Archive for the ‘
Time for Fun ’ Category
Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
Family-music heavyweights Elizabeth Mitchell (recently Grammy-nominated for Blue Clouds) and Dan Zanes (a Grammy winner for Catch That Train!) collaborated to record this beautiful update of Pete Seeger’s classic folk song, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The orignal was written by Seeger in the late 1950s using Bible verses that remind us “to every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Before you fret about modern singers messing with the masterpiece, be reassured that the lyrics of this 2013 version were written by Seeger’s wife, Toshi, before she passed away in July at the age of 91 (days shy of their 70th wedding anniversary).
Sample lyrics that make this gorgeous rendition appealing to parents and kids include, “a time to teach, a time to learn, a time for all to take their turn.” It goes on to gently reminder us that there are times when we can play and get dirty, times when we celebrate and times when we cry, and times when we should just sit and rest. During the holiday season, when we all strive for peace but end up running around like crazy, the words cut to the heart of things.
Elizabeth Mitchell’s young daughter Storey shares singing duties; you’ll also see Mitchell’s husband Dan Littleton playing guitar. It’s a family affair, which makes the song all the sweeter. We’re thrilled to have exclusive dibs on this world premiere!
So without further ado…here is the video, watch it with your own little ones!
Turn Turn Turn!: A Music Video World Premiere
Here’s where you can buy Turn, Turn Turn.
And watch more of Mitchell and Zanes on YouTube.
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celebrities, Entertainment, GoodyBlog, Must Read
Monday, December 16th, 2013
When I said, in a Parents.com post on holiday traditions
, that my favorite is taking a one-on-one holiday date with each of my kids, some people complained that my kids need more than one
day a year of my attention. But of course, those two get my attention all day, every day. Here’s what makes a holiday time-out so special:
* They get me all to themselves with no sibling, no daddy, and no friends around. You’d think this would happen more often than it does, but I, like most mommies, have to work to be completely alone with any member of my family (the exception being my firstborn’s babyhood…we had plenty of alone time together!) Being with one kid usually means doing homework, walking to a playdate, shopping, or any number of mundane things, as opposed to just enjoying each other.
* I don’t cheat and do anything I “have” to do.
That includes running by a bank or post office, etc., because then it wouldn’t feel like a date, right?
* They get to skip school! At least as long as they are in preschool or elementary school. I try to keep our holiday date off of Saturday or Sunday, when we’re already off-duty. I take a vacation day from work, I excuse them from school, and we both take a break from responsibilities. On a weekday! It feels a little scandalous.
* I follow each kid’s lead.
Joe is a nut about penguins, so this year’s date was to the Central Park Zoo
where we spent maybe 45 minutes in the penguin room. After, I started to make an argument for seeing other animals (to make that entrance fee worth it!), but Joe wanted to eat a hot dog and then go look at Christmas decorations. So that’s what we did.
* Each kid gets something special, and I don’t fret about making things even.
Grace is now in middle school so, for the first time, I chickened out about taking her out all day. Her special mama date was a sleepover at the Conrad Hotel in lower Manhattan
. (It’s not as pricey as it looks, at least by Manhattan-hotel standards, and it’s kid-friendly.) In the morning Grace ordered room-service breakfast, which to her represents the pinnacle of luxury. The fact that I didn’t have to fix breakfast, make the bed, or launder the towels was my own pinnacle of luxury. Joe didn’t get a hotel stay, and Grace didn’t get to miss an entire day of school, but they accept that they can have things that are different and equally special.
* Obviously, we do holiday things.
When the kids were preschoolers I took them to St Patrick’s Cathedral
a few years in a row, where they have a beautiful nativity scene with a crib that stays empty until Christmas. It felt more meaningful to discuss what Christmas is, mama-to-child, outside of church service (and outside of some lecture about asking for too many gifts, lol). Now that they get it, we more often view the Rockefeller Center Tree, or join activities like the cookie-decorating that the Conrad Hotel puts on. (Happening this Saturday, December 21st, from 3pm to 5pm, if you happen to be in NYC!)
Maybe I am just getting old, but it feels like the world is spinning so fast these days that taking a time-out with these little people is the best tradition I’ve ever come up with. I hope you all get a real rest and respite with loved ones in the next few weeks, before we’re on to new-year resolutions and a busy 2014. Happy Holidays!
We’ve put together a helpful email full of our best holiday projects, recipes, and more! To get your copy click here.
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Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
As a mom, there are many reasons to appreciate the Nintendo DS and especially its newest incarnation, the Nintendo 2DS. Unlike gaming systems that hook up to your TV, this can be played quietly in any room of the house without involving the television or control paddles. You don’t need Wifi, either, unlike the iPad or iTouch. (Those don’t strictly need Wifi, I think it just seems like my kids always insist on being on the Wifi when they take out their Apple devices.) Finally, a DS battery lasts a long time, making it the best choice for travel.
The 2DS is larger than previous versions and also seems easier for my kids to use, because the screen and controls are all on the same plane. It took them a minute to get used to the new format, but then they were off and running with their Mario games (seems to be a forever-favorite!). If you’re thinking of investing in a gaming system for the holidays, it helps that this is only $130, which is cheap compared to the usual alternatives. P.S., most old Nintendo cartridges and also Nintendo 3DS cartridges are compatible with this, so friends can bring over their games to share and they all should work.
Just in time for Christmas, Nintendo is offering TWO lucky winners the chance to nab a red Nintendo 2DS system plus two games: Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Kart 7. That’s $200 per prize pack!
To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and December 16, and don’t forget to read the official rules. Be sure to check back on December 17 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck!
Congrats to our winners Maria Wessland and Erika Ortlieb!
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Friday, December 6th, 2013
‘Tis the season for making your list and checking it twice! If you’re still clueless about what to get your kids or other loved ones, be sure to tune in to Parents Twitter and Pinterest pages from December 9 to December 13. We’ll be sharing tons of ideas for stocking stuffers, kids’ presents, homemade gifts, and more. Three talented bloggers– Amanda Kingloff of Everyday Fun, Lydia Beiler of Thrifty Frugal Mom, and Melanie Blodgett from You Are My Fave– will be joining in the fun by pinning their favorite crafty and unique gift ideas to the Parents pinterest board. Get in on the conversation and share your ideas (or borrow someone else’s) using #ParentsGifts on Twitter and Pinterest. See you then!
See You Are My Fave’s pins
See Thrifty Frugal Mama’s pins
See Amanda Kingloff’s pins
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Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
The Elf on the Shelf
has quickly become a beloved Christmas tradition, but it might already be time for something new. For those feeling elf fatigue
, another little creature could offer a fun alternative to the ubiquitous holiday spy.
Author L. van King pokes fun at elf mania with the cheeky parody The Dwarf in the Drawer
. The Dwarf in the Drawer doesn’t do much, which might be refreshing for some parents who have run out of creative places
to perch their sneaky elves. This lovable drawer-dweller is more of a sloth than his enemy, preferring to snooze among socks and watch Colbert rather than report back to the big guy up North. As he laments,
For most of the year, things at home were real peachy.
Then in came that usurper, acting all preachy.
Who died and made that elf king?
That creep who made Christmas a terrible thing?
Based on the sheer number of Pinterest pins
alone, The Elf on the Shelf is a huge hit, but the little guy isn’t for everyone. Maybe you and your family have overdosed on good holiday cheer, and can commiserate with this grumpy counterpart. Here’s to new (and slightly sassy) holiday traditions!
Are you an Elf on the Shelf enthusiast, or are you more of a Dwarf in the Drawer dissenter? Tell us in the comments!
Find the best toys and games for your little ones here.
Image courtesy of Macmillan Publishers
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Circle Christmas Tree
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
With the food riches of Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is looming just around the corner (about three weeks to be exact). Though many get caught up trying to find the perfect gifts for family and friends, it’s easy to forget that presents don’t always need to come in shiny packages.
Today’s #GivingTuesday, a national movement that started just last year. The goal: create a national day of giving where people can pay it forward. Whether that means donating to a favorite charity or volunteering at your local shelter, being charitable is all about finding the causes that matter to you.
One toy company is taking that mentality and spreading the joy throughout December. Tegu, known for its award-winning magnetic blocks, recently introduced a new member to the family: the Tegu Elf. And he’s on a mission to give back this holiday season.
From now until December 20, he will be tracking the hashtag #TeguElf across social media–Tegu’s Facebook wall, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Once he finds a person in need, he’ll send a special present your way, anything from free Tegu products to a restaurant gift card.
To get the elf’s attention, just send out a message with the hashtag and the thing you’d like most this Christmas. Don’t forget to look outside your immediate family, too. The elf is on the lookout for charities to donate to as well.
In the weeks to come, be sure to track his movements and announcements on Tegu’s Facebook page. Each day, he offers something new (such as free cubes placed in every fifth order on the site). In the meantime, if you have your own plans to give back today, share a picture explaining your good deeds using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #UNselfie.
The time it takes you to do something for others will feel so much better than battling a sea of frenzied shoppers.
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Doing Good, GoodyBlog, Holidays, Your Life
Friday, November 29th, 2013
It’s the day after Thanksgiving, which means it’s time to mail off my holiday cards. You think it’s crazy that my cards are ready before December? Ha! I fall behind on a lot of things (cleaning, organizing) but when it comes to holiday cards, I am on it. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years.
* Get a competent friend to take the family photo outdoors. Once I did hire a professional photographer; amazing, just not sure if was worth the huge cash outlay. What has consistently been cheapest and easiest is a fast photo session in the front or the back of the house, with my cousin or niece doing the snapping. Instruct your amateur photographer to get up close, put your heads close together, and check the results before calling it quits. Ideal conditions are a bright but cloudy sky so there’s no shadows. And pay attention to the background, you want a solid wall or a hedge or a hill or other background that doesn’t call attention to itself.
* Make your cards online. I love Minted because of their insanely great cardstock quality and attention to detail. But this year I used Shutterfly because that site emails crazy-good offers on a regular basis. There was actually one for 40 percent off the price of holiday cards! (And FYI, Shutterfly gobbled up Tiny Prints, so they are part of the same group.) This year I created two cards, one with a ton of photos from the entire year, and one with just a single new family photo. And I ordered one of each. Then I had my husband and kids vote for their favorite. One-photo won unanimously!
* Don’t feel constrained by the sample cards you see. I chose a design that, in the online model, has a last name written across the bottom. But it’s easy enough to change something like that to be a message instead. Also remember that when you pull in your photos, you can edit them…for instance, go tighter so you can see everyone clearly.
* On the other hand, use the online sites for good ideas. I met with a woman from Peartree Greetings who told me that people literally restage photos they see on that site with their own family. At first I thought “That’s weird!” but then I thought, “Or maybe pretty smart…” In fact, I’m tempted to rip off this family-on-their-bellies card that is so freakin’ cute. Maybe next year!
* Spring for return-address labels. Because writing all your recipients’ adddresses is time-consuming enough. But here’s what I won’t pay extra for: A site to mail my photos for me (if I have to type in all those addresses, what time am I saving?), fancy envelopes (really, who cares?) and express service (because standard service comes faster than they say, usually, and seriously, if the cards don’t get out until 2014, it will be okay).
* Make notes for yourself for next year. I write down how many cards I ultimately send because I know that in October of next year my mind will have erased that information.
Lastly, I do make the extra trip to stand in line at the post office for holiday stamps. I don’t know, they just make me happy. If a craftier approach is more your style, check out our cards and tags you can make. Enjoy spreading cheer, and happy holidays to you!
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Stamped Snowman Card
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Just like many others, my family’s holiday season is all about tradition. Though Thanksgiving is a couple days away, I already know we’ll be having my aunt’s garlic “smashed” potatoes and my gram’s pimento-stuffed celery (even though she’s the only one who likes it). We keep these recipes in the rotation because they’re near and dear to us. But this year, sharing them with others gives bigger benefits to those in need.
Go to Dish Up the Love to submit your favorite recipe and $1 will be donated to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks leading the fight against hunger. Each dollar provides nine meals for families who need them.
Partnering with the program is Top Chef alum and mom Antonia Lofaso, whose first book The Busy Mom’s Cookbook was recently released in paperback. A single parent, Antonia relishes her time at home with her daughter, Xea, making memories through food.
“For me the holidays are about making memories with family and friends around the kitchen table and giving back. Dish Up the Love celebrates these special holiday moments,” Antonia says. “I shared the recipe for my grandma’s lasagna because it’s served at all Lofaso family holidays. At Thanksgiving, we have turkey, but there’s always lasagna and tons of other Italian food.”
Serves: 6 to 8
Total time: 85 minutes
• ¼ cup olive oil
• ¼ cup chopped garlic (about 8 cloves)
• 3 (16-ounce) cans of peeled, whole plum tomatoes
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 1 ½ pounds ground turkey
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning, or 4 teaspoons fresh marjoram or oregano
• 1 (9-ounce) package of no-boil, oven-ready lasagna noodles
• Sauce (from above)
• ½ cup shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
• 4 cups shredded whole-milk, mozzarella cheese
• 3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 6 to 8 slices each
• 12 medium to large fresh basil leaves
1. For the sauce, head the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and just as it starts to brown around the edges, throw in the canned tomatoes. You don’t want the garlic to burn, so have the cans open and ready to go beforehand.
2. Add the salt and sugar and whisk it all together. Let the sauce simmer on medium-low for 40 minutes while you prep the other ingredients. If any foam rises to the top of the sauce, skim it off. That’s the acid from the tomatoes, and your sauce will taste better without it. Using a hand blender or counter top blender, blend on medium until smooth.
3. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a 10-inch sauté pan heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the ground turkey and the salt. Cook the turkey for about 5 minutes, until it’s browned throughout. Just as it’s finishing the cooking process, stir in the Italian seasoning. Drain any excess fat or liquid from the pan.
4. Cover the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with 3 sheets of pasta. Ladle 1 cup of sauce over the noodles. You don’t want the sauce to soak through, so you don’t need to overdo it. Layer on half of the meat, followed by half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and half of the ricotta cheese. Sprinkle on one-third of the mozzarella and arrange one-third of the fresh tomatoes on top of it. Top with one-third of the basil.
5. Repeat the process for the next layer: 3 sheets of pasta, a cup of sauce, the rest of the meat, the rest of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, the remaining ricotta, a third of the mozzarella, a third of the fresh tomatoes, and another third of the basil. The last layer is your presentation layer, so make it pretty. Add three more sheets of pasta.
6. Top the noodles with the last of the sauce, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The top should be a crispy golden brown when the lasagna is done, and the pasta sauce around the sides of the dish should be thick, not runny. Let the lasagna stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. If you cut into it while it is still piping hot, it will fall apart.
For more information and to share your favorite family recipe, visit worldkitchen.com/dishupthelove. After submitting a recipe, you’ll be entered for weekly sweepstakes to win Pyrex, Baker’s Secret, and CorningWare products.
Get more kid-friendly recipes from Antonia Lofaso.
Recipe and image reprinted from The Busy Mom’s Cookbook with permission from Avery, an imprint of Penguin Group.
Image of Antonia and Xea by Alex Martinez.
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