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10 quick tips for packing safer school lunches

The back-to-school season means it’s also time to plan for school lunches. Plenty of children and teens carry their lunches to school each day. At the same time, far too many food-borne infections in youngsters may be attributed to improperly prepared or handled school lunches.

  1. Select a suitable school lunch package. An insulated lunch box or bag is better than a disposable brown paper bag, unless you are packing non-perishable foods.
  2. Choose fresh foods for preparing school lunches. Examine fruits, vegetables, and dairy products carefully to ensure they are still good for eating.
  3. Check expiration dates on all lunch contents. Toss all outdated items.
  4. Place freezer packets in the freezer overnight to make sure they are fully frozen by morning.
  5. Freeze a juice box or bottle to include in the school lunch. It will help to chill the food and likely fully thaw before lunchtime.
  6. Practice safe food preparation hygiene techniques. Wash hands before making the lunch. Clean cutting boards, utensils, and other tools are a must.
  7. Assemble the school lunch strategically, placing perishables near the frozen drink and freezer pack.
  8. Chill the insulated lunch sack (perhaps already filled) in the refrigerator overnight with its lid propped open to cool it through and through.
  9. Pick an insulated container with a tight seal to keep soup or other hot foods sufficiently steamy. These vessels may serve nicely for cool foods (such as yogurt or deli salads) as well.
  10. Collect and wash all used school lunch containers promptly, so they will be ready for safe reuse the next day.

Even if parents practice safe preparation and packaging of school lunches, children may still face risk of food-related illness, if they do not wash their hands before eating or if they place their lunch food items directly on non-sterile surfaces at school. Cafeteria tables or classroom desks may be frequent culprits, when it comes to sharing germs. Smart practice is safe practice.

Adapted from public domain art

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Quick tip for removing carpet dents from furniture

Moving into a new home or rearranging furniture in your existing one? How can you eliminate those pesky carpet dents from heavy items? You know those dips that show up under sofa or armchair feet, headboard pegs, or piano legs?

What if you move stuff around and don’t want to leave those craters in the carpets?

Here’s a simple way to fluff up rug fibers, making them smooth again.

Just grab a bunch of ice cubes. Toss one into each hollow spot. Leave them there overnight.

The next day, just spruce up the textile fibers in each former furniture dent. Pull out the vacuum, if you wish.

Whoosh! The dents are gone, and the carpet looks smooth again.

Adapted from public domain photo

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My SW Daybook - August 2016 edition

Whew. August is flying by, and I have nearly missed doing a Simple Woman’s Daybook post. Better late than never.

Looking out my window …

Wow. Glad I did that! I’ve been tapping away at my desk for hours and missing all that beautiful summer sunshine.

I am thinking …

I’d better put down the mouse and get out there! (My sneakers aren’t gonna run themselves.)

I am thankful …

Being self-employed can bring unique challenges. Everyone seems to think the work-at-homer is constantly available to run errands, complete others’ chores or projects, chat endlessly on the phone, or simply drop everything at a moment’s notice (even for trivial interruptions).

Gee, did I just type that out loud?

Still, freelancing offers freedoms that merit celebration. Sometimes we can load up our proverbial plates at our own discretion and clear chunks of time when we want or need it. So I am thankful.

One of my favorite things …

With summer winding down, I have to join the chorus of autumn-lovers. I absolutely love the cooler, but still pleasant, temperatures. I enjoy slipping on a cozy oversized hooded sweatshirt and strolling through miles of colorful fall leaves.

Photo by this author - all rights reserved.
I am wearing …

You guessed it. I’m sitting at my desk, wearing a tech tee and a pair of stretch running capris. And they’re going to have to stretch a lot more, if I don’t actually step outside and run today.

I am creating …

I’m not exactly sewing or crafting much this summer. Sure, I have a bin of fabric that beckons me to cut out a pattern or two.

On the other hand, I’ve had a few new Kindle books hit the market this summer. Does that count?

I am watching …

Having recently joined Netflix (Sorry, I may have mentioned that in an earlier post.), I am sort of night-binging on TV series I have missed. Right now, I am watching Mad Men. As a former advertising executive, who often hammered on the proverbial glass ceiling, I find this intriguing and humorous and even maddening.

I am reading …

This summer has been a weird sort of reading journey for me. For maybe the first time in my entire life (as a literature lover – no less), I have started and quit FOUR novels. Honestly, that has never happened to me. I have never had so much trouble finding fiction to love. I tend to be a determined sort of person, and I hate quitting. So this has been a rather significant frustration for me.

It’s been awhile since I read something that really grabbed me. And I am hungry.

I am listening to …

I’m cranking a series of oldies on YouTube. Right now, this is playing: 

I am hoping …

For the past month or so, I’ve been dealing with a medical process in which the solution seems to be worse than the initial problem. It’s not life-threatening or anything, but it’s uncomfortable. In a nutshell, it involves awakening old injuries, in an effort to bring more complete healing. But it’s not exactly a party.

I am hoping this resolves pretty soon. Pain gets old – even a dull ache grows tiresome.

I am learning …

Life’s answers can sound like clich├ęs. But they’re still hard-earned and honest and worth the effort.

One of the things I continue to learn is the importance of having a few fun and faithful friends. Sure, we can have tons of acquaintances, colleagues, and contacts. But the best kind are the ones who stick around in the best and worst of times. I just spent a weekend with a wonderful group that fits that description better than most.

Photo by this author - all rights reserved.
In my kitchen …

I have a bunch of bananas that have turned to a color that means it’s time to bake banana muffins or bread. Peeling them for immediate eating would be a messy endeavor.

In the school room …

I don’t have any students at home anymore. But, as I seem to say each month, I consider my life a school room of sorts. Sometimes I pick things up quickly, but lately I think I’ve spent time standing in the cloakroom as well. I have a friend who calls this God’s waiting room. But often I think He waits more for us than we do for Him. What patience He has.

In my garden …

My perennials are looking sort of spent. Maybe it’s time for some mums.

Board room …

Whoa. I have 77 Pinterest boards. How did that happen? OK, several of them originally tied in with subjects related to columns I wrote for various publications. Here’s a pin from one of my horsey boards. The notecard pictured is from CafePress.

Product photo - fair use
Post script …

C’mon, you knew there would be a horse somewhere in this monthly roundup. At least, if you are a returning guest, you knew!

Shared Quote …

“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” – Mark Twain (1835-1910)

A moment from my day …

I’m pleased to find that a few folks have inquired about one of my newest books, 10 gift registry no-no's for marrying couples: Follow these 10 tips to avoid a wedding gift registry faux pas.

Book cover - fair use by author

Book cover - fair use by author
Closing notes …

This is my third consecutive month of doing an entry for My Simple Woman's Daybook. I’ve enjoyed the process. Even more, I have been pleased to visit participating bloggers and receive new visitors as well. Here’s to September!

Feel free to follow on Google Plus and Twitter. Like this blog?  Check out Practically at Home on Facebook. You are invited to visit my author page on


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