Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
Archive for the ‘ Time for Fun ’ Category
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.Add a Comment
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).
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!Add a Comment
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.
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.Add a Comment
Tags: antonia lofaso, charity, chef, Christmas, cooking, dish up the love, Feeding America, Food, giving, holiday, recipe, Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo, thanksgiving, the busy mom cookbook, top chef, world kitchen | Categories: celebrities, Doing Good, Food, GoodyBlog, Holidays
Monday, November 25th, 2013
DIY crafter Alison Caporimo recently released her first book, Instacraft, about fun and simple projects for adorable gifts and décor. We received permission to showcase four crafts from the book on Goodyblog. Come back each Monday (11/4, 11/11, 11/18, 11/25) to see which creations we feature next.
Spaghetti-Stamped Tote Bag
“Growing up, Sundays meant pasta; Mondays, school and then pasta. And Tuesday: leftover pasta,” Alison says. “Here is the result of a lifetime of playing with food when I wasn’t supposed to and having far too much access to every kind of spaghetti and ravioli ever made.”
Canvas tote bag
Drop cloth (or newspaper)
1. Lay out a drop cloth or newspaper on a flat surface and smooth the tote bag on your workspace.
2. Dip one open end of a rigatoni pasta into fabric paint and press firmly but evenly onto the canvas.
3. Repeat in any pattern you like (in a variety of colors!) and then allow to dry according to paint instructions.
Alison’s extra tips for Parents readers:
- Swap it: Instead of tote bags, paint pillowcases, tee shirts, or canvas sneakers. Or, use acrylic paint to stamp card stock, wood plaques, or terra cotta pots.
- Search for more unexpected stamps: Test out pretzels, clementine wedges, Cheerios or Froot Loops, flowers, corks, buttons, straws, and pencil erasers.
- Need more ideas? Check out Parents fruit and veggie stamps.
- Try it freehand: Draw small plus signs and scalloped petal patterns—then stay in the lines.
- Challenge your kiddos: Ask them to name shapes, count pasta pieces, and mix paint colors.
For more ideas from Alison Caporimo, follow her on Twitter.
Text adapted from Instacraft, with permission from Ulysses Press. Copyright 2013. All images by Meera Lee Patel.Add a Comment
Tags: alison caporimo, canvas, craft, DIY, easy craft, fabric paint, instacraft, kids craft, meera lee patel, Rheanna O'Neil Bellomo, stamp, tote bag, ulysses press, veggie stamp | Categories: Crafts, GoodyBlog, Time for Fun
Monday, November 25th, 2013
It is, quite literally, a once on a lifetime moment (unless scientists finally resolve that whole mortality): Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, two very wonderful events, happening simultaneously. The next time that the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving will be in 79,043 years. So, of course, this confluence has its own name: Thanksgivukkah.
At our house, we’re extra-super excited, because Thanksgiving/Hanukkah Eve, the night we light the first candle, is also my oldest daughter’s seventh birthday. Happiness abounds! Of course, she’s doubly thrilled because of the multiplicity of presents this brings. (Among the things I am thankful for this year: Thanksgiving is not a present-giving holiday.)
How to celebrate? Buzzfeed’s got a mouth-watering Thanksgivukkah menu, for starters, and this Thanksgivukkah Pinterest board can keep you occupied for hours. Here on Parents.com you can find these fun Hanukkah crafts and recipes, and a wealth of activities, crafts, and recipes for Thanksgiving. And don’t miss these Thanksgiving printables.
Personally, the double holiday doesn’t affect my family much–we’ll celebrate both as we always do. But I much prefer the mash-up of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to the more routine lumping together of Christmas and Hanukkah. Giving thanks–for the miracles in our lives and the freedoms we enjoy–are central themes of Hanukkah, and of course, Thanksgiving. So perhaps the best celebration we can have on this day is to enjoy ourselves and take the message of these holidays seriously by giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives. I know that’s what I will be doing.
Still looking for great holiday-weekend activities? Find great around-the-house crafts.Add a Comment
Friday, November 22nd, 2013
To celebrate today’s movie release of “Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” I’m sharing a new video made by the clever folks at Sesame Street, a spoof called “Catching Fur.” (They also have a clever spoof of “Downton Abbey”!)
As a big fan of Suzanne Collins’s book series, I love how Sesame Street transformed Cookie Monster into Cookieness Evereat, whose goal is to survive the jungle by eating his way through the “Hungry Games.” His companions include parodies of Peeta (now an animated piece of pita), Finnick (wielding a fork instead of a trident), and Wiress (who keeps staying tick tock while holding an alarm clock). For more on the names of popular characters, check out Lisa Milbrand’s “In Name Only” blog post on why names from the Hunger Games haven’t taken off.
Even though your kids might be too young to understand the inspiration behind the latest video, they can still help Cookieness as he faces challenges related to food. Kids will learn basic pattern and shape recognition by guessing which food type comes next in an apple-banana sequence and which food shape comes next after a circle-square sequence. Parents can just laugh along at the funny antics and jokes.
Plus: Sesame Street characters Elmo and Murray recently visited our offices! Below, watch a video where they give tips on tackling picky eating. And watch Elmo and Murray give more advice on bedtime routines and getting along with siblings!Add a Comment
Wednesday, November 20th, 2013
Nervous about preparing Thanksgiving dinner? You’re not alone. No matter what your level of culinary experience, cooking the Thanksgiving feast can cause more anxiety than a turkey feels as November rolls around. I’ve been to culinary school and am now food editor here at Parents, and even I’m not immune. (Starting two years ago, I finally put my gravy anxiety to rest by making it ahead of time.)
Recently we asked our Facebook fans about their biggest Thanksgiving dinner challenges, and I chose a few of the questions to answer, here. My goal is to help make the cooking part of your day go more smoothly so you can get down to the important part of enjoying the feast with your friends and family.
Ashley Jude is hosting her first Thanksgiving and asked for our best piece of advice.
My best piece of advice is one I follow myself every year: do as much in advance as possible. Turkey stock for the gravy and my piecrust are already in the freezer. This weekend I will make my cranberry sauce. Tuesday I will cut up my vegetables for the stuffing and trim the Brussels sprouts. Wednesday I’ll whisk up the gravy and put together a mashed potato casserole that can go straight in the oven on Thursday. The more you do ahead the less stress you’ll feel on the big day, guaranteed.
Almost equally important is to have a cooking plan for the day and write it down. I start from when I want dinner on the table (4:30 PM), then work backwards to carving the turkey (4:15 PM), taking the turkey out of the oven (3:15 PM), and putting the turkey in the oven (12:15 PM). It’s amazing how having a schedule on paper can keep you cool and composed.
Heather Beckman wants an easy pie crust.
Ah, Heather, don’t we all. Okay, here is my official “food editor” answer: piecrust isn’t difficult once you practice a little. Just keep your ingredients cold and don’t work the dough too much. Watch our video here to see just how easy it is to roll one out.
And here is my “unofficial” answer: you know what kind of piecrust I love? Graham cracker. Yum. How delicious with pumpkin or pudding or cheesecake or virtually any other smooth, creamy filling. You can press a graham cracker crust into the pan in seconds or, gasp!, buy one that still tastes great.
Several people asked how to serve a gluten-free Thanksgiving.
Happily, aside from the stuffing, gravy, and pie most traditional Thanksgiving dishes are gluten-free (remember gluten is a protein found in wheat). So pile your plate high with mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, green beans, squash, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, salad, and, of course, turkey. To replace a traditional bread stuffing try a wild rice dressing. Instead of, or in addition to, pumpkin pie add baked apples to the menu, pumpkin pudding, or poached pears. No one will miss the gluten.
We had a lot of questions about dealing with picky eaters on Thanksgiving.
Here’s the good news. I think Thanksgiving is the last day you should wage a battle with picky eaters. (And, in fact, try to avoid making it a battle any day of the year with these strategies.) On Thanksgiving, just make sure there are one or two things on the table your kids will eat. That shouldn’t be too hard since, let’s face it, there’s an awful lot of food on the table. Maybe little ones will eat the rolls with butter, the mashed potatoes, a fruit salad, or plain turkey. Some kids might love the cranberry sauce or the sweet potatoes.
Another beauty of the Thanksgiving table is that you can always add a dish, so if you don’t think they’ll eat anything you serve, add macaroni and cheese (traditional in some parts of the country) or apple slices. Once the food is on the table, let your kids eat what they want and have dessert later, no strings attached. This is a meal for everyone to enjoy. You and your children. Save the one-bite rule and other maneuvers for outsmarting picky eating for another day. That’s something both you and your kids will be thankful for.
Any other Thanksgiving dinner questions, let us know!
Image: Turkey dinner via ShutterstockAdd a Comment