Growing up as the only child of a single parent, we didn’t have much in the way of Christmas traditions. That’s not to say that Christmas wasn’t enjoyable: it was! But as a work-at-home mother who is fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and very fortunate to have a husband (believe me, this is something I count my blessings for having all of the time) to be doing the parenting gig with me, I’ve been trying to set up little traditions to enjoy with our kids — traditions that they will hopefully remember when they’re older. ♥
A few things we’re doing:
- Advent calendars (although this post has just reminded me of the glaring fact that it’s December 10th and until this very moment have forgotten about — oops!)
- Baking cookies on the weekends
- Homemade Christmas ornaments (we keep some, and give some away as gifts)
- Nightly Christmas movies
- Christmas Eve dinner
What Christmas traditions are you creating with your family?
Black lights are very multi-functional. In our household, we use black lights to provide warmth for our two pet reptiles – Alyssa’s snake Cynder, and Ryan’s tortoise Dash. But new black lights may be on the Christmas shopping list, because when you combine black lights with light colors and especially fluorescent colors, you get glowing kids and glowing rooms! Kids love all things glowing, and the great thing about black lights is that they’re cheap, and sometimes black light bulbs can be used in standard light fixtures. But for standalone black lights, check out this one from Guitar Center:
For less than twenty bucks, you’ve got yourself a standalone or attachment-ready black light that can be used alone or in conjunction with other lighting options for some really cool, fun, and one-of-a-kind looks.
This week went quick. Well, okay, technically the week is only half over, but I think of weeks in term of school days, because when the kids are at school I am blessed with eight sproglet-free hours in which I can get my work on. Anyway, the kids had a full day today, but they’re off until next Tuesday. Why are they off on Monday? Simple: a lot of Pennsylvania is populated by hunters, and many families hunt together, so the school districts gave up and just added Monday into the Thanksgiving break, since officially giving all students a day off beats expecting them all to show up but only having an attendance of 60% or so.
It was sleeting and lightly snowing when it was just five or so minutes from the anticipated arrival of the school bus, so I decided to be a nice mom and drive down to the bus stop to pick them up. I no sooner pull into the driveway, and what do they do? Hop out of the car, dash into the house, drop their school stuff, then rummage in their closets for their snow gear – and back out the door they went, suited up in winter coats, waterproof snow pants (the kind with suspenders, heh), snow boots, hats (and a scarf for Alyssa), and thick, insulated, and of course waterproof gloves. When it comes to staying warm and dry while frolicking in the snow, I don’t fool around – I have way too many childhood memories of being slightly underdressed/underinsulated and thus damp and cold and very uncomfortable.
We don’t have any big plans for the break. Alyssa has 20 minutes of weekday reading and 10 minutes of weekend reading to complete, and Ryan has 15 minutes of weekday and 10 minutes of weekend reading to complete, so we’ll find a way to fit all of that into our busy schedule of doing nothing.
This post is from Instawares Food and Restaurant Blog.
‘Tis the season for tart, luscious, cranberry treats. From cobblers to cocktails, this saucy, winter super-star adds sparkle to a wide variety of holiday favorites. But cranberry is not just a one-season wonder – far from it. In fact the USDA consistently ranks cranberry as one of the top antioxidant fruits, offering important health benefits for you and your family.
1) A Healthy Heart
A healthy heart starts with a diet high in plant nutrients and phytochemicals that help regulate cholesterol. Several studies point to cranberry’s ability to support the liver in removing cholesterol from the blood stream. A daily 8-ounce serving of cranberry juice appears to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.
2) Good For Your Teeth
Excessive amounts of dental bacteria can lead to plaque build-up and, eventually, gum disease. The Journal of the American Dental Association found that cranberry juice inhibited bacteria from adhering to the tooth surface, but advises that only low-sugar or sugar-free varieties should be consumed.
3) Helps the Urinary Tract
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) occur when certain types of bacteria adhere to the walls of the bladder. Cranberries contain bacteria-fighting proanthocyanidins (PACs), chemical compounds that create a protective barrier. Though cranberry juice is commonly used, liquid extracts or capsules may also aid in prevention.
4) Prevents Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers are usually caused by a build-up of bacteria (Helicobacter pylori) which attach to the stomach lining. Scientists believe that cranberry inhibits this process without killing off the beneficial bacteria often associated with antibiotic treatments.
5) Lowers Cancer Risk
Cancer often begins with the expression of certain enzymes that lead to inflammation and tumor formation. Cranberries are rich in chemical properties that appear to block these substances, while detoxifying the body and stimulating tumor cell death, particularly in cancers of the breast, colon, lung and prostate.
6) Cold and Flu Help
Cold and flu symptoms may be significantly diminished when cranberries are eaten at the first sign of illness. Cranberry is high in vitamin C and various phytonutrients which help detoxify the body. Cranberry also contains quercetin, a natural anti-histamine that helps to suppress runny a nose, nasal swelling and inflammation associated with upper respiratory infections.
7) Staves of Arthritis Bacteria
Rheumatoid arthritis appears to be associated with a type of bacteria known as Proteus mirabilis, the same bacteria that also causes common urinary tract infections. Since cranberry juice has proven highly effective in blocking this bacteria from the bladder, The Journal of Clinical and Developmental Immunology believes that RA patients may benefit from the juice as well.
Many health professionals advise that there is more to cranberry than merely its juice. In fact the whole fruit contains even higher levels of important antioxidants and fiber. Though cranberries may be too tart to eat alone, try boosting flavor by combining them with other fruits in salads or smoothies. Add a touch of stevia or honey to sweeten lightly.
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The mpc renaissance at musicians friend is, without a doubt, a very pricey item at $999. But think of what you’re getting for that price: a digital music controller and tuner that can work with a computer or independently of it. If a family member or friend is serious about a career in the music industry, then an MPC controller might be a worthwhile gift. Personally, I’d consider this to be a group gift: if you and five other people pitch in to purchase this gift for someone, then the individual cost would be less than $200. That’s do-able, right?
(It kind of looks like a vintage video game system, right?)
Ryan has been such a chatty Cathy lately. If you weren’t aware of his autism diagnosis, or weren’t observing him or even listening closely to what he was saying and how he was saying it, you’d never guess that he was on the spectrum. But seriously, he has been so chatty! We’ve done our best to not say anything or use a tone that would imply that we’re getting overly talked to/at. And with the autism/Asperger’s tendencies when it comes to conversing with others, he absolutely has to finish what he’s saying, even if the people who are within earshot aren’t really listening.
Here are a few of the funnier and more memorable things he has said lately:
- “We learned about cinammons and ant-tin-no-nyms”
- “Alyssa is a pain”
- “I wish there was school on the weekends” (me too, Ryan, me too)
Christmas is all-too-close (just 47 days to go!), so now’s a great time to put serious effort into finding gift ideas for family and friends. For the budding musician, particularly the one who makes his own musical tracks, why not consider an auto tuner? Auto tuners are to the music industry like the periodic table of elements is to the scientific industries – you just can’t really get away with doing without them. An auto tuner can correct pitches, tweak tunes, and make other adjustments that will leave recorded music, whether it be instruments, lyrics, or both, sounding pitch perfect.
While an auto tuner is indeed a bit of a pricey gift, it’s one that is sure to be unforgettable, and be put to good use.
Crockpot season is here, and I’ve been using my two (yes, two) crockpots several times each week. Last week I was craving cream of potato soup, but the kind you make from scratch, not scoop out of a can. I didn’t have the traditional slow cooker ingredients on hand, so I winged it, and the resulting soup was so delicious that
no photos are available I only have one photo of the soup while it was still cooking, because everything was eaten too quickly.
- 3 cups of hot water
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- Seasonings to taste (I used a tablespoon each of all but the salt and pepper – I used a teaspoon each for those): salt, pepper, paprika, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, Tuscan seasoning blend
- 8 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (we used white & red)
- 3 carrots, sliced into 1/2″ pieces
- 2 celery stalks, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 4 oz. shredded cheddar & colby jack blend cheese
- 1/4 cup of cornstarch
- Combine water and chicken bouillon cubes in bottom of slow cooker
- Stir in seasonings
- Toss in potatoes, carrots, and celery
- Stir in heavy cream and cheeses
- Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 hours; stirring occasionally
- Ten minutes before serving, remove 2 cups of broth and stir in 1/4 cup of cornstarch; stir thickened broth into the soup
- Garnish with additional shredded cheese & bacon bits before serving
This was delicious, and it re-heats well!
Occasionally we have Lazy Dinner Nights. I’m not as “bad” as my mom was in terms of just throwing cereal at the kids, or letting them fend for themselves, but I don’t know how much higher up on the Crappy Meal ladder grilled cheese sandwiches, vegetable-containing chicken noodle soup, and applesauce is. Then again, I’ve got all of the food groups covered, so that counts for something? Cereal and milk is nothing but carbs, sugar, and protein. At least my solution for a Lazy Dinner Night covered fruits and vegetables.
Don’t write me off as a total craptacular mom yet, because for every one Lazy Dinner Night, there’s at least 4-5 Awesome Dinner Nights and 2-3 Mediocre Dinner Nights. Although tomorrow’s dinner is going to be something quick and easy (like spaghetti and meatballs), or eating out at a buffet prior to going Trick Or Treating…and of course there will be copious amounts of candy. But if I throw extra vitamins at them that’ll make up for the nutritional deficit, right?
With well over 400 golfing communities and courses spanning from the beach to the mountains, North Carolina is a golfer’s haven. With both public and private golf courses, North Carolina offers the perfect environment for golfers at every level from just starting beginner to seasoned pro. With renowned regions like the Crystal Coast and the gorgeous North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, resorts, clubs, and courses are highly sought after by golfers from around the world.
Stay and play packages are offered at every club and location. Prices vary dependent upon the time of year, the package chosen, and membership discounts, but surely no purchase would be regrettable. For instance, the Pinehurst spring getaway offers golfers three rounds of golf at Whispering Pines, Foxfire, and Longleaf in addition to a two night stay in a luxurious golf front condo in the Village of Pinehurst for a mere $275 per person. Perhaps you are looking to purchase property and join a club? The Cullasaja Club, located in Highlands, North Carolina, offers members an intimate community setting in the mountains with supreme dining and a plethora of activities including tennis, swimming, and boating.
Every city in North Carolina offers a special golf outing. While the city of Charlotte is considered to be metropolitan, numerous preserved regions and natural beauties like Lake Norman provide great acreage for wonderful views from golf courses. Coastal landscapes galore stretch for 85 miles down the Atlantic Ocean. Crystal Coast provides visitors with access to the beautiful and preserved beaches of Cataret County, including Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, and the Pine Knoll Shores. The region is a beach paradise and houses several award winning North Carolina golf courses and highly sought destinations like Morehead City Country Club, Coral By Club, and the Atlantic Beach Club, offering golf near the beach. Additionally, the Research Triangle of North Carolina, comprised of Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill, offer some of the greatest North Carolina golf courses. Because of the sometimes stressful environment of the Research Triangle, the region being the largest research park in the nation, the area seeks to offer its residents and visitors a relaxing environment and prime sunshine fun.
Perhaps the greatest concentration of golf resorts and courses in the nation, there is no wonder why so many golf enthusiasts mark North Carolina as an ideal vacation destination each year. Visitors from across the map visit the region for the remarkable weather, astonishing and multifaceted views, and its superb golf resorts offering a variety of options for entertainment and stay. Residents of the region feel as optimistic and excited about the golfing culture as the visitors, many seeking refuge in a second home at one of the 350 country clubs scattered throughout the state. After stress levels rise, residents take to the courses to enjoy the Atlantic coast’s beaches that offer ideal golf weather year around, or tranquility in the mountain regions of Blue Ridge.
Gather your spouse, your closest friends, and your clubs and make a reservation with one of the many sensational golf courses and resorts for a weekend or a full week of fun, relaxation, good food, and prime entertainment. Because of the vast array of identities specific to each region, the possibilities are limitless in your pursuit to find your quintessential safe haven. Whether you seek seclusion in the mountains, sea breeze and sunshine on the Atlantic coast, or peace and serenity in the Research Triangle, North Carolina has a spot for everyone. Golfers on any level are invited and welcomed and the great state of North Carolina would happy to have them. BGZU67EE4Y5A