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Freeze! Are You Storing Food Properly?

Most of us rely on our refrigerators and freezers to preserve food and keep it fresh. If you don’t store food safely, it can be damaging to your health. Here are some simple tips to enable you to get the best out of your groceries, and prevent unwanted illnesses.

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Checking the temperature

It’s really important that your refrigerator and freezer are set at the right temperature to keep your food fresh. The temperature in the fridge should be lower than 5 degrees while the freezer should be set at around -17 degrees. If the fridge or freezer are too warm, they won’t do their job properly. If you keep having to adjust the temperature, or the thermometer reading seems to change on a regular basis, this may indicate a fault, and it’s wise to get your appliances checked out by a company like City Appliance Repair. Some units have built-in thermometers. If your’s doesn’t, and you want to check the temperature, you can use a normal thermometer.

Which foods to refrigerate and freeze

You can’t freeze everything, so always check the labels before you put anything in the freezer. You should be able to spot small badges that give you advice. In most cases, if you can freeze the food, you should do it as soon after purchase as possible. If you’ve bought something, and it has passed its use by date, don’t then put it in the freezer. Use by dates are only guidelines, but they are there for your safety, and you should only freeze items before the use-by date. You can freeze foods and then defrost them after the use-by date. There are lots of different types of foods you can store in the refrigerator, including fruit and vegetables, dairy products, cooked and raw meat, fish, and eggs.

Organizing your refrigerator

It’s wise to use the different compartments of your refrigerator for different types of food. Keep meat, poultry, and fish in sealed containers at the bottom of the refrigerator, and separate them from dairy products and cooked meat. Many of us keep bottles of milk in the fridge door, but they’re actually best stored on the shelves towards the bottom, as temperatures tend to be coolest here.

Defrosting food

If you decide you want a chicken breast or some fish cakes for dinner, and they’re in the freezer, simply remove them and leave them to defrost at room temperature. It is possible to cook some foods from frozen, but you should always defrost meat thoroughly. When you’re cooking meat and fish, ensure that it’s cooked through before serving.

The way you cook your food is really important, but don’t turn a blind eye to storage. Always check best before and use by dates, and avoid eating anything that is passed its best. You can freeze most foods, but check the labels before you do. Make sure your appliances are working properly. If there’s a fault, or you’re worried that something isn’t quite right, seek advice. If you cook food that hasn’t been stored safely, there is a risk of food poisoning.

Our visit to Castaway Bay in Sandusky Ohio

My family got the opportunity to visit Cedar Point’s Indoor Water Park: Castaway Bay in Sandusky, Ohio last weekend.  We definitely had a ball.  The two older boys kept saying over and over again about how much fun they were having and that really made this mom happy- and when they say it without you asking about it, you know they are having a great time.

First- I have to say the room set up was AWESOME.  We stayed in a Tarpon Suite, I think it was a Bay View because we had a view of the water and that was really nice, especially since the weather was kind of nice so we did enjoy sitting on the balcony a bit.  The best part about the Tarpon Suite is that it has a King Sized bed and then a separate room for the kiddos with 4 bunk beds.  This gave mom and dad a bit of privacy and the kids not only had their own area for play and relaxing, but also their own beds.  So no fighting over bed sharing!!

Castaway Bay Tarpon Suite

Like any family, we quickly unpacked and got into our suites and headed down to the water park.  The kids were excited, parents are excited, and we were ready to go!  The Indoor Water Park is just what we needed during these cold winter months (which actually aren’t THAT cold this year- but still not hot enough that we are enjoying any type of outdoor swimming in Ohio).  It is 80 degrees in the water park, so you have that warm tropical weather and it is nice and warm when going between activities in your wet swimsuit.

There are a variety of activities for all ages too!  The littlest ones and I spent most of our time in the Toddler Tidepool, which is complete with three small slides, and a few other splashing activities for the little ones.  Caleb really enjoyed the slides!!  Things we all enjoyed were the Creature Cove (has basketball hoops, and floating snakes and other creatures to play on), the Wave Pool, and Lookout Lagoon’s Family Funhouse.

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The older kids enjoyed the slides!  That is what they spent most of their days doing, going up and down the slides!  There is one cool raft slide that is either one or two person, a set of 3 speed slides, and some other fun slides that are on the Lookout Lagoon Family Funhouse.  They also said they liked going in the hot tub, which would be the Grotto.

So the waterpark itself got two thumbs up from the kids and the parents.  BUT Castaway Bay offers other things to do as well, so if you get tired of the water and need a break there are other options.  Club Castaway has crafts offered from 10-2 every day.  And at night they have a dance party and a movie followed by a meet and greet with Snoopy!

My kiddos got to color shirts during our stay in Club Castaway and while they were doing that I chatted with the team member on duty and she told me that they have more activities on Saturdays, where they have a movie playing and the kids can make their own trail mix.  Our stay was a Sunday to Monday, and we did not make it to Club Castaway until Monday morning and they did have a movie playing during the craft when we were there.

 

There are also a variety of restaurants.  We ate at Quaker Steak and Lube for dinner (Tip: Ask to sit at the worst table to get 10% off your total bill!), and got snacks and lunch at Big Daddy’s Snack Shack that is inside the water park.  There is also Mango Mike’s, which is a breakfast buffet, and Ebb and Eddy’s which has coffee, quick breakfast items and lunch (we got Starbuck’s Coffee here in the morning).  There is also an upscale dining restaurant available at Bay Harbor and of course Room Service as well.

 

We also hit up the arcade just before we left on Monday- and honestly had the waterpark and arcade been open longer, we would have stayed longer!!  But we promised the boys that we would do the arcade so we stopped in.  Colton was super excited because I was able to win him an Ocalot (Minecraft) stuffed toy from one of the machines.  (Super Cool Mom Points for me!)

Oh- if you aren’t signed up for Castaway Bay Birthday Club, you definitely need to sign your kids up.  Caleb’s birthday is coming up, so he got to redeem his Birthday Coupon while we were there and it included: A Free slice of Pizza from Big Daddy’s Snack Shack, 16 Free Game credits at the Arcade, and a free craft at Club Castaway.  If you aren’t staying the night, you can redeem the Birthday Club certificate for a free day pass to the water park!

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Castaway Bay is a great resort to get in a bit of a mini vacation close to home.  We definitely needed a little getaway and the smiles on the boys’ faces tells me they had a blast too!  They often run specials, and I have seen special rates on Groupon too, so if you need a deal to be able to go, check out their site and keep an out out on Groupon to get the best rate for a mini vacation for your family!

Thank you to Cedar Point and Castaway Bay for hosting our family, so I can share this experience on Mommy Has A Life

We are going to Castaway Bay! Oh and YOU CAN TOO!! #Giveaway

The one thing I love most as a parent is doing fun things with my family.  I feel like that is the great reward after all the work I put in as a mom on the day to day.  Next week we are making the trip to Sandusky, OH to enjoy the tropical paradise at Castaway Bay Indoor Waterpark and Resort.

Please follow along with me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, I will be using #CastawayBay2017

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Guess what?  YOU can go too!  First- Castaway Bay has incredible deals starting at  $99 per night.  And that includes Water park admission for four guests!  BUT I am also giving away one four pack of day passes to Castaway Bay on my Facebook Page: Mommy Has A Life.

Go to THIS POST on my Facebook Page.  And Like, Comment and Share to be entered!

Good Luck!!

Won Big? Ideas For Spending Your Winnings Wisely!

If you are a single mom, then you will know just how important every penny is – let’s be honest about, bringing up a child on your own isn’t easy. So, when we win big, be it at the local bingo, on a lottery ticket, or even if you’ve been left some money in a relative’s will or your boss has given you a bonus, it’s important to spend it wisely. The question is, how should you go about doing that? What would be a wise way to spend any money that you’ve come into?

Take a vacation

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Spending some of the money that you’ve come into on a vacation might seem like a waste, but it’s not if you’ve never been able to take your little ones abroad before. The chances are that you’ve been dreaming of taking your kids on a proper summer vacation for years, but until now have never been able to afford it. As long as you don’t spend all of your money on a vacation, there’s no reason not to take one, after all, nothing’s more important than quality family time.

Add value to your home

Another option for spending your money is to use it to add value to your home. You see, by adding value to your home, you can increase how much it will sell for in the future, giving you a better profit. There are lots of simple ways you can add value to your home, from increasing the size of the property with an extension, attic conversion, or a conservatory, to making it more eco-friendly, it’s just a case of deciding what would be the best option for you. Because as well as adding value to your home, you also want any updates that you make to positively impact yours’ and your children’s lives. So, say you want to save money, then you need to think of ways to do that, such as by transforming your home so that it uses less energy, for instance. The first step to doing that is undergoing a free energy analysis, so that you can see the best options for cutting costs, such as by installing solar panels or a smart thermostat, for instance.

Save it

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This might be the most boring option but if you want to ensure that your children have the best possible future, save the money up. Open a high-interest savings account and put all (or the majority) of your winnings in there, so that when your children need money for college, their first car, or maybe even for a deposit on a house, they have something to help them. Saving the money might seem boring, but there’s nothing boring about being mindful of your children’s future, now is there?

Start a business

Do you hate your job? Have you always dreamed of starting a business of your own? Then now could be the perfect opportunity to do so – you’ve got the money, all you need is an idea. Perhaps you already have an idea that you’ve been thinking about for years? Either way, if you’ve always wanted to start a business but have never had the funds to do so, now could be the perfect time to take the leap and go for it.

Won big? Make sure that you spend it wisely and don’t just waste it.

NAME-STAMP BLOCK Tutorial #FamilyFunMag

Another fun Winter- time craft, make your own NAME-STAMP BLOCK!  Idea courtesy of FamilyFun Magazine!

Great for new spellers—or anyone who likes to make her mark!

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What you’ll need
Paper
Craft foam
Craft glue
2-inch wooden block(s)
Stamp pad & notebooks (optional)

Instructions

  1. Write your recipient’s name in 1¼-inch-high block letters on a piece of paper (you can also use a stencil or print out the letters in a font you like at 100 points). Cut out each letter. You can get six characters onto a block, so if she has a short name, fill in any blank spaces with a fun design like a heart or a star; if she has a long name, use two blocks.
  2. Trace two of each letter onto craft foam; cut out.
  3. Stack the letters and glue them together. Then glue each letter to a side of the block backwards. Repeat for all letters.
  4. If desired, package your blocks with a stamp pad and notebooks.

Easy how-to Kid’s Craft: FISH FRIENDS

Are you looking for an easy craft kids can make while they are couped up inside this winter?  Check out this easy how-to tutorial for instructions on making stuffed Fish Friends.  

Your kids can make a whole school of these quirky stuffies for their crew!

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What you’ll need

Fish templates (find them at familyfunmag.com/printables)
Fabric (about ¼ yard per fish)
Chalky colored pencil
Kid-safe needle
Embroidery thread
Opaque white fabric-paint pen
Beans or fiberfill

Instructions:

  1. Cut out the templates and trace onto your fabric with colored pencil (feel free to let kids draw their own fish bodies too!), then fold the fabric in half and pin. Cut through both layers about ½ inch outside the marking.
  2. Starting at the bottom, stitch the fish together along the chalk line, leaving about 6 inches open along its belly.
  3. Add the fish’s features with the paint pen, letting each side dry in between. Help your child iron to set the paint per manufacturer instructions.
  4. Stuff the fish with beans or fiberfill, and then stitch it all the way closed.

Don’t Just Waste Your Money – Make Wise Investments, Today!

You’ve probably heard friends, relatives, and colleagues talk about the importance of making investments. If you are someone who has a tendency to splash their cash the moment it arrives in their bank account, investments might be an alien concept to you! But if you are a natural saver, you might already be well on your way to making some good investments. But whichever side of the financial fence you lay on, there are a few things you need to know about investments before you make any big decisions. It is always best to approach a financial advisor with your plans before you take the plunge and make any kind of investment – as many investment plans that look good initially might actually turn out to make you a loss. Some can even turn out to be scam pyramid schemes, which can actually leave you penniless. So never rush into an investment; always evaluate it first. That said, there are some rock-solid investments that provide a worthwhile path for your money. If you have a large sum of money at your disposal, it might be worth looking into some of these investment options.

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Your child’s education

Anyone who is a parent knows how important it can be to invest in your child’s future. We all want to give our children the best start in life – and for most of us, that means providing them with a great education. It is virtually impossible for young adults these days to attend college without some form of financial support from their parents. This is why many people these days are saving for their children earlier than ever – some before the child is even born! It may seem a little ludicrous, but anything that gets the job done and takes the pressure off you can’t be that bad, right? The best thing to do when deciding to invest for your child is to shop around for different saving accounts to find the most desirable interest rate. Don’t think you simply have to go for ones aimed at children – you can find competitive rates elsewhere and simply put your child’s initials on the account. Many of these accounts, however, have limitations for just how much you can put in per month – so work out what you are going to be able to afford and make your decision based on that.

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Property

Everyone knows that property is an asset. You home will probably be the most expensive thing you buy in your whole life – even though, of course, you probably won’t buy it outright! Nearly everyone gets a mortgage to help them get on the property ladder. Getting on the ladder is a priority for a lot of us, and the opportunity to purchase a property is now being extended to more people than ever. For low-income families, financial support can be offered in the form of an FHA loan. Websites such as Lending Tree can help you calculate what you will be able to access in terms of a loan like this. These kind of schemes can be incredibly viable for many people as property is one of the most secure investments out there. Generally speaking, homes go up in value nearly every year. If you do some work on your property or if a good school gets built near it, you may find that it’s value goes through the roof. This can leave you with a sizeable amount of equity in your home, which in turn acts as another investment opportunity.

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Shares

Think of the stock market and you probably think of the Wolf of Wall Street – stressed out brokers yelling down the phone whilst watching shares fall on an outdated computer screen. But, as is the case with most Hollywood movies, the reality is very different. Stocks and shares are actually another solid way to invest your money. There is, of course, some level of risk involved. Shares can go down as well as up, especially if something dramatic happens, such as a market crash or an event like Brexit. But overall, the returns you can make from shares tend to outperform other investments such as corporate bonds and even property. The important thing to remember is that investing in shares is no quick fix. You may need to invest your money for ten or even twenty years before it actually starts to be worth your while. So, if you are someone who tends to fall at the first hurdle, getting involved in the stock market may not be for you. Investment is different for everyone because everyone’s circumstances are different – so think carefully about what to do with your money.

Hosting Christmas? Here’s How To Make It A Guaranteed Success

Hosting a big family event is never a walk in the park. There’s a lot of pressure on you to get it right, and you may find yourself panicking as the day draws nearer. Now we are officially in December, that big event that is just around the corner is obviously Christmas Day. Hosting Christmas Day for your family can be a very big deal. After years of going to your parent’s for Christmas, or visiting an older family member, hosting Christmas yourself is your chance to give back. Plus, doing it on your own is a big achievement – it’s just something that takes quite a lot of planning. If you are waking up in a cold sweat every other night worrying about how you are going to pull it all off, relax. As long as you plan in advance and stay calm throughout, there is no reason why you can’t host a Christmas Day this year to rival all the others.

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Sort out where people are going to sleep

One thing you will need to bear in mind is that people probably won’t just to staying for one night. If you have family who has travelled a fair distance to be there for Christmas, it makes sense for them to make a few days out of it at the very least. With that in mind, you will need to have space for people to sleep in comfortably, rather than just crashing on the couch. If you have a spare bedroom that you haven’t really touched since you moved in, now is the time to turn it from a storage room into a beautiful guest room! You may also want to provide extra bedding for those people who WILL need to sleep on your sofas. If all bed and sofa space has been taken up, you may need to get imaginative – invest in some blow up mattresses so that the people who will need to commandeer the floor can at least be comfortable.

Get hold of any extras you may need

Imagine the horror of planning out your festive meal, only to realise that it is logistically impossible in your current kitchen. In order to pull off what you’ve planned, you need another oven, probably another fridge and a spare dishwasher wouldn’t hurt either. If you do find yourself in a situation like this, don’t panic. You can now actually access Appliance & Furniture Rentals for those scenarios where your own home doesn’t play ball. Of course, no one has actual appliances installed around Christmas as it can tear up half your home. So renting one instead is an easy solution to your problem.

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Make the necessities accessible

In order to have a relaxing festive holiday, the last thing you need is eight family members in your ears asking where everything is, or if they can use something of yours. Make it clear from the start that whilst there are certain things they need to ask to use, the rest is all theirs. After all, you are family! Have basics like bread for toasting, teabags, shower gels and towels all at hand for everyone to use. Christmas is all about giving, so encourage everyone to share and share alike.

Your House Isn’t Haunted It Just Needs Some TLC

With the release of the Ghostbusters movie, it seems like everyone is looking out for worrying home problems that could be evidence of the supernatural. But whether you believe that ghosts exist, or you think it’s a load of hokum, most houses aren’t haunted they just need a bit of tender loving care.

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Mysterious footsteps

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Do you hear clomping footsteps in the night that seem to be coming up the stairs, or moving about in the attic overhead? If so you could be scared out of your wits thinking that you have a spectral visitor. But before you call a priest, call a plumber. Aging water pipes can cause such noises, especially in houses over 15 years old. Don’t forget that it could be that the air pressure in your plumbing system is off and that is why you hear the knocking. Or the pies could be expanding or contracting because of the temperature of the water.

Oozing Walls

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Oozing walls is a common sign that a house is haunted. If you are getting reams and reams of ectoplasm, you can just skip ahead and call the Ghostbusters! But if your problem is not quite that severe, you may want to consider a less paranormal solution – damp.

Damp is something that can affect any age of home. It can be caused by different reasons. Sometimes it is because water is not being removed from the outside of the house or roof quick enough when it rain and so it soaks through to the inside. It can also be caused by flood damage or even water rising through the building from a particular damp ground around the house.

The solution that you choose will depend on the type of damp you are experiencing. Flood damage and rising damp can be dealt with by a company that does water damage restoration. They will be able to dry out your room, fix the damage and treat it to prevent future problems in the future.

Chattering

Do you hear things when its deadly silent and you are alone in your home? Can you listen to a chattering or rustling that seems to be coming from behind the walls? Don’t worry, it’s probably just a bug or rodent infestation.

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Rodents and insects are so clever at getting into warm, dry places and making their nests. Whether you have mice, roaches or termites call the exterminator to assess your problem and then recommend a course of treatment.

Moving Tables

You may think that a spirit from the other side is trying to contact you through rapping on the table. But before you call in the parapsychologists, check that all the legs are equal!

Also, make sure that you haven’t placed the table on a weak point in your floor. It may be that a previous renovation has removed a supporting wall, causing it to be less stable in this area. While you’ll probably be very relieved to find out that this is the case speak to a builder quickly as this can be a safety issue for you and your family.

Ghostly Gusts

Can you feel a spectral breeze even when the windows are closed? Do you get a cold shiver now and then and can’t explain why? While it may be an apparition trying to get your attention, it’s much more likely to be some poorly sealed windows and doors. You can try a draught excluder, but they best way to prevent this is to reseal your windows and doors to prevent the cold getting in and the heat getting out. This should also save you some money on your heating bills, as less heat will be escaping, so your place will be a lot cozier for less money.

Lights that go on and off

Are you having trouble with flickering lights? While it might seem like Aunt Mabel is trying to bring you a message from the other side, it may actually just be an issue with your electrics. Electrics are not to be taken lightly and if faulty can cause dangerous fires.

You may have overloaded circuits or loose wires. These are something that should be dealt with by a professional. If possible stop using the circuits or isolate them via the fuse box until they have been fixed as they pose a serious fire hazard.

Rotten food

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Apparently, a ghostly presence can cause food to turn rotten and moldy. If this is happening in your fridge, it could be a real worry! Before you reach for the holy water, get a fridge thermometer and make sure that the temperature is right. Maybe it juts a fault with your white goods? Or maybe not…?

Reboot And Recharge: 4 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Free Time

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Free time is precious, whether it’s a quick coffee before a meeting or Sunday afternoon with the family.  Time spent away from work and household chores allows us to relax and recharge.  But if we spend that time worrying about the things we’re not doing, it defeats the purpose. Follow our quick tips to make the most of your time and enjoy every minute.

  1. Plan, Schedule, Organize

We’re used to keeping a diary for work, but we don’t always do this for our free time.  The problem with this is that work and housework tend to take over.  If there’s nothing in the diary, it’s tempting to keep on going to get everything finished.  Unfortunately, it will never be finished.  There will always be something to do.  Your to-do list will never be empty.  And you know what?  That’s okay because that’s just life.  So forget about getting everything done and schedule downtime and family time in the same way you would a work event.  

Being organized and planning ahead also helps.  This includes everything from parties at the weekend to vacations.  If you’re organized, things will run smoothly.  

  1. Delegate

To create time in your schedule in the first place, you need to delegate.  This not only refers to your work life but your home life too.  It’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure the smooth running of the house.  It shouldn’t all fall to you.  So ask for help when it’s needed.  If there are larger jobs that need completing, consider handyman services. They can do everything from building an IKEA bookcase to working with electricals.  This will clear your repair list and free up your time to spend with family.

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  1. Get Up Early At Weekends

After a busy week of early get-ups, it’s tempting to stay in bed at the weekend.  The problem with this is that you will sleep away your free time.  While it’s fine to set the clock a littler later, try not to sleep in.  Give your free time the same consideration as your work.   Of course, to do this, you need to ensure that you get enough sleep.  So avoid too many late nights.

  1. Be Present

To eek out every drop of enjoyment from your downtime, you need to be fully present.  Try to forget about the stresses of the week.  Don’t spend your time thinking about what needs to be done.  And don’t dwell on things you can’t change.  Instead, immerse yourself fully in what you’re doing.  Give it your full attention.  

One important way to be present is to switch off your mobile devices.  This means no checking emails and voicemails.  

Being present is not always an easy skill.  But it gets easier over time.  So stay with it. Practicing mindfulness can help with this. It’s all about appreciating the ‘now.’  Look at what is right here in the room with you and forget the past and future.

The next time you have some time off, think about how to make the most of it.  Clear your schedule and plan if necessary.  Above all, have fun and live in the moment.