to make sure I bought everything I needed and stayed on budget.  With Out of Milk, simply enter your shopping list by typing, speaking, or scanning your items.  Enter the cost of the item, either at home or when you pick it up at the store, and Out of Milk will remember the price for the next time. Create multiple shopping lists, to do lists, and even keep track of pantry items...great for last minute menu changes.  Out of Milk has a website that allows you to create lists and share them with others.  This means you can create a shopping list complete with the quantity, and UPC of each item, then send it to someone else to pick up for you!  Now that's the good life!  As of January 4, 2013, Out of Milk is now available for iPhone!  Visit iTunes to download the app.

I want to know which apps help you live the good life.