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Remember Ruthless?  Due to family vacations and a lot of hectic days, the grand unveiling of my “new” mud room/laundry room/pantry has been delayed.  I hope to be able to show Before and After pictures here next week.

It’s been harder than I thought it would be to be ruthless getting rid of things.  While I was able to let go of so many unneeded items, the attachment I have for things I’ve stored to use “someday” has surprised me.  Especially in a big box (ok, several boxes) marked “craft supplies.”  Empty milk cartons and soda bottles, egg cartons and toilet paper rolls, bottle caps and scraps of paper – all things I’ve saved since my son started to color. 

However, I realized that these bulky items I’ve saved (some for over a year now) are in ready supply in our house.  And I can recycle most of these items – or better yet, donate them to the Children’s Museum for their immediate crafting needs! 

Clearing out the spaces those boxes took up has been very freeing, and I realized that I didn’t need to save every egg carton that I emptied – another empty one will be coming soon if I’d like to use it in a craft project.

What are you holding on to that you can let go?  As I said in my first post about this – if you feel like you must keep any items for “someday,” pack them into a box and put them in the attic.  If you haven’t used them in a year, you can let them go for good!

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pureeing avocado in my food mill!

pureeing avocado in my food mill!

I purchased a food mill recently to help make baby food… and it has quickly become my favorite kitchen gadget!

The key thing for me was finding a way to make baby food that was quiet.  My oldest son has hated the sound of a blender since the day he was born – and I did not enjoy having to wait until he was asleep to puree anything. 

Enter the food mill: silent and very efficient!  I have pureed avocado and sweet potato it in for my youngest, and it is a whiz at making mashed potatoes and applesauce for the rest of us!  There are apparently many more uses for it as well – sauces, soups, jams, butters… I can’t wait to try them all!

I had never seen a food mill before I started having children, and now I can’t live with out it.  How about you – what’s your current favorite kitchen gadget?  Or can you share any wonderful food mill recipes that I can try out?  I love finding new gadgets and trying new recipes, so thank you for sharing!

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It’s true. For anyone who loves fried green tomatoes, you’ll be surprised at how similar this tastes. And talk about waste not, want not.

Cornmeal mix (you can buy this pre-made or make it yourself by mixing 1/2 flour and 1/2 corn meal)

1 tsp of salt

Pepper to taste

Slice the white part *only* of watermelon rind into slices similar to the size of tomato slices. Coat in the corn meal mixture, salt and pepper .

Fry in 350 degree oil for about 8 minutes or until tender and lightly brown.

We tried this tonight and I’m just amazed I didn’t know about this already. I’m in love. Honestly in love.

Taking pictures of your kids isn’t always easy.  Especially if you have one like mine who runs when he sees the camera.  But, you don’t need to be a professional photographer or have a fancy camera to get some great captures.  Here are a few tips for taking great pictures of your kids:

  • Get down on their level.  Kneel down and take pictures instead of looming over their heads.  Don’t be afraid to lay down on the ground.  Sure, you’ll look silly but it will be worth it!
  • Fill the frame.  Go for the close-ups.  Make sure your child is the center of attention.  When you take pictures from too far away your child just gets lost in the background.
  • Speaking of backgrounds, pay attention to what’s behind your child.  Try to avoid busy, clutttered surroundings.  Look for trees or poles that appear to be coming out of your child’s head.  If the background is unattractive, get in close or move somewhere else.
  • Get outside.  Turn off your flash and use natural light.  It looks so much better!  When outside, try to avoid full sun.  Look for some open shade, turn you child so that the light hits their eyes beautifully and snap away.  You won’t be sorry!  Your colors will look so natural, and you will lose that “flashy” look that washes your subjects out.
  • Don’t say “cheese”.  Try to capture natural expressions, they look so much better than forced, cheesy grins.  Not every picture has to show a smile, it’s nice to capture your child’s serious side also.
  • Go for candid shots.  No uncomfortable poses, let kids be kids.  Capture them doing the things they love (for instance, playing with a favorite toy).
  • If at first you don’t suceed, try try again!  That is the beauty of digital cameras.  Bad shots can be easily erased.  Take lots and lots of pictures!

Give some of these tips a try.  Your scrapbooks will thank you!