Archive for the ‘
Parenting Advice ’ Category
Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Ravina Thakkar, an eighth-grader in Plainfield, IL, has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening medical condition that affects her lungs and digestive system. She doesn’t define herself that way, though. She thinks of herself as a writer–and a girl who loves to dance and listen to music.
When she became eligible, her social worker helped make her dreams come true through the Make-A-Wish® Illinois foundation.
Ravina wanted to write a book for middle graders, and she did just that yesterday when Sourcebooks released her new title. The publisher gave Ravina the entire author experience–from working with editors and designers to revising the manuscript and weighing in on the cover art.
Ravina’s book is called Adventure of a Lifetime and was written when she was 8-years-old. It’s about a 9-year-old girl named Betty who battles alongside a character from her favorite fiction series as they race from one danger to the next.Adventure of a Lifetime It was released on her 14th birthday. Ravina’s doing a marketing and publicity campaign that includes this Q&A with me: nts and bravery.
KK: How old were you when you wanted to become a writer? What age should we parents start encouraging our little ones who seem interested in it?
RT: (At left.) I was 6 when I decided I wanted to be a writer, I think…or at least, that was when the idea first got in my head. If children show interest in writing, then I would definitely suggest encouraging them early on! My parents’ support is one of the reasons I’m here today.
KK: How does your illness tie into your deep desire to write? How do your experiences affect your writing?
RT: Well, in my case, Cystic Fibrosis affects my lungs more than anything else. I take medication and do three treatments a day to stay healthy, and since those treatments take up much time in my day, they’re usually the time when I sit down to write. However, I don’t think Cystic Fibrosis has really affected my actual writing in anyway though…I’ve never really written about it.
KK: Kids your age are really busy. How did you communicate your passion to your parents, and make sure you had enough time to write, while juggling school, friends and after-school activities?
RT: The time I had during treatments helped a lot. I’m not in many extra-curricular activities anyway, but as school gets harder and harder, there’s less time to write. I’ve been juggling ideas around in my head and jotting them down for a later date, so I can write them out once everything gets less hectic.
KK: What advice do you have for other parents whose kids are interested in writing?
RT: Support them! If they want to, let your children tell you about their stories. Readers make the best writers, so encourage that. However, some kids just like writing as a hobby and that’s fine–never make it into a chore of sorts for them.
KK: If you could meet any writer, who would it be?
RT: Oh, this is funny, considering my first ‘wish’ with the foundation was to meet J.K. Rowling. Sadly, she’s not a participant in the Make A Wish foundation, but I’d still love to meet her! Either her or John Green, most definitely.
KK: If you could write another book, what would it be about?
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RT: I’m not quite sure yet…I’ve kind of gravitated towards realistic fiction instead of adventure fiction, so if I did write something else, it would probably be that genre.
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
If you’ve ever daydreamed about turning that secret spaghetti sauce recipe into more than a family crowd pleaser, here’s your playbook: Author Rachel Hofstetter interviewed dozens of successful food entrepreneurs–mostly women–for her new book, Cooking Up a Business and gives you tips for getting started.
Her biggest takeaway? Moms make the best food entrepreneurs. Here’s how they turned their passion into a career—and how you can, too. Rachel knows what she’s talking about. She’s the former food editor at O, The Oprah Magazine. She’s also an entrepreneur herself with her company guesterly that creates custom magazines. (So super cool–check it out.)
KK: What are some examples of good food businesses that other moms have cooked up?
Rachel Hofstetter: Moms make great food entrepreneurs because kids provide great inspiration—and they are excellent taste testers! If your picky eater likes what you’re cooking up or if you, as a mom, care about the issue your product is solving, chances are other kids and moms will agree.
For example, when Shannan Swanson (at left) and Liane Weintraub were dismayed at the baby food they found at their local supermarkets, they began to make their own, dreaming up and pureeing combinations of fruits and vegetables that they deemed worthy of their little ones’ developing taste buds. And they began to talk, simply hypothetically, about selling this healthier baby food. That inspiration eventually led to Tasty Brand.
I also love Kara Goldin’s story of how she stumbled upon the idea of Hint Water. Kara’s family was drinking tons of sugary drinks—and she herself was drinking way too much Diet Coke! So she cleaned out the kitchen and put everyone on good old tap water—a moratorium that lasted all of two weeks. But instead of drinking water, they ended up drinking…nothing at all. Kara knew she had to change something or she’d have a home full of dangerously dehydrated kids. Her eyes drifted around the kitchen, looking for an idea, and landed on the big bowl of fruit on her counter, part of her new attempt to stock the house with real, wholesome foods. Kara chopped up a handful, tossed it in a pitcher, added water, and put it in the fridge to chill. A few hours later, she poured a glass to try. It was interesting. It had taste. It was . . . delicious. She poured another glass, and then some for her kids. Everyone approved! And after accolades started pouring in from other parents, Kara decided to turn her fruit-flavored waters into a business; today her waters are sold at over half the grocery stores in the U.S.
KK: How do you gauge whether your idea for a business is a good one?
RH: Have your friends and family taste test your product: Do they rave about it? Do they ask you to bring it to every event? Ask them: “If this was in a store, would you be willing to pay for it? How much?” It’s okay to change your product as you respond to feedback! Liane and Shannan at Tasty Brand started by making organic baby food—and now they only make snacks. Food businesses are great because you don’t need a lot of special equipment to test your idea: just a kitchen and the ability to make a recipe. So you can jump in, try it out, and gauge if your idea works as you go along.
KK: What are your top three tips on starting up your own shop–doing something you really, really love?
RH: 1. Pick a product that makes your life easy once it’s out of your kitchen. For example, in Cooking Up a Business I share the story of Love Grown Foods. They originally thought they’d sell founder Maddy D’Amato’s famous pesto. But they found that while it’s easy to make pesto for your dinner party of ten, it’s exponentially more difficult to make and store 50 batches for your local farmers market. Instead, make a product that’s easy to cook in large batches and is shelf stable (non-perishable).
2. Create a name for your product and tell a story. Why is this special? What’s memorable about it?
3. The best way to get people excited about your product (and to get them to buy it!) is to let them taste. Give away as many tastes or free samples as you can at farmer’s market, grocery store demos, local festival and fairs, mom’s events and more.
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Friday, November 29th, 2013
How was your Thanksgiving? Did Hanukah start for you, too? I know it was fun, yummy and, yes, of course, we’re all grateful for our many blessings.
But let’s get real. Hanging out with family can be, well, totally awkward.
So I have just the thing you need today as you work through those leftovers and that hangover (either from the alcohol or a major family overdose or both). You need to know that you are not the only one who scratches her head when everyone gets together for the holidays. And your family is not the only one that’s a little weird. These people are out there–and they took photographs to prove it.
So feel very good about yourself when you check out these completely real Thanksgiving pictures from the new book, Awkward Family Holiday Photos. I’ve got your back. And you are welcome.
*Photos courtesy of Mike Bender and Doug Chernack, authors of the mega-bestselling and beloved Awkward Family Photos and Awkward Family Pet Photos. Whether you’re sporting Mom’s hand-sewn Halloween costume, recreating a nativity scene for the annual Christmas card, or sitting on the lap of the creature you were told was the Easter Bunny, holidays make for those cringe-worthy memories that we will carry in our hearts for years to come….and, lucky for us, Mike and Doug have collected some of the most outstanding and outrageous of these holiday snapshots into their latest book, Awkward Family Holiday Photos.
Check out these 14 family holiday traditions you’ll want to start this year.
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Monday, November 25th, 2013
Thanksgivvukah is almost here! As many know, Hanukah and Thanksgiving coincide this year, and popular author and TV personality Jamie Geller is here to help with her book Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes. She’s all about delicious holiday recipes that do double-duty. Think Cranberry Chestnut Challah Stuffing; Rice Salad with Toasted Nuts, Apples and Onion Dressing; Latkes with Caviar and Cream; Whiskey-Glazed Whole Roasted Turkey; Butternut Squash Mac ‘n’ Cheese; Kiddie Candy Bark (that can be made into gelt coins); Cardamom-Scented Chanukah Cookie and Sea-Salted Soft Challah Pretzel Rolls. (Check out some great Thanksgiving crafts from Parents, too!)
Geller hasn’t always been kosher. She was raised on take-out and didn’t gravitate to her heritage until her mid-20s. When she married her husband, she was dubbed the Bride Who Knew Nothing–that’s how clueless she was about cooking. Joining his family meant celebrating more than 100 traditional Jewish holiday meals annually, complete with six-course homemade kosher dinners for the immediate and extended family. Determined to show everyone that she had what it takes and spurred to confront her culinary clumsiness, Geller didn’t just learn how to cook—she founded the Kosher Media Network and created cookbooks, magazines, a popular website and even a television show.
In Joy of Kosher, Geller wants everyone to know that if she can put really good food on the table, anyone can. There is no slaving in the kitchen (no rabbi required!) and cooking kosher is really not as tedious or complicated as one might think. Here are a 3 to get you started this week–Cardamom-Scented Chanukah Cookies, Cranberry Chestnut Challah Stuffing and Latkes with Caviar and Cream.
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Hanukah, Jamie Geller, Joy of Kosher, Thanksgiving, Thanksgivvukah | Categories:
Best Sellers, Cookbooks, Mom Must Read, Mommy Bloggers, Must Read, Parenting Advice, Popular Books
Thursday, November 21st, 2013
Do you need to go gluten-free this Thanksgiving? Popular blogger Nicole Hunn is here to help. Check out her 4 Tips for a Safe and Delicious Gluten-Free Thanksgiving below. From her new book, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, she also shares a breadstick recipe she swears is as good as The Olive Garden’s!
“As the mom of a gluten-free kid, I know stress can come as its own special side dish to family get-togethers and holidays. Double it when you’re talking about Thanksgiving, or as I like to call it, The Food Olympics. But whether you’re hosting your own Thanksgiving this year or you’ll be a guest in someone else’s home, you can (and should!) expect great gluten-free food for your gluten-free kid, with all the trimmings! In fact, since we moms of kids with food intolerances and allergies tend to think about food more than the average person, our allergy-friendly food should be the envy of the table. I can help you with that! Beyond the food, I recommend you stay away from religion and politics at the dinner table, and the holiday should go off without a hitch.
Before I share with you a gluten-free bread recipe from my new book, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, here are a Four Tips for a Safe and Delicious Gluten-Free Holiday for yourself and those you love:
1. If you’re hosting the holiday, guests feel uncomfortable showing up empty-handed. Since I keep an entirely gluten-free household, I ask guests to bring wine or fruit. I tell them that this is going to be the most stress-free holiday that they’ve ever had, since they don’t have to lift a finger.
2. Second, if you’re a guest in someone else’s home, don’t expect them to cater to your and your family’s dietary needs. In fact, I much prefer it when they don’t, since then I am free of any worry that their kind attempts to help will end up making my son sick. Did they chop up those vegetables on the same cutting board they use for regular bread? Did they bake those muffins in their regular muffin tin, the one they used the day before to bake regular cupcakes? Instead, I offer to bring as many sides as the hosts will allow. Then, I just serve my son his meal first before everyone else digs in. Otherwise, I basically cater a whole meal for my gluten-free son and bring it, already warm, in an insulated cooler. That’s why I prefer to host. It’s easier! But we do what we have to do for our kids.
3. Make a fabulous dessert. They’ll always remember you for it.
4. Finally, pick a part of the holiday meal that is typically filled with gluten, like breadsticks or rolls, and knock one out of the park with an amazing gluten-free version. Like these Soft Olive Garden-Style Garlic Butter Breadsticks, from my new Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Cookbook:
Soft Olive Garden–Style Garlic Butter Breadsticks
Makes 12 breadsticks
4 1/4 cups (595 g) Gluten-Free Bread Flour (recipe included below), plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons (6 g) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (24 g) sugar
2 teaspoons (12 g) kosher salt
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water (about 95°F)
3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic salt
First make the bread dough. (more…)
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