5 Genius Ideas for Chore Charts!

My kids don’t mind helping around the house, but there is no routine- I have to ask them to do each thing I’d like help with. “L, please empty the dishwasher.” “A, please put your toys away” Feed the animals, bring your laundry down, dust your room, make your bed, brush your hair!

We’ve tried a few things in the past, but nothing has stuck. A few cute ideas have popped up on my screen lately, so I think it’s time to try something new. Here are my top picks for great Chore Charts!!

1. Clipboard & Velcro from Just Between Friends

Clipboard & Velcro Chore Chart from Just Between Friends

Clipboard & Velcro Chore Chart from Just Between Friends

This one only requires a few supplies and looks like it will come together really quickly. I love that they can be hung easily or carried around the house. I know Little A would like the concrete action of moving the chores from “To Do” to the “Done” side.

2. Post-it Note Printable Chore Chart from Tatertots & Jello

Post-It Note Chore Chart from Tatertots & Jello!

Post-It Note Chore Chart from Tatertots & Jello!

I think this is my favorite. I’m usually not super fond of playing with our printer, but my kids have an odd fascination with Post-Its and I think this will go over really well!

3. Simple Chore Chart from My Name Is Snickerdoodle

Simple Magnet Chore Chart from My Name Is Snickerdoodle!

Simple Magnet Chore Chart from My Name Is Snickerdoodle!

This is definitely easy and effective for younger ones, but at 16, L might be offended if I make a chart like this for her.

4.  Printable Chore Chart From The Gilded Pear

Printable Chore Chart From The Gilded Pear!

Printable Chore Chart from The Gilded Pear!

This one takes the least amount of effort and still looks great! Just choose the color you want and print!

5. Popsicle Stick Chore Chart from Everyday Commotion

Popsicle Stick Chore Chart from Everyday Commotion

Popsicle Stick Chore Chart from Everyday Commotion

This one is also great- I think Little A would love moving the sticks and seeing her progress, but the board is a bit bulky.

Which ones do you like best?

Tips from a Pro: How to Get That Coffee Shop Taste at Home!

I opened my first coffee shop (Coffee Break Cafe) at the age of 25 because I was sick of bad coffee and even worse service. I had exhausted all of the coffee chain possibilities in my area and knew there had to be something better. My husband and I (boyfriend back then) worked in the restaurant industry and had access to a lot of different coffee companies. We bought whole bean coffees and brewed at home back when people still bought instant coffee in a can (wait, maybe they still do?)

We drank a lot of coffee.

By the time we had opened our first location, we were completely hooked. Coffee is like wine or cheese- at first the cheap stuff tastes pretty good but, as your palate develops, you find that you can no longer tolerate the inferior. It happens to most people who drink a lot of coffee. Once you discover the good stuff, it is REALLY hard to go back.

I am asked, all the time, why brewing coffee at home doesn’t taste as good as it does when you buy it at the coffee shop. I think there are a lot of reasons why, but I am here to explain how SIMPLE and AFFORDABLE it can be to brew really good coffee at home.

The beans:
Starting with the best quality coffee is the most important aspect of a really good brew. You want it to be freshly roasted (within the past few days is best) and if you own a grinder, you should always buy your coffee in whole bean form. If you don’t own a grinder, buy smaller quantities of pre-ground coffee more frequently. That way it will always be fresh. You will want to ask for the beans to be ground for a french press, which is coarse.

Coffee should be purchased whole bean and roasted very recently.

Coffee should be purchased whole bean and roasted very recently.

Nice course grind for the French press.

Nice coarse grind for the French press.

 

One misconception I hear frequently is people think that darkly roasted coffee is “stronger”. Darkly roasted coffee actually has less caffiene than a bean that is roasted light or medium. It might taste “stronger” but it is not.

I am slightly biased, but we do have the best beans around!  Check them out here!

Equipment:

Let’s briefly discuss grinders.…. You always want a burr grinder. Blade grinders shred the beans with inconsistent results, while burr grinders make even particles that allow the water to steep evenly through out. You can get a decent, inexpensive burr grinder just about anywhere. Depending on how much you grind you might want to spend a little more, your choice. This is a decent inexpensive one here…   Higher end, more expensive, the one we use at home is here.

Rancilio is the one we use at home but there are many others out there.

Rancilio is the one we use at home but there are many others out there.

Our grinder with freshly roasted beans.

Our grinder with freshly roasted beans.

Our Rancilio burr grinder!

Our Rancilio burr grinder!

Up next is a French Press. You can get them for as little as $10.00 or as much as a couple of hundred dollars. The one we have at home was about $40.00 and is perfect, check it out here.

Water:
Since water is the main ingredient in coffee, it needs to be clean, and free from any foul odor or taste. A good filter goes a long way. If you are using a french press you have to get the water to a boil. If you are making iced coffee, your ice cubes should also be made with filtered water.

How to:

While waiting for the water to boil (just fill a pot, no need to measure) put the beans in the grinder. We add the grinds right to the french press. The ratio of coffee to water is typically one tablespoon of coffee to a cup of water. You can adjust to your taste of course.

I don't measure the water, just fill the pot and let it boil.

I don’t measure the water, just fill the pot and let it boil.

At home we usually don’t measure. At work, we don’t brew without measuring. (Consistency is the key to success in business!) At-home brewing can be a bit more flexible; you can brew to what you like best. Add a little more coffee beans if you like it a little stronger and a little less if you like it a little weaker.

When it’s just off the boil for a minute, pour the water right on top of the grinds in the French Press and let sit for about a minute and a half. You will see the top looks like foam. (This is called bloom.) This means the grinds are starting to release some of their aroma. The water is becoming infused with delicious flavor, and did I mention the smell? Your house will smell so good!

Coffee foam!

Coffee foam!

After about a minute and a half, agitate with a wooden stirrer. Wood is best because metal may accidentally tap the sides and break the glass. I usually use chopsticks.

Chopsticks make great stirrers!

Chopsticks make great stirrers!

stirring the coffee!

Let sit for another minute and a half or so.

Next, press the top plunger stick down, using just the weight of your hand. You don’t want to press too hard or fast, or the grinds will escape into the coffee you are about to drink. You want to push all of the grinds to the bottom.

pressing down, coffee french press

You are ready to drink. OMG, nothing better than freshly brewed, high quality coffee.

Hot, freshly brewed coffee!

Hot, freshly brewed coffee!

I almost always drink my coffee iced. So, I let my coffee sit until it reaches room temperature and then pour over ice…. YUM.

Feel free to post questions in the comments below- I love talking coffee, business and mommy business.

**Affiliate links are included in this post. The products are actual products that I use and recommend. Amazon is an easy, reliable place to order them. If you choose to purchase through these links, Mommy Business will receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.

A good habit that has stuck! NaBloPoMo challenge day 5

Today’s challenge question…. Do you have any good habits that were hard to start but you’re happy you worked to build them?

My family went GMO free about a year and a half ago. Reading about what this country does to our food system makes my blood boil. For a few years, I would read about GMO’s and get mad. Read and get mad, read and get mad. I was walking around mad which wasn’t helping anybody, especially myself.

I had been searching for a solution to the GMO problem but it just seemed so overwhelming that I would just kind of give up. Three out of four of my children have food allergies so I felt like I had to make a choice, purchase products from the big companies who are excellent at labeling ingredients but use all GMO’s, or go with the smaller companies that are organic/GMO free and risk cross contamination and not so great labeling. (Legally companies only need to list ingredients that are IN the food you are eating. They do NOT have to label what else is made in the facility or on the equipment. When dealing with nut allergies and anaphylaxis, this is not optional.) I felt I had to make my purchases through the big companies and just eat the GMO’s. I did this for a long time.

About a year and a half ago I decided that I would choose one product at a time and do my research on it. I chose products that we use the most of first, like cereal and bread, figuring I could make the biggest impact there.

anti gmo

I spent a lot of time on the phone and on the internet and found out that eliminating GMO’s wasn’t going to be as difficult as I originally thought. I started with Kashi’s “non Gmo certified project verified cereals”. More info on that here. There are a few that are nut safe and non GMO that we use.

Bread was trickier. There aren’t a lot of bakeries that are nut safe. I did manage to find two that are organic (GMO free), nut safe, and most importantly, that my kids like.

Organic and GMO free is more expensive for sure! I have had to cut other expenses to make sure we can afford non GMO food and it is worth it.

Instead of walking around angry, I know that each and every purchase I make is making a statement. I am creating a demand for non GMO products and not providing funding towards the companies that use GMO’s and don’t label them. I have also dug a little deeper and have created a list (in my head) of companies that not only use GMO’s but also fund the campaign against GMO’s being listed on products. I will not buy anything from them either. You can find a good list here.

I am so happy I turned my anger into something positive. My youngest son who just turned 7 had the most positive allergy appointment he has ever had, just last month. I think there is a direct link to the choices we have made these past two years and his allergies. That is a different story for another day but I am so very grateful for working hard to build this good habit of ours :-).

We are far from perfect, nor are we 100% GMO free.  My kids still eat pizza and they have snacks that are not all GMO free.  I would say we are closer to 85% GMO free and that is SO much better than we were two years ago.  I hope more people will consider joining us with building this good habit and really cut out GMO’s and having your dollar matter.  🙂

 

*Image from shutterstock.com

Keeping up with resolutions…..NaBloPoMo day 2

Today’s prompt:  Do you usually keep your resolutions? Tell us about a time when you were particularly successful.

 

In thinking about resolutions, it isn’t a once a year kind of thing for me.

Being a parent of school aged children, I feel like we are given the opportunity to have a few “new starts”. When school starts in September I always feel like I am starting new and fresh. Having the kids at school gives me a chance to think straight a little bit and get organized. I think a lot of parents start new fitness routines in September and kind of kick start their resolutions on a smaller scale. I do anyway.

It was a year ago this past September that I decided to make our family GMO free. I had also decided to take up taekwondo two years ago this past September.

Spring is another time where I feel like I check in with myself and see where I am at. In the spring we get a few more hours of daylight and the warmth makes me want to get outside and walk, ride my bike or take a hike.

Last year I made a fabulous resolution that I have kept to, and will make it my life rule.  I tend to have a bad book habit.  I purchase more books than I can read.  They pile up and become dust collectors. (embarrassed that I am attaching a real picture of my bedside table with those dust collectors) I love to read, but with four children, a small business to run, and a gazillion other things on my plate, I find that I only have 15-30 minutes to read each day before I drop off to sleep so I tend to take a long time to get through a book.  My resolution was: to not buy any new books until I had read the ones I own.  Once I had finished a book, I promised to either lend it somebody or donate it to the library.  I really stuck to that all of last year and have continued.

 

books!

 

From that picture it doesn’t look like I have given away many but I really made a dent in the pile this past year.  🙂

Keeping resolutions simple and true helps me to stick to them.  Checking in frequently also helps.

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Resolutions…. NaBloPoMo day 1

I have decided to take the NaBloPoMO blogging challenge of blogging daily for a month!  Feeling a little nervous!

Today’s prompt:  What are you New Year’s Resolutions for the new year?  Tell us how you chose them.

I have been on a path of change for a long time now.  I feel like life is like an onion and I just keep peeling back the layers.  Some make me cry and others I am fine with.

I am pretty aware of making better choices for myself year round but I love starting a new year fresh!  I love creating vision boards and fun little resolution crafts with the kids on New Years Eve.  This year we made little people (see image below) and put whatever resolutions came to mind on the shirt.  These little resolution people will hang in our living room all year and we (four kids and my husband) will check in with each other to make sure we are all on the right path.

resolution pic

My personal resolutions are to focus on being more present, meditate daily, play more games with my children, get back to juicing weekly, reduce clutter, cut out processed foods, get out of debt, blog more frequently and learn more about investing.

I have been taking baby steps towards bigger goals for about 10 years.  For example I cut out g.m.o.’s last year, switched to raw milk, and began juicing two years ago.  I cut out gluten in September and am prepared to cut out processed foods now.  I haven’t quite  yet defined what processed food is to me but am working on it.

Baby steps have always worked for me.  I like to practice giving something up just before I go cold turkey.  It’s funny because I feel like I am SO FAR away from my goals but when I actually stop and look how far I have come, I can see real progress.

It is only one day into 2015 and I am loving it already.  It is going to be my best year yet, I can feel it.

 

6 Reasons I Love That My Kids Watch My Little Pony

Last year, when my son discovered My Little Pony on TV and sat with his sister, staring starry eyed at the screen, mesmerized, my husband was less than thrilled. We both have a pretty low tolerance for crappy kids shows, and he assumed that MLP fell into that category. I’ll be honest (as always)- at first glance, it seems like fluff. The big eyed, sickeningly sweet-voiced, dramatic cartoon would not have gotten approval from me had I not overheard an episode while shooting off an email.

This show has more substance than pretty pastels! Each episode seeks to leave their little viewers a bit wiser and empowered than they were a half hour earlier. These feisty little fillies focus on big ideas and they hammer home their messages in a way that resonates with kids.

6 Lessons To Be Learned from My Little Ponies:

My Little Ponies!

My Little Ponies!

Acceptance/Embracing Differences
Self confidence
The importance of Honesty
Compassion
Problem solving
True, Supportive Friendship

So, as much as I like to minimize TV time (and I prefer PBS), I have to admit that I’m a fan of My Little Ponies.

 

Why are good habits so hard?!

Why is it that good habits take so much effort, and bad habits are so easy that you can just fall into them? I was thinking about this today as I struggled to stick to my guns over a screen time dispute with my 8 year old, and again as I came head to head with my 4 year old about eating a healthy dinner BEFORE dessert.

I’m not always a stickler for the rules. I’m happy to serve chocolate chip pancakes (GF/CF/SF baby!) for dinner from time to time, but in general, life seems to go easier if I hold strong to limiting sugar and screen time. The trouble comes at times like this- post World Series victory (we let the kids stay up- we’re big Sox fans) post-Halloween, super busy weekend, Daddy traveling all this week. I am exhausted, the kids are a wreck, and it is so tempting to feed them pancakes and bacon in front of the TV and then let Josh play Minecraft til his eyeballs fall out. Except that he would. Play until his eyeballs fall out. For days straight until that happened, if I let him. And when I do let him play too much, or when we get out of the good habit of a super healthy, real food menu, the behavior takes a turn from life with normal ( but still a little crazy-in-a-fun-way) kids to I Want To Duct Tape Them To The Walls and Run Away To A Private Island for Three Weeks- and it happens so quickly! I know I am not alone here, so I ask- why do we do it? Why is it so hard to stick to good habits, when they work so well -and so easy to just trip and fall right into the bad ones?

I think the answer is right there- the bad habits form from doing what is easy. When I am stressed and busy, it is easy to say yes to screen time so I can focus while the kids are quiet. When we have an especially busy week, or someone is sick, it is easy to serve quick meals, or skip veggies. When I have a lot on my schedule, it is easy to skip working out, and to stay up late to work, while the house is quiet…. But we all know where these things lead. So, I am working on identifying the bad habit red flags and finding ways to make the good habits easier.

What tips can you share? What are the bad habits your family falls into? What good habits would you like to have instead?

– M 🙂

Falling in…

Why is it that good habits take so much effort, and bad habits are so easy that you can just fall into them? I was thinking about this today as I struggled to stick to my guns over a screen time dispute with my 8 year old, and again as I came head to head with my 4 year old about eating a healthy dinner BEFORE dessert.

I’m not always a stickler for the rules. I’m happy to serve chocolate chip pancakes (GF/CF/SF baby!) for dinner from time to time, but in general, life seems to go easier if I hold strong to limiting sugar and screen time. The trouble comes at times like this- post World Series victory (we let the kids stay up- we’re big Sox fans) post-Halloween, super busy weekend, Daddy traveling all this week. I am exhausted, the kids are a wreck, and it is so tempting to feed them pancakes and bacon in front of the TV and then let Josh play Minecraft til his eyeballs fall out. Except he would. Play until his eyeballs fall out. For days straight until that happened, if I let him. And when I do let him play too much, or when we get out of the good habit of a super healthy, real food menu, the behavior takes a turn from life with normal ( but still a little crazy-in-a-fun-way) kids to I Want To Duct Tape Them To The Walls and Run Away To A Private Island for Three Weeks- and it happens so quickly! I know I am not alone here, so I ask- why do we do it? Why is it so hard to stick to good habits, when they work so well and so easy to just trip and fall right into the bad ones?

I think the answer is right there- the bad habits form from doing what is easy. When I am stressed and busy, it is easy to say yes to screen time so I can focus while the kids are quiet. When we have an especially busy week, or someone is sick, it is easy to serve quick meals, or skip veggies. When I have a lot on my schedule, it is easy to skip working out, and to stay up late to work, while the house is quiet…. But we all know where these things lead. So, I am working on identifying the bad habit red flags and finding ways to make the good habits easier.

What tips can you share? What are the bad habits your family falls into? What good habits would you like to have instead?

– M 🙂