Trendy Mom Reviews
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Recipe: The Best Oven Baked French Fries with Olive Oil

Recipe: The Best Oven Baked French Fries with Olive Oil
  1. Preheat the oven at 220°C /450 F.
  2. Scrub the potatoes clean and cut them into slices approximately 1 cm thick.
  3. Place them in a bowl filled with water and leave them for approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Drain the potatoes, season them with salt and pepper and place them on a baking dish. Top them off with Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the PDO region of Kalamata.
  5. Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
  6. Season with paprika.
  7. Reduce the temperature to 200°C and bake for 10 more minutes or until they get a nice golden color.
Thanks to Gaea for providing this trendy recipe and photo!  The flavor from the olive oil and seasonings is delicious. We are hooked on this simple and delicious recipe.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

5 Organizational Tips for Energetic Children During the School Year

The first few weeks of school are always a whirlwind.  As a mom of two energetic boys, I work hard to stay organized so that I'm able to stay on top of everything. Another one of my challenges is to find good quality products that survive their high energy levels. In today's post, I'll share five tips that will help you to stay organized during the school year.

1. Order Unique and Easy-to-Identify Backpacks 
While I love matching outfits for my boys, the matching backpack concept doesn't work so well because it's easy for them to mix up their bags in the car.  We have even had backpack mixups at school when items were placed in the wrong cubbies. In order to avoid these mixups, we let our children pick out their own trendy backpacks from Lands' End and have them embroidered with their names. Not only is this a practical idea, but the backpacks with embroidery make my children feel special. Their unique backpack designs also make them easy to spot in a crowd when I see the kids lined up for dismissal at school.  My oldest son selected the ClassMate Large Backpack in Vibrant Orange Camo with "Glow In The Dark" thread for embroidery.  (We tested it out and it really does glow quite well!) My youngest son selected the ClassMate Medium Backpack in Electric Blue Geo with his name embroidered in a trendy Bright Chartreuse thread.  These are great quality backpacks that survive my energetic boys. In particular, my oldest son often seems like a professional backpack "stress tester" as he wears his backpack on runs and bike rides. There are even times when I wonder how his backpack survives the weight of several books.  (While I stress tested these products with my boys, I noticed that they have the same high quality backpacks with trendy designs for girls too!)

2. Order Lunch Bags with their Names 
Most schools follow a schedule of lunch followed by recess. At our oldest son's school, the children set their lunch bags next to a door near the playground during recess. They pick their bags up after recess and take them back to their classrooms.  If you order a special lunchbox with their name embroidered on it, it's much easier for them to find at the end of recess.   Plus, I have to admit that I like their unique lunch bags at home so that I don't accidentally mix up their food. One of my sons is a picky eater and won't eat if I mix their lunches up.    My boys both ordered lunch bags to match their trendy backpacks. My oldest son selected the Classmate Printed Soft Sided Lunch Box in Vibrant Orange Camo with a Tiger Logo and "Glow In The Dark" thread for embroidery.   My youngest son selected the ClassMate Printed EZ Wipe Lunch Box in Electric Blue Geo with an Earth Logo and Bright Chartreuse thread for embroidery.  Lands' End makes it fun for them to customize their backpacks and lunch bags.

3. Order Name Labels or a Label Printer
Throughout the school year, you will need to send various items to school with your children. Younger children will need changes of clothing and more. Older children will need supplies for science projects, sports, and more. I bought an inexpensive label printer and iron-on tape to print their names on iron-on labels.  I also ordered dishwasher-safe name labels for sandwich and snack containers.  If you label items with their names, there is less of a chance of losing items.

4. Pack Backpacks in the Evening
My children are responsible for packing their own backpacks in the evening. However, once they finish, we go over a checklist together to make sure that they remembered everything. Personally, I created a daily checklist so that we don't forget to pack for library or P.E. days.

5. Create a Snack Shelf
We have a snack shelf in our kitchen where the boys are allowed to pick a daily snack for snack time at school.  They are allowed to take applesauce pouches, fruit, or other healthy snacks that are approved by their schools. The backpacks that we mentioned above are perfect because they provide plenty of space for snacks.

We hope that our tips are helpful as you adjust to new schedules for the school year!
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Monday, August 14, 2017

How to Find a Baby Gate for Custom Homes with Extra Wide Stairs

When we bought our home a few years ago, we didn't anticipate having a baby. While we love our home, many of the grown up "special touches" are not baby-friendly and required extra work for baby-proofing our home. In particular, our stairs posed a problem that we couldn't find a gate that was wide enough at our local stores. In today's post, I'll tell you about the solution that we found from The Stair Barrier.  The designers at this trendy company seem to be perfectionists. Not only is our gate functional, but it also looks trendy in our home!

Our baby proofing journal began a few months ago.  One of our most frustrating baby proofing experiences was figuring out how to find a baby gate that was extra wide and that would work between only one banister and a wall.  We visited a few local baby stores and nothing worked.  Some other moms in our neighborhood recommended that we attach 2x4 lumber to our wall so that a baby gate could attach to it.  Another mom recommended that we use a blanket or tarp with zip ties. Again, I didn't like that solution because it wouldn't look nice, plus I worried whether it was even safe. We invested a lot in our home and want it to look nice.   After a lot of research, we found a trendy company called The Stair Barrier.  It's really cool because they have functional and beautiful gates. For instance, check out our gate in the Khaki pattern.  It fits the neutral color theme in our home and fits perfectly.

The way that our gate works is that it is connected between one wall and one banister.  We open and close the latch on the side with the banister.  It was easy to install. 

We found it easy to use the latch system for opening and closing the gate.

At first, our baby was fascinated with gate and wanted to check it out. However, he eventually became bored with it and now leaves our stairs alone.  I wish that we would have found The Stair Barrier online store sooner because it's such a trendy invention!

We are in love with our baby gate from The Stair Barrier.  If you are struggling to find a gate that is wide enough, you'll love their website since they offer wider gate options. They even offer customized solutions.   Regardless of the width of your stairs, you'll also love the trendy designs that they offer.  While I chose the khaki colored gate, I also loved the black and white and geometric patterns.  Baby gates are used for a few years, so it's nice to find something that you love!  Visit The Stair Barrier here.
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Tips for Helping 7 Year Olds with Work Ethic and Our Experience with Explore Horizons Tutoring Enrichment Center in Colleyville, TX

In today's post, I will share tips for helping your child to improve their work ethic, study skills, and attitude toward schoolwork. Personally, I spent the past several months worrying about my 7-year old because he often rushed through his schoolwork and had a negative attitude about some subjects.  I tried several strategies to improve his work ethic and attitude, but the biggest contributor to breaking through our hurdles was taking him to the Explore Horizons Tutoring Enrichment Center.  Let me share the tips that I tried and tell you more about this trendy tutoring center that helped to reshape his study skills, work ethic, and attitude.

Let's start from the beginning. My 7-year old son is a very bright child, but he is still developing his study skills and work ethic.  Over the past several months, I noticed that he was no longer "reading" books, but was skimming them in order to finish quickly. It was strange because he even did this for books that he read for fun.  I guess that he just wanted to know the ending quickly.  In addition, we noticed that he was reading questions too quickly on exams and getting them wrong.  He would have answered most of them correctly if he slowed down to read the questions.   I wasn't as worried about him answering questions incorrectly as much as I was worried about his emerging study skills and work ethic.  This is when I started to research ways to help him so that he becomes an effective lifelong learner.   Let me share the tips that I found.

Tips for Helping 7 Year Olds with Work Ethic and Our Experience with Explore Horizons Tutoring Center in Colleyville, TX

1. Work with educational experts at an Explore Horizons Tutoring Enrichment Center.
The #1 most effective strategy that we tried was taking our son to an Explore Horizons Tutoring Enrichment Center. We visited the location in Colleyville, TX.  This was my first experience with a tutoring center and I was impressed with their expertise and amazing rapport with the children.  They were able to reshape my son's study skills and work ethic without any meltdowns or bad attitude. Actually, he enthusiastically appreciated their support and bragged to me about his sessions.  It was amazing.

The main goals of the tutoring include:
  • Define Problems
  • Ask Questions
  • Hunt for Answers
  • Capture Thoughts Clearly
  • Tackle Tests Fearlessly
  • Exude Confidence
We started with an assessment where they reviewed my son's background and listened to my concerns.  For instance, they had hard data about his background from their own assessment tools, but also considered my concerns in regard to subjects that worried me.

Once the assessment was complete, my son visited two times per week.  It's really nice that we could drop in for the sessions at our convenience without worrying about scheduling.   Each session consisted of one hour of learning and fifteen minutes of fun time.  The majority of the learning hour involves using a computer with a teacher who takes turns checking on the children. For instance, one of the most important interactions with my son was helping him to slow down and read questions rather than rushing through them.  Another example of helpful interaction was when they had him practice reading aloud. Not only was the actual skill useful, but it also helped his confidence. 

After each session, the teacher provided us with an overview of our son's lessons.  This was both interesting and helpful to me as a parent.  I enjoyed knowing what he worked on, but also the opportunity to extend the lessons at home.

Finally, my son loved the motivation that they provided. He loved his 15 minutes of recharge time at the end of each session. He earned lizard cards at each visit. Each card has facts about a reptile.  They are educational and fun!  He enjoys reading them to us on the car ride home.  He has them lined up in his bedroom because he is proud that he earned them.  The cards may be cashed out for prizes. 

He also enjoyed seeing his progress on their chart.

If you would like to schedule a free in-person assessment at your nearest Explore Horizons tutoring center, visit them here. You will also find a coupon here.

2. Make regular trips to a library and/or bookstore.
We visit the library every week. Our son selects several books that he reads before bedtime.  We have a routine where he has his bath, brushes his teeth, and gets ready for bed.  He then has one hour to read books in bed before it's time for "lights out."  During the summer, we let him stay up for two to three hours with his books.  This routine has helped to make learning fun.

3. Register kids for camps.
We register our son for three different camps each summer. That is, one camp per summer month.  This is a great way for him to focus on specific subjects. For instance, our son's favorite was Super Hero Physics camp where he focused on physics and robotics.  He also loved an environmental camp and a bible camp this year. We try to select camps with different topics so that he becomes well balanced.

4. Sports are important.
Sports are a great way for children to practice social skills, develop good work ethic, improve teamwork skills, and learn patience.  It may take a few attempts, so try not to worry if the first sport that you try is not a good fit.

5. Reinforce good behavior.
Sometimes it is tough to be a little one.  They are still learning about the world around them and how they fit in.  Positive encouragement that boosts their self esteem goes a long way!

I hope that you enjoyed the tips that we used to help improve our son's work ethic and study habits.  I give a lot of credit to the experts at Explore Horizons that tutored my son. It takes a village to raise a child and I'm grateful that the experts at Explore Horizons are part of our village!
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The Ring Video Doorbell: My Experience as a Mom with Young Children

We were recently shocked to learn about a string of home break-ins in our town. Personally, I used to feel safe with our alarm system and cameras. However, I joined many others in our neighborhood in questioning whether our alarm systems and cameras are enough since they failed a family in our neighborhood. In today's post, I'll tell you more about my concerns and how the Ring Video Doorbell (with live video feed sent directly to my phone) has helped me to feel safer at home with my children and when I am out running errands.

Many of us moved into our homes with an alarm system and also installed cameras. However, one family learned the hard way that despite their alarm system and cameras, a group of criminals were able to break into their home, load many of their belongings into a van, and take off before the police showed up. While their alarm system notified the police department, it failed them since the police didn't show up quick enough before the criminals left. I feel terrible for them that their family was traumatized and keep hoping that the criminals will be caught.  It has caused me stress since the break-in was during the middle of the day when I am often home with my babies or running errands.

As a mom with young children, I worry about our safety. We have an alarm system and cameras like the other family that I mentioned above, but we recently thought more about our security and increased in dramatically. While we worked with our alarm company and also added more cameras, the biggest change is that we installed a Ring Video Doorbell Pro. This product has changed everything since it proactively notifies us of anyone that approaches our door, allows us to interact with them without opening the door, and records them on cloud storage. Let me share our experience from installation through usage.

The designers of the Ring Video Doorbell Pro did a great job when they designed the user experience because we found it easy to install and use.  The package not only came with the physical device, but also some small tools that we used for installation. It also came with four different face plates so that we could select the color that we liked most. 

My husband timed the installation. It took him 23 minutes to install, create a Ring account, and test that it worked.  He temporarily disconnected the power, simply removed the old doorbell, connected the wires for the new one, attached it to the wall, and then restored the power.   

Once it was connected, we enjoyed testing it out. We set up accounts for both of us to monitor the front door.   There are two features that I really like.  First is the live feed. A view of our front porch is just a click away! My second favorite feature is that the Ring Pro calls my phone when someone rings the doorbell. I'm able to check them out on the camera before I decide if I want to open the door.  I even have the capability to talk to them through the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. 

The Ring Video Doorbell is one of those things that makes you wonder why it wasn't invented sooner. In today's age of technology, the Ring Video Doorbell is a must-have product that helps me to feel safer at home. I appreciate that the designers of this product seem like perfectionists that paid attention to every detail, including how people interact with the product from the moment that they open the box to when they install it and use it in their day-to-day lives.

Learn More and save $25
I really love the Ring Video Doorbell product concept and had a user-friendly experience. If you want to try this product, it is available at local Costco stores and I don't blame you if you want to run out to purchase it immediately, but let me also share a discount code that will give you $25 off if you want to save and order it online directly from Ring. Code 7trendymom will give you $25 off of the Ring 2.
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Star Wars Bathroom Makeover with a DIY Light Saber Towel Bar Tutorial

Star Wars Bathroom Makeover with a DIY Light Saber Towel Bar Tutorial

DIY Light Saber Towel Bar Tutorial
  • 1 light saber 
  • 2 wall mounts with hooked edges that will support the weight of the light saber and towels. (These are available at most hardware stores.)
1.  Install the two wall mounts on the wall so that your light saber handle and top end will stick out 2" or more on the sides.

2. Set the light saber on the wall mounts. 

3. Place your favorite Star Wars towels on your Light Saber Towel Rack!

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