Valentine's Day Ideas in Austin, Texas

Valentine's Day is coming up soon and if you don't have plans yet, you might want to start thinking about things to do. Here's a list of great ideas you can do right here in Austin, Texas, or seek out the same type of activities in your own town!
Have a nice dinner out!
Make your reservations now. This is probably the TOP activity scheduled for Valentine's Day! Where to go in Austin? How about The Salt Lick, Outback Steakhouse, or Red Lobster? If you're looking for something a little more out of the mainstream, try Maudie's Tex Mex or Kobe Japanese Restaurant.

Do something fun!
Go rollerskating at Austin Roller Rink or go bowling at Westgate Lanes. Maybe you could try something totally new and take an Austin Boat Tour. Go dancing at one of the many wonderful downtown night clubs or raise a toast on Historic 6th Street bars.

Stay in and be quietly romantic!
Create a special dinner at home, complete with candles and quiet music. You could have dinner already made or plan on making it together. Don't forget to plan for a babysitter if you have children to ensure a quiet evening. Need a bit of pop in the evening? Check out the whirley pop for a fun way to make special memories!

Order special treats for your special someone!
You can have flowers delivered to the house, a singing telegram delivered to work, or shop online and order something sweet or something sexy. If you won't be with your honey on this special day, you should certainly make sure they are not forgotten.

New Hobbies for the New Year

This year will present you with tons of new opportunities if you let it. You will have the chance to strengthen your mind, slim down your body and grow together as a family. This starts with getting creative at your resolutions. Find creative ways to cultivate new hobbies this year. The key to success is finding ways to make your goals reachable, and making creative ways to reach them. With a bit of effort, you can accomplish everything you want in 2013.
Start a Family Band
Many people resolve to spend more time as a family. Start something fun like a family band in an effort to spend more time together. If everyone is musical (or wants to learn an instrument), this can be a great way to get involved together. You can each take lessons on your prospective instruments, then come together once a week to show the family what you’ve learned. Places like www.californiamusicstudios.com offer private lessons in a studio or at home. Something like this can be a great way to kick off your family band.

Make a Weight Loss Challenge
If you know a group of people that want or need to lose weight this year, start your very own weight loss challenge. Make groups of two. Pair the people by similar weight goals. For example, if you want to lose 30lbs, find someone else that wants to lose that same amount. Then, race to the finish. Set the regulations, decide on a reward for the winner and get to losing weight.

Learn a New, Foreign Word Everyday
Wanting to learn a foreign language is an admirable task. However, it can seem overwhelming to many people. After all, you’ve spent decades learning your native language. Instead of making it into some big thing that you need to do in a year, try breaking it into smaller tasks. Commit a new word to memory everyday. By the end of the year, you will recognize 365 words in that language. That’s a big step in your language studies!

New Year’s Resolutions seem daunting and unreachable. However, creating innovating ways to be successful will bring your closer to your goal everyday. Remember, be realistic. Then, break those realistic chunks into measurable goals. For example, losing 100lbs this year may seem impossible, but all it would take is losing 2 pounds a week. Put things into perspective and amaze yourself by accomplishing your resolutions this year.

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Proverbs 1:8

Home Decorating with Green

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Organized Chaos is a Good Description

For a few weeks now, I've been working on organizing my daycare stuff. I closed one of the daycare rooms and am bagging up toys for an indoor sale, by appointment only. At least, that's what I keep telling everyone. It seems to me though that I just keep moving stuff around the little room, from basket to bag to box, from one side of the room to the other.
Every time I move something else around the room, I have to clean again because I'm just raising more dust and even discovering a stray dead bug or two. Miele Vacuum cleaners and my dusters are certainly coming in handy as I work my way through all this stuff. I can hardly believe how many toys and educational materials I've collected over the years!
I asked my husband to take down the upper shelves in the room so I can stack toys down low and create my little educational toy shop. There is so much here to go through that it will probably take me months. I've filled at least four huge boxes with toys that I'm planning on selling and donating.
Organized chaos is a good description of the front room right now. My goal is to whittle it down over the next few months, making sure the kids get to play with everything a few more times, then turn the front room into a living room, since that's what it is supposed to be. My retirement from daycare is scheduled for May 31st, so I've got time but it's a challenge finding the motivation. Stay tuned for updates to my mess!

Tips for Parents Considering Laser Eye Surgery

Yes, parents are the busiest people on the planet, but they still need to make time to take care of important things, like regular health check-ups. And that includes eye exams and any operations that will improve their vision and quality of life.

Dr. Steven Dell, who is one of Austin’s top ophthalmologists, offers the following advice to parents who are considering laser eye surgery for themselves:

Do your homework and really educate yourself about all your options, including the different procedures, new technologies and surgeons in your area.

Talk with your surgeon
Have a conversation with your surgeon about your circumstances as a parent, particularly if you have babies, toddlers or a special needs child who requires more of your attention than an older child or teenager. You will want to know what your physical limitations will be during the recovery and healing process. The types of questions Dr. Dell usually gets asked - and his answers - include:

When will I be able to drive after surgery? You should be able to drive the next day. This means that you will have to have someone drop you off and pick you up on the day of your surgery.
When can I return to caring for my family? It’s important that you give your body some time to rest after your surgery, so make arrangements for someone else to take care of your kids the day of your operation. You can return to your normal routine the next day.
When can I shower or bathe? It’s okay to take showers the next day; but avoid taking a bath or going in the hot tub for at least a week. You can bathe your children as long as you wear protective eyewear for the first week.

Prepare your kids
Talk with your kids before your surgery to reassure them that mom or dad will soon be back to normal. Many surgical practices provide a post-op care kit prior to surgery that includes a sleep shield or protective goggles and these can be good props to use during your chat.

Parents who are interested in finding out more about Dr. Dell and LASIK can visit www.dellvision.com and www.americanrefractivesurgerycouncil.org.

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Freak of Nature

Donate Body to Science. Check.
When seventeen-year-old Kaitlyn checked the box, she never suspected she’d have her life-and her body-stolen from her. She awakens one day in a secret laboratory to discover that her body is now half-robot and is forced to hide her own secret: that she still has human emotions and a human mind. If the scientists who made her find out, they’ll erase what remains of who she was.

Kaitlyn finds an unlikely ally in Lucas, a handsome, brilliant scientist who can’t get over the guilt he feels knowing she was once a vibrant, beautiful young woman. He never expected a science project to affect him the way she does. As he tries to help her rediscover her past, he finds himself falling for the brave girl struggling to find her place and acceptance between the human and computer worlds.

Aveeno Winter Skin Care - Review

One of the reasons I love living in Texas is our winter is much shorter than where I grew up in Missouri. Winter and I don't get along very well. The first cold day that requires me to turn on the heat in my house is the first day that my skin begins to make me crazy for a few months. I get itchy all over and my skin begins to look like alligator hide. I have dozens of bottles of lotion that I used a few times, then discarded because they didn't provide me the relief I needed. I finally found something that works for me!
For the past month, I've been Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Body Wash and Daily Moisturizing Lotion to combat my winter skin problems and I'm just ecstatic over the results. My skin is so much healthier and softer after using the Aveeno products! I use the Body Wash every morning in the shower, with one of those poofy sponges. It suds-up great and rinses clean with  no greasy feeling. One trick I learned about using body lotion is to apply it within 5 minutes of towel drying my body to get the lotion into the pores before they close up. It takes just a minute to lotion up after my shower and I'm good to go for the day.
Two other Aveeno Active Naturals products that I've come to love include the Skin Relief Hand Cream and the Positively Nourishing Comforting Whipped Souffle. Since I work with preschoolers, I end up washing my hands nearly a hundred times every day. To keep my hands from cracking and flaking, I use the Aveeno Skin Relief after every time I wash. It's rich and creamy, so just a little goes a long way and it makes a huge difference in how my hands look and feel. The Whipped Souffle is my absolute favorite Aveeno product of all time. It's the perfect way to spoil my skin, especially when I can convince my husband that my back and shoulders need some extra attention. I totally recommend these Aveeno products I've been using!
Disclosure: I received these products at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

School Attacker Response Course

The School Attacker Response Course gives public school faculty and staff practical alternatives to the "Hide & Hope" strategies that are commonly being recommended in response to any number of attackers in a school (or other perceived "soft target" area, including malls and hospitals).

The course covers a variety of topics, including escape and evasion, barricading, improvised defensive tools, empowering others to act, unarmed defense, and group defense response. The course is an option to Armed Teachers and also gives teachers options that work immediately, while other measures are being discussed. Rob offers the course free of charge, either during or after school hours.

Meet Rob Pincus!
  • Owner at I.C.E. Training Company, that develops, teaches and consults on training for military, law enforcement, private security and others interested in developing efficient firearms, tactical operations and defensive skills
  • Developer of the "School Attacker Response Course", a program meant for teachers and students to provide options for fighting back against an armed school attacker
  • Author of "Combat Focus Shooting", The Training Log Book", and "Combat Focus Shooting: Evolution 2010", and most recent "Counter Ambush"
  • Developer of the Personal Firearms Defense Video series, which has over 60 Titles and has shipped over 4 million copies since 2005
  • His Combat Focus Shooting program has been adopted or integrated by a variety of military units, law enforcement agencies and private instructors
  • Worked as producer/writer/host of S.W.A.T.Magazine TV, Host/Writer for The Best Defense and has been a featured guest on many other shows
  • Managing Editor of "Personal Defense Network"


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When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps the lovely Lady Gleamdren, Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission...and a race against his rival for Gleamdren's favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.

But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren's rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?

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Vermont Nut Free Chocolates for Valentine's Day

One of my preschoolers is allergic to all kinds of nuts so I have to be very aware of the foods I serve. Ensuring a nut-free environment can be a bit of a challenge, so I was very excited about trying Vermont Nut Free Chocolates. These gourmet chocolates are peanut free and tree nut free, but you don't have to have an allergy to thoroughly enjoy them.
Their gourmet chocolate heart candies are perfect for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, or any special day to tell someone how special they are to you. Vermont Nut Free Chocolates also offers truffles, creams, fudge, pops and much more.
Their milk chocolate is so creamy and delicious! Everyone in my family loved it. Their dark chocolate is just as wonderful. My husband absolutely raved over the bag of heart shaped crispy chocolates (and only left a few for the rest of us).
Check out all their sweet goodies at www.vermontnutfree.com and get your Valentine's Day orders in now. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Disclosure: I received these products at no charge in exchange for my honest review.

Easy Peach Cobbler Recipe

 What you need: two cans of peach slices in heavy syrup, one stick of butter, one box of yellow cake mix, ground cinnamon, and a 9"x13" baking pan. Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.
 Open and pour both cans of peaches and syrup into the baking pan. Then open and pour the yellow cake mix on top of the peaches. Press the cake down a bit.
 Cut up the stick of butter and place the pieces of butter all over the top of the yellow cake mix. 
 Then sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon over the top and put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for a bit.
 Serve warm with a large spoon or spatula. Delicious and easy!
Store leftovers covered in the fridge.