CrazyBusy Tip: Get Your Fruit Flies Drunk

(Some things just need to be reposted. If fruit flies are driving you as crazy this time of year as they are us, read on for a great solution.)

Whether or not you drink red wine, it pays to have some in the house. It needn’t be expensive — just get the cheapest you can find. I’m not talking about pouring yourself a glass (I’ll leave that up to you): The wine is for fruit flies…if you live in an area plagued by them this time of year. Those flying, red-eyed bugs can really drive you nuts flying in front of your face, landing on your food, and multiplying like crazy, as if the survival of their species depended on it (it does). I promise that if you follow this tip, your fruit fly problems will be over…for now, anyway.

What? Red wine for fruit flies?

You bet! The little lushes can’t resist it, which makes it the perfect ingredient for a fruit fly trap. Depending on how many you have, it may take them an hour or two to find this little beacon of death you’ll be setting up, but trust me — find it they will.

And according to Hannah Holmes of Discovery Online, “Fruit flies prefer a diet of yeast, that marvelous microbe that eats fruit and spits out alcohol.” Which sort of explains why red wine — the product of red grape fermentation — works as well as it does in this trap.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One empty 16.9 fl. oz. water bottle. You could also use another kind of bottle, just make sure it has a skinny neck and is clear — you need to be able to see if your trap is catching any flies.
  • One 4″ – 6″ square of paper. Leave the ruler in the drawer — just eyeball it. Make sure the funnel hangs into the bottle by at least a couple of inches. This will make it more difficult for them to find their way out.
  • Red wine.

Now, here’s what you do:

  • Pour approximately 1″ – 1-1/2″ of wine in the bottom of the bottle. You really won’t need more than that.
  • Starting at one corner of the piece of paper, roll it into a funnel, making sure one end is larger than the other. Don’t tape it. Put the smaller end into the bottle and gently let go — it will unroll just enough to fill any space between itself and the neck of the bottle. (*Note: You must use the funnel — if you don’t, the fruit flies will just take a sip and fly out. And the last thing you need is drunken fruit flies careening through the house, right?)
  • Put the trap wherever the fruit flies seem to congregate. They’ll be gone within days.

I’ve been told vinegar also works to attract fruit flies. Try both and use the one that works best for you.

2011 update: If wine or vinegar doesn’t do the trick — though they should — you may also want to try grape juice, apple cider vinegar, or even cold coffee with flavored creamer (no lie — they LOVE the stuff).

©2009 Sally Dinius
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To Learn More Chemical-Free Ways to Get Rid of Pests In and Around Your Home, Get This Book:

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How to Organize Your Christmas Shopping

With Black Friday coming up at the end of this week, most of us will be out shopping for deals (though I might stay home and just do my shopping online). This article is a quick read but packs a powerful punch of common sense that is sure to make your Christmas shopping go much more smoothly! -Ed.

By Nicole Dean

Grab a notebook. Grab a pen. It’s time to get serious about your Christmas shopping by making your list (and checking it twice).

Make a list of the people you’ll be buying for this year. Leave space between each person’s name. Now go back through the list and write down gift ideas and a rough dollar amount you’re willing to spend on each person.


1. Aunt Fran – Collects lighthouses, loves golf – $30.00

2. Beth – Candles, bath and body products – $20.00

3. Joe – Something for his new truck, loves fishing – $50.00

Bring your notebook shopping with you. It will help you to stay focused on who you need to shop for, a general idea of what you’re looking for and your price range. Making a detailed list like this will prove invaluable in keeping you organized and on budget with your Christmas shopping. As you shop, cross off each person on your list. Be sure to keep an eye open for bargains and grab a few extra gifts – there’s always that visitor that shows up that you didn’t anticipate.

Set holiday shopping goals for yourself and jot them down in your notebook.

1. I will have all cards in the mail by December 10th.

2. All of my major shopping will be done by December 15th.

3. I will not go over budget!

Making lists and setting goals for yourself this holiday will save you time and stress and allow you to enjoy the season for what it really is. If you haven’t started your shopping, start now. It’s not too late to get on track. The first step is starting your notebook, making your list and getting a plan of action.

After the holidays, store your notebook away somewhere (perhaps with your decorations). It will serve as a great reference when you’re ready to start your shopping next year.

Happy Holidays, Happy Shopping…and by keeping a Holiday Notebook – Happy You!


Nicole Dean is a mostly-sane mom and creator of – a fun and informative site to help moms achieve success working from home. She invites you to learn more money-saving tricks at


For more money saving Black Friday tips, see TipHero’s article, 17 Ways to Prepare for Black Friday Sales. - Ed.

Cooking With Your Kids This Thanksgiving

By Peggy Baron

Photo courtesy of Libby's

Photo courtesy of Libby's

Thanksgiving can be a little stressful when you have company coming and you have to cook the whole meal. Sure the company is bringing a pie and will help with the dishes and clean up, but you’ve got a whole lot of work ahead of you when you wake up on that special Thursday morning. Don’t despair and stress – rally the troops!

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably got one or two or more children running around that house don’t you? Put them to work and give them all jobs. Just don’t mention the words “work” or “job.” Kids like to be helpful, especially when they see how much you appreciate it. Let them help!

First off, you need to have a plan. Take some time before Thursday morning to plot everything out. Of course you know what you want to prepare and serve – you do the same thing every year, don’t you? So that’s the easy part. Really look at each recipe and see what’s involved. You could probably do it in your sleep, but your kids can’t. Assign a recipe to each child, depending on their skill level. You may even want to find an easier version of the recipe. Go over the steps with your child and explain how it’s all going to work. Do kind of a foodless dress rehearsal with them.

If the child is too young to do a whole recipe, just give them certain tasks in a recipe and have them help you. Little ones can melt butter in the microwave, mash the potatoes, wash the vegetables, toss the salad, and put the marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole.

This is one meal where everything seems to happen at the same time. To help prevent this, the kids can mash the potatoes ahead and keep them warm in the crockpot, ditto with the sweet potato casserole and veggies. If you don’t have a way to keep them warm, time them to come out before the mad rush, put a lid on them and wrap them in several towels. They can stay quite warm that way. The salad can definitely be made earlier in the day or even the night before.

Try to schedule the prep time so there aren’t too many people walking around the kitchen with sharp knives at once.

What about the pies? Kids love to make the pies! Go with the pre-made pie crusts if their pastry skills aren’t quite up to snuff. Maybe they could pick the pies they want this year and shake tradition up a bit. I’m sure a Chocolate Dream pie is a tradition in someone’s home even if it isn’t (yet) in yours.

Keep one step ahead of total chaos by having someone wash the dirty dishes that are accumulating. Perhaps those who are watching football on TV could lend a hand! Not only will there be fewer dishes to do at the end, but it leaves lots more room for the cooks to prepare the grand feast.

If you give it some thought and plan ahead of time, this Thanksgiving could be a lot easier on you and a heck of a lot more fun for the whole family. Have a good attitude and lots of patience and just enjoy yourself. Your kitchen will be filled with those you love, and that’s something to be thankful for.


Peggy is the editor of the popular Cookin’ Kids Newsletter. Interesting themes, fun facts, silly clip art, easy recipes, kid jokes, cooking terms, and safety tips make this newsletter a hit with kids! Learn more about it at

Tricks and Treats for a Happy Halloween

It’s weird, but every year when Halloween approaches, I recall a scene from the movie, E.T.

E.T. (for extra terrestrial) came out in the theaters when I was a kid. It took place in California (of course), and I remember being a little jealous that the kids in the movie got to go trick-or-treating without jackets or umbrellas. I was California-born, but have been mostly Washington-raised, so almost every Halloween I remember has usually been a bit cold and rainy.

It’ll be that way again this Sunday — in our area, anyway — so I plan on bundling up my little Cinderella and making a quick trip to just a few houses around us. (You may remember my post from last year. She was Cinderella then, too, but this year she has a better dress!)

Cinderella, last year. :-)

Cinderella, last year. :-)

Anyway, the day is fast approaching, so I thought I’d share some helpful tips with you to make the day more fun (and hopefully healthy) for all.

“T-t-t-trick-or T-t-t-treat!”

Kids don’t always care about getting a little cold or wet on Halloween — they’re too focused on the prize…candy, that is. But if you do have a little goblin that gets chilly, here’s how you can make it a better experience (these tips work for parents, too).

  • Take little ones to the mall…or have a Halloween party instead. Get several families together and have “candy stations” around your home. Kids can go from one station to another to get their treats. This pretty much will only work for younger children, but will still be a fun time for all.
  • If you do go out, get some handwarmers. ThermaCare makes small, air-activated warmers you can keep in your pockets. Again…kids probably won’t care. These are for you, mom. Check the sporting goods area of your local superstore (Fred Meyer, WalMart, etc.) or sporting goods stores like Cabella’s, REI, Big 5, and others.
  • Have some apple cider heating up in a crock pot, ready to drink when you get back home. It’ll make your house smell good, too.

Too Much Candy?

A big question on many parents’ minds when Halloween rolls around is how to keep their kids from eating all the candy they receive. Because we can’t just be mean and take it away, here are some better ideas.

  • I’ve heard of parents paying their kids for the candy. Try giving them a nickel for every piece of candy they fork over. (This isn’t going to work with very little ones, however — they won’t understand and will expect to get their candy back.)
  • Teach them about the dangers of eating too much sugar: diabetes, obesity, other blood sugar problems (hypoglycemia, which can lead to diabetes), inability to think clearly (not sure if that’s documented, but it happens to me), tiredness, and last but not least…cavities. Remind them of how a dentist has to take care of those cavities…with a drill. Gives me shivers just thinking about it!
  • Every year, our orthodontist is sure to tell his patients to bring their candy to his office after Halloween. Not because he wants it for himself, but because he wants the kids to have healthy teeth. If I remember right, he pays around $5 a pound. I have no idea how many kids take him up on that, but it’s still a good idea. Check with your dentist or orthodontist to see if they offer a similar program.
  • Make sure you have plenty of healthier treats around to tempt your kids: roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread (this is a good recipe and also includes tips for making it healthier), popcorn balls (these are made with agave nectar instead of sugar), caramel apples (or sliced apples with caramel dip). Can you think of more?

Above all, be sure to have fun and stay safe out there. The CDC has some smart safety tips here to make sure a fun night is had by all.

©2010 Sally Dinius
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Sally Dinius is writer-in-chief here at, a blog created to inspire and motivate busy mamas everywhere to feel healthy, fit, and in control of their lives. Follow her on Twitter at, and come join the CrazyBusy Mama Facebook page by clicking here.

I Will NEVER Use My Peeler on Another Potato…and Neither Will You!

Take heart, crazybusy mamas: Cooking potatoes just got a whole lot quicker! I don’t want to give away the gist of the video, because you’ve got to see it for yourself. All I’m going to say is this: “Put away your peeler.” My jaw dropped at the end of this video; yours probably will, too. As for my potato peeler, it’s staying in the drawer.

Enjoy this video — it’s very quick! By the way, it’s hosted by Dawn Wells, a.k.a. “Mary Ann” of Gilligan’s Island fame. (No, she’s not selling anything — this is just for fun.)


Sally Dinius is writer-in-chief here at, a blog created to inspire and motivate busy mamas everywhere to feel healthy, fit, and in control of their lives. Follow her on Twitter at, and become a member of the CrazyBusy Mama Facebook fan page by clicking here.

The Latest Sugar Substitute Craze May Make You Feel a Little Crazy

Some time back, my husband picked up a box of hot chocolate packets at the store. Nothing unusual there — we almost always have hot chocolate in the house. This box, however, was a sugar-free, 25-calorie variety by Swiss Miss. What made it sugar-free? It was sweetened with sucralose instead of sugar.

I’d gotten in the habit in recent months of relaxing with an almost-daily cup of hot chocolate: it is — as the name implies — chocolatey…it’s creamy, and it’s soothing. But I began to realize that the extra daily dose of around 200 calories (I make it with milk) was probably not doing me a whole lot of good regarding my continued weight-loss/weight-maintenance goals, so I decided to try a 25-calorie packet just for the heck of it.

Well, it tasted like regular hot chocolate to me. I could taste a very slight difference, but it certainly didn’t have that tinny diet flavor. I quickly polished off the box, and my husband bought more. Of course, being made with nonfat milk makes it more like 115 calories instead of 25, but I figured that was still better than 200 or more.

But some things are too good to be true.

First, let me say that in our family we’ve had some heavy-duty situations and experiences that have been causing our stress level to soar, along with anxiety and depression that both my husband and I have been feeling. (Into each life, right?) But when I began feeling additional symptoms of depression over this last week or two that would just whomp me out of nowhere, I wondered if something else could be causing it.

Knowing that what we eat or drink can have a huge impact on how we feel, the first thing I looked at was my diet…and what came to my mind before anything else was the hot chocolate. Even more specifically…the sucralose.

At first, the hot chocolate hadn’t affected me at all because I’d been drinking it at night just before bed. But then I began having it in the afternoon, and that’s when I noticed the mood changes.

So, just what is sucralose, and what’s so bad about it? Maybe more succinctly, is there anything bad about it?

Sucralose (a common name brand you may recognize is Splenda), is a non-nutritive sweetener that is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Because of its extreme sweetness, much less is needed, resulting in a lower calorie count per use. That’s good, but what’s the bad?

Derived chemically from sucrose, a.k.a. table sugar, sucralose was found rather by accident, as the process used to discover it was originally intended to produce a new insecticide, not a new sweetener for your coffee.

An article about sucralose on paints the sweetener’s alarming family tree:

According to the book Sweet Deception, sucralose is made when sugar is treated with trityl chloride, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chlorine, thionyl chloride, and methanol in the presence of dimethylformamide, 4-methylmorpholine, toluene, methyl isobutyl ketone, acetic acid, benzyltriethlyammonium chloride, and sodium methoxide, making it unlike anything found in nature. The Splenda Web site even states that “although sucralose has a structure like sugar and a sugar-like taste, it is not natural.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not so calorie-phobic that I’m going to eat something created with chemicals just to avoid gaining weight. And what about those side effects — like mood swings — that I’d mentioned earlier? Here’s a longer list:

  • diarrhea, intestinal cramping, and other gastrointestinal symptoms
  • skin irritations, including swelling, rashes, flushing, and hives
  • mood changes like depression and feelings of panic
  • muscle aches and headaches
  • heart palpitations
  • runny nose and cough

Additional reading:
Sugar Substitutes and the Potential Danger of Splenda
Sucralose: What is the Positive Side?/What is the Negative Side?
Sucralose Side Effects on
Sucralose Side Effects on

Stay tuned…I’ll be introducing you soon to a couple of natural sweeteners that will do the sweetening job just fine.

©2010 Sally Dinius
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Sally Dinius is writer-in-chief here at,
a blog created to inspire and motivate busy mamas everywhere to feel healthy, fit, and in control of their lives. Follow her on Twitter at, and become a member of the CrazyBusy Mama Facebook fan page by
clicking here.

CrazyBusy Tip: The Easiest Way to Stop Losing Puzzle Pieces

My three year-old is a puzzle freak. For Christmas this year, we bought her the Disney Princess: Pretty Puzzles and Sweet Stories book, and she will not let it out of her sight.

Her fascination with puzzles began when she discovered she could put together a wooden jungle animals puzzle all by herself, and then a wooden numbers puzzle. Each one of the puzzles in the Disney Princess book is just 24 pieces, so we gave it a go. There’s a puzzle on each thick cardboard “page,” along with the accompanying story.

Besides teaching my child valuable problem-solving skills and satisfying her fascination with the Disney princesses, there’s one really big reason why I love this puzzle book: The back of each and every puzzle piece is color-coded to make sorting the pieces a snap. Snow White is pink, Beauty and the Beast is yellow, etc.

(At this point in my post, please envision a video of me smacking myself in the forehead.) Now why didn’t I think of that?

I have thrown away many puzzles with missing pieces (left over from when my teens were small) because I never really knew how to organize them. Oh, I would try to — by putting them in zipped plastic bags once their boxes got crushed — but the kids would get into them and the pieces would be here, there, and everywhere. If the pieces were small and indistinguishable, I wouldn’t even know which puzzle they belonged to.

Which leads me to today’s CrazyBusy Tip:

Assign a different identifying mark to each puzzle in your home, putting those marks on the back of every single puzzle piece according to which puzzle it belongs to.

Yes, that sounds like work, but who said you had to do it? If your children are old enough, put them to work — they’ll probably think it’s fun. (Though you should do the same to your puzzles, if you have any.) Give each puzzle it’s own symbol, shape, number, or color. That identifying mark will go on the back of each puzzle piece AND on the box or zipped plastic bag.

Here are some suggestions for marks you can use:

    Colors (use markers or crayons)
    Shapes, like squares, circles, or triangles
    Symbols like asterisks, plus signs, check marks, or even smiley faces

It doesn’t matter what you use, as long as it’s simple enough — and bold enough — to see clearly. A sharpie pen is probably the best tool to use to mark your puzzle pieces. Don’t make the symbols elaborate…this is supposed to lesson your workload and/or stress level.

I hope I just took one little load off your shoulders — I know that figuring out this method was a “Eureka!” moment for me. What can I say? Little things make me happy. ;-) Come back soon to read another CrazyBusy Tip!

©2010 Sally Dinius
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Sally Dinius is writer-in-chief here at, a blog created to inspire and motivate busy mamas everywhere to feel healthy, fit, and in control of their lives. Follow her on Twitter at, and become a member of the CrazyBusy Mama Facebook fan page by clicking here.

CrazyBusy Tip: 100 Fun and Easy Organizing Ideas for the New Year

The start of a new year always gives me the urge to make changes around my house. I’m a redecorator at heart — my interior decor style has changed often over the years and though I may not always be financially able to change our furnishings and colors at will, the desire is there.

Oh, for a few thousand dollars to switch things up again! I can dream….

Getting back to reality, I wanted to share a great link with you that I found today. Martha Stewart’s team has put together a visual list of 100 ways to get organized around your home. I usually shy away from that type of article, as the ideas are usually boring and regurgitated. These, however, are just plain fun. You’ll find yourself saying, “I can do that!” or “That’s a fun idea!” Or maybe you won’t, but I sure was.

(I particularly liked the tea cup jewelry organizer — keep an eye out for it. As the owner of way too many tea cups, it looks like a fun and girly idea to try.)

The other tips are, for the most part, much more practical — but still fun. Enjoy!

100 Easy Organizers at

©2010 Sally Dinius
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CrazyBusy Tip: Soothe Tired, Holiday-Stressed Skin With Cucumbers

It’s said that Cleopatra used cucumber juice to preserve her skin. Cucumbers are wonderful in salads, but what exactly is it that makes them worthy of being added to our facial care repertoire?

It’s simply this: Cucumbers contain anti-inflammatory properties that help shrink swollen tissues. Among their many nutrients, the two that we’re interested in are ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and caffeic acid. These help to reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin.

To give some relief to the area around your eyes, lie down and place two slices over your eyes for about 10-20 minutes. Later, the rest of the cucumber may be peeled and pureed to make a facial mask. Wash off after 10-15 minutes, pat dry, and apply moisturizer.

©2009 Sally Dinius
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Highly Recommended:

Naturally Skinsational: Rejuvenating Skin Care Recipes“Quite possibly the most important book on the subject, Naturally Skinsational: Rejuvenating Skin Care Recipes by skincare expert Sue Dolan provides readers a comprehensive and holistic approach to the maintenance of the body’s largest organ. That’s right, skin. With harmful environmental factors and the inevitable process of aging, women fight an uphill battle. Now, readers have a choice other than expensive over-the-counter products and cosmetic procedures such as face-lifts and derma-abrasion. In twelve easy chapters, such as ‘Skin Essentials’ and ‘Facial Steam Recipes,’ the author leaves nothing to chance. Using the healing properties of herbs, fruits, and other natural ingredients, she offers a simple approach to skincare. Whether one is combating age spots, crow’s feet, or a wide range of other skincare concerns, this do-it-yourself skin maintenance recipe book serves as a veritable bible to keeping one’s skin as fit and beautiful as possible. Defy nature, by using it!” (Amazon)

CrazyBusy Tip: Bye Bye, Belly Fat

As we get older, our metabolism tends to slow down. Combine a slower metabolism with a sedentary lifestyle and a not-so-healthy diet, and we begin to see an increase in belly fat (and cellulite, too, but that’s another issue!).

Belly fat is dangerous because it increases our risk for high blood sugar and other health problems. One study, however, has shown that a diet high in “healthy fats” found in olive oil actually works to keep your tummy flat.

Read more here: Olive Oil for a Flat Belly

©2009 Sally Dinius
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