Posts from August 2015

Popcorn & Pics: Favorite Family Home Theater Flicks

August 28, 2015
entertainment, family

Summer is coming to a close as fall is in the air, and, for many of us, school has begun. It’s my favorite time of year. One where I just to want to pause… and soak it all in. The magic of moments. Family moments… One of our favorite things to do on a weekend evening is curl up on the couch with loved ones, make popcorn (the old fashioned way) and watch a fabulous movie. Not a fan of popcorn? Make your family some of our favorite movie night-worthy snacks!

In honor of back-to-school season, here are some of our school themed family home theater flicks.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Matthew Broderick stars in this iconic film, as a young student who takes his infamous day off while trying not to get caught. His jealous little sister, played by Jennifer Grey, is simply classic.

School of Rock (2003) Jack Black stars as Dewey Finn, who poses as a substitute teacher at a formal elementary school. He doesn’t teach normal school lesson plans, but rock music, making a band out of his “fake” students. Jack’s passion for music and, ultimately, his students beautifully shines through.

High School Musical (2006) Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens take the lead in this Disney favorite. Two teens who come from completely different worlds are brought together through their love of song and dance in this memorable musical.

Rudy (1993) Sean Astin portrays Daniel ‘Rudy’ Ruettiger, in this inspirational film. Rudy was  told he couldn’t do anything, especially play college football. But he is dedicated to overcome the obstacles and finally play for Notre Dame. Talk about a heartwarming film.

Miracle (2004) starring Kurt Russell as coach Herb Brooks, tells the incredibly true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team. The ultimate David versus Goliath.

Freedom Writers (2007) Hilary Swank takes the lead as the inspirational Teacher-Erin Gruwell. Who takes it upon herself to teach her “at-risk” students about acceptance, tolerance, and dedication. So beautiful, powerful and inspirational, on every level. (This film is PG13 and more appropriate for older children.)

To Sir With Love (1967) Sidney Poitier stars as Mark Thackeray, the ultimate teacher who must transform high school students from London. A beautiful classic.

Happy viewing! And, most importantly, happy viewing with your precious family!

xo, Vicki

Photo courtesy of imdb

10 Household Hacks that Double as Beauty Treatments

August 24, 2015

10 Household Hacks that Double as Beauty Treatments! #joyofmom


Hey, Moms! You don’t need an appointment or a babysitter to book the hottest spa in town. In fact, this is a place where your spa treatments will either cost nothing or just a few dollars.

Yes, you have the makings in your home for some very luxe spa treatments.

Here are 10 Household Hacks that can turn your home into a spa!

One: Kosher Salt. That fancy exfoliating agent at the tony spa is probably an inexpensive kosher salt mixed with a scent. You can do the same thing at home. Just take a few teaspoons of the salt into the bath with you for a great mommy leg scrub. Add to it your favorite amazing scent depending on your mood. Peppermint energizes while lavender, chamomile or sweet marjoram to relax. Use geranium or clary sage for balance and tea tree oil to purify and cleanse. Feel the smooth!

Two: Grapefruits. It’s not just a great dieting aide! Make sure to save the other half of your grapefruit to rid your elbows and knees of that summer dry skin. Go outside since this is messy and scrub the dry spots. Rinse. Moisturize.

Three: Coffee Grinds. Save your cooled coffee grinds to make an amazing cellulite scrub. Just take the room temp grinds into the shower and with your hands scrub the cellulite areas. The caffeine in the coffee helps to break it down. Rinse. Moisturize.

Four: Leftover Water from Rice. For centuries, Asian women have saved their rice water as a hair treatment. Rice water contains inositol, a carb that helps to repair damaged hair and protect it from damage. Plus, the amino acids in the rice help strengthen the hair root and make hair silky smooth. Cool the rice water before applying. You an also use it on your skin to calm inflation as the rice water is moisturizing and is also an antioxidant with healing properties.

Five: Egg Whites or Yellows. If you have oily skin take the whites of an egg, whip them and make a facial mask. If your skin is dry, take the fatty yellows and make a mask. Smear on your face and let it set for 20 minutes. Rinse well. Just don’t eat the raw eggs!

Six: Marbles. Do your kiddos love marbles? Borrow them at night and make this relaxing spa treatment. Fill a plastic bin with warm water and drops of your favorite essential oil and/or liquid scented soap. Great scents for relaxation are chamomile, bergamot, sandalwood, mandarin and jasmine. Place the marbles on the bottom of the bin. Now, rub your feet over the marbles as you close your eyes and relax for 20 minutes. It’s an instant reflexology treatment. Rinse and moisturize when you’re finished.

Seven: Peaches are still around for the next few weeks, so let’s put them to good use. Did you know that the vitamins in peaches in also a natural skin brightener that will make it look like you’ve just had a facial. Simply mash the inside of a small peach, discarding the skin. Smear on your face and relax for 20 minutes. Rinse. You will notice instant brightening.

Eight: Love chocolates and your bathtub? Now there’s a way to combine both of them. Add 1/8 cup powered milk plus 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder into your bath plus ¼ cup Epsom salt. Stir the tub water with your hand to make sure the chocolate dissolves. Melt into your tub while smelling delicious chocolate, which is also an antioxidant. Another variation: 1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk plus ½ cup unscented bubble bath. It’s a chocolate bubble bath now! (Moms, this is also big fun for the kids!)

Nine: Avocado. Don’t eat this one with chips (although tempting!). Mash a small avocado in a bowl and add half cup of coconut milk. Use this mix as a deep conditioner that you leave on for 20 minutes for silky, shining hair. Rinse.

Ten: Coconut and Roses. Find a small jar or a mason jar. Add one large scoop of coconut oil on the bottom that should comprise 1/3 of the jar, add rose pedals to comprise the middle third of the jar, add raw sugar for the top third (brown sugar or raw cane sugar. It should be course). Keep this as a fragrant scrub.

Bonus: We can’t leave without one more tip. Got lemons? You can make a fabulous fresh clarifying toner by mixing a few drops of coconut water with three drops of lemon. Use a cotton ball and gently pat your face. The coconut hydrates while the lemon brightens and clears your face of congestion. To learn more bit the power of lemons click here.

Here’s to a beautiful you (inside and out) this fall!

Carrot Muffins

August 17, 2015

Recipe: Carrot Muffins #joyofmom


There are two schools of thought on muffins: either you can think of them as a small cake or turn them into a healthy, yummy treat or even breakfast on the run.

Carrot muffins are especially tricky if your kiddo is a picky eater with veggies. The idea is not only getting them to eat their vegetables but to enjoy them. Carrots are a rich source of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that also promotes healthy skin and supply the body with essential minerals, vitamins and enzymes.

The negative of these muffins is that some recipes are loaded with sugars and white flour. We found an amazing recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe adapted from 100 Days of Real Food that combines whole wheat flour, honey and unsweetened applesauce to give the muffins that sweet taste. We also included a delish and healthy recipe for cream cheese frosting from Ceara’s Kitchen Your kiddos will be asking your to make these all the time, plus they pop nicely into lunch boxes. Warm them up on a cool fall day and you have the perfect after school snack. PS: The at home smell from these muffins baking in your oven just shouts homemade love! Enjoy!

Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins

• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
• 3/4 cup finely shredded carrots (about 2-3 medium carrots)

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
• In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
• Make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the butter, honey, egg, vanilla, and applesauce.
• Stir ingredients together until just combined and there are still some spots of flour remaining.
• Fold in the shredded carrots just until combined (don’t overmix or the muffins will be dense).
• Distribute the batter evenly among the muffin liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. These muffins freeze wonderfully and keep well if covered at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Vegan Cream Cheese Icing from Ceara’s Kitchen

½ cup raw cashews soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes or overnight
1½ tbsp maple syrup
1½ – 2 tsp lemon juice
pinch sea salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon

•Drain and rinse soaked cashews (make sure your cashews are thoroughly soaked for the icing to be silky smooth). With an immersion or small blender blend the cashews together with maple syrup, lemon juice (1½ tsp), sea salt, vanilla extract and optional cinnamon until silky smooth (this took me about 3 minutes). Taste test and add an additional ½ tsp of lemon juice if necessary (I prefer it will 2 whole tsps of lemon juice). The icing should be thick like traditional cream cheese icing. If necessary add a little bit of water if the icing is too thick.
• Once carrot cake is cool, ice cake with icing and garnish with optional walnuts or pecans.


Popcorn & Pics: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

August 14, 2015
entertainment, family

Popcorn & Pics: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. #joyofmom


This is a special Date Night edition of Popcorn & Pics where we recommend the perfect, get out of the house, couples night out film for Mom and Dad. The modern day update of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. provides action, two charismatic leading men, beautiful women in gorgeous vintage fashions and all of the thrills of a James Bond film with a hip throwback vibe. Based on the 1964 series, the film directed by Guy Ritchie stars Henry Cavill (the new Superman) and Armie Hammer in a 1960’s set plot. CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Kllya Kuryakin must join forces against a mysterious criminal organization.

Behind the Scenes: Turing a beloved vintage TV series into a new movie isn’t an impossible mission. You just need two irresistible leads like Hammer and Cavill. Six foot five Hammer (“Social Network”) says that he wouldn’t make a good spy in real life. “I’m too tall. It makes it hard to blend in. Plus, I find it hard to keep a secret.”

Fun Fact: A sequel is already in the works.

Photo courtesy of Twitter

Put A Hold On Back To School Time

August 12, 2015
family, lifestyle, motherhood

Put A Hold On Back To School Time! #joyofmom


It started with that special aisle in the market.

My heart began to sink FAST. It was filled with Mead notebooks, lined paper and three ring binders in every color.

“No,” my mind screamed “It’s not that time of the year!” Then I glance again and asked myself, “How can it be here so soon?”

I think every mom feels a bit melancholy when you see that first Back to School sale despite the fact that a clean, beautiful new backpack for your little one does seem like a really good idea. Or maybe it’s that special comforter for the child who is going away to college. Will it be Batman or SpongeBob this year for the little one’s lunchbox? Will it be… STOP. NOT YET.

The first whiff of back to school also begged the question: Where does the time go?

Five minutes ago, it was the last day of school and kids were literally running out those big heavy doors with their hands in the air cheering on summer vacation. Or maybe it was that college student who is finally back from a different time zone with a new maturity. As a mom, I’ve always loved the last day of school because it signals to me that it’s time for some “family time” with the kids.

Gone are those endless nights of homework and projects. Gone are the hectic school schedule of rehearsals and games. Gone is the fact that I can only reach my child through a phone or device, but can’t give him or her a real hug.

Summer is one giant improv where you can find an adventure with your kids at every turn, if you just look for one. I love every part of it from the backyard barbecues where the garden hose attack is on to the lazy family car trips and those big breakfasts at a diner in the middle of nowhere. Summer is sleep overs and sleep ins. Early morning walks. And sweat from that breathless bike ride up the hills. It’s outdoor cafes for heart to heart talks.

Those three months of summer are golden and not just because of the bright morning sunshine declaring another free day to turn into something memorable. Just having this mental break with the kids is priceless, but it moves too fast.

June went by in a blink and suddenly July 4 was over. Gulp, did I hear someone mention Labor Day? Did I really go to the craft’s store and see all the Halloween stuff? Is a giant turkey far behind?

And now…, I’m supposed to think about a sale on multi-colored pencils?

Stop the summer. I want to get off the back to school train already.

Quickly, I swung my cart to a different aisle. Then I convinced myself that it’s only mid August and there was precious little time left.

There was still time for another dip in a pool and the promise of movie night at my local park.

But just as I was buying some veggies to grill, my heart sunk. I saw those mini pumpkins in a bin about to be put in the produce aisle as a signal that fall was nipping on my sandals.

Darn it! It’s coming…..but until then I’m enjoying every moment.

The Power Of Lemons

August 10, 2015

The Power Of Lemons! #joyofmom


I absolutely love the color yellow, which is a natural and scientifically proven joy or mood booster. One of my favorite yellow things is the lemon, which is in peak season whether you grow them in your backyard (a fun family project) or buy them at the store (also good for counting games).

What are some great uses of lemons? I love these suggestions:

*It’s a Mood Booster: There is nothing more refreshing during the hot August days than water with lemon, but doctors know that it is also a great way to relive depression and stress. Add lemon slices to a water pitcher and have this refreshing drink at the ready. Extra Credit Tip: The juice from the lemon also helps to clean out your liver thus boosting your metabolism.

*Get Rid of Browning Fruits and Veggies: A simple squeeze of lemon will stop your child’s leftover apple or avocado slices from turning brown. You can also squeeze a teaspoon of lemon juice on cauliflower to prevent it from turning brown during cooking. Boiled potatoes with a squeeze of lemon juice will also avoid browning. Extra Credit Tip: Having a party? Squeeze fresh lemon juice over your guacamole to keep the brownish tinge away.

*Cutting Board Rehab: I love my wooden cutting board, but after some use the board will begin to take on the smells of what’s cut, especially if you like to use it for onions and garlic food prep. An easy clean is to slice a lemon in half and rub it all over the board. Rinse. All the old smells will be gone. Extra Credit Tip: You can also use those half lemons to clean out your bathtub. Just rub the lemon over stubborn dirt spots.

*Natural Bug Spray: I don’t like a chemicals in the house and this is a genius way to get rid of bugs. Just take the juice of four lemons and ½ gallon of water and use it as both a floor wash and also spray it into the holes, cracks and crevices where you’ve seen ants and other little critters. Insects and lemons don’t mix and they will stay far away. Extra Credit Tip: Bring the lemon spray outside for your porch, patio doors and windows to prevent little critters.

*As A Skin Lightener: Who doesn’t have a few age spots? Yes, you can go buy that $50 cream or try the juice of a fresh lemon. Just slice the lemon in half and apply to your spots for 15 minutes and rinse with cool water. It’s a natural way to lighten skin. Extra Credit Tip: A little spritz of lemon in the hair before you go out into the sun is still one of the cheapest ways to highlight your hair.

*Get Rid of Dark Polish Stains: If you’ve loved your winter dark polish, but hate what its done to your nails then a lemon is your friend. Make a mixture of one-cup warm water, your favorite suds and the juice of half a lemon. Dunk your nails for five minutes. The stain of the dark polish will finally fade. Extra Credit Tip: Don’t forget to dunk your toes, too.

Popcorn & Pics: Fantastic Four

August 7, 2015
entertainment, family

Popcorn & Pics: Fantastic Four #joyofmom


Are the kiddos begging you for some fun movie action? Check out the brand new Fantastic Four where we get to meet our quad of superheroes all over again. This time around, the four outsiders find themselves teleporting to a new and dangerous universe where their bodies get rebooted. Once they’re back home, these four must confront their new super powers as they try to save Earth from evil. The cast includes: Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman, Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing.

Behind The Scenes: Jordan said that this is a story of how four strangers turn into a real family. “What I loved about ‘Fantastic Four’ is that it’s about a group of friends who face the odds on their way to becoming that family. They fall apart and come together,” he said. “The message is how you need strong people by your side and those people become your family.”

Fun Fact: Security was running high so there would be no plot or costume spoilers. When Jordan went to the bathroom during outdoor shoots, they had to guard him. “They had to put a gigantic cloak on me because there were photographers sitting on rooftops trying to get a picture of the suits, which could wreck it for the fans. So, we took every precaution.”

This movie is a great escape from the hot weather of early August, so grab your little superheroes and plan to have a fantastic time!

PS: Also remember that moms are full of superpowers {on a daily basis}!

Photo courtesy of IMDB

You Are Who You Eat With

August 5, 2015

You Are Who You Eat With - Joy of Mom

Connection. It’s the most valuable part of a family relationship.

Yet it’s also the first thing to dissolve when we inevitably get busy and distracted. Work demands call our attention. Our older children are busy texting with their friends. Laundry and dishes are a never-ending cycle. We retreat to our phones whenever we get a moment of quiet. We love our family, of course. There is just so much to do.

Then, before we know it, we stop saying what’s important. Our family conversation becomes merely a transfer of information instead of a connection of minds and souls. We suddenly realize that the connection we love is barely there anymore.

Luckily, the Mealtime Movement by Smuckers has been created to combat disconnection and create a connection revolution among families. They declare that “mealtime means taking a moment to enjoy food with humans you care about. And it makes a big difference in how we live and grow.” And we couldn’t agree more.

We love this video that Soul Pancake created for the movement. In the interviews of family members at the beginning, you can see and hear not only the disconnection, but also the longing for a true emotional connection with their family.

The truth of the statement breaks our hearts a little when one of the dads says, “We’re on our phones all the time. It’s really sad.”

Then, when each family sits down to a meal, watches the interviews, and talks…well, we won’t ruin the ending but all we can say is “so many happy tears!”

To learn more about the Mealtime Movement and savoring your time with your family, go to

5 Best Sunburn Remedies

August 3, 2015
family, motherhood

5 Best Sunburn Remedies #joyofmom


August is here and the days are already getting starting to get shorter. {Yikes!} With hot days ahead and school just around the corner the kiddos along with many of us want to get out there and soak up the last days of fun in the sun. It’s important to protect ourselves in the sun. Despite our best efforts, sometimes we arrive home to find out that our child is tomato red despite all that slathering of 99 SPF block. This weekend there were photos and stories shared about well known sunburn creams that aren’t working despite the fact that moms are trusting these healthy, organic products. Here our tried and true list of sunburn treatments if your little one has unfortunately experienced too many rays.

*Milk has healing powers and works wonders for a sunburn. Grab some gauze or a soft, washcloth and pour milk in a small bowl. Pour the milk in the bowl and make a cold compress, draining the extra liquid. Put the bowl of milk back in the fridge. Leave the compress in place for at least ten minutes. When it becomes room temperature, dip it into cool milk again and reapply.

*Baking soda is another great home product that will soothe your child’s sun issues. Make a paste using cool water (not cold) and place on sunburned areas. Leave on until the sting of the sunburn has diminished. Wash with cool water.

*Aloe is your best friend during a sunburn. Leave your aloe in the fridge, so it’s extra cool and soothing. You can also keep an aloe plant in the house and extract your own gel. Slit the plant leaves down the middle, but don’t cut through. Spread them flat and place what you extract on the burn. You can do the same thing with the store bought gel.

*Even though it might not be your child’s favorite choice, a bath with two cups of plain rolled oats will help heal burned skin thanks to the polysaccharides in the oatmeal. Grab some fun bath toys and make a tepid or cool bath for your child. The cooler water will also be soothing. Another way: Fill a clean, cotton tube sock with the uncooked oatmeal and cinch off the top. Toss this into a cool bath. Then squeeze out the sock to get all the healing properties into the water. Gently pat dry your child with a soft towel.

*If you’re on a car trip and don’t have time for a bath just head to the nearest grocery store and buy a few cartons of plain yogurt. Packed with enzymes that are true healers, yogurt is a great help. Apply the yogurt directly to the burn area including your child’s face and let it remain for five minutes. Then rinse with cool water. The probiotics also help with the healing. You can reapply this treatment several times throughout the day.

*One thing never to do with a child’s sunburn is run a bubble bath. The soap will dry out the skin and make it hurt more!

Here’s to fully enjoying and cherishing the last days of summer, sans sunburn pain, with your precious family!

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