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Family Matters: Keeping Kitty Safe At Home


Keeping Kitty Safe At HomeThey say cats have nine lives, but you don’t want them using up any of those in an unsafe living environment!

Keeping your cat safe in your home requires a few simple steps.

First, think like a cat! You’re going to have to examine your home for nooks, crannies and crevices that your cat can get into (look high, look low), and make sure they aren’t a safety hazard for your cat. Make sure nothing can fall on them and that they can’t get stuck anywhere. Patch any holes in walls or closets.

Keep an eye on your cat! Check the dryer before turning it on (cats like to climb into warm spaces). When outside in the winter, bang on your car hood before starting the car to make sure kitty hasn’t climbed up inside the warm engine.

Certain plants can be poisonous to pets. Research plants before bringing them into your home or remove ones you already have that might be dangerous.

Keep food put away; not all human food (or the packages it comes in) is good for cats.

Many bathroom essentials are toxic to cats, so be sure to keep makeup, cleaning agents and personal hygiene products behind closed doors.

Cats are notorious for playing with cords from electronics or strings dangling from blinds. Be sure to keep those out of reach so they don’t get tangled in them or chew through them, which can be fatal to your feline.



Family Matters: Feeding Do’s and Don’ts


Feeding Do’s and Don’tsSmall animals are just that…small! You don’t want to overfeed them or they will get fat, which will tax their hearts.

Hamsters and gerbils should eat one tablespoon or less of food per day. For a treat, they can have unshelled nuts with no salt added. Do not give your hamster or gerbil iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, chocolate, raw beans, potatoes, or sugary or salty foods. Too much green food will cause diarrhea. Never give sticky food to a hamster, as it will stick to their pouches.

Guinea pigs love grass hay and green foods, in addition to high-quality pellets. They need vitamin C, such as kale, dandelion greens, collard greens and peppers. They should be fed twice a day. Great treats for your guinea pig include apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cherries, grapes, kiwi, melon, oranges, pears and strawberries.

Do not give them celery – they can’t digest the “strings.” Do not feed them raw beans or rhubarb, as those foods are poisonous to these animals.

Your bunny will love you for providing grass hay, and they can eat it without restraint. Pellets should be fed in the amount of no more than 1/8 cup per day. Avoid high-starch or fatty foods such as beans, breads, seeds, peas, corn, nuts, cereals, oats or other grains, but they can have kiwi, strawberries, pears, melons, apples, oranges and vegetables in limited quantities.



Family Matters: Do’s And Don’ts of Feeding Your Feathered Friend


Do’s And Don’ts of Feeding Your Feathered FriendFeeding your birds all seed?

Your feathered friend might call ‘fowl’!

Most birds kept as pets should eat very little seed, even though it’s intuitively what a lot of bird owners flock to. Seeds are fattening and not healthy in high quantities. There are conflicting reports on the benefits of seed for birds, but if you stick to natural seeds like sunflowers, your bird should be fine.

Instead, your bird should be ingesting organic pellets and a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and grains. Of course, this comes with rules, too. Avocado can be toxic to parrots. Avoid it with other birds as well. The pit contains an oil toxin called persin that can seep into the fruit. Signs of avocado toxicity include lethargy, anorexia, breathing difficulty and sudden death. Onions can cause irritation to a bird’s mouth, esophagus and crop, and they can also cause ulcers. Fresh tomatoes can also cause ulcers because of high acidity, but dried tomatoes are fine in moderation. Mushrooms, a fungus, can cause digestive problems in your bird. It’s best to avoid them all together. The strings from celery are not good for your bird, but small, stringless morsels are fine.

Apples, pears, plums, grapes and other soft fruits are great for birds.

Hardened fat cut from unsalted meat is also a great treat. Bread is okay in small quantities, just remember that it doesn’t really have nutritional value for your bird; it’s basically a filler. Cooked brown or white rice and potatoes (no salt added) are fine foods for your bird.

Don’t give your bird anything with margarine or butter as it can bog down the bird’s feathers.

No salt. Salt is toxic to birds.

No milk. Birds cannot digest it.

Be very careful of peanuts. No large morsels, no salt, no molds.



Family Matters: Patient Potty Training


Potty TrainingFirst things first: Your toddler might not be ready for potty-training when they are 3 years old and that’s perfectly fine.

One of my sons, who has a September birthday, potty-trained the summer before he turned 3. The other son wasn’t potty-trained until WELL AFTER he turned 3, and that was fine, too.

I can promise you one thing: no matter how old they are, if they are not ready, it’s going to result in a lot of frustration for all of you!

So to get started, wait until your toddler shows signs of being interested in the potty. Is he telling you when he’s wet or dirtied his diaper? That’s another good sign of potty-readiness. If he’s asking questions or wants to see what happens when you use the restroom, that’s another good indicator.

Find a potty he likes. Some tots don’t mind using a seat adaptor on the big potty. My kids wouldn’t hear of it. A smaller potty chair worked best for them. Decorate it. Does your daughter want a pink princess potty? Make it happen! Stickers, paint, whatever it takes to make little one feel comfortable on the potty. Stock the bathroom with books and toys; you might be there a while some days.

Pick out new BIG KID underpants with your child. My younger son only had to be told once not to tee-tee on Thomas (the train), and he didn’t wet those pants again!

Decide your approach. Are you going to transition to underpants slowly using pull-up diapers, or are you going to go cold-turkey?

Set aside time. You might need to stay home for a week straight to properly teach your child how to use the potty.

Figure out their currency. That’s what Dr. Phil says, at least. Find out what motivates them to want to use the potty effectively and offer that incentive.

Bring them to the potty regularly. Bring them FAR more often than they’ll need to go, so they will start to learn how it feels when they have to go and don’t miss the opportunity.

Don’t get discouraged; they will have accidents.

Finally, if the first round doesn’t take, put the potty away for a while and try again in a few weeks.



Family Matters: Keeping Up With Baby


Keeping Up With BabyThose months from 7 to 12 are explosive!

Baby gets moving!

During the age from 7 to 12, baby is likely to start scooting, crawling, cruising and even walking. It’s hard to keep up!

During this time frame, it’s especially important to make sure your house is baby-proofed! Your little one is going to tug on, pull on, hold onto, bump into and grab at anything she can get her hands on as she explores her environment from new vantage points.

Did you think the boxes you had stored under the bed were safely tucked away? Think again! They’re right about baby’s eye level as she crawls.

What about the cabinets with the cleaning supplies? Baby is going to use that handle to pull up and inadvertently open the cabinet. Lamps and decorative objects on tables? Goners. Cords and plugs? So much fun to touch.

It might sound silly, but crawl around your house at baby’s level and see what she sees that might be tempting to little hands.

Install childproof locks on any cabinets containing things you don’t want baby to touch.

Move décor and unsteady objects to higher ground for a few years so they don’t topple on baby. Consider installing safety straps on the back of any furniture, like bookshelves, that baby could pull down on top of her.

Good luck keeping up!



Family Matters: Preventing Diaper Rash


Preventing Diaper RashGrandmas always say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and never has the saying been truer than when it comes to diaper rash!

Diaper rash is an irritation on a baby’s bottom, usually because of irritation from a wet or dirty diaper.

Baby’s bum is a particularly sensitive area, especially on some babies. My older son had buns of steel; he probably had one or two diaper rashes that I can remember. My younger son had diaper rashes so constantly that I would apply diaper rash cream every single time I changed his diaper.

In fact, that’s not a bad strategy for a baby prone to diaper rashes because when it comes down to it, they are easier to prevent than they are to treat.

The first defense against diaper rash is to change the baby’s diaper frequently. The drier baby stays, the more his skin is protected. At first, I felt like I was changing my son’s diaper too frequently; it wasn’t even wet when I’d go to give him a clean one, but it went a long way in keeping his diaper rashes under control.

The second tactic is to keep a barrier between baby’s skin and the diaper. A diaper rash cream or a layer of simple petroleum jelly applied thickly to baby’s bum works wonders. Our moms used baby powder, which helps absorb moisture. Now, we know that it’s not good for baby’s lungs to inhale powder, but if you keep it neatly contained and controlled in your hand when you apply it, that could also help.

Next, be proactive if your child is on antibiotics. They can change the PH of your baby’s stools or urine, making them more susceptible to irritation. The same goes for new foods. You never know how a baby will react to a new food, and the irritation might manifest in their diaper!

As always, make sure that when you change their diaper, they are very clean and completely dry when you put a new one on. It’s also not a bad idea to let them “air out” a bit after a bath so their bottom can dry completely.



Family Matters: Easy Meal Idea


Easy Meal IdeaI recently prepared a meal for my family that was so easy to make, and it was delicious not only for dinner but it also made a great leftover meal for the next day.

Slow Cooker Pork Loin
Cut pork loin in 3/4” to 1” pieces, and dip in a milk and egg mixture to moisten the outside of the meat. Place pieces of pork loin in breadcrumbs (flip several times to make sure they are covered). Place the breaded pork loin in a slow cooker and seal off with cover. I put 3 layers of pork chops with no problem. Do not put any type of water or juice in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove from slow cooker, and you are ready to eat. Meat comes out crunchy and tender. If your family likes gravy, it would be great on top of the finished pork loin.

Baked Diced Potatoes
Wash whole potatoes thoroughly in warm water. Cut potatoes in half and then cut into small cube-shaped pieces (as large or small as you like). Place in a large bowl, rinse with cold water and then drain. Add olive oil in the bowl and mix potatoes until they are covered. Add at least 1 package of dry ranch dressing, and toss potatoes so the seasoning is mixed in well. Bake at 400° F for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from oven and enjoy. Potatoes are soft, full of flavor and better for you since they are baked!

Try this easy meal idea and use the extra “free time” to enjoy your family or to do something special for yourself…you deserve it! Count your blessings daily and give thanks for time with your family.



Family Matters: Sunday Morning Pancake Bites


Pancake BitesIt’s 7:30 on Sunday morning, time to get up and wake the kids for church. As I’m walking to my daughter’s room, I can hear her and her sleepover buddies already up and giggling about something they think is so funny. That’s what 14-year-old girls do: giggle! I told them to start getting ready for church, and then I walked into the kitchen to make them something for breakfast.

I hadn’t bought groceries this week, and we didn’t have time for a sit-down breakfast. I needed something quick and easy so they could eat on-the-go. (You know, 14-year-old girls will take as much time in the bathroom getting ready as you will allow them!) Luckily, I had a Brookshire’s Blueberry Pancake Mix, 2 eggs (and 2 eggs is all I had in the refrigerator) milk and maple syrup. So, blueberry muffins from a pancake mix is what’s for breakfast this Sunday morning.

One-by-one, the girls grab a blueberry pancake muffin and head out the door to church with a Bible in one hand and a muffin in the other. It’s so nice when Sunday mornings can come together like this!

This recipe is super easy, and you are in and out of the kitchen in less than 30 minutes.

Pancake Bites

Ingredients:
2 cups Brookshire’s Complete Blueberry Pancake Mix
2/3 cup Brookshire’s Milk
1/2 cup maple syrup

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F, and spray your mini-muffin tin or paper baking cups lightly with Brookshire’s Cooking Spray. Mix all ingredients until just combined. Fill the cups of the tin 1/2 full with the batter. Bake until lightly golden-brown, about 15 minutes.

Makes 12

You can also use regular Brookshire’s Pancake Mix, and add your own choice of toppings like fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, cinnamon and sugar or any other yummy delights you can think of! If you have time to sit down for breakfast, serve with maple syrup, honey or butter then enjoy!

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



Family Matters: Cookies with Kids


Cookies with KidsOne of my favorite Christmas memories growing up was making cookies with my mom and siblings. She’d make pan after pan of rolled sugar cookies, and we’d decorate them, some more intently than others. I was the type of kid who was good with sprinkling some colored sugar all over the cookie and calling it a day. My brother, on the other hand, would painstakingly position individual jimmies to create cookie art. Rumor has it, he still does that to this day.

My boys take after me. They’ll get a little creative with their cookies, but they won’t spend a lot of time on them. For them, the more sugar, the better. Who cares what it looks like!

They love eating sugar cookies, but they mostly like baking other types of cookies. I think they do this for the cookie dough. (I can neither confirm nor deny that I let them eat a hunk of the raw dough…but let me point out that no children were harmed in the creation of this blog.)

We have so much fun baking together. Over the holidays, we made Jumbo Candy Cookies, a recipe from my boyfriend’s childhood that I was not familiar with. Oh my gosh, they were delicious! They’re my boys’ new favorite cookie, and they’re so easy to make.

When we were making these, I was trying to show the boys how to level off the top of a measuring cup with a knife, and oatmeal ended up in every nook and cranny in my kitchen! My older son was a little over-zealous with his leveling technique and the oatmeal flew! I think he has the hang of it now, just in time to make another batch of Jumbo Candy Cookies!

The best part about these is that you’re supposed to make them HUGE! (monster-sized!)

Jumbo Candy Cookies

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz creamy peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup M&M’s candy
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F.

Spray baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugars until well-mixed. Add salt, vanilla and peanut butter; mix well. Add in M&M’s, chocolate chips, raisins, baking soda and oatmeal. Stir until well-combined.

Drop in large balls on baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart because they will spread. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 3 dozen

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 202, Fat: 10 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 21 mg, Sodium: 173 mg, Carbohydrates: 26 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 5 g.

View this recipe to print or add items to My Shopping List.



Family Matters: The Weather Outside Is Frightful!


Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful!Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but it’s your job to keep your pup delightful!

Dogs might have a shaggy winter coat (some breeds, at least), but this doesn’t mean they’re fine outside in cold weather. If you’re cold, so is your pooch.

If you can, let your pet stay inside during cold times. Make sure their bed or crate is away from a drafty area. If they must stay outside during the day, an insulated doghouse filled with clean, dry hay will help them find refuge from the cold. It’s even better if it has a door to block the wind.

If you’re at risk of frostbite, so is your pup! Don’t allow them to be exposed to extremely cold temperatures for long periods of time. If you do go for a romp through the snow, knock snow and ice off their feet as soon as you come back inside. The pads of their feet are very sensitive to extreme temperatures. Make sure you dry off their coat, especially any hair that hangs down close to the ground.

Another good reason to wipe your pet thoroughly after they come inside is that some chemicals used for snow removal can be toxic to your dog. Salt and other deicers can irritate their feet and skin, and they should be wiped off immediately.

‘Tis the season for antifreeze, but make sure it stays in your car. Your pup might like to lick it because it has a sweet taste, but it can be fatal to pets, causing kidney failure.

Another cold weather car hazard is its warm engine. Pets might seek shelter in the mechanical areas of a recently-driven car. Honk your horn before driving off to startle any sleeping pet out of the car engine.

Finally, in the cold months, check to make sure your dog’s water bowl isn’t frozen over, and you may have to adjust their food intake to help them regulate their body heat. Ask your veterinarian about appropriate amounts of food and how to adjust it.



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The products mentioned in “Share, the Brookshire’s Blog” are sold by Brookshire Grocery Company, DBA Brookshire’s . Some products may be mentioned as part of a relationship between its manufacturer and Brookshire’s.

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