Tips to Keep Your Home and Family Safe

A couple of years ago, our safe and happy home was disrupted early one morning by a break-in.  It was about 4 am, when we were startled awake by our 2 little terriers barking like mad dogs!  I have never heard them be that fierce, so I knew something was not right.

I walked down the hallway to the kitchen and saw that the door to the garage was wide open.  I asked my groggy husband (who sleeps like the dead), if he might have left it open.  He said it was possible.  Then I walked into the living room to find the TV was askew in the entertainment center and the back patio door was open.  It hit me then…someone had been in our house! That is the scariest feeling, not knowing if they are still in the house or waiting just outside.  Fortunately, they had fled quickly.

At first glance, it seemed that the dogs had run them off before anything was taken.  But upon closer inspection, some items were gone.  My purse and keys, which were always on the kitchen counter, were taken, along with my husband’s keys.

Long story short, we spent that entire day on the phone with banks, credit card companies, towing services and dealerships.  To get new electronic keys cut without a spare key is very expensive and time-consuming!  Plus, you have the fear of the burglar returning to grab your car!!

Our comfortable life was knocked sideways that day, but luckily we were safe and no major damage was done.

Here are a few things that we have learned from that experience.

1.  Keep your purse, keys, and wallet in a drawer and out of sight.

My purse and keys were an easy grab, sitting right on the kitchen counter.  A lot of my friends hang their purse by the front door and their keys hanging on a hook by the garage.  Big no-no, in my opinion.  I now keep my purse in our bedroom at night, right next to my hand gun.

2. Invest in motion-sensor outdoor lights at all points of entry.

The intruder entered in through a door on the side of our house that comes into the garage.  That door is now lit-up like daylight even when a bug flies by the motion detectors.  We also installed some on the back of the house, and brighter ones on the front.

3.  Buy patio door security bars.

We now have a safety bar, plus a piece of 2×4 cut to size that we wedge at the bottom of the door.

4.  Keep blinds and curtains closed when not at home.

Not only does this save on energy costs, but it keeps curious eyes from knowing what kind of goodies you have.

5.  Take photos of the contents of your wallet or purse.

Weeks after the break-in, items that were in my purse kept coming to mind that I had forgotten to include in the police report.  Like a pair of diamond earrings I put in the side pocket one day, after the back fell off.

6.  After purchasing a big-ticket item, cut down the box for trash pick-up.

I always see big TV boxes or new computer boxes out by the curb, and I think “Someone got a new toy!”  If it catches my attention, you better believe you’ve caught the attention of a thief.  We usually cut the big box down with a box knife into smaller pieces that will fit in a regular trash bag.

7.  Keep windows and doors locked at all times, even when you are home.

This one is for all my SAHM friends!  I have a bad habit of leaving the back door unlocked when I am home.  Last summer, my son and I were at my parent’s house enjoying the pool in their back yard.  All of a sudden, a man jumped their fence, ran half way through the yard, and then jumped back across the fence.  We found out later that he had stolen a car, and was running from police.  It was a little scary, but over in less than 20 seconds.  I realize now that if he had seen us, it would have taken him no time to hurt us or get inside the house.  So, when you are at home and not outside, keep those doors locked!

8.  Signs say so much.

Whether it’s “Beware of Dog”, “Beware of Owner”, or a simple sign from an alarm company…you may not own a dog, gun or an alarm, but a sign in your front yard deters thieves anyway.

9.  Opt for some form of self-defense, and know how to use it.

We chose guns.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea at first, but once I learned how to use them I became more comfortable with them.  Whatever your choice, be it guns, a taser or pepper spray, make sure you know how to properly use it.

10.  Get to know your neighbors.

After hearing my stories, you probably think I live in a terrible part of town.  Just the opposite actually…our neighborhood is mostly retirees and is very quiet.  Typical suburbs.  Crime knows no boundaries, and if you have nice things, other people want them.  So get to know that nosy neighbor, she just might save your life!

We still have no idea who they were or why they chose our house that night, but it has taught us some valuable life lessons.  Do you have any tips for keeping your family safe?  I would love to hear from you!

Stay safe!!


How to Make a Hand Print Keepsake

I love a baby’s hand and foot print.  In my opinion there is nothing cuter, except maybe the baby itself.  I have seen hand print keepsakes everywhere and thought they were just adorable.  But me being a frugal and creative mama, I thought I could make my own.

I have a wonderful book with over 100 helpful hints on how to use baking soda.  In it is a recipe for “Play Clay”.  I like this recipe, because it’s really simple, you can keep it pliable for up to a week, and then dry your creations when your done.

Recipe for Play Clay

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • Food coloring (optional)

Start by mixing the baking soda and cornstarch in a saucepan.  Add food coloring to your water if you choose.  I didn’t add any to mine.  Add water to baking soda and cornstarch mixture, stir to mix, then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 15 minutes.  Don’t overcook.

Clay should have the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Remove from heat and transfer to a plate.

Cover with a damp cloth to cool.  Mine took about an hour to cool.

I then rolled out part of the clay with a rolling-pin to about 1/2 inch thickness.  The other part I put in a container and stored it in the fridge for later.  It keeps for a week, but my son doesn’t do crafts so it eventually was tossed out with some left overs.

Then I dragged my son kicking and screaming to his high chair and placed his hand in the clay.  Remember…he doesn’t do crafts, so I only tortured him long enough to get a good print. 😉

Once the print was made, I cut around it with a knife.

I then had a cute hand print in clay that needed to be dried.  Before you dry your print, punch a hole in the top big enough for a ribbon to go through so that you can hang your keepsake up.

There are a few ways to dry the play clay.

  1. Air:  Set on wire rack overnight
  2. Oven: Preheat to 350˚, turn off, then place finished object on a cooking sheet.  Leave in until oven is cold.
  3. Microwave: Place object on a paper towel, bake at medium power for 30 seconds, turn over, bake for another 30 seconds.  Repeat until dry.

I like things simple, but I also like instant gratification.  I opted for the oven method of drying.  Worked pretty well.

Get crafty and let me know what kind of creations you come up.  I like the idea of giving these as a Mother’s Day gift for the Grandmas!


No doubt…he is all boy!

I am amazed everyday at how my son naturally falls into his gender.  I had planned on being the hip 21st century mom, who allows her son to express himself however he wants without forcing stigmas of the “that’s a boy/girl” thing on him.  I wanted him to play with dolls, or carry around a stuffed teddy bear, or wear a pink tutu if he that’s what he preferred.  But much to my surprise, Roland has never showed any interest in those things.  He is all boy.

Trucks, airplanes, helicopters, motorcycles, trains, tractors, cars…really anything that goes, he LOVES!!  I’m not saying these are “boy” things, but let’s face it, sadly, we live in a world where sexism still exists.

I bought him a play kitchen for Christmas and the only part he plays with is the cordless phone and the microwave where he stores is hot wheels.  He shows no interest in anything fluffy.  He did seem interested in a tot-sized baby carriage one time, but only in the wheels.  When he is outside, he tugs around this plastic golf bag which he calls his “vacuum”.   Maybe we should get him a dirt devil so he can actually start pulling his weight around the house.  (only kidding…we would never let him use an electric appliance, only brooms and feather dusters…again kidding.)  Cruising the toy aisles of our local big box store, I like to look at the latest fashion trend Barbie is sporting, while he would rather head straight for the Monster Jam trucks.

This past weekend we tested out this art project I had seen on Pinterest.  Fill some ziplock baggies with paint, tape them to the table, and let him “finger paint” with no mess.  Sounded totally FUN!!

I got everything together, and duct taped the bags to the floor, so that they were more easily accessible to him.

First, I demonstrated how to “paint” by mixing the colors together.  He sat down, swiped his finger across it twice, then got distracted by the duct tape.  He pulled up every piece of tape and tried to open the baggies.  His “left-braininess” started to kick in, and all he wanted was to figure out how it worked.  In the mean time, my “right-braininess” just wanted some photos of this “super” project (sorry the photo is blurry.)   When he realized I was taking pictures, he totally got distracted and wanted to see them…which really means he wants my phone so he can swipe through pictures and videos of himself, and play with Talking Tom Cat.

Needless to say, what I planned to be hours (or at least 15 minutes) of fun, actually ended up being about 45 seconds of nothing more than an intro to duct tape.  Oh well…his daddy was super excited that he went straight for the duct tape!  Just another reason why he can’t deny that kid and also because they look exactly alike.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Roland!  Mommy & Daddy are so proud of the man you growing into!!


Friday Funny

The innocence of vintage advertisements make me chuckle.  The good ‘ole days when your doctor recommended Lucky brand cigarettes, women vacuumed in heels and pearls, and no one thought twice about giving the baby cocaine teething tablets.  I threw in a few of my favorite Anne Taintor images as well!!

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Have a great weekend!


Ambushed

He lies silently, waiting for his next victim.  His orange and black stripes are well disguised amongst his surroundings.  His cunning eyes gleam with a sinister stare that brings terror to the hearts of men and women.  This quiet, scheming hunter is master of his domain, and will always fight to the death.  Beware of his sly smile, because he will lure your children into his welcoming arms, only to release them screaming in agony!

He is….

TIGGER!!

…and he will not give you back your children until you feed him every last quarter you own!

While browsing our local outlet mall a couple of weeks ago, my son and I were met with this ambush.  I was enjoying the beautiful spring weather in our outdoor mall, when I noticed the  island of coin operated toys.  It was too late!!  R spotted them too.

I wasn’t prepared.  I only had $1.25 in quarters and a $20 bill.  These evil rides are $.75 a piece!!  WTF!  What happened to a quarter or $.50?  Oh…they do have a bill changer, but I wasn’t about to walk around with $20 in quarters in my pocket!

Luckily, he was okay with just climbing around on all 4 of the rides.  I finally was able to coax him away, so we could at least make it to our first store.  Right in front of the shop I needed to visit was ANOTHER group of the buggers!  This time he wanted to “RIDE!”  I used my quarters in the bulldozer.  He then saw someone else riding the fire engine and wanted on that one instead…of course.  Patiently waiting for the fire truck, he got distracted by the space shuttle, then it was on to the van with a dog driving.  Honestly, who comes up with these?!  I remember when you only had one choice,  and you better have liked horses!

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am in the wrong business, and need to start my own coin-op shop.  There were a total of 6 of these “Islands-of-Fun”, with at least 4 rides on each.  If my math is correct, and you visit each ride just once per visit, you’ve spent at least $18!!!

I am now avoiding all retail shops with rides, at least when my son is with me.

You have been warned!


1-2 PUNCH…recipes that is

I love a good punch recipe!  I always wonder why we only enjoy this delicious treat at baby and wedding showers?  I wanna bring punch back!

Sherbet punch is by far my favorite.  So creamy with a little fizz that tickles your tongue…yummy!  But a bubbly fruity one is always good, too.  I CAN’T DECIDE!!  So, let’s make both…

Cherry Limeade Punch

  • 1 can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 2-liter bottle of Sprite (or 7-Up)
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bag pebble ice (I get mine at Sonic)

Directions:

Place frozen Limeade in punchbowl.  Stir in bottle of Sprite and juice from cherries.  Add the desired amount of ice.  Float cherries and sliced limes on top.

With a 1:1 ratio, this recipe is easily doubled.

 

Orange “Oh-So-Dreamy!” Punch

  • 1 quart orange sherbet
  • 1 quart pineapple sherbet
  • 1 (6 oz) can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 2 (2 liter) bottles of ginger ale
  • 1 orange (sliced)
  • **Optional:  Add a few of scoops of vanilla ice cream to make it even more dreamy!
Directions:
Place sherbet and frozen orange juice concentrate in a punch bowl.  Allow to thaw for 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in ginger ale.  Garnish with orange slices.  Float scoops of vanilla ice cream on top for an orange dreamsicle flavor!
So, for your next BBQ or family get-together, serve one of these up.  Everyone will love you for it!


Meal Planning Made Easy

Lately I have been trying to get into the habit of meal planning for my family.  It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be…the habit, not the planning.  I’ve found that when I do manage to sit down and make a weekly menu and then a shopping list, we actually eat healthier and save money.

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Here is how I plan for my family’s weekly meals.  Hopefully, you my wonderful friends, will hold me accountable and help me keep this habit!

  1. Map out my weeks meals using a good list
  2. Gather a few good recipes
  3. Always keep an inventory of what’s in my freezer, fridge and pantry

Let’s actually start the above list with #3 and work our way backwards.

Always keep an inventory of what’s in my freezer, fridge and pantry…

After a trip to the store, I would get home and realize that I already had a bottle of BBQ sauce in the pantry and what I meant to get was ketchup.  Oops!  So, I have started using this Pantry Inventory List from Organized Home.  It says “Pantry” at the top, but I print out 3 and mark in Freezer and Fridge for my other 2.  I like that it has a “in & out” check box.  Pretty smart!

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Gather a few good recipes…

Whether you use your memorized tried and true family favorites, your school fundraising cookbook, or the blessed internet google search, you know what works best for you. One of my favorite ways to find new recipes is the All Recipes Dinner Spinner App.  This is so easy to use!  Just select your dish type (dinner, salad, side), then select ingredients (pork, pasta, veggies, etc.), then select the amount of time you want your dinner to be ready in.  Then it pulls up all the recipes!  I usually only use recipes with 4 or more stars.  Always read the reviews, because most commenters will add in their tips and tricks too.  Happy spinning!

Map out my weeks meals using a good list…

I have searched and searched for the perfect “map” for my weekly menu.  There are so many out there!  I needed something that would allow me to view my week at a glance, plus have a place where I could write down my shopping list.  I found many with just the weekly view and a separate list, or ones with the week and a few lines on the side.  But those just didn’t work.  So, I made my own version, & available in 3 different colors!  For a limited time only, One Whimsy Housewife readers will receive 30% off of the Weekly Meal Planner and Shopping List!!  Just enter in WHIMSY4U at checkout.

This allows me to look at each meal, check my inventory, then write under the specific day exactly what I need.

I sit down on Sunday and figure up my weeks meals and shopping list.

I hope this helps you in some way.  Send me a quick comment and tell me what works for you! I’d love to hear from you!!