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Monday, December 16th, 2013
With the holiday season comes the gift-giving spirit, and I, for one, have always been a fan of gifts that “give back.”
It all started with a proverb my mother told me as a child: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” Ever since then, I’ve favored what I like to call “experiential gifts,” those that you can do or share with someone, or charitable gifts, which in some way support a cause I value.
This year, I’m going the charitable route. (Sometimes, the giving of an “experiential gift” feels like I’m selfishly giving myself a present, too. Anyone else ever feel that way when you buy two tickets for your special someone to a concert you’re both dying to see?) Fortunately, I was introduced to Pikolinos’ Maasai Collection, a line of shoes and bags featuring traditional beadwork embroidery. The brand partnered with over 1,600 women from the Maasai tribe of Kenya, one of the most threatened on the planet according to the UN, to design the collection. This sustainable collaboration wins my vote for the fashion-forward gift that gives back this year because 100% of the proceeds from this line go directly back into the Maasai Community in the form of fair wages. Thanks to this unique partnership, more than 1,600 families have a stable source of income that allows them to obtain basic needs items, like food and medicines.
As I browsed the collection, I thought, now here’s a gift I can feel good about giving—with comfort and style that’s so worth receiving.
Image: Olivia Palermo wears Pikoloinos via stylist.ca
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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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charity, Christmas, giving back, giving tuesday, Holidays, social media, tegu, tegu elf, volunteer | Categories:
Doing Good, GoodyBlog, Holidays, Your Life
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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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
Thursday, October 3rd, 2013
Parents caught up with tennis star, humanitarian, father (and now snack-creator) Andre Agassi upon the launch of his new snack line for kids, Box Budd!es. Agassi teamed up with V20 Foods to create snacks from milk boxes to granola bars.We particularly enjoyed the fun new Peachy Apple Fruit Pouch as a twist on traditional applesauce. The chocolate granola bars win the Parents vote since they’re the perfect size for a lunchbox treat, with only 100 calories and 5 grams of sugar each. Not to mention, all of the proceeds from these foods benefit the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. But aside from this endeavor, as dad to Jaden, 11, and Jaz, 9, this pro has plenty to say about healthy eating, kids and sports, and teaching your child kindness.
P: What got you started on the nutritional front for kids?
AA: The impetus was about education and it morphed into educating on two fronts. All the money goes to my Foundation for Education, so we can educate our future, and we also educate parents on how to make better choices for their kids.
P: The snacks are a bit healthier and the proceeds support education, but I have to imagine taste was a factor. Were Jaden and Jaz your taste-testers?
AA: They were two of them, let me put it that way. Their cousins were four more and their friends. As we got closer to the end product it became a fun thing in the house. We would line up all these blind taste tests and cut them into little tiny squares so you could compare them and then they would all do their little notes about them. It was actually a pretty fun process.
P: So are applesauce and chocolate milk some of their favorite foods?
AA: We have the same dilemma every parent has in that you keep your kids living a well-balanced health lifestyle and it starts with educating them on their choices and forcing them to eat something healthy before they eat something that’s not as healthy.
P: What are you tricks of the trade in getting them to choose that healthier option?
AA: Well, it’s a mandate. If you want something that’s unhealthy for a snack, you first have to eat an apple. You want to go to dessert, you have to finish this on your plate. It’s filling them up on the good stuff before they choose the bad stuff. If they ask for snacks, as long as they eat something healthy they can have the snack. We don’t discriminate against the snack as long as they start with the healthy option.
P: I know that you are involved with the Boys and Girls club, an organization that mixes education and athletics. Do Jaden and Jaz play sports to keep active and healthy?
AA: Yeah. My son plays baseball, full stop, and my daughter’s on two hip hop dance competition teams. She is rock hard now and she’s nine. I didn’t even know bodies could do those movements. It’s crazy to watch her do it.We’re there at competitions and games cheering all the time.
P: In your autobiography, Open, you talk a lot about how tennis felt pressurized for you. How do you keep athletics, or dance, or physical activity in general fun for your kids?
AA: Well, we’re not the kind of parents who expect them to do this for a lifetime. We try to nurture what they gravitate towards and they both found their niche pretty quickly. We just support it. There’s nothing to push them at. They just have to see through their responsibility. It’s really smiple: You’re going to fulfill your responsibility. Jaz is part of two dance competitions. She doesn’t have to do it next year, but this year I say, “You’re going to every practice, you’re going to go to every competition.” Same with Jaden—he can make his choices year to year if that’s what he chooses, but I harp on being responsible.
P: Through your Foundation and all of the wonderful causes that you’ve been a supporter of, giving back is clearly an important value to you. How do you go about instilling that value in your children?
AA: All of those things I did that led me to education. I got tired of sticking band-aids on issues and I wanted to give the tools for real systemic change. But I will tell you this, and one thing I’ve learned most profoundly as a parent: children will learn from what they see way more than what you tell them. So the fact that I’m in New York right now for two days and I’m not home with them, they want to know where I am and why I’m going. I walk them through what I’m doing, as an example, with Box Budd!es. They all of a sudden realize that I’m not really doing something I want to do—I don’t want to travel, I don’t want to leave them—but I have to because it is the right thing to do. So they see that more than telling them. Next thing you know on the weekend they’re having a lemonade drive for the ASPCA to save pets and animals. It’s remarkable how that correlates.
P: I know that Jaden has a birthday coming up, he’s about to turn 12. Do you have birthday plans?
AA: Both of them actually. Jaz wants to take her entire dance team to the Jabberwockies. So that would be the third year in a row she wants to do that. They’re better athletes than anyone I’ve ever seen on a tennis court. They’re remarkable what they can do. Jaden, his birthday is late October so he’s still sort of morphing back and forth between a very understated barbeque with just a few friends or a big movie night with his entire team.
P: Will you serve Box Budd!es at the birthday party?
I’m gonna push this as much as possible. I hope this brand builds. I hope that when people see that seal, that logo, that this is really going towards our future, that they trust the source, and that 100 percent of all my proceeds are going directly to our future.
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Andre Agassi, celebrity interview, celebs, charity, child education, child nutrition, education, healthy eating, healthy snacks, Nutrition, school lunch, school snacks, snacks, tennis, values | Categories:
Monday, July 29th, 2013
Sometimes giving back feels like a chore, but it doesn’t have to. I recently came across Kellogg’s Family Rewards Giving, which allows you to donate to schools and charities with nothing more than a computer and products you probably already have around the house.
Kellogg’s new loyalty program only requires that you peek inside the box of participating products (like Special K, Mini-Wheats, and Nutrigrain granola bars) and type in the code online. Kellogg’s then sends you a donation code you can use to give donations of $1 or $5 to the school or charity you care about. From a typical grocery order, you may be able to donate a couple of dollars a month.
Kellogg’s partners include Feeding America, Action for Healthy Kids, American Red Cross, Share Our Strength, United Way, Food Research and Action Center and more than 120,000 schools. If you don’t see your child’s school on the list, talk to the principal about getting your school involved.
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Friday, May 17th, 2013
This post was written by our friends at Celebrity Baby Scoop.
Hilary Duff has joined the campaign to support Johnson’s Baby Cares partnership with Save the Children for the second year in a row. The actress recently visited the Save the Children early childhood education school in Yucca Valley, California – where she met with families who benefit from the program.
Celebrity Baby Scoop recently had a chance to catch up with Hilary about the Johnson’s Baby Cares program, her 1-year-old son Luca, and her biggest motherhood rewards.
Celebrity Baby Scoop: Tell us about partnering with Johnson’s Baby for Johnson’s Baby Cares. What’s it all about? Why did you get involved?
Hilary Duff: I can’t believe I have my first year as a mom under my belt – time flies. Looking back on it, I’ve been thinking a lot about the support I received from my family, friends and fans over the past year, and how their words of encouragement really helped me get through some challenging days.
Unfortunately not all moms have the same support system or even basic everyday resources to help them with motherhood. That’s why I’m proud to partner with Johnson’s Baby Cares for the second year on its newest campaign centered around Johnson’s Baby “Care Cards” – which is helping to deliver encouragement and positive support to moms across the country, while also raising funds for families and babies assisted by Save the Children.
Now, everyone can help in an easy and fun way! Visit Johnson’s Baby’s Facebook page to send a digital Care Card filled with love and inspiration to a special mom in your life. For every card sent, shared or liked Johnson’s Baby will donate $1 to Save the Children to benefit early parenting and childhood education programs.
CBS: How’s baby Luca doing? Is he into everything these days now that he’s walking?
HD: “Luca’s incredible! I can’t believe he is already 13 months old. He’s certainly an active boy and yes, even more so now that he is walking. In fact, he basically skipped the walking stage and went straight to “speed walking.” I spend my days on my feet trailing him around the house and yard!”
CBS: How has your life changed in the last year since you’ve become a mother? What are the greatest rewards of motherhood? Biggest challenges?
HD: I really love being a mom.Motherhoodchanges the way you see the world. I’ve always been passionate about giving back, but now I’m more passionate about supporting causes that help other moms and babies, like Johnson’s Baby Cares.
I’m rewarded by Luca every day, whether it’s with a new smile or an accomplished milestone, but the biggest reward has to be discovering this tremendous newfound love that I had no idea existed within me. Every day brings new challenges, but you learn to trust yourself and your instincts to help get through them.
CBS: You seem to have the ‘perfect’ life with a great career and family life. But do you think women can REALLY ‘have it all’? Have you had to make sacrifices now that you’re a mom?
HD: Nobody’s life is perfect but in this day and age women are able to find a balance between work and home life. Of course my life has changed but I don’t think of them as sacrifices because I was ready for this new chapter!
CBS: We saw you and Mike enjoying Coachella. Comment on the importance of making time as a couple. Do you think it’s important? Do you have regular date nights?
HD: Yes of course it’s important to make time to focus on your relationship. But it’s not always easy! We aren’t huge planners, we tend to do things last minute but we enjoy going out for nice dinners or spending time with friends.
CelebrityBabyScoop.com is one of the most popular blogs on the topic and the foremost provider of everything celebrity-baby, featuring baby fashion, baby names, baby trends and up-to-the-minute celebrity baby gossip and pics. Get all the latest news, updates, and photos about Hollywood’s most beloved celebrity moms, dads and their babies. Who’s the latest Tinseltown baby? Who’s due next and who just announced a pregnancy? It’s all on Celebrity Baby Scoop.
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Thursday, May 16th, 2013
No matter how health-conscious you are or what diet you’re on, there are times when you just can’t pass on dessert.
When it comes to Sandra Lee’s pineapple-passion-fruit cupcakes, Guy Fieri’s caramel apple bread pudding, and Buddy Valastro’s Italian butter cookies, I can’t think of a single reason to say no.
On May 1, I perused the World’s Largest Bake Sale at Grand Central Station, sampling sweets, meeting local bakers, but most importantly, learning about child hunger in America.
Sponsored by the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, the bake sale raised both money for the cause and awareness for the more than 16 million children affected by hunger in America.
I chatted with of New York City’s best bakers and browsed their selection of champagne cupcakes, pistachio-cherry scones, and peanut-butter-strawberry-jam doughnuts. All sweets were sold for $5, the proceeds from which were put toward the campaign.
Bake sale host Sandra Lee whipped up her favorite strawberry shortcake and banana split cupcakes for the event, and spoke to me about the urgency of the child hunger epidemic.
“Some working moms are going home with one check, paying rent, and wondering how they are going to feed their kids. Sometimes they have to choose between paying bills and food,” she said. “It shouldn’t be that way in America.”
Buddy Valastro, the “Cake Boss,” said that as a baker and a father, he just had to be part of the event. He also shared with me a personal story about his family history.
“My dad grew up in Sicily and I remember him telling stories of going to bed hungry, after sharing one plate with his family,” he said. “It really puts life in perspective. This is about more than raising money, it’s about saying, ‘Hey, America, this is happening!’”
Ty Pennington, former host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, expressed a personal connection to the cause and donated a colorful, handmade bake sale stand for the Share Our Strength Auction.
“I may not have a child of my own, per se, but it is staggering to hear that one in five kids goes hungry,” he said. “It really opens your eyes about not wasting as much and makes you think about what we can do to make sure they are fed.”
The Share Our Strength Auction for No Kid Hungry runs through May 31 and features items donated by food masters like Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse. This is your chance to take a class in the Cake Boss’s kitchen, dig in to Bobby Flay’s signature Southwestern dishes, or learn to swirl icing like New York’s iconic Magnolia Bakery.
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auction, bake sale, baking, Buddy Valastro, Cake Boss, charity, child hunger, children, Family, fundraiser, Grand Central, No Kid Hungry, Sandra Lee, share our strength, Ty Pennington, World's Largest Bake Sale | Categories:
Monday, April 29th, 2013
As parents we understand a love too deep for words to capture;
a love so immense, it physically hurts sometimes. We know what it feels like to forget about our own fears to protect our children. But every year, thousands of children face a battle that their parents cannot fight for them.
“I vowed, as all fathers do, to protect my child at all costs and I was not able to. I tried so hard and fought with so much hope and it just was not enough. I am not one who accepts failure and will keep getting up, trying again and again, harder each time. But how I get up from this loss and continue to fight I do not know. What am I fighting for when I have already lost what is unimaginable and immeasurable?” These are the words of Larry Witt in a letter to his son Liam who lost his battle with cancer at the age of 6 years old.
Pediatric cancer is the most common cause of death by disease for children and adolescents in the United States. According to The America Childhood Cancer Organization, approximately 13,400 children between the ages of birth and 19 years old are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year.
Like so many other children, little Liam was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer of the nervous system, on February 26th, 2007. For the next four years, Liam’s parents helplessly watched their son endure surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, and antibody treatments in the fight for his life.
On her website CookiesForKidsCancer.org, Liam’s mom, Gretchen, writes: “On this odyssey, we have learned that pediatric cancer robs families of more children than any other disease. We learned about the vast disparity between funding for pediatric cancer and other cancers. We learned of the lack of interest on the part of pharmaceutical companies to invest research and development dollars in treatments and cures. And after we learned all of these shocking facts, we decided to do something about it.”
Cookies For Kids Cancer is a non-profit organization created by Liam’s parents dedicated to funding the development of new and better treatments. Gretchen and Larry got to work after finding that all types of pediatric cancers collectively receive less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s multi-billion dollar budget. With the help of 250 volunteers, Gretchen baked and sold 96,000 cookies in her first larger-than-life bake sale raising over $400,000 for pediatric cancer research. Through their bake sales and events, CFKC has raised over $6 million in just over four years.
An extension of the movement and a book for those inspired to hold their own bake sales, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: All the Good Cookies, is a cookbook/manual/inspirational guide-hybrid that includes everything from delicious cookie recipes, clever packaging points and hosting tips, to 50-PLUS bake-sale success stories and creative ideas that reach beyond baking to a ladies-night-out-with-a-cause or a carwash. All author proceeds from the book go directly to CFKC.
CFKC has given parents the power to join their children in the fight for their lives.
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You can pick up your copy of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: All the Good Cookies when it hits stores on April 30th. You can also create a giving page, purchase cookies, and find many other ways to help at CookiesForKidsCancer.org.