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Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
If you follow B.J. Novak on Instagram, you know The Office star (and Mindy Kaling’s BFF!) has a tongue-in-cheek feed called “Pictures of Text” with…well, photos of text-heavy signs, posters, book covers, you name it.
So it’s no surprise that Novak pitched an idea for a children’s book called, “The Book With No Pictures“, a “picture” book without pictures…the first of its kind! Speaking to People, Novak shared, “I really wanted to get kids thinking that the written word is their ally not their enemy and it creates a great experience between the parent and the kid.”
Novak also posted photos of the front and back covers on Instagram and Twitter recently. Given Novak’s fondness for text, the cover is plain and sparse, similar to the black-text-on-white-background cover of his other book, “One More Thing,” a collection of short stories for adults.
Although little else is known about the picture book, Novak did tell People that it was a “simple” book with “hidden messages.” He got a chance to read it to a group of elementary school kids in Queens, who responded in a positive way. No doubt humor is a big part of the book (as evidenced by the text on his back cover: “WARNING! This book looks serious but it is actually COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS!”).
“I think a lot of parents think they are not funny and are scared to read a funny book, but I’ve tested it with so many parents and I think this is fool-proof. No matter how you read it, you’re funny,” Novak said.
Look out for the book when it’s released by Penguin Kids on September 30.
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Thursday, May 29th, 2014
By Chelsea P. Gladden, BreezyMama.com
When it comes to the live action Maleficent, Disney is pulling out all the marketing stops. My kids and I will pause from fast forwarding through commercials on TV to watch the preview– every time it airs. And that has been a lot!
When it was time to actually see the film starring Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning, my 10 year old and I were beside ourselves with excitement. So did it live up to all the non-stop hype?
The short answer is: Stop reading this now and head to a theater near you.
My daughter and I absolutely loved it. The film is a retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairytale “The Sleeping Beauty,” and the later Disney animated classic Sleeping Beauty, though this time from the perspective of the evil queen Maleficent, played by Jolie.
I’m a little surprised that it scored a PG rating as I felt it might be a bit more on the PG-13 side due to some violent scenes. Though my daughter was fine throughout, we did cuddle up during some very scary moments watching one of the greatest Disney villains ever.
Starting with Maleficent as a rambunctious young fairy you can’t help but root for, her innocence is ripped from her through a heart-breaking betrayal. Though she turns dark and seeks revenge on the king by cursing his first-born daughter (A.K.A. Aurora), you actually, in many ways, don’t blame her. Except for the cursing of the baby, of course!
From the start, the neighboring kingdom was bent on invading the moors she protects. With soldiers willing to stop at nothing to take her down, she relies on the nature around her, including some of the most frightening looking trees and a fire-breathing dragon made from the roots. Flying through the opposing army, she violently knocks them down one by one with her powerful wings protecting the land she grew up enchanting. The inability to bring her down further fuels the original king to encourage her demise, offering his throne to anyone who can exact revenge upon her.
My daughter and I decided those scenes and the epic-though-violent finale would be far too scary for my 5 year old.
With all the press surrounding the film, you probably know by now that Angelina Jolie’s 5-year-old daughter plays a young Princess Aurora. As Jolie previously mentioned, all other kids her age were too afraid of Jolie in costume. It was a bit stunt casting, but when I actually saw the scene, I found it very touching. Vivienne and her mommy have a tender chemistry that ends up being quite essential to the plot.
Jolie as Maleficent is wickedly wonderful, which adds to the fun. Appearing from the shadows, her silhouette often looks just like the cartoon version, which is a treat for fans of the 1959 version.
Speaking of the original, the three fairies – Flora, Fauna and Merryweather – have always been favorites of mine, and the live-action versions definitely add some humor to the plot. Though Jolie is dark, she too has some fun playing tricks on the trio as well as some great one-liners.
Some may find one of the twists as taking too much liberty with the traditional fairy tale (hint: another twist with true love’s kiss). There are some slow-moving moments while waiting for the cursed Aurora to turn 16, prick her finger on the spindle from the spinning wheel and fall into the infamous deep sleep, but overall I found the film a lot of fun to take my own little “Beastie,” as Aurora is affectionately called, to see.
Grade on a scale of kid’s live action films: B+
Rated PG, Violent battle scenes; Slightly graphic; Scary moments; 97 minutes
Watch a sneak peek here:
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Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler star in Blended in theaters now.
By Patty Adams Martinez
Drew Barrymore is pretty much every girl’s fantasy BFF. She’s smart, talented, and ambitious, while still being all about girl power and wanting to lift other women up rather than tearing them down. If all of that wasn’t enough, she’s also super down-to-earth and relatable, and just about the coolest mom on the planet.
The actress—whose latest movie Blended is in theaters now—and mom of two dishes to Parents about sharing screen-time with her “cinematic soul mate” Adam Sandler, surprising pregnancy side effects, and dressing her kids—Olive 19 months, and Frankie, born April 22—in hand-me-downs (just like the rest of us!). After reading this, you’re going to love her even more!
In Blended, you and Adam Sandler go on a really bad blind date, and end up together with your kids at a secluded family resort in Africa, where you can’t exactly escape running into each other. Then, of course, funniness ensues.
Yes, I love this movie. It had been about three years since I made a movie because I needed time off to create my family, but my cinematic soul mate, Adam, got me to go back to work, and I couldn’t be more proud and excited about this film. It’s fun because it’s where Adam and I are at in life now that we’re parents. It’s also really, really funny, but still pulls at your heartstrings—which I love.
Is it different being cast in mom roles, like this one, now that you’re actually a mom?
I think it means more to me now; it’s more emotional, because I know what it feels like to have daughters and to know that kind of unconditional love, which is such a powerful, powerful thing. And I like that this character isn’t perfect, because I don’t believe in perfection. But I do believe in growing and that’s why my favorite thing about being a mom is what a better person it makes you on a daily basis.
You’re putting others first. It’s not about yourself anymore—it’s about these amazing little people you want so badly to take care of, and you really learn to be patient. Even if you already thought you were, this is a whole new level of patience. You also find out how to live in the moment, and to breathe, and to never take your life or the people in it for granted.
After three movies with Adam, what have you learned about being a good parent by watching him with his daughters?
He is just such a sweet and patient dad. He’s the opposite of the macho male. He really cares about their happiness and how their school is going and how they’re getting along with other kids. He loves hanging out with them and they are his priority in life.
Ok, dish! You revealed you grew a lovely “red goatee” when you were pregnant with Olive. Did you have any surprising pregnancy side effects while you were knocked up with Frankie?
I didn’t grow leg hair for like six months! It was the oddest, raddest thing I had ever experienced in my life. I was so happy, but sadly it didn’t last.
Are there things of Olive’s you’re excited to pass down to daughter Frankie?
Yes! When I found out I was having another girl I thought, Well that’s convenient, because I already have everything I need—including Olive’s duck onesie, which I loved and so sad when she grew out of it at four months. I would say about 70 percent of Olive’s clothes I got from my sister-in-law because she has two girls. So Olive wears her cousins’ clothes, and Frankie will too!
Download our free lion coloring page so your kids can go on an African safari, just like they do in the movie!
Image courtesy of Warner Brothers
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Adam Sandler, Blended, blended families, Celebrity, celebrity interview, celebrity mom, Celebrity moms, Drew Barrymore, frankie, girl power, hand-me-downs, mom, olive | Categories:
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Monday, May 12th, 2014
Whether they’re assisting your little one at school or helping him feel more comfortable at the doctor’s office, nurses play a big part in your child’s life. Kids who are fans of animated shows will enjoy Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins episode, “The Big Storm” featuring Nurse Hallie, who saves the day.
Tune in to the Disney Channel to watch the new episode this Friday, May 16 at 9:30 a.m. ET/PT. In the meantime, check out this clip featuring Doc, Nurse Hallie, and the toys.
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Thursday, May 8th, 2014
Kevin Durant with his mother and grandmother
Professional basketball player Kevin Durant accepted the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award Tuesday, which was the first of his career. In an emotion-filled speech, he thanked everybody who helped him along his journey, from coaches to teammates to fans. As he began to thank his mother, Durant, Mama Durant, and practically everybody watching broke down in tears.
Durant was raised by Wanda Pratt a single mother of two in Washington DC. As Durant said in his acceptance speech, he never thought he would make it to the NBA, and without Pratt’s sacrifices, he might not have. Even now, Mama Durant still goes to almost all the Oklahoma City Thunder home games, and win or lose, Durant always gives her a post-game hug and a kiss.
In the sweet speech Durant is overcome with emotion recalling the mother-son journey. “We weren’t supposed to be here,” he said talking to Pratt. “You made us believe. You kept us off the street, put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”
Watch it below, but be sure to have multiple tissues on hand.
Photo via Instagram.com/easymoneysniper
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Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
Has this ever happened to you? You see a recipe in a magazine, and the dish looks spectacular. You make it at home, and while the food tastes good it looks nowhere near as beautiful as it did in the photo.
It’s certainly happened to me (and I’m a food editor!). Here’s the truth: It’s not our fault. The food in Parents and other magazines looks amazing thanks to talented food stylists and photographers like Liza Jernow and Tara Donne. Liza is a food stylist extraordinaire. You can see some of her recent work for Parents on cookies and birthday cakes. Photographer Tara Donne recently shot our gorgeous Easter Lunch story.
Now these two are starting Wild Apple, a magazine devoted to gluten-free living. I recently chatted with them about the magazine, and they graciously shared a recipe for a scrumptious allergen-free cupcake.
This is a big undertaking! Why did you decide to publish a magazine?
Being gluten-free for a collective 13 years now, we’ve really seen the market for gluten-free goods change shape. We saw a hole in this expanding category and felt that with our experience in magazines and food we could offer readers something really special.
What will Wild Apple cover?
Wild Apple will share simple snack ideas, well-tested recipes for classics, and menus with which to entertain friends or easily create weeknight meals. It will also feature travel, city guides, profiles on interesting creative people, and roundups of beauty products—all, of course, gluten-free.
• Learn how to stock an allergen-free pantry.
What’s your plan to get Wild Apple off the ground?
Our Kickstarter campaign launches today and our goal is to raise the funds required to launch our inaugural issue this fall. We then plan to develop relationships with brands we believe in to carry the magazine forward. Visit Wild Apple’s Kickstarter page.
What are your biggest challenges living gluten-free?
Eating in restaurants and finding on-the-go snacks. When eating out, we make sure our servers know our limitations and that cross-contamination is an issue, especially with deep fryers.
Regarding snacks, it’s always good to keep a bag of almonds – or another nut your kids like – in your purse. We also like to pick up extra in-season fruit at the farmer’s market to have on hand at home. On road trips we stop at grocery stores whenever possible as opposed to fast food options. Here we might pick up snack packs of almond butter, carrots and hummus, or a yogurt. The key with the latter two is to check the ingredient list or look for a “GF” symbol.
What are a few tips for families with kids who are making the switch to gluten-free foods?
Our biggest tip is to become vigilant about reading ingredient lists. Forming this habit is a game changer. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, farro, kamut, oats, rye, and spelt. In addition to these grains, gluten is sometimes used to make other foods like soy sauce, some vinegars, malt, seitan, salad dressings, and more. Other foods to look out for include crackers, bread, pasta, cream sauces and soups, candy bars, cookies, flavored potato chips and rice mixes. It is also often added to cosmetics, hair creams, and lipsticks.
Focusing on naturally gluten-free foods is also a good way to save money instead of paying big bucks for processed gluten-replacement foods. A homemade meal like roasted chicken, potatoes, and vegetables is already gluten-free and your family will not wonder where the gluten went. This way everyone can enjoy the same meal, which will save you time.
Many kids’ breakfasts, for example, have gluten in them — any quick ideas for moms?
There are lots of options. A few of our favorites are gluten-free oatmeal, quinoa porridge, cream of rice cereal, breakfast taco with egg and corn tortilla, corn tortilla quesadilla, or apple wedges with nut butter.
Tell us about this cupcake recipe.
In a group of children there will always be someone with an allergy so we think it’s easier to just avoid the major players and go straight to something everyone can enjoy. So this recipe is as allergen-free as it gets; there’s no milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, or wheat. When baking for others with allergies make sure you’re careful with cross-contamination. Use a fresh sponge and clean everything you’ll be using thoroughly before you start.
Chocolate Chip Allergen-Free Cupcakes
(From Wild Apple Magazine)
Makes 2 dozen
These cupcakes have a great flavor and they’re speckled with chocolate chips. They also happen to avoid some of the most common food allergens: tree nuts, egg, lactose, and gluten. Gluten-free baked goods store well in the freezer. If they are made ahead, freeze them unfrosted and tightly wrapped for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature and frost them just before serving. Use organic ingredients to enhance the flavor.
When cooking for people who have very sensitive food allergies, avoid buying ingredients that are processed in a facility that manufactures other products containing soy, milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.
• 2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flax meal
• 1 teaspoon psyllium husk powder (found online or in natural foods stores)
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (that does not contain guar or xanthan gums)
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
• 1 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
• ½ cup vegetable oil
• 1 1/4 cups rice or soy milk
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/3 cup mini bittersweet chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, whisk together first seven ingredients, set aside. With an electric mixer beat the coconut oil, brown sugar, and vegetable oil together until fluffy, about 3 minutes on high. Add the milk, vanilla and dry ingredients. Beat for 3 minutes on high speed until well-combined.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the batter sit until the oven is hot, about 20 minutes, to allow the flax to thicken the batter. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Fill the cups 2/3 full and add a pinch of chocolate chips to the top of each cupcake. Bake for 35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in their center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool completely before removing from pan.
Chocolate-y Coconut Frosting
Enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes
When you refrigerate a can of coconut milk, the coconut water separates to the bottom and the cream rises to the top. Refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight.
• 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
• 1 cup cream from the top of a can of unsweetened coconut milk
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
• 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
• Pinch fine sea salt
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Heat the chocolate with half the coconut cream until melted. Let it cool to room temperature. With an electric mixer beat the remaining coconut oil and vegetable shortening together. Beat in the chocolate mixture. Add the salt and vanilla. Place the bowl in freezer for 10 minutes, until it begins to set up. Continue beating on high until light and fluffy.
Interview has been edited and condensed.
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Photos by Tara Donne; food styling and recipe by Liza Jernow
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Entertainment, Food, Must Read
Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Chef Tino Feliciano with his family.
Monday is Cinco de Mayo, and while moms and dads might not be able to indulge with multiple margaritas (like we used to) we can still celebrate with our kids. This special occasion drink recipe from Chef Tino Feliciano is a perfect treat with a Latin-style supper.
Kids’ Coconut Mojito
• 10 mint leaves
• 2 limes, cut into wedges
• 4 Tbs. sugar
• 16 oz. lemon-lime soda (regular or diet for a lower-sugar version)
• 4 oz. sweet cream of coconut
• 2 Tbs. grated coconut
Place the mint leaves, lime wedges, and sugar in a large pitcher. Using the handle end of a wooden spoon, lightly mash the ingredients together until they are roughly incorporated. Add the soda and cream of coconut and mix well. Serve in glasses with ice and garnish with the grated coconut.
Find easy Mexican dishes to make for dinner tonight.
The father of two girls and one boy, Chef Tino is a restaurant-owner in Puerto Rico. On Cinco de Mayo he brings his culinary (and people) skills to the mainland in the premiere of his Cooking Channel special The Fixer with Chef Tino at 9 PM (check local listings). Tino’s mission: to turn around a family-run Mexican restaurant in New Jersey. I had the pleasure of working with Tino and the production company on Monday’s night special, and one thing’s for sure—watch and you will crave Mexican food! Tino’s creamy cocktail will be the perfect accompaniment. And once the kids go to bed feel free to add a drop of two of rum. I won’t tell.
Click to find fun activities your family can play at home tonight.
Image courtesy Engel Entertainment
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Friday, April 25th, 2014
Who doesn’t have a soft spot for Muppet creator Jim Henson? We got excited to hear that his daughter, Lisa Henson, is producing Hulu’s first original kids’ series, Doozers, based off her dad’s Fraggle Rock, which followed a community of creatures living in an underground fantasy world. In the original show, Doozers were tiny green characters constantly at work on construction projects. With Lisa’s new animated series, the Doozers get their turn in the spotlight, teaching preschoolers the importance of science, math, and technology while having fun. To celebrate today’s premiere, Lisa shared with Parents her new spin on a classic and why problem-solving is a must for today’s kids.
P: What was it about your dad’s show Fraggle Rock that inspired you to create Doozers?
L: On Fraggle Rock, the Doozers were busy building with their hard hats and megaphones. They had construction projects going on all the time, but it was like peripheral business to the activities of the Fraggles. We always thought the Doozers had such a fascinating world and were such cute, wonderful characters. We feature kid Doozers and really build out the world so it’s no longer just underground. Most of the show takes place out in nature in our world.
P: The show will have its own special curriculum. In what ways will the series encourage STEAM learning?
L: We’re getting a bit more into technology and engineering with the Doozers because they love to create, make, build, and invent. They address a different problem in every episode and then design something that addresses that problem. We feel it’s a very unique curriculum but within a show that’s extremely fun and fantastical. For kids, I think they’re going to be watching the little green guys have fun and play. While the message is there, it’s not extremely formal, so they’re learning more informally.
P: The Doozers are really into creating and building. Why was it important for you to make a series that encouraged those qualities in kids?
L: With kids today, there’s no such thing giving them too much modeling of teamwork and problem solving. What it takes to improve our world is problem solving. We don’t really want kids to just lay back and become passive as adults. We want them to take a plunge and try to address problems.
P: This will be the first original kids series on Hulu. How did you decide that was the right source for your show?
L: What’s unique about this show is because it’s premiering on Hulu, that’s the only place that kids can see it. We find that to be pretty modern because it lines up with how kids watch shows today. They want to be able to watch them when they want, where they want, or even watch a favorite episode over and over again. Hulu is perfect for that kind of viewing.
P: Who’s your favorite character from the series?
L: The youngest Doozer, Daisy Wheel, instantly became a winner for me. She has bright blue hair, a ladybug backpack, and a jet pack she flies around with. She’s so cute! What she contributes to the show is very important too because she loves nature and is always observing things. Then, the Doozers take those ideas from nature and use them in their designs and inventions, also called biomimicry. She’s just so perfectly put together.
You can watch the trailer on Hulu now.
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