Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Simple Beauty :: Creating Your Own Spa Moments at Home

Today's post comes from guest blogger, Michelle Pino. She is the Spa Manager of the Skana Spa in upstate New York at the Turning Stone Resort. She shares some great tips with Texas Homemaking readers! Enjoy!

Nothing helps a woman feel more rejuvenated than a day of pampering at a luxurious spa. From hot stone massages to seaweed wraps, even a tired mom or busy career woman can leave feeling like she's on cloud nine. The reality is, spas are expensive! Taking a whole day off of work and finding somewhere to stash the little ones just to go empty your wallet just isn't a practical routine. Fortunately, there are ways that all women can create spa quality treatments in their own home, with ingredients that almost everyone already has in their kitchen or bathroom. These treatments are natural, healthy and fun. Light a scented candle, put on some new age music and let's get to work!

Need a quick pick me up that leaves your skin smooth? If you love the scent of a delicious latte, brew a pot of coffee. Take three tablespoons of the grounds in the coffee filter and blend them with a tablespoon of sugar- double the recipe if you really like exfoliating, but this is one treatment that needs to be used within 20 minutes of its creation, before the coffee oxidizes. Use the resulting mixture to exfoliate your body in the shower in order to take advantage of the many benefits of fresh brewed coffee, including Vitamin E and Magnesium. The scent is stimulating, making it a perfect morning pick-me-up.

Sick of those enlarged pores that strip your skin of its' youthful glow? You may not have known this, but a banana can help you clear that right up. Cut a ripe banana in half, and place half of the banana into a bowl. Mash the fruit with a fork or your hands until it reaches a creamy consistency. Apply the creamed banana to your face and allow it to rest for about twenty minutes. When you rinse your face, your pores should have closed a bit!

If you need to get rid of a cold, a hangover or just want to pull lingering toxins from your body, try a detox bath! Run a hot bath as usual, and add three pints of hydrogen peroxide plus two ounces of ground ginger. The peroxide works as both an antibacterial and antiviral agent while promoting full body oxygenation, and the anti inflammatory properties of the ginger encourages your body to sweat out toxins by improving circulation. Bathe for 30 minutes and follow up by drinking 32 ounces of water to replenish your body.

Finally, a short, sweet and simple tip to achieve soft hands in minute:

 -Blend two tablespoons of olive oil with two tablespoons of sugar.

 -Scrub your hands thoroughly in circular motions, paying special attention to cuticles and dry or rough areas.

-Rinse well and enjoy a much softer touch.

Michelle Pino, is a Spa Manager at Skana, a spa in upstate New York at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY.  She enjoys DIY projects, healthy recipes, exercise, and all things related to skin care. If you have any comments or questions feel free to contact Michelle via email at michellepino@turningstone.com.



Monday, April 29, 2013

Carter BloodCare :: In Honor of Moms

Carter Blog Photo.jpg

Mother's Day is traditionally a day filled with pampering, flowers, chocolates and quite possibly the occasional breakfast in bed. While I'm not necessarily opposed to this idea, sometimes doing things different can really be heartfelt. This year, why not make Mother's Day about helping others in honor of Mom?

Carter BloodCare is encouraging you to help start a blood drive in your community this Mother's Day weekend in honor of your mother. There are many centers across Texas and starting a blood drive is simple. To get one going, please contact a recruiter and ask to host one in your community on May 11th or 12th.

Did you know that every 90 seconds someone in the Carter BloodCare service area needs blood or that one in three people will need blood during their lifetime? The life you save with your donation could be your own or the life of someone you love.

In addition, please take a moment to join The Great Big Give Back - the Carter BloodCare program for continuous donations.


To contact a recruiter, please visit www.carterbloodcare.org/youcanhelp/organizedrive or email at bookablooddrive@carterbloodcare.org

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Happiness Project :: A Dandelion Moms Article


Check out my newest article on Dandelion Moms featuring The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Not only do I offer a review of the book, but I also challenge the entire Dandelion Moms community (and my Texas Homemaking readers!) to create their own Happiness Projects beginning in May! Join in all the fun : )

Monday, April 22, 2013

Experimental Recipes :: Strawberry Popsicles, Sorbet & Shortcake

Early last week, the boys and I went strawberry picking with friends at McPeak's Orchard just outside of Gilmer, Texas. Since it is still early in the season, we didn't pick enough for the year, but we did get enough to make some strawberry creations!

Strawberry Popsicles

2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered.
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup powdered sugar*

In a small pan, bring strawberries and powdered sugar to a slight boil and slowly stir until the strawberries are cooked down into a pulpy mixture and there is a lot of juice present.

Allow the mixture to cool for about 3 minutes, then add the lemon juice. Once the strawberry mixture is completely cooled, place into a food processor and puree until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a freezer pop container.

This recipe makes approximately 8 Popsicles.

*If you want to avoid sugar, you can substitute honey for sugar. Just taste test to check for desired sweetness.

Strawberry Sorbet

2 cups fresh strawberries, rinsed, stemmed, and quartered
2/3 cup sugar (Definitely to your own taste. I prefer a sweeter sorbet)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce vodka (Voli light is a great choice for this recipe as there is no taste or smell of vodka in the sorbet.)
Pinch kosher salt
Puree the fruit in a food processor along with the sugar, lemon juice, vodka and salt. Pour into another container and refrigerate until the mixture reaches at least 40 degrees F, for approximately 4 to 6 hours.

Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions until the mixture resembles soft serve ice cream. Freeze for at least 4 more hours in a container.

This recipe was delicious. You can also make other varieties of sorbet by simply changing the types of fruit you use.

Strawberry Shortcake

This recipe was devoured in my home before I could capture an image to share with you all! It comes from the Food Network show Chic & Easy.

1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and quartered
5 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. Place mixture in an ungreased 8-inch square pan and bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Remove shortcake from pan and place on a rack to cool slightly. Cut into 6 pieces and split each piece in half horizontally.

Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries over the top and serve.

Whipped Cream for Strawberry Shortcake

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until soft peaks form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.


If you are looking for a Strawberry Jam recipe, here is a link to last year's strawberry picking creation! This was very easy and extremely yummy! We made enough to share with family and friends!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

West, Texas :: How You Can Help or Get Help During This Time of Need

My heart aches this evening for fellow Texans after the West, Texas Fertilizer Plant explosion. The images are devastating; the injuries and loss of life unbearable.

I've found some great resources for those who have been affected, those looking for family and those wanting to help. Please note, these are official sources.

Emergency Information - This comes from the office of Congressman Bill Flores and contains important numbers and location for family phone lines, blood donations, shelters, nursing homes, donation locations and more.

Red Cross Safe and Well Site - Residents can register to let their loved ones know they are safe and people can search for their loved ones.

Red Cross of Central Texas 
Make a donation by phone by calling 254-523-4985
Text  REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Housing Assistance for People Offering Housing

Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
If you can help, please reach out to our fellow Texans in their time of need.
~ Michelle

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Woman's Beauty :: Dove's Real Beauty Sketches Video

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

Have you seen the newest Dove advertisement sweeping the Internet? After viewing it yesterday it made me realize I judge myself to harshly when it comes to looks. I'm going to go out on a limb and say we probably all do.

Dove Skin
wants to change our perceptions. Their newest social campaign being launched across the web via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs hopes to a challenge women's personal critiques (while also increasing their sales revenue through instant and, oftentimes, free mass-market advertisement).

On Today.com, the vice president of Unilever's Dove Skin, Fernando Machado stated, “When you ask a woman to talk about herself, she kind of tends to focus more on the negative than on the positive, but funny how if you ask a women to describe a friend or someone else she will be more positive. That all goes back to the fact that women are sometimes their own worst beauty critics. And only four percent of them view themselves as beautiful. So this whole campaign aims to help contribute to change that statistic.”

In addition to focusing on women's self-esteem, the company also caters to the younger sect. Unilever offers the Dove Self-Esteem Tool Kit for girls and their parents in an effort to curb negative aspects in young girls' and young women's lives. The company's social mission is to discuss beauty, confidence and self-esteem. Anxiety about beauty begins at an early age, and can even keep girls from doing what they love. Dove believes, you can change that with a conversation.

Even as an adult, I struggle with the idea of being beautiful. I'm not sure why. Could it be the bombardment of beautifully edited photos gracing the covers of magazines or our nation's obsession with beauty products, plastic surgery and other devices to preserve youth and enhance cultural beauty? I don't have the answers, but I am moved Dove has taken a proactive approach when discussing what is beautiful in our society today.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Texas Travel :: The Children's Museum of Houston

As a child, I spent countless hours at the Children’s Museumof Houston. I remember the Japanese village where children could dress in period kimonos and write their names in traditional script. I filled child-sized shopping carts to the brim in the grocery store. I even gave reports in a pseudo news room with an On Air light blinking wildly. I loved that place!

On a recent trip to Houston, we decided to take our boys. Upon arriving, I immediately knew it wasn’t the same small store-front style museum I loved when I was their age. No, it was much better!

Still included was an updated and fabulously designed mini-city (Kidtropolis) which housed not only a technologically advanced news room and updated grocery store, but also offered a bank with ATM machines, a bike shop, a diner, a vet’s office, a police and fire station, as well as an art studio.

In each exhibit module, children could earn or spend play money, dress up as workers, learn about city jobs and simply engage each other in imaginary play.
The Museum also housed a two story fitness exhibit called Power Up which taught children all about health and exercise through carefully designed video games, interactive rock walls and a points system reward card which measured calories burned and activities completed.

One of my personal favorites was the Invention Convention exhibit where children could create and invent until the cows came home. Through the use of wind tunnels, simple robotics, electronic switches, cranks and cams, children had the opportunity to fully engage their minds and produce their own unique discoveries.
I think my husband found his inner child at the FlowWorks station outdoors. He and my boys were soaking wet by the end of the night. The museum could literally charge an extra $3 a ticket for this exhibit (especially in the summer). Hands-down it was their favorite!

With more than thirteen exhibit areas, as well as a traveling exhibit section, the Children’s Museum of Houston doesn’t disappoint. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from noon until 6pm, the museum offers something for everyone. Admission is $9 per person with a discount for seniors and military.  On Thursday evenings from 5pm until 8pm, the museum hosts a Family Free Night. I do want to warn parents with children sensitive to noise and crowding to avoid these nights as it can be quite overwhelming.

 In addition to engaging exhibits, the Children’s Museum of Houston also offers a variety of programming throughout the year. Check their calendar before you visit. The museum also partners with the City Pass program so if you are visiting the Houston area, be sure to check and see what other family venues are available through that discounted program.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cleaning Tip :: Preventing Laundry from Fading

More often than not, brilliantly colored fabrics become dull renditions of their formal selves after several cycles through the wash. It seems, beyond the simple wear-and-tear of our modern laundry devices, colors fade due to residual build-up of our detergent, waters over 130 degrees and failure to properly set fabric dyes.

Tip: The first wash cycle of new colored laundry should be without detergent. In its place, use 1 cup of white vinegar to help set the dyes. Wash on cold. If you are washing garments and not sheets, turn them inside out. You will not have a vinegar odor left behind and if you so choose, you can rewash the fabrics using your regular detergent. Dry as directed by the fabric label.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Peek Into Last Week

Life definitely happened last week! I think I drove over 800 miles (not all at once) with two boys (whom might I add are expert travelers) and managed to have a great time even though we were moving at warp speed!

The first half of last week found the boys and I traveling to Beaumont. As I’ve mentioned before, I serve on the Board of Directors for Longview World of Wonders (LongviewWOW), a hands-on discovery center in the making. We are busy making preparations to acquire our building, renovate it, add in exhibits, and get our center open as soon as possible. Currently, I am serving in the capacity of Facilities Chairwoman which includes many titles; of which, the newest is Exhibit Specialist. In learning more about building museums and centers (I’ve no previous experience), I went to the Texas Association of Museums Annual Meeting or conference to network in the industry, meet with an Exhibit designer and fabricator, as well as  gain more knowledge through engaging sessions.

Designing an Institutional Pinterest Board Event

In the time we were in Beaumont, I ended up sitting through 5 sessions, a meeting and an informational product seminar; exploring the Botanical Garden and Conservatory with the boys; catching a late run of TheCroods; and enjoying fresh baked goods from Rao’s Italian Bakery (Can I just say the cream cheese muffin is to die for…and the cinnamon rolls, the cannoli’s…and so forth).  

Saint Fiacre

Wardian Case

On the way home, we stopped at the Big Thicket National Preserve just North of Beaumont. With more than 100,000 acres, 10 diverse ecosystems and miles of trails, the Big Thicket is not only a unique outdoor adventure, but also a serene place for wanderers of nature. My boys thoroughly enjoyed the Big Thicket and were even made Jr. Park Rangers while we were there. . While there is not a charge to tour the exhibit hall or hike the trails; there is a free permit required for backpacking, overnight river use or hunting.

Thursday brought us to a very cold park day with our homeschooling friends. There for a moment, I was sure winter had returned! Even though we made it home the night before, I truly believe this was the busiest of my days. I had early meetings, story time, park, after lunch meetings, band, a quick house cleaning and a trip to Shreveport to pick up my husband from his return from India. Whoosh! That makes me tired just thinking about it all!

Friday was a lovely day full of family time (with a few emails and phone calls sprinkled in). Jake took us to Los Pinos for a late lunch and we just let the day unfold. On Saturday, we headed back to Shreveport for some quick shopping and a trip to the American Rose Center for geocaching; Sunday had us enjoying lunch with family and fixing collegiates’ Jeeps. It was an interesting weekend.

I’m really glad it is Monday (I never thought I would say such a thing), but this week proves to be a little less tiresome. Or at least, I’m going to pretend it will be! Hope your week is filled with excitement!

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Season for Everything Under the Sun :: A Dandelion Moms Article

Head on over to Dandelion Moms to check out my newest article A Season for Everything Under the Sun. If you are new to vegetable gardening, this will give you a brief introduction planting seasons. ~ Michelle

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Cleaning :: A Family Affair

Every year, I attempt my version of Spring Cleaning. Most of the time, I am fairly successful at getting everything accomplished, but I always need help.

Reason #216 Why I Enjoy My Boys! No, really, children make great helpers. Just be sure to give them easy and simple tasks; make a game out of cleaning; ensure no contact with chemicals; and praise or reward them for their hard work. Don't forget to reward yourself too!

I'd like to share my Spring Cleaning Checklist with you all. Sometimes, it can be hard to think of all the places or items which need special attention every 6 months or even once a year.

I like to put my checklist in a plastic  protective sleeve; when I've completed a task, I simply use a dry erase marker to cross it off the list. The list could also be laminated. This is a great way for children to also keep up with their responsibilities during cleaning day, week, or month!

While  the idea of Spring Cleaning has its roots in ancient history, it was first used in America during the months of March or early April because the climate allowed for a warm breezy day to aid in the removal of dust from the home. Insects were typically at their minimum, as well.

I know if this were a Summer Cleaning, instead of a Spring Cleaning, I wouldn't even think about participating; especially here in Texas.

Do you have any great Spring Cleaning solutions? Do you use a special product or have a recipe for homemade cleaning supplies? Let me know! I would love to give them a try.

Spring Cleaning Checklist


1. Wipe every surface down - cabinets (inside and outside), top of refrigerator, stove (inside and outside), dishwasher (inside and outside), microwave (inside and outside), and all other appliances and items on counters (Keurig, canisters, KitchenAide Mixer).

2. Refrigerator/Freezer - Thoroughly wash every bin and shelf. Clean along the gaskets. Pull out from the wall and dust. Add fresh baking soda. Discard freezer food past use.

3. Pantry - Organize. Remove expired food, if any. Replace any broken canisters. Relabel canisters as use changes.

4. Sink - Use boiling water to thoroughly clean the drains. Oil garbage disposal.

5. Clean and sanitize the trash can.

6. Double check the battery/light bulb stock

7. Replace any broken or lost dishware, Tupperware, and icing tips.

8. Dust fixtures.

9. Vacuum and mop floor.

Dining Room

1. Table - Double check the mechanics of the leaf; oil/grease of needed. Wax and polish.

2. Dust fixtures and ceiling fan.

3. Dust and repair blinds, where needed.

4. Vacuum and mop floor.

5. Dust the tapestry.

Living Room

1. Dust all surfaces - lamps, coffee tables, pool table legs, ceiling fan.

2. Clean leather furniture and apply protector.

3. Sweep out fireplace and dust the screen and mantle.

4. Book cases - Remove all books; dust the spines and tops. Dust the entire case (shelves and top).

5. Brush the pool table.

6. Check the wine supply - order more!

7. Dust and clean the curio.

8. Vacuum and mop floor, vacuum air vent.

9. Fluff chair cushions.

10. Go through magazines and save items for My Idea Book.

9. Re-adjust the automatic thermostat.


1. Sort through and file all loose papers. Add to Homekeeping Notebook, file cabinet, or shred.

2. Double check printer's ink and paper supply, purchase more if needed.

3. Dust computer and clean keyboard. Ensure anti-virus program is up to date.

4. Ensure filing cabinet is in a neat order.

5. Review and update inventories, contract, and other policies.

Entryways and Hallways

1. Clean indoor and outdoor rugs/mats.

2. Wipe mirrors and art.

3. Vacuum and mop floors.


1. Routine cleaning - toilets, bathtubs, showers, and sinks.

2. Wipe mirrors and art.

3. Check on toilet paper and toiletries stock; restock where needed.

4. Wipe and dust cabinets and counters.

5. Throw out expired medicines.

6. Wash all bath maths.

7. Clean and sanitize the trashcans.

8. Dust fixtures.

9. Vacuum and mop floors.

10. Reseal tub and shower if needed.


1. Change and launder sheets, duvet cover, mattress pads, and pillowcases. Replace with warmer weather sheets and blankets.

2. Mattresses - rotate, vacuum, and possible sun, depending on the weather.

3. Launder pillows.

4. Dust all surfaces - furniture, art, wall hangings, light fixture, and ceiling fan.

5. Dust and repair blinds, where needed.

6. Vacuum and steam-clean the floors.

Throughout the House

1. Wipe down all switch plates, windows, and glass doors for fingerprints and pet smudges.

2. Vacuum window moldings and windowsills.

3. Wipe all doors (interior and exterior) and trims; oil hinges.

4. Wipe baseboards and moldings.

5. Replace AC filter.

7. Reseal grout.

8. Wash all windows and screens; oil hinges.

9. Wax wood furniture.


1. Dust shelves.

2. Vacuum and mop floors.

3. Organize. Purchase new undergarments if needed. Purge old, out-sized, or unwanted items.

4. Rotate wardrobe for Spring and Summer seasons.

Laundry Room

1. Vacuum and mop floor.

2. Wipe cabinets.

3. Clean washer and dryer. Check dryer vent.

4. Double check cleaning items supply; restock if necessary.


1. Inspect all pet toys to make sure they are safe; discard unsafe items.

2. Double check pet food and medications, restock if needed. Throw away expired items.

3. Inspect all cages and crates to ensure safety.


1. Organize. Discard unwanted items.

2. Check on spring planting items and needs; restock if needed.

3. Check sprinkler system. Replace broken parts.

4. Organize freezer. Discard out-dated items.

5. Straighten work bench and tool area (leaving for the husband!)

6. Organize school closet.

7. Check tire pressure in bikes; replace tubes if necessary.

8. Grease garage door.


1. Clean patios and siding - sweep, pressure wash.

2. Check gutters and repair seals.

3. Prune and fertilize roses.

4. Clean flower beds.

5. Check facets and outdoor electric plugs.

6. Replace water hoses if needed.

7. Clean outdoor furniture.

8. Clean grill and replace grate, if needed.

9. Clean ceiling fan.

10. Refill bird feeders and clean out last year's nests from bird houses

11. Wash and detail car

Please feel free to adapt my list to fit your needs - everyone's home is different!

Good luck to everyone and their Spring Cleaning! Don't forget to assign out tasks! Let me know how it goes.


Monthly Goals :: March Recap & April's Plans

With each new year, I try to change and grow in positive ways to enhance my life and make the most of my time. I usually blog about my weekly goals each Monday, but this year I think I'm going to take away the small goals and work on reaching my larger goals on a monthly basis. We will see how it goes!

April 2013 Goals

Did anyone see where March went? I'm really having a hard time believing we are already 3 days into April!


1. Complete Spring Cleaning - we are almost finished! Just a handful of chores to complete.
2. Design out our landscaped vision for the newly acquired property and maybe give it a name. Any suggestions?


1. Date night with Jake - I don't care what we do as long as we have a good time doing it!
2. Finish up our testing for this term and begin Term 3 in our homeschool year!
3. Plan a couple of weekend trips for the rest of the Spring and early Summer.

1. Finalize all last minute details and host the Secret Garden program at the end of the month.
2. Replant the Junior Master Gardener garden!
3. Prep for homeschool field trips

1. Continue working on 13 Things to Learn in 2013. Orchids are everywhere this time of year and I think I can master this interesting form of botany - or at least have a fun time trying.
2. Continue writing new posts, finishing blog update, and join Dandelion
Moms Project Kindness.
3. Let's try that bike ride again!
4. Plan out my new toddler story time for the month of May.

March 2013 Goals


1. Build a fence on our newly acquired property. I think we finally have a
style picked out we can both agree upon! Phase I of the fence looks great : ) I must say though, I owe it all to my handsome husband and my eldest son. Thanks guys!
2. Prep and begin Spring Cleaning - this is a huge goal for the month. Be on
the lookout for upcoming cleaning posts!


1. Learn how to swing dance with Jake (date night) While we did get a date night in, we did not go dancing. I promise, before the end of this year, I will learn a new dance : )
2. Take the boys to another archery competition - they did swell last time! I'm going to brag a little here! My eldest qualified for the state archery tournament in March - couldn't be prouder!
3. Spend time with grandparents
4. Help with my youngest's fashion show project


1. Finish Due Diligence surveys on the museum as well as prepare the
Facilities budget
2. Plant the Junior Master Gardener garden for Spring We got it planted, but Mother Nature decided we needed to replant - we lost nearly everything to a deep, deep freeze right before Easter.
3. Finalize Spring field trips for homeschool group


1. Continue working on 13 Things to Learn in 2013. This month, I'm hoping
to tackle learning how to fly fish! One of my goals this year is to learn how to build a museum. Well, I think right now it is trumping everything else.
2. Continue writing new posts, finishing blog update, and join Dandelion
Moms Project Kindness.
3. With the weather warming up, I'm hoping to get in a daily bike ride this
month as well. I know I jinxed myself as soon as I posted about warmer weather...sorry Texas!
4. Perfect my stress busting technique.

February came and went! I got a ton accomplished and I'm really looking forward to March!

Dandelion Moms Project Kindness :: Making a Difference in April


As you all know, I contribute monthly articles to Dandelion Moms, a place for beautiful, strong and resilient moms to gather online. Recently, the Head Dandelion herself, Melissa Northway, started Project Kindness - a simple idea with great potential. Melissa writes, "Much like a dandelion seed that blows in the wind landing at different places – acts of kindness can also be far-reaching. We don’t always know how much a simple act could affect someone’s life."
The best part about Project Kindness is the ease of partaking in the list of activities Dandelion Moms provides and the gratification of knowing you have had an impact on someone's life.
Last month, Dandelion Moms challenged readers to help build a library in the Dominican Republic. Texas Homemaking readers helped to donate 30 books for the cause. Thank you all so very much!

Project Kindness project and activities for April include:

  •  In honor of Autism Awareness Month, you can participate in the Buddy Gives Back program (www.buddycruise.org) hosted by the Buddy Cruise.

  • Support Loving Hugs' mission of providing new or gently used stuffed animals to children in war torn countries (www.lovinghugs.org).

  • Plant flowers with your children on April 22nd, Earth Day.

  • Join your neighborhood or community clean-up on Earth Day.

  • Bring some old towels or blankets to your local animal shelter

If you complete any of these Project Kindness tasks, Melissa asks you share them with Dandelion Moms on their Facebook Page as well as Twitter and Instagram (make sure to use #dmprojectkindness). You are also more than welcome to post your kind acts (and photos) on Texas Homemaking's Facebook page.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Austism & Poetry ~ A Touch of April

The month of April was deemed Autism Awareness Month in the United States during the 1970s. Since then, autism rates have soared. American children, especially boys, and their families are facing a new way of living. 1 in 54 boys are diagnosed on spectrum, 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed as well. This month, join others in learning more about Autism and its spectrum of challenges. If you know a child with an autism spectrum disorder, take time to do any of the following for their family:

Be there - Visit over a cup of coffee or something simple in their home. Adult interaction is always welcome.

Discuss it - Sometimes, we are afraid of the unknown, but by understanding your friend's child's needs, you may find other ways to help out.

Have a play date - Set up a sensory friendly playdate in your home or theirs.

Share information - If you find something related to autism in your community, you may want to share it. Many communities have small groups or even programs geared to Autistic children.

Help with respite - Oftentimes, the day to day responsibilities get neglected. By offering to stay with an autistic child for even an hour, you can be a huge help.

In addition, you can join the Light It Up Blue campagin which encourages spreading autism awareness through our country and world. On April 2, the Empire State Building will be lit blue to mark the occasion. Why not join in?

Aside from Autism Awareness, April is also poetry month. My youngest and I write poetry together; I've always been fond of verse. In honor of poetry month, I'd like to share one of his favorite creations.

What are stars?
Are they fireworks up in the sky?
Or maybe a herd of fireflies?
Or are they great balls of gas?
Or simply a big jumbled up mess?
Maybe the are twinkling gems,
Sprinkled about planets' rims
All I know is that they glow.